Come Alive

Page 31

We were getting off the topic of Rose, but I had to ask, “So where were you born, really?”

“I wasn’t born.”

“Okay, jackass. So when did you remember coming into existence? You must have had parents…”

He shook his head. “No parents. I just woke up one day in Louisiana, in a small apartment in Baton Rouge, in almost the same body I have right now. I knew who I was, what my purpose was, and I took it from there. It sounds crazy, and now that I know your world, it is crazy. But that’s the only way I can explain it. Whoever I was before, I don’t know. How long has this body been around? I don’t know that either. But I do know I will die one day and this body will die with me. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed.”

This was just too fucking weird. Fucked up sprinkles on a slice of psycho shit cake. “Back to Rose…”

He cringed. “I tried to ignore Rose for as long as I could. After I left you, I went around the USA exploring for a bit. It was amazing, to just be living and not have any duties. I started to think that if I was forsaken or forgotten, that it would be okay. I’d be happy with that. I could live a free life like everyone else. But then the images started coming. I’d see Rose in my dreams, and hoooo-boy, I’d see her whole life flash before my eyes. Her as a young girl working on a farm, dancing with boys at high school parties, serving people at a bar. Then I started seeing the images in broad daylight, over and over again, and the Veil started ripping open and I knew that if I just walked through it, I’d be right there with her. That I had to show her the gifts she had, the gifts I could sense were starting to manifest. She had been seeing demons in the dark, things out of the corners of her eyes. Sometimes she’d be staring at a spot right before her, and I could see that demon as it made its way through the Veil and right to her feet. She knew something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t really see it. If only she knew what she could do to drive the demon back into the Veil. But she didn’t. I had to teach her that.”

“It travels between both worlds, from the Kalunga to here, through the layers, through the Veil, just like me,” I said absently.


“What my mother said to me, about the snake she called Li Grand Zombi.”

He nodded. “Some things get through. And some people, like Rose, they have the ability to put them back.”

“And now we’re getting dangerously close to Buffy the Vampire Slayer territory,” I said.

His lips jerked up in a quick smile. “Not quite. For one, we’re missing a Giles.”

“I guess you could be Giles now. You’re getting old.”

He glared at me. “I am. But it’s still not funny.”

“Back to Rose…”

“Back to Rose. So one day I just bit the bullet and stepped through, right into Nameless. I introduced myself to her and asked if they needed help. The universe makes things happen for us. I knew I’d get the job, like I’ve gotten most jobs.”

“Like you did with Jimmy,” I mused miserably.

“No, that was just good old-fashioned bribery,” he admitted sheepishly. “I’m no longer a Jacob. I may have some supernatural….uh, aftertaste…but the rules don’t apply to me anymore. I have to make things happen. The universe screws me over like it screws over everyone else.” He sighed, sensing I was going to ask him to continue. “So I got the job and I began working with Rose, hoping she’d be a lot easier than you. And she was, at first. I reckon she almost knew I was coming, the way she just accepted things. I was working with her for at least a year before I got her tipsy one night and told her the truth. I took her to the Veil once, knowing she’d have more strength when she got back.”

“Physical?” I asked, thinking about my own strength after I was sent in.

“A little bit physical, but mainly mental. When she came back out, she could see everything. It opened her mind. I helped her use that power to start sending demons back through when she saw them. She was able to. It takes a lot of thought and concentration from her but she can do it. Maybe not all the demons, but the ones she sees herself. Rose wasn’t born here to save the world. She’s just a helper, like so many others.”

“Like me?” I asked.

“Dex, I didn’t know what you were then and I still don’t really know now.”

“Some Giles you are,” I grumbled. I stubbed the cigarette on a bunch of change that had scattered across the bedside table. “But let’s get down to what really happened. As fascinating as all this stuff is, it’s still way over my head, and I don’t think I’d even really understand this new…fucked up world…even if you drilled it into me day after day. So let’s get to the thing you don’t want to talk about. Let’s talk about Rose. Why you left her. And when you became immortal.” I was tempted to put air quotes around “immortal” but I knew all this shit actually was real.

He rubbed at his jaw, his stubble making a scratchy noise on his calloused fingers. “After Rose began to get the hang of things, I started getting flashes of someone else’s life. Another girl. Young. But I didn’t want to go. I’d fallen in love with Rose. We lived together. We spent all our time together. But the images wouldn’t stop. I finally started seeing Mambo Maryse, hoping she could explain what was going on and what I could do about it. She said short of going rogue, there was nothing I could do. It was my duty and I had to move on.

