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There will be no more Gods!

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Invictus was a name you could trust. That was the motto of his business. Prior to the deluge, Invictus was involved in energy production and supply, gas extraction, mining and had just commenced a foray into farming and food production when that disaster had struck. Anders had the acumen to find a gap in the market and fill it, and he had a reputation for buying out a company that was failing with some predation and quickly turning around. Hence Invictus, over many centuries, had become a multinational conglomerate that had an influence in many sectors.

 

Originally, its speciality was shipping and transport. Which was all well and good when sailing ships moved freight across the seas and the most technologically advanced mode of transport was a bullock cart. Then came the steam engine and again, he invested and produced some of the first railroads on Hellifyno. These became obsolete with the arrival of the internal combustion engine. So then he sunk a significant amount of capital into research and development of motor vehicles with heavy investment in oil extraction and refinement. It had paid off and made the company very wealthy indeed.

 

Until Kida.

 

Anders couldn’t even think of her name without curling a lip and feeling that hot ball of rage building in his gut. Portal networks. Overnight, it had wiped out three quarters of his business and being such the goody goody, despite trying a myriad of different methods, could not get a foot in. He was shut out. Shipping and transport became instantly obsolete and motor vehicles, consigned to something that enthusiasts took out for a spin every Sunday. A rather charming historical punctuation in the industrial development of Hellifyno that the portal networks- clean, non polluting, energy efficient, magical- had superseded.

 

With the vastly reduced population, it was a workers market. Production needed to recommence and quickly and his farming concerns were the only businesses bringing in any kind of profit, as trifling as this was. Profits were going to be slashed even further given the meeting he had just attended with representatives of the farming workers who had decided to form a union and were demanding an exorbitant rise in wages that Invictus just could not support. Yet Hellifyno required food, and quickly, but the workers had downed tools and were all ripe and bold with the anti-disestablishment principles of a fair days work for a fair days pay- and yet- what they were asking for was not fair.

 

No it was not fair at all.

 

The meeting had left him with a sense of roiling irritation and so it was to his favorite hostelry, and to the cellar kept by harry that he made his way.

 

He needed to show the working class  that they had become far too bold, that Invictus, or rather Anders, expected obedience, and with a phone planted against his ear as he swept into the Blue Moon Inn, he was in the midst of organising the assassination of the wife of one of the main ringleaders of this new “Solidarnosc”. Something brutal, bloody and public- to show Helliyans that he was not going to be manipulated like this and that yes- he was still in control. Anders had given the message, but he left the method up to the house painter that would complete the task and by the time he reached the bar, the call was complete and the task was already a done deal.

 

It was with a sigh that he pinched at the bridge of his nose, squeezing his eyes tightly closed in a facsimile of human weariness. Harry attended the newcomer immediately, for Anders was one of his most loyal and wealthiest customers and had been coming to this place since it was a board stacked onto a couple of barrels situated in a small and dirty hovel when Consequence was merely a fishing village and the only brew they sold was a sour ale. If anyone had observed the massive changes and development to this world, it had been Anders, watching Consequence build to the modern neon lit utopia that it had been before the deluge and once more, smashed into oblivion. This had happened so many times that Anders could barely count the ways. So much so that he was investing in commercial builders to rebuild and make Consequence the glittering jewel that it had always been.

 

But always- ALWAYS- the Blue Moon and Harry prevailed and always, Anders had his seat at the bar, like an erroneous shadow, dressed all in black, a misanthropic oasis of fury and viciousness, packaged as a young pale man, dressed in a business suit and looking like any number of movers and shakers that one could find in the business district of the city. The slick crowd of lawyers, stock brokers and investors whose prime and only focus was accruing wealth and then avariciously holding onto it.

