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Chapter Eleven - Das Vadanya




Chapter Eleven

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Jack resides in a coffin; small, dark, and musty. Boards cover the singular window, only allowing small bands of light to seep through. He’s been in this one room for so long that sometimes he thinks the window might actually be above him, completing the illusion. An unburied coffin.

He has no idea how long it’s been… months, at least, maybe even years. He’s long since stopped leaving marks on the walls. Perhaps one day he will walk out of this room an old man. Perhaps, but he doubts he’ll live that long. He’s probably already dead, and this room really is a coffin that the Volkovs threw out into the woods and forgot to bury.

The only real way he has to keep track of the clock is the arrival of the sisters. One of them usually creeps in regularly to bring food. The younger sister sometimes apologizes to him, the older one never does. Sometimes they come together to speak to Him. Jack is not Him, though the line between them is as thin as a spider’s thread. That thing has nested right in the darkest recesses of his very being, swirling around in the rancid stew that used to be his brain. Jack and Him are not compatible, however, like oil and water, unable to ever fully mix.


There’s too much in his head, in his everything, and he feels like he might be pulled apart at any moment, the seams of his soul taut and stretching still. His existence is pain, but in a completely indescribable way. This pain has no location, and feels neither sharp nor dull. It is everywhere, every part of him aching at once. And yet it is also nowhere. It is a spot ten feet above his head, and right between his eyes, and in his chest, and stomach. This is not the throbbing of any physical malady, but of his soul. There are two when there should be one.


Jack is no longer himself. He can feel this. The bubbles of oil in his head have been in there so long now, and have settled so far in that they’ve become too small to pick out from the water.


He tells him to hurt things, but there is no one around to hurt. So Jack hurts himself. Scrapes at his arms and face, picks endlessly at the ragged, scarred side of his head where his ear used to be, till his fingernails are red and crusted over with blood and congealed flakes of skin.


The younger sister bandages him up some days, though she no longer asks why he did it. Jack hates what He says to her, the poor girl, wrapped up in the middle of this just as tightly as he is.

At least she’s gotten to keep her sanity. Jack bid a final farewell to his long ago. Even talking is difficult now, if he wants to say words that are even a semblance of his own. That thing uses his mouth as much as He pleases. Not that He gets much of a chance to speak. They are so often alone that the only person to toy with is Jack.


He makes him feel things, see things. Just a small while ago He even used Ada against him. Jack hadn’t hallucinated Ada in a long time. He assumed that the thing had gotten bored of showing him all of the horrible things she could be facing now that he is gone.

He prays every day that she is somewhere safe and loved, but that thing delights in reminding him that she’s probably not. At least she’s not here, he can take comfort in that.


Wherever she is now, that blood is on his hands, the brother that couldn’t protect her. No, no there’s no way he could have known what awaited him in this manor at the end of the world. He was just trying to make her happy.


Jack felt that something was wrong there from the first minute he set foot through the door. He should have listened to that instinct, turned right around and went straight back home. But with a father dead for just over a year and a brother recently returned from active duty, he chalked it up to a mix of emotions that he couldn’t possibly fathom. Worthless little creatures stuck in worthless little minds. No, not worthless, complicated.

The stupid, tiny bitch—stop it—the youngest sister, his charge, was a tough pupil, but became downright cheerful once he proved himself an ally. She was significantly younger than her other siblings, and her birth had murdered—caused the death of their mother, which was a difficult position for a child to be in, and Jack assumed that might explain some of the other Volkovs’ coldness towards her.


He needs to stop making excuses for the pipsqueak. He remembers what she did, after all. What she was forced to do.


The first couple of months went well. He taught the youngest sister by day and wrote endless, pointless letters to his clingy sister at night. No no no no stop it stop it think of her smile. Ada’s smile. That will shut Him up. That was what got Jack through the harsh weather and monotonous lessons. Ada’s letters, and the thought of her smile.


She was waiting for him back home, so he persevered against the cold and chill of the manor, and the people therein.


Natalya was the strangest of all the siblings. Look at the way she moves, the flow of that luscious hair, the length of her slender neck. He just wants to take it between His hands and squeeze and squeeze and—Why? Why is He showing him these things? And why are those Jack’s hands around her neck?


Because deep down, he craves that final crunch of her windpipe that he just knows will bring him to orgasm.


Not Jack. Never Jack. That is what He wants.

Is there even a difference anymore?


Stop. Just stop. Breathe… and try again.

Natalya was the strangest of the siblings, at least, Jack thought so, anyway. She was always holed up in the cellar, often making the trek down there with an armful of some of the strange texts that dotted the library. Jack had not a clue what she did down there, especially with how late it sometimes got before she emerged, bleary-eyed and looking unsatisfied. He should have snuck down there one night to have his way with her—to check on her at least, for it was clear that something was weighing on her. Jack tried asking Ivan about it one day, but he kept trying to change the subject and Jack didn’t get much out of him. If he’d cut off some extremities then he might have talked. If he’d tried then he’d be the one with missing extremities.

Perhaps if he’d manned up and grown a pair—gotten more involved with the Volkovs and their lives, he could have stopped it. But somehow he doubts it.


Jack doesn’t remember much about that day. To be honest, he doesn’t remember much of anything after either. Natalya had been uncharacteristically cheerful that morning. She even invited Jack to take tea with her. “You’ve been with us for three months, after all. That calls for celebration.”

There was something in the tea, of that he is certain. Not enough to make him lose consciousness entirely, but he offered no resistance when Natalya dragged him from the table and out of the room. Distantly, he heard her call to someone, and Katya followed meekly behind them.

