Echoes of Time - Thread of Life

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Chapter 9

When I come from the bathroom Smith is paying for our food, he groans with impatience as I make him wait while I get everything put in to-go boxes, even his leftovers, waste not want not and all. Still I leave the bacon behind, just ew.

He holds open the back door of the SUV for me, not out of politeness but letting me know I’ve been busted back down to civilian status.

I sigh getting in, he hardly spares me a glance.

We drive back to D.C. in complete silence. I was expecting at least a question or two about everything I’ve told him, but nothing. He’s retreated back to safety, which to him seems to be extreme rigidness and formality. I think the kiss in the bathroom has him unhinged.

Can I say I feel differently? There is something there, something right beneath the surface of him, and I want… need to find out what.

I try to convince myself its natural, that it has nothing to do with the absence of belonging to a hora.

Druids group themselves in four, living out our lives together in companionship, we are each other’s time, a hora. But I haven’t found my own, a group I click with, and I’ve tried, so very hard I’ve tried. I’m so tired of being alone.

It’s not that I am not wanted. I’m a female, I’m more powerful than any male druid by leaps and bounds. But it never feels right and as my grandmother always tells me, it must be right.

Smith stops the SUV in front of the shop, pulling up on the curb again with no respect for the no parking sign.

“I hope cash is fine, we want to keep this off books.” Smith hands back a thin white envelope.

“Yeah, thanks.” I take it from him opening the door.

“Can I call you?”

I freeze, maybe he feels it too.

“…If I have questions about the ‘supernatural’ world.”

“Oh yeah, sure.” Of course Agent Smith doesn’t feel things.

I give him my number and he calls my phone so that I have his. I pull it from my bag to save his number.

“Andrew… Andrew Smith.”

“Yeah…right.” I save his number under ‘Tin Man’ and get out of the SUV slamming the door behind me.

I wrestle with the take-out bags, my pile of wet clothes, keeping the two big sweatpants up and my purse to get my keys out.

“Fuck.” I whisper agitated.

My hands still aren’t really working right with coordinated efforts.

I hurry to get in before Smith can get out to ‘help’ me. I already hate that he’s waiting to see that I get in safely, I’ve never been a distressing damsel in my life.

Mrs. Mulaney has left her post at the landing of the second floor. At least I don’t have to deal with her casting down judgments on me laced with dire predictions of hellfire tonight.

I open the door to Eko and sigh with relief. I made it, I didn’t get killed.

The store is empty and quiet. Cam locked it up nice and tight. Smith pulls from the curb I guess to go crawl into whatever hole he calls home.

I walk back through the short hallway with the bathroom and storage closet to the back room.

There’s a desk lamp with a muted multicolored shade on one of the shelves. I leave it on always, a nightlight in my divination room, where I tell fortunes. The shelves full of propaganda casts harsh shadows on the wall from the light and yet I’m not afraid.

Fear is born from ignorance, from not understanding the world around you and from fear comes hatred. It’s why I hate willful stupidity so very much. I head around the table to the rear and move the black curtain to the side, revealing a door.

I open the door and step into the back stairwell, another door that leads outback is in front of me. I turn to the left and jog down the stairs to my basement apartment.

Most people would be uncomfortable living with so little natural light. But honestly the rent was included with the shop rent and it’s about all I can afford.

I set down into an open floorplan and flip on the light. The kitchen and living room grouped together, with only a small island to separate the two areas. The hot water heaters and furnaces to my left. The furnace sounds like a jet taking off the entire winter, it takes a little getting used to.

The stove, refrigerator sink to my right. I have a small futon in the living room and a two-seater table that serves as my ‘dining room’.

I set the bag full of to-go boxes on the counter near the sink with a sigh.

“Home sweet home.” I whisper turning back to the apartment.

The bathroom is on the right, a toilet, a sink and a stand up shower. A single wall sections off my bedroom. I head there dropping my cloth-bag onto the queen sized bed. This has been my one expensive purchase. I need a good bed, it’s mandatory. Getting it down here was hell.

