Disclaimer: Title is still a work in progress. The actual body is as well, but I’d like opinions nonetheless.
Lilith woke up in a puddle of her own sweat. Naked, exhausted, and feeling like every muscle in her body had been surgically removed, then replaced. And hungry, so very hungry. Screw steak, she felt like she could eat an entire cow. Raw.
The thought frightened her. She had never particularly enjoyed the taste of meat, even less so as she was forced to eat it as her illness grew stronger, but now she effectively craved it. She knew these urges would come; she had been warned often enough about the dangers her condition entailed. But it doesn’t matter from how far you see the truck coming. If there is no way to jump aside, it’s going to hit you, and it’s going to hit you hard. No amount of warnings or anticipation was going to prepare her for this.
As the red mist faded away, and the room around her came into focus again, she tried to sit up, muscles straining every inch of the way. Once she was up straight a familiar voice entered her ear a few seconds before it became comprehensible: “…so proud of you. We thought we lost you for a while, but you came back to us before we had to… Never mind. How do you feel?”
Lilith knew exactly what she meant, and swallowed when she realized how close to death she had been. “I’m… I feel like the entire world just rolled over me, crushed every bone and squished every muscle in my body, then someone put it all together with super glue…“ She paused for a moment. “Also, I’m dead tired. Mum… Thank you, for being here.”
“You’re my daughter. I’d do anything for you.” She wrapped a long, thick coat around her daughter’s bare shoulders, who grabbed the sides and pulled it close around her. Only now did Lilith realize how cold she was. Her mother continued with the words tradition has dictated since her people became a people: “Your greatest struggle is behind you. You have survived death, and now eternity is yours for the taking.”
It was a long, and busy trip, but I have finally arrived at my destination.
Katherina reread the sentence, blinked, reread it again, then crossed it out. She massaged the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger and swore under her breath. Finally she tossed her notebook aside with a loud sigh. It was hopeless. How was she ever supposed to find work as a journalist if she couldn’t get an article sorted?
She sighed again, decided to get some food sorted, and hopped up from bed. The room was still filled with boxes containing pretty much all her stuff. The walls were still blank and the book racks were empty. Ever since she arrived in her new home, she had been too busy trying in vain to put words on paper to start unpacking. She had stuffed the fridge, obviously, and made sure her natural writing habitat -her bed- was in order, but beyond that, pretty much everything still needed to find a place. She’d get to it. Eventually. For now, though, she fished out a bowl of lettuce leaves from the refrigerator and took it to the living room.
She was happy she didn’t have to decorate the entire apartment. Moving in with a guy she met online might not have been the most popular of options with her parents, but it was by far the cheapest. At least without sacrificing too much luxury. It also meant that she didn’t have to go through several days before she could crash down in front of the television with a snack and watch useless shit.
Useless shit, as it turned out, was a news report already in progress: “Investigators are still looking into the death of mister Stevens, but the cause remains a mystery. Preliminary results seem to suggest an attack by a large animal, like a bear, or a pack of vicious wolves, but beasts like those have not been sighted in the area for generations. The police, however, is not excluding the possibility of murder. And now, for the weather.”
Kath switched the channel to some sitcom and began munching her lettuce, but her thoughts kept wandering to the incident, and in particular to the location: A forest not too far from the city her apartment was in.
She shook her head. Maybe she should just go out for the night. Peter, her flatmate, was at the pub just down the road with a few of his friends. She could hop over and say hi, meet new people -beside Peter, she knew no one in this city- and maybe gather some ideas to write about.
She turned off the television, put the bowl back in the fridge, and went to prepare herself.
After having settled on an outfit to wear and applying her makeup to satisfaction, Katherina took one final look in the mirror. She never found herself to be that good-looking, but some reason, all of her friends disagreed. She had brown, shoulder-length hair that framed her round face. A pair of large, vibrant blue eyes peered at her reflection above a nose that was slightly larger than she would’ve liked it to be. She did like her lips, though. They were slightly larger than average, without looking fake or bloated. As always, the thought put a smile on them.
She turned away from the mirror and took her purse and coat. After one last glance to see if she didn’t forget anything, she left the apartment.
“Hey! Good to see you could make it after all.” Peter said, after kissing Katherina’s cheek. “I thought you were going to get some writing done?”
Katherina shrugged and replied: “Writer’s block. Absolutely nothing on TV, either.”
“Well, you’re welcome to join us, obviously.”
Kath grabbed a chair from a nearby empty table and sat down with Peter and his friends.
