This is the third chapter of my latest work in progress. I don't have a title yet, so for now it's just "the Nephilim book." You can also click here to watch me read it aloud.
Cadiel stares into the lake again. This time, he keeps himself in human form. Today he
will attempt absolute control over the hunger. He straightens his back and takes deep breaths. He closes his eyes. This time, the Last does not appear. The hunger whispers in a chorus, using his own voice and the voices of his eaten cousins. They hiss and echo through his mind.
“This won’t work,” they say. “You know what you are. You know what you do.”
Cadiel smirks. The hunger is never one to show weakness. He imagines that this is the
hunger’s way of backing off without admitting defeat. He stands in his human form and breathes.
A blissful silence settles over him. The chirping birds, the rustling leaves, the far-off trickle of a
stream—these sounds do not interrupt his silence but fortify it, the same way the shore holds the lake and gives it form. Cadiel stands up taller. For one perfect moment, he forgets that he is a cursed Nephilim. He doesn’t think of himself as a Nephilim or a man or anything else. He is only him. And then he hears a voice.
He notices that the voice is outside of him. It’s bright. Feminine. He opens his eyes.
Charlotte from the general store. She’s wearing a pair of mud-caked hiking boots, leggings, and a baggy sweater. Her hands are perched on the straps of her backpack. She’s standing in front of him, only an arm’s length away. She smiles.
Cadiel blinks. “Good morning to you too.”
“I was just trying out a different route for my morning walk. It turned into more of a
hike.” She points at his cabin. “Is that your place?”
“It’s kind of small. Guess the parties happen out on the lake, huh? Everyone brings their
Cadiel chuckles. “Sure.”
Charlotte’s face falls. “Sorry, am I bugging you?”
Cadiel shakes his head. “No, no. It’s fine.” He mentally takes inventory of his food.
Maybe some of it doesn’t have to go to waste. “Have you had…breakfast yet? I’ve got plenty to
Her smile stretches even wider than before, and she laughs. “You sure do! That sounds
He leads her over to the cabin. He pulls things out of the fridge and shows them to her for
confirmation. Eggs, yes. Bacon, no, because it isn’t nitrate fee. Wheat toast, yes. Butter, yes.
Orange juice, just half a cup. Water, definitely.
The toast is easy enough, because the toaster is self-explanatory. The eggs are more
difficult. He has watched humans making them “sunny side up” before, but he gets confused and goes to flip them. He breaks the yolks and, in a slight panic, whips them into a scramble.
“Sorry,” he says. “I usually just scramble them. Will that work?”
Charlotte sidles up to him, her eyes wide. “Oh my god, you don’t know how to do sunny
side up? That’s adorable! Here, I’ll show you.”
She takes over the pan and starts two new eggs. She prepares them perfectly, sets them on
a plate, and hands them to Cadiel, insisting that he take them and that she eat the scramble. They bring the plates to the table and she eats her scramble and toast. It occurs him that she must trust him to come into his home on a random morning and accept his food. Her warmth and her energy fill the cabin, even as she quietly bites into her toast. He does not want her to leave. He doesn’t even want to offend her. Knowing that he’ll only vomit them up later, he eats his eggs but fails to hide his wincing. She cocks her head.
“You don’t like them that way?”
He shakes his head.
“They're good. I think I might have a stomach flu. It’s been hard to keep things down.”
“Then don’t eat, dummy!” She’s still smiling, but there’s an edge to her voice now.
“Don’t just eat it for my sake.” She snatches his plate away, shaking her head. She finishes her
own plate and pushes both aside. She peers into Cadiel’s eyes as she sips her water.
“You’re very sweet.”
“I’m a stranger,” he says, “but thank you.”
“I used to travel a lot. I learned how to spot a good host,” she says.
Cadiel shrugs. “I don’t have guests often. When I do, I try to make things pleasant.”
“About that,” she says, “how come I only ever see you at the store? Feels like you’ve
been around forever, but I never see you anywhere. What do you do up here all day? Really.”
“I…reflect. I’m working on changing myself. I need to be alone for that.”
For the first time, Charlotte frowns.
“What do you need to change?”
Cadiel tells himself she doesn’t need to know. It won’t do her any good. Her life is
simpler than his. She is kind and happy and warm. She has her own path to follow. She worries about temporary things—things like hobbies and jobs and boyfriends. Her nipples are pink. Soft, blue veins radiate out across her breasts, the same way they run through her hands. Two hip bones draw sharp ridges to accent the gentle slope of her belly. With just one finger, he could…
Cadiel grits his teeth. “I need to change me,” he says. “I’m the only one who can do it, so I do it alone.”
Charlotte leans back in her chair. “I mean, you do you, but whatever you’re struggling
with, there are probably people who can help.”
“People can’t help,” he says. “People are part of the problem.” His skin itches. His neck
muscles tense. He needs her to stay. He wants her to leave.
“Yeah, people kind of suck—”
He cuts her off. “No, listen. What do you think when you look at me?”
She pauses to look him over. When she speaks, her voice is still bright, but shaded with
caution. “I think you’re really hot and I wonder if you’re lonely. Seems like a weird combo, but,
“So, you want to have sex with me?”
She frowns harder and leans back further. “That’s...I don’t know…”
The hunger is laughing quietly, almost inaudibly. Cadiel leans forward.
“Do you think it’s exciting when a man takes control of you?”
She shifts in her seat. “That’s—”
“You do,” he says. “Almost all of you do, until you don’t. You have a line that you don’t
want crossed. I know, because I’ve crossed it more times than I can count.”
She slowly stands up.
“It’s been long time,” he says. “The last time was long before you were born. I swore off
that life. That’s why I stay alone up here.” He stands up too. She picks up her backpack and
backs up to the door. She is trembling. Her eyes are watering. This gives Cadiel no joy
whatsoever. The hunger hisses with delight. Cadiel proceeds, telling himself he has the hunger
“Do you know what makes me different?” he says. “Do you know why you felt safe
coming up here?”
She shakes her head. “I don’t know. I don’t feel safe anymore.”
“Good,” he says. “You shouldn’t. I’m different because I’m the only one who knows I’m
a monster. I know that, and I’m trying to change it. But right now? Right now, I’m still a
monster. Do you understand that?”
She’s shaking harder. Tears are running freely. She doesn’t speak. He hears the scrape of
her turning the door knob. He slams his fist on the table, cracking the wood.
“I’M A MONSTER!”
She throws open the door and bolts, sobbing as she runs. Cadiel watches her go,
measuring her distance by the sound of her cries. When he’s confident that she’s gone, he walks back out to the lake and looks at his image again. He tries to tell himself that he beat the hunger today. The hunger only fills his head with painful, thunderous laughter.