Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 1 - Burning Man

The screaming gave way to the unmistakable stench of burning flesh, and Madeleine d’Court tossed the smoking remains of her torch into the blaze. She smiled at the corpse hanging from the makeshift crucifix, but she knew there was no kindness in the upturn of her lips. He had lied to her, the simpering bastard before her, and he had taken advantage of her kindness and generosity, all under the guise of loving her.

So she had let him go, though it broke her heart, because she deserved better, stronger, and more loyalty. And she had felt sorry for him, as his world crumbled without her, but when he feigned an attempt at suicide and recanted that he had even said such painful things, she had had enough. If he wanted death, she was more than happy to deliver it.

Hence the bonfire. In the middle of the desert. In Arizona.

When his body was found, because it would be eventually in individual pieces, no one would think to trace it back to her. Petite, demure Madeleine was most incapable of such an atrocity. And given how many people he had informed of his intended demise, to find him like this would not be much of a surprise. A shock, certainly, since no one likes seeing their family members, well, dismembered, but they could chalk it up to him finally being able to follow through on something he said he would do.

Bitter much?

Oh, yeah.

She wiped the bits of fiery ash from her sleeves. No sense in joining the sooty pity party currently going up in flames. She looked at him again, and though he had most likely died of asphyxiation due to the smoke—no stop, drop and roll here—she could almost see him looking back at her, dead eyes begging. She felt that pit of sadness stir in her stomach again, that almost regret that it had come to this. She had felt it twist hard, almost dropping her to her knees, as she had swung the shovel to the back of his head.

Well, maybe not so much then…she thought with an evil grin. It had been a rather satisfying thunk, the vibration up the handle leaving her arms tingling. Though in retrospect, she probably should have covered his mouth when she had tied up his unconscious body, because once he came to, there had been begging and pleading. And promises.

It had been those promises, more empty promises, which turned the sadness, the remorse, into a belly full of fiery anger.

“Shut up!” she had yelled, brandishing the shovel again.

His eyes had gone wide as teacup saucers, but his mouth, his mouth just would not stop the steady stream of bullshit, the same endless flood of lies he had been feeding her for the last two years. Oh, how he would change, he would be the man she wanted, if only she would give him another chance. Couldn’t she see that he was sincere this time? That he really wanted to put in the effort? How he could grow up? All for her, of course. All for her.

Maybe he had forgotten what she was. Maybe he had hoped that she would give in to her Piscean nature and take him back, kissing away the boo-boos she had inflicted.

Maybe he was just as stupid as she remembered him to be.

Madeleine had brought shovel down on his stomach. Once, twice, the curved butt of it made contact, until bright, red blood spattered from that horrible, lying mouth. He had the audacity to look hurt, betrayed, and his lips moved wordlessly in protest. She had knelt beside him, laid a finger against his mouth and ignored the tempting splotches on his paling skin.

“Shut up,” she had whispered. “You don’t get a say anymore. You don’t have options. You wanted out, and really, baby, it’s the least I can do for you. Let’s call it my parting gift, freeing you of the pain of being in love with me. No one should have to suffer so.”

She had lifted the stained finger from his mouth to hers and licked it clean. His eyes had bulged, but he had not let a word slip out. Fear was a decadent aphrodisiac, especially as heavy as it had been cut into his blood. He had whimpered, as she closed her eyes to enjoy it, and she had chuckled.

“Silly boy, I’m not going to eat you alive. I think tonight I prefer my meal cooked.”

Now he was a crispy critter, and she had long lost her appetite.

There was little joy in her revenge. His death only confirmed that she still could not play well with others, that she was not ready for a relationship, however tenuous, after the last one hundred years with Patrick, and she had no business messing with humans. Not that she wanted anything to do with other vampires.

But was that not part of the reason she had chosen this god-forsaken state? She had left the pomp of darker courts and rivers of decadence to hide in the sun. After all, who would look for her here? Not Patrick certainly. Though that would require him to care beyond the ties that bound them, and he had spent no small amount of energy letting her know that he would sever said bonds and abandon her forever, if he could.

She kicked at the desert sand. It irritated her to no small degree that he still got under her skin after all these years. Surely, twenty-five years was long enough to get over someone, to move forward in her undead life. You would think, but here she sat, watching chunks of charred flesh fall from the bones of her poor human ex-lover as the sun threatened with its bright golden line against the mountain’s edge.

Madeleine was waxing maudlin, and the silly, simple thought made her smile.

“No sense in putting things off,” she said aloud to no one in particular. She shook her shoulders and unfurled her wings. With a thought and a whip of her glorious black feathers, the fiery assemblage before her burst like a detonated grenade of wood fragments, flesh and bones, and the gooey insides that had not evaporated or disintegrated in the blistering heat. Then upward she soared, clear of the debris, and across the cool desert surface to her home in the sleepy little town of Sierra Vista.

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