“Bring back Cookie. Where’s Cookie?”
Her voice played over in his mind, whispering incessantly in a maddening loop.
“No, I don’t want you…where is he?”
Baelian choked out a laugh, pouring himself a shot of vodka, features twisting into a scowl as his shaking hand made a mess of the project, sloshing perfectly good booze onto the dark-wood desktop.
I don’t want you.
Ever since dear Lyra had forbidden him from taking any more of his ‘Valium,’ the constant tremor in his body had been driving him to distraction (or to drink, as it were). He knew it would happen, she had warned him of as much when she took them away.
“It’ll be hard, mon couer, in the beginning…but you need to stop…promise me you won’t take these any more. We’ll get you something else…”
He’d made some blasé side innuendo in response, but he’d agreed. The so-called Valium he’d been ingesting for the Gods only knew how long had been anything but – yet another trump card in Professor’s Kreutz’s winning hand.
Feeding me ambrosia through my meds. Fucking genius.
He should have known – deep down he probably had – that his mounting aggression and hypersexuality was the result of someone tampering with his daily dose of happy pills. The sensations were all too familiar…echoes from his horror of a childhood and the aphrodisiac libido enhancing chemicals that they’d pumped him full of since he was 8 years old…that feeling of helpless intoxication, the inability to control oneself…
Fuck or fight or die trying to do both.
Raking a hand through his hair, he downed the shot, slamming it onto his desk and pouring another as ungraciously as the first.
No…I don’t want you…
Down went the vodka, a third shot considered for all but a second before the small glass was tossed away, rolling across the dark wood and falling silently onto the carpet beyond it’s borders. Turning, Baelian leant against the desk, bringing the bottle to his lips and swallowing a burning gulp. Classless, he knew, but anyone who would have told him so wasn’t around. No one was around in the top floor offices of Black Family Inc., not this late at night. The secretaries and administration crew were long gone, and his ‘temp’ PA had been sent scurrying over an hour ago, muttering to herself in exasperated irritation at her employer’s inability to let her do her job.
“Just let me help you…I can make you feel better…” she’d pouted at him, leaning over the leather settee, giving him full view down the top of the crisp shirt she wore loosely buttoned and the distinct lack of undergarments within, “I know how…”
I can hurt you…I know how…I learned young…
He hadn’t meant to throw his coffee cup at her, it had just kind of happened on its own. One minute he was gagging on cold brew that he should have drank over half an hour earlier, the next she was shrieking with coffee stains all over that nice white shirt.
Asinoe is gonna kill me.
It had been the first in a long list of things he hadn’t meant to do that night…like drink himself paralytic.
And yet here he was.
Another sip from the bottle, his features screwing up as the potent liquid burned its way down his throat. It had gone beyond that pleasant warmth now to almost painful, his gag reflex working with the excess abuse, a half-buried memory biting at the edge of his subconscious as he struggled to swallow.
“He loves me…and I love him…”
Pushing the memory from his mind, his thoughts turned to Bethany, a sharp ache in his chest starting as he remembered his daughter’s face, her words. She was so angry with him, she’d always been so angry with him, trying to find any moment she could to drive the knife in. And why not? He’d had her committed…in that place…
No. Don’t think of Bethany. Drink some more. You can get past the urge to vomit…you know you can. You’ve done it a thousand times before.
“Proglotit' yeye mal'chik, ili ya utopit' vas v ney…”
Deep gasping breaths…one…two…three….his eyes sliding closed as he willed the steel trap within his mind to snap closed on the ensuing onslaught. It was harder than usual these days, the memories ever-threatening to flood his waking hours and drown him in their depths. It had been so much easier to fight them when….
He tried not to think about her…his Alina…he tried desperately to shove her back into the dark recesses with everything else, but she was harder to banish than others. Harder than Bethany, harder than the wonderfully calming effect his little blue pills had on him…Valium that wasn’t Valium…that wasn’t really calming at all…
“Bring back Cookie. Where’s Cookie?”
The woman was anathema to Baelian, who had nothing but Jasper’s hazy memories of his mother as a reference point, and a hell of a lot of anger for everything that had transpired after the wayward young woman saw fit to fake her own death, leaving her then two year old child in the hands of rapists and monsters.
I don’t want you…
And yet…the wide blue eyes that had for the first time locked with his own not five weeks ago had spoken of anything but distaste when they looked at him. That soft and cool hand on his forehead, brushing back his hair…
Two more gulps of vodka and the room was beginning to spin, his fingers curling around the edge of the desk as if it could anchor him. He rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand, eyes fluttering as he blinked away the mire.
This isn’t normal.
