It was clogged with bodies. The hall. None of them were hers but who could be sure. This has been her life, her way for so many generations that sometimes she loses track of her kills, her conquests, her food. She needs them. Each and every one of them to survive, in order to exist at all. There are times when everything is just a blur, one scream, one frantic imploration for salvation after another, for life, for saving. The pleas meld into one another. Over time, the years, the centuries the screams, the pleas all begin to sound the same. The imploring voices all possess the same acoustic tonalities, the same pitch, the same sound carrying with them the same urgency… all saying the same things over and over and over again: “please, go away. You scare me. They tell me that you are not real—that you don’t really exist, yet I see you day in and day out. I have for years. Please, just leave me alone!”
But these pleas, these solicitations for mercy always fall upon deaf ears, for you see… it is not up to her to select who is saved and who is not. It is not her decision who is spared her madness, who lives and who dies in this dark, dark world from whence she dwells. The role of God is not hers to play. But, is that not the role she adopts when she does not answer the multitudes of requests to spare life, and instead, takes it?
The hall could, however, be filled with the carrion of another. There are others like her you know; the ones that dwell in the dark. The ones that thrive in the void of night conducting their business as if it were the appropriate thing to do. Annoying—disturbing–Killing. It is however, unlikely that the rotting flesh piling up in the hall belongs to anyone but she, for this is her house. This is her realm. Here, she makes the rules and in this house is where those who know her or are at least acquainted with her ways and give respect to her techniques because she is not only the ruler of the night but the day. She is the ruler of lives, when those lives are unwilling or unable to contain her.
Beneath Evenly spaced cones of soft amber light she hunts. That is the stage from whence the curtain of tonight’s performance will be raised. Shadows dissolve and then solidify again as if in not doing so would negate their very existence as she traverses the intersecting alleys of the urban jungle that is her downtown Sacramento home on this night. Perpetually, she makes her rounds. Her nocturnal activities have gone undetected in so far as she could tell. Except for that one incident on the east end of Capitol Park; the forty acres of lush flora that surround the California State Capitol building. It was there, crumpled beneath the bronze statue of a soldier at the military memorial next to the rose garden he was found, as if freshly slain by the lifeless metal figure itself, its gaze fixed upon the bloody and equally lifeless man at its feet. A blood splattered bronze bayonet clutched tightly in his right hand told the tale. For all intents and purposes, this was an exceptionally brutal form of suicide, but she knew better and so did he… wherever he now was. The events of that warm summer night in August of 2013 were unfortunate, but the night could not have concluded in any other way. The deed had to be done.
Whatever the origin of their encounter with one another, he too was on a quest –trolling—when he happened upon her on that dark downtown street in the appropriately christened neighborhood of Alkali Flat.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries, they strolled. Hand and hand as if they were familiar, and they were—intimately in fact, but not in the physical sense, although the heat of their pressed palms with fingers interlaced like high school sweethearts would suggest this. To the outside world they were strangers in the night. They strolled several blocks southwest until they came upon the old historic Biltmore Hotel. Long ago abandoned she will never again know the folly of her heyday, the late nineteenth century… the Biltmore and her alike. Hesitating momentarily before the ancient entrance, once grand and ornate but now a crumbling shell of her former self, she cast a glance over a shoulder as if in anticipation of receiving a sight… perchance a sound with which to reminisce. Alas there was none. Only fond memories of an era long ago lost to the industrial revolution and the never-ending march of progress. The unfamiliar strangers, in expectation of becoming familiar if only for a few moments—hours perhaps, resumed their promenade.
What happened that night was wholly unintended, but compulsory… unavoidable. It had to be done. The gavel fell. The law of nature called her infinite courtroom to order setting in motion the events of a dark and metaphysical encounter, the likes of which would prove unprecedented for these streets. For this city. For the unsuspecting of these two formerly unfamiliar strangers. For one, the evening’s journey had reached its destination. The other, well… his journey’s end was reached as well… or perhaps, for him it had only just begun.