“Otoah, thank you so much for your help,” I said quickly dismissing him. “I have to make sure Vincent doesn’t do something he’ll regret!”
He nodded and left. I called Zavier immediately and informed him of Vincent’s intentions.
…“Well it wouldn’t be too tragic would it…?”
“She’s Vanessa’s Mom! Please Zavier; you have to help him before he kills her!”
…“I’m entertaining at the Chamber, now if you want to come and take over this job, I’ll go after your beloved…”
“I can’t, I have Vanessa.”
…“And? It’s time she learned how her family interacts with their playthings…”
“Forget it Zavier, I’m not bringing her there.”
…“Fine. Call Lily and then get here. I need your help anyway…” he disconnected the line.
Lily came to watch Vanessa and I quickly went to join Zavier in his dungeon.
“I’m here,” I said walking into the corridor leading to his infamous room of horrors.
I turned to enter. “Not in there. Not right now anyway. I have another, more fun area I take some of the most reluctant. It’s a darker room; it houses the scariest of fears and is better for breaking the will of the stubborn.”
He led me down a flight of stairs and we approached a large room with cell doors and cement walls. He opened one of the rooms and escorted me inside, making sure to lock the door behind us.
As I entered, the stench of death immediately saturated my nostrils. I walked deeper into the room and noticed trash bins, buckets and oil drums teeming with viscera and blood. There were flies and other insects mating and feeding on the stinky soup. Nearby were three people who I could only assume to be more captured witches.
They were chained to the walls soaked in blood and covered in bruises. Their moans and groans of pain filled the still room; their pleas for help, for mercy, fell silently to their feet unanswered.
“Zavier, what is this?”
“This? It’s lunch for my lucky contestants,” he smiled.
“You’re going to feed them what’s in those buckets?”
“Why not? Zoe have you ever seen what a starving human would do? The kinds of things they can force themselves to eat just to keep from dying? As I said I bring only the stubborn here. Once they are near death from starving, their will is broken, they are mine! Once they cave in and eat what’s stored here, they can no longer object to anything else! My darkest desires are realized thanks to this place.”
I watched him as he spoke; I watched how he described this place as his saving grace. He pulled me closer to the entrails near the wall. “Yummy huh?” He grabbed a bowlful of the gore stew and sat it on a table.
“Pick one,” he said pointing to the wall.
I walked over and grabbed one of the captives and threw him at the table. “Sit!” I ordered.
He took a seat at the already blood stained table. I watched as his face turned up in a grimace from the stench of the rotting entrails in front of him.
Your mind is really twisted Zavier, I said looking over at him.
He gave me a warped smile.
“Please, you don’t have to do this,” the man begged. “I’ll do what you need, but I can’t eat this. Please.”
“It’s a trick,” I said watching him. “He’s hoping to win you over by conceding to your every whim. I don’t buy it.”
“So what are you thinking, Zoe?”
“I think that if he doesn’t take a nice thick spoonful of dinner, he’s going to lose a finger.”
“If I were you, I’d do as she says, you don’t want to see her bad side,” Zavier teased.
“Do what you think is necessary but I’m not…”
Before he could complete his thought, I’d stabbed his hand with the blade from Zavier’s table and watched him jump in pain. “I’m sorry what was that?” I smiled.
His mouth jerked open and Zavier shoveled a large amount of corroded flesh into his face. His eyes teared up as he choked down the festering chowder.
His cheeks puffed out as he felt “dinner” making its way back to the surface. He hopped up holding his stomach and ran to a corner to puke.
“Well that was rude! Now you have to clean that up!”
I laughed. “Zavier, about Vincent?”
“I’ll go find him.” He looked over at the other two. “Save some for me.”
I nodded. I glanced over at the wall where the others were hanging. Their eyes bulged in fear as Zavier exited the room. “Now then ladies. Who’s next?”
Vincent was roaming the city looking for Brad’s apartment. He grabbed Sarah’s scent and was heading towards the outskirts of the city when Zavier popped up behind him.
