The Mark of Lilith
The moon was full, and reflected it's lunar light down on the Hospital grounds of the Utsunomiya Medical Center. It was a cool night, but not so cold that one needed to dress warmly. A soft breeze was in the air, which blew in the smell of the plum trees that populated the courtyard.
On this seemingly peaceful night, two female patients were out on stroll. This wasn't an unusual sight for these particular girls, it was almost a ritual. They were both in their teens of a similar age, both spent most of their lives in and out of the hospital, and both probably wouldn't live to their twentieth birthday. The oldest one, Sena Kamiya, was seventeen years old, and a cancer patient. She was pale, thin, and had lost her hair due to chemotherapy. Lately she started to wear a lose knit cap that the sixteen year old she was pushing in a wheelchair gave her. The girl in the wheelchair, Ayumi Takagaki, was paralyzed from the waist down, and also had a heart condition.
The two of them had met when they were children. As they were some of the few children in the ward that was classified as terminally ill, the two bonded. It was only between themselves that they could escape the sad looks of the adults around them, or else the endless conversations their doctors had with them and their families. Their lives were depressing in others company, but when they were together they could forget about fighting for what little life they could squeeze out of their broken bodies.
But on this specific night, Ayumi wasn't in the mood to forget about their illnesses. Sena didn't know it, but Ayumi had overheard a conversation Dr. Takami was having with her friend's family. Sena's outlook didn't look so good, and the doctor was preparing them for the worst. Ayumi had listened at the door helpless, as Sena did something rare; she had broken down and cried. Ayumi wanted to roll into the room and cry with her, but she didn't want to intrude on the Kamiya family. Now, as they did their nightly stroll, Sena was purposely not talking about it.
"Aren't the stars beautiful tonight, Ayu-chan?" Sena asked her best friend and she pushed the wheelchair.
Ayumi didn't know how to respond. She didn't care about the stars that night. All she could think about was that her best friend was going to leave soon. But Ayumi's sadness and awkwardness wasn't lost on Sena. She stopped walking, pressed the breaks down on Ayumi's wheelchair, and crossed in front of Ayumi, getting on her knees. Her face looked pain from the effort of it, the chemo was doing a number on her body. Yet she still wanted to do these outings.
"Somehow you found out, huh?"
Ayumi nodded. "Yeah."
"Well… we both knew I was the one who was going to go first." Sena gave a weak smile.
"I know." Ayumi still couldn't help but feel sad. "I still don't want you to die. After all the hard work you've done with all the treatments, it seems so unfair."
"Yeah… but I have to admit that I'd prefer it this way." Sena gave a guilty look. "I couldn't take it if you went before me. I know it's selfish, but I'm happy I'm dying first."
Nodding her head, Ayumi understood that feeling all to well. Always in her mind she had hoped that her heart would give out before Sena's body. But that was wishful thinking. Once chemotherapy had started, both of them knew that Sena's chances were slim.
"Sena-chan, I love you." Ayumi said weakly, not know what else to say. They had told each other this a million times by this point, but that didn't stop them from repeating it. Sena was the best thing in her life. The day she died probably would be too much for her heart and she might be going shortly after.
"Let's forget about all that and just enjoy the time we have left, okay." Sena's eyes were watering.
"I'll try." Ayumi gave a sigh, wishing she could. Ordinarily it was easy for them to forget stuff like this, but tonight it was difficult.
"I wish you could eat sweets." Sena leaned against Ayumi's legs as she talked. Ayumi couldn't feel it, due to her paralysis, but she still enjoyed the intimacy. "It seems to me that a cake is in order for this kind of thing."
"I can watch you eat it." Ayumi smiled. She always enjoyed watching Sena eat something tasty. Because of her heart condition, Ayumi was on a strict diet. She couldn't even remember what sweets tasted like now.
"Hmm, let's do something else." Sena leaned her head on Ayumi's lap. "I don't want you to be left out."
Ayumi reached down and stroked Sena's cheek. This had become a substitute for Sena's hair. Before she lost it, Sena would lay her hand on Ayumi's lap and that's what Ayumi would pet. It had been a long time since then, and now Ayumi stroked her face. She knew that Sena would rub her leg in return, even if it was a wasted gesture. Sena always thought that one day Ayumi would get the feelings back in her legs, and she wanted her touch to be the first thing Ayumi felt. But as usual she couldn't feel a thing.
"Sometimes I think about those people who commit suicide." Sena spoke softly, her eyes looking sleepy. "I wonder what can cause a person to do something like that. They have a perfectly healthy life and they just give it up. Meanwhile we're fighting every day just for a few more minutes."
