Yesterday, Daisy told me I had to talk to Maggie again and I really, really don't want to; I'm not in the mood to be rejected. But everything leafy and green is spying on me for her, so I should at least look like I'm trying.
I'm at the museum again, visible as I take in the antiquities. I found this beautiful painting called "Helen Brought to Paris" by Benjamin West. It's very Renaissance, even though it was painted in 1776. None of them look right; the people in the painting, I mean. Paris was way better looking than this guy, and the Cupid I know is definitely not a toddler with wings. The real Aphrodite is much prettier than this half-naked portrayal. And this Helen is kinda pretty, but she's got nothing on Mother. I shouldn't be so critical—It's not like this West guy knows any better—but I can't help comparing it to the one Da Vinci painted. Helle helped him get everyone just right. Too bad it has to stay in the Great Vault, along with some other stuff he's made recently.
I suddenly flinch as the feeling hits me: that horrible, powerful, unmistakable feeling. My eyes hurt like they would if I had suddenly opened them in the light after spending several hours in total darkness, because my pupils have quickly contracted into slits, like a cat's. I reflexively look down so no one can see how freaky my eyes look right now, even though I'm wearing my shades. I'm not too worried about weirding people out though, because there are much stronger emotions holding my attention. I look around carefully for the cause of my reaction.
Just a few feet away, a guy in his mid-to-late thirties is walking with his wife and six-year-old daughter towards the nearby hall. As soon as I lay eyes on him I'm bombarded with visions: terrible, awful visions of the things he's done. The strong emotions that are consuming my focus—rage, indignation, bloodlust— burn with greater intensity with every new insight to his atrocities. My stomach rumbles and my throat burns.
Looks like I've found lunch.
Doing my best to be subtle, I follow after him, stopping to turn invisible behind a statue on the way. My eyes still hurt, and the closer I get to the guy, the worse the pain gets. The fury and hunger are building up in me like magma, and if I can't find a decent place to kill him soon I might erupt and strike him down in the middle of this crowded hallway. Seriously, the feeling is that strong. I haven't encountered one this bad in at least fifty years.
Sometimes it's the people who look the most normal that end up high on the hit list. This guy looks like an average Joe—thinning hair, kind of tall, plaid button-down and khakis—more boring than psychotic. He totally looks like he could be a dad on a sitcom. It's a great façade; I'm really impressed. He's probably got all his neighbors and coworkers fooled, but not me, and certainly not his wife and little daughter. They know what he is even better than I do.
My eyes ache so much that I want to tear them out, my stomach is growling so loud it's practically roaring, and I'm shaking so badly that I have to stuff my hands in my pockets to keep them from twitching. The growing proximity is what's causing my violent reaction, but I can't leave him alone. I won't. There's no way I can just forget about this, not when I know what he's done to them.
Oh, yes! He's heading towards the men's room! Now's my chance! I practically jog to the men's room, but before I go in I stop to look at the wife and daughter waiting on a nearby bench. The wife is built tall and slender, like a ballerina. Her eyes are jade green and complement her light brown hair. She's kind of pretty. I wonder if people notice how tense or tired she looks, or that she has bruises peeking out from under her shirt cuffs. The little girl looks a lot like her mother, and seems too quiet for a six-year-old. She's just sitting there, soundless, not even fidgeting, holding a Superman doll. Why would a six-year-old girl dressed all in pink have that? Shouldn't she have a Barbie?
I don't want to waste any more time. He might be out soon. I slip into the bathroom as someone exits and see the guy is at a urinal. I look around, and except for me and him there is no one else here. Groovy. I was hoping it could happen this way.
He steps away from the urinal and goes to wash his hands. I turn visible without him seeing me. "On vacation with the family?" Startled, he turns away from the mirror to look at me. I take off my shades and watch with malevolent glee as his eyes grow wide when he notices my pupils.
"Uh… yes. Yes, we're here from Delaware." I guess he's going to pretend there's nothing wrong with me.
"I think I saw your little girl out there. She has your eyes."
He's totally buggin' but trying to hide it. "Yeah that's probably her, my sweet little Camilla." His laugh sounds nervous. Good. He should be nervous.
"She's your sweet little baby girl?" I ask innocently, and he nods. He looks afraid. "Do you love her?" I look him straight in the eye as I say it, my voice sickeningly sweet. I can see the blood draining from his face.
He suddenly goes from looking frightened to looking offended. "What's the matter with you, freak? Leave me alone!"
As he moves towards the door, I turn us both invisible without him realizing it, mostly so no one could hear him scream. I step in front of him and make him stop. Ugh, gross—he smells like cigarette smoke. I hate that smell. He looks at me, still teetering between fear and anger.
