The Underground RPG Synopsis – ASYLUM – October 2013
**PLEASE NOTE – HEAVY TRIGGER WARNINGS APPLY. Contains scenes, content, images and themes that may offend, distress, disturb or trigger. Reader discretion advised.
News of the death of their children left both father and daughter utterly distraught, Jasper rushing back from Vegas and to Bethany’s bedside the moment that he received Bella’s call. Insisting on staying by her, Jasper passed the time sharing bourbon, tears and valium with Bethany, clutching her hand while she slept and periodically passing out face-planted in her lap. The Princess of the Underground was mostly uninjured by her fall, at least physically…though she had succumbed to a deep melancholy that seemed to age her overnight, her wide haunted eyes staring blankly at all and any who tried to communicate with her. She spoke only to Jasper, in hushed and weary tones, about things that no one else could hear and neither he nor Bethany would share.
Four days after Bethany’s wedding night, the tiny bodies of Virginia Elizabeth and Silas Dominic Black were put in the ground. Neither Jasper nor Bethany attended the funeral, the latter not well enough and the former refusing to leave her in the hospital alone. Dorian Bond was placed on suicide watch outside their room, dutifully guarding both father and daughter as the Family conducted the funeral ceremony and burial service.
As All Hallow’s Eve drew closer the members of the Black Family called their nearest and dearest to them, inviting all to a controversial Halloween gathering in an attempt to alleviate the cloud of sorrow that had fallen over the entire household. May Bea Sunshine accused the Black’s of being insensitive and uncaring of their loss, drumming up sympathy for the ‘poor dead children…who were most likely better off that way.’ A visit to her offices by Jett Black and the Family lawyers saw her retracting her comments.
When Bethany was released from hospital Jasper appointed himself her personal shadow, following her everywhere and acquiescing to every whim and demand. At any other time, the heiress of the Black Family might have considered his tireless devotion a personal win, but now she barely noticed that he was there. Finally, feeling utterly shattered and helpless, unable to bear Bethany’s distant indifference and Bella’s smothering concern for his mental state, Jasper left the Underground and headed to Oakleaf, leaving word that he would be back for the Halloween gathering that night. Upon arrival at the retreat, he demanded all and any files pertaining to his incarceration at Braidleigh Manor and, armed with two bottles of bourbon and a bottle of Xanax, he locked himself in a private room and began to read.
* * * * *
The dark-haired boy ran through the dirty halls of the asylum, his dressing gown flapping as he moved, blue eyes glimmering. He veered to his left, plastering his body against a wall and laughing as he peered around the corner. His arms and legs were heavily bandaged, old blood stained through the dressing on his wrists…but he seemed in rather good spirits.
“Ready or not, I’m coming!” echoed the voice of a young female through the halls, bringing a grin of delight to his lips. Pushing himself off the wall, the boy dove beneath a set of tables, crawling swiftly between legs and past feet, popping out the other side, leaping over a circular platform and face-planting behind it onto the floor.
“You can’t find meeee,” he sing-songed in a muffled voice, sniggering.
“Yes I can!” came the now-much-louder reply, a girl with hair that matched his own hurrying into the room and looking about eagerly.
“Can not!” the boy insisted, crawling around the back of the platform as the girl approached from his right.
“Can too!” she declared, hurling herself to the floor where he had just been, frowning in disappointment when she found the spot to be vacant…until she saw his bare feet scrabbling around the curve of the raised dais. Her brown eyes lit up and she began to crawl after him, then thought better of it and froze, flattening her body against the floor.
The boy made it halfway around the platform before realising that she hadn’t followed, his shock of dark hair peeking up over the top of the raised surface as luminous blue eyes sought out the hunter that stalked him.
“GOT YOU JASPER!” the young girl sprang up from her hiding place, pointing at him with a gleeful shout. Jasper yelped in surprise, propelling himself onto the platform as the girl climbed to meet him, throwing her small body against his with a shriek and toppling them both. Giggling and wrestling, the two rolled over one another, Jasper pinning his companion and tickling her as she squealed, bellowing for her to call ‘uncle.’
