Ch- 7 The Sea of bodies.
Holly couldn’t see anything around her. Holding Aidan tightly,she went to yell but nothing came out. She felt like she was falling,or maybe it was flying. She lost all sense of any depth perception. The only thing she could feel besides the young vampire holding her was icy cold darkness.
She tried to look around. She couldn’t tell her eyes were even open until she blinked. It was dead silent, there wasn’t even any wind accompanying them as they fell into the unknown. “how long is this going to last?” she thought in a state of panic. Her heart was pounding, and her ears started to ring.
She wasn’t in control, and she felt like she was going to panic. To compensate her lack of awareness she turned her head and pressed hard into Aidan’s chest and squeezed her eyes shut. Holly felt his hand cradle her face. It was warmer than the darkness around her. She tilted her head into his hand letting him know she appreciated the comfort.
Suddenly a small light ripped into the darkness in front of them. It looked like a small circle. She heard a strange sucking sound, and it was growing louder. A loud tearing sound barked out as the circle expanded. It was a bright white blinding light. She could no longer keep her eyes open to see what was going on.
Out of nowhere she felt ground below her. It was as if something or someone had pulled it up to her feet. Then they were still. She heard wind, and there was noise again. She smelled smoke, and felt heat coming from somewhere around her.
“You can open your eyes now miss.” Aidan said as he let her go. Holly slowly opened her eyes afraid of what was going to be before her. She stood there trying to adjust to the dark shades of purple, black, and red around her. This was it. She was in his world.
She immediately felt the difference. The air around her was thicker. The sky was black with swirls of deep purple. “are those clouds?” she thought. There was a faint scream in the distance. It sounded like it was in pain. It sent chills down Holly’s spine.
“this… Is the outskirts of my city. Don’t be afraid miss. Stay close to me, and don’t stray from the path.” Aidan softly said. Holly grabbed his hand, and held him tightly.
She looked down, and noticed she was standing on what looked like a narrow road. Hardly wide enough for two people. It expanded into the reddish black unknown. It was longer than her eyes could see.
On both sides of the path was some form of thick liquid. It reminded her of tar as it bubbled and popped sending small drops in all directions.
“what is this?!” she asked trying to mask her fear.
“pits. Similar to quicksand in you’re world. Don’t touch it. It will stick to you, and consume your body. You must stay on the road. We walk north of here, and it will lead us to the gates of Kanthos.”
Holly now regrets her careless decision to follow him here. She thinks of home, and misses it already.
“Aidan, is this hell?” she asks.
“Not quite. But this is the closest to hell you’ve ever been miss. As long as you’re with me your safe, and once we are inside the city walls there will be no danger.”
holly looked up at his pale young face. His eyes were focused. He was on edge. She could tell he wasn’t comfortable here. The outskirts was a place of despair. It was one giant pool of death that extended for miles in all directions. It was a proving ground. Those that can see the path can follow its length to the cities throughout the realm.
It was only death for those that lose sight of the path, or for those that are unable to see it altogether. Countless lives have been lost to the pits. Many vampires trying to find sanctuary in the cities have only found death at the bottom.
“we must keep moving. Whatever you do don’t get distracted.” Aidan said. He tightens his grip, and start walking north. Another scream in the distance makes holly jump. She kept her eyes down at the path and kept moving forward.
Out the corner of her eye she sees a buldge float up from the black tar like substance. She turned her head, and almost gasps at the sight. It was a small framed body, the frame of a female. It was completely covered with the black mess. A look of horror was frozen on its face, and its eyes were open, and fixed at the sky above.
“oh my god! Aidan is that a vampire?” holly asked.
“yes miss… It was. Many have died here. There are millions of bodies floating out there. Just keep moving.”
“I don’t understand though. Why didn’t they just stay on the road?”
“because many do not have the capability to see it. Those that do often stray off the path.” Aidan said.
“they just walk off?”
“No miss. They are tricked into it by the beings beneath the pits. Minds are often manipulated out here by means of visual distortion. It’s simply a trick to get anyone out here to walk to their death.”
“that’s awful.” holly says.
“this is why only the worthy make it to the city gates.” Aidan says.
“did you have to go through this to?”
