The In-between

(Clau)dia can see demons for what they are, because at birth, her twin brother, Alex(ander) was chosen for something greater. He is a guardian and flies over their world, leaving her to feel alone, like she doesn't belong. Drinking herself sick one night, she meets a boy who changes things for both Dia and Alex.


1. Chapter One


       Always alone.

       He comes in flashes, but then leaves. He always leaves.

       In the womb, I was a twin, but from birth, Alexander was stolen from me. He was chosen for something greater than "life or death," and me? Well, I'm just that- me. And Me is nothing special. Save for, my eyes, which are not congruent, at all. One is pale blue, and the other one is as dark as the deepest sea. My hair is dark brown and goes half-way down my back. Having long hair doesn't bother me, and I don't ever feel like cutting it. I have freckles on my face, but only my face. If there were people around, perhaps I would stick out, but not because I was beautiful, but because I'm a freak. 

       Wait, looks don't make you a freak? 

       I see "people" who adorn wings, some with horns, tails, forked tongues, mouths full of extra rows of teeth, all sharpened like needles, etc. I live in an abandoned town that was ravaged by demons and war. I live in a Ghosts' town. I see them; they reach out for help. I run, haunted by the images, and filled with a sense of helplessness and despair. I have nightmares, every night. But, then I wake, and the nightmare is real. I can tell when my brother is by my side; he brings with him a bubble of hope and warmth. It calms me and washes away the terror. I sleep, only to awake to Him having been the dream. If he had been there, only the walls would know, and they're not telling.

       I haven't felt his presence in three weeks. I am awash with worry. I walk the streets, looking for him, only to find hallowed, black eyes, faces with bloody tears, forlorn faces, or sinister smiles racing from the shadows. Watching, waiting- hungering. I run, as fast as my five foot three, female human legs can carry me. In a place I call my home, I collapse. Cry. Cry myself to sleep. Sometimes sipping the Sinner's Drink to numb the pain.

       Empty bottles and broken glass littler the streets. Ash from fires long ago still blow in the wind. No flowers grow, and trees' bare branches loom overhead. There is a building made of glass. Only the frames remain. I sometimes see it as the beautiful tower it once was. I see the rich having their parties, caviar and wine laid fancily on decorative tables. A table as long as four stretched out in the middle of the room. Delectable deserts piled high on trays made for hundreds. They all wear the prettiest clothes, the fanciest, the most expensive.  They come from all over the world to gather in the Hall, one of England's finest, next to the Queen's herself. 

       All of that is gone now, but the corpses still dance, their ghostly frames draped in shreds of were once their fine dining clothes, skin black and red, charred from fire. Teeth show in their jawless faces. They look at me; some snicker, and some smile, but all of them go about their business. They are at peace with their death. The ones that aren't are the dangerous ones. Although, if any spirit were to come into contact with The Living, their souls would devour The Living and take over that body. Not all souls know that, or if they do, they're not letting on. They go about their time on this eternal wasteland like they were still alive- maybe they still think they are. Maybe no one told them. It's a bittersweet scene.

       Not all homes were destroyed. The one we- the one that I live in is one of those. There was smokey residue and leaves inside, but all of that is cleared away now. The beds are made with torn cloths. I keep the sinks cleared of dishes. I sweep to keep dust from piling up. I may live in a ghost town, but I am still alive, and this lets me remember that. Until night comes. Until the monsters come to play. Until I shut my eyes and the nightmares take over from the hellish reality- a never ending struggle.

       Some days are better than others. Some days are worse. Some days I'm tempted by devilish thoughts. To cut. To jump from a bridge. To drink more than a few sips to calm my nerves. To down bottle after bottle. I sway from that path, for Alex. The last thing I want to do is hurt him. But, tonight, I don't have the heart to do so. I haven't seen Alex in three weeks. Alex is not Mine- he is someone else's. Alex was taken from me before I'd even had him. I love Alex. He'll always be a part of me. But that part is the part that is missing, and it cuts deeper than a knife ever could. Wounds heal. They are superficial. They are only on the inside. But, I fear you could pierce my heart, and still not find the source of this pain.

       I wander the streets, bottle in hand. It was full when I'd found it behind the counter of the market I usually go to. Almost everything is gone, and what is left, the undesirable things, are expired. Yet, they do the trick. Hunger is only a factor of the mind. You can trick it into being full, weather it's starving yourself, or eating only enough to stay alive. I follow the path of the latter. Alex brings me everything I need, too. This town is almost out of resources. Alex still hasn't found a way to get me out of here. A result of being brushed by death. You're alive, but stuck In between. I'm alive, but I can't leave this place of the dead.

       The alcohol left over was also that which was found undesirable. And, it wasn't great, but I didn't drink for the taste. Yet, I never drank too much. Not like tonight...  

       The bottle is almost gone now. I stumble through the streets, avoiding the clawing hands of the dead wanting to do a body swap. The sun is setting. I don't have much time now. The monstrous ones would be coming out soon. I think they watch me, hoping I'll slip up. A game, perhaps, trying for the one who they could never grab before. The forbidden one. The forgotten one. There was no God watching over me. My own Guardian was too busy.

        I finish the bottle and sit it nicely inside the recycling bin that sits undisturbed on the curb. Perhaps it's the alcohol, but everything about this setting I'm in seems undisturbed. The sun is setting, so I choose this delightful house and stumble up the front porch, going inside. This one was still intact, and nicer than ours, I'd say. I lay on the couch, my head spinning. I've never drunk this much; and yet, I still have the desire to drink more. I haven't forgotten myself yet. I stand up and walk to the kitchen that is behind the couch. I search all of the cupboards, all of them fully stocked with everything you could imagine, from doughnuts and cooking, to canned fruits and vegetables. Although, the fridge is empty. So, no perishables; Damn. I haven't had milk or bread for so long. My mouth is dry just thinking about it. How the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth when you chew. How, given a straw, you could blow bubbles in your drink. Alex and I did that a lot as children, yet his adviser was always there, scalding him about how "he's a guardian and he has to act like it. Immaturity was not tolerable." I always hated that woman. 

       Our mother was taken from us after only a few short years, her mind unable to comprehend the world that was revealed to her. She would sit in silence, her brain mush. She never talked, or looked at us. Then, she was gone. It felt like that woman was trying to replace her, the way she was there for Alex. Alex was the important one. He broke the rules sometimes, though. We would go on adventures, and he would always make sure I had enough to eat, or that I had the sweets. He didn't "care," he would say, as long as I was happy. But, when we turned twelve, that was when he moved away, and went to some sort of special guardian camp or something. He isn't allowed to talk about things to me. And that is a rule that he never breaks. 

       Alex is responsible now, different. Very handsome and mature. I'm sure he has all the woman up there. What would he need me for?

       I let out an involuntary sob. My legs give out and I crumple to the floor. The earthquake I caused made something rattle behind me. I look up to see a glass cupboard with nicely organised bottles of alcohol. I chose one at random, yank off the cork, turn the bottle upside down, and chug. I only get about a third of the way through the bottle, when it's snatched from me. "That's enough," a voice growls. I looked up at the towering figure though squinting eyes and blurry vision. I can't really make out their features, but the voice definitely is not Alex's.

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