Amy Eberton always had her head in the clouds. You had to call her name multiple times for her to answer. She barely seemed to pay attention in class, yet her grades seemed fine, although no one knew exactly how she was doing, outside of the teachers. Her parents never showed up in school, or were ever called in.
Jamie Axander always found her to be fascinating, but he never really approached her. He found his ‘opportune moment’ when he was partnered up with her for their science project.
The day was dreary and dark. The sun may have been shining, as it did eternally, but the cloud cover was so thick, no light dared to permeate it. It was as if nightfall had come early. Very early. Or, perhaps, it just never left.
Rain poured down from the skies as if a faucet had been turned on and forgotten. The roads were so slippery that one misstep and you could trip and break your neck. Everything was quiet, animals hiding away in their burrows and nests to stay safe, warm and dry. The occasional lightning was their only light source, being the only thing to provide any sort of illumination stronger than the faint street lamps. Thunder roared, deafeningly loud, echoing off the walls of the buildings that were unfortunate enough to be nearby. The students within the classrooms thought the roofs may cave in on them on impact.
Jamie sat down next to Amy, who seemed fixated on something outside. The windows were wetter than the oceans themselves, and it was really hard to see anything, but, nevertheless, she kept staring out into the distance, as if she could see something he could not.
“What are you looking at?” he asked in a whisper, so as not to startle her. She blinked, for what seemed the first time in hours, and slowly turned her head to look at him. Her long dark hair swayed as she moved, contrasting beautifully with her icy pale skin. Her hazel eyes leaned more towards red than anything, but they seemed so calm… on the surface, that is. When he held her gaze, he felt as though he was falling. He wasn’t sure if it was the good or the bad kind of falling. Did the floor just suddenly fall out from under him, as he saw the madness contained within that frozen surface of her eyes, or was he gliding down a river to a warm and cosy forest? He thought he smelled roses, and in that very same instance, he felt as though he was choking, as if a hand as cold as her skin wrapped around his throat and began to squeeze. It was dark, so dark, he could not see.
“Just the rain.” Her voice dragged him out of the abyss he had begun to tumble into. He snapped out of it, taking in a sharp breath, looking around to confirm his surroundings. He was still in the classroom, sitting at the lab table with her. She gave him a soft smile, like candlelight sparking to life in a haunted house.
“A beautiful thing; the rain, don’t you think?” She asked, surprisingly talkative, now that he managed to pull her out of her trance. He swore he’d never heard her voice before this instance. It was soft, melodic, like silk, or paint poured onto a canvas. When she parted those soft lips to speak, coated in red like a victim bludgeoned to death until they spat out blood, he got the impression that a pianist out there had struck a chord on his keys, only audible to his ears. She was strange, alluring, and somehow dangerous. He felt both fascination and fear. He wanted to step closer, but every instinct in his body screamed at him to run away.
“Yeah…” he barely breathed out the word. He cleared his throat, trying to find his voice. She found it to be absolutely lovely. Gentle, deep, with a touch of a natural sense of… empathy always clinging to it, like a dewdrop on a leaf refusing to fall to the ground. As if he had seen plenty, and yet somehow still held onto his ability to feel and to care. She felt as though she could lean into his arms and rest her head on his chest, just to listen to his heartbeat. She’d bet that once she felt the security of being in his arms, she would let the whole world sink away, let every single care in the world just wash away from her mind. She felt like he was the safety she had sought out her whole life, but she could not just throw herself into his arms when they pretty much just met.
Instead, she opted for a poker face and a polite smile. She kept her distance, yet somehow still managed to show him some warmth. She herself wasn’t entirely sure if it was real or not. Like the false sense of safety a psychopath gives his victims before he slashes their throats.
“So, the science project… what do you think we should do? Any ideas at all?” she said, her face neutral, her eyes wandering around the classroom rather than sticking to his face. She doubted she could form coherent sentences if she allowed herself the indulgence of staring into his piercing emerald eyes. She feared that if she let him, he’d find out everything about her just by holding eye contact with him, and no one was supposed to find out anything about her.
“Honestly, I’m not sure,” he replied. “He said it can be in any branch, so it could literally be anything. Chemistry, physics, biology. Even geology, although who cares about rocks.”
She giggled, like the chimes of champagne glasses clinking together in a celebratory toast. It was pleasant but sharp, as if she never really felt the warmth that a laugh brought with it. She was an enigma indeed, very frightening at first glance.
“Mm. You’re right, rocks are pretty boring. Or, wait, are you right? Some rocks contain iron, which is never found here on Earth. It has to come from an external source, somewhere in outer space, in meteors. Do you know where those come from? I wonder if they come from stars, when they die? They do produce iron when they’re very old, before they finally explode. Maybe that’s how we got iron? How cool would that be?”
He was speechless, awestruck. The girl that never spoke to anyone just revealed a full train of thought to him in a matter of seconds, and it dazzled him. Was that how her mind worked? Was she secretly brilliant, hence her peculiarities and idiosyncrasies?
“All right, Mrs. Einstein. What would you like our project to be about?”
She smiled in an annoyed but amused way at what he called her. Really? Mrs. Einstein? Mrs. Einstein? Of all things? How typical! She would’ve definitely preferred Mrs. Feynman. He was quite the… adventurous type in his youth, and honestly, she thought it very sexy to date a dying man. Although, that was just her thing. Moreover, she wasn’t sure whether to be offended or not. Was he mocking her? Was it his brain’s way of reacting to his own insecurities about his level of intelligence? She caught herself falling into an analytical tangent of his behaviour and blinked, returning her attention to him. She realised she never provided him with an answer.
“Honestly, if I were working alone, I’d probably try to create my own spectrometer, point it at a star, record the data, then present it to the teacher like “this can tell us that this star contains blah blah blah, if we also take in the amount that light can be shifted as it reaches us.” But that may be too much work for such a little amount of time. Although I absolutely adore outer space, so maybe we can work on something a little less complicated.” She gasped suddenly, making him jump a little bit in surprise. She was like a damn novel embodied.
“You’re gonna experience the full thrill of the scientific method with me!” She exclaimed, as if she decided that, making someone who seemed as if he never found interest in science try out the scientific method, would be a most wonderful thing. Like, ha, I’m gonna force science on you, and you’re gonna love it, and you don’t have a say in it, because I said so, and because our teacher partnered us up, I own you now. He wasn’t terribly sure how to feel about that, but she seemed so genuine, so enthusiastic, he didn’t mind too much. In fact, it was a little adorable, but he held back that remark. He felt he may earn a slap if he told her something like that.
“We’re gonna design our own experiment to describe something in nature, then we’re gonna record the results, repeat, show that it is consistent, and then present our findings. I’ll be in charge of writing a full report on it, all right? You’ll help me set it up.”
Jamie may have been the ‘alpha male’ type, but goddamn, she was definitely an alpha female, and she made him feel as though he either had the option to obey, or to obey. Frankly? He kind of liked it. It made him want to smile but he held it back. He loved how she just seemed to take charge of things once they caught her interest.
Damn it, man! Focus! She’s your lab partner, not a goddamn candidate for future girlfriend. Although, he found it very hard to focus on the former with the way her eyes gleaned as her mind ran a billion miles a minute. She completely ignored his presence as she jotted down notes in her notebook. What the Hell was she writing about? He could barely read her handwriting.
Sometimes Jamie thought that the reason why smart people were owners of such horrible handwriting was to hide their ideas from the world of those they deemed mediocre or inferior. Although he would find out later that sometimes she couldn’t even read her own handwriting, and she was the one writing it.
“What do you like about the universe, Jamie?” She asked, her eyes fixed on his. He felt slightly intimidated by the attention, but he held his ground. It was like two panthers were challenging each other, circling each other as they waited for the other one to give in. She was testing him, and by god was it absolutely thrilling. She was, quite honestly, utterly unique from any other girl he had ever met. She made his pulse race, his breath almost catching in his throat. She was alluring, the way the morbid drew in those fascinated by the darker side of reality.
“The universe? That’s too broad, isn’t it?” he said, instantly feeling like he fucked up when she raised her eyebrow at him. She looked completely unamused, as if his question were the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard in her life.
“Okay, okay, the universe. Well, I like that it seems infinite. Endless. I like how things seem to flow in a way that’s guided by a set of rules that we probably cannot alter — ”
“Ah, but we can! Scientists do it all the time. They find out they fucked up somewhere, or were completely ignorant about something, and then the way we understand the world just… changes. Just like that.” She snapped her fingers to demonstrate. He cursed at his heart; it was beating way too fast.
“All right, fine. I’ll be more specific. Tell me about something around us that makes you think, oh, wow, this is pretty cool. In nature, or something even man-made. Although, if we’re being fair, humanity is a part of nature, so even man-made things can be considered natural. But, that’s a tangent, I’m sorry, uh, what did you say?”
“I didn’t say anything, Amy. You were asking me questions.”
“Answer them then!”
He laughed, just in complete awe of this being before him. She was magical, and he couldn’t believe he hadn’t known she existed until this day.
“Okay! Hear me out, okay? No interruptions — no, Amy, you do interrupt me. I mean, it’s cute, because it’s how your brain works when you’re excited, but, if you want your answers, you’ll have to be patient.”
She blinked a few times, then a smirk started playing with her lips. Her teeth gently came down on her bottom lip to try to hide it, but she really couldn’t help it. He called her cute. She wondered if he even noticed. A part of her was happy that he was growing so comfortable with her. A glazed-over look washed over her eyes as she gave him her full attention, not uttering a single word. She let herself sink into his being, completely indulging in what he had to present. He may have found her to be absolutely brilliant, perhaps somehow out of his reach, but she was awestruck by him just the same. Maybe it was the little game of cat and mouse she had started with him, putting him under pressure to test his reactions. Was this how she found out more about people than they wished to let on?
‘Hold up, man. Did you just call her cute?’
‘Wait, fuck, did I?’
‘I THINK YOU DID YOU DUMB IDIOT!’
