Episode # 5 of The Last King, Released November 20th, 2014
By A. Yamina Collins | November 21, 2014 No Comments
This is my favorite episode so far. Not that I’m very objective, since I’m the author, but I love the elements of the story that are revealed, in particular, Gilead’s relationship with his extensive family. We slowly learn more and more about these mysterious Edenites, and of course, the romance between Gilead and Emmy is starting to pick up its pace here.
Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of this episode. Oh, what the, hey, I might as well add a chapter from episode #5 in the body of this post.
Okay, here goes. This chapter gets both bloody and oddly romantic, too.
CHAPTER 23 – Oops
Her arm—it’s nearly gone! It is torn to the bone, and flesh, veins, and tendons that have never seen the light of day are open and exposed.
What Emmy feels in this moment can’t be put in words—all she knows is that she’d rather die than suffer through pain like this. Blood rushes from her half-severed arm, dripping onto her body, and onto the floor, like a thick, red waterfall.
The torn skin surrounding the wound hangs slightly apart from the ripped flesh and her legs buckle under her as she hears herself screaming.
Gilead reaches for her before she hits the ground. “Hold on—just hold on,” he says, but she doesn’t hear him. She no longer has the strength to hear much of anything.
She is losing blood . . . so much blood. . . .
What in the world just happened?
Quickly, Gilead tosses the sword onto the bed and lifts her up in his arms, crushing her body up against his. He presses her torn arm together, against her own body, to stem the flow of blood.
Emmy is vaguely aware of how hot she feels pressed up against him.
“He—help.” She tries to wail out her sufferings, but now she can barely talk.
“Shhh,” Gilead whispers. “It’ll be over soon.”
What—what will be over?
Before she knows anything, Emmy is being carried across the room, over the miniature train station surrounding the bed, where she is placed on her feet near the window.
“Oh, God—,” she breathes, delirious, her eyes half rolling to the back of her head. “God—”
Gilead loops his right hand around her back as he holds her up.
Typical, he thinks, listening to her try to formulate words, crying about the pain and calling out to a God only several days ago she wasn’t sure even existed.
He pushes the half-attached arm and her shoulder together with his right hand, and with his left hand that loops around her back side, holding her up, he manages to reach for the syringe he placed on the little table earlier.
With its tip, he pokes into her skin, at all the places where the flesh has been ripped, and he injects the gold-colored liquid into her body; piece by piece the arm seals itself back into place.
“Almost done,” he tells her.“Almost—”
Her body is shaking so violently, that she can’t even hear him.
Nor can she feel the reconnection of tissue and skin, and she does not see Dr. Knightly removing the needle point from her arm, or tossing the bloodied syringe into a nearby wastebasket.
What she does notice is that her arm is no longer dangling like it was a moment ago.
“Huh?” she breaths, in stupid amazement, staring at her healed limb even as the pain, or at least the memory of the pain, still lingers.
The bleeding has stopped, but half of her body is still sticky with blood, all the way down to her feet.
How much blood has she lost, anyway?
“My—arm,” she breathes again as Dr. Knightly quickly picks her up in his arms a second time, stepping over the train station.
All this movement is increasing the pain in her back, as he carries her.
She wants to make him put her down, but she is too awestruck, even too drained, to put up much of a fight.
By now, he has made his way to the large desk, sitting her down in a chair, as he rummages through one of the bottom drawers.
Though her legs still feel weak and her head still spins, Emmy’s thoughts fall to just how easily he half tore her arm off.
Unable to fully speak, she marvels in silence. What kind of a man could do that? What kind of—
He removes a bottle of pills out from the drawer, opens it and holds up a pill in front of her face—it’s a shiny, blue-colored gel pill. “Take this,” he says simply.
“It’ll relax you.”
“You broke my arm”—she breathes heavily—“like it was nothing.”
“It was an accident,” he says. “Now take this.”
But Emmy is trying so hard to think, to pull the whole of this freaky experience together into something she can comprehend.
She jerks her head away from him. She isn’t taking anything from Dr. Knightly, because Dr. Knightly isn’t human.
That is the thought that swirls in her head like a mad fever at this moment; and everything comes flooding at her in a rush—the redwood tree in his room, the panther for a pet, and the uncomfortable feeling she sometimes gets around him; yes, that feeling that he wants to harm her.
It doesn’t make sense how any of those things connect to his being in the woods that night with her and Mercy, but somehow Emmy knows he was there. She feels it.
He saved her.
But that doesn’t make her feel safe right now. If anything, it petrifies her.
