It was a dark, cold winter night. Like any other one in any ordinary big city. Cars passed by on the street, people talked as they walked by. Some even yelled and complained about either the weather, either the news or any other normal things humans talked about.
But there was one that stood out in particular, he wore a long dark coat, and looked really fancy with shiny shoes and neat clothes. He wasn’t complaining nor yelling. He was smiling, something that was quite hard to achieve these grey days. His name was Edward Young, a 23 year old rookie in life. Just finished his studies at the prized and oh so adored Cambridge University. Actually he was planning on continuing his research on the M.H.A race. A race so new to the common human, so fresh and ready to be destroyed, ready to be killed and finally exterminated because that’s what this race does best. Kill.
What is the M.H.A you may ask? Well, that’s a great question. The media has been going crazy to get more juicy details about this new fantastic race that scientists had discovered. At first thought to be a virus the M.H.A, also knows as the Merged Human Anomaly was discovered by Professor Allan Young, but of course Edward’s deceased father. He thought that this new race was actually a virus until he realized that the cells, the DNA, the bone structure, the horns, ears, antlers, tails, claws, feathers, fangs of these strange new creatures didn’t contain anything human. They looked like humans. Actually, looking at them sent chills down the Professor’s spine, as they were so deep in the uncanny valley. He studied them for over 20 years, without any hesitation in doing cruel, inhumane and brutal experiments. From starving or exhausting them, to cutting off different limbs and removing internal organs, he did it all. But to his disappointment he hadn’t discovered anything terribly useful, before he was caught by his wife who to his horror left him due to cruelty. After that, things went down hill for the Professor, he started picking up drinking and started to lose interest in his only son. But Edward, Edward was always a curious little boy. When his father was wasted, he always found a way to entertain himself until a crucial day. A day that would change his entire life, the day he found his father’s secret laboratory, where he used to work with The Government and of course do the all the dirty work and experiments they ordered him to.
As the little and innocent, only nine year old Ed made his way to the basement for a 1-1 hide and seek match with his stuffed animal, he was a little more than surprised to discover an abandoned lab-looking office. The room looked old, the walls covered with floor tiles that shone dimly as the light was so weak in the room.
In one of the corners there was an ancient writing desk that had a bunch of little lockers, the desk itself was a mess, stacks of papers thrown around, ink splattered all over, a little even dripping off of it for God knows how long. Pens scattered around and a computer with its desktop smashed in, next to it was a printer that had a paper hanging out of it, half printed half covered with illegible chicken scratch. Nothing had been used in a long time that was for sure. The whole room was dirty and had papers thrown around randomly, the other half of the lab had a door, it looked rather scary for him at the time. Clenching his fists and holding the toy close to his chest, little Edward made his way to the door, which of course creaked the loudest and most blood-curdling squeak like sound he had ever heard.
The other side of the door showed a staircase that led down to an even lower level. As he slowly made his way down, careful not to slip on the stone, he finally got to the bottom. With what his eyes met next changed everything for him. A hall, white tiles covering its walls, the light on the ceiling wasn’t working but there was no need for it anyway. On each side of the hall there were test tubes, but bigger, so big a human could fit in it. But no human was found in these strange tall tubes, but what he saw was way more taboo, something that was sure to mark him for life, animals but not. They looked like humans, oddly, some of them were missing limbs, not only that but some of them were actually cut in half. There was still something that stood out in particular these things all looked slightly like an animal. It looked like an animal and a human were melted together. Be it them having paws or tails or horns or even gills, these creatures were floating in a blue glowing substance that was the main light source of the room. Fear overtook him but there was something stronger there. An urge to see, to research and find out and know, know why they looked like this? Why were they here, were they humans? Were they animals?
A long list of questions made its way to his head as he started walking down the seemingly endless hall of tubes and…things. Then he came to a stop, something wasn’t right, he backed up a few steps before catching a glimpse of a girl, about his age in a tube but she didn’t have the eye catching features of an animal, no feathers nor claws, she had skin and shoulder-length hair that floated around, she had a few wires attached to her chest that, as he followed their path, realized that they were connected to the actual contraption. He stood there staring at her, slowly getting close to the glass and resting his hand on it, as his fingers traced over it, he looked up jumping back suddenly. The girl opened her eyes and stared at him, her emotionless and apathetic expression scaring Edward beyond belief. She suddenly started screaming on top of her lungs, most of the sounds were muffled by the liquid inside, she looked like she was chocking almost, shaking violently and desperately trying to tap on the glass until a shock of electricity caused by the tube stopped her pitiful attempt at escaping, what the little boy wasn’t expecting was for the girl to suddenly grow another pair of ears and a tail, So they could hide them, a raspy, sultry voice said in the background. His own father walked past his hiding spot with a little notepad where he seemed to write down whatever he did. Truly interesting, I wonder if they can retract them just as easily. As his father walked away more and more, he slowly built up the courage to scurry, thus encountering his first M.H.A “patient”.
Now, he was thirsty for knowledge, he desperately wanted to know how these people worked, how they lived and most importantly where, since most of them tried to live seamlessly between humans. It was big news when a new race was invented, or rather discovered but what wasn’t so popular was the fact that scientist still ran tests on them, also there was a huge status gap between them and humans, most of M.H.A people worked for humans like actual animals, they were considered low-life beggars but that didn’t bother them that much since, they thought of humans as a snob population. Of course that wasn’t the case for everybody, there were some popular and respected M.H.A people, they tried to hide their genetics’ “flaw” with make-up, surgery and so on. Having the genetic mutation in the current world wasn’t something new but it was rare to show it, some M.H.A carriers used to even walk proudly with their mutation out in the open, be it crow wings or dog ears, but those carriers disappeared “mysteriously”. Also let’s not put so much shade on humans, there are people that support equality between the two races, but sadly these people are as rare as love in the 24th century. Indeed terribly rare. Humans don’t love anymore, and joy had been long forgotten. Friends became almost nonexistent and making love was a chore and thus people started building walls between each other, only talking when needed and refusing to feel any sort of emotion towards anybody, quite a selfish world, I’d say.
Edward was walking down the cold street, passing by strangers that were discussing news and politics. Quite a dull sight, snowflakes were slowly falling down from the pitch black sky. As he was walking he turned right and then a left and then a right again, until finally he made it to the quiet street he lived on. There were quite a few people that were nice here, which truly was a miracle. As he strolled down, he saw a street on the right that ended in a dead end but what caught his eye was a figure at the end of it. It looked like a person, as he got closer and closer he realized that it indeed was a woman, so small and frail, dressed in what seemed to be old rags, not even clothes. Her frame shook violently from the cold, she seemed to be asleep as her eyes were closed, the only thing that gave away that she was alive was that you could see her chest rise and fall every so often. Her face was mostly covered by rags; her feet and hands were tucked in the cloth, although that probably didn’t retain much heat. He got closer and closer, leaving footsteps in the fresh, crisp snow that soon enough will go unnoticed due to the heavy storm outside. One at about one foot away from her he slowly slid down the tatters from her head only to reveal a beautiful sleeping girl, her hair shoulder-length and deep scarlet. What were on top of her head were more worrying, fox ears, red like her hair. She was so small and looked almost angelic, with snow slowly covering her head, ready to freeze her to death. Edward, was indeed a presumptuous man, there were limits he didn’t risk taking, just like loosing his honor and pride, but he could worry about that later. Rising to his full height, he turned to get to his house as quickly as possible, hoping it wasn’t too late. Once inside his luxurious flat, he headed straight for the bathroom to run a hot, steamy bath. Laying the new member of the household, for now, on the velvet couch he left the room. Ordering his maid to go and prepare clothing and accommodation for his new toy. The girl was washed and clothed as ordered, now it was time to wait for her to wake up. He sat beside her bed reading an old novel he enjoyed, checking her vital signs now and then to make sure he wasn’t wasting his time. One hour passed and then two and three and four until two AM hit and Ed was feeling quite drowsy himself, slowly keeping his eyes open was quite the task as his lids were heavier by the minute then by the second then everything was engulfed by darkness. Dreams are very fascinating, you can see or even relive moments of your life that you had forgotten about, or at least tried to. Parts of your memory that you tried to drown, tried to hide from yourself by lying that you do not care, by lying that you forgot a long time ago, that it does not bother you anymore. But who am I to even tell you this, right? A fuzzy feeling came to Edward, his feet were tingling from being asleep and his throat felt dry. He swallowed hard and opened his eyes, as the world became clear around him, he glanced over to the bed and found that the girl hadn’t moved an inch. Sighing in annoyance he walked over to her and sat on the floor, facing her and taking in every detail of her countenance, her petite and peachy lips, dried by the cold wind outside, her straight, almost button nose was a compliment to her almost flawless features, and then came her eyes, they looked so peaceful and serene, although there was something ruining the beautiful portrait, a scar running from her left eyebrow down half of her cheek, she had long and curled lashes and slightly curved