Simon took a deep breath, he needed to be calm or everything could go very wrong, very quickly. He made sure he was sitting comfortably, then he closed his eyes. After a moment the darkness shifted and he found himself in a large room. In the centre of the room was a large circular table, around which were twelve chairs. The place was surprisingly clean and the air was fresh. There was a slight breeze coming from the windows. Simon approached one of them at random, he looked out, not surprised that it was his own window. Outside there was a snow storm, thick and almost impossible to see through, when he squinted, he thought he could see the vague outline of mountains, but he wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just his eyes playing tricks. A gust of wind blew in through the window, carrying frigid air and a few snowflakes that landed softly on his skin, like soft, cold kisses. He knew if he looked out another window he would see something different. He counted them off, then went to the fifth, he looked out. It was raining blood, thick drops falling into an ocean, the smell of it, deep and coppery filled his nostrils. He stepped back, feeling nauseas. At least there wasn’t a storm, he remembered looking out before during a storm and getting a face full of blood.
Simon walked back to the table, not bothering to look through the other windows, there was no point, it wasn’t like they had changed over the years. He pressed his hand against the table and repeated the simple message twice, then he stepped back from the table, found his seat, and sat down. He wouldn’t be waiting long.
She was creating a new display when it came. Switching bodies had seemed prudent before, just in case someone had spotted her. It was better that they didn’t know what she looked like. The corpse froze, before it had been walking smoothly, the plan was to hide it somewhere in the gardens, somewhere where the rot and stink of it would invade the house. A young mother sat in a chair, holding her baby, her eyes wide with fear. The baby slept peacefully in its mothers arms. She had brought them both here, not knowing what she wanted with them, only knowing they would serve her well in her goal to frighten the humans. She turned from her playthings and approached a chair, she sat down and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, focusing on the darkness that fell around her like a veil. After a moment, she found herself in the meeting room. Of course they’d choose here for a meeting place, they’d never invite the likes of her into their sanctums. They were never comfortable with the idea of her being there. She stepped towards the table, one of them was already there. After a second, she placed him. She sat down at the table, scanning the room, looking for the others, but there was seemingly no one else.
“Thank you for responding.”
“Like I had a choice?”
“My name is Simon.”
“Good. Alice. I understand your pain and suffering, I understand your desire for revenge, however, you killed someone I love and for that I must challenge you. Just us, one on one.”
“We can’t love. Not really. What you felt was infatuation. You know nothing of what I’ve been through, how long I raged inside my prison. Did you know it hurt? That I was conscious at all times? That it was nothing but darkness? Did you all agree that it was best not to give me a light? That I should live in endless silence?
I want you to suffer. I want all of you to suffer. It’s simple.”
“I again repeat, I am challenging you.”
“You’re right though. I did kill your little plaything. There was another there, a child. Able to keep me at bay somehow. Him I won’t kill outright, no there are too many juicy secrets. Once he’s spilled them all, I might make him rip his eyes out. Maybe have your body do it for him. That seems fitting to me. I’m sure his mothers body is somewhere, rotting away. It could shamble after him. Claw at his skin, screaming how he couldn’t protect her.”
Simon clenched his hands and took another breath.
“Am I to take this as a refusal?:
“I haven’t responded to your challenge yet. I’m simply talking. It’s what polite people do.”
“If the next words out of your mouth do not contain your answer, I will take it as a forfeit.”
“I accept the challenge. You know as well as I do that I can’t forfeit something like that. Not when I’ve just arrived. I have plans for this place. Well, not here specifically of course, though that will come in time too. Once you’re all my slaves. We can have war meetings here.”
“As challenger I evoke my right of choosing where the challenge takes place.”
“Fine. Fine. I can see you’re not going to be any fun.’
Simon gave her the address he memorised.
“I assume to the death?”
“Loser goes back into their vessel, winner stays.”
“That’s not very interesting.”
“It’s interesting enough for me.”
“Fine. We have a deal.”
Simon stood from the table and began to walk,
“Don’t you want to talk?”
The words faded as everything turned black. A moment later he opened his eyes.
She watched him leave, a small smile on her lips. She knew she would win. There was no way she could lose. He was weak, not the weakest of them but weak enough. Something in him had changed since they had last met. Before she killed him she’d have to find out what that was.
Simon stood from the bed, feeling tired, he went downstairs to the others, they were sitting in the kitchen, mugs of steaming coffee in front of them. Simon picked one up and took a swig, “It’s done. She accepted. Her name is Alice.”
“It’s a woman?”
Simon nodded, “she is now. Our bodies are fluid until we’re named, the name gives us gender. We can still switch, but it just feels wrong.”
“Was she smug as usual?”
“Yeah, she believes she’s going to win.”
“Well, we’ll just have to give her a shock then, won’t we.”