A Mother's Love

Chapter Four

by Megan Auffart

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This is the second edition of chapters 4 and 5, since I had lost the voice of the main character the first time. Please read carefully and REVIEW. I'm taking this story in a weird, weird direction where even I don't know precisely where it'll end up. Such fun! Enjoy and REVIEW (preferably each chapter, but I'm not picky). Thank you.

I had never hitchhiked before, but then, everything about this situation was entirely new. It was my first day of freedom in twelve years, my first time to have tasted the blood of my daughter, the first revenge I had ever attempted to take in that long decade. But it was also my first day to feel the entirety of despair, knowing that I was stuck in a human's body and was thus subject to their plethora of laws.

I left the beach, my dead husband lying prone on the sand alongside the gun with my fingerprints on it and the body of my daughter floating on the waves like a discarded piece of a particularly juicy apple. I felt…odd. I should have been ecstatic right now, swimming beneath the waves towards my sisters with the sinewy flesh of my son still caught in my teeth. But I wasn't even wet anymore, the hot sun drying my hair during the long hours that I sat there, watching the waves. Len was gone. The little thief was gone, my skin stolen away from me again.

How could I hunt him down? He would be faster than me in the water and, even if I could steal the proper equipment to help me breathe in the depths, all he'd have to do would be to slash at my throat with his nails, or rip my air tanks away. He had to have discovered his new strengths by now. Len had always been observant. I wondered if he had met any of my sisters yet.

As I walked away, I decided to flag down the first car that would stop for me. Only the gods could know when someone would find the bodies, but the local law enforcement agencies were usually quick to point the blame at someone. The reclusive wife of a well-liked fisherman would be an easy target. Of course, the fact that I had killed the bastard and his whelp would make their accusations a hell of a lot more accurate, but that was beside the point.

The first car I flagged down was a silver Saturn, the same type of car that Greg was saving up for. There was nothing all that distinctive about it and I didn't really look at the driver before getting in. I was desperate to get away from the village, from Greg. I had to get out, for more reasons then I could understand.

The driver looked towards me and I knew something was wrong. The first thing that I noticed was the reflection of myself in his mirrored sunglasses. My mouth still had a crust of dried blood in one corner, which I wiped off quickly, hoping he hadn't noticed.

"Don't you want to know where I'm headed?" he asked, his voice nasal and disapproving.

I forced myself to smile at him, reminding myself of how much stock humans took in false politeness. "Not really. I would just like to get away from here. Anywhere is fine."

He laughed at that, a sinister and spiraling sound that reminded me of home. "And what if I took you to a deserted place and fucked you until you cried?"

The man took off his sunglasses and grinned at me. He had wide Asian eyes and I was almost positively certain that he wasn't quite human. It was the shape of his face that suggested it. The cheekbones were far too angular. It looked like his skull wanted to cut through his skin, but it wasn't quite sharp enough. His teeth were very flat, though. Even the front ones didn't have the slightest hint of sharpness. He wasn't of my people. And he was still waiting for an answer.

"I would kill you before you could even get it up," I replied and wondered where the hell my luck had gone. I didn't know what he was, but he must have been waiting for me, I decided. I hoped my answer sounded genuinely threatening, but I honestly wasn't certain if I could kill him. I could try, but without my skin… The man continued to stare at me and I got the distinctive impression he knew what I was thinking about.

"Oh, really?" he asked.

"Yes." I said, wishing I had kept the shotgun with me. It would have been very helpful at the moment.

The man looked amused. "Sounds like a challenge," he said and started the car, the engine purring into life like a resurrected feline. "But, then, look how long it took you to deal with Greg."

I sat up, eyes wide, immediately hating myself for letting him know that I was startled.

"How do you know me? What are you?"

"Give me a kiss and I'll tell you," he said and flicked his tongue out at me. It was serpentine.

Instantly, I leaned forward and grabbed him by his skinny little throat. My nails were not nearly so long and sharp as they had been an hour ago, but they were still lengthy enough to leave a series of shallow cuts where I dug them into his neck.

