This is a side story for Netherside, the novel I’m currently working on.
I didn’t believe in love at first sight, and I definitely knew I didn’t love the girl standing in front of me, and yet…I found myself following her, truly and utterly captivated by, well, everything about her. Her hair–blue, strange and coarse under my fingers, longer than any other woman’s hair I’d seen. Her skin–void of any color and…were those scales? Her eyes–an almost luminescent yellow that surely bore into the very depths of my soul.
I didn’t love her, but I wanted very much to stay with her for the rest of my life.
The sound of a river could be heard somewhere over the pounding of my heart and the rush of blood in my veins. The woman smiled at me, and I was elated. Her hand was on my face, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember seeing her move. She was just suddenly touching me, and I knew that I would do anything for her.
But I didn’t love her.
That thought remained somewhere in my head. I didn’t even know this girl. And a girl, she was. She seemed to be no older than sixteen.
“What’s your name?” I asked, and my voice sounded distant, like I was hearing it from underneath water.
“I…” I stopped; I didn’t know what to say. I no longer wanted to say anything; I just wanted to look at this girl. Forever?
Her hand moved from my face, trailing down my arm, to my hand. She took hold, lacing her fingers with mine. Her smile was full of innocence, beauty, and something unspeakable that I couldn’t put my finger on. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything, except her touch, her scent, her voice, everything about her.
“Come,” she said.
And I obeyed.
When we came to a stop again, we were standing by a lake. The warped reflection of the moon in the water drew my attention for a moment, and in that brief moment, I again reminded myself that I did not love this girl. I didn’t even know her.
“Are you happy?” she asked.
I looked at her again. Happy? Was I happy? Did she even have to ask that? Just by being with her, feeling her hand lightly touching my arm, I was beyond happy. I thought that maybe I was in heaven and she was…surely, she was an angel. No human could possibly be so beautiful, so perfect, so divine.
But I didn’t—
“Yes,” I said.
“I want to show you something.”
She nodded and held out her hand. I took it without a second thought, and she guided me into the lake. Distantly, I was aware of the water sloshing around my legs, ice cold.
“Something,” I said, shivering.
The girl’s free hand reached out and caught my other hand. She walked backwards, her eyes locked with mine, pulling me along with her. She was smiling still, and I couldn’t be bothered to worry about anything else, nothing except keeping that smile on her face. If she was happy, then I didn’t care what happened. The whole world could burn and it wouldn’t matter to me, as long as it was what she wanted.
The water was up to my chest when we stopped. She tipped her head back, staring up into the sky.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked, but continued before waiting for a response. “I can feel it already. The energy, the lovely, beautiful power.”
She looked at me again. “Are you scared?”
She pulled me closer to her body, her head barely reaching my chest.
“Will you lie with me?” Her voice seemed even sweeter than before.
I nodded, and the next thing I knew we were under the water, her body on top of mine, holding me down against the ground. I watched bubbles rise up around her, and for the first time since I’d laid eyes on her, I felt a spike of fear go through me, but it was quickly replaced by pure amazement as I watched her body transform.
Scales rippled across her skin, her legs fused, twisted, formed into a tail. Her mouth stretched wide and needle-thin fangs filled it until I was sure they would come sprouting out through the bottom of her chin.
Beautiful. She was absolutely, stunningly beautiful.
It was at that moment that my lungs began to ache. My eyes flitted up towards the surface, but I couldn’t move with the weight of the girl sitting on my waist. I grabbed her shoulders and tried to heave her off, but I might as well have been attempting to move a mountain. She didn’t budge at all, only gave me a wicked grin.
“Thank you,” she said, though the voice was in my head. “Thank you for being here with me tonight.”
She lowered her head and tore into my throat. The pain was excruciating, and I gasped in a lungful of air…or that’s what I thought I was doing. Instead, water rushed into my mouth and down my throat, but the agony of drowning was distant, just as distant as the part of myself that continued to tell me that I did not love this girl, the part of me that had briefly felt fear, the part of me that knew this was a monster and that I was dying. The only things that I was aware of were her hands on my chest and the sound of her voice in my head, whispering sweetly, serenely.
She pulled away from me, and all I wanted to do was look at her, but as my blood mixed with the water, that quickly became impossible, as did making any rational thoughts. The last thing that reached the dying remnants of my mind was the feeling of her hands still on my chest, tugging, tugging, tugging, until there was a momentary jolt of pain – sharp and surely unbearable if I’d had the mind to realize it. Instead, though, I was only happy that I could die with her there.
But I most certainly did not love her.