Pure Destiny (PureDark Ones #12) - Aja James


There’s pain.

And then, there’s pain.

It’s all relative, really.

As a creature who has endured lifetimes worth of pain with capitalized, italicized, bolded and underlined emphasis, I am intimately familiar with the entire spectrum. From the sting of a needle prick to the slash of a serrated blade.

Did you know that the sting feels more “painful” at first, while there is a delayed reaction to the blade?

Think about it.

The last time you went to the hospital. When it was serious enough to warrant an IV of some sort. Or worse, the insertion of a needle that’s as thick as an icepick? Think about the moment of entry of the needle, the penetration through your skin, the burning sensation of it sinking into your flesh, your veins…

They give humans drugs for the sharper, more lasting pains. The human mind is typically too weak to absorb and endure these shocks to their body without help. Hence, the notion that people go into “shock” when the injury is too great.

But for Immortals…manmade chemical drugs do not affect us.

Vampire venom does. “Magic” does. But these avenues are rarely pursued to alleviate pain, given that they are typically wielded to induce it.

Which brings me to my current condition of unanesthetized, undiluted, unending PAIN.

All right, I may exaggerate a tad. There may still be an end to this. One can only hope.

And pray.

And sob and plea.

Though, of course, it’s a pointless endeavor to do any and all of the above. It will end when she decides to end it. Either when I become what she wants to make me, or my soul finally exits my too broken body with a snarled fuck-you.

But since it started, it hasn’t ended, and it’s been many, many, countless hours.

Or perhaps that’s just the pain talking. Perhaps it’s only been a few. I have no idea.

Every second seems to drag out into infinity. How long is an infinity of seconds to the exponential of infinity? That’s how long it feels since this torture began.

Ironically, I’m sealed in complete darkness in a structure that might pass for a coffin, as it is made to encase my body exactly. I say ironically, because for certain intents and purposes, I am what you might call a “vampire.”

(Humans have the strangest notions about bloodsuckers. Why would any of us want to sleep in a covered box?)

Those of you who know my origins know that my categorization is not that straightforward. I have fangs. I suck blood. But I wasn’t born this way. (I hear an anti-anthem to the tune of Lady Gaga’s single and album by the same name, but I digress.)

There may be an inch between my extremities and the container’s sides, an inch between the highest point on my body (my nose), as I am lying flat, and the cover of my burial box. By the way, if I do die and turn to either stardust or ash—I don’t know which since I’m both Pure and Dark and neither—I’d be conveniently entombed.

See, I know what pain is. As someone who’s been strung up by their toenails to hang from a tree until they bled out through dozens of gaping wounds after getting fucked over (literally and figuratively) for hours, I’m what you could call a connoisseur of pain. And now that I have my memories back (oh goodie!), I can compare the alchemy of sensations from my first death to my current predicament, and what could very well be my third and final death.

Physical violation? Check.

There are various dimensions of tubes inserted into various holes of my body. And also into plenty of areas where holes didn’t exist before.

Now think back to that giant needle that you had to be drugged to take into your flesh, and only for a few brief seconds. Imagine that process without anesthesia. Imagine that you’re wide awake but paralyzed.

Imagine that needle is flexible and endlessly long, and it doesn’t stop burrowing inside of you. Drilling into your temple, traveling through your brain. Through your muscle, organs and bones. Exiting somewhere…viciously tender…only to circle back and stab into you again, as if you’re a rag doll getting stitched by giant threads instead of a living, breathing, feeling being.

Say it with me—fucking OUCH.

Psychological torture? Check.

My coffin keeps me suffocated and paralyzed (though the tubes in my body do a bang-up job of that as well). Whether my eyes are open or closed, there is nothing to see. Nothing to hear. The silence in my prison is deafening.

Except for the thoughts she funnels