“God damn it, we’ve got another one…” I huffed as we pulled up to the house.
I could feel my dagger shiver in my hands. It thirsted for something close by. Why are you always so hungry?
“So soon? A lot seem to be prowling tonight, huh…” Liv looked at me, worry casting over her eyes.
“Yeah…I’m used to just one a night. Demons usually stay in pretty separated hunting grounds, unless their in small packs. But this one feels different…New. Something I haven’t seen before,” I looked at my dagger, feeling its power in my hands. After all these years I’ve had you, and you still haven’t spoken your name to me… Guess all the Cross’ before me had to wait too, but man, after all we’ve been through? I narrowed my eyes at my dagger, directing my thoughts towards him (or her…whatever gender daggers prefer nowadays).
“Well where are we going? I’m still your getaway driver, you know,” Liv smiled, trying to cover her concern.
“Mm, we’re…” I stopped for a moment, closing my eyes and holding my dagger close to my chest. “…east, we’re going east. Near the power plant by Sails Lake, about seven miles away,”
“Sails Lake? Remember how we used to swim there when we were little, and lay on the beach?” Liv said and she pulled back onto the street.
“Yeah, I also remember talking about how we we’re going to get some radioactive disease from the place because of how close the power plant was…I also remembered almost dying in that lake,”
“Oh God, when you got caught on some rope after diving in and it pulled you underwater. I remember that.”
“Yeah. That’s why I conquer my fluids through alcohol now and let it kill me slowly instead,” I smiled, taking another swig of bourbon.
The charger rumbled as it pushed forward, raindrops dancing, soon pounding, on the windshield.
“You better watch yourself, gotta be able to aim that thing you know,” Liv looked over at me, her eyes on the bottle of bourbon in my hands.
“Alright, Mom,” I huffed, capping the bottle and tossing it in the back seat. We were getting close. I could feel it. My dagger continued to hum in my hands, glowing a deeper and more brilliant sapphire as we came closer.
But then I felt something.
In my chest – a pulling. I lurched forward in my seat, my hands sliding to my knees.
“Vai?” Liv looked over at me.
“Ah..just, keep driv-” I began to say but as we continued closer, I could feel my throat start to swell shut.
“Vivian?!” Liv kept turning her head toward me and back to the road, gritting her teeth.
“Jes-us…” I gasped and Liv finally pulled over. I could see the lights of the power plant glint on the windshield. We were so close.
Killyourselfkillyourselfkillyourselfkillyourself… A stream of thoughts began to suffocate my mind and my body. Within seconds, I took my dagger and plunged it into my left shoulder. I could feel it sink in right next to my bone. Blood began to well up and pour down the side of my leather jacket. The red reflected the light, dancing with the shadows. What…what am I…?
“Holy sh-!?” Liv opened her door and hurtled herself into the rain. I hardly noticed she opened the passenger door until she placed her hand on my left shoulder, applying pressure.
The thoughts remained.
“Olivia… you’re…gonna have to take it out.” I sputtered.
“Okay…okay…” Liv took her hand away from my shoulder, blood painting her fingers. “Shit, shit, shit,” she bit her lip as she adjusted the blade in her hands.
“…Ri-rip off the bandaid, just do it.” I closed my eyes and felt the cut in my skin widen as she removed the dagger.
“We need wraps; we need something, uh…” Liv, who was now soaked from the rain, sifted through the glove compartment, retrieving gauze (we kept them for my rough days, today being one of them).
“Get back in the car…” I pushed at her. “…you’re gonna get a cold, you idiot.”
“You just stabbed yourself and you’re worried about me?” Liv pushed back, and leaned in, pulling my jacket off my shoulder. She craned over me, reaching into the backseat.
“Bourbon…yes, that’ll help,” I smiled, expecting her to put it in my hands, but instead, she poured some of the alcohol on a piece of the gauze. “H-hey! Don’t waste my liveliho-…”
“Shh.” She hushed and pushed the bourbon-infused bandage into my open wound. Jesus, lord does that fucker burn.
“Oh, I get it, you’re just here to torture me…” I attempted to slur my words with humor. It didn’t work well.
