Charon was always smiling. It had a bright smile that reached its eyes.
Norman saw it smile the brightest when God was speaking to it.
Charon had been there when Norman was welcomed to the family. It had made sure Norman's stitches were healing properly and brought him food and painkillers when it was too much.
Charon was always smiling. Even when Norman was hunched on the ground vomiting. Charon would smile, offer him a towel and ask "How do you feel today?"
Norman never danced around with words,
"Like shit. “
This would always result in laughter from it.
"I like you! You're funny!"
Charon was constantly hanging around Norman. He found himself endeared to it, Charon may have been a strange thing, but it was a very friendly creature. Whenever Norman saw him like this, he could scarcely imagine Charon hurting a fly, ironic as the statement is.
He’s never seen Charon eat before.
He suspects it’s something akin to raw meat, but he’s never asked.
He learns surprisingly little about Charon. Charon has lived with God all its life, which amounted to some vague age that was older than himself. Norman didn't expect the creature a foot shorter than him to be older, it was a strange thing to be surprised about. He wonders what else he doesn’t know.
There are some things Norman wanted very badly to ask.
He doesn't ask for two reasons. He may only get a vague answer or refusal to answer, which would only make him more curious and probably making a stupid mistake.
The other reason was because he was afraid of the answer he would get.
Charon was teaching Nornan how to read the ancient script when God walked into the room
"Another needs your love."
God is clearly talking to Charon.
Charon immediately stands and lowers its head in a bow
"Thank you." Charon smiles widely. The smile cuts into its cheeks. Its eyes have a feral glow to them.
Norman shivers as he watches the spider skip after God.
“Wait.” Norman calls out.
They turn around. Ten eyes fixate on him. He shivers, suddenly feeling as if he was at the bottom of the ocean, being crushed under the pressure.
“Can I come?”
God shakes his head.
“There’s so many things you’ll never understand. This is one of them. Stay. Do not stray from here.”
It is a clear warning.
This isn't the first time this has happened. It always reminds Norman that these people aren't normal. He isn't normal either, but he finds himself scared of God. Of Charon.
Hours later, Charon returns.
The spider-child is basically glowing when it pounces onto Norman for a hug. The force of his jump feels like a getting hit by a car but Norman laughs all the same.
"I'm back! I hope you were good while I was gone. Were you studying?"
Norman pats its back, "Nah, couldn't really understand it without you."
"Well I'm back now! So let's get studying!"
Sometimes, Charon’s cheerfulness feels fake.
It’s the same smile it always wears.
And it is a false one.
One time, Norman finds the bravery to ask Charon a single question.
"Is it possible to leave?"
Despite how vague he was, Charon understands immediately, "Yes, it is." There’s no playfulness in its voice
Charon doesn’t smile, "I give my blessing of love, and it will free you. To get out of here is to promise me a kiss.”
Another needs your love.
That is what God had said before.
"Are you thinking of leaving Norman?"
Norman quickly shakes his head, "Never." He lies, "Why would I leave when I'm so happy?"
Charon smile returns, it looks forced to Norman, "Good. There is no reason for you to leave."
Norman ignores the rapid beating of his heart. He ignores the instinctual urge to get as far away as possible from the spider sitting across from him on the floor.
He shouldn't be scared.
"Charon, another needs your love."
Norman watches as Charon follows God out of the room.
A few seconds pass.
He can’t leave it alone anymore. Each day he stays with them, he feels as if he’s withering away. Even though it is the closest thing he’s had to a real caring family, he can’t relax, he feels like a string wound too tightly. If this is the ritual that is supposed to free the members of their ‘family’, he needs to know what it is.
He suspects it’s something along the lines of bringing a new person into the cult. Charon was coming simply to initiate another member.
Norman has hope. If leaving meant death, then God would have been the executioner. God was the one who devoured Father, not Charon. Leaving this family didn’t have to mean death.
But deep inside, he already knew the real answer.
He stalks them all the way into the depths of the forest. There's a young woman waiting for them there. She looks at them hopefully. She's saying something to them, but Norman can't hear at this distance. She's bowing and smiling. God gives a simple nod and leaves them, walking back toward their home.
Norman ducks behind a tree.