She wants to scream for help, but to whom will she scream? Mercy is outside, and everyone else in this house . . . they aren’t human either, she thinks, now physically trying to move away from him. Are they?
Emmy only manages to slide an inch or two out of his reach, and impatiently he takes her face in his hand and says, “Take it,” a second time.
She doesn’t. Instead, Emmy closes her mouth, defiantly.
Impatiently, Gilead places the pill in his own mouth, crushes it so that the contents seep between his teeth, and now he does something that startles and surprises Emmy.
He kisses her.
His lips are strangely warm, even a bit hot, and Emmy wonders if he has some kind of intense fever.
Instinctively, she raises her hands to push Dr. Knightly away, but her slender fingers, some of which are sticky with blood, press against the strength of his chest, and she realizes just how immovable he is.
Dr. Knightly feels as solid as steel.
A sour taste tickles Emmy’s lips. If only she could pull away from him, but his grasp is unrelenting. She panics; who is she kissing, anyway? What is she kissing if he isn’t a real man?
She suddenly begins to feel very, very sleepy, and a funny stupor comes upon her.
Her breathing becomes calm, and soon, her desire to push him away ceases altogether.
He stops kissing her as she blinks up at him stupidly.
It’s not that Emmy is in love, it’s that she is about to pass out.
The liquid in the pill has reached her bloodstream by now, and Dr. Knightly knows that it is in this stage that the hypnosis usually works best.
Still cupping her face in his hands, he tells her, “Forget this day, and this moment.” He is but a few inches from her face. “Let all the bad memories disappear. Today was a good day, Emmy. Your back got fixed, and you and Mercy watched a movie in the pink room. You even went swimming and had dinner here at the house. Remember?”
She doesn’t budge.
“And then you fell asleep here after your back got fixed, after you watched the movie, after the swim, and after you had dinner. Yes?”
“Y—yes.” Her eyelids are so heavy.
“Tell me what happened today,” he demands.
She is fading.
“Emmy. Tell me.”
“I watched a movie,” she responds robotically. “Went swimming, had din—ner, then—then—”
“Then you slept.”
“Then I slept,” she agrees.
“Very good, Emmy. Now I’m going to let you rest in just a few minutes, okay? And you’ll sleep very well. But I need you to make a call first.”
She says nothing.
“Who do you need to call to let them know you won’t be coming home tonight?” His voice is so calm and soothing.
Emmy’s eyelid’s droop, and her shoulders slump forward.
She jerks her eyes up at him. “Um—what?”
Very calmly, he repeats, “Who needs to know you’re not coming home tonight?”
“Yes, your aunt. Your aunt Maybelline. And what about your brother David? Or your dad in Africa? Are they expecting to talk to you today?”
Emmy pauses; a slight frown of recognition crosses her face. “How you—know—my fam’ly?”
He hesitates. For her to ask a question like that indicates that she is more aware of this situation than she should be—she is not entirely senseless.
And so, he knows what he must do.
Taking a second pill from the bottle and crushing it between his lips once again, Gilead kisses her a second time, lingering in the embrace until he is certain that all the contents of the gel cap have moved from his mouth into hers.
He doesn’t intend to linger in the kiss any longer than he needs to. Ten seconds pass, then twenty, and then thirty . . . and then—it’s just to make sure, that’s all . . .
Emmy’s eyes are completely shut when he finally pulls away.
“Emmy!” He shakes her gently, but his voice is sharp; sharp enough to grab her attention. “Emmy!”
At last, she opens her eyes. But he has to work fast. He’s got a short amount of time before he loses her completely.
Not wanting to place her on the bed and stain the comforter with blood, he lays her across the desk instead, then rushes to grab her purse, which sits on the floor by the green chair. He needs her phone and rummages for it.
Interesting, he thinks when he finds it. It’s not a very modern phone, but one of those old flip phones that looks completely out of date.
“Emmy,” he says, placing the phone in her bloodied right hand. “Emmy, in about thirty seconds, you can sleep. I promise. But first you’re going to call your aunt. And when you do—look at me, don’t sleep yet—open your eyes. Sit up. Sit—”
Like maneuvering a rag doll, he sits her up himself, and lets her limp head rest against his chest. “When you call her, Emmy, you’re going to sound happy and alert, all right? No slurring. You’re going to tell her something came up, and that everything is fine, but you’re staying over at Mr. Mooripar’s place with Mercy. Tell her you’ll see her in the morning, don’t answer any questions if you can; just get off the phone quickly and tell her you have to run. Okay?”
“Okay?” he repeats more firmly.
“Okay,” she murmurs. How strong the urge is to listen to him. She must listen to him, for she has been instructed with orders.