 

Harry would study the young man for a moment or two as Anders rubbed at his eyes. He appeared so very young but looks could be deceiving in Hellifyno and in this, Anders was no exception. For centuries he had served this young man, watching him develop and expand in the same way as his company, like a tumour attached to Consequence’ underbelly, feeding from joy and life and love and Invictus on the working poor. In a way, Consequence had a lot to thank Anders for. Many of the technological advances could be directly attributed to Invictus and the vampyre had shown great consistency when it came to Consequence. Every knock, every failure, the man had picked himself back up and carried on with this city as the focus.

 

Harry might not like Anders, for what he is, for how he behaves, for how he… acquires nourishment, but he had to admire his tenacity and the loyalty that he still, to this day, showed to Consequence. Many would have given up by now. Thrown up their hands and written it off as a bad investment opportunity. Not Anders, and for that Harry had respect, for many had tried over the years, but none had the long business relationship with the city as Anders had.

 

Joanna’s eyes lift upon hearing several shuffles people leaving through shimmering portals or through actual doors but what catches her eyes is the pale slick dressed stranger from before entering. He looked…pissed. Stressed? Seeing him this way was…oddly more unsettling then when he stared daggers at the mermaid the other day.

 

She didn’t catch what he had sad on the phone, didn’t think she wanted to either bit must have been the cause to the unique entrance. She says nothing of course, just a fly on the wall really spectating what titans do day to day. She takes a slow sip in of her straw finding it a task in itself as usual with the ice cream not quite melted yet in her float.

 

Eventually the young man would look  up and gaze into Harry’s eyes. He was a handsome youth. Painfully pale, like death, fine elegant features, high cheekbones that appeared sculpted from quality Italian marble, a long straight almost regal nose, full lips and a strong brow. The almond shaping of his orbits gave him an almost elven appearance, but this was merely a genetic trait of the people from his original motherland, far away on an alternative Earth, on the border between Sweden and Finland in his families country seat on the Bothnian coast.

 

But the eyes had changed.

 

Harry remembers them before the denouement, bright and clear and human in appearance, a sparkling ice blue, but since his deification, the sclera had been stained the dark crimson of old blood and the depth of colour made it impossible to distinguish from pupil but for that same ice blue iris, that floated upon hollow pools of gore and were disarmingly otherworldly in their appearance. Even Harry had to admit Anders looked weary.

 

“Not my usual today Harry. Perhaps something that would give me..” an eyebrow arches into query and Anders continues  “…a little lift?”

 

The man would seem preoccupied, so much so that he would not really assay the space to inspect the other patrons. He didn’t care who was there. People held no interest for him other than the obvious, and the very few that he may have referred to as acquaintances were very particular humans indeed, with highly specialised skills. Anders had no friends, for in the business world, there was no loyalty, just the cut throat task of making money. One used people for what one needed then moved on, and at least, in that- he was perfect.

 

 

Was she still staring? Yes. Was it rude? Yes, yes it was. She feels awkward suddenly as this dawns on her and Jo clears her throat looking the complete opposite direction sheepishly. Taking a break from drinking she moves a hand to tuck her hair on the left side behind her ear again. She will check the mirror for the upteenth time when she returned to the studio to see if she could do something about it, she could swear it felt uneven though it never seemed so when she inspected closely. With nothing else left to occupy her her hand lifts to her neckline where she absently grabs at a locket once tucked under her shirt and sweater. She rubs at the metal letting her wild imaginings keep her company for the time.

 

 

The pale man in black could be seen patting down at his jacket before slipping a hand into a pocket and retrieving what he was looking for. A soft pack of cigarettes, the crumpled packaging of pale blue and gold was deposited on the counter while he searched for his lighter. Joanne would see him in profile, with platinum hair swept back from a high forehead, long slender almost effeminate neck that was cut off by the crisp, smart collar of a costly black shirt. Perhaps she would study him as he went through the motions of shaking loose a cigarette and hanging it loosely between pale lips as he flicked the lighter into life and his face was momentarily illuminated by the mellow warmth of flame as he lit it.

 

 He almost appeared human.

