5 February 2012

Counting Bodies Like Sheep

This is a scene I wrote four or five years ago.

It is a sketch of how events might have transpired after a very, very angry Merit discovered her father had paid Ethan to make her a vampire.  Unlike in the books, this scene supposes Ethan accepted the money.

It was inspired by the song “Counting Bodies Like Sheep” by A Perfect Circle.

* * *

He lay in the midst of the large, dark-oak bed, one hand curled behind his head, a sheet hitched up to his waist. His abdomen was bare, his chest rising and falling in sleep, a lock of blond hair across his face.

He slept peacefully.

I gripped the handle tighter, the leather cording biting into the skin of my palm.

He shouldn’t look fucking peaceful. He’d lost the goddamned right to look peaceful.

I reached the side of his bed, lifted my left hand, gripped the sword, and raised it horizontally, inches from his neck.

And I stood there for seconds.

Minutes.

All the while, I weighed the balance of his life, considered the costs and benefits of his death—of the justice of it. All the while, Ethan slept peacefully, eyes gently closed, his body still and heavy with sleep.

And then, the right corner of his mouth tipped up. Even in sleep, he smiled at me. He smiled that goddamned human smile that never failed to undo me, that forced me to recall that obsidian sliver of humanity that resonated somewhere in the otherwise empty cavern of his heart.

I closed my eyes, felt hot tears flow, squeezed my hands around my sword.

No.

I hated him. I could do this. I nodded. Oh, yes, I could do this. One motion, one cut, one strike, and I’d have my revenge. He’d taken my life, my humanity, everything I’d known.

Thirty pieces of silver, Merit.

He deserved this, the goddamned Judas.

And then I opened my eyes, jaw trembling with emotion—with hatred, betrayal, humiliation, mortification—salt drying against my cheeks, and realized I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill him. I couldn’t take his life, regardless of how easily he’d taken mine.

I hated him.  But I couldn’t hate him enough.

So I forced air down my emotion-tight throat, and pulled her back.

With my left hand, I gripped the Cadogan medal around my neck, tugged, and felt it slip into my fingers. Fingers outstretched, I let it fall to the soft, white sheet beside him. And then I pressed my lips against the pommel of the katana, said a silent prayer, and lay it on the bed beside him.

The next evening, he’d awaken. He’d find my sword at his side, the medal torn away, and he’d know that I knew. He’d know I’d discovered his treachery, that I’d had the chance to act, and that I’d spared his life.

And this time, he’d owe me.

Thirty pieces of silver.

At the threshold of the door, one hand on the frame, I looked back. “I love you,” I soundlessly whispered, then dropped my head, and left the room.

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