Moon Children Ch. 05-06byPurpleThread©
I must have lost consciousness... because I woke on my side pressed against cold black marble. I rose with difficulty, feeling stiff and only mostly conscious. My inner eyelids had waxed my peripheral vision, and could not be blinked away.
The monotony of the booming percussion had ended. The beast was gone. Laurel lay a few feet from me. I stumbled over to him, rolling him over. His wounds had not begun to heal. I could feel his feeble pulse, though, and pressed my cheek to his wound.
Our ability to heal quickly is not as supernatural as you would think. Themal gave us her deitous larynx, with which we can purr. The resonance from such feline vibration speeds the healing process exponentially.
I worried, though, that Laurel might have been beyond my power.
I shifted so that my throat pressed to the deepest of his punctures, purred so loudly my throat began to hurt. I lay like this for some time, looking over his body at the beast's aftermath.
The corpses of several mice littered my once-pristine ballroom floor. I noticed another body draping the bandstand, tried to convince myself it wasn't Skull's. Though, the longer I stared at it... the more it looked like Columbine.
My night vision was failing through the tears and my stubbornly encroaching nictitating membranes. I buried my face in Laurel's blood-soaked shirt.
It was at this moment I felt a hot gust at my back. I then felt thunderous reverberation in the air around me. I froze to the spot, eyes now fully wide.
Something broad and damp nudged me in the back. Upon inhaling, I now smelt the unmistakable aroma of big male cat.
Laurel began to stir, and I tried desperately to still him. The booming vibration died instantly. I felt the body under me being tugged, heard Laurel cry out weakly in pain. I turned to see Laurel's head pinched between large frontal teeth. He was conscious. I saw the expression of terminal dead on that fair face. Then the teeth clicked together. It didn't crunch so much as "crumph". It sounded more like a ripe gourd being crushed than bone and organ.
The body dropped. A large, bloodied tongue lolled downward, depositing the upper half of my friend's head to rest on his own chest. I looked up at the cat, who, incredibly, was squinting at me in a feline smile. He began to purr again, for purring was what that booming thunder had been.
He was giving Laurel to me as a present.
I lost consciousness once more.
I woke to a burning sensation along one arm, and noted warmth to my back. The rest of me felt oddly chilled. I discovered the reason for this when I ran a cautious hand down my chest, midsection, and thigh. I was lacking garment.
My eyes opened, then squinted painfully shut. A thin beam of light, reflecting off the polished marble, shone too close to my elbow for comfort. There was altogether too much light in the room. The shutters were not closed. And it was day.
I began to panic.
Laurel's mauled corpse still sprawled before me.
Behind me, pressed in unconscious spooning, was the "beast" responsible. His fur had diminished to soft, pink skin. His face, though slaked with dried blood, was innocent and fair.
I noticed in passing he bore the high cheekbones of a Child, but not the pallor. I dared not wake him.
Gingerly, I moved from my spot, rose to my feet. I could feel the lightheaded side effects of stage one daylight poisoning. The switch to activate the protective shutters was upstairs, in my chambers.
Traversing the stairs proved difficult. My knees felt weaker with every stair; they felt as if they had been injected with hot liquid beneath the kneecap. I skirted the edges of sun patches, but less and less room remained as I rounded the curve in the staircase. I finally stopped at a band of sunlight, directly blocking my path. I drew a deep breath, then bolted for the other side. This ended painfully on my left ankle. I felt the pain shoot up my leg, and I stumbled. My chin struck a step, my teeth bit stupidly into my tongue. I slid down several steps, and lay in a pool of cheery morning light, naked and helpless.
The burning began. I could smell myself cooking. My mind was adrift, and my haws shut quickly. The world was a milky-bright blur. I forced myself to concentrate on moving upward, grasping weakly at the banister struts. I arrived at the top, slowly but surely, crawled into the blessed cool of shadow, and lay in an afflicted heap.
It took me the worse part of an hour to regain movement. Bipedal motion was difficult, but no longer impossible. I could only focus on simple concepts in the state of stage two poisoning. My inner eyelids had receded somewhat, allowing slits in the veined white through which I could barely discern blurred shapes. Staggering, I crossed the last few feet to my bedroom.
