- A Short Story -
Rosa Angel hadn't always been this way. In fact, people had commented on her sweetness and generosity her whole life; she had taken this in stride, shimmering at the comfort of their kind words. However, kindness cannot always maintain its form in the human psyche; it has to shift and bend according to what we, as people, learn and experience in our lives. Kindness as a child is naive and buoyant in its nature; it climbs trees, swims in lakes and dances on emerald grass on hot Summer days. It explores its boundaries as children do themselves, in play and learning. However, not everything a child learns is soft around the edges, despite adults' efforts to teach them the hardships of the world through rose-tinted glasses. Unfortunately, regardless of their efforts to protect the young from poisons, poverty and the power-hungry villains of the world, they are wounding the innocent by stealing the truths away from them. Without seeing society in its starkness, so often unappealing and depressing in its brutal reality, the evils that prey on the young are free to attack. They cannot prepare for the dangers they hardly know exist.
Evils can take man forms. It can appear as debilitating emotions like guilt, grief, fear and anger or be born through new experiences like heartbreak, bullying or the deaths of loved ones. They can be toxic ideologies alike racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. These ideas manifest like diabolical beasts, feeding on people because of what they look like, where they are from, the communities they belong to or how they identify. Evil thrives on people's ignorance. How they label others as monstrous unknowns because of their failure to understand them, or lack of care to. It's these pestilent states of thinking that pass onto the young, whether branded into their psyche by parents, peers or just by the world around them. It's horrible, it's dangerous and for some children, mostly through no fault of their own, inevitable. One of two things can occur as a result from exposure to these evils; the impurities leak into their veins and flood their bodies full of hatred, learning to unjustly discriminate others as the darkness clouds their vision. On the other hand, bitterness can form as a retaliation against the vile, exploding out as contempt, depression, antipathy and cynicism. Kindness becomes a lost rarity; people hopelessly grasp onto the good and the hopeful, trying to recapture the dead innocence of their youth, all the while being faced with new demons every day of their lives. This is adulthood for most, forged from experience rather than age alone.
For Rosa, her kindness had been forged into a great capacity for evil and revenge, moulded from the fires and metal of scorn, betrayal and genuine spite. No more did her compassion and empathy spark in her neurons. It was only indifference that ruled in its shadow, and it dominated with her thirst for power and lust for sadism over the vulnerable.
As I said, Rosa Angel had not always been the definitive form of villainy. She had lived up to her name through to every letter, every syllable. She was angelic at first glance and even more so at the first spoken word. She had a sort of genuine charm that trickled over the body of the person she was talking to. It was warming and left a calm aura on whoever she encountered. Therefore, those who saw her they believed in her gentleness; they imagined that her crown of light and big white-feathery wings were invisible behind her other ethereal features. However, her name now bore a scare on her preceding qualities rather than her current ones. Her halo, as described by some, appeared to have faded away altogether. Her charm, however, had not parted, but had morphed into something more sinister; to that of a demon.
There are many stories regarding how demons can form. In the archaic forms of religious verse, these mysteries were laid out, buried as deeply as the darkest catacombs on earth. On those dusty pages, written in old feather-tipped fountain pens, scholars documented the tales of the Succubus. Whether written as a fairy-tale to warn treacherous sinners, those who had committed sexual misdeeds, or an authentic account of demons regarded as fact, these accounts are not to be desired but only feared. The Succubus is a demon that takes on feminine shape to deceive men who cross its path. They have a reputation for committing sexual acts with sleeping men and an unquenchable hunger for human flesh, devouring their prey chaotically; baring bones, organs and pools of blood as deep as oceans. These books detailed their gorgeous, yet menacing forms with measured allure. They are said to have horns as big as a bull’s, sharper than the piercing stab of a steel sword. Their wings, that closely mimic archangels, are feathered and soft as they flutter through the air. However, disguised in the plumes are dragon-like scales that are leathery to the touch. These wings stand tall behind the curves of their spines with dominant force, immense in their size and strong enough to shatter bones. Usually, these wings are described as decorated with violets, golds and silvers. However, the most powerful of the Succubus had wings painted in deep scarlet, the truest pigment of pain, death and lust. In closer inspection, witnesses recalled canines like razors behind voluptuous lips, ready to gnash, tear and kill unsuspecting victims. Perhaps most to fear were the eyes; they were bloodshot, bold and hungry. Despite their animal threat, the eyes fed the passions of men, capturing them in their seductive, dangerous and mesmerizing gaze.
