William is ten years old
The angst inherent with a child under stressful conditions. It’s been a hard day’s night for our intrepid lad.
Please, as always, read and comment! We’re looking for teensy tiny wigs – seems the Muse is losing her hair and won’t be seen in public without her tresses done to perfection. Feedback wouldn’t hurt.
Goddess bless cafe_willa - beta extraordinaire and my second brain, and gillo for her Brit expertise and plot pointing.
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Beloved – Chapter 17 – William and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
5:00pm – 5:30pm – Wake Up Call / Morning Ablutions
William groaned as the lights flicked on, pulling the cover over his head until his eyes recovered from the assault. Within moments, he dragged himself out of bed, showered, ran a comb through his disgustingly white hair and brushed his teeth.
Picking out clothing wasn’t an issue. All he had were black sweats to choose from. And socks and boxers.
That’s me, he thought. Wednesday Addams. Or Lydia from Beetlejuice. Didn’t these wankers know about colors? And weren’t there any boys he could model himself after? William shook his head in disgust as he tidied up his room and made the bed. He knew he was in trouble when he started to sound like them.
5:30pm – 5:45pm – Daily Inspection
The boy startled at the sound of the door opening and realized he wasn’t in the right room to greet his ‘guest’. William quickly hurried to the main room before he could be accused of trying to hide. He’d actually tried to stay hidden, once. Thing One had made sure he wouldn’t be doing it again.
Thing Two raised an eyebrow as William hurried to school himself to attention.
‘Running a little behind schedule, William?”
Will quickly pulled his hands behind his back, trying to follow orders. He kept his eyes lowered.
“Yes, Sir,” he murmured.
Lying was another thing he’d been persuaded not to continue.
“Let’s get this done, shall we?” Nathaniel said as they walked through the tiny apartment. Not a word was spoken, but Will could see the mental checklist: Bathroom first – towels off the floor? Check. Toilet clean? Check. Floor dry? Check.
Bedroom next. Dresser tidy? Check. Bed made? Uh oh. Someone wasn’t looking too happy.
“William, what did I tell you about hospital corners?”
“Uhm… to use them?” He wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, but Will couldn’t stop the words from leaving his mouth. The fear of punishment caused his body to tremble.
Thing Two shook his head in disapproval, saying nothing more. He then demonstrated the proper way to make the bed once more, before removing the bedding and handing it to William for another go.
When the task was finally done more or less to his tormentor’s satisfaction, it was time for breakfast.
5:45pm – 6:15pm – Breakfast
There was a knock at the door. Nathaniel retrieved the breakfast tray as William made his way to the kitchen table. He stood behind his chair at attention as Thing Two placed the tray in front of Will’s chair.
Quickly sitting, the boy scanned the offering. Strips of bread – soldiers, he’d been informed - a soft boiled egg in an eggcup, milky tea that looked like slimy water and… Weetabix again, damn it. Looked like someone poured the milk into it last night. What wouldn’t he give for a nice bowl of Cheerios or Rice Krispies?
As usual, he jammed the first few spoonfuls into his mouth under the overly watchful eyes of his captor, nearly gagging at the mushy texture, and put his spoon down, swallowing gamefully. Oh God, what kind of moron eats this stuff? On purpose? It was, however, better than the dry bread he’d been given for two days after he’d told Thing One to go to hell last week.
“If you don’t find the meal to your liking, William, we can always take it away.”
“No, Sir. It’s fine, Sir,” he grit out through clenched teeth and proceeded to finish the cereal, washing it down with the milky tea. The egg went next. If he didn’t look at it too closely, William could swallow the contents without too much trouble. The bread made it seem less gross.
Sitting on the corner of the tray was his prize – a large, red apple. Something he could actually sink his teeth into. He bit into it with a smile, relishing the crisp, sharp snap of the skin as his teeth broke through to the juicy flesh.
Under Thing Two’s continued surveillance, William dumped the leftover food into the bin by the sink and washed his dishes and plastic cutlery, putting it all on the tray to be placed outside the door for pick up.