‘NO I DIDN’T, SHUT UP. LOOK, SHE’S JUST WAITING FOR ME TO TALK. JUST LET ME ANSWER HER YOU STUPID BRAIN.’
‘I’LL REMEMBER THAT ONE, ASSHOLE.’
“I’ve always loved the stars, for starters. Ever since I was a kid, honestly. Oh, and the moon. I grew up watching horror films with my brother, and the older ones were always so fascinated with full moons. I tried to reproduce the effects of the moon we saw in those films back then, but I’ve never found a werewolf or a vampire just waiting for a full moon or something. Also, trees are cool. They breathe in what we breathe out, and breathe out what we breathe in. Technically, we breathe plant poop.”
She laughed. She said the exact same thing! When she was four years old, her mother told her about photosynthesis, and the only way she could respond was, “so, we breathe plant poop?”
“You know, that plant poop is made through a very elegant process that relies on quantum mechanics. Have you ever heard of quantum tunnelling? You don’t seem overly interested in science, so, I’m not sure.”
“I’ve heard of it, actually, but I’ve never read about it or had it explained to me.”
“Basically, in quantum mechanics, on a subatomic scale, particles behave both as waves and as particles. You know, like how light is both a wave and a particle?”
“Yes, light is both a wave and a particle, simultaneously. It’s called wave-particle duality. Because of this, things like electrons can overcome barriers that they cannot on a classical scale, due to probability. Basically, if you place a wall in front of an electron but do not give it enough energy for it to cross over to the other side, it is still capable of being found on the other side, simply due to the probability that it can show up there, using the wave function. It’s like a wave, so a part of it can technically exist on the other side of the barrier. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, actually, it does. It employs the uncertainty principle, right?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed, clearly impressed that he had at least some scientific knowledge. He wasn’t sure if she was condescending or if it was just her way of being purely pleased with someone. Like, oh, my god, you actually know these things, unlike most people out there! Let me kiss you! — HEY. Bad brain. Stop saying these things.
“So, although we breathe plant poop, it’s very efficiently made poop, because of quantum tunnelling. That’s why photosynthesis seems to run just so perfectly and so smoothly. Because any lack of energy, it can overcome by using this phenomenon.”
“Do you think our project can be on that?”
“I’m not sure if we have the devices needed to make such precise measurements. But we could do something that has to do with trees.”
“What about animals?”
“What about them?”
“What if we buy one of those supersonic or subsonic audio detectors and use a sound editing programme to make bat calls audible and describe the frequency range they make their calls at?”
“Oooh. That sounds like fun. And bats are beautiful, actually one of the best animals out there. And I can write up how sound reflects off surfaces to guide the bats in flight.”
“I think we can do it using this music production app I have. It has a lot of cool things you can do on it.”
“You make music?!” She sounded a little too excited by that discovery, and he suppressed a smirk. He was interesting to her, just like she was to him.
“I mean, I work on some private projects, but I don’t really tell anyone. I posted some online but haven’t really kept up with whether they generated an audience or not.”
“You’ll have to let me listen to them!”
God, she was so fucking adorably demanding. He just wanted to give her the world. When she wanted things, she wanted them. He knew she wouldn’t take no for an answer, so he nodded.
“All right. I’ll go get the audio recording things today — ”
“Oh, no, mister. You’re not paying for everything. This isn’t a date, you twat.”
He felt a blush creeping up his neck so he quickly looked away, pretending to have found the most amazing sight in the back of the classroom. Although, they probably both knew, the most amazing sight around him was her.
“I won’t! I’ll bring the receipt with me since I have a feeling you wouldn’t believe me if I just told you the price, and you’ll pay half. Okay?”
She stared at him, the most grumpy look on her face, then she finally surrendered and nodded. “Fine.”
“Hi, ma. Yes, I’m fine. Yes, I’ve had lunch. Spaghetti with meatballs! I swear! Mother!” Jamie’s mum had been out of town for two days now, on an important business trip, and she felt guilty, leaving him alone. His brother was older than him, and he was already in university. He was studying in an entirely different country, so for a few days, he was going to be completely home alone.
Honestly, it wasn’t a problem, so long as he got home before seven. His town was fucking creepy at night. The forests were dreary and gloomy, straight out of an Edgar Allan Poe tale. He could bet his life that if he wandered deep enough into the woods, he would find old, decrepit mansions, like the one in The House of Usher.
It was already late noon, about four thirty PM, when he stopped by the store. He told Amy he would buy what they needed. At the same time, he realised that they would probably have to go out, at night, to go into the fucking forests, to find bats and record their fucking calls. He was starting to hate himself for suggesting something so stupid, especially when the world around him was still weeping, and to add to it all, a giant cloud of fog began to roll in.
He rushed to find the equipment he found online. He did his research, like a good boy. That last part was said in Amy’s voice in his mind, and he hated his brain for it. He already seemed to have formed a pattern of her behaviour, and he figured she would say something exactly along those lines to him, in her cheeky, “I dare you to get angry at me,” way. She got away with pretty much everything, it seemed, but he couldn’t be faulted for that. She was breathtakingly beautiful, like a Victorian princess in a Gothic painting, perhaps depicting what people at those times thought were real vampires, with eyes that made his brain stop working right. Her lips were always the colour of rubies, and the way they always parted slightly as she gazed at him, like he was the most interesting thing in the world, drew him in to her. He just wanted to feel them against his. They looked so soft, and he bet they tasted like the crimson liquid she tried to imitate with her lipstick.
‘Behave, Jamie. You’re gonna give yourself a boner in public.’
Blinking back to reality, he realised it was his turn in queue. He paid pretty quickly and rushed out of the store. He had Amy’s address in a little note in his pocket, as well as her number in his contacts in case he “lost the paper, cause he seems like the type”, as Amy had said to him before they said goodbye.
Luckily, the paper was still there, and he felt a silent sense of triumph over her. He quickly walked to his car and drove to her home.
As predicted, he found himself outside a beautiful Victorian mansion. Not really that big, closer to a house than anything, but it was sufficiently spooky and Gothic. It wasn’t surprising, because most people lived in houses or mansions like these in his town. She seemed to be more on the wealthier side, but he didn’t really care about that. He just wanted to get inside, where it was probably warm and dry. He had to drive extremely carefully on his way here, due to the fog and the rain.
Walking out of his car and to the black wooden gates — small and yet somehow still very grand — he knocked, shivering in his clothes. Why did he have to wear a short sleeved T-shirt today, exactly? Dumbass.
A gentle face, perhaps late thirties, greeted him. Blonde hair, cut short, barely even reaching that sharp jawline. Soft blue eyes, however skin as pale as her daughter’s. Amy’s mother was elegant, sort of like a Lucy type. Lucy from Dracula. The blonde. Wait, was that the right character? Oh well, who cares, you get the idea. She was the typical, horror film angel type, that usually turned out to be a flesh-eating monster. Although, he wasn’t calling Amy’s mother a flesh eating m —
“Hello, Mrs. Eberton, I assume? I’m Jamie, Amy’s lab partner.”
“Ah, yes, Jamie, come on in. You must be freezing.” Her voice. He started to understand why Amy’s was so pretty. It was just as soft, but much gentler. Although he very much preferred Amy’s. At the same time, the second he stepped into the house, greeted by this angel, he felt both warm on the inside and the outside. Her mother was very nurturing, clearly very loving and gentle. Maybe that was why Amy seemed to feel so free to be whoever she wanted.
“Can I get you anything? Have you eaten yet? Your lips are blue. Come on, we have a fire going in the living room. Amy is reading in there. Follow me.” She began to walk down the hallway on the right. Before he started following her, he took a moment to look around.
Directly in front of him, from the entrance, was a long hallway, leading to a small door on the left side wall, and on the right was a set of stairs. On the left of him was a hallway pitch black in darkness, otherwise matching exactly the one on his right, which he would walk down in a moment. He figured there was an anteroom or a dining room or something hidden in the shadows. The wooden floors were black, the stairs covered in a muted crimson carpet. A small smirk poked at the corners of his mouth as he thought, ‘Maybe Amy chose this colour so if she ever bit someone’s neck on the stairs, there would be no obvious stains.’
Going down the hallway, he already began to feel warmer and warmer, his limbs not threatening to fall off or anything anymore. On his left was another long corridor, but it was dark and he couldn’t tell what was there either. Perhaps it was the way to the kitchen, or the cellar? Who knows. The place seemed kind of huge, now that he was inside.
When Amy’s mother stopped, he found himself in a beautiful, large room. Arched windows, covered in sheer, small curtains, on the wall facing the streets. A small table was placed right against it, just underneath the glass. There were some pictures arranged on top of it, of Amy, of her mother and some very ancient family members, in black and white. On the wall to the right of the entrance, which was just an open archway, was a large mirror, and directly opposite him was the lit fireplace she was talking about. The crackling worked to soothe his nerves. Just above the fireplace was a small shelf, with some antiques and strange figurines carefully placed along it, and above that was a regal oil painting of some 1800’s figure. Was it a relative from when the town was still very new, or something?
In front of the fireplace were three couches, arranged in a square, with a coffee table in the middle. To his left was a grand piano, some bookshelves on the wall, and left of the entrance, there was a cupboard filled with wine glasses, teacups, saucers, all looking rather expensive. He wasn’t sure if they were rich, or just very picky.
Despite how amazingly designed the living room was, the most eye-catching thing lay on the couch to the left of the fireplace. She was wearing nothing but… exquisitely short shorts, black as her hair, one of her slim, elegantly carved legs sprawled out carelessly along it, the other one down the side of it, foot resting on the floor. With that, she wore a loose shirt, twice her size, making her look all tiny and cuddly. Her long dark hair was splayed out on the couch around her head, and she seemed entirely absorbed within the novel she was reading. A laugh suddenly erupted from her, breaking the silence, and he felt a smile coming on. She seemed completely unaware that there was anyone else in the room.
“Oh, by the way, my name is Cassandra.”
“Lovely to meet you.”
They both glanced over towards Amy to see if she noticed them yet. She didn’t.
“Amy? Amy, darling? Amy? Amy!”
