He is so close that he can see her eyelashes; the exact shade as her hair and curled at the tip as if they were purposely created in that form. The eyes behind those pale strands of fine hair are dark as the night and the devil’s soul. So black that he cannot actually identify where the iris ends and the pupils begin. Her eyes are large, playful, childish even. If he didn’t know any better, he would say that they are innocent eyes. But he does know better, and if there is anything that this girl is not, it is innocent.
He is so close that he can smell her- soft, a silken concoction of cinnamon, sugar, flowers and something else, something unidentifiable. Something alluring as it is dangerous, arsenic concealed in wine. There is a gentle breeze, timid, and as it stirs the silken silver strands he is consumed in another wave of the scent. No; more of a tsunami. It isn’t strong or overpowering- in fact it is rather the opposite. It is a subtle smell, sneaking up on him and suddenly drowning his senses in the scent of her.
He is so close that he can feel her breath on his neck: the unsteady inhalation, the oxygen dancing from her lips- those soft, curiously parted lips- like a butterfly fluttering its way up her throat. Her pale lips quirk up into a smile, revealing sparkling, even teeth. It’s not a nice smile; it’s the kind of smile that someone would give when they are about to pull a somewhat cruel prank- when they knows that something bad yet highly amusing is about to happen to someone, and they can’t wait to see it. If it wasn’t for her lips then he would say that she herself is monochrome: the white hair, the black eyes and clothes, the porcelain skin. But the pale stripe of rose is a disturbing contrast, making her skin seem so much paler, the eyes so much darker. If it wasn’t for that single line of pink, she would look like Death itself.
‘I will stop you,’ he says. He wishes that his voice wouldn’t shake. ‘And if I don’t, someone will.’
He is so close that when she opens her mouth, when she speaks, she barely needs to raise her voice above a whisper for him to hear her. Her voice is a silken liquor of pain and of destruction, of loss and of suffering, of regrets and of loss. When she speaks, the sound that worms its ways from those lips is the sound that Death would make if it could speak. She says his name, and it sounds so… so alien in that voice, pouring from those lips, that he wants to be sick.
Her smile is one that promises destruction.
‘You know you can’t kill me,’ she whispers. ‘And I know you know that.’ Her voice is childish. ‘Have you come to die?’
Beneath it all, beneath the layers and layers of insanity and murder, her voice is familiar. She is almost a head smaller than her, so when she looks up at him, he still sees her as the girl he helped home, the girl he smiled at across the classroom. He looks down at her as she raises a slender hand, the fingernails pristine but unpainted which is unlike her. The fingers are long, slender. He once told her that they could be musician’s fingers; that she could probably play any instrument in the world if she put her mind to it. The hand- so smooth, so soft- caresses his face.
For a moment it could almost be exactly how it was before. Almost, anyway. She looks so young, so kind, her eyes large and playful-
And then the nails dig deep into his skin, and she rakes them through his flesh and bloody furrows are left in their wake. He screams, falling backward, fingers pressing against the gouges in his flesh, feeling the scarlet trickle between his fingers, almost as if his own blood is desperate to escape the terror churning inside of him. She cackles, the wind picking up strength and speed, howling in a haunting duet with his screams.
Her arms fly out like wings, hair writhing like dead souls- a demonic silver halo. She laughs louder; the madness ripping itself free from her throat. And then there’s pain: ripping its way through him- a lightning bolt of agony setting every bone inside of him, every particle, every atom, on fire, the heat racing through his veins and consuming him, drowning him.
He screams; mouth a gaping black chasm, a bottomless pit of death and pain and her eyes are black, blacker than anything he’s ever seen or ever will see because he’s dying, she’s killing him, and he’s writhing in the ashes. His heart panics; pounding faster and faster and faster, competing in a race that it cannot win. The desperate organ beats so fast it is painful; the pain washing over him in merciless, unrelenting waves, and the agony is in his veins now, increasing with every dying beat of his heart. He claws at his wrists with a frenzied abandon, fingers gouging away the skin but the supple flesh underneath too strong a barrier for his fingernails. He continues, endeavouring to rid himself of the wildfire encased inside every artery, scraping against his throat as his scream becomes a wail, a despairing cry for mercy, for an end, and the world begins to dissolve, shapes and colours blending into a blurred nothingness.
