Whooo! The last chapter… finally. In regards to the question about anal hurting; I suspect it does. XD But now you have to think which parts of Calla's memories are true and which are false. Which sensations should be appropriate as well. Remember, Trance is on very good terms with Nicholas Rishards and it wouldn't be in his favor to have Calla whimpering about how much it hurts. He'll want Trance to have the best night of his life. ;o But… I won't say anything else. I'll leave it up to your imagination and conclusive judgment in determining why some things can't seem to fit right. ;)
Calla's eyes readjusted to the light beyond the door after the hot air whooshed against his face and knocked him back. He shielded his eyes and could barely make out anything except the bleached yellow of the flames. He had to take several steps back. He breathed in a lungful of air and peered inside again.
Chills tingled his spine and lifted the fine hairs on Calla's arm. It wasn't that the laughter was completely out of place in the blackened rooms with falling wood beams, it was the pure insanity in the trill. Such a high pitched laughter, wrought with anger, pain, triumph, and glory in one breath. And the laughter burst from the lips of a girl in the center of a room, dressed in a burnt hospital gown covered in ash. The flames licked at her hair, shriveling it as well as scorching her skin. Yet, there Delia laughed. A kerosene container, several rags, and a tiny melted lighter lay nearby.
Calla recognized the room Delia was in after noticing nothing elaborate. It was because there were no marks of interest that he was able to identify this rather larger room as Rechards' office at Sinful Fantasies.
How…? Calla shook his head. Now's not the time!
"Delia!" He called out to her over the angry snarls of fire.
Calla shifted his weight back and forth from one foot to the other, testing his muscles before leaping into the fire. Desperation to save his sister overrode the agony of the terror around him. He grabbed her wrist, ignoring the dried, flakiness of her skin, and wrenched her toward the other door of the office that would lead them to the 4th floor hallway. Delia rooted her feet to the ground, unwilling to move. No matter how hard Calla tugged, she wouldn't budge.
Calla had been completely caught up in Delia's high-pitched deranged laughter that he hadn't heard the deeper cackle or he'd mistaken it for the wood being consumed by the fire.
Horrified, Calla faced the direction Delia had been staring in all along. The chair had been occupied. Rechards arose from his seat and shouted nonsense over the noise of the fire and now of the screaming below as parts of the floor beneath them gave way to the third floor right below. Rechards threw his arm out, eyes wide open, smiling and chatting away. It seemed as if he was trying to declare a point, but Calla couldn't hear anything he was trying to say. But Delia seemed to understand. She flailed her arms and shook her head, coughed, then grabbed a nearby chair and flung it at him. It missed and banged into the glass window creating a spider web pattern.
Calla coughed, wiped the sweat from his eyelashes—or were those tears after the smoke had dried his eyes?—and breathed through his mouth. The smoke stung his nose. He lay crouched low to the ground while tugging on Delia's wrist. They had to escape. They had to leave now. They had to hurry before the entire 4th floor collapsed or they suffocated here and now.
But Delia wasn't moving. New tears formed in Calla's eyes. He began to plead, "We need to go, Delia! Delia, Delia!"
A plume of smoke rose and Calla choked and coughed. His hands were weakening and he felt his own skin blistering. By now the fire had probably spread throughout the entire building. The only safe escape would be through Calla's window down the fire escape. If he could just drag Delia that far, they could still make it.
When Calla opened his eyes and squinted to see, someone grabbed him around his ribs, under his arms and pulled him away. Calla lost his grip on Delia. They barged through the door. The hallway, still ablaze by the threat, was at least a safer place than the inferno within the office. He didn't need to see the face of his rescuer; he knew by the strength and shape of his body alone. But Calla turned to see Bishop, sweaty and smeared with the remnants of black smoke. He was breathing hard and the strength around Calla's ribs would not subside. He was gazing at the scenario before him with calculating eyes. Bishop was having trouble in making a decision. Eventually, his arm loosened and he dashed back into the room.
But before he could even make it into the doorway, Delia glanced back over her shoulder. There was something in her eyes that both Calla and Bishop recognized. The light in her eyes. For that brief moment, her sanity returned. She shook her head, shed two tears, and begged, "Let me go home." Her other hand, which Calla hadn't seen, held a book semi-burnt. The cover was nearly reduced to charcoal and the pages within were curling. She tossed that over to Bishop clumsily and smiled. The same smile she used to greet Calla would be the same smile to say her farewell with.
