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Authors: Crystal Cierlak

Awakening Rielle

BOOK: Awakening Rielle
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AWAKENING RIELLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Cierlak

AWAKENING RIELLE is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.

 

Text copyright © 2014 Crystal Cierlak

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any format, digital or otherwise, without the expressed permission of the author.

As always, for Jeffrey P.

Virginity was a hot commodity in the city of Raving Thistle, or at least that's what Rielle had heard from a friend of a friend whose cousin once had a best friend's boyfriend's sister in the know. Or something like that. It began as what Rielle believed was a joke, an off color remark from a well-known man who said he stayed young by drinking the blood of virgins. A good-looking man could get away with saying almost anything if he had the smile to back it up. But that was decades ago, long before Rielle was even born, and the remark had not only become something of a legend, but had sparked a kind of revolution.

No one actually called it a
sexual revolution
- that would have been far too pedestrian. Some referred to it as
the awakening
or
the fuckening
(in less polite circles), while colloquially it was known as
liberation
.

Liberation was a kind of end-of-the-world-we're-all-going-to-hell-anyway-so-fuck-it-all attitude adopted by people who were tired of doomsday depression. Once upon a time there were books whose pages were filled with stories of post-apocalyptic life set in distant dystopian futures. Not a single one of them prepared anyone for life
during
the apocalypse, which is probably why liberation had such a convenient foothold in society. Why worry about something whose conclusion was inevitable when there no longer existed societal rules of how to actually live your life?

Gone were the days of "the wars" - the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on civil rights. When humanity finally breached the threshold where naysaying and disbelief were absolutely ridiculous in the face of certain and overwhelming proof -
remember when California wasn't just a beach that bordered Oregon, Nevada and Arizona?
- everything changed.

Not content to just give up and wait for death to come knocking on their door, most people took to surviving by their basest instincts. Morality, having been rooted out of a society whose intent was to survive on their own terms, was a rare possession to own.

Perhaps that was what the good looking man with the mythical appetite for virginal blood had been waiting for, because no one seemed to question when he suddenly reappeared not one day older than when he initially disappeared all those decades ago. Immortality was an easy concept to believe in at the precipice of the existence of humankind.

That's when the stories started.

According to the friend of a friend whose cousin once had a best friend's boyfriend's sister in the know, a woman with her virginity intact had the bargaining power to obtain a bit of immortality for herself.

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life," Rielle muttered to herself even as she climbed the stone steps towards The Immortal's massive home high in the hills above Raving Thistle. Still, her belief in his immortality was enough to compel her to leave camp in the middle of the night in search of the truth, and she happened to be in possession of that rarest of rare commodities: chastity.

Immortality
. Maybe the prospect of surviving beyond the death of humanity was alluring to some, but not to Rielle. Her desire was in surviving well enough so that death came naturally, when it was supposed to. Currency came in many forms in this new era of end of days, but cash was still the main bargaining tender, and she suspected that her virginity would fetch a high price from the man whose own mortality supposedly rested in the blood of a virgin.

She would sell it to him in whatever form he required it, and then leave Raving Thistle forever, never again knowing the recoiling pang of hunger or sleeping without a stable roof above her head. She would finally have the means to travel beyond the reach of liberation where society was still operating as though it were worth saving. Dying of natural causes was a luxury, and one she intended to obtain.

From the base of the mountain and even in the city center of Raving Thistle, The Immortal's house looked like something out of time, as though it had been erected there long ago and the city had merely grown around it like a tree. There was no way to know for sure what bygone era the massive building had been constructed in, but the crumbling edifice spoke of an age that stretched back centuries. Dark stone was the building material of choice, iron and steel second, and upon closer inspection the further she climbed up the stone steps Rielle could see something of a penchant for windows; though they appeared to be looking out more than revealing what was within.

She should have been afraid. She'd never actually spoken to anyone who dared climb up to The Immortal's dwelling and return with a story worth telling, which begged the question,
Where did the stories come from to begin with
?

