Authors: Jessa L. Gilbert
A Black Novel
Origins is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2012 Jessa L. Gilbert
All rights reserved.
Edited by Mitch C.
Original Cover Art by Steven Askew
This book is dedicated to Melissa “Team Luc” Vets
will hurt the worthy.”
~ Hesiod, Theogony
“Verily wars and cruel bloodshed shall be unto men and
grievous woe shall be laid upon them.” ~Aratus,
May 30, Present Day
wake gasping in bed, the sweat-laden sheets twined around my legs, holding me prisoner. I struggle, desperate to break free from their twisted embrace as breathless sobs rack my body.
My mind is edged with sleep fuzz, and my arms are weighed down, useless against the sheets. The pale, citric yellow and soft lavender of my walls are gone, coated instead by the garish red of my nightmare. “Calm down. Breathe. It was only a dream,” I mutter, attempting to soothe myself as I squeeze my eyes shut. As soon as my eyelids drop down, I am once again assaulted by my dream.
I am running, weaving through a sparse landscape of trees. The
ground beneath my bare feet is damp and I can feel the moss gently
squishing between my toes. My feet beat out a rhythmic slopping
song as I run. Every few steps a red haze mars my vision,
illuminating my surroundings with a hellish glow. Each flash of red
brings with it an overwhelming mix of emotions- Red pain, Red
desire, Red need, Red hunger.
I catch sight of something-
- scrambling over the earth in
front of me. A girl close to my own age and build, blond hair
streaming behind her like ribbons, scurries through the trees. I can
see the sweat flowing from her, raining to the ground as her feet
beat a rapid thump-thump-thump against the carpet of pine needles
and dirt. A pleasant mixture of delicate floral soap, bitter sweat and
the coppery tang of blood resides in her wake, igniting my hunger.
It is then that I realize she is running from
- she is the prey and I
am the predator.
My eyes fly open, transporting me back to my still red-coated bedroom. I sit up in my bed, heart battering against my ribs, and take several deep breaths of air, refusing to close my eyes in case the nightmare that haunts me returns. Slowly, the red begins to dissipate and the sheets slacken, relinquishing their hold on my legs, allowing me to break free. I can hear my dad downstairs puttering around in the kitchen going through his usual morning routine of coffee and bagels before he leaves for work. Desperate for some sort of normalcy, I slip from bed and pad downstairs, pausing to gather my long dark hair into a loose ponytail. My bare feet sink into the plush burgundy carpet of the hallway, reminding me of the feel of the moss from my dream clinging between my toes. I am instantly grateful when my feet slap against the unyielding tile of the kitchen.
Dad stands at the counter, his back to me, pouring a cup of coffee, his perpetually messy dark hair at odds with the sleek business suit he’s wearing. The smile freezes on his face as he turns and sees me, the corners of his mouth instantly turning downwards as his eyebrows crease together. He opens his mouth but I quickly cut him off before he can speak. “I’m fine, Dad, really. I’m just tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“Bad dreams again?” He asks with concern.
“It’s fine Dad. I’m fine.” Desperate to change the subject, I casually glance at the clock hanging over the cluttered kitchen table. “Aren’t you going to be late?”
The reminder of work seems to do the trick. Dad looks at the clock, his eyes opening and mouth straightening as he notices the time. “I can take a hint,” he says, smiling lightly. “You know I worry about you. Okay, okay, I’m going. I love you. Don’t forget your appointment with Dr. Thorne.”
“Love you too, Dad, and I won’t,” I call to him as he rushes out the door.
Not like I could even if I wanted to.
My mom died right after I was born. She had some rare disease no one knew about until it was too late. The doctor’s don’t even know if it’s genetic or not. All they know is that it’s deadly and it can appear at any time, with no warning signs. Ever since I was born, I’ve had to regularly visit a doctor to be tested. My dad chose Dr.
Thorne, who also happens to be the doctor that pronounced my mother dead. His explanation was that she was the only doctor he could find who actually had experience with the disease. It would be an understatement to say I hate her.
My mother, who I have never met, never even seen other than in almost twenty year old photographs, died under the care of Dr.
Thorne. Even if I did have the disease, how does she expect to save me when she couldn’t save my mom? Resentful, I trudge back upstairs to shower, the warm water helping to relax the remaining tension of my nightmare away. I get dressed, and ready to face the day, head outside to my car- my one pride and joy- a black Mazda Miata, a graduation present from my dad. The air is thick with humidity, suffocating me as I climb in and roll down the windows so the car can breathe before I head off to work.
After my shift in the overly sunny Hospital gift shop, I find myself surrounded by the all too familiar scents of Dr. Thorne's office. It is a smell somewhere between the pleasantness of vanilla and the reek of rubbing alcohol. As I lay back on the too cold hospital exam bed, I let my eyes close, hoping to find a few minutes of peaceful relaxation. Just as my thoughts are beginning to slow, a voice breaks through the haze, jolting me back into alertness.
“How are you feeling today, Adelin?” a familiar voice asks.
I sit up and open my eyes and am immediately assaulted by the familiar face of Dr. Thorne,
as my dad calls her. She takes a moment to pat her already perfect blond hair into place before throwing me a smile, making me scowl. “I'm fine, Dr. Thorne. Fine, fine, fine. Eating fine, sleeping fine. No lack of energy or will to live.
Everything is fine.”
Geesh, how many times more times today would
I have to say I was fine?
“A little on edge, are we?” Dr. Thorne jokes.
