Бесплатный фрагмент - Mutilated

Crypt of the Seven Angels

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The blade slid on the skin, and there was a pain: a sudden, cutting, burning. Claire frowned and put aside the knife. The pain was stronger than usual, but the visions immediately retreated. The mirror in front of it became empty, only tiled walls of the bathroom reflected in it, her own clean, similar to the angelic face, assembled in the tail golden curls and the bleeding cutting wound on the elbow. Traces from several already healing cuts remained near the shoulders. Good angel! Claire crookedly grinned and immediately became serious. In the angels there is something mystical. The innocence is not so beautiful as the mystery, hidden in them and the debt of the cruel roaring other people’s sins. What is good here? Not only in the fallen angels, but in the real, some kind of cruel, inexplicable power is hidden. What makes them so attractive. And what makes people, externally similar to the angels, get involved in their own fears and even implement them? Something fascinating is how the blade dissects the skin, as some people are applied to the bottom of the razor blade on their own toungue or skip the skin from the lips. For the last she would not have decided. Scars remaining in her body, you can hide, putting the jacket. The blade cannot be touched her face.

Claire touched with finger tips the last cut, and the pain burned even more. But the vision is disappeared. She wanted to make a certain demon inside her consciousness to keep silence, and he kept silence. For a while! As long as the pain becomes less strong, and then he will return again and she knows how to stop him. The knife always lies near the mirror and there is her blood remaining on it. But in the mirror itself reigns emptiness.

Where is the face that she has recently seen? An attractive, charming, with nothing comparable face. Claire stretched her hand and touched the mirror. And where is the face with scars? A terrible mask from the stripped skin and cuts. Claire with disgust turned her back on. Where is the one she loves? Who is he? What awaits her on his way, where does he keep her so diligently? She did not see his scars now, but others will see: those whom he will kill tonight. And no one will even understand that these people died not by chance, but thanks to him.

«Donatien!» She called. It was the name that she gave him herself, she took it from some boulevard novel or a second-class horror film, which she was looking in the childhood. Nobody knew this name, even he himself, unless he was looking at her through the mirror. What if this name is his own? Who is he really? Mutilated or beautiful? But for some reason his name in her memory remained under the importance of mutilated. Claire knew nothing about the evil spiritss, but he appeared, and she had to learn… until everything remained a lot in secret. He came increasingly, and only the pain scare him. Her pain. But the pain of other people he even enjoyed. Why did he not want to make her suffer? Scars have already been a lot. On her body will soon be no living space. Does she ever touched the blade of hers face? Only in case of extreme need. In the meantime, the demon disappeared. It is only worth calling him a demon, because in fact he is something much more terrible.

Chain of victims

Month before

There is morning in London. Together with it came the usual noise of traffic and people hurrying to work. Claire didn’t like bright sunny rays. She was not used to getting up early. Recently the night began to attract her. If it was not for business, she would not have risen from bed.

So it all started. Study, work, thoughts about classes… Everything was mixed in a solid cocoon of the usual and annoying routine. She did not wait for something unusual today. The most unusual thing happened to her was an early rise and a cup of coffee at breakfast. She did not want to tear off her head from the pillow, but the stack of sketches in the folder was waiting. Claire has long been going to take her work on the studio. Today’s morning was suitable for this. She needed money. And the idea of returning to the University didn’y like her. Claire hated studies. She was not allowed to comprehend systematic sciences. But creativity brought her a small profit. She was enough for her. Even quite. Clair got used to live modestly. The only luxury that she possessed, perhaps, was her face. People often accompanied her with delighted glances. Not often you will see something so beautiful in the middle of the usual urban fuss. Clair was accustomed to her beautiful appearance so much that it was not for her the special gift of heaven. Up to this day! Today she realized that everything could change in one moment.

There is nothing stable in this world. Even wonderful things in one minute can turn into ashes. The same rule applies to people. They are also easy to destroy, as some museum rarity of the Renaissance’s era. And only a terrible skeleton will remain.

Claire was tired and sleeping. The tram was half empty. She sat on a double seat and leaned off his forehead to the window. The travel ticket lay in her pocket. The smell of hot dogs and mustard tickled the nostrils, but Claire did not feel hunger. Maybe it only seemed to her that a thin aroma of freshly cut roses was mixed to the daily smells of perfumes and sweat of the crowd. Absorbing eyelids, Claire presented to herself this rose, just cut into any magic garden. Someone’s fingers squeeze the stem, and suddenly blood appears on the spikes.

It looks like her ordinary dreams! Claire with difficulty opened the eyelids. How bad do not get enough sleep in the morning! She forced herself to be held on the seat and look at the melted urban landscapes.

London is a nice City. It is so calm and good. The proximity of the Thames does not inspire a danger. And there are no prisoners in Tower today. And yet… somehow is it too quiet today.

Claire looked at her beatiful reflection in the window glass. She looked great. Only today, some shadow flashed in the window. As if someone else’s reflection was laid on her own. And although the seat close was empty, Claire turned around. Nobody. But she was almost sure that she sees someone…

Suddenly something similar to the solar strike occurred. Claire did not even expect this. The tram made a stop, and a couple entered the wagon. The most common teenagers are in appearance, but she even almost dropped the folder with sketches. Yes, what about her? These people… She had previously seen a couple, but this… The girl in appearance was the most common with a mouse tail and a nonsense makeup on her face. Claire could not tear the eye from the boy. What is it in him? In this guy? She didn’t even like him. However, something in the bend of his eyebrows, in the lip lines, even in a slightly female laid hair seemed vaguely acquaintances.

Effect similar to shock! On one moment Claire lost a sense of time and orientation. Even when the couple came out from the tram, she still felt herself bad. The time as if stopped. With difficulty Claire turned around. A new boy immediately attracted her attention.

Clair caught his breath. She felt as if she had just appealed to the statue. Pain! That’s what she was covered by the form of an unfamiliar young man. The pain piercing like a knife. Pain like a strong sunlight. But why? After all, it was not love, and not a passion, and at the same time, the head was burning like fire. Claire covered eyelids to cope with it. The face arose in her mind remains beautiful only a moment. Probably, this is her own pain, playing with the memory of the joke. A beautiful face burned like on fire, covered with scars and injuries. Claire has become scary.

She has an excellent imagination. It was that allowed her to paint. She knew how to invent characters and plots for drawings, which no longer succeeded anyone. However, now the fantasy was at nothing. Probably, insomnia affected. Non-sleeping people always become the most impressionable. As well, drunk. Or taking drugs. Claire, fortunately, belonged only to the first category. But she heard about visions that are pursued by drug addicts. Today’s vision was like it. It was worth covering the eyelids, and she saw the face of an angel in the fire. She preferred to draw more relaxed plots: fairies and elves in the garden, Undines and mermaids in the lagoons, Leprekhuns on flowers. Fabulous plots were intermitted with the pictures of nature and bright exotic birds. Claire loved to imprint on paper something beatiful. In her works there was no mystics. Anything ominous! It was her main principle: only please the eye, and not scare the viewer. Taboo on any sinister hints! But today she suddenly wanted to break all the rules. Take and draw something so terrible that it scares everyone. As her own, a beautiful face was frightened, which is gradually covered with burns and scars.

Danger to sleep on the go. Everything can continue anything. Claire did not want to destroy the usual stereotypes, and yet the fingers themselves reached for a pencil. She just had ten minutes to the desired stop and several clean paper sheets for sketches. It is necessary to try to spend time that remains for the trip. The tram moved smoothly along the rails. She tried so much to reproduce exactly the person saw in the crowd, that she almost missed the desired stop.

She was lucky to sell all the work and even get an order to illustrate several magic fairy tales at once. She has never been so lucky in her life. Firstly, it will be necessary to draw on her favorite topic, secondly they will pay her well. Claire has already received an advance and was going to sit at dinner in some cafeteria. She just looked through the most pretty building among street eaters when her gaze again attracted a passerby.

The stranger seemed to look at her and at the same time he looked somewhere past. Oh God, he is so beautiful, flashed in the head, as if a prayer. Hows so beautiful boy can be alive! It’s a place for him, nor in London, but in some palaces of Italy or France, in the museums, among the gallery perfect sculptures… Yes, something like that can meet there. But only not here. Not on the passerby part of the street. Claire almost screamed, noticing that some bus moves right on him. But the young man did not pay attention to the transport stream. He looked back at Claire. Now it is for sure. His blue eyes flashed like a blade in the sun. Claire did not even have time to carefully consider his features. They collapsed like paper under the head of fire. Literally! Here it is harbing his skin and burns, here are terrible cuts of depth to the bone, here poisonous ulcers eat forehead… and nothing remains from beauty. Only a terrible mask of the Russian Academy of Sciences. But it’s still he! The one who attracted her attention is like an angel from heaven. The one for another minute ago was so strikingly distinguished by its beauty from a nondescript crowd. And here it is mutilated.

Claire wanted to scream and could not. The lips did not obey. In the throat, it was stuck cold com. She saw a stranger of all instant, and here it is no longer. Is it really stamped? Maybe yes.

The girl was tired of shuffled, turned around and went away. Itself is not knowing where. How strange that the imagination plays with her such jokes.

However, the noise on the next street were not imagination. Something happened. The pillar of a peaceful street, according to which she just passed, did not speak anything good.

Claire with difficulty squeezed among the people. She did not really know what happened, just saw the chips, felt the smell of something burning from the charred bodies, which were hidden on the stretchers of Sanitars. Before the corpses wathered in cellophane bags, she still managed to consider that the people of the dead turned into terrible masks from the bones, burns and wounds. Nobody recognized them. But Clare recognized. She was rushed into the eyes of bizarre bracelets on the hands of a dead guy and a skirt of a teenage girl. According to the signs, this is the same couple that she saw in the tram in the morning! But how can it be? They hurt her with their appearance, and in the evening they are already dead… It looks like a work of the demon!

«How?» She herself did not notice that she said it loud.

«Neon sign caught fire, there, at the top,» someone from the idle onlookers standing next to her, helpfully suggested. Blissful! He did not even understand what she had in mind. Claire looked at the wreckage of the signboard, as on her own catafalque. Why should this have happened that she turned her close attention to those who were doomed? Could her wish to get rid of pain killed them. Pain, which arose like a flash, at the sight of these people.

Labyrinths of dreams

Claire recalled her today’s conversation with the employer at the studio. He praised her. In her works there was something new and unusual. Even when she painted on the same topics as others, she did it with some amazing novelty.

Claire did not like when she was praised, so she did not listen, but she studied the paintings hanging on the walls. They were beautifully combined with purple lambrequins. There was no contrast, only the fusion of gold frames and luxurious tones of a wall sheat. Her view attracted one picture written in a terrible Gothic style, but with elements of the Renaissance era. It dramatically stand out among the landscapes and still lifes. «Remember the death» — as if her plot reported. If it were not for the terrible elements of the painting, then it could be adopted for the ancient museum exhibit.

«Who is it?» Claire asked, nodding on a terrible portrait. Her lips almost did not obey.

«Who do you mean?» A polite question is slightly amazed. Is it not immediately visible. After all, a canvas with a portrait so stands out on a monotonous background of other paintings that decorated the walls.

«Aristocrat with a skull,» Claire brought her hand to her throat. This man squeezed in his hand a knife. There was a dead beauty in a luxurious old outfit in the corner of the canvas. The pearls crumbled around the corpse. The same as her. Claire has on the throat fine pearls of a thin necklace, which she almost never removed. She always liked pearls.

«You know, you need to start drawing in the Gothic style,» noted her tenant, it seems he was in a hurry to push her to something. «Now it brings a lot of profit and benefits. Fashionable direction,» he glanced at the portrait. «Death and beauty! Just what is required by the public for the severity of sensations.»

«I’ll think about it,» Clair promised. In fact, she thought about something similar for a long time. In her room hung reproduction of gothic paintings. Beauty and death really attract when they are presented in a uniform combination. And of the fact and the other equal: and the magnificence, and horror.

Claire was looking for contrasts, collecting at home and wonderful things, and scare away. Tragic masks moved on the walls with luxurious Venetian. Antique mirrors reflected the skulls from shops, where they traded with whiskers and lush paper roses. It is the contrast of bundes and luxury created a strong effect. It should make this effect in her work. It will not be difficult. The fairy tales, which she illustrated, will become only a transition to something more ambitious. The fabulous basis itself was already becoming a link. In her pictures, the gnomes kept their gold among human skeletons, the trolls carried severe heads of the princesses in the bags, the fairies in cemeteries drank blood of mortal knights. Even the most beautiful fairy tale must be something terrible to make a proper blow to the perception of people. The work of art should be unforgettable. Claire fell asleep with these thoughts.

Venetian masks from the walls watched her sleep. Shadows ran through the picture overlooking the bridge of the sigh in Venice. Claire often regretted that she was not there. She was drawn to the channels. Today she dreamed the noise of water, the drying of the silk curtains and the sharpness of the blade. In a dream, someone raised the knife to her neck, reconcile to cut or the skin, whether the pearl necklace with whom she did not part. Either one or another… Claire sighed in a dream. A hand with a blade was burned. So horror!

The girl woke up. It was night. Claire even regretted that she did not turn on the desk lamp before bedtime. The room was so quiet and dark that goosebumps running on the skin. In addition, it seemed to her that someone sits nearby. Right on the edge of her bed.

