By the time Elizabeth turned off the shower taps, the crime scene had been sanitised. The bodies had all been moved to empty units. Each was posed in an identical manner, all in an effort to create the illusion that these were ritualistic killings.
The floor turned out to be a snap to clean since ambrosia possessed several qualities, in addition to it being a powerful detergent. Given a limitless supply, Clara had no trouble scrubbing away all of that blood, including the footsteps she inadvertently left behind.
Normally, Clara would have found that kind of work tedious, but given the situation, it was both rewarding and distracting. She was reminded of a simpler time, her childhood, when the true nature of this world was masked by innocence. For a moment, Clara was envious of that grey-eyed and button-nosed little girl.
Unfortunately, ambrosia would not be able to repair the fridge door, the couch, or shattered lamp. It also did nothing to fix the hole burned through the middle of her bustier. What a shame, really. Despite the initial stench of wet dog, this attire suited her. Still, there was the coat, which concealed both the hole and her wings.
The fridge door would be a challenge to explain away. Fortunately, the door could close well-enough to form a seal, or at least after a bit of coaxing on her part. Clara wondered if this was an apartment, and in turn, worried about the repercussions.
By the time Elizabeth started up her hair dryer, Clara was back to normal. She took the time to slip back into her clothes and looked herself over in the mirror, loving the vibe it gave off.
Done with the basics, Elizabeth opened the door cautiously, unsure of what she would find. Based on Clara’s earlier breakdown, she half-expected a grisly murder scene or a gateway that led to the seventh level of hell.
“Coast is clear,” Clara said before smiling.
Nevertheless Elizabeth’s eyes ran over the entire scene and found nothing of concern, with the exception of a missing lamp, and a hole burned through the couch. While she could not see the refrigerator, the rest of the place was cleaner than before and she wondered if this was part of Clara’s coping strategy.
On the edge of the couch she saw the weapons that Clara had been carrying: two pistols, a knife, and a shotgun, the latter being illegal from the looks of it. Elizabeth’s heart sank the moment she saw them, but quickly realised that in a world this dangerous, some exceptions could be made for those with a vested interest in saving the lives of innocents.
“Looks great,” Elizabeth said before retreating to her bedroom.
Clara sat on the intact portion of the couch, leaned back, and closed her eyes. Even with the ambrosia, she found it difficult to keep going. She was dog tired, worn out, and would need something substantial in her stomach soon.
“No wonder Hecate was hooked on the stuff,” Clara said lightly.
“What was that?” Elizabeth asked.
“Nothing!” Clara blurted. “Was just thinking that I’m a bit peckish.”
Elizabeth walked out from her room. She wore a pair of jeans that hugged her hips, and a white blouse which flowed overtop her jeans. Still, despite being clothed, Clara had a great view of her bust.
Clara looked at the young woman of Asian descent and imagined tearing those clothes off. What was it about this woman that left her so infatuated? Or was there something else at play? Would Clara still feel this way if she had not been isolated from humanity for the better part of ninety years?
“You look great,” Clara said before biting the bottom of her lip.
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said and found an excuse to turn away to hide the fact that she was blushing.
Elizabeth used that time to brush out a few stubborn knots from her hair. It also granted her a few moments to ponder what had been said in the bathroom moments ago.
After her cheeks cooled, Elizabeth turned to face Clara and said, “You’ve been through a lot.”
“Yeah. I’ve been fighting for the forces of good all my life,” Clara said honestly. “I had my fill tonight, you know?”
Elizabeth honestly did not know and suspected that most of her coworkers could not relate. She suspected that such trauma was more common to veterans of war, and first responders. That meant she would not be able to fall back on her training to help her deal with this.
“Can you talk about it?” Elizabeth asked.
“Honestly,” Clara said. “The less you know of the subject—the better.”
“You know, I just saw you run someone over and bitch slap my ex… who turned out to be a fucking vampire!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “I have every right to know what’s going on.”
Clara’s facial features never changed she just carried on smiling. It had taken an unbelievable amount of strain for her to lose any self-control. She had been taught to stay cool under fire, to never give into her baser instincts. Either way, now was the time to remain calm, cool, and collected.
