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Shtriga's Mayhem Holiday - {Chapter 3}

Mariana


The second I realized she was right, I spent every moment I could spare trying to get back to the Christmas aisle. The woman did her best to keep pace with me so we wouldn’t get separated, but every time we got close, we'd wind up somewhere entirely different. Sometimes all it took was turning around to find myself running into the shelf of a different aisle. At one point, I walked smack dab into a pole, which even with my heightened immunity to pain...hurt like a bitch.

I spent hours, or maybe longer, trying to get across the store. I wanted to fly across, but flying in front of the woman was not the smartest move and I suspected the same teleportation trickery would continue to happen.

I was getting fed up and pissed. Kevin just wanted to give me a nice Christmas and this crap had to happen. My life could never be easy, could it? It’s either vampires or demons or crappy humans ruining anything good that I possess. I was excited that Kevin wanted to celebrate Christmas with me, but now that might never happen.

I continued to try until I noticed the woman was tired from all of the running. So after a few more attempts, we stopped for a break in the soup aisle. She slid down against one of the shelving units and sat down on the floor. I reluctantly followed suit.

I ran a hand through my hair with a loud sigh. All this teleporting was wearing me out. It surprised me how tired I had become, but honestly, I didn’t care. I just wanted off this horrible roller coaster.

The woman sighed just as loud as I did. “I told you it was useless.”

“I have to keep trying.” I muttered in return

I laid my head against the shelf, staring up at the ceiling. I wondered what Kevin was doing right now. Knowing him he was looking for me just as hard as I was looking for him.

In the short time we had known each other...we grew close. Kevin knew of my darkness, but he treated me like I was normal...like I was human. It was nice to have someone look at me as more than just a monster.

I had seen my fair share of people leave due to my condition. They either ran away or tried to kill me. Yet, Kevin did neither of those things. He was curious and caring and I may never see him again...

As if the woman read my mind, she nudged my shoulder. “Is he your boyfriend? The man you keep trying to get back to?”

“No no no just a friend...well partner. We work together.” I said and if I had the ability, I would have blushed.

“What do you both do?” She asked

“We’re private investigators. Well, he is. I’m more of his assistant.” I said, smiling to myself.

I don’t know if it was the look in my eyes or the smile on my lips, but the woman stared at me. I glanced towards her with a raised brow as she slightly laughed.

“You care about him as more than just a partner, don’t you?” She asked with a knowing smile.

“No, I do not.” I denied, avoiding her gaze.

“Yes, you do. You wouldn’t be fighting so hard to get back to him if that weren’t the case." The woman prodded. "I’m guessing he’s just as shy as you are to admitting your feelings?”

I shook my head. “Kevin and I enjoy each other’s company is all. I don’t get close to...people anymore. I don’t want to…”

“Hurt them?” The woman interrupted with understanding. “Yeah, I’m the same way. I’m scared to get close in fear I destroy them somehow. I don’t want to be the reason someone loses their joy, but that's just what I do. I drain the life out of everything I touch.”

“I know that feeling well." I sighed sadly. "I’m just worried that I’ll let myself feel something and I’ll destroy him. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and some I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make right.”

“Does he know of your darkness?” She asked, our eyes meeting. "This Kevin of yours?"

I quickly nodded. “Yeah, he’s seen how monstrous I can be. Unlike many others, Kevin didn't run away when he found out...we actually grew closer. He wants to protect me, even though I can totally handle myself. He cares a lot more about me then someone has in a long time.”

“Kevin sounds like a great guy.”

“He is. He truly is.”

We smiled at one another as the woman's face saddened. My story must've brought something to her mind because I recognized the look in her eyes; grief.

“I used to have someone like that as well.” She said with a sad look in her eyes. “His name was Arthur. He loved me for me and didn’t care about the darkness within my soul.”

“Was?” I questioned

“Arthur was...wrongfully killed. These people were coming for me, but he wouldn’t give me up. He died to save my life. He told me to run, but I should’ve stayed...I should’ve protected him.” She said, tears coming to her eyes.

I leaned forward and grabbed her hand. “There’s nothing you could’ve done.”

“I know it’s just...I blame myself.” She said, wiping the tears away.

“Don’t let the heartbreak control your life.” I said with a small smile. “If you do, it can destroy you. I’ve learned that focusing on the grief of the past just makes things worse.”

“You’re quite good at giving advice.” She said as we both softly laughed.

“I may be good at giving advice, but I, myself, am terrible at following it.” I shrugged

“You know there was this quote I heard once that I find helps me.” She said, clearing her throat. “It’s from Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So, even if your troubles are crashing in on you, don’t give up.”

“Wow, that’s...really good.” I said as we both laughed again. “You’re not bad at giving advice yourself.”

“Why, thank you.” She said with a smile as she offered her hand to me. "My name is Agatha and yours?"

“Mariana.”

“Well, Mariana, I think we could be good friends."

"I completely agree. We just need to get out of here first.” I huffed, rising to my feet.

“I don’t think escape is possible…” Agatha muttered, getting up just as I did.

“If we can figure out the pattern then we should be able to escape.” I said, sounding optimistic when I felt anything but.

I turned away from her as I heard Agatha speak barely above a whisper. “I don’t think escape is possible...for you.”

I shot back around with confusion. She met my gaze, but her eyes were no longer brown. Her once chocolate brown eyes were now black holes filled with emptyness staring back at me.