eyebrows too. Edward actually wondered what had happened but that thought was quickly pushed away as he kept scanning her sleeping body. Her hands fell perfectly next to her body. Short and slightly stubby, her hourglass shape was something most women lusted over, truly charming he could add. Her palms looked so delicate and fragile yet somehow rough. Rough from working, fighting and…surviving. Again after another sigh, he gave her just one more chance to wake up from her seemingly never ending coma. He left the room, and eventually the house to head to work. Hours passed quickly in the apartment and her body felt finally awake. Her eyes flung open as soon as she felt warmth, she died. She thought she died, it couldn’t have been otherwise, nobody saves others. She is alive? Her pulse was the same and so was everything else but then where was she? Kidnappers wouldn’t put her in a warm shelter now would they? She got up and stretched, looking down at her body she came to the horrifying realization that she wasn’t in her usual clothes, if you could even call them clothes. That didn’t matter now, all that mattered was that she couldn’t stay. No matter how amazing it sounded, being saved by God knows who from the cold and then washed and clothed, it was not true. Nothing was in this world, and she learned it on her own skin. Nobody gives a damn about you, everyone’s just looking for passages or ways to find out your weaknesses and then use them against you. Even if this was real and the person behind this was actually nice, she wasn’t risking her own damned life. She was way too close to death, way too many times, also with these sick scientists’ minions running around and randomly abducting MHA people she was sure as hell not staying nor trusting anybody, not even her own kind, not after so many deaths. It was all sick and twisted but that was the world Temp lived in, you either get used to it and try to survive, even as child or you face your own death by starvation, dehydration, mutilation and so many other gruesome things that happened. She got out of the satin covers and suddenly came to a full stop as she looked in the mirror, she couldn’t help but stare, Temp looked so different from her day to day wear. She never wore such clothes before, even if it was only a night gown, it was the closest she ever got to a real dress. The piece was long and ruby red just like her eyes, hair and fur and her tail which poking out from under the dress. Shaking her head she continued her mission on finding the exit from this maze. Slowly she slightly opened the door of the bedroom only enough to peek at the outside world. She couldn’t see much, only the pale yellow of the walls and a few painting and the end of a fuzzy white carpet, it looked like a small library, the shelves that were on the walls were full of colorful books and stacks of neatly arranged papers. She couldn’t make out what they were about. Building up her courage to enter the next room was quite the task, she figured. Then the door flung open and she made a run for it, to her surprise and relief it was empty and what she saw was indeed a library-like room, full of bookshelves and notes. Temp didn’t know why she felt the need to look around. Slowly and carefully she made light steps towards a desk that was in between two tall and sturdy bookshelves. The polished oak desk had small dents in it, like somebody had kept hitting it again and again with a sharp object. Temp caressed the small holes in the desk while she glimpsed over to the stack of papers that were laid down neatly next to a pencil holder. This person must be a neat freak she thought to herself. Suddenly, she was knocked out of her thoughts as a hand was placed on her shoulder, she made a sound between a squeak and a cry as she jumped back. Turning around at the speed of light, she saw a man, human to be precise. Dark curly hair covered his emerald eyes. Nothing was said in the next two minutes, both staring into each others eyes. A smug grin made its way to his lips, Temp couldn’t think about what to do. Attack? Kill? She froze and could only concentrate on the loud thumps her heart made. Her knees visibly shaking, the tension in the room killed her slowly. Then, time literally stopped. Edward made a step forward, she showed her fangs in a menacing way, this made him even more amused and took another step and then another one and another one, she didn’t know when she started backing up too but now she was in a corner, all she could think about was the danger this man just…radiated. She couldn’t wait anymore, Temp had to attack, a growl escaped through her teeth and this made Edward’s eyes widen then a slow treacherous laugh filled the room. That was it, she didn’t think. She just hit, then the metallic smell she was used to filled the room accompanied by the pained scream of the man. She must’ve bit him hard enough, no time to thing she headed for the door not daring to look back but then, Temp stopped dead in her track. A gunshot. Pain and then blood. Her irises went wide and her breaths came in short and shallow, barely keeping herself standing until her knees finally gave in and she fell onto the floor.
-You idiot, I told you not to hurt her. Edward huffed out as he kept his hand tightly under his armpit to subside the pain from the bite.
-I’m sorry, Sir. I had an strict order to eliminate anything that might potentially cause you any harm or —. The servant was suddenly interrupted by Ed
-I know. My dad. But I am in charge now, not him. Got that, Alexander?
-Certainly, sir. What shall I do with the MHA carrier?
-Don’t call her that, and heal her, I’ll come soon enough to check on her shoulder you just bandage it. I got to clean up myself before anything.
-Understood, sir. He replied as he simply picked Temp up and carried her to the next room. An hour later and any evidence of a fight was cleaned up, the pristine room was back to its original.
Pain, that’s all she’s been through these crucial couple of hours, she regretted her decision of lingering around when she could’ve bolted out the door as soon as she was awake, she cursed her human-self for being curious. She regretted biting him instead of talking and maybe, MAYBE begging him to let her free. She cursed her animal-self for reacting. Temp had her eyes open while whoever was in the room, did whatever to her injured shoulder, her vision was blurry and in the corners she saw the darkness taking over, slowly of her vision. Suddenly, time stopped. It felt like the 100th time today. Sounds became clearer but she didn’t dare open her eyes nor move from the bed. Instead she took a deep breath in, taking in every smell of the room. The familiar and oh so grotesque smell of the metallic liquid, thick and rouge, it dripped slowly from her arm, she could even hear the drops falling down, then the smell of a human, the sweat from his pores, his own, sweeter blood, mixing in with hers, his slight smell of clean. Clean as in soap and coffee and that strong cologne Edward always wore.
-I do know you are awake. Don’t talk. You might hurt yourself even worse.
Why does he act? He doesn’t care. I didn’t open my eyes
-I do not wish to hurt you. I found you on the streets half-frozen, I just couldn’t leave you there, I’m not like the others. I do not wish to hurt you, please understand.
I stood still, my heart pounding in my chest. I can’t open my eyes, he’ll hurt me more.
-I beg of you, I need one simple answer and I won’t disturb you anymore. Just one word. Okay?
-What is your name?
She suddenly forgot. Her name, her age, why she was here, why she couldn’t talk, why she hated humans. Her thoughts were mixed and swirling in a mix of sorrow, anger, dare she think, relief?
I said simply, not even opening my eyes. I’m scared. What have I done?
-Th…Thank you. he blabbered out, almost too shocked that he actually got an answer, he was making progress. Although it was killingly slow. He’ll need more that just that, he needs more information to KNOW, but he’s a patient man, he can get to her, even if it means carving his way through.
-I’ll leave you alone for now, Time. He said chuckling at the nickname he came up with. He exited the room, dimming the lights on his way out. He needed her to be safe and happy, that’s all that mattered.
Days passed, and Temp or Time as nicknamed slowly recovered, although she didn’t talk, she didn’t try to escape either which was great, time was already wasted, he didn’t need more delays that he already had. And just like that a month passed. Temp felt very tense around anybody, her whole body went into animal mode when she heard, smelled or saw another person close to her, she just couldn’t wrap her head around the thought that she could actually be safe. She didn’t trust this place one bit, it all seemed so fantasy, so different from the immoral world she’d lived in up until this point. Even the maids were nice, besides that one very dull butler that shot her, he never said anything nor looked her in the eyes which honestly she was glad about. All she wanted was to leave yet stay? To keep having conversations yet not say a word? To keep being greeted nicely and be smiled at yet not…? These thought were so confusing, it felt like her soul was being ripped apart, she felt her survival instincts kick in every time anyone approached her but then she felt calm as soon as she saw it was either Edward or a maid. All Temp wanted was to talk and share her awful past, cry over a shoulder and get comforted but…she wasn’t that dumb. Those pathetic and naïve thoughts were quickly brushed away and her mind went blank. She just lay on the bed staring at ceiling until she heard a familiar click. He was home. Edward entered Temp’s room as soon as he got home from work specifically telling the maids and butler to go home sooner so he had the house all to himself. Slowly entering, he realized that she was awake, sitting on the bed, facing away from him. Her hair brushing over her shoulder and her ears perked up in a observing position, she was tense. At each footstep he took towards Temp, her ears twitched a little. That was bad, he needed to break through, it was now or never, he may never get a chance like this ever again since nowadays MHA carriers didn’t just pop out of the blue like they used to. He got next to the bed, in the meantime taking off his jacket and leaving him in his white, ironed shirt. He reached out to put a hand on her back but he quickly regretted the act because he was growled at.
-Please, do not be like that, I haven’t hurt you now, have I? he said in the most innocent tone he could muster
-You will hurt me. I know you will, so just get over it. Torture me and then throw me out in the streets where I belong. It’s a waste of time for both of us. she barked back coldly not making any eye contact
-I do not wish to do any of that.
-Then why am I here? You don’t just pick up strangers from the freaking street like that! she clenched her teeth tight and almost bit her tongue from the anger and stress that has been tormenting her to the core since she came here.
-You would have died if I would’ve let you out.
-And you would’ve died because you let me in.
-But I did not, his smile came back at full force, also were you worried about my well-being?
-I’m not answering that question. Her face was red from embarrassment as she realized she’d been cornered
His soft and almost calming laugh rung through the empty room, making her features soften.
