Part First: The Darkness Without
Part Second: The Lady Appears
Part Third: Safety In Realms Infernal
Interlude One: The Demon Child
Part Fourth: The Cards We Are Dealt With
Interlude Two: The Lady Margali Recollects Before An Underappreciative Audience.
Part Five: Prophecy Girl
Part The Sixth: Vacant Possesion
From the tenth book of Destiny:
And now shall I sing the last of my song.
For I shall sing of my heir.
My beautiful heir possessed of the voice of an angel.
For he shall hear more clearly the heavenly choir.
- if ‘tis the choir of heaven at all –
He shall hear not a discordant harmony
For all he shall know is one sweet and pure voice
That he dare not mimic aloud
For fear that it shall not come to pass
It is the single voice of one sure and certain path.
A sure and certain path of terrible beauty.
Sometimes our faith asks of us more than everything we have.
Yet he shall give gladly for a Salvation he will not receive.
Note: This was written in Latin elegaic verse. Irene Adler had no knowledge of the Latin tongue. Furthermore it is in Carolingan Script, a style of writing that has not been used for around 900 years. This book has also been tentatively dated much later than the other books – foretelling the consequences of her actions upon the prophesies of the first nine books, perhaps. The earliest at which Miss Adler could have written this is at the age of twenty-nine when she had already been blind for ten years. But there is more:
Marginalia To The Above:
Dear God, I write this and I envy Him.
I hate and envy him beyond words.
And why? I sing of his doom.
I know of what is to come to pass.
But I cannot find it in my heart to weep for him.
The die is cast, the thread is drawn, the future is certain.
He shall die.
He, sweetest of deceiving angels, shall die.
Yet still I envy him.
Part First: the Darkness Without
Ever since the Church of Humanity had arisen from some infernal depth into the light of day, Kurt Wagner, soon to be a Priest in God’s Church, had felt ill at ease amongst the cool and shadowy cloisters of his adopted home – The Church Of St. Michael The Archangel. The cause of this discomfort was not even clear to the blue furred demon, so his friends had little chance of deducing it, seeing only the effects, not the cause. They knew no more than Kurt did, what that dark and shadowy figure in Montana had whispered into his ear in tones both sweet and terrible. The memory was to Kurt a blur of light and shadow, dwelling in the darkest depths of his mind. The Nightmares. The terrible, terrifying Nightmares that stalked his every waking hour. The Nightmares, which were the reason why he had, in the very dead of night, drenched with ice cold sweat, teleported from his accustomed room in the mansion and reappeared here.
The dark was lush and cool, yet it did not comfort as it should, as it had before that day. There was a time when the darkness of night was like a comfort blanket to a small boy terrified of his own nature and the looks and glances of those around him. Then he had been safe, there in the darkness, the shadows his cloak and his protection. But now, those same shadows leapt and danced unpredictably and the flickering of the votive candles cast macabre patterns upon the walls, even the altar, the holiest of holies, looked wrong, tainted by the evil that seemed to follow his every step.
Kurt Wagner, man of God, was but one step from absolute terror as he desperately sought sanctuary in the alien landscape of what should have been his haven. The darkness seemed to be diving towards him, laughing and jeering, and snatching at the hem of his quickly donned vestments. At that very moment, the thought entered his mind, ‘dear God, am I going mad’. The candles finally went out in the draughty stone building yet the smoke continued to form itself into strange and awful shapes. A cross, shaped like an “x” floated up into the rafters followed swiftly by a horde of insane monks, as he desperately raised his hands towards his face, trying desperately to block the assault out, only to find that the dark shadows stopped dancing and started to whisper into his delicate pointed ears. The voices sounded like a discordant choir, the heavenly host cast out of tune and twisted and perverted until it could say things such as those shades whispered into the ears of the supplicant. They were the only answer to his desperate prayers; he could hear nothing else but their frantic and hoarse words.
“Look at you,” they said their tone slowly becoming more menacing, “Look at you. You think you’re a man of god. You’re deluded. You’re insane. A demon going around thinking he’s human. An affront to God and Humanity. Why don’t you give in now? Give up now? Flee the house of God before you can pollute it with your insanity.”