“Daddy!” the girl hollered instead, laughing at the surprise on his face and taking the opportunity to press her advantage. Rolling on top of the boy, she straddled him, catching his face in her hands and bending to place a quick peck on his lips…then another. By the third kiss, his hands had lifted to grip her hair, fingers tangling in wild locks as he held her head in place, his tongue pushing into her mouth and deepening the kiss, again and again until they were both breathless and panting.
It was Jasper who pulled away first, staring up at the nymph above him, shaking hands centimetres from her form as he traced the outline of her body. Her pale fingers caught his wrists as his hands rose to cup her face again, his fingers splaying as she tightened her grip and drew them back down to her breasts. When his fingertips made contact with her skin, even through layers of clothing, they both shuddered, the girl moaning as she ground her hips in response.
Her name fell from Jasper’s lips in a tortured whisper, blue eyes sliding closed as his body arched, hands moving down to rest on his daughter’s hips, fingers digging in to her soft flesh. She said nothing, only rocked her body against him in response, her head falling to one side.
And then she froze.
Jasper’s eyes snapped open, brows furrowing at her still profile, his gaze following her own to see what had caught her attention. There, not three feet away atop the dais, lay a casually discarded swathe of blood-stained cloth, with two rather distinct lumps beneath it.
“Ooooo…” Bethany breathed, sliding off her father’s lap, wide brown eyes fixed on the concealed parcel beside them. Sitting up, Jasper gazed at the bundle over her shoulder, a sudden sense of dread filling him. Eyes widened, a shaking hand moving to his daughter’s arm as a whisper of warning sounded on his lips. Ignoring him, Bethany crawled forward, pale fingers reaching out and curling about the edge of the fabric. Jasper shook his head, frozen in place by sudden fear, unable to stop her as she slowly lifted the cloth to reveal the mottled and blue-grey crowns of two dead babies beneath.
With a horrified cry Bethany staggered, falling into her father’s arms as he dragged her backwards, holding her tightly as she began to scream. Closing his eyes, Jasper begged her to stop, whispering over and over again that it wasn’t real…it was just a dream.
“Please baby doll, it’s not real…please…it’s just a dream…”
Howling, Bethany lunged forward to sweep up the deceased children, or dolls as they were now revealed to be, cradling them in her arms and rocking back and forth. Pushing away from her, Jasper clamped his hands over his ears, sobbing over and over again that it was all a dream and couldn’t possibly be real. Two tall figures dressed in orderly uniforms (resembling Jack Lad and Steiner) approached the hysterical Bethany, taking hold of her and unceremoniously dragging her away as Jasper continued to chant aloud.
“It’s not real, it’s a dream, it’s not real, it’s not real…it’s not fucking real…”
And then, all at once, his voice changed…the syllables become sharper, the tone softer…shifting to that of a well-educated young girl.
“It’s only a dream…it isn’t real…” she crooned to herself, a bandaged hand rising to stroke her own head, fingers smoothing her dark locks. Her head tilted back, pale grey eyes peeking out from behind bandaged arms. She blinked once, twice, three times, lips curving into a wide smile as she stretched, fingers splaying to the ceiling. Her legs unfolded, toes curling as she examined the dirty dressing of each limb, a pink tongue snaking out to lick dry lips.
And then she was on her feet, swaying slightly, those piercing colourless hues scanning the room and coming to rest on a well-dressed young lady sitting not two steps from her platform. Eyes widened in surprise, lips twitching in a hesitant smile.
“Kayla?” she asked, frowning as Kayla ‘Amaranth’ Katorga returned her smile with a nod and raised brows.
“Hi B,” she said softly.
“What in the world are you doing here…” words trailed off as she realised that there were others in the room, many in fact, seated at tables and chairs surrounding the podium she stood upon. Biting her lip, ‘B’ looked down, bare feet tapping on the platform she finally recognised as a stage.