Even with the fascinations of such demonic beings, Succubi are, if not, the most beautiful, hellish creatures to walk the earth, if they ever had. Furthermore, the success of the Succubi in capturing their prey came down to their captivating aesthetic of divine feminine beauty, their poise alike that of queens, and the physical body and powerful capability for hunt. Moreover, Succubi had the invisible danger of low-lurking snakes and the cunningness to prove it. Their formidability boiled down to a blended concoction of many traits that opposed each other, but still somehow united like magnets. It was this impressive display of delightfulness in appearance and malicious revengeful motivation in spirit, body and mind that made the Succubus so illustrious.
The tale of the Succubus entwines with the life of Rosa Angel, whose benevolence shifted to malevolence in the same uncanny fashion extracted from the antiquated books that birthed the monster. This story, therefore, should not be taken lightly or brushed aside with skepticism. Furthermore, it serves as a warning for those who find their paths aligned with the winged-beast. You could be the next victim, so it is important to tread carefully from now on. In this new account, the actions of the Succubus have somewhat diverted from the recorded tales. This contemporary form prefers to directly devour the souls of men, particularly the ones that have souls as black as the cracks and corners in the pitches of Hell.
In the autumnal hands of early September, when the leaves began to show tinges of browns, oranges and reds, Rosa Angel had met her own changing of the tides like the forever-recounting seasons. Like the passing blossoming of Spring and the intense heat and passionate energy of Summer, Rosa’s relationship with Sam Jameson had followed suit. At first, the colours of their blooming attraction had flourished like delicate pink blossoms that grew closely together on tree branches. After a couple of weeks of friendly encounters, Sam and Rosa began to feel the heat of their relationship like the radiant glow of the sun, burning gently down onto their skins and basking in their hearts. It was expected, like the rush and quickness of Summer days, that their attraction would swiftly become more intimate, and it did. Rosa couldn’t help but lose track of the pace of their relationship. From the deeper emotional connections, to the prompt officiation of their bond, and finally to the desires of their more animal needs that they could hardly catch up with, their bond cultivated at exceeding speed. However, as with things that grow quickly and intensely, they must fall as fast as they were born. There is a distinct need for things to remain balanced in the world; unfortunately for Rosa and Sam, this meant the love they had once enjoyed, although brief, had come to its end. In depressing spirits, Rosa had felt the corruption of their relationship at a further deep-rooted level. She had been cheated by the man -the boy- she had loved and loved so desperately. She was unaware of the extent of his indiscretions but whatever the secrets he had hidden, no matter how effectively, the important matter was that Rosa felt cheated. The paralysing feeling of being deceived showed Rosa that she couldn’t possibly love this person in the same way that had flooded her heart at the beginning of their relationship. Similarly, Sam showed in his quiet episodes and retreats from intimacy that somewhere in his mind his own feelings had depleted.
