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A life that never was

 
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Sira
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:10 pm    Post subject: A life that never was Reply with quote

?Mama, tell me a story.?

Sira gave a start at the voice next to her. Her thoughts had been words away from the tiny apartment bathroom and the child splashing around in the tub. She was seated on the floor, the magazine she?d been thumbing through had fallen out of her lap. Bubbles must have gotten on the open pages, as they seemed too blurry to read.

?Mamaaa?? Whined the boy in the tub. He couldn?t be any older than five or six. He?d grown bored of his games with his boats and action figures. His black hair was worked into a faux hawk with soap and the remnants of a bubble bear still clung to his chin.

She couldn?t help but smile at the pleading, puppy dog eyes he?d fixed her with. They were a soft honey brown, a little more gold than her own. Not for the first time she thought to herself that her son was going to be quite the lady killer when he grew up.

Her son. She frowned a little at the boy.

?James.? Yes, that was his name. That was the name she and Liam had decided on if they ever had a boy.

He gave her such a look of concern. She wanted nothing more than to reassure him that everything was okay, even though none of this was right.

The world began to fade.

-----

Bryn was barking alarm. He rarely ever barked in play, but that was a much, much different bark. That was a light, playful wuff.

This was deep, loud, and punctuated by tense growls.

Sira struggled awake, at first disoriented to find herself tucked safely in bed. At home. Where she was least likely to find danger. Or so she thought. Another deep bark made sleep flee from her mind.

?What is it?? She asked, like the dog could even answer her. He was standing at the foot of her bed, looking towards her open doorway. The hallway was dim, but not totally dark.

She slid from the bed and crept towards the door, but Bryn raced ahead of her like he had seen something. Swearing softly, she grabbed the shotgun Mercy had given her that was hidden just inside her closet, and bolted after the dog.

He was too fast for her to keep up. Down the curving hallway, he was up the stairs before she had even reached them, and she nearly tripped over the dog who had stopped dead at the top.

She spluttered out more harsh words and limped past the dog to the open doorway. No door covered the portal, and it hadn?t bothered her before now. There was nothing to slam, to lock, to barr.

The dog had stopped barking. For some reason it bothered her far more than when he?d been alerting. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she edged towards the door. She peeked out, shifting left and right to try and see if anyone was waiting just out of sight.

Not seeing anyone, she pressed a hand against the door frame.

?Show me who entered last.? The ward responded right away, but it was her face that stared back at her in the doorway. ?When?? The ward didn?t show her time, but rather the position of the moons when she?d gotten home. Yes, that seemed right.

The image faded when she pulled her hand away. A glance to Bryn showed the dog was? fine. He wagged his tail at her.

?Might as well go out while we?re up?? She told the dog and he obliged by heading out to do his business. She kept guard with her shotgun, eyes scanning the forest. There was nothing but the morning birds singing in the first rays of morning.

Minutes later they were headed back inside together, neither noticing the all white fox that went bounding away.

Sira put out food for the dog, and it wasn?t until she had made it back to bed to try and catch a few more zees that she was bothered by a niggling thought that she had been dreaming something important before being awoken.

She fell asleep still trying to recall what it?d been.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You promised!"

James was dressed in his stars and planets PJs and he was settled amidst the dozen stuffed toys that shared his bed. Sira blinked a few times when he waved his hand in front of her face. She didn't remember finishing bath time.

"What... did I promise?" She asked, a little confused. Her eyes roamed around the room like she was seeing it for the first time.

"You promised you would tell me a story!" He was on the verge of a tantrum, his face all red and eyes bright. Just like she used to get when she was little and was so tired she couldn't sleep. She used to have terrible nightmares that she couldn't remember. Her father used to chase them away with his stories.

"Okay, sweetie, just one story," she said as she smoothed his dark hair back from his forehead. It was still a little damp.

"Make it a long one."

Sira laughed and let out a quiet sigh.

"I'll do my best." She cleared her throat before going on. "Once upon a time..."

"I've heard this one!" James protested.

"Hush, not this one," she soothed. "This is one my father used to tell me when I was your age. Now can I go on?" He nodded. "Good, now where was I? Ah yes.

Once upon a time there was a valiant knight who quested far and wide between the stars, seeking out evil from every corner in which it hid."

"A knight! Like Arthur!" James sat up, but Sira pushed him back into his pillows. "Did he have a horse? Did he have a sword?!"

