Book 3, Chapter 40

Eventually, I withdrew my fangs. I felt more sated than I ever had. Even better, there was no emotional overlap. Not like with Hans or Emma, where I soaked up their worst fears. Instead, I buzzed with almost manic energy. I exulted. Oh, I had felt Pipsquak’s emotions as I drank; had basked in the bliss of his blood, but the connection between us was entirely manageable. I could feel his fear, but it was entirely partitioned away in a corner of my mind that I recognized as the blood link between us.

But that was also what made my exultation come crashing down in a surge of shame and guilt: unfortunately, I could still feel Pips’ fear, partitioned away or not. I knew that the tears I’d told myself he was faking were real. I knew that I had genuinely and completely terrified him. I knew that I had, in a sick, fucked up way, relished it. And I knew that since I’d been alive when I did it, I couldn’t blame that sick, fucked up part of me on the vampire’s instincts. Crocodile tears, my ass, Abby, I snarled at myself. I wished they had been. I wished I could even just believe they had been, but I didn’t get a choice in the matter.

I really was a monster.

I looked up to see how Pipsqueak had fared. I had stopped before he was destroyed, but he seemed to have withered away while I drank. Now he was a wide-eyed, shriveled husk of a being. He was about half the size he’d been when I’d first caught him, as if draining his magic had shrunk him. Maybe it had: he was fae, and his body was a glorified glamour, after all. I studied the fear in his eyes and felt a pang of self-horror over the fact that I had caused it. I tried to shove it away before he could notice. I felt his spark of hope and knew I’d failed.

“We are even now?” He begged plaintively, digging at my guilt and remorse. “You will let me go?”

I felt sick and guilty and evil, despite my best efforts to ignore it. I made my choice, I reminded myself. You can’t keep feeding on Hans and Emma! You have to do this.

Or die.

Or become a monster that didn’t care when I got too hungry to stop myself.

I wanted to let him go. I wanted to beg forgiveness and offer it all back and cry for hours and go home and beg Hans to lock me up until the Director arrived to take me away. And the only reason I didn’t break down and give into those urges was that through my link to Pipsqueak I could feel the fear of the homeless man he’d been terrifying. And I could feel the little goblin drawing strength from it. And worse: from the terror that the poor man felt now, from having witnessed my assault on his tormentor.

Of the two, I identified far more with the homeless man’s abject terror of the unbelievable monsters than I did Pipsqueak’s mortal fear for his immortal life. I didn’t want to be a monster, but now that I was I couldn’t just let Pips go to find and assault another helpless person. I didn’t know if I could live with what I’d done or what I knew I had to do — but I knew I couldn’t live with just letting Pipsqueak go and always wondering who he had descended upon next.

I concentrated to keep my fangs from retracting. Then I smiled at Pipsqueak, letting him see that they were still prominent. I felt his fear bubble up worse inside of him, but the feeling was still divorced from my own emotions.

“If you had won against Mr. Salvatore the other night,” I asked instead of answering, “what would you have done with me?”

Pipsqueak’s emotional response was immediate: a surge of sadistic glee at all the things he and his friends would have done with me, until they got bored and one of them broke me irrevocably. He tried to suppress that surge of emotion, but it was too late. I knew one thing for certain, now: had I been carried off that night, I would have wound up dead. How long they could have tortured me I couldn’t guess. But death for me was the same thing as destruction for him, and I would not have been let go. Pipsqueak’s mouth worked, but he didn’t say anything. He knew I could see his thoughts from how my own emotions responded.

“No,” I answered him. The goblin’s fear overflowed into panic. I actually thought he might start to cry again. It made me want to cry, but I crushed that urge ruthlessly.

“No?” His voice quivered. “But you’ve fed! My boon has been claimed and spent,” he protested.

“Yes,” I agreed. I tried to embraced the possessiveness I’d felt from Hans’ wolf in the past; to dredge those emotions up in myself. The territorial drive. I needed to convey this perfectly, and with a fae that meant my emotions had to match my words. Unfortunately, I felt too many conflicting things and I couldn’t get a handle on all of them. I felt powerful, fearless. Through Pipsqueak I could tell that everyone here was afraid of me. And that meant I wasn’t afraid of either of them. At the same time I felt shame and grief and despair over what I was turning into — what I had chosen to become. “But I’m not going to let you go,” I said. “You torment and torture people who cannot defend themselves. My people.” Had my life taken different turns, I tried to remind myself, I could have easily been that man, cowering under the bridge. The reminder didn’t make me feel any better about where I’d ended up, instead. “My people, in my city.” Now I was the person making someone cower, instead of doing the cowering, and I hated myself for it. But I couldn’t change it. “So no, I will not just let you go.”

