A grave mistake led me to this moment. A misguided self-sacrifice ended in disaster. I'm done with self-sacrifice. I cannot live with my loss.
Closing my eyes, I breathe a silent apology to those who remain behind, and step into the noonday sun.
It warms my skin.
I am caught from behind and pulled into the shadows.
"Felix. Demetri." Their thoughts show me I will get my wish.
I wrap the cloak firmly around me as I am led through the tunnels. I asked for this, forced their hand, and I don't need to be dragged away as others have been.
I'm taken into a cavernous, stone-lined chamber, where the remnants of fire—a blackened circle of charcoal and ash—is the only decoration.
Felix turns to me and grins, then he and his companion build the fire that will ensure my oblivion.
The flames are mesmerising, licking higher and higher, burning hot. A vampire stands on either side of me. I close my eyes as I bring one image into my mind. Soft brown eyes, full of acceptance. I smile and whisper, "I'm ready."
They each take an arm and wrench.
That sound—the ripping of stony flesh—hurts my ears, but it is drowned out by my screams of agony as the excruciating pain envelops me.
I asked for this, begged for it, but it doesn't prevent me from begging them to stop as I am torn apart, crushed into pieces.
I wait for the pain to cease, but it doesn't. Another grating tear and my screams are silenced forever.
I twist and convulse, caught in paroxysms of agony and panic and fear. The noise continues, crunching now; I can still hear, can still see the gloating vampire forms taking pleasure in my pain, the growing glow of the fire staining the walls red.
All the tiny parts of me, still writhing, twisting, are propelled into the flames and I burn.
The fire is unendurable, like nothing I've felt before, even the pain of my transformation which I remember so well. It seems to go on longer, though I know it is impossible. I pray that awareness will leave me soon and give me the oblivion I crave. I want to scream, but I can't. Nothing is intact enough now to form sound, but I am aware of parts of myself that writhe with the pain, parts of me that are separate from each other, scattered within the fire.
I see only flames; even my eyes burn with searing red pain as the fire licks at them, then consumes them entirely.
One by one, each part of me turns to ash. I twist, break apart, and fall away into the dust I should have been long ago.
Less and less I become, smaller and smaller, until all of the killing agony is concentrated in one tiny convulsing spark, and my entire broken being crumbles away into release.