Don't You Forget About Me



Scene Title Don't You Forget About Me
Synopsis Her place is not hers.
Date October 23, 2018


The skeleton of the city appears to be abandoned. The streets are the same streets that Delia had known, before everything, before they had been forced to abandon the greater part of the city. Before the war. Some of the buildings sagged with disrepair, the windows broken out, but it was the city she had grown up in.

Only the city was dead. Cars and taxis sat on streets abandoned, most with doors open, removed entirely, as if they had been searched for supplies, or left in the state of the driver and passengers getting out and trying to run. The sky rolled in gray agony, clouds covering the sun, leaving a gray cast of light that made everything look shaded and shadowed.

Each step down the street seems to spread the hint of pale gray dusted on top of everything, covering rusted cars, the dark streets. Snow. It’s snow. But it doesn’t feel cold enough for snow.

The snow is undisturbed, for the most part, except for a set of footprints up ahead, that just seems to start out of nowhere. Or stop out of nowhere. Like someone had just appeared in the middle of the street and started walking. The footprints appear to be from bare feet and they hurry off toward the north, before turning down another street.

The city seems to hum, like a single crystalline note drawn out, unending.

The hum is distracting.

Is it a dream? She doesn’t recognize it.

Usually, jumping into the air in flight, or she can transform herself into a piece of the scenery. This time, she lands squarely on the ground again. Confused. She can do things in a dream, she’s not limited like she is in real life. Not like this. Except for the note, there’s no sound. No birds, no animals, no people. She shivers and pulls her coat closed, not because she’s cold but because she needs the comfort. She’s alone and she hates being alone.

The hum is deafening, making it difficult to think or reason out what is going on. So she does what she can. Carefully, she places her own bare foot into the footprint, judging it against her own for foot size, trying to determine if it’s a man, woman or child. She follows them northward, needfully cautious. Maybe overly so.

The world does resist her usual control, the hum decreasing for an instant each time she attempts to change something, but snapping back. The background doesn’t even blur, the snow doesn’t disappear, she can not fly, or do what she wishes. It resists. Maybe it is not a dream at all.

Barefeet fit perfectly into the footprint, like it had been one she herself had made, but she was walking atop the snow until that moment, not even leaving anything behind. Only when her foot sunk into the layer of snow did she feet the cold. A shimmer of black and red echos over the footprints in front of her. For a moment a figure, a shadow of a figure, but it vibrates and dissipates as if the incessant ringing causes it to shiver away. The half-there shadowy form pulses in and out of existence, moving further and further along the path of bare footprints.

Her bare footprints.

As she follows, they continue to shimmer in and out, always just out of sight, until they start down the path toward a building.

Not just any building. The Empire State Building, standing dead and ruined like much of the buildings left behind. Except it’s also lit up. The single note wavers for a moment, almost sounding for a second like a laugh.

She hasn't been here since before her mother died. Now this is a building she hasn't seen in a long time, this can't be real. The second midtown explosion destroyed most of it. There can't be lights here. Or a laugh. Confusion sets in so hard, Delia begins to mentally run down the list of people she knows can do this to her. Kaylee, but she hasn't really been in the Raytech Exec's social circles for almost a decade. Hokuto, but she left years ago. Dema, he's been gone since Eltingville and she doesn't even know if he survived the war. Adam…

Instinctively, she places her hand to her mouth and nose, then pinches to hold her breath. No, she tells herself, it's not possible to gas the entire world… is it? Once again, with caution, she begins to walk toward the ruined building. She has to let go of her mouth to grip the pipe handles of the door, she does with both hands. Readying herself to yank them open, she takes a deep breath.

"If you gas me in here, I swear to god I will haunt you so hard." It's a promise.

While there’s no gas to be seen, there is a soft hint of fog rolling in as she steps inside, teasing her skin with warmth rather than coolness. Maybe it’s smoke, actually, or pollution, or— who knows what. It doesn’t smell bad, or have any adverse effects, just obscures the interior, which… looks nothing at all like what she might have expected. It wasn’t actually the Empire State Building. It looked more like what the Red Hook Market might have looked like— before they repaired it and made it a market, at least. There’s holes in the bricks, in the walls and ceiling.

There’s a burnt spot in the middle of the concrete, as if someone set off a termite grenade, scarring with charred black.