I smiled toothily. I needed him to be scared. If I was going to spare him, I needed to make sure he was so scared of the consequences that he would never try to hurt someone again. It was a false smile, but I didn’t think Pipsqueak could realize that. As erratic as my emotions were, he had to think I was insane, unstable, twisted. Maybe I was. Pips already knew I’d been conflicted; what I had to convey was that the darkest, scariest, most evil parts of me had won. I had to disguise mercy as ruthlessness, or he would know I couldn’t do a damn thing to stop him or those like him from running rampant.

I thought I must have succeeded, because Pipsqueak started to whimper. I felt his fear building further and wondered if he was thinking about how easy it would be for me to destroy him. I thought he must be, but I decided to spell it out to him — just in case.

And because some sick, dark part of me relished that I was in control and I wasn’t afraid. Because I was a monster, and maybe those dark, vile urges had won, and I was just telling myself my ruthlessness was merciful to console the weak, desperate part of me that wanted to be good.

“I could consume you,” I said. “Easily. I could end you for all eternity. But I am a monster, not a murderer. And because I am a monster, I’m going to do something worse than destroying you. I’m going to leave you indebted to me, forever, for just killing you, instead.”

Pipsqueak’s eyes shot wide, bulging impossibly open. I clenched my hand into a fist before my nerve could break — but the hand I clenched was not one around his wrist. It was the one around his neck.

My fingers drove into his flesh effortlessly. My hand only went little more than halfway around his neck, but that half included his windpipe and spine. He died soundlessly. Meat pulped, bone crushed and shadowy faerie blood spurted into the air. Disgusted, freaked out, horrified, I twisted and yanked my hand free, tearing out a chunk of throat and pulverized vertebrae. Pipsqueak’s corpse fell, swinging by my grip on his wrist, until I released him and his remains plopped to the ground. They were already dissolving into nothingness before they hit. Even the gore on my hand dissolved into the air.

I forced myself to take a breath. Then I held up my fist. While staring at it, I flexed my fingers. They were pristine, as clean as though I’d just washed them — not ripped someone’s throat out. In fact, the only signs that Pipsqueak had ever existed was the life brimming through me — and the little corner of my mind that I recognized as my link to him.

You owe me, I thought at that part — shoving the thoughts into it like I had when I’d tried to make Megan haul Katherine into the sun. You owe me your eternal life, and that is a debt that can never be repaid, I thought viciously. So you’d best think twice before ever coming back to my world, Pips. For I will always be able to find you.

Fortunately, the connection was one way. I’d fed on Pipsqueak on top of feeding on Melvin, so Pips’ life wasn’t being subsumed into my own yet. He didn’t have insight into my mind since he wasn’t close enough anymore to just look at my aura or employ faerie empathy, or whatever it was that they did. So all of the effort I’d put into scaring him away for good wasn’t undone when I abruptly turned toward the river embankment, fell to my knees in the dirt, and dry heaved for all I was worth.

Nothing came up. I guessed fae blood dissolved inside me the same way it did in the air, leaving nothing behind except the life force I stripped out of it. I braced myself on hands and knees and retched harder, my eyes squeezed shut against the memory of the past fifteen minutes. It did no good: it just made it easier to picture everything. Eventually my ineffectual puking gave way to sobbing. My arms gave out and I collapsed forward, falling to the side and curling up in the dirt with my cloak covering me, crying shamelessly. I was a monster.

Fuck me, I was a monster.

I wept with the wretched abandon you only get to experience when your entire life has gone wrong and there’s no one there to see you finally break down and give up. Except I wasn’t really alone. I just wasn’t thinking about it until someone’s hand gently touched my shoulder.

I immediately screamed and scrambled away from it. Behind me, the homeless man yelped in surprise as well. I twisted around, putting my back to the embankment and preparing to defend myself from whatever it was that he thought he was going to do to me — which I realized was stupid as soon as I’d thought about it. The only thing scary about him were my preconceptions.

