For two days and a night he stared at the painting. It was just there, hanging on the wall. It was strange that it enthralled him. He was not particularly given to art, and he drank wine only because it felt good. He liked to think of himself as a simple guy. He had little care for classical music, literature or any of the pretentious aesthetics men with culture were supposed to have.
“Do you know why it’s like this?” she said to him.
He ignored her. By now he knew better than to ask. All he would get once again would be the flashes of memory. Sights and scenes he would readily recall but could not be sure he had ever experienced; then would come the screams and the blood.
The blood… Why did there always have to be blood?
And it happened that the blood was his. For every time afterwards, blood: bright red and gleaming.
Covenants and sacrifices could not be had without blood.
She had said this more times than he cared to listen; that it was the ink in which their terms were written. Pain was required for a sacrifice and blood was pain: In drawing it out, in watching it flow.
And not just the blood, everything was pain; his thrusting when her slender waist grinded repeatedly against his with no pity as he lay there, watching helplessly from the flat of his back, grasping at her dangling breasts whenever she ordered him to.
Even in the finale of release, amid his throbbing and gasping. The experience of what should normally have been euphoric became like the spurting of cayenne. The only pleasure discernible to him through all of it was hers; in her smile, in the upward tilt and slight pout of her upper lip, and then in her eyes, the slanted eyes that gleamed an ever so faint tint of purple as they fixed him in their gaze.
“I’m Sebastian, but my friends call me Bastian,” he had said to her the evening they first met.
He decided he had stolen side glances at her for long enough. He went up to the bar where she sat, and some witty jokes later they were having a nice chat.
“So, tell me a bit about yourself.”
“I’m a mermaid,” she said.
“Nice one,” he replied, smiling.
“I am not joking,” she said. ”I’m telling you because I like you.”
“So I guess your name is Karishika, then?”
“Oh please,” she said in obvious disgust, “don’t bring up that silly name. We’ve had enough of that nollywood nonsense.”
“We?” he said. “It seems you’re really serious about this mermaid thing.”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” she said plain-faced.
“Anyway, I understand you children of men can’t easily be brought to believe such things,” she continued, “and then the moment you finally get to, you simply can’t shut up.”
“Babe, the joke is getting old,” he replied.
“Like I said before, I like you,” she said, ignoring him. “I know you’re only here talking with me because you want to score, but I want more. And since I’m not allowed to force you human children, I will show you what I have to offer in exchange if you stay with me.”
He observed her for a bit, trying to evaluate the sort of mental condition she was suffering. Some personality disorder or other… a behavioural complex perhaps.
“Bastian,” she said, cutting into his thoughts, “I can make you important and wealthy.”
“This ought to be good,” he said with a chuckle. “And that should be via an incantation done with me standing naked by the seashore at midnight, I imagine,” he added. “But I’m not really sure, do I bring along a chicken or a goat?”
“Don’t be dramatic,” she said. “I have other human children with influence in your world. I only have to call in a few favours to make you get ahead in life.”
“I can’t give you long life, or invincibility or whatever,” she continued, “that is not within my power. What I can assure you is that you will be spared no material comfort for as long as you live, while you live.”
“That repetition sounded all poetic but strangely ominous,” he said. “As long as I live, while I live.”
“Yes,” she replied drily. “Don’t go getting shot at. If you try to cause trouble, I may not be able to help you.”
“Okay, mermaid,” Bastian said, his smile beginning to wear thin, “I have heard you. But where is your tail?”
She smiled. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” she said looking him straight in the eye.
By then her lips had contorted into the pout he would soon come to know very well. As he watched her lips form the words, he felt immobilised. A force had seized him and he did not know whether it was the alcohol that threw him off balance or whether it was her plunging neckline that revealed an ample part of the fleshy mounds whose sensations would be like the piercing of a thousand needles whenever they were held. He felt his breath begin to quicken. All of his usual composure was gone and by then he knew he was done talking.
“Let’s go,” he gasped, leaning forward and holding her shoulders.
They got up. He as good as dragged her along, walking to his car. The people at the bar looked curiously at the departing pair, observing them both: the stark desire written all over his face; and as for hers, with the eyebrows tilted upwards in slight amusement, her countenance had about it an air of satisfaction while her lips formed into a knowing smile.
To be continued
© 2016 by @anakadrian