She feels breath against her ear, like a warm breeze whispering across her skin, pushing at her red curls, but it’s as if the sound takes time to catch up, cause by the time she hears it, the breath is gone. No one is standing there. That drawn out note finally resolves into words, a voice, whispered, but seeming to come from every direction and none all at once.

Why would we gas ourself?

The voice is her own.

The easy answer? Because sometimes we hate ourself and shit happens. But Delia doesn’t say that out loud. “Because we don’t know who is really behind door number one,” the dreamwalker growls, now completely uncertain of her mental state and reality. Is there something wrong with her? Has she really sunk this far?

“Who are you?” says the caterpillar to Alice. She can’t split herself in two, she’s never even tried to explore that possibility in a dream. Keeping it together with one is difficult enough.

Tucking her hair behind her ears, Delia turns her head, just slightly toward the voice. Whoever is inhabiting her mind, she’s being quite careful not to be seen. “If this is you, Sybil, you can just get out. No more orphanages, I’m putting my foot down.”

For a moment she thinks she a cloud of red curls wafting by at the corner of her vision. They’re gone as soon as she saw it. “Who are you?” her voice echos quietly, but has a more amused tone than the one that had come from her own lips. At least that single, distracting note is gone. Now there’s soft sounds in the background. Sobs. From many mouths. A group of people lamenting something, sounds that she had heard many times, especially during the years that followed the first explosion in Midtown.

It’s not the source of the sobs that come into view first, but a light. A burning bright light that seems to absorb all the light around it, tinting her vision like an afterimage of looking into the sun. It shines over the burnt spot on the floor, solidifies into the shape of a woman. A crooning sound can be heard as skin covers the embodiment of light, growing over it, blocking it. The woman stands naked, her back to Delia, arms outstretched as if welcoming an old friend, welcoming the sky and the air.

Or welcoming life.

Long black hair falls down, resting against her shoulders and back.

She should have done it. It would have been quicker.” That same voice whispered again, like an echo with no origin.

"Don't you get…" smart with me Delia wants to say. She knows who she is. "I'm Delia Ryans and this is my place." She's had a lot of hubris since getting away from Adam and been knocked down a peg or two afterward. Apparently strong but still very much a baby. Like a dream walking Bam-Bam Rubble. About as subtle too, Dema would be so disappointed.

Delia's jaw drops at the sight of the light, the woman being formed around the light. If they're in the dreamwalker's mind, this light is coming from her and this woman is being formed inside of her. Her eyebrows twitch slightly to the center, as if trying to understand. This isn't Hokuto, she's already 'born' and there's no velour jogging suit or whatever the other dreamwalker chooses to wear. This woman is as naked as the day she was born, which is apparently today. Right now.

"Should have done what exactly," Delia replies to the echo, mesmerized and unable to take her eyes off the woman with black hair. Slowly, she reaches out and places a hand on the newborn’s shoulder to turn her around.

Is it now?”, that soft voice that sounds so much like an echo of her own responds with amusement. Though it’s not coming from the shape. It doesn’t seem to be coming from anywhere. More like that drawn out note that had first sounded. It seemed to come from everywhere.

Skin feels warm at the touch, but that should seem no surprise as it had seemingly formed from pure light. The body starts to move, arms lowering as she turns. There’s that light again, blazing out of the sockets where eyes should be, out of the hole of burnt and cracked lips that part as if trying to speak. It looks like the burning end of a white road flare. The face seems familiar. Like she should recognize it, but it was difficult with the lack of eyes and cracked mouth.

She should have taken the quick way. A bullet to the head would have been less painful in the end. Faster, too. Poor Quinn.

Quinn. Yes, that’s where she knows those cheekbones, that nose, that chin, the black hair.

“Yes,” she answers the echo definitively without hesitation. This is her place. This is all her place.

Turning the woman around causes Delia to shield her eyes with an arm and squint at the brightness of the light from behind it. Wavering the limb, she takes peeks at the woman instead of looking at her full on. Quinn.. it's been years. The insinuation the echo makes is abhorrent and the expression of horror on Delia's face as she hears says just that.

"No," the single word is uttered through clenched teeth. "She shouldn't have, she's still here, that's what matters. Because life matters."

It's what the precious moments with Benjamin are teaching her, life is fleeting and it matters.

But is she? Is this— that life?” the echoed voice asks, increasing in volume, sounding angry about something. “Everyone. And everything. Dies.” The world suddenly changes. Like a flicker of an old movie before the reels change, shuddering until she finds herself standing in a room filled with fire. And cages. And people screaming for mercy, crying, reaching unable to get out. Not just people. Children. All young, the oldest barely teenagers.

