cnwood

November 6, 2011

Beneath the Surface – Chapter One Part 3

The sliding door closing echoed loudly in her throbbing head. The ability to focus fast receding as she followed the sound of Edith’s fading footsteps. To the last Debra fought to stay conscious, but the rage was too strong.

Once the mind went under the body was vulnerable.

Burning pain shot across the top of her skull and down along her spine. Too late to try and hide away in the back guest bedroom. Debra was no longer in control. All her impressive abilities, the omnipotent power to kill, now belonged to the all consuming black rage.

Neck muscles, with no more strength than a newborn, gave way, her head sliding along the back of the sofa, coming to rest awkwardly against her shoulder. Sweat trickled in rivulets across her drawn face, seeping through eyelashes to burn her eyes. Blood gathered protectively around vital organs, leaving her skin almost transparent white.

Throughout the body, seizures gained strength, attacking motor-sensory nerves, choking flexibility one vertebra at a time. Muscles and tendons went flaccid as kinetic energy purged through pores, swathing Debra in a fusion of arcing blue fire.

Silently, Edith stood in the shadows of the screen door, staring aghast, unsure what had prompted her to turn around. Lab notes and subject reports suddenly seemed such ludicrous preparation for the violent spectacle before her.

Fear quickly sucked the moisture from her gapping mouth.

Shari’s Syndrome, or in Debra’s vernacular the black rage, threatened the family as well as the host; the brutal genetic disorder unpredictable, uncontrollable, eventually lethal.

Air particles, super stimulated by the abundant waves of kinetic energy emanating from Debra’s body, randomly discharged like tiny fireflies about the room. The slowly condensing atmosphere heaved and swirled, billowing curtains, buffeting tablecloths, clothing, adding anything of unsubstantial weight to the whirling mayhem beginning to clutter the huge open living space.

Framed artwork clattered and thumped threateningly against living room walls and down the wide hallway. Decorative planters overturned, the glazed ceramic pots rising up to collide in mid air, sending pottery shards and debris about the room like shrapnel.

Fearing for Debra’s safety, Edith hastened into the house, staying low, scurrying on all fours toward the nearest sofa.

She grabbed a sandaled foot and pulled hard. And gasped loudly, snatching back her smarting hand against her prone body. This close Edith could feel the burning heat literally gushing from Debra’s bare skin, could smell clothing and sofa fabric smoldering beneath the intense heat.

Something hard smacked the back of her raised head. Instinctively she curled into a ball on her side as close to Debra without actually touching the hot blue aura. Edith warily watched flying debris careen through the seating area. Watched in horror as several large chunks of broken pottery flew straight for Debra’s head.

Within inches of the target, the rubble suddenly bounced harmlessly to the side amid sparking dirt and broken petals and flower stems.

Through the mayhem she could see clean space; what appeared to be a faint blue outline surrounding Debra. Relief made the sweat on her body turn cold. So the files of documented defenses were true: While senseless, Debra’s automatic defenses protected her from harm.

The only one in any real danger was Edith.

Slowly she slithered up onto the sofa cushion along the perimeter of Debra’s safe zone and glanced up into demonic blood-red eyes.

Startled, Edith threw herself off the sofa. “Good God!” she yelped, scooting back in a rush against the fireplace. Bits of dirt and debris bounced off her head and shoulders. Once more she flattened to the floor for protection.

Overhead, enormous panes vibrated along the entire length of clear glass wall. Suddenly the glass bulged inward, stretching like sugar candy, thinning to the point of breaking.

Edith bounded up from the floor dreading the worst, shouting, “Stop it, Debra.”  Fear of shattering glass made her forgetful. She grabbed the younger woman’s bare wrist and shrieked. Muscle and tendons convulsed beneath her hand. Searing heat made fingers momentarily numb.

Pain ripped the breath from her lungs. Unbalanced, Edith stumbled back against the end table, upending the black Lover’s Box.

She dove for the small space between the sofa and skewed end table. Empathic skills were useless against the fury of full blown Shari’s Syndrome. To pit her own mental barriers against such a force would be suicide.

Anger mixed with fear at the helplessness she felt. For the first time she could truly empathize with the hell Debra had been forced to endure. Could better understand the brutal torture that had taken the less resilient of their children.

The numbness faded, leaving a stinging pins-and-needles sensation throughout her hand. “Damon, she groaned against the carpet fibers. “Where the hell are you?” Sniffing loudly, she wiggled on elbows and knees through the small space and turned around, desperate for a plan to get them both out alive.

Sparking energy danced in stunning blue arcs across the toppled metal flowerpot stands. Edith stared in horror as tiny blue currents crawled over the metal locking faceplate on the tumbled black Lover’s Box. Her heart clutched at the thought of the handmade wedding gift being hurtled against the wall and destroyed.

Quick fingers defied the maelstrom and tumbled the bulky container between the sofa and end table. Edith clutched the precious box to her heaving chest, muttering a prayer of thanks and sending a telepathic appeal for deliverance.

She palmed the delicate gold chain and locket about her neck and stared longingly at the oblong crystal pendant set in gold filigree, paired with a small scrolled key. Trevon’s wedding gift to the heart. The metal key winked at her in the subdued lighting. Inserting the small key, she unlocked one of the few remaining treasures from her brief marriage twenty-six years ago.

The intricately carved squares of black wood interlocked across the lid and dovetailed sides of the box. Smells of wood polish and flower petals assailed the senses, stirring memories. Padded silk, purposely matched to the ocean-blue color of her eyes, protectively draped the carved pedestals that cradled a palm-size meditation globe.

Ignoring the vicious ache in her clumsy, raw fingers, Edith lifted the globe from its cradle, wincing at the pain, and cupped both hands around the smooth orb. Cool living crystal, slowly warmed by living flesh, awakened, rousing the core’s mesmerizing blue flame.

Eyes closed to the flames hypnotic effects, Edith thrust the globe over the sofa armrest and bellowed to be heard above the din. “Look at the flame, Debra!”

Fingers like molten steel clamped onto her wrist and slowly squeezed. A mindless scream filled the great room. Unable to escape the burning grip, Edith bit down hard onto her lower lip, anything to survive the pain and roiling nausea.

The globe dropped unscathed to the sofa cushion, the blue core flickering, waiting for ocular contact.

Overwhelmed with fear and pain, Edith instinctively jerked back with all her might, pulling free of the excruciating grip, upsetting the end table and crystal lamp with a crash. Curled tightly around her injured wrist, she watched helplessly as pieces of the beautiful lamp were carried away in the whirlwind that filled the room. How many of her cherished mementos would Debra’s black rage end up destroying?

Anger quickly surfaced, building up a head of steam. Edith Bromon was not known for sitting on her hands and waiting for rescue. And she bloody well wasn’t going to start now. Pushing aside the fact of those hideous red eyes, or the glass wall bulging inward on top of them, she defiantly stood, scooping up the globe, and thrust the glass ball mere inches from the face of the convulsing creature before her. “Look at the goddamn flame, Debra,” she ordered loudly.

Acquisition was instant. The crystal’s flame penetrated the sensitive layers of Debra’s blood-filled retinas. Immediately, the blue radiance breached tissue and cells of the eyes, brain, and spinal column, spreading its calming, emptying influence throughout the body. Engorged blood vessels contracted to normal, slowly clearing the eyes. Failed nerve pathways resumed natural conduction, stemming muscular seizures and convulsions.

Breathing, heart rate, and paranormal functions lapsed into cataleptic exhaustion, allowing Debra’s autonomic self-healing to begin repairing internal trauma.

Shredded flowers, dirt, shards of pottery, paper, and whatever else had been caught up in the maelstrom, suddenly plunged to the floor, leaving a layer of filthy over furniture and carpeting.

Astounded, Edith squinted through the haze of dust choking the great room; the abrupt, awkward silence strangely deafening. Incredibly the glass wall appeared undamaged, the huge panes free of obvious separations or cracks.

Eyes averted, she returned the globe to its cradle inside the Lover’s Box, the flickering blue flame never leaving sight of Debra’s vacant gaze. Edith shakily collapsed next to the scorched, reeking sofa and lamely ran a tongue over teeth coated in grit. In numb silence she waited for help to arrive.