At the top of the steps a great lawn stretched out like a moat around the estate, broken stones in myriads of grays cobbled together to create something of a guiding surface on which to walk. Rielle followed it dutifully around the imposing structure until she reached what she assumed was the entrance. Enormous double doors made of thick and ageless wood dominated, rising far above her head. She turned quickly and looked beyond the expanse to the city down below, imagining one of the specks of light was her camp.

Resolute with the idea that that very moment was the final turning point, Rielle raised her fist and pounded on the door. It barely made a noise. In fact she doubted anyone could knock with enough force to make any sound to be heard from the inside of the mammoth home. She glanced around at her feet in search of something solid, a rock or perhaps a tree branch, anything to give weight to her knock. Just when she spotted a jagged rock as big as her forearm some several feet away one of the doors creaked open, and an old man in a dusty old suit greeted her with a stern look.

"May I help you?" His voice was crusty with age. Rielle couldn't imagine for a moment that a man of advanced years with a frail countenance could so much as open the door a crack, let alone enough for a full person to walk through.

"Hello," she greeted him with a polite but determined smile. "I've-" She stumbled on what exactly to say. Could she plainly state why she was there? Would he understand her purpose or think she was just some random crazy?

"I've come to see The Immortal," she said finally, hoping he wouldn't laugh at her for actually referring to the man of the house as 'The Immortal'. She didn't know if that was just what everyone else called him, or if it was what he preferred. Did he even have a name?

The old man gave her a quick once over before prying the door open further, much to Rielle's continued amazement. The door must have been at least a foot thick; how was he managing? She stepped inside the foyer and was immediately dumbstruck by the sheer size of the place, its ceilings vaulting so high above her head they likely had their own weather. There were surprising touches of modernity mixed among the otherwise ancient looking place. A massive chandelier lit with a million flickering candles was the sole source of illumination in the space, casting an impossibly wide net of light. Whose job was it to light those?

"Follow me, please." Without waiting for a response the old man started a walk through the foyer and veered right at a massive stone staircase that climbed high up into the upper levels. Rielle surreptitiously glanced about her surroundings, noticing the large oil paintings that peppered the walls, potted ferns that were as big as she was, and even a suit of armor complete with what appeared to be a battle-axe. What
was
this place?

She followed the old man into an expansive library. Shelves of books rose three stories high, filled to the brim with books bound in cloth and leather. Her jaw dropped at the sheer mass of it all. She'd never held a book in her hands long enough to read the text before ripping out a page and using it as kindling in a fire. The Immortal could set the whole of the city ablaze with just one shelf of books.

"Wait here, please," the man instructed before turning and walking away without so much as a formal stop. He moved quickly for an old man. If it weren't for his outwardly appearance Rielle would wonder if he, too, was somehow immortal. Who would want to be immortal at that age?

The room was far too silent. Even the books seemed to be listening, waiting for something to happen. Rielle shrugged her shoulders until her backpack fell off as it had a thousand times before. It was her constant companion, the sole receptacle of her every earthly possession, and the one tie she had to life before liberation. The sack itself was old but sturdy, well made and though ratty in appearance had held up well over the years. It had once belonged to someone in her family - her mother or grandmother, maybe. It was too long ago to recall. There was a certain comfort in knowing everything she owned was portable, able to be picked up and carried in an instant when required.

She turned for a moment to examine the room, wondering to herself how many pages there were contained within the large but finite space, and when she turned back again she nearly jumped out of her skin at the sight of a man holding her backpack.

"Bovine leather," he stated, fingers pressing into the thick fabric of her bag with curiosity. Rielle's inner alarms immediately went off. Where had he come from and why hadn't she heard him approaching? She'd long ago trained herself to listen carefully to the sounds around her; always aware that at any moment someone could be behind her ready to steal, fight, or otherwise subdue her. "A very rare item these days."