6:30pm – 6:45pm – Medical Checkup
Such a waste of time, Will thought as Dr. Mac took note of his weight, blood pressure and heart rate. With the crap they fed him, he was never gonna gain anything. He was handed a small, covered jar and pointed to the loo. With a quick roll of the eyes, William made his little deposit and hopped back up on the table for more fun. Today was Wednesday – one of two vampire days. He flinched as the needle pinched his skin and a small tube of blood was drawn.
Two months of bi-weekly ‘donations’ and he still cringed at the sight of the needle. Will drew small comfort from the fact that they’d finally stopped taking tissue samples.
“So, am I gonna live, Doc?” he quipped bravely as Mac smoothed a plaster over the puncture site.
Plaster… stupid name for a bandaid. They shoulda called the weetabix plaster, instead.
In spite of the needles, Will considered Mac the closest thing to a friend in this hellhole. “Still got enough blood for you to do whatever it is you do with it?”
“Yes, lad. That’s it for a few more days,” Mac said, tousling the child’s platinum curls. “Now, if you don’t mind… would you spit into this little cup for me? Just pretend you see Wyndam-Pryce’s face in the bottom, and you won’t miss.” His smile was infectious, and Will answered with one of his own.
Nathaniel stiffened. “Really, Mac. That kind of disrespect will get the lad soundly punished.”
For just a moment, Will had forgotten they weren’t alone and startled at the sound of his voice. Yet, there he was… sitting in front of the door, as if William would make a break for it if given half a chance. As if there was anywhere for him to flee to if he tried.
“Ah, give the lad a break, Chalmers.” MacGuire waved off his concern. “This is just between young William and me. He’ll be good for the old man, won’t you, child?”
“That’s easy for you to say, Mac. You’re not the one who’ll have to stand there and watch as he beats the disrespect out of him.”
Will froze. Had he heard right? Had Thing Two actually said something against his boss?
“In the name of all we hold holy, why don’t you stop him?” MacGuire pushed. “Surely you can see…”
Will looked over at Thing Two, anxious to hear his answer, as well.
“It isn’t the right time. If I made a move now, Pryce would simply do away with the child and move on to another project. A false move now wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest.”
Mac shook his head. “We’re both Council born and bred, Chalmers. You can’t tell me that young William is simply a research project, easily discarded and replaced at whim. I get the feeling that this is far more… Pryce is not likely to have another subject with the credentials of this boy.”
“That still won’t stop the man if he gets into a rage. Someone has to stand on the child’s side.”
“Even if it’s on the sidelines, allowing him to be beaten for a trumped-up offence?”
“Even if,” Nate replied softly, looking William directly in the eyes. “Soon, though….”
William stared at the little cup still held in front of his face and spat into it. He wished ‘soon’ meant now.
7:00pm – 9:00pm –Exercise
They stood patiently outside the gymnasium as the group of gangly teenagers exited. William bowed his head as he’d been taught, not daring to look directly into the faces of his ‘betters’.
That didn’t stop them from staring at him, though.
“Look at the freak!” jeered one of the larger boys. “Mr. Cool wanna-be,” said one of his mates. “Who does he think he is, dressing all in black? Never seen him in anything else.”
Will clenched his fists and with effort, kept his head down.
“Move along, lads,” Nathaniel encouraged. “Nothing to see here.”
“Yeah, right,” the first boy shot back. “Nothing at all.”
Nothing but the freak, Will thought, miserably.
Thing Two never voiced it, at least not in so many words as Thing One, but he knew the man didn’t think of him as a normal boy. All that talk of his ‘demon’ gave him away. That everyone was just putting up with the monster that dared to walk among them – pretending to be an equal.
“Stretch your legs and back first, William,” said Thing Two before sitting down in a chair near the door. “Today we work on stamina. Around the room at a fair trot, I’d say… and let’s try to make the full two hours, yes?
Will did his best to limber up with toe touches and lunges as he’d been taught before taking off for a slow run around the room. He’d made an hour before, and he’d been exhausted when the alarm had finally gone off.
It wasn’t too bad at first. In fact, the first fifty laps or so passed easily. Thing Two had put on some classical music in the background, and it was almost easy to slip into a dream state and ignore his prisoner status.
The second fifty were a bit harder. Will could feel a little wobble in his step. Jelly thighs. How the hell were they going to hold up for two hours with no clue as to how much time had actually passed? He’d also begun to sweat between his shoulder blades, and felt the discomfort as it dripped down his back.