Of course, I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t just leave Rose, I loved Rose. I mean I loved her, Dex. More than anything in this world. You know what that’s like.”

I felt like my soul was being sliced open, piece by piece. I swallowed thickly and nodded.

He smiled sympathetically and continued, “So I looked into the whole going rogue thing. I told Rose about it and she agreed. It was the only way we could be together. Aside from the fact that I would forever be pulled to help someone else, there was the matter of what she and I did…together. You catch my drift? Just like with you and Perry, the more we were together, the more rifts opened. The more demons she’d have to put back. The more haunted she became. It was a lose-lose situation anyway. So I did it. I loved her enough to give up my immortality. To be able to die, to grow old. I gave it all up for her.”

I sucked back on my lip, almost afraid for him to continue. “And?”

“And everything was fine, for about a year. And then we broke up.”


He shrugged. “Nothing abnormal. She wanted to stay in New Orleans and work in the bar. I wanted to explore the world. She wanted kids one day. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. She wanted to live a normal life—I was a constant reminder that her life was anything but normal.”

“But you fought for her,” I said. “You must have, if you loved her that much.”

“I did. I did what I could. In the end, Rose called it off. She walked away. There was nothing I could do. I gave up immortality for her and she ended up breaking up with me anyway. How’s that for the universe screwing you over? If that wasn’t the perfect initiation into how fucked up this world can be, I don’t know what is.”

Fuck me. That was some heavy shit. No wonder the tension between the two of them was so damn loaded.

“How can you live with that…knowing what you gave up, to be able to live forever?”

He got out of his chair and stretched his arms above his head. “We all have to make sacrifices, Dex. To me, Rose was worth it.”

“Is she still worth it?” I asked.

He smiled sadly. “I’ll let you know. I think it’s time for me to get some sleep. I thought we’d get some of the atmosphere shots tomorrow then start looking into flights home.”

I nodded, my mind bombarded by questions and the competing need to sleep.

“Are you gonna be okay in here?” he asked, pausing by the door. “I can stay if you want me to. Hold your hand.”

“Get the fuck out, ginger balls,” I told him. But I managed to smile.

The door closed behind him and I was grateful that he left the light on. I lay back and tried to keep my eyes open for as long as I could, every sound making me jump in my skin, until the sounds no longer mattered and the questions went unanswered and my heart took a brief pause from bleeding. I was out.


“More coffee?” Maximus asked me, about to pour from the French press. Funny how life goes. Now I was eating breakfast with him, chatting over how much the Crescent City had changed over the years, while Perry was nowhere to be found.

Well, that wasn’t true. She had stopped by Maximus’s room in the morning before I woke up and told him she was going out on her own during the day and would text him later if he wanted to shoot a few scenes or do some voice-over work. The fact that she didn’t speak to me at all, that she was out there avoiding me, that she was struggling with all the horrible shit I said to her last night, reopened that wound, rubbing salt right in it.

I nudged the coffee cup over to him, trying to bury my feelings deep down. The last thing I wanted was Maximus feeling sorry for me. I hated the fact that he knew what was going on, that he was the one who initiated it. You’d think that would have made me want to relate to him more, but all it did was make me resent him.

Of course, the situation between him and Rose was devastating as anything, but as the terrors of the night faded away, I was left with my own hurt, my own hole I’d begun to dug, and someone else’s sob story wasn’t going to make me feel any better about myself. Besides, I kept thinking that if Maximus had truly loved her, he would have found a way to keep her. Didn’t love truly conquer all? Although it certainly wasn’t conquering shit for me.

I was just about to push my plate away and head back upstairs to the room when Rose appeared in the breakfast room doorway.

I smiled at her and gestured to Maximus. “He’s almost done. He sure does eat a lot.”

She didn’t smile (not that I expected her to). “Actually, Dex, I’m here to see you. Do you mind coming for a walk with me?”

Maximus and I exchanged a quick look. I didn’t know what Rose wanted, but if it was a private talk between the two of us, it couldn’t be good. Private talks were bad news these days. I had a feeling she wanted to rip me a new one over the way I treated Perry, and as much as I deserved it, I really wasn’t in the mood to feel worse about the situation.

“I’m not going to bite,” she added, and then she smiled. I didn’t trust her at all.

I looked down at Maximus. “If I’m not back in an hour…”

He rolled his eyes and went back to finishing his toast.

I tried to give Rose a carefree grin but failed. I was inexplicably nervous and followed her out of the B&B and onto Royal Street.

It was warm out, not as humid as yesterday, and the sun was just starting to push aside the low clouds. The air smelt damp and slightly like hot garbage, something I’d gotten used to.

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