Metastasis, Part IV



Scene Title Metastasis, Part IV
Synopsis They rise and vanish in oblivious host
Date November 8, 2020

It’s been a while since Abigail Caliban met with an old friend.

Panic attacks.

Waking up from a nightmare with the feeling that the devil was sitting on her chest is something Abby thought she got over in her childhood. When she was younger, she was confronted by so many nightmares her parents considered taking her to a sleep therapist. But, ultimately, they resorted to the power of prayer and — perhaps miraculously — that seemed to work. Tonight’s changed that.

Abby stares up at the ceiling of her home, listening to the distant hum of traffic outside, the rattle of a forced-air radiator, and the sound of her own hastened breathing. The room isn’t cold, in fact Abby is covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and yet she can feel the prickling coldness of winter in her extremities. It isn’t even that cold outside yet.

At some point between waking up and now, she sat up on the edge of her bed to cradle her head in her hands. She’s not sure how she got into that position, but the sense of dizzy vertigo accompanying waking feels like a separate nightmare all its own. Just like when she was a child, she can’t remember the nightmares that tormented her.

Just the way they make her feel: alone.

Caliban Residence
Williamsburg, NYCSZ

November 8th
3:33 am

By the time Abby’s gotten her rapid breathing under control, her eyes have adjusted to the dark. Her room is empty, even though she feels like someone is standing over her.

It’s a different beast than what wakes her up at 5 most mornings. Her eyes staring at the little gold cross that dangles and twists with her breathing in the vee of her sleep shirt. Toes digging into the floor beyond that as if the blue and white patterned rug might ground her.

This isn’t like waking up to the remembrance of Roberts hands on her before he inevitably hangs at his execution. That causes her to reach into her nightstand for the gold ring and it’s blob. There’s a shuddery breath and then she holds it, listening to see if Kasha’s woken up. In case she screamed or something. Toes dig in again and she lifts her head, looking around. To corners, to shadows, looking for something out of place. “Richard?” She calls out, in case, just case somehow he’s managed to get that back and is visiting her.

The apartment is silent. No sounds of Kasha, no sounds of old shadows haunting the corners of her room. Just the memory of freezing cold and loneliness, hopelessness, and fear clutching at the center of her chest. She can almost smell something in the air. Smoke? It’s hard to tell if it’s real or some sort of sensory hallucination brought on by being half-awake.

It’s enough to push her to her feet, the cross coming to lay on her chest and slither to the center to nestle between her breasts. For hands to come away from her temples and go to the window that looks out over the back of the skinny yard of the brownstone, feet planting on the cold floor and instead of rug and the hardwood creaking beneath her feet as she sways to the window. To the side of it first and then peek behind a curtain. Is there a fire? Does someone at this hour have a firepit going? A neighbour has their fireplace going for heat? Toes dig into the floor, the hand not pulling the side of the curtain back wrapping around her middle as if that might ward against the cold. Contain the feeling better.

For a moment Abigail doesn’t see anything out the window. It’s as if the entire city had been swallowed by a blackout. Through the triple-paned windows she can see just darkness. No stars, no moon, no clouds. Her own silhouette is barely visible in reflection, backlit by ambient lighting from the bedroom.

But then something horrifying happens. The lights outside just… come on. Not street lights or back door lights, but the sky. The sky simply ignites to reveal a sheet gray haze of an overcast day. The illumination is a cloudy afternoon and floods her bedroom with light. Enough to reveal the bare wood floorboards, white walls, and stucco ceiling that aren’t her apartment at all. The skyline outside of the window isn’t even her back yard, it’s a street somewhere in what looks strikingly like Paris.

Abby’s heart races and vertigo sets in, causing the room to feel like it’s upending in a swimming sensation. Sweat coats her palms and her extremities tremble with prickling numbness. She reflexively fixates on another incongruent detail: The bed isn’t hers; it’s a narrow thing pushed into a corner by a writing desk. There’s no electronics, no keepsakes of her own, but there’s boots by the door large enough that Robert could have worn them.

She recoils. Something in her recoils at the inconsistency between what she knows and what she’s seeing. Her ceilings are wood slats. Her walls are soft blue and she most certainly lives in Williamsburg, not across the world in Paris or presumptive Paris. Hands come to either side of her head, elbows out as she turns in spot as nothing makes sense. Nothing in the least. There's no Tabaqui. She takes a step forward, staring at the boots before she’s running for the door. Presuming there’s a door. “Kasha!” She screams out as the panic is rearing its head. “KASHA!”

Something is wrong.

Abby’s screams ring off of the wall, and when a woman’s voice answers her back it feels like a gunshot going off in the room with her.

“Lukas?” The woman asks. Abby doesn’t know her; some twenty-something with short brown hair and gray eyes dressed in slacks, suspenders, and an off-white button down. She’s looking dead-on at Abby, confused. Her clothes look out of place, the way they’re worn, the fit, the cut. Old?

The lights go out, and Abby is standing in her darkened apartment with her hands at her head, vertigo causing her stomach to churn and an ice-pick stabbing sensation hitting behind her right eye. There is no woman. But she can hear Kasha, reacting to her scream.

Legs give way and Abby finds her knees hitting the floor in the hall before leaning over, squeezing eyes shut as she presses her forehead to the cool floor. New York. She’s in New York. Back in Williamsburg. “Kasha!” She calls out again in desperation for the tween. “Call-” It’s hard to concentrate, the ice pick derailing and hands move from the sides of her head to turn and crawl back into her room, try and get the wallet that’s there. The closer to the ground the better. “Kasha! Call nine one one. Somethings wrong.” Gasping out to the teen in the hopes she’s heard. “Call Liz.” To come handle Kasha.

Thudding footsteps echo on the floor, and in here growing delirium Abby can tell that her bedroom door is opening. Kasha’s small frame hangs in the doorway, watching, talking too but Abby can barely make any of it out for the sound of crashing waves in her ears, as if she’d put a shell up to them to listen to the ocean. Her world is one of disorienting ambiguity, where her limbs fail to function and her heart races to the beat of a rising crescendo of action, even as everything around her is still.

There is a voice, frightened and small. She knows it's Kasha's but can't make out what it says. Kasha disappears from the doorway and Abby blinks reflexively through the formation of a blind-spot in her right eye; blue-black against the cool colors of night. Her heart races still, but she lives.

Somewhere, Kasha is placing panicked phone calls.

Somewhere, help is on the way.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License