Will wanted to stop – to rub the cramps from his calves and feet, but one look at Thing Two and he thought the better of asking.
“Pick up the pace, lad,” he called out. “You’re not walking around the room, after all.”
Rolling his eyes, Will forced himself to move faster, trying once more to slip away to his dream state; where Mom and Dad were waiting for him. Where people were happy to see him and smiled all the time.
No luck. He could feel his belly tighten uncomfortably and just knew he’d be praying for a bathroom break any moment now. It never failed when he was forced to run for long periods of time.
The damned music was getting on his nerves. Why couldn’t Thing Two put on something with a beat – like the Death March from Star Wars? Will felt like he was gonna fall asleep on his feet – his poor, tired, aching feet – at any moment, and he yawned, stumbling, though not falling to the ground.
“Stamina, William. How do you expect to build yourself up if you give up so easily?”
Bet you couldn’t run around the stupid room for two hours. Where did this guy get off yelling at him from a chair? He was never satisfied until Will fell on his face. Well, not this time. This time he’d show the jerk.
As he passed Thing Two for what must be the millionth time, Will noticed he was sitting back in his chair, eyes closed.
Smug bastard. One thing Will had learned since he’d been kidnapped, was there was freedom to be found in his thoughts. He could curse. He could answer back. At least in his head he could fight to remain himself. One day he swore he would be free again. If nobody ever came for him, he’d get out on his own.
Just not yet.
If only he could trust this guy. After the way Mr. Nathaniel Chalmers’d turned on him and his family, Will didn’t think it would ever be possible. Yet there were times ‘Uncle Nate’ was almost nice to him. Less mean, anyway. The problem was Will never knew which man he was going to face.
“That’s it, William,” Thing Two called out. “Don’t give up.”
Sure the man was totally asleep, Will stumbled once more just as his watch alarm sounded, ending the torture session.
He’d been so sure…
Nate stood up, still calling out orders. “Don’t just stop, William, or your legs will cramp. Walk slowly. Breathe deeply.” He took a stethoscope from his jacket pocket and motioned Will to come closer.
He fell gratefully into the chair, trying to catch a few moments of peace before facing his worst enemy.
9:00pm – 11:00pm – Education
William stood in front of Thing One, head lowered and afraid to sit down until given permission. The last time he had sat without being told to… had been the last time he’d been able to sit comfortably for over a week.
“I do hope you’re prepared to apply yourself today, William,” the old man said without looking up. “Rather tired of you wasting my time.”
“Y-yes, Sir.” He tried. He really did, but everything Thing One shoved under his nose seemed to be designed specifically to make him fail – to get him punished… or beaten.
“It’s a simple paragraph in basic Latin. William the Bloody was trained in the classics; Latin and Greek were part of his education. You carry that within you, boy. Let the demon have reign – surely he can read what is on the card. And for God’s sake sit down,” the man thundered, banging his fist on his desk. “I will start you off once again… then I expect you to complete it unaided. It begins: “Mi purgo quod illius mihi humanus est. I cleanse…”
William grabbed at the card on the table, pulling it close. Greek letters, Latin words. He’d been told that over and over again. He just couldn’t make sense of them. He had enough trouble with the beginning Spanish he was taking in school.
Thing One must have thought he was taking too long, as his pointer came smashing down on William’s right hand.
Will bit back his tears and began to recite by rote what little he remembered: “Me purgo quod illius mihi humanum est… I am a monster. I am not a human... I will always be a monster…”
“No, you little fool. Again!”
Once more the pointer cracked down, leaving a welt across the knuckles of his left hand.
“Mi purgo quod illius… I-I am-m un-c-clean,” Will began again. “Nos purgamus…” And stalled.
“Yes, you most assuredly are. We’ve already established that. Now, get on with it.”
The boy remained frozen in place, even as Thing One rained down blow after blow on his hands. William knew the consequences if he dared to move them. Just short of drawing blood, Thing One stopped, leaving both hands welted and already bruising.
This vindictive little smile on the old man’s face made Will more uncomfortable with each passing minute. The welts on his hands throbbed. He couldn’t read Greek, and didn’t know Latin and he was getting a headache as the letters blurred in front of his eyes. Maybe if Thing One would just hit him and get it over with he’d be satisfied.
