Layne sat quietly by the window. The drapes were drawn, which was quite unusual. She peered out with guarded eagerness, although she knew she shouldn’t. It was forbidden but she was young and the young don’t always do what is expected of them.
Outside the dreary clouds hung low, this all but drowned out the colors of the morning. In her eyes, she knew no difference really. She knew that in the day the sun hung high in the sky. In the evening it slept, as did she.
A steady rain came pouring in from the north. She watched it curiously as it pelted the window then quickly ran down its smooth surface.
She could see her reflection in the glass. She combed her brown, unmanaged hair with her fingers. A wrap clung weakly to a small bundle of hair. It was the remnants of a ponytail that swung over her delicate shoulder. Her deep brown melancholy eyes absorbed what little light the morning projected. Layne tilted her head and half smiled at herself.
Then in a “WHOOSH,” she was gone, and so was the outside world. The patter of the rain as it washed her reflection was gone as well. Layne looked up at Soreen who stood with drawstring in hand. The black drape cut short her brief moment of whatever it was she was feeling. She knew though, that feeling was not as unpleasant as the one she was feeling now.
“I thought I told you never to look out there.”
Layne watched Soreen; his hell-hole black eyes stared down at her. She trembled as his emptiness beat down, unwavering.
“There is evil out there. People who would harm you,” he frowned down at her. “Would you like them to find you?” He continued in an inhuman voice.
“I’m sorry,” Layne said.
She fell hard to the carpet-less floor. The plywood slapped back against her hands. She looked up as a stream of tears rolled down her crimson flashed cheeks. Soreen, who had slapped her without warning, stood over her rubbing the shock from the back of his hand.
“Never again,” he said.
“Never,” she whispered back to him. Her big brown eyes fell sorrowful, as she had angered him again.
He never let her look outside. Today was perhaps only the third, maybe fourth time she has seen beyond the black curtain. All the other windows were either boarded or painted black. And the door, well, that was without question a restricted area.
In all her short life, comprised of eight lonely years, she could never recall feeling the warmth of the sun against her face or to feel the touch of nature upon her bare feet. In eight years she could not recall leaving the confines of her house, the place Soreen called ‘The Lab.’
She knew no one else but him; Soreen was mother, father and sibling. Soreen was God. There was no one else in her life. What life she had.
“Come,” Soreen snapped, “we have work to do.”
Layne looked up at him; he extended a hand to her. She took it; he helped her to her feet but would not let go. The two walked together hand in hand through the living room. It was one of three rooms that remained in their house. There was the bedroom where she slept on a small mattress at the foot of Soreen’s bed and a small bathroom.
Layne really didn’t mind. Since her mother’s death, the kitchen and family room didn’t get used much. And Layne really didn’t mind having to give up her room. She had nightmares a lot and being with Soreen help to ease them.
The lab that was what Soreen transformed the rest of their home into. The lab where his fights the battle for her. He still cooks there on mother’s stove, for Layne as he did for her mother, before she succumbed to her demons.
Layne smiled then looked at Soreen’s hand; the deep brown looked strange against her pale, almost albino skin. She felt the warmth from his hand, the same hand that had struck her moments before. She looked up at him as they walked softly across the wooden floor. The creak of the wood seemed to flow in time with his slight humming. He always hummed before he worked. “Calms the soul,” he would say to her.
She looked on as his stern, angry face almost let go a contented smile. His gray, oily hair shimmered, though there was very little light. He loved her as much as any father could love his child. She knew this, he needn’t tell her.
# # #
Layne lay on a cold metal table. Her half-naked body shivered from the frigid surface. From across the room she watched Soreen who hunched over his microscope. He was peering at a sample of her blood. Checking it for ‘impurities,’ for things she didn’t understand, or even feel for that matter. But it was there in her blood, always there channelling through her frail body.
She never understood what it was he saw. She knew though, what ever it was he was determined to remove it from her. Wherever it was, what ever it was, at all cost he was going to cleanse her.
The experiments now, although painful were nothing compared to his original experiments. There was a time when he graphed the skin from her legs, charring it in a flask then returning it to her. He gave up after he had removed the skin from an entire leg. All that remains is an unsightly scar and the things he was trying to rid her of.
“Damn!” He snapped, pounding a disappointed fist on the table. The microscope bounced, spitting out the specimen slide onto the floor.
“Tainted,” he scoffed, “Tainted with the demons of Lucifer himself.”
