Caitlyn continued to scream hysterically, until Diedra slapped her across the face. The effect was instantaneous. Caitlyn looked dazed and then came to her senses. She started to speak, then looked back over Deidra’s shoulder towards the bathroom mirror and her knees buckled.
Deidra caught Caitlyn and walked her over to the bed, supporting her weight and then easing her down onto the mattress. She lay back, curling her body up into a tight ball. Deidra sat beside Caitlyn and gazed anxiously down at her tear streaked face. Vincent had placed the girl under her care.
If he returned, before Deidra got her calmed down, it was obvious who would get blamed for Caitlyn’s upset. She shuddered just thinking about the pain he might inflict as punishment. Caitlyn abruptly sat up, looking tormented. Was she about to start wailing? Deidra cast her mind frantically about for some way to soothe her.
“Are you thirsty? I’ll get you a glass of water,” she blurted.
“No thank you. I’ll be alright. I’m just a little upset. I didn’t realize that I…that the change had progressed. I’d convinced myself that letting those…monsters feed on me was okay, that it wouldn’t affect me, as long as they didn’t complete the process. I should have known better. All those times I attacked people…I thought it was just a fever dream. That’s what Vincent told me and I believed him, because I wanted it to be true.”
“I know it looks bad right now, but the changes might not be permanent. Maybe, if you stop letting them sink their fangs into…”
“And do what? Go back to solitary confinenent in the dungeon? Go back to life under Heather’s thumb? She hates me Deidra. I’m not strong enough to cope with her sadistic mind games.”
“If you put your mind to it, you can deal with anything. Look how far you’ve come. You found a way to get out of the dungeon once. You’ll do it again. Besides, you won’t be alone this time. I’ll help you. Together, we’ll find a way to get out of here and go home.”
“You really mean that don’t you? You’re such a good person. I wish we had met sooner. Things might have turned out differently. You’ll make it out if here for sure, but I can’t go home. It’s too late for me. I’m not even human anymore.”
“Don’t say that! You just got a little freaked out by your appearance…”
“No, it’s much more than that Deidra. I’ve done…horrible things. You’d be surprised by the evil things a good person can do, under cover of darkness. Or maybe I did them, because I never was any good. The first time I took someone’s life, it felt cataclysmic. Committing such a sinful act…but then the sun rose on a new day and it was almost as if it never happened. Nightmares came for me of course, but you can get used to anything over time. Besides, the thirst for blood drives out all other thoughts. At first, it only comes over you at night. Then it grows, as the change takes hold. I’m thirsty all of the time now, it’s just not as…intense during the day.”
A chill raced up Deidra’s spine and broke her scalp out in goosebumps. She shook her head, wanting to negate the confession. Shock sometimes made people babble. The way Caitlyn was staring vacantly at some invisible spot on the wall certainly made her appear not to be in her right mind.
Deidra opened her mouth to point that out and interrupt Caitlyn’s terrifying speech. She didn’t want to hear any more of it. What Caitlyn had already said, in that weird robotic monotone voice, was unnerving. Deidra suddenly recalled the way Caitlyn had crawled towards her across the ceiling of the dungeon with eyes glowing and canine teeth extended to slash at her flesh. She remembered the agonized screams of the man being ripped apart that night, by others of Caitlyn’s kind.
The vivid unbidden thoughts sent her into a tailspin of panic. With a jolt, she realized that the petite flower of a girl, perched on the bed in beside her, became something altogether different at night. Less than an hour ago, Caitlyn had leapt from that bed, intent on killing her. What had she just said about being thirsty for blood all of the time? Deidra tried not to think about the fact that the door to the hall was still locked and the bathroom door lay in spinters all over the floor. There were no hiding places left.
With her thoughts taken captive by those traumatizing realizations and suppositions, Deidra had to force her attention back to the present by degrees. She became dimly aware that Caitlyn’s lips were moving and Caitlyn was looking right at her. For one terrified moment, Deidra couldn’t hear her. What did she miss? Was Caitlyn about to attack her again? Would she be as strong as she had been during the night? Deidra had to block out the onslaught of terrifying thoughts, in order to counteract the paralysis of fear.
“I’m sorry Caitlyn. What did you say?”
“I want to give you something.”