Chapter 2 of Monstrous Illusions

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    Note: I posted the complete version of Chapter 1 a couple days ago, which is a little different than the post before it. I polished it off and introduced Christopher as a character, so I’d suggest reading that first. Anyways, here’s Chapter 2

    Chapter 2

    Lorna looked between her Grandmother and Christopher in shock. There was no way he could actually be Christopher. He barely seemed old enough to drive a car, let alone date a seventy-year-old woman back in high school.

    “But, but you’re so young!” Lorna blurted out, confused. Christopher gave her another wide grin.

    “Ah, so you have heard of me.” His eyes sparkled with pride at the thought of it. Lorna only shook her head, taking a step back.

    “You can’t be the right Chris my grandmother told me about. She told me she dated you back in high school.”

    His face lit up once more. “That she did. And might I say it was wonderful to have dated such a beautiful girl.” He grinned, leaning towards Lorna, “Magic does wonderful things to the complexion, you know.”

    “That’s enough!” Grandmama snapped, her wrinkled hands forming fists by her sides. “You get out of my house this instant, Christopher. You are not going to wave magic in front of my grand-daughter the way you did to me.”

    Christopher grinned, his eyes flashing with mischief. Lorna only stared on in disbelief, at what they were saying. Magic? As in card tricks and rabbits?

    “I’m not planning on becoming a magician.” She said, shaking her head.

    “No-one plans on it, dear, sweet girl. The magic is inside us all. You just have to tap into it.” Chris said, stretching his arm out to tap her on the nose. Grandmama let out a threatening growl.

    “Christopher!” she said, thumping the floor with her cane. “If you say one more word to my granddaughter-”

    “You won’t do a darn thing about it, Annabelle.” He said, his easy demeanor gone. In its place was a threatening green-eyed man. He was no longer a harmless stranger, but a cold, calculating one.

    Lorna stared at him in fear, wondering just what he was capable of. Was he a killer? Is that why people were after him?

    Chris’s expression shifted back into the pleasant, lazy smile, but it seemed forced now. A tense silence filled the hall, and Lorna’s fright only grew. This was too much, she had to say something.

    “I’m not going to perform magic. I’m too clumsy.” She blurted out, nervously glancing between Grandmama and Christopher.

    Grandmama only let out a sigh of relief. “See? She’s not joining your ridiculous gang of monster summoners. Now let her alone.”

    Lorna shot her Grandmama a confused look. Did she hear her right?

    “Monsters?” Lorna asked, chuckling a little bit. “Grandmama, I outgrew my fear of monster’s years ago. And I’m not pulling rabbits out of hats for a living.”

    Christopher’s frown morphed into a teasing smile. “I’m not that sort of magician. That sort of magic only belongs to those who haven’t tapped into their true potential.” He grinned as wide as the Cheshire cat. “True magic can do anything for a person, even give immortality.”

    Lorna gave them both incredulous looks. Did they honestly believe in magic still? Growing up, Lorna had read plenty of unbelievable stories like this, but now she felt like she was in one herself.

    “Immortality?” she asked, curious.

    Grandmama stiffened, and gave Lorna a panicked look. “You don’t know the cost, child. He has no soul, no morals. He isn’t human.”

    Christopher let out a long sigh, smiling at Grandmama. “I’m perfectly human, Annabelle. And you should know.” He paused for a beat before adding, “And if mankind is defined on the size and quality of their souls, many would fail to be human.”

    “You’re a monster, just like those creatures you summon up from the deep.” Grandmama snapped, standing tall against her old friend.

    “You honestly believe all this?” Lorna asked, incredulous, “How? Every single person on earth knows magic isn’t possible.”

    Christopher laughed wildly, as if that was the funniest thing he had heard all day. As he chuckled, Lorna noticed strange tattoos etched into his skin, glimmering and glittering even without light on them.

    He pulled himself up straight sharply, revealing a set of emerald cat-eyes set in a hostile glare. He hissed at her, and the sharpness of his teeth made Lorna back away as far as possible.

    “My word, Chris.” Grandmama whispered. “What have you done?”

    Christopher whirled on her, snarling a little bit as he took an intimidating step towards Grandmama. She didn’t even flinch, but just shook her head sadly at him. She seemed to age twenty years as she deflated, as if she had secretly hoped she was wrong in assuming he was inhuman.

    “Christopher.” She said softly, her eyes filling with tears. Lorna gaped at her, how she had gone from furious to pitying him in an instant.

    She reached out and grabbed his hand, gently stroking its now-furry back. “How could you do this to yourself?”

    He flinched, yanking back his hand and stepping away from Grandmama. He grumbled something under his breath, and when he turned around to look at Lorna, he was completely normal.

    “How did you-” Lorna began, swaying slightly on her feet. It was all too much, the supposed magic, her grandmother’s connections with him, and all the secrets being kept even now.

    Chris grinned, as if nothing had happened, and spread his arms wide. “Magic, my dear Lorna, magic!” he chuckled in a friendly sort of way and walked back to the kitchen. “Now what are you lovely ladies making, might I ask?”

    Lorna just stared at him for a moment, still reeling from his sudden shift in mood. “Um, pot pies.” She said, glancing nervously back at Grandmama. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she bit her lip in an attempt to stop them.

    “You alright?” Lorna asked softly. Grandmama shook her head morosely, and swiped away a few tears.