 

A long draw upon it, filling dusty unused lungs. The lighter was snapped shut and the illusion of vitality quickly vanished. After one long expiration, that resulted in his head wreathed by a silvery fragrant corona of smoke, he slowly turned his head to gaze directly into the eyes of Joanne, illustrating that he had known he was being observed all along. A wide unblinking gaze that seemed to fill the consciousness until there was nothing else that existed in this world but two raging crimson eyes. If Joanne was susceptible, she may even feel a mild tickling sensation, deep in her cerebellum. “May I help you?” he asked in a lazy drawl though Joanne would have the feeling that helping her was the last thing on Anders mind. 

 

 

-Eric came down to the bar after his shower. Dressed in blue jeans and a muscle shirt his olive skin was fresh and clean from the shower. He had no shoes on sported bear feet. He asked the bartender for a cup of English breakfast tea and cream with chicken fajitas. Smelling cigarette smoke intrigued him looking around he saw where came from. He stared at Anders for a moment. Mainly at the thing in his hands and wondered what it was. Only until his tea was brought that Eric looked away-

 

And so their eyes connected a second. A second that to Joanna felt like minutes, too long. After which she diverted to those whimsy’s of the mind. She was pulled from them just as she was settling in though his voice directed at…her?” She looks over confused to see in his blank expression that the question was not one of sincerity, it perhaps might have even been rhetorical. She shakes her head awkwardly and gives a sheepish smile looking away,

 

“No…no…I’m good…” She managed to say. A glance to the vibrant haired man looking to Anders before she went to focus on her soda. “…Monday’s…am I right?” Jo you fool…

 

As Eric stared at his tea he thought about the man and the uneasy feeling he got from him. ”Who was he? Why does he give me this cold feeling” Eric thought in his mind.-

 

 

Eric would be pointedly ignored by the strange pale young man although it was clear he was aware of unabashed staring. No – his gaze would continue to bore into Joanne like a drill, and given what this monster was capable of, it could feel anything like a discomforted feeling of being inspected and judged to the actual sensation of trephination. When Joanne finally looked away, and Anders would see the effort it would take her, it was only then that the immovable mask of stone would then curl into a thin, humorless smile, for whatever had passed between them at that moment, Anders found mildly amusing.  

 

Harry returned with an ashtray upon which Anders resting the cigarette, and a glass wine goblet filled with a thick, dark and viscous liquid that left a residue upon the side of the vessel as it moved.And a stain upon the pale vampyre’s lips as he took that first revitalisating sip.

 

 

Joanna smirks and lets out a breathy chuckle. It wasn’t even Monday but she figured he’d get the gist. Her short locks come loose from her round little ear and she tugs it back into place. This was the only reason she liked the cold. Hats were more tolerable. She sighs relaxes seeming to feel better now the moment was over yet…the tug to look back over was a constant now. She drummed fingers on the bar to try and shake her out of such a foolish loop letting the melodic rattle take her focus before lifting the hand to grasp her cup and sip on her childish elixir once more. Must. Not. Look. Nope. No.

 

 

Humans, so fragile and yet such a marvel, so innovative, creative. They could master Heaven in a brushstroke and the same species, responsible for some of the very worst kind of death machines. Such a conundrum. He could almost admire them if not for the fact they were just meat. Harvested for the nourishment they could provide. Anders would note the marked efforts of Joanne to not look up and return her gaze to his. This caused his smile to deepen and eventually, he turned away. She at least, had shown greater strength and fortitude than most.

 

“An excellent vintage” Anders would comment to Harry who was awaiting the verdict, and satisfied with this critique, Harry would then disappear from behind the bar into a back room, to patch up the poor unfortunate soul who had been paid for a pint of their blood.

