A Hole In The Ice


s_gillian_icon.gif nightmare_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

cardinal2_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif rico2_icon.gif stef_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hole In The Ice
Synopsis Despite warnings, Gillian gets a visit from the Nightmare Man. And those she's left behind.
Date January 26, 2010



The thunderous sounds of an avalanche, snow powder-like clouds concealing the crumbled sides of mountains thrown like a god's set of dice, making the world shake. Cerro de Hierro Negro comes apart like something rotten, trembling explosions on the inside of the stronghold crumbling it from the inside. Gillian can feel it more than see it, and even when she does see it, it's in the hitching, fragmented memories of peeks granted to her, sewn together in a rough edit, flashing before her eyes.

Hhey ch-chica.

A rough voice summons her, tight with pain, and the vision slips out of view, ruined metal wires biting into her palm. Even harsher, cording strain up her arm as far as her shoulder, the weight of a man dangles from her steely grip. A larger hand clasps weakly around her wrist, numb, and Rico's face is a memorable one, peering up at her. His teeth are blood stained and clench a cigar between them.

There's a terrifying echoing sound, that avalanche noise, and the icy slope she's angled against gives, pitching both Gillian and Rico down another few feet, towards the icy mess of the sinkhole.


The grasp hurts, the wires the only thing she has to hold onto, digging into her palm. Gillian knows his weight is making the pain worse, she knows it would hurt less to let him go, but the darkness below them seems almost endless. There's no coming back. If she can hold on a little longer… "Someone— someone will come— just… fuck." The strain is too much. She tries to keep her grip tighter, closes her eyes. For a moment she can feel the memory of the brand on her cheek.

It doesn't feel like the memory of events, broken and pieced together out of order and context. Part of it happened. She knows how it ends.

Each slip makes holding on hider, the sound of the avalanche crashing down. Is there anyone left to come help them?

"I— I can help you. Just…"

She knows how this ends. But that doesn't mean she wants to let it happen.

This time, there aren't any fervently whispered words. Only Rico trying to pull himself up, his boots working and slipping uselessly against ice, fingers setting against her flesh through the thick fabric of winter clothes. The wires are coming off and out of the ice like a vine off a slatted fence, and Rico gives a growl at the feeling of gravity constantly pulling him down. His legs kick beneath him, and his other arm swings up and grips harshly to her sleeve.

The cigar's tumbled free at some indefinite point in time. Gabriel's arms tense as he tries to pull himself up all the closer, his skin whipped with cold, brown eyes wide from impending death.

"You can't help him."

That's Gillian's voice, coming from above. In all improbability, she sees a clone of herself crouching on the crumbling lip of the sinkhole, clothed in light winter things as opposed to the necessary Antarctic gear. Stef twists her painted lips into an amused half-smile, simply watching, eyes glimmering with a reptile's calculation.

One moment she'd been holding Rico, a man she liked but barely knew, and now her grip is holding someone else, someone… There's no explanation for the change, but some part of her accepts it, even if it horrifies her.

"No," Gillian grunts roughly, pain digging down her arms and to her body. The only thing keeping her grip is sheer will, and his added arms against her sleeves. The weight is too much for her to do much more than hold on, but she tries to pull him further up, in hopes he can grab something else. "I can help him, I can…"

She can't. She's not strong enough, and she never was. The mirror of herself doesn't need to tell her that.

"Help me!" she calls up, averting her eyes from the sight of a man she once loved. The man slipped away from her emotionally, and now he'll leave her physically. And she never got the chance to thank him for protecting her. She always thought she'd have more time, always thought she'd have a second chance… why did she let the chance slip away…

"Please— please help me." Eyes slide shut. The cold gets dispelled briefly by warm moisture trailing down her cheeks. "Fuck."

"I can't," Stef states, her voice quiet and yet somehow cutting through the collapse of ice and rock that roars in Gillian's ears. Hazel eyes are dull with apathy, dark hair whipping in the wind, catching ice, and her skin is pale. One can imagine that beneath ruby paint, her lips might be taking on a blue tone, for all that her skin is turning, slowly, ashen from the cold.

Among other things. "I'm gone," she says, without apology. "It should be you, who's gone. I'd be able to save them. I'd be able to save them all."