“No. I was raised in Kanthos. I was fortunate enough to train, and prepare myself for the travels outside the city.” he said.
The road felt like it went on for miles. They turned left, and then right, and the a sharper left. She tried as hard she could to keep her eyes in front of her, and at Aidan who seemed unaffected by the horrors around them. She didn’t understand how anyone could ever be used to this.
This was something from nightmares. Every so often holly would look off into the pits. Endless vampire bodies would emerge, and then sink again down into the unknown below. She wondered how deep it went, and then shivered at the thought of being engulfed in that terrible substance.
She could only imagine the pain. Off in the distance there was what looked like long poles sticking out, bobbing up and down. Maybe they were spears. If they were then holly could only imagine what they were thrown at. If there was something living down there it couldn’t be pretty.
“Aidan what could possibly be living out there? She asks.
“You don’t need to worry yourself miss. Just keep moving we are almost there.” he replied.
“tell me.” holly said.
“Aidan turned his head at her. His face deciding if was a good idea, then he complies.
“tube like leeches? Like the ones from my world?”
“I’ve not seen the leeches from your world. But I doubt it. Yes tube like but large in size. They stick their heads above the pits to breathe and… Aidan stops, and goes quiet.
“and what?” she pushes him.
“to lure those on the path to them. They attach themselves to their victims and drain the blood from their bodies.”
“Jesus… Is there anything here that doesn’t s**k blood but me?! She barks.
“Jesus isn’t here miss.” Aidan coldly responds.
A splashing noise echoes out from the distance. Holly see’s nothing but endless black decorated with countless bodies swimming in the darkness. She gets a sinking feeling in her gut.
“how much longer?” she asks.
“not long.” Aidan says picking up the pace.
Holly glances over and sees the muck shift slightly. It was the first sign of life in the madness around them. Something was definitely swimming in there. She feels her blood go cold.
A nasty croaking sound suddenly rips into the air, followed by another, and then a third. If it was the leeches then they know they are there. Aidan was power walking now. Holly started taking long strides to keep up.
“don’t look at them miss. Keep your eyes forward, and follow my lead.” Aidan barks.
A deep guttural croak barked out so close she jumped. It was closer. They must be following the footsteps. Doing her best to follow Aidan’s orders she kept her eyes forward. She can see something poking it’s head up out of the pits no more than five feet out.
Holly couldn’t help but turn her head. It was the most frightening thing she’d ever seen. A black head the size of large pumpkin was sticking up into the air. Two holes on the front were stretching, as it inhaled deep. It’s mouth was oval. She could see small razor like teeth inside it’s mouth.
It’s eyes pale gray, and looking right at her. Holly met its dead like gaze with her own eyes, and then quickly looked away. Panic was shooting all over her body.
“Aidan I see them! What if they jump out at us?” holly says, this time no longer hiding her fear.
“don’t look at them. Just keep moving, and ignore everything but me. They won’t. They are confined to the Pits.” Aidan replied.
Another loud croak cried out. Holly wondered if they were talking to eachother. Maybe they were trying to work together to get them off the path. This thought made holly nauseous.
She felt a guest of warm wind push at her back, and across the nape of her neck. Then from nowhere she heard a faint whisper. She couldn’t make out what it was until she heard it a second time almost immediately after. “Holly.” it softly said.
“Holly” “Holly” it whispered softly in her ears. It was a male voice. She recognized the sound.
“Aidan did you hear that?” she asked alarmed. Aidan didn’t reply. She closed her eyes and focused on his hand, which she just realized she had a death grip on. Then she heard the whispers again.
“Holly?” it was calling out her name. It now sounded like someone was searching for her. It sounded sad, and distant.
Then the voice screamed out loudly making her jump. “Holly where are you!?” it barked in a panic.
She opened her eyes to pull Aidan’s hand back to get his attention, but when she looked down at her hand Aidan wasn’t there. It wasn’t his hand she was holding onto so tightly. No. It was the picture of her dad she was gripping. She was squeezing so hard the picture was crinkled in her grip.
Holly suddenly came to a halt. Her heart exploding from her chest from what she saw. She reached over and unwrinkled the picture. It was her favorite picture of him. Everything looked the same but one small difference. She knew this picture well. She had memorized every inch, every detail, from countless nights of staring at it before bed.
