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With Our Love Forever
Marcus found it strange how many miles could be traveled without time consciously passing. The white lines of a freeway passed along side the car as it sped along. They appeared from someplace in the distance, diverged as they drew closer and became defined for the briefest moment before disappearing into the past.
The white lines hypnotic, almost soothing. He sat in the passenger seat. His girlfriend, Mandy was driving. They hadn’t spoken for the past thirty odd miles. A long trip on the open road often demanded its quite periods. He wondered what she was thinking. No doubt he played a role in her thoughts, but in what capacity? Funny how a loved one’s mind will remain a mystery no matter how close a pair you are.
He began to wish he hadn’t told her about what he had to deal with. Furthermore, he wished she hadn’t believed him. There was something about her that made him sure she’d understand. God help her, she had not only understood, she’d insisted on helping. He hoped her love would be enough to overcome the danger he was putting her in.
Wasn’t a curse something you dealt with yourself?
It was the first time he’d made the trip with a companion. If he hadn’t been so consumed by his thoughts he would have taken the opportunity to enjoy the landscape’s natural rise and fall, the green fields, with untamed vegetation, timeless trees and full bushes.
As a child he’d loved the earths natural design. He thought land untouched by civilization was beautiful. Mother nature appeared to have no flaws. At least none that were visible on the surface.
Mandy gripped the steering wheel tight enough for her hands to ache and used the pain to help keep her awake. The road seemed endless and Marcus’s steady breathing had started to irritate her. Perhaps she was just nervous.
They’d been involved for close to two years and everything had been great. She’d thought he might be the one. Well, he was, but just not the right kind of one.
What did the future hold? He said he had the condition under control, and trusted her with its knowledge. Still, she couldn’t trust him with the knowledge of her family’s bloodline. She loved him, but she had her sacred duty.
She’d always known what would one day be expected of her, but her family’s need had been greatly reduced over the years. So much so, she’d begun to believe it was just a myth.
Although her father had never faced one, he’d trained her none the less to sense when they were present, as they would be able to sense her. Well, she’d certainly failed in that respect, but then so had Marcus. Perhaps on a subconscious level they had sensed each other and it was what formed the basis of their attraction.
Would Marcus submit if she told him the truth? He said he hadn’t hurt anybody and she believed him, but she knew the condition would grow stronger as time passed. It wouldn’t be long before it took a hold of his dreams, then his thoughts, before his face could no longer hide it.
When her father trained her, it never occurred to her she’d have to act against somebody she loved. It was bad enough training to act against another person. Act? – Hell, let’s face it – kill.
Marcus was her first and only love. A single act was all that separated them. An act of savagery on one of their parts. Could she live as he did? Was it possible for them to both isolate themselves out here and live happily ever after?
They say love is blind. All she’d have to do is close her eyes.
‘You’re awake,’ she said. She still had that look in her eyes, like her spirit was per-occupied.
‘I didn’t realize I’d been asleep.’
‘About an hour now. It’s a long drive. I don’t know how you managed it on your own.’
‘I had no choice.’The silence that followed was uncomfortable. Marcus broke it with a lie. ‘I’m glad you’re with me.’
‘Just, please, keep your promise.’
‘I don’t have to be happy about leaving you out here on your own, but I’ll keep my promise.’
They continued on in silence. It worried Marcus how calmly she was taking the whole thing. It didn’t seem right, but how could he expect to understand her. He’d forged a gap so wide between them, not even all the wood in the Amazon could be used to build a bridge for them to connect.
He was growing weak. Last trip he’d grown so weak he’d almost crashed the car. He’d had no choice but to ask for her help.
It was mid afternoon when they reached the dilapidated and draft ridden cabin. Any sign of its purpose had long ago faded.
Mandy had navigated the dirt track with an ease that had taken Marcus a few trips to perfect. Like many things about her, it impressed him. Eight months ago he’d been about to ask her to marry him. Then the first change occurred. It had been mild and didn’t last long. He’d felt the need and added strength, but the face didn’t present itself. It passed quickly enough for him to keep his date with Mandy, however, he knew he couldn’t ask her. It was then that he realized why he’d felt isolated from everybody throughout his life. It always seemed like people were an arms reach away. When Mandy had taken his hand, for the first time he’d felt a true connection with another person.
Although it was still a few hours till sunset, Marcus wanted Mandy to leave so she’d be as far away as possible.
‘You should get going,’ he said. He could sense its presence. He almost wanted to give in to it, which was normal so close to the change.
‘We’re still a few hours away from sunset and it’s such a lovely place.’
