A/N: My entry for the monthly Writing Challenge Contest (WCC) at the Review Game! The prompt/ theme given was "I'm not done yet."
He remembered when he first saw her. The exact moment when he knew he could never look at another woman's face.
Clarissa. The name made his spine tingle. The walk of her walk, the talk of her talk. It was all too much for him. She had smiled when he gibbered an introduction and the glorious way in which her lips parted had made his knees go weak. She was too much. She was not enough.
"What's that? Over there?"
"It's nothing. Come on, this place is giving me the creeps."
"No, hang on, I want to see."
"Hey, wait! Come back!"
She'd waited for him after the party. The plum silk of her dress wafting deliciously in the back alley wind. Too much, too much, not enough. He'd walked over to her sublime figure and asked her how she was, what she thought of the weather, how she was getting home.
Waiting for a lift, she had said.
From whom, he had asked.
She'd just smiled at him. Smiled till his heart raced and his hand scrabbled for the car keys. Smiled till he could no longer breathe. Then she smiled for a little longer after that.
"It's a sack."
"Yeah, I can see that."
"No you can't, I'm the one with the night vision, remember?"
"How could I forget! Now put down the rotting sack and we'll go back, okay?"
It was a few weeks later that she'd found him again. Turned up on his doorstep with a full suitcase and a bucket load of determination.
He'd stuttered at her charm. No one should be allowed to look so devilishly delectable while sitting on a tartan case. It just wasn't fair.
Every sweep of her hand, every flip of her eyes, all of it had burned him inside. Too much!
Why are you here, he'd asked for what felt like the hundredth time. What are you?
Finally, she had given him an answer.
Golly, had been his next thought.
"No... I can see something... something else..."
"You're kinda freaking me out now, hun."
"I said, you're freaking me out! Why are you- don't crawl down there, it's all dirty!"
He hadn't cared. It didn't matter to him what she was. That night after her almost shamefaced admission, that was the night she finally let him be close.
Too close. Not close enough. Her parted lips sang their haunting melody. Her lidded eyes promised with caution. His beating heart had broken desperately in an effort to keep up with her.
"This feels funny. All of it. Umm, are those seeds?"
There was one night when, as he was innocently walking a street, he'd been attacked. The assailants had dragged him into a side alley and were prepared to beat him half to death when Clarissa appeared.
She had been like a dark, avenging angel, all fury and screams and cold blooded calculation, and when all the men lay groaning on the ground, she'd reached down to his face and traced the blood that was steadily dripping from a cut left by the mugger's knife. Her snarl of disapproval still haunted his dreams. None of the assailants were found in one piece. In fact, some pieces were never found at all.
"Yeah. Want to know how many there are?"
"Clarissa, are you okay? You sound like a five year old."
"Don't be so judgemental."
"How am I being judgemental? Clarissa, why are you counting them?!"
Then had come the others; fierce and horrific creatures that cared nothing for the value of humanity. They bore not one iota of resemblance to Clarissa, but somewhere deep down they were the same. Kindred spirits. Blood ties.
He hated that.
"Alright. Fine. I asked for an answer and I got one. Now can we go?"
"No, I have to finish y'see."
"Dawn's coming. We need to leave. You need to leave."
There was one who had been more persistent than the others: Alphonse de Malarkey, a short figure of a man with wisping hair and a tendency to stutter horrifically over cruel and heartless words. It was one thing being murdered by a proper villain with suave speeches and malevolent mannerisms, but another entirely to be killed by a doddering fool who showers you with spittle whilst slowly draining your life.
"You're going to die! Don't you understand?"
"I don't care. I have to finish this."
"But it's stupid! It's got Alphonse written all over it!"
They had come after him many times, to get to Clarissa. He had been her outlet into the human world. Her shining light in the endless night.
He'd loved her for that. To be trusted so implicitly was a joy all in itself.
"Maybe you're right about Alphonse... but still... I don't think it's stupid."
"What do you know? You don't remember human thought! You don't know nothing!"
"Double negative, dear."
"I don't care! You have to get up and leave! Now!"
He missed that trust. It had made each day—or more often night—worthwhile. Now there was nothing in the darkness but empty dreamscapes and longing whispers, and the day itself felt hollow and pointless, the precedent to yet another dreary night.
He'd loved her.
"No. I can't."
"You think I could stand to see you roasted alive?"
"Shut your eyes then."
"How can you do this to me? You made me love you! Are you going to ruin that now?"
She had taken him out a lot. They'd had to keep moving. One hovel after another, always moving, always running, always in search of that safe place. Always.
Then, one day, it had almost seemed as if they were safe. Almost.
Clarissa had found a small town, with small folk and small ways. Tiny and safe. Safe and tiny. But not meant to be.
"I don't know. I don't know."
"Look, just stop! It's simple! Put those things down, and come away, quickly!"
"Why isn't it getting through to you? I can no more put these down than you can live forever."
"But why? I don't understand! You know it's a trap, why can't you leave?"
He hadn't been sure. He had felt like they were still being stalked, which of course they were. He'd wanted to move again, but Clarissa wouldn't let him, had used force to stop him from going through the door. Stop him from leaving her.
One thing had led to another, as these things often do.
You know you can't trust me, she had gasped.
I do anyway, came his breathless reply.
"Just shut up will you. I need to count these."
"The sun is coming up! Right over that hill, and then you're toast! Don't you care? About me, about yourself, about anything?"
"I can't stop. I'm not done yet."
"I hate you, you know that?"
They went for a walk afterwards, because Clarissa had felt it was safe, because he needed the air, whatever the reason, they had gone for a walk.
Only one of them would return.
"But I love you too, that's why it's so unfair."
"I can't stay here, you understand? I can't watch you do this."
Clarissa had dragged him off to the local graveyard. Just for kicks. He hadn't minded at the time, he spent his every waking second with the undead, so why should a few un-animated corpses in the moonlight bother him?
Together they had made a night of it, walking from tomb to tomb, tracing past families and deaths.
"Four thousand, forty two- what?"
Then something had caught her eye, in the far corner of the walled field. The way she had become instantly fixated on it had unnerved him greatly.
What's that, she had asked. Over there?
"Four thousand forty three, four thousand forty four. Bye. Four thousand forty five..."