Friday, October 21, 2011

Part 7

It wasn't much of a tale. She told them about the lost souls out in the flat seafloor, lying inert and slowly disintigrating. She told them how they had lost even the will to look at her as she passed among them, how they lost themselves to the sand and stone. Her voice trembled a little as she recounted her misstep, how the faceless soul had not even noticed the destruction of its limb. The memory of that terrible, cold clinging stuff was the freshest in her mind, overshadowing everything.

There was a short silence after she finished, while the other souls seemed to be mulling over her words. The blond man spoke up again. "And then you were lost, too. How did you lose yourself?"

For a moment, Vera didn't know how to answer. She didn't remember how she got lost, how she had slipped into that mindless torpor. Another thrill of fear passed through her as she remembered the staring blankness of amorphous eyes, and her panicked flight. "I... was frightened. I was only thinking about getting away. And then when there was nothing to get away from-"

"You stopped thinking at all." Bernard finished for her. His red lips were pressed into a flat, thin line, and his eyes were somber. He looked to each of the faces in the little circle. "I have warned you all of the dangers of traveling alone. One man is nothing. A living man has a body to remind him who he is. Without its aid, we are moments away from being those poor pale things in the desert. Memory is a fleeting thing, and memory is life."

"Memory is life." The murmur whent around the circle like a prayer. The fervor with which they repeated it startled Vera, and she was suddenly hyper aware of the jewellike eyes and flaming hair and sharp lines which surrounded her. The girl next to her inched forward, straining closer to Bernard, and Vera saw that her eyes were the flat, vivid blue of paint- the pupils black dots on irises unsullied by any imperfection. The bones of her face were perfectly symmetrical, as though they had been built rather than grown.

"How did you walk so far alone, Bernard?" The girl's voice was reverent.

"Every step of the way, I remembered where I was going and where I had come from. I did not stop, and I did not stray."

"And how did you bring her back with you?"

"She still held some seed of memory. I awoke the memory-"

Again, all of the voices were raised at once. "And awoke the life."

"Yes. Well done. Now, whose story will we hear next?" The brilliant eyes all turned back to Vera. Bernard shook his head. "No. Let our guest rest for a little longer. Her long sleep is still heavy on her, I think." Confused and almost afraid now, Vera nodded. A sigh of disappointment flickered through the group.

"Alan. Why don't you speak for us?" Alan was a skeletally thin man with lustrous black hair and glowing green eyes that fell when Bernard looked to him. He shook his head. "Come now, Alan. You may have remembered something more. You won't know until you try."

An expectant silence fell. It stretched on, so long that Vera's heart ached for Alan.He was sitting slumped on the ground, his arms crossed protectively across himself, as though he wanted to curl up and hide from the luminous glare of his companions. Without lifting his eyes, he spoke.

"My name is Alan. I am a man and I am tall and thin and I have black hair and green eyes. I lived in New York. I had a mother and a father. I went to school. Once at school I met a girl. She had red hair. I worked in a factory. I fell on the train tracks and a train ran me over."

There was another beat of silence. When it was clear that Alan had nothing else to say, Bernard cleared his throat. "Thank you, Allan. You're doing a very good job of remembering your story. Who wants to go next?"

The girl next to Vera was almost bursting out of her skin with eagerness. "May I?"

Bernard hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Go ahead, Rita."

Rita took a moment to arrange herself, sitting prettily and folding her hands in her lap. She flashed a smile at her audience. "My name is Rita Cameron Willis. I was born on May ninth, nineteen eighty two, in Seattle, Washington. I have silver blonde hair, ice blue eyes, a small mouth and a dimple on my right cheek when I smile. My skin is rosy, with a tendency to freckle, and I have a small birthmark on the left side of my neck.I am five feet one inch tall I weighed one hundred and five pounds when I died, and didn't have a mark on me.

"My mother's name was Betty Ella Willis, nee Cooper, and she was born in nineteen fifty five. She was five feet tall and had long brown hair. My father's name was Marty Willis. He was six feet tall and had blonde hair like me. We lived in a white house on Ash Street, next to a park, my entire life. My room was the first bedroom on the right in the upstairs hallway.

"My first memory is when I was five years old, and I fell of my bike and scratched my knee and it bled.

"My second memory is when I was ten years old and I went to see the space needle. I wanted to jump off and see how long it took to reach the ground.

"My third memory is when I was twelve years old, and my dog Cindy died. She was spotted all over and had cancer.

"My fourth memory is when I was still twelve years old, and I read a romance novel with someone named Alice in it. I fell in love with the hero for three years. His name was Bill. I thought if I prayed hard enough I would meet him.

"My fifth memory is when I was fourteen and got food poisoning from a chicken pot pie at Frank's Cafe. I threw up for a whole day, and I missed one week of school."

Vera looked at the rapt faces around her with incredulity. Everyone, even Bernard, leaned forward with a hungry expression, their eyes fixed on Rita. Alan hugged his knees and stared up at her, his mouth open. Even Bernard was focused on the girl with a disturbing intensity.

Quietly, Vera stood and carefully walked away from the circle.


Hi, everyone! A couple news points. First, sorry about the missed update last week. Things got kind of hectic around here. Second, we passed 20 subscribers! I feel like this needs some sort of celebration. I've decided that for every 20 subscribers, I will do a bonus Monday update. Therefore tune in next monday for a make-up entry, and again the monday after that for our celebratory bonus monday! (Hint: if you haven't subscribed yet, you can move us 1/20th of the way towards another bonus!)

'Til monday, guys! Thanks for reading!

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