-I do have a question, I do not mind if you do not answer though. Would you mind joining me for dinner tonight?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no her mind kept chanting on and on. What was his damn goal? She wanted to go out, to live again, if that could even be called living. She shook her head lightly before a long awkward pause. Then Temp heard Edward sigh in what almost sounded like disappointment, he was getting ready to leave and when he was half way out the door she spoke in such a quiet tone that it was barely above a whisper, it sounded more like a plea or a whimper to him:
Edward looked back, his face unreadable as he saw the girl’s frame shake as she quietly sobbed to herself. Tears falling down her cheeks, at this point all he wanted was to hug the little creature to his chest and promise her the world and beyond, tell her that everything will be alright, whisper her sweet nothings all night long until she fell asleep in his arms. But he knew very well that that could worsen the situation. What was he thinking? She’s an outsider and a MHA patient. She most probably fought all her life and lived on crumbs of food and drops of water, never sharing nor feeling the need to care for anyone. How could he be that blind? He’ll have to get to her somehow…but how? In that second, he stopped thinking and just acted. His limbs weren’t moving at his will, they just did whatever.
Edward slowly closed the distance between them and got behind her:
-Do you…do you…really wish to go?
His voice broke, on the verge of crying. He sounded broken and so, so hurt, his eyes down, trying to hide his face. Temp just stood, her shaking stopped along with her breathing, eyes wide staring at the floor. Did he…? But why?
-Please…was the only word she could muster. Edward nodded slowly.
-May I…touch you?
Temp didn’t understand feelings and she certainly didn’t understand this man, touching? Feeling? Caring? She knew what they were but she never experienced such things, mainly due to it being considered weak. As confused as Temp was by the request, she nodded shyly and not even a second later she found herself dragged by her forearm through a hallway which eventually lead to a door. The grip on her arm was firm and she was dragged at a fastening speed. In a blink of an eye, they both stood before a nicely decorated door. Edward was looking at the floor and pointing towards the door, his frame shook slightly. Temp had been waiting for this moment to happen yet all she could do was stare at him, staggered. Her feet felt like they were stuck in concrete, her heart was beating so loudly, Temp felt scared, shocked mostly and confused. Tension overcame her and her mind and body kept telling her to leave even her eyes watered and became slightly blurry but, she stood still. Not an inch of her moved. Edward bit down hard, he actually thought he might break his jaw when:
-JUST GET OUT OF MY LIFE ALREADY! He yelled, all the pent up stress from work and the dues and nothing being ready was too much for one to handle. Edward reacted bluntly without thinking. Before he could register what he had done, she was gone. The door widely open, letting in the cold air of that chilly Christmas night. He froze as he watched his life crumble before his eyes. He closed the door and with what remaining energy he had, Edward cried. He sobbed his heart out. The sorrow of yesterday and today all.
She ran, tears making the image in front of her unclear. Temp did something she thought she never would which was cry. But how can you not cry? The hot tears were almost burning her cold cheeks, her feet ached from running and from the piercing snow. Once all the energy had left her powerless she collapsed onto the fresh fallen snow. She knew what pain was, or at least so she thought. This new way of hurting was way worse than anything that this world had taught her. You can’t stop it like a bleeding or even prevent it like an infection. No, this was the deepest cut she had ever gotten and there was no bloody damn cure. Maybe that’s why people stopped feeling after all. There is no pain if there is no knife, right? A voice cut off her trail of thought, a voice that wasn’t Ed’s but someone who was far more familiar to her. Yes, she remembered now. She hated…no, loathed the voice. Actually, more like the owner. It was a man, maybe taller than Ed, with long straight hair that was messy as always, his eyes were half lidded and he had a cigarette hanging from his mouth, his clothes were most probably older than Earth itself and their repulsive smell and look definitely made him one of the most dislikable people on her “Avoid list”. Every smell, however, was suppressed by the pungent stench of his cheap cigarettes he sometimes stole.
-My, my! Hi there, friend! She wanted to answer but the air was knocked out of her from a kick in her chest, Temp wheezed on the cold floor, not really caring about her attacker. Any pain he inflicted was nothing to what she felt inside. Time passed slowly and he got bored and left a barely breathing, half-frozen , bruised and bleeding Temp in the snow. He might’ve even spit in her face but she couldn’t remember. All her instincts had died off and all the movement she could manage was rolling onto her back. The street she was on was dark and nobody really wandered around there because of people like that man, or…Temp. Her digits were painful from the stinging cold outside, and she couldn’t feel her feet anymore. All she did was stare up at the sky and watch the stars. She used to do that with somebody when she was young, the name of that person was long forgotten though. The only thing she remembered was that life was easier back then, not easy, just not as hard. She remembered looking up at the stars with that somebody and hoping, wishing with all her might for a better world, a better chance at life, a better life altogether. She knew she used to care about that somebody but time deleted them from her memory a long, long while ago. Temp smiled at the bittersweet memory of what might had been her only friend. Snowflakes slowly covered her cheeks and eyes as she felt them close. This was it, she would die here, Edward wasn’t coming, she ruined everything…again. Nobody loves me. Nobody will know I died, nobody will care. She whispered to herself, she would’ve cried if she had the energy to do it. But she didn’t.
Had it been hours? Days? It could’ve been a few seconds too. She wouldn’t know. Snow was covering her entirely and the chance of her surviving were getting slimmer by the second. Honestly, she didn’t wish to live, she didn’t wish to go back to the streets. What did she really want then? All her thoughts were scrambled until one particular one came to her mind. Edward. The only person that showed her kindness after everything she did. He took her in, he cured her, he fed, clothed, washed her and yet she bit him. She scoffed at her stupidity, even a mutt knows not to bite the hand that feeds. What was she to do? Maybe cry a little more…Maybe weep…Maybe hope or wish for…for…Wait. I have survived this long without anybody, who is the weather to take away my last breath? If those bastards didn’t do it ‘till now, a little snow sure as hell will not! Her body felt a last wave of energy fill her, with the last drop of determination she had, Temp got to her feet, they felt wobbly and ready to give in anytime. Temp started walking at a killingly slow pace, her feet and body made a protest at every step but she couldn’t stop. She needed a safe place, somewhere hidden. Looking around the shady street, she found that there were little to no people that lived around there, that was a relief. Making her way towards a street that ended in a dead end. She found relief as she saw the big brick wall that usually meant death for some but now, all it meant was home. Temp got close the wall and knocked on it three times, the faintest giggle was heard on the other side as a frail, barely hearable voice said.
-Temp…I thought you’d never come back, oh what a pleasure to see you—
-Shut it, Mouse! I need medicine, where’s the boss?
-Oh, rude as always…hehe he is out. I’m in charge until then.
Temp scoffed at the thought that that pathetic mouse could actually be in charge. The boss wouldn’t let anybody but his mutts in his place.
-He’s mad, y’know? The mouse said tauntingly
-Yup! You guessed it hon. She giggled again, oh how Temp wanted to grab her by the throat and kill her.
-Why…? She bit back a growl
-Oh well, you didn’t complete the mission he lent you, he’s really mad at you. Hah, he might even decide that he doesn’t need your sorry ass.
-Shut up! She yelled out
-Watch your mouth fur face, I’m in charge! Aaaand I have boss’ doggies with me so, if I were you, I’d shut my pretty mouth and listen unless you want me to tell him where you’ve been.
-I’ve been captured you runt! You have no idea where I’ve been this last month!
-Oh! Of course not! You’ve only been saved by your knight in shining armor then washed and clothed in satin, haha! You must’ve enjoyed lil Ed’s company. Oh I bet you did!
An actual growl escaped her this time, Temp felt the rage boiling inside of her as the mouse pressed her buttons just right, how the hell did she know this much?
-Oh! Did I hit a sore spot? she laughed this time Don’t tell me you actually fell in “love” with that human? Oh my Goodness this is too good! She howled in laughter
Temp knew that if the mouse really was in charge then she could kill her any second so the decision was made she’d just bite her tongue…for now.
-I’m not in “love”, I was held a prisoner. He wanted to run experiments on me, in the end he let me go, for some reason. Temp told Mouse as calmly and nonchalantly as she could. The laughter died off after a few seconds and the mouse was ready to speak again.
-Yeah, whatever. I’m not giving you any information nor supplies. As I said, Serif’s mad you didn’t bring him anything useful. He won’t let you go so easily though. Listen, fur face, you hate me, I loathe you but let me tell you this if I were you I wouldn’t even dare come close his hiding spot. Just take it from me, he hates runaways, especially if he had helped them. So…
-If I want to live I better stay away from him.
-Bingo, fur face! I see you ain’t that dumb, Mouse responded sarcastically, as lovely as this exchange was, some of us have actual things to do so, adieu!