“Kayla,” she whispered, “All these people…are we having a party?”
Kayla nodded sheepishly, waving her hand at those gathered.
“They’re your audience, B,” she said.
“Oh goodness, why didn’t you tell me sooner? I’m not nearly prepared for company…look at me!”
Smoothing her stained pyjamas down, the grey-eyed creature began to fuss over her hair, pacing back and forth on the stage in bewilderment.
“No, this won’t do…Daddy shall be very cross with me, I think…” she murmured, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath before launching herself onto centre stage, bound arms thrown out as she addressed the room.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!” she called, her voice wavering as those wide pale eyes drank in the stunned audience all around, “I am Belladonna Black…welcome to Jerald’s Funday! We’re so pleased to see you made it…for not everyone makes it to these parties, oh no, not just anyone…only the crème de la crème of the most fashionably elite are ever allowed to sample our wares…and what wares they are, let me tell you…”
Twirling on one foot and giving an unbalanced giggle, Belladonna began to sing a crazed and overly-enthusiastic rendition of ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy,’ twisting and turning in some kind of lewd pantomime as she discarded her robe with a lascivious cackle. Halfway through her performance, a woman dressed in a matron’s uniform that looked frighteningly like Bella Jade Black stalked into the room.
“Alright, cut the music,” she called sternly, gesturing to the audience, “Belladonna, you’re upsetting the other patients, you need to calm down.”
Pouting and stomping her foot Belladonna scowled at the Matron.
“I’m PLAYING with my FRIENDS,” she said.
“Don’t take that tone with me Belladonna. We’ve spoken about this before,” the Matron narrowed her eyes, “You’re only allowed to play if you behave yourself. If you take your clothes off that’s not behaving now is it?”
“Daddy says it is,” Belladonna grinned, “I am a very good girl thankyou…and you are being very rude and spoiling our fun.”
Crossing her arms, the scowling woman stared up at the crazed creature on the stage, pursing her lips in thought for a moment. “Your daddy isn’t here Belladonna, do you remember where you are?”
Blinking, Belladonna frowned, dropping to her knees suddenly and looking away.
“The fixing place,” she pouted.
“That’s right, very good,” the Matron perked a brow, “Now it’s time for your dinner and medication.”
“I don’t WANT to.”
“Well, we all have to do things we don’t want to. Now be a good girl and go to the dining hall.”
Gritting her teeth, the pristinely clad woman stepped closer to the stage, a cold smile gracing her lips.
“You remember what happened last time you were a bad girl, don’t you Belladonna?”
Narrowing her eyes, Belladonna brought a hand to her short crop of dark hair, disgust dancing through her features.
“MY Daddy is going to come take me away from here soon…and when he does, he will be VERY annoyed that you made me look like a BOY!”
“Your daddy left you here with me. I’m doing exactly what he wants Belladonna,” the woman smirked cruelly, “You don’t want me to tell him you’ve been a naughty girl and made a mess, do you? You don’t want to make him angry….would he like that, Belladonna?”
All at once, those grey eyes widened and Belladonna sat up.
“No,” she said softly. Nodding, the Matron gestured to her.
“That’s right, he wouldn’t…now be a good girl and off you go. The nurse will be waiting in the dining hall to give you your meds. Go on.”
Sighing heavily, Belladonna padded barefoot off the stage, making it five steps before launching into a run.
“Walking inside!” the Matron shouted after her, scowling when she was ignored by the creature running full pelt out of the room. Turning to the ‘other patients,’ the Matron introduced herself as the Head Nurse of Braidleigh Manor, reminding them that they were required to take their medication and behave themselves if they wanted to enjoy their evening.
“Or I will make your life hell,” she added coldly. As she stalked about the room eying each and every one of the audience, many were inclined to believe her.
Later, Belladonna snuck back to the stage, crawling about it as Jack Lad – dressed as a Doctor – offered his personal diagnoses of those gathered in the room.
“You’ve got a distinct case of voyeurism,” he drawled, “There ain’t no cure for that…hello there little girl…”
Giggling, Belladonna toed at Jack’s boots, gazing up at him with wide coy eyes. Jack stared at her for a long moment, then shook himself suddenly and stalked away. Biting her lip, Belladonna reached behind the stage and pulled out a small teddy bear. Cradling it in her arms, she rocked it back and forth, then paused and stared off into the distance.
“Dear Daddy,” she said softly, speaking to the empty space around her, “I miss you. You said that you’d come to get me after three days, you said that I needed to stay here for just a little while so I could be better.” Frowning, perplexion danced through Belladonna’s face as she tilted her head.
“It’s been seven-hundred and fifteen days, Daddy…and I’m lonely. The people here, they don’t know who I am, who YOU are…they keep calling me the wrong name and cutting my hair and…” words trailed off as the sad girl drew her bear closer, “I miss my brother, and the fun we used to have. You always said I was your special, good little girl…but…but it’s hard here, Daddy…so far away from you.” Biting her lip, she sniffled, her eyes filling with tears as she shook her head.
“Daddy I have no way to write this letter, they won’t give me pencils and there is no paper…I have no way to send it to you. I will just say the words out loud and hope that you can hear me, that you will come and find me – you always said no matter how far I ran you would always find me. Well…I need you to find me now and bring me home to you, Daddy, so that I can be your special little girl again. I love you. I miss you…love, Belladonna Black.”
Pressing her face against the bear, Belladonna closed her eyes, sniffling as she rocked with him again. She asked him if he wanted to hear a story, grey eyes brightening as a smile painted her face and she nodded in agreement with herself.
“Okay Harvey,” she told the bear, “Here’s a story just for you…um…once upon a time, there was a little boy. His mother called him Cookie, she said it was because he was sweet and delicious…she would lick his cheek and make him laugh,” the girl giggled, moving to place the bear on the stage in front of her, propping him up in a sitting position and sprawling out beside him.
“Cookie’s mother was a fairy, she was little and pretty as fairies often are…she told him that she would make his dreams come true, so long as he believed in her…” smiling, Belladonna waggled a finger at the bear, “Now don’t you go naysaying me Harvey B. Black, I tell you that’s what she said. She gave him a bear that looked very much like you, she said that Cookie was magic too and that everyone would always love him because he was so sweet, so long as he promised to always believe…” Turning onto her back, Belladonna raised her hands above her face as she studied her bloody bandages.
“One night, a very special night, Christmas night in fact…Cookie crept into his mother’s room. It was all lit up with pretty colours, dancing on the ceiling and glowing over the windowpane…magic lights…fairy lights…” waving her hands in the air, Belladonna’s eyes sparkled as she looked to Harvey, “Mamma was in bed…she looked so beautiful, so tiny but the lights made her eyes shine. She saw Cookie hiding in the shadows watching her, and she smiled at him…” Slowly Belladonna’s hand curled outwards towards an audience she did not see, as if beckoning to them, “’Come Cookie’…Mamma whispered, ‘come and let me hold you’. And Cookie went, because he always went to Mamma…he loved her so very much.” Curling into a ball, the young girl closed her eyes and smiled as she continued to whisper her tale.
“He curled into her, just so,” she murmured, “Mamma was tucked in so tightly that she could barely put one arm around him, but she pressed her face against his forehead, she kissed his brow and licked his cheek and called him beautiful and sweet. And Cookie smiled and believed her. Mamma told him that he was good and that he would always be safe as long as he believed in her and their special magic.’ Belladonna’s eyes opened suddenly, her smile fading. “She told him that he was a fairy prince…that one day he would be the King of them all. Then she went quiet. Cookie asked her to tell him more stories, but Mamma was tired…she was falling asleep. She whispered that she loved him and that he should never forget her, that he should always believe in fairies.” Sitting up suddenly, Belladonna stared at the audience.
“Do YOU believe in fairies?” she asked them. No one responded, so she began to clap her hands. One or two others followed suit, but most just stared at her. After a moment, Belladonna stopped, biting her lip and lowering her eyes.