The switchboard covered the side of my nightstand. It, my bed, and most of my bedroom was bathed in deadly sunlight. I cursed myself in a drunken slur, wondering distantly why I didn't have an emergency shutter button in every damned room.
I grabbed a nearby throw blanket from my loveseat, draped myself, and made a dash for the panel, sliding over my sun-heated bedsheets. My hand sizzled as it shot out to the switch. I fumbled, my heart thudded in quick panic for a moment. I found the bedroom shutter switch and pressed it with force. Healing cool slid up the bands of light on the carpet, and I was soon in safety.
I lay there for some time, purring in weak, strangled breaths. It was late in the day by the time I regained full cognizance.
My first action upon waking was to activate the remaining shutters.
Fully clothed in the first tee-shirt and pair of jeans I could find, I ventured back out to assess the damage done to my home.
I checked each guest room in turn... and found poor Chamomile in a jellied pool of her own dark blood. She had not died from blood loss; she had burned to death. It was my fault. Had I woken before sunrise...
It was not my fault. It was his.
One could recede another philosophical step and ask whether or not I had invited that particular being in the first place... but how could I have known?
I left Chamomile's blistered remains there, planning to give her a proper burial later, along with Laurel... and Columbine... and Skullscap...
What's done is done, as my mother always said. However the death of my comrades had come about, it had already happened. The only thing to be done at that point was pick up the debacle's debris downstairs... and subdue the man before moonrise.
Crisp, cold water stung my parched throat, but I gulped down the glass with haste. I filled the glass again from the dispenser in the silver fridge door, downed the glass again.
My head felt finally clear again. Mind, I was quite groggy from staying up that late in the day, but I was not tired. I could ill afford to be sluggish then.
There were still a few hours of daylight left. For once, this was to my advantage.
I had retrieved my handgun from its hidden containment. I had never used it before, and had purchased it a few decades ago to quell my then-mate's nervous preoccupation with human conspiracy. He had moved on (no doubt, to live out the rest of his many days in a bomb shelter), but the gun I had kept. I had no idea it would actually come to use in self-defense.
There were far too many bodies to transport en mass by my strength alone, and they had started to spoil. The ballroom was rank with them. The majority of the banquet arrayed on the dining room table, however, was salvageable. I did not yet go about putting these items in their places, though. The man was awake.
The sight of him brought on a strange mixture of emotions... outrage, angst, fright... And still that animal attraction which defied logic. I dampened the distraction of my psyche, focused instead upon my next actions.
He stood with his bare back to me, naked as from the womb. He was looking around himself, hands to his head and fingers clenching disheveled clumps of orange hair. He staggered forward a step, hands dropping. He looked down to see the ghastly mess that once was Laurel, and promptly wretched.
I moved in complete stealth, without a sound. He didn't hear me sidle up behind him. I doubt he even felt the butt of my gun strike the back of his head.
I deposited the bodies one by one out the rear entrance, into the spacious garage. Laurel's remains I carefully washed and arranged in my meat locker for proper burial at a later time. There they would have to stay until full dark... or until I had figured out what to with the naked man restrained in my master bathroom.
I had an old-fashioned claw-footed tub attached to the modern plumbing. Using a length of nylon rope and some handcuffs (their use previously for that of pleasure and imprisoning the palatable); I secured his outstretched arms to the legs of the tub beneath him. He lay against a raised slope of waterproof cushion at the back of the tub, looking innocent and gorgeous.
I stood over him, left hand and pistol akimbo, right hand to my delicately pointed chin in consideration. It was actually easier to think during the day, I found. My more feral impulses were dulled and easily ignored.
I was startled from my thoughts when he opened one wet hazel eye. The other lid rose sluggishly, puffed slightly with bruising. I hoped Skullscap had at least inflicted that much damage. He stared at the ceiling for a moment, sniffing a long breath. His gaze darted to the shuttered window, to his bound arms, to his nudity. Then, to me.
"You will answer some questions while you have consciousness." I made the gun's presence known. While it was, in fact, loaded; the safety was on and I had no intention of discharging the device unless absolutely necessary. Horrid, primitive things guns are.
He regarded me with fuzzy bewilderment for a few more moments.
"Why am I tied down?"
"Is that your name?"
He shook his head, still dazed. "Baze. Basil. Why..."