Temp heard the mouse run away into who knows what demented place MHA people stayed in. Great! Now she no place to go to, if only she wasn’t saved that night, Serif wouldn’t have been on the hunt for her sorry self. Things always had to have a twist or a bad turn of events, because fate was unfair. Getting out of the dead end, Temp actually thought about the benefits of returning to Edward’s. What in the actual world is wrong with me? I barely got out of that deranged scientist’s house. Why do I want to go back again? She thought she could escape these lunatic thoughts by sleeping, she soon found out that things actually worsened. The dreams she had all included him or him and her. When she woke up, Temp realized that it was still night outside and the snow started falling again. Luckily, she found a bunch of thrown out rags which she wrapped herself in and then hid behind a huge [compared to her] dumpster. The perfect hiding place, at least for a reduced period of time. She used to barely sleep when she was out on a mission or just shelter-less, that was due to fear. Animal instincts would kick in every damn second at every new scent, sound or movement. Now, she would wake up because she thought Edward was there, whispering her words she couldn’t make out. Telling her things she didn’t understand. Calling out to her and running towards Temp. But never actually making it and leaving her alone, outside, in the harsh weather. One time he actually almost made it which made Temp’s mind go berserk and her heart twisted and jumped but when Edward got only inches away from Temp’s face, he faded away along with her dream causing her to wake up with cold swear running down her spine, making her shiver. What if I go back? What would…happen? Will I die? The trail of thought was stopped by some by passers whose chat interrupted her self pity. She made a face of disgust as she figured out the topic they talked about; another MHA carrier had been captured and God knows what they did to that poor soul. She scoffed, Temp didn’t care about anybody, not even her people. As long as it was anybody but you it was fine, she won’t start caring now. It’s always easier to feel bad for someone yet not move a finger to help them. These thoughts she has are probably the sickest, most pathetic and heartless things you ever heard but it’s to be expected from creatures like you. Weakness just flows through your veins.
Another drop of sweat trickled down her forehead, fever, she probably wasn’t thinking straight and she most probably hadn’t the brightest of ideas right now. She had no choice. I have no choice. Temp needed to return. I have to go back. She would die otherwise. I…will die. She managed to get up and stay close to a wall yet she felt like the road and everything around it was spinning uncontrollably. The dizzy feeling in her stomach and the terrible headache she had was too much. She would’ve thrown up if she had what, instead acid came out of her throat burning her mouth and making that rancid taste in her mouth return, just like old times. Determination fueled her, stupidity leading though, and she got up and she fought and she walked and walked and walked. The well known street made its way into view, the street she ran away from two days ago, the street she swore wouldn’t put foot on ever again. Foolishness and love go a long way. Love, what a fun word, so short and innocent yet it carries the memories and trust of decades and the work of people that put out everything for their partner. They fought and sacrificed all their life for a goal, a goal that was unachievable, love can also kill. It makes you think that the devil is the most enchanting and enamoring person you had ever seen and then it waits, waits for you to fall even deeper. So deep that you cannot see the light of common sense and when you feel like you’re in heaven and that nothing bad could ever reach you, they take off their mask and reveal the truth and so the years of love get ruined by one, just one, poisonous second of hatred. It’s easier to just not feel.
Every step she took now held treacherous pain and as agonizing as it was she was always sure to make another one. Stop. Another one. Stop, you dumb broad! Fire, she was walking on fire. …Please…don’t…yet she did. The door was right in front of her. She looked around to make sure nobody was there, not a soul was in sight when she crept closer to the entrance.
She put her hand on the frozen door knob, slowly creaking the door open. She entered and closed the door with fairly loud thud, Temp put her back against the door and slowly slid down until she was in a sitting position, she breathed heavily, almost gasping for air. Temp’s ears could make out the faint ticking of an old grandfather clock. Her breathing slowly calmed down and she sat there, enjoying the warmth the house provided. As her thoughts cleared a bit and she started thinking a little bit more rationally, Temp asked herself where was everybody? There was not a single sound to be heard, no steps, no classical music playing, no talking, no nothing. Her breathing slowed down quite a bit and her body didn’t feel frozen anymore although it felt very sore and tired from her fever. She got to her feet once more and started walking around, looking in every room in search for a certain someone. Room after room, disappointment after disappointment, until she caught a strong smell of him, of that dark coffee he always drank and that weird cologne he always used. That clean smell, as she called it. But it was accompanied by something stronger, the other smell was very familiar to her. It was the pungent smell of alcohol. It came from the bathroom. Temp opened the door and instantly regretting it, the foul smell hit her nose and made her cringe in disgust. There before her eyes lay Edward with a bottle of that nauseating liquid covered in what she guessed was his own vomit. Temp slowly made her way to him, trying not to breathe; she kneeled down next to him and checked his pulse. He was still alive. Her journey wasn’t so pointless after all. At this point she opened the window of the bathroom to let the sharp smell out. Taking her time, Temp slowly took off Edward’s now stained white shirt and pants and carefully dragged and lifted him into the bathtub where she tried to do her best to clean him to the best of her ability. The bath was a success, the hard part was drying him, clothing him and meanwhile trying not to wake him up. It was a huge mess, as expected, with her almost slipping and hitting her head and then almost waking Ed up while trying to clothe him. Somehow, she managed to bring him to his bed, safe and sound. Temp was breathing quite heavily and her fever sure wasn’t helping but she had to hold on. Temp sat down next to the bed, remembering that a few weeks ago she was in his place, she could- no…would have died. Temp analyzed him thoroughly, muttering words that were meant to be hateful:
-Stupid human…Who do you think you are? Why would he even-… It doesn’t make-…idiot. You absolutely brain-dead human being. Drinking yourself to death…really? I knew your kind was pathetic and pitiful but this…this here is a new low.
She shyly put her hand on Ed’s exposed forearm and started caressing it.
-Idiot…she whispered, a new tone of regret to her voice. Temp really wasn’t a gentle and caring person. She was a ruthless and selfish murderer, taking care of someone else besides herself was difficult. She wasn’t sure what to say, if he could hear her or not, but she kept talking about random things that happened while she went away. How she almost froze to death then the nightmares she had and finally how she stumbled back here. She was shivering profusely and cold sweat was running down her back. The sickness was getting to her really quickly. Temp wanted to stay awake but her eyes closed and she was fast asleep. She had dreamless sleep, she mostly felt really cold and beat down but it was definitely an improvement compared to what would’ve happened outside. A loud groan woke her up from her slumber and her head darted to Edward. He looked like he was waking up and he did. Edward’s eyes went wide and he got up really fast scurrying to the bathroom. Was he sober now? Temp got up from the spot next to his bed and quietly followed Edward back into the bathroom. He was leaning against the toilet, throwing up again. Temp smirked and leaned against the door frame not saying a word, her presence going unnoticed. Edward’s puking turned into coughing as he spent the last ten minutes or so trying to control his stomach. Temp sat there, not saying a word of comfort just…observing.
-You are a very strange person. She giggled in a taunting way
Edward’s eyes went wide and he looked towards the short fox girl at the entrance of his bathroom. The glance that was exchanged between them lasted for barely a second but it held so many mixed emotions. She looked at him with an annoyed pout and he just looked startled and ready to break down crying. Then the next thing he knew was that he was hurling again. She made a “tsk” sound and left him only to return with a glass of water. Edward was sitting down on the cold tiles his knees up to his face, not saying anything.
-Here. She handed out the glass and sat down in front of him
-Why are you here…? he croaked out, leave!
-Stop being a nuisance and drink the freaking water, I’m warn- her voice was cut off by his early reply
-I don’t need help from the likes of you. His voice completely toneless, he was waiting for a slap or a kick maybe even a cuss word but what he got instead surprised him. Temp laughed.
-I knew you had it in you sadistic man. You finally revealed your true colours, sadly you don’t faze me. I am not a fan of rules, myself, but it is a life for a life, also I’d rather not freeze outside so…I’m staying.
-It’s not that-…I really am not-…Please…just…why? Why are you tormenting me?
-But I haven’t done anything yet. Temp’s words were honeyed and she had an evil smile spread across her mouth showing the little fangs.
Temp got closer to Edward, grabbing the glass and whispering him to drink it, he finally obeyed. Temp, herself felt weak but she loved the way he looked so broken and so empty. She grabbed him by the forearm getting his hand around her neck and trying to get him to his feet. They wobbled back to his bed and set him down gently.
-I’m feeling better, I…don’t need to lay down.
She didn’t say anything only hummed in agreement.
-Hey…Remember that you asked me questions when I got here? It’s my turn now.
-Mm…sounds fair enough…Ed said as he rested his eyes
-Why did you save me?
-I didn’t want you to die.
-Why do you act like this?
-Innocent. You aren’t. Nobody is anymore. Everybody is rotten to the core.
-Temp…you…don’t seem bad.
She wanted to laugh and tell him about how much of a monster she is, how many she had slain, how many children lost their siblings and parents because of her sinning hands, but she kept quiet.
-I am bad, trust me.
-My turn to ask…Why aren’t I dead?
-Because I’m an idiot. Who made you different, and why?
-My mother, she…was the only one that kept me sane after my father…my father passed away. He might’ve been mad and sick but he was my father and I loved him. My mother…he sighed…she died a long time ago, she was the only thing that made me smile and feel like I had a reason to live again.
-What’s the reason?
-To make the world a better place.
-Oh…Temp wasn’t used to being cheesy and soft but still she kept listening for some reason
-Did you…have somebody like that? Ed asked turning his head towards her and cracking his eyes open a little bit.
-For? she laughed a little
-For reminding you of something sad.
-Psh…I don’t even remember who they were…I just…
-Yeah…I guess. I just remember that once, only once in my life I had hope. I had hope that this world will become a better place, that I’ll become a better person. But…that never happened, I think they died or abandoned me, but I am not sure.
-Thank you, Temp for…for everything.
-Don’t mention it. So what was your mother like?