“Cookie believed in fairies,” she murmured, “When Mamma fell asleep he tried to wake her, but she just kept right on sleeping. He shook her and touched her pretty face…her cold and wet pretty face…he clapped his hands but she slept on.” Belladonna’s features twisted as tears filled her eyes, a shaking hand reaching out for Harvey, “He pulled the covers back, and Mamma was painted red…she’d made a mess, she must’ve spilled paint all over herself. And Father’s steps sounded in the hallway and it made Cookie scared, because he knew Father would be oh so upset when he saw the mess…the illusion of class was everything. He tried to hide it, he clapped his hands louder and louder and louder and called to Mamma but she WOULDN’T WAKE UP!”
Surprised at her outburst, Belladonna clamped her hands over her mouth, staring wide-eyed at Harvey in horror, shaking her head back and forth, her voice muffled as she went on.
“Father stopped in the doorway, he looked at Mamma and his face got very dark…like someone turned the lights off, the colour was gone” she whispered, “He looked at Cookie and Cookie looked back, and Father shook his head. ‘Jasper Black, look at the mess you’ve made,’ Father said to him, ‘Look what you’ve done.’ And Cookie was scared and sad, but he couldn’t tell Father that it was Mamma because he loved Mamma and didn’t want her to be scolded…he called to Mamma again and clapped his hands and believed. He closed his eyes and clapped and clapped…” Tears were streaming down Belladonna’s cheeks now, her arms sliding about herself as she stared blankly into space, “Father came to him, Father lifted him into his arms but Cookie didn’t want to go. He cried and called for Mamma and told her that he believed, that he would be good and believe always if only she would wake up. He clapped his hands as Father took him away, Father took him into his own bedroom and lay down on the bed with him and drew him close. Father told him to stop clapping…and then he knew…” drawing up her knees, Belladonna looked down at Harvey bear, “He looked up at Father and he knew there was no such thing as fairies.”
Sniffling, Belladonna lifted the bear, eying him in silence for a long moment before moving to stand. Clutching him tightly in her hands, she moved to Kayla Katorga, pressing Harvey into her lap and offering a shaky smile.
“He wants cuddles,” she muttered, ignoring Kayla’s tear-filled gaze, “That’s all…that’s all he needs, nothing more…no secret kisses, no hands…” words trailed off as a pale figure entered the room, Belladonna’s colourless eyes widening as she watched the waif-like girl in the bloodied nightgown glide trancelike onto the stage, clutching two dolls wrapped in swaddling cloth.
“That’s Bethany Black…” Belladonna told Kayla, who nodded solemnly, “She’s sad because she lost her babies.”
Bethany rocked the dolls in her arms, walking in blind circles about the stage and whispering sweet nothings to them, her dark eyes weary. Belladonna watched her, frowning.
“It’s silly, if you ask me…how do you lose babies? How do you not find them again?” wrinkling her nose, Belladonna began to circle the stage in the opposite direction, studying Bethany intently, “I think it’s in her blood…her Daddy lost her too, just like mine. They took her from him when she was a baby, and he cried for her but they wouldn’t give her back. Which is nonsense, really…I don’t think he tried hard enough…” Scowling, Belladonna crossed her arms, making a disapproving face.
“If I lost my baby, if someone tried to take MY child, I would kill them. I wouldn’t give them up like Cookie’s Mamma and Bethany’s Daddy…I would tear them apart and take my baby back and love it like no one had ever loved their child before, I would make it so no one could ever, ever take it away from me…and they would love me so much that they would never want to be away from me…and we’d be together forever…”
‘Forever…” Bethany echoed, dark eyes rising to meet Belladonna’s empty gaze. Offering a shaky smile, the girl moved to sit at Bethany’s feet, singing a lullaby for Bethany’s dolls.
