This is a short story based on one of the many novel projects I've going on. It's supposedly already edited, but if anyone finds typos or grammatical errs, do let me know. Constructive criticism is also appreciated.
All characters are (C) me.
*******************My days are always bad. There hasn’t been a good day in many years, and I doubt there’ll ever be another one. But sometimes they are excruciating, and so they become worse days. When I woke up this morning, I had a feeling it would be one of those days. Of course, I had no idea things would take a turn for the worst…
There are people who say the voices in their head won’t let them sleep, that they are haunted by them. I didn’t believe them before; I always thought they were looking for excuses to their sullenness and depressions. That was a lifetime ago. I’m not that girl anymore, so I finally understand what they meant, for I now have voices of my own.
I don’t know how it works for them, but in my case, the majority of the voices I hear belong to people I know and care about. Or used to know, to be more precise. They’re all dead, for the most part, and I have severed all contact with the ones who still live in order to protect them. At least that’s what I keep on telling myself… perhaps I’m only trying to protect myself, guard me from the pain of loss I’ve come to experience so many times in the past.
But, there are other voices. They belong to the ones I am forced to dwell with presently; all of them I despise –with but one exception–, but the voice that troubles me the most is that of the man who took me away from my family and made me what I am. The worse part of it is that I am forced not only to hear his voice in my head, but also to endure his presence whenever he sees fit to woe and otherwise bother me.
I wish I could turn my brain off, and with it, the voices. If only it were that easy. If only, then my sanity wouldn’t be slipping away little by little, as it is now. Alas, it is not so, and I’m forced to endure their endless torture and nagging, their relentless mocking and criticism. But most of all, their lamentations over a life long since lost, and my decision to risk it all in a last-ditch effort to set things right.
For the most part, I am able to counter the attacks and keep the emotional and mental damage to a minimum. There are certain things, however, that can weaken me and leave me exposed to their razor-sharp words, cutting deep into the wall I’ve struggled so hard to build around what’s left of my heart. They lash at it, trying to bring it down and take away the last traces of humanity within me in order to send me plummeting into the depths of despair and self-loathing. Once there, I would embrace my new self entirely, ceasing to be what I am now, obliterating all my hopes and plans.
Mirrors are one of those things.
I can’t stand mirrors. I was greatly disappointed when, upon becoming immortal, I realized that thing about us not having a reflection was a lie. It makes sense, however, as reflections are a physical phenomenon and not a manifestation of the spiritual. It was a let down, all the same, one I’m unable to get past. Mirrors are a tangible reminder of all the changes that have fallen upon me, of the things I’ve lost, and the things I will lose, should I succeed.
Mirrors also trigger one more voice, the only one able to silence the rest, as she is stronger and more skilled than any of the others. She knows me to the core, and is quick to dig up my most painful memories and turn them against me. She prods at my scars and opens new wounds, teases and attempts to seduce me into giving in, letting go. Her words are venom-laced silk, and she knows just where to aim them to strip me of any defence and do with my mind as she pleases.
And why shouldn’t she know me so well and be so persistent, when she is me? My darker self, I should perhaps add. The expression ‘battling myself’ acquired a completely new meaning since she came into my life. Many mirrors have been broken in order to silence her ever since, but it has become increasingly more difficult to gather the strength needed to pull away from her grasp.
The day would’ve been like any other, if, upon my return from a stroll around the gardens, there hadn’t been a mirror in my room. But there was. A full-body mirror with oak framing, many roses elegantly carved along it. The second I saw the huge red ribbon on top of it, I knew who’d left it there and my hands clenched into fists. Had I needed any sort of confirmation, it soon came as my Sire emerged from the shadows of my room, beaming idiotically at me. If he expected me to be happy, he had another thing coming.
“Why is that here?” I asked, letting my voice convey my anger. It didn’t faze him much, since he’s used to the way I treat him, but at least his grin fell. Small victories are still victories.
“Don’t you like it, dearest? I thought a little present would cheer you up; you’ve been so gloomy since you returned to us.”
Leave it to a man to think presents will cheer a woman up. And I didn’t ‘return’ to them – at least not the way he would like to think. “It doesn’t. I hate mirrors, so take it away.”
I didn’t think he was in the mood to argue with me, because he simply sighed and said he’d send someone to fetch it in no time, leaving immediately. I thought I would be able to stay away from the mirror for a few moments. I wish I had known better.
