Chapter the fourteenth: Errant minions and minions performing errands
“How would I describe him? Oh, it’s so hard… he is beauty, art, perfection, the ne plus ultra… He is light in a dark world. I would do anything for him. I would die for him… or maybe I already did? -- Sheri Derider
Sheri had lost track of time. As she modeled for Beautiful he had done incredible things with the canvas, but he did them slowly, deliberately, and with great consideration. He said that over the years his art had become increasingly slower to make, as his tastes grew more exacting. He said many things. Sheri didn’t care, as long as he kept talking with that rich voice of his; his presence was the sweetest opiate, and his hands…
Sheri coughed. It was cold in this place. She didn’t want to be here, but that is what Beautiful wanted, and if it made him happy, she was happy. She glanced at her watch, and then went back to her fantasy. Those hands. How she loved when he deigned to caress her with them, which seemed much too infrequently. She even loved when those hands were rough. When they gripped so tightly that they bruised.
She knew that she had displeased him. She knew she deserved the bruise that now adorned her shoulder. How frightened she had been as he moved faster than she could see--his chest was heaving, she had time to notice that--gripped her with one hand, and thrown her like a rag doll across the room. She had taken guilty pleasure then; he was angry with her, and she was terrified and in pain… but she had secretly enjoyed it. It was like being galvanized by lightning.
At that time, having thrown her, he was placated enough to stop. “I can’t destroy you,” he had said.
“Oh, honey…” she replied.
“I need you for my composition, after all.”
“You need me,” she said silently, with gratitude. Was there any way she could ever let her mother know about this incredible creature? Would he marry her? Could he have childr--
“Well, you’re of no use to me once the bruises show up. Whatever will I do with you until you heal?”
She stretched out seductively on the floor where she had landed. “You can do anything you want with me, beautiful.”
Beautiful looked off pensively. After some time he said, “There are some things that have been bothering me of late. Something feels… strange. I think that these little distractions are ultimately what have been holding my current project back.”
“Oh, is it my fault? “ She hesitantly got up and approached him. “I’m sorry, for anything I may have done. If my body doesn’t look good, I can lose weight or something.”
Beautiful had chuckled to himself then. “They always get this way… ah, sorry my dear. I’m talking to myself. However, there is something you can do for me. Firstly, keep eating; you’ve been so… anemic lately.
“Oh, I’m sorry! You want to feed more? Is that it? Maybe I could steal some blood from you from a hospital or something.”
Beautiful stiffened. “Could it be? Of course, that may explain some of it.”
“Sheri, can you imagine the ennui that comes with the power and age accorded to a being such as I?”
“Never! It must be fantastic. You are so--”
“It is… troublesome. One feels they could go mad at times. That’s why I do my art, it keeps me sane. Rooted on the realities of this world. And my mission. Sheri, I performed an experiment not to long back. Well, several actually. I’ve always been interested in creating a proper protégé…”
“You mean like now?”
“How you are showing me truth. Training me. Giving me power. To be like you. An angel.”
He looked at her. “Oh… yes. Of course. Like that. As long as you stay worthy of me.”
“I will do anything to stay worthy. I love yo--”
“Shh. I have a few errands for you to do then. I will be carrying out… a search of sorts, but you needed concern yourself with that. Sheri….” He took her gently, by the shoulders, and whispered, “How much do you love me?”
“I love you more than anything. You are my angel. I dreamed of you when I was a child. I would do anything for you.”
“Sheri. If you love me…”
“Then I want you to prove it.”
“I want you to kill someone.”
This is how Sheri found herself hiding in in the closet of one of the Born apartments, waiting for its resident to come home.
“You must feed,” Belle said in a casual tone that belied the seriousness of her sentence’s ramifications, as well as the loud music that was thumping about them in the club. Trent’s senses were more than enhanced enough by his vampiric condition to allow him to hear and in hearing, be somewhat saddened and disgusted for yet another time since the condition’s inception.
“No! I don’t have to!” He replied, not yet able to overcome his instinct to yell in such an environment.
Belle stirred her drink with a cocktail straw absentmindedly. “We’ve been over this before. If you don’t feed, you will only lose control all the more frequently.”
“You let me worry about that!”
“I would hate to have to put you down.”
With somber shock, his voice reached a whisper, “What are you talking about?”
She looked him in the eyes. “If you become enraged, you become a danger of supernatural proportions. What’s more, you will be mindless, liable to hurt friend and foe with equal chance. Therefore, if you lose it, I won’t take chances. I will end you.”
“What do you care anyways? Why are you even here if I‘m so dangerous?”
“Care? I care not a bit. However if you live long enough, you will understand that certain things should be seen through. There is a pattern to life. A web. We are the spiders.” Belle popped a cherry into her mouth, savored the taste. “And we must feed.”
“I refuse. No matter what you say, I won’t become--”
“You already are. But this talk bores me. Look, we came to this club for a reason.”
“It’s the place where I was shot. I want to find out why this happened to me. It starts here.”
“Indeed it does start here.” At this point a man walked towards Belle, intent in his eyes. She turned to glare at him. Trent could smell the acrid scent as the man first involuntarily urinated, then defecated. A look of cosmic horror on his face. He fell onto his butt, turned and scampered away. “You see what we can do?” Belle said matter-of-factly. “We affect them profoundly. You can get the information you need out of these people. Depending on your skills and approach, you could have a wide range of effects on them, many of which I would describe as ultra-hypnotic. But first you must feed. If you don’t, you’ll inspire nothing but fear in them. They are animals at their roots; all people are animals. They can sense if you are hungry.”
Trent shook his head. “This is madness.”
“Madness or no, you’ll never succeed if you can’t control your hunger. You don’t have to kill. Just feed.”
Trent was silent for a few minutes. Her patience wearing thin, Belle stood up to leave.
“What is it?” She didn’t look back at him, but paused in mid-movement.”
“Okay. Just a little. Show me how.”
“You’re starving, aren’t you.”
“Just show me how.”
“Don’t worry. It gets much easier after the first time.
Sheri stiffened as the sound of footsteps came down the hall. She her hands, griped around the revolver began to shake. She took a gulp of air and tried to still them. There was a scraping of keys going into the latch, and slowly, the apartment door opened. This was it; she was going to do it. She had too. For him.
C’mon, you can do this, she thought to herself. The man she had been sent to kill, David, seemed to be taking his sweet time. It seemed ages before he finally stepped into the squalid apartment. Everything was slowed down at this point, and Sheri noticed every detail with exacting mania.
It seemed David had a limp of some sort; Sheri’s awareness of this crystallized at this point, but she realized that it had been obvious as he had walked down the hall as well. Time was doubling back on itself, folding, producing translucent layers that she could perceive at the same time. Here, now, she was waiting in a closet with the plan to kill. She was also back with beautiful, being painted by him, being observed by him, being loved by him. Yet another part of her was a little girl again, standing by her mother’s deathbed and observing the beauty of the flowers in the vase on the side table. How the sunlight had reflected of the water and the glass…
Time was still rather slow and multifaceted as she burst from the closet. She raised the gun and said simply, “Hah!” It was almost like a laugh, almost like a moan.
As this David turned towards her in bewilderment, she was surprised to see his face; the side that had been previously in view was quite regular, even classically handsome, with a strong jaw and cheekbones, and sensuous lips, but as his full face came into her view, she saw that his dextral features were marred as if they had been clay in the hands of a cruel sculptor. It looked rather painful, and it gave Sheri pause.
With an air of simple inevitability, David said, “Michael sent you to kill me, didn’t he. Well, am I your first? It gets a lot easier after the first one.”