“It’s become obvious to me, boy, that you have no head for languages. Either that, or you’re playing me for a fool, which I’ll not stand for.” He folded the card in half and motioned for William to stand. “You will work on this passage again as your sole assignment from me, until you get it right, but you will do it on your own time,” he said, tucking the card into the boy’s pocket.
The alarm on Thing One’s watch went off, and William breathed a sigh of relief. That meant Thing Two was outside, waiting to take him for his next ‘lesson’. He must have allowed some hope to show on his face, because the old man took great pleasure in crushing it down.
“A slight change of routine for you today, boy. I will be taking you on a tour of the demon holding-pens today.”
11:00pm – 12:00 midnight – Know Your Enemy
Oh, God. Not again. Please don’t make me go. One look into the old man’s eyes and Will knew that begging would be useless.
It was different to walking from place to place with Thing Two – Thing One refused to take any chances. He slapped a manacle around Will’s slender wrist and a connecting one around his own as they set off for the lower levels. To further insure his compliance, Will knew they’d be followed by two large guys in tweed trying desperately to blend in with the other Watchers. He’d spotted them weeks ago – the first time Thing One took him out of his rooms.
The closer they got to the holding pens, the more twitchy Will got. He could feel them – the demons being held below – as soon as he set foot on the stairs leading to the pens. They were miserable and angry, emotions that he was more than familiar with.
It wasn’t that William was afraid of the creatures he was being taken to see… it was more the thought that one day, Thing One would climb back up those stairs without him. Will knew he’d rather be dead than become a zoo animal for others to gawk at. Or even worse, totally forgotten.
The first cell held a small, gorilla-like creature covered from head to toe in green fur. A Vreegal, if he remembered correctly. The poor thing had been there the first time William had been dragged down here. It used to growl and jump around in its cage, and now just sat there scratching at itself, pulling out clumps of fur and staring at Will with sad, red-rimmed eyes. Like Whistler. William was glad he was thousands of miles away in the safety of the California sewer system.
The following two cells were empty; the only signs of their previous inhabitants were splatters of rust-colored blood on the walls and floor.
A young man sat in the last cell with his back towards them. Thing One poked him through the bars with his cane and he turned with a vicious roar, teeth bared in full gameface.
Will wasn’t afraid… he was sick to his stomach. In that vampire’s place, he could easily see his father. From all the ranting Thing One did, he was sure if given half a chance, the old man would keep Will’s father in a cell just like this.
“Do you see, William? That’s what the thing you call your father truly is. Nothing but a vicious, vile beast. A filthy demon.”
“No,” Will whispered, unable to restrain himself.
“That’s what you were. A monster, defiler of the innocent. Corruptor of everything that’s pure.”
Sure enough, this time retribution was swift. The cane the old man used to walk with smashed against the back of William’s legs, sending the boy to the ground.
“Yes, Spike. William the Bloody,” Thing One ranted, yanking the boy closer to the cage by his manacled wrist. “Look at it, Spike. That’s what is inside of you. Look closely.”
“I never,” Will cried out, unable to stand and unwilling to make the effort. “I don’t remember.” He could feel the vampire’s eyes on him, as well as the Watcher’s.
“Look at it!”
Will did look… and all he saw was a young man who happened to be a vampire. He’d seen his father in gameface hundreds of times since he was a baby… in fact, could pick him out of a million different gamefaces. There was nothing frightening about this one, except that he was behind bars and wanted to get out.
Was his own situation much different from that of the vampire’s?
Thing One unlocked the manacle and kicked him even closer to the vampire’s cage. “Perhaps leaving you alone with the beast will be enough to reach you. To show you the demon’s true colors.”
As soon as the door closed behind the old man, the vampire spoke up.
“Hey, kiddo. What’d you do to piss the bastard off?”
Will looked up, startled to hear an American accent after so long.
“Aw, come on… you can come closer. I won’t bite,” the vamp snickered. “Much.”
“Yeah, right. My dad’s a vampire and he warned me about trusting other vampires.”
“Father? You mean Sire?”
Will shook his head.