Her face is the last thing he sees as his throat closes and his eyes bulge and he drowns in the ocean of agony that she has created solely for him. His tongue is too big for his mouth and his lips are blue and he is dying and he is drowning and she smiles down at him as the world dissolves.
And then she flicks her wrists and the waves retreat and the pain abandons his empty body. The rapid rise and fall of his chest is his only movement. He sucks in the sharp, smoky air as if it is elixir rather than the product of burning buildings, burning people and burning dreams.
He wants to stand; he wants to tell her that what she does is wrong and he wants to tell her that she will be stopped.
Somehow. She’s not looking at him; instead gazing at the destruction she has caused with a serene expression. She looks almost carefree, so calm amidst the rubble and the blood and the death. If he wanted to attack her, jump up behind her and defeat her, then this moment would be perfect. He could take her surprise- she certainly wouldn’t be expecting him to do anything. He could jump up and-
What? What could you do? Snap her neck? Beat her to death with your bare fists?
But he can’t, because his mind is ringing with the echoes of the previous agony, and he knows that he moves, if he speaks, then he will become subject to it again within an instant.
He could stop her. He could. He could-
You’re not going to kill her. You’re not a killer.
He’s not a killer.
‘Look at it.’ She says softly. ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’
He looks at the burning buildings; the fire licking at the walls and the trees that surround them, the ash that dusts the ground like snow, the crackling of flames not unlike the sound of paper being crushed in one’s fist.
‘How could you do this?’ he whispers through cracked lips. His mouth is dry.
She turns to face him and smiles, the slow smirk crawling over her face like ants over honey. ‘You humans could never understand.’ she whispers in a voice wrapped in ice and silk. ‘You could never, and will never understand what it’s like. To be me. To have what I have. To do what I can do.’
He pulls himself onto his knees and sucks in another breath. ‘And what-‘ he pants, ‘-have we done to deserve this? Just because you’re not human anymore doesn’t mean that we all deserve to die.’ He pushes himself up onto his feet, legs shaking, trembling, as a mad laugh escapes him. ‘What did I do? What did anyone do?’ He looks into her eyes, the eyes consumed by a black fire, and he doesn’t recognise the girl who stands two paces before him. She isn’t his friend, his neighbour, his partner-in-crime. Whoever that girl was is dead- and now, in her place, is a monster.
She shrugs and lifts her hands again. ‘I’m a god now. A god. I told you that you wouldn’t understand.’
‘What about Gabrielle?’ He whispers, flicking the name like a knife through the air.
And it works; he knows it works, because the hands drop, and the fire is extinguished from her eyes. She stumbles; her typical smooth co-ordination snatched from her and her legs buckle and she falls to her knees.
‘Gabi?’ She murmurs, and it seems that she’s talking to someone else, someone who isn’t here, rather than to him.
‘My Gabi? Where are you, Gabi? Gabi!’ She pulls her knees up to her chest and begins to cry like a child. And now, rather than emanating power and death, it’s pain that surrounds her instead; leaking from every poor like dirt, smothering her like a scarf. It’s pain and sadness, regret and loss, and she cries.
And Helena cries for Gabrielle.
And he moves towards her slowly, wondering if she’s broken, wondering if he can stop her now, if she’ll do anything if he tries-
And there’s a knife in his pocket. One that he didn’t want to use unless he had too, but now he’s sure that he has to, because there’s no other way-
And she looks up when he’s a hand’s breadth away, and her eyes flicker to the knife, the rusting, old penknife that he’d once used to pick the lock on her window to let her sneak out. And she sees it-
And he’s thrown backwards by something like a wall, because the air’s been knocked out of him, and he can’t breathe, and the knife’s no longer in his hand-
And he sees her face again, her beautiful face, her deadly eyes of obsidian-
And she gazes down at him sadly, so, so sadly. And her eyes are black like death and the devil’s soul-
And her hair is white, like snow or pearls-
And her eyes are so black, so dark, like the bottoms of graves and the night sky and they are so, so black-
And he’s falling into them, these empty pits that lead straight to Hell…
And his world implodes in fire and blood and blackness…