“Huh? What? What’s going on? Did someone die? Is the house on fire? Did they find dark matter? What? What’s so important that you had to take my attention away from my novel, mother?”
Cassandra stood there, arms crossed, silently staring her daughter down. They both seemed incredibly proficient at staring contests.
“Amy, your friend is here. You know, Jamie, your lab partner, the one you told me would be coming today? Remember? Earth to Amy?”
She blinked several times, then slowly glanced over towards him. He was looking very confused, slightly… annoyed, was it? No, it wasn’t annoyance. She couldn’t really pin it down. Perhaps shock?
“Jamie! Hi! Hello, yes, hi, greetings, welcome to our humble abode,” she said as she sat up, swinging her incredibly distracting legs over to help her sit up straight. She leaned back on the couch and stared at him, then patted the couch next to her.
“Come sit, my little lab rat.”
“WHAT?” he exclaimed, completely caught off guard by what she had called him.
“Amy! Behave!” Cassandra said, although she held her delicate hand over her mouth to hide a little laugh.
The cutest giggle he had ever heard in his entire lifetime left Amy’s throat. It was so mischievous, so amused, so self-pleased, he couldn’t help but quickly let go of the slight wave of anger that washed over him when she called him a lab rat. With a stubborn look on his face and the defiance of a Roman god in his eyes, he shuffled over to the couch, staring right into her ruby-like eyes as he marched over. The dominant look he wore seemed to make her shrink as he forced her to look into his eyes, without even touching her. Her lips parted again, and he noticed her chest heaving slightly faster. A cute little lip bite followed.
Pleased with himself, he quickly looked away as he sat down next to her. Apparently, the feisty girl he had spent all afternoon trying to understand also liked to be dominated. Well, as far as he could tell. He quickly brushed those thoughts away so as to avoid needing to sit in an uncomfortable way to hide something she seemed to so easily be able to invoke.
Luckily, her mother had already turned around to leave them alone as he walked over, but then she stopped and turned back around as he sat down, remembering something.
“I almost forgot my manners, I am so sincerely sorry, Jamie,” said Cassandra in a most gentle tone. “Have you had lunch yet? Are you hungry? You must be starving, actually. It’s so cold outside, so rainy, you need something soothing. How about some soup, would you like to have dinner with us?”
Amy looked up at him, a cheeky grin reaching her eyes, causing them to sparkle like stars in the night sky.
“Yes, eat with us, trust me, mother makes the best food.”
Pressured into agreeing, and his stomach threatening to give its very revealing answer, he quickly nodded. “That would be absolutely lovely, thank you, Mrs. Eberton.”
“Just Cassandra, or Cass, please. I’ll set up the table. You kids have fun. Also, Amy, behave. I swear if you — ”
“I get it, mother. Go, hurry, he’s losing energy at a rapid rate. Oh no, look, he’s starting to look like a terminally ill patient! Oh nooooo! What shall we ever do!”
Cass simply raised a delicately drawn eyebrow and walked away.
Jamie instantly glanced over to her and gave her a look.
“What? It was the only way to convince her to leave the room without giving me a lecture about people’s feelings and how they react to some of the things I say.” Amy seemed overly comfortable in her skin. He had to exercise extreme self control not to stare at her legs. Did she have to wear something so short? He was dreading the moment she stood up, in case he got a glimpse of her underwear if she did.
She leaned against him, half lying back down, one leg off the side of the couch, the other one resting on it, knee bent. One arm dangled off the edge of it as well, while her other one played with her hair. Her head somehow ended up being on his thigh.
“Amy, what are you doing?”
“I’m using you as a pillow while I think about our experiment.” Her answer was very direct, as if her subconscious mind was responsible for it. Honestly, he was starting to relax, especially with the fire soothing his muscles, basically giving him a gentle massage, pushing the cold out of his bones. She was making him very nervous and flustered with how comfortable she seemed, but it was her house. Her territory. Why wouldn’t she be comfortable?
“I got the stuff we need. Although, while there, I realised we’d have to go into those damn forests, at night, to record the sounds we need. Are you okay with that?”
She gasped, jumping upright. Her eyes glistened.
“Yes! Spooky forest adventures with Jamie!” She shot up, in fact, standing up in front of him. “Dracula swoops down from the sky, coming straight for me,” she leaned back, cowering in fear, her tone changing into a sarcastically terrified one, “Oh nooo, Mr. Drakuul, please don’t hurt me, I am but a helpless maiden, out in the woods late at night, please don’t kill me!”
Again, her voice changed, filling to the brim with excitement. “And then, you swoop in, wrapping your arms around my waist to show Dracula that he can’t hurt me.” Her voice grew very deep, as deep as she could go, and it made him laugh instantly. “I will fight you to death, Mr. Dracula, if you try to lay a hand on her!”
They both ended up laughing as she fell on the couch again. He was being ridiculous. Of course the forest wasn’t scary.
“So, what did you bring? Show me.” She seemed to settle down, catching her breath after her dramatic outburst, and as he reached for his rucksack to retrieve his laptop, as well as the bag he put down on the floor next to it, where the recording equipment was, he found himself sneaking a glance at her chest, and at her lips, slightly parted, somewhat wet since she just licked them. They were not the same shade of crimson they were in school anymore; they were a pretty, pale pink, like cherry blossoms. He forgot about everything in that moment, although his brain was very good at reminding him to stop staring, or he would have to cleverly hide or find an excuse for his boner.
He pulled out his laptop, placing it in his lap, breathing out a sigh in realisation that it could provide cover in case he fucking stared at her again. Did she have to be so ethereally attractive? He felt like his life could’ve been a whole lot easier had he been partnered up with literally any other girl. But did he want easier? Meeting Amy was like going on a journey, a train ride, and pausing every second to take in new sights you had no idea existed before. She, herself, was like an experience. Sort of like going to the Harry Potter portion of Universal Studios and smelling the magic in the air, feeling the spark in the atmosphere. Dragons, pretty little villages, wizards and wands, Hogwarts, goblins, talking paintings. She was far, far more magical and far more intriguing than anything he had seen in Harry Potter, though.
“Here. This is my audio app thing. You know.” His brain broke. Awesome.
She grabbed the bag and looked through. Some weird microphone, attached to some weird device. She played with it, turning it this way and that, her crimson gaze fixated upon it. She traced the outlines of it, poked different buttons, whispered the text she found next to them. He couldn’t help but simply watch her. He felt as though if he missed a single moment of her existence, his breathing would stop.
“So, we choose what frequencies we wanna record here?” she said, leaning closer to him, moving herself up a bit more to make typing on his laptop easier as she very casually turned it in his lap and clicked his internet browser. She quickly typed in “bat call frequency range” into a Google search and ctrl-clicked multiple results, then quickly scrolled through them as she read the answers. Standing up, she went to the table under the windows and grabbed a notebook from one of the little drawers along the front of it, a pen, and then held the little curtain over to the side to look at the rain and the fog. She stood there for a moment, sighing softly as she let the dreary weather calm her down. Slowly, she felt her eyebrow raise as she felt someone staring at her behind. She very slowly turned her head around to look at Jamie, but he had successfully looked away from her and to his laptop’s screen before she could catch him. She wondered if she had just been imagining it, or if she should go change into something less revealing to make the poor lad’s life easier and make focusing a more manageable task. Honestly, she had completely forgotten about that, never really bothered to consider it before now.
“Jamie? What you doing?” She walked back over to him, seeming to glide as she did. Her step was soft, and she moved ever so gracefully, almost like a ghost or a wisp.
“Just looking at different bat species and what we could expect.”
“Good! Yes!” she said as she plopped back down onto the couch next to him. She wrote down the different species’ names in Latin and in English, their frequency ranges, her handwriting still so damn atrocious, her lips slightly parted as she muttered what she wrote down to herself. He pretended to be very interested in the various bat pictures, when really, he was just staring at her lips again. He cursed the gods for making something so beautiful and then putting her right next to him, not even inches away.
“Amy~! Jamie~!” Cassandra called out from the hallway as dinner was served. They both got up, getting so much work done before their food break. They felt satisfied, productive. At least, Amy did. Jamie was satisfied with himself for gaining a whole new level of self control, putting in a Herculean amount of effort to keep himself from doing anything stupid that might put Amy off.
The dinner table was lavish. Plates made of fine china; an entire set, from soup bowl, to plate, to the confusing silverware rich people decided to make use of for so many different things. Jamie hated that. Amy sat down next to him, smiling to herself in a most amused way as he stared at the spoons of various sizes in confusion.
“Jamie, this one is for soup. This one is for the main course, and this one is for dessert. This one is for coffee, which we’ll drink afterwards. Okay? Don’t worry, I used to hate all of this myself when I was younger, but it’s kind of a family tradition. My family still practises all their Victorian… ways? To this day.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I just don’t want to do something considered rude, that’s all.”
“Don’t you worry about that, Jamie. You just enjoy your meal, okay?” Said Cassandra, always so gentle, always so kind. He felt he would visit this place a lot in the future.
Soup was served first. It was a cream-based bowl of absolute Heaven. His taste buds danced in happiness at each and every spoonful. He already began to forget that it was gloomy and cold and wet outside. Next, some salad with strawberries in it.
The main course that followed consisted of Teriyaki beef, Asian rice, salmon covered in a vinegar-based sauce with some greens to go with it, and if he wanted, he could have some rice with it. The rice was served in the shape of little balls, as if they were scooped out of the rice cooker with an ice cream scoop. He’d honestly never eaten like this before. It was weird but in a really good way. He loved it. He just wanted to be showered in luxury, to feel like eating, even if it was at home, was an experience to truly enjoy, every single time.
