Chapter 8 - Stazi
Her head hurt.
Her body hurt.
Was there a part of her that wasn’t rebelling against her this morning?
Stazi sits up slowly, groaning loudly as she does. It was somewhat lit up in her room, mostly from the little bit of natural light that was coming in through her doorway. From what she could somewhat make out was that it was either early morning or getting close to late afternoon. The curtain to the left of her bed was pulled closed so at least it provided some kind of respite from the outside sun. She wanted to just fall back into bed and close her eyes but her bladder, unfortunately, had a much different agenda.
Sliding slowly from the side of her bed as it squeaks softly in protest, she places her feet on the chilly hardwood floor of her bedroom and fights back a shiver. The cold floor does nothing to help her need to go and she stands up with a bit of a wobble, getting her balance before shuffling to her bathroom. Her apartment is quiet, which is fine considering the pounding that her brain was doing in the confines of her skull at the moment.
It doesn’t take her long to do her business, making sure to wash her hands when she is done. The medicine cabinet mirror showed her groggy face, complete with totally mussed up hair and dark bags under her eyes. She squints her eyes and looks closer at her reflection, a hand reaching up and pulling something out of her hair by her ear. Stazi turns the pine needle over in her fingers before dropping it into the trash can under her sink.
“I must have been sleep walking,” she mutters to herself as she exits her bathroom and goes into the kitchen. The curtains were closed and she dragged her feet across the floor to them, but when she tried to open up the curtains they didn't budge. She tried again and then stepped back to look down at where they were literally screwed into the wall in an even pattern all across the bottom and up the sides to almost eye level. Huh, when did I do that? Why did I do that?
With a shrug she turns back around to make her way towards her living room and almost runs into Trevor who is standing just outside the doorway. They both manage to grasp each other by the forearms with her friend letting go as quickly as he had grabbed her. She hadn’t felt a shock like you get when you shuffle your feet across the carpet, so it was odd that he had let go so fast. Stazi tries to run a hand through her thick, light brown hair and her fingers get tangled in the mess.
“Hey Trev. Mornin’. I think.” She manages to get her fingers free and looks up at him in the dim light. Either he had some make-up issues or he had a rough night last night. “You look like crap. Wow, I sound like crap…”
The odd cough from him at her comment sounded more nervous than anything. Tilting her head to the side, she walks towards him and he moves backwards into the small amount of light coming in from her living room. Most of the time he would be playful and say something snarky about her coming on to him, but this time he seemed like he wasn’t feeling playful. When he stepped backwards into that slight sliver of light, she gasped softly and lifted a hand to try and touch his face. Before she could touch him, he pointed to the kitchen and cleared his throat, moving past her quickly to go to the table and motioned to the two steaming cups of coffee.
“I brought you coffee. It’s here in the kitchen on the table if you want it. I mean, while it’s still hot and stuff. You know coffee is best either piping hot or ice cold. Room temperature really isn’t the best. It ruins the flavor I think. I mean, unless you like it that way and that's ok too. I wouldn’t want to argue with you or anything...”
Stazi listened to him ramble more under his breath as he stood by the table, his hands wringing together like they usually do when he is nervous. She trudges towards one of the chairs, her own mind starting to defog as she remembers the dreamwalk she had. And the big, grey wolf-man. A big, grey wolf-man that she could still smell in her apartment along with the scent of pine trees, decomposing underbrush and wild blueberry bushes. Weird. She sits down at the table and pulls the cup towards her, holding the cup in her hand to let the warmth soak into her cold fingers. Even the coffee seemed to have a fruity smell to it. Damn, now she wanted something with blueberries in it. She decides to try and divert her thoughts away from the juicy, purple fruit by asking Trevor about last night and about why her curtains were fastened to the wall.
“Hey, Trev? Why are my kitchen curtains screwed to the wall?” She takes a sip as she watches him sit down carefully across from her. From the way he sat on the edge of his chair, it looked like he was ready to run at a moment's notice. In fact, he sat there fiddling with his coffee cup and not even drinking it. He just stared at it and tapped his fingers nervously on the handle.
