Chapter 0/24: The Past Meets the Future's Present

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The part-time convict, fulltime asshole, and sorry excuse for a father hung grievously over the tiny, newborn baby girl held securely in her mother's arms; a venomous glare hardly restrained his rage as the two lovely ladies slept exhausted in their hospital bed. The color of the baby's skin alone mocked that of his own paler flesh while the poisoned words of his other lover echoed through facets of animosity in his mind.

"You know she's not yours," she'd told him. "You can see the hidden deceit in her mother's eyes; feel the buried lies in her touch..." And flashes of that dishonesty rattled through his thoughts while the memory of her voice continued to fuel his anger. "Take this..."

He held the tiny vial of vibrant poison in his hands in the hospital room, its consistency dancing to the sweaty wrath of his palms.

"Inject it into her IV; pour it into her water... Whatever method makes you happy. It's tasteless; untraceable. It doesn't even really exist." Her wicked smiled poisoned his thoughts as he placed the vial in his hands to carry out an end to her own means. "It'll paralyze her just long enough for me to come have one last chat with my beloved big sister...before I let you kill her." And he had asked her, "What about the baby?"

He unscrewed the top of the slender glass container while looming over his wife in the hospital room, extracting the poisoned liquid with a syringe.

"Killing her now wouldn't further my cause. I can't take the blood of my victims before they've matured. A child's life is of no value to me," she had answered while caressing her own belly – no doubt a sarcastic gesture, since really, she felt nothing for his seed growing inside. "After you kill her, I'll only need the life of one other victim from my bloodline. Whether it's her child or mine...we'll just have to wait and see."

A clear liquid laced with vivid swirls of mystic-red slithered into the syringe as though it had an agenda of its own. He glanced behind him, inspecting the hallway through the room's window to be sure no one could see, then slyly pricked the plastic IV tube to covertly pollute his wife's stream, her veins swelling and stiffening with the venom gifted to him by the aunt of his eight-year-old boy.

The young child, Marty, left unattended in the hall, clutched at the tightening in his gut, feeling the betrayal of his mother being drugged in her sleep. He quit fiddling with his NHL action figure to peek back into the room at his father stewing over her and his new baby sister. The sight of his back to him – his hands concealed by his big body and square shoulders – was ominous and fiendish. Marty couldn't help but spin around, propping to his knees, and maneuver his head across the bottom of the window to find an angle that could uncover his father's plot.

He hadn't missed his father while he was gone. Him being locked away for a brief six months gave his mom her first taste of the freedom a life without him offered. And since he'd been back, the boy was just now getting old enough to realize how much happier she'd seemed when the lumbering blowhard wasn't around. He'd blatantly told her he wished his father would just leave, but she'd hushed him with a loving embrace and promised things wouldn't always be so bad.

His innocent, oak-brown eyes, striated with uncertainty, peered through the window into the dimly lit room, resentment coiling in his belly. He didn't know why, but he knew things would never be right between his mother and father, and that it'd be up to him to watch over the tiny baby girl, newly named Alexzandra. The thought of that responsibility turned his young stomach...but a more pressing sensation soon washed over him, diverting his thoughts and allowing him escape from his future woes—

A ghostly tingle electrified the air and buzzed through the hospital hallway, jumpstarting his pulse. Lights flickered and a static feedback hissed over the building's intercom that froze him in his seat; he didn't know if what he was feeling was real or just his imagination trying to make sense of a headful of conflict. There was a presence spilling into the halls that he could sense but couldn't see, and that got closer with every deepening beat in his chest. The ground hummed under his feet, and the nurses and patients walking through the corridor were brushed aside as if by some invisible brute with no regard for order. The air then thickened to stagnant soup – stale and stifling – and the walls broke into an anxious sweat...

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