Dessert was just as great as the rest of the ridiculously delicious food. It was a very hot brownie, fresh from the oven, with a vanilla ice cream scoop on top. If he wanted, he could add chocolate fudge, caramel or nuts on top of it. Amy made a joke about it being a pot brownie and Cassandra shook her head at her daughter. She reassured him that she would never serve him such a thing, but he simply shrugged and smiled. Those wise blue eyes seemed to shine with a sort of realisation, and he wondered if she caught onto how much he likes her daughter, even though her daughter herself seemed completely clueless, and hid a blush that quickly went away as he took a bite out of his ice cream brownie. Had he been alone, he would’ve released the most obnoxious moans of pleasure at how it tasted. He ate the whole thing, and then drank the coffee they served.
When dinner was over, he felt like a king. The luxury was starting to get to his head, and he grew cocky. He began walking to the living room to find Amy, but she had already reemerged and was coming down the hallway with his stuff and her notebook.
“We should go to the study,” she offered. “It’s a lot better in there.”
“The study?” he asked, confused. He didn’t even know a study existed.
“Yes. It’s like my office. Wait, no — wait, never mind, I’m dumb. Come on, follow me.”
He did as he was told, but his smile of arrogance never left his face. He very unabashedly stared at her butt as she walked ahead in front of him, and he did not care if she knew. They were walking down that long corridor that was dark before, but now she had turned on a light and he could see long hallways along it. He wondered where the Hell they could fit or could lead to, seeing as the mansion really didn’t look that huge from the outside. She went down the last one on the right, turning on cosy, warm yellowish lamps as she walked. A few steps in, she stopped in front of grand-looking double doors, covered in pretty, floral designs. She pushed them open after she handed him the stuff she was carrying, without a word, as if she just expected him to hold them for her. He may have felt cocky, but damn, she was always so confident and so sure of herself. Before retrieving the things she gave to him to hold, she turned on the lights, and he couldn’t help the soft gasp that left his throat.
The room was huge. It was a library, and every inch of the walls were lined with bookshelves that were filled to the brim with books, some rested sideways on top of those stuffed vertically in. It was a sort of circular room, with some desks on the right, an office right in the middle of it all. More books littered the floors in random places, while the left side of the room was filled with blackboards, whiteboards, canvas stands, with some half finished paintings, others finished and just sitting there, forgotten, or perhaps just put on display.
The ceilings were magnificent. In the middle was a skylight, in the shape of a dome, which Jamie figured was to look up at the stars or to let in natural light during the day, but right now it was just wet and making little tapping noises as the rain came down on it. He also figured it might be useful for the little telescope near the desks on the right.
Around the skylight were paintings of the constellations exactly matching the outside, with little scribblings of different parts of the galaxy around all of them. He could’ve sworn Amy herself had written that, although how she managed to write on the ceiling was beyond him. Perhaps a very long ladder.
‘She wouldn’t need a ladder with you, if you know what I mean,’ Jamie’s brain instantly remarked, and he wished he could slap himself without her noticing, but he stayed his hand.
Farther out, the ceiling began to look more and more like the planet. There were pretty forests, flowers, birds. He whispered a wow under his breath, but Amy’s apparently extremely sensitive ears caught it.
She followed his gaze to find what he was looking at and smiled.
“Yes, very beautiful, isn’t it? It took a very long time, but it was so very worth it. I specifically requested the skylight, if I were to make any observations with this.” She pointed to the telescope.
“Wait, did you design that?”
“Maybe,” she looked away and walked over to the desk, placing the laptop down, as well as the recording equipment. She had to move over a lot of papers and a typewriter to make room for it.
Jamie didn’t move. He took a few minutes to fully take in the room. He looked at the books on the floor, each one of them had a bookmark some way through it. He imagined her lying down on the floor, on her back, her legs against the side of one of the desks, or on her stomach, both hands holding the book up, or again, on her stomach, her knees bent, legs moving back and forth, her cheek resting against the back of her hand, elbow plopped up on the floor. He noticed little rings left behind by coffee mugs. He scanned the titles of some books. Some were in Greek, and he wondered if she could read them. Others were in Latin, still others were in bloody Japanese. His eyes finally landed on the paintings. He felt that choking sensation again, especially as he watched a specific one where there was a face, completely black, but it looked like a mask. One eye was shut, the other was a red slit. A sick, twisted grin. He felt a sensation of dread quickly growing within his chest so he instantly looked away, and he found her watching him. For some reason, he almost screamed. Something was very off about that painting, and it fucked with him to the point her ruby-like eyes almost made him jump out of his skin.
He looked around, suddenly feeling like he was being watched. He almost began to panic, when she called his name.
“Jamie? Jamie, are you okay?”
“Huh? What? Oh, yeah, I’m fine…” he began to calm down, but as he looked at her again, his eyes were pleading. He wanted her to keep talking.
“Do you like this place? It’s basically my sanctuary. I designed the whole thing. No one is allowed in it, not even my mother.”
“Wait, what? Why am I in here, then?”
She tilted her head, wondering how to answer something like that. “Well,” she started, her eyes drifting away to look at a random point on the wall. “You’re very different to everyone I’ve met. To be fair, I try to avoid everyone and ignore them, but you approached me instantly, and you don’t seem the tiniest bit put-off by my personality, or my utter lack of social skill. You don’t judge me. You just accept me as I am. So I figured, you’re welcome here.”
He was amazed. Baffled, really. Again, rendered speechless by her. He was welcome to a place this brilliant enigma hadn’t welcomed literally anyone else to? Did he really deserve such an honour? He didn’t think he did, but she seemed to think so, so he refused to question her judgement. He just let himself be appreciated by the most noble creation in existence. It was like being put under an absolutely amazing spotlight and being thanked just for being himself. He couldn’t describe how wonderful that felt.
“So… yeah. Until our project is finished, this will be where we work, okay?” she explained. He nodded, still unable to find his voice.
Suddenly, his phone vibrated in his pocket. His mum was calling. He fumbled to retrieve it. Before he could even say hello, she was already speaking on the other end.
“Jamie, are you okay? Are you home? It’s ten at night, are you safe?”
“No, I mean, yes. I’m okay, and I’m safe, but no, I’m not home.”
“Well, where are you? Still at your friend’s?”
“Can I talk to her mother? You can’t drive home on your own tonight, it’s way too dangerous. I’ve seen the news. I’m gonna ask her if you can spend the night, okay?”
“Mother — ”
“Absolutely not. Let me talk to her mother.” She sounded extremely serious and extremely strict. He knew he had to listen to her, so he asked Amy to guide him back to Cassandra.
After speaking on the phone with his mother, Cassandra smiled up at him.
“I would love to have you spend the night, Jamie. Come, I should have something for you to wear. Due to tradition, we keep sleepwear of various sizes in case we have guests. There should be something for you. Come on, upstairs, follow me.”
He did as ordered, following the delicate, blonde woman, feeling so welcome and so safe. She went to a room where he had to wait outside, then came out with three plastic bags, lined with the colour of the pyjamas they contained.
“I’ve brought you different sizes and different colours, not sure which one you’d like the most. Pick the one you find most comfortable. Now, let me show you to your room. You won’t be too far from Amy, so if you need anything, just go knock on her door.”
“Yes, ma’am — Cass.” He corrected himself as she gave him a ‘really?’ look.
She walked down the hallway, a bit farther away from the stairs.
Oh, right, the upstairs. It was pretty much one super long corridor, with doors on either side, and on the far left, it bent into a turn. On the right side, however, just near the stairs, was a window. A Gothic arched window, of course. A few doors down, she stopped and opened one, revealing a luxuriously decorated room, however very Victorian in nature. He grew to really love this place. It was like being pulled back a few hundred years into the past. The rooms even smelled like the past, he thought.
She lit some candles for him, however she told him if he wanted to turn on the lights he could just do that, she just really loved candlelight.
He thanked her profusely before she left him with Amy, who had been silent this whole time. When he looked at her, her gaze appeared extremely distant, a bit of worry even crossing it. He instantly felt himself tense up, concern very obvious on his face.
“Amy, what’s wrong?” he asked, his voice much quieter, calmer, gentler, now that it was close to bed time. He normally did this at home as well, but he figured Amy was the kind of person to appreciate the quiet at night.
“Nothing…” she said, her voice sounding as if it came from a far away land. She wasn’t even directly looking at him anymore. Her eyes seemed to glaze over, and his chest filled with what felt like ice cold water. He wanted to reach out for her and grab her, pull her back to him, but something held him back, like a barrier made of ice. He remembered what she told him earlier, about quantum tunnelling, and wished he could do the same, but no luck. The only thing he could use was his voice.
She tilted her head to the side, as if to listen to something, but he couldn’t hear anything. She gave him a look, then walked away.
“I’ll be in my room. Mother already showed you which one. If you need anything, you can find me there.” She bit her lip a bit.
“Okay, thank you…” he felt very put off, but not by her, just by the way she seemed to be suddenly behaving. He just hoped she was okay.
Jamie shot up in bed, covered in a cold sweat. His heart was pounding, so fast it felt as though it was threatening to leap out of his chest. His ribs ached. His lungs were on fire. He gasped in breath after breath of air, and then he began to cry, his entire body shaking. He looked around, but the room was silent. The candles were still silently burning away, but they were halfway melted.
Lightning struck outside, and it lit up the whole room. He jumped backwards and pressed up against the wall, thinking he had seen a ghostly face, thunder screeching through the clouds in the sky. When it happened again, he realised it was probably just the side-effects of his nightmare.
Jamie had never had a nightmare before in his life. He was terrified, confused, and lost, and the only thing he could think of was Amy.
He jumped out of his bed, and, shirtless, as he had taken it off since it was soaked in his sweat, he ran out of his room and to hers.
He began to try to steady his breathing, but fuck, everything around him felt off. The house felt like it was swaying and shrinking, and the sound of the rain, the ravens, the bats and the owls outside only worked to worsen his nerves. It was also too fucking dark. He turned on the hallway lights and fully prepared himself to find a goddamn monster with its head halfway cut off, bobbing from side to side as its disgustingly thin neck barely managed to support it, wide eyes staring him down, but, luckily, as he breathed out an air of calm, there was absolutely nothing in the hallway.
He kept trying to calm down, but he couldn’t do so completely, so he said fuck it and knocked on Amy’s door.
He knocked again. And again.
