Chapter 22: Corpses
AN: ooh, i love myself for this. wink wink.
Dandachi went that night.
I'd like to say there was some big, defining moment, but there wasn't. None of us even knew he'd gone until mid-morning, when his dark skin began to break through blue and grey. His eyes were already closed, and he lay slightly on one side, one hand clutching to the front of his shirt.
Both Dandachi and Nas' bodies lay outside of our cells, heads covered with cloths; Carrieveau helped Andri to remove Dandachi whist I sat with Bane, still high with fever. His hand suddenly snapped out and grabbed the fabric of my skirt, and he gave a low, hissing noise that betrayed some sort of pain. I placed my hand on top of his in a comforting fashion and he slapped it away, clinging again to my dress and moaning into his pillow.
I listened as Andri explained what had happened to a now-congregating group, whom had already seen Nas' body out earlier and were now becoming even more excited; two deaths? And in one day? Even more exciting than someone going for the climb.
"What will you do with the bodies?" I ask Andri when he finishes talking, "burn them?"
"No, no," cried Andri, "and stink out the entire prison? It's bad enough as it is without the stench of burning flesh."
"The guards will take them up," Andri explained. "The rope man- the one who deals with the food supplies and the climbs- will send up a signal. They will know the dead are coming, and they will be prepared for it."
I forced myself to look at the bodies of the two men- rigmortis had already set in, so they lay twisted as they had died. Firdos and Barsad appeared up by the bars, both watching the bodies with amazement. Andri knelt down beside that of Dandachi, took hold of his leg and pulled hard.
There was a terrible lurching of bones that made the vertebrae of my spine twist together, and I cried as he grabbed for the second leg, "what the hell are you doing?!"
"The bodies are solid," Andri explained coolly, "they must be straight. How to you expect me to bandage up a twisted body like this?"
I cringed away into Bane's side as Andri snapped and popped the bones in both men, unable to escape the crippling noise.
Barsad cried out loudly, obviously in horror of the sight, and Andri scolded him for something along the lines of 'acting a girl'.
Less than an hour later both bodies are wrapped up in bundles of fabric and have been moved over into a better shaded area, the cook's corridor. Hours pass in near silence as the prison waits for night to fall and the bodies to be removed.
The moonlit darkness finds her way over the complex eventually, and a large crowd gathers underneath her. I watch from my cell, a muttering Bane beside me. He kicks at his bed with frustration through his pain, and I try to soothe him.
"Andri said to me once," I tell him, a wisp of consciousness left in me, "something about you and Dandachi." I scoff at the air, smiling at it's ludicrously.
"He said, "they will fight again and again until one of them is dead."
I laugh at the glowing air, exhaling it's icy sting.
Bane moans again and I try to give him a little water, but he refuses it. I remember my hallucination and gulp, the white of the air rushing in; I focus my mind to stop thinking of it, and find myself instead telling Bane about what happened. I'm quite sure that in this state he won't understand- perhaps that's for the better.
"He saved me," I say eventually. "He saved me from- that. And I didn't even get a chance to say thank you."
Bane bucks his head lightly against the pillow, and I wonder for a second if it's in recognition; but then, sharply, he let's out a low snore.
The crowd about the bodies ripples a little like scales on a fish, a hundred heads, lustrous and bald, reflecting the moonlight as a small body is lifted up against the face of the rock. Slowly, being pulled by the feet, Nas ascends upwards. I think for a moment of the irony in that, but it is soon brushed away as the rope man bends down to attach Dandachi to the second line of rope. Once Nas' corpse folds unceremoniously over the lip of the pit, Dandachi's begins to ascend upwards- slowly and graciously he rises, quivering up the side of the prison majestically to be glowered over the hood of our eternal damnation; oh, to escape here only by first dying. Cruel.
I close my eyes and pray; something I haven't done since my first weeks here. I pray for Dandachi and even for Nas, if he is deserving of such a grace as the blessing of God.
The crowd worms away back to it's varying cell blocks and stairways, leaving a lone figure gazing up past the moon and up, up high into the heavens. Firdos' slight frame blackens in the shadows of the night, and he stands there, watching the sky- waiting for something, anything. He stands there so long I begin to loose interest in his lack of mobility and allow myself to sleep; but I am awoken quickly by an erratic outburst of violent dreams, and when my eyes return to the real world, I see the boy is still there, but is now lay out on the dusty dirt floor, cheeks sunken by the light allowed, his fingers rubbing their way deeper into the ground asthough he wanted to simply become part of it, to not have to think so much anymore- to just exist with out all the complications existence brings.