And they talked and talked for hours, the two shattered worlds slowly opened up to each other and each of them revealed their story. It was a game of trust in which they played with knives. Although it was unbelievable, unacceptable and repulsive to show affection, Temp and Edward, both discovered something meaningful that cold night. Something that would be punished if ever discovered, something that was considered forbidden, something that had been lost a long time ago.
-I’m a horrible person…Edward whispered
-Can’t be worse than I am.
-It seems that we do have something in common.
Temp hummed as her eyes felt heavy and her body felt sore and exhausted. She even forgot about the fever she was battling with until she broke out into a fit of coughing. This got Edward’s attention, getting up from his bed, he slowly advanced towards Temp, placing himself right in front of her. Edward slowly reached out to her but she flinched.
-Do you still not trust me? After all this…? he said
Temp let the words sink in as she started to relax and let Edward check her forehead.
-You’re burning up! And you’re calling me brain dead? Get in the bed…now! it sounded like a demand more than anything but she felt happy to oblige. Temp snuggled up to a pillow letting all the thoughts and the earlier talk fade away as she fell into a deep slumber.
‘Cold, I’m cold. My eyes are closed and my breathing’s heavy. I can’t hear anything, I can’t see anything. My eyes hurt when I try to open them. There’s a burning sensation on the left part of my face. I think I’m crying but I’m not sure. There’s a muffled voice in the background, it seems to be yelling something…if only I could hear them but I’m too tired to open my eyes, too tired to care, too tired to run.’
Edward was pacing back and forth, his anxiety growing every minute as he checked Temp whose fever was not getting better. He gathered medicine and cold rags to try to reduce the temperature of her body. Edward did this for hours, he couldn’t lose her, especially now when he was so close. In the end he ended up passing out next to her on the bed, exhausted. The rest of the night was peaceful. Temp woke up first, her head for once wasn’t spinning and her body felt better, maybe a little sore but definitely better. She also took notice of another body next to her, Edward.
-You’re quite the early bird.-he said, his voice husky from sleep.-You don’t have a fever anymore, you can leave, if you’d like.
-Do you want me to?
-Then…I won’t. she sat up looking at Edward, his breath hitched as he stared into her eyes, their usual irises changed, she looked like she had cat eyes, fox eyes maybe…? She wore a stoic look as she spoke
-But…if you dare defy me, I won’t hesitate next time. I will tie you up to your headboard, bite off your limbs and leave you to rot.
She didn’t flinch one bit when threatening and yet he smiled and then broke into laughter.
-Are you deaf? Temp sounded terribly offended
-Did you know that your nose twitches when you try to sound menacing? Also that was adorable, don’t threaten me Temp, I am on your side.
-Brave words but you don’t know me, she came closer and they were now facing each other, I’ve killed before and I could do it again.
-But you won’t do it. -he approached as well keeping the eye contact.-
-What makes you so sure, Temp and Edward were merely a few inches away, their breaths mingling, I did it once and I can do it again, Edward.
That was the first time she ever said his name. It sounded so good rolling off her tongue, almost like a melody sang by canaries. But the canary in this case was a fox. A tormented soul that held no beauty.
-You saved me.
Before any words could escape her mouth he sealed them shut with his, at first the kiss was sloppy and messy, neither of them knowing what is going on or what they’re supposed to do. Temp melted into the kiss, her knees giving in so she had to hold onto Ed’s shirt desperately looking for support, Ed on the other hand took control holding onto her tightly. The kiss seemed to be a battle for dominance that she soon gave in and let herself get ravaged by the other. When their bond was broken, they looked into each other’s eyes, panting heavily.
-I…he breathed out before going in again, she growled loudly before biting him maybe a little too roughly. Edward let out a soft pained whimper before yelping in surprise as he was suddenly pushed down by Temp who was now topping. She was overwhelmed by the scent lingering in the air and finally after all that time bottling it up she let go of her animal instinct. It was completely ravaging her mind and fueling her to go further. Edward could only look meekly at the short fox as her mind was getting foggier and her sense of reason was replaced by hunger. The only thing he could remember before the sudden rush adrenaline that hit him were those red glassy orbs piercing into his soul.
Edward woke up slightly sore and glanced at the clock on his nightstand, 1 AM, he groaned loudly before turning around and lightly hitting something. His hazy eyes blinked a couple of times before taking in the shape of a girl, Temp. She was facing the other way, her back uncovered by the sheets. Edward’s sleepy mind needed a few moments before regaining memories of what had happened, he stared at Temp’s bare back taking in and examining all of the little details he was able to see in the dimmed light of the bedroom. Her relaxed, sloping shoulders and all the scars littered around. From the deep ones that looked extremely painful to the ones that were barely visible scratches, she wasn’t someone to be messed with so he had to be careful. He slowly caressed her back which earned him a low groan. How adorable he thought. The irony of sleeping with somebody who could kill you any moment if they had the intent to, but she didn’t.
The sizzling of eggs and a sweet smell woke Temp up, she let out a tired groan and rubbed the sleep out her eyes. The fever she had was now gone and she was ultimately safe, although something was not alright. An odd feeling lingered around her body, like a buzz. It felt as if somebody was leaving feather light touches all over her, it felt eerie but not necessarily unpleasant. She sighed and decided to finally get up from the messy sheets.
After getting dressed into the same nightgown, Temp headed towards the smell. Soon she found herself in the kitchen with Edward cooking. She analyzed him carefully, squinting a little in concentration. Temp felt lost, she knew this man for approximately a month, maybe more, yet she still couldn’t read him. He looked passive most of the time as she was about to speak up and make herself noticed Edward broke the awkward silence:
-Will you just stare or will you actually come here and eat Temp?
Flinching a little, Temp moved from the doorframe towards the table where the fresh and warm food was served. Once seated another wave of awkwardness wafted over. Nobody made an effort to talk, nobody broke the tension, it felt suffocating for Temp yet Edward seemed to keep his unbreakable complexion. Once the breakfast was over he got up, cleaning up the dishes and murmuring something under his breath:
-Wha-what was that? she croaked
-I said I am heading off to work, the maids and Alexander will be here soon. Do not cause any ruckus Time.
-Who’s Alexander –she coughed, her throat feeling dry- and…did you call me time?
-Alexander is the man who shot you two months ago –she flinched, feeling a shiver run down her spine- and time is my nickname for you.
-What…? Why? she cocked an eyebrow
-Because in French temps means time and don’t get offended but it really suits you. I wasted a lot of my time thinking about you.
She wanted to laugh at how stupid it sounded but instead she let out a small giggle, a raspy and scary one at that. It was a stupid nickname but it made her feel lighthearted at the innocence and corny-ness of the whole situation.
-Oh and if you want to shower, the bathroom is open, you could ask a mai-
-I’ll be fine! she cut him off
He nodded before heading out the door. The room was once again silenced and Temp felt the same buzz from before, her leathery ears twitched and she hummed a little at the calming sensation. Pondering the idea of a bath, she made her way to the restroom to wash up. Closing the door, she admired the beautiful marble tiles that the bathroom was covered with, everything seemed to be in place and spotless.
A knock on the door startled her, splashing some of the water in the bath then a sweet and frail voice of an elderly lady uttered:
-He-hello, Mr. Young! I have collected the mail as asked and cleaned the living room. May I proceed into your bedroom sir? She chirped unsure
-Oh…um I am not Ed-Edward, he left earlier and I-
She was cut off by a startled gasp, a little too dramatic one too, the old lady profusely apologized and eventually left and then came back to ask about the bath and then about what clothes Temp wanted to wear, how would she prefer her tea? If she was allergic to anything…? All of this left her slightly bewildered, she wasn’t able to say anything because the lady eventually left. Her voice indicated it was an elder who spoke but her demeanor spoke for itself. After soaking in the bath for long enough she exited the steamy room and was greeted by clean clothes Is this how Edward lives his daily life? Temp got dressed quickly and started wandering around. She eventually stopped by the living room area where she was shot by that damned butler. Entering the room, she made shy little steps towards the bookshelves that were filled to the brim. It all looked like a pattern. There wasn’t anything eye-catching until…
-Get away from there, monster, a cold voice barked
There was no need to turn around…she already knew who it was. The pungent smell of his was engraved in her mind forever. Temp stiffened and remained silent but the nervousness was showing by the droplet of sweat on her brow bone.
-You…you’re the one that almost killed me,- she spat hatred clear in her voice- you won’t have the guts to-
Click. The same click of the same trigger, she froze.
-Don’t play with me, fiend. You may have been able to cajole Mr. Young but I will not hesitate to-
-Kill me. Go ahead and pull the trigger.
Five minutes passed and Temp let out a snort, she knew that the butler had been given exact orders not to kill her if he wasn’t, Temp would be bleeding to death on the floor. She turned around and saw the middle-aged man’s face. His hair neatly combed and wearing an over-the-top, classic butler tuxedo, he looked at Temp as he slowly lowered his gun. She wanted to smirk and keep on teasing but she wasn’t going to put her life at risk. Who knows, Edward might forgive him.
-Oh my! a voice yelped, the same old lady from before ran in front of Alexander muttering something under her breath before sending him out of the door with a glare.
-Please, please do forgive him, mistress. He didn’t know you belonged to sir Young! He…he’s just worried for his safety and…! she kept on rambling before being silenced
-Why does he care, she looked at the lady’s shocked expression, what’s wrong with all of you?
