Monday, November 13, 2017
Chapter 105: Water Sound
Acheron struggles to remember these things.
"I hate you!" a teenager screams.
"Why are you doing this?" Acheron cries.
"I always liked you more than I liked me," Claire rasps.
"What are you doing in Hidden Springs?"
Harcourt shrugs. "Mab and her ghost hunting. I don't understand why you're so upset to see us. You can just leave and pretend it didn't happen."
"I didn't want to leave you, son. I wanted you to have a happier life. The things I knew I'd become involved in... this conspiracy... it destroys everyone it touches. It was better for you to be nowhere near me."
Harcourt glowers. "I guess there's no point asking what you are even talking about."
"Why are you doing this?!"
"I hate you!"
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Why have you come?"
Acheron wakes up drenched in a cold sweat. For a while he can still hear the rush of the river, but as he adjusts to reality, the hallucinated sound fades.
Well... who needs that last hour of sleep anyways...
Carlos and Lela are already at work before dawn, so Acheron decides their sonic shower is fair game.
"Listen, don't be mad, but I may have gotten up for a midnight snack and... eaten all of your favorite cereal," Fairuza preemptively begs for forgiveness.
The girls start their morning off with very different concerns than Acheron.
"I was just stress eating, thinking today is the day I'm going to ask my crush out."
"Which boy is it, again?"
"That's just it," Fairuza giggles. "I can't decide."
Fairuza's plans to shower without getting her hair wet are thwarted. "What the hell?"
"I'm okay. This is fine."
"Are you just going to lay there?"
"So what if I am."
"I'm going to start kicking you, I swear."
Lela's early morning stakeout yields some VIOLENT CRIME.
Look at this actual cop in the background doing fuckall.
That's just the way things go in this town!
Dysen plays games on his mother's office computer. His parents have told him many times that is not what it is for, but he doesn't see the harm!
Yup. Broken again.
Lela visits her brother, Barry.
Barry is hosting a super lame party.
Lela tries to liven things up by daring Barry to do something inadvisable.
Barry is such a fool.
Ceth in concert.
Makin' dat money.
Ceth is pissed off to find this random teen fan laying on her bed when she gets home.
"GET LOST before I CALL THE COPS!"
Rock Woods, son of Stardust Woods, giggles before running away.
"Stupid brat," Ceth mutters. Celebrity status has never troubled her before, but tonight, as she prepares for bed, she feels incredibly unsafe.
Acheron senses his mother's distress. He lays awake long after she's gone to sleep. Eventually, he knows his consciousness will also slip away. No matter how much he'd like to hold onto one moment, it will always leave him.
She is here. She cries into his shoulder, choked sobs that feel like they'll shake her apart. He loves her, he would do anything for her... yet here she is crying, and it is his fault.
Acheron could fix it, but he doesn't. He lies to her: "There's nothing to find. He's gone."
"No! No, no, no..." she moans. She is the woman who steals either his soul or his heart. It's strange to see her like this, so vulnerable. "He can't be dead."
"I'm so sorry." Another lie. The words burn in Acheron's mouth. He should not lie to her. Yet there are thoughts he keeps from her, from everyone.
"Harcourt..." she cries a name, but it doesn't help.
"It's my fault." This one is not a lie.
"No..." she sits up straighter. "No, Acheron, I don't blame you. How could I?"
How could she? He doesn't see everything coming. He doesn't see most things coming.
But he saw this coming and he decided it would be best to let it happen.
Everything is burning. The ground is coated in ash.
"This is Firelight?" Acheron asks.
"What's left of it. Didn't used to be so literal." A man with a tail sniffs at Acheron suspiciously. "Don't know what you're looking for here, demon, but you best turn back. You don't want to find that girl."
"Tell me what happened."
"She came here. Called herself Eris. Said something about the rest of us supernatural creatures sitting by and letting her people be destroyed. I don't know where she came from, I don't know when she came from, but I swear she was an elf, I saw her with my own eyes. No one believes me."
"I believe you," Acheron says.
"What if I just try to end it?" Acheron gasps, choking for air.
"Stop Kir?" the cat questions.
"No. No, not like Loki wants to end it. I mean what if I just die. Today. Tomorrow. Before I meet Claire. How can the reincarnation cycle deal with that?"
The cat tilts its head. "You can't die, Selrandisra."
Acheron grits his teeth. "I'm not him, but fine, I'll play your game. Okay. What if this body dies?"
"Is there something wrong with your current form?"
"Suicide. What if I kill myself?"
The cat sits, and thinks about it. "The universe," it finally says, "would try to stop you."
"How would it do that?"
"Any means necessary."
"Like having somebody interrupt? Well nobody can just watch me forever," Acheron sneers.
"I see you have been waiting to ask this question for a long time."
"Yeah," Acheron admits.
"I have seen one try. He failed, and subsequently, an accident caused him to lose his memory. He forgot who he was, and he forgot he wanted to die. So things continued as they were designed to."
Acheron stares out at the waves crashing against the beach. "So there's no early way out."
"Kir's spell will release its protection over your current form once you've done what it requires," the cat reminds him, its tone turning sad as it paws the sand.
"You mean after I make sure my descendants can exist." Acheron rolls his eyes, disgusted. "It'll be too late then."
"You should enjoy this life while you have it," the cat advises. "Do not reject it so easily."
Here again. He couldn't die as a teen, but he can die outside this cell.
The pain subsides, but... everything is burning.
"Hey." Mab pokes him, laughing. "Grandpa, wake up. You're talking in your sleep again."
No. I'm not a senile old man...
...that would be ridiculous...
Sunlight pours in through the window. The birds chatter outside in Carlos's garden. The familiar noise of water splashing from the watering can onto the broad leaves of the flame fruit plants mixes with the whir of the sprinkler and Fairuza's laughter as she plays in it. Dysen's bed is made, Emmy's food dish is full. Acheron cannot remember getting up, but he must have, because he's sitting on his bedspread, shoes on.
Etc.: Acheron began to suspect the narrator was gaslighting him. It was only a matter of time before he'd turn on her, The Stanley Parable style.