Fever Dreams



Scene Title Fever Dreams
Synopsis His body is chained, but his mind is wandering
Date September 5, 2009

Humanis First's cell

Confines of one hallucinating Fed's skull.

It is the depths of winter, and he sleeps with his head on a younger man's shoulder. Supposedly his foe, his unlikely ally, of all the lovers he shouldn't have the one who's come to him. Sought him out, for reasons he'll never really understand, no matter how many times explained.

It is the end of spring, and his partner's blonde hair is fanned over the pillow. Liz's expression is curiously intent in sleep, as if it took great concentration not to be up and about her business. It never fails to amuse him.

It is high summer, and there is a broad hand draped over the point of his hip, weighty as a lion's paw. He is not sleeping, merely listening to the other man's slow breath, and wondering.

It is the cusp of autumn, and his unshaven cheek rasps against the cracked concrete. The room smells of fear sweat and sickness. And now the lover he is waiting for is tarrying on the way.

Fever's on the march, but native stubborness and tubed-in antibiotics have fought it to a stalemate. He has begged, pleaded, raged, snarled, cursed, sobbed, and been brought to utter incoherence. More than once.

He's no longer sure how long he's been here, or what he's said. Presumably it was never enough of what they wanted, because he's still here. Not drifting in the harbor, not left burning in a dump out in Jersey. He's seen them, the gangster's pyres amidst the trash, charred hands curled as if beseeching, even bound. Steel handcuffs don't burn.

Some of the faces he's seen (more of late than before) have been ghosts. His mother's father, his namesake, staring down at him with the cold contempt he had for all mortal and erring flesh. His long-dead lover, watching him with the same fond impatience he always has, but refusing to reach down a hand and help him up. Out, away from this rotting body.

Sometimes they are still breathing. Some come with questions, some tend him silently, changing out the bags on the IV stand and never once looking at him. Some for abuse, either for purpose or simple amusement. One spent a few hours creating an artful burn pattern on his exposed flank. Because he could.

Sometimes he walks away, into that indeterminate darkness. His body remains stubbornly corporeal; too too solid flesh does not melt. A ball and chain fastened firmly to an astral ankle. But …..he's not there, for increasing amounts of time, wandering in the dark forests of fever dreams.

He's there now, stumping along with the determination of a hiker. betweem conifers that muffle sound like velvet curtains. Tired, but unhurt. Not sure where he's going. There are old hoofprints, and very fresh pugmarks from a wolf. In America, they remind everyone that wolves don't prey on humans. In Russia, they say no such thing, because they do. Don't let anyone tell you communism has stamped out individual ambition.

There is snow, among the trees. But it is not the depths of winter, not yet. It is a crimson evening, the last rays of the sun occasionally catch a glimmer of it, in the few open spaces. He wants to believe this is a fairy tale that ends well. That a few steps further through this he'll discover the internal logic, and it'll come obligingly unravelled in his hand. Maybe there will be a faun with an umbrella, and tea to follow.

He's proven half-right, in a sense. He comes around a slow curve, put there to skirt the edge of a still unfrozen lake, and is confronted with a little clearing. There's a house in it, like his grandfather's dacha, rickety and shingle sided, but homey. Memory, perhaps, though the home of his childhood was tucked into a curve of the western side of the Urals.

Or so he thinks. Until he realizes that the paling surrounding it, the little uneven and wandering fence is made not of pale driftwood as he'd first thought, but carefully arranged bones. The gateposts are topped with skulls, and in their empty orbits lurks a dim glow, visible only in the lowering twilight. They flare no brighter as he reaches carefully to touch the gate with an unsteady hand.

The house, however, abruptly rises up on legs that look decidedly corvid, black-scaled and taloned. It bows, as if the two windows in the front were eyes, wooden shutters swinging wide, and it needed a better look. And then turns around primly, and settles with its back to him. Denied.

Perhaps for the best. Baba Yaga is not generally kind to her houseguests.


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