The Keeper (pt 19)

What is happening is wrong, make no mistake. I watched the Official the other day, hovering around what was once the entrance to the Vault. Whether or not she had been suspicious of the spot, I couldn’t tell. I did my best to stay away from her. But now it didn’t matter either. She could be as suspicious as she wanted, there would be nothing to find.

So magic remains hidden here. I wonder often about that old man, where he could go now to still be a magician. The young woman, who had continued her studies despite how life has become. The young boy, without a place in order to harness his power, might be discovered by someone if he doesn’t learn how to conceal it. The Librarian, without his child, without the rest of his Library, forever sealed away.

I am the only one who hadn’t lost anything like that. I don’t have any magic.

I am the only one who only lost the Keeper.

The Keeper (pt18)

No one could know anything was different. Whatever reason the Keeper had, I would not endanger the Librarian by letting anyone know that something had happened. I returned to the library to spend all of my time there as I usually did.

I couldn’t cry. Even more than that, I couldn’t lash out when I saw the Official. Not that I could. She terrified me.

And that would be it, wouldn’t it? Because of fear trapping us, the Keeper is gone. Because of trying to stay safe, they are just as dead as they would have been had the Official found them. Our own fear is just as dangerous as the actual violence that the state threatens upon us. There is no going around this. It was a hard lesson to learn.

To make something of this lesson? Even harder. Despite knowing what has been sacrificed in order to learn this, that doesn’t make the fear go away. Knowing better actually might make it worse.

The Keeper (pt12)

“I wish she would be sent somewhere else,” I couldn’t help but gripe. “It’s not like others aren’t sent off to do things all the time.”

“It depends on what the person’s role is,” the young woman told me. “The Official watches over this sector. We aren’t to be rid of her unless we begin to be rid of the entire establishment.”

Those words made me feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t the only one, because I could hear the old man cough from where he was sitting. Our conversation hadn’t been all that quiet. The Keeper said nothing.

Like that, the young woman dropped the subject. She ran her hands over the top of the tome, the hard look in her eyes fading into the same sort of monotonous dread that the rest of us knew all too well.

It was not the first time someone had said something of that nature. It always ended this way, with nothing coming of it. No one here knew what to do, even if we felt as though we had the courage to try. I certainly did not. I’d never had that sort of courage. I had spent it all in keeping the secrets of the magicians around me. I spent it for the Keeper, as it didn’t matter if they had courage or not. They would live here, out of sight, as long as this lasted.

Their father would live, in full sight of everyone but them, as long as this lasted. And there was nothing they could do about that.

Once a professional

She gripped tightly to the edge of the rink.

“Come on,” he said, drifting backwards away from her.

He slid across the ice without hesitation. She felt unstable, walking on two blades.

“Don’t worry about taking your feet from the ground. You don’t. Think about sliding across the kitchen in your socks.”

It was hard while it was so cold. She slid her right foot in front of her left. She had to let go of the edge.

“You can do this.”

She used to do this all the time. She couldn’t remember. She let go.

gives back

My father once told me that the sea always gives back what it takes.

I didn’t believe him when it took my brother. The skies turned black and the winds blew vicious, even on land. I could only imagine what it was like on sea. We would never know, for no one that day returned.

The dark days of storms became my fears, but it was the sea a blamed the most. If it hadn’t been there, it would have been a simple storm. What could happen on land that one couldn’t weather? What could happen on land that we couldn’t stand against?

Why did my brother want to go out to sea?

My father continued to believe that the sea would give him back, but I knew better. I glared out at the sea and knew so much better.

Whence they have come

He stood in silence and stared at the hole in the ground. The ground was soft enough not to show the claw marks Aulis knew he would have seen there a few weeks before, before the rains had come. Before the rains made it easier. The hole was deep. He had made it that way.

Aulis thought he had buried his mother’s bones deep enough, that the grave had been hidden well enough under the brush and roots. He had been wrong. Obviously. The hole was now empty, the damp soil littering the entire area. The bone men had even taken the narrow cedar box, as they did when they came during the night and stole the past.