*   *   *

Colors blended—pale amethyst invading deeper blue, merging into wispy strands of black. Somehow she was back in the mysterious domain of the globe. And like before, all sense of time and dimension were lost. Void of physical substance, instinct warned that resistance was pointless.

The mind’s eye remained vigilant, instantly aware when darkness thinned, brightening into shades of gray.

Just beyond the engulfing mass of shifting mist, they waited for her. Legions of black haired, black eyed men and women, their unadorned jumpsuits blending like camouflage against the dimensionless, gray ambiance.

Thousands of minds gave welcome. Her consciousness staggered under the unbearable onslaught of thoughts and images begging for hope, crying in fear. Protective barriers were useless. With no control and no defenses, Debra helplessly waited for awareness to rupture into oblivion . . .

“ENOUGH!”

Compliance to the harsh command was instant. The multitude of judgments and feelings receded as one, leaving in its place a sense of indebted esteem.

The ranks of men and women parted and Kalon approached. And with their minds linked once more, he filled Debra with his strength and love. His tender kiss lifted from her lips. Debra was startled to have actually felt the sensation; to once again see with her eyes and fingertips as well as the perception in her mind.

Kalon pressed a finger against his lips to stall her horde of questions. He stepped to one side, watching her searching eyes settle on the small group of children waiting for her undivided attention.

Their beauty took Debra’s breath away. Fragile little faces filled with delightful acceptance. And a strength of will that seemed so much more controlled than the adults that hovered protectively around them. Large black eyes revealed an innocent curiosity, their smiling lips sweetly mouthing her name in welcome.

A young girl, no more than five or six, tucked her fingers into Debra’s hand and beamed like the sun when thought and energy merged between them. The child, Ruthie, was pulled back to rejoin the other bubbly youngsters.

Debra’s smile quickly fell, though, as the truth became painfully clear: Ruthie and the other children were dying.

“Debraaaa . . .”

There was no mistaking the fear in Edith’s penetrating cry. Debra’s gaze turned toward the distance plea.

“Debra . . . please come back . . .”

“Please baby . . .”

A glance over her shoulder for help from Kalon wrenched a startled cry of her own. Nothing remained but gray mist. “Kalon,” she called out telepathically. “Don’t leave.”

The mist receded and darkness fell, for a moment or a week there was no way to tell. Then blackness alter into shades of blue and time and space became relative once again—the unmistakable hum of Edith’s vexed muttering, the feel of the sofa beneath her back, the smell of coffee and dust in the air.

Debra opened tired eyes to laughter and tears.

“My God, sweetheart, you’ve been gone for hours,” Edith babbled joyously, her grin wobbly, her bandaged hand rubbing vigorously over cold arms and legs to speed up Debra’s circulation. “Almost too long, baby. Now you’re body is paying for it.”

Dawn’s early sunlight shimmered blindingly through the towering glass wall.

Another yawn stretched Debra’s jaw to the limit, each deep breath bringing another tinge of pink back into pallid cheeks. Brown eyes struggled to stay open, confusion clear in their weary depths. “How bad . . .” came the raspy whisper.

Edith chuckled, impatiently kissing fingers still stiff and cold. “Rowan says you’re okay. But you’re gonna sleep for days.”

“Incredible . . . Kalon . . . children . . .” Debra mumbled, thoughts racing to hoard all the knowledge and emotions that crowded awareness, piling one upon the other and burying her under an avalanche of truth. “Strong people . . . desperate . . .” she sighed, groping for words to justify the magnitude of their grief and aloneness.

Extreme exhaustion tugged at drooping eyelids and consciousness. A soft pillow slid beneath her lifted head; felt the heated blanket tucked more securely about her chilled body stretched out on the sofa. No amount of willpower could keep sleep or the loneliness of dreams at bay.

Deep within darkness, she watched his shadowy figure slowly draw near. “Kalon, you came back to me . . .” Willingly, Debra once more surrendered her soul to the happiness of the dream world.

*   *   *

Through the tranquil splendor of sunrise, transcending distance and dimension, a collectiveness focused all its strength and hopes at the exhausted young woman asleep on the sofa.

Even in dreams Debra felt them reaching out, calling her home.

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