SDO

Things and Stuff.

Catalyst

No Comments »

sometimes I paint

Going Back to Yntraw (updated)

No Comments »

Outside the shop, a man nervously approached the door. He would take a few determined steps forward before losing all courage, at which time he’d stop, turn, and go back the way he came. This repeated several times as Darina watched. He made a small amount of progress with each attempt, small enough that she grew impatient watching him. She stood beside her bicycle and waited. He would enter soon, she was certain of it, his time was near. She was there to guide him, but she couldn’t do it until he went inside.

Darina screwed her face in annoyance and squeezed the handlebars on her bike. As they warped in her fingers, she heard a short gasp from beside her. There, on the bus stop bench, sat a young mother and her infant. “I’m not after you,” Darina said, irritated. The woman clutched the child closer to her breast. “Nor your brat, so don’t suffocate it.”

The door to the shop across the street had bells tied to the handle that jingled as the man finally went inside. Darina quickly collected her bicycle in her hands, warping and bending the metal effortlessly out of existence. She made haste for the shop front, pausing in front of the door to make sure the man was not looking out the glass. Currently, he was engaged in looking like a nonchalant shopper, though he still showed signs of anxiety.

Darina sighed and opened the door as quietly as possible, distorting the metal of the bells enough to prevent their announcement of her entry. It should not be this way, she thought. He has the blood of a great house in him, but houses were no longer powers in this land. Here was this man, distant ancestor of a great lord that once ruled half the State with his cunning and valor, reduced to robbing a shop just to afford a place to rest.

Desperation does funny things to people’s minds. She’d seen it before, in others she was sent to guide. It’s manifested itself to her has begging, bribery, and brutality. Most men knew, however, that when a Guide came to them, it was their time, and they were to accept it.

She made her way to a corner of the shop, stooping slightly to be out of the man’s sight. A few moments later, all other patrons had left, and only Darina, the man, and the woman behind the counter remained. The woman saw her, recognized what she was, and grew visibly tense. Darina shook her head slightly, hoping to indicate to the unlucky woman that it wasn’t her time today.

The man turned toward the counter and drew a firearm in one swift motion. The clerk seemed to have taken the hint from the Guide and ducked below the counter. The potential robber leaned over the counter to point his gun at her, but the weapon was quickly swatted out of his hand by the clerk.

Darina advanced as the clerk rose from behind the counter with an aluminum bat. The man dodged her swing by hopping back, but in his haste knocked over a product display. As the clerk retreated into the office to contact the authorities, Darina positioned herself in sight of the man. He looked at her, then looked around at the floor, the ceiling, trying to spy anything that could help him. He looked toward the counter, finding that clerk had come out of the office again. She was aiming his gun at him. Their eyes locked only briefly, and the woman fired.

The man turn as the bullet impacted with his shoulder. Darina caught him before he could fall to the ground. He looked up at her, and she graced him with a smile. She hoped that it would comfort him in his final moments. His death was imminent, predicted in the tapestries of time and life to be this day, this hour, this place. She awaited his final words…

I hear you things bleed black,” he said as he smiled back at Darina. Her smile quickly faded, however, as she felt something sharp punch into her belly. Again, and again, she felt it. The pain was more than she’d ever felt before; it distracted her so much she barely heard the clerk fire the gun several times more. Eventually the man’s efforts to slay death ended as he succumbed to his new wounds.

The man and Darina fell to the floor in each other’s arms at that point, shock still dominating her facial features. The clerk grabbed the man by the back of the shirt and dragged his body aside. “Who guides you?” the woman asked, her voice faltering in confusion as she attempted to staunch the blood flow with her hands. “Who guides you, who guides you?”

You,” Darina managed to say in a labored breath, “you . . . are Mi—“

Yeah, I’m Mirna,” the clerk cut her off, hoping to save the dying Guide the effort of speaking. She removed the sweatshirt she was wearing at that time and placed it over Darina’s midsection, pressing it firmly. “You do bleed black,” she said as the blood quickly soaked through, and then, more to herself than to the dying, “Who’s going to take care of you?”

Darina struggled to speak, but managed in halting breaths, “I will never die.” She placed her hands on Mirna’s wrists and pushed feebly upon them. Mirna took the hint and released the pressure upon the wound. Darina took the blood-soak clothing off her stomach and tossed it aside before passing out completely upon the floor.

#

When the police and paramedics arrived, none knew what to do with Darina. Mirna listened as they discussed, but was involved in her own conversation with the police.