Layne watched from her back as the old man paced. His hand thoughtfully rubbing his untidy chin, “I’m sorry dear,” he finally conceded as he approached.
Dropping her head onto the metal table, she let go a long disapproving sigh.
“It’s for your own good.” He said as he punctured her arm.
“For her own good,” he said. She never knew what the good was. If he didn’t do these experiments, then what would be the bad? Could it be any worse then having her finger removed so that he may kill the demons he trapped there? Or, thought he had trapped there.
She didn’t fight him though. How could this frail little girl fight anyone, or anything? She stayed dutiful in all his experiments, no matter the pain. Should the pain get too bad she could always sleep, always pass-out beneath the relentless grip of her agony. She did this many times.
Layne winced from the pain; it would only be the first such sting she would feel. She looked down at her arm where the needle hung. She had red scabs all up and down her arm. Sometimes he would use the same holes, which caused the sting to be that much worse. She winced again as he stuck the other arm.
She didn’t look this time. She waited for the hum of the machines. They came.
“Just lay there and relax my dear, while I cleanse your blood of your demons” Soreen said in the warmest voice he could muster. Still, she could hear the anger; the disappointment weaving its way between his annunciation’s.
She watched as the sanguine fluid was sucked from her arm into the thin translucent tube. It ran a twisted route from her arm, above her head, and into a vat where it was stirred before entering another translucent tube, finally re-entering her body in her other arm.
She tired as she lay there, growing weak as the blood drained from her.
Soreen watched over her. “Be still,” he reminded.
The world around her became clouded. She looked up at Soreen who rubbed her hair in long even strokes. He was slowly disappearing as her vision tunnelled and then he vanished beneath a cloak of blackness.
# # #
Layne woke sometime later. The blood had stopped flowing from the pulling arm, and the machine had shut-off. She looked over at the vat; it was still stirring her ‘dirty’ blood. She looked about her wearily. Where was Soreen? She thought. It wasn’t like him to leave her alone.
She lay quietly; her clouded world slowly came into focus. She sighed at the pain that pulsated in her arms. She watched the vat as it stirred a small amount of blood, forcing it down into the funnel that the translucent tube hung from.
“Almost done,” she said.
Rolling her head to the other side, she raised it slightly looking for Soreen. She saw him lying on the floor; his hand was balled into a fist against his chest.
“Soreen?” She called.
He lay there, seemingly ignoring her call.
“Are you asleep?” She asked.
Looking over at the vat, she saw that blood still stirred there.
She dare not move, as Soreen told her not too. She had moved once before, only once before. Her twisting forced the pulling needle from her arm. She remembered the blood that erupted from the hole the vacated needle left. It seemed each time the filling needle lead blood into her it would rocket out from the hole the pulling needle left. She almost died that day, leaving a flowing stream of blood on the wood floor.
There was still a stain where the blood had absorbed into the wood. Soreen had to use some of his own blood to keep her alive. She lay on the stainless steel bed for what seemed like weeks. Soreen never forgot that day, Layne never forgot that day either.
“Soreen?” She called again.
He didn’t reply, nor did he move.
She would wait for the filling needle to finish, wait for the hum of the machine to die.
It was only a few minutes before the cleaning was complete. Layne lay there for a moment longer, waiting for Soreen to come to her and unhook her from his machine. He never came.
Layne worried as she peered down at him, “Soreen?” She called in a louder voice, but not too loud.
Tears built then poured down the sides of her face. She was frightened, what happened to Soreen? Why wasn’t he getting up? She wondered.
She looked down at him in a panic, “Soreen!” She yelled as loud as her shallow lungs would allow. She didn’t care any more that he would be angry because she yelled. It wasn’t nice to leave her this way and that’s all she cared about now.
She cried, her tears and running nose splattered over her pouting lips. “Soreen,” she whispered.
She lay there for hours. Her stomach growled her hunger as her sorrow gave way to worry. Something was wrong and Soreen wasn’t getting up. He wasn’t coming to take the needles away. Her arms throbbed, her swollen skin hugged tightly to the needles now.
“Soreen please,” she cried one last time.
She looked down at her arm; the needle stared back at her. It wasn’t going anywhere, unless she made it. But Soreen would be angry with her. What to do, she wondered.