I looked at the homeless man. Any other time, my anxiety would have been screaming at me to be afraid of him. My paranoia was trying to convince me to run away — that he was bigger than me, and desperate, and maybe unhinged. My eyes, however, told me that he was terrified. He had pulled away from me and tripped, and was sprawled on his back — half sitting up — staring at me.

“It’s okay,” I heard myself say. “You don’t have to be afraid.” I wasn’t entirely sure if I was trying to reassure him or myself. The statement was enough for my autopilot to pretend I was talking to him, though. It was in control now. I was too much in shock to try to own it, anymore. I straightened and took a half-step forward. “There’s nothing out there scarier than me,” I said bitterly, “and I’m on your side.” Maybe we could both just ignore the part where I’d broken down in helpless tears in front of him.

The man hesitantly stood back up. I unconsciously shifted away from him while my paranoia very consciously yelled at me to run! Run you stupid girl! before he could grab my purse — or worse, me. I forced myself to hold my ground. There was nothing threatening about the man except my own preconceptions. And he wasn’t even reaching toward my purse, anyway. Instead, his fingers stretched weakly upward. He scrubbed the back of his tattered glove across his eyes, blinked, and resumed staring at me. I started to get nervous as the silence lengthened. Then he broke it.

“Christ,” he said. “You’re a fucking kid.”

Midnight Moonlight, Book 3

18 responses to Book 3, Chapter 40

  1. Todd

    I do a little celebration whenever you release a chapter on this fantastic series.

    • Eren Reverie

      😀 Thanks, haha. The update schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with the occasional bonus chapter on the weekends… so stock up on party supplies. ;D

  2. Thorbjorn

    3 thing:

    1. Called it

    2. I really like that guy, lets turn him into a werewolf.

    3. I read another webserial yesterday and the readers thanked the author for every new chapter which is a kinda awesome way to show that the serial is appreciated so, Thank you for yet another fantistic chapter.

    • Eren Reverie

      We’ll see more of him, fear not.

      That is pretty cool. I’m all for showing author support (not that I’m, you know, dropping hints that I could use more: my readers rock!) when I’m reading other webfiction, myself. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of getting wrapped up in the story and/or being too shy to say anything, haha. But when I can, I go for the typo report along with a note about something in the chapter I particularly liked or enjoyed.

  3. danielmc73

    Went more or less as I expected. Won’t the fey have to come back ? They get there energy from fears and running out causes them to die. So he either comes back to earth and goes to a different city or he tortured people in fairy land.

    Good chapter and insanely brave homeless guy.

    • daymon34

      Well he did see the scary person eat another, and then fall down and try and throw up while crying their eyes out.

      Tends to make perceived monsters less terrifying when they break down.

    • Eren Reverie

      For the fae coming back… yes and no. Faerie Land has been described as something of “a world in stasis” by Hans in the past, and the impression he and John have given is that most fae don’t ‘run out’ of energy like Vampires do — they just don’t ‘regrow’ it like humans, either. So if a Fae stays in Faerie Land, then they aren’t ever going to run out of energy and perish… but neither will they grow more powerful. So if Pips wants to replace what Abby took, then yeah: he’ll have to come back to Earth, or maybe get a hold of one of those poor souls that a doppelganger has tricked into being trapped in Faerie Land. And that’s why the young, bored, and ambitious faeries come here: by preying on mortals, they can go back home and be a bigger deal than they were when they left.

      • danielmc73

        That makes a lot more sense. And makes me even more confused about the fae coming to earth because it is the place with the one thing that can kill them. I get that they don’t run into vampires often but I would think even the smallest chance would be terrifying to them.

  4. daymon34

    Poor Abby, it’s hard work being the monster when you don’t want to. Well the choice of having friends and lovers, or being locked in a box for a long time is a hard one.

    Pips is probably going to shake uncontrollably every time he sees Abigail from now on.

    • Eren Reverie

      Haha. Well then hopefully — for his sake — Pipsqueak will be sensible enough not to come back. 😉

  5. john neisser

    Abby has sent her “Warning” I think Pip does not know he was the messenger now she just has to get home and fix the relationships before the Director gets there.

    • Eren Reverie

      Ohhh, good point. But I don’t know that Abby was thinking far enough forward to consider how Archarel and the others would respond to what she did to Pips. Let’s hope it’s interesting… ;D

  6. DocteurNS

    Well… I’m tired… Lack of sleep most likely. Mostly your fault too. Also mine. Maybe. Mostly yours. I mean, who asked you to write a novel I would feel compelled to read in two days?! Take responsibility! And now I’m stuck with waiting for the next chapter… Why are you so cruel?!