A frosty sort of grief looms over the prison for the next few days. Everything seems to slow down, asthough time herself is in mourning- not of the loss of Dandachi and Nas, but of the loss of purpose.
Andri, with the loss of Dandachi is unsettled; without the patient, he shifts his medical concerns to Bane. He slowly recovers from his hysteria, and within four days the infection has completely passed. He stops clutching onto my hand blindly, and though guilt brushes by me when I think it, I have to admit it's a shame to see it go; ill or not, that subtle contact- minor as it was- made me feel wanted; like for once, at last, he needed me here- I wasn't just a burden he managed to yolk upon himself. And now, I knew, the second he returned to full health it would become just like it always was.
"Where's Dandachi?" Asks Bane after I explain away to him that he fell ill with a less severe strain of Dandachi's infection, as he gently rouses into bitter full recovery.
"He passed away," I say, "a few days ago. They sent him up over the top."
Bane looks blankly for a second, then a despicable expression tweaks his features.
"Don't," I say out loud, "just don't. He's dead now- dead and gone. Just have some respect, please..."
Bane laughs- actually, properly laughs aloud. The sound is thick and unsettling, and something about it reminds me of Nas.
"I did not respect that abomination of a man when he lived and I will do no such thing when he is dead. Had he a grave, I would find my way out of this hell hole just to spit on it."
I bow my head, nothing to say. I think of the way he has defiled Dandachi- a man who ultimately helped me and whose efforts on my behalf probably finished him off- and decide I won't let it happen. It's time to let him know.
"There's something I need to tell you," I say, and his expression darkens a little, his eyes and lips tightening at the corners.
I stare for a second simply at the beard that has begun to thicken around his jaw and mouth, transfixed by the complexity of it. I realize the absurdity behind my traceless thoughts and force myself to handle reality.
"You remember Nas?" He thinks for half a second, then states boldly,
"The ratty one."
I nod, remembering hearing him calling Nas that before.
"He got in," I explain. "Got in here- picked the lock and pinned me."
"Where the hell was Andri?" Bane barks in disbelief, anger thickening his accent into something darker, more fractured.
"He was..." I realize I don't know the answer, but pick up from my drift before Bane can retaliate. "He was out. So was Bobby- you were in the early stages of hysteria and Dandachi was out like a light-"
"Where's Nas?" Bane growls, already set on getting to his feet, "if he touched you I swear I'll tear the lungs from his chest, I'll kill him-"
"There's no need," I explain gently; "He's already dead."
He looks at me, with an expression of almost horror.
"no-" as I allow my next word to escape my lips, my chest tightens a little. "Dandachi helped me."
Bane stares blankly for a long time, as though this information sickens him. He maintains eye contact with the wall, hastily asking, "did he- Nas, I mean- did he-"
"No," I state quickly, not even wanting to hear him say those words. "No, he… no. I'm fine."
Bane quickly stands up, and something about the movement unsettles me.
"What's wrong?" I say worriedly, unsure whether or not to approach him as he stands agitatedly facing the back wall, one hand resting upon it. "you should get back in bed, you're temperature-"
"I'm sorry," he says.
I question at first whether I heard him right, astounded at the very notion of the idea. It comes out so cracked and unwillingly it's barely audible, but it was definitely there.
"What?" I ask, easing a little further off.
He looks pained then, as though repeating the words would only make them more tangible.
"What- what for?" I say, unsure of how to deal with him- I haven't seen him like this before. It's vulnerable and open, and it's- scary.
"I should have been there," he says. "I should have been awake and alert and-"
"Don't be daft," I say, my words coming out with a delicate laugh, "you were ill, you were asleep, there's no way you could have-"
"I'm sorry," he says again, turning around to face me but still looking somewhere above my head, unable to maintain eye contact. "it should have been me and it wasn't. You needed me and I wasn't-"
Before I even realize I'm going to do it, I pull his face down to mine and hold him in a kiss.
AT LAST! *squee*
R&R for more, thanks for visiting!
just as a side note: i have two other stories just recently started, too, 'Imprisoned' (what's with all the prison connotation, i know ;D) and 'Ornate'. i'd really appreciate it if any of you guys might check them out- a few people so far have requested more than just a one-shot of them, but i'm not sure yet whether or not to continue with said stories- i'd appreciate your feedback/suggestions :) )
until next time/story, folks!