She tossed her thoughts back and forth in her racing mind. The pain was there, always there. She wanted it to stop, the only one who could stop it was Soreen, and he wasn’t making any attempts to soothe her. Either way she decided, she would know pain of one sort. The pain in her arms was all she could bear, and that pain at that moment she wanted to stop more than anything else.
“Ow!” She cried as she ripped first her pulling arm, then her filling arm from the table. She closed her eyes tight from the shock of pain. When the pain subsided, she opened her eyes slowly expecting to find each arm spewing out her blood. She would lie on the cold table and bleed to death. Surely Soreen would come for her then.
He didn’t though and she would not bleed to death on the metal table. The blood didn’t erupt, didn’t shoot out across the room as it did the last time. It bubbled where the needle was. Some of it ran slowly down her arm, but there was very little of it.
Layne let herself off the table. “Look,” she said, showing her arms to Soreen.
He didn’t look at her, he didn’t even move. She looked down at him. “This has to make him angry,” she thought. She had gotten off the table without him, without his permission.
“Soreen? I got up all by myself.” She told him, almost bragging.
Still he lay there, ignoring her.
She studied his face for a moment. His eyes were wide open; she hadn’t noticed that before. His mouth craned into twisted agony. She could see the horror there now. She approached him slowly. Kneeling down next to him she forced her hand to him. His skin was cold and clammy. She pushed him, he rocked slightly but that was all.
She took his hand into hers, the same hand he held hers with. It was cold, not warm as it was earlier. She couldn’t feel the love any more, couldn’t see the contentment in his face.
“Dead,” she whispered.
He had told her about death. When your body gives way to the demons and when the breath exits your lungs, never again to retrieve another. It was like he was. She rubbed his head to comfort him, as he had done for her.
“Lay still dear,” she said. She stayed with him for a while trying to comfort him the best she could. There was nothing she could do for him now. She looked curiously at him, her face void of any true emotion.
Layne stood, looking down at Soreen through indifferent orbs of comforting browns. She looked over the lab; the equipment set unassumingly, no longer bringing her fear. The stain on the floor beside the slab of stainless steel suddenly held no meaning. The lab became just a room, a room with machines and gadgets.
A small smile creased her parched lips as she walked from the back room. She walked not to the window but the door. It was another place that drew her in, the door. She stood before it; her hand rested on the knob. It was as close as she had come to it; her hand rested on the cold brass knob. Behind it was the open world, a new place, and a place she had never been
She closed her eyes waiting for the beating that never came. She was standing in front of the one sin that Soreen would not tolerate, but he was dead now. “Wasn’t he?” She wondered.
Layne looked back over her shoulder at Soreen; she could see his legs resting comfortable in death. Turning the knob she allowed the door to unlatch, taking a step back she slowly swung it open. Wincing again as she did, expecting the dead to rise and strike her.
She shielded her eyes from the bright, colorful morning. The rain had left, the old day too. Her eyes stung, but she could take in the brightness. She stepped out and for the first time felt the warmth of the sun on her skin, warmth that almost burned her pale, supple skin.
Her feet stood upon concrete, a new texture for her. It wasn’t the cold splintered wood. Rather a bumpy mat of warmth that was slowly beginning to burn. She could sense movement in front of her, but couldn’t make out any figures. Like balls of light they moved back and forth, they frightened her.
“The demons? She wondered.
She stood for a moment longer. The heat of the sun seemed to cook her half-naked body. She pulled one foot off the ground, and then alternated with the other, as the soles of her feet became uncomfortable.
“Now what?” She whispered.
There was no Soreen to protect her. The demons he feared so much now travelled before her eyes. For the first time, she could see them, and she was scared. Layne whimpered as she hopped up and down on the concrete.
“No,” she whispered as one of the blobs of light approached her. She could almost see a face, a form. “What is it?” She wondered.
“Are you okay little girl?” The demon spoke. It was after her, just like Soreen said.
“Soreen!” She called in a panic.
Stepping back she closed the door behind her. Her small frame slid against the door, coming to rest on the wood floor. “Soreen?” She called before she lowered her face into her delicate hands and wept.
Warmly referred to as Myth or Spin – this sinister yet sometimes quirky horror scribe has over 100 publications to his credit. During the hey-day of Ezines, Myth Spinner was a fixture among new budding writers. His work was all over the net and in print through independent publishers such as Double Dragon Press, Fairgo books and SST Publications. Myth makes his return with a spot on Horror Writers.net.