 

 

Eric sips his tea as a stack of papers and a stapler is handed to him. Eric smiles-“ thank you.” -He takes a few and goes around stapling flyers around. That reads: “wanna become famous? Wanna do some awesome? Wanna get paid? Then contact me at the blue moon tavern names Eric!”  After he is done Eric walked up to Anders and Joanna- “

 

“Excuse me I don’t mean to interrupt but my I interest either of you in a flyer?”

 

 

Her eyes peeked at the bottle when vintage was mentioned. That didn’t count as looking! Nope, that was merely reflex and yet she looked away as quickly as she could seeing the thicker than wine consistency by how it stained the glass even after it settled down to the bottom. She felt a little nauseous at that. At least she wasn’t surprised if only just a little sick at the thought of what it was the…being was drinking. She sighs leaning back off the bar, shoulders still slumped and pushed her root beer float away from her. Yeah she couldn’t drink that now.

 

Hearing an excuse me Joanna looks up and over at the vivid looking fellow and smiles kindly lifted a brow. “Flyer?”

 

-Eric clears his throat smiles at Joanna kindly.

 

“yes Ma’am a flyer.You see I’m doing something very dangerous and yet very exciting at the same time something that’s never been done before and I need help so I’m looking for people who will help me who want to know more.”

 

 

The look that Anders casts upon Eric was one of abject scathing, with a light curl of his lip which partially revealed the long pointed incisor that was an indicator of his breeding. He has zero interest in anything this male human had to offer. Anders’ nostril’s prickled from the miasma of unused testosterone that surrounded this youth and as Eric approached, Anders would lean back in his chair as though escaping from a vile stench that only he could perceive.

 

Anders did not respond- would not respond, merely ignored Eric completely and returned his attention to the glass in his hand, cupping the bowl that provided a warmth of precisely 30.c, the perfect temperature before cooling and clotting would make this whole experience quite unpalatable. With elegance and grace, the glass moved to his lips and this time he drank deeply.

 

 

For a split second a smug smile came over Eric’s lip but he quickly rubbed his lip as if it itched. Why did it do that Eric had no idea why did he have a burning hate for this man. He would have to think on it later-

 

“you see Ma’am” -Eric spoke kindly- “I want to summon a god.”

 

 

A few NPC patrons just drunkenly laugh, some even cackle at Eric’s words before they go back to their drink and bowls of peanuts.

 

 

And at this snippet of information, unashamedly eavesdropped, Anders would whip his head around to glare at the young human. Lip curling more obviously now, into a snarl and he snaps “There will be no more gods!” pinning Eric with a glare of such unremitting  anger and hatred that Eric might actually feel his flesh crawl, if he wasn’t a complete dolt.

 

Eric turned his head to look at Anders with a complete sincere face with compassion and grace he’s simply answered- “Not for long he’ll go back just long enough for me to get answers”

 

 

Joanna looked a bit confused at being called “Ma’am” but pushed through it to hear out the man’s case. Then he says his intent and her smile falls. She jumps a little and looks around as the other idle patrons merely laughed at the poor fellow but Anders sudden outburst is what startled the artists most. She sucks a breath in, holds it there and merely watches for now. She definitely didn’t have anything useful to add to this discussion for either side.

 

“THERE WILL BE NO MORE GODS!” repeats the vampyre with a roar, getting to his feet and taking a step towards Eric that should really be interpreted as a threat of harm. “NONE!” and both could see Anders’ hands curl into tight balled fists.  Anders’ expression twisted into one of hate, teeth bared now as both could see the two vicious fangs that were fully unsheathed and ready to rip and to tear. Anders’ face would take on a vulpine aspect, predatory and ready to attack.

 

This was not a request.

 

 

Eric turned to Anders facing him completely his expression calm –

 

“ Then don’t help but not stand there and tell me what I can and can not do. I bid thee good night sir. “

 

 

The movement was reactionary. Joanna stood upon roar her stool knocking over with ease. Pressing her body against the bar she backs away from the creature showing is other face to them. Though not the object of the rage she knew better to assume she would get caught in the cross-fire should things get ugly. She takes a glance at the door, her heart beating madly in her chest. She looks between Anders and Eric the human woman merely trying to anticipate a good time to run for it when need be.

