The blood spurt into the air in an arc, then forked an inch above Aunt Estella’s wrist like the bolts of lightning that drove me crying to her bosom in my youth. You are shaking your head as you read this, saying ‘No, no, no, that’s not the way blood works.’ And I would defer to your good judgment in any other case, but I know what I saw. Whether it was gravity, or electricity, or some stranger force of nature yet unnamed, I do not know. But lightning was what I thought of as I pushed my chair back from the table and stood. Lightning was what I thought of as my heart thundered in my chest.
Estella was transfixed by her wound, by the life now bubbling out of her wrist and onto the mauve tablecloth. Even the scrape of my chair’s legs against the stone of the patio floor did not break her from her reverie. It took the stern, clipped vocalization of her name to draw her eyes to mine.
“Well,” was what she said to me, offering up her wrist.
“You mistake me,” I said. “I am not Stoker’s monster, content to drink. My appetites are far more frightening.”
“Drink,” she said. “Devour. Do what you must!”
“I will not,” I said.
She gritted her teeth. And then, weakly, she swapped the knife from one hand to the next and made to slice the other wrist.
“Estella!” I said, my voice too loud now, sure to draw someone’s attention. “You must stop. We must bind that wrist and get you to—”
But before I could finish, she had done the deed.
“My throat next?” she said.
It was then that our waiter emerged from the restaurant, ceasing his query after our dessert needs when he caught sight of the ghastly display before him. He ran off.
“You see what you’ve done?” I asked my aunt. “What were you hoping to accomplish?”
“Shall I scream?” she said to me. “Or will you carry me away from here and do what needs to be done?”
“Do not raise your voice,” I begged her. “I will take you.”
I rifled through my pockets for means to pay the bill, left the money on the unspoiled portion of the tablecloth, and gathered Estella into my arms. Then, as my churning stomach called up to my jaws to feed upon this ripe and ready bit of flesh, I leapt the fence that circled the terrace and I ran.
To be concluded…
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