“I don't know, I guess. I just wish I didn't have to have these stupid tests done anymore. I practically have scars from all the times I've had my blood drawn. Keep this up and people are going to start thinking I'm a junkie,” I half joke. I really am sick and tired of getting poked. It's not that I'm scared of needles, I'm not. You can only get stuck with them so many times before you start to despise them, fear or not.
“I understand. How about, depending on what we find with today’s test- if it looks the same as all the others- I'll see if your dad and I can't come to some agreement about your appointments. Maybe we can spread them out to every six months instead of every three, okay?” she asks gently, her chestnut brown eyes softening.
“I guess that's better than nothing. Okay, let's just get this over with already.”
She wraps the band around my arm and ties it tightly into place before flicking the inside of my elbow a few times, her long blond hair falling over her shoulders as she bends down. “Ready? On three. One, two, three...”
Still rubbing the spot where the needle penetrated my arm, I stumble out into the too bright parking lot. I refuse to let Dr. Thorne ruin any more of my day. Deep down I know it is not her fault my mom died. Mom was sick, no one could’ve helped her by the time they figured it out, but I’m still only human and as such I need someone to blame. It makes losing my mom a little easier to cope with if there is someone I can hate for it. Hate burns so much stronger than other emotions and, some days, I need that.
My eyes squint together against the harsh brightness of the sun as I walk across the solid black river of pavement to reach my car. I pause halfway across the parking lot when I catch sight of a figure squatting on the hood of my car- a distant blur of shadows against the sun. My right hand instinctually comes up to shield my eyes, causing the soft edges to shift into a distinctive person. Bryn. A smile breaks the stern line of my mouth as I rush the rest of the way across the lot.
When I reach my car, Bryn sits up straight, causing her long hair to ripple down her back in a cascade of waves. The two of us get mistaken for sisters a lot, both of us are tall with long, dark hair and pale skin, but those are the only similarities we share in my opinion.
Bryn is poised and voluptuous with gleaming, pin straight hair almost the exact shade of dark chocolate and doe-eyed. I, on the other hand, am narrow and awkward with untamable dark brown waves woven with highlights of copper and bronze, and my eyes are a dark, stormy grey. She oozes sophistication, confidence and sex appeal. I just ooze.
“So…..” she prompts as I stop in front of her.
“So…?” I cue.
“I thought maybe we could go to that new club in town….? I already called Juel- she’s going to meet us there. Whaddaya say? Can we go or should I call them back?” she rattles.
“No, it’s fine, we can go,” I say with a smile. This is Bryn’s way of helping me relax and forget about my bad day. She knows
“appointment days” are never good days for me, she also knows I don’t like talking about them and it’s best to help me try to let loose.
“Great!” She beams as she slides from the hood of my car. “You can come get ready with me at my place. You know you have nothing to wear anyway….”
“Right behind you,” I call, ignoring her comment about my clothes, grateful that she has given me an excuse to avoid my dad for a while longer.
Pulling out my cell phone, I decide to call and leave a message for Dad. On the third ring the machine picks up and the sound of my dad's voice fills the phone. “Snow residence…. We’re not in right now, please leave a message after the......”
-Beep. “Hey Dad. Everything's fine. Just calling to tell you that we’re going to Creston tonight so I won't be home until late. Don't wait up. Love ya.” As I climb behind the wheel, a small smile makes its way onto my face. Maybe today will end better than it had started.
A couple of hours later finds me dancing, without a care in the world, with a cute guy named Tyler. Apparently, Tyler doesn’t like girls taller than he is, which ticks off Bryn since he is undeniably cute, but she quickly gets over it when she spots, and I quote, 'tall, dark, and handsome' at the bar. As another song ends I spin around, noticing for the first time how sparse the club has become.
“Crap,” I say aloud, checking my watch. “It's 1:30. I have go or my dad's going to kill me.”
Tyler rakes a hand back through his thick dark hair. “Your dad? You live at home?”
Ignoring his question, I grab his hand and fish a pen out of my purse to jot down the number to my cell phone. “Here's my number. Call me sometime. I gotta run.”
I take off before he has a chance to respond, but not before noticing the look on his face that says he had been hoping for a little something extra from me. I shake my head in annoyance and then scan the club, searching the meager crowd for signs of Bryn and Juel.
“Where’s Bryn?” I ask as I walk up to Juel, all the while attempting to straighten the ridiculous black halter dress Bryn made me wear tonight. All night long the dress has been sliding every which way, threatening to dislodge parts of me I would rather keep hidden.
Now, after hours of dancing, the dress is even more slippery covered in sweat.
“You know,” Juel says as she turns around to face me from her perch on a barstool, “if you keep pulling on it like that something will pop out.”
Horrified, my hands freeze at the thought. “Where’s Bryn?” I repeat.
“I’m ready to go.”
“Oh, you know Bryn…” Juel trails off, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. “She probably got a ride.”
I roll my eyes at her comment. Bryn has so many guys following her around wherever she goest that I can’t keep track of them. This is why we always take my car when we go out; that way, I wouldn’t be stuck without a ride home. “Of course, if you happen to see her, will you tell her I left?”
“Sure thing,” Juel says before swiveling back around to face the bar.
“Night,” I call over my shoulder as I turn to leave.
Pulling up in the driveway at home, I automatically flick off my headlights. I was hoping Dad would be asleep by the time I got home, but the house is still lit up like a beacon in the darkness.