After that there were only impressions left in his mind, of color, of light, of sound. At some point he realized they were going downward, into the damp and dark. Spiderwebs drifted over the few light bulbs lining the walls, and then he was dropped onto a hard stone floor. There was only light at first, and then sound. Natalya was muttering something, but he couldn’t tell if it was in a different language, or if his ears just weren’t working anymore. Then he caught the numerous endings, Latin, had to be. Stupid language. If he was in top form he could figure it out, but no way to now.

“Katya, do it.”


Oh, wait. That was Russian. That was a little better, at least.


“—But—“


“You’re the one who likes anatomy, right? Always playing around with bugs and rats. This is your chance to see a real human body.”


“Why are you doing this, sis—?”


There was a loud, sharp sound that echoed harshly around the room.


“You are a child. You do not get to ask questions. Now take this knife and do it, or so help me I’ll make you regret the day you were born even more than I do.”

Her face was above him then, one cheek reddened, both stained with tears. One or two dropped onto his cheek, but he barely felt it. Part of him wanted to scream at her to drop the knife, to not do whatever it was that Natalya wanted. But she was his pupil, and was that really the lesson he wanted to teach her? Callow selfishness? To save him regardless of the consequences to herself? When he was supposed to be the one to help her? His mouth and throat were far too numb to say anything, so he just blinked at her, only once. It’s alright.

A sudden roar ripped through his brain as the right side of his head from temple to jaw erupted in excruciating pain. He collapsed into a pitiful pile as something hot and wet trickled down his neck.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” That one was Natalya again, but suddenly it was much more distant and hard to make out. “This will be His connection.”


Out of nowhere, Jack felt a gust of wind blow past him. Were they still in the cellar?

“I know you’re there,” Natalya shouted over the roaring cacophony. “I know you can hear me. You know you will never have me, so instead take this one, a servant, an extension of myself. You can do that, can’t you?”

And then that harsh breeze… spoke. The whistling formed syllables, and the blowing, breath. “Do you understand the consequences?” It asked. “It will not be enough. You are only condemning another to buy yourself time, you know.” Somehow, there seemed to be a bizarre note of glee in the question.


“Yes.”


Very well, but remember. This arrangement will not last long.” Something had changed about the voice. All of a sudden it was made of flesh and bone, and very close by. And that was when Jack realized it. The words had come from his own mouth.


He rolled onto his back as something hit him. An odd sense of pressure fell upon him, the location of which he couldn’t exactly pinpoint. It was like someone had opened up his skin and crawled inside of him, like he was a glass of water kept together by surface pressure alone, liable to spill at any moment.


“What is this?” he finally found his voice, only vaguely aware of being dragged out of the cellar. “What did you do, Natalya?!”


Let’s just say this won’t be a pleasant experience for either of us. There was a dark spot somewhere in his head, moving all the time. You really are a little pissant, aren’t you, Jack Steel?


He could see everything. The idiot’s past, his hopes, his dreams, and of course the most important part: his desires. Well, their desires, soon enough. Jack couldn’t comprehend what was happening. He pounded at his head, trying to force the invader, whatever it was, out of his mind. It wasn’t going to work, though. Very little was going to force Him out. Because a body, even an imperfect one, was better than none at all.

What the fuck was it? This thing in his soul? Was it a demon? An illness? A hallucination? It was none of those things. Silly, simplistic concepts like that would never be enough to do Him justice.

No. What He is, what Jack would soon be if Natalya didn’t end this tedious game quickly, is simply…

The Volk.


And after two whole years of this, He is bored.


Sure, at first Jack was fun to toy with. The Volk delighted in showing him the most terrifying cosmic vistas, and the deepest, most intrusive thoughts in the man’s tiny brain. Sometimes He even throws in His own thoughts just to scare him, make him think they’re his own.


But now the toy is thoroughly broken, and there’s no point in playing with a broken toy. Jack has grown weaker and weaker as his mind is slowly overtaken. It’s bound to happen eventually; the Volk is surprised that he’s held out this long. But that’s what happens when a thing like Him is forced into an improper vessel. And there’s only one of those, a proper one, that is. If only the whore would let him inside.


He knows she will, eventually. The thing she’s trying will not work, and she will ultimately be forced to surrender herself. He can taste that moment on Jack’s tongue. Why is He making Jack see these things again? Oh god, Natalya, he’s sorry, he’s so, so—


Why is Jack the one apologizing? Because the Volk will not. And Jack has seen that terrible, terrible night as if he’s the one who did it.

That’s enough from him for a while. The Volk is thinking about the future. Admittedly, He gets distracted very easily. Soon, that blessed day of Natalya’s failure will come, the day when He is finally inside her very soul. But until it finally arrives, there’s not much He can do. His only solace is that everyone in this forsaken house is a fucked up piece of human excrement.


The Volk cannot go far. He is bound to this wretched thing that used to be a man. By the way, didn’t Jack just want to rip something right now? Maybe he should try to pull his veins out of his arms? It’ll be just like pulling a loose piece of yarn off a sweater…


What was he thinking about? Oh yes, His entertainment. He cannot stretch Himself so thin as to see their whole minds like Jack’s, but He knows His way around wants and wills. And so sometimes He likes to give these poor lost lambs a little push in one direction or another.

Like right now. Is that Natalya’s faithful lapdog in the library? Trying to drink off recently resurfaced memories of the war? That’s not going to work this time. Not while the Volk is around…

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