 

 

Eric wouldn’t even see it coming, Anders’ moved with such preternatural speed, but the backhander that was currently flying towards the brazen human carcass called Eric was delivered with enough power to knock Eric flying from his feet and send him skidding across the floor.

 

“You want a God?” Anders’ voice would become distilled, precise and deepen into a guttural growl. The interior of the tavern appeared to become darker. Tables shake. Glasses rattle and fall from shelves behind the bar. Harry was gone as was every imp that had been working until then, taking shelter. Anders form had changed not at all, but there was an impression that his presence was growing to fill the space. Suddenly it became very cold. “You want a God?” repeats with even greater outrage.

 

“I will give you your God”

 

 

-Eric’s eyes begin to glow up bright white his fists began to glow a bright white The heat from his hands began to flood from him looking up at Anders in what seemed like 1000 voices and one spoke calmly and quietly.

 

“I will not let you harm these people stop what you’re doing!”

 

 

(Joanna) didn’t even see him move! Yeah, now seemed a good time to go but as she moved the temperature dripped the room shook, lights dimming. She decides she might not make it to the door and ducks under a table instead huffing the center pillar as glasses fell and shattered to the floor around her.

 

 

Eric got up and stood as if nothing happened.

 

 

And as Eric does nothing but talk, and he does nothing to prevent it connecting, the backhand would indeed make contact with Eric’s face, slamming into him with the power of ten men and with enough force to break his jaw. Glowy jazz hands did not impress this monster, and would be completely ineffective against the Vampyre Blood God of Hellifyno. More speed, more force, and Eric may feel his larynx crushed in the grip of a clawed hand that would slam him with such force into a wall that the plaster shattered and the line bowed and if undefended, would be held there while Anders throws back his head, roars with such primordial fury that the window panes rattle in their frames…and then sinks his teeth into that soft, milky flesh, to tear and rip and make the blood flow.

 

 

Fists connected with Anders Head as he got close each hit became in golfed in flame flame seem to spread and burn the flesh whatever it touched–The heat radiating off of Eric seem to burn like 1000 suns over.It’s the wood that scorched.

 

 

Joanna closed her eyes as the sounds of fist hitting flesh, then a body crashing across the room could be heard. The fight proceeded on then. She opened her eyes to get a glimpse at what could be seen of the two and make quick moves to crouch/run from table to table, slowly towards the exit.

 

 

The flesh on Anders’ face would crisp and blacken and fill the tavern with the stench of burning flesh as each blow from the child. There was pain, oh yes. Delicious pain! Skin bubbled with the molten fat beneath it and burst forth to spray Eric with gore. Pain was pure, it was brightness, it made Anders feel that for once, he was actually alive. But no acolyte of a false god was powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the blood god of THIS world, and despite the flesh on Anders face starting to peel and fall to the floor, exposing the clean white bone of his skull beneath, it would not stop Anders,  and his maniacal laugh could be heard above the flames as finally, he would sink his teeth into Eric’s throat with the intention of tearing out his larynx and using it as a chew toy

 

 

-Soon The fires spread to his bones and his muscle down around his chest it seem to engulf his very existence Eric kept pounding weirdest face and chest until soon Eric pushed him off with just in the force standing blood flowing from his neck bursts into flames and then dissipates leaving him with no wounds but he could not keep this up he’s getting tired and quickly and that took a lot out of him-

 

“stop this! There is no need!  You don’t understand!”

 

 

The door! Sweet victory! But that win is short lived. She coughs on the thick smell of burned flesh which unfortunately makes her turn to see who is the one being burned. She bares witness to the grotesque sight of Anders while he relentlessly beats on the poor fool of a man before arching back most unnaturally in her mind to sink fangs into him. She pushes out the door in time to stand panting out on the city streets. After catching her breath she stands up. She made it! It’s going to be alright…it’s okay…she’s okay…It’s- No…nope it’s not alright. She gags a wet gargling sound before ducking into the nearby alley to purge her drink as well as anything else in her stomach.