The mirror was opposite to the bed, facing it, so sitting there was no real option. Instead, I dragged my armchair next to the balcony’s door, and sat there to read a book. I didn’t get very far on the reading, because soon the voices began their typical bickering, only to be shushed not two minutes later by her. I closed the book in annoyance and walked towards the stereo, looking for a disc that could drown her words and perhaps send her away just this once.
I should’ve known better than to do that. Next to scents, music is one of the greater memory triggers there are. Especially if the disc one chooses happens to be a parting gift.
Oh, please. Don’t tell me you miss your no-good band?
I hissed. Knowing she would come still didn’t prepare me to hear her voice again – sweet, yet cocky and flirty. ‘Decadent’ is a word that comes to mind when thinking of her, too. Not becoming her is one of the things that give me strength to fight back.
“They’re a good band.” I inserted the CD on the stereo and chose a loud song. But what does one do when music is stronger than voice? Why, speak louder. It’s even easier when you’re nothing but a voice.
If you say so. Personally, I think they’re nothing without you, but that’s just me.
Flattery was a new course of action, but it still didn’t throw me off guard. The first and last time that happened, I ended up bleeding myself dry on a cemetery. There are times when I regret the priest’s swift intervention, as it forced me to keep on ‘living’, eventually bringing me to this kamikaze operation I’m planning to carry out. As it turns out, all he did was postpone the inevitable end, but going out this way will somehow rectify all the wrongs that have taken place around me. At least, that’s what I have been told. It gets harder to believe it will, but there are so little things to hold on to lately…
You don’t need to hold on to anything. Just let go, embrace me and never worry about a thing again.
We’ve been down this road more times than I care count, and I tire of answering her every time she brings the subject up. You’d think she’d get tired of it, too, but she’s stubborn. It’s perhaps one of the few things we have in common. Actually, might be the only one, since I can’t think of anything else right now.
Nor could I back then, and my mind began to wander. That’s why, I think, I ended up in front of the mirror. And it was then that everything went downhill.
One of the lessons I still haven’t learned, even after all this time, is to listen to my first instinct. If I had done that a lifetime ago, there is a great chance I wouldn’t be stuck in this world still. No use in mourning about that now, I’m afraid.
I knew there was something odd about the mirror when I saw it, only I chose to ignore it. But when I noticed dear Dark Self had brought me there and I stared into the looking glass, it finally hit me – why my Sire hadn’t argued with me about taking the mirror away, and why he had brought it in the first place. It was no ordinary mirror, but a sort of magical one; the person grinning at me from the other side was not my exact reflection, but rather the full-fledged vampire I could one day become. In other words, dear Dark Self.
This was by no means the first time I had visual contact with her, but it was the first time the contact came while I was awake. The previous times I’d seen her in nightmares of the most hideous nature, and usually her appearances had been brief. Even though mirrors call her forth, she had never appeared in them until now – further convincing me of my Sire’s wicked intentions and the peculiar nature of the mirror.
The differences between us are few and subtle, but easy to identify once they’ve been spotted. While my eyes are deep blue, hers are a deep shade of violet – the same one mine take when I feed. Her fangs are clearly visible as she smiles, but mine aren’t unless, again, I’m about to feed. My skin isn’t as pale as that of my siblings, but hers is; it even has a bluish taint, as if she had just emerged from a frozen lake. She also has a rather sensual aura around her, and it shows most of all on her eyes and smile. Even her clothes convey that characteristic, as they are very tight at the chest and hips, and of a deep shade of red. You can't help but be enthralled with her, and I wouldn't mind looking –
“What in the world am I thinking?” I murmured as I became aware of my wandering thoughts.
As expected, she was amused by my treacherous thoughts. The giggle in her voice and eyes was painfully evident.
Why, thank you darling. I must say, I’m really honoured you find me so appealing; it is indeed a very welcome surprise. She then proceeded to twirl, something that I didn’t think was possible – then again, why wouldn’t it be? If you like what you see, I’m certain you’d love to look like this, wouldn’t you?
Of course not. Wherever my thoughts may have strayed to, I do not want to be like her. Never.
Never is an awfully long time for someone such as ourselves, darling. And, as I am sure you’ve noticed, you are not getting any better at resisting me… and my charms.
She can call them whatever she likes: charming is not a word I am likely to associate with her anytime soon. As for being able to resist her…
Face it: if you were as strong as you think, you would’ve walked away from the mirror long ago.
