Screaming –chemicals and rusty blood –maniacal laughter –blunt needles –stench of decaying flesh –more screaming –hands… pain… guilt… insomnia… insanity.
Reit woke up, haggardly gasping for breath.
Damn it, he thought, sweat trickling down his neck. Damn it all.
The nightmares were coming back. Memories that he had pushed in the depths of his mind for the sake of keeping himself from falling apart. They were resurfacing with vengeance, as if angry that they'd been locked up and neglected for so many years. They were clawing their way back up into his conscious, breaking the emotional barriers that he had carefully put up, viciously eating away at the thin wall that kept him from becoming a screaming wreck. Reit had ignored it, though. After all, denial was the only thing holding up the plastic façade that he was forced to wear every day, every minute of his life.
He was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it.
Maybe he could chase off the nightmares this time. But then they'd come back.
He used to have plenty of confidence that he'd be able to make them leave his sanity alone, but his lies were waning away with each night they came back. Every time he came back victorious, but not without receiving his fair share of equally grim losses.
Killing vampires was so much easier. There were rules that had to be followed. There was no cheating. Oxygen was necessary. Break a neck and they die. Blood was vital to keep organs working. Lose enough and they die. Bones and joints were important for movement. Dislodge them and they die.
The demons in Reit's mind, however, were so much harder to pin down, to defeat. Sometimes they bent the rules to their advantage, other times disregarding them completely. They would never truly die, just hide away and return, much stronger than they were before.
And so he turned to killing vampires.
He claimed he slaughtered them for revenge and satisfaction. A hobby, really.
But somewhere deep inside told him it was different. He didn't kill because he wanted to, but because he needed to. The fear of one day succumbing to his weaknesses was far too great to stop.
And maybe, just maybe he would meet a vampire strong enough to defeat him.
Paradise wasn't an option. He had committed too many wrongs in his life.
That was fine with him.
Reit wouldn't mind trudging endlessly as a spirit haunting the earth, either. At least then he could say that he had tried his best, and though his best wasn't enough he had the decency to try. He would have permission to let go, to loosen his grip on the threadbare string that kept him from falling into the madness. It was an oddly comforting thought.