A high scream tore through the night and reverberated in the lofty spires of the church. It came from the mouth of the young man huddled upon the steps of the transept, his vestments in disarray, his green surplice which had worn so proudly weeks ago stained with tears, his strange three-fingered hands desperately tearing at his ears, trying to shut those voices out as they continued unarrested in their fearful litany.
“Oh, but don’t, don’t do that. It pleases us to see you struggle, to see you squirm. Don’t, please, don’t escape now, or you’ll deprive us of our fun. We want to see you suffer. To see you meet the end of all heresies at fire and sword. You wanted to be a teacher, didn’t you? We’ll let you teach a lesson, teach the children of God not to stray from the righteous path, or die by the divine will of God himself. And thy screaming and thy torment shall be a fine hymnal.”
The huddle of
clothes that on closer inspection would turn out to be a most
extraordinary young man, shuddered, as eyes never meant to cry
moistened the green embroidered cloth, and he, between the sobs, in a
plaintive voice called upon God and all his angels in Heaven to let
this torment cease. And his head jerks back in another scream fit to
bring down the heavens. Then his head falls back onto the stone floor,
and he lies there unconscious finally earning himself a brief respite
from the darkness as a small trickle of blood pours from his scalp onto
his grass green robes.
And this was how the Lady Magik, Mistress of All Limbo, came to find her brother and ally.
Part Second: the Lady Appears
Slowly the universe twisted and was teased apart at the seams by magics older than man and Amanda Sefton stepped back into the world that had once been her own. Her silver armour glinted strangely in the darkness of the church. She rolled her neck upon her shoulders, desperately trying to get some feeling back into her stiff muscles and throwing blades of light off from her horned helm as she did so. Transdimensional travel was not at all good on the muscles. For every single trip between the myriad realms of reality was akin to running a marathon as the universe struggled to accommodate what shouldn’t be there at all. This world, our world, was brighter than Limbo, more vigorous and more youthful. Yet Amanda did not notice it here. Everything seemed surprisingly old and a pure malevolence oozed slowly from the dry stones of the church. It seemed all too clear that the church was currently unoccupied, the mere presence of life should have driven the darkest of shadows away. For a moment, Magik considered whether a pack of lesser demons might have made it their home such was the tangible sense of despair and decay. It is good that she did, as otherwise she would have gone to coax a door open and catch a cab to Westchester to find him whom she did seek. Instead her eyes swept around the room and she adopted a fighting stance ready to wield that eldritch blade that was at once her gift and her curse. Only then did her eyes see the bundle huddled in front of the altar.
It seemed that the bundle was whither all the dark energies in the room led, and this was confirmed as the Lady Magik murmured a conjuration to enable her to see the ley lines within the immense hall. But there was something oddly familiar about the aura about the bundle, and as she drew closer her hand unconsciously slipped away from the dark sword upon her hip. And in the twilight darkness beneath the highest tower of the church, her breath caught in her throat and she was Amanda Sefton once more. She had caught sight of the indigo face of her dear friend, ally, and occasional lover, Kurt Wagner and had recoiled in horror at the torment etched into his features. She knelt down closer and brushed his long hair out of his eyes, only to see the red trickle of blood running down his face and onto the rich green of his surplice. It looked like some terrible jewel decorating an otherwise handsome, if unusual, face. As Amanda’s eyes better adjusted to the gloom they picked out the deep scratches about his ears and, unbidden, glanced down at his still clenched hands and the blood trapped beneath his nails.
Then the silence was broken, as her voice rang out in the vaulted chamber, “Dear God, Elf, Liebchen, what has happened to you? What torments you? This place can’t help, there is something wrong, something bad and twisted, about this place,” and then she drew herself up and unsheaved her magical blade, “Soulsword, a stepping disk, please, two to Limbo.”
There was a nimbus of light upon the floor that slowly grew around them and then they were gone. The Lady Magick had returned to her kingdom and she had taken the troubled young priest with her.
Part Third: Safety in Realms Infernal
Kurt Wagner awoke amongst silken sheets and satin pillows, and at once, to his eternal regret and chastisement thought of that one night he had spent with a Queen in regal splendour and decadence. He was very nearly a priest now, a man of the cloth, and he should be thinking more godly and pious thoughts. The fact that she was an evil witch queen about to sacrifice his friends to a great tentacled monstrosity and make him her eternal and willing slave, did little to improve his demeanour. That said, he did think fondly of that period of his life, which had come closest to his expectations of the role of costumed adventurer. And he had nothing against witch queens per se, his adoptive mother was one and mostly a thoroughly decent person to boot. In his more lucid moments, which were sadly becoming fewer and fewer, Kurt Wagner would sum up his aims in the priesthood to be to bring some fresh air and tolerance into the Catholic Church and what people perceived it to be.