“Find your aunt’s number,” he tells her.
Slowly, Emmy goes through the list of names in her phone until she locates Aunt Maybelline Cell.
She speed-dials the number, but no one on the other end picks up.
“Please leave a message . . .”
“Be alert, Emmy,” he whispers. “Be cheerful.”
“Hey, Aunt May!” she says suddenly, happily, her voice full of energy. “It’s me, Em. I’m not coming home tonight. Something came up. No worries. Me and Mercy are staying at Mr. Mooripar’s. Everything is great. See you in the morning. Bye.”
After she clicks off the phone, Emmy’s head droops, and once again she slumps against his chest.
“Now sleep,” Dr. Knightly directs her. “It’s all right.”
Within a few seconds, Emmy’s eyes close and her breathing is as even as a baby’s.
Gilead stares down at her for a moment and notices that some of the flowers in her hair have loosened and dangle down onto her face. Carefully, he puts them back into place and then picks her up off the desk.
Standing Emmy up on her feet, he feels her body once again fall against his, and her heart beating against his chest.
He thinks for a moment about what to do next.
Blinking, he looks around the room. There is blood all over the place—on the floor by the bed and by the window, even along the miniature train tracks, and now here all over the desk.
But he’ll have to get to that later.
Most of the blood is concentrated on Emmy (although his own clothes and arms are a bit of mess, too), with the whole right side of her blouse and skirt needing to be cleaned off.
Picking Emmy up fully in his arms, Gilead carries her across the carpet and into the bathroom, with his right arm cupped just at the bend in her knees, and his left arm holding her under her back as her head rests against his chest.
He steps into the shower with her, stands her on her feet, loops one arm behind her back to stand her up, and turns on the cold water to get out the blood. The chill of the water won’t wake her, not with the dosage of the pill he gave her.
He tilts her head away from the nozzle so that her hair and face don’t get drenched, then grabs a bar of soap and lathers up her clothes as best as he can.
A towel. He needs a towel.
Lifting her again in his arms, he briefly carries her out of the shower, grabs a washcloth from a fresh stack on top of a hamper, then carries her back under the blast of running water.
The water drenches the length of her body, falling like red rain into the tub, and he uses the towel to wipe off tiny splatters of blood that have somehow reached her face. A drop or two of blood have made their way into the flowers in her hair as well.
Carefully, he pulls out one flower, holds it under the nozzle, rubs it clean with his one free hand, then places it back in her hair. He takes out a second and third flower, doing the same thing.
Emmy is looking better now, and he places the soap inside the washcloth and scrub at her arms, blouse and skirt. How efficiently he works; how quickly he gets the job done. He ignores that funny, odd sensation that throbs delightfully through his body.
Everything about her is soft and wet—her clothes, her skin, and her hair that brushes against his face. But he tells himself, it’s nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, even as he steps slightly away from her, so that the feeling can stop.
For a moment, he takes the towel and wipes at his own face and clothes, getting himself cleaned up as best as possible.
Shutting off the water at last, he steps with her onto the tiled floor, grabs a few more towels from the top of the hamper, and proceeds to dry her off, all along her legs, her skirt, her chest . . .
He tries his best to ring out her clothes, even as they remain on her body,and when he supposes she is dry enough, he tosses the towels aside and contemplates his next move.
He knows he can’t just place her on the bed in these clothes; it would only create another mess to clean up.
Reaching for the shower curtain, Gilead yanks it down—the entire rod comes down with it, but he doesn’t care—slides the curtain rings off the rod, tosses the curtain over his left shoulder, and easily lifts Emmy’s six-foot frame over his right shoulder.
Back in the room, he tosses the shower curtain onto the bed and spreads it around as best possible with his one free hand, before laying Emmy her fully upon it.
She should rest comfortably until tomorrow morning. Then what?
Should I tell her what she is, he wonders? Should I finally put my plan into action?
But he can’t think about that now.
He looks around the room and sighs—first, he has to clean this mess up. There is blood all over the place, but especially on the carpet.
Heading back to the bathroom, Gilead grabs the last of the clean towels, removes the plastic bag out of the little garbage can to fill it with cold water; then he heads back into the bedroom and kneels on the carpet.
Worry fills his thoughts.The blue pills usually work, but sometimes a person remembers what they are told not to remember. What if Emmy remembers? She’ll associate pain with Gilead if she remembers the accident, and he knows that won’t bode well in winning her loyalty.
Well, he thinks, if she does recall this moment, I’ll just tell her about the woods. I saved her life, didn’t I? She ought to be grateful.