Delia fell like a broken doll. Consumed by the wavering flames as if uncertain whether to take the lifeless body. Calla covered his nose from the stench and gagged. He held back tears. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Rechards shoved his desk aside. It toppled over and a spray of papers that had been untouched within its drawers were now being incinerated into ashes as they floated. None made it to the ground.
Bishop grabbed the book and hauled Calla to his feet. Rechards stepped forward. His burnt flesh was charring off his bone. Calla grabbed Bishop's clothing tight. We need to go now! He thought the words, he just couldn't say it. The horror was too great.
Rechards stepped forward again. And again. And again. He staggered over Delia's limp body. Then, like a zombie, he rose again. And as he did, the smoke gathered around him. Swirling, twisting, bending, shifting. He lifted both arms into the air as if beseeching the heavens to make it rain, yet as he did so, the smoke smothered him, giving off the image of a large blackbird. As Rechards stepped closer and closer, Calla could now hear his rasping voice.
"You owe me…" he laughed, "Do you think…"
Rechards fell again, no longer able to hold himself up due to having the flesh stripped from his legs. Bishop backed away with Calla.
"…you could have survived without me?" More laughter, "You who was born from metal and glass; from the same DNA as that child… all it took was one bandaid…"
Bishop scooped Calla up in his arms and darted down the hall. The laughter ceased when a loud crack and distance thuds of something heavy falling down echoed after them. Bishop leaped over broken beams and holes and they both prayed their weight wouldn't send them crashing down four stories.
"My room," Calla instructed after a cough and wheeze. "Fire escape… by the window."
Bishop did as instructed. Calla admired his strength in the situation. Not only did he appear to be unaffected by the lack of oxygen rapidly consumed by the fire, but he had enough vigor to carry Calla.
The barren room now filled with bright yellow and orange flames presented little regret to Calla. Rather than prying the window open, Bishop broke the entire glass with a nearby chair. He used the blanket from the bed to scrape the remaining glass from the window sill and helped Calla through. Once outside, Calla could see just how large the fire grew. It illuminated nearly every building around. Sirens raised their alarm and the shouting of people could still be heard all around.
Bishop crawled through the window and landed on the fire escape platform. They raced down the steps, down the alley, and out into the street. A safe distance away, they could now watch as the great Sinful Fantasies crumbled.
2 months later
Calla ran his fingers over the silver wrapping and red, satin bow. Bishop's birthday would be just around the corner and he made sure to get him something special. He just wondered whether Bishop would like it. He should; after all the package contained imported wine.
The leaves from the maple tree just outside the window had already started to change amber in color. Calla loved it; the beautiful hues of autumn in the air.
The lake outside had collected a lot of fallen leaves. The cabin he and Bishop were staying at was far from the city. It wasn't as large as Bishop's mansion, but Calla didn't mind. It was comfortable, secluded, and peaceful.
He sat down at a table and pushed aside the diary from Delia. He had read the book countless times, but he couldn't think of it as more than a story. He still had no recollection of the past and he had reason to assume he wasn't "Callan Rays" at all.
Born of metal and glass huh… Calla sighed. Rechards last words still haunted him. All it took was a bandaid. Without that bandaid, I wouldn't even be here I suppose.
A pile of mail had been neatly stacked at the corner of the polished wooden table. One of the envelopes addressed to Calla had been opened. Calla took out the paper. There was a smudge of dirt at the corner and sketchy fingerprints sliding off the paper as if the writer had tried to brush off the dirt.
How are you? I heard about the club. I really can't say I'm grieving over that man's life. The hell we've both endured… I'm sure you must know by now about what I meant when I said we were both similar. Whatever happened to his son? How are the other hosts and hostesses? The customers? Nah, forget all that. All I want to know is if you're still well and if things with Bishop worked out.
I know you'd love to know how I am… right? Well, I traveled down a road, took detours and landed myself in the middle of the vast wilderness. The grass is near-yellow from lack of water, but that's because summer's just gotten over. I heard the three other seasons produce bountiful vegetation. Not sure how Winter could ever produce anything green, though.
Right now, I'm a rancher. Wipe that smirk off your face. I think I might have a knack for this kind of thing. Training wild horses and raising them to be show horses or racers. Serah says I've got the "natural touch." Serah's a nice girl I met here. She's living with her parents and they've graciously allowed me to stay and help out around here. We've been dating since last week and I think I'm comfortable here. This ranch is pretty famous. Anyone nearby will perk their ears whenever "Whisper Creek" is mentioned. I think I'm picking up a sort of drawl too—that's how they speak here. It's refreshing to live away from the flashy lights. It doesn't make me feel mechanical and you may think I'm running away from reality, but I do enjoy living my life as a human.