“Amy?” he said in something a tad above a whisper.
Wondering how she could still be asleep — perhaps a heavy sleeper — he slowly and gently opened the door.
“Amy?” he said into the darkness. Nothing.
“Amy…” as he said it, he felt a cold shiver run up his spine. He almost found himself in tears again, due to the sudden, huge amount of fear he felt. As he said it, he could’ve sworn he heard a fucking echo of it, in a hoarse, twisted voice that sounded like something straight out of a fucking grave, yet at the same time, gentle and soft, all sing-song like, right by his ear.
He rushed to turn on the lights and gasped.
Amy was nowhere to be found.
He would’ve taken in the decor, had he not been completely distressed by how empty the room looked. Although, it was kind of a mess. It looked like a small tornado fucking swept through the room. He rapidly scanned his surroundings, wondering if he just missed her sleeping on the floor, but the room felt cold and empty, dreadful. Her warm, welcoming presence was completely missing.
“Amy…” when he tried to say it, or think it, his head was hit by an extremely sharp pain. He almost fell to the floor. Why were his memories of her suddenly blurring, losing colour?
“No, no… No! I cannot forget her! No! Stop it!”
His heart stopped.
“Or. What. Jamie?” The same voice repeated, emphasising every single word. It was a deep voice, surprisingly calm, almost like… nectar. It drew him in, the way a succubus may draw in a victim. It was almost like a purr, even.
As slowly as humanly possible, Jamie strained his muscles, going against every instinct, screaming at him to flee, to look up to where the voice came from.
He wished he hadn’t.
There was a tall, extremely tall figure in front of him, made of nothing but what seemed like coalesced shadows. His face was paler than Amy’s skin, like bones or ice. Where eyes should have been were things that looked like orbs of shadows, releasing a consistent trail of smoke as he turned his head a little or moved about. His lips represented a gash, and when he spoke, a forked tongue that looked like a stick of blood poked out here and there.
“What… what the fuck are you?” asked Jamie, gradually transitioning from fear to pure anger at the possibility that whatever the fuck this fucking creature was, it may have taken Amy and put her in danger. At the same time, every part of him wished this was just another fucking nightmare, but trying to wake himself up didn’t do jackshit.
“I’m The World Bender, or Arthxsas. Whichever you find easier to pronounce.” The words poured out of his lips like liquid gold, what felt like disguised poison. His forked tongue kept darting out of his weirdly shaped mouth, which, when opened, looked like nothing but an empty abyss. Sometimes, as lightning struck, it shone against his weird set of teeth, which lined the inside of his mouth. Sharp, much like a shark’s. He wondered how he didn’t stab himself in the… cheeks? As he spoke.
“Okay, World Bender Arth… whatever, what the fuck are you trying to do to me? Where’s Amy?”
The most evil smirk he had ever seen in his time of existing on this planet settled on the… lips of the thing before him, if you could even call them that. Jamie’s chest froze with dread and boiled with rage. He never knew he was capable of experiencing so much conflicting emotion on such a deep level until this night.
“Amy? Who’s Amy?”
“You bastard! Stop th — ” Jamie felt himself slam against the wall as what felt like lightning zapped the inside of his skull, making him gasp for air, his hands clutching at his head. The creature before him looked rather angry now, and Jamie felt absolutely tiny. He just didn’t want to be hurt.
“Amy… is mine.” Arthxsas’ growl devolved into a purr. Jamie wanted to fight, but he was frozen to the bone with terror.
“Unless… you wish to go look for her, maybe?” The figure tilted its head, those weird, shadowy eyes releasing dancing wisps of black smoke.
“Yes.” Not a single moment of hesitation.
“Oh… how lovely,” he grinned, revealing those hideous, enormous teeth, and Jamie gulped. Suddenly, the beast was upon him, and a moment after, his breath was ripped from him, and the world went black.
Or did it? About a second later, he blearily saw the closet door being opened by the bony hand of the creature, its long, black claws leaving scratches along the wood as it grabbed it. Next, he felt himself being pushed, and wind rushed against his body as it fell. He began to accelerate and accelerate, until he finally passed out.
‘Oh, Jamie~ Wake up~’
Gasping for air once more, Jamie tried to rush to sit up, his body instinctively knowing he was down, hope filling him as he thought, yes, it was just a nightmare! But when he went to sit up, something held him down. He looked around but to no avail; his surroundings were pitch black. It was really hard to breathe, and he could hear himself panting. It was also extremely hot, and he smelled the earth. The smell of life. The blurriness began to dissipate, his confusion replaced with utter alertness.
‘Jamie, my boy. You’re trapped. Where? Let’s say, some place no one ever wants to be trapped in alive. If you find a way out, you can go find Amy. Or at least, try to. Have fun~’
“You bastard!” Jamie yelled, the muffled echo of it nauseating him.
‘Uh-uh-uhh~ The more you yell and try to resist, the more oxygen you use up. Do you really want to suffocate to death before you even get a chance at ‘rescuing’ Amy? MY Amy, by the way,’ that last part, contrasting the first, sing-songy nature of his words, was in a primal, animalistic, monstrous growl. It shook the poor lad from head to toe, but it filled him with a newfound bout of adrenaline. He had to save Amy. His Amy.
He began to try to look around, but he couldn’t see anything. Literally anything. The darkness resembled that of a black hole.
He tried to dig his hands into his pockets; they were so damn hard to move. Every muscle in his body was stiff. It was a true struggle to even get his freezing cold hands to experience the ghost of a movement. After a daunting struggle, he finally managed to force his hand into his pocket… it was empty.
Desperation began to set in, panic slowly rising. He rushed to get his other hand into his other pocket, hoping to find something, anything, to help him dig his way out of this hell. What the fuck could he use to get himself out of being buried alive?
His arm ached. He screamed in pain and frustration, groaning as his fingers began to cramp up. He panted heavily, trying his best to push past the searing pain. When he found that one empty as well, he felt hot tears well up in his eyes. His arms pressed against the sides of the coffin, guiding his hands to crawl up to its roof. He began to scratch at the wood but it was so damn hard.
His fingernails began to break, his fingers beginning to bleed. He tried and tried to dig, losing his sense of time. His breathing quickened even more, and all he could hear was The World Bender’s laughter in his mind. He felt a wave of rage wash over him and he pushed himself to dig again, but, as he made a hole in the wood, blood running down the length of his arm, dirt trickled in, then flooded into the claustrophobic space. It fell on his face, and he felt something wiggling against his skin.
More of them followed. They began to crawl over him, moving in that disgusting way worms did, their small, rubbery bodies invading his skin, which he eventually wanted to rip off. They bit into his flesh. He screamed again, cursing Arthxsas as the disgusting maggots filled his bloodstream with poison with every bite. His vision went red. His head started spinning.
And then… nothingness.
Amy gasped softly, looking up and around her. She could’ve sworn she heard her name.
“World Bender…” she murmured, getting sick of seeing the same thing everywhere she walked. Loopy black trees, twisting and turning, dirt, death, emptiness. The skies were black as tar, and they seemed to be dripping slowly, just like the sticky fluid they resembled. Her ruby eyes were hazy and muted, now more blue than red. Dressed in a white little gown he handpicked for her, she was like a doll in a fucked up, twisted Wonderland.
“Yes, my love?” he responded, accompanied by the sensation of his claws caressing her skin, without him actually being there. Had this been about a year ago, she may have shivered or jumped away, but now he seemed to have complete control over her.
“Was that you? Did you just call my name?” she asked, her head tilted to the side in curiosity.
Irritation flooded his voice. His answer was clipped and cold as ice.
“Yes. It was me. I wanted to see how you liked my kingdom.”
“I’m bored — ”
“I mean… I want to see more. What else do you have to show me?”
She heard the sound of fingers snapping together, then slowly turned around to look at what had manifested behind her, feeling soft breezes of hot breath on the short sleeves of her dress, waving the lacy ends as if a real gust of wind had blown by.
It was almost cute, had it not been absolutely horrible. Honestly, she wanted to keep it as a pet. It was as fucked up as her anyway, so why not?
It was an enormous, slender-limbed monster, with a giant mouth that opened as wide as a snake’s as it emitted a yawn. Its eyes were round, tiny and black as coal, but they seemed to shine in the darkness. She took one step towards it and it began to growl at her, which made her tilt her head to the side once more, wondering what it was trying to accomplish. She was completely unfazed.
Twelve years of being made to see things like this made them grow natural to her.
She took a few more steps, and the creature growled again, threatening her, daring her to come closer. She smiled and hurried up, until she was one step away from it. Confused, the beast stood there, wondering if it should eat her in one gulp.
“If you eat her, I eat you and your entire lineage. Do you understand?” Arthxsas’s voice was only audible in its mind.
The monster whimpered, like a scared dog, bowing its head in obedience, its frame revealing the faintest hint of a tremble. Amy smirked and reached out, petting it on the head with her delicate, pale little hand.
“Come on, little guy,” she said, her voice soft but freezing, like the surface of glass left out in the cold for far too long. It was eerie. No human being should have ever sounded like that.
She turned around, confident the little monster would follow her. It bowed its head low and walked close behind her, eventually catching up next to her. She smiled as she reached a clearing, although the smell of death was still present, still unpleasant.
A huge difference was that a full moon hung overhead. She felt herself being tugged away from her surroundings, lips parting as her mind tried to remember a conversation she had earlier that day, but she was quickly slammed right back to the world around her. It physically hurt, a soft cough forcing its way out of her lungs. Warmth had started to creep over her body as the moon whispered to her, but that luxurious feeling of comfort was violently snatched away from her, limbs so cold they could have fallen off, nothing but a walking corpse with pretty dark hair and lips the same hue as the veins in her wrists.
She returned to her eternal walking, this time accompanied by a monstrosity, trying to explore this dreary, dismal place. She grew bored simply because it seemed so repetitive. Sometimes, in an attempt to shock her, the World Bender would make her bear witness to gruesome images within the endless trees — or, well, the relatively not so gruesome images, such as human bodies severed into countless pieces, twisted; brutalised in ways she didn’t know were possible — on both sides of the grey brick path, but she only found them to be interesting, even fascinating. They held her interest for hours, fixated, her nails tracing lines along her body where those people’s limbs had been torn off.