Suddenly, Gilead hears the front door to the pink room open, and he curses himself.
Why didn’t he think to close the adjoining door? He could he have forgotten something like that?
“Em—?” a voice calls out.
It’s Mercy. He knows she’ll come in here at any moment.
If only she wouldn’t enter the green room. If only—
When he looks up, Mercy is already standing in the doorway of the adjoining rooms. Gilead knows this can’t look good; here is Emmy, lying on a bed, wet, her clothes stained red, blood along on the floor and upon the desk—and here Dr. Knightly is, bent over on the floor, blood on his clothes, and bloody towels in his hand.
Gilead wants to say “It’s not what you think,” but he can already see the horror in Mercy’s eyes. She’s about to have an absolute fit.
Mercy’s scream is shrill and strident.
“Murder,” she says then, in frightened gulps, backing away from him. “Murder!”
She tries to get away, back through the adjoining door and out through the main door in the pink room.
He catches her before she is able to exit.
“Shhh—,” he tells her.
But rather than listen, she takes a swing at him, aiming a kick just below the belt. “Don’t—,” he warns her.
She hits him anyway, as hard as she can. But the kick backfires the moment her foot connects to his body, she hears something break in her own leg.
“Ahhhh-oooow!” She howls so loudly, the sound hurts her own ears.
Mercy does not know that it would have been better for her had she slammed her foot into a brick wall.
She stumbles backward, falling to the ground as she clutches her shin, sobbing, shivering, and moaning in pain.
Dr. Knightly disappears back into the green room for a few seconds, then returns, standing over her.
Is she going to kill her, too? she wonders. But why? And what did he to do to Emmy? Stab her to death? Strangle her?
She screams again. “Help—M—Markus!”
“Take this,” he commands, “and stop shouting.”
Through her tears, she sees him holding out a blue pill for her. “It’ll numb the pain,” he explains.
But she does not hear him. “Help!!!” she calls out again. “He—”
“Emmy’s not dead!” He finally states, crouching nearer to her. “Now take it.”
“N—not dead?” She asks in confusion. This part she heard, even through all of her wincing (how her leg is killing her: she is certain she has broken it).
But Gilead doesn’t feel like waiting for Mercy to come to her senses. As carefully as possible he takes Mercy’s chin in his left hand, and forces the blue pill against her lips.
She tries to clench her teeth tightly together, and even attempt to shove his arm away. But her efforts prove useless against his strength, and soon the pill is dissolving along the tip of her tongue.
Mercy chokes and coughs a few times as Dr. Knightly holds her lips shut, and finally she swallows.
Then all of it—the coughing, choking, moaning, and fighting—all of it begins to cease. Even the pain in her leg seems to grow distant and vague, and her eyes start to glaze over.
The front door to the pink room opens. “Mer—”
It’s Markus. He stops in his tracks, standing in the doorway, his eyes taking in the scene as Mercy lies on the floor, her eyes half rolling to the back of her head as Gilead bends over her.
Markus shuts the door behind him. “If I were just your everyday sort of guy,” he states very calmly, “this scene would not look very kosher to me.”
“Shut up and help me,” Gilead orders him.
“An accident happened. That’s all.” He looks down at Mercy, whose face he still holds between his hands. “Who do you need to call to tell that you won’t be home tonight?”
Gilead snaps a finger at Markus. “Find her phone—in her bag.” He points.
The phone Markus finds is placed in Mercy’s hand, and soon she is being hypnotized by Gilead, instructed to cheerfully tell her grandfather she won’t be home until the morning, but “yes, everything is fine, just great.”
When Gilead hangs up the phone for her, removing it from her softening grip, Mercy closes her eyes and falls to sleep, snoring almost immediately.
“Take her to bed,” Gilead tells Markus.
“Put her in the bed!” he shouts. “Under the covers.”
Markus lifts Mercy into his arms and Gilead walks back to the green room.
“Don’t ask me anything you’ve already asked me,” Gilead states, when Markus finally enters behind him.
For a fascinated couple of seconds, Markus trains his gaze upon Emmy, then upon splashes of blood everywhere. “Nice and bloody—but she’s not dead,” he observes.
“Why would she be?” Gilead asks, picking up the bloodied towels he left on the floor.
Markus turns to face him. “Well, because—” He stops.
“I thought maybe you—she was a—” But he can’t bring himself to say that word again.Glitch. Not if Gilead hasn’t confirmed anything yet.
“I pushed at her arm by mistake,” Gilead explains. “I don’t have any reason to kill her. Now, finish this.” And he throws the bloodied towels in Markus’s direction.
