Excerpt from Prince of the Dark Vol II. of the Demons of Dreams Saga, Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III
A snow storm of the century blew with fury outside and any reasonable person watched the goings-on only from a window from inside his four warm walls.
“Are you still going out, Mo?”
“I have a date.”
Christine looked at him with her slightly crazed look, which was a clear sign that she was once again hyped-up on pills and alcohol. The various therapies that she had gone through already were all for nothing. Meanwhile, Morris had given up searching the cupboards for hiding places and flushing the little mood enhancers down the toilet. She always found new means and ways to acquire re-placement ones anyway.
He dressed in a black jacket and a wool cap, gave his wife a kiss on the forehead and grabbed the car keys.
“Where are you are driving to?”
“To a private opening in Soho.”
She nodded and wished him a lot of fun.
Art was his great passion and he never missed an opportunity to go to museums, exhibitions or similar events and admire the work of artists.
Today’s exposition had particularly aroused his interest. The topic was the intermediate phase of death. He was curious as to what the artist thought regarding this subject.
It looked like that he was not the only one interested in this theme because the gallery’s vast space was overflowing with life. The guests were sometimes standing so close to the pictures that it was almost impossible to view them undisturbed. At first glance however, they were all rather disappointing and did not come even remotely close to reality. But how could a pathetic little human being know how it should look.
He grabbed a glass of wine from a tray and listened to the conversations of bystanders. Every-one seemed to have his own story linked to the topic of death.
“My mother recently died … At the end she looked really transparent.”
“With my father I knew it already weeks beforehand. I could see it in his eyes.”
“They say that they are being met … by those that have gone before.”
“Have you read the report on Steve Jobs’ death? He smiled when it was his time.”
“One could really not have tackled the topic any more boringly. Even a fly’s turd is more interesting than this. Shit, it’s only ten o’clock.”
He smirked and looked for the person that voiced his thoughts so accurately. She stood next to a man and they toasted the press photographer. Long black hair lay like glossy liquid silk on her back and when she turned around he saw her stunning face and a fascinating pair of bright, piercing green eyes.
“Dr. Eltringham!” Louise Rush, a colleague from the hospital rooted herself directly in front of him and blocked his view of the beautiful woman.
Since their first encounter in the operating room, the almost five foot nine physician adored him and tried to engage in conversation at every suitable and unsuitable occasion. Before his marriage she would have been an easy and welcoming target, but at the present he had no need. In addition, women that offered themselves like this and whose intent was so obvious, bored him to death.
She pointed to a painting behind him and chattered away uninhibited and without hesitation. Morris looked around again for the little beauty, but she was lost somewhere in the crowd.
Dr. Rush had only Morris’s good manners to thank for the fact that he simply did not turn away and leave. Letting the nonstop babble flow in one ear and out the other, he nodded occasionally at the appropriate times. His eyes wandered again and again over the heads of the guests looking for the pair of jade-green eyes.
“… don’t you think so, Dr. Eltringham?”
“I agree completely.”
At last he had found her. Smooth and gracefully she moved among the crowd and shot photos with her camera. Her upright posture suggested that she had enjoyed many years of dance lessons.
All the nearby women kept throwing him lustful glances, but she ignored him, which attracted him even more. “Would you excuse me?” Too much chatter gave him headaches. He left the doctor standing alone and walked past a couple of art works feigning interest, paused for a little while, listened to the asinine comments and then moved slowly towards the exit. Fresh air was needed urgently. Normally he would have left the opening after a half an hour, at the latest, but yet hung around for a while and went later to his car in order to wait for the end of the event.
When the last guests had finally left the gallery it took less than ten minutes until the lights were extinguished and the beautiful young woman appeared on the street with a blonde. Hoping that the two would not stop at a bar or a nightclub even though the night was still young, he started his engine and followed them slowly from the shadows of the houses to a parking garage. There he watched as the two women parted from each other and rolled down his window. The night wind carried their voices softly to him and as he had hoped, he caught her name. Leia. Speaking it in a low voice, it sounded like a note in a sad piece of music.
Patiently he waited until she drove out the exit and followed her at a moderate distance up to Bushwick. Meanwhile, it had started snowing again. The thick snowflakes swirled around the moving cars and lay like cake icing on roofs, roads and parked cars. The white carpet gave the night a strange light that in other parts of the city were certainly romantic. In this area it only highlighted the blemishes.
Bushwick was known for its thriving drug trade and its Hispanic population that accounted for eighty percent of the majority.
On the house walls young people had sprayed their wild graffiti; street lights had been smashed and submerged some corners into an eerie darkness. She lived in a rather uncomfortable and unsafe neighborhood. In his opinion it was far too dangerous for a young woman of her class to wander alone at night.
They drove past a small park where a few gang members were playing football with a tin can on the fringes. One of them, a small short-legged Puerto Rican pointed to Leia’s car and said something to the others.
