I stood inside the doorway as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. The only light was coming from the ridiculous blue neon sign. The top was now dark, sparks cascading to the floor and smoke rolling from the back. Several of the paintings were on the floor. One of the chairs near the wall was broken. The wall around the couch, near the sign, was covered in what looked like dark paint.
My body trembled. An icy hand griped at my heart, leaving me with the impulse to turn and run from the room. A small voice in the back of my head kept telling me I didn't have to go any further. I could call security and they would take care of things for me.
“Tasha?” It was almost a whisper. It was all I could do to push it out of my throat. I stopped and waited for a response. I didn't want to move around the couch. If she would answer I wouldn't have to go any farther.
The only response I received was the erratic low buzz of the dying light. Maybe she was in the bedroom. I would walk around the couch and go to her room. Maybe she was sleeping.
I took a breath and closed my eyes trying to steady myself. Once I opened them again I slowly walked toward the couch. I kept my eyes high above the paint splatters on the wall, focusing on the door to her room. I forced each heavy step, one after another, until I made it to the end of the couch.
As I stepped around the couch I saw her. She was on her side lying on the floor. Her left arm was up over her face and the right was lying at an angle behind her. Her hair was damp, wrapped like vines around her head and arm. I fixated on her hair, using it like a life preserver keeping my mind afloat instead of noticing the giant wave about to crash down on me.
“Tash, why is your hair messed up?”
Her hair was never messed up, never. The little voice spoke again telling me if her hair was messed up maybe she was hurt. Then it was like time started again. I sucked in air not realizing I had been holding my breath. My blaster slipped from my hand. I dropped hard to my knees, the impact jarring me all the way up my spine to my head.
I reached out a shaky hand and moved her arm from her face. She was a little cooler then she should have been and her hair was wet. I pulled my hand away and looked down to find dark black liquid on my fingers. It was blood.
She was hurt and I needed to find out where. I was moving at a frantic pace now, using both hands to search through her hair and find where she was bleeding, but there was nothing. I stared at her quite face, afraid to look anywhere else or this might become real.
I tore my eyes away allowing them to track down her neck to her chest and that is where I found it. There was a black spot on her shirt. It was no bigger than the diameter of my thumb an inch below her heart. I pushed one hand against her chest to put pressure on the wound and the other on her shoulder to pull her toward me. If there was an entrance wound there might be an exit wound.
I pulled at her shoulder and her limp body fell against my legs. There was an exit wound on her back, and it was the size of my fist. It took a second for my eyes to register what I was seeing. There was a mass of dark black clumps clinging to where the bullet had exited her body.
As the wave of reality crashed down I screamed as loud as I could. I reached up under her arm and pulled her against me as I sat all the way down on the floor. I wrapped both of my arms around her and held her to me as if we were hugging. Her head fell to the side and I slid a hand up to hold her face against mine.
I screamed and screamed. Anger filled each of my breaths and ripped out of my body. My mind was on fire with rage. The only thing in the universe that had ever mattered to me was her, and someone had taken her from me. With each shuddering scream anger poured from me into the room and out into the hallway. My body trembled with each heaving breath and I could feel a part of myself, the part that had emotion and compassion, drain out as well.
Eventually, I didn't have the voice left to scream. A dry whimper was all that was left. I reached over and picked up my blaster with the hand that I had wrapped around Tasha's waist. Then, holding her with the other, I slowly started pulling both of us back to the wall. I struggled with her limp body as I got closer to the wall. I put the blaster back down so I could use both arms to pull her back.
My back hit the wall and I pulled her up against my chest. I rested her head against mine then reached down to pick up my blaster with my left hand. I held her against me and silently cried. Hot tears poured down my face washing the last parts of me away with them.
A thousand thoughts fled from my mind. Memories of the laughs and love that I held close, so no one could see how much they meant, poured out. I remembered every second of my time with her. A time before my life had become dark. As each coveted memory tore away, they left a dark place behind.
I could have saved her. The weight of that knowledge in my moment of grief was crushing. For a brief second I thought about pulling my blaster up to my head. I could almost feel its cold metal against my temple. Once, not so long ago, I stood on the edge of the abyss looking up toward happiness. She had represented that happiness. I chose to plunge into the darkness then. I embraced that decision now. It was all I had left to keep me afloat.
I held her until she was cold, occasionally kissing the top of her head. I could taste her blood each time. I didn't think anymore, because there was nothing left to think about.
From where we were sitting I could see out the open door. Occasionally people would walk by, look into the darkness, and leave. At one point, two security guards looked in then walked on. I watched the scene outside in a detached sort of way. Life was going on outside the door. Everything inside was dead.
Time passed and I noticed more people crossing outside of the doorway. I could feel that warm familiar feeling of anger as it started smolder. Life was going on outside the door and it wasn't fair. The only bright spot in my universe was gone. My life had ended with hers; someone had taken it from us. The anger built until it was an inferno. I knew what I had to do before I slipped away. There were people that would pay for this.
I closed my eyes and hugged her close one last time. Then I carefully slid her to the floor beside me. I pulled her hair out of her face and gently closed her eyes so she could rest. Then I leaned over and kissed her cold lips.
As I stood I looked at her one last time then turned for the door. Inside the room was death, I was death. The cold calm that was the pirate had slipped over me as I sat in the room and mourned. Honestly, I didn't remember ever being anything else but the pirate. A few of my friends used to look at me when I was really pissed and joke that I looked like death. Turns out they were right. That is exactly what I was.
I walked to the door, excited that I was about to be turned loose on the living world. I was free now, released from all the things that had made me Lakasha Nachthexen. All that was left was the cold, calculating, death dealing pirate. It was a side of me that I had always managed to keep in check. Now it was free. God help anyone who got in my way.
A smile spread across my face and I stepped into the light.