Thursday, 4 September 2014

Chapter 37: The Monster At The End Of The Book

Rejection is never an easy thing to deal with. For most people, being shunned by the one that you love is one of the worst things imaginable. It often leads to crying, bitterness, and in some cases an express desire to fit into really teeny jeans again... But for Angel the feeling was altogether different. For Angel, emotions always tended to stray towards the angry end of the spectrum, and god help anyone who came across him in one of these deathly moods...

But you know Angel isn't the only one who can get bad and moody. Aphrodite- the object of his affections- has never been one to suffer fools easily, and as such she had no problem telling Angel where to get off. She'd been understanding up to a point- you can't help who you fall in love with after all- but she wasn't about to just stand there while Angel screamed at her.

And she told him, in no uncertain terms, to piss off and grow up.

As soon as the words left her mouth she instantly regretted them. She hadn't meant to hurt Angel, she just couldn't understand why he didn't get just how weird the idea of the two of them was. They were cousins after all...

But that's not all they were- they were friends too, in fact they'd been good friends for a really long time, and Aphrodite knew she didn't want to lose that. And so she looked Angel in the eye and told him it would all be okay, they could go back to the way things were, if only he got the help he needed...

That's when he hit her.

And Aphrodite, reeling from the shock and whimpering as she felt the blood come rushing to her face, suddenly saw Angel in a whole new darkness.

There was really no reason to hang about after that. Immediately Aphrodite slid past her ex-best-friend as calmly and quickly as she could and made straight for the door.

But Angel was as quiet as death as he followed after her and grabbed her by the hair.

It happened pretty quickly after that. Angel tried to pull Aphrodite towards him again and again with more and more force, and each time she said no and pushed back.

It was a simple slip-up that did it. In the struggle Aphrodite lost her footing and fell backwards, and Angel came tumbling after.

And immediately she was saying no again, only louder this time- screaming the words over and over so they split the air.

Angel only wanted her to be quiet. He wanted her to shut up, just for a moment, so he could explain himself. But Aphrodite wouldn't stop, and her screaming only got louder and more frantic as he pressed his palm over her face.

He just kept whispering 'Please', just that- over and over again. Please be quiet, please don't leave, please learn to love me... But the only answer Angel got was 'No', only it wasn't being screamed anymore- the sound came strangled from a dying throat. And then it was gone.

Angel got what he wanted then- Aphrodite was finally quiet, and more importantly she could never leave him again.

Silence. For a long time that's all there was- just a deathly absence of noise; of life. Angel crouched over his beloved, heart racing as he waited for something to happen. He knew she was dead, it was unmistakable, but somehow it wasn't real. If he didn't move it couldn't be real.


But then there was noise- a small sound of startled discovery.

Never have the words 'It's not what it looks like' seemed so feeble. Angel pushed them out anyway- eyes darting frantically from Osiris to the body on the floor as he waited for the boy to make the connection.

And then it hit him like knowledge. Suddenly a memory came rushing back to Osiris- the haunted reflection of the day when he'd found his mother dead on the floor, just like this... It was just like this.

Osiris had been living with a murderer. The man who stood before him now- the man who had cared for him since he was a child- was the very same fiend who had made him an orphan. That realisation was powerful; all consuming, and Osiris knew it would change his life forever. The only question that remained now was what to do about it, and it didn't take long for the answer to arrive.

Standing there, watching the maniac, Osiris saw his face shift. The pretence at innocence was gone, there was no more hiding now, and in it's place was a cold determination- the sort of look that says 'I'll be damned if I'm going to prison'. Osiris had about ten seconds to react before his next move would be taken from him, and so he did the only thing he could think of to do.

He ran, and he never looked back.

Back in the death house sunlight was streaming through the window, illuminating the scene in a cruel exhibition. It would be mere minutes before the real world interrupted Angel's own and he knew he couldn't just leave things like this for the mailman or the paperboy to find.

He had to get rid of the body.

But not just yet... It's not so easy to just dispose of someone in the middle of the daytime, and so Angel reasoned he had to hold on to Aphrodite at least until sundown. She was still warm, and he lay on the bed with her for a while imagining that things were different.

When the cover of night finally set in Angel quietly made his way to the graveyard, which was only across the road from his house.

Located in the darkest corner of the place there was a small building with a hidden secret. If you took the stairs and followed them down far enough, eventually you would come to a final resting place unknown to most.

Angel thought this was the best place to leave Aphrodite. No one would ever find her here- after all, what type of person frequents graveyards?

And so, with one last forlorn look at the woman he had both cared for and destroyed, Angel said his goodbyes.

But the moment wasn't intimate, it was witnessed.

Angel heard a sharp intake of breath and then saw the thing that had made it.

Looking at her face- what was left of it- Angel knew that he had a problem. He was used to ending anything that got in his way but knew that this one wouldn't be so easy to dispose of.

But that didn't mean he could just let it go. He was too far gone now; he was willing to do anything to protect himself. And so, on that occasion, he did what he had to do.

He took her.

The next day in the Heart household was like any other for Angel, and that was a terrifying notion. He began his morning with cereal (for serial killers) and read the morning paper for any news.

It didn't take long for the phone to start ringing. Aphrodite's family said she had now been missing for two days and they were beginning to panic, but Angel reassured them by saying that he was sure she would turn up soon. By now he was a good little liar.

After breakfast was done with Angel took care of his little fishy too and tried not to think about the zombie in the basement. He did some laundry and tried not to think about the zombie in the basement. He thought about the zombie in the basement and tried not to think about the zombie in the basement.

She wasn't going anywhere though.