Satin bedspread slightly stretched under whose weight. Claire dropped her hair strands from her forehead and stared in the darkness. The fact that she could see seemed to her continuation of sleep. At the bed, someone sledged, as if dwarf. He had a manner of an evil gnome, even though figure and had a giant dimensions. Almost everything, except for hands and face, hid a cape, the same black as the darkness around. One thing was impossible to distinguish from the other. And yet, Claire managed to see that this man was strongly maimed. According to his movements, according to his deep sighs and convulsive gestures, it was possible to decide that he had just left the chamber of torture. But now it was impossible to be called him the victim. He longed for blood himself. Claire wanted to shout, call for help, but she could not. A hand with a knife leaned toward her shoulder, as if playing, spent the blade on the bending of the neck. The knife did not wounded until, but the chill began, in contact with the lively flesh, caused the feeling of intimacy of death. What a brutal game! True! And Claire for first glance regretted him for how he was crippled. It is a pity that it did not prevent him from hurting other people.

How is he just penetrated into the house? Does she forget to close the door? Or is the window too low above the ground level? Why did she not occur to pick up the windows with lattices? Someone could get here through a balcony or reveal the window through the unclosed file. If only before it is not a creature of sleep. Claire was waiting for what will happen next. The knife froze at the pearl necklace on her neck. The stranger looked at her as if he was waiting for something. Some kind of recognition. He asked if you would remember me? But she did not remember. Even if she saw him somewhere on the street among London’s beggars before, she could not remember him.

He waited, the blade froze on her throat, and suddenly his voice came: a hoarse and dry, as if escaping from the labyrinths of sleep and grave land.

«You can’t even imagine how valuable: have beauty,» he whispered and the blade, caress, touched her cheeks. «In untouched form!»

He intentionally stressed the last words. All the moment and he could displease it, having kicked the blade along the cheek. All was in his power. She will not have time to dodge. And even if she has time, she does not break out of his hands. Claire has shovel breathing. One moment will solve her fate. Whether she will have to die immediately or live further, and covering the cheek with the scar. Before that, she really didn’t think that it was valuable for a person, that his face was intact. One wave of the knife could change everything.

But the hand with a knife did not make any sharp movements. Claire felt like a chill of the blades distinguished from her, like the man who was sitting next. If only this miserable similarity could be called a man.


But he has already gone into darkness. Claire did not hear a sound of steps. She felt like a nightgown clenches from the shoulders. The knife managed to cut lace straps, but did not touch the skin. All things in the room also remained intact. Although there was a lot of valuable things, the attacker did not take anything. He only wanted her. Her face. But for some reason not touched. Claire instinctively touched her cheeks. There are no scratches on the skin. And yet frost sobbed to the bones.

Who was this night guest; High, but hitched, like a dwarf, the whole dark, but covered with a ball of bloody scars. The guest with a knife! He brought his knife directly to the bed of Claire, but, leaving, left on the bed, not a blade, but a red rose. It was not difficult to guess that the rose was in her garden, and someone’s blood remained on the spikes.


The bright sunlight expelled bad memories. Claire woke up early and examined the windows and doors. She did not find any signs of hacking. There were also no traces of the house penetration. Nothing was damaged or stolen. Everything remains in their places. The night guest could consider the creature of nightmarish dreams if…

If it were not rose.

It still lay on bed, with a fresh cut on the stem and bloody spikes. Someone cut off the flower with a knife with a bush in her garden. She herself raised these roses: purple-red, large, with velvety petals. The roses demanded a lot of care. Claire never cut flowers in vain. It is excluded that she herself could forget and disrupt the spiny flower. This did someone else. But who and how?

Claire wanted to take and throw a rose, but only wounded her fingers about the spikes. Her blood ran out on the bed. On the blue atlas there were sloppy strokes, similar to paint drops. What a pity! Dear fabric was ruined. Claire shuddered. In her soul, some long-standing memories of the luxurious passage commissioned by blood was moved. That was someone’s wedding dress stitched by the pattern of vintage mod. Claire rushed for a long time in her memory, but it was not able to remember whose dress it was, and why blood dripped on it.

She left attempts to raise a rose with bare hands. There was nipper in her garden basket. You need to go, get it and take the rose. The fingers were wounded. Claire was offended Why did she take care of the flowers! At the same time, the pain gradually appealed to some kind of pleasant burning in the tips of the fingers. Claire was even surprised. Previously, pain was frightened, but now… now she even felt the relief from the fact that someone’s blood on the spikes of roses was mixed with her own. As if it was already once a long time ago. As if it is so nice and exciting — to divide someone else’s pain. The pain of whom she does not even know.

A wonderful face, a glimpse of the scary incident in the crowd, shifted yesterday in the crowd, again flashed in her subconscious. Only now it did not burn her. She even remembered where she saw something similar. Of course, in the church. Only there, on the frescoes, the faces of the blond angels were simultaneously strict and suffering. She didn’t have to repeat this expression in the paintings. As artists of antiquity only went out to breathe in those faces something unearthly. Angels, carefully discharged with a brush on the walls of the church, simultaneously inspired fear with their desire to shake everyone and at the same time source was out of the strange flour for everyone who watched their terrible eyes. And punish, and suffer… expression in halftones. Claire wanted to repeat it and could not.

She’s not such a good artist, as masters who lived in old dark epochs. She is a person of the future.

Claire did not understand herself. Why should she imitate someone? It is better to engage in photography and computer graphics in paintings than to mess with brushes and paints. It is necessary to become more modern. All the same, for some reason, she liked the emerging from fashion, but the usual methods. Canvas, watercolor, gouache… Paints, similar blood. She presented how millions of various lack of tones are mixed at the palette. What a divine and fantastic vision. The blood of her enemies, prompted the mind. Such a wonderful combination can only give birth to it.

«Blood of our enemies!» suddenly the helpful voice corrected. A beautiful tenor with barely noticeable hoarse. Claire turned into horror, but there was no one in the house. Only her own frightened reflection in the mirror with fear looked at her with a far wall of the hall. Sometimes even self reflection can scare. Especially considering that the hall was drowned in the semidarkness. It was necessary to take away heavy curtains that did not miss the sunlight. Claire did it, and yet it seemed to her that in the mirror managed to spit out some kind of dark shadow. Right next to her reflection.

True, all this was more like an optical deception or hallucination. Surely, long loneliness badly influenced the mind and contributed to the generation of different frightening fantasies. Claire must have her privacy to work well. Annoying relatives and friends would only crack her nerves and tear off from creativity. Employers require the quality and rapid work time. Claire realized that loneliness is her friend, and not the enemy. She liked the silence of an empty house and the complete lack of need to chat with someone about the trifles, walk to friends for lunches and dinners, maintain a conversation and cope with tedious birthdays. It is better to always be alone. When you are alone, the doors are open to inspiration and for someone else who hides in the dark. But she considered the last as a fantasy.

Demons do not exist. Claire did not remember how long she did not go to church. It was due to the fact that the temple was not allowed in jeans and with a uncoated head, but today she decided to violate all the conditions. If God is, he doesn’t care what is dressed in parishioners. After all, the main soul, not an appearance. And if the outer shell really corresponds to the soul, the Claire was as beautiful as angels on the frescoes. If not even better.

She turned into a bustling bushes of roses, who had fallen a wrought hedge around her house. Spiky branches were additional protection against robbers. It is unlikely that someone would have decided to climb through them. She bought this house and made a lush pink garden with abundant spikes especially in order to feel herself at rest and security. No one could penetrate here, do not pour out on the spikes.

Often looking in the mirror, Claire noted that she, too, like a rose with spikes. Beautiful, but far from being compliant. You will try to disrupt — we will erase the blood. In her pocket, she specifically wore a folding knife for self-defense. Such are usually only fur guys, but it has not doubted that in case of danger, she will be able to use it perfectly.

Claire pulled a knife from her pocket to feel his weight in hand and chill blade. Her oppressed the feeling that something terrible is approaching. Maybe it seemed because of the gloomy atmosphere, which was created around the house too crushed roses. A little more, and they will stop skipping daylight into the windows.

Claire squinted on a bright sun. She remembered that today is Sunday, and in the church must be full of people, but, to her surprise, there was a few parishioners. They just took the communion. Claire managed only by the end of the service. In a strange way, no one paid attention to her causing teenage outfit: a narrow jeans and a short top that opened a tattoo in the form of roses on the stomach. All behaved as if Clair was not here. She could not remember when the last time the parishians in the church showed such politeness. It must only be in the Middle Ages in Venice, when it was allowed to go to the church even to the courtesans to look among the parishioners their future customers. But here it was necessary to be different.

Claire leaned to the marble column in the shade and began to consider the angels drawn in simpleness and under the dome of the temple. She had to head her head to see the drawings that she liked the most. Unfortunately, they were set too high. If you look at them for a long time, the head begins to break.

But they were drawn to masterfully. Claire almost heard the rustle of the angel wings, when she looked at the frescoes. Beautiful faces looked strictly and with indescribable torment. How their beauty is contradictory.

Claire looked down and flinched. It seems to be burned fire. Again! A young man with blond hair and a surprisingly beautiful face came from a bowl with communion. He did not even look toward Claire, but she could not take a glance from him. What is in him, in this young beauty? She saw young men and much more nice, but from the type of this she was like shocked. The feeling was as if she was thrown into the fire, and she could not move in it. Punch in the head, kick in the heart! So people are driving crazy. But it was not love at all and not even sympathy. The face that she had long tried to restore in memory was completely different. Nevertheless, this stranger seemed like this similar.

Claire was worth a lot of effort to get out of the church and sit on the bench in the courtyard. The feeling of fire and sunburn in the mind did not disappear. And what is the actually, she saw? She became somehow alone. she wanted this feeling gone. She did not even know how to describe such a strange state. You see someone, you pierces you like a fiery pin and you are not alive, and neither are dead. The light of the day is fading before this sensation. You wonder for a moment cease to live.

It never happened to her. Until recently. They said that something similar happened to people who are too often going to the sacrament — the devil begins to tempt them. But today she did not even approach the bowl. The priest vainly turned a look at her. Claire did not allow herself to lure. She loved to consider the churches because of the abundance of sculptures and paintings in them, but church rituals revered on it. As well as what women need to cover their heads in humility. She was not going to humble before anyone, even before God.

«You are so similar to him,» the voice whispered just the samely recognizable. «He also did not want to humble before anyone.»

Claire nervously shook her angel curls. This time she knew firmly that there was no one near. There is not even a mirror that can scare her. But the pool of water directly under her legs reflected something strange. Claire got up from the bench and went away.

Horror Museum

The sun just stood in Zenith. Claire squinting from bright light and immediately noticed a dark shadow. At the portal of the church just stood a stranger, who in the first moment seemed very beautiful to her, and only then she noticed the ugly scars on his face. He passed past Claire, as if he did not notice her at all. But she turned around to look at him again. He was dressed somehow old-fashioned and squeezed in his hand some sharp object. Claire even checked, whether her own pocket knife is in place. Didn’t this man stole him? The knife was still lying in her pocket, and the stranger just disappeared into the passage of the church. A second Claire fought with the desire to go behind him. For some reason it seemed to her that this should not be done, no matter how much she wanted. Some inner instinct warned her: «Run!». This time she listened to it.

Today’s warm day was worth spending in the city center among majestic buildings and fountains. Claire went to look at Big Ben. Moving hands of huge clocks always attracted hert strongly. Clock! Time! Natural and countdown. Fairy tale about stolen time every time went to her memory for a long time. Today, some birds flew away from the Big Ben. One of them scratched Clair on the shoulder. Everything that happens more resembled sleep. Claire did not even immediately feel pain and blood. She recovered the ruffles of a short top so that they were not smeared and went to wash off the blood in the first fountain, which turned up on the road. Water pleasantly cooled the wounded skin. Claire did not immediately notice the dark reflections in the fountain. Wherever she go today, it seemed to her that some kind of gloomy shadow was moving everywhere after her.

Looks like the consequences of the sunshine. Claire ran his fingers along the bare abdomen. She recently decided to make piercing. Fancy earring over the navel looked pretty elegant. Near the tiny tattoo — rose in the fingers of the skeleton. Black gothic on lily skin! An innocent angelic appearance she attached something dangerous. Claire is tired that everyone looks at her, as at a harmless angel. She wanted to be at least something defiant, and not innocent. A little bit it succeeded. Tattoo and piercing were a kind of rebellion against angelic indispensability. Claire would not dare to paint her golden curls in black or red color, but thought that it would be nice to braid a pair of braids or to make dreadlocks. Her beauty attracted admiring views of the majority of passersbys. Women looked with envy, male with delight. As far as Claire remembered herself, she always enjoineds an increased attention. She did not even fit in her head, as someone from the crowd could suddenly attract her herself, and even before pain.

Claire still felt some alarm. She was scared that something like this could repeat again. This pain…

Claire frowned. Where does this pain come from? You can understand when her beloved person or knife provokes it, but just strangers in the crowd, with whom you do not want to have anything in common… Is it not strange?

Claire remembered a flash of pain, a shortage of air, a fiery current throughout the body and a vague feeling of the unreality of everything that is happening. And then you needed to come to youself for a long time. She was afraid of repeating all this, as people to be afraid of a fluttering fire. Burned once, and the second is already afraid of approaching the flame. But it cannot be shifted at home and no longer go outside to see someone in the crowd.

Sit days for a long time for creative work — it’s great. But only the work can be crazy. Sometimes you need to be distracted. Claire thought that today it would be nice to go to the museum, then sit in a cafe. She pulled away from the fountain, and someone passing by perfectly pushed her. Claire was surprised to turn him out. Yes, it was clearly not a member of the «Whites» club, she concluded with humor. And really not a typical Englishman. The inhabitants of England are usually distinguished by politeness and cold restraint. The rude person looked more like a foreigner. What an unpleasant type! Be she a guy, and would give delivery. But the girl of a fragile physique is better not to get involved in a fight. Perhaps the guys from her school company were right, and she would have a defender with her, but Claire did not want to sacrifice the sake of it even a part of her daily independence. So what had to be squeezed.