“Vai, you realize how many puss-infused, slimy green, black blooded, disease ridden demons you’ve put that fancy little dagger into? This’ll kill the germs. Now shut up.”
“I’m more concerned about why I felt compelled to stab myself in the first place rather than some potential demon infection,” I winced as she tightened the fresh gauze across my shoulder and under my arm.
“…A mind-control demon maybe? It has to be a demon, right? I mean you’re crazy sometimes, but not ‘let’s stab myself’ crazy,” Liv said. If only you knew.
“No…doesn’t seem right. Typically demons with mind-control abilities have to look you straight in the eye to influence you. And last time I checked, there ain’t any demons in sight…well, that we can see that is.”
Dizzy… kind of dizzy… blood, blood will make you dizzy. Well, losing it…that’s the dizzy part.
“We can turn back. Let’s just go.” Liv applied a bit more pressure to my shoulder.
“No…if I stabbed myself that means someone is bound to do something worse if a demon is the cause of this…We’re almost there.” I closed my eyes for a moment and planted my feet deeply in front of me.
Sails Lake was just as I remembered it; a radioactive shithole that never was reopened for swimming because of how many three-eyed, mutated fish washed up on the beach shore.
“Ehk…” I grimaced as a dead fish squished under my boot. “…God forbid this place could have lights other than the green glow coming from that thing.” My eyes averted to the power plant standing in the distance. My dagger was humming in my hand. It was excited after it tasted my blood – I could tell from the way it shimmered in the moonlight.
“Just like I remembered it…” Liv whispered and I spun around to face her.
“Hey. I told you to keep your ass in the car. You know the rule with this. I don’t want you out in the field, okay?”
“Last time I checked, you tried to kill yourself, so I think you need someone keeping an eye on yo-”
“I think you girls both need someone watching over you…” A voice of woman cut through the air. Where? I jerked forward, my eyes on the lake. I clenched my fists as my dagger began to shiver, eager to taste the demon’s skin. She’s…close. I feel…huh… why, does that voice sound…?
“Liv, get back no-” I began to speak but I lost my words when the lake began to part. Wind whipped around us, causing my boots to slide back into the sand. Liv fell backwards, landing in the grass behind us. Water sprayed onto the beach, and cut through the rain, soaking the two of us even further.
“But that’s okay…I’ll take care of the both of you, I promise,” The demon revealed itself, emerging from the center of the lake and slithering into the sand. The top half of her body was that of a woman’s, long, curvaceous and sheen, but her bottom half was that of a serpent’s; She had a thick tail that grew from the center of her waist, her human flesh peeling away at the base of where her reptilian skin began. Her tail flicked in the sand, the metallic green hue of her scales shimmering in the rain. Even through the darkness of the night, I could see her yellow eyes, turned into pleased slits. She gave us a fanged smile and slithered forward slowly, her body moving in waves, like the lake itself.
I stiffened, readying my muscles for any form of attack.
“Good luck with that, you slimy bitch,” I scoffed as I peeked quickly over my shoulder, assuring Liv was back on her feet and at a safe distance.
“I don’t need luck…you’ll be doing all the work for me,” she continued to slither forward and stopped about a foot from me. I held my ground, still braced for an attack.
“Alright, you…” I began, but suddenly, my throat swelled shut. KiLlYoUrSeLf You WaStE Of LiFe. EnD It. YoU don’T DeSerVE to BrEath. “I…” I fell to my knees and the demon just smirked.
“I don’t even have to lift a finger…” she flicked her tail under my chin, and tilted my face, forcing me to look into her eyes again. “My…my…now that I have a good look at you, things are even more interesting,”
“W-what?” I spat. Fight the thoug – fight the – kill – no – slit your throat – No!
“You. Hm. You must have been, I don’t know, ten? Twelve maybe? I hardly had to use my magic to influence you…You had been wishing to die for years…Were ready to end your own life in this very lake.” Her tail flicked my face up, cutting the bottom of my chin. I stood my ground.
