2010-01-25: Are You There? (Phantasm)



Posting Date: January 25th, 2010


The hunt comes to an end. Again.

"Are You There?"

Ruined Afterlife Set

Her eyes are bright, constantly moving from place to place, containing all the intelligence she had in life, and more. Erin is different now - more lethal, less alive, much more undead, ironically, considering her previous role on Afterlife. And while she's abandoned the set - and the sun - she often frequents this place for whatever reason she can think of. After all, she has centuries ahead of her to do other things, so it's not as if hanging out here is going to waste too much of her time.

Who knew vampires really existed?

The whole world is in darkness, but this place is darker than most, with long shadows stretching across the abandoned set, which itself has been a victim of the war. The buildings here were perfect for use as bases and bunkers, but they've since been destroyed. The whole set lies in ruins.

"Are you here?" the voice asks again and again. Erin is searching.

Beth's reserves are all but gone; Erin doesn't have to sleep, or rest, or take bathroom breaks. In a world of eternal night, the woman has no limits at all— except for the need to feed. That is what has driven little Beth here, to fold herself into a tipped over cart and pull the hinged door shut behind herself. The sound of her heartbeat is a drum in her ears, and she fights to hold her breath as she hears that voice coming closer.

I'm not here. I'm not here. With eyes scrunched shut and lips pressed together tightly, the young teen tries to will the hunter by. Maybe it would have worked, but for the crackle of blue-white light that skips around her body timed to the mad beat of her pulse. Flashes of it show through the seams around the cart's doors, drawing the eyes.

It isn't easy to hide when you're a living lightbulb.

Ah, there.

For an hour, Erin remains by the cart, making efforts to make it painfully obvious that she's there. Loud footfalls surround the poor girl who's hiding within.

Lured by the heartbeat even more than the bright light, the former actress can't wait any longer. Perching herself up on top of the cart, she reaches down to swing the door open, apparently unaffected by the dangerous electricity emitting from the girl. "Hello," Erin says pleasantly.

Her eyes, once so passionate and angry and alive are almost dead, the light that comes from them only a product of her own ability. Even if the smile could be mistaken for friendly, there's no question about the emotionlessness that haunts her eyes. She wants only one thing - prey. "You've been running." Inhaling Erin takes in the scent of fear, adrenaline. "Good. I like that."

With the doors open, it doesn't take long before Beth comes tumbling out. Her arms and legs are tired, and can only hold her inside of that cramped space for so long. But she wastes no time after hitting the ground. Scrambling backwards, kicking up dust by digging her heels into the ground, she fixes a wide, wary look on the woman she'd trusted above all others.

And electricity continues to dance around her slight figure, making her fine blonde hair float on a web of static.

"Please don't hurt me, Erin! Please don't! I…I'll tell Taine!" Tattletale. "I can…I can help you find others! You said you'd help me!"

Beth fetches up against a larger pile of rubble, backwards progress halted. One questing hand closes around a sharp chunk of concrete and lifts it, jagged side out. It's a poor weapon but even now, she's reluctant to unleash the worst of her ability on the woman who took her in.

Though the normal shocks from Beth's ability don't seem to affect Erin, she's more reluctant to get too close. Even if she's amazingly powerful in this state, a shock would hurt terribly. Maybe even allow the girl to escape - again. How can a child elude her for so long??

"Taine is gone. Dead." She pauses. "Or worse, or better, whichever you want to believe." Her smile becomes cruel, and she takes a seat on the cart, ready to wait forever if she has to. Even is she has to delay her strike until Beth is inches from death, she can do it. It would be much better to take someone who still has life left in them, though. Much better.

The memory of promised aid returns to Erin, and her eyes soften slightly, but only for a moment. "Look at what you've become. You killed your mother with that ability. She died because of you. She's dead, because of you."

The wheels are turning inside the vampire's mind. "You can be like me. You'll never have to die, you'll never have to regret. I can care for you until you're ready to be on your own. You'll have an advantage far beyond any of our kind have over the humans that still live here."

Worse. Definitely worse. Beth's dirt-smudged face goes pale beneath the grime. The one-two punch of Taine's fate and her own horrible crime is enough to temporarily silence her. But fearful and guilty as she is, she's still child enough to feel the temptation of Erin's offer. "I d-didn't mean to," she mumbles, wiping her dirty sleeve under her nose. "I don't…don't want to be a monster, Erin. I don't want to be like this!"

