Darkness There, And Nothing More



And maybe?


Scene Title Darkness There, And Nothing More
Synopsis This wasn't his nightmare.
Date February 25, 2009


Not waking, past sleep.

The last thought that had blared through Teo's head was still sluggish, thanks to the cold, but the adrenaline of fierce hope pushed it through the otherwise hopelessly addled channel of his consciousness.

Light! There was — light. Means shore.

Over there. Blurred by the blurry screen of seawater on his retinas and the parasitic black spots multiplying across his vision like some pernicious vegetable sickness. He couldn't feel his arms anymore, not even for the bloody slashes that laddered them or the weight of his clothes. Fortunately, he didn't have to, his motor cortex and muscle memory locked into the cycle of breaststroke, steady, steady. He considered himself lucky that the ungodly cold water staved off swelling, and his mouth and his nose were still a reasonable size for breathing. And then—

Darkness. No voices filter through the fog of deep fatigue, blood loss, and fresh brain damage, not even when Colette's screaming, Brian's panic, or Sylar's long hands. It is very quiet where Teodoro is, tarred in drying slime, lightless, inert, cancelled out, finished, an old fly shut up in a mouth with cold blood.

It's dark. There's no sound but the tidal rush of slowing blood. But it turns, slowly, into something else - the rush of skeins of sand over the dunes, the red dimness from the flares of an optic nerve under pressure into the distant sunset. Not quite a sandstorm, but there, soon. Figures move in the blowing dust, obscured shadows dressed in fatigues only a shade or so darker than the sand itself. Their faces are covered by scarves, bandanas, eyes mostly concealed by heavy goggles. There's something familiar in the one out in front, something about the swinging stride that tweaks memory, though Teo has never seen him in uniform. Where is this?

No fucking idea. Last Teo saw, he was enjoying too much water, not a desert's complete and scalding deprivation of it. Not that he feels the heat, of course; he doesn't feel anything here in the sensory fashion except for the impression of sand grains underfoot, the tacit understanding of his current context of reality.

He gets up.

Tried to, anyway, but then he trips on the porous stuff of the dune and falls down again, his hands plowing, sinking into a surface that refuses, for a moment, to hold him up. Annoying. Uncharacteristically silent, he struggles onto his knees and creeps up the slanted face of the dune to see.

Behind them, nearly invisible, are the vehicles of the little convoy. A jeep or two, a humvee, no Bradleys. The figure out in point crests a low berm, and tugs off his pair of goggles, settling them up on his helmet, even as he brings a pair of binoculars up to his eyes. The eyes behind it are already reddened and tearing, but still that clear, familiar blue. Down below on the expanse of sand are odd divots, as if something had exploded up from below. He swings the lenses around, sweeping the horizon. Teo himself only warrants a moment's hesitation, as if he weren't entirely there.



That isn't working. Teo clears his throat, importantly, and tries again.

"Jesse." Jesse's over there, though, and he's over here. This is crap. And stupid. And dumb. He can't get up the side of this fucking dune, until he remembers watching watching a thing about Iraq on National Geographic, and then suddenly he's up on the spine of the great pile of sand, its undulating line packed down solid underneath feet that seem to be clad in boots one moment and bare the next. He starts running. Or walking, it's hard to tell; he struggles his way closer. And closer. Relief burns with the brine in his lungs, enough joy to liquefy his bones if he didn't need them to get over there where his friend is. "Jesse."

Recognition dawns, and fades again, burning away like mist. Behind the checkered cloth, lips form the word, "Teo?" And then Al's looking past, through him, to the roostertail of sand being thrown up - heading across the desert directly for the little formation of soldiers. For all the world like one the sandworms of Dune.

The kid from Sicily never really stopped regretting watching that film back when he was fifteen years old, stoned on medication meant to combat his 104 degree fever, and only had a very shitty grasp of English. 'Dune.' He fails to make the correct reference to memory now, because what remains of his mind isn't enough for that, and what little there is is busy shattering with panic. "Santo madre di Dio." He doesn't stop when he looks over his shoulder. It's huge. Whatever it is, it's fucking huge. "'Ey! Venire q" Fuck. "Ccome here! Jesse." It's a little selfish. Teo would be the first to admit it, but he isn't in the trajectory and if he can get Alexander away—

He doesn't know all those other people.

There's a little village in the distance, the apparent source of the coming….thing. Al's face is pale, confused, as he signals his comrades with abrupt motions of his hands. The squad's gunner hustles up the dune and slings the gun down, settling it on the bipod. "What the fuck is that?" he demands, as an older man with stripes on his shoulder also hunkers down at the crest. There's more than one of those….whatever they are, throwing up plumes of sand as they come. "We should run," Al says, almost more to himself than his sergeant, handing off his field glasses. "They can't destroy the road," the older man replies, with oddly distant calm. Al's continuing to glance around, as if Teo were a mere trick of his vision…incorporeal.

"Stop fucking ignoring me." Refreshingly coherent for a brain full of seawater, Jack Discreetly's piss, and Hudson river col. Though Teo generally hates to speak in imperative terms, he's pretty sure this is important, and he's trying to make it easier to listen by tripping and flailing off the sand to get right up in Al's face, at last, staggering to stop. Closer now, he throws a haphazard glance downward to see those concussive depressions in the sand. Just an instant. "Hey.

"You have to go. Come the fuck on! This bastard is a nutjob." The gunner warrants a glare. His hands snatch at Alexander's arm like dog-bites. Though he's never seen his friend in uniform before, the recognizable parts of Al — pale face, red peachfuzz, height, stature — are enough.