God is going to find him. God will sense his presence and accuse him of treason and force him to “leave.”
God walks by.
Ignorant of the boy holding his breath only a few feet away, God's footsteps fade away. Norman breathes easy again.
He peaks back around the tree to check on Charon and the girl.
He almost falls over in shock.
Even from this far away, it's easy to tell what is happening.
Charon has pinned the girl to a tree with its multiple arms and is kissing her. Not innocently either.
It was hard to believe Charon—the sweet yet slightly creepy friend of his— was frenching a girl against a tree.
He watches as Charon pulls away from her, saying something to her. She nods, a glassy look in her eyes. Then Charon goes for her neck.
As embarrassed as he feels watching a scene like this, he feels a wave of relief. God did say there were no rules for the natural course of life and that instinct is simply another gift blessed. And okay, so maybe his friend is a bit hornier than he expected, but that's still fine. He doesn’t see blood spurting out from her gullet or Charon ripping away her skin.
To get out of here is to promise me a kiss.
Is this what he’ll have to do to leave? He knew God said there were many things he would never understand, but this is... Just imagining himself in that young woman’s position, arms pinned helplessly as they shared the same breath.
Not entirely out of revulsion.
He shakes the thought away. He has his answers now. He should sneak away before he’s caught. The consequences for slipping away without permission were horrifying. He didn’t want to face them anytime soon.
He turns to leave.
He hears a thud.
Norman turns back around.
The girl has fallen on the ground, limbs sprawled out like a ragdoll. Her skin pale as bone.
Charon is standing up. And in the moonlight Norman sees it. Charon's mouth is curved into a pleased smile—the same one it gave Norman everyday— dripping with blood.
Norman takes a step back. He doesn’t make a sound.
His worst fear was confirmed. He knew it all along, he just didn’t want to believe it.
He needs to get out of here.
Charon turns his head slowly.
Right to where Norman is standing.
Their eyes lock. A complete coincidence, one that dooms him.
His draping sleeves snag and rip on every branch. He doesn't care. He can't feel the thorns clawing at his ankles or the brambles scraping his arms. All he can think of how he wanted to live. How he wanted a real family who didn’t kill others, drink all their blood and leave them on the ground to rot. The truth behind of Charon's kindness. He knew it was going to be something like this, but he wanted so badly to have continued in denial that Charon was simply a friend he never had.
Branches snap behind him. It is chasing him.
No. No no no. He's not fast enough. Charon's going to catch him. His mind screams for his legs to go faster, to run like he used to be able to.
But he can’t do it. His body was still recovering from all the stitches. His body had been long past its limit. It’s a miracle he made it this far.
A branch snaps. Much closer this time.
He's tackled to the ground, face first into the dirt. Arms much stronger than his pin him to the ground, the vice grip already painfully bruising him. He felt a weight pressing into his back—it was over.
The image of the woman flashes in his mind. Her body crumpled on the ground, her empty bloodless face staring at nothing.
That is the fate that awaited him.
And Charon would be the one to give it to him.
He needs to say something, anything, he doesn't want to die, not like this. But all he can do us gasp for breath, his body straining for oxygen and his brain unable to form words through his panic.
"Norman?" The arms painfully pushing him down relinquish their pressure ever so slightly, "You're… leaving?
"N-no." Norman chokes out, knowing how futile the lie was.
He's flipped over onto his back, his arms immediately gripped by two of Charon’s many arms.
All eight eyes are fixed onto him. Norman wants to look away, but he can’t. His vision goes blurry. All he can do is stare helplessly at Charon’s black eyes, at the lips still coated in the blood of the woman it killed.
“Hey, don’t cry.” A free hand strokes Norman’s cheek. He flinches.
Norman voice won’t come out, his voice choked by the tears and the sheer panic. He’s going to die here. The closest thing he had to a friend in his miserable life was going to kill him. It won’t even mourn him, it would discard his body, to leave him to rot and Norman would be forgotten.
His whole existence would have meant nothing.
Charon lowers his face, closer to Norman.
Its voice is kind. “You understand what must come next?” Charon licks his lips, taking some of the blood into his mouth.
Norman knows all too well Charon is intending to do.
He squirms under Charon’s grip, turning his head away, knowing how useless it was.