Almost everything was the same. He was in his uniform leaning against his squad car. He had a cigarette in his hand, but he wasn’t smiling. He looked in pain. This wasn’t right. Holly had remembered him happy in this picture. Not like this.
“this isn’t right!” she yelled out. Her voice rang out in echoes. Something was off. She dropped the picture, and it floated down like a feather onto soft carpet.
She looked down at her feet only to see she was standing on carpet as well. She knew this carpet. She looked around, and realized she was no longer on a narrow road. She was standing in the middle of her own living room.
The color was off. The atmosphere had a gray hue to it. It was almost dreamy, but it felt empty. This wasn’t the living room she remembered. It looked the same but it felt oddly strange.
“there you are.” she heard a soft voice ring out.
“Holly over here.” it said.
She looked up only to see her father standing in the doorway of the front door. It was open but behind him was only blackness. He was crouched down. His hands extended to her in the same way they were when she would run into his arms when he came home from work.
“Dad?!” her voice echoed out.
“Hey Holly bear.” he said laughing.
A wide smile formed on his face. He looked pale. His eyes dark like he neglected sleep for weeks. It wasn’t right. He looked dirty. His finger nails had dirt caked underneath them.
“that can’t be you. My dad is dead.” holly cried out.
She felt a lump in her throat. Her chest started sinking in. She felt a strong urge to cry. This wasn’t something she felt in many years.
“holly… It’s me… I’ve come back for you sweetheart.” he softly said. His voice was different. It wasn’t the soft loving sound she remembered. It was empty, and void of any emotion.
Her father frowned. He stood up, his movements unnatural. He moved in an almost robotic manner as he leaned against the doorway. Tears were forming at the corners of Holly’s eyes. She was struggling to not let go and cry.
“No. My dad died! My dad died!” Holly screamed.
“Holly bear.” he said sadly.
“do you know what I had to do to come back?” he said lifting his hands to his face, and examining his nails.
“I had to claw my way out sweetheart. I had to claw myself from the dirt, but I’m here now.” he said.
“come here Holly bear.” he opened his arms.
Holly took a step back, and then realized that she shouldn’t move. This was a trick. It had to be. She wasn’t in her living room, and that monster can’t be her dad. She had to be on the path. This must be how so many die.
They get in your head, and pull out memories to use against you. This was evil. She knew it. She could feel it. Her father stood there waiting. Never blinking, not once. He was like stone, some twisted fragment of her father. Whatever was doing this was desperately piecing this together.
“No. No. No! Holly screamed from the top of her lungs.
“Holly. It’s me. You have to believe me. I’ll prove it. Remember when you fell off the slide, and scraped your knee? I do.” Her father said lightly giggling.
“You were so afraid of the blood. Remember? I scooped you up, sat you down on the park bench and stopped the bleeding remember? You’re little heart was beating so fast.” he softly said.
“My dad always stopped the bleeding.” holly whispered, desperately holding back her tears.
“I’m sorry I left you. I had to go away for awhile Holly bear. It was so cold where I was. It was cold and very dark, but it was the sound of your prayers that led me back.” he said.
“No. It can’t be. This isn’t real.” Holly said shaking her head. Her vision was blurry from the tears. She was afraid to blink. She refused to let them fall.
A sudden wave an anger washed over her. She wasn’t this easy. Her dad was special. What they had was real. She loved him. She knew he would never act this way, or wish her any harm. She was going to beat this. She remained still knowing that any step could lead to sudden death.
“I can’t be fooled.” She yelled wiping her eyes.
“You can try. You can spill sob stories. You can dig deep in my head. Go ahead a*****e! Dig deep! See how f****d up I really am! I don’t care. You might look like my dad, but my dad died a long time ago. He’s dead, and he’s never coming back. I won’t move from this spot so you are wasting your time.” she yelled.
Her father just stared at her, and slowly a large unnatural grin smeared across his face.
“oh holly… Holly… Holly… You haven’t the slightest clue human. You smell sweet. Yes. The blood running through those veins smell so so sweet! He yelled.