He could feel his chest constrict in the beginnings of panic, his free hand scrabbling to his coat pocked in search of a small bottle of happiness that was no longer there.
Ambrosia, Baelian…he put ambrosia in your pills.
“Motherfucker!” he swore, his shaking hand moving to cover his face, fingers massaging his temples, “Get it together damnit…”
Ah but you didn’t fuck her…she doesn’t want you, remember?
“Nobody wants you, boy…”
His father’s voice - or rather Jerald Black’s - growling in his ear in that way he always did that made Baelian’s skin crawl.
Another drink…the bottle seemed bottomless…
The sound that escaped his lips was somewhere between a choked laugh and a sob, bile rising in his throat as his eyes slid closed. It had been almost six months since the Professor had taken his Alina away…six months of broken sleep and bad dreams…six months of drowning his sorrows in booze, drugs and whatever willing arms and legs opened wide enough for him.
He knew he was out of control, even before his nearest and dearest had begun to voice their concerns. Even Bella, who usually stayed well away from giving him advice about anything to do with his health, had started making rather pointed allusions to his state of mind.
“You’re not sleeping…I can tell…”
No he wasn’t sleeping. He never slept without Alina…not really, not unless he passed out from exhaustion, and then only to fall into fitful dreaming and night terrors.
Fucking damnit all to hell, now his legs were shaking, icy tendrils curling about his spine as he shuddered. All at once it was hard to breathe, a cold sweat breaking out through his sinewy form. He deposited the bottle on the desk, turning to lean heavily on his arms, his body jolting with the shock of a memory as it escaped the traps he’d thought it ensnared in.
“Open your mouth boy… napitok…drink or I’ll drown you in it… delat' kak vy skazali!”
His vision blurred as his hands scrabbled for the bottle again, trembling fingers curling around it. He pressed his cheek against the cool wood of the desk and sipped, coughing sharply as half of the liquid spilled across his mouth.
Moaning, Baelian let gravity win and slid to the floor, rolling onto his back as the bottle found his lips again. His attempt to drink from this vantage point was no more successful than his adventure with the desk, the fount of burning vodka that filled his mouth and nose making him splutter and gag…but not stop.
“That’s it boy…drink…drink it all…”
The memories came biting at his brain with each desperate gulp, images of the Katorga’s, drunk and dangerous…memories of rough hands holding him down, of a bottle of vodka being poured down his throat…fingers pinching his nose closed as they chanted and cheered endlessly.
And his Alina, writhing on top of him with wide and haunted eyes…a sharpened letter opener in her hand…
“Vysech' svoye imya v nego malen'kuyu suchku…”
The vodka ran down his neck, over his shirt and onto the carpet beneath him as he drank, soaking his hair as his body arched with the memory of being inside her, waves of nausea and arousal making him moan…and choke again.
His head fell to one side as finally the bottle ran dry, half-mast cobalt hues blinking away the blackness that threatened to swallow him. He could still hear the Katorga’s chanting in his head…could feel Alina’s lithe little 11 year old body rocking against him. And the blade against his naked skin…
Jesus fucking Christ…
The panic had started again, his breath coming in short and sharp gasps. He was shaking violently, trying desperately to clear the black spots in his vision, fingers curling against the carpet as he sought something to hold onto.
No…not Valium. The little white bottle he spied lying not two feet away under the couch- discarded during some kind of tantrum or sexual escapade- was not what he needed, according to Doctor Monère. That small bottle of heaven that he was reaching desperately for would not help him, those little blue pills spilling onto the carpet next to his face were bad…very bad.
He put ambrosia in your pills…he wanted to see what would happen.
Dependency, that’s what had happened. Forgetting every promise he had made to Lyra, knowing full well that there was no Valium in the tiny poisoned candies, Baelian plucked them up one by one and swallowed them whole, clamping a hand over his mouth as he moaned deliriously.
Intellectually, even in his state, he knew that there was no way they could have even begun to take effect yet…but just the knowledge that they were inside him, that soon everything would make sense again, was comfort enough.
For all of twenty seconds.
“He loves me…and I love him…”
His body had begun to burn, his temperature spiking as desire flooded through him, quickening his breath once more. The smell of vodka permeated his senses, his cheek pressed into the damp rug.
“Alina…” he moaned her name, as if by sheer force of will he could somehow manifest her into being, that maddening succubus that had tormented him since he was 9 years old. She’d been gone for so long…but still her scent lingered in the air…the image of her was etched in his mind…her taste burned his lips…
Alina, crawling over to him in the darkness, naked and broken…sliding her small hands over his shuddering form, teeth biting, nails scratching, thighs parting to let him take what he wanted…over and over and over and over…
“Let’s make some more babies together…Daddy…”
…and Bethany, wriggling beneath him in his bed, demanding…always demanding…
“Do you believe in fairies..?”
