This story is by Trynda E. Adair and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
“You can head home. I’ll finish up with that one.” The grey-haired coroner said to his assistant who leaned over the body of a young woman.
“Thanks. Jenna will be happy to hear.” The woman pulled the blue gloves from her hand, “We’re going to The Black Cat Bistro for her birthday tonight.”
“Sounds romantic,” He said into his clipboard, scratching John Doe above the line designated for a name. After a brief glance at the clock face strapped to his wrist, he printed the time across another line.
“Have a good night John.” She waved and ducked out the white door. The door swung closed behind her, sealing the cool air in the room once more.
Not yet, Blisargon thought to himself glancing over his shoulder at the blonde woman covered in black bruises across the room. He circled around the body before him, again and again, consuming every angle, ensuring he missed none of the man’s visible injuries. Every detail his eyes touched, he recorded onto the clipboard.
The woman jolted upright; her arms swinging wildly. The sound of her laboured breathing echoed around the silent mortuary. Yellow strands of hair flew through the air as her gaze darted from object to object.
Blisargon looked at his watch once more. 10:58.
“You’re late,” He said, leaving his guest’s side.
“Almost lost this one. Give me a cigarette.” Her voice vibrated up his spine like the low beat of a drum as she swung her legs over the side of the table, smoothing the short black skirt covering the tops of her legs. Blisargon pulled a pack from his pocket and placed a stick between her waiting fingers. A lighter decorated with Chinese waves appeared in her hand, sparking a flame at the end of the cigaret.
“You can’t smoke in here.” He pointed at the ember as it burned through the tobacco.
The woman’s eyebrows pulled together. She held out her arm, looking around her. “Does anyone have a problem with me having a smoke?” She called to the lines of closed doors surrounding them, smoke pouring from her lips. The Tobacco leaves crackled as she filled her lungs once more when no answer came, “Didn’t think so.”
“What did you do, Rusalka?”
“Did I have to DO something?” She exhaled her stale smoke into Blisargon’s face.
“Yes,” Impatience coloured his voice as he waved a hand through the smoke, “They don’t lash out without reason. So, what did you do?”
Rusalka’s thin shoulders rose and fell, “Anything I do is reason enough for them.” She looked to the pale lifeless body with an untrustworthy smile, “I was just having fun.”
“The Hunters will not stop until you leave the humans be.” He watched Rusalka angle her neck, eyes locked on his, as she pushed her chin and cracked a vertebrae back into place.
“Is that what you did, Blisargon?” Her gaze steady as she drew on the white cigaret, “Or should I call you, John?” With a chipped pink nail she pointed at the medical examiner’s name tag clipped to his shirt.
“Don’t patronise me!” He snapped, his voice dropping to match her low tone.
A smile spread across her lips. She pushed the smouldering cigaret butt into the silvery table beside her thigh and jumped to her feet. Her hand disappeared into his breast pocket, pulling away with his last pack. Rusalka threw her damaged white blonde hair over her shoulder and lit the next cigaret, inhaling the smoke her body craved. Smoke seeped from the gaps in her yellowing teeth when her lips pulled into a coy smile.
“I will. Always. Because you are a thief and a trickster, and you can never — never change what you are.” Rusalka straightened the large fur collar coat hanging off her shoulders, blowing the smoke into his face. “If you want to remember, ” She grabbed his clipboard, scribbling numbers across a line on his form, “that’s my number.” Rusalka pushed the board back into his hands and stepped around him.
“You and I are two different demons, Rusalka.” He turned around, catching her blowing a kiss at the man Blisargon had been working with earlier.
“Are we?” Rusalka asked.
“Enjoy your hunt,” Blisargon called to her. Rusalka raised her arm, jerking her hand in a stiff wave without turning back to look at him. The quiet tune of an ancient drinking song bounced around the room as Rusalka hummed to herself.
The echo of her stilettos following her down the hallway until fading away, leaving Blisargon in silence with the rows of closed drawers.
A car pulled to a crawl beside her.
Rusalka continued her slow walk home without looking at the car. One of her ankles cracked as she walked like it had been damaged in the hunters last attack. It might be broken, but it was hard to tell without feeling her host’s pain. She already knew most of the ribs were broken from the grind of bones where there shouldn’t be.
The window of the car lowered.
“Hello beautiful.” A confident voice called to her from the car with the roll of a Russian accent, “You look like you could use a ride.”
A smile formed across her lips, maybe tonight wouldn’t be a complete waste.
Rusalka stopped to see the suit clad older man leaning across the seats to see her through the open window. His salt and pepper beard, and short cut hair framed his weathered tan features in a way that reminded her of a man she’d known back home.
She played up the limp form her ankle as she made her way toward the red luxury car. Someone with money would be a nice change.
“I would love a ride.” Rusalka purred seductively as she opened the car and sank into the passengers seat.
“Where are we headed?” He smiled with strait white teeth.