A dresser and mirror sits across from the bed, a TV balanced on the end. I keep telling myself I’ll get a stand, never do.

But I’m sure not having a TV stand would even be noticed. Not with my walls covered in pictures, maps and paper with little notes, newspaper clippings. String spanning each bit as I try to connect it all.

I don’t know why I put it here, in my bedroom. Perhaps to haunt me as I try to sleep? The world as I know it, is coming to an end, I’m trying to stop it, trying to change the future. But no matter where I look, or what I change, I cannot find a thread of life and I’m running out of time.

Windows high up on the far wall lets the street light in illuminating the madness that is my life. What was I thinking flirting with Quinn? He gets one look at this and off to the crazy bin I go. No, I’m meant to live and die alone. This is my burden to bear, I shouldn’t have allowed myself that moment in the bathroom with Smith, I shouldn’t have let him in.

I close the curtains and strip down throwing my clothes in the hamper by the door.

The bathroom is a small affair, but functional. Toilet on my right, beside the stand-up shower, sink and linen closet on my left. If I want a bath I have to rent a hotel room.

Not being able to really use my hands puts me at a disadvantage so I just squirt soap and run the water as hot as I can to get the grime off, like a carwash.

I rub a homemade salve on my hands, they should be healed by morning. I know a pretty talented earth witch and her potions and poultices always work like a charm. But the stuff smells awful. Green goop really and horribly expensive. I hate when my runes go hot, it’s like flushing money down the toilet.

Sleep steals me away quickly and that horrible feeling in the pit of my gut returns, tonight I shall walk the echoes it seems.

The smell of smoke fills my nose, stinging my eyes, making it hard to breathe. Heat radiates from all directions I turn trying to find a way out. I’m trapped. The building is burning, the entire city is burning.

I’m standing in the storefront of Eko wearing a simple green sundress, no shoes. Cam is dead, propped in her chair, her skin still on fire her mouth frozen open with a silent scream. I can’t get to the door. I pick up one of the chairs and throw it through the large window. The glass explodes out and I run towards safety, jumping when I reach the glass, trying not get cut. I fall hard to the pavement outside and pain radiates through my arms. I’ve skinned myself badly, the palms of my hands bleeding, my runes glowing gold.

People are screaming, running. The sound of fire trucks and police cars surround me, but its spread too far, it burns too hot. This is not a natural fire. This was made with magic and rage.

I stand up slowly, looking around, it’s supposed to be daylight, I know that. But the smoke is so thick it blots out the sky, the whole world is burning.

Something urges me to run, I don’t know what or why, I just know I need to run. I race down 3rd St and spill out onto Haleworth. Cars crashed together, people hurt stumbling about, bleeding badly, burned. Crying, screaming, it’s madness. My heart pounds wildly, I keep looking for someone, but I don’t know who and I don’t know why. The smoke is heavy and thick, stinging my eyes. Dear God, how did this happen? How did we get here?

“You must find her!” Someone yells I turn to see myself, a different version of me. My hair is short, curling wildly, my green eyes tired, so very tired.

“Who?!” I yell to myself.

“She is Kairos.”

“The daughter of Khaos?”

“She has been reborn, you must find her!”

“I don’t know how! You never tell me how!” I’ve had this conversation for years, it’s always the same. I never become aware that this is a dream until I see my doppelganger.

No matter what I ask myself, I never say anything different.

“She will bring the end of all things!” My doppelganger is frantic, afraid.

“What is her name?!”

I look down, my feet are on fire but I feel no pain and now my dress. This is the way it always ends, with me being burned alive. The first time I dreamed this, I felt my skin burning. I smelt myself being cooked alive. It was the most horrible experience of my life, and it was a dream.

After I become aware I can change small things, like not feeling the pain as I burn. But I can never stop the fire and I can never get myself to tell me what happened. Why the world is burning or how I can stop it.

“Please tell me her name! Where is she?!”

“You must save her or you must kill her.”

“I need you to help me!”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

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