Incense hung in the air, the burned particles irritated her nose, and the smell grew more pronounced as Victoria came to. There was something peculiar about this odour; something that made her think of death and decay. In fact, the link was so strong, that it evoked images of an ancient crypt hidden away under a city forgotten by time.
She struggled to open her eyes, as though they were glued together. Was this just a case of fatigue? How long had she been unconscious? Was she even alive? Perhaps this was a dream? No, this felt far too real. Besides people rarely experienced pain or discomfort in dreams.
Something brushed up against her lips, it was cool at first, like water trickling out from a frozen waterfall. Victoria struggled to open her eyes, but saw nothing more than an impenetrable darkness that filled her with dread. This sensation of cold spread, pushed past her numbed lips then probed the inside of her mouth. She considered biting down, but feared there would be repercussions.
Only when the tongue withdrew, did Victoria gasp for air, and found her sight restored. The images that flashed before her eyes were blurred at first, confined to a world that moved with a mind of its own. Her sight eventually settled, but what she saw only confirmed her fears; this was in fact, not a dream.
Before her stood Evelyn, her character, her inspiration, and role model. This time, she was dressed in a long flowing gown of white satin. Her face was adorned by a warm smile, and there were locks of long flowing hair that hung around her shoulders. This complemented Victoria’s image of an idyllic angelic figure, and was without a doubt, the same woman she met on that beach twenty years ago.
This was the woman who blessed her as a child, using some sort of prayer. Was that the reason why their minds were linked? Did that mark the moment when Evelyn established a connection between them? Did this imply that Victoria had been nothing more than a bit player in Evelyn’s play?
Evelyn licked her lips as though relishing the echoes of that kiss, and said, “Welcome to the world of the living ma chère. Have you gotten your affairs in order? Indulged in your last meal perhaps?”
Her characters musical highlights in her voice were so familiar. It was eerie how much she knew this person, in spite of this being the first time they ever spoke.
Victoria did not say a word. She was far too lethargic to formulate a proper answer.
“Is there a proper response?” Victoria whispered.
She knew that either decision would end in death, only the method of her death would differ. Would her death be quick and merciless, or would her character’s sadistic nature come to the surface?
Evelyn’s smile changed, one that stripped away her angelic traits, and replaced them with a cruel harshness. Her character was truly skilled at human emotions, an expert on how to leverage them against others. How else could she convey so much based on the shape of her smile? Would Victoria be able to manipulate others just as easily?
Before the question was answered, Victoria found herself being dragged from the altar. The world swirled nauseatingly as vertigo muddled her mind. Would she have the strength to stop herself from vomiting all over the floor?
Once the world settled, Victoria noticed the pool of dark liquid. The surface was so dark, that it reflected back her image. Tired and weak, Victoria lost her balance, dropped to her knees, and instantly became mesmerised over the reflection. She seemed to be looking at an ideal version of herself, one immune to the ravages of time. Did she ever have such a youthful glow about her?
Victoria reached for her chest, to check for a heartbeat, and sighed once the familiar rhythm registered. She was still alive, and yet her reflection implied that she had already crossed the threshold between life and death.
“How can my reflection seem that much more confident and full of life,” Victoria muttered to herself while the shadow of death approached.
As it had been with the Apostle Thomas, doubt reigned supreme in her mind. How was it possible to reflect back an image that differed from reality? At a snail’s pace, Victoria probed her face, seeking those familiar features, and was soon astounded by the gravity of the changes. Her cheeks were sunken, features sharper, with noticeably unhealthy skin. When was the last time she had a bite to heat?
“It has been a week love,” Evelyn said, knowing that in Victoria’s current state, the full depth of those words would have no effect.
Victoria turned around to look upon her character, her eyes brimming with fear. She then turned back to look into the radiant pool, and noticed an unnatural red hue surrounding her reflection.
“Blood,” Victoria stuttered out as her reflection winked back in response.
Why was her doppelgänger mocking her? The same way that her parents would when she did something innocent or amusing. The kind of mocking that was invariably accompanied by that dreadful laugh which simultaneously managed to dismiss and ridicule the child. Innocence? Once more that concept was brought to the surface. Was this an element her character sought? To what end? To destroy in another, what had been denied in life?
“We are perversions of life, we exist counter to what the Church and the laws of science dictate. We are the embodiment of those who turned away from the light of God in exchange for perpetual existence,” Evelyn rhymed off as though in a prayer.
Evelyn circled around the pool, and despite her light step, the motion nonetheless caused the pool to ripple. For a moment, her taunting reflection was disrupted, which gave Victoria a few moments of peace.
Evelyn soon broke out into a fit of laughter and added, “I’m just fucking with you. That was way too melodramatic!”
She approached the altar then grabbed the chalice upon it. Evelyn then lifted it to the full extension of her arms while staring up at the stained glass works above. After the imp uttered some sort of incantation, she brought the chalice to her lips and drank greedily, permitting any excess to spill onto the gown.
With Evelyn’s satin robe stained in blood, she licked her lips then tossed the chalice aside. Now that her little spectacle was done and over with, she looked over to Victoria, the one who would soon be joining her in the afterlife. While Victoria was being judged, anxiety swelled from within, just like those awaiting the Emperor’s thumb.
In the back of her mind, Victoria wondered if her character had a change of heart. Uncertainty would reign supreme until the end, never knowing if she were destined to live, or suffer at the hands of her executioner.
Evelyn was attuned to Victoria’s mind, and had not been surprised about the growing conflict within. Not only had she been the source of that woman’s inspiration for the better part of her life, but Evelyn also had a view to the thoughts, and emotions that most kept bottled up inside.
“Are you having a change of faith ma chère?” Evelyn asked.
Victoria looked up, bewildered that this question had come up. Was she being tossed a life line? How foolish would it be to even consider it? Let alone acknowledge it?
“I am not sure,” Victoria said in such a way that every single word uttered became a self-contained sentence.
“The door is right behind me,” Evelyn said nonchalantly. “Only you can decide how to live your life.”
Victoria’s eyes widened upon hearing those words, and that did much to betray her state of mind. As a glow of hope began to rise, her character rendered her verdict.
The imp leaned in closer, so close that the cool breeze from her whisper sent shiver running down Victoria’s spine. In that moment, she believed there was a path to freedom, one that led away from this crazy woman.
“Crazy?” Evelyn asked.
Before Victoria could say another word, Evelyn grabbed the woman’s throat, and with one brutal motion tore it away from her neck. A streak of blood followed, which covered the immaculate floor in a splatter of crimson.
“A shame,” Evelyn added before she licked the fresh blood from Victoria’s windpipe. “In the end, you turned out to be such a disappointment.”
At first, Victoria was unsure of what happened. Her body and mind were so disjointed from the prolonged trauma that this fresh wound did not immediately register. At first she felt moisture against her skin, but before she was able to investigate the source, Victoria was greeted by sweet oblivion.
“All that time and effort you put into that girl,” Marc commented from the shadows.
Evelyn was tempted to betray her composure and lash out. However, that would be tantamount to her confirming that her sire was right.
Instead, she glided over to her man, her every step a display of sensuality, she then folded into him as though they were one. The movement was fluid, sensual, and capable of evoking an emotional response in nearly everyone, well except for this lone specimen. Either way, she did not care, with all the grace of a lady, she slipped out two wedding bands from her pocket.
These rings were unique, a pair that represented night and day, and commissioned to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary of Victoria’s parents. Without it a second look, she crushed them with her bare hands, and tossed them onto Victoria’s corpse. By now, the author’s skin was pale, her eyes glassy, while what was left of her blood flowed gingerly into the pool.
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!