“Um...well...I did that…To protect you. I mean, unless you don’t care if other people see. I just thought you would want to keep that sort of thing private and...stuff. All the curtains are like that. I can take it all down if you want. I just thought that maybe...Look, I am really sorry for bursting in and seeing you like that and I really hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me and not try to eat me in my sleep or anything...”
Stazi could feel the rapid movement of his foot bouncing under the table. He was so incredibly nervous. And not just his usual excitable nervousness either. He looked like he was scared to death. What had frightened him so bad that he went from the carefree, happy-go-lucky boy across the hall to please-don’t-kill-me-I-swear-I-won’t-tell overnight kind of guy?
“Hey.” She reaches across the table to rest her hand on top of his. Even though there is a noticeable jerk of surprise with his whole body tensing up, he doesn’t move his hand. “I have no idea what happened last night that made you so jumpy and nervous. You know you can talk to me right?”
Stazi keeps her gaze on his face as he lifts it up, her eyes now used to the dimmed light in her kitchen. Her friend looked absolutely horrible. The dark color under his eyes spoke of days without sleep, not just one night. His lips were dry and slightly cracked, while the rest of his face held a light pallor to it. His light blond hair was dark and had a sheen to it, hanging limp against the sides of his face. He honestly looked like he was sick, in desperate need of sleep or a combination of both. When he spoke, his voice was soft and barely audible.
“I don’t even know where to start. Well, maybe I do.” His eyes fall down to look into his coffee cup. “For one thing…it’s actually Sunday morning. You’ve been asleep for a while.”
“Sunday?” Stazi sat back and rested her hands on the table. “It’s...Sunday.”
Trevor nods slowly and then tanks his coffee in four distinct swallows. She would be impressed if it wasn’t for the fact that he probably did it because of nerves. Taking a slow drink of her own hot beverage, she plays over the events of her dreamwalk. Something tugs at her mind but she isn’t quite sure of what it is that she is trying to remember. That sort of thing had been happening a lot lately and she was getting perturbed. If she was supposed to remember something, why wasn’t her head cooperating?
“I don’t recall anything after you made me go to bed.” Stazi gives a brief pause as she looks at her friend across the table from her. “What happened? Help me out here ok, Trev? I’m a little confused as to where the last two days went. It seems to be an issue I’ve got lately. Not remembering anything. Missing whole days, weeks, years...”
“Oh my god…where do I start?” He gives a nervous laugh before going on. “You did wake up though, after I found you and got you in bed. I cleaned up your head since you had a bit of a cut on it. But you know head wounds bleed like crazy even when they are small. I made sure to clean everything else up too. The floor that you bled all over, even washed your towels and stuff.” He starts to rub on the mug handle. “You did wake up once and I gave you some headache meds that I found in your bathroom cabinet. I told you to go back to sleep and you did.”
Trevor looks up and she gives him a soft smile. He seems to loosen up a bit as he takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “Did you...shit. Um, not sure how to say all of this.”
“I’m fairly certain I did not just shit.” She offers him a light hearted smirk and he returns her humor with a faint chuckle.
“No, I mean. Ah, well. Um. Ok.” He inhales through his nose and holds it for a while before letting it go in a rush of air. The words that came next were nothing short of a hot mess on the heels of the expressed breath. “Ok, like I said, you did wake up and talk to me in bed, which is when I gave you the headache meds and then I told you to lay back down and go to sleep and you asked me if I saw a ghost. I didn’t see a ghost though, I saw you and your...furriness. I didn’t know what to do about it and I am really sorry for not trying to get you into bed sooner but I didn’t know where the blood on your hands came from and it was really dark and when I turned on the light there was like...pine needles and dirt and leaves all over your room. And you! All laying on the floor with white and silver fur, big ol’ ears and this huge bushy tail and I was like ‘Holy shit! What the fuck!’ And then your fur started to like, ungrow itself into your skin and your spine, like, sucked up your tail into your body and wow it was so cool but scary as hell at the same time and I lost my shit! It’s a good thing no one else lives up here because I am pretty sure I screamed like a little girl and then I just sat down in a heap outside your room because I wasn’t sure if you were dead or not...”
