More Beautiful Than Zydrate

Feel your every heartbeat
Feel you on these empty nights
Calm the ache, stop the shakes
You clear my mind
You're my escape
From this messed up place
'Cause you let me forget
You numb my pain

He had no one until he met her. He lived on his own, fighting for his own, against every evil that threatened him. He was solely alone until she interrupted his life. The drugs had been his only love, his only passion. They both provided him with a high and a sense of danger while at the same time, a sense of belonging.

It was his job to steal and rob graves, searching for the 21st Century cure. The sense of the hunt was his hunger, his desire. He felt power and accomplishment sweep over him with each stab of the needle into each dead corpse.

He loved his life, or at least he thought he did.

Before meeting Shilo, he had no sense of loneliness, of guilt, of loss of hope, of eternal damnation. Before meeting Shilo, it felt good to be bad, good to kill the last bit of life thriving on the bodies. It also felt good to not be owned by anyone. He would spend long hours of the night with whichever rehab girl he could get his raw hands upon. They were all nameless, all faceless, all hopeless. Neither of them could give him that same sense of high as the hunt did until Shilo stepped into the picture.

Only she made him see; her purity, her kindness, and her concern was the only thing that had the same effect on him as the drug had. She made his heart skip a beat when he saw her, she made him want to be something, be better.

She made him want to quit.

Too many times, he would lie awake at night and she would be by his side, pushing the greasy strands of brindle hair from his face. She would calm him, tell him that it was okay, that the feeling would pass, and that he would be fine.

"Don't worry," she would say, "You're doing great. You'll be fine. Look how strong you are!"

But her words meant nothing. Despite how much she meant to him, despite how much his hunting broke his heart, he needed it like a drug and the fact that he couldn't have be slave to his addiction, almost destroyed him.

How can I tell you just all that you are
What you do to me

"It's worth it," he found himself saying but as soon as the words escaped his lips, he chalked it up to be delusional. How could losing his drug, losing his hunt, losing his love possibly be worth it? Was Shilo really worth the pain he felt at not being able to plunge a needle in a rotting corpse?

"How did you ever get so addicted?" Shilo asked kindly, stroking his hair.

"It's quick, it's clean, and it's pure," he repeated, "It can change your life, rest-assured. It's the 21st Century cure."

"But how could you become so attached to it?" Her voice pleaded with him, "It's like you're a drug addict or something. I just don't get it."

"Long story," his voice quivered under the heavy sweats and quickening heartbeats.

"We have time."

He rolled his eyes at her persistence. If this had been any other time, he would have shouted at her, cursed her, maybe even shoved her down but for some reason he found himself wanting to tell her the story – his story.

"Seventeen years ago…" he began, "…I met The Merchant

"The Merchant?" Shilo asked.

"I was in pretty bad shape, kid. I was living off of the streets, eating garbage and killing for whatever I could get my hands upon. The Merchant came up to me and told me if I wanted a good job that paid, to come and see him that night at midnight in the graveyard."

"Did you go?"

"Of course. It was money and I needed money. He was there and had a gun in his hands. He pulled a body from behind a tombstone and stabbed the gun into the nose of the body. He told me that this was Zydrate and that if I wanted a job, I would take the Zydrate from the dead bodies."

He paused for a brief moment, allowing his purple lips to curl into a grin, "So I did. I did exactly what he asked. It was money and I was getting paid but it wasn't enough. The Merchant worked alone besides with me. He sold the Zydrate on the black-market and I knew that that's what I wanted to do."

"You…" Shilo cut herself off, not being able to finish the thought.

"I killed him. I cut him out of the picture so that I could steal and sell without him standing in my way."

"And then you became addicted to it?"

"Something like that," the grin grew, "For every market, a submarket grows."

Suddenly his head rolled back onto the pillow and Shilo reached for the cool washcloth. She wrung the water from it and placed the compress onto his forehead.

"What kind of life have you lived?" She asked the man before her, "What kind of life could that have been for you?"

You're better than drugs
your love is like wine
Feel you comin' on so fast
Feel you comin' to get me high
You're better than drugs
Addicted for life
Feel you comin' on so fast
Feel you comin' on to get me high

It had been four weeks without a single hunt. He felt like he was going to collapse, fall down dead onto the floor but one morning, he woke up and saw Shilo in the chair next to his cot, her head was bent over in an uncomfortable sleep.

