14,021 / 50,000
I've reached a point where I've gotten the things I definitely knew to do at the start of the story out of the way. I know where I'm going. I just need to figure out how to get there. ;)
Chapter Two - Home Again, Home Again
It was as if Charlie had never left. The dreams were upon him once more. However, he noticed they were different now. Or he would have noticed, had the pain of their return not felt like red hot pokers were being driven into every orifice in his skull, including his eyes.
If he was able to think past the pain, Charlie would have expected the pile of snow he just knew his face had landed in to have melted away. He would open his eyes, and there would be a clear patch encircling his cranium straight down to the bare ground. If he managed to not drown in the water that came as the snow melted.
The thoughts of what state he would be in upon waking were far from Charlie's mind, however. He was dead to the world. His eyes had rolled back into his head, and his body wasn't moving. The only activity his body was taken was the barest needed to keep him alive. A doctor would diagnose him as being in a deep coma if they were to diagnose him.
Instead, all that ran through Charlie's mind were visions, unlike any he had ever had during his previous years in Kraftsbury. Rather than reliving the familiar dream where he stood upon a path, and strange things chased after him through stranger landscapes, all Charlie got were flashes. There may have been more than that, but all he could remember was brief snippets, as if someone was flipping through channels too fast to see what was on any of them.
Charlie felt like he was being bombarded with every dream he would have taken if he had not left town for good seven years ago. They dumped into his brain so fast all he could see were fragments of fragments, but if there was more he was sure every detail was being crammed into his subconcious.
Buried amidst the images he could recall, there were those he did recognise, some of the familiar vision were mixed in with the others. Even now, they could not release their hold on him. Charlie thought he had freed himself, but now the hooks were being driven back in, deeper than before.
He could remember these upon waking because he had seen them most of his life, but the others were new, only leaving impressions that were blurred by the familiarity of the rest of the dreams.
The others though, Charlie could not make much sense out of them. He saw images of a bloody woman, whom he thought was his mother. It was doubtful that the dreams would let him not relive the moment that caused him to make the decision to leave, so he was unsurprised to see them again. Other things though, he had no recollection of ever having seen.
He stood in field of snow that stretched from horizon to horizon, with more snow piling atop what was already there. All around him was the purest white, as far as he could see. In the distance, the only feature that broke up the nothingness was a tall mountain, its lone peak piercing forth from the ground and pointing into the grey sky. Was it somehow representative of Vermont, the winter snow, the mountain nearby? Charlie didn't know. It felt like a real place to him, and the area around him did not seem to fit.
Another vision of himself, surrounded by darkness, as dark as the white was white before. Yet somehow, he could see in the darkness. He was surrounded by shadows that somehow stood out from the darkness they were in. Seven shadows, all watching him, waiting in the darkness. Charlie could not see their eyes through the black upon black in black, but still he felt their gaze as surely as he knew there was seven of them watching.
Many of what passed before his mind's eye were merely images without context. Creatures from his dreams, as if being shown flash cards. A rose. A swan. His sister. More creatures. The mountain. All of these against a shimmering black field, like water in a black pan, reflecting whatever looked into it. Charlie did not see himself reflected, only the images as they pummeled into his brain, one after another.
He didn't know what to make of the dreams this time. The familiarity was there, and the ever present sense of dread, but they seemed more benign than ever before. Most of them were just images, but still he felt terrified. Charlie was sure there was more he would not remember, nor did he want to, bolstering the sense of fear he had. Having his mind invaded against his will, forced to see such horrors again, was violating. Even just being forced to see the random things that made no sense was a violation he did not want.
This was just the reason why he had left so long ago, and having all this forced right back into his thoughts the moment he walked back into town only proved how right he was to depart. If only he had listened to his instincts to keep it that way.
Charlie's head was numb from the pain long before it was numb from the onrush of sensory information. If only it could stop, the thudding, the sights, the sounds, all of it. This was all his sister's fault, her fault for bringing him back to this place.
"Adrienne," he muttered, long before he even realised he could. Charlie was so out of it, he failed to notice it came out more like a gargle than an intelligible word.