“Yes, clean it up. There’s cold water there, and you can grab some soap or something, while you’re at it.” Gilead steps over the little train station and searches now for the syringe he left on the table by the window.
“Why is that out?” Markus asks.
Turning around, Gilead sees Markus pointing at the Sword of Jarden, where it rests on the floor near the bed. “I don’t know.”
“Don’t know?” Markus inquires. “Was she—was she playing with it?”
Gilead doesn’t respond; to respond would mean having to discuss why he so angrily snatched it from Emmy in the first place; and to admit to such anger would also be a tacit admission that Gilead himself sees her as dangerous; or else, why get so incensed because some woman happened to pick up an antique sword?
“I didn’t even see it there,” Gilead lies.
Markus frowns. “How could you not see it there? It’s always in your room—”
“Would you just clean up this mess?” he yells. “I don’t want to repeat myself a million times.”
“All right, all right. Calm down.”
From where crouches on his knees, dipping a towel into the trash-can bucket of water, Markus stealthily watches Gilead remove the syringe from the table, march into the pink room, and then—the sound of bone sealing into place reaches Markus’s ears.
Gilead reemerges in the doorway.
“She broke her foot?” Markus asks.
“Tried to kick you, didn’t she?”
Gilead tosses the syringe into a wastebasket. “Honestly, you’re the worst cleaner ever.”
“Well, it’s not my job.”
“One day it might be.”
The main door to the pink room opens. “Hello?” a voice calls out.
Great, Gilead thinks. It’s gonna be a parade in here soon.
“Ah, sleepin’, I see!” Matilda says to herself. “And snores like a Rottweiler, this one. So much for lunch. Hey—who’s in there?”
She hears noise in the green room, and makes her way over.
Seeing blood on the ground and Emmy passed out on the bed does not cause her any alarm. What interests and amuses Matilda is seeing Markus on his knees, with towels in his hand.
A crooked smile crosses her face. “I don’t even need to know what happened in here. Matilda O’Graedy is just happy to see Mr. High and Might doin’ a bit of work for a change.”
Markus throws one of the towels at her.
Gilead narrows his gaze at Matilda. “You’re just coming up here? I asked you to get a lunch order fifteen minutes ago.”
“Game was on,” she says, by way of apology. “Hurling championship. All right, so what did happen in here, anyway?”
“He beat the women up,” Markus informs her.
“Not funny,” Gilead scolds. Then, to Matilda: “Since you’re here, help me get her cleaned up and into some dry clothes.”
“Can’t Markus help?” Matilda demands.
“No. Find me a robe or something. And do it now.”
Matilda acquiesces, moving to rummage through one of the two closets, where loads of t-shirts hang.
Gilead strides over to the bed, intending to unbutton Emmy’s blouse, but he stops the moment his hand hovers near the top button.
Markus looks up from the floor. “What’s wrong?”
Gilead hesitates. Then he steps back from the bed. “Mattie can do it.”
“Do what?” Matilda asks, emerging from the closet holding an over sized t-shirt in one hand.
“Change her clothes.”
Markus and Matilda glance at each other in confusion.
“Why can’t you do it?” Markus asks.
“Because there’s blood on the floor to be cleaned up,” Gilead explains, walking over and taking one of the towels out of Markus’s hand; then he bends down and starts to scrub.
“Wait, am I doing this myself or not?” Markus demands.
“I’m helping, ain’t I?” Gilead says sarcastically.
Matilda sighs, steps toward the bed, and is about to unbutton Emmy’s blouse, when Gilead says suddenly, “Turn around.”
“Who?” asks Markus
“You.” Gilead points. “You’re facing the bed.”
“Turn around,” he repeats.
Throwing the towel down, Gilead stands up, angrily pulling Markus to his feet along with him. “Du machst mich verrückt!”
“Alles in ordnung,” Markus screams. “Alles klar!”
Markus huffs as he faces away from Emmy, and in a moment, both men have their backs to her. In the quiet space of the room, the sound of Matilda removing her blouse and finally her skirt can be heard. In the silence, Gilead feels his hands twitch.
“You want the bra unsnapped, too?” Matilda inquires.
At this, Markus half turns his head, a little curious, at which point Gilead smacks him hard across the side of the face.
“What are you doing?!”
“Nothing! And what’s the big deal, anyway?”
Gilead does not look back at Matilda, but says over his shoulder, “Wash the bra with the rest of the clothes.”
“All right—hmm. I oughtta get a gold bra, too,” Matilda states.