    I don’t usually do the comment stuff. And I usually dislike people who start their comments by “I don’t usually comment”, because it makes them look like attention-seeking pricks implying their opinion is soooo pertinent BECAUSE they wouldn’t normally go out of their way to state it which makes it unique and therefore sooo precious.

    AND, outlining the fact I’m obviously doing what I don’t like is making me feel even more of an attention-seeking douchebag.

    Which I am (attention-seeking…not a douchebag… I think). So I’m going to talk about myself a bit more:

    When it comes to novels, or stories in general, I think my tastes are slightly contradictory. I love romance, and shoujo manga, but hate when it gets all flowerily indecisive and shit, which usually ends up with me coping by reading some hardcore hentai. I like light toned stories and worship happy endings, but I also take a shameless pleasure in seeing the protagonist wriggle in pain and agony throughout the majority of the plot, physically of course, but mentally furthermost. I like action series, but usually find the action itself boring, and mostly enjoy the interactions among characters in-between said action scenes.

    I love your story.

    The slow pace, the intelligent characters, the dialogues, the plot that hits every spot and doge every pullet it shots at itself.

    At first, I thought Abby was some kind of psychic that could discern the paranormal. Without knowledge of fae, magic, etc. she had done it subconsciously since childhood, resulting in her current (mild?) not-so-irrational fear-induced madness.

    Although I had no problem with that theory in and in itself, I was sort of annoyed, since in most of similar settings, the MC ends up being baggage, being the “human with a power so not quite like other humans but still too fucking weak to do anything on their own and the plot has to work very hard not to showcase their uselessness” kind of thing.

    So I was kind of hoping she would go were-something, or vamp… or anything badass and inhuman really.

    (I swear it has no relation whatsoever with my fetish for interspecies and transformation fantasy porn, and all to do with my slight annoyance with “dull human” as the default race…)

    For this I am grateful. (Even if you were a fucking tease about it for a crapload of chapters at the end of volume one. I was so bracing myself for being disappointed. Mean author! Great author. I love you…r story.)

    On the subject of vampires by the way, I also really like your take on it. Sticking to the cannon enough, but still creating your own approach and tying it together with the whole thing about magic and souls and life force and… well, I like it a lot, so thank you.

    (Incidentally, I hope you’re not a fae, because by the end of this, I would have thanked you so much that my soul would probably be enslaved to you or something. Mmmmh… Does written thanks work too? And you don’t know neither my name, nor my face…)

    And how the very nature of being a vampire plays a definite role in the psychological development of the heroine is purely brilliant. Usually, the crazy unstable MC would gradually improve and their personality evolve, but here, Abby skips steps all the time, but then “relapses” as often, which creates a very unique dynamic, which personally only makes me carve for more!

    Oh… and did I mention I adore female MCs? It’s funny how things that would be uncomfortable and creepy with a male are surprisingly okay with a woman.

    I mean… for example all those fantasies Abby has about going all bondage queen on Emma:
    Boy = creepy ass motherfucker with no respect for women!
    Girl = …hot.

    Plus, when it’s a guy with a harem, he either comes out as douchy of ball-less (cf. 98% of harem aninmes), but when it’s a girl… again… hot.

    Or maybe it’s just that a man that does it with several girls sounds like a greedy and unfocused skirt-chaser, while a girl who doing it with several people sounds kind of courageous and exhausting… if not depraved and slutty (although, who said one couldn’t be both? Or… four… whatever). Or maybe it’s just me being a misogynistic yuri-fan that enjoys when sex scenes involve fear and mild violence? Or maybe you’re just a great writer? I don’t know.

    Though I’m sure having Abby switch back and forth between S and M (and freak out about it) probably plays a big role.

    I think I got side-tracked.

    Or again, maybe it’s just that I love Abby so much as a character. Like I said, I love tormented MC, but I also dislike forced tragedy, like people dying (and not coming back) for the sake of people dying, or friends turning on each other for no reason, or long lasting misunderstandings… none of which you delivered, despite laying perfect situations to trip and fuck yourself up.

    But then again, it’s when such dangerous situations (plot-wise) are handled well that a story becomes truly enjoyable.

    And for that, I’m grateful.

    What else to say?

    Intelligent and level-headed characters are great. (I REALLY hate stupid misunderstandings.) It’s truly funny that even most characters with issues (Abby mainly) are even logical about their own madness… If that means freaking anything.