“If they knew all about you…they’d end up loving you too…all those same people who scold you, what they’d give just for the right to hold you…” she crooned, laying back to stare up at Bethany, who smiled down at her as she nursed her ‘babies.’ Blinking, Belladonna tilted her head, a hand rising to caress Bethany’s nightgown, fingers curling about the fabric and twisting it. Bethany shuddered, a whimper falling from her lips as her breath caught suddenly. Leaning forward, she looked pleadingly down at Belladonna, who frowned in confusion as blood began to seep through Bethany’s nightgown, trailing down her thighs and dripping onto the stage.
“No,” Belladonna moaned, turning her face away, her voice becoming ragged, “It’s just a dream…it’s just a fucking dream…”
“Belladonna, look at the mess you’ve made.”
The Matron’s voice cut through the tension like a knife as she stepped towards the stage, eying the bleeding Bethany for a moment before gesturing for some nurses to remove her.
“And throw those dolls away” she added as Bethany began to cry. Moving towards Belladonna, the Matron stepped gingerly onto the stage, careful to avoid getting blood on her pristine white shoes.
“Look what you’ve done…” she said to Belladonna, who sat up, bewildered, staring at the blood for a long moment before shaking her head.
“What…no…it wasn’t me. I didn’t do this…”
“Well I don’t see anyone else here, Belladonna, do you?” the Matron sighed, “We don’t have time for this, really.”
“But it wasn’t me…it was Cookie, I swear, he did this…” shaking fingers pressed into the blood beside her, wide grey eyes staring at the crimson smear left on her palm.
“As you wish,” the Matron muttered, drawing out a piece of paper, “But you’d best get cleaned up, it’s time to go home.”
“What…home?” for a moment Belladonna didn’t seem to register the words, her brows rising as the bloody hand fell to her lap, “…you mean?”
“Your Father has sent someone to fetch you, and we’ve kept them waiting long enough…”
“Here? Daddy’s here?” lips curled into a hopeful smile as Belladonna stared up at the Matron, who offered her a tight and cold smirk in return.
“No, he’s send a young gentleman by the name of Kreutz…Dustin or some other thing, so get up off the floor and go with the doctor, we don’t have much time.”
Doctor Jack Lad stepped into the light, hovering about the edge of the stage as Belladonna looked from him to the Matron and back again. Tapping her foot, the Matron perked a brow before turning to Jack and reading aloud from her notes.
“One Jasper Baelian Black, patient #21635, to receive electro-shock treatment immediately and be delivered to D. Kreutz, by order of Jerald Black, no later than 5pm this afternoon…Doctor Jack, if you would please…” the Matron gestured to Belladonna, who was shaking her head vehemently.
“No, there must be some mistake, that’s…that’s not my name…” she stammered, backing away from the woman as she and Jack began to advance.
“There’s no mistake, your father wants you home and out of my hair…finally.”
“But…but he’s supposed to fetch ME not…not Cookie, he’s…he can’t, he’s not ready…”
“I’ve had enough of this,” the Matron murmured, gesturing to Jack. Belladonna stumbled off the stage, whirling to grab hold of Kayla Katorga behind her.
“Kayla…Kayla, don’t let them do this…” she pleaded, the young girl immediately springing up to Belladonna’s aid and clutching her hands tightly. As if from nowhere, two nurses appeared to take hold of Kayla’s arms, pulling her away from the frightened Belladonna.
“B!” Kayla shouted, dropping Harvey as she struggled to free herself. Belladonna screamed as Doctor Jack caught hold of her, clamping his arms about her and dragging her backwards.
“Please…no…you don’t understand, you can’t do this…” wide eyes turned to the Matron, who was watching the scene with a thoroughly bored expression, “…you can’t do this to him…he’s not ready…he’s just a baby, Kayla!”
Breaking free from Jack, Belladonna hurled herself back across the room at Kayla, grabbing for her desperately as the nurses tried to pull her away.
“Kayla please, he’s not ready …you have to make sure he’s ready…you have to look after him Kayla, promise me! PROMISE ME, Kayla!”