 

 

Blood flows. Greasy smoke fills the tavern as parts of Anders face finally flicker into flame and flash as his previously perfectly coiffured hair suddenly takes light and burns brightly like a beacon. Anders feels the heat, the pain, the damage caused to his quite beautiful face and revels in it. He hardly notices the woman leave, but she would not be safe either as this amount of damage would require a certain degree of nourishment, to heal and she would seem the most likely candidate.

 

 Eric would be faced with a tyrant of rage and hatred. But surprisingly it was the wall behind Eric that would be targeted next, a clawed hand slamming into it and wrenching it back as though he were opening a door. In a way he was.

 

Instead of the expected brick and mortar beneath the damaged plaster, a bright white aperture is torn into the fabric of reality by the angry blood god, and as the light dims, instead of the street outside the tavern, was the quiet bustling scene that was the Red Sun Inn in Persistence, with Jerry stood behind the bar, mouth agape at the portal that appears in the space about six feet above the floorboards and the sight of an snarling burning Anders making it happen. With one thrust, he would give an almighty push to the bleeding Eric, with strength enough to send him through.

 

“This is the place for you” Anders would snarl viciously. “Never come back” and if Eric wasn’t quick enough, or could defend himself from the attack, he would be deposited upon the floor of the Red Sun Inn and once that happened, the portal would snap closed behind him.

 

 

-Eric slammed his fist on the ground quickly driving them deep into the ground as an anchor point he flipped around and kicked Anders in the face sending him flying backwards-

 

“STOP THIS!”

 

 

Safe. Where is truly safe when you live among gods and monsters. Joanna may not be powerful but she was no fool. Once she got her gagging under control the sculptor would hug her stomach with one arm and will herself to stand holding herself as she makes quick steps out of the alley. She didn’t live far. A grungy studio apartment on the less than best side of town. Safe. Where was truly safe on Hellifyno? But she didn’t care to dwell on that again, she focus instead on the thoughts of warm chai tea to soothe her dry burning throat. The soft fluff of pillows and blankets which was her bed on the floor next to a window. For her this was safety, not matter how fragile it truly was.

 

 

The blow hit Anders with such force that his head snapped back on his neck and was instantly broken with a sickening crack that would have the rest of the patrons emulating Joanna’s example and running out into the street to escape the carnage and to empty their bellies onto the street outside. Anders head would be lolling sideways, his cheek resting flatly against his shoulder while his neck bulged with the remnants of those ruined cervical vertebrae. The damage was extreme, but this did not stop the vampyre blood God, lifting Eric up and throwing him through the portal.

 

“THERE WILL BE NO MORE GODS!!!” his roar shook the walls as Anders finally burst into flames and became a burning torch of flesh which filled the tavern with thick, acrid smoke.

 

 

-Having spent the last of his strength (Eric) couldn’t move and was thrown like a rag doll. His fists stopped glowing his eyes were only left-

 

“please listen to me”

 

(The portal to the Red Sun Inn snaps closed behind Eric)

 

 

The door to the tavern is ripped from its hinges and thrown across the room and any outside the establishment would see a burning man running from it with a scream that would echo about the silent streets and turn blood cold within their veins.

 

 

Using his will to extinguish the flames, they slowly recede leaving a blackened burned and crispy Anders. Half his face unaffected by the conflagration, the other half a smoking charred skull with an eye that rolls about in its orbit before finally succumbing to the heat and bursting, dribbling aqueous humour down one ruined cheek. He needed to feed. And his remaining eye sweeps about the street looking for the comely wench that he had observed earlier.