The vampire sniffed, scenting the warm blood rushing through the boy’s veins and listened for his heartbeat. “Wait… dude! The old man called you William the Bloody, right? Spike? You used to be, anyway.”
“Am not!” Will denied vehemently.
“Denial much, kid?” The vampire rolled his eyes. “Man, this is like an honor. I’m Pete, by the way. We’re kinda like brothers. My Sire es su Sire. You know… Drusilla?”
“Drusilla?” He’d heard the name before, mostly when his parents thought he was asleep.
“Yeah, man. She’s the one who turned you like ages ago. She always used to talk about you – my fair knight, or somesuch nonsense. I think she knew you were missing.”
“Is she gonna come for us?” Will couldn’t keep the hope and fear out of his voice.
“She’s probably off chasing lightning bugs. Crazy chick doesn’t remember things from one minute to the next.”
“How’d you get… turned? Have you been a vampire very long?”
Pete laughed. “It’s kinda funny, actually. This trip to London was a high school graduation present from the folks. Two days outta New York and I was going back to my hotel from a party and wham! Vamp food.”
“Do they know that? Is that why you’re stuck here in a cage – because of me?”
“Nah, little dude. Don’t worry. They pretty much just snagged me right after my turning.” Pete shook his head. “Our Sire is a bit loopy, and not one for protecting her childer.”
Will was thrilled to have someone willing to talk to him, much less being nice to him and just wanted to keep the conversation going. “Do they ever talk to you? Ask you what you know about things?”
“Nope. They think I’m a monster, as you just saw with the old fart, so that’s what I give ‘em. A bit of the growl and fang. They feed me every now and then. I know, though. I know I’m not gonna get outta here,” Pete said sadly. “But there’s nothing I can do about it… unless one of ‘em gets careless.”
They both sighed, realizing there was no way out of their situations.
“I miss my parents,” Will said.
“And I miss my brat kid sister,” Pete answered. “I was gonna try and find some way to turn her, but these bastards got to me first. Maybe it’s a good thing. Hey! I even miss school.”
“Is it weird that I miss my math teacher? At least she never used to hit me when I got something wrong.”
“It’s all cool,” said Pete. “You miss who you miss.”
Startling them both, the heavy stone door slammed open, and Thing One appeared in all his glowering fury. “You’re just never going to learn about associating with monsters, are you, William? No fear. No respect. This…,” he said, shooting a crossbow bolt into Pete’s heart, “is how you deal with monsters.”
Will shuddered as Pete’s dust hit the floor of his cell; his friendly voice silenced forever. “I hate you,” he said, not even looking at the old man.
“As any demon would,” Thing One replied. “Ashes you were and ashes you’ll be. Mark my words, boy. Nothing remains when a monster is killed. That’s your fate. Unless you change – unless you let us help you.”
12:00 midnight – 12:30am – Lunch
Thing One brought William back to his rooms, un-warding the door. He stepped out of the way, allowing Will entry into his rooms and simply left, resetting the wards behind him and not saying a single word.
Will made his way to the bathroom and upchucked what remained of his breakfast into the toilet. After rinsing out his mouth with cold water, he made his way to the sofa and sat down; waiting for Thing Two’s arrival.
12:30am – 2:30am – Vampire Film/Lecture
Right on schedule, Thing Two stepped through the doorway. “William,” he called, before seeing the boy sitting on the sofa.
Will looked up at the man’s entrance, then back down at his abused hands folded and still in his lap.
“Why is your lunch tray sitting outside? Did you do something wrong? Is Mr. Wyndam-Pryce punishing you for some infraction?”
He shrugged his shoulders, saying nothing.
“Tell me the truth, lad,” Thing Two said. “No lies now. You won’t be punished for telling me what I want to know. Did he hurt you?”
William held out his hands for inspection.
“So the language lessons didn’t go particularly well, then?”
“What happened, William?”
“Guess I’m just stupid.” Will replied, unsure as to how far he could trust Thing Two with what he really wanted to say. “I must be if I can’t read something Mr. Wyndam-Pryce insists I should know. That’s what he tells me over and over, so he’s gotta be right and I’ve gotta be stupid.”
“What did he ask you to read?”
