By now, this journal has become a little more broken-in, with the odd red stain on the cover and amongst the completed pages from Amaryllis's weeping wrists. Written on the front in black sharpie is "Hematology vol. 1 / A. Fleischer".
This time, I know it wasn't just a fluke. I knew it was pooling in my hands strangely yesterday. In the shower, it slipped through my fingers less like water and more like... honey. Like for once, it didn't want to escape my grasp, straight down the drain. It stuck to my palms, sticky and malleable, and something inside my head told me to take control. My "passenger" came out again, just like it did on my first mission, I felt it graze my forearms, skin shivering with anxious goosebumps. It pointed my hand at the bathroom door. I saw my blood drip from my cursed wounds, tapping the linoleum like a rainstorm. Without warning my arm surged with pain, my blood blasting around my hand and wrist like a lance. My vision darkened as my consciousness faded, the last thing I remember seeing was a gash in the door that would have made Jack Torrance blush. [Drawn in the margin is a stick figure with an angry face shouting "Here's Johnny!!" in exaggerated block letters]
Crowley found me after hearing the splintering, I was naked and in a pool of blood... certainly not the first time he found me passed out in the shower from blood loss. He dried me off, cleaned me up, and bandaged me before asking about the door... all I could do was smile weakly. I don't think I can tell him about this yet... I'll have to come up with a story.
Now that I'm alone in my room, I'm trying it again, carefully this time. My "passenger" keeps trying to take over, but I'm not letting them. Not yet, at least... I can control the blood, for extremely short periods. I started with shapes, spheres, cubes... edges, spikes... It hurt to sustain for much longer than a quick second, and it was even more difficult to make sure I didn't ruin my carpet. The blood would slip back into my forearms if I focused enough, but it made my head hurt dreadfully. Even in the calm of my room it took all of my focus just to stay lucid, all while keeping the passenger at bay. I can only imagine how I'll do under pressure if I have to use it in a fight...
Good thing I'm used to pain.
Amaryllis's journal has seen a bit of love by this point, and it’s beginning to show slight signs of wear on its edges as the cardboard covers begin to split very slightly. A new stain has been added on the top right of the cover, curtesy of a poorly-poured cup of coffee. She's close to the halfway mark of filling this notebook, and will likely be beyond that milestone next by week.
I've never really wondered too much why I don't feel pain like other people. One would think that the cuts on my arms would make me scream almost every time that I moved, but I never remember them bothering me. These gunshot wounds didn't hurt almost at all either, even though they nearly killed me... The doctors are both terrified and amazed, especially with my hemophilia, how it's possible that I'm not completely dead right now, and how I am able to move my body without extreme pain. I'd venture to guess that my rate of improvement has something to do with the Infusion process of Contractors. Last month, it only took me a few consecutive sessions at the firing range to be able to consistently hit targets from 50 meters, an improvement in a skill I've never had experience with in the past that was absolutely unpreceded (though that certainly didn’t help me much in my last gig…). My wounds are already closing (other than the usual ones, of course), and the surgeons were able to operate on me without prescribing any post-procedure painkillers, yet another perplexing realization for the doctors here. Unfortunately, they told me that it's going to be quite difficult to walk going forward, as the spinal damage was severe. I’m lucky that I’m not totally paralyzed. They did everything that they could, but it appears as though I'm going to need a lot of physical therapy to even think about running again. [[In the margin is an anatomical drawing of a human spine and skull from profile]]
Thankfully, Cornelius came in to tell me that he manifested an ability to make my body good-as-new again. He'd just have to lay his hands on me for some time, and my spine should be good-as-new in about a week. Lucky me! He requested that I give him a little time to recover as best he can from his ordeal, as he was also quite injured from the rifle fire. Even though he has a real awful hole in his face, he's still a pretty-boy at heart. I hope that ability can help him get back to his old self. [[In the margin is a simplified, but still cute, drawing of Cornelius Valentine, sans terrible scarring]]
Brigwain and Mike visited me, too. They congratulated me on a successful surgery, and were looking forward to seeing where our plans took us next. Brigwain was about ready to go back home to Massachusetts, and I couldn't help but agree. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed once again.
As for “Mike”... Well, I know his true identity, but I'm just gonna respect what he wants to go by, let him leave that past behind him. Anyways, I think I need to talk to Mike about the book in private. He's been looking for a way to get back those years that he lost on his first couple of contracts. In giving History in Blood a brief skim, I’ve learned that the ritual would absolutely help him feel young again. However, for the effects to become permanent, he would need to find somewhere in the range of 120 to 360 individuals to sacrifice over the course of 1 to 10 years. Without a complex network, this might be an incredibly difficult feat to achieve. Might be a little too gruesome for him to perform, too. But I'll just let him know this option right now. Other than this recipe for immortality, there are many accounts of blood-orient cultural beliefs and religions from all around the world. Using this book, I might finally be able to pin down the source of The Curse that my family was so afraid of. [[In the margin is the start of a drawing, but it's been scribbled out multiple times. Underneath the skriblings is a shakily drawn visage, as if it were completed without looking at the page]]
Now that I've sat with it for some time, I've now just realized that I almost died a couple of days ago. Mom and dad were almost proven right... but this only redoubles my efforts to conquer my blood. As soon as I get back to Massachusetts, I'm going to begin my experimentation again, see if I can learn a little more control on my blood spike, perhaps learn even more about my curse using this book...
