Chapter 10. (She Awoke)
She looked down at the foreign object, and brushed her foot by it. Finally, she spoke.
“What’s the deal?”
The man shook his head, and then smiled lightly, “You know… You know…” He paused, and put a finger upon his lips. What was he going to say?
Know what? She clung her finger to the fabric that hung on the edge of her sweater. “What? What is it?” There were two loud utterances that connected as metallic echoes to bruise the answer. She had to leave. That was her answer, and she knew it—she just did.
She brushed her hand by the banister, as she descended. There were portraits, perhaps of the previous century or the one before that, that encompassed the wall, oozing color of pale. Dull. She couldn’t help but take notice, just as she observed with each passing turn into the dark evening. It was 7:50 PM. The reverberations that went struck for only a moment, those notions of “Wait, wait!”
The moon’s irises shined down to the window. It was sleek, as it hid around an elongated branch with a strewn of leaves and their conclave to the grounds. The light peered through the window, thinly, and it reached out as some interminable fingers, brushing against the cold glass. Diane turned over to her side, waiting for sleep to abide back to her as well.
It was the cradle of branches at nightfall that summoned her, half awake, onto the sheepish slab of, well, awakening. There were no dreams to claim, as it shadowed against the window veil. The moon light danced on a trillion trills in the sky that besotted onto the little shoots on the ground and their silent snivels within the breeze.
First night in the old county, and it had went over pretty well, all things considering. The visit home was a half surprise, but surprises grow old pretty quick—and then the embankment surrounded the quotidian matters of life, talks, and briefings (not really—just refurnished updates of her current life, excluding the visions).
The thought was a fault itself and worthless as a coin in an old, triumphant fountain well. It somehow still collected its due, even as it decayed through the years of rippling cement, and other shabby questionable things. The same went for thoughts and it was interesting, she pondered, on how one could lightly go through the collection of the same ole, same ole, and be desensitized as she was.
The ride back was bleak, mundane, she had to think; and it was that stunt in that specter of fatigue, now replaced with a ceaseless thrill. Thrill. There was something to attach, there was something to understand and piece together. There was something to catch and never let go; it would be held firmly, it would be secured thoroughly by a clotting knot to cease this, and never let it go.
It was all doubt—useless, useless. There wasn’t even much to go on, was there?
Tomorrow was the awaiting day around the corner. Tomorrow would be judicial and crucial to the outline. Tomorrow was the day, terse in all corners.
However, the day was ending slow as a feather falling from a messy nest. Diane pushed herself off the bed and found the drawer the book was residing in across the hall. She quietly glossed over it, mentally reading, imagining what else it could say or do or point to at any direction; and what would she do? She would go to it like a dog, saliva dripping for a little treat. It was pathetic.
The book glowered in her hand. She brushed through the cover, perching her legs onto themselves as she sat back on the lounging chair in the dark room. The curtains were closed, obstructing the penchant of rays that crossed the curtain rod, dashed from the little openings.
She turned to a random page and paused briefly, regarding it.
~~”I woke again tonight, corner street, on a divan. Hospital bed with a pan next to me, and table with the little wheels that squeal and make you deaf. I have stitches on my knee-cap, and for a few hours I was alone. Sleep could not come for me, but I heard the steel from the windows hover in their little warmth… Perhaps it was the gas heater. Voices reverberated when I stirred a bit in bed, telling me that I did it again. It, I am unsure. It, is not something I would recognize cognitively, instantly, peripherally in sight or senses, and then I wonder, what is it, what drives it? What makes it be like that? I wonder about it all the time. It kills me. It just does, thinking about it, pandering to an empty thought that curls like coat hangers.
“I can’t see them. They won’t let me see them. They just hurdle around themselves in another row of crystal rays and a material hollow from their visions (dreams?) omens, their lingering mind’s eye that contains them; and contempts me all the way, all the attempts it does. What does it want me to do? To do for it? I feel cold.”
Diane closed the book, non-abating, a bit with a regressed repulsion (that patchy feeling that links down with an itchy antenna), with an intone that stuck like gum–that it needed to be left alone for now. There was no use for it at the moment, especially when she couldn’t make sense of this excerpt. Who was plaguing the omniscient raconteur? His thoughts, his words and dreams? What of it?