He woosily laid back on the pillows, still exhausted by his desperate struggle with the those coarse whispering voices that tormented him, and barely saw the blood red sun rise through the thin curtains cocooning him in the palatial four poster bed. He felt no need to worry as this all felt very familiar and safe, he couldn’t put a finger upon his location, but nonetheless he felt safe. And the voices were quiet again and his sleep dreamless.
His eyes began to close again, lulled to sleep by the humid heat and the peaceful surroundings, when a voice he knew sounded out loudly, “Here we go! Food to eat for the strangest bloody priest I know! Wonder if he’s still asleep? Better find out. Humans are delicate and need their shut eye! Don’t want to wake him!” and with that the owner of the voice (who was entirely without a sense of irony) savagely pulled the curtains apart. Kurt Wagner looked up in to the face of Vitchen, a bold warrior, Magik’s chief gofer, and an old friend. He was back in Limbo.
The face of the demon broke into a radiant smile with the light of the blood red sun glinting off the many facets of his mismatched teeth. Whilst Kurt still looked haggard, his eyes lacked the haunted look that of late had become familiar to those he knew and loved. Vitchen noticed the flicker of recognition in his otherwise blank eyes and gathered him up into a massive bear hug, “Her Ladyship said you were sick, but when you’re well again, Father, we’ll have ourselves some fun! Just like last time, except without the fate of all Creation at stake; her Ladyship hasn’t made a mistake like that again, not that her Ladyship makes mistakes, of course.” Then Vitchen noticed that Kurt had stopped squirming in his massive arms, and quickly put him down upon the bed, concern filling his inhuman eyes. The Lady Magick had taken great pains to remind him that the human constitution was a delicate thing and that he shouldn’t be taken in by the young man’s deceptive appearance. Just as he was beginning to worry about what might happen to him when She heard that he had smothered her best friend, Kurt’s chest moved with a shudder and a gasp of breath issued forth from his lips. A wan smile covered those lips, as Kurt looked up his face cast into deep shadow and regarded the demon.
Interlude One: the Demon Child
There is a story current amongst the Roma Gypsies of central Europe. It is as follows:
“Once upon a time, there was a woman who had greatly offended the most powerful wizard in the high mountains of Bavaria. Having caught her in a cunning trap, the wizard, who was so powerful that none dare utter his name, he spoke thus, ‘For thyne transgressions, woman, I shall place upon thee a most terrible and awful curse; thyne son that already grows in thy belly shall be of a visage so angelic that nought shall be able to deny him in anything, yet his soul shall be vile and unto a demon.’
"Hearing this great curse, the woman fled down from the mountains and sought out somebody who could lift the curse. And lo, in time she found the great and puissant witch the Lady Margali Szvardos, who said unto her ‘This is a curse not even I am able to lift. But I can change the curse, reversing its effects by magicks known to me.’ And when the woman was all too glad to accept this offer of help, she warned, ‘In changing thy child, and the curse upon him, shall give him the appearance of a demon, yet he shall be possessed of the heart and soul of an angel. Be sure before you accept my aid.’
“The woman still consented and subjected herself to the magicks of the witch queen. And yet, when the child was born, she took but one look at her new-born son, and screamed that Margali’s work be undone and fled once more into the night, leaving the demon child with the angelic soul in the witch’s care.
“There is a moral to this tale. Evil always wears a pleasing face and that is how it seduces the hearts of men.”
The inclusion of Margali Szvardos in tale has long confused anthropologists. Margali Szvardos was until recently the leader of a tribe that had made its home among the Alps. Most anthropologists consider her an anachronism attached to the story in more recent times, yet interviewees claim to have seen her and her demon child within the last thirty years.
Part Fourth: the Cards We Are Dealt With
Kurt was sitting on the sandstone steps of the dais, his long legs were stretched out fully and he was resting upon one elbow as his free hand played with some brightly coloured cards. He had eaten well and some of the colour had returned to his face and his playful demeanour had returned somewhat.