She thought where to go: in Tower or in British Museum. And in the first, and in the second she was already many times. Clair walked down the street, throwing off the coin. Heads or tails? The coin suddenly slipped out of her hands, just at the door of some unfamiliar building, seemingly similar to the museum. Claire drew attention to how beautiful doors are. Gilded bas-reliefs on them created the effect of fabulous luxury. Instead of a handle or a head of a lion with a ring, they decorated a certain mythical creature with a triangular ring in the mouth. Beautiful and a little frightening. She spent trembling fingers over the connecting wings and the horns of a fabulous head. The chill of copper turned out to be pleasant.

«Beautiful, yes?»

Claire reluctantly nodded, not even turning to the voice, which sounded right behind her back.

«This is a water dragon — Vivern.»

«What?» She was frightened by hearing almost the scientific name of fantastic creature. How can a fairy tale study like science.

There was no one behind her. Only creatures similar to black cats ran away from a neighboring building. Such quick that they were impossible to consider in detail.

Claire entered the museum and was surprised by how it was empty. Curators and controllers were so fixed, which seemed part of the exhibits. Although she entered without a ticket, no one stopped her. Probably today is a free passage.

Claire rose through the front staircase, covered with a red carpet. She looked around marble walls with niches, crystal chandeliers, burning even in the afternoon, and bizarre tiles. In the span of the stairs rose a statue, not a typical muse or an antique goddess, and the most dragon-like maritime deity, as before the entrance. Only here it was portrayed in full growth and in exquisite clothes, with a mask on a monstrous face and watery tails, discovering from under the cloak. The sea dragon was similar to Venetian. Capturing spectacle!

Claire did not regret that came here. The museum was very different from all those she visited before in London. If only it was a museum. Of course, closed frames, velvet barriers and illuminated showcases with inscriptions exactly copied the atmosphere of the museum, but there was also something that made it forced her to feel like in the palace, full rare, and not at the exhibition.

Art galleries, uprisites, shows of historical modes — everything that she saw before, did not make any comparison with the exhibits collected here. Claire expected to see a couple of Egyptian halls with mummies and other relics of ancient civilizations, but here everything was sustained in the spirit of Venice: masks, decorations, paintings, parts of the Gondola, Domino and Baututes, are suitable for mannequins. All items here were clearly old, and at the same time something inexorably attached to the museum atmosphere of Lafcraft stories. Next to the verses and beads, the figurines of some incredible marine deities were minted. Beautiful and exquisite half masks alternated with fabulous masks and suits that look like heads, cut from the torsoism of mythical and terrible creatures. The masks pushed on Clairer with fish and dragonfle eyes, released the mermanese of the membrane, abounded by the tentacles of octopus. Next to the masks of owls, heat-birds and peacocks, terrible faces of Krakens, Mavel and the Scaly Sea Devils were sheltered. Claire did not imagine that corrigans and mermaids could be so frightening. Even the mask of the tragedy would not impress the way they are.

It was better to concentrate attention on something harmless. The museum had full luxurious and elegant items. Pipe tubes, musical instruments, capes and hats, decorated with feathers of a wide variety of birds. In one of the halls, even the golden gondola was equally placed. Velvet’s shrink was raised, and two discarded devil masks could be seen on the seat. They were very luxurious, framed purple feathers. But even they were not frightened as the masks of marine creatures. Instead of the gondoller on the nose stood the stuffed of the same sea deity in a dark cape and with an oars in the form of a water snake. Vivern — so called someone at the entrance. Claire carefully looked at it and seemed to see something vaguely familiar in it.

Sheets were lying on the stern with the words of ancient barcarol, and some parchments, similar to spells or a contract with the devil.

If it would not be an abundance of old exhibits, Clair would call the luxurious building as the horror gallery. It reminded a palace. Gilded door flaps were all open, and she could wander here for hours. But it was worth a look at some subject, for example, exquisite scheduling in the shape of a siren on the wall, and some sinister detail immediately rushed into the eyes, like seafood skulls in wells for candles. Hourglass was supported by sea skates with angrily sparkling eyes, Venice’s views on the walls were overshadowed by predatory mermaids, embittered in the bottom of the gondola, sailing over its head. Some mermaids have joined the ship, pulling out entire boards from them, others watched people from the channels. Nobody imagined such Venice. Even Claire. With all her rich imagination, she could not diversify the usual Morina with such terrible details, combine the embittered world of mythical creatures and a city with channels renovated by people. The spirits of the elements, were angry at it. Or at all who lived in it?

Claire shook her head, scattering gold curls on shoulders. Well well! What will not come up in the world. Although they say that any fiction as a necessary foundation must have a little truth. Where is the truth here? Claire stared at one of the paintings and did not immediately notice how the velvet gum fell out of her hair, rushed to the parquet.

Claire leaned up to raise it and only now noticed some kind of lowest creature, which has long watched her. A dwarf or a child? Such dark, as if the bunch of gloom. All the same Claire tried to smile to him, but the little spy slipped so quickly for the showcase, as if he was not here. Strange creature! Strange wet traces were on the floor! Claire only perplexed shook her head. Almost weightless earrings, which she usually wore in the ears, began to bring such a strong pain that Claire even thought to remove them.

The only problem was that she could not guess where the lady’s room was here. There were no pointers on the walls. Ask someone from silent curators, where the toilet is here, she was afraid. But she needed a mirror to remove earrings and a little water to wash the mischievous punctures in the ears. The mirror in the ordinance of one of the halls was found. It is located in a niche, similar to the throne, with steps erainy in the shape of a shell. The gilded frame was also made in the form of a convex shell. Claire wanted to touch it to check whether it was not the right gold, but it was scary that even with a light touch can work alarm. Crumbling sirens, jellyfish and sea skates woven in the fancy frame pattern, along with oysters, snails and Leviathan. Overweight! Claire looked into the mirror depth, and it seemed to her that she was immersed in the water. No, do not look, screamed the reason, but the Claire could no longer resist. It seemed to her that she was sinking in the mirror, and it was for some reason even nice.

Only suddenly the peaceful feeling was gone. In the depths of the mirror for a moment was someone who she saw and before. Someone is so terrible that Clair has shudder and almost fell, exciting from the mirror. Monster, not a man. But he was dressed as human. Only the shadow of black tri-fingers partially hid the ground face. Claire did not even immediately understand what exactly it seemed to her so repulsive. Only later she realized. Scars! Many deep, fusing cuts. His face was a solid ballus of scars, on which no longer left of the skin. One solid cut! Claire frowned from the rejection of something like that.

When she left the museum, she was accompanied by an annoying coat of police siren. What could happen at such an hour in the city center?

Claire sighed wearily. She was not now to the report of the news about recent incidents. After the coolness of the museum the heat immediately tired. She wanted to buy ice cream or cold juice. Ice Coca-Cola would quite suit her, but nearby there were no trays with drinks or automatic machines. Claire saw something strange in a dark corner right on the asphalt. Something red flowed out of it right on the sidewalk.

Involuntarily, Clair became interested and approached it. It was a man. What happened to this man? Claire suddenly understand that the juice, rush to the passing part of the road, is blood. But how serious is it? And why no one caused ambulance? No one was in a hurry to help at all, but somewhere still heard the wrinkles of sirens.

The victim suddenly raised his head, and Clare recognized his face. The very dark type that pushed her at the fountain an hour ago. Now he was no longer so self-confident. The arrogant face distorted toement and fear. Claire also was afraid when she noticed that his hands were cut off. With the above, the elbows dissected exactly the right hand. The one he pushed Claire with such hate today.


Before bedtime, Claire did not turn off the table lamp. It was the first time since the childhood period, when she was frightened to sleep without light. But she could not do anything with it. The appearance of the limbs sliced with sparkling knife pursued it. It was worth only to close the eyes, and she saw torn skin, crippled flesh, as if the hands of the unfortunate missed through the meat grinder. She was not stuck at the sight of this spectacle, but fear settled in the soul. After all, this can happen with each person. And it is better to die immediately than to know what it happened to you.

Claire did not figure out the details of the accident. From her and so enough impressions. Now, the memories of the bloody mix of meat and bones do not climb into the head, she decided to think about something pleasant. For example, how romantic would be to take one of the copper candelabers, which she bought in an antique shop, to light all the candles in it and put on the table near the bed. Of course, it is dangerous to sleep with candles. But the romantic fantasy about the candlelight was pleasant. She remembered that once she slept like that. Candles were exactly seven. Lucky number! And they all burned ghostly and brightly. The wind from the canal penetrated the window, waved flame and transparent curtains from Muslen. Everything was so beautiful! But when was it all? Claire frowned, rushing recall, and could not. There was still someone who concerned her when she slept and brought roses. He carried them in her hands without gloves, and his blood remained on the spikes.

Returning home today, Claire turned on the TV and began to look at the middle of a terrible film about the sacrificed victims and a computer game with embittered ghost. The film was called «Fear dot com» and was in the program as a mystical thriller with quite harmless annotations, but nothing more brutally Claire could not imagine. Initially, she was intrigued, but closer to the end the interest turned into a nightmare. Claire even regretted that she didn’t turn on the TV in time. It is strange to imagine how people are not afraid to invent such frightening plots. The sadism of the maniac and the revenge of the embittered ghost of a mutilated sacrifice was made the same terrible impression.

Sadistic shots from the film, like a black web spray in consciousness, refusing to disappear. Maybe they impressed her not enough? If you treat the impression caused by the history, from the point of view of a psychologist, we can conclude that it somehow intertwined with the past of Claire. Probably, in her life, there was also something that she feels an imaging victim. For example, this afternoon, it was impossible to interpret how to revenge — a hooligan who pushed her, suffered himself. Just avenged him not she. Someone else drew him with a knife. Or maybe it really was just an accident, and not an attack? Although it looks like the last.

Claire was sure that after the film and the events of the past day, she would dream about mutual bodies of victims, silent, as in hell in their ghost world, but the kingdom of dreams met her something completely different. In a dream, the luxury doors of the museum were revealed before her, and she climbed up the front marble staircase. How beautiful was this staircase with gilded railings! The steps ran high, as if in the most subsequent paradise. It was possible to expect to hear the singing of birds in the paradise bunks, but the house around was gloomy, although luxurious. Claire has already been before in this house. She remembered. So now she returned to it. In a dream!

The staircase leading up, no way ended. It seems that it is, however, the staircase in heaven. Is it limited to the roof of an old house or leads directly to the night stars? Claire did not see, but felt that the house was in Venice. The sounds of fluid water came to her, similar to singing. This is the song of the mermaids! Only mermaids are downstairs, in water. She rises to the very top of the old building. To the magnificent suite of room, where she will look for him.

For whom? Claire frowned. She could not remember. And the pale nightgown with the golden threads, similar to the outfit of Shakespeare’s Juliet, was drowned around her legs. What an unusual outfit! In life, she did not wear anything like that. But it was a dream. Claire reached the suite of the empty rooms and moved forward. In the span of the ladder, which remained behind, stood the statue of the very deity, which she had already seen in the museum. Only this time the statue moved. The tentacles crawled out of a mask and a long raincoat. They stretched to Claire, but could not get her, because she had already reached the gallery of the mirror halls. For some reason, they do not dare to rush there.

In the dark end of the gallery, she was waiting for something. Freshness of water that came from the canal, mixed with breathing heat and fire. Claire felt the smell of hot metal and burned flesh, and… yes, she could not confuse this smell with anything. Blood!

There were of luxury galleries around her, and at the end of them, it was like a torture chamber. Incredible, but the heat intensified. Claire did not see the fireplace, but she felt its proximity. Or it was a brazier. She stopped, noticing someone ahead. Some strong creation in the mask bent over the corpse of a woman. There was a knife in his hand, and he applied cuts.

Claire did not feel horror. In the end, it was just a dream. But the creature, tortured the victim, suddenly sniffed to the air and raised his head. Even in the slots masks it was visible that his face was maimed. Claire could not shout. She waited. And it was stupid. After all, he could rush to her with a knife. This creature always needs a new victim. A crippled arm kept the head of a dead woman’s head. The knife cut off not only the jewel with her neck, but also the skin from the body. The cuts bloomed as greedy mouths on a female corpse.

The creature, only noticing Claire, managed to break away from the victim. Only this time there was neither threatening whisper, no sharp movements of the predator. It only uttered only one word:


Claire woke up with this name on the lips. It came to her that the suite of the gloomy halls was still revealed before her, but now in her own house, they reflected by many mirrors. Someone attracted her from this gallery with his mutilated hand.

Cordelia, repeated Claire. Whether the woman was so called, which he tied and killed. Claire remembered a beautiful corpse profile, a sparkled antique brush dress and a lily skin of the deceased, covered with purple knife trails. His knife. The knife in the hand of that creature for some reason seemed even more frightening than a whole set of surgical items that use maniacs in horror films for torture of victims.

Claire brought her hand to the forehead. Curly strands of hair merged from sweat. Head burned. It seems that she became too nervous in order to watch horror films in the evenings. So it is better to leave this genre for more bold people.

Claire did not remember when she was last so afraid. And in her lonely house there is no one to console her. Of course, you can take a phone and dial someone from your relatives or the closest friends, but whether they will not be surprised that she calls them at such a time then so that they encouraged her by their voice.

Now was too late or too early? Claire squinting on a luminous clock clock. Soon four in the morning. She can sleep until dawn, but she was afraid to see another similar dream.

