An ornate mirror hung on the wall of the mooncast room. The reflection showed the canopy bed that was set across the room from it, and the window with its long, thick drapes. Everything in the room could be seen from that mirror, if viewed from certain angles. Everything, except the young woman who stood before it. She reached out shaking fingers and gingerly touched the glass, pulling them back in shock. No matter where she stood, the mirror showed her nothing of what she looked like. There was no reflection, as if she weren’t there at all. The window glass did the same. And to her horror, every mirror in the entire mansion lacked any sort of vision of herself.
That wasn’t all. The sunlight burned her. Food she normally loved made her wretch. She hadn’t had water or wine in days, leaving her weak and confused and frightened beyond anything she had ever felt before. The most chilling thing of all, besides her lack of a reflection, was how still her body felt. She could become statuesque when she got lost in thought. And once, when she placed her hand on her chest, after a particularly awful attempt at drinking wine, there was no beat. Her heart was completely still. She placed her fingers on her wrist and felt nothing. No pulse. She placed her fingers at the junction of her jaw and her neck. Nothing. It felt like all of her insides were gone, yet she still lived. At least, she assumed she was alive.
The first night was excruciating. Hunger ripped at her insides, her mind, everything was too stimulating. Voices were too loud (though of that, she can only remember hearing one and it was still too much.), touches felt like strikes, her hair stood on end. Then there was nothing. She felt sedated and plump, like she had just eaten a large meal but she couldn’t remember even sitting at a table. She could recall a presence but no face, just that she had been helped because if she hadn’t been, she would have surely perished that night.
She stepped back from the mirror and clasped her shaking hands together to still her fraying nerves. As the days went by, her mind had become less foggy and she was starting to put the pieces together. She knew how the body worked and she knew that she had all but one symptom of a cadaver. Walking over to the window, she flung open the curtains and peered up at the moon, hung low and lazy in the early night sky. It was a deep red that made her stomach growl. As she placed her hand over her stomach, she acknowledged the impossible.
Erina Pendleton was a monster.
The door creaked as it opened slowly. She hadn’t seen her housemate, assuming there was someone else there. Erina only had an inclination of there being another person, either in the room over when she heard a chair scoot across the wooden floor or hushed whispers. She never saw a face. And every few nights, her door would open unexpectedly and a tray would be placed on the dresser nearest to the door. On the tray was a wine glass filled with a red liquid that made Erina’s mouth water and her stomach sickenly flop about. The smell was the first indicator of what the liquid was. She had worked with it many times in the hospital back when she was a nurse-- which seemed so long ago-- and she had spent many evenings scrubbing the stains the liquid would leave off of her hands and forearms. It never made her hunger like this before.
“Why do you give me blood?” she mustered up the courage to ask one night as the door opens and the mysterious hand places it on the dresser. “That is not a proper meal and it isn’t right.” The hand paused, keeping its grip on the tray before pulling back to hide behind the door.
“It is a proper meal.” The voice was deep and smooth like a thick velvet. Erina swallowed back her nerves and stepped forward.
“Who are you? Why won’t you show your face to me? And why are you keeping me here?” The questions started bubbling up but her upbringing had taught her to stopper them before they got out of control. The voice chuckled softly. “This isn’t funny… Have I been kidnapped?”
“In a sense.” Erina’s eyebrows lowered at that and she clenched her fists as she stomped across the room to grab the door. She pulled hard and flung it open to reveal a man about her age, with golden hair that fell shaggy across his forehead. She blinked up at him, flustered, before remembering her current situation and getting angry again.
“You’re keeping me prisoner here.” It was less a question and more of a fact. The man peered down at her with golden eyes that glowed in the dim light. Her jaw clamped shut.
“Think of it as...” he paused, glancing up to the left, then back down at her, smiling. “It being for your own good.” That explanation did nothing but anger her more.
“For my own good? I was fine where I was, working and living on my own and now… I’m in this strange mansion, away from any sort of civilization, where I can’t leave, I can’t feel the sun, and I’m being fed… humors? Blood?” Her voice became shrill towards the end as she reached for the glass and lifted it for emphasis. She shoved the glass at him so he would take and turned to storm back into her room.
“Indeed, I picked a feisty one.” She heard him say before her wrist was grabbed and she was spun around. “And as much as I admire your stubbornness and fearlessness, I must insist that you drink what I give you.”
