In the darkness of the early day, Esther walked quickly. It was almost twilight, the sun seemed like it would emerge from the horizon in a little bit. She sped up, that memory playing in her mind. That regained memory, and the memory of Zehnder the last time she saw him.
Esther looked around; but found no one. No cars, no people, not even a stray cat.
She looked around for anything; any clue or sign at all. Still, nothing. But then, finally, she found something. She saw a small spatter of blood, and then another, and another. She followed this trail of blood to a small parking lot next to a convenience store, only to be greeted by a gruesome mess.
Blood was all over the place. Esther couldn’t even tell how many people there were, they were all broken up. Blood, flesh, and gore covered the ground, in many places you couldn’t even see the asphalt underneath. Faces had been smashed against the wall, arms had been torn off and tossed away, and bones had been crushed and crushed again. Even a car had been flipped over, and had smashed a man’s head.
She stared at this mess; there seemed to be a lot of mindless anger put into it. Anger, or possibly, anguish. Esther was careful not to step in anything, especially the piles of flesh that sat around. She walked towards the convenience store, maybe some employees could help.
Well, they couldn’t. The store was just as bad as the lot beside it. Blood and gore covered the walls and the floor, glass had been smashed, and walls had been cracked. In several areas it seemed that a bone, or several bones, had been pulled out of one person and were used to stab another. Nearly all of the bodies had burned scar marks, the scars were lined with barbs.
Esther looked around at the mess; something was wrong. It was blatantly obvious that this was Zehnder’s doing, but something was off about it. This wasn’t his style. While a few times he had mentioned that an overkill bloodbath would have been fun, he said he never really did them. Something was definitely wrong about this; but it didn’t help her.
Esther could tell by the dried blood that this could have been committed a few hours ago. She left the massacre and returned to the trail of blood. It stopped shortly, but she could tell that it was going away, not coming to.
Esther kept walking, and looking. Then she found something else; a large bloody handprint on the side of a building. The handprint was next to an entrance to an alley. She entered the alley, to be greeted by, yet again, a gory mess.
There were less people this time, about two, or maybe three. They seemed to have been repeatedly slammed against the walls; blood spattered the ground and walls, as did bits of flesh.
Still, this didn’t really help. Esther left the scene and continued on. However, she found nothing more. Disappointed, she walked on; still looking. She passed by the park, and looked into it. There weren’t any people there; all the animals seemed to be asleep.
Esther entered, and went down the dirt path. Entering the forest, she looked around at the dark trees and plants. She could remember when she so happily walked along this same path with Zehnder; that was a good day.
Esther stopped and recalled that time, the sun was beautiful, the birds chirped, and she was so happy. Then they went to that beautiful lake. Looking around, Esther tried to remember how to get there. She thought she remembered enough, so she trudged onward.
But then she stopped and thought to herself; should she really be back here? Considering how hurtful Zehnder had been. Esther strongly considered leaving; he had certainly made it sound like he didn’t want her anymore. Esther thought of the life she would have otherwise; pointless, depressing, with the only source of joy coming from a scrappy but loveable dog.
Esther made up her mind and continued on, to the lake. As she walked; all of his hurtful words came back to her.
‘What? Did you think that I loved you?’
Esther clenched her fists.
‘That we were friends?’
She tried to get it out of her head.
‘You are NOTHING to me.’
She stopped, trying to clear it from her mind; to block it out.
‘That’s all you ever were to me. Something to kill. And that’s all you ever will be.’
A tear formed in her eye, but she wiped it away. She pushed away the horrible memories with the good ones; the times she had been happy with him. With the knowledge from her regained memory, she continued forward.
It was still dark when she reached the lake; it was twilight, and the sun’s glow could be seen faintly. She walked over to the edge of the water. The lake was, as she had first seen it, beautiful. The waves were soothing, and crickets chirped. The island in the middle was dense with trees, but no birds were seen. She looked out at the sky, waiting for the sun to appear. Esther sat on a large rock near the edge, and just looked out at the nature.
Esther looked along the shore; everything was so peaceful and quiet. Then she saw something, or rather, someone. A little ways up the shore, someone stood there. Esther got off of the rock and looked at them. She hoped, but was prepared to be disappointed.
At last, the sun appeared. It slowly rose above the horizon, bathing the entire lake in a rich and beautiful color. Birds began to chirp as the day began, they left their nests to go find more food for their young ones. The breeze blew through the tall blades of grass, and there were even a few ducks gliding along the water like little boats.
The light illuminated the figure she saw, and she smiled; she found what she was looking for. Esther began to walk towards him; towards Zehnder.
Zehnder didn’t make any motion of knowing she was there, he simply stood. He wasn’t smoking either; he just seemed to be lost in thought.
Esther stopped a couple of meters behind him.
“Zehnder . . ?”
Zehnder turned his head slightly, but was silent. She thought she heard a growl start in his throat, but it died quickly, and he was just silent.
“Zehnder,” Esther took a few steps forward, “Why did you lie to me?”
The growl returned, but it was quiet.
“I didn’t lie to you. Now leave, before I get the urge to kill you.”
“Yes, you did lie to me.”
Zehnder’s growl grew louder, and a few tendrils appeared on his back.
“Go away, now. Or you’ll end up a dead body floating in the lake.”
“You lied to me. I want to know why.”
Zehnder turned around and faced her, his bandanna was up and his crimson teeth were formed in a snarl. His arms were covered in blood, and his tendrils swayed in the air.
“I said leave. NOW.”
“You lied. Why?”
Zehnder glared at her, tendrils branched forward. They looked like they were about to grab her, to decapitate her, but then they shied away. Zehnder sighed, and then turned back around towards the lake.
“I didn’t lie. I killed your mother . . . I enjoyed it . . . I don’t regret it . . .”
“No, you didn’t.”
“But, you-” Zehnder turned and looked at her.
“I can remember how she died now, it wasn’t you, and it couldn’t have been you.” Esther looked up at him, “She died because she was sick, I remember standing next to her hospital bed. She sang me that lullaby that she used to always sing to me before I slept. And . . . and then she was gone . . . forever . . .”
Zehnder remained silent.
“But I need to know why you lied.”
“. . . They had a gun.”
“So? I’ve seen you get shot plenty of times. It doesn’t matter.”
Zehnder sighed. He lowered the brim of his trench coat and lifted his bandanna, revealing the base of his neck. There was a large bullet hole there; black blood was dried up around it.
“You see this? This is nothing to me. They could have shot me in the head a few times, I wouldn’t have cared.” Zehnder put his bandanna back down, “but you, that would kill you. Just like that. You’d be gone.”
“So . . . you were only protecting me?” Esther looked up at him, a tear of joy forming in her eye.
“Esther . . . you’re one of the only people that I . . . that I couldn’t bear to see die.”
Esther ran to him, her arms out. And he didn’t stop her; she ran into his arms and hugged him. He put his arms around her.
“I don’t want you to stay around me anymore, Esther; I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
She looked up at him.
“I don’t care if I get hurt; I’ll be fine. I have you to protect me.”
They were both silent, enjoying the moment.
“You didn’t mean all that stuff you said, did you?”
“No, I didn’t mean any of it. It’s just that I’d rather have you hate me and never want to see me again, then if I forced you to go and you continue following me and be in danger.”
“You didn’t mean it when you said that you didn’t love me, and that we weren’t friends, and that I was nothing to you; did you?”
“ . . . No, I didn’t mean that either.”