Dreams like parasites. They invade reality, capture consciousness, drive crazy. Claire heavily leaning back on the pillows and felt a cold necklace on her neck. Now it also seemed to her parasite. It is strange that it did not heat up at all from the heat of her body. Pearls always remained cold. And it is even more strange that she did not decide to remove it. The necklace is as part of her body. Almost an integral. Sometimes it even seemed that this is the main part, and the body itself does not matter under it.

Claire looked into the mirror on the wall. Pearl thread looked at a thin neck so beautiful that it would be a pity to part with it. Claire remembered a nostalgic comparison — the pearls are a treasure left from the deceased oyster, the testimony of its death.

Who told her about it?

Claire frowned. Someone spoke. But who? And when? The memory eluded, as if she was whining with drugs.

Who among her friends could have given such words? She figured out them without herself. Pearl! Death! Pearls — evidence of death!

Where did she hear it?

An attempt to remember was too painful. In memory, as if some kind of door slammed. It was almost physically hurt from the fact that consciousness tries to overcome some irresistible barrier.

Claire thought that in vain she did not drink and did not smoke.

Now she terribly wanted to sleep, but the prospect of seeing a new nightmare prevented her to close her eyes. The eyelids were poured, the head was split, but Claire decided to distract herself with something. She took an album and a pencil. It was better to make an outline of coal, but the pencil was the first thing that was near of her hand.

Claire wanted to draw something beautiful, but the pencil began to slide it himself. Fuzzy lines merged into one ugly tangle. Maybe it came out due to the fact that the fingers swept or from the fact that the eyelids were sticking out of the desire to sleep. It was preparing that the pencil moves by itself. It was not her painted an disfigured face on a sheet of paper, it felt like itself. The same face that she dreamed. Which she saw in the crowd before any accidents happened to people.

Claire dropped a pencil. The drawing lay on her knees, ugly and shocking. The side effect of her creativity! She looked at it discouraged and almost horrified. Probably, Viktor Frankenstein looked so at his hands when he created a monster. Everything came out so unexpectedly. If it were another dream. A drawing for some reason frightened her very much.

A minute Claire was sitting motionless, feeling his knees, like a disgusting insect, and then crumpled it quickly and threw under the bed. Sometimes it is better not to remember something. So now she rushed to forget the drawn face, but it did not come out of memory.

Demon in the mirror

Early in the morning Claire fell asleep. She dreamed wonderful dream. After waking up, she still could not believe that all this did not happen in reality. The feeling was as if she had just steam in the clouds. That’s what it means to fly!

Probably dreams this is the flight of consciousness somewhere in the uncharted worlds. The feeling of the miracle remains. But Clair was still sure that she would see something more terrible if she would fall asleep. It comes out, she was mistaken.

In a dream, there was someone who was inexpressible to her. Beautiful, sophisticated, blond and blue-eyed. She wanted to remember his face to draw, but the features escaped from memory, as if them were not at all. Does all perfectly be illusing?

Only the case was not at all perfection of who she dreamed. Just next to him, she felt some striking spiritual warmth. In a dream it was so nice and joyfully, as if the friend whom she knew and loved once a long time ago.

They danced. Rather, walled. Or did they still make love? Claire frowned. She could not remember exactly. But the impression remains divine. It is like to visit the angel or the Olympic Deity at night.

In the beginning, in a dream, she danced with him exactly, looked in his face. He tried to cover his eyes a little bit, because they shone like a flame candle. And Claire looked at his eyelashes, his cheekbones, neck, a lace around the throat, the golden sewing of coat… how beautiful he dressed. She wonder if there is a cuff with his sleeves. As soon as she wanted to see how he asked:

«Do not look down!»

And yet she looked to see his burned hands. Digid and poorly existing, because the fingers seemed to be trying to snatch with hot tongs.

Crumpled hands under exquisite sleeves. An unpleasant and even shocking combination. Claire thoughtfully tapping her fingers on the wrist watch bracelet. The time as if returned to reversal somewhere. Claire noted that the tiny hands on the dial froze. Probably the battery ran out. Claire removed a bracelet from the hand. She did not want to wear a stopped clock on his wrist, as if it was bad sign.

She has little time. It’s time to work. It’s time to draw. And there are no absurd sketches or face from sleep, but those illustrations that she ordered.

But instead of focusing, she still remembered the sleep. Dance. Embrace. What sweetness was a feeling of intimacy. But burned hands…

Claire got up and looked out of the window to the street. Along the highway, cars were used at the bottom. Already evening. Bright headlights resembled asterisks. With the memories of those accidents that occurred at her eyes recently, Claire was unwittingly wondered how the highway could be empty. Cars swept past and have not shot down anyone. No corpses with cut-out turtles are not lying on the asphalt. Perhaps everything ended. And she will never again see confused victims, random incidents and a disfigured person who flashed in the crowd to them. If only she did not invent it.

Today she just got up too late. Although, maybe her beautiful sleep and cost the good half of the day to fall into bed. Pleasant thoughts stirred with terrible, as if pink and black paints merged in her mind. Beauty and something ugly in bizarre mesaliance. Clare grinned, presenting how her work could go if she uses in it to fully all the novelty of her fantasies.

The mirror in the bathroom was inexpensive: without frame and jewelry. But Claire loved to look into it. Even with a scarce lighting of one light bulb without lampshar under the ceiling, it was surprisingly clearly reflected. Great glass, though not Venetian.

In the abstract furnishings of the bathroom, the beauty of Claire was especially brightly distinguished. The accurate cheekbones, ash eyebrows, delightful emerald eyes — it was difficult to imagine something more divine. But the Claire got used to her appearance and did not find anything unique in it. Up to that moment. Now she began to watch it, as if the eyes of someone else and the fact that she saw, she had a reverent delight. Hypnotizing beauty The face of an angel with gold curls looked at her from the mirror. It was not impossible to comprehend such beauty nor to see it. And at the same time it was scary to watch. And suddenly all this will disappear. Suddenly beauty is just an illusion?

«You can’t even imagine what treasure you have,» someone’s hoarse whisper from silence suddenly whispered. It burned her. Burned and ears, and consciousness. Although Claire already knew that it did not make sense to turn around the shoulder. There is just no one. But in front of her, the mirror reflected the darkness as if someone was attached in it. Someone mutilated and dangerous. The creature from dreams. It scared her very much and at the same time something strangely excited. Claire imagined how it is to have a beauty, and then lose it.

Together with the question came a desire to find out about it. However, Claire did not even look at the razors folded in a bucket along with toothbrushes. Of course, the blades of the razors were sharp, but they did not excite her. It is completely different that the knife always lying in her pocket. Claire got it and pressed the button, releasing the blade. Almost the same knife like his. She did not know the name of that creature, so only one name whispered out loud:


What to be so? She raised the blade to face. What if she brings with it on the cheek? What then will remain from her beauty? Will she be then like him?

The darkness in the mirror as if she was in a certain bizarre labyrinth. Probably, it was a game of a darkness mixed with poor lighting in the bathroom, but Claire seemed that the images in the mirror were moving along the same luxurious gallery in which she was in the dream. Only its reflection remained in place, golden on the background of the darkness. It attracted demons like light. Such a bright light that it exuded, walked the inhabitants of the kingdom of darkness to life, made them excited and aggressive. And someone waited for her there at the end of the tunnel. Someone who she wanted to see and was afraid of.

The blade in her hand shook. She could not put herself a wound. Could not mutilate herselff. It was attractively and scary. But she lacked courage. But in some one mad moment it seemed to her that she would not only be able to do it. But a strange hoarse voice interrupted her thoughts.


Again the name from the sleep. Claire carefully looked into the depths of the mirror, and the knife fell from her hands. For a moment it seemed to her that she sees a terrible wound face next to her own reflection. How strongly the cuts on it emphasized the contrast with her own skin.

«It is necessary to value what you have,» as if it reported without words. «And then look at me! I didn’t value myself at all. Because of such as you, by the way…»

Claire shuddered. Is it really her dream again. Only now it was a dream in reality. She never smoked in life, did not drink alcohol and did not take drugs, so where then such hallucinations.

She pumped into the sink in front of the mirror so as not to fall down. The fallen knife lay on the tiled floor and as if waiting. Claire lacked the strength to raise it and again encounter doubts.

One moment she looked into the sink to calm down. The remnants of water at the bottom in the semidarkness seemed mixed with blood. But Claire did not shed a drop. She did not have enough courage to cut herself. Nevertheless, she opened the faucet so that clean filtered water washed off something brown and thick from the edge of the sink.

When Claire raised her eyes on the mirror, there was no other reflection in it. Only her own frightened face was in the background of a dense mirror gloom. Here you go. She was just imagined. She reluctantly surprised, the most realistic can be simple hallucination. The same tangible and real as the blade knife on the skin.

Bloodstained rose

The face on the numerous TV screens in the electronics store showcase attracted the attention of Claire. She saw it before. And this face, and this blockbuster. The actor was familiar to her for many films, only she did not remember his name. These American superstars divorced so much that everyone would not remember, and generous to the praise of the press everything puts forward new names and creates regular idols, as if already existingis not enough. Claire never fond of stars that were so willingly encouraged with languishing from loneliness or idleness people. She herself was a star for everyone who saw her. She did not need to be filmed into a movie or bribe journalists to become interesting to people. After all, she had her appearance, which shone as a star without the help of a pawn articles and without a drop of makeup. But such advantages did not let everyone boast.

A strongly applied actor smiled with dozens of screens, depicting some kind of supernatural creature. It was impossible to say about him that he was handsome as often called him in magazines and newspapers. Claire would rather call him pleasant in appearance than beautiful. Previously, she liked to look at him, but now she shuddered. The feeling was like it just broke not only the showcase, but also the screen of one of the working TVs and was touched against bare wires.

How strange! The creature from the screen as if stood near and was one of the raised passers-by, and not another standard product of Hollywood. It seemed even more unusual that one of his appearance hurt her.

Prior to that, she had something similar to her only at the sight of living people. But how such feelings could provoke just a picture on the screen, maybe even live and charming?

Claire could not understand herself. What exactly did she feel when looking at the screens? What is wrong with this person? What does he look at her that the dead man out of the grave?

Evening street suddenly seemed gloomy and unattractive. Feet refused to go on. Consciousness muttered. Nearby, there was not even a single bench to sit down.

For the first time in a long time, Claire descended into the subway, and as if it turned out to be in some cosmic world of studied walls and floors, escalators and rails. People moving along the schedule of trains, like stupid somnambula. In the subway everything seemed technical and abstract, as in some microcosmos. Hollowing on the escalator, Claire was so fascinated by looking at the bright advertising posters on the walls, which did not immediately pay attention to someone standing ahead. He had very beautiful blond hair on the shoulders. Wheat strands were scattered by fan on a standing collar. They attached his appearance something aristocratic. Somewhere she has already seen him. Claire felt such a sharp desire to see his face that it seemed to charge everything around magnetism. And the man suddenly turned on her, as if hearing the call.

Yes, she has already seen him. But not so close, not so distinct. From amazement, Claire almost released the handrail of the escalator. The heart pounded in a mad rhythm.

This face! The face of a young man from the crowd, which appeared every time some accidents occurred with people. How he was still beautiful. Claire did not remember to see something more beautiful and correct in her life than these features. That would draw it. She wanted to catch up with him and delay or at least call, but she understood that he was unlikely to stop. From him she had some terrifying unavailability, as from ice block. And still, she wanted to watch and look at him, not taking off. Although something in it scarecrow and very much. Claire could not explain it.

She just knew that she would go after him, even if they were not on the way. Only he did not go down, although he stood far ahead of her. But at the very end of the way, he suddenly disappeared. Claire managed to notice him on the escalator, rising up. A beautiful face flashed directly opposite her of the handrails. Claire turned to trace an escalator lifting view. Will his face become ugly, as for the first time she watched him. But the moving steps were carried out forward so quickly that nothing had not to see.

It’s time to go from the escalator. What if now to transfer to another and go upstairs after an amazingly beautiful stranger. Will she catch him up? What if not? Then she will have to buy a new pass to go back to the subway. Claire reluctantly moved down in the waiting room.

The crowd of people in trains was not thick. In the evening, the metro is silent by passengers, but not today. With luminous posts of information, Clair noted a couple of sloppy dressed young people. The guy in black leather and with long blond hair with something like her beautiful stranger, but only remotely. He had a coarse face, and three-day bristles pierced on the cheeks. The girl who kept his hand was a thin brunette with clearly defined cheekbones and in the same cheap clothes as her friend. A couple carefully looked at the pointers, as if they did not know where exactly they were to go. Where did this feeling of the burning solar strike, as if Claire crushed the fingers into the included socket and received a blow to the current.

How unpleasant! This has already happened to her before completely unfamiliar people. Other people. Not these. Those people who were already dead or are crippled.

Claire was hardly sinking on the bench in the very edge of the platform. She loved to sit right into the first car driven by train, so the place was just suitable for her. Scarce lighting dropped glare on rails, marble wall cladding and boarding bench. Claire did not immediately notice a bright scarlet spot on the seat right near herself. An unexpected sweet fragrance hit the nostrils, a little mixed with metal smells, reigning here.

A rose in the subway. How strange! Someone threw it right on the bench. Of course, it was merciful than to throw it to someone under the feet. Its extreme petals just started to fade. Rose’s sourced sweet aroma is particularly pleasant in the plunge of the subway and as if someone was waiting. Maybe someone just forgot her here. Maybe to take it will be theft, and yet Clair involuntarily took it. The rose lay here as a gift.

For some reason it seemed Claire that it would be a crime this gift not to accept. She carefully took the stem with her fingers and began to consider bright red petals. The bud just began to bloom, and was already doomed to die. And all just because the rose was left too long in a hot room without water. Claire fell sorry for the torn plant, as if it was a living being.