“You don’t know anything about me…” Kill yourself like you wanted to kill yourself back then. You still want to kill yourself now…nothing has changed. You’re just another cursed Cross. Bound to die, no matter how hard you fight to live. Give up. Give in.
“Oh, but I do. See, you already had all those thoughts trailing through your mind… you were swimming and were pulled under for just a moment after your tiny foot got caught. It was a rope, wasn’t it? Seaweed maybe? Regardless, I watched you, watched you tumble and squirm in those waves. You could have freed yourself quite easily. But you stopped after a few thrashes in the water, and your little face filled with relief, knowing that it would be all over soon,”
She’s right… she’s right, you wanted to die, die die, you still, want to die! Die? Die. End. Yourself. I could feel my dagger tremble in my hand. It was unsure of what blood it wanted to taste. The demons or my own?
And then it made its decision.
I plunged my weapon into my chest, mere inches away from my heart. I fell to my knees, blood bursting from my lips.
“Vivian!” I heard Liv scream. I could hear her scramble in the sand toward us.
“N-no!” I choked, looking up at the demon that hardly lifted a finger to crumple me. “T-things are different…you’re…wr-wrong about me,” The serpent’s eyes narrowed even further and a smile spread across her face, cheek to cheek.
“The taste of your mind tells me otherwise…it’ll be ov-“
“NO FORCE SHALL END US!”
Through the rain, and the sand, and the yellow of a snake’s eyes, my chest erupted. Sapphire electricity scattered across my chest from the hilt of my dagger, racing into my limbs. The ravenous light and heat transformed the sand at my feet to the color of ash, and whipped the wind wildly, turning the rain to vapor.
Alistar. Your name is Alistar.
The serpent hissed from the sudden burst of light and slithered backwards, heading toward the safety of the lake.
“Only the weak run!” His voice streamed in my mind, his words, his thoughts, interlinked with my own. He spoke through me, binding his energy between my breaths. “Cross. Stand!”
And I did – through the blood, rain, and electricity, I got to my feet. The pain I felt, like the voice of Alistar, simply hummed across my chest. I pulled him from my body, and his heat cauterized my wound in moments. The electricity continued to dance up my arm as I tightened my grip, lighting the air around me.
“Only the weak run…” I stated and launched myself toward the demon, who was almost completely submerged in the lake. With three bounds of force, I jumped in the air and, by a stroke of pure instinct, sunk my dagger into the abating waves.
Once Alistar hit the water, Sails Lake shattered with black, blue, and white. The waves of electricity found the serpent and burned the scales from her flesh, her body convulsing from the power. She let out one last cry, smoke rising from her, the scent of reptilian rot reaching the bank moments after. Soon after the light dimmed, she sunk into the blackness.
And then all was quiet.
“Oh-oh my God,” Liv stumbled forward and gripped my shoulder. “Vivian, your…your dagger, it?”
“His name is Alistar.” I said, pulling the dagger from the beach. Even through sand, I could still see him glow. But he no longer spoke. He just stared back at me with his light. “He…finally spoke to me,”
I dropped to my knees once again, my closed wound in my chest buzzing.
“Hey!” Olivia dropped with me. “Are you alright? Can we get out of here before the cops try to find out why Sails Lake is a lightning shitshow?”
“O-or a mutated fish graveyard…” I let out a weak laugh, nodding my head forward to the lake. Liv looked up and gasped. Dozens, if not hundreds of dead fish floated heavily on top of the water, three eyes and all.
“Oops. Guess mutated fish aren’t resistant to electric shock,”
“You can say that again,” Liv said, swinging my arm over her shoulder as she helped me stand. “Let’s get home…”
“Yeah…” I sighed, letting Liv hold most of my weight.
Alistar…your name is Alistar.
Hey everyone! Thanks so much for reading the next chapter of “The Cross Chronicles”! Although it’s been months since I’ve posted my first entry of this little segmented series, I’ve had these characters and a wealth of ideas knocking at my brain. So here it is, I finally got out the second chapter!
Make sure you leave a comment with whiskey in hand – let me know what you think.
Vivian Cross will return!
With everlasting encouragement,