“So today is the day she dies?” he asked watching the rage swelling around his friend.
“The bitch had Vanessa strung out with some drug they introduced into her body. When I find them, they are both dead!”
“I know, Zoe told me. She asked me to come stop you before you regret your actions.”
“Regret? When have I ever regretted killing someone?”
“I thought this would be your answer. But I told her I’d make the effort especially considering she’s back in the chamber torturing a few people for me.”
“She’s what? Zavier what are you turning her into?”
“You. It’s beautiful. I don’t know if she has remorse, but she sure shows no mercy; stabbing and maiming people.”
“Temper, temper, Vincent. I don’t want to have to hurt Zoe because you do something stupid.”
Vincent turned and ran back to his car.
“Where are you going?”
“To get my girl! I don’t know what you were thinking but I don’t want her doing these kinds of things. You’re turning her into some ruthless monster and that’s not who I love.”
The captives were all huddled in the corner with each other. Blood dripped from their numerous wounds and the fresh smell of the fluid tainted the air.
“You fed them all?” Zavier asked walking back into the carnage in the room.
I nodded as I walked to the sink to wash my hands. “This smell is never leaving my clothes.”
“Vincent!” I shrieked jumping into his arms. “Did you find them? Are they dead?”
“No. I came to get you. What are you doing here? Why are you doing this?”
“Zavier asked me to help. He said he’d find you and stop you for me.”
“Jesus Zo…this isn’t you! You’re not a murderer or a…a heartless and…you’re not me or Zavier. You shouldn’t be doing this!”
He grabbed me and dragged me to the car.
“Why are you mad at me? This isn’t the first time I’ve helped him in there. I don’t understand you Vincent! You’ve never had a problem with this before. What did those tricksters do to you? Where is my killer?”
“Killer? Is that really the way you saw me?” There was a sadness in his eyes as he held my gaze. “What did I do…get in the car Zo.”
“There is still the matter of Sarah and Brad, Vincent. What were you planning to do when you found them? Bake brownies and sing Kumbayah?”
We got back home, still arguing about everything. Lily had placed Vanessa down for a nap before leaving.
“What the fuck have you become? You’re acting like some coldblooded monster! I want you to stay away from Zavier until I can sort out this mess. I don’t want you torturing people! You are only to do magics, and even then nothing that inflicts this kind of damage, Zo, do you understand me? Extractions are fine, anything else he’d better be doing his damned self. You don’t need that weight on your conscience and I don’t want it there!”
“So then what? Are you going to pick up where I left off? You taught me everything I know, Vincent! It’s because of you that I maim and murder! You never seemed to care so much about how it would affect me before! Why now?”
“Because Zo, none of that was…” before he could explain the actuality of events, I was hit with another vision. Vincent held me. “You haven’t had one in a few days; I thought they were over. What did you see?”
I scowled at him. “I’m going to go shower and lie down.”
“Zo? Zo what did you see?”
I ignored him and headed up to the bathroom.
I started the water for the shower and felt him enter behind me.
“I’m sorry. I’m not mad at you. I’m angry with myself for what is happening. I know you are confused. I love you so much Zo, I just want what’s best for you, for us.”
“I know baby. I just don’t understand why now. Why are you jumping on me about something I’ve done since you turned me.”
“I…this isn’t how you should be, Zo. You shouldn’t enjoy murdering people. That’s me. That’s who I am and to be honest I can’t see how you fell in love with me knowing about my brutal past. I’m a monster. And I don’t deserve you.”
“Vincent you deserve me and so much more. That part of you isn’t all of you. I see so much more. You are a loving and wonderful man and it shows immensely; especially when you are with Ness.”
I handed him my Luffa and let the warm water cascade on my hair, neck and shoulders.
His hands massaged my back as he sponged soap on me. He kissed me gingerly down my neck as he covered me in suds. “Can you forgive me?”
“I already have.”
He wrapped his hand around my waist and pulled me towards him. He dropped the sponge in the water and pushed himself inside of me.
