In the distance, from interminable isolation, came the footfalls he awaited. The gore-red light dimmed with the ponderous tread until the bulb gave only a bloody, enfeebled bioluminescence, like a dawn sensed from behind closed lids. The heat turned the gas inside his lungs to brackish liquid, drowning one chamber of his chest then spilling into the other; he bowed his head and felt it run from the corners of his mouth and down over his body. Like a cloud illumed by lightning flashed the shell-white flicker of eyes burnt blind by the ocean. A woman stepped out of the darkness, as slick and unclothed as a newborn, made by those same forces that had fashioned him; water streamed from the corners of her stare, its passage over his skin raising blisters in which blood simmered and turned septic. Long claws slid from the fingers that sealed his mouth while another arm flew back and plunged into his body, punching through skin and sheets of flat, striated muscle. He was spared nothing, not the ripping as she dragged a fistful of his slippery, trembling viscera from him and not the sight of her stuffing the coiled mass into her mouth, sucking it down her throat until her long neck bulged and black ran from her nostrils.
He awoke and bolted upright, staring into the darkness in his hunger for the sight of anything else. His brother regarded him from the chair beside the French doors.
“Fuck!” he whispered, rubbing at his eye. “Has no one told you about those boundary things? If someone’s going to stare at me while I sleep it can’t be you.”
“You’re too loud."
"You don't sleep."
"Frost is an insomniac.”
“No she’s not.” William insisted, shaking his head with his eyes still closed. “I’ve been crashing at her place for years... she snores like a fucking carthorse.” He could see that his assertion troubled Edward, but would not qualify it for his benefit. “If she’s still up it’s the junk. And the toxic relationship she just jumped into, with this guy, who thinks affection is something caused by bacteria.”
Edward received the remarks with uncharacteristic solicitude, and William glanced at him again, still acclimating to the sight of him.
“I don’t think she’s using injudiciously.”
“She will... you’ll freak her out and she’ll run for the spike. And who bought it in the kitchen? Smells like a hippo hit a fucking claymore in there."
"Frost v Orb."
They gazed at one another in silence while William tried to pull the details together.
"When did you scrub in?" he demanded.
"My involvement was superficial."
"She must be a fucking ninja with the steak knife."
“You look like a third degree burn yourself.”
“Yeah well... shitty dreams.”
“A problem shared is everyone’s problem.” Edward suggested.
“Kala'amātya, you're freaking me out with this pretending to care shit so... practice on someone else. Practice on Frost.”
They sat in the warm, expansive darkness that spilled in under the crooked doors and from the narrow breach that had opened in the roof, looking more alike than not and reflecting each other in their opposition.
"Rana, alright?” William sighed, to his companion's patient stare. “I don't know what it is, but I'm dreaming her, I'm hearing her... I can’t close my eyes and I’m too afraid to look."
Edward frowned, as he never did at a threat or at an insult. The name quelled their fractiousness and they retreated from each other for a moment.
“After I went to so much trouble.” he murmured. “Can I ask how this has declared itself?”
“Call it womens’ intuition.”
“Sachiin, you hear bells at the thought of food, and I do not envy you that. To paraphrase Ms Christabel, be forthright, and your angry ghosts will disappear.”
William was forced to concede the eminence of his logic. Edward leant forward and eased himself out of the chair.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce