I leaned forward, staring into her eyes. The dark pigment flickered like bolts of lightning across a stormy sky. She wasn’t looking at me. Her gaze stared through me. I snapped my fingers in her face. She didn’t flinch or move a muscle. Something was going on within her.
“What’s her deal, Din?” Jealousy asked, peeking over my shoulder.
“I don’t know,” I replied, leaning in for a closer look.
A loud, high-pitched scream echoed from within her, somehow making its way to my ears. The sound took me by surprise. I jolted backward, away from the stoic terror in front of me. That’s when the pain struck. I felt an overwhelming burn in the pit of my stomach that seemed to twist in every direction. Jealousy doubled over in agony, coughing uncontrollably.
“What is this, Din?” he managed to say through his grimaced expression.
I didn’t answer, but I knew exactly what it was and where it came from. Hatred was mad. Her anger gripped me with extreme force, and I joined Jealousy in coughing. I couldn’t stop it, and it grew stronger.
Melpomene sat in the same position. She hadn’t cringed or responded to what unfolded in front of her. I coughed wildly, clutching my abdomen as she stared straight ahead. I realized the hatred burning inside me was coming from her. Something dark and powerful brewed deep within Melpomene. I felt the heat radiate from her, surging into me as if I were a vacuum.
Hatred felt closer now. If she had been searching for me all along, there was no doubt she knew exactly where I was at that moment. Her ability rose to heights I’d never imagined. As her power grew, I felt stronger and Jealousy felt weaker. His coughs changed to gasps for air, suffocating under the weight of the power shift. Even though my strength powered up like a charged battery, I felt immense pain. It was as if she were ripping me apart from the inside, taking her fierce anger out on me for leaving her behind. Hatred wailed in my mind, thunderous like a thousand soldiers screaming their war cries on a battlefield.
A hum pierced my ears, vibrating my skull. My eyes shook, wobbling around in their sockets. I glanced back at Melpomene. She remained stoic, eyes forward, hands clasped, unfazed by my turmoil.
The tabletop, bench, and wall danced around her as my vision spun out of control. The waitress approached, her voice warbling under the dull tones thumping in my ears. She was concerned. I could only imagine what I looked like, how the two of us looked to the mortals in the bar. By that point, I’d imagined all their eyes locked on our position, eager to see what was happening to the two strangers shoved in the corner booth.
Then, without warning, the vibration stopped. A light ringing replaced it, and the feeling of being folded in half wavered. I sat up quickly, fixing my eyes on the waitress. She continued talking, but I couldn’t hear a word. I shifted my gaze back to Melpomene. Her eyes twinkled as they had before, and she grinned at me.
“What did you do?” I asked.
My warbled voice cracked through the ringing. The high-pitched wail reduced to a faint hum. My ears began to work again. Sound rushed back with the rest of my senses as if I were rising from an underwater prison.
“Are you alright, doll? Can you hear me?” the waitress asked, placing her hand on my shoulder.
Her touch snapped me from my staring match with Melpomene, and I glanced up at her concerned face. She had the look of a frightened mother about to cry.
“I’m fine,” I said.
“What the hell was that, boy?” the truck driver from outside said. He turned to the waitress. “This boy was outside talking to himself. God knows what he’s on.”
The burn returned, permeating my body. She was there.
“Are you okay, honey?” the waitress said, turning her attention to Melpomene.
“I’m fine now,” she replied, smiling at me.
“Is this guy bugging you, ma’am?” the trucker asked.
“I don’t know. Are you bothering me, Din Din?” Melpomene chuckled.
“What was that?” I asked. “What did you do?”
“I did exactly what needed to be done,” she replied.
“Hold on. What’s going on here, boy?” the trucker asked, directing his attention back to me.
“What needed to be done, Melpomene?” I said, tilting my head in concern.
“You better answer me, boy—”
“Quiet!” I shouted, keeping my gaze on Melpomene.
“I’ve had about enough of you, boy,” the trucker said, grabbing my arm.
I punched him in the stomach. He bent over at the waist, wheezing in my face and omitting the pungent odor of chewing tobacco. His legs buckled, and his chin smacked into the tabletop on his way to the floor.
“Answer me, Melpomene,” I demanded.
“Oh, are you angry, Din Din?” she laughed.
The waitress gasped, then attended to the injured truck driver. The altercation gained the attention of the many bar patrons.
“You two need to leave,” the waitress said, looking up at me.
“I thought mortals couldn’t see me,” Jealousy joked, sitting up in the seat behind me.
I chuckled, looking over at him. My body stiffened with a new and unusual paralysis. A vision washed over my consciousness. Hatred walked into the bar, slicing throats and cutting body parts.
I closed my eyes, shaking the image from my mind. When I opened them, in the distance, behind the crowd that gathered to watch the confrontation, I saw Hatred. Her eyes pierced mine. She had her arms behind her back as she scowled in disgust. I could see her nostrils were flared and her upper lip curled. I kept my eyes locked on her position as I stood, my heart racing and my body pulsating.
“No, Din, no,” Jealousy said, defeated by the sight of his sister.
Melpomene giggled behind me. “Tragedy, Din Din,” she muttered.
I ignored her. I couldn’t take my eyes from Hatred. She was powerful and different, like what I’d seen in Melpomene.
“Hatred…don’t,” I ordered.
Her eyebrow raised as she turned her torso to the side. My gaze shifted from her to the man entering the bar. He pulled a large bottle of liquor from the inner pocket of his coat. There was cloth poking from the top of the bottle. He flicked his lighter, ignited the fabric, and looked at the people gathered around us. His cold, dead eyes stared straight ahead into nothingness as he threw the bottle toward the crowd. I watched it rotate through the air until it smashed onto the hardwood floor at the center of the horde.