Chapter 20 … Salvation and Damnation
The door to the bathroom opened, and Juliane exited, her face resolute and yet frightened at the same time. She was a sight, her spaghetti strapped shirt exposed the small abrasions and bruises on her bony and bare shoulders. She slumped down near the bed, and wiping both several tears from her eyes and blood from her mouth with the back her hand simultaneously, coating it in the fresh red liquid. The man had struggled to his last breath, a last pathetic gasp for air that would not bring life, nor salvation, and she knew that she should feel disgusted, and part of her did, but yet there was also a sickening satisfaction that Julianne also found within herself. She felt guilty, yet free at the same time, as if some bondage that had hung over had been lifted by some altruistic deed.
She had done just as Eli explained to her, making sure his death was permanent. It was easy… like tearing a chicken leg from a stubborn carcass.
As she sat there she began to hear the sounds again… louder then before. There was an awful buzzing sound, the sound of a struggle as if someone where struggling against to free themselves.
She rubbed her stomach, and felt the urge to vomit as images of the man's death played back for her like some disgusting 3-d movie at the local cinema. Yet this was real. She had killed a man, a man who had been her pimp for the better part of the last year. Her tormentor was gone, the nightmare that accompanied him seem to go with him. What was he after all? A man… A beast… a monster? No… just a little boy with no more ability to hurt her then any other being. She was more now, just as Giselle promised. Yet it was strange, was it all that simple?
Suddenly a knock came at the door to the closet. Giselle jumped startled, afraid of what might be there. The knock came again and Giselle stood up and came to the door with slightly trembling hands. She parted her hair, brushing away a clump of bloody strands with her slight fingers.
She opened the door to see little Eli in her small plain dress, now adorned with a bloodied hole from what appeared to be a gunshot. Yet the girl was seemingly un-phased, the only after effect being the strange macabre artifact on her clothing. Looking back up at her… and she was not alone. The girl exited the closet followed by the little blonde boy. "Oskar!?"
The boy said nothing in fact he looked a bit sick, pale… paler then he normally was.
"Are you…ok?" she asked as Eli looked towards the bathroom door. She seemed to sense the violence that had occurred there, and looked back to Juliane, demanding an answer with her eyes.
"It was Edgar. He… can't hurt us, not anymore."
"Did you make sure,"
"Yes." Julianne said with a note of finality that seemed to be more then certain.
Oskar leaned against the wall and slid down until his but hit the floor. His eyes seemed to be dazed.
"Eli…" He asked for the girl in a voice that seemed frail and weak.
"I'm here." The girl said as she came to him getting on her knees and wrapping her thin pale arms around the boy.
It was then that Julianne spotted it. A trail of blood that wasn't from Edgar, it lead to Oskar's form, and specifically to a small spot on his abdomen. Eli held her hand their, a small amount slipping passed her childish fingers.
"Eli… he needs a hospital!"
"No!." Oskar found the strength to protest. "No, hospitals."
The boy knew that the nurses would ask questions, questions that couldn't be answered. His face would be plastered everywhere, and his life with Eli would be over. Eli's life would be threatened, exposure and possibly death…It couldn't let it be, not even if he lost his life …
"Then what, he'll die? You would let him die?"
"I-" Eli's face registered the conflict as if the question made her as injured as him.
Oskar pulled felt at his pocket, and with drew a white card with a number scrawled on it. He palmed it, and passed it to Juliane who loomed over them both.
"He's a friend, he… he can help."
Eli looked at Oskar searching his eyes.
"He promised me… call him." He asked, as his breathing seemed to be heavier with each passing moment.
Juliane nodded, if that's what the boy wanted, then that's what he would have. She went to the rotary phone and began to dial with urgency.
"Tell him Ulsjvon's lake… it'll be safe there Eli... I promise. You remember the lake?"
She nodded. "Yes, I know it…"
Eli smiled oddly as if she wasn't quite sure if Oskar's promise, while well intentioned, could be kept. As Juliane began to speak Oskar turned to Eli and put his head on her shoulder. Eli nodded to the boy finally.