    The plot is slow (I mean… three… what… maybe FOUR days? Seriously?!) but that comes with the whole “lot of internal struggle” kind of style, so I do not complain. Not at all. I love internal struggles. As well as prefer real dialogue too background narration explaining what people were talking about (but that might just be a personal preference).

    And then, lots of thing happen anyway. Maybe my slight discomfort comes from the fact I personally spends most of my days reading and doing maybe one, or two things a day, so reading about all that happens in a single day is quite far from my understanding of reality.

    But then again… werewolves, vampire, and shit… (never mind…)
    One last thing I love above all is a secret-identity-ish setting. Not so much for the secret identity concept in itself, but I carve the scenes when people discover who/what the MC actually is. The reactions and the ensuing circumspect/shocked/fearful/drooling with awe discussions are truly something I enjoy.

    Which makes me really impatient to read Abby’s next interaction with her folks, her father mostly, as well as the arrival of the director, and also next chapter, with Homeless Veteran Dude (which I wonder if he will become a werewolf and/or Morgan’s dinner. Given the whole “traumatized” veteran thing, I bet he would be good at both being a supernatural warrior and a meal for a being feeding on anxiousness and fear).

    By the way, although it’s not really relevant to the plot… I’d like Abby to meat Emma’s parents… just for the fun of it. Like: “Hey… My girlfriend/master is a neurotic vampire that I met three days ago and almost killed me once already! And she’s the love of my ex, which I stole from her, said ex being a fear-eating fae totally capable of killing me with a single touch! Tehee… Happy for me Mom?”

    Yeah… that conversation would be interesting…

    Anyway, thank you. A lot. I really mean it. This story is just about everything I look for in a novel.

    PS: Ever read the Elfhome Series by Wen Spencer? I feel slight similarities, like being an urban fantasy with female MC (not neurotic though) who is originally human, then meets a guy, shit happens, no more human, more shit happens involving vague political undertone and mostly an old ancient war, and polygamy (never forget polygamy) tough on a lesser scale. If you’ve never read it, you might like it… though I wouldn’t want you to drop your writing pace…

    • Eren Reverie

      Wow! Hi, and thanks for commenting. 😉 (Today was starting out looking a little rough, and this cheered me immensely!) I totally get what you’re saying about gender making a huge difference in how we perceive the actions and thoughts of a character — I have another story, Et Alia, and I was thinking of doing a reboot of it with a female MC when I started my transition and, well, all the stuff that happens that you can just sort of chuckle at the male MC and be like, ‘wow you’re a sad-sack loser’ (like being routinely mugged, the butt of abuse from coworkers, etc) — if it happens to a female MC it’s just *horrific.*

      Book 4 starts up next week, and I think that one will wrap up the original main arc I had in mind when I started writing this series. It’ll also be a little more on the action-y side — I feel like they’ve been sort of ramping that way, lately. After that, though, I have a lot of side plots and additional arcs in mind, and we should get to see more of the relationships developing as Abby settles into her new life enough to start focusing on that instead of ‘OMG magic!’ This will include scenes with the main characters’ families, fear not. 😉

      Thanks again for the comment, and I hope you feel like it again at the end of the next book, or on any other post. 😉 I *am* a bit of a sadist and a bit of a tease, so all of the evil I’ve inflicted on you, my readers, has been entirely on purpose, mwa-ha-ha, and I’m glad you love it. 😀

      As for me being a fae, well, I don’t know that I’d necessarily need to know names. I mean, it’s all about *connections.* If we’re forming one through my work, then who’s to say that isn’t going to be enough in another couple books…?

      But don’t worry. Magic isn’t real.

      Right? Right?!

      ;D Thanks again, and I hope the story continues to live up to your hopes and expectations. Take care, and get some sleep! You’ve earned it. :p

      • Thorbjorn

        Yay i will look forward to some not-so-comfortable father-daughter talk.

        Also I can fully confirm that Eren is not a fae and i am not saying this because I have read this alot and I therefore is in her debt.

    • Eren Reverie

      Also, I haven’t read Elfhome — lately I’ve been binging on other web serials. I’ll add it to my list, though, for when I need something while other authors build up their archives again. XD

      • DocteurNS

        Just to mention in passing, Elfhome isn’t a web novel, but a series of published ones that no one would buy because the covers are ugly as f**k.

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