It's taken a bit of time, but I'm finally able to better control my blood spike. Something about the last mission helped me come to an agreement with the Passenger. It's letting me be more careful with my attacks, more cautious. No longer does the weaponized blood shoot out of my wrists like clumsy knives, instead I can shape and bend it around my hand to keep me safe. It seems like I'm becoming more proficient in not losing quite as much blood after I use the ability, too, which also helps with keeping myself safe. I'm feeling more confident in my abilities to project this spike... but it doesn't seem like I've been able to increase my effective range quite yet. The next goal will be to be able to strike people from a distance. Perhaps this might require me to change the shape of my attack, perhaps projecting a thrown blade? My experiments might need a little bit more space at this point... privacy of my room is not quite enough area to experiment with new techniques.
Speaking of new techniques, though, it seems that I have been able to develop one. I noticed at some point that my instincts for fighting were much higher when I'm being controlled by the Passenger. That makes it significantly more difficult to focus on anything other than survival, but we seem to have come to some kind of an agreement for the time being. The Passenger seems not to have domain over my abilities to control blood, rather it focuses on the more bodily aspects of my abilities. I think that I might have developed a fusion of the two. After getting sprayed by those rifles, I learned pretty quickly that I needed some way to protect myself. Kevlar is great, but it has its limitations. Specifically, that I have to have it on my person to be effective. If I can strengthen my abilities, I won't need to wear anything in order to block bullets. If I can shape my blood while it's outside of my body, perhaps I can do the same while it's inside of my body. I've been working on hardening the blood in different regions of my body, making it as tough as metal to protect my organs. The downside, of course, is that even hardened blood will cause my skin to tear after deflecting an attack. I'll end up even more covered in blood, but that seems to only excite the Passenger more. Using the Passenger's instincts and my more delicate control, I think we have a much better chance of surviving to see the next day. Now I simply wait for the next calling... in between studying for my classes.
Red and blue lights flash onto the unforgiving plastic of the back of a cop car. Amaryllis is inside, hand-cuffed, woozy, and exhausted. She plays the scenario over and over again in her mind, watching as the spike of blood pierces the back of the air marshal and he crumples to the ground. She remembers his face, older, overweight, but built well. She remembers the look of terror that he had, asking desperately, "What did you do to me?" She feels her wrists bleeding, head pounding, arms straining against the handcuffs, breathing heavily. The Passenger doesn't like to be held back, and she was only given one more chance to make things right after Pickett Ranch. She feels herself being pulled by the Passenger back into the black depths of her subconscious, her mind engulphed by a viscous cloud of regrets. For a time, Amaryllis departs from the cop car, finding herself there... but somewhere else.
"What? What do you want me to do?! We tried it your way!" Amaryllis shouts into the darkness around her. She hears her voice echoing softly in the distance. As her voice gradually fades into silence, another voice replies, darker, but still clearly feminine.
"Relinquish control," it says, voice echoing into a boom around Amy. "You failed."
"I didn't fail!" she shouts back, clamping her teeth down with a gritting grind. She growls in her throat, eyes narrowing. "I gave you control. You fought the monster hunter! It worked, even, she died and Bradley lived! We both got caught." She pauses for a beat, but doesn't wait for a response. "If I failed, then you failed too."
"Weak. And. Scared," the darkness replies, "Scared of what you might become."
Amaryllis flails her arms into the darkness, attempting to punch at the creature in her mind. She feels her physical body twitch as she swings, the clinking of handcuffs almost bringing her out of the trance. She focuses again, losing herself back into her mind on purpose, allowing herself to be pulled back willingly. "I am scared," she says once she returns to her mental abyss. "How would I not be? If I give everything to you, where will that leave me? You'll run around in my body, killing people without thought? You don't understand anything about people. You see them as animals to be used then slaughtered. You don't feel pain, you don't know what it means to be human. If I give myself to you fully, we may as well already be dead."
There is a long pause of silence as the darkness considers this. Red shadows begin to rush towards the space in front of Amy, misty ribbons being pulled from far in the distance to form a roughly humanoid shape in front of her. The form is slightly taller, slightly more robust, an idealized silhouette of her body. The Passenger floats around Amaryllis, leaving a wake of bloody red ribbons as it swims from side to side.
"We need to come to an agreement," Amaryllis says, her voice shaking slightly. "I'll give you more control, but not all of it. We'll work together. My strengths, your strengths. 50/50."
The creature stares into her eyes with a faceless mask. "No more running. I am a part of you," the voice bubbles at her. It raises its hand up to touch her face, causing her cheeks and lips to become spattered with deep maroon.
