Darkness. Peaceful, quiet, darkness. All of my rage and anger evaporated, leaving me feeling calm for the first time since I'd fought the hyena. I didn't want to move, or think, or do anything except lie here and drift in the endless sea of shadows behind my eyelids, because I knew as soon as I woke up the anger would come back and I would go on another rampage. I didn't want that, not yet. Now it was time to rest.
All too soon, though, a ray of light pierced the darkness, rousing me despite my best efforts to ignore it.
No. Not yet. Just a little longer.
I couldn't stop it, though. My brain had woken up, and the rest of my body started to follow. I cringed, waiting for the wave of anger to roll over me, washing away everything else and sending me into a blind murderous rage.
It never came.
"W- What?" I asked in confusion, and then jumped when I recognized my human voice. My eyes shot open, and I found myself lying on the floor in Stark's living room, buck naked. The furniture lay strewn around the room, and a huge, gaping hole in the wall led into Stark's bedroom. In there, another hole led into the front yard, through which the morning sun shone into the ruined house. I shook my head, trying to chase away the sleepiness. What the hell happened last night? I closed my eyes again and tried to remember.
There was... Becky. Yeah, I remembered now. And Rebecca. No, they were the same thing, weren't they? She'd beaten the hell out of me, beaten the hell out of Stark, beaten the hell out of my mom, and then... nothing. I couldn't remember anything after that.
A chill ran down my spine. No, that wasn't true. I could remember some things. They were scattered memories, mostly just flashes of images, scents, sounds, and an overwhelming sense of anger. I'd... fought Becky? And won, if those memories were reliable. I couldn't remember much, but I remember her being there one minute, and then not there the next, so I must have won, right?
Then I had... I racked my brain. I'd gone home? I saw my mom, I saw Stark. They'd both still been knocked out, but then something else had happened. Something that had made me angrier than ever. What had it...
Scrambling to my feet, I ran through the house, ignoring the chunks of wood and plaster that cut my feet. I hopped through the hole into Stark's room, and there, lying on the floor...
"No," I whispered, stepping back. I tripped on an overturned lamp and fell onto my backside. She was still there, lying on the floor in a puddle of her own blood. I started hyperventilating and stars danced in front of my eyes. This couldn't be real. It was a trick. I was hallucinating. Moving with dreamlike slowness, I slapped myself across the face, hoping I would wake up and end this horrible nightmare. My vision flashed white, but when it cleared nothing had changed.
Kimberly was still lying there... and her right arm lay on the other side of the room.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no," I whispered, sliding backwards across the floor until I hit the wall. After everything I'd done, everything I'd promised... I'd sworn to protect her. I'd sworn to myself and to Stark. And then this? No, I was still dreaming. I had to be. Either that, or Becky had killed me after all, and now I was in some special ring of hell made just for me. This couldn't be real, because if it was, I hadn't just failed her. It was so much worse than that. I was the one who'd done this to her.
My mind went blank, already overwhelmed not even five minutes after waking up, and I got to my feet and walked toward her. My ankles caught the lamp again, and I tripped a second time, landing flat on my face. I ignored the pain and crawled across the floor until I reached her. Then, with a trembling hand I reached out and...
No! I snatched my hand back. I couldn't touch her. How could I? After everything I'd done to her, how could I still lay a hand on her? I was a monster, but... but I still had to know. Slowly, I reached back out and laid my hand on her chest.
I breathed out a ragged sigh of relief. Thank God in heaven, she was still alive! There werewolf in her had given her strength, stubbornly refusing to let her die even as she bled out on the floor for hours. I brought my hand back, afraid to touch her more than I had to, in case I somehow managed to hurt her even more.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, looking at her face, and then the bloody stump on her shoulder. Maybe Stark could help her. Or Dr. Munse. Her arm was right there, even though it was so chewed up it was barely recognizable as a human limb. Maybe they could make it all better. I didn't know. All I knew was that if I stayed here, I would only make it worse.
"I'm sorry," I said again, getting to my feet.
I knew what I had to do.
Stepping through the other hole in the wall, ignoring how cold the snow was to my bare feet, I made my way across the yard to where Mom lay. Still breathing, but not moving. That was good. She was alive, and the fact that she hadn't woken up yet would only make this easier. Taking her gently by the shoulders, I dragged her through the snow and into the cabin before setting her down just shy of Kimberly's blood puddle. Snatching a blanket and pillow off of Stark's bed, which been had all but reduced to splinters, I tried to make her as comfortable as I could.
"I'm sorry it came to this," I whispered even though she couldn't hear me. "I tried to be a good daughter, but... I'm sorry." My breathing quivered, making it hard to keep talking. "Th- this is all my fault. I thought I could make things better, keep you safe, but all I ever do is make things worse. Everyone around me suffers. Dad, Kimberly, Tyler, and now you."