I moaned and reached for the wall. He balanced me on my tiptoes, bent me forward more and thrust faster into me. His mouth was on the nape of my neck and his hands gripped my hips tight.
I held his arm as he moved deeper into me. He stopped suddenly and just held me. “What did you see downstairs?”
I turned around and hugged him. “Vincent I can trust you right?”
“Of course baby! I’d die for you. Why would you ask that?”
“I’m just a little scared; confused you know. I keep getting visions of things I don’t remember and I have memories of us, Zavier and Lily and I just…I’m lost. I don’t know how to make heads or tails of what’s happening.”
“What do you mean you keep getting visions? The last one you had was 4 days ago, wasn’t it?”
“Zo! Why are you holding out on me? I told you that you may be confused about what you see and it’s best we discuss them together.”
“Yeah, you said that, but some of the things I see and some of the things you tell me just don’t seem to click. It’s like you’re trying to distract me from the truth or are afraid of what I’ll find out.”
I turned the water off and stepped out of the shower. I grabbed a towel and walked into the bedroom.
“Zo there’s a reason for that.”
He sighed. “I…I’ve done some things that I was afraid you’d hate me for.”
“Such as? Did you kill Drake?”
“No. Of course not.
“Then why were you standing over his dead body?”
“Was that what you saw? Baby, I found you there. I came to talk to you and discovered you holding him in your arms.”
“Then what are you so afraid of me finding out?”
He dropped his eyes, “I made a deal with Zavier so that I could have you in my life.”
“What does that mean? Did you do this to me?”
“No, Zo, I didn’t. I asked Zavier to have his witches restore your memories. I’m trying to get you back to your old self again. I guess in a way I am responsible for this, I allowed it to happen.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been in your life for over a year. How does Zavier fit into that?”
“It’s not been exactly a year, Zo. It has only been two and a half months.”
“What? What are you talking about? Vincent, what happened to Drake? My memories?”
“No! No more avoiding it! Show me that I can trust you! Tell me please.”
He rubbed his neck and started pacing. “Zo.”
“Vincent if you’re not about to answer my question, just stop talking.”
I walked over to the dresser to change.
I’ll answer you, but I can’t do that here.
Just trust me, please.
That’s kind of hard to do right now.
Please. I love you, Zo.
I love you.
Ask me to take you on vacation.
I gave him a curious look and he nodded.
“So baby,” I said grabbing him. “What do you think about taking a nice vacation somewhere?”
“Vacation? Where would you want to go? Back to France again?”
“France? That sounds great! Yes! Let’s do that!”
“Wait, you really want to do this?” he asked noticing my feigned excitement becoming real.
“Yes, I do Vincent! It sounds like fun! I remember the last time we went. And by the way, I never told you how amazing a dancer you are.”
He smiled. “It’s all in the hips. I know how to move them in the bed; it’s easier to do standing up.”
“You’re such an animal!”
“Yeah and you love me! So what does that say about you?”
“That I’m a great Zookeeper?”
He laughed and kissed me.
Vanessa started crying. “I’ll take care of her,” I said pulling away.
“Hurry back, I want to finish what I started in the shower.”
I found Vanessa chewing on her hand and crying. Otoah had left a salve to rub on her and help her through the withdrawals she was experiencing.
I picked her up to comfort her and watched her green eyes smile as the salve took effect.
“I’m sorry you’re in so much pain sweetheart. We’ll get through this.”
“Is Vincent around?” Zavier asked behind me.
I called for him and he came into Nessa’s room, stopping just in the doorway.
“I need to borrow Zoe tonight. It’s time we see just how much magic is in that source of hers. I’ll need you to find me a few unwilling participants for a little experiment.”
“I don’t think so. Zo and I are going to try and relax tonight. After that showing this morning, her hands are not getting any dirtier!”
“VINCENT!” Zavier snapped.
Instantly I was hit with a sharp pain in my head and nearly dropped Vanessa. I hurriedly placed her back in her crib before I grabbed at my head.