Leia was completely oblivious to anything in the outside world. From what he could observe by her bobbing head and drumming hand on the steering wheel was that she was listening to loud music. The car stopped next to a large dumpster a few streets further. She probably lived in one of the old factory buildings that had been rendered habitable and converted into lofts. Still she had no clue as to the danger that was surrounding her.
He turned onto the side street and stopped several hundred feet from her front door, observing how Leia exited her car in his rear view mirror. While looking in her purse for something, three creepy young guys stepped around the corner and immediately circled their quarry.
Morris took out two batons from under the seat, put one in the left and the other in his right pocket and got out of the car. He pulled his black wool cap down low over his face as he neared the small group.
One of the Latinos grabbed the bag and chucked the contents onto the street. He discovered her wallet and with a satisfied grunt thrust a handful of dollar bills into his pocket. The other cretins were in the mood for something else. The biggest pushed the frightened defenseless woman against the wall while holding a knife to her throat. Frozen with horror, she made no sound as he probed under her skirt.
They were so preoccupied with their victim that they didn’t notice Morris approaching them. There was only a slight clunk as the batons extended and a snapping sound as one hit a guy’s leg and the other almost simultaneously slammed down into the face of another. A nasty crunch told him that he had broken the bones of both. The third and shortest stared up at him stunned and quickly scampered away.
Morris picked up the keys from the street, threw them at Leia and waited until she had disappeared through the doorway. When he knew she was safe, he glanced at the pathetic figures at his feet. Filled with fear neither made a sound. Morris could hear the panting of the third guy that had bolted around the corner. He launched into a sprint and spied him in no time. A well-targeted throw of the baton knocked down the fugitive and Morris seized him by the collar, dragged him upright and pushed him up against the wall. Small condensed clouds of breath came in bursts out of his mouth and the eyes of his opponent widened in terror-stricken fear.
The blood in Morris’s veins ran like hot oil. It was a sure sign that he was going to transmogrify. His irises changed color to a deep black and sharp talons dug into the throat of the young guy.
“If I ever see any of you on this road again and people are hurt or robbed, I’ll make sure that you’ll wish that you had never been born, is that clear?” he hissed and reached into the pocket of the panting Latino to retrieve the crumpled dollar bills. No sooner had he released him from his claw-like grip, he took off across the road and disappeared into the dark unlit park.
The other two were still lying on the ground in front of the snow-covered entrance. The one with the broken jaw was now unconscious; the other–holding his leg–writhed in pain. However it did not keep him from uttering a threat, which he paid for by receiving another blow to his other leg. This would discourage the rat from preying on helpless people. Morris picked up Leia’s scattered belongings and put everything back into the purse, which he then laid on top of the dumpster.
Light was now on in two lofts. He made out the delicate shape of Leia behind one of the top windows. She was completely distraught and was talking to someone on the phone. Retracting the batons, he went with a knowing smile back to his car.
When he arrived home, his wife was asleep on the sofa. On the table stood an empty bottle of wine and the television was on. A familiar image to him, as he often came home from a night shift and found her like this.
He covered the huddled body with a blanket and looked at Christine worriedly. How swiftly she had faded in his hands. The once young, beautiful and rosy face of the thirty year old had suddenly aged a decade in the last year. But that was not the only change; her soul was damaged too by her dying love. The one time cheerful uncomplicated young woman now became irritable and moody. She had started drinking and taking drugs for reasons that not even she could explain. But he knew why and his mother had warned him not to enter into a marriage with a mortal woman.
He switched off the TV, walked into the bedroom and laid down on the bed.
Again and again the bright green eyes that had not even once noticed him were on his mind. The urge to see her again was intense. Confident that Christine would not wake up again he went to the window, went deep inside himself and spread his wings.
The entire city with its glittering jewels lay beneath his feet as he glided silently through the darkness. No one was visible on the cobblestone street in front of Leia’s house. The young creeps had either been picked up or hit the road by themselves. Satisfied, he noticed that her purse still lay untouched on the dumpster. Softly he landed on the snowy roof of the old brick building and peered through the skylight.
There she lay asleep, only half-covered between rumpled, dark gray silk sheets. The outline of her slim body only confirmed that he was not mistaken; she was picture perfect. He forced his way into her subconscious and moved between the images in her dream.
She just finished processing the evening in the gallery and was in the middle of giving new color of her own with a brush and palette in hand to the paintings. A portion of them were already completed. The artist himself was sitting in a cage and spat angry insults about her smears. Morris found the scene very amusing.
The colorful, bright pictures that were supposed to illustrate a world between life and death were painted over by Leia’s dark, wild brush strokes and obelisk-like structures.
“Interesting,” he remarked calmly.
Grim-faced, she turned towards him ready to defend herself, but when she saw him her expression softened immediately. “Have we met?”
She studied him with narrowed eyes, but could not remember nor place him, which didn’t surprise him a bit. “Why interesting?”
“Do you imagine the transition like that?”
“Transition means that you are on the way to something. Heaven is light, warmth and love while hell is dark, cold and malevolent. So why should the transition be full of light if the destination is still uncertain?”