This could not help her, bereft of the background if there was one. The old song and dance, and she wanted to set it to flames, all of it.
Then this would be over.
And that was the worst of it too.
She was eager, but not that eager. She had to find answers, and as memory chimed to her, getting rid of it is the issue, both physically and mentally. It somehow always found its way back to her, didn’t it?
The moon’s irises shot through the banister window on the second floor. Below stood a ray of light, glimmering into a bloodied cabinet, a cherry red wine that cheapened the wood it was made of. Diane shoved the book back into the drawer, and made her steps silently as to not wake Linda up down the hallway.
It was better, she thought, than staying with her parents for the time being at least. She would avoid the uncomfortability to face when more inevitable questions would be asked.
She stifled a yawn, and retired back to sleep in her bed, but as she turned, all Diane could do was wonder–wonder, What the heck did I just read?
Her phone eventually rang at a quarter to six in the morning. She was already somewhat awake, adjusting to the darkness of the room, as the glass shrunk its little light on her face and tilted the warmth over her eyelids.
She looked at the number, not distinctly recognizing it, so she went in for the kill.
“County morgue,” Diane picked up with a fake southern accent. “You toss ’em, we floss ’em.”
That did it, so she sunk back slinkily like an eel, into bed. Would a full rest come?
The room was cold, quiet. She almost forgotten the semblance of the bothersome, troubled numbing sensations, until it frolicked throughout her hand. She picked up the phone again, irate. “What? Do you call back when you’re bone dry of customers who do actually call you back? Or are you just bored? There are many things you can do if you–”
The sounds of a silent shuffling came to a head, sprung like a little crumbling, whistling paper against a led pencil. She was expecting heavy breathing next to come, but it never did. A drifting sound, divine, that lifted upon a light course of a whining metallic drone. Over and over.
The call was disconnected. Diane tried to shake it off, but as she rolled back into bed, she couldn’t fall asleep. It would not come to her, so she got dressed and got a head start. Best not to waste the day.
Iacta Alea Est, and all that. She was greeted in the front of the bungalow by a billow of coffee and the snapped faucet running in the sink like mounds of rivers, coalescing stones. Diane shook her head in a slight, albeit unexpected surprise. She folded her hands, awkwardly, clumsily, and seized her glance at the television a few feet away on a small brown stand.
Which caused her to jump from her seat, hand over chest. “Control yourself, will you?” Diane clutched onto the sweat pouring off the skin of her fingers, before sitting back down.
“I’m sorry that you scared me,” Linda scowled, an irritable nerve prodded. “Why didn’t you say anything? I almost cut my hand on the glass.”
“I guess I wanted to wait and see how long you’d notice I was here,” Diane laid an arm out on the table, before propping her head on it.
“I knew you were holding out on me–having the ability to give people heart attacks must be profitable.”
Diane rolled her eyes. “Anything will do to make a quick buck,” she said.
“Mmph. How’d you sleep?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“Well, you always look like that,” Linda dismissed with a yawn as she turned to serve them empty mugs.
“I slept not well.” Diane frowned, hastily. “And you?”
“How’d you sleep?”
“Not too good either. Tossed and turned all night. Funny enough, I didn’t dream–or maybe I did and just forgot,” Linda brushed the back of her wrist as she rambled, “All foggy, outdoors and stuff. I remembered a garage from my old house when I was three, I think. That’s all I remember.”
Diane breathed out slowly, fiddling with an old knot in her hair. “I got a call today, and it was terrifying.” A pause. “First one was a scam caller (or so I thought), and then another call came afterwards, same number, and it was metallic noise. I couldn’t fall back asleep after it happened.”
“It was probably some stupid kids. Don’t take it too seriously.”
“I take it very seriously, Linda.”
“Yeah, all these months, no shit you do. Listen,” she quietly went on, “relax. This is nothing.”
“I should relax and not think about it? I should just chill?”
It was the mocked expression that Diane gave that made Linda sigh into her hands, “Yeah, you should, before you get a stroke or something.”
She stood down in thought. Once Linda served the coffee, the beans smell enriching scent, Diane browsed on her laptop to find websites or message boards that deal with archaic matters, unknown pursuits of the supernatural.