The hope for new life to spring from the soil had all but disappeared. For Rosa, the falling of leaves and the harrowing touch of ice-cold winds had been the least of her problems. She was walking through the cool forest in a hurried pace, hiding her teary eyes through the veil of her blonde hair and holding her head low to the ground as her feet trampled the dead leaves that lay like gravestones on the mud. As the wind reached her face, her tears dried uncomfortably over the makeup that had smudged under her eyes and around her lips. While wandering those gravel paths, Rosa didn’t dare look back in fear of where she came from; seeing the empty space behind her would only confirm that the person that had left her life no more than ten minutes ago was not following behind. The new interfering loneliness would have to be a discomfort Rosa faced alone, no matter how much her heart clinged to him. After all, today had been the pinnacle of all bad endings; the ones that drifted from the ‘happily every afters’ of fairy tales and instead reared their unattractive heads towards heartbreak. Nevertheless, their break-up was for the best and its finality was safer than the unsettling unpredictability of an on-and-off relationship. Rosa didn’t have time for not knowing, her life was chaotic enough.
On the other hand, it didn’t matter how secure or practical this choice was; it still stung like a bitch. It cracked any hope she had about love and severed the chords in her soul that could even feel such a thing. Despite the salty droplets that poured out of her eyes and the sadness that washed over her mind, Rosa could feel one emotion rotting through her veins; anger. She was furious at him for everything he had done and all he had failed to do; she was furious at his apparent ability to throw away all they had without it seeming to affect him; she was furious that he could pretend that she was his everything and then turn his fancies away at a moment’s glance. Yet, she was mostly mad at herself for letting him into her life, for allowing him to break down her walls and see her vulnerability. She had been weak in falling in love with him, a dedication she could’ve have placed more valuably on something else, or someone else. None of this mattered though; if it hadn’t been him, it would’ve been somebody else, as this was the tragic pattern that followed her. Boys would come into her life, she would fight for her walls to stay tall and broad but she would eventually give into her human fear of loneliness. They would share moments, for however long, and would be intensely attracted to each other; yet they all failed, some before they had the chance to start. It would always pin down to a feeble excuse from their side. From commitment phobia, to lackluster stories about focusing on ‘other things’ or a very real vanishing from her life like the ghosts that walked down dim-lit corridors, searching for an escape from limbo. Rosa could not quite fathom the tiresome repetition of people that would let her down; she thought, maybe, that she was numb to the disappointment because she expected it.
It had been different with Sam though; she never foresaw the cowardly excuses or even the betrayal. His want for her at the beginning had been straight like the horizon that separates the sea and sky. There was no assumption for better things to come on his part. No wavering on feelings and attraction. It just was what it was, in its simplest form. That didn’t stop the breakdown of their relationship; things could never stay simple, they had to fracture and splinter into the world around her.
They had to devolve into the grotesque and freakish forms that skulk in corners, under beds or hidden behind closest doors, waiting to pounce and attack whatever faith or sanity you had left. That’s how Rosa felt; like her sanity had been torn from her and her capacity for affection, forgiveness and trust consumed to nothingness. All that burnt in her mind was the anger and the nothingness, but the latter was worst; it created this feeling like there was a parasite moving around in her flesh, circling her veins ready to find its prize; her heart.
Bang! A tree branch seemingly out of nowhere slapped Rosa across her face, the thick and sharp brambles cutting into her skin.
“Ah!” she cried. She touched her face and pulled her hand away; her eyes met with tiny droplets of blood, randomly spotted in a pattern like constellations on her fingers. She cursed herself; she had been too distracted by her wayward thoughts to notice the world around her. She was headed nowhere, aimlessly running from him. As far as she could go. For however long her legs could carry her.
The pain of the scratches faded, and a new agony brewed in its place. Sadness. It filled her like a tsunami crashing past the shoreline, ready to destroy everything in its path and wash it all away until it became nothing but rubble and remembrance. In her natural disaster, she was being wrecked by her emotions. She couldn’t survive the breaking of her barriers, and the corrosion of her memories. Her walls were like mountain-high concrete dams cracking under the pressure of a great water flow. She was so close to breaking, but she didn’t know when to expect it; just that it was bubbling on the surface…
"Curse this world and my fucking life!" Rosa cried out, the hoarse words barely leaving her throat. She grasped her neck. Her throat was undeniably sore and felt like it was on fire, as if someone had poured gasoline down her throat and pushed a lit match in afterwards. The scorching burned from her throat to her tongue and gums. Rosa could taste a rich iron metal attacking her taste buds. She spat and sure enough, among the saliva was blood; a thick deep crimson colour. The sight of it imploded a new fear in Rosa that she had never felt before. A genuine fear that she was dying. It couldn't have been paranoia. This was overwhelming concern for her life.