“I promise…but who, B?” the poor girl cried as they dragged Belladonna away, “I’ll watch him, whoever he is, I promise.”
“Daddy…Daddy why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me…I don’t want to die, Daddy…” Belladonna moaned, gasping in terror as Doctor Jack dragged her into the shadows of the asylum.
Sobbing, Kayla pulled free from her captors, kneeling to pluck up the teddy bear that had fallen at the Matron’s feet. Kissing his head, she wrapped her arms around him.
“I promise,” she whispered, as the lights began to flicker and the distant hum of electrical equipment echoed alongside muffled screams, “I promise, B.”
Rolling her eyes, the Matron shook her head and walked away.
The lights dimmed as a now fully-clothed Bethany Black wandered out to sit on the stage, staring at the bloodstains that remained there blankly. She frowned, a finger reaching out to trace the sticky crimson patterns in the wood, her dark eyes sad.
“Am I dreaming?” came Jasper’s whispered voice, “Am I dead…did I die?”
The King of the Underground walked in as one waking from a nightmare, immaculately dressed in black velvet, his dark hair styled and brushed back, luminous blue eyes scanning the room with a strange intensity. Yet he was tired…there were dark circles under his eyes and he staggered every few steps, his gaze distant and sorrowful. Clutching a glass of bourbon like a lifeline, he approached Bethany, reaching out to offer her the drink. Bethany shook her head as Kayla left her seat, approaching Jasper to take the bourbon away…offering him the teddy bear instead.
Jasper studied Harvey for a long moment before taking it from her, those big blue eyes gazing brokenly at her as he began to sing.
“…smile…what’s the use of crying…when there are clouds in the sky…you’ll get by…” he crooned, looking to Harvey and then his daughter, who sat sobbing at his feet.
“My babies,” she moaned softly, “My poor babies…”
As the song ended Jasper lifted his eyes to the crowd, his haunted eyes looking beyond them at something else entirely.
“Sometimes,” he whispered, “you have to know when enough is enough…sometimes you have to die.”
* * * *
The receptionist at Oakleaf had been adamant that she would only speak to Bella Jade Black, drawing the Queen of the Underground away from the Halloween gathering and into her private quarters. Her husband had been discovered asleep amongst the files he’d been reading at Oakleaf only hours earlier, she said, and had staggered out of the facility and driven away before they could get a doctor to check his condition properly.
“He looked worse for wear, though he was mostly lucid,” the woman told Bella, “I was going to call to be sure he’d made it home safely…but as I was cleaning up the room I found them. He’d consumed two whole bottles of bourbon…and, pardon me Mrs Black, but we discovered an empty bottle of Xanax and a handful of Triazolam pills strewn across the floor…I’m a bit worried that he may have taken…”
Bella heard no more of the receptionist’s words, she’d already dropped the phone and was shouting for Violet.
“Find my husband, now!”
Back within the Underground, Jasper was sitting and chatting with Ms Mirror, watching Dorian try to drunkenly coax the maudlin Bethany into an argument about some inane topic or another. Amaranth sat close by holding Harvey, frowning as she watched the young billionaire’s lashes fluttering, his head lolling as he tried to focus on Asinoe’s words.
“Are you already drunk, dear one?” she called to him, smirking as Jasper threw her a wink and waved her concerns away with his hand. For a moment, at least, for all at once Asinoe was shrieking and calling to her, bellowing for Amaranth to ‘get his pills, now!’ as Jasper began to convulse and shudder uncontrollably.
Crumpling in his chair, Jasper stared at Asinoe, eyes wide as he reached out for her. For the briefest moment his eyes sparked with something intensely focused, lips curling as if he would offer some kind of sneering reprimand…and then another wave of convulsions sent him reeling forwards, almost falling headfirst into Asinoe’s lap. Bethany and Dorian both turned to stare as Amaranth struggled past them, clutching a bottle of Jasper’s prescription medication and a glass of water.