"Does it make you hate them?" Ayumi asked.
"I don't know." Sena sat up, forcing Ayumi to stop stroking her cheek. "I suppose everyone has their problems. Just because they're not dying doesn't mean that their life is worth living. But still… I can't help but wonder how bad that life can be in order to give up something so precious."
"I've thought about it before." Ayumi admitted. "You know, on days when it all gets to be too much."
Sena took a serious face. "Don't you ever do that."
"I won't!" Ayumi quickly said. "I'm just saying I've thought about it."
Sena paused for a moment, as if trying to think of soft way to say what she wanted to. In the end she couldn't think of a way to sugar coat her thought, so she just decided to say what she wanted to regardless. "When I die… don't give up."
"Who knows, maybe you'll find a heart donor and be able to live normally for a change."
"If one of us lives, then it's like both of us has won, you know?" Sena nodded her head. "Can you do that for me? Can you live for both of us when I go?"
"I guess so-"
"Promise me!" Sena's eyes looked intense.
But she didn't have a chance to finish her promise. Sena's eyes left hers to someone behind them. She stood up on shaking legs and looked at whoever was behind them. Ayumi turned her body around in her wheelchair to see who had grabbed Sena's attention like that. At first Ayumi wasn't sure what she was looking at. Then her mind processed everything she saw and won't believe at first viewing.
It was a man. He was western looking, very pale, and completely naked. His eyes almost looked white, and he himself looked deranged. He was looking at the two of them in front of him with a strange look in his eye, then his gazed narrowed in on Sena because she was standing.
Quicker than Ayumi could believe it, he was on them, knocking Ayumi's wheelchair to the ground to clear a path to Sena. Ayumi was thrown from her seat and rolled on the ground. She screamed from the fright of it, and the pain from hitting the concrete so suddenly. She felt her heart sting, which was a bad thing. She wasn't allowed to get too excited, her heart couldn't take it. She looked up searching for Sena, then her heart got another jolt. The naked man was holding the kicking girl by her neck with one hand. Sena was choking.
"Let her go!" Ayumi shouted, and tried crawling over to them. She only could use her upper body to move, so she made little progress.
The man brought Sena close to his face, and as if she was a famished dog, he bit into her neck. Sena squealed in pain, but the bit was short lived. The naked man dropped Sena on the ground and started coughing and spitting her blood out of his mouth. Sena held her wound with her hand, and looked frightened at Ayumi. She had lost her hat from the fall.
"Ayu-chan!" Sena moaned. "Get out of here!"
"I can't!" Ayumi knew that in her panic, Sena forgot that Ayumi was helpless without her wheelchair. "You run… get help."
Sena nodded. Apparently she was panicking and needed Ayumi to bring her back to reality. She stood back up, but the man had turned around by then and was glaring at Sena like it was her fault that he bit her. He advanced on her again. Sena tried to run, but she only got a few steps before the man had pulled her into his grasp once again.
"Stop it… leave me al-"
There was a crack sound, then the whole world went silent. Ayumi saw it, Sena's head was spun around with such a force that her neck broke. The life that she clung on so dearly drifted from her eyes. The last image she must have saw was Ayumi's screaming face. The lifeless body was flung to the ground, and the naked make started gagging and coughing up blood again.
Ayumi somehow crawled over to Sena, she didn't know how she did it. She just knew that somehow she was draped over the small form of the greatest friend she ever knew crying her eyes out. She didn't even feel the pain in her heart now that her sadness was so deep. With shaking hands she reached for Sena's dropped hat and placed it back on her lifeless body, sobbing all the more. For some reason Ayumi didn't want Sena to be cold, even if she was dead.
The next moment Ayumi found herself up in the air herself, the naked man having regained his strength was now holding Ayumi up by her shirt front. Ayumi tried pushing him away with her hands, but she was too weak. He pulled her in, just like he did with Sena, and bit into her neck.
It hurt. But Ayumi for some reason felt numb to it. Her heart hurt worse, and certainly the pain from losing Sena was even deeper than that. She felt like passing out and dying right there, as the man was obviously drinking her blood. It struck her odd that something like this was happening, but her mind was to foggy from everything that was going on.
All at once, she was dropped to the ground. Ayumi was jolted back into reality from the second fall to the pavement she took. She figured the man was done drinking her blood like some kind of vampire freak, but soon realized that he only dropped her because someone had come to her aid. It was a young woman, probably in her mid to late 20s. She also was a foreigner. If Ayumi were to guess where from, it would be the middle east.
