So far Untitled - Chapter 5: The Sleeper Awakens
There is a place, within walking distance of the US Capital, which the locals know as "Deanwood." This strange empty space on a tourist's map mentions nothing worth visiting, which is a shame, because it contains one of the area's largest open black markets. You can pretty much get anything there, from bootleg movies and music, to car parts, electronics, clothing, and even food.
But even the regulars, those people who have spent all their lives not questioning goods sold from a person's trunk, fail to recognize a small, run down, red brick building near the edge of the black market property. It is so innocuous, it's considered "part of the scenery" of the local, run down, urban setting.
If anyone were to ask about it, and few do, they might get some shrugs, or the common speculations is was once part of a treatment plant of some kind, or a garage, or even a small block of apartments. It's currently assumed to be gang territory, although it should be noted all the local gangs things it belongs to one of the other guys. Even though no power goes to the property, late at night, you might notice some movement and eerie glows. People who have accidentally walked onto the overgrown vacant lot around the area are driven away by a pack of "wild dogs," which usually grow ever larger with each retelling.
The only feature than can be seen in tall grass of the lot is part of a 1940s-era pickup truck, rusted through and through, and the thin, worn path that leads to the building ends at a large wooden door, reinforced with steel bands, several nailed planks, and a 1940s-era tin sign that says "By Federal law: No Trespassing." Not that anyone gets near enough to the door to read it.
There are occupants, however. There have been since anyone has been alive in the area. But those occupants don't use the path or the door, if anything, because of the dogs. They use a long utility pole that at one point had fallen over into the building, knocking out a window and a lot of surrounding bricks. At some point, an old weather beaten wooden blue door was placed over the hole. And those with keen eyes, a lot of patience, the ability to sit still, and no fear of packs of wild dogs, might see an occasional shadowy figure leap, skip, and jump up the pole, open the door, pause, and then enter.
On this night, no figure had entered the building. There is a recent new occupant that has spooked even the spooks that call this dilapidated ruin a home. Some Gate Keepers have chosen to spend the night elsewhere, and even during the day, prefer to sleep under broken rafters with their backs to the walls, watching for anything that might... scare them.
The new occupant is in an old metal frame bed. An old mattress spans the rickety frame, one size to large, and tied to the bed over that mattress is the figure of a young college girl in torn and stained clothing that she once considered cool to dance in. But her pale face is stained with patches of dark blue, her lips are now black, and her eyes are shut. The only other occupant of this room is a thing and gangly young woman, curled up in a chair, deeply engrossed in a book called, "Fahrenheit 451."
"How is our package?" asked a tall and thin woman by the doorway.
Donnabel looked up from her book. "Fine, I guess. It's so hard to tell because we don't have a pulse or breathe. She just sort of burps once in a while, and more of that blue stuff dribbles out. Pretty gross, if you ask me."
"Do you always address your superiors so informally?"
Donnabel gave a startled response, and then fell to the floor, groveling. "Oooh," she said, "I am so sorry... I was just... ooh... yeah, sorry, Lady Sarcastia."
"Get up," Lady Sarcastia said. "At least with you, I know it's not sarcasm..."
"Lady Sarcastia... is... Sad Fairy in big trouble?"
The woman smiled as she entered the room. She sat at the edge of the bed, and smoothed Marideath's greasy hair. "No... although I am letting her think she is. She's in exile for now."
"If it pleases you, try not to be so hard on her. She's not been the same since... well, you know. That ... half... girl... breed, was one of her best friends, and honestly I didn't think she'd become so... well, bad."
"She was half-demon," Lady Sarcastia said, mopping some of the blue stains off of Marideath's wet lips. "I only banned her name from being spoken, not her heritage."
"She was half-human, too. Some of us who were human... you know, identified with that."
"There is a lot more to the story than you could even imagine," Lady Sarcastia said. She checked the wraps around Marideath's wrists and ankles, rubbing her fingers and toes to test for a response.
"Maybe if you shed some light into what happened--"
"NO!" Lady Sarcastia said sternly. "Some knowledge is dangerous. And we only know some things about her as it is."
"Do you think she'll come back?"
Lady Sarcastia opened Marideath's eyes, and looked at the inky blackness that shined back at her. "I don't know." She shut the eyelids again, and added, "but this one does. She told me in a reading, and this was still as a human, you understand."
"What did she say?" asked Donnabel in a shaky whisper.
"If I told you, you'd tell everyone you saw for the next 20 years."
Donnabel looked at her feet. "Yes, ma'am."
"It is very important that Marideath awakens, although I am not sure how --"
"BEWARE OF THE HALF-BLOODED TRAVELER, SHE WALKS WITH FIRE AND COMES FROM HER HOMESTEAD WITH HER GRANDFATHER'S TRIDENT THAT POUNDS THE HEARTS OF THE GATE KEEPERS WITH THE FISTS OF GODS!!!" screamed Marideath from some waking dream. her eyes snapped open, and she struggled at her bindings.
"Yes, that was it...!" Lady Sarcastia said excitedly.
But Marideath fell back to a stone slumber.
"Was that about... her?" Donnabel paused, and then continued as if she hadn't asked. "She did that an hour ago," Donnabel said with a bored look. "Except the last one foretold of great walls crumbling will humble even the most ranging boils of... some people. I think she meant, like, warriors or some great war where the victor pities those he defeats or something along those lines. Anyway, when she does this, it scares away the bats, so it's useful for something."
Lady Sarcastia tried not to look disappointed. "I had heard she was waking more frequently." She started to massage Marideath's chest and stomach.
"What are you doing?"
"Master Jason told me that this might bring her back to a more... well, less agitated state. Here, loosen those bonds. I need to turn her on her side."
Donnabel helped Lady Sarcastia tilt Marideath on her side, and more liquid poured from her mouth, nose, and neck wound. Then, suddenly, she coughed. Then the vomited, and tons of dark blue liquid poured onto the mattress. Then she gasped and coughed again as Lady Sarcastia untied her and helped her sit up.
"How are you feeling... er, Marideath?"
"Oh god..." she said, which came out like sobs. "I... I... saw so much and... you have no idea how many places I have been to."
"I can imagine. I am going to untie your ankles now, can you sit up by yourself?"
"I think so," Marideath managed weakly. She absently adjusted her shirt and wiped her face. Then she grabbed her face and began to cry.
"What is it, dear?" asked Lady Sarcastia is a rare mood of motherly empathy.
"I... I... I can't SEE!" Marideath pushed and prodded her eyes, which were a solid midnight blue, dotted with teeny tiny sparkles. "Oh, no! Am I... am I blind???"
Lady Sarcastia patted her back and rubbed her neck, "In a way of speaking, yes, but I have something for that." She reached into her backpack, and pulled out a large wooden box. She grabbed Marideath's shaking hands and led her to the box.
"I didn't know I'd go blind... I'm so sorry... I'll be no use to the Gate Keepers, and I just wanted to--"
"No regrets, never look back," Donnabel said reflexively.
"Donnabel? Is that you? Oh, god. Are you here? Touch my hands, Donnabel. Please! I can't see!" and she started to shake and cry.
"Wait," Lady Sarcastia said. "Please open the box."
Marideath hesitated, but then slowly felt along the runes of the box. The rim of the lid glowed slightly to her touch.
"It's so... warm..."
"Open it, please. I cannot open it for you."
Marideath opened the box, and felt the small stack of cards in her hand.
Marideath gasped. "I... I can SEE!"
"Yes. Those are your cards. There is only one set like them in the world, and Master Jason has them. They help him see, too."
"But it's not like... I used to see. It's... so...magical!"
"That's my book, Donnabel."
Donnabel nodded her head in respect. "Very good. Yes, it was in your pocket."
"I saw you took it, and I see that you will find the plot ironic. You may keep
"Okay, thanks... Marideath. Other than your... well, you have enough sleepy gunk in your eyes that could take days to clean, maybe you'll get--"
"My sight is better than it even has been," she said, fondling the worn cards. "Now... be careful of the obelisk."
"Very GOOD, Marideath!" exclaimed Lady Sarcastia.
"What? What's that mean?"
Lady Sarcastia smiled. "Your next package!"
All text copyright 2005 Grig Larson, all rights reserved. No reprinting without permission