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T H E M O R P H I S T : Mission to Eve
by Silva Noir

Scene One

He used to love the rain. He used to crash cars in it. That was a long time ago. Now, the tall blonde in the blue tinted round frame glasses known as David Xilvrin was tired and soaking wet. The business trip had taken up his entire weekend. Forced to sleep in a strange place (that cheap motel with the unpleasant smell and lumpy mattresses) and having to be courteous to people he only worked with and noting more left him exhausted. In every waking moment, even in his dreams, he long for the amenities of the home he and his wife had built.

They had found this two story old house in New Hampshire, standing quite vacant and encompassed with weeds. Together they had made it an uninhabitable and inviting place. A place, if not for the need to earn money to pay the bills and for other modern conveniences, he would never leave. This was their haven in a northern state, in a small town, that had more trees than people ... just the way she liked it.

"Natasha, I'm home," He shouted out three of his favorite words in the world. Leaning to the side he pulled off the dripping black trench coat and hat and left them next to the front door. He tried saying them again. There was no answer.

He figured she was busy with something. She wasn't the kind that came when called. If she was in the middle of something she wouldn't stop it just for him. He'd have to go looking for her. He didn't mind. As he moved from living room to the kitchen he noticed how much of a disarray everything was. Papers had blown all over from the breeze. With a groan of old wood, he shut the windows which had one too many coats of paint on their frames. Sticking like that, he knew he'd have to scrape them down and repaint them soon as they had a free day with decent weather. He drew the curtains shut.

No dinner was left out for him. No note about what he could find in the fridge to reheat, either. That was odd. She'd always made sure there was something edible around. Maybe she;s angry with me. Maybe she;s tired of playing the role of the traditional housewife. Have I been stifling her? I hope not... Maybe I should offer to do more of the shores besides what I normally do. I'd offer to cook, but she's so much better at it than I am.

"'Tasha? I'm sorry for whatever I did wrong. I'll make it up to you. I promise." He said in case she was just around the corner. He looked. She wasn't. He looked at the clock. Aside from the wind and the ever present hum of the big appliances, it was the thing making the most noise with a constant tick-tock, emphasizing the emptiness of the house at night. "What am I worrying about? It's late. She's probably done the sane thing and gone to bed." He grabbed two slices of bread and made himself a quick snack of toast and strawberry jam and tap water in a glass with cartoon characters on it they got from a theme park.

Removing his shoes he saw he;d tracked mud in the house, all over the new carpet. "If she wasn't mad at me before... I'll clean that up too! But in the morning, OK?" He shouted again to no one. "Oh, what if I just woke her up? I can't win can I?"

He glanced back at the brown cardboard box he'd left on the end table of the living room. Gifts were awaiting her, hopefully enough to be compensation for his absence and daily minor mistakes. Trinkets lined every available shelf. Too much room for two people, yes, but the Louvre wouldn't be big enough to hold all of the odds and ends she liked to collect (if she allowed to keep every thing that caught her eye, that is). The sum of his own possessions remained relatively small. They were a contrast that way: He liked a few high priced items, she;d rather have dozens of flea market finds for that same price. He liked to coordinate ... she didn't but that was OK, that was only a tiny argument ... especially when he thought back on what his life had been like before the great fortune of meeting her ... and shuddered.

He flicked on the upstairs hall lights from the foot-of-the-stairs switch. He couldn't fight the strange feeling something was amiss. He continued to talk to her whether or not she could hear him. He ran his fingers along the subtle bumps of the floral wallpaper to assure him of something solid in reality, trailing fast fading spider webs of Xilvrin. Steps creaked under his weights. The wood, like the windows, was old but stable. It had been more cost-efficient to reinforce them from underneath rather than replace the whole set.

"I love you. You have no idea how much I love you. To have you to come home to ... that's everything ... that's everything to me. I'm glad I married you. I'm not just saying that. You're the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. You're my whole world. I love you so much." He looked forward to hugging her tight as he could. He'd hold her until she warmed him, when he could no longer tell that they were two separate beings. They could stay that way for hours, doing nothing but existing for each other.

The master bedroom was dead quiet. He patted the comforter. She wasn't under it. He bathroom door was swung wide open; no sound was coming from there. Checking both small guest rooms, one which he'd made into an office much like his mother would, the other which was her doll and craft room, he saw were devoid of signs of life as well.

