After discussing my cancelled abandonment of Reality with Flash, I was tired. Exhausted actually. Being a depressive schizophrenic is hard work.
And then my head threw another bombshell at me.
I woke in Delirium being shaken awake by Daniel. “Argh…Daniel, I’m tired…” I complained.
“Yes, well, unfortunately for you, someone wants to speak to you,” he informed me, pulling me out of bed.
“For gods sakes, haven’t you noticed I’m wearing my nightdress?” I grumbled.
Daniel sighed and shoved me his jacket. I barely pulled it over one arm before he grabbed it and kept pulling me. “Who is so important that he can’t wait to see me in proper clothes?” I asked, somehow managing to get the rest of the jacket on.
“Remember Thommand?” I was dragged out of Daniel’s chambers, and down the long spiral stairs.
“Which one is Thommand?” I hissed.
“Fat man,” he replied. We came to a large door, and Daniel hammered his hand against it before barging in, pulling me behind him.
The fat man, or Thommand, who had my throat slit a month ago, gave as much courtesy as Daniel did. “You,” he pointed to me. He walked up to me and slapped me across the face.
Instantly, I struck my foot at his legs, tripping him over. My foot ached when it came away, and the ground seemed to shake as he fell, but I didn’t care. “How dare you,” I snarled.
“Control her Daniel!” Thommand barked.
“She’s under control,” Daniel replied, making no move to restrain me whatsoever.
I watched him get up. “You have no right to hit me, and the next time you do, I’ll do more than kick you to the ground!” I told him. “Are we clear, Thommand?”
“It’s m’lord to you,” he informed me frostily.
“Then act like one,” I retort. “Now what do you want?”
I heard the words ‘wretch’ and ‘she-cat’ under his breath. “I want to know how you arrived here,” he told me. “How you first came to this world.”
“So do I. But this is just as strange to you as it is to me.”
His hand twitched beside him. “If you’re lying to me-”
“I have nothing to gain by lying.”
“Yes you do,” he insisted. “There are humans here, just like you when you arrived. That would be something to gain.”
I froze. “What?”
“So you didn’t know?” Thommand shook his head. “Caught in the next village. Three of them. One is dead and the other is being brought here.”
“What are their names?” Daniel asked.
“The captive won’t say.”
“You said there were three,” I interrupted. “What happened to the one who wasn’t killed or captured?”
His eyes narrowed. “Gone,” he said shortly. “We’ll find him though. We found Daniel.” He started out the door. “The captive is coming now. Follow me.”
Shaking off Daniel’s hand, he and I strode out behind the fat man, who was surprisingly quick. “So why did you strike me?” I demanded.
“Shock value,” he replied. “I wanted the truth, and fast.”
“I wouldn’t say anything else,” I objected.
Daniel stopped me. “Cat, go back to my chamber, now.”
“Court business,” he said. “This is no place for you.”
At the same time that I was saying “I will not be left behind!”, Thommand had stopped and said “The girl stays.”
“I forbid it.”
“Don’t command me, Daniel.” I returned his angry look. “I am not weak.”
He paused. “You’re not,” he admitted. “Come along then. Knowing our men though, the man’s probably nastily wounded.”
I could see Thommand bristle as we continued walking. “Is he getting treatment?” I asked Daniel.
There was no reply from him at that. I wondered where I could find a nurse in this place, and hopefully one who might be able to help with what I needed.
We arrived in the courtyard to find a crowd gathering. It was the first time I had seen so many of them. And as soon as I came into view, they all turned to me.
My first thought was that I really wished that I was wearing something less inappropriate than a scarlet silk nightdress and Daniel’s jacket.
The second thought was how different from Daniel they were.
I hadn’t really noticed the contrasts between Thommand and Daniel, but I became aware of them once I saw the others.
I had thought that Thommand had a fringe- and I had thought how stupid it looked. But as I looked more closely, I realised that it wasn’t the case. His hair line started from where his brow would be; it wasn’t a fringe at all.
That explained Daniel’s absurdly long hair. These people would probably want their hair to grow pretty long…but I had seen people with ordinary fringes. Not to mention eyebrows. I’d have to ask Daniel about that.
The people in the fanciest dress- by fanciest I mean most ridiculous- all had clear, grey eyes. They were beautiful, I suppose. In a way. But it was too over the top. They were the ones who stared at me the most. No one paid attention to Daniel. They treated him as if he weren’t there, sort of like a bad smell. But they kept giving me looks and whispering as they turned away.
I heard shouting, and people walking by. “Daniel, can we get closer?”
“This is fine, Cat.” Daniel was unnaturally still, as if he were afraid to breathe.
Slowly, I started walking away, dodging the strange people as I tried to get through the entrance of the building. It was no use; even though there were guards pushing everyone back, I still couldn’t see.
Then I spotted a window. It wouldn’t be dignified, but I would never be admired by these strangers, only seen as an animal.
I could reach it, so I lifted myself up onto the ledge. It was one of those windows without glass, so I clung to the edge, praying I didn’t fall back.
I could see everything from where I was. There were two lines of people, surrounding one attraction in the centre. A young man was walking towards a group of people, who stepped aside, leaving one man alone. He had long sandy hair that covered his face, and his arms hang by his side, in shackles.
“Hello Cat Madigan,” a voice suddenly whispered into my ear.
It was him. The man that’s more corpse than living flesh. “Can’t they see you?” I whispered.
“Of course.” I could feel him beside me. “They won’t remember I was here though. I’ll vanish from their memories.”
“What are you?”
“Something weird,” he told me.
I knew that phrase, it’s mine. “Are you like me?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. But we’re different. Like two members of the same species.”
He chuckled. “We are definitely not the same species.”
“I didn’t mean it in a literal sense.” I look down at my hand. My five letters are glowing again. “This is…what I can do. And you….mess with people’s heads.”
“You are clever,” he said approvingly, and he kissed me on the cheek. He laughed as I grimaced; he’s so cold, it’s like a fish kissing me.
I would not let him get to me. “You messed with Kaya’s head too,” I told him.
“Not like them,” he objected.
“Doesn’t matter, you’re the one who killed her.”
“Ms Madigan,” he whispered. “Instead of accusing me of such trivia, you may want to watch what’s happening before you.”
“What do you mean?” But he was gone.
I glanced down, and looked at the scene. The prisoner was kneeling on the ground, his hair held back by one of the guards behind him. He had no expression, no emotion on his face.
But I knew him.
This person was one of the few things that kept me in Reality.
What was he doing here?
I leapt down from the window, only to be tackled by Daniel. He lifted me and carried me into the shadows, despite my struggling. He held my hands and feet behind my back, ignoring my growling.
When we were away from everything, he put me down. “I’m going back!” I yelled.
“You’re not,” he told me. “Believe it or not, I’m saving your life.”
“Believe it or not, it’s not something I treasure,” I retorted. “His, however-”
“Don’t even think about it. Not now,” he pleaded.
It happened in an instant. His arm was wrapped around my neck, a sharp object touching the skin of my temple. “Don’t make me do this,” he growled.
Go ahead, I thought. “This is my friend. I would do the same for you,” I told him.
“And I would respond the same way.”
The needle pierced my head and I started feeling drowsy. “I hate you,” I grumbled, as I faded out.