Magik looked down at her brother from her throne at the top of the dais. She had wedged herself into the vast and elaborate chair sideways and her bare feet dangled over one arm. In her hand was a golden goblet filled with blood-red wine. Her courtiers had retired for the night, even Kurt’s enthusiastic nursemaid Vitchen, and they had the room to themselves.
Magik, her long blonde tresses finally freed from her stifling helm snaking down her back and shoulders, closely regarded her brother of sorts as he tried to build a house of cards upon the rough hewn floor. “Kurt, why don’t you tell me what is wrong? You don’t have to suffer alone. Tell me what ails thee?”
Kurt laughed out loud at this turn of phrase from Amanda, who had clearly been trapped in the realm of the mythic and the impossible so long that it had such an effect on her speech, “Why, you sound like you have been taking diction lessons from Thor. What ails thee, indeed! I know what ails thee, ‘tis too long in a hornéd helm, sweet lady Magick, for it has cooked thy brain i’faith until I cannay tell it twixt a fine broiled gander” Kurt was unable to hold back his laughter and his laughing filled the high roofed chamber.
Amanda was less than amused, “Kurt, be serious! I found you unconscious and covered in blood in the middle of your church. I’m worried about you, Kurt, and yet you have told me nothing in the whole time you have been here in Limbo.”
“Perhaps there is nothing to tell.” Kurt turned his head to look into his sister-lover-friend’s green eyes, “Perhaps I really am going insane. Perhaps I am just going to join our brother in the care-free realm of the lunatic. Perhaps I should die now, before they gain full control. I always wanted to be just like Stefan, and now perhaps I am. I am brave, I am courageous, I am doing what I believe in, and I hear and see things that others do not.” Kurt’s pointed teeth glinted in the firelight as he smiled a joyless smile as he absent mindedly placed the brightly coloured cards in an inverted cross on the worn stones before him.
“Kurt! Don’t talk like that! Please, don’t,” there was a tone of desperation in Amanda’s voice as she realised that she faced losing another brother as she did her first, losing him in the inky depths of madness, a warm and comforting sea into which mariners throw themselves to drown in its ecstasy, “Kurt, who are they? Are they demons? Or voices? Listen to me, Kurt, I want to help you, I want to save you… Oh God, O dear sweet God…”
Amanda had noticed the tarot cards in Kurt’s hands as he placed them down upon the red stone floor swaying from side to side as if listening to some distant music.
Interlude Two: the Lady Margali Recollects Before an Underappreciative Audience.
“I’ve got to sing for my supper now, haven’t I then? You wanted to hear of the Tarot and so you shall, in a manner of speaking. No, don’t you worry this isn’t going to be some story about how my great aunt Tilda cast aside the sundered veil and learnt of things that man was not meant to know. The exact location of the G-spot for starters, sorry, been reading too many of my daughter’s magazines, modern rot, but still it makes you laugh. You have a nice smile for an anthropologist, you know, could almost forget that I’m like some microbe at the end of a microscope to you, really could. What I’m going to tell you about The Svzardos Tarot. It is unlike any other tarot you will ever see.
“Look, there. That’s the Queen of Swords. Yes, I know you know that’s the queen of swords. Well, these were a special set painted by my great grandmother after a most amazing vision. She said that these were to predict the fate of the entire family. These days I think she knew exactly what was going to happen and just liked being cryptic as hell, but when I was little, then, well I thought that the lady with the sword was me.
“Silly, right. Of course it isn’t me; it’s my daughter.
“O Hecate! You’ve gone and spilled your coffee. Don’t know why you’re so skittish, you are meant to like exploring the paranormal. Look the coffee will wipe off just fine. The young lady on the cards looks just like her, look, I’ve got her photograph here in my purse. Of course, she isn’t wearing that big horny helmet in that one, it’s a bit conspicuous and it doesn’t really fit into one of those little photo booths. Yes, she does have a helmet like that, it came with the sword, would you believe it. Magic sword. Nasty vicious thing, nearly took my hand off.
“No, I’m not worried about the coffee. They’re not the originals. Look, they’re copies I painted years back for general fortune telling purposes. Of course, they’re exact copies, I used tracing paper and everything. What do you mean “could I have been subconsciously trying to paint my daughter”? She wasn’t even born when I did these, and don’t go on about family resemblances because how many blonde haired gypsies have you seen?