“Guys, this is Katherina,” he introduced her. “Kath, this is Harry. He can be a bit nerdy at times, but don’t mind that.” He gestured towards a man with short, blonde hair, a goatee, moustache, and a pair of glasses. “There’s Amaya.” Next to Harry was sitting an Asian-looking girl who looked, well, Asian. Katherina made the mental note to try and think less racist. “But we call her Amy. Her parents are from Japan, but they moved here before she was born. She can kick your ass in about six different martial arts.”
“Seven” Amy corrected him.
“Remind me never to get on your bad side, then.” Kath said.
“And finally we have Gwen. Gwen doesn’t say much.” Gwen was pale, almost sickly so, and had long, black hair that managed to look both dyed and natural at the same time. She didn’t stop staring at her drink as she raised her hand wordlessly.
“Er… heya, I guess.”
“She’s hilarious when she does speak, though.” Peter added “Or creepy, depending on her mood.”
Katherina smiled at Peter. He was fairly good-looking. His hair was bound back in a short pony tail, revealing most of his clean-shaven face. His piercing blue eyes seemed to dance as he spoke, constantly jumping from settling on Kath’s to flitting across the room and back, as if he were nervous. Something the way he spoke and the things he said belied. Kath couldn’t help but have her focus shift constantly to his abnormally large nose, though. ‘Monumental’, her mother might’ve called it. That is, if her mother didn’t believe Kath was going to have wild, unprotected sex with the man every single night.
After a few minutes of idle chatting, Kath suddenly heard someone singing. She turned around and noticed there was a stage in the corner of the pub with a small band having set up there. A young woman, accompanied by a pianist, a guitarist and a violinist, was singing about love and the moon and some other things.
For some reason, Kath couldn’t look away from the singer. She seemed to be around Kath’s age -roughly 25- and she was tall and slender. Based on where the long dress left her tiny waist and fell around her hips, Kath imagined her legs going on forever, an assumption that came with matching arms, too. The dress itself was a deep, dark purple, and reached to the floor. A single sleeve ran down her right arm, flaring out widely from the elbow down. Her left arm and shoulder, in stark contrast, were completely bare. Her dirty-blonde hair was cut short and cut in a way that made it seemingly point at her right eye.
But it were her eyes which drew Kath’s attention the most. They were large, their irises a bright gold. They seemed almost animal-like to Kath. Her voice was low, almost growling at times, but she managed to reach the high pitches almost effortlessly.
Kath turned to Peter. “Who is she?”
“Linda, or Lydia, or something. I forgot her name. She sings here occasionally. She’s not bad, really. Gwen claims to know her.” Kath looked at Gwen and saw that she had shfited her gaze from her drink to the stage.
Kath sipped from her own drink and looked back to the stage herself. The singer had just finished a song and smiled at the half-hearted applause given her. As she looked around the crowd, her gaze suddenly rested on Kath’s, and lingered there, or so Kath believed. It was always a bit of an awkward feeling when she thought a performer made eye-contact with her.
The pianist began playing a few nots, and the singer smiled. Kath noticed something off about her smile, or her teeth, or something. She tried not to dwell on it and tore her gaze away from the singer as she resumed singing, closing her eyes to do so.
Her companions -with the exception of Gewn- were looking at her with grins of their own.
“What?” She asked.
“Oh, nothing” Harry said. “Just, you know. It’s cute, the way you’re enjoyed the show.”
“I just like talented people, that’s all. No need to go look for anything behind it.”
“Oh, you like her all right. Can’t blame you, either. She’s not bad looking, and she has an… interesting voice. What do you say, Pete?”
“I say maybe we should change the subject” Peter replied, noticing that Kath was rolling her eyes. “Not sure about you, Harry, but I’m not a gossiping teen any more.”
“Fine, then. What were we talking about, again?”
“Not important!” Amaya interjected, staring at the smartphone in her hand. “Apparently another one got killed nearby. They say it was wild animals, but there’s no wild animals around here. No mention of a zoo breakout anywhere on the web, either. Crazy stuff.”
“Yeah, I caught that on the news before I came over.” Kath added. “Wait, you said another one?”
Amaya looked up and replied: “Yeah, a few weeks ago, someone got torn to shreds. All they found was his arms and bits of his head still attached to what was left of his ribcage. Everything else was just… gone. Kinda gruesome, really.” She continued tapping at her phone, presumably looking for more bits of data on the news. Katherina turned back to the singer. Definitely something wrong with her teeth, she noted, then turned back to the drink in front of her.