You’re my kind of beauty: violence and hunger and hate. Pale skin over sharp bones like a starved and feral beast. Don’t let anyone tell you your rage isn’t glorious. Don’t let anyone tell you cruelty isn’t pretty. Yours is the beauty of the streets, blood on pavement, switchblades and cigarettes. Yours is the beauty of the predator, cold eyes and bared teeth, tense muscle ready to strike. There’s nothing delicate or sympathetic about you; you are a hard, bitter, cutting kind of pretty. Others might fear injury, but I welcome the blood I’ll shed for you.


People who say they can remember a face, a voice, a person perfectly, they’re lying. Time steals details from us all, so slowly we don’t even notice they’re missing until we try to recall them. Five years ago I would have sworn I’d never forget a thing about you; but I can’t make that claim anymore, can I? And such a subtle siphoning it was, a continuous loss I never felt until one morning I couldn’t remember the precise lines of your hands, and then another morning your voice no longer ran through my thoughts with clarity. Then certain aspects of your smile, your laugh, your gestures, those vanished as well. What a month ago I had recalled so easily was suddenly like mist or the edges of a dream; insubstantial, uncertain. I didn’t want to, you know. I never meant to forget any of it – in fact I ran my mind over your memory like I was reading braille, determined to remember every ridge, every curve, every dip and turn. I was sure I’d never forget any of it, and then… I did. I forgot, and continue to forget. The memories grow hazier, the details blurrier, the years we spent together compacted in my mind to days, maybe weeks, or maybe nothing real at all. With no evidence of your presence remaining, it’s become too easy to question whether you were ever really here at all. Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and forget that most crucial fact completely.


It’s a lie to say that monsters, real monsters, don’t exist. After all, you don’t have to change into a werewolf at the full moon to be ruled by your animal instinct, to become a beast of uncontrollable hunger and lust. It doesn’t take the bite of a cursed creature to turn you into a rabid dog; you can do that all on your own, by choice or by lack thereof. That’s the truth behind all those legends – we make our own monsters, gladly, willingly, and only after the adrenaline has calmed and the blood dried do we make up fantastic stories to exonerate ourselves. But I have partaken of that moment of madness and blood, and I know the truth. I know what I am.


No one will ever admit this, but it is true nonetheless: there is something sacred about those who sell their bodies. They are cherished by the deities of love and lust and abundance, are like oracles in their knowledge of humanity’s capacity for mercy and malice. Even the lowliest prostitute bears a grace and self-worth which can never be bought or sold. Their spirits burn bright even in the slums, shaming those who come for their services even as they willingly pay.

Of course, the same cannot be said for those like myself who take no payment, who are bought with a smile or a drink or a rough hand beneath the table. We are beloved of no gods, carry no secrets worth keeping. We are sluts and whores, as much a step down from prostitutes as the gutter is from the palace. I suppose there’s something to be said for self-awareness, of course; we know we have no grace, no dignity, no worth. We care as little about our bodies or souls as the people to which we happily surrender.

Still, I wonder what it would be like to be worthy enough of some sum, just once.


In this place everything is porcelain and leather and crystal, marble and silk and mother of pearl; sweeping staircases, delicate chandeliers, vaulted ceilings. Everything is the finest, the rarest, the most expensive. Everything is beautiful. Elegant. Superior. Untouchable and untouched.

This is not a home. This is a doll house. This is make-believe. In this place every room is a ballroom and every moment a masquerade. Never let the mask slip. Never speak out of character. A doll has no wants or wishes of its own; a doll is a blank slate. Remember that and you will draw no attention.

Is it no wonder a place like this would raise a beast, not a man? That it would mold a monster who at once craves for, yet chafes against, the collar and leash? Perfection and sterility provide nothing to feed a starving soul, so the soul devours itself to survive.

I don’t belong here. I never did. But I learned to wear my mask well.


I still have nightmares about that night. Sometimes he collapses and hits the pavement before I can catch him, dying even as I drag him into my arms. Sometimes he’s already dead when I find him, lips blue and eyes glazed. Sometimes he’s still alive but when I set my hand on his shoulder he flinches, lashes out, and the thin little blade finds my chest or my throat or my eyes. Sometimes I bleed out on the wet pavement while he stares down at me, lips curled in a scowl. Sometimes I never find him at all, and all I do is wander through the dark city, desperate and alone.


Daren is like a venomous snake lost in the city. He doesn’t belong here, too wild and dangerous to exist among civilization, yet he has adapted as all predators must. He stays in the shadows, watching and waiting, patient in the way of coldblooded things. Give him a wide berth and he’ll leave you alone; come too close and he’ll strike without warning. No snake has ever shown mercy.