Where were we?
Right. I asked Alexandra about the knives, then saw the hands coming out of her pillow. I’d hoped to catch her off-guard with the question, and I did, but well… The hands.
They were slender and strong. Bone-white. And unnaturally large. They moved quickly, wrapping themselves around her face and pulling, her head slipping smoothly back into the pillow. She was in up to her neck before I could even react. I leapt onto the bed and got my arms around her kicking legs, but by then she’d been pulled through to the waist, and I couldn’t get enough leverage to fight it. So I just held on for dear life and followed her in.
The other side felt like being underwater. Not wet, but the same muffling pressure on the ears, the same dim, refracted light. Otherwise, it was the same. Alexandra in her hospital bed, me in the chair beside it. As if nothing had happened. Except…
Except that the ill ease she felt at my knife question had dissipated. In its place was an eagerness, a glint in her eye that bespoke some secret thrill. I was disappointed that I’d lost the upper ground in the interrogation so quickly. But then her lip curled, and a different kind of excitement rose in my chest.
“You want to know about the knives?” Her voice was deeper. Husky.
“Yes. Please.” I couldn’t keep the edge of desire out of my voice. Didn’t particularly want to.
“Alright. The first time was on my 13th birthday. Someone… a man… came into my room at midnight. He had this… long knife in his hand. Like a kitchen knife, but bigger. Shinier. More dangerous.” Her eyes flashed. “I was so scared. But he didn’t do anything. Just came and sat beside my bed…” She reached out. “Kind of like you’re doing.”
I took her hand in mine. “I don’t have a knife.”
Eyes level, voice cool. “You have a gun.”
I felt it pressing hard against my side. The holster seemed to chafe. “It’s tucked away.”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
She was right, something told me. I could take it out, let her see it. Let her… “What—ahem. What was he doing with the knife?”
She sighed, disappointed. But she gripped my hand tighter. “He was holding it. Stroking it. Staring at me. He sat there for an hour. It felt like more.”
My voice cracked. “And then?”
She leaned forward. “He stood up and bent down over me, leaning in close. Just like this…”
I leaned toward her in turn.
“And he said…”
Her lips brushed my ear. A cool, whispering thrill.
She leaned back, let go of my hand. I felt bereft.
“So scary. So… exciting.” Her lip curled again, and this time her tongue flicked daintily out, pointy and forked. I blinked. Looked away. My eyes rested on her IV drip, which I suddenly realized was filled with something black. It hung heavy over the bed, the line running down the headboard, over the soft white flesh of her shoulder, under her gown, and into mystery…
“The first time,” I said.
She blinked. “What?”
“You said that was the first time. With the knives.”
“Oh. Yes. He came back the next year and did the same thing. Except this time he sat on the edge of the bed.”
Her hand patted the mattress, in memory or invitation I don’t know. I took it as the latter, and moved closer.
“He stared into my eyes for a minute…”
She reached out and took my hand again.
“…then he opened my nightgown…”
She untied the knot at the collar of her gown and slipped my hand in. Her skin was cool and dry.
“…and laid the flat of the blade against my chest.”
Her other hand reached up under my jacket, toward the holster. I didn’t try to stop her.
“It was so cold.” She was whispering now, pulling the gun free.
“Raised gooseflesh all up and down me.”
She brought the gun to her chest and pressed it into my hand. I saw her skin prickle at its touch.
“I was terrified, of course. Fourteen years old and exposed to a grown man. A grown man with a knife. But there was a thrill to it, too. I mostly remember the thrill, now.”
She brought her free hand up to my face. Her touch was sinuous. Cool. Insistent.
I swallowed hard to clear the lump from my throat. “What did he do then?”
She smiled, ruefully. “Nothing. He just stared into my eyes for a while.”
Her hand slipped to the back of my head and pulled it down to hers.
“Then he leaned in and said it again.”
I felt her breath, soft and cool against my lips.
Her fingers curled into my hair, pulled at it. Our lips almost touched, but she relented.
“Then…” Breathy, forlorn. “…He put his knife away and left.”
Her other hand tightened on mine. On the gun.
“I laid still for a while after that, exposed and cold. I was petrified. Ashamed. Humiliated. I was relieved, but… incomplete. He left me hanging.”
She slipped my finger over the trigger, stroked it.
“You’re not going to leave me hanging, are you?”
Her eyelids fluttered, and a second set fluttered behind them.
I recoiled, pulling the gun away and stumbling back off the bed. She sat up, looking hurt, confused, and angry, her pupils narrowed into slits. My head reeled with the sight of her, the smell. She was lovely and terrifying. Desirable and repugnant. Part of me wanted her and part of me wanted to kill her. I raised the gun, knowing somehow that it would fulfill both of those desires. She smiled, then, and that tongue darted out again, excited, pink, and pointed. She leaned forward and hissed, opening her gown to welcome the bullets, revealing pale breasts covered in fine oily scales.
But I was still off-balance and I tripped, tumbling backwards. The room spun, and my head opened up again like it had done on the Mountain. I fell back hard against the chair and passed through it. The pressure was suddenly gone from my ears, the light returned to normal. I slumped and shuddered in the chair, about to go into what they tell me was a full-blown seizure. The last thing I remember seeing before I blacked out was Alexandra Melmoth, now quite human, bending over me in concern. She pulled her gown shut, and leaned in close. Her breath was hot as she whispered in my ear.
Denise again, Chief.
This was, obviously I guess, the second half of X-23’s encounter with the Melmoth girl. He dictated it to me after he got done with Cheveyo’s sketch artist, and asked me to send it on to you. Said it would finally catch the intra-blog up to the present, at least until next time. He also asked me to pass along this message to you:
Not much explanation as to what happened to me in there, Chief. The hands, the other world, Alexandra’s transformation… We definitely weren’t operating in reality, and it didn’t feel like the dream I’ve walked in so many times since my arrival in Pannawau. I have nothing to base this on but the dark urges that drove us both, but… I do wonder if we weren’t pulled by forces unknown into the Black Mirror World. I also wonder if the fluid in the IV wasn’t the Osceola, the Black Drink of the Alo. I’m curious if there’s more to its psychoactive properties than Cheveyo let on. More theories, and some updates on the case notes, next time I write you. The forces of Pannawau law enforcement did some vital legwork for me while I was laid up, and there’s new evidence to share.
X-23’s off to the sheriff’s office now. Patton called and said that the Melmoth girl’s guardian, Andrew Robinson, had requested a private chat. That should be entertaining. Cheveyo’s gone, too. He took off in a big damn hurry after X-23 finished the description of the old man he saw with the Nukpana. Said he knew who it was, but that they’d have to deal with it “Mountain Style.” Whatever the hell that means.
So that just leaves me here at Fat Beaver HQ. Me and Tom and Gladys. Cute couple, those two. They’re going to make me fat if I stay here much longer, though. They fed me an omelette the size of a dinner plate this morning, and now they’re gorging me on some kind of amazing tuna fish casserole for lunch. Lucky for me it’s liver and onions for dinner tonight. I hate liver and onions. Of course, I hate tuna fish casserole, too. But this stuff’s a winner. Hmm. Maybe the plus-size life wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Anyway, I’m about to head off to the hospital to get those MRIs. Then I thought I’d wander by Melmoth House on the way back, see if I can get in to meet this Alexandra bitch. I’ll give you my impressions when I get back. If I haven’t clawed her eyes out, that is…
– Denise, signing off.