Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence and mature content.
*The last of the “Poppy McLain” series. To pronounce Poppy’s new last name, say “VER-OH-SIS-CA”. Gacha Club character designs will be on my wall. Enjoy!*
We’ve been walking in the forest for quite a while, just pure, heavy silence.
But now I see it. Our house. Above our house is a red mist flowing mist.
It’s like a menacing blood cloud, waiting to snatch us away.
Me and the others walk into the house. The mist is flowing around the edges of our eyes, but it never quite reaches them.
“Mommy!” Carmen screams. I can hear her upstairs. I hear Maria crying. Derek and Chloe are yelling at each other, I can hear them.
I don’t waste a second. I run to their voices.
It’s coming from Carmen’s room. I turn the doorknob, taking a deep breath, preparing for the worst.
The others follow me silently. I can feel their fear underneath my skin.
I’ve seen many things in my life, but I’ve never thought that I’d see this.
It’s not red mist in Carmen’s room, but red smoke. The mist was too faint to tell its exact shade of red, but here, I see clearly that is a blinding red, like the red on a finger from a pinprick.
Carmen is on the floor, gritting her teeth. She’s moving as though she’s stuck in a nightmare, but her eyes are wide open in terror.
Next to her, Derek lies on the ground, going through the same pain.
I turn to Chloe, who seems to be-no, she is-sucking their life force. No, not in the way a vampire does, but through her hand. The mist is traveling up to her free hand, giving her their…energy? That’s what I think it is.
Oh my god…is she really…Chloe’s other arm is…is…
“You’ve got Maria!” I scream. It comes out like a choked sob. Why does she have Maria? What does she want with Maria? Why is she here?
Chloe looks at me with teary eyes. As if that will change anything.
“I never wanted it to be this way. I never wanted to hurt anyone.”
She looks at Derek for a brief second, then looks back at me, again with the pitiful eyes.
“But he badly broke my heart. I was a young girl when I met him. I knew him for years, longer than you ever have. How was I supposed to take “just friends”?”
“I can shapeshift, you know. I shapeshifted as Van Death-“
“That was you?” Ash asks, interrupting Chloe.
“Yes, that was me. I was also Hunter-“
“The ringmaster?!” I ask.
Van Death and Hunter. Two vile men, both were…Chloe?
“I became these people because I…because I wanted Derek to see how wrong he was! I wanted him to feel the pain that I felt when he deserted me! What else do you want me to say? That I’m evil? That I deserve to die? Spare me, I’ve heard it all.”
Derek’s version of the story was different. He told me that he and Chloe were friends, that she loved him so much that she wanted to be with him, that she made him a vampire because she couldn’t bear to let him die when he was killed. Chloe wanted to hold onto him.
Maybe I’ll never know the whole truth. There will always be things about Derek’s past life that I’ll never understand.
But I do know this: That was Derek’s past life. His past. Right now, he’s my husband and the father of my children. He loves us and only wishes to protect us from evil. Derek might have been evil once, but he shed the husk of hatred and let it die.
“I’m truly sorry for everything, Chloe. I’ll never understand. But you’re the one who is doing this.” I say.
From my lips comes a song of sadness, sorrow, and a hint of anger, all my truths:
I started as a girl
Came out a distorted devil
I knew nothing of darkness and claws
Now I know of torn flesh and shed tears
Yet through it all, I’ve come out strong
You’ve suffered, that much I see
Yet you’ve come to take what I love away from me
Holding onto a past only consumes you
If you don’t accept the horror and run to the blossoming garden
The horror will never leave
I’m sorry, Chloe
When I first learned I was a siren, I was so scared of hurting people, so freaked out by what I was.
But now I know that I need not fear this power. Too many people can’t live with being a monster, but I can.
The words part the fog and weaken Chloe, but my family is still under her grasp.
My notes linger in the air and echo through the house, an ethereal, demonic, angelic, and damning sound all at once.
On one side, Ashley levitates Maria out of Chloe’s arms and gently pulls her to Derek. Both he and Carmen seem to be catching their breath. I think that they’re free from Chloe’s spell.
I relax a little once I see that Maria is in Derek’s arms and Carmen is nestling up against his arm.
My throat is weak, but I can still try to sing another song against her.
Before I can open my mouth, Chloe’s eyes go bug-eyed. It’s enough to shock me into silence.
That’s all Chloe says.
I don’t know how I know, but it seems that the notes from my song have seeped into her brain. It came from under her eyes, gray, sticky goo. Carmen screams, Derek tells her to close her eyes. The rest of Chloe’s skin decays rapidly, rotting, fading, disappearing.
She falls to the ground, nothing but a lifeless meat sack.
“Was that me?” I ask. I feel like I did it, but…but I couldn’t have.
“Did I do that?” I ask Ashley. She has to know. She’s a witch and she’s lived longer than me.
“Yes, yes you did.” Ashley says, breathless.
“Good job.” Henry says, speaking for the first time. His voice sounds raspy, as if he hadn’t spoken for most of his life, but calm.
I did it. I killed her. I killed Chloe. She’s gone. Actually gone! Forever. No longer will she torment us. No longer will she shapeshift, lie, and harm. She will never come for any of us ever again, because she has rotted back into the Earth, where she belongs.
I turn back to my family, lying safely together. Tomorrow, I’ll arrange a funeral for Chloe. I can’t just bury her on the backyard to be forgotten. I’ll come with a story about who I was to her and what caused her to die, but I can’t think about all of it right now.
The evil might never stop coming. Ashley and Derek’s past lives will always haunt them. Ash and Henry are running far from a place that kept them locked away. Jessica is out of touch with reality. I’ll never quite be able to understand them and they the same to me. I don’t like it, not at all. I want so badly to just grasp reality by its squirmy, slimy neck and ask why, why me? What did I do to deserve this? I need to know all the secrets. I HAVE to know. I don’t like it. I really don’t. I wanted answers for my life and all I got were more questions. It feels like Hell sometimes.
At least we’re going through it together. We’ll help each other out. We’re all going through our own personal Hell, dealing with our own personal demons. I killed Chloe, yes. That doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods. We’re not humans. Not a single one of us. There will be times when evil comes for us and when we will be the evil. There will be moments of peace, I don’t doubt it, but quite a few moments of unrest. The important thing is that we are not going to brave through the chaos alone. We have each other.
That’s all that matters.