The web of blue-white pulses out in a cage around her to punctuate the wail. Then it's gone, leaving just a hint of ozone and the static that still crackles in Beth's hair. The last of her energy has vanished and with it, the last line of defense.

She hefts the chunk of rock in her hand, scrambling to her feet, poised to run. "Please don't…please? Please, Erin."
Erin covers her eyes as the pulse of electricity threatens to hurt her. There's no fear, just a need for self-preservation. When that's gone, there's really nothing left.

Beth could achieve a lucky strike with the makeshift stake, but Erin isn't counting on it. After all, Beth is young, weak, and powerless. Erin has the entire world at her fingertips now. There's no way she could lose if this fight came to blows. "Put the rock down," she says.

"You're not listening to me. You'd live forever. No one would ever be able to touch you - in this world where humans kill people like you and me, you'd be invincible. I'm doing this for you, Beth. It's why I've been looking for you for so long." Erin reaches out a hand. It's cold, blue, sickly, and pale. "Come with me. It'll be painless. I promise."

"No one…you mean it? It wouldn't hurt?" The temptation grows, fighting with the prey need to continue running. But finally Beth makes the choice of trust. Of love. Her fingers uncurl, the rock falling to the ground with a light thud. She whimpers at the sound, or maybe at the gut-deep knowledge of just what it is she's choosing.

Then her smaller hand slides into Erin's and she takes a step towards the cart. This is, after all, her surrogate mother. Even if she is an undead monster.
Erin wouldn't consider herself a monster. She's done what she's had to do to survive. That's what her modus operandi is, after all, right? Care for no one, step on the little people, and always achieve what you want!

Except that some significant part of her doesn't want to see Beth become a victim in this war. At least under Erin's influence, she can survive. Sure, there's a benefit. Sweet human blood in exchange for her… unique services. She wouldn't just do this for anyone, though. Beth should consider herself lucky.

Her hand is frigid, but it's strong. Once Beth's hand is in hers, Erin's grip tightens, in case the child changes her mind. "You'll be just like Cordelia. No one can touch you. You can help the ones you love, without having to worry about …" She trails off, looking at the wreckage of the set around her. "Anything. You won't have to worry at all anymore."

Drawing Beth close, Erin says, "You'll never feel pain again." Her breath is like a cold breeze. "You'll never feel anything again."

And isn't that worth giving up everything? When everything is a world full of darkness and those who would like nothing more than to see her kind wiped out? It's no place for a child, especially one as delicate as Beth.

So why does she still shiver and cringe as Erin reels her in, close enough to feel the ice on her breath?

"Just like Cordelia," the little blonde whispers. "I won't have to just act anymore. Okay, Erin. Okay. I trust you." In spite of the cold, she proves the whisper by letting her fair head sink slowly to the woman's shoulder. The movement causes her hair to slip away, baring the pale line of her throat and the pulse that beats so strongly there.

Because vampires are scary. That's why Beth is shivering, and afraid, and otherwise wholly incapacitated by the fact that there's a vampire about half an inch from her neck, breathing steadily. The icy chill will numb her skin, make the coming bite ever so much easier to bear.

Why is it taking so long, though?

"Of course you trust me. You trust everyone. It's why you want this so badly, Beth. Because it would protect you from them. You'll fear nothing and you'll feel nothing. No misplaced loyalty or blind trust. You'll be able to see clearly for the first time ever."

The voice becomes more distant. The woman holding Beth becomes even chillier. And still, the attack never comes.

Slowly the girl opens her clear blue eyes and looks around. The ruin of Afterlife's set spreads around her, barren and deserted. Piles of rubble, twisted equipment that has yet to be scavenged. But no one's there. No Erin, no Taine. Only Beth, shivering from the cold, looking around vacantly with strings of unwashed hair hanging over her just as dirty face.

Her mouth works soundlessly, as if she were crying.

Then she begins to stumble off through the wreckage, feet connecting with debris as if she doesn't see it laying there in her path.

"Are you there? Are you there?" The cries are soft, and as lonely as those of a cat who's wandered into an empty room.

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