Just a Dream

Waking up from drowning was hell.

Waking up while still tangled in last night’s bedding made it that much more terrifying. Kieron fought with the blankets, as though they were the water that held him down. When he tore himself to the surface of the bed, he was gasping, choking, screaming, sweatslick and feverish, reaching hands out, desperate to be pulled from where he was drowning, seeking Jet’s hands, Jet’s soothing voice.

Instead the door to his room banged open, and his father was there, with his pistol, looking for an intruder, going to the window, his eyes wild with fury that anyone would dare make an assault upon his house.

He checked the windows, the locks, ran to the closets, the bathroom, turning on every light, opening every door, his teeth bared in a savage display of familial protectiveness.

Convinced they were safe, and it was likely just Kieron making the racket, Ellison Brody tucked the gun away and crouched next to Kieron as he sat up in the bed, panting and disoriented. “Just a dream, Kieron,” his father said, sighing. “It was just a dream.”

“Just a dream,” Kieron said, nodding, and then felt his stomach lurch. He tried, for a long moment, to hold it in, to keep himself steady. I can’t. I can’t here. I can’t now. Not in front of him. But it was no use; returning from every slip, every witnessed death, every time he took his first breath and came back to life, his body became so violently ill, he surrendered to the brief horror of it, if only to get it over with. This time was no different. His eyes got huge as he rolled away from his father and staggered to the toilet off his bedroom, barely making it in time. He was already opening his mouth as his knees struck the tile before the bowl, and it felt like hours as his back heaved, and he rested his forearms on the cold porcelain.

There had been more than one vision since he’d left the school, but trying to hold this one back simply sucked the energy from Kieron, leaving him cold and weak, trembling, with tears in his eyes. He looked up at his father and rasped, “I’m sorry–”

Ellison stared down at his son, startled by the violence of his episode, and looked both bewildered and half-disgusted, and hadn’t any idea what to do for the boy. “I’ll get your mother,” he said weakly, and slipped off.

Kieron shivered alone in the bathroom until Delia ran in on bare feet and immediately ministered to him, wiping his face with a warm cloth, carefully making sure he was cleaned up, and then getting him cool water — then rubbing his back when the retching started all over again.

By the time the sun rose, Kieron was back in his bed, sleeping exhaustedly amidst clean sheets, and Delia was drinking a cup of darjeeling with honey and milk in the morning room, artfully behaving as though she had not spent the last quarter of an hour giving Ellison an earful for his inability to deal with his sick son.

* * *

…and because of our new delivery mechanism, I feel comfortable in relating that I have witnessed another two since our last communication. The reactions are the same, and it is difficult to hide them. I remain hopeful that we shall find some method of covering over this secret, or keeping me from being laid quite so ill. Above all else, I hope this letter found you well and left you none-the-worse…

“Ever yours, Kieron,” Jet finished aloud, and then carefully folded the paper back up and tucked it away against his skin, where he would keep it until he’d reread it enough, and then he’d stow it away with the others. He sat back in his deskchair, looking out the frosted window, a frown of worry etched over his brow. Kieron had been having awful visions, had slipped into so many bodies, had watched so many deaths, and had no one with whom he could decompress, or feel safe, and it made Jet sick to think of him shivering and miserable and alone, rather than comforted. He wouldn’t be able to articulate his terror, and so it wouldn’t truly leave him. Jet could see, from Kieron’s shaky hand, how taxed he was by his episodes, and he hoped that the holiday from school would afford them an opportunity to see one another again.

While he waited, he continued to write, and to pass his letters to Garrett, who handed them to Kieron during lessons and took back a letter to Jet, from each meeting.

* * *

“Will you require my services over the holiday break?” Garrett wondered of Ellison as he packed up.

“Ah, I imagine you would like to finish your family plans,” Ellison said, smiling apologetically.

“Yes, thank you,” Garrett said, clipped and quiet. He had, at one point, felt as though he could develop an easy comradeship with Ellison Brody, but once he’d spoken up, however briefly, against separating Kieron from Jet, he had sealed his judgment in Ellison’s mind — and that had sealed Ellison’s in his.

“We will be having extended family staying with us throughout the break,” Ellison said easily. There was a long pause, as Ellison regarded Garrett carefully, and then finally said, “You would be welcome, but you will not be required.”

“I see,” Garrett nodded, easily. “Then I wish you the best, and you should contact me again when you are ready, but I have an enormous amount of work to finish at the Academy, as well as family that I shall be visiting–” he explained, generous with his excuses, feeling as though if he were not, that he might offend. Then feeling, suddenly, quite odd that he should care if he offended the man anyway.