And a few older people she recognizes as well, most outside the lath made cages, the wooden bars burning, even as tiny hands try to reach through. The one that immediately comes into focus is almost unrecognizable. The Benjamin Ryans that lays on the cold floor, reaching out toward something looks older than her father looks now. Perhaps as old as he should have looked, if certain things in his life had gone differently. Gray hair, a ragged beard, eyes open and glazing over as he reaches, blood pooling from two gunshot wounds to the chest.

And in the direction he had been reaching with his last breath of awareness— lays Lucille, a gash ripping her neck open, blood all around her as her eyes stare with a flat glaze upward.

Everyone. And everything. Dies.

Delia clutches at the middle of her chest.

Once upon a time, before the war, before everything, she used to wear a crucifix and she fiercely believed in it. Now she only believes when she has to, when she's afraid. The sight of her father laying there, with that look on his face, with those bullet wounds in his chest; it makes her afraid. She chokes back a sob and blinks back her tears.

Following his gaze, she sees Lucille and barely holds herself back from running to her older sister. Instead, she places both of her hands to her mouth and holds it tight. Now, she can't stop the tears from spilling over and she doesn't try to hide the shaking of her shoulders as grief overcomes her.

Life isn't fair

Tearing her gaze away from Lucille, she looks up at the sky and glares around her, at the echo. She steeles herself against its anger and feeds on it, letting her own emotions boil inside of her. "They die when it's their time," she yells, "if Quinn didn't die, then it's just not her time!"

The mewling children’s cries die out. The crackling of flames fades. Until the room is a blank, black abyss with only her family and the blood pooling around them. There’s no visible light, no building, but she can see those two perfectly, every detail, ever color, every curve of their face.

Oh, but she did die.” the voice that still sounds so much like her own whispers from all directions. There’s no sign of the glowing woman, who had a face marred by blazing light coming from under her skin. “And she died in more pain than even they. A bullet would have been a mercy.” In the shadows, a new light blazes up, like glowing blue electric lines, forming into eyes that stare from the darkness. The light toys with the shadows, until she can make out a face so like the mother of her youngest sister.

Only different. Something about her looks different. Nicole had never looked at her like that.

"No," Delia reaffirms, this is a dream. This is her place. Even though she can't seem to stretch her control beyond her own physical limitations, this is still hers. "No, and don't you wear that face. Don't you dare wear that face."

It's hard not to take it personally, especially with that look. Delia has known Nicole longer than her father has (not as well, obviously). If there's anything the dreamwalker can be sure of, Nicole would never. Delia is Carrot-cake.

Moving on.

"Robyn did not die, she's just…" At a loss for words, Delia simply shrugs. She honestly has no idea but she does know that she's not ready to say goodbye to the woman for good. Not now.

There’s that melodious laughter once again, that sounds so much like her own laugh, only younger, crueler. Like someone else laughing and speaking with her voice. “You don’t know anything. Such an easy life you have.” That tone has bitterness to it, as well. And those eyes without pity, those crackling eyes staring with cold determination, belonging to Nicole, but not. The woman’s hand raises and a bolt of lightning arcs out, crackling and snapping electricity exploding through the air with a crash of thunder as oxygen superheats around it, expanding in a burst.

Maybe I should take it.

Time seems to slow. The light blurring against the dark background, moving ever so slowly as if she could watch every detail. It’s so slow she should have been able to move out of the way.

Only her feet were stuck into the ground. Her body held in place like the air had gone to jello around her. A twitch of a hand, a movement of her mouth, that’s all she could manage.

That electricity almost seems to have a figure, forming together until she can see a face. Another woman she knew once, who, like the one who shot lightning at her had been involved with her father. Lynette. Made of lightning. Pure light and energy that goes right through Delia.

That part did not hurt.

Time speeds back up once again, just in time for a metal rebar to get shoved through her from behind. It sticks out of her chest. At first it doesn’t even hurt.

And then she explodes into pain.

Delia gasps as she jolts awake. Sitting straight up, she clutches the spot where the rebar is driven through, grabbing it to…

But it’s not there.

Sweat makes her hair stick to her forehead, face, neck, and her side of the bed is drenched to the point of discomfort. Soft clouds of breath billow from her mouth and nose, dissipating as her
gasps slowly calm. She rubs the center of her chest hoping to alleviate the tightness.

It stays.

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