She laughed at his excitement. "No, he didn't have a horse. He rode on pure starlight. And yes, he had a sword made of pure flame. Think like a Jedi's lightsaber, only it was living flame." She mimed swing a sword, making swooshing noises until he started to 'battle' her with his own invisible blade. They traded mock blows until she slumped over, defeated. She peaked through her hair to watch him laughing. She laughed too when she sat back up.

"Now this knight was on a quest to vanquish all of the shadows everywhere. There was nothing he hated more than evil and he had no greater wish than to bring great peace to all the worlds."

"Worlds?" James asked with a winkled nose. "But there's only one world."

"No," she corrected, shaking her head. "There are many worlds, and he fought to protect them all. In fact, maybe some day you and I can go visit some of those other worlds. I know the way."

"This isn't right," a voice said sharply in the doorway behind her. "You didn't know that. You wouldn't have known that."

Sira turned. She knew that voice, it was...

The world shifted and swirled. She couldn't make out the man standing in the doorway before the dream shattered.

-----

Unlike the last dream, she woke up from this one with an urgent sense of unease. Something was very wrong. Bryn wasn't in the room.

She flew from her bed, throwing her covers as she went. She hit the floor and launched into a dead run, not even taking the time to grab the trust shotgun this time.

"Bryn!" She called hoarsely, afraid he'd gone after whatever it was causing her so much dread. She came 'round into the living room and there he was. Snoring away on the couch instead of on the expensive bed she'd bought him... so he wouldn't get on the couch.

Though she was relieved to see her dog was okay, that he wasn't on high alert because there was some monster that had broken into her house, she couldn't ignore the pounding in her chest. The throbbing in her head that reminded her of the time Lexius had pulled on her very mind.

She ran up the stairs and this time instead of going to the door she continued up to the little nook with it's three-sixty windows and height advantage. And watch owl.

Loa must have just returned for the day as the sun was just peaking above the trees. The little owl looked up from the prize she had trapped beneath her wicked claws. The snake was still alive and writhing. Such a dark inky black she wasn't quite sure it was real.

Sira moved slowly closer, the owl keeping her fixed with lamp like eyes. She got close enough to see the shape of the head. Like an arrow, studded with eyes like sickly green jewels. It wasn't a breed she recognized, but there were enough hallmarks to tell her it was poisonous. Maybe a pit viper.

She swallowed thickly and moved away. The owl seemed fine to eat in piece.

Just before she could descend the stairs she turned to squint at the owl.

"I want that skin."

Sira guessed the snake was dead when the pit in her belly un-clenched.
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2016 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"So was there a princess?"

"Hm?"

"Was there a princess!?"

Sira was pushing James on a swing. His questions pulled her from what she concluded could only have been a powerful daydream of another life. The day was bright and sunny, if a bit cold. Perfect day to visit the park, while all of the other Stay at Home Mothers kept themselves locked away. The cold didn't bother her son and her as much as it did others. It was odd.

"Yes, of course there was a princess," she said before James could ask again. He'd been about to. "Except she wasn't a princess. She was a lady-in-waiting to a princess."

"What was she waiting for?" James asked with a wrinkled up nose.

"You know, I'm not really sure," Sira replied with a laugh. "They were companions to royalty and sort of helped them out. But they were noblewomen themselves, these ladies in waiting."

"Was she very beautiful?"

"Of course!" Sira grabbed onto the chains of the swing near the seat and took a few more steps back to pull James even a little higher to give him a bigger push like he usually liked. "Her name was Gwyneth."

James wasn't having any of the swinging. He dropped his feet down so that he could use his toes to bring himself to a stuttering stop.

"Wasn't great-grandma named Gwyneth?"

Sira was a little dumbfounded, not just because James was too interested in the story to swing, which was his favorite thing ever, but that he recalled the name of the aged lady that Sira had met only briefly in her youth. She was about Jame's age, actually.

"She was your great-great grandmother," she replied slowly. "And her name was Gwen." It was close enough for her to dismiss the mistake. "Who told you that name?"

"Grandpa did!"

Sira grabbed onto the chain of the swing for support, using it as her pivot point to turn about to look down at the precocious boy.

"Granda Michael did?" Her confusion painted her expression and her words. Why would Liam's father talk about her mother's side? The Moyers had done a bonny job of pretending her past never existed.

"No! Grandpa! He said to call him grandpa," James said as he kicked his feet, toes scuffing against the rubber mat beneath the swings. "Your dad. Declan!"

Sira's mouth ran dry.