He should have burned her body. Aulis wasn’t an idiot. Everyone knew that and he had done it in the past. He had gone in his mother’s place. His mother had feared those flames though and begged him, as she began to waste away in mind, not to give her up to the fire. To do something else, anything else, to save her from that fate. Bury her deep enough that her soul could seep into the earth.

Kneeling down, he looked at his mother’s grave. There were some splinters left.

Perhaps the bone men had dug her out from underground.

When he suddenly realized what actually lives around him

The vampire had a car. An old blood red Bolt, something Henri only recognized through his older brother’s automotive enthusiasm. “Is that still a green car?”

“So I hear,” the vampire said, sliding into the driver’s seat. Henri sat down in the passenger’s seat, closing the door. It was smaller than he thought it would be. Fit the vampire perfectly though, somehow. “Where do you want to be dropped off?”

Right, he hadn’t just stepped into the car to be driven away and fed upon. “Nuevo García.”

The vampire knew where that was it seemed, because he didn’t ask for more than that. The car started out, as quiet as these vehicles ever were.

“You know, there are people who think that you won’t say anything because you were chased off from trespassing.” Henri shot him a look. The vampire continued to stare out at the road, unaffected.

Henri turned his eyes out the front, watching the car going in the correct direction to take him homeward. “It doesn’t really matter.” No one was ever going to do anything about Bloody Bones. Too much effort, he guessed.

As long as Henri never went down that way again, he should have been fine.

Yet suddenly the city seemed terrifying.

It was a life ago

They all asked how it had happened, but he didn’t respond. He couldn’t tell them exactly what had happened to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t know what had happened. Henri knew exactly what had happened to him. There was just little point in mentioning that he had been nearly ripped apart when heading into the alleyways of the Bloody Bones.

Anyone would call him an idiot. It wasn’t like he hadn’t lived here for his entire life.

Henri stood outside of the hospital and the entire city seemed like it was going to open up in front of him and drag him down. His heart hurt against his chest. He could feel every single rib.

Bloody Bones had wanted those ribs.

“Going home?”

Henri looked up. The vampire stood, nearly in front of him. “You look like the mascot of that old candy apple company.”

Oh, he hadn’t meant to say that. The vampire smiled though.

“I was. Come on now, mortal. Before you hyperventilate, let’s drive you home.”

Evading the waterfront

Robin couldn’t wait for the fireworks, which was why he was surprised when Jay said he wasn’t coming.

“But, fireworks!” Robin protested. “It happens once a year. Right over the waterfront! Come with me!”

Jay shivered, shaking his head. “I’ll pass. I have work to do.”

“Oh no you don’t! You aren’t using work as an excuse to miss the festivities!”

Jay scowled. “I don’t like fireworks, Robin. Go. Do whatever you want with your time off, that’s your prerogative. As is mine.”

Robin sighed. “You can’t work during your time off all the time. We don’t have a case!”

“I have paperwork to file.”

That was always Jay’s excuse. Robin wasn’t even sure what all of the paperwork was. Still, Robin held back for a moment. “Of course. Well, I’ll bring you something back from the festival.”

Jay nodded, waving him off with an absent look in his eyes. Robin began to plan how he would get Jay down to the waterfront.

When he returned that evening though, the office was dark. Confused, Robin let himself in. “Jay?” He searched around and found Jay in a backroom, hands over his head. “Jay?”

Jay jumped, looking at Robin with bewilderment. “Music doesn’t drown it out, it just makes it more startling.” Jay’s voice wavered and it sounded as though he were about to ramble. “It pierces through everything, Robin, everything. I hate this. I can’t-”

The sound of another display from the bay sounded off and Jay bent over, placing his head between his knees.

Robin forgot what his plan had been. He walked over, sitting down in the chair next to Jay. “Next year, let’s take a trip,” he said. “Where have you wanted to go? I’ve heard that Kwall has this restaurant that’s renowned throughout-”

Jay laughed, a weak sound, but a relieved one nonetheless. “Thank you, Robin.”

It wasn’t as fun as if he had gone to the festival, but in Robin’s mind there was no decision to be made about where he should have been that night.