"We'll make it their Oskar. Don't worry I'll make sure of it."
Juliane's conversation was short, and the man sounded surprised. His voice was old, and lonely sounding. He agreed to the meeting place, quickly, almost overjoyed at the fact that he was needed.
She was about to announce the agreement to meet when a there was an odd metallic clang, then in moments the floor heaved, and explosion rocked the suite as the wood and and objects of every shape and side flew upwards. The last thing Juliane saw was a large wooden rafter flying at her, then a blinding flash that seemed to que her entrance into a world of darkness.
The help was done for the night. The professor had waited until midnight to be clear of the maid. She stayed late on nights like this, and the weather had delayed her departure. Now he was alone and could embark on his task.
He'd taken care of the little things all day. He'd finally cleaned his office, a task he never believed could be accomplished. He'd paid his monthly bills, and written a letter or two he'd meant to write for months. Now he sat in a large leather arm chair, hastily readying the last few moments of his plan. He removed his spectacles, and placed them on the chair on the top of the tome of vampires the boy had marked up.
The child had circled passages about reported vampire attacks. One specific passage was of keen interest, a Swede noble who was accused of vampirism near Stockholm. The boy seemed particularly interested in the one case of a reputed child vampire. The mention in the tome was limited, relegated to one or two sentences about the said case of a creature who'd escaped a doctor's office in the late 1800's.
Nevertheless… it was time to go, the boy would be fine. Someone would take care of him. Child services surely?
Standing up, he tossed the small rope over the tall chandelier. The sturdy fixture held the rope fast, a tribute to Swedish engineering he mused as he tested it.
He wasn't sure up until the moment the maid left if he could go through with it. But focusing on the task at hand, he did what he always did ignore the anguish and guilt, and get done the job at hand. He was to be on vacation in Prague for a month. No one would miss him. As he prepared the final moment, the phone rang.
Sandstrom stopped and stared at the phone shocked by its loud cry. At one in the morning? Who would call at one morning?
All the preparations, the studying? Everything for not? He debated with himself a moment looking at the phone unsure whether or not to answer its shrill plea.
"Oskar… wake up!"
The boys form wouldn't be awoken.
The wreckage strewn about the backlot of the hotel, had small fires and bits of furniture and every sort of debris that could be imagined. In the distance the klaxon's of approaching fire trucks and police could be now heard. Not that any human ear could yet here them, but soon they would be within normal earshot, and Eli knew that they had to leave.
The boy finally stirred, as Eli helped him to his feet.
"We have to leave, before someone comes… we have to go."
Juliane was no where to be seen. Eli picked up Oskar, using her strength to pull him upright. In moments she had fled the scene with him, their footsteps quickly being covered by the snow that began to fall heavily. Their passing forms lit only momentarily by the large street lights.
The young chauffeur stretched his vinyl gloves and turned up the heat a notch.
Ice began to form on the limousines window nearest the professor's leather seat, as the chauffeur continued to fidget with the radio. It was strange, time seemed to stand still as the first rays of the sun began to peak over the horizon. The man's gaze seemed intent on the lake below, as if someone was going to suddenly appear. It was frustrating, he had better things to do then wait at some lake side until god knew when.
"We wait a while longer."
The driver shook his head. Here it was his second month of driving for the professor, and this was the first time he felt legitimately strange about being asked drive anywhere. It was better then his last driving job. It had been a movie star that asked him to drive at all hours of the night. Only the lowest class whores and the worst areas of Stockholm were the man's frequent destinations. But then, he's been arrested for drug possession, and the men he paid to look the other way took the money and turned him anyways.
At least it was peaceful, he thought. He fiddled with the steering wheel. He turned down the radio. Then leaned back, deciding the old man could wait without him having to be one hundred percent conscious. He let his head rest on the plush leather head rest, and drifted to a place where there were lots of Spanish women and beer… and no frozen lakes at 3:30 in the morning…