Fox On The Run


delilah_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Fox On The Run
Synopsis The aurora's effects become a family affair.
Date January 5, 2019

Trafford Home, Bay Ridge

He'd rather be anywhere else than here.

The world outside the window is a dreary, muddy mess. Walter Trafford sits at his repurposed desk just beside it, head on his arms, staring down the length of the sidewalk outside. School is still on break. It's weird, but he likes it way more than his old school- - then again, maybe not so weird. The teachers are way nicer at Peyton's school, and there's not nearly as much homework. A lot of stuff to do in class instead, and Walter prefers it that way. It means when he comes home there's more time to play.

Except playing outside today isn't much in the cards. It's cold and wet and Delilah does not want to have to deal with tracking dirt inside or her son getting a cold. Maybe he should have gone to the neighbor's house? The only noise in his seems to be the distant sounds of his mother working, and the small radio sitting on his desk, warbling faintly in his ear.

Jolene and Lance are on there a lot; it's a bit like visiting the station, listening to them read the news or talk about the next set. Right now it was just the repeater of WRAY. Mister Pines looked through vinyls with him last time. Mom took them a CD to copy too. It was one she'd always had. From 'a friend from a long time ago'.

Hey in the pouring rain, when the smell of terror brings a thousand eyes,

The red men come again, they kill my children and they kill my wife,

And then they leave me bleeding, family dead, just freaking out bleeding,

Stoned in the gutter, empty of my colour,

Walter picks up the battery powered radio from the desk as he drops from his seat, standing up and flopping bodily onto his bed with the creaky protest of old springs. He pushes ginger hair from his eyes with a huff of breath, hand grabbing for his old pair of little headphones. He traded his stuff all on his own to get the radio for his room— it has a cassette player!— and got the headset a few weeks later. Unfortunately he'd have to scrounge more for tapes. Until then, it's the radio and a stack of comic books splayed on his covers.

He can see the sky out of his window from the bed, the sparkling presence of color in the cloudy sky an oddly calming sight. It was such a weird thing, and his mom seemed to be scared of it- - and all the people that kept talking about it, too.

But Walter won't say it doesn't scare him. It might make them feel bad if a kid wasn't even afraid of it. It's beautiful anyhow, like the pictures of the Arctic he's seen in the old textbooks and at the library when he went to look up 'aurora'. Bigger, he thinks? Wasn't it cause of the sun?

Something like that.

I'm fried, fried, ticking in the side,

Body twitched from side to side,

I'm fried, fried, ticking in the side,

Body twitched from side to side,


The world feels like a hurricane.

An overload. Sound and color and thought and- -

Force. The pull of something deep and visceral in his stomach. A hard punch against the inside of his ribs. A scream of something ripping and thrumming against his eardrums. Stabbing pain behind his eyes, rattling through his teeth.

A hook finds him, yanks him- -

- -into saltwater.

Brine stings his eyes and the sky is a tempestuous storm above his head, crackling and spitting in his wake. Everything is upside down, his muscles burning in a foreign pain down to the bone. Water spills into his mouth as he reaches for the surface, taking in a gulp of air as his face breaks against cold seaside wind.

He's too heavy.

The water is too strong.

A spotlight shines in reddened eyes as he is tugged below a rocking wave.

The rug muffles Walter's tumble from his mattress, bony elbows catching his head with a crack against hardwood. A shooting tingle crawls angrily up his arm, the nerve jolted.

"Hhhhhhhh…" Walter hisses through his teeth, sitting up and clutching his elbow, eyes watery. That hurt. What happened? Did he fall asleep? What a nightmare. He's never even been swimming in the ocean…

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

You've got to run for an hour and you're still not done,

You've got to run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

Away, away, away, away, away,

Tinny music keeps playing in his ears, the foam earbuds perched tilted on his head.

He doesn't know her, but she looks at him as if he's family. Blonde hair and green eyes and a reassuring voice.

“Nothing about this has been easy. Going home? Sometimes I think it’s pure fantasy anyway,” she confesses quietly, her eyes shifting back out to the lights dancing in the sky. “Sometimes I'm almost convinced we’re actually dead… that all this is happening at the event horizon of the black hole that Magnes became, where we’re stuck in the infinitesimal eternity between physical death and true death. That place in the in-between where you still remember dreaming…"

“Jesus.” He shakes his head and looking down to his feet. “It's… hard. The other side of that.” He chooses not to explain the hushed admission and just stares squarely at his feet. When he pushes away from the railing it feels as though he may ever elaborate on it.