"Girl?" He reached up and gruffly shook her awake.

"You're up!" She smiled excitedly at him, "How do you feel?"

"Better."

"Good. Do you want me to run out and get you anything?"

"No!" He shouted, "Stay."

"As you wish."

So Shilo stayed. She stayed next to him as he shared his story with her, as he cursed her, as he screamed, as he cried, as he threw the water pitcher from the bed-stand at her head, as he told her leave, as he begged her to stay, she stayed.

"Why are you doing this to me?" He screamed, "Why do you put me through this pain! I fucking, hate you! Get out of my fucking house! I never want to see you again!" His voice shook the walls and he reached over and threw the pitcher at her head.

Shilo remained firm.

"You don't mean that," she told him, "This isn't you. It will pass."

And she stayed.

And, just like she had said, it did pass.

"Shilo," his voice was soft, apologetic.

"Don't talk. You need to rest."

"I…"

"Rest," she commanded, "I'm not going anywhere. I promise."

Feel you when I'm restless
Feel you when I cannot cope
You're my addiction, my prescription, my antidote
You kill the poison
Ease the suffering
Calm the rage when I'm afraid
To feel again
How can I tell you just all that you are
What you do to me

"How much longer do I have to stay here?" He asked.

"One more week. I have to be sure that you're broken from this. You promised me you weren't going to hunt any more. You said that you'd quit for me and we have to break you of that addiction before you can really quit."

"I'm bored."

Shilo laughed, "You sound like a child."

At that comment, his face curled and morphed into an ugly mask and he scoffed, "I am not a child."

"You're right. You are being really strong about this, did you know that? I don't think most people with an addiction of this level would be so strong. I am proud of you."

"What did you say?" He demanded.

"I said I am proud of you," Shilo repeated, "You can beat this. I know you can."

"You know, if you weren't here, I don't think I could be able to do this either. You're really something, Shi. You kill the poison, you ease the suffering, you calm the rage."

"Please," Shilo shrugged off the compliment, "It's nothing."

"It's everything."

Feel your every heartbeat
Feel you on these empty nights
You're the strength of my life

"I can't describe it but for some reason you give me strength. I don't even know why I am doing this for you. I have never let anyone tell me what I can and cannot do and now here I lie, letting you take away my only release."

"It's called compassion and friendship," Shilo smiled, "You aren't the monster you want us to believe. You are something more, something better."

"You're the only one that believes that. Why?"

"Why not?" Shilo retorted, "Why not give you the chance you deserve? Everyone deserves a chance."

"Even me? I lie, I cheat, I steal, I kill, I hurt and I don't even regret it. Do I even deserve a chance?"

"Of course you do. In these past weeks, I haven't seen you lie, cheat, steal, kill, or hurt. You're not that person anymore."

"Then who am I?"

"You're…" Shilo paused, "Who were you before you were the Graverobber?"

"Christoph Blackwood."

"Well then, you're Christoph Blackwood."

"You don't even know anything about me," he shook his head, "I don't even know anything about me."

"I know your name is Christoph. I know you were willing to give up everything for me. I know you have a good heart, and I know you are not a monster."

"Is that enough to know about me?"

"That's all I need to know about you," Shilo put a hand on his arm.

"Lie with me?" Christoph asked, "Just…lie here with me. Let me feel you next to me. I need to feel you, I need to know you are real and not some dream."

Shilo nodded and crawled into the bed next to him.

"I wish I could say something more to you," Christoph winced, "I wish I knew what to say."

"Say nothing," Shilo offered, "Say nothing but let us just lie here in the night together. I can feel your heart, Christoph and I know you love me."

"I don't even know how to love," his voice was coarse, rough.

"I think in these past weeks, you've learned."

He smiled and laid his head back on the pillow. She laid down, her head on his chest, smiling as he intertwined her fingers in his.

"You're beautiful you know," he said, looking at the girl next to him, frail, skinny, bald.

"You're beautiful too, you know," Shilo beamed at the man with greasy, multicolored hair, whose teeth were yellowed and skin unclean.

No one else, besides themselves, would call each other beautiful. Of course, no one else had spent five weeks with each other in their care, learning to love, learning kindness all over again.

Feel your every heartbeat
Feel you on these empty nights
Feel your every heartbeat
Feel you come to get me high