I knelt down over her, looking into her closed eyes. "You are the best mom in the world, and you deserve so much better than this. I can't give you everything you deserve, but I can at least give you this. G... Good..."
I squeezed my eyes shut and tears spilled down my cheeks. I couldn't say it. I just couldn't. I leaned over and kissed her forehead, and then got back to my feet. I picked my way across the floor to where the door used to be and stepped into the hallway. My room was at the end of the hall, completely untouched during the chaos last night. For some reason, that choked me up even more. The entire house had been trashed, but my door didn't have so much as a scratch on it. It was like a symbol of my very existence.
I opened the door and stepped inside, closing it behind me. From here, I could almost pretend that everything was normal. There was my bed, there was my dresser, my bean bag chairs, and my TV. All my clothes hung nice and neat in my closet. It was perfect— and that pissed me off. With a scream, I extended my hand and swept everything off of my dresser. I picked my TV up and chucked it across the room, where it struck the wall and shattered. My bed came next; I hoisted the mattress up and leaned it against the wall before clawing the fabric open with my fingernails and yanking the stuffing out and throwing it on the floor. I looked to the right and saw my reflection in the mirror. Naked, bloody, and a wild look in my eye. I swung my fist at it, breaking it into a thousand pieces. There! How's that? That's what you deserve!
One by one, I pulled my clothes from my closet and tore them apart, scattering the remains all around me. I didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve any of this. I wasn't human, I was a monster! Monsters don't get nice things! They got whipped, and beaten, and shot! I knew nobody here would give me what I deserved, so it fell to me to do it. When I got to my last shirt and pair of pants, though, I hesitated. Slowly, I set them down on the floor. I would need these. I would keep them, but nothing else. While I was down there, I saw a glimmer of copper on the floor. I picked them up. The shift pins. Choking back a sob, I clenched my fist around them. These too. I would keep these, and the clothes.
Breathing heavily and trying not to break down crying, I got dressed and pinned the magical charms to the insides, just like Stark had shown me. Part of me wanted to take it all off and leave them behind too, but I ignored it. I would need at least one pair of clothes if I was going to do this, even if I didn't deserve them. The shift pins... I definitely didn't deserve those, but I couldn't bring myself to throw them away. They were the nicest thing I'd been given in a long time. I wanted —needed— to keep them, if for no other reason than to remember everything I'd had while I was living here. Everything I'd ruined.
After tying my shoes, I took a deep breath and nodded to my broken reflection in the shattered mirror. Right. No more wasting time. If I gave it much longer, Mom or Stark might wake up, and... and try to stop me. They wouldn't understand. They'd make excuses and try to tell me it wasn't my fault. It would all be a load of lies. Well intentioned lies, but lies all the same. No, this was what needed to be done, and I was going to do it.
Emerging from my room, I made my way back to what had used to be Stark's room, and paused over the bodies of my Mom and Kimberly.
"Bye, Mom," I forced myself to say through a constricting throat. "I love you."
Two steps, and I was standing over Kimberly. "Goodbye, baby. I'm... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
I hesitated, feeling like I should say something else. What else could I possibly tell her, though? I looked at the bloody stump where her arm used to be, and my stomach did a somersault. How much of her did I have in my stomach right now? Putting my hand over my mouth, I hurriedly stepped around her and vomited into the snow just outside the house. I stood there trembling for a few minutes. Half of me wanted to go back to her and do... I don't know what, but it felt wrong, wrong, wrong to do this without at least trying to make things right with her.
No, I told myself firmly. There is nothing you can do for her. Don't touch her. Don't even think about touching her. You get your butt out of this house, and you...
I closed my eyes, and a sob tore free of my throat. Oh, God, why did this have to happen to me?
I stepped over the wall and into the snow and set out in a straight line from the cabin. Stark was still lying at the edge of the trees, where Becky had left him. He was back in human form again, but the moon hadn't been able to close up the wound in his chest, or heal the burns on his arm. He was still alive, though, just like Mom and Kimberly. I almost decided to drag him inside too, but forced myself to keep my hands to myself. I was too close to breaking now as it was. I knew if I set foot inside that house one more time, I'd never muster the courage to leave. Was this even courage, though? It felt more like cowardice. Either way, I couldn't afford to waste any more time.
"Thank you for taking care of me," I said to his unconscious body, "of all of us. I didn't deserve it, but thank you anyway. Please, keep taking care of Mom and Kimberly, and..." my breath caught in my throat. "And please, make my mom happy."
And that was that. There was nothing else to say. With another sob, I turned and ran away from Stark's cabin, the only place I'd known happiness in the last six months of my life, as fast as I could.
If they were lucky, they would never see me again.
NEXT TIME: Stark injured, Kimberly mutilated, and Amber… gone. Is this the end of the Silverpack? Where does Amber still have to go? Straight into Majestic’s clutches? Or could there be another option?