“I didn’t mean to shout. Of course you can have a look through them. Some of them are quite unusual. Oh, that, that’s the three of swords. That’s my adopted son, Kurt. How can I tell? Looks just like him. Yes. He is blue and he does have yellow eyes and a pointy tail. He has fangs as well, really sharp too, but then he doesn’t smile with his mouth open much. Because it scares people.
“Perhaps I ought to explain a bit about Kurt. Okay explain a lot about Kurt. He’s an unusual lad when you come down to it; polite, well mannered, helps old ladies across the street. I haven’t told a lot of people about this, and certainly not Kurt, so can you keep this to yourself. He was given to me for safekeeping when he was a baby and nobody ever came back for him. That’s your lot. Can’t say more than that, I gave my word. Of course, I know what a baby demon looks like, but I never believed that bit in the Bible about trees and fruit anyway, or much else of it either. How do I know what a demon looks like? Because – I – saw – one – before. When I was very young, back in the Warsaw ghetto. I saw a vampire too. Yes, I do look younger than my age and my age is none of your business.
“Of course I’ve heard of the story of Lady Margali and the Demon Child. I am Lady Margali, and that’s a demon child. I made the bloody thing up! No it’s not hundreds of years old. What was I meant to tell him, the sweetest best natured child I’ve ever known, that he really is some kind of demon? And anyway there’s no need, not with all these mutants around these days. He thinks he’s one of them and they’re his friends and that’s an end to it. He always wanted to be a pirate when he grew up. Big fan of Errol Flynn and all that.
“No I haven’t really thought about what’s behind him, I always thought it was part of his ship. Now you say it, it does look rather like a cross, doesn’t it. From what I’ve heard from my Jimaine, he’s thinking about joining the priesthood. Can you imagine it? Still, if it makes him happy…
“I think that’s just the sun behind his head. What else could it be?
“Why would I make a copy? To stop idiots spilling coffee over the originals, for starters. That was a joke. There are some pretty unconventional cards in the set, ones you won’t find in a normal tarot deck. There was the New Sun for starters, but that spontaneously combusted about a year ago, both of him. There’s a completely blank one called the The Herald Of The New Dawn. The Hanged Man looks rather odd, blue for starters and well, Kurt always was hanging, so I suppose it's not really much change, but it makes me nervy anyway. I did my best to keep that one away from Kurt, but that was pretty impossible.
“No, I don’t know where the originals are right now, I think they’re with my daughter. There’s another reason too. The first deck tended to tell misfortunes. That one there, that’s the Prince of Wands, my son. He’s dead.
“I don’t really want to go into that. Yes, I’m sorry he’s dead too, and the cards told me about it. I saw it and I didn’t want to. Actually that’s not what happened. Kurt was just playing with the cards, the real set, I don’t know how he found them, no point in asking really, even if I’d wanted to, he got everywhere that boy. Where was I? Yes, Kurt was just making patterns with the cards. He didn’t mean to do anything, I’m sure of that. And I just looked, just glanced at the cards and I knew it. The Three of Swords would be Death unto the Prince of Wands and The Queen Of Swords… I don’t want to say the rest of it, I really don’t, and anyway I don’t remember it properly. It was just a glance. And I grabbed the cards off him. Knocked him flat. The only time I’d hurt the child… he was such a sweet boy… nothing like my Stefan at all…
“Yes the cards were right. Kurt was Death unto Stefan, if you want to put it like that. I know it wasn’t intentional, that he didn’t mean to, that he was just trying to save Stefan from himself. He would never have meant to harm him. I can nearly believe my own story; that he really did have the soul of an angel trapped within his demonic flesh. I close my eyes and I can nearly see him, that poor, sweet, confused child begging God to make him human; I can nearly believe.
“Of course, I didn’t feel like that at the time. I wanted to tear his heart into a hundred tiny pieces. I wanted to tear out his deceiving false soul and place him where a demon truly belonged. I wanted him to burn in the certainty of his guilt. I wanted him to freeze in fire like all deceivers of kin ought.
“You don’t understand. I wasn’t just angry. I was anger. These were not my feelings. This was my will. I do not make idle threats. Each and every thing I promise either in good cheer or in anger is within my grasp to do. Was in my grasp to do. Will one day be in my grasp to do.