I took a step backward as she stepped forward, her neck cracking with a deafening bang. Normally, even with her now hollow eyes, I wouldn’t be afraid of some old woman, but something about her scared me. She gave of the feeling of death and even I knew when to run. I used my speed to get away, but she somehow appeared in front of my path.

Agatha smiled, her teeth as black as charcoal. She lunged forward, missing me by mere centimeters. With this chance, I ran as fast as my legs would carry me.

I got halfway across the store when I wound up in the gardening section. I turned around to come face to face with Agatha. Her hand struck out and grabbed my throat, slamming my back into the shelving unit behind me. My back hit the metal, causing ceramic pots to crash onto the floor around us.

She used her hand to lift me into the air, surprise smothering my features. I knew she wasn’t human, but she was almost as strong as I was.

She moved me away from the shelf and threw me onto the floor. I hit the tile and twisted around to find a ghost decoration hanging from the shelf above me. Agatha used her fist to try and punch me, but I moved my head just in time.

I got up and flew into the air, but she quickly grabbed my foot and flung me down the aisle. I slid into another shelf, denting the frame with a groan.

I noticed she was coming for me again so I slid into the next aisle to come face to face with a full-sized bouncy castle. She came into the aisle after me with a terrifying look in her dark eyes. Agatha smiled, her head twisting to the side with a crack.

“We can talk about this.” I said, raising my hands into the air.

“NO MORE TALKING!” Agatha screeched, black spit dripping from her lips like a rabid dog.

She appeared before me, tackling me backward into the bouncy castle. I prepared to hit the soft bottom, only for my back to collide with the tiled floor. She straddled me tightly against the tiles, her hands pinning my arms beside my head as I saw we had somehow made it back into the soup aisle...like we never left at all.

Her body creaked above me, cracking and bending before my very eyes. Her clothes transformed into a dark cloak as her face grew more ragged and worn, her dark eyes almost glowing against the pale of her face.

My eyes went wide with realization. “You’re a shtriga...a witch that drains the life esscense of children.”

“Bingo." She cackled menacingly. "But, I’ve grown tired of climbing through children’s windows at night. I thought I’d have the food come to me and in short, adults are just more fun to toy with.”

“You’re the one messing with the store, aren’t you?” I questioned

“Of course I am. It’s a trick I’ve learned to possess. Each time I teleport someone I take some energy from that person. Once they tire out to the point of exhaustion, I come to feed directly.” She explained

“Well, looks like you got the wrong girl. I'm a vampire and we don’t have souls.” I pointed out.

“Oh, you do, Mariana. It's not as pronounced as a human’s, so your kind doesn't show up in mirrors, but vampires still have one. Your soul...” Agatha said, tapping my chest just above my heart. “Your soul is different.”

“Different?” I questioned

“You’ve held onto your humanity. You’ve killed, but never let yourself truly enjoy the hunt. You didn’t want to be a monster and that makes your soul more delicious than you know.” She said, eyeing me up and down.

“So, everything you just told me was a lie then? About Arthur and friendship?” I struggled

Agatha shook her head. “No, those tears and that story were true. I do truly believe we can be friends, Mariana. We can both benefit from this.”

“How the hell can this be beneficial for the both of us?” I sneered

“You let me feed on you and I’ll get you the blood you crave. Maybe, let you snack on me as well.” She offered

“I won’t let you...feed on me.” I snapped, struggling against her. “Damn, you’re stronger than you look.”

“It’s because you're weak. I've taken energy from you each time you tried to get back to your precious Kevin, but I’d like more.” She cackled

Agatha removed one of her hands from mine to grasp my jaw, forcing my mouth to open. I used my now free hand to grab onto hers, trying my damn hardest to pull it away, but the harder I tried the weaker my grasp became.

Her dark peered into mine as her mouth widened, unlatching like a snake. She leaned down towards my face as the inside of her mouth lit up. I suddenly felt this pulling within my chest and pain erupting from within.

I squeezed her wrist as my eyes went wide at the sight of white mist escaping from my lips to hers. My eyes rolled into the back of my head, my back bending upward into the shape of a bridge. I could feel myself losing breath as if I had to breathe at all. I had been fed on by vampires, succubi, and monsters alike, but this was different; this felt different.

Then the pain stopped just as quickly as it began. Her mouth went dark and her hand let go of my chin, placing it back upon my wrist.

She licked her lips with a moan. “You taste better than I ever imagined.”

“Yeah...well.” I gasped, swallowing the spit in my throat. “You’re uglier...then I imagined...”

“Backtalking won’t get you anywhere.”

“Maybe not...but it’ll make me feel better.” I laughed beneath my breath.

“Why are you laughing?!” She screeched, wrapping her hand around my throat.

“Because you don’t scare me.” I spat

“Do you want me to drain you dry?”

I laughed again. “You’re not the first to ask that exact same question to me. You. Aren’t. Scary.”

“I can change that.” She muttered, her drool dripping onto my cheek.

I met her gaze with confidence. “I’d like to see you try because Kevin will stop at nothing to find me and when he does...you’ll die.”

“Well, I guess I better have another taste before he does.”

Her hand made it to my face once again as her mouth lit up. I had a confident front, but you could see the fear in my eyes. I felt the pull again as pain erupted throughout my body. Yet, this time I smiled because we were no longer...alone.


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