 

 

Harry and the imps would finally emerge from their places of safety and the tavern, as always, would start to repair itself. The damaged wall would become whole. The door would fly across the room and return to its rightful place. The tinkle of broken glass as though being swept up by unseen hands would be the only sound in the tavern as the smoke clears.

 

 

A block up from the madness. Joanna turns a corner. Not far now. She could see her building, taste the Vanilla brew on her taste buds, chasing away the aftertaste of stomach acid that was currently there. She hugs herself and imagines with each step draping over her massive body pillow, encased in a coffin of blankets. Her head peeking out only to read another Robert Frost poem from the collection book she could barely hold at this point. It might have done her some good to know she was being tailed, followed. But what good would just awareness do. Sweet ignorance made a kind friend at this point, giving some prolong false sense of security to the woman.

 

 

Anders would perceive the life force from Joanna becoming distant as she does her best to flee down the winding streets that surrounded the Blue Moon. Anders moved swiftly, but not with any of the preternatural speed that she had previously observed. He was weakened but still moved with some haste. Joanne would hear the sprint of footsteps following her, their echo getting closer and closer until she could also hear the primal snarling of the monster that gives chase. So close to her sanctuary, which would be her safety if she could reach it.

 

Anders may be a blood God, but even he had to observe the laws that would prevent him entering a home uninvited and he knew that if he was going to taste that delicious morsel, he would have to catch her and soon.

 

 

Her imaginings would be disrupted by the chilling fact that the echo of her feet were no longer singular. Worse still the steps moved closer, faster making her own feet increase in speed until she was sprinting towards the 4 storey building. Her lungs hurt from upchucking her stomach, body ached but she pushed the pain away clinging to a single hope that her human will to survive was stronger than the weakened state of a vampire god in desperate need of blood. The streets echo with heavy footfalls and panting, nothing more. What good would shouting do? Here that would only reward you will a shout back to shut the hell up. She hones in on the large metal “security” door. Shakily she goes for her keys.

 

“Come on, come on, come-“

 

She was pray to anyone, anything to not drop these keys like the girls do on all the horror films and in the moment of truth, when it was time to shine, she does hear such a clatter of metal to the ground beside her. She ducks quickly grasping them and as if possessed with accuracy takes the right key and turn it into the lock pushing with all her remaining energy to breath through the entrance way of the building.

 

 

Anders could feel Joanna’s fear, her panic, building and growing and releasing into the air with a pheremonal bouquet that just spurred him on and made this chase all the more delicious. When the keys were dropped on the floor, he knew then that he had her. Twenty paces away and then ten, the gap closing quickly as he reached out with one clawed hand and grasped at a hank of Joanna’s hair, just as she forced the door open and throws herself inside.

 

A roar of frustration rattles the windows of her home as Anders is left with a hank of silken tresses hanging from one balled up fist and Joanna is safely inside. He can go no further. She would stand at that open threshold and watch as patches of twisted muscle and sinew start to show through the char, pale glimpses of skin struggling to enclose and become intact, creeping up a bare chest and neck but slowly, oh so slowly.  A hand grasps the side of his head and lifts it from where it had lain in a ruinous mess upon his shoulder, bone crunching and grinding as Anders attempts to set it into its original position. The gleam of fangs seen through the cauterised flesh of a ravaged cheek, and she would swear that he attempts to grin.

 

Anders no longer  displays any frustration, merely takes that token of her mortality, the hank of hair, to what remains of his nose and breathes in her scent deeply, committing it to memory.And there he stands, physically no more than six feet away from Joanna, but would be symbolic of an unattainable gaping chasm that the laws of nature dictated he could not cross.