“Here, dearest, take a pill…” Amaranth’s words trailed off as Jasper lurched at her, a pale hand snatching out to take the bottle from her, tipping it into his mouth and swallowing before his shocked companions could do anything to stop him. Errant pills scattered like marbles across the floor, clattering loudly and crunching underfoot as he tried to take a step, then another, the third seeing him topple to one side and straight into Dorian’s waiting arms. The young man caught him clumsily, calling for Asinoe and Amaranth to assist.
“Daddy!” Bethany called, shaking off Jack Lad as he tried to prevent her from getting in the way, “What’s going on?”
Dragging the semi-conscious Jasper into the Night Garden, they deposited him onto the daybed just as Bella burst in, pushing them all away as she rushed to her husband’s side.
“Jasper Black, what have you done?” she demanded, her cool hand moving to brush his hair back from his clammy forehead, “Jasper!”
Struggling to maintain consciousness, Jasper moaned, a hand moving to his coat pocket. Biting her lip, Bella dug into it, drawing out an empty Triazolam bottle.
“Did you take ALL of this?” she asked him, cursing when he nodded and whispered an apology, “God damnit. Okay, darling, I’m going to get the car…we’re taking you to the hospital right now…” Turning, Bella was surprised to feel Dorian’s hand on her arm.
“He needs an ambulance,” the young man insisted. Bella shook her head.
“He’s taken too much, he’ll be dead before they get here…stay with him…” pulling out of Dorian’s grasp, she was off and running again.
Moaning, Jasper called out for his wife, bleary eyes staring at nothing. Jack Lad approached, handing Amaranth a wet cloth and gesturing to Jasper. Snatching it from her hand, Dorian pressed it against his friend’s forehead, his face crumpling as Jasper began to shiver and moan, his hand reaching out and he called for Bella again. Amaranth entwined her fingers with his, whispering that his wife would be right back as she tucked Harvey under his arm.
“Hey…” Dorian whispered in his ear, “I asked you to stay…” Dutifully, Bond mopped the man’s brow, lovingly brushing his hair back and pressing his forehead against Jasper’s, “You’re the most beautiful amazing human being I’ve ever known, Black, unforgettable…” he said softly, kissing Jasper’s face and laying his head on the pillow beside him. Jasper merely moaned in response, vacant eyes staring at Dorian.
All around the Night Garden the Groupies and fans sat, holding silent vigil as they awaited Bella’s return. Bethany stormed in and demanded to know what was going on, shoving past Asinoe and Amaranth to climb onto the bed and grab hold of her father’s lapels.
“Daddy, you’re always drunk…get up this instant!”
“He’s dying Bethany,” Amaranth choked, bringing a hand to her lips.
“What? That’s stupid. I forbid you to die!” Bethany shouted at her father, climbing onto his lap and shaking him. Jasper moaned, his eyes fluttering as he stared up at her and tried to mouth an apology. Bethany shook her head, her face falling.
“Don’t you leave me here without you…” she whispered as Amaranth pulled her away, trying to reason with her. Bethany began to shout at her, arguments and protests dying on her lips as Jasper cried out again, his eyes sliding closed as his body arched.
“If you have anything to say to your father, say it now…” Dorian told her sharply, and Bethany stared at him before letting her eyes fall back onto Jasper.
“Daddy, I love you…” she called, but Jasper was already unconscious. Ushering most of the spectators away, Amaranth escorted Bethany from the Night Garden – only Dorian, Asinoe and a handful of others remaining by the time Bella returned. With their help, she deposited him in the front seat of her Aston Martin, shouting at him to stay awake as she threw herself behind the wheel and screeched off, careening towards the highway.
Jasper stopped breathing two minutes from the hospital. Paramedics were already awaiting them in the parking lot, dragging him out of the passenger seat and onto the cold asphalt, fending off a distraught Bella as they tried to resuscitate him.
Despite their best efforts, Jasper Baelian Black was pronounced dead five minutes later. He still had Harvey clutched in his hand.
**Note – All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.**
Copyright © 2015. Natalie Ristovski.