Playing With God: Part II

Find Part I Here: https://bit.ly/2rfSjNp

“THY SERVANT DOTH TEST ME.”

“WHO?”

“JAKIN”

“AH, MY DEAR ACCURSED SON. HE DOTH PLEASE ME ALWAYS.”

“HE MOCKETH ME.”

“DOTH HE NOT ELEVATE THEIR SOULS TOWARDS THY GRACE?”

“THENCE HE SNATCHETH THEM AWAY, FOR SPORT.”

“THOU ART TOO THIN OF SKIN, MY BOON COMPANION.”

“AS ART THOU, MY DEAR LUCI.”

“THOU MISTAKEST MY NAME.”

“HAST THOU BEEN CUT TO THE QUICK? ART THOU NOT THICK OF SKIN? HAST THOU NOT THE SKIN OF THE BEAST?”

“THOU DOST TIRE ME. WHAT WOULDST THOU HAVE OF ME?”

“JAKIN. GIVE ME HIM.”

“FIE! WHEREFORE SHOULD I UNHAND MYSELF OF HIM?”

“BETHINK THYSELF OF JOB. I GAVE HIM FREELY, AMONGST OTHERS. THOU ART IN ARREARS. I SHALL HAVE MY POUND OF FLESH.”

“AND IT MUST NEEDS BE. BEHOLD, HE IS IN THINE HAND.”

“WITHAL, I MUST NEEDS HAVE A SOUL ON EARTH.”

“FIE! THE SOULS ARE MINE OWN! I SHAN’T SACRIFICE A ONE OF THEM.”

“IT SHALL BE RETURNED WHENCE IT CAME, ONCE JAKIN HATH RECEIVED HIS RECOMPENSE.”

“TO WHAT END SHALL THIS SOUL BE PUT?”

“JAKIN HATH HAD HIS SPORT, I SHALL HAVE MINE OWN.”

***

Jakin sat in a dark corner of the bar. In his black suit and black silk shirt, he’d easily have been missed were it not for his pale skin that glimmered in the faintest of light. The bar swelled with weekend warriors. He watched one woman sitting at the bar with her date. She laughed a lot. Jakin loved the way she laughed. Her lips spread first, almost reluctantly, into a Mona Lisa smile. Then they trembled as she sniggered. Then her mouth broke open and she threw her head back, baring her long, slender neck, teasing him with that blue vein that ran up behind her ear. Even over her cackles and the music, he could hear her carotid pumping beneath.

He took a sip of his Jameson 18-year reserve. It tasted of nothing and had no effect on him, but the pretense was enough. He could almost remember what it was like. That rich, smoky flavor. The warmth that hit the back of your throat and flowed down into your heart. He hadn’t known warmth in decades, only burning.

When the woman’s date stood up, Jakin downed his drink. He followed the man into the bathroom. The man went into a cubicle. As the door was swinging shut, Jakin shoved his arm through the gap and rammed the door with his shoulder. The man was knocked off his feet and his head slammed against the porcelain cistern. He slid down in a heap next to the toilet, but he lay on the floor groaning.

Jakin sighed and shook his head. “You couldn’t have just passed out? Shame.”

He closed and locked the cubicle door. He wrapped his arm around the stunned man’s neck and squeezed tight. Jakin wished he could see the man’s face. The eyes bulging, rolling. The color draining from his face, then turning blue. But it was no matter, this was merely housekeeping. His real prize was waiting at the bar.

His heart stopped beating after a minute. Jakin sat the corpse on the toilet. He rummaged in the man’s pockets and pulled out his phone. He dropped it between the man’s legs, it fell into the toilet with a plop. Jakin stepped out of the cubicle and used a coin to turn the lock from the outside. He went to check himself in the mirror, and then he remembered. Even after two hundred years, old habits still die hard. In the mirror, all he saw was a floating shirt and jacket. He straightened his collar and left the bathroom.

He walked up to the woman and asked, “Is this seat taken?” Before she could answer, he sat down. “Because it is, now.”

She smiled. “You’ve some cheek.”

“Indeed, I do, two in fact.” He caught the bartender’s attention. “Jameson 18-year, neat and whatever the lady is having.” He turned to her. “I’m Jack.”

“Lizzy,” she replied, eyeing him curiously. “Are you one of them albinos?”

This one’s not too bright, Jakin thought as he ran a hand through his jet-black hair. “No, I’m a doctor. I work night-shifts, mostly. I don’t get a lot of sun.”

“You should use tanning beds, they’re great. Look,” she said, extending her forearm. “It’s natural.”