The World Bender had to step up his game to make her feel anything anymore.
Rather abruptly, she came upon a curving path leading up to a building, as if it had just sprung up from the ground, like the rest of the objects around her. Ominous, decrepit, large, Victorian in nature, almost like the houses in her town, but it was the farthest thing from a house.
According to the wooden signs that now littered the sides of the road, marching up to the abomination she was supposed to visit, it was a mental hospital, with “Arthxsas’s Puppets Mental Asylum” printed in giant black letters above the dingy, gated entrance. Once again her head bent to the side in curiosity, her legs carrying her towards it as if possessed by an unnaturally mesmeric force, momentarily bringing her upon the gates, her little friend in tow.
She tried the doorknob, twisting the frostbitten metal in her hand, which caused the giant wooden door to creak open. With the slightest crack made, an obnoxiously strong smell of blood assaulted her nose. Mm. Blood.
She hurried in.
The door slammed shut behind her and her pet monster, causing it to jump at the noise. As it did, she stood rooted to her spot, taking in the hall before her, the corridors leading to the inside of this beast’s belly, the unstable-looking ceilings, the cobwebbed chandeliers that lit up with fire blue and eerie, like everything else in this clearly abandoned hospital. The walls all around her were torn up and covered in writing, the indecipherable graffiti of the damned. She scanned her surroundings for spots she could use to exit if she needed to.
On the left of her was a small, metal black door, held tightly shut, woven into an endless wall. She saw double wooden doors at the end of it, but something told her to quickly look away, threatening her with the worst possible outcome if she even dared walk that way. The phantom of fear floated over to her from that direction, but she had already moved her gaze to the welcome desk and the chained-shut gates that led to the rooms of Arthxsas’s deranged puppets. An entire building that housed all of his disgusting, horrifying creatures?
She jogged over to the chained doors and snapped her fingers at her pet in command. She silently named him Puppy in her head. Each step she took brought her closer to the rising melody of screams, mumblings, ghostly moans, haunting screeches, the hissing of the wretched. It was the most pleasant music to her ears.
She whistled at Puppy, “Come on boy, break down these chains for me.”
He looked up at her questioningly, but not for long, as Arthxsas growled deeply right next to his pointed ear. He suppressed a whimper and slammed his giant claw against the rusted chains, causing the doors to fall open and slam against the walls on each side. Amy’s body had tensed up in that moment, but all she was confronted with was an increase in the volume of the sounds the patients of this place had been producing, for how long she did not ponder for more than a few fleeting seconds, unsettling darkness and a far stronger stench of blood and decay.
She would have hesitated, had this been four years ago. But now she was too emotionally jaded to feel anything, thanks to the very being that was trying to terrify her, and she walked into the pitch black.
With a snap of the World Bender’s fingers, the sound of it echoing against the naked walls, torches lit up along the walls with the same blue fire as the one behind. A small smile touched her lips as she tugged on Puppy’s shoulder to follow her in.
She had to do more walking, sometimes in utter silence, sometimes surrounded by unbearably loud echos of pained screams. A constant groaning of something quite possibly dead would start, persist in the same, flat pitch, suddenly stop, then start again, entirely out of the blue. It was a little irritating. She wanted to find its source and kill it for good. She did not have the mental fortitude to tolerate the noises of zombies at the moment.
When she reached the third floor, taking the rickety, creaking stairs, her hands tracing the filthy walls, staining her pretty fingers with ashes — an old outbreak of fire? — an odd sound, like a whisper, called out her name. Her head snapped up, her breath catching in her throat. Something felt off, like the alluring tug of the moonlight she had experienced before, except this time it screamed at her to run.
Ignoring its wishes, she hurried her pace, reaching a fast jog, then running. Puppy had to speed up to keep up with her, his nostrils flaring slightly as it sniffed at the criminal responsible for her behaviour.
She came to a halt in front of room 605, panting slightly, her hands on her knees.
She felt something very familiar inside. Too familiar. Her skin rose in goosebumps.
‘Go on. Open the door. I dare you.’ Arthxsas never left her alone, his voice booming a little too loudly in her head.
Shrugging, showing him utter indifference, she twisted the handle. When she opened the door, something came galloping right at her, not even giving her time to blink, forcing her to stumble backwards, violently slammed against the wall behind her.
She did not move a muscle, as if rigour mortis had suddenly set into her body. Her dress fell off her shoulder with the sudden motion, the hem of it scratching against her thighs upon impact, almost like a whip. Puppy took one look at the creature and bolted out of the building, running for his life, much like the breath that escaped her lungs when this thing attacked her. She cursed at her stupid pet between gasps of breath. When she looked up, however, she stopped breathing altogether.
Her eyes widened in utter shock, the ruby hues returning to them as she began to shake. Her mouth was left open in disbelief as she stared at her assaulter. The light of the moon… The abyss within Arthxsas…
Except, it wasn’t really Jamie. He was all stretched out, taller than he ever should have been, his limbs sticking out awkwardly in 90-degree angles. He was covered in blood, his arms apparently perpetually bleeding, from shoulder to wrist. It dripped onto the floor, mimicking the sound of an unstable water faucet.
Her bones sent out ripples upon ripples of terror, forcing her whole body to shake. She was pinned against the wall with no escape. She tried to close her eyes to get away from the horrific reality she was forced to experience, failing miserably as his clawed hands reached for her skin. The smell of her own blood made her push back farther against the solid wall behind her, away from this monster that looked far too much like the man she was rapidly falling for just yesterday. The cuts on her arm stung, four claw marks ruining the soft fabric of her dress along her shoulder. They were barely scratches, but that was enough for her clueless red cells to paint a stream down her arm.
When she looked up at the beast to confirm it was not Jamie, she bit her lip hard enough to cause it to bleed, too. He sniffed it and his head shot up, inching closer to her face. She wanted to vomit.
Where his eyes should have been there was nothing but hollows, shadowy wisps floating out of the void sockets just like with Arthxsas, minus the orbs of shadows. His skin was much paler than it was when they were in the realm of the living, laced with black lines as if cracking apart.
She did not feel it when a tear ran down her face.
He noticed, however, the smell of salt catching his attention. He loudly sniffed at it, inching closer and closer. Without a single warning, his tongue, forked, sickeningly long, licked it off. It was agonisingly slow, the scent of death far too strong in his sticky black saliva.
Amy gasped suddenly, as if the life had been returned to her in that very moment. She struggled to find her voice, the words coming out hoarse and barely audible.
“Jamie! Jamie, what happened to you? Jamie, oh, god, Jamie, no, what have I done…” she felt defeated, guilty. The tension in her body evaporated, limbs falling limp as she slid down the wall.
This was all her fault. The World Bender took Jamie, just like he promised her he would take everything from her. All she could hear was a loud ringing in her ears, the pulse racing within her veins and his fucking stupid laughter. She gritted her teeth as the urge to stab him in the eye with her bare fucking hands filled her with newfound energy.
Now she was angry.
Using her rage, she began to breathe once more, rising to her feet, although the tears never stopped coming. She failed to notice them. She groaned, growled, screamed, making Jamie look at her with question on his disfigured features.
She realised she had to control her voice into the softest whisper, staring right into those empty sockets, before she leaned in close to Jamie, no longer fighting him. He was Jamie. Her Jamie. She touched her lips to his ear.
“Jamie… it’s me,” she was so quiet, she was not sure if she was speaking to him out loud, or simply with her mind. “It’s Amy. Don’t give in to that fucking son of a dead whore. Please, Jamie. Listen to me. Listen to the sound of my voice.”
He growled, moving back, creating a gap between them to examine her closely. There he was, gargantuan, barely able to fit in the corridor, and there she was, against the wall, small and delicate as a doll, but she seemed more fierce than even Arthxsas’s fury itself.
“Jamie,” the letters left her lips like rose petals drifting in the wind, and he felt this strange desire to catch them.
“Jamie… Jaaaamiiieeee...” She kept calling out his name, staring directly into his eyes, gritting her teeth in pain here and there as she wondered if something had broken when he lunged himself into her.
For a second, his body seemed to soften up a bit, which may have tricked her into letting her guard down. The tiniest flicker of hope was instantaneously whiffed out, like candlelight huffed out by the wind of a storm, when his claws began tracing her bare, uninjured left arm.
Amy’s teeth sank into her bottom lip, biting back a gasp of fear, forcing herself to try once again to steady herself. Maybe he could sense or smell her fear still, causing him to think she was fake, a lie, something not real.
She leaned back into the wall as she took him in, seeing the boy that made her smile with his wit and charms, his dark hair trying to get into his eyes — his oh so green eyes, his shy smile, his look of adoring fascination as she spoke with all her passion about something she loved. A growl that rose deep within his throat made her see him as he was now once more.
Huh. What if, what if… what if, the only way she could get him back — if that was even possible — was to fully trust him, in this very moment, even if he was a dead, twisted up sort of… slave to The World Bender? What if she could claim back what was hers? What if she could be freed from Arthxsas and his threats? His worlds? His monsters, his beasts, the creatures that walked along the streets, staring her down as she tried to concentrate on what her teachers said in class. What if she could escape the darkness he was filling her life with, what if she could liberate herself from the doubts, the insomnia, the nightmares? What if she could… have Jamie, all to herself? Was that even possible? Was her happiness even a probability calculated within her universe’s timeline?
As she tried to resist her instincts, the fear that was starting to strangle the breath out of her, she realised how difficult it was to completely surrender herself to another person. She had too many walls within her, her heart locked up in a cage she felt Jamie had a key to. The sounds of the screams of The World Bender’s other creations were extremely distracting, tensing up her muscles like a tightly wound string, close to breaking apart. Her breathing grew shallow, the whispers filling her head. You can’t be good enough, you’re a failure. Look at you. You’re nothing. Everyone says they see greatness in you, but they have no idea how miserable you are. How could he ever love you? You’re too boring of a person. You’re too insane. Too scary. If you’re capable of murder, would he ever trust you?