"Basil? Who names their child Basil?"
He gave me a sardonic frown. "My fuckin' Ma, that's who. Why the bleeding fuck am I tied to a bathtub? AND WHY AM I NAKED??"
Short-timers, how I cannot stand their incessant impatience.
I squatted next to him, fixing him with a sharp stare. His own eyes widened, seeing for the first time my cat's irises.
"What you say could very well mean the difference between survival and death. Do you doubt me?"
He shook his head, swallowing hard and causing his Adam's apple to bob.
"Tell me everything you remember after entering my house yesterday evening."
He took a moment to think, looking away as he did so. His brow furrowed in serious concentration. He looked adorable.
Speaking slowly, his voice trembled the tiniest bit. "I remember coming in the front door... Some skinny guy had a bowl of beans he was handing out. Everyone was supposed to eat one... I tucked mine in my pocket for later. I don't like to roll in crowds..." A nervous glance to me. "I'm sorry, I know it was part of the instructions you guys sent in the email..."
I waved the gun, dismissing this. "Continue."
He looked away again, color seeping into his cheeks. "So, I got a beer from the keg in the corner... mingled... set the beer down, lost it. Grooved to the breaks for a bit... Man, there musta been something in that beer because I started losing it. I dunno... maybe it was a contact high? There were guys Cheechin' it up near me... But pot doesn't make you black out, you know? At least, not me... And then..."
I remembered that moment with sudden, vivid clarity. I had to concentrate on keeping my eyes to his face... his nether regions seemed to hold a sort of gravity that kept pulling at my gaze. I glanced quickly- discovered he must have been recalling that moment himself. I grabbed a nearby towel, tossing it over his stiffening shame. I did my best to forget its presence.
He blushed darkly; an irresistible, naughty smirk tugging at the side of his mouth.
"Yeah, then there was this girl... She bumped into me, just as I was starting to feel out of it. I don't remember her face. I only remember bits and pieces. It's... it's all dark. I think... I think we made out. Felt like she gave me a monster of a hickey..."
His head snapped up, suddenly intent. "Wait, is she still here? Is she ok? I think I remember the cops showing up... Geez, what did I do?" His face darkened, brow clenching in sick concern.
"Did I... did I hurt anyone?"
I pursed my lips, unable to answer that. I felt tears stinging the backs of my eyes.
"You don't remember?"
"No... no, not really... I remember..." he paused, considered, continued. "I remember being randy as hell. Then I remember getting really... really mad. I don't remember why. Then... I think I got something to eat, 'cause I think I was really hungry."
Tears rolled down my cheeks, I hastily wiped them away.
"Please tell me if I hurt someone. You have to tell me. I was out of it, but I'm still responsible." His eyes were sincere, full of remorse. It was the countenance of an angel mourning the world's sin.
I was kissing him.
There was no pause. No time between. His mouth was suddenly on mine, I was leaned far forward, on my knees, the gun forgotten on the tile floor. Tasting him again, I could almost forget anything had happened between last night's festivities and that moment. It was as if time were merely continuing after pause for a mere bad dream. Our mouths opened.
His neck craned, mouth searching for mine as I pulled away. The towel had formed a little tent. He blinked with innocent confusion as I turned from him.
I had tasted Laurel. I had tasted his final thoughts.
They were for my safety.
"Is... is that all you remember? Can you think of nothing else?"
I heard him shift, bare skin causing a small squeak against the porcelain.
"Yes. I told you everything... I'm a little confused... why did you kiss me, just now?"
I was asking myself that same question. I retrieved the gun, stepped to the sink for a glass of water. I reached instead for mouthwash.
"You saw bodies, when you woke." My fingers fumbled with the cap, I dropped it in the sink.
"No... no, I had a really bad nightmare about bodies, though..."
"You-" I dropped the bottle whilst trying to pour into a glass. The glass likewise fell, shattered stupidly at my feet. I choked back a sob, retrieving the bottle.
"You saw the body. I watched you. You vomited. On his corpse." I took a swig from the bottle, swallowed instead of spat. The pungent fluid caused me to cough twice. I wiped at my quivering lip with the back of a quivering hand.
"No... no, that was a nightmare."