Touché. But, since the subject had been brought up, I did try to walk away… and failed miserably. I was glued to the floor, unable to move. Something was very wrong, and I began to panic; yet another mistake to be added to an ever-growing list: showing any emotion to any of the voices other than contempt, especially fear, is like offering raw meet to a starved lion. They pounce on it and refuse to let go.
I'm sure this is just what that conniving bastard had in mind when he decided to bring the mirror here. If only it wouldn’t ruin everything I’ve planned, I’d go wring his neck right this instant. How dare he do this?
He is only trying to make things easier for you, Annie dear. If you had given in willingly from the start, you wouldn’t be hurting so much right now. The death of your dear child friend would not hang around you, plaguing your heart with guilt. The Frenchman would not have died the way he did, either. I hissed again, hands clenching tightly into fists, nails digging painfully into my palms. Still touchy about that, I see… I don’t understand why, though. It’s not as if it was a great loss, now was it?
“Shut up… don’t talk about something you don’t understand…” I had to bite hard on my lip to keep myself from crying. Even I don’t know why that wound remains open, despite all my attempts to stitch it up and let go. But if anyone is going to be questioning me about it, that’s going to be me, not some two-bit would-be-me reflection.
You haven’t questioned yourself about it for the longest time, darling. I thought you needed a friendly reminder, is all.
And what exactly was it to her? It’s not exactly easy to think back on those times and once again remember everything I lost, everything that was taken away from me in the cruellest fashion imaginable. Not when I know what waits at the end of the road for me.
Darling, it doesn’t have to be like that. There is no need to suffer needlessly anymore. If you would just –
I sighed in annoyance. I knew that speech by heart already, and couldn’t believe she was going to try to use it twice the same day. ‘Embrace me and never worry about a thing again’. I didn’t want the easy way out, not anymore. Not after forgiveness has finally been granted, in exchange for one small favour.
So you would rather be used as a tool in a war that is not yours to fight than remain loyal to the man who delivered you from death and gave you eternity and unfathomable power?
I didn’t ask for all that. It was not a favour I asked of him, not something I’m obliged to repay him for. The only thing I ever asked of him was denied to me, and with it, he sealed both our fates.
If things could get worse at that point, they certainly did. The mirror, I discovered, had many more properties than simply providing Dark Self with a means to face me in the waking world. It also allowed her to tap into my memories and create an image that could enhance her words. And, of course, being the evilness in me, she chose the two memories that hurt me the most.
My fiancée’s murder. The death of a most beloved child. Scenes I’ve replayed in my mind over and over for years uncounted. These memories alone would suffice to bring me to my knees and have me cry my eyes out for a few hours at the very least. But she didn’t stop at that. She somehow brought their voices into play, making them say things I never heard from them, but that I always felt they thought.
We should’ve escaped when I told you to, chère. Had you listened to me, we would’ve lived in peace and had a family… and I would not have been savagely murdered by the blue-eyed demon you now live with.
“I know… I’m so sorry…” I truly am. The what-ifs are a constant on my recurring dreams, and every way I see it, it is my fault things happened as they did. I know he never blamed me for it, and I know the voice I heard was a manipulation of sorts. But the words still hurt. More than I thought they ever could.
Nowhere near as much as having to see the girl who brought hope back into my life whither like a flower before me and hear her reproaching me a moment of weakness that will forever haunt my dreams.
How dared you offer me immortality? Did you want me to keep you company in your misery and solitude? Of all people, you should know better than to try to trick me into becoming as jaded and resentful as you now are. You hate your Sire – did you want me to hate you, too? Is that what you want, to be hated by all those around you so you won’t have to build any bonds that will later on break? You’re a coward, and I don’t want to end up like you…
That was far more than my weary heart and mind could take. A single salty tear escaped my eye as I whispered, “I am so sorry I tried to drag you into this… I never meant it like that…”
I don’t care how you meant it… I hate you…
“Stop this…” I could feel the wall falling apart little by little, and with it, my resolve.
I wish I had never met you, Anja… I could’ve had a long, prosper life with someone else…
“Don’t…” I fell to my knees, and even though I was facing the floor, I could still feel their burning gazes looking down on me disapprovingly.
I could feel Dark Self revelling in my despair, bending all her will into breaking mine. I knew I couldn’t let her win, not with everything that was at stake. But she kept on weighing me down with their words, their spite. I had no control over the situation, it was all hers. And if the two people I love the most in the world turned against me, there was nothing left to hold on to.