She did not even notice how the next train came up and moved away, although she was sitting just at the edge of the platform. Claire raised her head just when the train was already driving away. The windows of the cars flashed at high speeds of the cars reflected her frightened face. Maybe this is just a shooting game attached it to such a frightened and discouraged expression. As if something was happening.

Claire felt pain in the fingers. This is all rose. Its spikes turned out to be unexpectedly sharp. Probably, Claire made a mistake that she raised it. Now she looked at her own bloody fingers and thought where to take a scarf to wipe them. In the pockets of her jacket was nothing left. And her handbag she did not take with her today. Claire with an easy misunderstanding looked at her own fingers in the blood, then again looked at her reflection in the flashed windows. It suddenly strangely transformed. Someone else looked at her from the window. From all windows. Initially, it seemed to her that this very beautiful young man she saw at the escalator. He could well have time to sit in this train. There is nothing surprising in this. But he could not sit in all the cars in a row and look at her from each window. No, this is just some kind of light game. Some strong optical deception. Nobody looked at her from each window, it was only the reflection, layered one to another. Probably, it was they who created it in front of her a terrible creature. Someone crippled and frightening viciously grinned to her from reflective glass, and Claire dropped a rose.

She was frightened. Although she saw this face before, but was afraid again, as for the first time. Goosebumps fled on the skin. The hand was still sick. Blood smeared on her fingers. Neglecting etiquette, Claire wiped her hand right about jeans pocket. Only turning around, she noticed that on the bench also remained a bloody palm imprint, but it was not her. The fingers seemed stretched and bony, as if strange.

Someone’s cries rang out after the train had already disappeared into the tunnel. Claire moved to where they shouted. There are several people who were late for the train and the duty officer who tried, as he could, to relieve panic. He distilled off the frightened people from the edge of the platform, but Claire still managed to look through his shoulder on the rails. Initially, she did not even really understand what she saw, but the spectacle was extremely unpleasant. Some kind of dirty rags on the rails and brown lodges… no, these were parts of the body. Many scattered parts. Have you ever been alone? Claire did not immediately notice a white-eyed head with a barred skull. A sticky brown messenger flowed along the long luminous hair. Only on the hairstyle, Claire managed to learn that Blonde, whom she saw five minutes ago in the subway with some girl. Obviously, the girl was here on the rails. Claire noted graceful chopped hands, obviously female parts of the body, the same dirty and brown, as some kind of rags with a garbage. Here is the death in the subway tunnel. How these guys were only lit together to fall under the train. Maybe someone pushed them. Or they played at the edge of the platform when the train approached. And maybe they were just so passionate about each other, which did not notice anything. On the moment it seemed to her that dead chops were still moving. That someone mutilated still reflects in the wall and laughs.

Optical illusion! Claire turned away. Probably she looked very bad, because the duty officer asked if he was worth calling her a doctor. Claire shook her head negatively. She knew that she looks too pale and frightened, and somehow devastated.

«Did you know these people, Miss?» asked the duty duty, nodding on the rails.

«Not!» Claire did not even turn around, because she did not want to see all this again. Her sole slightly slid about the tiled floor of the subway, leaving a light red mark. Claire noted the rose petal adherent to the boot sole. It was all that she came on a flower.

The crushed rose was still lying at the bench. And its appearance was even more miserable than those bodies on the subway rails. She do not know why Claire raised it.

She had to be thrown into the garbage tank, but instead, Claire hid her under the jacket and took her. She went home on foot.

Kisses of Demon

Someone at home turned on TV. The cable channel again showed that the most terrible film, which already frightened it once. «Fear dot com» Blue-black shots flashed again before her eyes, as if funnel, sucking consciousness into an incomprehensible abyss. Frames combined something little clear with the image of some horrific torture and suffering. Claire was so afraid to see all this again, and here she saw. The crippled Jenny again crawled on the screen, blood flows from her mouth, and the feeling was like this, that’s, it breaks out of the TV directly to this room.

Claire caught her breath. Who could turn on TV and leave the movie to spin right on this terrible episode? Nobody came to her. Yes, and no one had spare keys. The house belonged only Claire. The girl is accustomed to be alone. She even had no pets. But someone has started the cable into the outlet and turned on the button on the remote control.

The stream of sadistic frames did not end. Perhaps the torture produced by medical instruments were especially frightened. After all, everything is afraid of operations, and surgeons. Or maybe everyone was Satanic in this, in how terribly the sacrifice itself turns into an obsessed evil of a predator.

Claire all this reminded of something. As if something, the same terrible happened to someone from the people close to her. In any case, the feeling was exactly the same. The events of the film although remotely, but touched some kind of looking history in her memory. Something like that was injured her for a long time. Probably, so she forgot everything.

Claire wanted to turn off the film before quickly flashing sadism and horror frames finally reduce her crazy. This will make you panicing anyone. It seemed that mutilated and, nevertheless, an incredibly predatory victim is still about to crash from the screen. But electricity suddenly turned off itself.

Claire with difficulty reached the bed. Claire still felt that the movie begins to drive her crazy. Black and white with an admixture of blue frames continued to spin in consciousness. Red on them was only blood. They spit, sucking consciousness into a bottomless well, full of torment, screams and abstract, but still frightening images. Torture! Blood! Pain! Screaming faces! Appears in convulsions, not the martyr, not that tormentor! Well and horror! Claire did not even understand where she had such a fear of torture. She was never tortured. Well, unless in the doctor’s office, when they took blood on the analysis or did x-ray. All medical procedures seemed to the Clair equally unpleasant and disgusting. And she could not tolerate doctors, as well as all those experiments they put on patients for scientific purposes. The maniac in films was just a doctor, and he spent the survivors of the operation. Anyone who has suffered in the office of blood delivery, such a plot will easily bring to the shock state.

In vain she looked all this. And of course, at all in time the TV turned on by itself to update unpleasant impressions. Probably, everything was explained by some crawling in electricity. Claire decided to be satisfied with this reflection, because it was the easiest, although not quite logical.

She was afraid to sleep now, and still she threw back her head on the pillow. Usually darkness soothes nerves, but not after such films. Terrible phrases from the film also flashed in consciousness. «Do you want to see it?» «Do you want to hurt me?» «Do you want to play with pain?».

And along with them, they suddenly had completely different, uttered by a hoarse male voice, and not seductive female, as in the film.

«Do you want, I will kill your enemies?» «Do you want, I will torment them so that even hell will be a paradise?» «Do you want, I will show you how you can do art on flesh with a knife, better than a brush on canvas?» «How can you not want to hurt others if they caused it to us: me and you?» «The enemies need to be destroyed, Cordelia, and having delivered them to maximum pain. How can I regret them if they did not regret us?»

Her eyelids fluttered in a dream. Again this name. Cordelia! She dreamed of her or she really heard it somewhere. Claire did not remember. She did not have acquaintances with the same name. But sometimes it seemed that someone calls her so.

Cordelia! Cordelia! Cordelia!

The name, as an elixir, healing the wounds on the body, but also a sharp knife, which led to suffering.

«Cordelia!» Claire whispered this name in a dream or just repeated for someone. Someone as if called her from the mirror, again and again repeating it.

She woke up in the middle of the night. Electricity, obviously, have already turned on, because the electronic clock on the table showed time. Ten minutes past three. Claire wanted to close her eyes again and suddenly realized that she was not alone in the bed. Near her was an angel. The most real angel. And he touched her. Touch resembled a love affection. Claire was not even alert, although the event was in general unusual. But for some reason it seemed that it should always be. He had to be here every night.

Angel in her bed. How beautiful he is. She probably was eager to stay for a long time alone only in order to see him. And it does not matter who he was: fruit of fantasy or incubus. In addition, the feeling of another body in bed was so clear. Here the face of sleep was erased, and a dark fairy tale began. His touches were magic. He reminded the creature from another century and still somehow knew about the terrible film, which she looked yesterday, and the images of which now was tormented her in nightmares.

His beautiful blue eyes spoke more than the words could say. Kisses burned. She ceased to be scary because of the film, but the feeling of some other fear enveloped as an ice water.

«Don’t be afraid of anything,» he whispered, «because I’m with you, and no one will make you evil.»

Claire looked at him with surprise. She already heard these words somewhere. She read more precisely. This is an inverted saying from the Gospel: «Speak and do not be afraid, for I’m with you, and no one will make you evil.»

«Yes, no one,» Claire agreed and focused her eyes. «No one except you.»

Why did she say it? He is so ideal. Only his hands. She did not notice these terrible burns before. And wounds. And wings. Claire screamed, realizing that she hugs something creepy.

She screamed for a long time. It seemed that the walls should shock these screams. But the creature did not disappear anywhere. It concerned the claws of her flesh, but did not wound. Touch were tangible. And they were gentle. Although how generally cutting items like sharp claws or knife blades can be gentle?

In the consciousness, as if some kind of door was opened. And the scraps of memory were blocked like frames from a creepy film. Table for torture. Chains. Blades. Wounds. Satanic laugh. And at the same time fragments of something gorgeous, almost gothic. Silk. Embroidery expensive fabrics. Fragrance roses. Blood on roses. Blood on gravestone statues. Blood on silk. Candles and books for witchcraft. The face of a beautiful young man in ancient coat.

Claire could not connect the fragments of the puzzle or find any logical connection in them. What did she see? A luxury ball or a witch ritual? Roses or graves under garden soil? A love caress or an inhuman torture?

In her mind, all the pictures mixed. Unlike fuzzy frames from the film, they were bright and colorful. They blinded her eyes, and Claire closed eyelids. When she dared to look into the darkness again, there was no longer anyone. Neither angel nor monster.

But where did he go? She felt him next to her. Wounds on her skin is not left only because he did not want to hurt her. But he could. Claire became scary from one thought. He could destroy her in one moment. So what prevented him? What game does he play with her?

If he exists, of course. Claire could think that this monster jumped straight from her work if something like that had ever drawn.

But it did not occur to her. Never!


Brad brought her flowers and candy. Normally! He visited her even when she did not want it. Usually he left gifts under the door and came himself, without calling, because he knew that if he would call, she could immediately refuse him to accept him. So today he brought orchids, perfume in beautiful gift wrapping and a box of coconut candies. According to the form they promised to be delicious.

Claire sighed, but picked up the gifts. Brad has always been surprisingly persistent. And annoying. Painted blond with radiant blue eyes in a leather jacket. He dwined around the city on a rather steep motorcycle. He looked cool himself. Got a strong impression on the girls. And it seems that his muscles were developed much more than brains.

He prudently left gifts under the door, and he left. Claire thought that today it would be nice to see him. After all, he did not differ from those guys whose type caused her pain. Will she be able to feel something similar and when looking at him. Or such pain is able to cause her exclusively strangers?

Claire wondered and revealed a box of candy. They really turned out to be delicious. Coconut filling was her beloved delicacy. That’s just Brad… Recently, he stopped seemingly attractive enough to go through the street or ride on his motorcycle. He was the most ordinary guy. And she wanted to see something completely unusual. Something capable of giving a reason for fantasy and creativity on her drawings. Something similar to the image from yesterday’s sleep. Was it only a dream?

Claire looked at the orchids lined on the balcony. Their white petals became golden in the sun. Her eyes also slid down on someone’s blond head at the bottom of the street. No, it was not Brad. She just seemed so at the beginning. Some kind of neighboring guy with the same hairstyle. For some reason, at the sight of it, her covered a light wave of pain.

Already familiar sensation similar to the sunshine was so unpleasant and shocking. Claire hastily turned away. It seems, before at the sight of the same guy, she did not feel anything like that. She knew him, even though she had never told him personally. He lived in a neighboring house and often helped the father to carry some kind of materials for the building of the garage. Occasionally he met with a girlfriend. In general, the most ordinary guy. So why at the sight of him suddenly it became so painful. What if it’s a bad sign again?

It would be better for her no longer see this guy at all. Again! When will these outbreaks of pain end? In a strange way, they arose at her form of completely unfamiliar people. And then these people died.

Claire suddenly has a panic attack. She had no longer been particularly believer for a long time, but today she wanted to find the Bible called somewhere on the shelves. She wanted to know what kind of fellow dreams and predictions above. What if above it and those whom she noticed, a certain biblical network spread. Some of the highest strength reported to her in advance about the death of people. These people were noted, doomed. Therefore, at the sight of them it became so painful. She felt what had to happen to them. But why are they doomed then? And why exactly should she suffer because of them? After all, she does not know them at all. And she is not at all the Heavenly Angel and not the Christian Holy so that all the skin feel sins and torture of other people. If, noticed by her, people are so cruelly dying, then what they are to blame. What was so bad they could do for their short life? What kind of heaven laid the guilt and retribution?

Is it from Heaven? Or is it from devil? Although if you count on the Bible, it was God who created a devil to punish sinners. And it became anyone who he tempts or pushes into the abyss, they are guilty and deserve punishment. The devil is not able to do anything without the permission of God. So is written in the Bible. God orders, and the devil performs. So conceived in religion. Whatever it is contradictory, and all conclusions can be reduced to one. And yet Claire pursued a vague feeling that the Devil, whom she saw in a dream was created regardless of God. He is created by people.

The Bible says that it was the devil that was the most beautiful angel of heaven. And he became the most ugly.

The phrases surfaced immediately:

«You can’t even imagine what value means beauty while you have it. If it had happened, you would understand me.»

Claire clearly introduced himself, as a disheveled creature brings the knife to her face, and shuddered. She pressed her forehead to the door, as if trying in advance to hide her clean skin from a merciless blade. In the mirror on the wall, it was now reflected only by the corner of her cheekbones in the frame of the curly strands.