He took her forearm in his hand and stroked it with his thumb. “Tanning beds…wouldn’t be advisable, but this is beautiful.”

“Christ, your hand is cold,” she said, but she didn’t pull her arm away.

“Bad circulation,” Jakin said with a smirk.

“Cold hands, warm heart.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said, and winked.

She looked down at his hand on her arm and suddenly pulled away, looking behind her. “Where’s Max?”

“Who’s that, your boyfriend?”

“No, it’s our first date. He went to the bathroom, like, ten minutes ago.”

“You don’t think he’s ditched you, do you?”

She hesitated before she said, “No—no he wouldn’t… Oh my God.” She closed her eyes and put a hand to her brow.

“What’s wrong?” Jakin asked.

“He had his wallet and phone here on the bar. He took them with him when he went to the bathroom. The fucker did ditch me.”

“Hey,” Jakin said, taking her hand. “It’s his loss. And you still have a date. A doctor, no less.”

She smiled and turned her eyes up to look at him from under her hand. She took her hand away from her face and slapped the bar. “Who the fuck does that?! Just walks out on a date?”

“Not someone you want to date.”

“Fucking right. I can’t believe I thought it was going well.”

“You seemed to be laughing a lot.”

“The fucker wasn’t even funny,” she said, and took a sip of her drink.

“You won’t have to fake it with me. You won’t have to fake anything with me.” He started walking his fingers up her forearm, his fingertips punctuating each word. “Not. A. Thing.”

That Mona Lisa smile broke across her face, and before long she had her head thrown back, cackling away. Jakin wished he could kill her there and then. Watching that jugular vein bulge as her neck stretched out was like watching from behind as a woman’s skirt rides up when she bends over. Instant want.

She took a sip of her drink, and suddenly asked, “Hey! Were you watching me?” She cocked an eyebrow at him accusatorily.

“No, of course not,” Jakin said.

“Yeah, you were,” she said, pushing him lightly in the shoulder.

“It’s not my fault your laugh carries across the bar.”

“Hey!” she exclaimed and slapped his knee.

“Hey, yourself,” he said, leaning in and putting a hand on her knee.

The cold touch of his hand was exhilarating, and she leaned in too.

***

After a few more drinks, Jakin took Lizzy back to his place. Not the bomb shelter in Kildare. Jakin had the bedroom in his house soundproofed for special occasions such as this. She giggled as she ran up the stairs behind him, holding his hand. Jakin stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to kiss her. Holding the kiss, he walked backwards towards the bedroom.

Jakin turned her as they fell onto the bed, so that she fell beneath him. He broke their kiss to look into her eyes. His dark, piercing stare made her nervous, and she giggled. She reached her head up to kiss him, but he pulled back.

He took her hands and gently guided them up above her head. Jakin held her hands and kissed her again. After a minute, he let go of her left hand. She expected that he’d bring it down to her thigh, but after a few seconds it was clear it had gone somewhere else.

Jakin reached under the mattress and pulled out the handcuffs. They were linked by a long chain. He snapped one cuff onto her left wrist, pulled the other end round one of the struts on the metal bedhead, and cuffed her other hand in a matter of seconds.

“What the fuck!” she exclaimed. “No way! I’m not into that shit. What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

Jakin got off the bed and stood back. “Don’t worry, this isn’t a Fifty Shades of Grey thing. Well, maybe it is, just without the sex.”

She pushed herself into a seated position with her feet. “What the fuck does that mean?”

“Well, in addition to my selective albinism and poor circulation, I’m also chronically impotent.”

The realization struck her hard, and her body froze up. If it wasn’t about sex, then it was much, much worse. “Heeelllp!!!” she screamed at the walls. “Heeelllp!!! Help, he’s going to kill me!

Help! Help!” Jakin cried in a high-pitched voice. “Have a lungful, hun. This room is soundproof.”

Her mascara was running down her cheeks in silent tears. She could tell by the calmness in his face that he was telling the truth. “What are you going to do to me?” she asked.

“I’m going to try to save you,” Jakin said as he went over to the chair by the window. “Well, I’m going to try to help you save yourself.”

“Save myself from what? You?”

“No, no, no,” he said as he pulled the chair to the end of the bed. “A much worse fate than me awaits you, my dear. Eternal damnation, eternal reincarnation. Bound to this earth for eternity. It’s hell. I should know, I’m two-hundred and twenty-three years old. You’re lucky, you get to forget your past lives.”

She looked at him like he was mad.

Jakin sat down in the chair, crossed his legs, and clasped his hands over his knee. “So, Lizzy, do you believe in God?”