“Huh?” Gilead almost turns around, but catches himself. “I mean—wait, no—just—when you’re done washing the clothes, put her in the tub and give her a bubble bath. She might be sticky in places in the morning.”
“Bubble bath?” Markus snorts. “Or you could just take her outside and hose her down—,” to which another smack greets him across the face.
“Shut it!” Gilead demands, holding up a finger in warning.
Markus wants to say something, he really does, but in silence he seethes.
When the long t-shirt is placed on Emmy, Matilda announces, “Done! I’ll have these washed in no time. And I’m guessing Markus’ll be cleaning up the room then, eh?”
Gilead turns around, steps forward across the miniature train station, and looks at Emmy. She is wearing a huge black t-shirt but it barely covers the top of her thighs, and he pulls the comforter over her exposed legs, then glances back at Markus.
“Markus has other things to do today,” he says. “You clean the floor, Mattie.”
“But—,” Matilda protests.
By this time, Gilead is already walking to the main door of the green room. “We’re done here. Both of us.” And he gestures for Markus to accompany him.
“I thought you were helping me clean,” Markus says.
“We. Are. Done.”
In the hallway, Gilead marches ahead of Mark for several feet, then turns around. “I can feel you glaring at my back. What’s the problem?”
“No problem,” Markus says. “Everything’s just peachy.”
Markus smirks, and says slyly, “I’m sure. Are you sure?”
“I’m sure there’s nothing to discuss or worry about. That’s what I’m sure of.”
“Then you won’t need to check in on the little lady later,” Markus asserts boldly. “Will you?”
Gilead closes the distance between them as Markus backs up. “I have no need to, and no intention to.”
“Yes, well, she’s only here because she might become our sister,” Markus contends. “Right?”
“Right,” he answers dutifully. “And I’ll be upstairs.”
Markus’s eyes follow him suspiciously down the hallway.
Up in his room, Gilead sits at his desk and looks over all the paperwork before him.
The days like this drag into the evening. There is always work, work and more work.
He stays up here, in his room, away from the others, until it’s late in the night, and almost time for bed.
Gilead can only wonder if Markus is blabbing right now, perhaps to Annaka and Nabil at the same time . . .
The big clock on the wall in his room strikes eleven, and finally he stands up, yawns, and walks to the window, pacing back and forth in front of it.
Maybe he ought to go out to stand here and rehearse what he’ll tell the others tomorrow.
I brought her here to see her up close. I brought her here to change things. You don’t have anything to worry about . . .
That’s a good enough speech, isn’t it?
He supposes Matilda has finished cleaning up the green room. Should he check and see? He tells himself it’s not as if he has any desire to see Emmy; he just wants to make sure the job has been done.
Stepping to his front door, Gilead opens it as quietly as possible and listens. People are everywhere—in the kitchen and living room, talking and turning pages of books to read. Yes, he can hear them. But no one is having a conversation about him.
At least, not out in the open.
Stepping into the hallway, he makes his way downstairs and finds Winnie and Gerda sitting in the living room, watching television, their dark and blond hair such striking contrasts to the other.
In the kitchen he can hear Rose and Matilda arguing and probably playing cards.
Although Winnie and Gerda say nothing as he rounds the corner of the first floor hallway, he can nonetheless feels their eyes upon him.
Markus has been talking, he concludes. Or maybe Matilda.
Well, it doesn’t matter. In the morning he’ll confess everything anyway. And one of them, maybe some of them, or maybe all of them, will certainly have a desire to kill Emmy themselves.
But they won’t.
Walking down the hallway, Gilead makes his way toward the green room with a casual stride and his usual air of confidence. He doesn’t know where the others are, and honestly, he doesn’t care.
It’s annoying enough to comes across Calbert; who stands before a bookshelf in the library, his arm half raised to grab a book, his head turning to acknowledge Gilead as Gilead passes by, but is there something suspicious in Calbert’s glance?
No. Of course not, Gilead concludes. Not everyone is suspicious, so there’s still time to be left alone about it all.
Stepping quietly into the green room, Gilead can tell, before he fully enters, that Emmy is in a deep sleep just by the rhythm of her breathing. And with the adjoining door to the pink room open, he can hear Mercy’s breathing as well.
He moves toward the window in the green room first, looking out into the night sky, and telling himself he is not drawn to sit on the edge of the bed.
It’s going to rain soon, he can tell.
Turning on the lamp on the bed stand, he inspects the carpet and the train set before turning his attention fully to Emmy. Everything is as clean as it was before the accident. Matilda has done a marvelous job, and even Emmy’s clothes are back on and looking good as new.
He moves to stand over the bed, and studies Emmy for a while.
