Okies, here we go again…it’s Fiction Relay time once more! If it seems as if it’s coming to me more often (is anyone complaining?) you’re right, but hopefully only temporarily. We’ve had a few sad departures, due to increased pressure from that horrible beast known as “Real Life”…and a few are just taking a quick break, but will be back with us shortly. But never fear, we are keeping the torch passing, keeping the light in the window, and all that sort of thing…so with no further babble, here is part (I think) 42!
Trotting after the three strange ones through the halls of the Club, Jose kept his fingers curled protectively around the tiny leather pouch in his jacket pocket. Feeling the butter-softness of the ancient medicine bag against his rough palm seemed to keep him grounded, keep him walking in beauty amongst the witches.
He knew it was necessary, for him to be here…had known it ever since the touch of the woman’s quick fingers on his wallet had burned through to his skin, cold as the breath of the Mountain itself. He had known that it was time, finally, and he had known pride that his generation would fulfill the promise…but it had taken all his strength not to turn and run, to leave this place and hightail it home, back among the People.
Until yesterday he had believed the stories, of course. As you believed all the stories. Of course they were true. Why would they not be? But true now…in this world…to suddenly be told that you are a messenger, and that your time is -now-…he took a deep breath, fingers once more caressing the tiny bag as they hurried out into the deepening dusk.
Alone again, the man known as Sanderson hopped back up into his favorite position, cross-legged on the marble-slab conference table, looking out into the coming night. As always, when unobserved, he faced the Mountain.
Beneath the layers, shorn of (most) pretence, he was much closer to the young man of Ephraims vision…the craggy cheekbones and deep-set eyes of ice-water blue under that waterfall of white hair gave him a startling resemblance to the Mountain that he tried to keep hidden.
Of course, he liked to believe that the Mountain had come to resemble him in some ways, as well. In order to keep him out, it had needed to let a bit of him in. To become more…flexible, less rigid. And in doing so, although it had taken him an eternity to prepare, to sacrifice…it had become its own undoing.
And now the tools were at hand. And now the first sally had been sent. And soon it would be seen if the arrows he had labored so long to create would make their mark…or break against its stony hide.
Melissa dreamed. And Raj was ready. He had been mustering his “strength” for this little exercise for a while now, and he was finally ready. Carefully, warily, he widened his area of focus, pushing his awareness out into the room around him a bit at a time, until finally “he” stood away from his motionless body. Gritting his teeth, he pushed through the disgusting layer of sweaty-grimy-dirty-slime that was the psychic residue of thousands of weary travelers over the years, and made his way gingerly across the space that separated him from his sleeping target.
Halfway there, he received a rather nasty shock that set him back a bit…the coyote “statue” suddenly turned its glowing eyes in his direction, pinning him in place in a most literal fashion as he felt it heedlessly rummage through “him”. Whatever it was looking for, he must have passed, however, because the eyes dimmed again and the tension was released.
The incident shook him, but nothing would stay Raj from his goal, at this point. He’d been waiting far too long to let some little…totem, guardian, low rank ancestral spirit, whatever…get in his way. Ignoring the sound of quiet snickering, he pushed on until “he” stood staring down at Melissa’s sleeping form.
For a moment he simply stood, telling himself that it was necessary to gather energy before the final push…but knowing that he wanted to savor the moment, his final triumph against the murderous bitch who had tried to stop him. Staring down at her, he reached out an ephemeral “hand”, and traced the lines of her face…from this side, it was easy to see what the waking world could not. To see behind the semi-permanent illusion she wore, to the biggest secret she held.
Although their faces weren’t -exactly- identical…Meagan’s chin had a bit more point, while Melissa’s cheekbones were a touch stronger, for instance…the resemblance was crystal clear, and the relationship undeniable, to those who could see. How had it felt, he wondered, to give that up? To know that your closest relation…the closest relationship it was possible to have…wouldn’t recognize you? Wouldn’t even remember you? Was it worth it, in the end? Was the extra power worth the loss? Was that why she had never changed her name, trying to hold on to even that weak link to her twin? He shrugged, impatiently. Whatever. Time to play.
With a sound half laugh, half snarl, he moved to kneel over her on the bed, phantom hands on either side of her face. At the contact, she moaned, thrashing a bit on the bed, but didn’t wake. Gathering himself…literally…Raj brought his face down until his ephemeral lips touched hers. Her thrashing worsened, but her head was held still…and Raj grinned against her mouth, swallowing her increasingly desperate moans like fine wine. “Time to wake up, little one…wake up, and kiss me goodbye!”
An impatient snarl fell from his lips as her eyelids flickered, but didn’t open. Attempting to strengthen his hold on her, drag her up from her nightmares by brute force if necessary, he was distracted for just long enough. “Bitch! Wake your ass up, little whore! Wake uhhh…”
Gasping desperately for air, Melissa sat straight up in the nasty hotel bed, the remains of the dream still echoing in her mind. Shuddering, she curled into a ball on the cheap sheets, tears pouring down her cheeks, unheeded. Raj had been her first and greatest love…and her worst enemy, so far…but even he hadn’t deserved the fate served to him in her nightmare. The sound of his screams as the pack of wild…dogs? wolves? somethings had torn him apart would likely echo in her mind forever.
After a quick glance to make sure that the not-quite-a-corpse still sat in the lounge chair next to the bed, that its position of slumped, sheet-covered gloom hadn’t shifted…that it wasn’t, in point of fact, torn and shredded, bloody scraps all over the room…she curled into herself, all dignity gone, all restraint lost, and sobbed herself into an uneasy sleep once more.
And on the dresser, the eyes of the statue flickered. The shadows played around its muzzle, giving the impression, almost, of movement…if one were fanciful, one could even imagine it…laughed.
Whoops. Missed an important part of the game…passing the stick. Here y’go, Dawn!