"It's just a simple question, sir. I suggest you answer it honestly." My voice is deadly calm.
The guy looks like he wants to throw a fit, but he answers. "Absolutely. Now get out of my way."
I don't budge. He looks like he's trying to intimidate me. I ask another question in the same steady voice. "What about your wife? Do you love her, too?"
No answer. He's just staring at me, no doubt inwardly freaking out. "I'm waiting."
"Yes." His answer is quiet. He can barely contain his anger.
And I can barely contain mine.
"Why do you hurt them, then?"
I caught him by surprise. "I… I don't know what you're talking about." It's so annoying when they lie. It only makes me want to kill them more.
"Oh, really? Ok, I'll just be more specific." I say, vehemence crawling up my throat and into my voice. "Why do you rape them?"
He's straight-up flabbergasted. Any sounds coming out of his mouth are unintelligible and inaudible. It's so obvious that his shock comes from me knowing his filthy secret rather than from my actual claim. I feel like my anger is oozing out of my pores.
"Is that still too fuzzy? Alright, fine, I'll make it easy for you." I take a half-step towards him, my scary eyes locked with his terrified ones. All the visions gather at the front of my mind to form a grotesque collage.
"As soon as you and your wife were married, you started treating her like property. You beat her if she upsets you and you force her when she doesn't want to have sex. You like to burn her stomach with lit cigarettes. Some nights, you tie her to the radiator." The visions are rushing out like vomit. "When she got pregnant with Camilla, you acted normal, loving even. But all that did was give her a break from the beatings and a false sense of security." He's still silent. I lean in slightly. "Didn't it?"
He made a sound almost like a whimper. I continue spewing out the tales of his violence. "You didn't hurt Camilla, not in the beginning. Her mom must've been so relieved, even though you went right back to punching your wife and screwing her so roughly she'd cry." My voice breaks on the last word. I can feel myself getting emotional. The visions are brutally vivid; it feels as if I'm there but I can't do anything to save them. If I were a younger, less experienced Immortal, I'd be driven to curling up in the fetal position while I held my head and screamed for the visions to stop. In every single image they have so many bruises… I snap back to the task at hand.
"You took your daughter's virginity when she was ten months old." Tears are welling in my eyes, but I blink them back. I fight to keep my voice steady. "And you've been raping her every day since. Not just you, though; there's also the men you sell her to." There's more, so much more I could say, but I can't. If I say any more, I'll cry.
He still hasn't moved or spoken. I want to attack him, to snuff him out like a candle, to save that poor mother and child from this monster. But I want to hear him confess.
"Will you admit to your depravities?" My voice is almost a whisper, and my narrowed eyes never leave his.
He's suddenly, foolishly bold. "My lawyer with eat you alive."
I explode with laughter. I sound manic, unstable, and disturbingly loud. "That is an interesting choice of words, sir, but your lawyer can't save you from me." I sober up slightly. "Are you going to admit to your sins or not?"
The man puts on a brave front. He leans in so we are only a few inches apart. "Yes. I did it. I did all of that, and a few things you don't know about. And you know what? I'm not sorry."
Yahtzee. He looks haughty, as if he feels untouchable. "What are you going to do? Tell on me? I'm a pillar in my community. It'll be my word against yours."
Oh what a silly, shameless man. "I'm not going to tell on you," My gums tingle as my fangs descend. "I'm going to kill you, you slimy son of a whore."
I am at his throat before he could even open his mouth to scream. As I rip out a chunk of his flesh, he utters a hoarse, piercing shriek that makes my ears ring. When I pull away, I chew and swallow the mangled lump of meat as I watch him clutch his bleeding neck. I wish I could drag this out more and make him suffer a bit, but I shouldn't make a mess: It wouldn't be smart to leave evidence of a struggle. I sink my fangs into his jugular and gulp down mouthfuls of blood until there isn't a drop left.
Once I was done draining him of his life's blood, I slung his limp body over my shoulder like a sack of mulch and carried it out of the bathroom. The stiff and I were invisible, so despite being in a crowd of people, no one screamed in horror. I'm sure it was a grizzly sight, if anyone could've seen it. I could feel drops of blood dripping down my mouth and chin and neck. The dead guy's eyes were still open because I hadn't bothered to close them. I had to find a decent place to dump the body, because I wasn't going to leave it in a family museum. I tossed his sorry sack of meat in the woods, but not before taking his Rolex and money. I texted Carl to let him know where to find the leftovers.
Now I'm back in the museum, cleaned up and satisfied. I don't plan to run into Maggie now, considering my recent activity. I'd feel awkward. I have until Friday, anyway. So I'm just going to hang around and listen for the kids while Carl eats out.