His voice grew suddenly deeper. It was dark and angry. Holly could feel the hair stand up on the back of her neck.
“yes I know… Would you like to see what you’re dear father looks like now? Would you like to see his flesh? Would you like to see how easily the human body decomposes?” he laughs madly at her.
“yes! This could be a fun game! Let’s play! Let’s play! Watch your precious f*****g father die again!” he growls
Her father reaches up and grabs his bottom jaw, and stretches it down to an impossible, and unnatural length. Holly gasps at the ungodly sight. He sticks out his tongue. It slithers out, black and charred, and then like a dead snake falls out of his mouth completely and coils at his feet.
Holly squeezes her eyes shut refusing to watch this thing deface, and disfigure the memory of her father. She pictures the real him in her mind. She refuses to look. She can hear it screaming out at her in some high pitched demonic shriek.
“look at him! Look at him you b***h!” it howls.
“I’m not playing your game! She yells back.
“Aidan!” holly screams out.
“Aidan help me! If you can hear me please help me!”
She reaches out her arms hoping she’d somehow grab him. It was only moments ago she was holding his hand. She must still be. She has to be. She wasn’t really in her living room so he must really be there somewhere. It has to be an illusion.
Her eyes burn from squeezing them so tightly. Suddenly out of nowhere she hears a faint sound in the distance. At first she thinks it’s just a trick. Then she hears it again. It’s a voice. It’s distant but it’s there calling out to her.
“Holly!” Holly focus on my hand.” it says.
“feel me touching you.”
Still closing her eyes she focuses on her hand. She notices a slight cold feeling. She focuses on it, and it grows colder. It was his hand. The voice was Aidan. It had to be. He was reaching out. It grew even colder before she realized she was holding the cold. Her hand wasn’t reaching out like she had Thought. No. She was holding his hand. She could feel it now.
She finally opened her eyes, and the thing imitating her father was staring at her. It no longer looked like her father. Instead now it was her. She was looking at herself, a mirror image. The living room around her was growing darker.
It smiled at her. The grin was her own except hollow and distant. It waved at her mockingly.
“Be seeing you Holly bear.” it said imitating her voice exactly.
“Be seeing you real soon, and next time… You’ll float with the rest of them.”
Suddenly everything went black. She felt hard pavement below her feet, and not carpet. She could smell the familiar smell of smoke. The pits lay before her again. Then there was Aidan staring at her with a look of worry. One hand was on her shoulder. His other hand still gripping hers.
She felt dizzy. A warm wetness made its way down her lips. It took her a moment before she realized her nose had been bleeding. Her knees were weak, and shaking.
“Aidan?” Holly weakly said.
“Miss! You’re okay!” he said. He wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly. Holly almost collapsed in his arms.
“You looked at it. I told you not to look at them.” Aidan barked.
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“I’m glad you made it back miss. I was worried you wouldn’t be strong enough.” he softly said. Aidan reached up and wiped the blood from her face.
“we have no time to stop. Are you able to move?”
“I don’t know.” Holly weakly replied.
Aiden reached down and picked her up. “I’ll carry you. Just keep your eyes closed miss.” he said.
Feeling lightheaded, she closed her eyes and turned her face into his broad chest as he started sprinting down the path. She could hear the leeches croaking all around them as he ran. It must be dozens of them in the distance. She tightened her grip around the back of his neck. He held her effortlessly as he ran.
“The city gate is just ahead.” he says.
“whatever it was you saw I’m sorry miss. I should have been more forward about the dangers here. This is my fault.” he said sadly.
Holly didn’t blame him. No. She only blamed herself for not listening, and for being weak enough to let the beautiful memories of her father also be her burden. She never let it go. She carried that pain like a lead weight all her life. That thing knew that. It used it against her. She knew she should have made peace with his death years ago.
Holly tuned out the horrible croaking sounds around her. All she felt was him, and his concern for her safety. She wasn’t afraid anymore. Although Aidan couldn’t see it, holly was smiling now. For the first time in a long time she felt safe.
Holly slightly turned her head as his pace finally slowed. She opened one eye, and before her was lay the biggest gate she’d ever seen. This must be it. They made it. Kanthos… home to the vampire with the onyx eyes.