There's a metallic shriek as wires tear out from the ice, plunging Gillian and Gabriel ever further downward. It catches at the last moment, jerking tension all through her body, and her feet have nothing to firm against, dangling helplessly on the end of groaning cable. "Gillian!" That, from the man dangling from her, but his voice isn't Gabriel Gray's familiar timbre. Richard Cardinal grits his teeth against the urge to thrash. "Goddamnit, get us out of here!"

"You can't even save yourself!" Stef says, louder, voice carrying as if gravity dragged it down too. "You know what I could do with fear. All you can do is drown in it."

Some things carry louder than others. Gillian lets out a pained cry, that's almost more of a groan. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I can't…" This is her fault. The collapse, the fact that three people are going to die. A fourth as well. A face she barely knows. Who knows how many others. If it were Stef who stood in her place, everything would have gone different, she knows it.

"I can't— I can't." Boot covered feet try, kicking against the slopped surface. Try as she might, she can't pull higher, she can't grip anything with her feet to take the weight off. Holding on during the near collapse… it sapped all of her remaining strength. What little she had to begin with.

All that's left of the girl born Stephanie Winters, and she can't do anything to change this ending. All she can do is drown in fear. It doesn't make her stronger, it makes her weak.

She can't save anyone.

The pain digs into her hand again, clouding her senses as she dangles and hangs. There is one way she can change the outcome, make it happen differently… She begins to let go. Not of the man who dangles off her arm, but of the wires that kept her from joining his fate.

All of him.

The cable whips out from her hand, stinging, and the crouching image of Stef falls away as rapidly as Gillian makes her plummet. She can't feel anyone clinging to her anymore, gravity wrapping around her almost comforting, weightless, wind whistling past her ears as she falls. The circular, craggy mouth of the sinkhole, showing off it's sky-blue patch of twilight, dwindles smaller, small, in the encroaching shadows, until it's only the size of a rabbit's hole, a door peek, a pin prick.

The world slams sharply back into focus.

Too numb to feel pain. She lies like a broken doll upon the shore line, more jagged edges rubble, trash and debris than a true beach. At her periphery, Staten Island salt grass sways in a rustling breeze, and it's a darker night here than it was in Antarctica. Blood leaks into her eyes. Her body is broken. Breathing is hard. She's half-drowned.

Stef is sitting right beside her, arms around her knees, mouth in a grim little Mona Lisa smile. "And now you know."

It hurts. Everything else, the difficulty breathing, the blood in her eyes… Gillian blinks, trying to clear her vision, fighting to breathe. The pain that had wracked her arms and hand feel like nothing in comparison to the pain throughout her body. In many ways it seems cruel that she didn't just die. The hand that once held someone moves around, groping for the arm that should be there beside her, but finding nothing but rock. Jagged rocks that bite at her hands, tug at the sleeve of her shirt.

A shirt that should be a heavy winter coat stuffed with down, but she must have lost it somewhere when she fell, possibly the same time she nearly drowned.

For something that was symbolic moments ago, it's literal as she coughs up water that tastes of bile, barely managing to turn her head to the side.

The rocks seem familiar. The water seems familiar. But at the same time she doesn't think she's ever been here before. "Know— know what— how did…" The lack of sense gets supported by the blur of her mind. But some things she knows. "You're… gone. And I can't— I can't save anyone." And from the way she can't even sit up— her other half was right. She can't save herself, either.

"I'm gone. You can't save anyone. And I died alone." These facts are ticked off without gesture. If she's lying, it's impossible to tell. Stef lowers a hand, digs her fingers into foreshore gravel to curl a handful of the gritty stuff against her palm, toys with the damp material between her fingers. "Look at us. I am you, Gillian, and this is all I can show for it. This is all we can show for it. A body in the earth and a hole in the ice. I can think of one thing you could hope for."

She skids herself across the gravel to lie down, flipping onto her side to level her twin gaze at Gillian, a folded arm rested beneath her head. "That when you die, it won't be in pain. Do you know how much suffering people went through? Do you think Jenny's death was quick? Do you think Cardinal didn't mind getting torn to pieces, saving the world? Mine took for hours. Schroedinger's cat probably took a while too — just because no one sees it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

"But I could help. Least I could do."

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