Saturday, 12 February 2011
#SampleSunday – 13th February 2011
A random chunk of The Last King's Amulet.
I came to and found Ormal's face close to mine, healing something. “Why are you doing this?”
“Stop fighting them and they will stop hurting you,” Ormal hissed fiercely, keeping his voice to a whisper, his furtive eyes dancing.
“What did they do to you?”
His eyes bulged and he started shaking. “Give in, before it's too late.”
“It's pointless, believe me, I know, there's no fighting him, no winning, give in, he will have what he wants, no matter what it takes, no matter what...”
Maybe he said more. Maybe I passed out. I don't know. Things tended to run into each other. Faces, people, questions. And then it was over.
I woke up with a start, shaking. More accurately, I was shivering. It wasn't cold. It was light. The surface under me was soft, really soft, not soft because I was too hurt to tell the difference. I was lying in a canopied bed and nothing hurt. But I was shivering and shaking uncontrollably. Fear. It was fear. Not adrenaline fear, but blind blank panicked terror. They were coming to hurt me, I knew it.
For a long time nothing happened. I couldn't recognize the noises coming out of me as human.
I moved. I couldn't stay still. I needed to run. Anywhere. Far from here. Far from me and my memories which were flooding me, filling me up with madness. I jerked the curtains aside and came out of the bed, then froze.
I wasn't alone. There was a girl sitting at a desk, writing. She wore a loose robe, revealing one breast as she leaned forward, pen in hand. She looked up at me, smiling with pleasure.
“You slept a long time,” she said, rising. “I'm glad you are awake.”
I stumbled forward, legs like water, and fell, an explosive noise coming from my mouth that sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before, then spinning darkness.
Warmth. A sharp deep breath as I woke, moved, muscles stiff with readiness for anything, and froze. The girl was in bed with me. I recognized her hair. She lay close, but facing away - I'd been spooned up against her, feeling her soft skin on my legs, belly and chest. The smell of her was in me and the memory of her skin as I moved away slowly, trying not to wake her. She stirred and I gasped silently. Don't wake up, don't wake up, leave me alone, don't touch me. Oh gods, I was mad.
No. I thought the word loudly, fiercely in my own head. Gritting my teeth I repeated the word with more care, forming it and every other thought with care lest their fragility hurt me. No. I am not mad. I am hurt. That's all. Hurt in my mind. They did this to me. Then I was weeping. They did this to me. She woke and rolled over languidly in the bed, smiling, then seeing my face cried out softly, “Oh!” She reached for me and I threw myself away.
“No! Don't touch me!” I half fell out of the bed and staggered backwards until my back touched the wall, steadying me. “This is a trick, they are still trying.”
“What?” She looked puzzled, concerned. “What are you saying, my love? Who? What trick? Did you have a dream?”
Did you have a dream? Was it a dream? Where was I?
“Who are you? No! Don't tell me, it doesn't matter.” I stood with my back to the wall, looking around frantically for some route out of here. There was a door but I didn't dare use it. Who knew what horrors lay out there?
“Doesn't matter?! Sumto, Sumto, what's the matter?” She came to her knees, as naked as I was and shuffled to the edge of the bed.
I laughed, but stopped myself in time. Tears and snot were on my face, I could feel them but I didn't care. “Leave me alone.”
“Oh you poor baby, what is it? What can I do to help you?” She stepped off the bed, putting one foot on the floor, displaying her femininity casually.
I turned and moved across the room, fast, unsteady, looking for something, I didn't know what. There was a robe, big and comfortable and dark blue. I made a grab for it and put it on. Naked I was vulnerable. I needed a shield, something between me and her, between me and madness, I hugged it closed, hugged myself. Sick. I felt sick. What warped and twisted mind would think of this contrast.
Shivering I paced around the room, blindly, thinking. It had almost worked. I wiped my eyes and nose on one sleeve, careless of the cost of the material.
“Darling, what are you doing?”
“Don't call me that. It is a lie and I hate lies.” My voice was still strained, tight, words jerking out of me. “Damn this is sick,” I was angry somewhere and it helped. Not anywhere near as angry as I could be. Anger seemed to have been stripped from me and all that was left was weakness. But my mind was okay, my mind worked.
“A lie? I don't know what you mean. Sumto, come back to bed and sleep.” She was up, had walked around the bed but came no closer.
“What were you writing?”
“What? Now what are you asking me?”
“Just tell me!”
“My diary, Summi, I always write my diary in the evening,” she sounded wounded, almost petulant, “you know that. Why are you being mean to me?”
Me? Me being mean to her? I had turned only my head her way, head cocked to one side, mouth open, aghast. How could she say that, this party to torturers? This torturess.
“Tell him it won't work,” I said it calmly, softly, not much more than a whisper.
“Tell who? Summi, what is the matter with you, silly!” She walked forward, relaxed, smiling, arms open and I held up one hand open against her advance. She stopped several paces away. “I don't understand.” She looked like she was going to cry.
“Leave me alone,” I reiterated. “Just leave me alone,” I walked away, heading for the desk, paying no more attention to her. She was a ruse, an actress, an attempt to rob me of my sanity. Well, no thief was coming into my mind to steal my very self from me. I was Sumto Merian Ichatha Cerulian, a patron of the city, better than any king, and better than this... this man Kukran Epthel. His tricks would not break me. The resolve settled over me. My self came back to me. And now I was a little warmer, my anger only an ember but better than nothing, it brought me calm. Idly I flipped open the book she had been writing in and read a few words.
This afternoon Summi and I went riding, the meadows were full of flowers and when we stopped Summi made me a chain of them for a garland, it was so sweet of him I...
I snorted and closed the book. He wanted me to live in a fantasy, to be a lie. I hate lies.
Near the book was a bowl of fruit. I picked up an apple and then thought better of it. I couldn't trust anything while I was in this lie.
“Are you hungry?”
“No,” I tossed the apple over my shoulder where it landed on the soft carpet with a thump. Decorum and civility did not matter in this lie. I would piss on the floor as soon as the pot. I would do nothing to maintain it or accept it or support it.
“No.” I was, hellishly thirsty. And hungry. But that was a far away thing as though I had been hungry for ever and was used to it. I ran my hands over my belly to find no belly worthy of the name. Hell, I hadn't been this slim since I was a boy. When had I last eaten? Days? How much time had I spent unconscious? I had no idea. It could be weeks since I was captured, since I had lost the battle by my rash decision. 'We could take them now,' I'd said. Fool. Well, never a fool again. Facts, think, decide, act. My old mantra came back to me. I'd read it in a book of philosophy long ago, years anyway. I'd liked it and taken it for myself. I thought it was right. Belief has no place in the mind of a sentient creature. Feel has no place in decision making.
“Yes,” I said aloud. “I am okay.”
“Of course you are, darling, of course you are, now come here and let me hold you.”