Her head swam, the room spinning around her. Shut up! She screamed at them. Shut up! Jamie actually likes me! Unlike you, he sees the real me!
He stared at her as she fought a war within herself. The tips of his claws dug into her skin, the pain pulling her out of her own mind. The scent of iron leaked out of the wound, causing them to stare at each other in an intense moment of confusion. He leaned in close to her, his tongue lapping up her blood like a dog laps up water.
She closed her eyes. He managed to get her out of the hole she had quickly fallen into. She had to calm down, and the only way she could do that was to just think about him before. Before this horrible event took place. Before she came here tonight. Before he was stolen by the fucking World Bender.
One problem. Every time she tried to conjure up an image of him, her head was hit by a skull shattering headache, nearly causing her to collapse. She would stop, then start again, far too determined to surrender now. Arthxsas was clearly trying his best to make it impossible.
“This is not a puzzle, Amy,” she told herself. Logic was not going to get her anywhere right now. She had to open up to Jamie. Emotionally. The only way to not give in to Arthxsas was to completely surrender herself to Jamie. Something… intimacy. She had to experience intimacy.
Something she had long ago forgotten how to do.
When her father and mother got their divorce, at the age of four, she was too young to understand what exactly had happened, but she was smart enough to see something was amiss. She also did not need to understand what being abandoned felt like. When he left them, he never returned. The only father figure in her life walked out on her and went on his way, as if she had never existed, as if he never had a daughter. She had no siblings. All she had was her mother, who, despite her good heart, was too emotionally blocked to provide any real warmth. She fit the role of the mother, acting out the part to perfection, but her eye never twitched, her brow never creased, her voice never raised. She was as empty as Jamie’s hollow eyes.
It hurt to remember things she tried so hard to forget. She slumped in defeat against the wall behind her as Jamie’s sharp, shark-like teeth sank into her flesh. She might have screamed. She wasn’t sure anymore. If she were being eaten alive, she didn’t feel it.
Her eyes remained shut as tears trickled down her face. When she tried to fully tap into her emotions, all the different things he made her feel, her heart almost stopped. She coughed out blood.
Slowly… slowly, Amy. Gently. From a rapid gallop to a rhythmic beat, a sense of warmth briefly touched it. It was only due to Jamie being so close to her, even if he thought she was fucking food right now.
It’s okay to feel the pain, Amy. It’s okay… you can cry. You don’t deserve to think all of those horrible things, Amy. Amy, do you know what it feels like to look at Jamie? It’s like the entire world grows far too dull, too dim, because he’s too bright and colourful. When I look at him, it’s as if the universe turned a thousand suns my way. When he smiles, it’s like the big bang is happening all over again. When his eyes shine when he knows I’m sassing him, all I see are the endless oceans I could still explore. He thinks he sneaks looks when he stares at my lips, what a silly man. Just like he tried to sneak in glances at my butt whenever I got up. That was cute, I didn’t know I even had a butt to stare at. Don’t force the memories, Amy… just let them come on their own. He began to fall for me the moment we met, on our very first exchange of words. I could tell, even if I did not understand it in that moment. He really began to feel it when he found out he was the only person I ever welcomed into my library.
But you just met him like a day ago, Amy.
I don’t care. He’s… he’s so different. So unique.
She felt as if she was floating. With every word, the feeling of elevation grew, stronger and stronger, like a feather fallen off the wings of an angel, carried by the gentlest wind. Her body was filled with a buzzing sensation, as if her very atoms were excited. Did she even have a body anymore?
Yes. The pain had stopped.
And she was falling.
Wait. Jamie was falling.
The ground had fallen from beneath them both.
Amy regretted opening her eyes as the brightest light assaulted them, which physically hurt.
It was too damn bright.
Silence flooded the atmosphere. Where was she? On all sides, there was nothing but a vast white. She broke the stillness as she groaned in pain, her body stiff, her arms refusing to cooperate. What happened? Where was she?
A masculine voice broke her out of her trance.
“Amy? Amy… oh, god, Amy, what have I done?!”
Her eyes fell shut. The deathly cold slowly released its hold on her.
“Amy! Amy, wake up! Amy!”
“Jamie?” Her eyes flew open this time. They looked right into his.
Piercing emeralds. Pale skin. No weird teeth.
Where was all this light coming from…? It made his frame above her glow. Slowly, she realised the ground under her was not that hard anymore. She was in Jamie’s lap, his arms cradling her severely injured, delicate form, coating his torn up clothes in her life fluid.
She coughed, violently shaking her entire being in his arms for a moment. Something wet came out of her throat. It tasted metallic as it hit her tongue.
Horror filled his eyes, widening them as his breathing came short.
“Amy! I’m sorry! Amy, I wasn’t myself, I had no idea what I was doing, I don’t even know what happened to me! I was in there for so long, I don’t even know how long! He showed me horrible things! He fucking killed me! He buried me alive! Oh, my god, I’m sorry, please, no, please, don’t leave me, please…” His hand clutched hers so tightly he could have broken her bones. Something else that was warm and wet touched her skin, but it wasn’t blood.
Jamie’s overflowing, desperate tears were landing on her face.
“Amy, what can I do…?”
Silence. He grunted in pain, pulling her into him, his face finding her neck. It was cold. She was cold everywhere. He shuddered as his sorrow leaked out of his eyes, mixing with the crimson dried into her dress. He gasped here and there as he tried to control himself, but the pain he felt was far too severe. It was as if Amy leaving her body was somehow connected to his heart, and the more she drifted away from him, the more she tugged out his heart with her, clutched tightly in her hopeful hands.
She coughed softly and he pulled back to look at her face. Her eyes were a muted crimson, their shine struggling to be seen. She managed to move her lips to speak and he held onto every single syllable. She was still here with him. She had something important to say. He was not going to let her just die like this!
“I think… I think we can change his world… if we let ourselves feel…” she coughed between the words, slumping against his chest as her energy rapidly escaped her. She was not… She was not exactly dying, but she was fading somehow.
He couldn’t hold back. Not after those words. He didn’t care about that blood. She wanted him to feel? Was that how they were supposed to win against that fucking monster who dubbed himself ‘the world bender’? Fine. He was going to fight. He was going to fight until his final breath was drawn.
Their lips collided.
She released an Earth-shattering scream of pain against his lips, but he held on, even if he grimaced into their kiss. He knew he did not physically hurt her. He felt what she felt. Her chest ached, burned, her heart fought to keep beating. Her limp arm grew tense, her free hand wandering enough to find his back and dig her nails into it, deep enough to draw blood. That was gonna leave a scar.
Jamie didn’t care. He held onto her. If it meant he could have her back, if it meant they could escape this fucking place, wherever the fuck they were, she could hurt him all she wanted. He had already hurt her more than she ever could hurt him. Even if he did not mean to… he just wanted to help her.
It was Arthxsas. It was a growl, or a scream, or both, really — it was hard to tell. It was furious, possessive, terrifying… afraid. The rage a child feels when something that is theirs gets taken from them.
Jamie was flung away from her by an invisible force, earning another scream from Amy, this time in much more pain than before. Physical, agonising pain. She needed Jamie back.
When he was thrown away, she felt as though Arthxsas had ripped her soul right out of her body and threw it into a fucking shredder. She gasped, her eyes overflowing with tears, and in utter desperation, she struggled to crawl on her hands and knees to Jamie, farther away from the direction where The World Bender had screamed, somewhere behind her. Somewhere in… the wall? Since there was nothing but an empty white all around them, it was hard to tell up from down and left from right.
Jamie’s bones ached as he landed on the floor. Something must have broken in half, because his whole being hurt too fucking much. He looked up at Amy, bloody, broken, and that was all it took for him to all begin crawling over to her as well.
Before he could even get two inches closer to her, he was violently picked up and flung back again, farther away this time. He skidded into a stop as he hit the ground.
Amy had to do something. She had to help him. She knew the answer. She was the reason they escaped the asylum. She broke the floor. She influenced Arthxsas’s world!
“Jamie! Don’t let him take away your feelings!” she screamed out, hoping the weight of her words reached her love’s ears.
“SHUT UP, AMY.” The World Bender was getting closer. His voice hovered above her, coming from all directions, echoing against invisible barriers.
“No!” She was going to defy him every step of the way.
Growling, this time more threatened than angry, Arthxsas assimilated out of nothingness, harnessing the shadows of the room in the corners only he saw, far enough way for him to feel the thrill of the chase. His legs instantly jolted into sprinting right at Amy’s crumpled form on the ground, before his entire body was even complete, phasing in and out of existence as he saw nothing but her, his claws ready to rip into her chest and take out her heart. He could eat it, consume her essence, and she would forever be his. Then he could move on to his next target and destroy them from the inside out, just like Amy.
She held her head up, pulling herself along the ground, and stared into his hollow eyes in unwavering defiance. The mighty World Bender himself seemed to lose his confidence, wavering, slowing down as he looked back at her. It was short-lived as rage boiled within his chest, visible to Amy’s and Jamie’s eyes as the shadows of his being bubbled and smoked. Or, was it rage? Amy wasn’t sure The World Bender felt anything. Maybe it was just a cheap imitation of so intense of an emotion, something he only saw in people and starved for.
His presence grew larger and larger with the hatred, fear and anger he held within his molecules. Those all too familiar, twisted trees began to rapidly sprout out of the ground, not so much to shape the emptiness around them but to attack, as they sharpened into curved blades, sharp as daggers, targeted Jamie on the other end of the vastness, racing for his vitals. Every stab they attempted, he had to move out of, with what little energy he had. Amy looked at him in desperation, only briefly breaking eye contact with her opponent to reassure Jamie.
“Don’t give up,” she mouthed his way.
At that sight, adrenaline shot through Jamie’s bloodstream at an alarming rate as one of the black scythe-like vines pierced right through his muscles, tearing the tissue apart, blood gushing out. The pain earned itself a sharp, shocked gasp, and as the blade shot back out of his arm, he jumped up without even thinking, his instincts taking over completely, making sure to just run, run, run.