When he looked up at her the first thing she noticed was his eyes. Deep pools of brown topped with low, thick brows. His nose was prominent but on the thin side, coming to a slight point at the tip. His full lips were pursed conspiratorially at her examination of him. He was young. Maybe. It was difficult to tell, really, and Rielle already had difficulty ascertaining age based on appearance alone. Most faces she saw on a daily basis were lined with experience of one kind or another, sometimes gaunt with hunger or bloated with disease. He looked like what she imagined
normal
to be.

"Not as rare as you might think," she lied, hoping he didn't really know any better. Her heart was beating frantically in her chest and only getting worse with each passing moment that her every possession was in his hands instead of hers. Even so she didn't want to alert him to that truth. These days anyone would steal so little as a breadcrumb from you if they thought you placed any value in it. What a man who lived in that giant home would want with her insignificant backpack was beyond her, but she was cautious nonetheless.

"You smell nervous."

"I-" she did a double take. "I'm sorry, did you say I
smell
nervous?"

"When humans experience anxiety their brains release a chemical called norepinephrine." He leaned in closer and inhaled deeply, in through his nose before exhaling through parted lips as though she were emanating the most intoxicating scent. Rielle instinctively straightened her back and shoulders, her head following suit until she'd created a reasonable distance between herself and the stranger.

"Dried hydroponic fruit is more than likely what you're smelling," she said, referencing the breakfast that was still half uneaten in her backpack. "I would like to have my bag back. Please."

His eye contact unbroken, he held the bag out for her but quickly retracted when she reached for it.

"Why do you call him 'the immortal'?"

How had he heard that? Rielle's attention climbed from the leather sack to his face, noting his inscrutable gaze. He gave nothing of his inner thoughts away, but she had the general impression he was studying her like one might scrutinize unfamiliar surroundings.

"What else would you call someone who hasn't aged in decades?"

"A survivor," he responded quickly.

"I'm a survivor, but I can assure you I looked quite different ten and twenty years ago." She paused for a beat, and then added, "I don't know his real name, and everyone calls him 'the immortal' anyway."

"And what is it you want from him?" he asked. His voice, she noticed, sounded as though it would be warm to the touch, if such a feat were possible. She reached again for her backpack but he kept it close to his body, not yet willing to part with it. She knew then that she mustn't show too much of her eagerness to get it back.

She steeled herself, took deep breaths to even the tempo of her anxiety. "Who are you?" Thankfully her voice conveyed the intended façade of strength.

His eyes narrowed. "Unlike you I am not a visitor, so you will answer the question. What do you want from him?"

Rielle chewed the insides of her lips, using the moment to weigh her options. Was it a mistake to come? Was she naïve in thinking The Immortal himself - whoever he was - would open the door and accept her without hesitation? It was her impetuous nature, her driving need to survive at all costs that had compelled her up the steep stone steps of the mountain in search of the immortal to begin with. Doubt was a fear she seldom let take hold of her thoughts, but it was creeping in like water through a crack.

"A trade," she said finally. "I have something he needs."

The man's eyes roamed down her body from forehead to knees. A small smile spread across his lips as he took in the full sight of her for the first time. He took a step to her right and made a half circle around her body, stopping when he was at her back.

"What could a mortal possess that an immortal would require?" His voice swept across the crook of her neck like a cold breeze at the cusp of a storm. She resisted the urge to shudder.

"The one thing he does not have; that he needs to survive."

A single finger swept across the newly exposed expanse of skin at her neck as he pulled the curtain of her hair to her left shoulder. She silently prayed he didn't notice the shiver that came unbidden to her body.

"Countless women have come seeking the man you call The Immortal, claiming to be untouched." His lips brushed against her right ear, his breath warm against her startled skin. "Pure." He completed the circle around her, his fingers raking through her hair until the ends slipped through his fingers. "They quickly learn that a lie traded for the promise of immortality is a wasted expense." He cupped a hand under her chin and lifted it, lengthening her neck. His head cocked to one side as he examined her, his eyes lingering for a moment on her breasts before meeting her gaze again. "You may show promise yet."

BOOK: Awakening Rielle
6.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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