Rusalka gave him the address of the apartment across town and before they pulled to a stop outside the three story brick building.
“Those are very interesting tattoos you have.” Rusalka said touching the twisting symbols across his knuckles with a pointed nail, looking from below her eyelashes at his faded blue eyes.
“It is a prayer.” He said not looking breaking her gaze.
“You are religious?” An eyebrow lifted.
“Not exactly.” A smile peeked at one corner of his lips.
“Would you like to come upstairs and tell me more?” Rusalka breathed and removed her hand from his.
His chin dipped with a subtle nod.
They climbed from the car and headed for the second floor. She did her best to walk with confidence, but her lame ankle made it difficult.
Her key twisted in the lock and the door opened to a destroyed apartment filled with faded haired men and women pulling open drawers and scattering their contents onto the floor.
The only man not searching through her things moved his inky black eyes to where she fumed in the doorway, causing her stomach to sink.
A solid fist slammed against the back of her skull.
Rusalka’s body crumpled beneath her, darkness creeping at the edge of her vision. Shinned dress shoes stepping over her was last thing she saw before falling unconscious.
Rusalka opened her heavy eyes to darkness. She fought against the grey fog clouding her mind, grasping at any memories hiding at the edge of the haze.
Her trashed apartment came to mind, but she had seen someone before returning home.
“Blisargon” The name slurred from her lips while her brain struggled to make sense of her thoughts; casting aside what remained from the original inhabitant of her current host. Visions of the demon hunters rifling through Rusalka’s possessions flashed disjointedly among her thoughts before a flood of memories assaulted her like a damn had broken.
The back of her skull cracked against a hard surface as she jerked her head back in surprise, “God dammit!” Rusalka cursed to herself, letting her head fall forward.
She struggled to free her tangled arms from beneath her body in the tight space; first her left, then her right. Rusalka ran her fingertips against the rough walls of her prison until finally realising it was wood that contained her. She slammed a single strong punch against the wood. Another powerful punch hit the solid surface cracking it violently. Jagged pieces of wood tore into Rusalka’s knuckles as her fist broke through, stopping in the damp unmoving soil. The musty smell of earth drifted up past the bloodied break in the wood.
“Are you kidding me?” Rusalka signed with frustration, directing her anger into at the plank of wood inches from her host, “Buried me,” The wood cracked and split against another punch, “Upside down — What do they think I am — vampire or something?”
She punched again and again; feeling drops of hot blood spatter against the skin of her cheek. With each new hit, the throbbing pain in her knuckles intensified. Rusalka pulled away the last pieces of wood and scraped at the loose dirt surrounding the container. Numbness overtook the pain in her hands as her breathing became ragged.
Rusalka pulled herself upward, holding her breath as earth fell into the space she had cleared. Lungs burned in protest and muscles struggled to find the strength they needed as she rushed to the surface.
Cool fresh air kissed the tips of her tender fingertips as her hand broke through the recently disturbed soil. She struggled to pull her tired body the rest of the way, clawing with her free hand for anything to use as leverage only to grasp useless blades a damp grass.
A strong hand wrapped around her flailing wrist, heating her flesh with its scorching grasp. Her arm tightened and gradually she rose from the ground. Rusalka gulped at the fresh air like it was water in a barren desert and coughed violently as her head broke through the surface.
“I’ve gotcha, Luv” Blisargon gasped as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled the rest of her free.
“Blisargon?” She croaked between fits of coughing. He let her lean against him until she could stand on her own feet once more. “There was an old one — eyes like black stone. And his — his skin. It wasn’t — right.” Rusalka stammered against his arm.
Blisargon walked them toward his white sedan waiting on the dark dirt road. “I know. I know. You’re — ”
“I can feel pain. All of it. Every little — ” Rusalka’s voice faded away into silence as she gazed down at her trembling bloody hands.
“You’re okay now. Just need to get cleaned up.” Blisargon said with ease, opening the passenger door and, helping her into the seat. He let the door fall shut and, watched as her head fell back against the headrest; worried eyes gazing out the windshield.
Blisargon circled around the car. As he stepped into the driver’s seat he noticed symbols drawn in dark dry blood clinging to Rusalka’s cheek beneath the black dirt. More of the symbols became clear as he passed a closer look over the bare skin of her arms and face. The marks looked almost Celtic, but he knew if they were he could understand them.
The car stirred with a turn of the key.
“They were at my apartment. Don’t go back.” Rusalka spoke, her hoarse voice cracking as she struggled to form English words around her underlying Russian accent.
“I’ll take you to my home.”
“Thank you, Blis.” The corners of her mouth pulled up into a weak smile before it fell and she turned to gaze out the passenger window at the old forgotten cemetery, “How did you know?” She whispered.
“Demon Hunters aren’t very creative.” Blisargon said starring at the stone marking the grave he’d pulled himself from years earlier.
Without another word he pulled away from the cemetery and headed for the dim glow of the distant city.