Will could scarcely believe it. Thing Two was actually listening to him. He stood, painfully fishing the folded card out of his pocked and handed it over.
Thing Two stared at the card and shook his head in disbelief. “He asked you to read the Litany of Saint Vigeous?
“Really, William. Must you be so churlish? I’ve asked you to explain your translating problems.”
“And then I’ll get punished for being disrespectful.” William’s frustration had reached an all time high and he stomped his foot on the floor. “I can’t win here,” he whined, totally fed up with his situation. Pete’s death at Thing One’s hands had driven home his own vulnerability.
“I promise you, lad. I won’t punish you for telling me what’s wrong,” Nathaniel insisted. “I give you my word as a Watcher and a Chalmers.”
What more could they do to him? Will thought. If they killed him, then it would all be over, anyway. “Fine, I’ll tell you. “He thinks I should be able to read that card without learning how. He says it’s written in Greek, and the language is Latin. They don’t teach that in the fifth grade… and I don’t believe I used to be this Spike vampire he keeps telling me I am.”
His voice cracked as the words finally tumbled out, heedless of the fact that he could be punished for speaking out against one of his captors. “And even if I was… how am I supposed to know things I don’t even remember?”
“I won’t deny what Mr. Wyndam-Pryce told you, William. You are… were… most definitely a one hundred and thirty year old vampire by the name of William the Bloody – Spike, as he… you… chose to be called. After a major battle, a prophecy decreed you would become human again. That you would become a human infant wasn’t forseen.”
“But it’s not fair! I don’t remember being this Spike, or learning the things he knew. I’m just me,” Will insisted. “Just a ten year old boy. What do you guys want outta me?”
Thing Two’s silence was deafening.
“He took me downstairs again,” Will whispered.
“Again? Down what stairs?” The man looked confused.
“To the demons zoo.”
“Demon zoo? We don’t…” It took him a moment to realize the truth of what the boy was saying. “He took you to the bloody holding pens?”
William was surprised. He’d never seen Thing Two lose control before.
“There was a vampire there – Pete. He left me alone with him. Said I needed to see what I was,” Will shuddered at the memory of the sad young vampire. He had known he was gonna die and just accepted it.
Thing Two’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “It’s name was Pete? It spoke to you?” He pulled William closer, looking into his eyes, “We hadn’t gotten it to say a word in weeks and you held a conversation?”
“He said…” Will hesitated a bit, feeling like he was betraying the vampire, but he had to let it out – make someone realize that Pete wasn’t a monster. Or just a monster. “He – he called us brothers. Said that we were both ch-changed by Drusilla.”
Each new revelation was like a punch in the gut.
“Drusilla’s hunting in London?” was all Thing Two could say, as he sat down on the sofa, side-by-side with Will.
“Pete said she wouldn’t come,” Will said, noticing how upset the man was. “That’s a good thing, right?”
2:30am – 4:30am – Obstacle Course
The boy could barely restrain himself from jumping up and down. He was actually being taken outside for the first time since they’d brought him here. Will didn’t dare say a word – he just enjoyed the cool feel of the breeze on his cheeks and air that didn’t smell like sweaty bodies.
He stayed close to Thing Two, not wanting to give the man any reason to end the outing, or have second thoughts about doing this again.
They stopped in front of what looked like a giant playground. A block of connected tires – William had seen guys run through them – one foot in the center of each tire for football practice. And monkeybars! He looked back at Thing Two, waiting for his instructions.
When he’d explained what he wanted William to do, the boy burst into smiles. He ran through the tires, falling and laughing as he got up and continued. He shimmied up the monkey bars and hung from his knees, then turning himself right side up, he practically flew hand over hand from one end of the structure to the other. Looking down, Will was grateful for the foam padding on the ground, which more than once prevented a severe injury when he fell.
There were several other pieces of equipment, some of which were meant for adults, but Will was game. He tried his best. He checked with Thing Two from time to time, and the man actually had a smile on his face when Will answered to his beckoning whistle. It was all the boy could do not to wag his butt and bark, but the freedom was worth any little humiliation.
4:30am – 6:00am – Self Study
Gods, he was so BORED! Not to mention hungry. He’d not had much of an appetite after the mess with Pete, but get in a couple of hours of running and climbing in the fresh air and he could eat a horse.
