⇇ continued


Time Wraith 2. No Pain No Return 2

Cold slices through my neck.

The world tips, and I fall passing through the shadows between worlds, and out again, landing on the floor of my old record store. Coming out of time-vertigo, I sit in the front seat of my car back on that night I had hit the woman.

From the back seat, the wraith reached out at me. Instincts pulled me into the shadow world, and I tumbled sideways through the ethereal car door. He followed me passing through the car. I cried out, but only silence met my call. After hitting the pavement, I rolled out of the quiet hearing the engine lurch leading my car off the road, cool air chilling my skin, and I rolled back through the silent shadows again.

I stand in the dusty plain, my silent purgatory of pain.

"purgatory pain sky"

Beneath the storming black-and-purple clouds within violet twilight, the road fades into a colorless apparition. Trees disappear into the mist, the road dissolves, and my ghostly car smokes into wispy tendrils disappearing into the jaws of the wraith. His face, pale, nearly translucent as if his flesh caught in ghost-time between worlds.

Concentrating on the memory, I remember the space shuttle disaster, driving somewhere in the west hills, a stop sign, and the woman. I remember hitting the woman with my car, killing her, and I recall the promise I had made. The rest, details lost, a hole in my past.

How many memories has the vampire-wraith taken?

Kandy, bleed for me.

Taking a step back, something knocks my elbow, and I lurch sideways ready to attack. A shovel stands upright pierced into a pile of loose dirt. Beside the heap is a slender hole a meter deep, and at the bottom my sword, the very blade that I presume killed me.

Yet here I stand holding onto my oath within this eternal violet twilight.

The wraith stands motionless, waiting. Like rising heat, tendrils of ghost-light wave up all around. Soon I’m surrounded by a ghost city where apparitions stroll in slow motion along the sidewalk. Pale cars move silently down the street. Am I conjuring another memory? The wraith seems to wait for the ghost from my life to fully materialize. His nebulous eyes watch me, his semi-translucent lips curl into a hungry grin. Skull beneath flesh increases his sinister appearance.

I drop into the pit, grab my sword by the sheath, and leap out of the hole facing the wraith.

Watching the purple vapor pouring out of those terrible eye sockets, tendrils curling under chin, all I can think about is how much I want to smash that face apart. Holding my sword at my side, I wrap my fingers around the handle finding the calm within me.

Pale city block intensifying, I spot the ghost of my car parked along the curb.

I expect the wraith to begin sucking the ghost buildings around him, but he shimmers nearly disappearing, and in full darkness he charges me with a sword held in his hand.

A step, and I pull my blade free swinging at the wraith. He dodges, nearly teleporting aside leaving a smoking trail, and I spin around slashing down through his shoulder. Smoke swirls around the blade, and soot rains onto the ground.

The creature hunches over.

I swing, my blade slashing through the vampire-wraith, wispy tendrils streaming around and reforming into the wraith.

Glancing back at me, he shows me his toothy grin and he shakes in silent laughter.

Feeding off the pain flooding through me, I lunge at the vampire-wraith grasping his head with both hands, and tumble over pounding onto the hard ground. His fangs bite into my arm, and I scream silence. He appears fleshless again, but the ghost-light swirling around like fog nearly hides him. Smashing his skull against the ground expels dark smoke.

I refuse to let this creature take my life from me.

Slamming the skull down again cracks bone, black and violet vapor squirting from the wound. I take in his smoking blood searing my throat and burning eyes. The vampire-wraith thrashes, his elbow slamming me in the side. Determined to help the vampire-wraith find his end, I bite into his wound, my fangs breaking bone. Blood tendrils crawl into my nose, flaming into my head.

Pain is venom in my veins.

Pulling away, my teeth clenching bone shards and dripping with thick black blood puffing smoke, I gaze through the toxic cloud and see the nebulous eyes dissipate. I lift the skull and slam it down. Shards fly out into ghost-light, and disappear.

The wraith is gone.

Blood is my oath. I will survive.

Sound crashed into my ears, cool air wrapped around me, and the scent of rain tickled my nose.

Listening to the background hum of the city behind the thumping music coming from a nearby club, feeling the misting rain speckle my head and arms, I stood. Streetlamps burned my eyes, and I squinted waiting for my vision.

The rain washed the pain away.

I looked around, recognizing the city street in downtown Roseland. Grittier than I recalled. It wasn’t a memory, at least not one I had experienced before. I studied the unfamiliar billboard above a building advertising a flashy car I didn’t recognize. If the vampire-wraith had stolen this memory, there wouldn’t be a missing moment for me to find. Parked along the curb, my lovely black Fairlane waited patiently for me. I recognized the building behind her, an old hotel from the Big Band era, and it appeared different than I recalled—more proof I had escaped my purgatory. Autumn Twilight Restaurant, the signed indicated.

Touching my hips, my chest, my cheeks, sent a wave of relief washing over me. I could feel the air, and hear the city snoring in the background beyond the glorious music. As if not enough, I continued touching, testing reality. I ran my fingers through my long hair feeling the moisture clinging to the strands, over my head, and down to my cool, moist lips. My fangs. Licking my fangs, I trembled with excitement.

Jumping up and down in the middle of the street, splashing water, I danced to the music coming from a club two blocks away. Bouncing to the beat, I twirled around. The thrill of it all sent tingles down my legs and into my toes. I danced like a young girl giddy with excitement. I remembered the blade slashing my throat, and I relished in the feeling of survival even with the sensation that the memory was a window into the future. Steve Reynolds once told me that the ghosts of our past danced with the ghosts of our future across the cosmos, and at the moment I felt like I danced—am dancing—will dance with them all at once.

Death is a memory, a blood-spattered stain on the cosmos, and I welcome the dance.

"Kandy's eyes"