I gasped in and felt stale air fill my lungs. I wasn't dead if I could breathe, right? Then I remembered Uncle Harry laughing at me when I was younger. I had been sitting curled up on the couch in his study watching him work some figures. I probably was just barely out of my teens and still learning the way of the new world I found myself thrust into with my parents' deaths. He wasn't looking at me but I was certainly staring at him. I hissed out and he turned to me and arched an eyebrow asking, "What's wrong, Emma?"
"You don't breathe do you?"
He had laughed and said, "Only when I am around humans. I don't need to, my dear. Why is it bothering you?"
"I just didn't know you really didn't have to breathe. I thought you just didn't need to breathe much and only when you were at the end of your lung capacity." Back then I had lots of time on my hands and I had been watching him for over an hour doing his bookwork while I had a book on my lap that I occasionally turned a page -- I'd read the story years ago and was just filling time. I loved watching Uncle Harry in his study. I'd pretty much dismissed his vampire nature while I had been sitting by the fireplace on the leather couch near his desk. He didn't put on cheater glasses because his vision was great, being vampiric, but still his forehead had a deep furrow as he was calculating whatever it was that totally absorbed him.
He had stopped laughing and said softly, "I am a vampire. We have different rules."
After hearing that, I'd shrugged and turned back to my book. He resumed his work, but the image stubbornly stuck in my thoughts the rest of my life.
So, sitting in the nothingness, I wondered if I was now a vampire? I hadn't been bit, exchanged blood or done anything remotely likely to cause me to fang out, but my dark thoughts and fears preyed on me in the otherness. Instinctively I opened my thoughts up and sent out a huge scream from my mind outwards begging help.
Pain filled my vision and my eyes shut and I felt like I'd sunk into plush invisible velvet. Just when I found my center, the velvet softness that had lulled me into feeling temporarily safe was followed by a wave of intense pressure that completely covered every inch of me. Skin is an organ and I felt like I was suffocating in my own body. I tried to take in another breath but wasn't able to find any air. My thoughts began to swim and I felt myself slipping further and further away from everything I knew.
Then I felt a whoosh of electric energy and my body was suddenly tingling and extremely hot, and I found myself being picked up by an unseen force and yanked out of the dirt cave with a wicked fast speed that further tumbled my thoughts. I chanced a peek and saw I was actually being pulled back from the scary cave through the earth that covered the cavern, and upwards away from the sketches in the soil and marks of the trap. I couldn't turn and see exactly what it was that had me, but I wasn't afraid, but oddly fascinated by the sensation of being rushed through the soil and rocks without any immediate pain. It was surreal, yet what needed to be done. All the while knowing perfectly well that in my life I'd get to feel that all the pain far too soon. I knew that my adrenaline was pumping and I didn't think that I was dead anymore, but just in between the here and now.
Instead of being dropped on top of the soil covering the creepy cave, I felt myself flying into the sky, watching the desert and brush disappear and wisps of clouds and air fly past me. I sucked in some of the air and my throat felt raw and unused, as if I'd been frozen in time for years not mere days. I wasn't sure when and where I was anymore. So much had gone through my mind and I was petrified to the reality I was now facing. It wasn't pretty but it was where I was.
Mentally I thought upwards with a numbing feeling of certainty, "Parrot?"
It wasn't really a question, but I needed assurances to be given since I wasn't able to crane around and see hopefully my rescuer. Anything else would really suck in all the wrong ways.
"Of course, I heard you and found you. I hope that it is acceptable."
By now I could clearly see we were well above the ground, no longer surrounded by rocks and dirt, and if Parrot dropped me I'd be a splatter at this height -- if not worse.
"It is. I thank you."
"That cave was very bad!"
I found it extremely hard not to automatically nod but instead I said, "Yes, it was. How is it that you are here?"
My thoughts kept chasing back to the glimpse I'd had of Parrot's thoughts in the past, back while I was in the salt mine, that showed me the stark slaughter and enslavement that eventually resulted in Parrot's supernatural incarceration. But not before Parrot had caused the annihilation of entire tribes of the locals during the decades of reigning. Parrot wasn't exactly a fluffy pretty supernatural creature, but more along the lines of death with attitude. When last seen, Parrot had said if I called it would come if Parrot was nearby. For me that had been one of those 'I hope I never have to call' situations, now added in with an unhealthy dose of 'Oh dang Parrot really made it to my world!' I wasn't sure this was a good thing at all, given that Parrot's tastes ran to human carnage scented with despair and complete disarray.
Parrot gave a dry chuckle in my thoughts, with the wispy scent of blood coloring my mind. I picked up on the fact that Parrot had recently fed rather deeply. Knowing perfectly well that my thoughts were still semi-open, I carefully shut out any negative thoughts and simply waited.
"I knew you would need me eventually, and there are so many bad people in the world; I decided to come and wait for you to call. You rescued me and have treated me well. I think you are different, like me."
I shut my immediate reaction to that inside my head. I didn't think Parrot would appreciate my freaking out that the sociopathic creature thought I was like it was. That said, admittedly I wasn't suffocating or dead -- at least I didn't think -- so I rolled with it and finally answered.
"Parrot, I am happy that you found me. You are an exceptional creature and I respect you finding time to come to me." Carefully worded, but true.
"And I am happy that you welcomed me into your life and world." The words chased and challenged my thoughts. I weighed my reply carefully.
"How could I not?" All the while, I wanted to puke at the idea that Parrot had come to my 'world' and wanted to slay humans for fun and probably mild amusement. Parrot wasn't exactly normal.