‘Mandy, we agreed… I can feel it.’
She held his gaze for a moment, he thought he could see tears about to form, and then she looked away.
‘Just thought you’d want some company.’
‘I don’t,’ he said more harshly than he’d intended. He turned and walked into the cabin. He listened to the car door open and then slam shut a moment later. The car’s ignition fired up.
A parting look is always wanted when separating from a loved one and although Marcus tried to resist, he found himself stepping out of the cabin. He watched as the car backed up.
The car stopped and for a moment their eyes locked. He mouthed the word ‘sorry’ and received the saddest smile he’d ever seen. Her lips formed the words ‘I love you.’
Would it be enough?
The wheels kicked up dust as the car disappeared down the dirt track, towards the freeway. She’d be back in the morning, bright, but not early.
His eyes. He had the most humane eyes she’d ever known a person to have. Both kindness and sadness were cast within. She couldn’t let him be alone.
In the moments of twilight, Marcus could feel both personalities as one quickly suppressed the other. Fighting it was hopeless, but he never gave in without trying. He’d pace his breathing and focus…
Change brought pain as his form shifted and his bones elongated. Skin stretched while adrenal glands secreted their hormones. His teeth and nails grew to inhuman proportions. Each manifestation of the beast was more violent then the one previous. It was growing stronger. The landscape around him became alive as he registered the presence of nocturnal wildlife.
The strength… the need… the hunger.
The setting sun had brought a pacy breeze and some cloud cover. An overcast sky would not help. It just made the mood darker. The moon shone through the fractured clouds, bringing the sky to life with patterns of light, silhouettes and highlights.
Beast and man raised both hands of a single body, as if trying to embrace the heavens. It howled, more a cry of human pain than of primal need.
Mandy heard the cry as it broke through the tranquil landscape. He’d be coming soon. For an hour before sunset she’d walked back towards the cabin, leaving her scent for him to follow. She’d hurried back to the car as the last light faded.
While she waited, an icy chill ran down her spine and dissipated in the small of her back. The fine hairs on her arms stood up. Her survival instincts were taking over. Fight or flight? She hadn’t decided.
Everything in her field of vision was more defined. It was almost a mild version of what had happened to Marcus. Except hers was natural and she’d been trained to use it to her advantage… and for what? To murder the man she loved? She couldn’t do it. She’d let him take her. His bite would join them forever.
During previous nights of isolation he’d fed off the animals that were now serenading the world. He’d awaken with the taste of their flesh in his mouth and the sickening weight of their meat in his stomach.
Moonlight split through the trees, casting criss-cross patterns of branches over the ground. The beast ran at great speed, with a strength not intended for one of Mother Nature’s creations. It leaped fallen trees, drawn on by a familiar scent, which awoke part of his now suppressed psyche. Suddenly, he knew the beast’s destination, but was unable to stop it.
God, why had he gotten her involved?
He was but a fragment in the beast’s mind. Powerless to act, just enough to fear what was to come. He remembered her sad smile.
She wasn’t strong enough.
Up ahead, through the bushes, he could see the car. Her scent was stronger, just meters away.
Hunger and need fueled his momentum as he crashed through the bushes. She stood before him. A silhouette cast by the car’s headlights. He could smell fear, but she gave no indication of movement.
She was ready to join him. Their eyes met once more.
Oh, God, his eyes!
The beast bore no resemblance to anything human, except for its eyes. They were Marcus’s eyes, displaying his soul, pleading, and tormented.
Fast paced breath was forced out into the night air. Saliva dripped from his teeth. He prepared to strike. As she raised her arm, a moment’s hesitation was all he got. It was all he needed. The beast jumped and the sound of gunfire brought silence to the nocturnal animals. The silver bullet pierced his heart, tearing flesh and bone. The force stopped the beast in mid jump. He fell, in a heap, to the ground.
When she’d raised the gun, the sight of how steady her hand was brought tears to Mandy’s eyes. She’d squeezed the trigger, as she held onto the memories of happy times spent with Marcus, like walks along the beach in the moonlight.
Doesn’t taking a life also make her savage?
Pain. Sweet, releasing pain swept over him. His damaged heart was barely maintained by the last ounce of savage energy. It kept him alive long enough for him to look up, and for the first time in months he saw the moon without a feeling of dread.
He loved nature in its simplest form.
Mandy came into view and looked into his eyes. With his fading vision he held onto her image. She was shedding tears for him. He wanted to reach up and wipe them away, to let her know it was okay.
She’d freed him like he'd hoped she would.