“That sounds logical in a certain way.”
“It does not just sound, it is logical.”
“The transition could also be colored. Like a mixture of light and dark. How would it be with dark blue or purple?”
She looked at him curiously. “I don’t like purple.”
“That’s naturally an argument,” he said laughing.
The brush was dipped again noisily into the black paint and smeared over the oil paintings some more.
Abruptly, Leia opened her eyes and looked around confused. Her eyes roamed to the skylight. For a moment he thought that she had discovered him, but looking back down at her, she was writing by the light of her reading lamp, with weary half-opened eyes, a few lines in a book: the man with the beautiful ice-blue eyes. She giggled quietly, closed the book and put it back on her nightstand.
He waited until she was asleep and then pushed off and ascended, higher and higher, until disappearing into the clouds, where he turned a few circles and went on his way back home.
Most people forgot their dreams immediately upon waking and even though the memories sometimes came back like déjà vu, they were quickly forgotten again. He had wandered through many dreams; had sweetened many women’s sleep, but only a few had aroused his interest. Leia excited him and he would see if and how far she would let him into her heart.
Exactly at six he woke up. His wife was lying in bed facing away from him in the fetal position. During the early morning hours she must have laid down next to him shortly after he went to bed. When they were newly in love she had always pressed herself close to him and was only able to fall asleep when he lay beside her. That had changed as well as many other things.
Rising quietly, he went into the bathroom to get ready. It had been his desire to lead a normal life as much as it was possible for his species. That’s why he had studied and went to work like any other human being. Although due to his background he didn’t have to do anything. His father had seen to it that the woman he loved and the two sons he had given her would want for nothing in life. He had sent her a rich man to marry, who would bequeath her his entire fortune after his death. However, the marriage was short-lived as his father could not bear to see his love in the arms of another man.
After the death of his mother, managing the family wealth lay in the hands of his half-brother Yven, who had been the result of the short marriage.
In the emergency room all hell broke loose. A serious road accident had claimed five deaths and Dr. Henry Rodman had struggled for two hours to save the lives of the three seriously injured. When Morris entered, relief reflected in the face of his colleague, who tried with bloodstained hands to stabilize a patient who had a steel rod rammed into the abdomen. But the shaft slipped out and in its place was a large gaping hole that now spurted blood. Dr. Rodman reached into the opened abdominal cavity and pressed the artery closed by hand.
“Patient with polytrauma,” he explained to Morris, who guessed the severity of the injuries at a glance and classified the chances of survival as very low. The monitor displayed the baseline heart rate that gave an urgent and monotonous tone.
“Cardiac arrest, doctor.”
But the surgeon did not respond.
“Dr. Rodman, no more vital functions,” said the nurse now urgently. “The patient is dead!”
The nurse reluctantly prepped the adrenaline syringe.
Henry Rodman pulled it out of her grasp and drove the entire dose into the vein. Then he reached for the nurse’s hand and placed it on the open artery. “Come on! Just press!” He worked the sternum of the patient, but the line of the ECG remained merciless and even the continuous tone signaled the futility of the resuscitation.
Morris put his hand on the doctor’s arm. “She’s not there anymore, Henry. Let her go.”
Slowly, the physician seemed to respond. He was completely overworked and Morris led him out. “Go home and get some rest, I’ll take over now.”
His colleague looked at him with gratitude and trudged down the hall with his head hanging, to his well-deserved time off.
While looking at the big clock above her head and writing down the exact time of death, a movement caught her eye. “Dr.?” Silently she pointed to the ECG recording. “We have activity.” She shook her head in disbelief. “Incredible. I thought she is …”
“Columbus also thought that he had landed in India.”
A clear, slight twitch could be seen on the device that could also just be a last gasp, a deceptive sign of uncoordinated cardiac work. The nurse reached for the defibrillator and gave him the electrodes. Morris, who at the same time felt for the patient’s pulse, looked at her furiously. “The patient has a PEA. Have you heard of it?! What are you doing with the defibrillator?”
The nurse helplessly checked for a pulse and could not find it, just like Morris, who meanwhile administered thoracic compressions. “P stands for pulseless. Would you therefore please start respiration.”
Morris called for a colleague to take care of the damaged artery while he continued massaging the heart and resumed the work initiated by Dr. Rodman, although he wished that the young woman would have completed her journey today.
The nurse pumped oxygen at regular intervals into the lungs and nodded to him encouragingly as the heart line became regular and stronger under his hands. “You have golden hands, Doc,” she said and wiped the sweat from his brow.
The eyes of the patient opened for a brief moment and her pupils were dilated, staring past him, seeing something from another world that was incomprehensible to her human mind. As soon as she awoke, all would be forgotten and then the race was on. Morris knew the game; she would either soon need psychiatric treatment or turn into a black soul. The last possibility was that she was strong enough and trusted in God, but not many did that…
to be continued
Copyright by Lilly M. Love
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