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!
This is part 27 of the Fiction Relay serial story, following the adventures and misadventures of Suzi and those she impacts. To read the rest of the story, or just see a summary so far, go here. To see who is crazy enough to play this game, and see how you might join the insanity, go here.
Ok…keep in mind that I’m writing this late, and a bit…distracted, so be patient with it. There’s a -teeny- bit of backtracking, but not that much, promise. ;p
Melissa is strangely subdued as Sam and Ephraim wrestle her into Ephraims cuffs and drag her back up the hill to the lab to put her in one of the cells for safekeeping. Keeping herself contained, whats left of her sanity curled around the secret held deep inside…the treasure she stole from the bitch’s daughter. In her mind, deep inside, the voice whispers old commands, old orders, and she takes dark joy in squashing them, silencing the whispers with a slash of thought, a whip of power. Now she is the one in charge…the one with the power of life and death. Now they will all see. They’ll find out who the important one is. The one who should have been. As she hears the footsteps fade into the distance, crossing from the stone floor of the cavern to the soft earth outside, the impulse breaks free, and she begins to laugh…a mad, manic laugh, on the close side of hysteria, that rings in the stone-walled cell like a bell.
Ephraim shivers as they leave the lab, a flash of vision crossing his mind. Again, the triumphant gaze of a dead man leers at him before morphing into the figure of a desperately weeping Melissa…curled at the feet of a humongous statue of Suzi/Meghan. Shaking it off, he continues toward the house with Sam.
Meanwhile, miles down the road, Suzi…no, Meghan…leans her forehead against the cool glass of the rigs backseat window. The driver, having noticed the dark circles under her eyes and the slumped posture of exhaustion, suggested that she take a nap in the back, on the small bed/seating area. So far, however, sleep has eluded her…so she stares out the window into the distance, although the scenery does not impact her view. Her mind is full of memories…thoughts of her little girl…her little Samantha…Sammy. It’s been years since she thought of her, since the memory wipe she’d performed on herself to protect the child. Now she stares out the window, into the deepening dusk of the mountain road, and sees instead a pair of brilliant blue eyes in a pixie-like face…blond curls she inherited from her father, and tiny size from her mother. She wonders what happened, how she is doing…what she looks like…and whether she could ever forgive her for abandoning her, so long ago.
Further down the same road, a slim figure hunches over her motorcycle, to cut wind resistance, all senses alert for a taste of her mother. For that elusive feeling that is Meghan…the arrogance of the truly powerful, accompanied by sheer competence and grace. But as at the lab, she gets no trace. Only a fleeting glimpse, a whiff, of the mask willingly put on, the face she lives behind…Suzi. All sweetness and light, confused innocence…Blue shakes her head in disgust. Once she finds her, once they are together again, she will make sure that the Suzi personality is shattered, stripped away, leaving only Meghan…only the one person more powerful than herself. Once she rejoins her mother, and they are able to work together…she shakes her head. What can’t they do? Certainly not bow down to the Club any longer. Maybe they’ll just take it over…or destroy it entirely. And Ephraim…and Sam, her father? Well, they’d be useful, in a weak sort of way. Their powers are nothing, compared to Meghan at full capacity. Let alone Blue and Meghan working together…these thoughts comfort her, and accompany her down the winding road, as she moves unknowingly farther and farther away from from her goal.
Back in the lab, Melissa sits on the floor of the cell, making herself as comfortable as possible on the cold stone. What she is about to do will require her full concentration for success, so clearing away all distracting bodily messages is essential. Prepared, finally, she bows her head, reaching deep deep inside, reaching for the flickering spark that is her newly borrowed treasure. Carefully, she pictures herself holding the tiny spark, and mentally “blowing” on it until it blooms into full strength, a white-hot fireball in her mental “hands”. Gritting her teeth against the pain of the fire, feeling her mind scorched and battered by the strength of the power…but her desperate concentration holds, and she is able to shape the fire into what she needs. The tiny white phoenix sits in her “hands”, sparks flying off it in all directions, egg shell bits made of pure white stone all around. Grinning, she leans down and whispers to it, giving it concise directions…and as it glows a bit brighter, a bit hotter, burning sparks flying and alighting on her skin…it lifts off and flies away, through the door and down the hall, searching. Riding with it, mentally, Melissa directs the creature until it reaches its destination…the recently deceased body of Raj.
Melissa laughs in triumph…a strange sound that seems to come from two throats at once. Giving the little phoenix a mental push, she watches as it sinks into the dead mans chest…and gloats as it begins to rise and fall, despite the bubbling of the blood at his slit throat. After an endless period of waiting, she laughs again, a much more normal sound, as his eyes open, a look of confusion in them. Tugging an invisible cord, she watches as the corpse stands, and makes its slow shuffling way toward her cell.
And with that, it’s on to Dawn! Have fun! *insert evil laugh #34, the “Evil Dictator”*
Meanwhile, down on the winding road that leads to the cabin, a slim figure zips quietly on a sleek, dark motorcycle that seems to purr, rather than roar. Suddenly the rider begins to veer, dangerously, and quickly pulls to the side of the road. Thumbing a toggle switch in the helmet, she speaks urgently into the mouthpiece. “Get me Sanderson…one of Them is gone.”