I'm back at that same painting as before, planning to start here and continue working my way around the exhibit. Then this lady with a stroller rolls up as I'm critiquing this otherwise awesome work of art and oh my gods it's a baby! Hi, baby! You're so teeny-tiny! Look at those pudgy little cheeks!
I am fighting with all my might to suppress my Pavlovian reaction. I want to kneel down and baby talk like a fool and boop the baby's widdle-biddy nose. But I'm resisting and just standing here, trying not to look away from the painting. Then I hear baby babble and I stupidly peek over. It's staring right at me with a huge smile on its face.
No, I'm not doing anything entertaining; I'm still just standing here. What's going on here is one of those uncanny Immortal things; children six and younger frickin' love us. They have no idea what we are, but they just know we're trustworthy. It's weird. I don't know how they can tell Immortals apart from regular people, but they just can. Even newborns go gaga whenever they're around us. It's probably my favorite thing about being Immortal, but it can make for odd situations, let me tell you.
The lady is on the phone, talking real estate and unaware of what her baby's doing. The little-bitty peanut can't be more than eight months old, and the blue shirt and overalls suggests it's a boy. I smile at him, and he makes this high-pitched "ah" sound which is so cute. His mom is still on the phone and too busy to notice.
Okay, maybe I'll play with him for just a little bit.
I crouch down in front of him and his smile gets wider. Then he offers me a soggy Goldfish cracker off his tray.
"Oh, no thanks. I already had lunch." I tell him. He pops the goldfish in his mouth.
"What's your name?"
"Dih-dih." he answers. Then he pulls his small Beanie Baby puppy out from behind his back and holds it out to me. "Ah ba ba!"
I take it from him graciously. Then I stare it in its dead, plastic eyes before making very realistic growling noises, as if the puppy is about to attack me. "No… oh no—" Dih-dih laughs his little baby head off as I pretend to get my throat torn out by his Beanie Baby. This is when I realize that people are staring and some of them have their phones out and pointed our direction. I should really get up off the floor now.
Especially since one of the people staring is Maggie.
Maggie's id is so annoying. Ever since she met that boy, Id had been bothering her about him. Every once in a while, something would remind her and she would angrily stamp out the uninvited thought; although she didn't stop herself from wondering at the timing. She met him the day before everything with Sputnik happened. A guy with a really Russian name talks to her just before the Russian mob goes after her and her friends? It's a strange coincidence to say the least. To think he was with the Russian mob is ridiculous, right? Or maybe he was with the Russian government. Oh, yeah; that makes way more sense. He's a Russian spy sent here to get Sputnik. Yep, he's definitely a baby-faced, Slavic 007 pretending to be an adorably awkward teenage boy. That was undoubtedly the stupidest explanation she had ever considered. She didn't see him that whole entire time! The important part of Sputnik was destroyed and then Henry put Sputnik on top of the shame pole—
And then Sputnik disappeared minutes later. finishes Superego. Maggie nearly stops in her tracks as she heads down the hall. As if… as if that proves anything! Ha! Maggie laughs inwardly to herself as she points a lost tourist in the right direction.
He's just a boy. Most likely from out of town, too. Given some time, Maggie will forget all about him and stop thinking about how hot it would be if he really were a spy.
Maggie rounds a corner, trying not to blush as she chastises Id for the naughty images that are flashing in her mind. It's so irritating how that stupid, annoying, gorgeous boy could make you feel this way—
Speak of the Devil. It's him.
Id freaking loses it as Maggie stares in shock at the unwelcome sight over by the Benjamin West painting. There he is, in that stupid, sexy leather jacket and messy, sexy hair. Superego is screaming silently and pulling her hair; she remembers what she promised Id.
Look! LOOK! In your face, bitch! Hahahaha!
He hasn't seen her yet, though. Maybe Maggie could just turn around and forget that she said she'd talk to him if she ever saw him again.
Aw, now he's talking to that baby!
And dammit, he's being really cute about it, too. The baby offered him food, and now he's handing him his little stuffed puppy. Then he makes the baby laugh hysterically by pretending to get mauled by the toy.
Yeah, definitely a Russian spy.
When he finally realizes he's making a fool of himself, he notices her. He's beet-red as he hands the toy back to the baby and the amused mother rolls the stroller out of the exhibit.
Avoiding eye contact, he brushes the dirt off his jeans (Let me do it! Shut up, Id!) and shoves his hands into his jacket pockets.
"Exactly how much of that did you see?" he asks self-consciously, biting his bottom lip.
I want you NOW!
"Enough," she replies. Then she changes the subject. "You've been in town for a while."
"Well, yeah; I live, like, fifteen minutes away from the museum."