Belladonna’s breath was on his skin…her cool cheek pressing against his…a memory that wasn’t even his own…her delicate hands slipping beneath the covers…
No. No no no no no no…
His fist slammed into the carpet beside him, a sob escaping him as he tried to crawl out of the black hole he was falling into, rolling onto his side as his mother’s scent engulfed him. Quite of its own accord, a shaking hand was smoothing back his hair, fingers drawing over his face and neck before moving down…down, across his chest, his belly, his navel…
“Don’t you dare, boy…don’t you dare steal from me…”
The sudden shock of pain in his hand made him cry out, Jerald’s cold and disapproving face looming in the blackness before him.
Good boys don’t do that. Not without permission. That doesn’t belong to you.
The one time he’d ever tried to touch himself, as any child was won’t to do, his father had broken his hand, the ever-so-helpful Professor Kreutz making sure that the memory had been deeply embedded in his mind as a trigger against a repeat offence. Even now, at 33, self-pleasure was luxury that Baelian Black did not have without permission.
“Try that again and I’ll break your fingers one at a time so you remember who owns you…”
I don’t want you.
He was sobbing openly now, his face turned into the vodka-soaked fibres of the rug, Alina’s name on his lips like a mantra as he begged her to save him.
She could do it…he knew she could. She always knew how to make the monsters go away.
Come home…come home to me…Ah…li…naaaaa…
Somehow he found the presence of mind to find his phone in his coat pocket, tremulous digits speed-dialling his PA’s number as he sniffled and tried to compose himself, unable to really register much else in the way of coherent thought. His heart sank as her voicemail parroted at him, the silence that followed the message record tone seemingly stretching on forever before Baelian finally found his voice.
“….just…bring her home…” he pleaded hoarsely, unable to utter any further explanation but that. In the back of his mind he knew it was a cruel thing to do…somewhere deep within lay an inkling of the inappropriate nature of his request.
Yet it was what it was. He needed his Alina. He would not survive much longer without her.
It was a wonder that he’d survived this long at all.
“Do you think she’s pretty?”
Blinking away tears, images of Belladonna dancing onstage filled his head, a tumult of emotions drowning him as he’d watched her from the shadows.
His mother. His. The one who had given him life and abandoned him.
She didn’t want him.
Nobody wants you. Not your mother, not Bethany…not Asinoe. Not even Alina. You’re alone.
The pulsating ache within him was getting worse, the overdose of ambrosia starting to kick in. He silently cursed himself for sending the temp, Christine, away, his befuddled and thoroughly intoxicated mind filing through his other options.
<em>Ivory, Opium, Lyra, Eden, Dorian…Bella…no, not her.</em>
And yet he wanted them all.
Fuck the pain away.
At least his breathing had slowed, shaking breaths drawing in and out a little easier now that he’d heard her voice.
Even if it hadn’t been her.
His gaze fluttered to the empty bottle of vodka laying nearby and he considered smashing it and slashing his wrists or throat. It seemed in that moment a perfectly logical and effective way to stop the world and get off.
Go on, do everyone a favour. If you don’t you’ll only destroy them all one by one. And yourself.
Swallowing with a wince as the movement burned his throat, Baelian dragged his hand across the carpet, fingers inching towards the instrument of his salvation.
The buzz of his phone as it began to vibrate was the only thing that gave him pause, the flash of Asinoe’s name announcing her call making the guilt rise instantly within him. He didn’t answer, he simply stared at the glow of the screen as it flashed persistently, tears welling up in his eyes and spilling over his cheeks as he lay there.
I’m sorry…I’m sorry…but you’re not her…you’re not…
He felt so alone in that moment, curled in a pitiful ball on the floor of his office, staring forlornly at his Blackberry. For all his posturing and feigned self-sufficiency, Baelian Black knew full well how broken and hopeless he was.
How could she ever want you, like this? How could any of them every want you?
“Nobody wants you, boy…”
No…I don’t want you…
His hands rose and covered his face, fingers tangling in his hair as he began to cry again helplessly, knees drawing up tighter against him.
But this time, it was Belladonna's name that he called.
Why don't you love me?
When he finally passed out, it was amidst sobs and moans and feverish dreams of Alina’s lips on his skin…and his mother’s cool hands on his face, smoothing back his hair and crooning words of comfort to him as if he were a child.
A child that everybody owned, and no one wanted.
Written by Natalie Ristovski.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.