The world around her began to close in, the golden reds and oranges of the trees now shifted into monstrous shadowing forms that dared to suffocate and devour her. Rosa's body collapsed inwardly as she fell to her knees, hitting the cold hard ground where she was secondary to the terror and agony that consumed her. Rosa had never felt such a weakness to her own body before; the flesh that served to protect now defiled her. Her bones grated against her muscles as if tearing for a way out from inside her. The heat from her mouth was now crawling down her insides, attacking her lungs, heart and liver. Every organ in her body was being engulfed in flames. Rosa tried to call out in torment but she could not scream or even cry; the tears remained stationary in her eyes, refusing to bleed out. This felt like punishment, "But what for?", she thought. She pondered retrospectively; all the things she had done in her life. All the lies she has told, whether minor or serious; all the ways she had hurt others; how she had failed to live up to the expectations placed on her as a human being. Maybe it was the accumulation of all these, somehow built up and
measured accordingly for a fitting punishment.
All of a sudden, Rosa's body began to shake like a volcano on the brink of eruption or the terrifying quake of the earth beginning to shatter. Blood spewed out of her mouth like a torturous scarlet river, carrying thick clots like boats on a storm, sinking beneath the surface of the waves onto the dying grass below her feet. Then with unholy timing, her eyes began to seep but not with tears. They watered with blood. Inside, her bones were shift and scratching against her skin, the last barrier of defense before her skeleton ruptured through. And it did. Her spine cracked and splintered through her flesh, and protruded behind her like a meat-hook grappling a freshly slaughtered hog. Her shoulder blades hungrily contorted, causing Rosa to collapse further into a heap, again at the mercy of her own body. She was figuratively and literally turning inside out; flesh baring outwardly and the internal agony bestowed deep in her soul displayed in her vicious crimson-tears and nightmarish howls.
This should've been the end. The pain and mutilation should have been the end. This was, instead, a shift in dimensions and a new world order for Rosa, who remained unaware of her fate as she writhed on the floor in unparalleled suffering. The calcium fragments that stuck out of her back started to grow, extending their points to reach towards the silvery sky. They grew and grew until they started to fuse together, forming what appeared to be the shape of two massive wings. Rosa reached behind stunned beyond wit, trying to touch the alien limbs that were now attached to her body. Any pain she had felt was now overwhelmed by her sense of astonishment. Adding to her new strange reality, leathery-flesh from the bones begun to cultivate. The skin appeared like scales, black and ridged to the eye. Rosa, in perplexed fashion, touched the shadowy-hue; it was coarse and tough, and she could swear that no sharp object could penetrate through it. From the flesh followed feathers with tints as vibrant as red roses, and
others as dark as the night sky. Layers upon layers of flowing plumes reached so they almost touched the floor, branching out broadly and beautifully as part of her. Rosa felt the power of the wings in her muscles and her veins; the pain was vanishing, and there was nothing but this unquenchable feeling of pride and strength, and immortality. She almost forgot about the blood that coated her skin, hair and clothes, dripping to the floor and forming a puddle of all her former pain. The torture seemed almost a lifetime away. Rosa could do nothing but stare at the wings that sprouted from her petite, slender frame. These immaculate limbs, born straight out of the pages of a fairy tale had joined with her body. She couldn’t quite fathom how she could sense them like she sensed the brisk wind kiss her arms; the rustle of grass graze her ankles; the animated warmth that fluttered her heart and caused it to race like a great stallion running beside the tide. Rosa had been reborn and by her new birthright, she was aching to use the new power she had been granted.
- To be continued -