The two of them were locked in a spectacular display of martial arts. Ayumi held her neck, watching them, then remembered Sena. She crawled back over to her, which was a task as she felt weak and only was using on arm to do so. She laid on top of the still warm body, shaking. Ayumi watched as the woman pulled out something shinny, then drove it into the man's chest. The man screamed and fell down dead. The woman withdrew the object that looked like a silver pike, then stuck him again and again in the chest, making sure he was dead. Then she pulled away, staggering a bit from all the effort it took to subdue him.
"Y-You killed him." Ayumi muttered.
The woman looked at her. For the first time since this all had gone down, Ayumi was able to see the woman's face properly. She was very beautiful, but what was striking about her face was that she had unnatural pink eyes. Her mouth was open, and Ayumi also noticed she had elongated cuspid teeth. As Ayumi watched, they detracted like some kind of serpent.
"Did he bite you, little one?"
Ayumi blinked, then nodded, surprised how perfectly the women was speaking in Japanese.
"Damn it." The woman swore. She wiped under her nose with the sleeve of her shirt and walked over to Ayumi. "I'm afraid that you will become like him in a few hours."
"What?" Ayumi looked at the man she slaughtered. "H-He killed Sena-chan like some kind of vampire."
"He wasn't that." The woman knelt down near Ayumi. "He's what we call a berserker: a human that was once fed on, but not turned or killed completely. They become manics, and attack anything living they see. He tried to feed on your friend, yes? Her blood was poisoned from the medications she must be taking, that's why he killed her then picked you next."
Ayumi saw the woman holding the bloody pike still in her hand. "You're going to kill me, aren't you?"
"I have no choice, little one. Because he bit you, you have a small amount of Shedim venom inside of you."
Ayumi shook her head, feeling tears roll down her cheek once again. "You can't kill me! Not like that. I've worked so hard to stay alive all this time. I don't want to be murdered. Besides, I made a promise to Sena-chan. I told her I wouldn't die, that I'd live for the both of us! I can't die like that! You can't do this to me!"
The woman's pink eyes were watering up. "I apologize, but you won't be honoring your friends memory if you become a berserker. I have to do this."
Ayumi clutched her heart. She knew she might have a heart attack even before the woman stabbed it. Sobbing she shook her head. "Not like this…I promised Sena-chan…"
"There is another way…" The women turned her head from Ayumi, unable to watch her cry without crying herself. "I can stop you from becoming a berserker if I turn you into what I am."
"What, you are?" Ayumi remembered the canine teeth she saw. "So you're a vampire?"
"Yes and no." The woman said. "Becoming like me won't be like being alive as normal person… but you won't be dead. Being like me comes with it's share of benefits and curses. And once you become like me, you never can go back. You'll be in my world, and have to deny this one. Can you really accept that? Can forget about your family and friends to become hated by human society?"
Her heart was in pain from all the stress she was in. It wouldn't be long now before she too was dead. She wondered if she should allow it to happen. She had nothing to live for anyway. She'd miss her parents, but other than them she had no ties to anyone. Sena was gone, what did it matter?
"If one of us lives, then it's like both of us has won, you know?" Sena had said just moments before this all took place. Another tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered it "Can you do that for me? Can you live for both of us when I go?"
"I want to live." Ayumi whispered to the woman. "I don't care how… I need to live. I made a promise."
The woman had a tear falling down her face as well. "You don't understand what you are asking… but I see your resolve. Your friend was that important to you, was she not?"
"Then… I'll honor your wish. Please forgive me for what I must do."
The woman lightly took Ayumi's hand away from her wound, then as gently as possible bit into it and started drinking. Once again her body felt numb to the pain. Something in the act must spread a venom that dulled the pain. It made her feel lightheaded. Even good in a way. Then she felt thirsty. Soon that's all she could think about. That and how the world seemed to be deeming. The woman stopped drinking from Ayumi's neck, then cut a vain on her own arm, and pressed it to Ayumi's mouth. Surprised at her own action, Ayumi slurped on it.
Blood tasted different than it should have. Normally it was a coppery taste, or at least that how it always tasted before. But for some reason it tasted like the best warm drink she ever had. She drank and drank. She couldn't feel her heart anymore. She couldn't feel anything. Then a peace came over her and she closed her eyes. She fell over into the woman's lap and went to sleep. Or was she dying. At that moment she didn't know, and despite her loyalty to Sena's last wish, she didn't care.