"But, he died," she said faintly. Not even thinking this wasn't a subject they'd had to discuss yet with James. "He's..."

"Is he the bad man in the story, mama?"

She was still reeling, this next question hit her hard.

"What? I don't... know..."

----------

Sira stared at the ceiling in her living room. She'd passed out on the couch again, an empty bottle of Jack Daniels within reach on the coffee table.

Her head pounded. Her burnt arm ached. She didn't know why she'd woken up.

Maybe it was the fact that her bandages was damp. Damn. One of the blisters must have popped. She hoisted herself off the couch, Bryn stirring himself from his bed by the fire to watch her a moment as she head to the bathroom.

She had left all the things she'd needed to re-wrap the burns out. She'd gotten away with just a couple of bad second degree spots, but most of it was just first degree. Nothing that wouldn't heal in a few days time.

There were a pain of scissors that she used to cut through the wraps, a careful hand gently peeled the moist bandages back. What she saw underneath made her gasp and tremble.

Black. Black and charred. That wasn't what her skin had looked like before she'd wrapped it a few hours ago! How could it have progressed like this!?

Her heart tried to beat its way through her chest. This was awful, horrible, there was no healing from this. This meant surgery and skin grafts. Things she couldn't do for herself. It meant the risk of infection. It meant, it meant...

She whimpered, reaching out with her unhurt hand to gently, so gently touch the skin to see if it was really real. How could it possibly be real!

The blackened skin shattered like fragile glass struck by a vicious hammer strike. Sira cried out as the flakes of skin fell into the snow white of her sink. She suspected the worst. Even worse.

Underneath the black gleamed silver scales. No, no... the way the scales caught the light they reflected like diamond, the holographic prism of a rainbow. Her fingers were gnarled, her nails wicked cla---

----------

She woke again. She didn't know if this was reality or yet another dream. So often these days she drifted like she couldn't tell if she was awake or not. She was even on the couch again, empty bottle by her side. Bryn snoring on his head.

She was certain that her arm ached.

What would this trip to the bathroom show? Her hand shook as she cut the bandages away again. Her stomach churned as she peeled them back to reveal the same burns she'd had when she wrapped them in the first place. No char. No scales.

Her relief was short lived. Cleaning and rewrapping the burns hurt like hell.
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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2016 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a break in the rain. It'd been storming bad all morning, but with the early afternoon came a respite. James was terrified of thunder so they'd built a fort in the corner of the apartment. It'd taken some coaxing to get him out, though all it really took was a promise that they could go splash in the puddles.

After wrestling him into his rain boots, Sira and her son took the long elevator ride down to the street level. He practically dragged her across the street to the little stretch of green that counted as a park on their block. She didn't think three trees and a couple of flowering shrubs counted as a park, but Liam absolutely refused to leave the city. She never thought that she'd crave the peace and quiet of rural life, but ever since they decided it would be best for her to put med school on hold, she found herself wanting to be around more trees than people. She knew she'd never make it back to school.

James was off to find every last spot of collected rain to vanquish with exuberant stomps. Sira hung back a little, leaning against one of the benches which at the moment was too wet to sit on. She kept one eye on her boy, the other on the bustle of harried New Yorkers streaming by. Every movement seemed frantic like there wasn't enough time in the day. So chaotic. Was there really a time when she thrived off the same?

The bark of a dog caught her attention, it sounded alarmed. She looked around, but couldn't find the source. There were plenty of dogs passing by. None of them looked distressed. So which one was...?

"Did he beat a lot of bad guys?"

The voice at her side pulled her eyes down to where James was staring up at her. The dog was forgotten.

"The knight?" James had always enjoyed fairy tales, though none as much as this one. "Oh yes, of course! He slew all sorts of evil on his quest. Dragons that terrorized countrysides, ogres and orcs, and all sorts of demons." She waited for another question. He was just staring expectantly at her. "Even others of his own kind who had fallen."

The boy gasped. "They were very bad, weren't they?" His tone was hushed, frightened. "He got them all, though, right? He got all the bad guys?"

Sira crouched down to pull him into an embrace. She was surprised at how much he shook. "Yes! Yes, he vanquished all of the bad guys." No, that wasn't true. "No... there was one he couldn't defeat."

Despite the fact that the grass was wet she lowered herself to the ground. Now she was about eye level with her son. "Their fight lasted for days and their battlefield stretched across the stars. They were so evenly matched that they could have been locked in battle forever."

