The Long Road Home, Chapter 8: Highway to Hell, or My 80 Years of Darkness (Jasper)

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Chapter 8: Highway to Hell, or My Eighty Years in the Dark

"Boring. You have become truly and completely boring, Jasper." Her tone was biting, acidic.

I rolled my eyes, not even bothering to turn and look at her, refusing to take the bait that would hook me into yet another fruitless and frustrating argument with Maria. But it didn't stop me from thinking about how bored I had become with her.

But I was not just bored with her. I was bored with everything.

My life was a flat line, an endless, featureless, deserted highway, stretching on into eternity, marked only by the countless battles with our rivals and my countless squabbles with Maria. It seemed like all I did was fight and train and kill; it blurred into a numb morass of violence and hate. I was constantly surrounded by those emotions, and it began to feel like they were my own: I had gotten to the point where it was usually impossible to tell where I ended and the feelings of others began anymore. It wasn't much of a life, I knew, but I had no idea that anything else was available. It had been seventy-five years since I had become immortal, and I had known nothing else but this.

Maria had always told me, this was what it was to be one of our kind. She didn't understand my depression: it frustrated and angered her. She loved her life, had absolutely no reservations or moral compunctions, and thought every other immortal should feel the same. She didn't like how I had withdrawn over the past twenty-two years, how my passion for her had cooled, how I had no enthusiasm for the fighting and conquest and vengeance. Those things thrilled her, and she had no patience for me and my moodiness. I felt her anger and suspicion growing every day; I didn't like being around her much anymore, because her feelings were so jagged and unpleasant. It was like being near a grumpy porcupine: prickly and unpredictable.

She sighed dramatically behind me, trying to draw me out. I ignored her, staring out the window, unseeing. I heard her stamp her foot and grind her teeth in frustration. She could behave so immaturely, sometimes, like a spoiled child.

"Well, if you must go to them instead of staying here with me, make it worth something. I'm bored with them now. I want fresh recruits, strong and loyal. Just make sure you get rid of all the yearlings, Jasper. No softhearted weakness this time, do you understand me?" she growled.

I nodded, my heart heavy at the realization that the time had come, yet again. I always dreaded it.

She "humphed" one more time, then came the welcome sound of her skirts swishing as she angrily stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind her with a hollow boom.

I smiled for the first time, enjoying the peace of the empty room and savoring having "won" that round of the argument with Maria. However, I wasn't looking forward to later in the evening, when I knew she would try to corner me again, probably in the bedroom, to try...other tactics to draw me out, to score another "point" in the endless game she played in her head: who has the advantage. She would pick fights with me over anything and everything, just to get a rise out of me...and then would try to lure me into bed to "make up." I had to admit, I usually let that happen. I am a man, after all, and I wasn't accustomed to reigning in my impulses in any way. It took many long years, and learning many new lessons from the ones who would become my true family, before self control was something I could own.

"Jasper!"

I snapped out of my reverie and looked down into the courtyard, where Peter was waving up at me.

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