-I…I am afraid the information is cla-classified! she muttered
-Alright, she smirked and leaned in, why do you care? Don’t act like you don’t know. You defended the butler. Are you two siblings? Married? Allies?
The woman’s features turned dark, unrecognizable, as if the cheery old woman had been replaced with an unnerving witch. She spoke slowly and kept her tone low
-You ungrateful- ! the maid was cut off by a loud shot. It ringed through the house and made the atmosphere tense. Her vision was giving in, legs trembling and finally, she mouthed her last few words, falling into a puddle of her own blood. The maid died. Temp’s ears hurt, she looked at the man who had caused the mess and frowned.
-She was way too noisy for an old hag. Also, way too meddlesome for her own good. Quite a sad use for bullets.
Temp seemingly unfazed, could only stare at the crime scene. A pang in her stomach made her feel extremely nervous, dizzy and disgusted all at the same time. Why?
“Once upon a time there lived a girl whose innocence was stolen as soon as she had come onto this world. She had been forced to sin as a child; to commit crimes and spill blood. She never had a mother who could teach her how to talk nor a father who could teach her how to walk. The world wasn’t any less cruel to the little girl, it took away all the things she held dear and…nobody cared. She was lost and alone, in a maze that had kept her a prisoner for so long. But then as if in a dream, she had woken up dressed in red satin. Her hunger now sated and her thirst now long gone she rubbed her eyes and saw that her savior had come. A knight in shining armor saved her and in exchange he asked for two things; it seemed easy to give and very meaningless but the girl found it hard to deliver. The knight asked for her trust and her name.”
I’m cold. I need to breathe. My lungs are filled to the brim with water. I’m drowning, suffocating, dying. But then, a hand, a touch, a man brings me to the surface. His lingering touch heals my aching body, I’m floating. He’s…he’s not here. I wake up. My eyes crack open slowly and I feel cold, the sweat from my forehead drips down slowly onto the sheets. The acute pain in my left side feels like thousands of needles are piercing through my skin. I’ve been through worse, it’s nothing, I don’t need help. I don’t…I see him. He’s here. In the corner of the dimly lighted room, reading peacefully without a single care in the world; his hair slightly getting in the way of his reading glasses. He doesn’t realize I am up, maybe it’s for the best, for some reason, watching him be him is…making me feel at ease. He suddenly gets up, fixing his glasses and walking away from the room only to return with another book. His barely illuminated orbs glance over at me, noticing that I am awake. His features change yet I can’t read what he thinks. How come I come off as an open book to him and yet I can never know what goes through his mind. He approaches with speedy steps without saying a word. I wish I could talk but I feel sore. I know I have a fever and he’s angry? My eyes slowly close and I let exhaustion wash over me and lull me to sleep. His cold fingers tracing over my cheek are the last thing I remember before giving in to sleep.
The pain in my left eye is so intense I can feel my head and one of my teeth throbbing in agony. I’m bleeding. The voice that urged me to go has been silenced and I am alone. Cold snow falls onto the ground and my face, I clench my teeth and remove my hands from my face. They’re covered with it. It stinks of metal and it feels hot. Where are you now? I need you! I need you here! Why am I not allowed to cry? Help…
The bedroom is demure; the king-sized bed in the middle of it is a mess, next to it, on the expensive carpet laid a man. His face usually held unreadable expressions but now his once apathetic mask was crumbling slowly, letting sadness, anger seep through. Edward looks at Temp; his brows furrowed in an obvious frown as he checks her forehead once again… still burning. Her lips are chapped and sweat drips off of the fox’s forehead. With a frustrated groan he slowly slips into the sheets next to her. Just watching and devouring the sight next to him. Her hair is still a mess, just as usual, the deep crimson waves of hers dangle all over her pale face; the only thing standing out is the flush of pink that’s covering her face due to the high fever. He can’t do anything to help, he is useless. Edward reaches out, slowly grasping the tiny hand, holding it tight, still unsure of why he’s doing this. Then, a rough cough brought his attention to the girl whose eyes were slowly opening, revealing hazed rouge pupils. Anger wafted over Edward, she grabbed her forearm, bringing his face close. How dare she? How dare she try to…?
-Why…? he barked
Temp looked at him, confusion plastered on her face.
-Why…? he repeated
Temp shook her head quietly
-Why…? his voice broke
Edward bowed his head and shook slightly as he released her arm.
-Why didn’t you call me? What the bloody hell were you thinking? You are sick…you shouldn’t…-he was shushed when a frail hand made its’ way to his cheek-
Edward took her hand, setting it down next to her. He wasn’t ready for this. Long minutes passed before he checked Temp’s temperature one last time, before finally falling asleep.
It was annoying. Annoying and irritating, the sound rung through the entirety of the house. A vociferous beeping that was made by the alarm clock, waking up a grumpy Edward; with a smashing motion he turned it off, taking his time in getting ready for another “boisterous” day. As soon as he slipped on his classy, ironed pants, white shirt and tie, he left the room, without noticing that something went missing. Temp was nowhere in the bed. Edward strode down to the hall when he suddenly came to a full stop. A voice…a sweet and slightly husky voice was humming an unfamiliar tune. It came from the living room. Mesmerized by the low tune he followed the sound, all the way to the source. In the pale-yellow-walled room, there stood a girl by the window. The melody she sang seemed so morose and yet it held so much beauty:
‘The petals have wilted
Long ago, torn
As in a nightmare
I woke up alone
The petals are gone,
That once upon a time,
It was a rose’
The words faded into humming as she stared outside the window, a sense of longing in her eyes. Outside…where people do not care about you, they use and manipulate you in any possible way, they torment and torture you until you swear submission. You’re a dog, nothing more, and when you can’t carry the weights anymore, when your mind is filled with images of the children you massacred, they’ll leave you alone in your own misery. Once your mind is broken you’re useless; and if you’re useless you’re left to rot.
Outside…what an enchanting world, isn’t it? Temp stared at the people that walked around, contemplating. What exactly? Who knows…a cold hand surprised her as it was wrapped around her forehead.
-You do not have a fever anymore…how are you feeling?
-Fine. How long have you been standing there?
-Long enough. What are you staring at?
He hummed, understanding.
-Do you like to be outside, in the cold, next to criminals…? He asked
-I don’t think I have the right answer for you.
-I feel like I want to breathe fresh air, yet I don’t want to leave. I feel as if I need to go, to run around, to feel free but I can’t. I know who roams the streets, I know there are people that want me dead but I can’t help but feel…
-Let’s leave! whispered Edward
-What…? Where? she giggled
-I know a place. Somewhere safe, somewhere untouched, somewhere where we can be alone. – he said in a husky voice-
-Tonight. It’s too risky to leave now, too many people around but I promise we’ll leave today.
-What about that butler…and the maids…and your job?
-They’re working for me, they should be glad they get a day off, as for my job…I am not worried. They can survive a day without me, I’m sure.
She hummed in contentment, enjoying the rarity of such a peaceful moment. It didn’t last long enough. He left and she was alone again, sitting there singing quietly the odd tune. A moment passed, then two and the serene atmosphere was broken. A loud shriek escaped from Temp. Her eyes changed into their animalistic version as she growled loudly, clutching her head tight. A stinging pain shot through her as she couldn’t see anything. She was wheezing and breathing heavily, her vision getting dark until she passed out.
‘I know I am alone…I know they’re gone…I look at myself and see rags. I am on a familiar street. This is the place I used to stargaze with…with…them! Who are they? Why am I seeing this? A voice can be heard from far away. It’s not theirs; it’s a man’s voice. I don’t recognize it. I can’t make out what they’re saying. Are they looking for me? The sound of their voice becomes harder and harder to make out…I am waking up.’
Temp found herself on the floor, where she had talked with Edward only a few moments ago. She looked at herself, only to find that she was still in a sleeping attire not in rags. Shaking her head, she stood up and headed for the bathroom; throwing up whatever remnants of breakfast she had earlier, hopping in the shower afterwards.
Nine postmeridian, Edward was supposed to arrive three hours ago. Temp grew quite impatient and eventually gave up the thought that she would get out tonight. She just stared out the kitchen’s window, watching the cars pass and getting lost in thought. She rested her eyes, thinking about whatever when suddenly something cold pressed against her back. Temp jumped, startled by the foreign “thing”. It was quite unexpected but as soon as she saw him she calmed down. He shushed her and spoke up.
-It’s time to leave, Temp.
-Sorry, I had to get tickets and some clothes.
-Tickets? What for?
-We’re going by train. It’ll take off soon, so hurry up and get changed in these.
Edward handed her a small plastic bag in which lay cozy and casual clothing. Hurrying to the bathroom, she peeled her borrowed clothes the now deceased maid gave her; once dressed she glanced in the mirror and couldn’t get past the fact that for once her attire wasn’t made of rags, even though she has been dressing nicely for quite some time now. Months…maybe a year? Maybe. She rushed down the hall and saw Edward waiting for her, motioning with his hand for her to speed up. Temp looked around, as if she were scared or shy of the outside world before putting her foot outside for the first time in forever. She inhaled deeply, letting the fresh air of the city seep in. Looking up at the night’s sky she saw a very familiar sight, the stars she used to stare at every night. Unchanged, unfazed, still shining, still there, just watching the world from above. Her train of thought was broken as soon as she was grabbed by her forearm and pulled close to him.