From the streets came the voices. It seems that his girlfriend came to that guy and brought with her a radio with loud musical records. Claire was unpleasant when, under the windows of her quiet house at night, the music thundered and a drunk company of adolescents had fun, but today she did not come out to specify them. She simply did not want to see these doomed and experience the pain. They are doomed. She knew almost for sure. They are guilty or innocent, but they are doomed. Her pain at the sight of them is their sentence. It is experiencing a burning pain only at the sight of those who will die soon.

She knew it. She came to this by calculations and observations. It was not necessary to have a lot of mind to bring all parallels. Of course, no one would believe her if she began to tell about it. There are such things in which it is impossible to believe until you experienced them on yourself. Claire was bad.

She did not even know this guy, but he knew that he was already convicted of a rapid death. Creepy and strangely mounted paintings of the impending catastrophe for a moment climbed the mind. What happens to him? Same as a pair in the subway? She presented to herself, as this cute blonde knocks on a car, for example, a truck that was done by the highway, and she became bad. Is it really happening? When she paid such close attention to the perfectly unfamiliar people, accidents have certainly happened to them. But she could not stop looking around or not to get out of the house at all. Her attention still can attract someone. For example, someone who has shown on TV. And what happens then? She was not fond of these people herself, some force that accumulated from the outside moved her.



How loud it turns out to be able to scream concerned teenagers. Or Claire is so adgitated that she hears all the sounds from the street. Even recognition.

«I love you, Morissa, love, love, love!»

He shouts loudly, as if trying to prove to himself, he says the truth. And that this Morissa is the only girl in his life. But Claire remembered perfectly that a blonde guy, hugging this very dark-haired girl named Morissa, carnatively looked around at the beauty passing by. Including Claire. She did not approve it. She did not like when already busy guys look at her, as the most tidy in the whole universe. That’s what she stopped to love guys! Probably nothing can be done about it. Do not wait for loyalty from them. Some girlfriend explained to her that all these are hormones and a call of nature. Leon and Morissa were still very fragile, slender teenagers, in something slightly and sometimes such passionate ones that it even caused a slight disgust. Claire has always been unpleasant to look at the joung couple kissing, and now it suddenly has become hard and hurt. As on the eve of execution. What are these two guilty? Can there have such young as they, to be so heavy sins to erase them into powder? Probably the degree of sin is not determined by age.

Claire was firmly confident in one thing that neither God nor the devil could harm innocent. Although they say that everyone is guilty of something. There are no absolutely sinless people.

When Claire noted Brad under her windows, already was evening. At such time it is pleasant to walk. She suddenly wanted to walk with him. Brad did not expect anything at all that he gets such a gift as a whole evening alone with the subject of his adorations.

Claire, who succeeded, to drive away most of the fans, still struck Brad’s perseverance. He had long and hardly made everything to please, although he knew that she would still move him away. He brought flowers and gifts, looking for art galleries and publishers who may be interested in her works, used all his capabilities and connections to please herit. Even with the purchase of a house he helped her. And now he only did not sing the serenade under her windows. So why she did not love him.

«Let’s go to the cinema?»

Claire nodded, although she did not want to, but the proposal seemed to her tempting. Before leaving, she just pointed out Brad on a couple before a neighboring house.

«What do you feel at the sight of them?» she asked him right.

Brad stopped and carefully looked at themhim. He performed all the orders like a dog, so now reacted to her question with an excessive seriousness. Claire has shovel breathing.

But Brad only shrugged.

«I feel that we would be nice to do the same,» he decided that it was rightfully understood the hint and even grinned. «You do not think that, unlike them, we are already too old for this.»

Now Claire grinned. How could he compare their two with such youngsters? Brad knew how to raise her mood.

In the comfortable hall of the cinema, she immediately became better. Especially when Brad bought her Coca-Cola and Pop Corn. The film, which she would like to see, has already begun. They had to take tickets to the first session turned up at the box office. There were only eight people in the hall. Not surprisingly, everyone who turned out to be rash, managed to buy a ticket for a more interesting film. And here were only people who obviously had no place to go. Two fun guys put their feet on the backs of the front chairs, because no one was sitting on a lot of rows ahead. So, their shoes could also be considered for the audience. And the controller disappeared behind the curtain was in no hurry to intervene. In the rear row, some couple kissed, which events on the screen were not completely worried. The film looked gray and faded. It seemed that it was removed long ago and was very cheaply mounted. But Claire was delighted that this was not a horror movie. Something really terrible her nerves would now simply not stand out. After twenty minutes of viewing, some viewer began to fall asleep. A completely empty dark hall really acted on nerves soothing. Claire did not remember when the last time in the cinema was so empty as now. In the middle of the film she closed the eyes and saw a beautiful face. A dazzling beautiful face. It lay on darkness and faded frames. And the boring session suddenly turned into magic. The feeling of dreams dissected only some vague pain, as if on the wrists of Clair was the blade of the knife cutting veins. The pain was so distant as pictures on the screen, but still tangible.

Claire opened her eyes and realized that the session was already, thank God, ended. What can you do? She liked more adventure films. As, however, the majority of the public did. Nevertheless, leaving the cinema, Claire felt some kind of happyness. The face she saw in a dream left the feeling of something indescribable pleasant.

And now she saw his face again in the crowd. A handsome young man in a strange coat was in the crowd, he almost touched people’s shoulders. But they did not see him. People, a couple of minutes ago, came out of the neighboring cinema, formed a whole crowd at the exit. However, the wonderful stranger was well noticeable among them, as if one gold coin among the copper. He suddenly looked at Claire. Right into her eyes. At the same time, he, without stopping, went ahead past the stream of people, elusive, as the current time forward. Claire suddenly realized that he was coming opposite to human movement, but nobody was pushing him.

«Look!» She pulled Brad for a sleeve and pointed her hand forward. «You see him?»


«That blond guy in vintage clothes. He is goth, probably,» Claire was not in this completely sure. Goth would dressed in black. Even antique goths will not fall into a blue brocade and white lace and will not paint the hair in a platinum hue.

«Do you see a guy not like others?»

Brad only shortly shook his head. He did not see. Claire only now understood. No one except for her saw him. But she saw him. And her eyes suddenly expanded from horror, because the beautiful face began to be instantly covered with burns and scars. Total instant and from him there was only a disheveled mask. Claire even screamed from indescribable horror. Only no one paid attention to this. Her cry was killed in the total hum of frightened votes and panic. At the beginning she did not even understand what was the matter. Only then she realized how she was lucky that she was not in the crowd, but a little bit alone. Some overlaps and huge signs at the cinema were collapsed. The number of victims was accurately calculated in the morning newspapers. A day passed, and they still could not count. Claire with horror recalled a thick crowd at dusk, but he knew that this accident would not be limited. The victims will be countless. They should not even think about them. It is worth thinking about the face she noticed in the crowd. That night, Clare saw a lot of terrible scenes and blood, but for some reason, instead of the crippled and dead people, it was stood before her eyes. As if the stranger was the center and the cause of the entire catastrophe.

Edge of torment

«Do you know what happened yesterday?» Shanna, a childhood’s friend. Claire pretended to hear badly, and quickly put the phone. Morning release of «Times» she also threw into a trash can. She did not want to remember what was yesterday. It was too unpleasant.

Blood Messa. Claire frowned.

Crunching bones, screams, moans… In general chaos no longer can be seen that beautiful face that flashed and remembered her. But the stranger as if he remained invisibly attending a broken misfortune. Claire noticed the imprint of his presence in every wounded person, in every mutual corpse… Or was she just went crazy?

She with Brad was barely to get away from the reporters who flew to the place of the tragedy. As they just managed so quickly. Even earlier ambulances.

Claire remembered how heavily relied on the shoulder of Brad. He had practically to drag her back home. He, as a true gentleman stated that it was his most pleasant burden. Still, she did not invite him home to herself. Of course, he was pretty cute and, oddly enough for guys like this, even courteous. And yet she did not want him to spend the night at her. Her bed always remained empty.

As if she was waiting for someone, but not Brad. A pre-prepared set of linen in white peonies still remained fresh. Pillows are only slightly crumpled. Claire had a thought about the stranger from the crowd. What if he was now here? In front of him, she would definitely not closed the door. And what happened then?

Claire was afraid of any knife. Even for butter. So a set of kitchen knives almost always remained in complete integrity. Claire was afraid whenshe was looking at the blade. And on your own veins. How is it easily to cut them. In literary works, they wrote that such death is the most painless. Probably they joked. such an outcome seemed Claire to be the longest and painful. What is it slowly bleeding?

Claire wanted to distract herself. To see an interesting movie instead of shocking news reports. Somewhere she had discs with the films of Jane Austin and the «Pirates of the Caribbean». Or maybe it is worth to listen some pleasant music and prepare a calming bath with fruit foam and lavender petals.

Claire made a choice in favor of the bath. She did not like to calm the nerves with the morning tea, like most of the British. For many British, it may be strange, but not for her. Claire really did not know where her homeland is. And it was hardly survived at least someone from her relatives who can tell her about it.

On the table in the living room recent sketches were laid out. Claire quickly looked at them. She just invented illustrations to Tamlin’s fairy tale. Here Janet, the beautiful daughter of the count, picks off a rose from the bush in the Forbidden Forest. Her medieval dress and pearls in the hair are perfectly contrasted with magnificent barbed bushes, from which the angry Queen of Fairies is observed. The girl is waiting at the crossing of the roads in the night, when she can take away his beloved from the fairies. Her hand is already extended forward to Tamlin sitting on horseback. Here is the most memorable drawing, where Janet hugs Tamlin and suddenly notes that he is not a person, and instead of his legs, he has a coronal ugly feet of the tree elf. Many fairy tale options contradicted each other in detail, but Claire, as an artist, caught the essence. She herself was surprised how beautifully her sketches came out, although they were taken only with a pencil.

She was also offered to illustrate the» The mermaid from Colonsay» and «Tom Tit-Tot». And another number of fairy tales collected from both folk English and from Scottish and Irish folklores. All of them were rather curious and gave a lot of ideas for her artistic fantasy. But Tamlin turned out to be closest to her, so she so clearly drew every detail, every rose flower on a bush, every hair in a luxurious braid of Janet, every tiny flaw in a perfect figure of semi-elf. Tamlin was a man, but he was a captive of the elves. Claire made with the pencil a lot of hints on the fact that this young man has stopped for a long time yo be a human. So he kisses the hand of his lady, and he himself hides ugly claws behind his back. So he hides the webbed fingers under cuffs. Here, from his beautiful mouth, the snake crawls exactly the same as the one that crawls along thebush of roses.

You need to think about what colors it is all coloring. Claire threw sheets on the table and went to fill the bath. She did not find lavender petals, but she found only half an empty jar with a sea salt and a fiber-oil bottle. It will come down. The drum smell just calm the nerves.

Claire rummaged in the shelf behind the mirror, and suddenly something burned her fingers. As if the jellyfish clutched into the skin and burned her through. The feeling was stuck and terrible. It seems she came across the razor blade. Claire herself did not notice how she was cut. Not average, but somewhere in the depths of the soul, she looked like this long ago.

The first cut. Accident! The kiss of the cold blade turned out to be burning. The wound was burning and bleeding, as if the bloody lips were revealed on the skin. And together with the wound, some forbidden gates were opened. Gate to the past. Gate to horror and pleasure. Gateway to heaven, for some reason strikingly similar to the room torture.

Blood dripped on the floor: thick and allay. The drops loose about the tiled plates, smeared on them, excited the interest of some insects crawling in deep crements. In the head of Claire mixed in one kaleidoscope: creatures, thirsty of spilled blood, a long and twisted labyrinth of memories, blood color, similar to crushed roses. This color was simultaneously dirty and delightful.

Crushed roses! Where did this comparison come from. Roses, spikes, needles. They dug into the skin, and blood poured, as it happened to her now. Claire looked at the thick scarlet juice set up and frightened. It suddenly woke up persistent interest to her own bleeding wounds, and it struck her. She looked at the opened cut and vaguely saw many agony of many people. How scary, how attractively!

Her hand expires blood like once a long time ago. In consciousness, stabbing acute needle popped up. She stuck under the skin, and blood ran on a white cloth. Scarlet on white! Claire had a headache from blood loss and outbreaks in memory. Someone was near and squeezed her wounded hand. Like now. Someone grabbed her bleeding hand and raised gently to his lips. Someone with a disheveled face. Clare saw the burned lips, but she did not have the strength to scream. And when they appeared, a mutilated face was so close. She could touch him it she wanted. But for some reason it seemed to her that it should not be as she sees it.

Claire came to herself. There was only a blue tile around it. Walls and floor around were laid out with small square tiles. This is still a bathroom. So why she had a feeling that she was now somewhere else. The mirror without a frame on its wall seemed to have turned into a luxurious thing for a moment. Claire looked at it and saw someone’s outrageous person. It twisted from anger and pain. But it was not her face. The reflections simply lay down on each other. A man watched her from the mirror. Very nice man. Only his eyes flooded with blood. He looked at the blade in her hand, as if warning.

«Do not dare to do it anymore!»

Claire was surprised by the fact that he was completely not frightened. Probably because she was frightened. But the red streams have flowed with thin streams along the elbow. They stained the skin and burned. It turns out, pain from cuts may be such burning. Claire herself would be fainted, if she did not see fear and pain in his eyes. In the eyes pntently looking at her on the other side of the mirror. It comes out, even the creature living behind the mirror, is able to be afraid of something.

Blood drops on silk

Venice, 1570

She was invited to this luxury palace as a modest seamstress. Is it only possible to call a modest girl with delicious golden curls and eyes of the colors of the spring sky. She can wear a white starched cap and a strict apron, has a rough basket for sewing and takes up the door for servants, but you didn’t call her modest and common.

