Monday, January 7, 2013

Day Three-Sixty-Six: Flashback

I expected all of us to die.

Despite all my cool words, I knew we were going to die.

Turns out only one of us died. He was my brother.

My recollection of the attack is hazy. I remember standing outside… tired… sweaty… talking to Libby… and then there was an ungodsly crack above us, and I looked, and the barrier came down… sunlight in my eyes…

Gods, things, so many things rained down, diving for us, coming for us…

I had convictions. I'd told people that we would survive, we would drive these things off. I did it because I wanted to keep their spirits up. That's what a mayor does. He makes his people believe in themselves. But when the heavens burst, and the things came down, my convictions and fatigue and, yeah, bladder, all broke.

We were going to die. We were supposed to die. But we didn't, because the light from the barrier flowed back into the tree, and though I should have watched as darkness came down upon us like everyone else, like determined Libby and enraged dad and frightened Edmund and weeping Harold, I instead watched the light go into the tree.

Something was there. Something looked back at me. That something was my boy. I didn't see him, didn't feel the light he sent out to everyone else, but I know it was Grayson. He saved us, and he did it by empowering the rest of Pubton.

It was… magnificent. The first person to receive the power was Libby. A gentle, semi-visible tether flew from the tree, from Grayson, straight into his mother's fists. Her gloves glowed, and when the first shadow thing hit the ground in front of her she put her fist through its face. Its green eyes shattered and its body writhed, and another punch drove away the darkness.

She wasn't alone. More tethers, one for each villager, latching and clinging and feeding. I watched Edmund leap into the air and mash one creature with a dagger, saw Grylock flip onto the roof of the pub and launch himself into the fray with his poisonheart spinning, gawked as my mother, my mother, removed the head of a towering black behemoth with a swipe of her ladle.

Ladles aren't meant to do that.

It didn't touch me. No tether, no power, no fearless abandon. That may be why I'm the only person who remembers it all - who remembers why I was found inside the pub, not outside.

I was bewildered. I didn't know what to do. I was trapped in a wild drug vision, unable to control anything, not even myself. I looked around, not sure if I was hunting for something to do or a place to hide -

- and I watched as the three-headed Cedric, Driscol and Bernard monstrosity, unseen by everyone else, ripped through the wall of the pub, two great claws sweeping out from under the cloak and parting the wood like butter. One claw, the closest to Cedric, was distinctly werewolf. The other, the one attached to Bernard… it wriggled. I don't want to think about what it was.

Sweeping its cloak back, the thing writhed. Over the din of battle and shouts and shadowy screams I heard a meaty pop, and Driscol's head grunted as the middle of the creature pulled free. Driscol ducked into the pub through the hole while the creature, Bernard and Cedric, stepped away and wavered, uneven thanks to the gap in their body.

They looked at me. I tried not to look back, but I couldn't help it. Cedric smiled. "Go on, asshole. Before they get control again 'n make us rip you apart."

"I'm sorry," I breathed, not quite ready to cry but feeling damned sad. "I'm sorry this happened to you."

I ran through the hole, not sure where I was going or why I was doing it, only certain that I needed to hunt down Driscol, I needed to see him, to confront him, to find out why this was happening, because I knew it had nothing to do with Kierkegaard or The Baron or the attack on the town. I knew that something was going to happen, SOMETHING, and it was damned important.

The people in the pub were huddled in their chairs and screaming. One of the older nobles wailed that Driscol had come back to get his revenge. He was pointing up the stairs to the second level of the pub, so I knew where Driscol had gone. I followed him upstairs.

I found Driscol inside Evangelina's room. He was staring at her through the bars. The light from the window was intermittent at best, so I didn't see much of him, but the ragged edges of his gangly body… the lack of arms… the squirming, writhing somethings on his sides… disgusting. Evangelina must have thought so, too, because she was screaming, and when I heard her scream and Driscol's rough voice I ran at him, not sure what the hell I was doing, not sure what I planned to do, only knowing that it was important, gods, so important that I rush at this man I hated so much for so long -

When I woke up, I was in a bed. My gloves were gone, replaced by ragged, burnt fabric. Libby was resting in the next room over. People were waking up downstairs, and one of them found Robert, my brother, slumped against the side of the pub. Grayson,  now the size of Eve when last I saw her, was cradled in his arms.

Robert looked at peace. As though he'd decided to take a nap, but hadn't quite managed to close his eyes.

We buried Robert under the floorboards of his kitchen. The stones surrounding the cauldron where he cooked his meals now bear a plaque with his name on it. It was an odd, confined service, but I could think of no better place to see my brother off. I hope his spirit guides whatever chef takes over in his stead.

Mom, wailing. Dad, silently frowning. Bora, withdrawn and watching as the cheap wooden casket disappeared into the ground under the floor. Libby, stolid but supportive. Grayson, thanking his uncle for keeping him safe.


I have a lot to do.


Dragomir the Mayor

1 comment:

  1. If I weren't in public, I might just have shed a tear or two for Robert.