“You don’t believe me, do you? You think I’m some washed out old woman who can’t afford a damned psychiatrist and has decided that you’d do just as well. I’m not. You don’t have even the faintest conception of what I am. You think magic is all smoke and mirrors, flim-flam to trick the gullible, a dark age which the burning brand of science shall burn away. YOU ARE NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL.
“Oh, you don’t think the horns suit me, do you? You are but an ant, ignorant of all that lies beyond the anthill. You see but glimpses of the world beyond. I am Margali of the Winding Way and you should tremble before me…
“Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Oh, you’ve spilled your coffee again. Let me help, I’ve got some tissues in my Handtuch. There, much better, you’d hardly notice it, just remember to put it in a cold soak when you get home and it should be as right as rain. I’m a witch. What did you think that meant? That I like crystals and running about without any clothes on? (Try that in Bavaria and you’d have frostbite in places you never thought existed). I was incredibly powerful, just you go and ask that Stephen Strange if you doubt that. You don’t. Well, that’s reassuring. You know how it is, you get older and you worry that you might be losing your touch.
“Yes, magic does run in the family. Not little Kurt, obviously, though he’s not stupid and I made sure he knew enough about the occult for safety’s sake, made sure he knew the signs to watch for and when to run away sharpish. I mean there’s my Jimaine, now there’s a girl with a future. Wanted to give it all up and be an air hostess, can you believe it, but now she’s nice and settled. She’s got a job with prospects, variety too. What more could she want? And Stefan was fantastic, not a late developer like his sister. Perhaps I should have kept a better eye on him. It was magic that did for him in the end, too much, too fast.
“No, nobody with visions, oddly enough. Not since Oma Margali. I was named after her, nothing unusual about that. At least nobody I know about. There was an aunt of mine, who married some gadje name of Adler or Eidler, something like that anyways. The family didn’t really stay in touch. For all I know it might have passed down on her side. I don’t think there’s any way I could find out. Or at least not any I’d care for trying. I’ve left all that behind now
Part Five: Prophecy Girl
This morning, a girl awoke screaming. It was not Katherine Pryde.
¬¬Welcome to Destiny’s Diaries v.1.2.4
¬¬This program is designed to run on RAMSEYd UNIX
¬¬Designed by Shadowcat @ Team X-treme
¬¬Random Prophecy of The Day # 871-84917849279
I don’t have time for this, why did I ever write this into the bloody boot up process. She paused a moment, she used a “bloody” and she hadn’t thought of Pete Wisdom, well she had now, but she hadn’t then, she’d escaped; and then came a second thought, Pete’s idea of a boot-up process would involve hitting the CPU hard with some suitable footwear. And swearing. Loudly. But she’s over that, she reminds herself, she’s set herself free, she’s fighting the battle that really matters. She has a life of her own now. And there’s somebody new on the horizon, his name is Tom. He’s going to be so much better for her, she reminds herself.
¬¬Time is not a simple path, no more than the one before me
¬¬World between worlds
¬¬Path between paths
¬¬Time between times
¬¬It is of there I shall sing
¬¬That is where things fall to from their appointed place
¬¬A refuge to many but a sanctuary to none
¬¬Save he the son abandoned thrice by mothers three
¬¬He who is heir to me in all things
¬¬A mirror crack’d, and the thread is tangled,
¬¬While he might weave the thread he still has the end
¬¬The mirror remains broken
¬¬Things shall fall.
Silently, Kitty cursed Destiny, she had a very strong feeling that the woman had enjoyed being obtuse. That she knew what was going to happen, and just liked to make everyone else to have to jump through hoops. Well, it wasn’t happening. She had her fill of arch manipulators. She’d cut her strings. No more do this Kitty, do that Kitty, come and let me possess you Kitty. Then she thought of the picture frame she found the first diary in; of the name scrawled on the back on the uncertain, hesitant hand. She didn’t now her name, that blind woman scared and alone, hadn’t been sure of her name, what of so many possible names was hers. Ariel, Sprite, Kitty, Katherine, Pretty Kitty, Pirate Kitty, Lion Pryde, Kit-Kat, maybe just names of a moment, but moments stretched across eternity in that all-seeing mind. Was this how the time lost felt? Her Rachel, trapped in a world not quite her own, with everything not quite right? Jubilee had written to her back in the days of Excalibur, angry and scared that Bishop always had to follow her name with the rider “the last X-man”. She didn’t even notice when a tear began to form on cheek like a sorrowful jewel.