Until he does, just a few steps ahead.

“I have a daughter,” He says quietly, hands tucked into his pockets and shoulders hunched, back to the blonde woman. “Lucrezia,” because of course he'd name her after his aunt. “I fucked up being a dad so hard her mother won't even let me see her, really. I can't blame her.” Brows furrowed, he shakes his head in a series of nods.

“When I, ah…” Hesitation. “When I got back with Kincaid, she didn't even recognize me. She asked her mother who I was and I just…” He bites down on the inside of his bottom lip and clenches his jaw. “She looked at me like I was a total stranger.” He closes his eyes. “It's not going to be easy when you get back. If you ever do.”

When the woman looks back at him, the depth of her sympathy and hurt for him is staggering. She reaches out and touches his arm. "I'm sorry." There are no other words that can even be appropriate for the information he's handed her.

An attempt to stand results in a daze and the room tilting like a pinball game, echoes of voices mixing with the radio waves, static and imperfect. Walter stumbles, face flushed and stomach turning as if it might purge any moment. A knee bashes against the end of his bed when he tries to climb back on and put things upside right.

"Nnnnn…" His eyes are slick between the pain in his elbow and the twisting pain in his belly.

Hey in the ice and snow, when the call up sounds to the real in deed,

But do you really wanna know, how we rode into freedom on whimsy and greed?

And they said your time is over, I don't see any gallant calls,

I don't see an inch of reflex, 'cept to leave me bleeding,

Bleeding, bleeding, bleeding,

"Mom," A whimper escapes him, tongue weighed to the inside of his mouth. The wind left him when he hit the floor, and the sound comes with a wheeze. "Mom…" Walter tries again, croaking, a line of sweat along his hairline.

I'm fried, fried, ticking in the side,

Body twitched from side to side,

I'm fried, fried, ticking in the side,

Body twitched from side to side,

"Dad?" No, he's not here at the house right now, much less upstairs and nearby. A jab feels around in his head again, and tears start flowing from the sharpness, voice stammering and music overwhelming. Walter flails some, knocking the headphones free and sliding down against the side of his bed. "D- d- d-"

“- -scinated, but mystified. Walter wants to get back to his mother, back to your time. If I'm interpreting it- -"

"“I couldn't tell you how any of this works. I just want to get home and if you've done this before then it sounds like- -"

"It might have something to do with the aurora. It started up a few hours before you all arrived. Hard to see because of the storm but… it’s just one big electromagnetic blanket draped over us. Compasses are acting weird too.”

"- - in those worlds, the aurora borealis happened in each place at the same time in 2011, which makes sense astronomically speaking but also makes me think that- -"

"- -The machine Zeke was building- - they used it, in 1982, the same kind of aurora- -"

"It's been a long time since the Sentinel rolled through, but… "

"We research, we survive, then we go. Just like last time. Without the robot army this time, maybe?"

“What’s that? Around your neck?”

"This? It’s a… somebody told me it was a hei matau? Something, uh, Polynesian? I’m honestly not sure. It’s…it— represents… strength and luck and…”

“Safe travel across water.”

Who gave that to you?”

“It sounds like the storm’s passed…”

"Mom!" It's a little louder now, a moaning sob hitching under his sternum. Walter lets out a second sob in the midst of his unfamiliar, welling pain, eyes moving to the window where sleet slowly patters on the pane and reflects the distant lights in the sky. Children pay more attention than they are given credit for- - "Hnnn…"

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

You've got to run for an hour and you're still not done,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

Away, away, away,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

You've got to run for an hour and you're still not done,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

Away, away, away, away, away,

A storm again, thundering angrily above the rocking of a boat. Fire and smoke litter the horizon.

The whistle of airborne ballistics recalls a Civil War outside of this working memory.

His feet hit the deck of a boat, landing with a bend of knees and the weight of something in his hand.

Silver and copper and indigo flash through his vision, followed by dark, sticky wet, threaded with rain and sloshing seawater. The hand on sword hilt grips tight, movements fluid. The blade cleaves, thrusts, slashes. The presence of another draws a look- -

Lance, manic, blades in hand, a fallen man at his feet.

Screaming from far away vessels, from the one in his wake.

From him.

"MOM!" Walter's cry is a high-pitched yelp, followed by an even louder shriek of pain and terror.