-Stay close and put the cloak on, the street is still unsafe.
She nodded and they took off. A few long strides and jump scares later they arrived at the train station. Edward spoke, she just stood behind him, pretending to be his assistant who’s deaf. The train arrived around ten, quite late, they hopped up and looked around. The long, dirty and old hall of the train was still quite mesmerizing to someone who’s never travelled by train before. Temp just stared around, letting out surprised cries every time something buzzed or rutted or sounded odd. It was quite funny to Ed, although he tried, he couldn’t hide his frequent snorts and giggles at the reactions these silly things got out of the fierce and bold fox.
The train was fairly empty, nobody really travels around this time of the year. Edward was analyzing everything and everybody while Temp acted like a child. She stood by the window, enjoying the sight. The night was young, so exhaustion was out of the question, everything seemed ordinary until his eyes saw the imminent danger. Edward’s heart beat unevenly, panic taking over his body. He went stiff, putting on his usual apathetic look and scooting even closer next to Temp in the already cramped booth. A fairly young man approached, maybe younger than Edward himself. Blonde slick back hair, icy blue eyes, ripped jeans, dirty shirt that supposedly was once white and a cancer stick in his mouth, dangling freely, spilling ashes wherever he went and spreading around the disgusting and foul smelling smoke that invaded the entire hall and booths, making a few of the passengers cough. Repulsive; he thought. Who in their right mind would let somebody smoke in a train? That was the least of their problems because out of all the empty booths, this vile trash of a human being decided to sit himself right in front of Temp and Edward.
-G’evening…he greeted unflatteringly
No response, Edward tightening his arm around the frail figure of Temp in a protecting way. The man had a death glare fixed on Edward although it didn’t last long because his eyes wandered over to Temp, taking in whatever he could see, under the cloak. A sly grin crept over the blonde man’s face as he stared at Temp, causing panic and anger to flare up in Edward’s eyes, yet he refuse to word his anger. He stood quietly and waited for the young smoker to leave.
-Heh…how much? the smoker asked
-Excuse me? he spat, completely hostile
-How much did she cost? – the blond man grinned –
Temp squirmed around but kept quiet, she knew it didn’t matter what this random cancerous person said, she knew people way worse than him that weren’t only implying slavery but actually selling slaves, selling her kind. Slavery wasn’t something uncommon to her but it sure seemed to be new to Edward. He got up and for once in her entire lifetime, Temp felt scared. She couldn’t recognize the man in front of her. Was it really Edward Young? The same Edward that talked to her about his mother, about changing the world into a better place, was it the same sappy and syrupy person she knew? The one that almost crushed her forearm while trying to ‘protect’ her only a few minutes ago? No…who was this man? His eyes empty, his features relaxed and unperturbed; his stance was tense and the silence was quite uncomfortable. Temp looked at the floor, not daring to look back.
-Not a slave. She’s my sister…now, get lost.
The young man boldly got up and pushed Edward in a provocative manner.
-Go to hell! Both you and your little-
He wasn’t able to finish his sentence as he was punched hard in the face, knocking a tooth out. The man spat blood, cursing under his breath. Edward wasted no time, he took Temp and ran out of the grimy booth to the closed doors of the train. In the corner of her eye, she saw the blonde man cursing loudly, waking up passengers that slowly filled the hall. The blonde man rushed after them, finally catching up to Temp and grabbing her cloak and forcefully grabbing it. She shrieked as her secret was about to be discovered by an entire train of people. Edward saw the scene, his eyes widened as he realized what was happening. Time slowed down, his heavy breathing and Temp’s teary eyes were the only thing that he saw and heard when a loud crash and darkness swallowed him and everything else up. Curses could be heard from everybody on the train. Mindlessly, he grabbed the fox and punched the emergency stop button, opening his way to freedom. Edward jumped, still holding onto Temp’s arm as both of them began to run. They didn’t stop until both of them were gasping for air. Edward glanced behind him staring at the scenery and noticing that the train was nowhere to be found, they made it. His eyes darted towards the girl he had been dragging the whole time.
-Are…are…you al-alright? he grumbled Ed
-Do I…lo-look alright to you…you absolute impossible narrow-minded idiotic moron!? she snapped
He managed to smile between gasps and started to laugh quietly before mumbling:
-Well…it seems you’re alright…
-Would’ve been better if I were on that train. What in the world were you thinking, and don’t try to feed me crap because I’ve had enough! What in the name of hell were you thinking?
-I…I got annoyed.
-You aren’t supposed to, it nearly got me seen and killed.
-I do not accept…also do you carry a gun around all the time?
-What? -he turned around confused- What are you talking about?
-What the…? Do you really not remember shooting the lights when that other blonde moron pulled off my cloak?
-Oh…So that’s why…he thought
-I apologize, Temp. I just panicked and reacted. I’ll control myself better, it was really childish of me to do that.
-Stop…I get it. Don’t get all disgusting.
-So, where are we? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a forest before.
-This…this place is familiar. I think the train station where we were supposed to descend is about a mile away so the actual reason we’re here, in the middle of nowhere is close by. Let’s just go by foot for now and in the morning we’ll take the first train back to the city.
Temp nodded and they took off, walking at a fairly slow pace, next to the rails. Edward kept trying to close the distance between them but the only reaction he got was a slight growl or her distancing herself even more. He sighed and gave up his fruitless trials. The usual quiet night was replaced with crickets and a low hum. The same hum he had heard that morning.
-The petals have wilted…and the rest were mumbled words and low hums of the same tune.
-Long ago torn…
She spun her head around, looking nervously at him, face burning in embarrassment:
-I listened. It’s quite enamoring and yet morose. Kind of like you. Where did you learn it?
-It’s a song I heard on the radio while you were away, that’s the only part I remember…it’s really annoying, it has been stuck in my mind for hours…but…I have to admit it is a catchy tune. I think the song’s called ‘Rosa’. –she explained –
-I don’t know it but…I like it.
Random chats like these about nothing came so easily to them for some reason, and soon enough they found themselves out of the woods and in a clearing. It was really late at night, about two hours past midnight, at this time of the night, the stars shine the brightest, showing off their true beauty. It was a mesmerizing sight. The tall grass danced along with the breeze, spreading thousands of flowers’ perfume and creating a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere.
-We’re here. – Edward stated –
His smile grew as he looked over to the red-haired girl, whose eyes were wide and shining as they stared up at the breath taking sky. He sat down and patted a place next to him, Temp lay down quietly and they both stared up at the millions of stars above.
-Have you never heard of that constellation?
-I have never heard of any constellations.
Ed scooted closely to her:
-Would you like me to show you? he smiled
He gently took her hand, guiding it along each star that formed the certain constellation, starting to tell her about all the stars and constellations he knew about, coming to a full stop once he realized that Temp was focused on his face:
-Is something bothering you?
-What…? she asked dumbfounded
-You were staring.
-Oh! Uh…no, ‘m fine, sorry.
His face contorted into amusement as he leaned in next to her ear and whispered:
-It’s alright, I do that too.
Blushing heavily, she hid her face in the scarf around her neck while Ed was laughing loudly, without a care in the world. He came off his high and yawned, noticing that Temp was already curled up in a ball next to him, snoozing. He smiled and leaned in to leave a peck on her warm cheek before he, himself falling asleep and thus missing the sincere smile that had crept onto Temp’s face. If only it would’ve lasted, if only she would’ve seen, if only she would’ve known.
Cold wind blew through the clearing. Temp cracked an eye open, yawning loudly. She rolled over onto her back noticing the morning dew that covered the mildly wet ground. The air had an unusual earthy and musky tinge to it. Something she wasn’t used to but clearly enjoyed. She got up, shaking her head wildly as if to shake off the wetness:
-Ah! Stop! Temp! an annoyed voice yelled
She turned her head towards the groggy voice, noticing that Edward had woken up. A giggle escaped her lips followed by a hearty laugh. Edward squinted his eyes and groaned in annoyance.
-What are you laughing at?
-God! You should see yourself! You look ridiculous!
-Ugh! Shut up…
His hair, a wet mess; his cheeks covered with dirt and odd indents from the unflattering “bed” and the even more unflattering dried on saliva on the corner of his mouth. Temp’s laughter instead of dying off, intensified. Edward playfully pushed Temp’s shoulder to which she fell on her side, face first. She kept on giggling before finally calming down.
-Why…? Why does this feel so good? she pondered
-What? Laughing at my morning handsomeness? It’s because you’re horrid.
-No…why does sitting here, doing absolutely nothing, covered in dirt and laying on the ground feel so good?
-We should take off soon…the train.
She got cut off. It was painful and it made her feel dizzy and sick. Her stomach turned upside-down. Temp started coughing and gagging. Panicked, Ed swept her off her feet and started running maniacally towards the train station.
He didn’t stop.