Angel fought the urge to visit the depths of his house for the rest of the day at least, but all through the hours it plagued him.

And eventually, when he could resist no longer, he took a deep breath and entered the room where his prisoner was.

The fact that she cowered away from him was unsurprising, given his actions, but in some way it hurt Angel nonetheless.

Over the next few days Angel returned to the basement on a few occasions, each time bringing some food or a drink for his reluctant guest, but she took nothing from him.

Eventually he stopped visiting altogether.

Zombie-girl wasn't turning out to be much trouble, and as she didn't appear to need to be fed or watered Angel reasoned he had no reason to go into the basement at all, so that's just what happened. He was never far away though.

Ever since Aphrodite, Angel had found himself unwilling to step outside his own front doors. Certainly it was guilt- everything reminded him of her. And so, in an effort to shut himself away from the world, Angel took to spending all of his time inside. He even stopped going to work.

But eventually, after days of solitude, the day came when the world- sick of being ignored- came knocking on his front door.

Angel felt like he had no choice but to let Afia and Parvati in. Previously they, with Aphrodite, had been his closest friends and so they had felt his absence in recent days more than anyone else. They were worried about him and feared that he was distraught over Aphrodite's disappearance, never knowing that his depression came more from guilt than anything else.

But really their kindness was the last thing Angel needed at that moment in time because right then, looking into Parvati's eyes, Angel felt it all come flooding back. Her resemblance to Aphrodite wasn't explicit but it was enough to jar him- to make him remember everything he had done.

Sadness wasn't an emotion Angel dealt with particularly well, and so instead he yelled at Parvati- ordering her and Afia to get out of his house and leave him alone.

And then, when they were gone, he desperately wished they would return.

With Afia and Parvati gone Angel was alone more than ever, and it wasn't a nice feeling. All his life Angel had found himself isolated- never by personal choice- and even now, after attempting to keep people away for once, he found himself wanting them all the more.

There was really only one person left in his life now, though she had never chosen to be there.

And so Angel found himself in the basement once again, this time looking for something.


Angel couldn't help himself. All the pain- all that had happened to him and all that he had done to others- it was beating from his insides just trying to get out, and it did as he cried and begged for her- for anyone- to forgive him.

She looked at him- her captor- through the bars of her prison.

And, to Angel's surprise, she reached out in a gesture of comfort.

And for a moment Angel felt better.

Following that revelation Angel decided to make some changes. Just because the girl was his prisoner didn't mean Angel wanted wanted to be unhappy (an irony lost on the insane). And so he saw fit to provide her with somewhere nicer to stay.

After days of hard work parts of the basement were transformed from drab dungeon to.... oh I don't know anymore alliteration, but it looked better than before for sure.

Angel's prisoner settled into her new quarters relatively easily, and took to the books in particular like, well, a zombie to brains I guess.

But Angel's surprising hospitality didn't just end with the makeover he'd done. No, he also took it upon himself to take a regular trips to the bookstore in order to bring back new things for his prisoner to read.

And, after a few evenings spent discussing good books, soon conversation moved onto other matters- just general everyday things (or as close to normality as the situation would allow).

And Angel was particularly delighted when the girl decided to share with him her name- Atticus West.

Over the next week or so Angel and Atticus began to spend numerous amounts of time together. Still feeling unable to work and not having much to do around the house, Angel didn't even need an excuse to visit the basement anymore.

And, as time went on, it was inevitable that Angel and Atticus began to learn more and more about each other.

Although some things Angel learnt were more interesting than others, such as the time Atticus told the story of just how she ended up becoming one of the walking undead...

Once upon a time, not too long ago now, there was a girl named Atticus West. She lived in the town of Bridgeport and had done all her life.

She was beautiful (obviously) and she had her whole life ahead of her.

But things don't always work out the way you plan. On one cool night Atticus was walking to her house on the outskirts of town. The roads leading out into the suburbs had always been a problem- they were winding and badly lit, and on this occasion they would prove to be fatal as a car veered off the road.

Atticus heard the roar of the engine and turned abruptly, freezing in her tracks as her demise bore down on her aided by shiny wheels.

It was mere seconds but it felt like an eternity before Atticus could move, and when she could she only managed a step before it was upon her.

The driver didn't even stop to see if she was still alive.

But whilst the driver had been careless enough to just speed off, Atticus was left with some company in the form of the Grim Reaper.

It was an unwelcome sight for anyone and for Atticus the feeling was exactly the same. There, standing in her ghostly form and looking up at death, Atticus realised that this was it- this was her last day on planet earth.

And she didn't want it to end. Staring Death in the eye can make you very brave, and on this occasion- with nothing to lose- Atticus felt just that. She didn't want to die, so she pleaded with the Reaper to just take it back, to just let her live.

You know, Death's a funny thing... It can't be easy when your day job is dealing with people's end of days, and it must take its toll. All those souls can make a heavy burden, and every so often something's gotta give. And so, every once in a blue moon, Death might just take pity on you...

But you know what they say though...

...Be careful what you wish for.

Death left pretty quickly after that, leaving Atticus alone with her new looks. She stayed by the waterside for a while, gazing upon her reflection, until the sun began to rise on a fresh new day and she knew she could never let herself be seen in its light again.

There was only one place for the undead. Barred from being with the living and not-quite-dead-enough to join the deceased, Atticus found herself stuck in an equilibrium between the two, and that was how she came to live in the graveyard.

She'd been there a long time before Angel had found her- scarred by what she was and doomed to forever be judged for it.

A person cursed by who they were... Finally Angel felt like someone knew how he felt.

You can find the storyboard version here if you'd like to rec.


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