Since I have no idea where you are right now, I'll send this over to Lanson Corp. and trust Bishop to hand it off. Keep in touch. I miss our old chats together and no matter what orders I may have been under, it was always pleasant being in your company.
Calla folded the paper and placed it back in its envelope. Staring at the contained flames in the fireplace, he let out a sigh. He was relieved to know Ambrose was doing well somewhere out there. He was also relieved to know he'd gotten over Calla and had the courage to speak with him again.
Taking a silver, ballpoint pen and a piece of paper, Calla wrote back.
It's been a while since I've heard from you. I'm glad to hear you're alright and all is well. Do invite me to your wedding with Serah when that special occasion arises! You as a rancher do sound rather interesting. I'd love to see any photos of your first attempt at horseback riding.
I'm doing great. I can't even begin to express how wonderful I've been these past two months. I still have that strange microchip in me, but with Rechards gone and his laboratory in ashes, I have little to worry about it going off. I admit, I have nightmares about the laboratory. I dream of hands and legs or partially-finished creations reaching, crawling, and lurching toward me. And all the while, even if they don't have lips to speak, they scream in pain in the fire. I don't even know if body parts can feel anything. My only comfort is knowing that after leaving the club, the entire building, including Rechards' adjoining secret laboratory, literally disintegrated.
Currently, I am living at a lake-side cabin that Bishop had been preparing for us for a while now. He'd had Zach plan the entire thing and put a small team of construction workers under his command. Only minimal people know of our home. It's to escape publicity.
Bishop also contacted his older brother and struck some kind of deal with him. He agreed to forfeit his status as heir on the condition that he gain half the profit of Lanson Corp. Also, whatever plans his brother makes, he must consult with Bishop and only Bishop gets the final say as to the future of Lanson Corp. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. He still sounds like an heir, but his brother really wanted the title of "heir" and agreed to those terms. He signed a contract and it's all on a professional written document. Receiving fifty percent profit still places our lives in a comfortable zone. That means Bishop is no longer obligated to marry or bond in favor of the company. Oh, and Dr. Mindle is now Bishop's brother's physician but we see him every once in a while.
As for the other hosts and hostesses… I'm not sure what happened to them. I heard Xanna was hired in another town, but I didn't keep track of the others. Bishop wanted me to stay away from that life. He's trying his best to make me live a normal, comfortable life away from the Ritz and glamour. I guess we've both had enough of that.
As for Rechards' son, I heard he's inheriting his father's profits and he plans to continue working on Telegenesis. There's no evidence that he had anything to do with the murder of the Rays'. They say arson is a hard crime scene to determine the facts of what happened because fire destroys everything. Since all the documents and research studies were kept in Alan's room, supposedly thinking it was safe there, there's no data left on how to work the teleportation systems. The workers are at a dead end and Electroport had no choice but to close down. Maybe some day, there'll be another genius to tweak the boundaries of space and molecules.
Hey, remember that dream I was always telling you about? My supermarket management dream? I'm slowly making progress. A couple weeks ago, I was hired at a nearby market store. I'm but a lowly bagger that also helps old ladies with their grocery bags to their cars, but they say I might get promoted to cashier soon! I've also noticed my host skills are coming in handy. If I wink at an elderly woman and charm them with my smile, they part with their money a lot more easily. I made about $185 the other day all on tips alone. I feel proud of my job. I don't have to cover up any more and when someone asks what I'm working as, I puff my chest and proudly exclaim, "I suffocate groceries in a plastic bag."
Since most of my memories are still foggy, I can't recall if I've confessed about my jealousy toward Diane, Bishop's childhood friend whom had a crush on him. I'm sorry; "crush" would be too mild of a feeling for what she felt. She loved him. There are times when I wonder if my love is comparable to hers. She loved him to the point it drove her insane. She's in an asylum somewhere—Bishop won't tell me and I didn't press him to. He tries to hide it, but I know he still visits her frequently. I'll respect that decision because if I kept him locked away from a friend, I'd be no different from Diane whom tried to keep Bishop from me. I won't deny that I certainly hated Diane to the point that I fantasized about her death. I'm not a saint. I dreamt about accidents that could possibly occur and even wishing they could. I did feel terrible about it afterward. Losing a friend would make Bishop's heart ache. Diane may have been a devious person, but I can see why she would do the things she did. I can even see myself in her shoes walking the same path. I'd do anything to obtain the person I love and want them to see no one but me. I suppose Diane and I were more similar than I had originally thought. Who knows, if the situation hadn't played the right cards for me, it could've been me in an immaculate white room with padded walls and a safety jacket.