"But doesn't the good guy always win?"

She shook her head slowly. "Only in fairy tales, James."

"This is a fairy tale!" He insisted.

"Not this story," she said as she cupped his cheek with her hand. "This story really happened."

The dog was barking. It was so loud she was sure it had to be right next to them. A frantic look around proved there wasn't any dogs near enough.

"Angels don't really exist, mama." James was giving her a confused, scrunched up nose look. "Papa said so."

"Of course angels exist."

A part of Sira knew that she should have woken up by now. The very thought that angels were real and this life was not hit her hard. It shook her to her core in such away it should have shattered the dream. For some reason it held on.

"Then what happened to them?" The dog was still barking. James was tugging on her sleeve.

"He cheated." Sira was torn. The edges of the dream were blurring.

"The bad guy?"

"No. The good guy, he cheated. He did something horrible." The real world was pulling at her, but James was trying to hold her in the dream. Why?

"He sacrificed innocent life, because the bad guy never thought he would. He won, but at a terrible cost. A shadow was cast across his lineage. A creeping darkness that would infect his descendants born with the fire in their blood. They would be doomed to fall as he had."

The grip that James had on her arm actually hurt. What four year old was that strong?

"Was there a way to stop it?"

Sira's head hurt. Her arm hurt. There was no reason that a dream should hurt this much.

"I don't remember."

"Try!"

---------

Bryn had shoved her out of her bed. Sira fell to the floor with a painful thumb, legs so tangled in her sheets that she must have been thrashing around in her sleep pretty bad. The dog barked again, kept barking until her eyes were fully open.

"I'm up, I'm up!" She insisted, swatting at the dog who was now on the floor with her, licking her face. "What is your problem?"

She'd been trying to free herself from the sheets when it occurred to her that she was forgetting something. But what?

Bryn barked again.

"Fine, fine," she grumbled as she finally managed to get up. "You'd think I was starving you or something."

The sun was up. She supposed it was time for her to be as well.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spaghetti and meatballs. It was James's favorite dinner, but he was very particular about every last detail from the pasta--only angel hair would do--to the size and consistency of the meatballs to the sauce. It was a lot of work. Sira didn't mind.

Her little angel was up on a stool so that he could watch her work with a keen eye. Every time his mother's hand strayed for a vegetable to sneak into the sauce he caught her. There was no getting by those big blue eyes of his.

"This good?" Sira asked as she tipped the bowl where she was mixing up the meat towards him. "Or do we need more Ritz?"

"More Ritz!" James declared with his arms going up in a "V".

"Okay, but you have to help me out," Sira told him. She gave him a couple of crackers and moved the bowl closer so he could crumble them in.

She glanced towards the clock. The oven was pre-heated to bake the meatballs, the sauce was simmering away. Still, they were running late. There had been long lines at the store. Liam liked to have dinner waiting on the table when he came home.

"What's the curse?"

She paused in looking for the corkscrew when James spoke back up. His little hands were posed over the ball with cracker crumbs still clinging to his skin.

"What are you talking about, sweetie?" Sira angled him so that he could get his hands under the faucet to wash them. She gave him a clean paper towel so he could dry them.

"Your curse. What is it? Do you know?" His questions were made so innocent by his precocious tone and that sweet look in his eyes. "You have to know it to stop it."

Sira's thoughts were sluggish. She could remember telling James the fairy tale her dad used to tell her when she was his age. It was a sad story in the end.

"James, sweetheart, you shouldn't be talking about stuff like that," she scolded him gently. "Have I ever told you the story of Rapunzel? It's a much better..."

"No!" Sira was surprised by the force put behind that single word. She turned back to James who was red cheeked and stomping his foot. "I want you to tell me about the curse!"

"Young man, you do not use that tone with me," she said in a much firmer tone. She rarely had to raise her voice to him. He was such an easy going boy. He was her honey eyed good boy who... who... was staring at her with the wrong color eyes.

"James..." She put her hand down on the counter next to her so that she could lean towards him. But it wasn't the counter she put her hand down on. It was a hot burner on the stove.

--------

Sira jerked awake, acutely aware of how much her hand hurt. She swore quietly as she ripped the covers off of her... those weren't her covers! A second shock was followed quickly by a memory. A sharp look darted around told her she was in the room she rented at the inn. That was just where she was supposed to be.