“Zo!” Vincent yelled.
“Tell him what’s happening Zoe!”
“My head!” I cried. “Please stop!”
“Zavier stop! Let her go!”
“Let her go? Are you going to be more cooperative Vincent? We had a deal; I don’t need you trying to prevent me from getting what I want from this relationship. Especially considering you’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labor!”
He wrenched his hold tighter and I started dizzying. “Please! Zavier stop! Vincent help me!” My nose started to bleed.
“Ok. Stop! I’ll find some sacrifices just let her go Zavier!”
He let go and I fell further over in tears.
“Get to work. I’ll send Lily to look after Vanessa. Don’t keep me waiting!”
Vincent ran over and held me. “Zo I’m sorry. Shh, it’s ok baby,” he said trying to comfort me.
“Why did he do that?”
“He likes to exert himself, baby. I’m sorry forgive me, please.”
Lily appeared in the room. “Are you ready?” she asked walking over to Ness.
“Lily…” Vincent started. “What is he planning?”
“I don’t know, Vincent.”
“Bullshit! You and he have been plotting this shit from the start. I bet you knew he never intended to honor my end of this deal didn’t you? You knew all along about…” he stopped himself before blurting out what he felt about Drake’s murder.
“I think you two had better get to work! And Vincent, you better watch yourself! I could snap your neck like a twig!”
I headed over to the chamber.
“Begin setting up, Zoe. We’re waiting for Vincent.”
I organized around the cauldron he had in the center of the room. I placed candles at every corner, an amethyst near the door and made sure there were enough herbs on hand. I drew a pentagram on either side of the cauldron and laid out a row of other useful potions.
I didn’t know what my night was to become, but feeling the way Zavier was in my head, I knew it was big.
Vincent finally arrived with three other people in tow. I felt sick watching him walk in with those civilians. They weren’t witches; they weren’t warlocks or mystics or any other mystical entity. They were human; innocent people. Zavier hasn’t asked me to kill anyone other than witches he said posed a threat to my happy home; my family, and I kindly obliged. But this…this was murder! Vincent taught me to feed. He taught me to kill…but never have I just taken a life solely for pleasure.
“I can’t do this, Zavier,” I said.
He glared at me. “You can and you will or I’ll make you. Either way it’s happening tonight. Prepare the spell! I want to see you invoke your source.”
“What I want you to do is show me the destruction, creation, illness, and healing within you. I know your powers can be catastrophic. Use them as guinea pigs and get to work!”
I lit the candles and prepared the incantations. Within moments I could feel my source powering inside of me.
Zavier’s eyes opened in amazement as he watched my eyes glow a bright white.
The room dimmed as the force of my summons blew large gusts of wind, taking out the candles.
Vincent swallowed hard watching as I called upon the full force of the magics within my family. I became completely engulfed in an electrical storm and at last had reached the bottom of the well. I felt Zavier in my head once more; guiding me to bend to his will.
“Show me what you can do!” Zavier urged pointing at the docile group of people standing near the door. “Zap them!”
I did as he asked and threw my hands in their direction. Almost instantly the trio became piles of blood, bones and innards.
“YES! Simply amazing! Did you see that, Brother? Just a slight flick of her hand and soup’s on!”
I blinked and felt myself quickly losing control. I yelled in pain. The volts of electricity began turning on me. I felt surge after surge jolt through my body.
“Zo? Zo what’s happening?” Vincent yelled approaching me. He tried nearing me and was thrown against the door.
“Shit! Zavier this is your fault! She’s dying in there. Zo, try and focus on me, baby. Listen to me, hear my voice. You have to release this magic before you burn up!”
I continued feeling the volts of power frying me. My body was lit like a decorative Christmas tree.
“Zo please! Focus on me, hear my voice and release! Baby, please, let go!” Vincent yelled in desperation.
The power of the source fed on me until I was completely weakened. I collapsed into a fetal position. The last thing I saw was Zavier’s grinning face.