He needn’t have asked the question. The crucifix around his neck sat cold on his nape. If she believed, it would have branded him with Christ’s mark hours ago. Her soul was a billion miles from communion with God. Not only had it no hope of ever reaching, it wasn’t even approaching.

“What does that have to do with anything?!” she shouted, pulling her hands forward, rattling the bars.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Jakin said. “Why not?”

“Maybe because a god wouldn’t let shit like this happen.”

Jakin smiled. “You haven’t read the Old Testament, have you? God is capricious, pernicious, but above all, jealous. He loves you and hates you in equal parts, because you betrayed him. At least, your soul did. You won’t remember it, it was billions of years ago, before my father created this world. God wants you back, but he doesn’t mind if you suffer in the mean-time. You deserve it, after all.”

“You’re insane.”

“The truth always sounds insane to the deluded. After thousands of years under the same delusion, lie becomes truth, and truth becomes madness.”

She rolled her eyes at him.

“I’ve a riddle for you: what has no blood, but can’t live without it?”

“Your dick?”

Jakin laughed. “My, that’s the best answer I’ve ever heard, but not right. Let me help you out: what also reflects all light and yet burns in it? What reflects all light, but casts no reflection? What has no soul, but can live forever?”

“You?”

“Right, but what am I?”

A fucking psycho!

“Perhaps, two hundred years on this Hell will do that to you. But what am I, other than a psycho?”

She didn’t reply. She just hung her head. She was exhausted. Pins and needles were running up and down her arms.

“Let me show you,” Jakin said.

Jakin stood up and climbed up onto the end of the bed. He crawled up towards her like a baby. She could feel his every movement, and she raised her head as he came face to face with her. She watched as his face convulsed in pain, deep lines forming at every crease. She saw the decades of pain in his eyes. His sad eyes that looked as if they should be stained with tears. She watched him bare his teeth, and saw his canines grow, bearing down out of his jaw and sharpening into points. It woke her from her stupor.

“What am I?”

V-vampire,” she managed, breathlessly.

Jakin smiled, and as he smiled his fangs pressed into his lower lip. Dimples grew around them, bulging, and Lizzy waited for them to burst, but they didn’t.

She started to question everything she ever knew. Suddenly, the truth wasn’t so mad. Her mind moved too fast to formulate into words. But the crucifix around Jakin’s neck told him what was going through her head. It simmered against his skin.

(“BEHOLD, HE IS IN MINE HAND”)

In the anatomy of a second, something bled from Lizzy. Her rigid form lost its substance, her thoughts seemed to vanish from her mind. All emotion and sensation drained from her, the fear, the exhaustion. Everything. She sank.

In that same second, a force struck Jakin’s every corner. As it overwhelmed his skin, he burned, but the flames didn’t stem from the crucifix, they raged from within. When the force had permeated his body and centered at his chest, the burning stopped, but the wave of sensation did not. He could no longer hear Lizzy’s heart beating, but he could feel his own beating in his chest. An unfamiliar warmth coursed out from his chest to his extremities.

He got the faint aftertaste of Jameson 18-Year. He began to feel woozy as his reborn stomach flooded his arteries with alcohol. He sat back onto his ankles and raised his hands to his face. He watched as color ran into them, from a milky white to a rich cream. The veins in his hands and arms bulged for the first time in more than two centuries.

I’m alive!” he cried in an emotion that was alien to him.

But the anatomy of that second began to decay a second later. The creamy skin of his hands became mottled with liver spots. The skin grew loose and lank, and then shriveled into thick wrinkles. Two-hundred years of life aged him in a matter of seconds. His muscles withered away, and his back curled up. He felt his heart stop and he fell sideways onto the bed. But he survived the heart attack that might have struck him a hundred and fifty years before. Sharp pains shot up and down the nerves of his teeth. He had his teeth clenched against the pain and he felt them crumble under their own pressure.

The gravel of his enamel was sickening in his mouth and he spat it out limply, like wasted-drunk vomit. What was left of them slid easily from their rotten roots. Jakin knew he was at the point of death, and he welcomed it.

But someone else knew too.

That same force that had struck him blew out of his chest like a cannon-ball. His heart stopped beating and the familiar cold returned. But where his youthful strength had once been, there was only weakness and weariness. Lizzy’s soul returned to her, leaving Jakin as a desiccated husk.

A vampire without fangs, he thought, is nothing at all.

***

“BEHOLD, HE IS IN THINE HAND ONCE MORE, AND THY PRECIOUS SOUL.”

“THOU HAST LEFT HIM WITH HIS LIFE.”

“BUT NO LIFE AT ALL, FOR ETERNITY.”

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