While explaining what happened, she caught some snippets. An officer insisted that the Guide be patched up. A medic said that they couldn’t treat the guide, citing her complete lack of internal organs as proof that nothing could be done. Another officer said that she should just be carted to the morgue along with the failed robber. The medic responded that he couldn’t do that because the “thing” wasn’t dead.

Calling Darina a “thing” didn’t sit well with Mirna. She called out to the group, “That ‘thing’ saved my life!”

It also caused you to take another man’s life,” responded the officer interviewing her.

Mirna’s face went blank. She hadn’t yet thought of that. She was the one that shot the man to death. It was so easy to forget that the Guides did not kill, they were merely there when a killing occurred. But this time, this time the Guide was hurt. This time, Death was dying. Mirna had shot the man once in self defense. She killed him because he hurt Darina.

#

The authorities had finally decided that Darina should go to the hospital; they didn’t know much about Guides, but they knew that there were other Guides wherever death occurred. They were sure that one of them would know what to do with this one.

Mirna watched and waited as the Guide of the hospital came in to evaluate Darina. He stared at the open wound that was no longer bleeding like a tipped inkwell.

In a motion that made Mirna feel ill, he placed a finger inside the inert patient’s cavity, then to his mouth. He tasted it, and looked thoughtful about it. Mirna squirmed, and he smiled. “She should return to Yntraw,” he said.

I can’t take her,” Mirna responded nervously. She lifted her hands so that the Guide could see they were bound to each other and then to her ankles. She was a murderer, but the peacekeepers felt she would not cause harm locked in a room with Death.

He smiled a mischievous grin that made Mirna even more squeamish. “She needs death to survive,” he said as he leaned toward her.

Mirna recoiled as if he’d advanced on her. His presence was overwhelming. She suddenly realized how horrible a plea it was when she asked to be alone in the room. She was now surrounded by two agents of death, one needing her to die to save herself. A darkness washed over her vision and she cowered.

The man (if he could be called such a thing) laughed. “I am Aras,” he said, “And I am not here to guide you.”

Mirna remained in a tight, fetal ball until she heard his footsteps retreat and the door shut. She crawled to the bed on which Darina was laid out. The hospital did not want to waste quality equipment on someone who would not benefit from their services, and so had given her a broken bed and some stained sheets. “Why is this happening?” Mirna asked aloud, expecting and receiving no response. She rose to her knees next to the bed and placed and elbow as best she could upon the mattress.

She looked up and found herself staring directly into the gaping wound. Before she could verbally express her disgust, she involuntarily touched the blood pooled in Darina’s open gut. It coated her finger like tar, far thicker than what had covered her hands and arms back at the shop.

Out of some warped desire to know what Aras had found so interesting about the flavor of this pitch-black liquid, she too placed her finger into her mouth. Her world rolled around her, her vision twisted and blurred. Everything in her body told her that she needed to vomit and to do it quickly. She was unsure if she ever did, because she soon blacked out.

#

Mirna awoke to find herself in a bed next to Darina, with Aras sitting between them. “Oh good, you are awake,” Aras said as he heard Mirna shift under her bedsheets while she looked around. “Your friend was awake.” Mirna looked to the other bed and saw part of it was melted and twisted near Darina’s hands. “She sleeps now, but soon we will take her to Yntraw.”

We?” Mirna coughed. She could taste the stagnant stomach acid in her mouth. “I’m pretty certain I can’t go anywhere,” she said and lifted her hands. The cuffs and chains clanked.

Darina will help,” Aras replied, pointing to a warped portion of the bed. “It will be wonderful. You will be a ravishing fugitive, I will be mysterious protector, and she will be our beautiful, haunted princess. It will be like a grand adventure that you only hear about in stories.” He smiled and turned to Darina. He placed a hand on her belly, caressing it.

Mirna shuddered. Everything about Aras made her uneasy. He was tall and unbearably thin. His skin was as pale as bleached paper. She could forgive appearances, though, if he’d just stop behaving in an inhuman way. And now he was telling her that he’d be kidnapping her away to the homeland of the Guides. His plan sounded terribly wrong in her head, but she had to consider her alternative: rotting a jail cell for however long they put murderers away for.

That’s pure nonsense,” she said, “and I’m certain you already know I can’t refuse.”

Of course.”

How are you getting me out of here?”

In a word, magic.”

(I’m done for tonight.)