1st chapter of my novel that was originally due for publication this summer. Working on publication details now. Publisher is closing its doors May 31.
The tempest comes; heaven and earth unite
For the annihilation of all life.
—The Works of Lord Byron, George Gordon Byron Byron
Town unknown—Spring 2016
The surrounding darkness was filled with electric light. A century ago, a night such as this would have left the world in utter blackness but not today. Aholibamah pushed back the memory as she took in the night. The rich smell of the wet pavement calmed her as she listened for the cry of one that called to her nightly, one that craved her in all of her glory. She watched as the people below carried on with their daily lives while none were aware of her presence. Taking in the vibrations of the storm brewing above, she basked in the boom of the thunder as it rolled through the town below. Devoid of emotion, she searched the cool night air for her next meal, her next victim. A small smile etched its way across her face, she found him. Upon following the call to its origin, she lifted the man from his despondent reality to where his mind craved to be. Reaching into his mind, she went about the task of setting up an illusion to match his dreams.
The golden light shines down on her flawless, silky-smooth skin. Her eyes close, her head tilted back as if she were lavishing in the sun she will never see. I see the golden locks of her hair, long and wavy as though the ocean itself controls its length. Her gown, ageless, as it flows seamlessly with the movements of her perfect body, like her skin, but not her skin, one connected to the other. This is how I see her, this goddess, for to call her anything less would be sacrilege. The golden ambiance of this place glows brightly as it shimmers with even the smallest of movements.
Aholibamah…that is what they said her name was when I came into this sanctuary. I can’t recall anything of the person who spoke to me, not even a shadow of their face; nothing but a memory forgotten. Nevertheless, it matters not. I know her name. Heaven smiles down upon me. Aholibamah… just the sound of it rings angelic in my ears. She can have my soul and I will still desire to give her more. I am hers, if only she would look my way. Her eyes…oh, to look upon her eyes for just a moment. The color of her eyes will complete the image I see before me. I would willingly give myself to her, if but for the briefest moment, I could gaze into the depths of her eyes.
Slowly, her eyes flutter. Her long black lashes brush her pale cheekbone. I stand here mesmerized as she slowly raises her head and turns in my direction. Oh, so painfully slowly, I can almost see them. I feel the buildup within my loins with the ache of anticipation. I am chosen. She has chosen me. She will look at me, only me. I just need her to come a little bit closer. I would run to her, if only I could control my legs. They are so weak and heavy, weighing down upon me. Even the sands of time seem to be against me as she glides across the cool marble floor, her naked toes peeking out from under her silken gown with each movement. I feel my breath coming faster. I can hardly breathe. I…just another step, her eyes…open.
I look into the depths of hell as I feel my life slowly draining from my body. Void of all color, her eyes are dark and empty. I release myself to her, giving her my essence. I may die in this moment, so she may live, so that my goddess, Aholibamah, will live. If only I had two lives, I would willingly give her yet another. In my final moment, I see blue, the deepest of blues… I can hear the ocean calling as she looks at me one last time.
Silence. The image fades.
* * *
What was his name? In all his mental ramblings, he never once called himself by his name. Bother...another blank slate, only a tag to be marked John Doe, Aholibamah thought to herself as she moved the body away from herself and discarded it. Now that it had become something as used and useless as a banana peel or an empty soda can, a piece of trash. She wrinkled her nose as the smell of stale urine reached her from the empty alleyway. John Doe’s body slumped into the corner.
She slowly walked down the alley, the crumbling masonry climbing high above her, in some town whose name she didn’t care to know. She didn’t want to stay here anyway. However, she had something she needed to finish first.
She paused, turning her face toward the heavy storm clouds above, relishing the feeling of life flowing through her. Even in this dark alleyway, she could see the city lights turning the raindrops into a cascade of diamonds. Aholibamah raised her hand, feeling the chill of God’s tears pour over her. It was moments like this that brought back memories of her humanity. How many nights had she been doing this, the hunt? Aholibamah had stopped counting the cycles of the moon a long time ago, the months too numerous to be bothered with, years, centuries.
A rat scurried under a broken crate that leaned against the weatherworn brick office building. She left the deserted alleyway and walked confidently down the sidewalk. Business men and women marched up and down the rain-soaked street, oblivious to anything outside of their narrow existence. Unaware that death walked among them, mothers marched on with their young children in tow. How innocent, Aholibamah thought to herself, smiling. The smile never reached her eyes.
Young men and women enjoyed the freedom of youth as Aholibamah watched an elderly man gaze longingly after them. She could see the years of his life weighing down upon him as he allowed his ancient wooden cane to support the bulk of his frame. She listened as the youths’ laughter echoed off the stone bricks of the buildings that lined the streets. All were ignorant to the danger in their midst, oblivious of the monster that strolled among them.
The living who dwelled in this place, who merely glanced in Aholibamah’s direction, would not recall her face. Unconscious that she was even there, her beauty remained unseen. For those who could see her—for there were the few who were not blinded by the art of chimera—saw an attractive young woman with long flowing hair the color of spun gold. Her eyes gave her away. The blue was as a forbidding sky, alluring and broken, they haunted their dreams in the dark of night. Anyone who saw them could only look but for a moment before being lost in their beauty. If you didn’t turn away quickly, you were doomed to forget where you were going or even who you were. Thinking of nothing other than the depths of those alluring eyes. Man or woman, it mattered not. Her eyes left those who survived their encounter with an unquenchable longing for the woman with golden-spun hair. She looked, as her name suggested, like “one loved by an angel.”
Aholibamah could hear her devout calling for her as she wandered the decaying city. She could hear the blood pumping through their fragile hearts. She loved the sound of it as it sped up in anticipation then slowed to a pulsating thud as she drained the life essence from their bodies. The air filled with the salty fragrance of their scent, covered crudely by the perfume of the day.
She resisted the urge to go to one. She knew she couldn’t stay there much longer. She would have to leave before the one who hunted her found her or she went mad from the voices begging her to come to them so that they might again gaze into the depths of her eyes. They knew not what they were begging for...