Chapter 28: The White Ball
"Will I die if I touch it?"
I couldn't take my eyes away from the spectre hovering a few inches away from me. She stared at me with her empty, sightless gaze, her smokey wisps of white hair almost relaxing around her naked body. The more I looked, the more her perfection had flaws, little cracks along her skin, black veins criss-crossing around her eyes. She almost looked like a real woman who had had all the colour washed out of her, leaving her in black, white and grey.
"You won't," Emil said.
I reached out a hand and the spectre, like a mirror image, raised its own. "What's it doing?"
"It's doing what you're doing."
"I don't understand..."
"It's coming under your control."
I extended my hand, until I touched the spectre's unmasked face. Precisely at that moment, the spectre's icy fingers grazed my cheek.
A chill ran through me, but I maintained my hold over the burning sensation I had pushed from my face into my chest.
The thing that the spectres craved, Emil had told me, did not have a name. It belonged in our heads and was projected through our undisturbed face. Something like a combination of our identity and soul. What exactly it all was, he didn't know to explain.
Very few knew it existed at all, and even less could control it, like me.
He came to me every night since I moved to the Cervi house. Every night, like a lover, he'd remove my mask for me and we practiced dominating the spectres. I surrendered to the intoxicating feeling of his touch. It was the closest I could come to being happy.
Albeit, I knew it was unnatural. "Do all people react to turners like I react to you?" I asked him later that night, after banishing the spectre by tying on my mask.
"What reaction would that be?" he asked.
"A good reaction," I said feebly. "I feel..." I yearned for him, and maybe he knew, maybe that's why he teased me so much. "I feel drawn to you like a spectre to the unmasked."
"Ah." His face brightened with interest. "I don't know how others feel about me, but all men and women grow tranquil in the presence of a turner."
"The chemist wasn't calm, the one in Velamia."
"He was calmer than he should have been. He became much more alarmed once there was a door separating him and myself."
"I'm not exactly restful next to you," I said, biting my lip. I would have invited Emil to stay with me, that night and every night. The temptation was all the more powerful because I knew that seducing him wasn't part of a game.
Even if I couldn't understand what he was after.
"Dylana..." It was the first time he called me by any name, and my attention was on him even more strongly than before. "I think... I think I will give you another dose of serum."
Out of all the things he could've said, I wasn't expecting that. I looked into his face, studying the impossible smoothes of his skin. "Why?" I finally asked.
"You have enough control, but not enough power to control."
"The recommended amount is one dose a year."
"You'll have three...or more," he said. "Taken one at a time. Each time you'll assert your control before advancing."
"Won't it kill me?"
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WATTYS 2018 SHORTLIST "Every person is a book, Yael. You just need to find the right way to read them." In the land of Vynam, all must wear masquerade masks to ward off the deathly touch of the spectres. Eighteen-year-old Yael was a talented mask-m...