The World Bender was still going for Amy as his fight happened passively in the background. He was strong enough to do both.
Whenever Jamie tried to run towards her, thinking Arthxsas was distracted enough, a multitude of spikes shot at him from all directions that led to her, and he had to rapidly swerve back, running from the other ones as they came at him from completely unexpected directions. A sick, satisfied smile spread wide the gash of blood on the tall monster’s face as he watched Jamie struggle out the corner of his eye.
Amy was still on the ground, fighting to crawl away from the danger racing to her, to immortalise her as just another part of The World Bender. Jamie’s heart felt as though it literally broke, the shattered pieces falling down like ashes from the end of a cigarette. Somehow, emotions were much stronger than they were on Earth.
“Run,” she mouthed at him again, barely able to hold her head up to look at him. It was purely the connection she felt to him that pushed her to keep fighting. As if he was somehow guiding her without the use of words.
Jamie shut his eyes tightly and looked away, still running, evading, jumping out of the nightmare spikes. She looked away from him now, staring right into Arthxsas’s eyes, only glancing at Jamie here and there, to make sure he was still alive. He seemed to be close to running out of energy. Every time she looked at him, however, it seemed as though he received another shot of epinephrine. His heart was going to explode.
Amy held Arthxsas’s gaze now. He began to near her at an alarming pace. She held her ground. She was sick of it all. Sick of him, sick of his tricks, sick of him trying to take control of her. Sick of her parents’ bullshit. Sick of the doubt. Sick of his lies. Sick of living in fear.
She was Amy Eberton, for fuck’s sake. No one could fucking control Amy.
“Try me, Arthxsas!” She roared, a newfound strength filling her chest, the wounds on her arms closing themselves, the world around her falling to her manipulation. A large burst of freedom exploded in her chest, making her heart feel light, sprouting out silver wings from her back! Anything was possible in this fucked up wonderland, and her thoughts and feelings manifested into whatever form of reality this was. Wings were not really the strangest thing that could have come out of her back.
The beast’s globular eyes widened, almost slipping out of his skull, worry and self doubt threatening to spill out in streams of shadows from those hollow sockets. He charged right at her, faster this time, his rage obvious on his face. The gap closed between them extremely and rather unpleasantly rapidly.
But she was not afraid of him anymore.
His enormous, bony claws reached straight for those wings, forcing them straight out of her back with a powerful grip, violently and forcefully ripping them out of her bones, out of her spine. He threw the beautiful silver wings across the emptiness and ripped her flesh apart, digging into her chest. Her heart screamed. She screamed, splitting the universe itself in half.
Silence. She made not a single sound for what seemed an eternity, Jamie holding his breath for however long, until she suddenly coughed, softly, weakly, the wet sound of blood unmistakable.
The wound poured out crimson like a broken faucet, or a cherry pie cut in half, leaking out its hot, sweet, ruby, liquid contents.
“Mine…” he growled into her ear, his weight on top of her. She was being crushed, and he made sure she felt it. He kept her alive, just because he could do literally anything in this twisted paradise of his.
“No,” she coughed, with what sounded like her last breath, and swung her arm up, digging her own bare hand into his chest. Just like that.
Just like he taught her.
“You’re my bitch, Arthxsas.”
“What! How d — ” he hacked a black, tar-like liquid into his hand, his grip releasing on her arm. More of it dripped out of his mouth, coating his teeth in black. She rolled her head away so it wouldn’t land in her mouth.
Jamie stared, shocked, rooted to his spot. She could do that?
So, hold up. He found himself falling for a girl that could… that could scare monsters, instead of being scared of them herself?
… That was pretty fucking awesome, honestly. He thought the ground had fallen from under him as he felt a bout of emotions for her, but he was stable. He kept his eyes fixed onto the unbelievable scene unfolding before him.
Arthxsas fell into a coughing fit, releasing her. She trembled violently as she pushed herself up to him, her hands landing onto his shoulders. Without hesitation, she very casually took a large bite out of his neck.
“Amy!” Jamie involuntarily shouted, horrified by the sight. Not because she was devouring a monster, but because he feared that if she ate him, he might poison her somehow.
But there she was, happily chewing on the weird, ashy flesh that covered the horrid creature from head to toe, tilting her head in wonder, face covered in black, tar-like blood. She looked up into Jamie’s eyes. Hers were a bright red. The eyes he knew and loved.
He sighed in relief. She was fine. He shrugged and finally found he could walk back to her while she executed her revenge on the bastard that had tortured her every waking minute for fourteen fucking years.
She took out another chunk of his flesh and spat it out, and then another, and another. Her hand fell out of his chest cavity and went for his back this time. When she remembered her much earlier thought, as promised, she dug into his stupid eye and ripped it out. Arthxsas would have screamed, had he not been dead.
What had weakened him and allowed her this victory, what unfolded behind the scenes was, when he dug his claws into her chest, the feelings she managed to feel for Jamie had poisoned him. He was empty of any and all emotion, and could only mirror what he witnessed in others. He picked the wrong feelings to try to consume.
She… she won.
She fucking won.
“What… what do we do now?” Jamie asked, slowly sitting down next to her, his weakened knees giving in to his weight.
She carelessly pushed the enormous carcass off her small form and tugged on Jamie’s arm. He came closer.
“Yes, my darling?”
“Here…” she whispered, now sounding exhausted, almost sleepy.
He got the message and slowly lay down beside her. As he did, they looked around, slowly noticing that the world around them had started to melt away, and now, even the pure white background was falling apart, drifting away like ashes in the wind. He pulled her into his arms, strong around her, neither of them caring about the excessive amounts of blood or gross tar blood or the wounds they carried. They were worn out beyond belief, and all they wanted was to lie down in each other’s arms. She curled up close to him, those legs he already found he loved wrapping around his hips. Her hand rested on his chest, just in front of her face. His arms tightened around her, his hands lightly tracing her skin.
What may have only been a few hours in the real world was like an eternity in here. They felt like they’d known each other for years already. He pulled her closer, growing increasingly protective. She whimpered and curled up closer to him.
Slowly, all the light turned to black, their eyes falling shut in unison.
“I love you.”
“Amy! Jamie! What the Hell is this?!” Cassandra shrieked, cursing for the very first time in front of Jamie.
The two blinked, looking around, only to find each other’s eyes. Their hearts were pounding. Slowly, the realisation that they were cuddling in her bed dawned on them, and they jumped up, inspecting themselves for wounds.
Was this Heaven? Hell? Neither? Just some weird place after death that people like them went to?
“Amy, you told me he’s your lab partner, not your boyfriend!” Amy’s mother scolded. She wasn’t exactly mad. She just felt as though she’d been lied to and it hurt her.
“No, mother…” she groaned, falling back into her bed. Her head pounded with the worst fucking headache she had ever experienced. She wanted to rip her brain out of her skull to make it stop. Somehow, Jamie knew she was thinking exactly that, and almost rushed to pull her hands away from her head, but he thought that would be weird. Especially with Cassandra standing right there. Why did his head not hurt, though?
“Oh, dear… are you okay?” Calming down, Mrs. Eberton slowly walked into her daughter’s room and to the bed. As she did, she shot Jamie a death glare, who swallowed hard and backed up against the wall. The cold of the wall against his skin made him realise he was still shirtless.
“Mother… Jamie came to my room cause he had a nightmare… then we talked for a while… I guess he fell asleep in my bed. Mum, my head is fucking shattering right now, do we have anything I can take? Holy fuck, ow.”
“Dearie, calm down, please. Just breathe for me. Jamie, go grab her some water from downstairs. Quick. Then I’ll go get the medicine. She can’t be alone, do you understand?”
“Y-yes ma’am,” he muttered as he stumbled up to his feet.
“Cass, you dingus.”
… He smiled. “Cass.”
Amy sat with her legs spread, knees bent, her arms in the space between, elbows against her thighs, leaning forward, as she tried to calibrate the supersonic-subsonic audio recorder she had on the floor. Jamie sat there, a few feet in front of her, absolutely fascinated. Was that girl a goddamn contortionist? Also, did she have to sit like that in those shorts? He thought he saw a tiny bit of black lace poke out from one side. The problem was, no matter what, he couldn’t bring himself to look away. SHE WAS DOING THIS ON PURPOSE. She had to be.
“What’s wrong with this stupid thing!” She moaned, then very suddenly changed her seating position, moving as quickly as a bloody lizard. Her legs were no longer spread from here to Narnia. How far could she spread them, like, damn.
“Maybe it’s broken…” he barely managed to murmur.
“No! It works! I know it does, it just refuses to cooperate! Cause it’s German and it’s a Nazi and I hate it!”
“Amy! Amy, calm down.”
Her crimson eyes darted right up to meet his green ones. She looked very distressed and displeased. She began to pout, and he felt his heart break.
“Oh, no, no, baby, please, don’t be so sad…” He froze. Time stopped.
Did he really just call her baby, completely unwarranted?
Incredibly, excruciatingly, annoyingly slowly, a smirk tugged at the corner of her mouth, before it spread into a full, cheeky smile, her eyes sparkling.
“What?” She said, her cheeks twitching as she tried her best not to smile even more, or laugh.
“N-nothing, you heard nothing, you’re crazy, yeah, yup, that’s right, you’re absolutely insane and you’re imagining thi-”
She broke him off with her lips. He blinked in mild surprise, but it did not take him very long at all to slither his arm around her waist and pull her into his lap, kissing her back with all the passion that built up over time as he resisted doing this very exact thing every time she licked her lips or parted them slightly, the way she did when she thought about something very hard.
Her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer to her. In mere fractions of a second only measurable by the most precise devices, the gap between them closed, and his hands pulled her as close to him as possible by resting on her butt.
“Jamie… I think… I think I love you.”
“Pfft,” Jamie made a weird noise in response. “I know I love you, Amy.”
She tilted her head to the side, then smiled.
“I love you too, Jamie.”