Gross thought of the day… maybe he was eating horse. Some of the meat he’d eaten tasted like nothing that had ever passed his lips before.
William picked up the books Thing Two had left for him – introductory Greek and Latin. With nothing better to do, he sprawled out on the sofa and began to study the Greek alphabet.
6:00am – 6:30am - Dinner
This time when the knock came at the door, Thing Two entered with a fully laden tray. Beef pie and mashed potatoes covered in brown gravy, peas and carrots, thick crusty bread… and a can of Orange Tango. Will felt like he’d won the lottery.
Sitting down at the table, he was actually joined by his guardian. Not that he seemed to be paying any attention – he’d brought a newspaper to read, but for just a moment, if Will looked sideways and squinted, he could almost make believe he was sitting down to a normal dinner with family.
7:00am – 10:00am - Meditation
Nathaniel placed the large pink quartz on the table in front of William. “I want you to focus your mind on the crystal, lad. Nothing else. Block out all sound; all thoughts… look for the flaw in the center of the stone.”
“Stop fussing over the demon, Chalmers. It knows what it’s supposed to do.”
Thing Two’s jaw tightened at the other’s harsh words. Was it really possible that the man felt sorry for him? Ever since he’d told him about the demon pens, Mr. Chalmers had been… nicer. Like something had shifted.
Will dropped that dangerous line of thinking and stared into the crystal. The sooner he got started, the sooner he’d be able to go back to his room.
He came back to himself some time later – Will knew time had passed, but not how much. Thing One was gone, and Thing Two was staring at him.
What did I do now?
10:00am – Lights Out
Will was dazed as he allowed Thing Two to lead him back to his rooms from the meditation session. He never knew what it was that made him so tired… what actually went on when his mind drifted off, but he was always exhausted when it was over.
He had a half hour before the lights went out and set about his business. Will relieved himself, showered, brushed his teeth and headed into his bedroom.
Yeah, right. His! Nothing in those rooms was his. They wouldn’t even give him a poster or a calendar to put up on the wall.
Will remembered the time he’d asked Thing Two for a picture. Any picture. Just something to break up the boring walls which were all he had to look at. He’d seemed approachable that day – nicer than usual.
The look he’d gotten had been cold enough to freeze water.
Will held in a wibble and a sniffle, trying to keep himself from crying. Why was he still here? Was anybody looking for him? Did they even miss him?
He looked up at the ceiling and wondered if there was a god that listened to half-demon kids.
“I promise I’ll eat whatever vegetables Mom says are healthy,” he whispered. “Even icky Brussels sprouts. And I’ll tell Connor his bean casseroles smell wonderful.”
Thinking it wouldn’t hurt, William scrambled out of his bed and knelt next to it – a mostly faded memory of bedtime ritual he’d once shared with Lotte, until Mom and Dad requested she stop.
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mom, Dad, Lotte, Uncle Hugh, Bethany, Auntie Dawn and Connor, Uncle Charles and Auntie Anne, Alonna, Bennie, and CJ. God bless Paddy bear and most of all, God bless Buffy and her friend, Wes.”
He bit his lower lip, struggling with Lotte’s gentle words. She always said you had to pray for people, even if they weren’t nice. Especially when they weren’t very nice, so he settled onto his knees once more.
“God bless Doctor MacGuire, and…Mr. Chalmers… and – and…” He couldn’t get that man’s name past his lips. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t ask God to bless Roger Wyndam-Pryce. Will was asking for people he cared about – people he could care about – to be blessed. He decided he had to draw the line somewhere, and Thing One was just several steps too far over it.
God wouldn’t want him to lie, would he? If he were true and honest, maybe he’d be good enough. Maybe God would listen and send someone to help him.
“Please, hear my prayer, God. Help me to be a good boy.”
Click Lights out.
Will crawled into bed and pulled the duvet over his shoulders.
“Can I rest now?” he whispered and closed his eyes.
From behind the monitor, Nate stared at the little boy bundled into his bed for long moments after he flicked the timer switch for the lights. “You’re not alone in this, William,” he murmured. “I’ll help you leash your demon. This I swear.”
Nathaniel turned off his light, left his post and locked the door behind him as he went to bed.