Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 14

The Storm

The quiet interlude ends just about as loudly as possible.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 14

I awoke in the darkness, to a feeling of immense terror. Something was on me, holding me down, pressing on me with such force that I could not breathe. The force was cold, flat, like an immense slab of steel, crushing me with tons of force. There was a ringing in my ears, and beyond that ringing a shrieking, whooping sound like a siren. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t draw a breath, and I couldn’t move. I gagged, and felt hot, bitter fluid coming up my throat, burning the back of my mouth. I couldn’t see anything in the absolute darkness, not even the glow of the alarm clock I knew was on the nightstand, and then big, purple blotches began to fill my field of vision. My head began to grow dizzy; now, in spite of being held immobile, I felt as if I were spinning around, faster and faster. I knew I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, and I knew that if I did pass out, I would probably never come to; the great force was killing me. I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness.

Then I became aware of a feeling of floating. I was free of the great weight, and of the cold, and of all sound. I was in the dark, but it was a neutral dark, not an evil dark like the one that had crushed me. In fact, I felt nothing at all touching my body, saw nothing at all, heard nothing at all, smelled nothing at all, tasted nothing at all. All my senses were registering no input at all. So this is being dead, I thought. I wondered whether this would be all there was, whether I would now, forever, be completely deprived of all senses. Or was this just a transitory state, on the way to some other condition?

Gradually, I felt as if I was in motion, although with no senses, I didn’t know whether this was really motion, or whether I was just imagining things. I tried moving my arms and legs, and I could almost imagine I was turning somersaults. Now I was pretty sure that I was moving as I straightened out, drifting forward headfirst. The movement began to accelerate, and I became aware of a tiny pinpoint of white light ahead. Slowly, and then faster and faster, the light grew as I approached it. How odd, I thought, for death to be, really, just like it was portrayed in the tabloids, traveling in a dark tunnel toward a beam of light. I wondered what the light held. I needed to go there.

Poor Pierre, I thought. He’s only just found his daughter, and now he’s losing her again, without even getting a chance to really know her. It would be devastating to him.

No! I couldn’t go! “Pierre!” I screamed out loud. “Pierre!

Suddenly, I was in chaos, going in an instant from nearly total sensory deprivation to sensory overload. A siren was shrieking, so loud it hurt my ears, and I could also hear wind howling and thunder crashing. Even though my eyes were closed, I was aware of intense blue-white lightning flashes, and I could smell rain and ozone. I was wrapped in cold, wet sheets, but around those sheets was warmth, pressure, holding me tight and radiating heat into the cold at my core. There was that comforting smell of sweat and Old Spice, and a voice murmuring intensely by my ear, “Kayveeyeeyeff, kayveeyeeyeff, kayveeyeeyeff…” As I collected my thoughts, I became aware that I was in the bed, and that Pierre was beside me, holding me tight, murmuring an alphabet code spell that I hadn’t heard before. The burglar alarm was shrieking, and a fierce storm was pounding into the bedroom through the broken window.

“Pierre,” I moaned, gripping him with what little strength I had, shivering fiercely. He pressed his cheek to my face, and I became aware that it was wet; I tasted hot, salty tears.

Pierre squeezed me more tightly. “Sarah,” he sobbed. “Sarah … Sarah, you … you were … dead!” The last word came out as little more than a squeaky whisper.

I opened my eyes and looked up at him; his face was pale, and the creases left by many years in the sun and wind had become far deeper. I curled into him, soaking as much warmth as I could from those strong arms, and I realized I was crying, too. “Oh, Pierre.”

A flash of lightning lit the room, blinding me, while at nearly the same instant I heard the loud crack of the thunder, indicating that the strike was nearly on top of us. When my vision cleared, Runyon and Sylvia were in the room, dripping wet in their foul-weather gear. “Pierre, what’s happened?” Runyon shouted above the noise of the storm and the alarm.

“Sarah … died …”

“We could feel that in the aura. I’m so sorry you had to lose her so soon after …”

Pierre lifted me up against his shoulder. “She came back,” he croaked, barely audible in the surrounding din, and then he buried his face between my neck and shoulder in a fresh burst of sobs. I put an arm around his neck and kissed his cheek.

Sylvia came forward and touched my face. “She’s alive,” she said. “Cold, but definitely alive!”

Runyon came forward, too. “My God, she is alive! Pierre, how did you …”

“She came back,” Pierre said again. “I woke up when the window broke, and she was lying there, and she was dead, and I didn’t want her to be …”

“The stories,” Sylvia said. “It’s in the stories, but nobody’s ever seen it for real; I don’t think people even believe it’s possible.”

“Stories?” I squeaked.

“Love is the most powerful spell, more powerful than anything the Others can use against us. If it’s strong enough, and if the people involved are powerful enough, it can bring someone back from the dead. Or so the stories say.”

“I had to come back. I couldn’t just … go …”

Another close lightning flash and thunderclap accompanied a fresh burst of wind-driven rain through the window. “Let’s get out of this rain,” Runyon said.

Pierre picked me up. “There’s extra blankets on the shelf in that closet,” he said, as he carried me to the living room. He settled with me on the couch while Sylvia wrapped warm, dry blankets around us. I was beginning to thaw out, although I still couldn’t stop shaking. Runyon went to the alarm keypad and entered the code to shut off the alarm. He and Sylvia shed their foulies and hung them on the coat rack by the front door.

“I’ll make some tea,” Sylvia said, heading for the kitchen.

The doorbell rang. Runyon went to open the door, and Mrs. Bullfinch came in. She was thoroughly soaked, wearing an old housecoat but no rain gear, and in spite of having been totally drenched walking to Pierre’s condo, her hair, skin, and clothes were heavily streaked with greasy soot.

“My building’s gone,” she said. “Burned down. Nothing left.” She staggered to the couch and sat down heavily, while Runyon got another blanket to put around her. “They said it started in your apartment, Sarah. They said you’d left the coffeemaker turned on, and it overheated, and it set the place on fire. I told them you didn’t even own an electric coffeemaker, and you hadn’t been home in days, but they didn’t believe me. It’s those shady types that have been hanging around, isn’t it? They want to hurt you.”


Blogger Tillerman said...

Wow. The plot thickens!

Thu Jan 12, 09:10:00 AM MST  

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