Inspired by the amazing gang at firstname.lastname@example.org, tunnel dwellers all.
One day, our discussion centered around the times when Vincent fights as ‘himself,’ versus when he fights as ‘the Other.’ Also, how he feels about his unusual teeth. The conversation went a lot of places, as conversations will. What came out of that is offered here.
Vincent’s contemplations, set after the events of “To Reign In Hell.”
By Cindy Rae
Today I was a monster for her. And I knew I was. And I did not care.
Today I killed a monster for her. I was the better monster. I must have been, for I survived. I reigned. I was the monster with teeth. Fangs. All monsters have teeth. I had fangs. Have fangs. And I sank them into his neck with savage efficiency. I knew I had his lifeblood in my mouth.
I tore, and I spit. And I felt him die as he loosened his grip on me. His name was Erlik. And he took her from her home, and carried her Below. He touched her. He touched her, when she was unwilling.
And so I killed him. Of course.
I cannot blame my Other Self this time, for my Other Self was not there, and was not needed. It was me. I knew. She was near, and I could see her, but I could barely feel her. She had shut down the bond between us. She tried to protect me.
And so I returned that favor.
I made my way to her, with cunning and stealth. And a funeral for a friend, one of the best men I ever knew. I took her back from a madman, and from a madman's monster. They used her as bait, to draw me.
They drew me.
Be careful what you wish for, Erlik. Be careful for you wish for, Paracelsus.
The Other could not have saved her. His first instinct is to dig in a claw, and use his strength. My arms were pinned. Erlik was stronger. He had me, and had me beaten. He felt it. I could tell he felt it, as he tightened his grip on my back, trying to crush ribs, to rob breath, to break my spine. He had the strength. Greater than mine. He owned the victory.
For a second.
For of the two of us, I knew what I was about to do an instant before I did it.
Not that he could have stopped me, if he did.
I have fangs.
Upper and lower. Set in my jaw like any other teeth.
But they are not. They are not “teeth.” They are fangs. A predator's weapons, for a necessary kill. A lion's fangs, long and pointed, and I can feel them behind my lips, can trace them with my tongue. I feel them inside my mouth, and worry the left one with my tongue sometimes, when I am thinking. No one can see that. My mouth is closed.
But they are there. Like my claws, or my strength, or the range of my swing. They are my weapons, and I am aware of them, always.
A warrior always knows where his weapons are. Watch a soldier set his gun down in camp. He won't go far from it. He'll look back to check for it. There is an invisible wire between them. A warrior always knows where his weapons are.
Mine are in my mouth.
The same mouth that quotes her Shakespeare or Byron.
I was not quoting anything this time. Except perhaps, the Bhagavad Gita. "I am become death..." And I wasn't really quoting that, of course. It is impossible to quote anything with a throat in your mouth.
I knew he was dead before he did. Felt his grip loosen, felt his life go. I felt you go, Erlik. And we are not even bonded. I felt you go, and was ... pleased for it? Is that the right word?
Pleased? Perhaps. Perhaps it is. Somewhere inside, I was pleased. The victory is yours? No! The victory is mine! Mine, goddamn you. I reign. You touched her. You were doomed from the moment you did.
Fortune favors the fanged? Now, there is a wry paraphrasing of Virgil for you.
I must be favored then. I have fangs.
It is an interesting thing, to feel a man's lifeblood in your mouth. An interesting thing to feel a jugular vein snap. The blood is warm... no, not warm. Hot. The blood is hot inside a throat.
Then cooler, as it flows out.
As odd as it sounds, there is a moment of choice there. A moment, just a second, where the skin of the neck has been pierced, and the cord that carries blood from the brain is under your teeth. Stop now, open your mouth, and he will live.
Pull, and he will die.
The blood pulsed out. Not just flowed. “Pulsed.”
With every beat of his heart, his own beating heart killed him. Irony. Check your monster's pulse, Paracelsus. No, you don't have to feel his wrist. You can see it, as it spurts onto the stone floor. It's rhythmic, until there isn't enough left for pressure.
Yes, it is an interesting thing; to feel a man's lifeblood in your mouth, feel his heartbeat on your tongue, and against your lips, right before you rip and tear. One of his last heartbeats.
And you do feel it. I did.
Alas, Poor Erlik. I slew him well. Ah. And now I shall bastardize Shakespeare along with Virgil, it seems. Surely, Milton has something to say about it? No? How was your reign in Hell, Paracelsus? Did your monster find it better to bleed in Hell than bleed in Heaven? Sharper than a serpent’s tooth, I killed your idiot child? Ah, but that is not Milton. That is Shakespeare I'm slaughtering again, along with your bastard. And I need Milton for you. For this. Milton. Or at least Dante.
Ah, yes “Abandon Hope.” There it is.
Erlik did, right at the end. All men do, or know they should, once they feel a set of fangs against their throat.
Not that Erlik was a man.
That is quite all right.
Neither am I.
But whatever I am, I am hers.
And she, oh she...
She… is… mine.
Today I was a monster, for her. And I knew I was. And I did... not ...care.