It could be done so easily; he could kill her in the flick of an eye—split her body apart like he was splitting hairs. Yes, how easy it could be done with a sword.
He glances over to the desk, where Matilda has placed the Sword of Jarden. It sits there now, sparkling and bright and he knows he must remember to bring it up to his room later on.
Walking over to pick it up, he wields the sword with such grace, slicing it through the air with incredible speed.
It’s tempting, isn’t it?
Very tempting. And it really would be less of a hassle if he ended Emmy’s life tonight, just as his mother wants him to do.
But . . . but . . .
The sword is already heating up in his grip. In a couple of minutes it will be so hot that fire will leap from around the edges of the blade.
Gilead lays the sword back down on the desk top, then he meanders back to the bed, once again watching Emmy.
She is lying on her back, and he now sits on the bed near her, his body half turned to face her, so that he can turn her over onto her stomach. With this simple task accomplished, he stands once more, walks to the desk, grabs a new syringe from the top drawer, and then places the needle point against the skin of his forearm.
The needle slides easily into the vein, and seconds later, the syringe is filled with a gold-colored fluid.
His blood. How it pulsates and vibrates. How hot it is!
When he is done, he steps back to the bed, and pokes the syringe point into the back of her blouse, injects her with the fluid.
Any location will do, he knows. As long as his blood hits the general vicinity, it will seek out what is broken in a person, what is not perfection, and fix it.
He administers three injections instead of one—at the base of her spine, in the midsection of her back, and finally at the nape of her neck.
To his ears comes a snapping sound; it is not the snap of bone, or of disks being broken, but that of shattered parts of Emmy’s body being sealed back into place.
When he finishes, Gilead bends the syringe into a waste basket, and then just sits there for a while, on the edge of the bed, deep in thought.
Outside, it has begun to drizzle.
He glances down at Emmy, and his eyes fall on the rounded smoothness of her half-exposed shoulder.
Gilead feels his breathing change, picking up speed.
Skin is a funny thing. It’s a fascinating material. It can be ugly and withered, or smooth and alluring. Emmy’s is the type of skin that will never see veins popping through it, nor will age too quickly.
Gilead glances toward the front door. No one will enter the room, he figures. Or at least, no one should. Matilda has done her job and won’t come back. As for Markus—Gilead swears to himself that if Markus comes nosing around here, he’ll beat him through and through.
And now he looks away from the door and stares again at Emmy.
How still she is—as still as the grave.
Uneasily—Why am I doing this? he asks himself— uneasily, he lies down on the bed beside her, facing the ceiling as he crosses his arms over his chest.
It’s no big deal to just lie here. Other men are fools when they succumb to the flesh of women, but for Gilead this is only a single, innocent moment. After this, he knows he will go back to his wisdom, and his strength of mind, and never think about her again.
But for this brief instant in time he wants to remain here, in the quiet space of this room, and do absolutely nothing. Can he not just rest? He’s been alive for so long, and never does he feel like he has truly rested.
Closing his eyes, Gilead leans his head closer to Emmy, and slowly presses his cheek against hers. A clean, soapy scent rises from her skin.
What was that scent on her earlier? he ponders. Was it cinnamon or sugar or peaches or . . .?
He inhales, then looks again toward the door, straining to hear. Is someone on the other side, out in the hallway?
With some trepidation, he now rests his head upon her shoulder. There is something about her darkness that is elegant and mysterious and delightful.
Did he hear someone at the door? He opens his eyes and half lifts his head.
Gilead waits. Once again, it’s nothing. Just his imagination.
And now when he looks a third time Emmy.
For some reason, he thinks of the super-girl story she told earlier. How her laughter hurt his ears! And how angry he was thinking she had worn her flowers intentionally to grab his attention.
She hadn’t, he supposes. Well—he could forgive her for doing it unintentionally.
And although her laughter irritated him, it was also slightly amusing to watch her giggle so easily. There is something so light and easy about her nature.
He does not feel the corners of his mouth turning slightly upward in a smile. All he notices is how Emmy’s hand is half raised toward her mouth, and how her nails are colored pink and then he sees that her toenails have been dolled up in a shiny purple.
She’s one of the awful girly-girl types, he realizes. All pink and purple and yellow and gold, with flowers in her hair, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Flowers and clean skin and pink nails and memories of a sweet scent and . . .
He tells himself he is not actually touching her hand, even as he touches it. And he tells himself he is not pressing his lips to the back of that same hand, even as he does so. And he is not actually kissing her hand so much as her hand is leaning against his lips.
He glides two fingers across her shoulder, and the sound of this is as loud in his ears as the beating of her heart.
Her heart . . . It will not last very long, a few decades more at the most, and then it will cease altogether.
For a moment, Gilead feels a strange a sense of sadness and jealousy over her predicament. What a tragedy it is for humans to be subject to the whims of nature and war—of famine and hardship, of the capricious cruelties of men, and finally of old age.
In a funny sense he wants to pull the covers over the both of them and sleep here for the night. He wants to—-
No, he can’t think about that. He won’t. Is he like the Anderses and Kirks of the world?
He never has been. To be a man who rapes is to be sick, and to be sick is to be a failure before God, and Gilead is no failure.
The sound of Emmy murmuring in her sleep interrupts his thoughts. She doesn’t say anything he can understand, however. It’s all incoherent, and then in another moment, a different sound escapes from her lips.
It’s a soft moan. Soon comes a second moan, as though from a nightmare she might be experiencing, and it takes a while for her breathing to become easy again.
She sleeps peacefully. And yet, that moaning sound she has made . . .
A surge of excitement rushes through Gilead and his muscles flex as he sits up.
He should leave. Really, he ought to.
Emmy moves slightly, and her leg kicks; her dreams are still unsettled.
Gilead stands up from the bed, moves away from her, and paces the length of the room, his fists clenched.
He should never have done that, laid beside her. And yet, hasn’t he walked among the zenith of beauties, and faced the breadth of women’s charms, and been unmoved?
Yet here is this girl, broken when he met her, ignorant of the world, and why is she lovely to him?
Is she Nakahaten? Is she the daughter of a queen? No, Emmy Hughes is neither of those things.
Hate rises within him. He is galled by the maddening truth that all this time on Earth—all this time!—he has never been weak about anything, until now.
It feels warm in the room suddenly, hotter than usual. He has to to get out—to shake these feelings off. All he wants is to feel the cool splash of water fall upon him.
He moves to the window to open it, and makes the small jump from the first floor window to the ground outside.
Soon he finds himself standing in the backyard, his hands in his pockets, frowning deeply. He tries to fill his lungs with the night air, but he can’t seem to breathe in deep enough or fast enough.
Up above, the moon is barely visible. He looks up and thinks how nice it would be to fly away on an evening like this—how empowering!
But Gilead doesn’t move, for he knows the darkness can’t cover him. Even when the sky is black and the moon is dull, Edenites run the risk of being seen by men when they fly.
Still, he releases the neatly folded wings embedded in his back. They shoot upward, twenty feet on either side of him, and the sound they make as they flap, like steel slicing against steel, echoes throughout the vastness of the yard, and up beyond the mountains.
To fly away would be the ultimate freedom.It would be a way to shake off the madness building his mind—to leap past space and time, and walk upon the shores of the river of Heaven, would give Gilead something to do besides stand here and feel confused. What he longs for now is to face his enemy, and stand at the gates of the throne room, like he did once before, long, long ago.
* * * * * *
Some notes about the HOST OF YAMINATODAY.COM – A. Yamina Collins
A. Yamina Collins is the author of the fantasy/romance novel The Last King, A modern-day love story about a young woman innocently caught in a war between two age-old nemesis: God, and immortal beings whose ancestors ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
has already been in Amazon’s Top 100 Bestseller’s list in Fantasy, Sciencefiction, Women’s Fiction Literature and Christian Women’s Literature.
THE LAST KING BOOK SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-eight year Emmy Hughes has never quite fit in—she’s six feet tall, dark-skinned, and daydreams of being Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. But when she is badly injured in a car accident that kills her mother, Emmy does not dream of fantastical worlds anymore—she just wants her shattered life to be normal again.
Unfortunately, normalcy is the last thing in store for her once she meets Lake George’s newest arrival, Dr. Gilead Knightly. Granted immortality from a line of people whose Great Ancestor marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Life, Gilead has been alive for centuries and has met everyone from Nubian kings to Napoleon.
But Gilead and his eccentric family are also hunted beings because God considers the Edenites’ possession of immortality to be theft. And for thousands of years He has dealt with their transgression by sending each of them a “Glitch” —an unsuspecting human meant to retrieve this stolen “property” of immortality and kill them off.
When Emmy discovers that she is Gilead’s Glitch, she is not only thrown into a world of immortals who eat bone marrow, panthers who read minds, and a family whose blood is made of pulsing gold, but she finds herself the target of Gilead’s vengeance: he must get rid of her before she gets rid of him.
Easier said than done. Because Glitches are not only an Edenite’s greatest threat—they’re also their greatest love.