    “I didn’t know he would take it that far. He’s so close to the brink—oh heavens, what sort of friend am I?” she whispered, shaking as more plump tears flowed down her cheeks, “I-I should’ve done something. I could’ve stopped him-”

    “Grandmama-” Lorna began, but the older woman was wiping away her tears and trying to collect herself.

    “Let’s go make sure he doesn’t try to summon anything in my kitchen, shall we?” she said in a forcefully cheerful tone, already hurrying into the kitchen.

    Lorna paused for a moment, not really wanting to follow her grandmother into the kitchen. Christopher was in there, and she felt uncomfortable even looking at him after what he had done in the hall. And even if he didn’t have eerily green eyes and pointy white teeth, the terror he instilled in Grandmama made Lorna wary. Although the older woman was quite superstitious, what Lorna had seen couldn’t be denied.

    Unless… she wasn’t going crazy, was she? She froze at the thought, puzzling over the possibilities. It could be that it was an inherited illness that she had gotten from her grandmother. And it could’ve skipped over her own mother only to be passed on to her. Christopher could have a similar sickness as well; that would explain all his ramblings about magic.

    “Please, no,” she whispered to herself, running her hands through her hair. If she really was crazy, her entire future would be derailed. There would be no veterinary college for her, no future ventures out into the great beyond. No, all she’d be seeing the would be the inside of a padded cell.

    Lorna felt tears rising to the surface, along with her old friend, anxiety. She trembled slightly as she rushed into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Her brown hair was mussed, and her green eyes were wide and terrified as she looked herself over. She looked insane, and she could just imagine the straitjacket wrapping around her that would complete her look of craziness.

    Lorna slammed her eyes shut and ducked back out of the bathroom, and walked towards the kitchen. She could ask her grandmother at least. She might be able to tell her if there was an inherited madness that she might have.

    “I need a protégé, Annabelle.” Chris snapped, stopping Lorna in her tracks. She leaned forward to peer around the corner into the kitchen.

    Chris stood there, tall dark and brooding. He looked like an avenging angel, or a demon come to claim a new soul. He curled his hands into fists, and Lorna noticed the fine layer of fur covering them.

    “But what about Gregor?” Grandmama asked, sounding desperate. “I thought he was doing so well under your training.”

    Chris let out a low growl, and shook his head as if to dispel some hideous anger building up inside him. “He went rogue.” He ground out, before slamming his fist down on the cupboard. “And very few good humans are left in the world that are willing to get involved in my line of work.”

    “You can do it alone, just for a few more years. Get some more money, then quit the whole business.” Grandmama pleaded.

    “You think those vultures will just let me leave?” Chris barked out a humorless laugh, “Not without someone to take my place. I’m trapped, Annabelle, stuck doing this petty work for the rest of my immortal future.”

    “You’re already on the run. Leaving and cancelling out your immortality-”

    Chris let out a low growl, tensing up to tower over Grandmama where she cowered back by the stove.

    “I will not give up my immortality, Annabelle. I’d rather die a thousand deaths rather than see my usefulness waste away with age.” He shook his head, angrily pacing away from her. “You’re distracting me from the point. I need a protégé, someone who I’m sure has the right type of magic.”

    Grandmama paled. “My daughter is too old to be of any use. And Lorna might not be the right kind either. The next generation is always questionable in these situation.”

    “It’s better than nothing.” He snapped. “She’s old enough, but not too old. And she has a strong will for such a young girl. Such potential should not be wasted.”

    “You can’t have her!” Grandmama cried, with such fierceness that Lorna startled back a step.

    Oh no, she thought, just as she heard the soft creak of the floorboard beneath her. She peered back into the kitchen, only to see Christopher grinning evilly at her.

    “Come here Lorna. I have a little proposition for you.” He asked, giving her a sharp grin. His jagged teeth made Lorna backpedal a few steps.

    “Christopher, no!” Grandmama begged, dropping down on her knees in front of him. “I need her myself. She’s all I have anymore. My daughter is much too busy to think of an old lady like me, and I can’t live without Lorna.”

    She let out a pitiful sob, clasping her hands in front of her. “Please, if you have any love for me, please let me keep my granddaughter. Please Chris, please. I’m begging you, have pity on your old love.”

    He stiffened, then lifted his chin determinedly. “You won’t lose her forever, Anna. I will let her come back to visit you soon.”

    Grandmama leapt to her feet with a scream. “You can’t have her!” she screeched. Christopher growled, morphing further into a monstrous creature and swiping at her with a paw-like hand. Her frightful screech was cut short as she fell to the ground in a heap, not moving.

    “Grandmama!” Lorna cried, rushing towards her grandmother. Christopher caught her by the arm, clenching it to the point of breaking. Tears of agony and rage spilled down Lorna’s cheeks, and she whirled around and tried to pound him into releasing her.

    Whatever humane and gentle part of Christopher that had remained was now gone. He grabbed her firmly by the back of her neck, his fingers drawing blood.

    “Let me go you monster!” Lorna shrieked, trying to fight against him. He stared at her with his bright green eyes, which were practically glowing with fury.

    “I am no monster.” He snapped, slapping Lorna powerfully with his other hand. Blackness filled her vision, and her rage was replaced with numbness as she spiraled into unconsciousness.

    ~Let me know what you think!~

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