She found an article on voodoo dolls and rolled her eyes. A sigh. There were more attempts in researching websites, their claims, and if (big if) the community was half-normal. That was just the lower bar of her expectations. And she wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
She tried once again to find something–something–anything that related to her current issue with the book. She’d only detail the matters of the book, not the visions (that’d be giving too much away, she thought) and then it’d take off to… well, something.
That was the plan when she finally found a message board to post a thread on.
“I found this one through an online group,” Diane explained, “and the message board seems pretty covert like. And, I don’t know, but they had one topic about an ancient sock, and Christ, I don’t know what they do with their free time.”
“Well, they obviously think about ancient socks. Didn’t you read that, Diane?”Linda asked, gawking. “How scandalous.”
Diane didn’t respond. Visibly, she recoiled at what they had plunged themselves into—far beyond the depths of what they were used to, and far away from what they once knew. Nothing would make sense, anymore, and it could contradict itself in the most facile way.
“This may not even lead to anything,” she stroked the back of her hair, nervously, “I don’t know why—why we did this, why pursuit this?”
It made her think of that new-found lurk of confidence that made an individual fate–that this was the right choice. It came and went.
Linda contrasted the weary look Diane had given. “Because it may explain the occurrences surrounding ourselves? You said it yourself too the other day.” There was no weak protest, only an affirmation of the long run they would face.
“Right,” Diane nodded—perhaps a bit too coerced. “It’s just what if—”
“Don’t say, What if?” Linda put her hands on the table. She scratched at her chin, before saying, “It hasn’t happened yet, and all we could do is sensibly wonder what may have been. At least now that it’s out there on some strange platform or another, it may clue in on some people that would know of books in that time-period. I think we’re bouncing back and forth with this, and I get it. We just have to stick together here, I think, and ride it out. Who knows? You could be right, or maybe I could be right. Either way, we get something out of it.”
“You’re sure eccentric.” Diane bit down on her lip, fighting off the exasperation. She sunk back into her seat, “I admit,” she sighed, pulling her hair back, “it’s pointless to wonder about the existential side of the matter, when really, it shouldn’t matter. I can’t bargain on anything, but… but I guess we err on the side of caution.” For now.
“I mean, I’m looking at it nervously too, but at this point, it’s with some fun excitement. Nothing dangerous happened with the book that we know of, but as we thought, it could explain for some things that are happening. I was scared at the idea of sharing it, because, well the same reasons you were, I think. But… It’s also like finding something about yourself that you never even knew, or even never really wanted to let go. But, now it seems daunting and-and even fun. Like…” Linda trailed off, “Like a roller-coaster.”
Diane only stared.
“No?” Linda asked.
“No. This is too deliberate, too cruel–it’s at the point where I would just believe I’m going into my own descent of madness. But if this were my own personal hell, it hasn’t killed me yet.”
“That’s… a way of looking at it.”
“Not the right way, huh? Yeah, yeah,” Diane brushed it off and sighed, “I want this over too. I’m just reeling in on so many emotions from this.”
“I know,” Linda cocked her head and reflected. She leaned forward a bit to grab a speck of dust off the table. “Anything new?”
“They died down a little,” Diane nearly fumbled over the excuse, but found as she bit back the nerves, the lie rolled off easily.
Linda made a slight groan. Did this upset her? “Oh. Okay.” She knew better than to push and pry, Diane crossly figured and in a minute state of ire, she folded her arms, wanting an end to the conversation. It would be a path, if continued, she could never return from.
That vision… On the other hand, it made her concede to the darkness that she felt surrounding this realm. I got more of a glimpse this time, but what did it mean? I feel like it’s only going into more strange interactions–and it skirts around the topic, with everyone acting stranger than I am.
Linda was the first to break the holy silence and speak, albeit callow, “As I said, I kind of find it fun after thinking back about it. The mysteriousness, the dreams, and what it could relate to… If this is serious, it’d be fascinating that a book could contribute to so many things.”
Diane was startled. She looked down in a half daze that mouthed the entrails of smoke, and it lashed through her fingers; she almost threw herself back. She faced her friend with a trenchant outlook, and nodded disapprovingly, arm enclosed on the ridge of her forehead, “I don’t think we share the same idea about this then.”
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