 

 

That sliver of hope. It’s a small thing, often looked down on, discounted; Much like herself in this world. She felt the taught pull of her hair and her heart felt as if it’s rapid pace stopped in her chest for a moment. She almost let hopes fall as swiftly as her own slender body was crashing to the cheap dirty linoleum of the apartment entrance way. A sign barely readable saying: No Trespassers. Who know it could hold so much power? She grunts hitting the floor but didn’t count on being safe jet she turns quickly, rump on the ground, palms bracing as she scuttles back away from the door frame. Looking up she sees the god form in all is glory, frustration, agony causing his limbs to contort in ways she will never forget. Her heart was in fact still beating, she could hear it in her ears as she sat there in shock watching him unable to move in the moment while she watches him snap things in place that shouldn’t be able to. The charred flesh was a mask and yet she could see it…where lips should be widening, grinning. He was was grinning at her even now. Her blood runs cold as he lifts her hair to the holes where his nose should be and took a deep and sinister intake of her scent. Her stomach churns once more stirring her to her senses. She hurries to her feet eyes never leaving him so close and yet not close enough. A victory but not one worth celebrating…at least not at this moment. She inches forward. Closer…but not too close her heart still pounding in her head, seeming to dare a passage to break through her chest.A hand curls around the door and without a word she….slowly…carefully…closes that door before him as if dropping down a mighty gate between them.

 

 

As the door closes on the ruination of the blood god, Joanna would hear the most spine chilling, mocking and sepulchral laughter coming from the other side of that barrier, followed by the cajoling almost musical tones of Anders “Oh but Joanna. Don’t you want to play?” and she would realise with a gut wrenching chill that she had not given anyone her name, not in the tavern, not to Eric, not to anyone.

 

What followed was the erroneous sound of a discordant electronic trilling of a mobile phone that sounded like it was about to die a death. Anders would hear this and delve a skeletal blackened hand into what served to be his trouser pocket, though there was little left of these either as pale flesh creeping up his legs would show. He would withdraw the remains of a smart phone, twisted and wrecked with the screen bubbled and attempting to shed light. How it still was functional was a miracle, but she would hear Anders respond to it.

 

 “Yes?…Good… Did he watch?…ahhh wonderful!.. Does he understand?….Excellent” before the call ended.

 

In a fit of pique, Anders then smashes the phone into pieces on the cobbles outside Joanna’s home, and he bends to retrieve the chips from the mess. At least something had gone to plan tonight.

 

With the door closed the adrenaline rushing through her seemed to all bust dissipate causing her to catch her breath and shake. She quickly turns the locks as she hears his laughter. As if in any other circumstance this would stop him. Fear makes us do dumb things. She shakes off of idiocy to make a face as he calls her by her full name. She didn’t like when people used it in this tone, that’s why-” She gasps. That’s, why she never gives anyone her full name…”

 

She backs away from the door until her body is pressing into the wall beside the many lock boxes for mail. She stares at the door in confusion as if it could give her panicking heart the answers it so craves. That was when the eerie electronic jingle broke the silence. She listens still, just in case he was ordering some minions to come get her or something…she can’t make out what is happening who is watching what but she’s sure it wasn’t a good show. She gulps and grasping the heart shaped locket around her neck  bolts for the stairs leaving the sounds of the phone smashing, crashing to echo outside. She will be rushing to the third floor as the elevator was still broken, locking all 4 locks and not turning a single light on. Windows drawn with plans to open them soon. Sleep never came easy for the insomniac but she got the feeling it would be even less for some time now.

 

 

The blood god would perceive her life force retreating further into the building and rising up through the levels. She was gone…for now, but in his hand he held her marker. A token that mean’t he would be able to find her. Anders steps back a couple of paces from the building and looks up at the windows that gleam in the dull downlighting of the streetlights, but give no clue as to where she was hiding.

 

A laugh and he calls out  “Goodnight Joanna! Sweet dreams!” loud enough for her to hear, for any of her neighbours to hear, but delivered in the innocuous tone of a man that perhaps had delivered her home after a successful date and certainly did not wish to do her harm, if anything, the tone of a man who was eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to see her again.

 

And with that last hoorah, Anders turns and walks casually away from the building, returning to the sanctuary of the Blue Moon and the donor that he knew Harry still had on the premises.

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