Blade hits muscle and bone rather than soft tissue, yanked back and stung by salt-air.

Moments blur past, and then there's a stranger- - dark hair, dark eyes, an invisible heat off of her skin. She says something but he can't quite make it out. Somehow he knows she is going to help him, and yet…

He can feel his skin burning over his shoulder, the smell of seared meat brief but nauseating; it is worse than the blade what made it, but it has closed.

"MOM! HELP!" The screaming turns into wailing, and Walter feels his skin tingling hot as if he can feel the burn.

There is a sharp twist in his belly. Something being wound tight. Pricking needles behind his eyes.

Soon a break in his pain, a burst of weightlessness deep in his chest, floating numbly out through his fingers.

"MO- -"

Dust blows in whorls and eddies across a demolished rooftop, and the yellow-gray sky is blotched with clouds. Walter step's toward a piece of old masonry on the roof, a pair of cherubs — one pockmarked from a bullet impact — and a ring of stone between them. His brows furrow, jaw sets, and he steps up onto the edge of the roof beside the decorations. From here, the ruins of New York sprawl like a broken concrete blanket, gray and beige as far as the eye can see. Dried rivers, dusty plains, the remnants of a Wasteland yet to heal.

Looking down to the battered sword at his side, wrapped with violet silk, Walter exhales a soft sigh. “Time to say goodbye,” he says to the wind. “This isn't my home.” With a hitch of his breath, Walter brushes warmth and wetness from his cheeks, then tenses his muscles before he drops in a tightly wound hop off the roof.

The fall, the startling, pull-starts a sensation in his chest. Adrenaline, fear, fuels his power. One moment Walter is falling, and the other it's like he's sprinting toward the ground on all fours. The world is an oversaturated blur, he hits the concrete like air through a sieve, explodes into so much possibility and impossibility.

As he races ahead down, forward, through, Walter feels himself stretched across everything, like a giant of a man straddling the past and the future like the a colossus of time and space, one foot in each. There is a sensation of falling, but more like flying, more like rising.

The colors are intense, vibrant, streaked from a point of infinite a forever ahead of him. Until, suddenly, it's a pair of gleaming golden eyes in the dark, and the jerking sensation of something going dreadfully wrong, the sensation of arrested movement, a twisting pain, and then a sudden peal of thunder and cold rain on his cheeks.

The moment that Delilah hears her son cry out, she completely abandons the dressform and gown she is working on in the den. Stopping a moment to grab something from the mantle, the train nearly trips her when she sweeps away and out into the hall.

Her heart is in her throat and the beating in her ears as she takes the steps two at a time. Delilah knocks the door open with her foot, one hand on the hilt of a sword, the other clutched around sheath. Silver glints when she draws it partway- -

He isn't here.

He isn't here.

The comic books are scattered across the bed and floor, the walkman facedown on the rug. Sleet slams and rattles against the window.


"MOM?!" A confused bleat of fear comes up through the furnace vent.

In response Delilah nearly tumbles down the stairs on her way back down, frantic in her scrabble for the cellar door. She yanks it wide and darts down, into a cloud of dust and the smell of the heater.

"Walter, where- -" The light from the open door shines on his face when he comes coughing into sight, covered in cobwebs and dirt, tears streaking lines of clean skin down his cheeks.


Delilah drops the sword in her hands and lurches forward to wrap her arms around her little boy. He muffles his face into her shoulder and hair as she settles onto her knees, weeping openly and snuffling messy against her frame.

"It's okay, you're okay, ssh, ssh…" She pulls him as close as she can, fingers in soft ginger hair and mouth pressing kisses to his head. "What happened? Tell me what happened…"

"I'unno." Is Walter's only reply before he starts sobbing again. "H-hh- s-something in my h-head, I w-wasn't here, Mom- -" A sharp intake of breath. "There was b-bombs like we ran f-from, an'I thought- I thought-" His face warms under the sensation of her lips at his temple. "It hurt, it hurt a lot-"

Delilah does not speak, she simply draws him in and lets him cry. Her eyes are widened towards the dark beyond her son, doe-brown and haunted by his words. She will have to get more out of him later, because right now… she'll be getting nothing.

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

You've got to run for an hour and you're still not done,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

Away, away, away,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

You've got to run for an hour and you're still not done,

Run, run, Reynard, run, run, run,

Away, away, away, away, away…

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