"YOU KILLED THEM ALL!" I screamed at him. I could not bring myself to look at him. I had to leave the room. I seized the gun and rushed out, slamming the door behind me.
I normally have better control. The best, I would have said, were you to ask the night before.
Pacing my room after that outburst, I had very little.
My hand clenched and unclenched around the gun handle. I even squeezed the trigger at the bathroom door several times- uneventfully, as the safety was till locked.
Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma. I was torn. I needed to kill him. I could not kill him. There was no right or wrong here. There were only unfortunate circumstances. I damned fate, I damned nature. I begged Themal for guidance, and her statue remained stonily silent upon her little alterial shelf.
I wasted over half an hour of precious time having my little temper tantrum. I calmed eventually, grasping a pillow and breathing deeply.
I returned to the bathroom, causing Basil to jolt awake from his doze.
"Lissen, I'm sorry, whatever I did, I'm sorry but I'd never kill anybody I swear to Christ I'd never-"
"I know." My face was resigned. I hung my head.
"Then... can you untie me?"
I looked up at him. His sweet, innocent features were hopeful and shamed, like a kitten spanked for scratching the furniture, hoping to be petted in forgiveness.
"Can I ask why?"
I shook my head, biting at the side of my mouth.
"I don't know if you're ready for that."
I brought him water to drink, but he refused food. It was not surprising. I sat vigil over him for another two hours, watching him nod off and envying him for what little sleep he got. I passed the gun back and forth between my hands slowly. I had not decided to put it away just yet. It was an uneasy weight in my hands.
The more I looked at him, the farther my rage receded. He was so... perfect. I suppose he had multiple flaws, physical and psychological... but I was blind to them. Basil... what a bizarre name for such natural pulchritude.
I fought the impulse to smirk, having happened upon a devious idea. Well... it needed to be done... there was nothing "naughty" about it... It's not like he could do it himself...
I rose from the chair I had been sitting in, setting the gun on the counter. Basil woke suddenly, feeling the towel which was his only modesty yanked from him. He then gasped as cold water splashed his feet.
"It will warm in a few minutes." I said, fitting the plug in the drain. "You need a bath."
A nearby wash cloth wiped the blood from his face with minor difficulty. He winced and complained I was scrubbing too hard. I countered that his stubble wasn't making my job any easier. I switched to a natural sponge and some organic soap.
I washed his minor wounds gingerly. My fangs had left the telltale deep punctures where his neck met his shoulder. I began to salivate, thinking about... I pushed that away, the thought was of no benefit. The dried blood washed from his arms, his chest. As I was cleaning his stomach, my hand slipped from the sponge... We both jolted guiltily at the unintentional contact. I darted after the sponge, missed, grasped something else.
I stepped away with haste, drying my hands on a towel. I had to stand with my back to him for a moment.
"You'll probably want to brush your teeth, but I don't have a spare toothbrush," I said quickly.
"M... mouthwash is fine." he stammered.
I grabbed the bottle and held it out behind me. When he didn't take it, I shook it lightly in emphasis.
"You know, as much as I'd like to take that and do it myself..."
I blushed. Of course he couldn't.
I unscrewed the cap, turning to him. I tilted the bottle into his open mouth so he could get a small amount. He swished and spat into the bathwater. I grimaced at this, capping the bottle and setting it aside.
"So... Are you going to finish what you started?"
My stomach flipped.
"Well, you insisted on giving me a bath..."
"Because you were filthy."
"Yeah. And are you going to finish?"
"Oh." My heart pounded stupidly in my ears. "Yes, sure, I suppose."
I kept kidding myself it was innocent. Any excuse to touch him. I continued to wash that taut midsection, working my way back up both sides. It was when I leaned in to scrub his back that I lost my hold on logic again.
I was leaning directly over him, my face inches from his. I saw that his pupils had dilated... noted that his chest was rising and falling with heavy breath... Breath that smelled jauntily of fabricated mint, but did not conceal his natural tantalizing scent.
He was kissing me. He had leaned forward, and simply taken my mouth with his. It felt natural and exhilarating at the same time. The sponge floated, forgotten, to the wall of the tub. My free hand cupped the back of his head, and the kiss deepened. His tongue found mine. The friction of our taste buds caused a spark of tingling. I gasped through my nose, inhaling him, taking in his pheromones, his musk...