This morning a girl awoke screaming. She was still screaming when the doctor came, that afternoon, her friends’ desperation overwhelming their fear. They didn’t tell him she was a mutant, what were they meant to do, just slip in to the conversation that their new friend who they’d just met had said she was just slightly psychic over dinner about two weeks ago? Anyway, he looked really old, you know ancient, probably would have put psychic powers down as hippy dropout nonsense and drugs. She was still screaming when they put her on the ambulance. Her friends seemed less than keen to make the journey with her as all the eyes on the street turned on to her. She was still screaming of tangled string and doomed thrice born children when they signed her into the hospital. Her name was Marie-Ange Colbert, but the unfamiliar sounds rebelled on paper, the letters jumped and huddled in unfamiliar combinations. And so they escaped the notice of the intelligent computer worms sent out by x-corporation to keep track of mutant related incidents…
Part the Sixth: Vacant Possesion
Kurt Wagner is placing the cards down on the floor. The floor is made of flagstones, they’re rough and the cards just don’t balance quite right, they tilt this way and that. It could harm the pattern, but the floor is only flagstones at this second, at this very moment in time, with your next breath it could be glass, or pulsating human flesh. Limbo, as you see it, through imperfect human eyes, is an extension of the mind of its ruler. Amanda Sefton is dreaming an unconscious, unfinished dream of a great citadel set in the chaos that is now her home, a sanctuary, a safe house, for the moment at least. Breathe in. Is the room still the same? How would you know? Limbo is outside time and outside space, there is no time, only duration, a function of perception, just like the room you see/not see around you. And everything changes when its mistress wills it. And everywhen.
Pray to whatever gods you have that you never see what lays beneath the illusion.
There is one man who did, and he screams incessantly into the night, trapped in Bethlehem Hospital, corrupted by the rust of the common tongue to Bedlam, trapped timelessly. He has no past, no future, just an eternity of screaming. One moment looped, as his eyes look upon the world with horror. The doctors don’t know what to do with him. He does not eat, or sleep, or drink, or piss; and yet he does not die. They’ve tried bleeding him, leaches, strange powers of distilled sleep from the orient, an exorcism or five, surrounded him with candles to keep away the dark. They would have given up by now, there’s nothing in Galen, nothing in Hippocrates, nothing in the more esoteric texts they do not confess to owning, to explain this. They’d have put him in the great hall below, to amuse the visitors, where it not that their unseeing unhearing ever-screaming patient was a rich man, and despite indulging their every, assuredly medicinal, vice, he still is. They want to look at the books that he was found with, when the screaming started, but his wife, a widow in all but death, had them burned. And at the playhouse, the new German play warns them to be very careful of what they ask of demons.
And still, watch his hands as they lay down the cards, the pack seems inexhaustible. Hone in, ignore the floor that is not a floor, and ignore its outraged and terrified mistress, ignore her screams as she desperately tries to get her not quite brother not quite lover to awake, screaming, shouting, anything but touching him. Ignore all that, look at the hands laying down the cards, filter out the cards, watch only the rhythm of his hands. Watch the hands, watch the hands, can you see the rhythm yet? Can you see the invisible beat in his head?
Now look into his eyes. It’s easy, they’re not closed. Not closed at all. Look into those wide almond yellow eyes, and what do you see? You see nothing, because there’s nothing there, no light, no beat, no Kurt.
He’s somewhere else entirely and you’re left here, watching those hands, watching those hands with nothing left to guide them.
Are you scared yet? The good lady is, and she’s faced down demon hordes that make your high school reunion look like a Salvation Army temperance party, and she knows things you don’t, so many beautiful terrible things, say what you like about her mother, she was an excellent teacher. Of course, you were not her pupil, so we forgive your tardiness.
Are you afraid now? Can you feel it building in you, the blood stopping in your veins, the air faltering in your lungs, your mind slowly grinding to a halt, as the dark water of fear seeps through you?
You’re not feeling even a fraction as afraid as he is. But, then, how would you know, he’s not here to tell you…
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