Oh, son of a bitch. Superego purses her lips and crosses her arms.
Maggie narrows her eyes and looks at him suspiciously. "So, you're not on vacation? Why aren't you in school, then?"
Embarrassed, he rocks back on his heels for a second. "I'm homeschooled. Daisy says I should come here every few days because this place is educational."
He's homeschooled? Guess that explains a lot. "Who's Daisy?"
"Your guardian is a florist named Daisy?"
"Her real name is Gertrude."
"Ah," Maggie nods, understanding the preference for a nickname. "Why do you have a guardian?" The burning question came out before she could stop it.
"My whole family's dead." He nervously blurted. "Um, well not my aunt. She's in London. Alive. But she didn't want me; I mean she couldn't take care of me. So she sent me here. To America."
Holy crap; he's an orphan. And the way he said it—"my whole family"—does that mean he has siblings? Or rather, had? What happened to them? And "to America" means he isn't from here, right? Is he from Russia, or England? Why does his American accent sound so good, then?
Who the hell is this kid?
Maggie smiles sympathetically. "So how long have you been in D.C.?"
"Since late September,"
Maggie blinks. "And long have you been in America?"
"Since I was twelve and a half," Dimitri doesn't seem eager to talk about his past, but as long he's willing, she wants to find out whatever she can.
"Where did you live before D.C.?"
She watches as he blushes deeply. "Las Vegas."
Her eyes widen. "You lived in Vegas? Is that where you lost your Russian accent?"
He chuckles. "No, it's where I lost my British one. London is where I lost my Russian accent."
"So you are from Russia!"
Smiling, Dimitri nods.
"Wow," Maggie shakes her head in amazement. "So you've lived in all those places? How old are you, anyway?"
"So were you really young when you left Russia? Do you remember anything?"
Dimitri looks pained for a second, momentarily haunted. Then he clears his throat. "I was only seven, but I remember a lot."
Way to go, Maggie¸ Id quips. That must've been when he lost his parents and, possibly, his siblings. Maybe even more than that.
Keep going, Maggie, says her superego. It's in your best interest to make him uncomfortable and alienate him.
Shut up, Superego!
"So… um, how long have you lived here?" he asks, trying to make things less awkward.
"I came to D.C. from Richmond when I was ten." It seemed fair to answer, since the one-sidedness was sounding like an interrogation.
"Hm," He nods. "So, that's ten years, then? You're like, twenty-something, right? Twenty-four, maybe?"
Stunned, she blinks at him. "…I'm barely sixteen, actually."
"Uh…" Dimitri blushes again. "Sorry, um, you're working during school hours and you act really old—Mature, I mean. You don't look old, though. I mean you do—uh, that is, you're well-developed—" He shuts his eyes, horrified. "Not like that. Not that you don't have curves, because I noticed you do—Not that I was checking you out—"
"So then you weren't flirting with me last time? Since you thought I was too old for you?" she interrupted. He was flailing just fine by himself, but she wanted to spur him on. This was just too entertaining.
"Oh, no, I've been with plenty of women in their twenties—" His eyes get wide and his face gets redder than ever. Maggie is blushing now, too; she definitely hadn't expected that.
"Wow, Vegas must've been wild for you, huh?" she says, clumsily trying to ease the tension.
"Yeah, I could teach you a lot," He bites his lip, annoyed with himself for making yet another conversational blunder. It's like he can't think properly around her. She likes it, surprisingly.
Unfortunately, Id is now imagining of his educational value, which is making it hard for Maggie to think straight.
"I love learning," She stares at a nearby painting, futilely hoping she hadn't actually said that out loud.
"I wouldn't mind tutoring you," That inappropriate utterance was the last straw for him. Irritated with himself, he bowed his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I should go before this gets any more disastrous."
"Great idea!" she squeaked. Unsure whether she wanted to giggle or bang her head against a wall, she watched him stride quickly away from their train-wreck of a conversation. And yes, she totally checked out his ass.
That was horrible. Why did I have to bump into her?! The timing was so wrong! I killed a man, like, an hour before talking to her! Oh, hi, Maggie! What have I been up to? Why, I just killed a man in the public bathroom and dumped his exsanguinated corpse in the woods! How's your day going?
Also, there was that baby thing. I was such a dork! Writhing around on the floor in mock pain like a total fool… I can't believe she even stuck around.
And then there was my attempt to seem clueless about her. I knew that if last time really had been my first time seeing her, I would've thought she was much older, so I went with it. And that turned out just great, didn't it? Gods, that whole thing was tragic.
If it weren't for the sexual tension at the end, I'd say that was my last time talking to her.
I have to keep trying, don't I? For the sake of the prophecy, I mean.