There's also the issue with Trance… I feel bad for the guy, but I'd rather hurt his feelings and pride rather than spend a lifetime with him in a relationship in which I'd never be able to reciprocate any feelings. If he had any. After all, I'm betting the entire proposal was arranged by Rechards in the first place. I'm despicably selfish, aren't I?
Hmm, what else? Oh, I picked up school again. Finishing my last year in high school at a public school. It's very different from St. Smithenson Anderson. There's a lot more students in a classroom and the school lunches are only a dollar. This lifestyle ceases to amaze me!
I'm making new friends here as well. Bishop still wants us to keep a low profile to fend off the paparazzi, though, so I can't bring anyone home. Bishop's face is renowned. He has to sneak to the cabin after pretending to go back to his mansion. I think it's for my benefit. I'm still uncertain as to how I would present my situation. I'm pressured by many sides to inherit the Rays' estate and family fortune, but you know as well as I do that I'm not really the one that deserves it. That family fortune belongs to a six-year-old child whose body is God knows where. I think the reason why Rechards adopted me and started displaying me in public is to emphasize my connection to the Rays. He planned to murder the Rays from the beginning and had no intentions to let his son marry Delia. It was just a ruse to cover up his actions and to promote himself. The media coverage was pretty intense and Randy put up a very good farce at feigning remorse. With the Rays out of the way, the family fortune would settle on my shoulders and he'd still have Randy who could marry anyone else that would benefit Rechards. I'm just glad I'm finally free of his manipulating hands.
That's all that's happened so far. Since Bishop is still wary of sending mail out, I'll have to save this letter for another day.
Your dearest friend,
Calla folded the two-page letter, placed it within the envelope, walked over to the well-lit fireplace and promptly dropped the letter between the two scorched logs. The letter browned, blackened, curled, and turned to ash.
The door creaked open.
"Welcome home, Bishop," Calla called out instantly, "How was the conference today?"
Bishop swept his hands over his head. He'd gotten a haircut after the fire had burnt nearly half of it off. He was still getting used to short hair clipped at the nape of his neck.
"Long as usual. How about your day?" Bishop asked as he hung his coat up and began making himself at home. He smiled at the coffee Calla had prepared.
"Lovely as usual. I wish someone had told me sooner that being a bagger was so much fun. I bet being a cashier is more fun. Sliding products over that red light…" The gleam in Calla's eyes was contagious.
Bishop laughed and reclined in the couch with his mug of coffee. The steam rose gently as he sipped.
"Hey I get vacation leave during the winter. Let's take a road trip somewhere," Calla suggested as he plopped down next to Bishop and leaned into the curves of his body.
"Oh? And where will this road trip take us?"
"I was thinking about… visiting a ranch that raises show and race horses. I also heard the scenery's lush green in the winter. They say Whisper Creek is an awesome place to visit. I've always wanted to try out horseback riding."
Bishop's gaze roved over to the pile of letters. He focused on the one near the diary for a long while before nodding his head.
"I think a road trip could do me some good."
"I knew you'd agree!" Calla planted a kiss on Bishop's cheek then skipped into the back where their bedroom was located.
"What are you doing?"
"Packing!" Calla called back.
Bishop raised his brows, "But Winter is months away!"
"These days are going by so quickly, it makes no difference whether I pack now or the week before. Indulge me, Bishop. I finally get to make my own plans, at least let me pack my suitcase when I want to."
Bishop shrugged it off with a small curve to his lips. They both knew the future was all they had and the past held nothing but bitter reflections and sinful fantasies.
Yes, it's really the end. I'm glad you stayed with me until this last chapter. /tears of joy/ I always feel overjoyed when I finish a story—because I seem to leave a lot of stories hanging. I swear, I have like… dozens I started, but never finished. Some catch my interest later on and I continue, but most of the time I just start another story… and it gets added to my growing list of unfinished stories.
Anyway, thank you for your wonderful comments and input! I hope I'll start something else in the future (and finish it), but until then, I think I'll take a break (and concentrate on finals—omg!). XD /heart/