Friday, November 19, 2004
Rock Creek Park, Northeast DC
A knob of wood was pressing into the small of her back. A slight irritation, nothing more, but she could feel it through the layers of fabric. Real. Tangible. Solidly part of the world.
She shifted slightly, alleviating the pressure a little without losing her seat in the crook of pine branches. A fall from this height certainly wouldn’t do her any harm, but might attract unwanted attention. Not that there was anyone around in the park at this hour, but better to be safe than sorry.
“Olly olly ox-in-free… Won’t you come out and play with me?”
Frowning, she held up her right hand, turning it over and back in front of her. It was pale, the veins standing out in stark relief against her skin, but it was definitely solid. She concentrated her will, trying to duplicate the actions of their strange visitor, but her hand remained stubbornly corporeal, with the rest of her.
How had he known she was there?
He was learning from us. Claws, speed, even my ability to travel on the astral plane.
“There’s a cord, a silver cord. Maybe I should cut it? Snip snip! Little spirit, floating away…”
“That wouldn’t be very polite.”
“No, but neither are so many things your kind does…”
“There are degrees of evil. Wouldn’t you rather focus on the worst of the worst?”
“Oh so you’re one of the good guys, are you? So noble, fighting for the light...”
“Sometimes. It’s complicated.”
Complicated. Understatement of the year. Was she one of the good guys? Was there even such a thing as good and evil? Such absolutes were as naïve as his belief that he could rid the world of their stain. Crunch all you want, we’ll make more… Morality was fluid, changeable. Always accounting for circumstances.
“Who are you?”
”Lazarus. It seemed as good a name as any.”
“Where are you from?”
”I don’t remember…”
He’d seemed so sad, for a second. Confused and lost. But dangerous, like an injured animal that would strike even at the hand attempting to help it. And then he had laughed, and even the memory of that sound made her shudder. He looked right at me. I wasn’t even really there, but somehow he looked right at me.
“Won’t you show yourself?”
“I’d really rather not, thanks.”
But she’d been so tempted. She wanted to speak with this creature, to understand what he was and why he was there. Not her typical kill first, leave someone else to search for answers later modus operandi.
“I can’t stop. Can’t rest, until all are destroyed.”
“You have a choice. You could stop, leave this place.”
“No… I can’t. I have no choice.”
“There is always a choice.”
But was there? It was a belief she held so close to the core of her being – that no matter how hopeless the situation, one always had free will. The options might not be good ones, but there was always a choice.
“I am the tool of something greater.”
“I don’t know…”
Some ancient elder, awakening from slumber? A sect of mortal hunters? The city itself? So many questions, and she didn’t think he knew the answers himself. He was like a newly embraced childe, left to stumble through self-discovery or perish in the attempt. Survival of the fittest. Remembering those first terrifying and confusing nights of her own existence, she thought perhaps she understood how he felt.
“An accord then?”
“I’ll be here in this building tomorrow at midnight. Come back and talk with me again?”
“I’ll be there.”
Abigale, this is quite possibly one of the stupider plans you’ve had. She shook her head, laughing ruefully. And you’ve had some monumentally stupid plans in your time… But it felt right. Somehow she knew that this wasn’t an issue that could be solved by the great smashing hammer of elder doom that was Dean and his court. She’d be there, and she’d be there alone.
Who knows, maybe I’ll actually do something right for a change. Stranger things have happened…
The waxing crescent moon smiled benignly at her from between silver-edged clouds, beyond the needles of the pine tree. She shifted her weight again, finding a position that was both comfortable and secure, and closed her eyes. The world was solid around her – the rough bark of the pine branches beneath her, the sharp tang of sap, the brush of needles like soft fingertips. And then it was gone, faded into a shadow, the memory of existance, and she was floating, free, bound only by her imagination.
The silver cord played out behind her like the thin tail of a comet.