More shocks were to come when her eyes roamed over the haphazard toss of clothes all over the room, the faux leather pants, the bodice, the body suit... all the things she'd worn out the night before to the club. She couldn't remember getting back to the room or undressing, but she sure remembered the alcohol. There was an empty bottle of scotch on the floor that had begun the night.

A peek under the covers confirmed that she had not bothered to put anything back on to sleep. At least she hadn't woken up next to someone. There had been a couple hangers on at the club who she'd shooed away a few times throughout the night. She was certain she had left alone.

Clutching the flat sheet to herself, even though she was alone, she pulled herself out of the bed to find something to put on. Her head ached nearly as much as her hand did. That she understood. There was nothing on her hand to suggest why it burned like she'd stuck it on a hot stove. What had she been dreaming about? She couldn't remember.

She struggled into some clothes so she could go find herself some water and some ice.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Look down, Sira, look at the ground," rasped a harsh voice in her ear. Liam always had an angry streak to him, but never had he used that tone with her. The cold rage caused goose bumps to form on her the bare skin of her arms.

He had her upper arm in a vice grip as they stood on the roof of the six story building owned by Iron Mountain. The security firm's main campus sat isolated on a forested property, more than far enough away from the nearest buildings that even if she screamed, no one would hear. At least, no one who would care would hear.

When she didn't let her eyes drop the ground below, Liam shook her. Her wrists were bound with a strong zip tie behind her back, old an new bruises aggravated anew by the jerk. She wouldn't give the man a sound, but her chin dropped to her chest and her eyes focused on the rocky path below. Six stories. It was a long way down.

"I'd really like to just let you fall," he hissed at her. This was the most he had spoken to her the entire time she'd been in their grasps. A few times she'd caught glimpses of him watching her 'tests' behind a glass window. Always looking at her with cold and disgust. "Let you fall," he went on. "And watch you splatter all over the ground. You know, you could potentially not die on impact from this height. If you're really unlucky, you wouldn't even be knocked unconscious. You'd just be laying there in agony waiting for death to take you."

"But my scientists keep saying that you are more valuable alive. I think it's just that they can't tell what you are. But I know," he spat. "You're an abomination."

Sira let out a shocked whimper when he pushed her forward by the arm like he was going to follow through, no matter what the scientists said. He kept his rigid hold so that she only teetered on the edge. He laughed.

"You lied to me, Sira. You let me believe you were just this innocent, sweet little naive girl. But you're really just a monster.

Fortunately for you, I can use you. You like to be helpful, don't you? You always wanted to save people. Well, I will generously offer you that opportunity. You will be allowed to live if you agree to work with us and stop fighting us."

She closed her eyes to fight back the hot tears trying to spill out. Even after months in captivity it made her heart ache that the man she loved so desperately would do this to her. That he would snatch her away from her life to torture her, to experiment on her like she wasn't even human.

"Look, James wants you to cooperate. Don't you want mommy to help us, James?"

Memory and dream collided harshly. Sira's head whipped around to look at the small boy perched on the edge of the roof with them, watching her with teary, fearful eyes. Her stomach lurched with the conflict. On one hand, she knew this wasn't what had happened. It couldn't have. On the other, it all felt so real.

"All you have to do is kill him." There was a different sort of intensity in Liam's eyes when he jerked her face around roughly by her chin. "The one with the golden eyes. You know how to find him. Kill him, and this all will be over."

"No!" That was James. He had climbed up onto the low crenelation with them. His small, chubby hand reached out for his mother. "That isn't it! That won't stop it--!"

Guards in black she hadn't seen swarmed up to grab at the boy who struggled to stay out of their grasp. Icy fingers pierced her heart as she watched his little feet dancing on the precipice.

"He's going to fall, Liam. Save him!" Sira struggled against her bindings. "Save our son!"

"That traitor," spat the man holding her arm. No longer was it Liam's voice in her ear. "You never had a son, Sira. You have to listen to me. You have to kill him. Free us, Sira." The voice grew more desperate.

The boy and his would-be captors struggled still. Some how she managed to get herself free of the hand holding her. Somehow she had freed her hands. She crossed the distance between herself and her son, and there was a blaze as she touched the men in black uniforms. They burst into flames and dissolved into ash at a brush of her fingers.

But she was too late, James had gone over the edge. He was falling.

She leaped over the edge of the roof after him, the strangled cries of the man left on the roof horrified.

Just in time she wrapped her arms around the boy and twisted them about so that she took the brunt of the impact.

The dream ended in a horrible rush of agony.

Fin.
(The aftermath continues here)[/url]
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