“Fair enough,” Clara said. “In short, a goddess known as Hecate, the one who brought about my death, followed a duplicate to your place, then proceeded to kill that copy in your kitchen.”
Elizabeth had indeed opened a can of worms. After the initial cocking of her brow, she found it necessary to sit down.
“She then waited for me to leave the bathroom before confronting me. Explained that a race of creatures known as Georgians shattered reality. In doing so, they caused alternate paths of history to exist concurrently with our own,” Clara said. “That’s when Sparky attacked.”
“Sparky?” Elizabeth asked.
“Sparky is one of this goddess’ personas. Hecate can choose to appear as a single individual, as one form rotating between the three, or as distinct individuals representing her three personalities,” Clara replied.
“So you’re telling me that there were—” Elizabeth tried to confirm.
“Yep! Six identical bodies! Well except for that one I turned to charcoal, but she was one helluva sour pill anyways,” Clara rambled on. “So after ingesting a lot of ambrosia, the bodies were moved, and I cleaned this place. Still, you might need to get a new fridge, lamp, and couch. Any questions?”
Elizabeth did not know what to make of this. Less than twenty-four hours ago, the world had been plain, normal, and boring. Since then, she learned that vampires were real, followed by angels, and now, old gods?
“What else… No wait! I’m not sure that I want an answer just yet,” Elizabeth said.
“Bit much for the grey matter to take in?” Clara asked. “It takes time. Many of our acolytes didn’t make it past that aspect of our training.”
“How did you?” Elizabeth queried.
Clara sighed, and took a quick look at her wings. It appeared as though they were going to be visible from here on out.
“I’ve known since I was little,” Clara said. “Father was a chew toy for a ghoul when I was little. Two years later, that thing came back for Mum, so I hid under the bed and stabbed it repeatedly until it ran away.”
Elizabeth listened intently to those words, and wondered how Clara ever managed to hold things together this long. These events involved monsters, creatures that terrorised humanity for millennia. Perhaps the inhumanity of her prey, combined with faith, shielded Clara’s mind from all that trauma.
“Of course, I knew nothing about those events. That’s part of a ghoul’s power, you see. They can make you forget. Still, there is always a part of you that remains aware,” Clara continued.
“So how did you find out?” Elizabeth asked.
“Simple answer—these insights came to me after death,” Clara said. Since she wanted to avoid delving further on that subject, she added, “I’m starving.”
“Let me grab my coat,” Elizabeth said as she got up to head towards the coat closet.
Clara happily evaded another round of queries. It was great to let it all out, but the recipient needed time to process it. When Elizabeth passed the kitchen island, she noticed the amphora sitting there.
“Are you expecting company anytime soon?” Clara asked while packing away her weapons.
Elizabeth found that an odd question but figured Clara was avoiding making a reference to her wife. In a way, she was thankful for the consideration, although Elizabeth would need to come to terms with her own failures as a spouse.
“No.” Elizabeth answered. “Why?”
“I don’t want you or anyone else going near that amphora. It contains ambrosia,” Clara said.
“Ambrosia?” Elizabeth said while slipping on her long coat.
Clara walked over, smiled, and ran the zipper up Elizabeth’s jacket, but she stopped when in proximity of those breasts. Their closeness felt right, but Clara was clearly in control of her faculties now.
“Yes. Do not touch or drink the contents of that amphora,” Clara said. “Understood?”
Elizabeth looked over at the object, and noted how its unearthly glow lit up the kitchen. Without lingering on the amphora, Elizabeth was distracted by Clara’s hands running along her cleavage while the zipper was run home.
Happy that her little diversion worked, Clara neatly folded Elizabeth’s coat collar, then offered her arm. Elizabeth blushed lightly and accepted the offer.
Once the door was locked, Clara said, “One drop of that stuff evoked a response more powerful than the most intense orgasm I’ve ever had.” She then leaned in a bit closer as they walked towards the elevator and added, “Just think. Flappers were renowned for their petting parties…”
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!