Falling to his knees, he looked at the girl in his arms, her mouth covered in blood, her eyes the same animalistic orbs he had grown to fear. Lowering her to the ground, he wiped off the smudge of crimson from her bottom lip. The coughing fit lasted, she ended up throwing up blood, it gushed out her throat and seeped through her nose. The metallic and rancid smell covered the woody smell of the earth. Could’ve been hours before everything quieted down. Temp passed out while Edward ran off to the river, washing the cloth he’d used to keep her temperature at a normal height. Coming back, he saw the fox under a tree, asleep. His frown came back strong when he saw Temp. Actually, not her but the surrounding flora. The plants had died. Intrigued, he got closer, crouching down next to Temp. The rancid smell was strong, too strong. It was unconventional for blood to have such a smell. Metallic and acidic, it burned to breathe in. How…how hadn’t he noticed this distinct smell before? It seemed like such an important characteristic and yet he had failed to realize. Maybe because she threw up this time? No. He approached a tiny plant that was splattered here and there with blood. It looked fairly fine until he realized the holes in it. Not any holes, burned ones. The blood ate its’ way through the plant. It killed the rest. What could have caused this? His eyes widened at the sudden realization. Of course! It was right in front him; Edward didn’t see the answer and yet it was so easy, so pathetic, it was ridiculous. A theory that might be true; the acidic smell, the way it ate through anything, it only indicated to one answer. Although for his assumption to be correct he needed more data, more evidence, more time but, as we all know, he was a patient man and now he didn’t have to constantly worry about a runaway. She loved him.
I feel numb, the cold makes my feet hurt and my head is aching too. I can barely see. They…she…is not here. My lips quiver, they’re chapped and bleeding. I recall what they…she told me. She’s yelling after me. So loud. Why is she scared? Why am I scared? My tail’s frozen.
Gasping for air, she calms down. These migraines, these fevers, these coughing fits have turned for the worst. Edward cared for her to the best of his ability. Ever since that little outing they had a few months ago, her health slowly decreased, a true doctor was out of question so the only thing she could do was stay inside and try to pass time. Some days were bearable, some…some she couldn’t stand conscious. One Tuesday, as she wandered around at a low pace through the house, Temp had stopped next to a bookshelf, a myriad of books…all about complicated things she didn’t bother reading. Although, in a corner, there lay a miniature book, about the size of a thumb, it’s light pink cover stood out in particular to her. Lifting it to her face she dusted it, looking intrigued. Reading was difficult, as she never truly learned how, Temp only picked up things from the street, which was not enough. It was a struggle to make out words but it was better than to simply lay around, and do nothing and wait for Edward’s return. Work was a hassle, people were late, nothing was getting done and he still hadn’t been able to properly analyze the plant sample he had collected from the incident with Temp in the forest a few months ago. Why did everything have to go the other way around? Temp…it was quite a miracle wasn’t it? That she was alive? That she was able to trust again? If only it were that easy. It didn’t take long after having a mental breakdown at work and deciding to finally leave. His pace was fast and even, like a robot. The street seemed to be more lively than usual; maybe because of the rapid approach of summer. It indeed was getting warmer. Edward soon found himself in front of his door, knocking off his polished shoes, he made his way to the bedroom to check up un the fox. To his dismay, she was missing; rapidly turning around he searched the entire house. Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom…again until he busted in the living room; there lay a girl who was too preoccupied with making out words from a tiny book to notice him. His sigh of relief though brought her attention to him.
-Oh…hey! I didn’t notice you came in.
Shaking his head, he crouched down in front of her, grabbing her hands and lowering them slowly;
-What are you doing?
Embarrassment was evident on her face while she tried mustering up words
-Well…I…am reading. Trying
-What are you trying to read? Oh…Edgar Allan Poe, classic. Where did you learn to read?
– I can’t properly read…it’s pretty damn embarrassing…
-I can help, of course if you want me to. I mean if you got this far I’m assuming it cannot be that bad.
Closing the space between, he slowly guided her through the wonders of literature. So childish, so pure it was, truthfully a sick display.
-“From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view –“
Edgar Allan Poe- Alone
-Good…he muttered, I’m impressed.
-Thank you, Edward.
He looked at her, flabbergasted. Did it really mean so much to her? It was only reading. No, of course not. It was more than that. It was an open door, and he showed her the way towards it. A road full of words, a journey full of stories and poems. A way to show the people that you are someone, a way to stay remembered. You aren’t dust, you aren’t another smudge in this disgusting world. You are you and you now posses the power to stay that way. Or maybe you don’t.
It was a demure evening, Temp had fallen asleep a long time ago with the book on her knees, Edward was still awake. He couldn’t sleep; sins tormented him. Then he thought about her, then he thought about the way they both lay on the grass that night, the cut and the blood and…the dead weeds. The strong smell-
-What are you doing, Edward? A deep voice rung through the room, low and quiet. Alexander;
-What do you want?
-To know. Don’t we all? See, I have analyzed the situation up and down and yet I cannot foresee any good outcome keeping her around here. She ruins furniture.
-You heard me, not her. Her blood. It smells terrible too. It left spots on the wooden flooring, just like acetone does if spilled.
-Acetone..? Alexander…is there anything else that got infected by the blood?
-Two towels and her shirt. They look like bleach spots.
– Hand me everything and head to The Block. Wait for me there. It seems as if I had missed something. Something crucial.
Why was this happening? It hurt, more than before. Heck, she, in her entire life had never experienced anything like this. Why…? Not only was Temperance alone, in the bathroom, on the cold tiles but she felt as if her pelvis was breaking apart, the blood gushed out her nose and mouth. The one day, one day she actually needs the maids or even that nosey butler; they’re gone! All of them! Her breathing was uneven and sweat poured from her forehead. Her chest was tight and then it stopped. Then minutes later, again, worse than the first time. This kept on and on for hours! Nobody was home. She was a shaking crying mess on the bathroom tiles. Temperance thought this was the end, she’d never see Edward, she’d never read again, they’d never watch the stars again, they’d nev- a whine. A cry. Low and unnoticeable, barely even there. Her eyes were overflowing with tears, she knew, she realized what had happened. Was it right? No. But God knew she didn’t care how right or wrong it was. Of course it wasn’t fair either. How could bringing a new life into this world ever be fair?
-This is it! Alexander…I did it! I did, what my father had failed to do. Altanium…it was right in front of me.
-Excuse me, sir, but I am a butler not a scientist.
-Altanium is a radioactive, fluid metal. Quite recently discovered, in 2356. See the thing is, Altanium is acidic, meaning that in its’ purest form and in big quantities it will destroy wood, plants, etcetera. Normal humans’ blood does contain the metal, five to six nanograms to be exact if it reaches a higher level, the person will ultimately die; Temp’s blood though, it contains one gram. That is one billion nanogarms and not only hers, theirs too, he pointed at the test subjects, these M.H.A carriers all have one gram of Altanium in their blood. It causes weird mutations, just like you see here. These carriers have been around for so long and yet nobody ever took a closer look, it’s mesmerizing.
His speech stopped as he looked at the obviously bored butler. Rolling his eyes, he took his coat, ready to exit the building, only to stop at the door.
-Clean up the mess and go home, your family must be waiting. Edward laughed as he saw the butler clench his fists in anger. It was incredibly easy to play with people when they cared for somebody. It was like rubbing salt on an open wound. Fools…he thought, finally stepping out of the building and heading home. He had a task to finish.
The same routine; off with the shoes and coat and check up on Temp. This time instead he headed to the living room, where he knew the fox would lay and read. His guess was right, there she stood, with her back turned, reading the same old poem book. Perfect, slowly he made his way behind her and quietly wrapped his hands around her shoulders, Temp yelped and turned around to be met by gentle eyes, the same green eyes she saw that day, the same feral looking hair, it was everything she could have ever asked for. He had a gentle smile plastered on his face as pulled her closer, nuzzling into her neck. Pecking the back of her head. His grip was tight as he innocently played with her hair. Temp relaxed into the embrace, closing her eyes. She knew she had to tell him. He knew he had to finish his job. A voice spoke:
Silence. No. Once upon a time there lived a girl. It can’t. Her life wasn’t easy, it had never been. Please…wake me up. Her mother was considered a beast, she was kidnapped, beaten and raped by her father. But I thought. And thus she appeared on this world, it was a cruel fate; being unwanted and considered a mistake but she survived. The mother escaped from the imprisonment with her child. The bundle of rags crying and wailing, finally she came to a stop. The baby cried and cried, until the mother started singing. It was a sad song. ‘The petals have wilted. Long ago, torn; As in a nightmare, I woke up alone. The petals are gone, nobody knows. That once upon a time…it was a rose.’ But the child stopped its’ wailing. The wounded mother smiled and whispered ‘Sleep my little, sleep Temperance’. I could trust you.
Once, only once. He pulled back the dagger from her back, watching Temp’s lifeless body fall onto the floor, he stared long and hard at the corpse in the room. She was dead. She was never coming back; and it was his fault. Shaking his head and massaging his temples he walked down the long hall towards his bedroom. He was about to knock until realizing that there would be no response. How silly of him. He unlocked the door. One step forward but then two backwards. His eyes widened. No…; yes. It was there. A cry, soft and unnoticeable. There, on the bed, was a lump. A lump of towels, which moved and cried and whimpered. A life hidden behind dirty, bloodstained towels. A sob, and then two, until he was kneeling on the floor. One single, dreadful tear rolled down his cheek as Edward Young stood there kneeling in front of his child.