Take my hand, and it’ll all end. Their voices will forever disappear from your mind, and their faces will no longer roam your dreams. We don’t have to remember them ever again if you don’t want to. Just take my hand, darling, and I can make everything go away.
I don’t know why, but I found myself wondering, for the first time in a very long while, if it’d really be so awful to let go. What had running away from my Sire and the darkness in me accomplished, besides the suffering of those around me? Perhaps if I –
No perhaps about it, darling. You are on the right track. Just stand up and take my hand. I’ll take care of the rest, I promise.
Blinded by grief and feeling the wall around my heart almost entirely gone, I slowly stood up. It took a great deal of effort not to fall over, but I somehow managed. Teary-eyed, I stared into the mirror. Thankfully, the man and girl that had just torn through my last defence were already gone, replaced by dear Dark Self reaching out to me, a genuinely warm smile across her crimson lips. I matched it with a hesitant smile of my own, which I’m certain looked rather silly, given my very much disoriented state.
Still very much in a daze, I slowly began to raise my hand to touch hers, and I could see the triumph in her eyes. It made me stop in my attempt to touch her hand through the mirror, but seemingly, she still had one more card up her sleeve.
Don’t you want to be able to join your sister in eternity? I’m sure she’ll welcome the new you with arms wide open.
My dear, dear sister. Part of what had helped me decide to return to London was the opportunity to be with her again, if only for a short time. And if giving in to my dark side allowed me to spend the rest of my unnaturally long life alongside her, who cared what horrors befell upon me? With her at my side, I could endure everything, even the constant presence of my Sire.
I lifted my hand again, but my sister’s voice came into my mind. It wasn’t like the rest of the voices, spiteful and lamenting itself, but warm and caring. It was, actually, a memory.
You know what I like the most about you? You’re not like the rest of our siblings, lusting for power and craving blood all the time. You actually care about the damage your darker side might do, and I think that is very special.
My hand stopped again. But not only that, it returned to my side, where it clenched into a fist once more. My sister wouldn’t want me to change and become like the rest. She loves me for who I am right now, not because of my potential as an immortal. If I were to change, she’d be disappointed.
Do you think she won’t feel that way if you throw your existence away? Would that truly please her, then?
No, of course not. But if I brought myself around to explaining it to her, perhaps she’d come to understand.
You give her way too much credit, my darling. Your safest bet is to come with me – if she gets upset with you, you’ll have an eternity to make it up to her.
I took a step back, smiling in relief. Whatever she had done to keep me stuck in place, it was wearing off. I could see in her eyes that she was frantically searching for a way to recover the control she’d just lost, but I wasn’t about to give her that satisfaction.
At least not willingly. As she was grasping at straws, she summoned dreadful images of my parents’ deaths, my first victims, the priest being attacked by a succubus, my sister dying at my hands. The screams that filled my mind were enough to send me to my knees again, but my resolve would not waver.
Gathering all of my strength and will power, I stood up and grabbed the mirror. I stared one final time into dear Dark Self’s violet eyes, and smiled at her with all the wickedness I could muster. “Do yourself a favour, and stay away from my dreams.”
I then punched the mirror as hard as I could, and found the sound of breaking glass and tearing skin strangely comforting and liberating. Not really thinking about it, I threw the mirror to the opposite wall; as it flew away from me, I could hear her screams filling the room, cursing me loudly, calling for my Sire to help her. But help didn’t come her way. I walked towards the shattered mirror and still I could see her face in every piece. Anger getting the best of me, I stomped each and every one until all that was left were a million little pieces of blood-stained glass. But not a single face in them.
As the anger and the adrenaline rush ebbed, I stared at my blood-covered hand. A few pieces of glass stuck from my knuckles, but the only reflection they provided was that of my own weary face – blue eyes, milky white skin, nothing more. I smiled in relief and slumped against the wall, weariness taking over me. Not long after, my Sire and sister entered the room. I did not see them, but I felt their presences there. My sister quickly came to my aid while my Sire groaned in disappointment.
My wounds were tended to, and I was brought to my bed to rest. The last words I heard before drifting into slumber were those of my sister, wishing me good night. The first ones I heard this evening after waking up were also hers, welcoming me back to the land of the wakeful. I merely smiled at her, and held her close, taking in her scent and warmth, clinging to her like a child would to her saviour. For truly, that’s what she really is to me.
There is a long road ahead of me, and walking it won’t be easy. But I know I’ll always count with my redheaded fallen angel, and that is all I need to know.