“–Do enjoy yourself, then,” Ellison said, and though he had interrupted Garrett, it was in an attempt to stop him from feeling put-out, and he tried to let his voice convey warmth. There was an awkward silence, for a moment, as they stood there, staring one another down. “I love my son, Professor,” Ellison said quietly, watching Garrett. “Please understand that.”

“Though I imagine it would be impossible for any two well-educated men to agree on all aspects of child-rearing I respect your authority over his care, Sir,” Garrett said. “I hope I did not offend you greatly in that regard. Your son is brilliant, and I wish, as I’m sure you do, to see that brilliance excel.”

“I do,” Ellison said, nodding. “Which is why I feel I must keep him from those elements that will weigh him down. He’s no longer a child, and should not continue with childish play.”

Garrett watched Ellison’s earnest expression as he spoke of his son, and his heart was softened, somewhat. The awkward tension between the two of them had begun to diffuse, but only barely. Garrett turned to go, then, but Kieron’s voice could be heard from down the hall.

“Professor!” Kieron called, coming out from the hallway, flushed, carrying a thick volume full of papers and notes. “You forgot your book! If I’m not going to be seeing you for a–”

But he never finished the sentence. Kieron stood there, almost having reached them, pausing in mid sentence, mid thought, mid step.

Mid-slip.

Painful Star by Painful Star

It was always sudden.

All of the air seemed to be pulled from his lungs. He was falling,

bridge

sky

ice

sky

the horizon spinning,

bridge
shore
ice

tumbling,

bridge
sky
bridge

fasterandfaster

and then there was pain and light and a brilliant explosion as his body and limbs hit the surface, frozen solid but not too thick, and the last of his breath was knocked away. The crackling sound wasn’t his skull, as it had felt like, though the impact drove red and green stars through the backs of his eyes, nor his legs, though they had shattered like green saplings in an unfortunate late frost. It was the ice. He’d hit the ice, and it was breaking, and he was slipping in. Even after the shock of the fall, the cold was too much to take, and he began to scream, a high whistling thing that turned ragged and red as blood wet the floes he’d broken free.

Drowning was one of the worst — isn’t that what he’d told Hoyt?

He had no strength to scrabble for purchase, and his fingers trembled weakly as the last of his scream left him, and he took one last breath, and then his head went under the water, into the dark embrace. He was carried under the surface of the ice for some time, rushing in the arms of the tumbling river, body battered from above and below, but all Kieron could think of was the look on Hoyt Redwell’s face.

The body fights.

He struggled, but he couldn’t really move, couldn’t do anything but try to hold his breath, wait to come up, to break the surface.

He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his teeth against the darkness, against the water that tried desperately to peel him open.

His heart fluttered, and his lungs spasmed.

It burns, when you breathe underwater.

Kieron could feel it burn as his panicked body gave in and took that first breath.

You try to cough, and your whole body is on fire, getting that breath of water out, and then you breathe in another, and then your brain lights up like fireworks–

He tried to cough, and his eyes were wide, and he could see the dim winter light above the surface, and he reached out but the ice would not give way, and his hand pressed as if to glass.

–and you shake like a puppeteer thrashing a marionette, and everything is cold and dark and–

Underwater, he screamed silently as his heart gave out in a trembling seizure of agony, his limbs contorting, twisted and broken.

–it’s like a night full of shrieking stars that all start to go out–

Everything went dark, painful star by painful star.

Hello, Everyone! How did you find me?

It’s question time, here in Jonesville (…not Jonestown, they’re further south, and we think there’s something in the water) because I’ve seen an influx of new readers, and I’m curious where the hell you all came from.

So here we are, the fabulously scientific poll that I keep redrafting so I can see how influence changes over time (because science) which leads me to believe that Livejournal is obviously super rocking, since I got a bunch of you from there, last time.

Seriously, though — where the hell did you come from?

Did You Never Know

You were bliss, beneath me,
in your collar.
You were his,
but I planned to take you
and make you mine.
Such a thing,
to talk about a human being
as an object,
something we could possess.

Surely you had your own desires,
but they became mine,

became what I had wanted
more than anything:

was to have you in such a way
that meant you were
no longer your own.
You gave everything up to me
in that way,

and your striking eyes
and dark curls
haunt me now,
in my silver years,

after all the love you threw after me,
in an effort to catch
the hunter who held you
in the tightest of nets.
You had to know
that I was caught, as well —

held to the net
just as much as you were.
To let it go
was to lose you —
did you never know
I loved you all this time?

Dally With Me There

My most precious
possession.
I own her
utterly,
and so set her free
as I please,
to see the world
and fly back to me,
ever back to me,
to her gilded cage.
She does not resent the bars,
does not resent the collar
I put at her throat,
does not feel anything but pride
at how she must kneel.
She gives,
and I take,
and in return,
I am the one
who lives in the cage,
while she only must
dally with me there,
every once in a while.