True, Cordelia was warned that it is better to always hold on to the shade when you go to the ownership of the devil. No matter how magnificent and rich was the Palazzo around, and the rumors overlooking these splittings are not at all so seductive as their appearance. Whoever owned all this magnificence, he also owns and bad reputations. Too bad to talk about it out loud. And too scary to not be alarmed.

Cordelia was alerted only slightly. She did not believe that the owner of all this could drink the blood of young virgins and cut cats under black candles. And it is unlikely that his French roots and a recent trip to France could have something in common with obtaining witchcraft skills, as many claimed. She did not believe in magic at all. And even more so in rumors about those who are too influential and rich. There are many envious people. Many poor people need an item for gossip. So they compose stories themselves. All this is just slander. Still, at the entrance to a luxury house, for some reason fear pierced her.

She timidly looked around for the silk on the walls, gilded ceilings and crystal chandeliers, and the cold trembling chain covered her body. It sometimes seemed that this dexterous spider was sprawled around her web and now she can neither move nor breathe.

Strange comparison for the seamstress. After all, she must feel herself a spider, weaving a gorgeous fabric.This time her work promises to be very exciting, because it will have to weave the wedding dress. The wedding web should remain durable and inseparable. For life. For all eternity. That is why Cordelia called here. Everyone knew how durable and beautiful are her works. A wedding dress for Angela Guinchioleli should have merged both of these qualities. The aforementioned Signora was not married for the first time, but it was this marriage that she wanted to keep for life. Cordelia specially paid for it to read one of her prayers about the marriage. The young devout seamstress knew how to do it. Everyone saw her on services in the cathedrals so often, that she was considered as a special e; ectrd of Madonna. Everyone believed that her prayers, sung during her work — this is a sign of a good future. Only Cordelia herself would rather call it a spell. She drove a needle and sank quietly:

«So that the thread does not break, and the fate would fit into it. So that thet will be for ever.»

Her beautiful soprano was echoed in a mirror room. White dress on the mannequin was becoming more luxurious and solemn. She did not spare not the gold edge, nor gentle lace, no beads for embroidery. That will be an outfit. Already now it made the impression of something magical.

Cordelia stopped singing, because she heard some kind of knock at the window. Her words broke off on the semi-note when she realized that no one could knock at the window. It is too high above the ground. And indeed, there was only a bird. A raven black, like night. And it looked at her with such evil eyes, as if it was going to burn her with its eyes through.

Cordelia was so afraid that for a moment she lost vigilance and pricked her finger with the needle. Blood drops fell on a white wedding dress over which she worked.

Luxurious dress. To wear this! Probably the bride is very good. Yes, what to guess there… in such a magnificent outfit, any girl will become a real beauty. It’s all about these silks, weave gold threads, brocade inserts and minor diamonds on the granted upper and lower skirts. Everyone will look at the elegant corset, on delightful sleeves with bulbs, on the golden sewing around the shoulders and elbows. The yards of dear fabric are attracted all attention, and what woman will put them on, everyone is.

«What if you become this woman?»

A voice or a fantasy? Cordelia shuddered and broke away from work. At the fine binding of the window, someone attached. It seems a black bird. It was not capable of saying words, but the flakes of her wings scared Cordelia. Together with the fright the finger was pierced by pain. The needle, which Cordelia carelessly squeezed in her hand, dug her right under the skin. It was terribly painful, and the bird seemed to laugh. Flapping with wings, it flew off the window. It seems that it was a black raven. Cordelia seen how they nest on the roofs. But never one of them was knock at the window.

Blood ran out of the finger. The injection turned out to be much more deeply than she decided at the beginning. It was worth looking for a handkerchief or some kind of rag so that nothing would be swollen, but it was too late. Blood droplets fell on a wedding dress and diverged on a white atlas with brightly aluminum spots. As if bloody flowers were bloomed. Red on white. This is no longer dismissed and not washed away. Cordelia was afraid. What she did.

And at this very moment, someone intercepted her hand. Cordelia strained. Someone’s fingers kept her gently and tightly just over her wrist. And the blood continued to drip out of the wound down on a beautiful white fabric.

«I am glad to meet Mademoiselle,» a pleasant velvety voice said.

Cordelia watched and could not take eye. She has never seen such a beautiful face. A man next to her really reminded of an angel. Beautiful, blonde, with pleasant features of the face and gently outlined mouth. The blue eyes slightly shone and, it seemed that you were drowning in them, like while flying to heaven. And he was luxuriously dressed. Aristocrat, not servant. She wonder how many seamstresses worked the nights after nights over his rolling and short cloak? But Cordelia looked only on his face. How is he beautiful! He must be the owner of the house. Judging by the description, yes.

He looked at her as intently as she was on him. And, despite the sharp pain in the finger, this moment seemed to her magic.

«I am Donatien,» she already knew his name.


«How beautiful it sounds!»

Beautifully, like blood on a wedding dress, flashed in thoughts from Cordelia, and he suddenly raised her hand to his lips and kissed. No one did not do that. Cordelia is not accustomed to the fact that they cared for her. She was born not in a society where exquisite manners were taken, but he looked at her as if she was higher than others, but not lower. As if she was a princess here, and not he is the owner of the house.

He as if he did not notice the wound on her finger, although slightly smeared his lips with blood. He was too pale, and the smear of blood on the lips gave his appearance a little brightness. Cordelia looked at his reddened lips, and for some reason, a comparison with an crushed rose came to mind. She suddenly realized that she would like to kiss these lips at least just to test the taste of blood and fallen pink petals.

Anatomy of pain

Claire woke up, as if from sleep. For a few moments, she blinked and confused on the ranks of books on the shelves. Where did she read all this? When? What for? From the story she was drowning with gravestone cold, blood and aroma of cemetery roses. She did not want to remember this. The cold statues in the crypt, the gondola is on the cold water of the canal. There is a kissing couple in the gondola, the lady gives her hand to a man, he cuts her palm with stiletto, and immediately kissed the wound.

All this nonsense in the style of Marquis de Sad or Lord Bairon, who became a vampire. So why is it disturbing all this? Why strange plots pursue her like hallucinations? After all, no one ordered her drawings to such stories. Otherwise, she would certainly remember.

Claire treated the cut with iodine, but it still hurt himself. Blood stained her favorite top. On the skin there was a slim scar a little higher wrist. Scars it is so ugly. The cut can be sealed with a plaster, but the curved white strip on the site of a crushed wound will look very unattractive. It seems that Shanna said something about the fact that the scars can be easily removed by a laser. She herself withdrawn only boring tattoos, but it seems to be successful. Claire carefully looked at the ugly strip with torn edges.

How the flesh is vulnerable! How easy to disobey it with a touch of blades. Even if a person is perfect, as a statue, in contrast to the statue, he is so definitely. It is enough just to take the blade on the skin, and there will be no trace of beauty.

Perhaps the creature in the mirror was right. You should cherish your beauty, as some fragile jewel, which is very easy to destroy. When the beauty is, it is not too appreciated, because it is used to it, but the threat of what you can lose it, suddenly leads to a panic. Only in this case you realize how it is important to you. Beauty face. Beauty body. The beauty of untouched flesh.

A disheveled creature in the mirror of all this was completely devoid. If it existed at all. Suddenly the burnt and rugged face is just the fruit of a rich fantasy of Claire. And what about the pleasant youthful person, which sometimes looked at her from the same mirror. It seemed to be the hostage of another ugly creating. It manifes and waited.

Claire suddenly remembered the story about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Can beauty and ugliness be only two sides of the same creation? In English literature, yes. But in life. Rather, in troubled visions.

Claire put into a pink cosmetic bag her brushes and pencils and suddenly noticed the sharp object that flashed among them. Blade! Where is it here? She did not remember that ever in life had something like that. This is a completely sharp knife. Thin sharpened stylet with carved handle. In life, Clare saw something similar for the first time, but in dreams…

She took out the object from the handbag carefully as if it was a living snake.

The thing was clearly old as an exhibit or relic, borrowed from a museum. Only it is surprisingly well preserved. Stiletto was even newer and cleaner than the goods just received from the store. Claire involuntarily was captivated by her reflection in the sparkling blade. How beautiful! And how easily the same blade can destroy all the beauty.

Her suddenly pierced a strange perverse desire. To cut down! Just take the blade on the skin so that blood performed. It was terribly unpleasant and at the same time incredibly seductive. Again feel the hipping burning in the skin. Again to see how the blood droplets perform that the dew on the flower. The desire was so passionate that Clair was barely kept.

It seems to be burned from the inside. The idea is to inflict some kind of wound or injury, has become almost marked.

Claire seemed to sleep. Can it be a reasonable person to come on such thoughts. We must think rationally. In the end, she is an adult with refined taste and pleasant manners. So where did this craving for blood come from in her, to death, to violence? And most importantly to self-dispersion. Why the thought that herself began to seem much more seductive than to draw something with a brush on canvas.

All this was so unusual. Claire felt like in a dream. So she brought the blade to her own skin slightly lowering the elbow and gently spent them a thin line across the hand. The pain immediately defended how the coals were smoldering on the hand, but the feeling still was somehow fascinating. The blade drained a thin neat drawing. This could not be repeated on paper or canvas. This art required an extremely live flesh as a canvas. Unique art. Claire could not tear the eye from a thin wound, immediately pouring scarlet color. This cut was like a line of perfection. Absolutely perfect feature on the perfect canvas of its lily skin.

This time the cut did not seem to her dropping like greedy lips. It was like a straight road, carrying her into the labyrinth of memories. Claire saw bleeding black candles, knives, dead female bodies on the table and someone standing on them, someone in a coat. She saw her own palms, pricked by spiked roses, and folds of her own wedding dress. She heard the question:

«Why did you come here?»

And immediately something negligent:

«Well, okay, since you came, stay! Look! It will be your fishery ever…»

And the scalpel in his hand sank on the chest of a dead woman. Cuffs were painted blood.

Blooded lips kissed Claire, and she felt this kiss. It was sweet, and terrible at the same time.

Claire came to her senses only a few minutes later. Bloody trickles have already become so thick that they painted the entire hand. Blood ran out on the carpet. Claire took the wound with her fingers, and they immediately painted in a scarlet color.

What a strong pain! It is strange that the pain has come only now. When she applied a cut, she did not feel almost nothing. So people do something in a trance or under the influence of hypnosis. And then there comes a painful awakening.

Now the pain pulps in her hand, as a separate living being, a living being, which was suiced to you and requires suffering. Claire did not remember where the first-aid kit with bandages and ointments. She grabbed the first towel in the bathroom to scorch her hand to them, but her gaze was supervised in the mirror.

Rather, something from the mirror intercepted her view. Something that dwells in the mirror. Blood continued to flow through her hand, and her fingers frantically clung to the marble border. The nails became red from the blood, the pain was stabbed, but the consciousness was burning more.

«Who are you?» She wanted to ask. «What do you want from me? Why do you kill people around me? Why why why…»

So many questions have accumulated from her, just did not make sense to pronounce them out loud, because Claire knew that he would not answer any one. If he wanted, he would have answered long ago because he could read in her mind, as in the opened book. But instead of giving her at least a tiny hope that she does not go crazy, he just grinned. Clare saw his sinister grin, heard laughter. And the bloody blade in his hand. She saw it. On the other side of the mirror. A strange blade. Almost the same as what she found in her own bag, only with some emblem on the handle.

Claire caught her breath. She looked into the mirror as intently as a creature stared at her. It lived there, in the looking glass, or just hiding? She imagined him or is it true? Claire tried to find answers herself, but everything was so confused.

The mirror also suddenly twisted the misty haze. And it is cold there is no steam or hot water. Claire pulled out to rub the glass and only then remembered that her hand was still in the blood. But it was already late to stop. On the mirror remained a long bloody trail. As if after the murder, when someone was slaughtered near someone, and thick juggling blood spattered glass. Do mirrors remember murders?

Somewhere far in the room called the phone. Probably, Shanna again wanted to share the last news about the disaster. Or Brad called to ask for a visit or on a date. The call came, as if completely from the other world. From ordinary earthly world. And here in front of the mirror in the bathroom, as if the whole space was revealed, covered only by reflective amalgam. Now Claire saw only her wary reflection, but she knew that a whole universe could be revealed for any moment, a whole universe, filled with incomprehensible horrors, as in the works of Lafcraft.

«Who are you and what do you want from me?» She did not utter these words, but the questions hung in consciousness, as a smoke from the fire. Claire wanted to know everything. She needed something to remember. Something that happened a long time ago and not at all with her. However, events were strangely familiar to her. It was necessary only to strain the memory. But she could not make an effort herself. It was much easier to cut herself. After all, physical pain is very often not as terrible as pain covered deep in the subconscious.

Act of irreversibility

Memories like sleeping dragon. They hid somewhere deep into the brain and wrap it with their claws and tentacles. Total instant and they die fire. For a whole fiery explosion, only a tiny match is enough. A subtle hint, carelessly abandoned words or some randomly noticed thing, which suddenly awakened pain in memory, again made it active. In this moment, the awkward dragon becomes unproduction, he will burn your whole mind and everything will be able to reach it through him.

Claire understood it. Whether her goodwill, she would prefer not to remember anything. But the memories came to themselves. They did not belong to her, but scrolled like pictures on the screen. As in a gothic film. Garden with luxurious fragrant roses, under which the corpses were in the ground. Blood in cups on the table. The bodies cut with the knife almost to the unrecognizable state. But Claire knew who were these dead. Once they were her enemies. Now they were mutilated corpses. Always mutilated. Because once the same people mutilated him. Him… Claire looked on the flame of candles. She could not restore the face in her memory. She saw only black candles and blood. Candles for witchcraft. She knew this ritual, but did not remember its sense.