"You are not the curse," she says, putting her hand up to meet the creature's on her cheek. "We will be the cure. Together."
The misty shape of the Passenger begins to swirl wildly around Amaryllis pushing its way into her nose, throat, and eyes. She feels choked for a moment, but relaxes, doing her best to accept the creature willingly despite its overwhelmingly violent nature. Her body is engulphed by the raging storm of red as she feels the creature assert itself into her body, settling into her bones. Once the process is over, she looks down at her body, noticing that the streaks of read are now outlining her skin, becoming one with her form.
"Now that we're together," Amaryllis says with faltering hesitation, feeling her mind begin to return to reality. "You need a name."
"You will be called... Lilith."
A lot has happened in a very short amount of time. I've lost a great deal of my free choice, I lost my ability to see my brothers, and I live in Chicago, and my name is no longer Amaryllis Fleischer. Nothing connecting me with my family, my curse, or who I am. The world watched me die in court, showing them "proof" of my magic. And now, it's been two weeks from then and the world has moved on. What was once front-page news is now... forgotten. Like so much else in the world.
I suppose that I should be thankful for this.
Mr. Walter, he calls himself, is my agent. He has forced me to change my name and change my appearance. Something so integral to me that I wasn't sure how she would react. I feared that she might take me over... and on some level I think that she has. That entire time in the prison, I didn't quite feel myself. I know what it feels like to disassociate, and this was something similar and much worse. She took full control, lived in my body for a time. The guards didn't want anything to do with me. They didn't want to get close. I realized that, as she lived in my body, that the thing inside of me is stronger and faster than I am, even if I'm not able to be as charismatic as I usually am when I'm in this state. I guess it's something that I've always known that I'd done. When I get into threatening situations, I've always shifted into something else. Instead of getting angry or scared, I just... cooled. No more talk, no more words. Just actions, usually followed by pulling a switchblade.
But now, I suppose that it's been strengthened by the rewards of doing the jobs. What the other one does when I've lost control is not entirely my choice, but I cannot deny the effectiveness of the state that I'm put in. At the very least, it protected me from going mad in prison.
I called James O'Hannigan. Gave him some vague words about being out, and that he should expect one of my friends to come by soon, some time in the evening. A chat that we might be able to have in a couple of weeks. I assured him that I'd be alright.
Then I called the house. Left a message about where I was, and told them that I'd be alright, and that I loved Dio and Crowley. And a vague direction to go to O'Hannigan's. From there, Harry managed to find me. He really, actually found me.
I couldn't have been happier to see him and Cornelius. Brigwain, though, well, I've not seen him for some time. He disappeared and... since he's a knight, he's not great at using telephones. I can only hope that he's alright, and that no one has taken advantage of him more than they already have.
When Harry found me in Chicago, I told them everything. About the bomb in my head, about where I've been, about what I can do now that I've been caught. I told him that I would not be taking this lying down, obviously. That I'd be developing a plan to get myself out of this, to get my brothers away, and to live a new life. He told me that he'd be by my side for every moment to make sure that happens.
I knew that this wouldn't be enjoyable, but I've forgotten what it's felt like to really be alone.
Perhaps Harry and Corelius are never very far, that's true, but... They aren't really my family yet. They aren't close enough. Harry... maybe.
He's done a lot for me in such a short amount of time, gone out of his way to find me again after I was "killed" on the news. It had only been what... ten hours after I spoke to him on the phone at O'Hannigan's that he ended up on my doorstep?
I think he means something, Harry. He pretends to be cold, but he's got something deep inside of him that is nothing but warm. Like a little sun that he tries to hide away underneath a viel of cigarette smoke.
Could I call him family? Maybe. Maybe.
But Dio and Crowley... I can only imagine how they must be feeling right now. Even if they might know that I'm alive, somewhere, those first few nights must've been unlike anything they've ever experienced. The fear of learning something about your sister, that she's now going to be seen by the world as a monster. That she's now going to be killed like one too. I've rewatched that courtroom scene almost as many times as they have, I'm sure. There's something surreal about watching yourself die, knowing that it's not you, but also knowing that it easily could have been. The FBI pretended that they were doing be a favor, but they knew that they were giving me one of the only ways out.
But I will bide my time. Slowly, they will regret not killing me when they had the chance.
But I want to hear their voices again. Even though Dio could be a pain in the ass, and even if Crowley would scrawl in crayon on some of the rare tomes in our collection, I miss them more than anything right now. I see them in my memories, coming home from a long day of classes, back when things were normal. Before I was offered power, an opportunity. When I look at my wrists, I'm reminded of why I do this. I'm living on borrowed time, each month that passes is ticking ever closer to the thing that gets me.
Having gone to Japan and come back without a reward was a risk. The first time I'm working with Mr. Walter, and I immediately come back unsuccessful. A failure.
No, I don't take it lightly. Especially since I have even less time now. I need to complete a mission. I need the reward. The Contracts may have gotten me into this mess in the first place... but they will be what get me out.
No running. Whatever it takes. I will see them again.