The Beast, Pt. 90 (Chapter 22b)

Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?” she asks me. I look up from the floor just for a moment before my eyes dart back down of their own accord, nervous little animals.

I shake my head. “I can’t. I don’t know.”

A few seconds pass, she bends down and sits down next to me. I cringe away, but she doesn’t react. She just sits there, her head turned slightly towards me, watching me.

A minute or more passes. I’m afraid to break the silence, half-convinced that if I move or speak she’ll grow fangs and claws and tears me to pieces, but I can’t take the quiet, the inactivity. I turn to look at her and ask, softly, “What are you doing here?”

The veil shifts slightly, as if she’d just looked away. “That’s kind of a complicated question,” she says after a few seconds.

Ghostly, haunting, inconsistent, horrifying, and now evasive? If I’m going to be dragged to my doom, I want to know why, damn it. “Come on. Is that really all you’re going to say on the subject?”

She shrugs. “I’m here because you need me?”

“I need you?”

She laughs softly at that, the noise lingering in her throat, a sound I can almost feel. Hm hm hm hm hm. She shrugs. “You must. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

I want to get angry at that. I want to snarl and spit my words and say, “Oh, I need you to haunt my every waking moment? I need to be thinking about you and wondering where you are and what you’re doing and if I’ll see you again? I need you in front of me so I can freak out and turn from something resembling a responsible and mature individual into a kicked dog?” But anger’s not right. Just another kneejerk reaction. Another attempt to mask the problem, to ignore it, silence it, replace it with some new and simpler and stupider problem. Pills and powders and liquids and booze and anger and laughter and fucking and staying in bed and staying out all night and smashed Conncomms and messages sent that should have never been sent, and Jesus, you can only lie to yourself so much. There’s only so much running you can do.

My head dips down, eyes locked on some distant spot on the floor. A dog afraid to look a human in the eye. My voice comes out like a sigh. “I miss you.”

A gloved hand settles on my shoulder like a dove alighting upon a branch. “I know.”

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