“Or else, what?” she snapped, glaring up at him as she tried screwing her wrist from his grasp. He gave her an even look before bring the glass to his lips. Erina watched in horror as he leaned in, his face getting uncomfortably close to hers. Without a second thought, Erina’s free hand came up and pressed against her captor’s face. She pushed with all of her might, which turned out to be enough to send him tripping backwards and catching himself on the door frame. She blinked at him, then down at her hand before looking back up. He gave her the same dumbfounded stare before, slamming the glass down on the tray.
“Then starve.” he growled before taking the tray and slamming the door. Erina flinched at the sudden noise but didn’t linger on it too long. Her fingers flexed instinctively as she tried to understand where that power could have possibly come from.
As the sun lowered on the horizon, Erina opened the thick drapes and leaned on the windowsill. Before, she would have had someone else help open up a window like this. But after being able to push that strange man out of the room, she wondered....
Placing her fingers beneath the sill, she squared her shoulders and tugged up. The window popped up with ease, as if it were made of paper. Erina looked out into the chill air and didn’t feel it as she expected to. She turned slightly as she heard footsteps down the hall and thought it were odd her ears could pick them up. What was she? Erina needed to know and the only one who could shed any sort of light on the situation was that man. Could she leave the room and go searching for him? Erina crossed the floor and placed her hand on the door knob. It turned with little resistance and she was able to push the door open and leave the room for the first time in days.
The hallway was dark. The sconces lining the walls glowed with a deep golden light. Erina noted that she could see every knot in the wood, every cut in the floorboards, every detail in the persian rug that ran the entire length. She stepped out, every nerve tingling with the sensations she was picking up. The floor creaking in another room, a cricket outside, the vibrating walls, the grain of wood on the door at the end of the hallway- all of it was at her disposal.
But the feeling she got as she walked by the room next to hers, sent a chill down her spine. She stopped in front of the door and stared. That was his room. She didn’t just know because she had heard noises coming from it before. There was another sense, laying on top of her others, that knew exactly who was in there. Erina didn’t know whether to burst in and demand more answers or flee while she still could.
The rest of the house turned out to be empty. Immaculate, but empty. It seemed rather boring now that she was out exploring it and thought it silly that she was scared in the first place. The only thing that kept her constantly looking over her shoulder was the fact that he was up there. Not in his room anymore, she could tell that much. But in another room, possibly the one she had been forced into. He was probably looking for her.
With that thought in mind, Erina picked up her dress and scurried into what seemed to be a parlor. She noted all of the picture frames and how they were interestingly enough, missing pictures. The mirror that hung over the mantel of the fireplace had a cloth draped over it and it looked like someone had been in this room recently, for the kindling was still glowing softly and a book lay open faced down on an arm chair. She walked over to the book and took a glance at the cover. It was a book she had never heard of before, but the binding was pretty. She ran her fingers over it. nothing had ever felt that soft to her in her entire life. She blinked twice, looking at her fingers after pulling her hand away. She clenched that hand into a fist. Everything felt better, smelled more intensely, looked more vivid. Leather was no exception.
Erina turned to leave the parlor, she yelped slightly as her captor stood in the doorway.
“No need to sneak about. You’re allowed to go anywhere you want in this house. Afterall, you are living here.” He said, a bored expression on his face. It didn’t hide the fact that his eyes burned with something. Erina scrunched up her nose at him.
“You never told me that.” She shot back.
“Must you be told everything?” He retorted.
“Well, I would like to. Like for example,” She paused, the questions swimming around in her mind. “Where is this place and why have you taken me here?” She took a step forward. He stood his ground. “I don’t even know your name and I’m certain you don’t know mine!” Erina huffed, thinking that were enough questions for the time being. Her arms crossed across her chest and she gave him a stern look as she waited for his answers.
The man stared at her before lowering his gaze and smiling. It made Erina’s stomach churn. He opened his mouth to speak and she caught a glimpse of dangerous, white teeth.
“I suppose keeping you ignorant is going to leave me in ruin, eventually…” He chuckled to himself. Erina did not find anything to be humorous. “I will tell you one thing, Ms. Pendleton,”
“H-how do you…”
“If you leave, you will starve and die.” He took a step back and Erina flinched slightly.
Finding her voice again, Erina stepped forward. “What… What does that mean? Is that a threat?”
“No. It’s a warning.”