“Don’t, w-we’re friends... aren’t we?”
Charon smiles, “Forever.” The hand resting near his cheek grabs his cheek with strength, forcing him to look directly at Charon.
There was no way out.
Charon is so much stronger than Norman is. Charon is hundreds of times stronger than the strongest of humans, and words were useless against a creature as devout as the spider.
Norman’s only chance had been to run.
And he had already failed.
Norman shuts his eyes and clamps his jaw shut.
No no no.
All too soon, he feels lips pressing against his own. Soft, warm, and reeking of blood. They move against his stiff mouth expertly. How many lives has Charon taken like this? Was he going to be another number to the hundreds Charon must have already killed?
A tongue presses against his lips, Norman’s scream dies in his throat.
Beyond all the fear of dying and the adrenaline still surging through him, there was a deep sorrow. Charon cared so little for him. He wanted to believe they shared a friendship.
But it didn’t even hesitate to hunt him down when Norman had disobeyed God.
The faintest taste of bitter medicine seeps into his mouth.
The bitter taste— the poison— spreads throughout his mouth. Every nerve feels lit on fire and turned over raw. His jaw slackens in shock, his lips part a fraction.
Charon doesn’t waste a second. It slips its tongue into his mouth, tongue pressing against his own. The bitter taste is floods his senses, and Norman can feel it spreading to the rest of his body, every inch of him feeling like every nerve was burning.
Suddenly, the hand holding his chin in place feels as if filled with electricity, the arms pinning his own making his mind swirl. And the legs pressing on either side of his waist making his body light aflame. His mind melts. Charon’s tongue presses against him own. A soft whine escapes his throat.
His mind isn’t resisting anymore, his body bends to Charon’s will. His fear completely gone and instead replaced with a numb acceptance. He feels a smile press into his lips.
A small voice in the back of his head whispers.
Not poison. An aphrodisiac of paralysis.
Norman ignores it.
Charon breaks the kiss, Norman opens his eyes, confused. He tries to lean forward, to continue their kiss but his muscles won’t respond. Even if he could move, the hand holding his chin in place would have stopped him.
Lips press into his neck.
Charon’s going to kill you.
It is such a distant thought. Norman can’t feel scared in the slightest, only the strength of the drug gripping him. Dying like this wouldn’t be so bad.
He closes his eyes, accepting his fate.
He feels a light touch of warm lips. Sharp fangs greet his neck, slowly grazing across his neck, finding the perfect spot for the kill.
Norman sucks in a breath, the last one he’ll ever take.
He thinks at first.
Then he realizes the truth.
There is no pain.
He doesn’t even feel Charon’s mouth against his neck anymore.
The hands holding him down are vibrating.
He puzzles over it for a moment. He doesn’t understand.
Charon is trembling.
The weight is lifted from his body.
He blinks. Charon rolls off of him. All the warmth shared between them dissipates into the cold night.
He wishes he could curl up against Charon, to feel the warmth of its skin against his body.
Finally, it speaks, “You should come back.”
Still under the effects of the paralysis, Norman can barely move his mouth enough to speak, “I... can’t.” he mumbles.
“You haven’t renounced your faith yet. You can come back.” There isn’t the slightest hint of emotion in its voice. A calculated controlled tone of voice.
He wonders idly if this is who Charon really is. If the cheerful smiley friend he knew was simply a convenient mask for it to wear around Norman. He wishes he could at least turn his head, to see what kind of face Charon is making.
Unable to lie properly with his mind befuddled, Norman slurs his next words, “I’m not... going back... ” And he meant it. He couldn’t close his eyes and pretend he didn’t see what had happened. He can never look at Charon again and not see that brutal scene of it standing over that woman’s corpse with her blood dripping from its mouth
“Don’t betray us.” There’s a clear edge to its voice. A warning.
“I can’t... handle it... anymore...”
There’s a long pause.
“You are certain?” The voice is still even, not betraying a hint of uncertainty.
Norman wishes he would stop asking him questions, it hurt to talk. The paralysis kept seeping into his bloodstream, making it difficult to even breathe deeply.
Distantly, Norman hears a sniffle.
“...Then we have no more need for you.”
And the fangs bury into his neck.