David was scared.

"NATASHA!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. He ran down the creaky stairs. His heart pounded. "This is no time to play games!" half-expecting her to pop up from behind the couch to surprise him he became cross. He waited ... if it was a prank she was waiting awfully long to reveal it. He ran his fingers through his blond hair, the same length he always did, pulling it back out of his eyes. Scouring the house from top to bottom, shifting to his metal shell, overturning furniture and even going in the cellar that anger turned back to fear. She was no where to be found.

Bounding into the yard he ran through blinding rain, but never caught up with her. He climbed every tree on and around the property, as she had the habit of getting stuck int them like a kitten at times. No luck. By sunrise he was making the rounds of the own, stopping by the usual places two or three times, the rest only once. By noon he was paying dearly for his extended insomnia. Defeated, he returned home, pulled the comforter over his head and slept. In dreams, he continued the fruitless chase.

Some time later and rested, he reminded himself that this wasn't the first time she'd disappeared. In Russia, it was a common occurrence. She'd go visiting a spot that was good for thieving or hunting or trading, without a word she;d left or when she'd be back. She'd come back with some goods, more often than not necessities most middle-class Americans would take for granted. She didn't need to do that anymore, though. He had a career that supported her. She had her own part time job at Classic Collectibles, the local shop downtown. They were careful about what they spent. Why would she take such a trip?

"Maybe out of habit," he said to the ceiling, still in bed, hair a mess. "Old habits are hard to break."

But then another day passed ... and another ... and another....

David couldn't bear to go back to work. He hadn't used up his sick days (since settling down for good he hadn't been ill once) or all his vacation time (with so much to fix on the house, they couldn't afford to go further than around the New Hampshire destinations or one state over for a day trip). The boss was agreeable enough to give him the time off; he'd gone through a particularly nasty divorce so he knew all about "trouble with the wife."

That's when another thought occurred to David. What if she'd left him? She had never seemed interested in any other men. In fact, she was terrified of most males. What if she'd grown out of it, though? She was human, whether she acted like one or not - Physically, that is. He was not, not entirely. Possibly, she;d grown up enough to want the things she claimed she did not want or had no knowledge of before. The thought of his innocent Natasha doing "human" "adult" things with a human adult male disgusted him.

"I never thought anyone could ever truly love me. She feared normal men and loved dolls. I was ... am... a doll. She loved me ... but little girls get tired of playing with dolls, don't they? They want the real thing. I thought marriage was a promise. It was a promise you wouldn't leave that person, that you'll love them, "'Till death do us part." Right?" He asked the higher power, that he was never quite sure was there or not, for some answer. He got none. "Am I being punished? I know I don't deserve her! I know that! But I loved her! I still love her! I always will!" He bit his lip hard enough to bruise it with teeth marks. "I just wanted someone to love me and stay with me, that's all I ever wanted ... that's all ... is that too much to ask? Is it? IS IT! HUH! ANSWER ME!" He banged his fist against the wall repeatedly until he'd made a dent in it.

He curled up, leaning against the same wall, collapsing into tears. He cried ... and cried ... for three days straight he cried, not eating or sleeping or moving from that spot. He'd stop for a moment to catch his breath, breathing slowly and deliberately, trying to gain composure. He swallowed back the acid in his throat, ignored the hollow nauseous feeling in the pit of his stomach, and ignored the stiff neck and sore muscles he'd gained from the depression. At any thought at all, he'd return to crying, unable to control himself.

At the end of that third day of miserable fasting, another thought occurred to him. What if she hadn't left of her own free will? There were no signs of struggle, but that didn't mean anything. The house might not be where she left from. She may have been abducted. She may be dead. If the first was true, he would rescue her. If the latter was true, he would have his violent revenge.

Operating on autopilot he walked down to Classic Collectibles. He'd asked the owner before where Natasha had gone to several times already, but he knew he was missing something. There had to be a clue he'd glossed over.

"Well, I told you all I know," A white wispy haired old man tinkering with a gold conductor's watch informed the stressed out husband.

"Are you sure? Nothing strange at all happened the last day you saw her? Who were her customers that day?" The last question was a new one, a crucial one he'd forgotten to bring up in his last interrogation.

The old man took off the jeweler's headgear, leaning back on the antique chair, "Now that you mention it..."

(to be continued...)

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