As his senses began to return, Charlie realised he had spoken. His head was not numb from pain from the dreams, but having hit the hard packed, icy snow along the side of the road. As much as his head connecting with the ground caused him pain, the cold snow was also freezing the side of his head, even as his head was melting the snow.
He muttered his sister's name again, and sputtered out the cold, melted water from his mouth. Coughs erupted forth from his throat as he still managed to swallow some of it without warning. Charlie struggled to bring a hand to his mouth, or get up, or move at all. None of his limbs quite seemed to be working. His joints felt weak, rubbery. Every move he made only translated into him jerking one of his extremitites around.
Markus stood nearby. When Charlie had hit the ground, he leapt out of his car as quick as his feet would carry him. Stopping short of kneeling in the wet snow, Markus only crouched beside his new potential friend, feeling the joints of his legs pop and crack as he did so. Just as much from age as from being stuck in a car for three hours and then some. Markus was about ten years older than Charlie, he wagered. Even though he kept active, with his skiing, and jogging, the man was beginning to show signs of aging. Even his black hair was beginning to show signs of grey.
He grabbed at the fallen body of his carmate by the shoulders. The slick material of the winter jacket slid beneath Markus' gloved hands with an almost lyrical yet slippery sound. He tried again, making a better grip. However, when he grabbed Charlie firmly, the arm that was attached to the shoulder swung wildly and almost connected with Markus' head.
Before it could connect, he leapt back out of the way, and the arm returned to where it had been. Once more, Markus tried, this time staying further back, and stretching out as much as he could. Again the arm swung as if it had been shocked, or like a leg that had been with on the knee with a rubber hammer to test the reflexes.
While standing there and watching, he could hear a voice, and he assumed it was Charlie, as they were the only two people he could see. Markus checked the car radio, but he had reached over and turned it off out of habit as he left it. The voice didn't sound like Charlie's, though. It didn't sound like any voice he had heard, nor did it speak in any language he recognised. Being a professor of languages, he should know. There were snippets he could make out though. Hints of latin, maybe even some Spanish mixed in, and underneath it all, Markus would swear that he heard something of a Middle Eastern dialect, but it was too garbled to make out.
Standing there unable to do anything productive yet, Markus instead pulled a small notebook from within his coat, and a pen from another pocket near his hip. As his hand grabbed the pen, he found his cellphone bump up against his fingers, and he withdrew that from the hole it was in, as well.
Markus opened the phone and held it up, seeing there was no reception where he was. He moved around a little, to no avail, and returned the phone to his pocket. With notebook in hand, he pulled the cap of the pen off with his teeth, and began to jot down what he could make out from Charlie's unconcious form.
He kept the words mostly in order, jotting down each phrase, and noting what derivation he thought it was next to it. Markus would save the translating for later, but he made some notes on words he didn't understand, but what they might be from context.
As he was busily scribbling away, and reached some words he did not know, it took him a few seconds before realising that Charlie was speaking English again, a name. A name and what he planned to do to this person if he ever saw her again.
Markus closed the book and tucked it and the pen back into his coat, then moved back besides Charlie, and again made an attempt to grab his shoulder. He didn't attack Markus this time, but he was clearly having issues moving.
Charlie felt the hand on his shoulder at least, which was a good sign. He concentrated and wiggled his fingers, then flexed them, and finally balled his hand into a fist. Easier said than done while wearing a glove, but he did the best he could.
Shifting his weight the best he could with his dead limbs, Charlie rolled his body and made an attempt to position his fist so it hit the ground. He felt the connection, and used it to concentrate more on his arm, holding it steady.
It was like his body was waking up from years of sleep, and nothing quite knew how to work right.
He was beginning to regain control of his body though, and with one arm planted, he found he was able to get the other into place, and stabalise himself on all fours. Charlie's legs still felt wobbly, but being on his knees helped hold him steady for the moment.
Markus lurked nearby, but kept out of Charlie's way as he struggled back to his feet. After sitting there like a dog waiting for its prey, Charlie moved his legs, first planting one foot on the ground, and then the other. He took a deep breath before pushing off and straightening his legs, and finally stood straight.
Charlie's entire body wobbled as it searched to find equilibrium again, and Markus grabbed him before he toppled once more to the ground.
"Ok, maybe I'll take that ride into town after all."