Only to pass right through. Like one of them is a ghost. And considering the rest of the squad isn't reacting to a random college student appearing in the desert…..likely Teo. The sergeant gives calm orders, and Al and another of the soldier drop to one knee, levelling their rifles at those oncoming streams of sand. It's still not clear what's causing them. The sergeant calls aloud in Arabic, orders to halt and lie down on the sand, hands on your head. As if the djinn might listen.

The rifle ends up leveled just above the height of Teo's knee, and he's left to blink, first at his unexpectedly ineffective hands, and then down at the top of Al's head. The swirl of red hair is familiar to him. God, oh God the thing is getting closer, louder, reverberations jumping in the sand, and even though he's apparently completely fucking intangible, fear makes his toes curl, digging them into the grainy desert. He stares back at the approaching barrage. Al.

Al. Al. "Jesse," his voice is querulous; he falls on his butt and scrambles out of Alexander's way, even if he isn't in Alexander's way for all practical intents and purposes, swatting a handful of sand at the redhead, as if dream physics — not that he's aware that this is what those are, exactly — would allow that one small concession despite its ruthless refusal to cede him any others. He scrapes to a halt at Al's elbow. Can't stop staring.

"I swear, you son of a bitch, if you go away again—"

Fear. It's writ large in that pale face, in the glitter in the blue eyes. The sand he flings is whirled away in the rising wind, whipping past them. The rise and fall of his chest is borderline hyperventilation. The NCO barks orders….and the two rifles and the machine gun chatter as one. Abruptly, one of the other riflemen is all but devoured, the sand rising up like a fountain and draging him down, like quicksand in reverse, until he pops up again, as if some well of pressure had flung him up into the air. He lands and tumbles, rolling halfway down the back of the dune. But the fire from the other two doesn't stop, even as the separate streams reform into a wall of sand, rising like a wave in the ocean and washing over them.

Until, with equal suddenness, it stops. The half-buried soldier is screeching and scrambling from where he's buried, the others half-blinded and coughing, despite the bandanas. Al is left staring, aghast, at the little body left partially concealed by the now aimlessly drifting sand.

For a few heartbeats, there's no sound save for the faint coughs of the man who's fallen back down towards the road, and the hiss of falling sand. "Oh, my god," says the machine gunner, in tones of flat amazement. "That was a kid. Just a kid."

Now it's Al's terrier imitation that throws up sand, casts it aside with the desperation of a prisoner digging his way to freedom. And then he's dragged out the pitiful little figure. A boy, can't be more than thirteen. Not even armed, other than without whatever Evolved power the soldiers just extinguished. "That kid did that?" wonders the machine gunner, as he comes scuffing down the slope. "Yeah," Al says, from between sandcrusted lips. "What a -freak-," the gunner adds, tone incredulous. Only to be knocked sprawling by a contemptuous gesture from Al.

The gunner's leg sweeps through Teo's shoulder without sensation. The Sicilian stares at his foot, then at the skinny brown hand he had accidentally stepped on, flinching when Alexander finally unearths the arm attached to it and starts to yank the thin barrel of torso, the hub out of which emerge three other limbs and the kid's little face.

Teeny, tiny face.

He remembers Washington Irving, suddenly, which doesn't make sense because you're not supposed to remember things while you're dreaming, but nothing about this is going the way it's supposed to, so at least it's thematically consistent there. Still sitting in an inelegant sprawl, he glances up, backward at the gunner.

Grimaces when the telekinetic strike throws him to the ground. You should be more careful about that. That's the cautioning he wants to offer Alexander, but all he manges to get out is an uneven gulp of arid oxygen when he looks back at the other man and the corpse in his arms.

Which is when Al, to his everlasting shame, dissolves into gulping sobs, even as he very gently lays down that bullet-riddled body. There aren't words for this, nothing will serve. The sand eddies and whorls around him, as unnaturally as it just did for the child….just less powerfully. The gunner crabwalks back in horror, equally aghast.

And then the evening begins to darken, and it's just Al, alone in the dark, face in his hands, until he looks up. His voice is wondering, uncertain, "Teo?"

The size and brackish crimson of the sky here is overpowering. Goes on for miles, flat, featureless, convex, makes a man feel like a slime mould in a Petri dish. That is, however, not an adequate excuse for Teodoro failing to get up off his ass. No. He's just sitting here for no discernible reason, bare heels tucked in close, his shoulders hiked up, huddling underneath his ears, and a shirt sleeve stretched out around his hand as if he's timid about his fingers.

His gaze pendulums erratically between the kid's body and Al's solitary crouch and the sky, until the first and last fade out and— "Uh," he says, thickly. "Uh huh?"

"You have to help me," Al says, pleading, as he lets his hands fall. It's odd - a posture far more abject than he's ever consciously shown. Everything's strangely vague, indistinct, save for the two live and one dead humans present.

A dozen disparate thoughts flap through Teo's head like a drove of sparrows scattered by a shotgun blast. A dozen answers. Working on it. Don't fucking know how. You need a psychologist and a fucking year's regimen of beta-blockers. Are you serious? His jaws crack open an inch. "Okay." The word escapes like an air pocket through a seam through subterranean stone. Mechanically, he sets his hands down, pushes himself up, walks, stiltedly, over to where his friend is and stops, squats, reaches out to find things with his hands. "I'll bring him to the village when the sun comes back up."

That's apparently enough. Because the desert heat vanishes, replaced by the chill weight of water. And Al is gone.

"Jesse?" The single name drops out of Teo's mind, bumps into darkness. No echo. He's already very still, but he keeps himself still anyway. Listening.


Or as the poet put it, "Darkness there, and nothing more."

February 25th: I Know Him
February 25th: Autoerotic Mutilation
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