Trevor took a deep breath and went on, quite animatedly, with his hands still waving everywhere and eyes wide. His voice would raise and lower in octaves depending on his excitement level as well as he described how he cleaned up the ‘foresty mess that was her floor’ and washed the towels and other laundry she had in her room. His recollection was all over the place as his tired mind made him jump from one thing to another, but she listened intently as he explained to her about getting his drill and screws and making sure none of her curtains would open. He told her how he had stayed up and cleaned her apartment before sitting on her couch to make sure she didn’t wake up and fall out of bed. Her friend then went on to say that he had tried to go to sleep on a makeshift bed of cushions on the floor of her room but he couldn’t sleep and just sat there staring at her while she slept.
“I am sorry if I sound like a total voyeur. Part of me was hoping to see you all furry again, just to help me come to grips with the fact that what I saw wasn’t just some weird, overstimulation issue or reaction I had to the bread or pizza sauce. The logical part of me was trying to convince my imaginative self that what I saw didn’t exist. But I know what I saw, Stazi. I know what I saw was real.” He looks up at her, his tired eyes filled with a strained mix of fear and wonder. She’d never seen him this emotional before as a small tear fell down his cheek from the corner of an eye. “I’m not crazy, am I?”
Stazi knew that her friend was truthful, almost to a fault. She’d seen his brutal honesty at work with the more difficult customers at the gallery. For some reason his snark was met with kindness and understanding. Hers? Yeah, not so much. But right now, he was staring at her with those crystal blue eyes that were nestled in with spiderwebs of angry red blood vessels. He needed sleep so badly right now. However, Stazi knew he would sit there and wait until his body made him pass out before going voluntarily to bed without an explanation.
“No, I don’t think you are crazy.” She sighs a bit as she looks down at her steaming mug. “If anything, I might be the one that is a little crazy.”
His forehead scrunches up in confusion and it only makes him look even more worn out. “Why do you say that?”
“Tell you what, I will tell you everything about my wierd, messed up memory loss if you get some sleep first. Then the two of us can figure out if we are both having furry hallucinations or if I dream about being furry and it comes true. Deal?”
She can see him blink at her a few times, confusion and curiosity fused with extreme weariness as he tries to process what she said. After a few moments he nods and stands up, shuffling towards the doorway to her kitchen. Stazi stands up with him and follows him to his apartment where he stops abruptly and she almost runs into his chest as he whirls around to look her in the eyes. There was a storm of questions rising up in those tired eyes and she shakes her head slowly. It was her turn to watch over her friend.
“No. Turn off the brain pan, Trev.” She reaches up and is a bit hurt when he tenses up and takes a small step back. Going a bit slower this time, he watches her finger come up to tap him very gently on his forehead. “You and your head need to go lay down and rest. Right now it is my turn to be the guardian. Go lay down and I will make sure no one bugs you. If they do, I’ll bite their arm off.”
The strangled laugh that burst out of his mouth was loud in the quiet hallway and it looked like he might start crying. Without hesitation, Stazi wraps her arms around his chest and pulls him into a strong embrace and inhales, smelling the faint aroma of pizza on his breath mixed with coffee. His shirt still smelled faintly of the cologne he liked to wear along with the scent of someone that hadn’t bathed in a few days and Stazi realized that he was still wearing the same clothes from Friday night. It takes him a few seconds to realize that she wasn’t going to let go, his own arms wrapping around her as he rests his head into the curve where her shoulder meets her neck. They both stand there silently for several minutes until Trevor lifts his head slowly, his eyes practically swimming with tears.