She was sitting at the oak table for a feast. The room was absolutely empty, not counting someone who sat on the other side of her. And his face was hiding in the shade. Although it is strange where the shadows come from if there are so many candles around. Is he beautiful or ugly? She saw only his hands lying on the table. Rather, only the cuffs around these hands and shine of expensive rings. On her fingers were also expensive rings, which in life she never wore, and lush cuffs around the palms, and gentle sleeves with pearl threads. The forehead also pressed the severity of pearls. Pearls were like living creatures taken away from the dead oysters. Certificates of their death. And Claire felt with every cell of the skin, how are they heavy.

And on the exquisite plates in front of it really lay dead worms and pieces of flesh. She knew that this flesh was human. She felt as if she had died. And this is not at all due to the fact that the corset on the whale mustache stood the chest so that it intercepted the breath. She felt like a shadow. Shadow in white on a disgusting feast. And he waited. He waited for her to decide. And she took one of the gilded forks.

It seems she fell into the trance or just thought too much. The phone was ringing without stopping. It was Brad. Claire did not want to take the phone at all, but, thinking, still decided that it would be impolite. Since when did she start to show politeness towards Brad? Since she realized that she needs to have at least some company in order not to stay alone with ghosts. She was already in captivity of some illusions. The presence of a living person near could change it. When someone is near, all fears are becoming less, and the dependence on the otherworldly weakens. Of course, a creative person needs to be sometimes alone with her own thoughts to create her works. But you need to have friends. There were always everywhere many guys and girls who would like to make friends with her. It was a rare quality worthy in order to envy it. Claire did not have to do anything at all so that people were fond of her.

Probably her amazingly beautiful appearance or mysteriousness attracted them. Or maybe a tempting combination of both in general. In any case, when Claire gave it to understand that she did not want to communicate too often with someone, these people were very offended at her. She herself knows why she sought to solitude. Probably, she was right and it was not worth respecting people, which of all possible qualities attracted only her too bright appearance. Is it possible to choose yourself friends in appearance?

Together with the question of consciousness immediately the mysterious hoarse voice said:

«You can’t even imagine what treasure you have?»

Claire immediately imagined the blade that hacked her face. She did not want to imagine anything like that, but the black fantasy did not leave the brain anywhere. These are someone’s mutual hands squeeze the knife and bring the tip to her cheek. Here is cold steel touches the skin, and the wound is revealed on it, similar to a crimson flower or a parasite, sever on face, like a large leech or jellyfish. Terrible marine parasites are also similar in brightness. Just the wounds. They, too, like scarlet parasites on your body. They are absorbed into the skin to flourish pain and blood. Clare saw in front of the closed eyelids, as a hand with a blade again and again puts cuts to her face, bending a neck, shoulders. And blood is thick dripping on a white wedding dress, which Claire never put in her life. She didn’t even see such a dress anywhere. It was too old-fashioned dress to see something similar in a showcase of a modern store.

Claire gathered with the forces and raised the phone tube only to tell Brad a couple of anything significant phrases. She hoped that he would not take them for the invitation to tea. Brad had a rare talent to take the most simple comments on sports or weather, as a direct invitation for a date. This trait in him is very often annoyed.

Claire now did not want to see anyone. Good at least that she did not occur to cut her right hand. What kind of artist without the existing right hand. She loved her work. Whatever sinister accents began to acquire her work now, but they still continued to remain admiration for an on-line with fear.

She also did not want to call a doctor. Of course, she could put something about an accident, but she did not like to lie. In addition, she was tormented by some superstitious fear. It seemed that no one had the right to touch the cut, besides her. And Claire decided to heal the wound herself. Of course, it is inconvenient to make it with one hand. But she used to deal with everything alone.

She could have cope with everything herself. Now, if in the mirror just did not settle someone, ready to prevent her all. He was as if her dark half. Like a grinning criminal Hyde in an ideal biography of Dr. Jekyll.

Blood has already ceased to flow, but the pain still did not pass. What power only jerked her hand to take a knife? Claire never could understand this. But she became scary. What if it happens again? What if she wants to cut again? Or someone just inspires her that she wants it?

On the moment, she even wanted to call someone from girlfriends and ask her to spend a night with her. But then she looked at the elegant Venetian masks on the walls. Porcelain, gypsum, ceramic, with feathers and elegantly suspended eyes, with lips, smiling sweet and poisonous at the same time. They as if they said:

«Not worth it!»

And Claire involuntarily looked at them. Typically female features and bizarre outlines of owls, peacocks, hummingbirds or fish were transferred to this house atmosphere of Venetian carnival. Claire did not want to share this mysterious atmosphere with anyone. She was surrounded by masks from all sides, and she involuntarily fell under their influence.

What is a pair of blood drops in comparison with the calmness of the soul and blissful loneliness? Claire unconsciously wiped her hand over the first turned out to be plaid and did not even try to prejudify the wound. All small care suddenly left somewhere as if they were not at all.

Under the windows some noises were distributed, but it was no longer the usual sounds of the radio. Probably, the neighbors had some kind of fight or any other troubles. Or maybe the roof collapsed or some kind of structure, as it came out near the cinema, where they recently were together with Brad. Claire did not even look out of the window to check. In addition, now is the evening. Around is dark. There is nothing particularly in the dark.

Claire took from the table a newspaper, which threw there in the morning and began to view headlines. The glance slid on them clean automatically. No news in fact was not worried about her. She just wanted to distract something. But noise under the windows did not stop. Perhaps still it was worth putting slippers and go out on the porch to look, what’s the matter. Below, after all there is a lantern. Claire wondered.

Someone knocked on her door. Surprisingly, as after external noise, she was able to distinguish a knock on her own door from any other loud sounds. What is so desperate. Behind the man on the other side of the door, as if chased.

After a moment, the random Claire decided to open the entrance door, without removing the chains. She did not recognize the man who stood behind the threshold. It was doused in paint. Thick red paint.

«Help me!»

Claire was a little surprised and alerted. She recognized this man on blond hair and clothes. But it can not really be that neighbor guy she noticed here. And if he really is, the fact that then this happened to him. He won the whole entirely in the burning stove or some other way managed to construct almost all the skin.

«Let me in!» The bloody hand climbed the door.

«No,» Claire said hurriedly. «I better call help, and you wait here.»

«Just give me to enter,» the bloody creation is stubbornly climbed into the house. Only Claire was afraid to let it, too, it was terrifying. She involuntarily remembered how in films bloody and embittered sacrifices themselves become vengeful killers. The creature behind the door looked frightened, as if it was afraid of persecution. Claire was also afraid. She was afraid of what could be laid in the night for his back.

«Don’t you understand what he goes after me,» said the stranger. «What he did with me, he will then do with you.»

The last phrase he whispered almost confidentially, as if between them could have something in common, which could not be disclosed. And then he suddenly pulled away from the door. But Claire still felt the smell of blood. It hit right in the nostrils, spicy and unpleasant. It can be seen, today she suffered not alone.

Claire thought that it would be nice to call the police or at least inform them that under her windows is a strongly affected person and strange frightening sounds are heard. And what if all this is just another hallucination? The deceitful fingers remained lying on the panels of the door. Claire did not immediately find the strength to close and lock it.

She looked at her wound. It is strange, that the man glared at her wound, as if it was a kind of magical sign, with whom he had already encountered in practice. And this sign immediately awakened in him indescribable trust, as if he could have something in common with Claire. She has goosebumps from such associations. Probably, it is only seemed to her. And the man behind the door was just a drunkard.

It is better to think so. After all, if the affected guy was really injured, then all her fears are invariably come true. And with those whom some force draws her close attention, something terrible is really happening. Sooner or later.

Claire was afraid. And Venetian masks looked at her calmly and mysteriously, as if they kept some kind of secret. About this night, about her cut, about a certain ancient destination. And this mystery also allowed them to have something in common with Claire. Something that no one should know about.

Countdown of deaths

Claire dreamed of the sea. Water smooth sparkled in the light of the moon. Or then there were deep canals filled with water. Claire almost heard the voices of mermaids, growing in the depths of the channels in search of food. These greedy, slippery and half dead creatures were attracted of fragrances of meat. Human meat. When in the canal was a drowned person, they stopped singing and rushed to search for food. But in the canals rarely was a drowned person. Therefore, mermaids were forever hungry. Now there were a lot of drowned. Claire was surprised. She saw the deadly pale faces of mermaids and their sharp, like needles, teeth. Their singing stood in her ears, guy and hypnotizing.

Claire woke up in cold sweat with the same question as in a dream. Why were in the dark waters so many drowned persons. As if the whole army was lowered to the bottom. The same hoarse vaguely familiar voice answered:

«They were all your enemies.»

Your enemies! Our enemies! How exactly did he want to say? And did he see between this a difference?

Spirit of the mirror! Was it his voice? Claire frowned. Apparently, she is already accustomed to him as to the friend. But he himself was also an enemy. Or at least behaved like an enemy. Only enemies can drive you behind the nose and intimidate. The inhabitant of the mirror was conducted with her some strange game. He disappeared, it appeared, and, nevertheless, unfortunately took her consciousness.

The devil hides in the mirror. What nonsense? The devil would not swing in front of her with a knife, like some Sweeney Todd. He would immediately destroy her. Or did he already do it? Only not immediately, but gradually.

Claire’s heart painfully sank. Previously, it would be scared from such suspicion, it would be frightened as a bird in a cage, now it just froze, as if it was slaughtered with a knife. Claire excitedly looked around. Is there one of the mirrors or in reflective objects of any sinister reflections?

Dreams about bloodthirsty mermaids drove it crazy. She even stopped cooking fish for lunch, which she loved very much.

It would probably be worthwhile to make any pets. With them, Claire would be calmer. Any pet is already a company. They said that cats are protected from evil spirits. That now just did not prevent. Claire just prevailed the road to the nearest pet shop, when she heard the siren of police on the street.

She noticed the police cars near the neighboring house.

Yesterday Claire noticed the bloody palm imprint left on her door. Today, it disappeared somewhere, as if it was erased by a cloth. Claire with amazement looked at her own door. Everything looked as if no one stood under her threshold last night. The grass from the track was not the rear, the traces were left, the blood on the threshold did not darken. Maybe she just dreamed.

Claire stood in bewilderment and looked at how some bodies disappear in ambulances. Perhaps due to the fact that she was too closely watched, the police were interested in her and stuck with questionings. Didn’t she see what? Did you hear any suspicious screams? Have you seen the fighting companies nearby? Or at least hotly arguing?

She slowly answered questions, because of which the nervous police began shouting at her. This behavior on their part was quite unacceptable in her opinion. What did they see what they fell? Clair involuntarily chopped.

«It seems someone pounded last night in my door,» she murmured.

«It seems?» They immediately stared with such suspicion that she regretted her own words.

«And it seems he was wounded…» Claire admitted.

The views, as directed to her, from under the visors of the caps, became almost accused. Claire wanted to fall through the ground. In such a ridiculous situation, she has never been in her life.

«He asked to let him into the house, but I was frightened,» she began to justify. «In addition, he said that someone chasing him.»

«And you did not report the police?» Not a question, but rather a reproach.

Clair blushed.

«I thought he was drunk. Here, through the road, they have fun of the company so often.»

Claire confused that her words are already written in notepads as indications.

«Have you ever having fun with them ever?»

«No, I did not even know them. Just saw next door.»

«Did they behave like hooligans?»

«It happened!» Claire nervously threw a golden strand from her forehead.

All this has so much resembled interrogation or even inquiry. She was as if they tried to cut on something. Clair did not like it. As if she was to blame for something.

«What do you need from her?»

Fortunately Brad arrived. Having frightened that people were crowded around Claire, he himself was very nervous and began to scream. A strong guy in anger could scare anyone. and, if necessary, clean up. They were with Claire immediately behind. And not surprising. Brad swore, threatened to call lawyers and file complaints. Apparently, he had not for the first time in such a situation when he had to fight with difficulties.

Only from him, Clare recognized the information that the guys from the street company have severely cut each other or someone cut them. Yes, and their car exploded. Someone threw a lighter in the benzobak. The guy died, who lived in the neighborhood. And also his friends The company was big. Now only one girl remained alive, but she was in a hospital.

«A girl named Morissa?»

«It seems…» Brad shrugged. But he did not ask any questions.

«You could not find out what kind of hospital she was taken?»

He just nodded and immediately moved to someone to question.

The only thing that was unpleasant is a slight feeling of some kind of deliverance. As if Claire removed the fungus. The feeling was as if someone decided for her her problem. She did’nt like these guys. After all, she did not kill them. And one desire to destroy someone is not enough.

After all, is it right? If Klaire had a pet parrot, she would certainly ask him about it. And he, of course, would say «yes.» This answer would have comforted her.

She stood on the porch and lazily watched, as her today’s tormentors are dismissed back on cars. Ambulance vans have already left, police cars traveled after them. True, the road was quite narrow. It was not yet easy to disperse. The driver of different machines did not take into account the same side of this and suddenly… everything happened so quickly and unexpectedly that Claire did not even have blinking. Two police cars ridiculously encountered drown each other with hoots. Just a few meters from the house Claire was an explosion.

What a terrible day? As fast, things that have recently existed and moved, can turn into ashes and hills of mutilated limbs and details.

Claire looked no longer on the smoke, rising from the burnt grouse of the metal, but on her own hands. The palms were clean and smooth, but for some reason it seemed to her that they were in blood.

Face in a crowd


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