As promised, here goes episode 7 of “The Executioner”, publisher approved and re-edited. Stay tuned next Friday for episode 8, and every week for much more . . .
When she meets heartthrob Damian Novac, shy student Alice develops a heavy crush against her best wishes. Hoping to get close to him, she joins Damian and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains – a choice that will change her life abruptly.
When the train derails in high snow, they seek refuge at an abandoned cottage, but soon people of their group start losing their minds and dying. Alice barely escapes with Damian and some of their friends, only to realize she’s far from safe even back home. A shady corporation that conducts experiments on humans and which had ‘engineered’ Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail.
A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, she can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner?
The largest man that must’ve ever existed stood before me, his head much above mine. He was big to the extreme, something most people don’t get to lay their eyes on in a lifetime. A black cloak that reminded me of the garment of a priest molded on the wavy, way-too-big shoulder muscles. Cold sweat trickled down my temples.
His face was obscure behind eyes that shone like silver lights in a way that wasn’t natural. On the spot I realized he must’ve been a freak of nature, for which the Persian Empire was once so famous. Except that he was definitely here now, thousands of years off.
“Now this is unexpected,” he spoke, the words as if pounding from a loudspeaker that stood too close.
I stared into his star-like eyes. Their brightness blinded me to any details of his features, and I just petrified in the face of something so unusual and yet so familiar. It took only another second to realize he must’ve been under the influence of the gas that had turned us into monsters up in the mountains, the gas that had made my own eyes light up like torches.
“A gem, indeed.” It was a vibrant whisper.
“What the hell are you?”
A grin that I didn’t see but sensed stretched across his nightly face. “The Executioner’s gem. The Executioner’s aim.”
A hand started toward me, looking like he was introducing himself. But I was too afraid to stand around and find out whether it wasn’t actually going for my throat. I stumbled a step backwards to put distance between us.
His feet moved slowly, but clearly intent to follow. My pulse took up and my rational mind shut down – quickly and skillfully, well trained from the mountains – as I turned on my heel and started running, boxing heavy rugs out of my way, lamps slivering as they brushed my hair.
Not thinking made it easy to move and my body immune to the bumps into other people as I emerged back into a crowd. But even in this state one thing was clear as day – The man had wanted to draw me to him, and the family that had drifted me along to that lonely corner of the roofed bazaar had been his instruments. Ruxandra was no safer than I was, and Officer Sorescu would be completely useless against the giant freak. It would take no more than a slap to send him flying on his back and sinking into unconscious slumber.
Just as I identified Ruxandra’s back among the strollers something hard wrapped around my waist. An arm with something rigid along it like a plank of metal, I realized as it lifted me from the ground as if I were a feather. I wanted to scream but a large hand covered the lower half of my face. Panic struck at the certainty that the giant with glowing eyes would squash me in a second. But the man spun me round and crammed me between two booths.
I looked up into pale, crystal-green eyes glinting under dark eyebrows, and recognized the finely chiseled face of Damian Novac.
I stared at him with an open mouth. The beauty of his face struck me as if I saw him for the first time, and I realized he was of the same league as Giant – extraordinary and just as scary.
I felt tiny as a child. My heart raced and my face burned, so close to a titan’s chest. He smelled the way freshly cut wood had in Gramps’ barn many years ago.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Damian hissed through his teeth. His eyes pierced into mine with the sharp purpose of crystal shards, but also something else that I couldn’t quite give a name to. Maybe some kind of angry relief.
“Are you back to your senses already?”
I managed to find my voice.
“What are you doing here, Damian?” Then some of my wit followed, “Or should I call you Cezare?”
His lips drew in the ghost of a grin. “Both will do. But you haven’t answered my question – What the hell was going on in your head, straying around alone?”
I jotted my chin and gave him the most capable of scowls. It didn’t seem to impress him, but I was proud of it anyway.
“If anyone owes explanations here, mister, it’s you.” Before I knew it, my index finger poked until it hurt against his stony chest clad in just a white V-neck and a thin leather jacket. “I’m looking for a way to contact my Dad, who was allegedly extracted by the R.I.S. after the little talk he had with you.” “One can’t protect from fire with fire or from hell with demons,” the memory of Dad’s words echoed in my head. “My Dad, who seemed to know you all too well.”
Damian’s jaw tightened, his face taking on the hardness of honey-glazed marble. So fast that I didn’t even perceive the move, he caught my wrist in an iron grip.
“How much of our talk did you hear, girl?”
Girl. “Is that fear I sense?” I mocked, merely trying to hide my anguish.
“It is, yet not for myself. You apparently know too much, too, Alice.” – urging tone, yet not threatening.
“Finally he remembers my name. Well, there’s not much you can do about it now, is it? But rest assured – the more I find out, the more questions I have. Too few answers.”
“And who have you talked to about these questions and answers until now?”
“Why should I tell you? Let’s get one thing straight, Damian, Cezare, or whatever your name is: I don’t trust you.”
Damian raised his chin, looking tall, imposing. His hair spilled in raven waves to his shoulders, his mouth was a dark grin and his eyes sharp crystal. A beautiful devil he was. I swallowed and sank my head, praying he hadn’t seen the way my eyes had widened at him and exposed me for a treacherous second.
“Good,” he said. My head snapped back up. I stared at him in surprise, which I tried to mask with mockery.
“I ain’t that dumb after all, am I?”
“Oh, dumb is last the thing you are. Actually, you impress me every day more, Alice.”
“That sounds like a line from a cheap movie, Fallen Angel.”
“Fallen Angel? Is that the cheap title?”
“As cheap as ‘you impress me’ and all that, but since I can’t be sure what your name is, I picked one.”
“Nice name you’ve chosen, I’m flattered. But I’m not an angel, Alice, not even a fallen one.”
“What are you then?”
His fingers wound around my arm, sinking into my flesh.
“You want answers? I’ll give you some,” he hissed.
Before I could react Damian started walking, pulling me after him. To make him loosen his grip, I clasped his forearm with my free hand and felt something hard strapped to it. Something metallic. Though I couldn’t be sure, the first thing that jumped to mind were the blades I’d read assassins used to carry under their sleeves ages ago. Shock paralyzed my tongue, making me unable to warn Ruxandra or Officer Sorescu before Damian patted the latter’s shoulder.
To be continued.
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