Suzi’s relief was quickly squashed by the look in Melissa’s eyes, as she repeated herself in an almost bemused tone. “He always liked you best…” Still holding on to the sharp, shiny object with which she’d killed Raj, she stared at Suzi. Suzi was now shuddering in terror, still bound to the table, helpless, as she knew she couldn’t ‘port out of ties.
Moving closer, Melissa put one shaking hand onto Raj’s still cooling flank…and with a quick movement, shoved the lifeless body onto the floor on the far side of the table.
Hearing the soft wet thud sent Suzi over the edge, down and down until only Meagan was left. Her eyes blurred until she could barely see Melissa’s mad face above her… and her eyes…they weren’t really glowing, were they? Her body convulsed, the rope bonds tearing at her fragile skin, while the cooling blood that covered her added to the cold that seemed to be deep inside.
In a low, frighteningly cheerful voice, Melissa said “Now look what you made me do…” The bright shiny edge of the knife glinted even through the blur in Meagan’s eyes…and as it came slashing down, she shrieked in terror…and ported.
The only thought in her head was “somewhere safe…somewhere safe…someone…”
Out on the trail, moving as quickly as possible in the dark, Sam followed Ephraim toward the cave. All his attention on finding Suzi, hoping that she was safe, he almost fell as he ran straight into Ephraim, standing stock still in front of him. “What’s going on?” he whispered, but all he got in reply was Ephraim’s hand flashing up in the symbol for “Wait!”
Ephraim had been moving as quickly as possible ahead of Sam, when a stronger than usual strike of pain heralded a vision coming on. Images flashed through his mind…a pair of somehow familiar mad eyes, a gush of blood, Raj’s face staring into his, a look of triumph on it. Just as he was able to see the path again, and about to rush to the cave, he heard (and –heard–) a terrified shriek and stumbled, almost dropping the blood covered, naked form of Suzi who suddenly appeared in his arms.
She looked up at him through her blood matted hair, and immediately scrambled up him, climbing him like a child would until her arms locked around him and her face was buried in the crook of his neck. She moaned under her breath, clinging and fighting as he tried desperately to untangle her, to find out how badly she was hurt.
Sam leaned in, once, trying to help, but at his touch she shrieked in terror once more, fighting even harder to cling to Ephraim. Using all the discipline at his control, he stepped back, hands clenching into fists at his sides. Watching Ephraim fight to control the hysterical Meagan, nails grinding into his palm, he was startled to hear himself speak…quietly at first, then once he realized what he was saying, louder, so that Ephraim could hear. “It’s not hers…the blood, it’s not hers!”
Ephraim turned his head toward Sam, hearing the urgency in his voice if not the actual content. “What?”
Sam raised his voice, almost shouting. “She’s not hurt! Some rope burn, and whatever…happened to her…but no actual wounds!” At Ephraim’s skeptical glance, Sam moved his gaze to Meagan and began to list her wounds in an almost clinical tone of voice.
“…right wrist, severe rope burn, possible muscle damage. I can See it, Ephraim! I can See her…just like the boxes!”
Ephraim frowned, but allowed the still struggling Meagan to wrap herself around him again, trying his best to use his jacket to cover her. He accepted the coat Sam handed him with a nod of thanks, wrapping the shivering girl in it. “We still have to get her to the cabin, at least.”
Sam nodded. “You take her. I’ll just make things worse, and besides, I need to check out the cave.”
Ephraim frowned, staring down at the blood covered girl. “You know that who…or what…ever did all this bleeding…it’s more than possible they didn’t survive.”
Sam nodded, grimly. “I know…but we need to make sure…”
Meanwhile, down the road, the dark rider paced, restlessly. Frustrated, she muttered to herself. “…damn Sanderson. If the Big Man was still in full control…”
She cut off at a muffled squawk from the comm. Her voice became rigidly controlled, every word precise and knife-like.
“Blue here. Yes, sir. No, sir, not as far as I know, sir. No, I am not currently at the scene. I know…” Rolling her eyes, but keeping her voice level, she continued. “Sir. The Club sent me here due to my particular abilities, and I must respectfully request that you allow me to use them…”
Another slightly louder squeal from the comm unit caused another eye roll, and a head shake. “No, sir. It was one of the big ones, but I cannot determine which side without actual visual confirmation. No, sir, it was definitely not Her. I would know.”
Her voice finally showed a hint of aggravation and one hand came up to rub the back of her neck, under the helmet. “Sir! I refer you to my previous statement vis a vis my being chosen for this mission above any others, and again respectfully request that you do your job, and allow me to do mine!”
Stifling the outraged squawking with a flip of the toggle, she shrugged out of the helmet, tossing it onto the grass near the bike, and ran her fingers through the spiky dark blue hair that gave her her nickname. Pacing again, a cheetah on a leash, her eyes tossed a frustrated glance up the road, toward the cabin.
She muttered under her breath, a whining mockery of the voice from the comm. “How do you know? How can you tell?”
She huffed, exasperatedly, moving to lean on the bike, one booted foot kicking at the grass, petulantly. “Can’t tell him the burst of power almost knocked me off the bike. Can’t tell him how I know it’s not Her. Can’t let him find out …she’s my mom.”