"Explain yourself, boy, and maybe I'll let you go. Fuck with me and I swear by the Ancient Gods, I'll leave you with more holes in your body than there are fish in the sea."

He responded by flashing me that shit-eating grin and then, quicker than I thought possible, grabbed my other arm and licked it, his slimy tongue leaving a glistening trail of spit from elbow to wrist.

My entire appendage went immediately numb. I let go of his neck and held my arm, careful not to touch any of the saliva with my other hand. It felt like the meat that Greg would bring home from the butcher, all cold and wrapped in plastic.

"Here."

I glanced up. He was holding a tissue.

"What are you?" I demanded, hating him, hating my stupidity for getting into a car without any sense of caution. Twelve years of isolation did not excuse my ignorance. I couldn't tell who I hated more at the moment; that asshole of a man or myself.

He ignored my question. "Use this to wipe off the spit, unless you like your arm like that."

I took the tissue and carefully dabbed at my arm. The feeling began to return and I moved my fingers experimentally. They still worked, although the sensation of pins and needles pricking my skin from the inside out was prevalent.

I glared at him, but said no more. Obviously, he wasn't going to tell me anything, despite my unsuccessful attempts at persuasion. He wasn't human and my powers of seduction weren't nearly so effective on the other races, even at full power. So, again, I sunk into wondering exactly which race the man belonged to.

At some point, I stopped looking out the window and fell into a sort of miserable trance. I didn't know anything about how the various roads in the area were organized, but that didn't inhibit me from trying to keep track of where we were going. After a few minutes, however, I just…stopped. It was magick of some sort. I knew that much, but of how much time had passed while I was stuck in my trance, I had no idea.

The squealing of his tires snapped me out of it. The car had stopped. We had reached whatever destination he had intended. It looked like hell.

A large brick building stood on either side of us, windowless with the lower half covered in random swirls of graffiti. Several wooden crates and trashcans stood sentinel by the sides, disabled soldiers of dents and splinters. And between a torn garbage bag leaking maggots and a puddle of recent urine, there was a small, wooden door with three red Xs on it.

"After you, milady," the serpent man smirked and pulled me out of the car and towards the door.

The moment I stepped out of the vehicle, the knowledge that under no circumstances should I get the slightest bit near that door slammed into my brain. There was something wrong behind the door. Sometime old.

I spun around and slapped him, making sure to dig in my nails as I avoided his mouth.

He swore at me in some language I didn't recognize and spat, missing my face by a half an inch. Barely even able to breathe from the stench of old urine and filth, I ran past him, pushing him to the ground with the same hand he had numbed earlier.

There was so much in the way! My leg muscles burned like acid as I ran, leaping over broken crates and spilled garbage, kicking the rusted cans away as I concentrated on not falling. I couldn't hear the fucker behind me, but I had lived long enough to know that silence did not necessarily equate safety. And where the fuck was the road?

I'd been running for at least five minutes, but I was still in the alley, the two buildings still windowless beside me. Where the hell was I?

Leaping over the worm-eaten carcass of a kitten, I spared a second to glance behind me. The silence hadn't deceived me. No one had followed.

I stopped running, catching my breath and giving my leg muscles a chance to ease themselves away from their snarls. The smell of urine had diminished somewhat, but other than that, I had made no visible progress.

"Where…" I panted, remembering how I had never grown tired when I had swam beneath the ocean, "Where the hell am I?"

Something touched the small of my back. Gasping, I swung around, hand outstretched with fingers bent, ready to scratch the eyes out of the fucker who brought me here. Instead of seeing a man with hateful eyes and a smirking mouth, a little girl stood before me,

"What? Who are you? Speak quickly."

She smiled at me, her little Asian eyes crinkling at the corners and her small teeth like a kitten's, pointed yet unable to do any harm.

"Hello, exile. Honnor summons you to her home."

To be continued...