“Hey, it’s ok.” She moves her hands up to his face and looks him right in his eyes. “We will figure this out. We can’t do it if your head is a jumbled mess, though.” She pats his cheek gently before pulling his face down to give him a peck on the forehead. “Go lay down and get some sleep. My turn to keep watch.”
Trevor swallows down whatever it was he had intended to say, nodding and turning to walk past the low table in front of his couch that still had plates with half-eaten pieces of pizza on them. The kitchen table still had a box with dice, presumably his since it was at the head of the table where he had been standing, along with the map that had all the miniatures on it. She follows him to his room and waits in the doorway as he goes in and lays down, pulling up the blanket on the foot of his bed to cover himself. Stazi walks in and turns off his bedside light and then leaves, closing his door behind her. She looks around his apartment and nods. It was only fair that she cleans up his place like he had done for her.
Trevor kept his place immaculate. To see things still laying around after a few days made her realize just how much time he put into taking care of her. It warmed her heart to know that he had gone to all that trouble but it also made her a little upset at the same time. He had neglected taking care of himself just so that he could be convinced that what he had seen wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. First things first, she needed to get rid of all the half-eaten and forgotten food that had been left out. When she had gotten that done, she turned her attention to the kitchen and dining room.
After filling the sink full of soapy water, she washes the few mugs that were left out. She recalls what she looked like in her dream and frowns slightly. Was it really a dream then? Maybe she really was some kind of shifter and didn’t realize it. Stazi shakes her head as she rinses off a cup and puts it in the dish holder. No, that didn’t make sense. If she could change into another...something, one would think that they would know they could. Right? Shaking her head, she finishes up the last few mugs in the sink before letting out both sinks of water and wiping down the counter.
With his house cleaned up she goes back over to her own apartment, leaving his door open in the off chance he woke up and needed something. She was fairly sure he was out like a light, but with his tendencies to wake up sometimes she thought it would be prudent to leave it open just in case. Her own apartment was basically spotless which meant he had definitely spent all of his time there instead of his own place. With a light sigh, she grabs a towel from a small stand in her room and heads to her bathroom to take a quick shower. Maybe the steam would help clear her mind. It would definitely help her smell better.
About fifteen minutes later she was out of the shower and dressed in a t-shirt with a loose fitting pair of sweats. As it was Sunday, there wasn’t really a rush or need to get dressed into anything other than lounging clothes. With Trevor still sound asleep across the hall she didn’t plan on going anywhere so she decided to go for comfort when she got out of the shower. She had taken a box out of her closet and carried it into her living room, opening it on the small coffee table in front of her couch.
Inside were various sizes and shades of drawing pencils in a worn, blue pencil pouch along with a few drawing pads. When she had been in Alaska, the woman that had taken care of her gave her the idea that she should draw what she had dreamt about. The thought was that perhaps it would stir up memories that were lost or forgotten. Stazi knew that she didn’t always dreamwalk and the woman had suggested that her dreams might actually be memories.
The art books were full of different images - some with an older gentleman with a gentle smile, some had an older woman with warm brown skin and long grey hair, always wearing an apron of some sort. There were other pages with snow covered buildings and meadows with small blue flowers. As she flipped through the pages she stopped on a page with a small grey wolf. It looked like it was still young, mouth open like he was barking at her. Her finger runs over the tip of an ear and eyebrows pull together as she stares at it longer. The eyes were a beautiful shade of brown that looked really familiar.
Stazi flips towards the back of the book quickly, finding an empty page as she unzips the bag full of pencils and starts to sort through them to find the colors she wanted. After she finds the ones she wants she slides to the floor and uses the couch as a backrest, pulling the coffee table towards her to use as a flat surface. Placing the opened art book down, the only sounds heard for the next few hours are the scratching noises of the pencils and the clicking of her tongue as she concentrates on recreating what she remembered from her dreamwalk.