The Depths of Demons Chapter 4
"OnceI cant remember; I was long ago
someone strange. I was innocent and wise,
and full of pain."
--"The Last Unicorn"
"You live here all by yourself?" he asked her, bringing the spoon gingerly to his lips. Steam rose from the contents of the spoon, spiraling in the air.
"Hmm?" Mylar asked, looking back at him from where she'd been gazing, out the window she sat by. One leg was pulled against her, her chin resting upon it, her fingers laced together, holding it to her. "What did you ask?"
"Do you live here all by yourself?" he repeated, watching her. A lock of hair had fallen in front of her eyes, which she tucked quickly behind her ears.
A shadow crossed her face. Then, bringing her lips into a determined little line, she shook her head. "My father lives here with me. He, hehe's away right now. He'll be back . . . Soon."
The tone in her voice told him that her father likely would not be, that something had happened to him. Her eyes had attained a lost look, as though she were staring at something that was not there. Then, slowly, she turned back to the window and continued gazing out it, leaving him to eat.
Although the girl was an excellent cook, he was not hungry. His mind was too fullempty, rather. He endlessly plagued his thoughts for any scrap of memory, only to be left with shreds of sounds and threads of visions. It ached to think. He brought the spoon to his mouth again, mechanically, and sipped the broth he had no desire to eat.
And another vision came.
And he allowed it.
The woman dressed in the slinky black dress said something to him in a squeaky voice. She'd tried to make her voice soft, silky, but only managed to give it a whiny quality. She laughed, giggled really, and beneath it he heard the cold, sharp scratch of steel against steel. This girl was one who enjoyed inflicting pain. Yet she fascinated him somehow, like a cobra.
The vision shifted.
He walked down the hallway with sure, swift steps. A dark, furred creature walked beside him, its steps matching his own. Smiling slightly, he tapped his hand against the side of his leg, and the creature moved forward.
"These things take time."
The girl pulled him out of the vision, back into the present. Looking at her suddenly, he tightened his hand into a fist around the spoon, ignoring the pain of the metal digging into his flesh. He used his other hand to steady the bowl.
"Your memories will come back. You will see."
He nodded, saying nothing. He did not know what compelled the girl to make such reassurances to him, much less to take the time to help people. It confused him why she had not simply let him die. Something within him told him it would have been better that way.
"You don't like the broth?" The girl had left her position by the window and was slowly walking toward him, a look of concern upon her face.
"It's fine," he told, a bit harshly.
Ignoring his comment, she moved to him, pulled the bowl and spoon from him carefully, then disappeared into the kitchen, only to return a moment later without them. Instead, in one hand, she held a cup from which a great amount of steam spilled into the air.
"Tea," she stated as she handed it to him, not asking him whether he wanted it or not. "Drink it. It's good for you," she commanded with a voice that brooked no disobedience, then returned to the window. He watched as she moved from him to the window, each stride purposeful. The girl had a very distinctly unique walk; each movement she made was controlled, yet smooth, not like others he'd seen. If only he could recall who those others had been. Gingerly, he brought the steaming cub to his mouth, and ever-so-slowly, tilted it, allowing the liquid to barely touch his lips.
He drank in silence; in silence, the girl watched out the window. And silence, he discovered, bothered him intensely.
"Where did your father go?" he inquired, simply to break the stillness.
When she whirled around, there was such an anger in her eyes, which he'd not seen before, that he was startled nearly into dropping the cup.
Before he could speak, the girl had changed her expression, melting the anger into a kind of sad tranquility. She made herself calm, collected, and turned again away from him.
"He and a group of others went to fight that creature beneath the sea, Weapon or something." Her voice was soft, quiet. Straining to hear, he leaned forward. "They left a few days ago. I don't understand it though; there hadn't been any attacks by it for . . ." She shook her head, her hands creeping up her arms to rest upon her shoulders. "Any way, I'm certain he'll be home soon."
With the feeling that he was wading in treacherous waters, he nonetheless asked his next question. "And your mother?"
Saying nothing, she stood, moved away from the window, and walked quickly out the door of the house, shutting it loudly behind her.
Her head was spinning. The cool night air rushed at her, dizzying her.
She had to sit down.
I'm alright, I'm fine, I'm fine, she told herself, moving away from her house, arms wrapped around herself to fight the chill. She moved into the street, walking blindly, not caring where she was headed. He'll be back soon. Everything will be fine when he's back. He'll call me My-My Girl, and sing to me, like he did when I was little. Her footsteps echoed in her ears, and she kept walking.
Mylar wasn't certain when it was that she came to a stop; she knew only that her knees were drawn against her, and her head was tilted back against something metal. She took deep breaths. She looked up at the night sky.
There's Priscilla's star, the one she claimed was hers on her seventh birthday. We were both out on her roof. I remember it. Our feet were bare, and it was early spring. The scent of the ocean was so strong, and there was something going on in the Shinra base. What was that? It doesn't matter. But we were happy that night, and she raised her hand and pointed to that star, that bright one, and said it was hers. You can't claim a star. But she did anyway. And there were noises beneath us. There was a gunshot. Someone?a girl, I think?screamed. Priscilla and I ignored it. We sat up on the roof wiggling our bare toes and claiming stars and we ignored it. How could we do that? We learn to tune it out, everything. That wasn't the only scream we've heard. How many times have I woken in the night and heard shouts, shots? Strange muffled sounds, like gunshots under water. How did I ignore it, andWhy am I thinking like this?
Resting her chin in the cradle between her knees, she used one finger to trace small shapes in the dirt. A circle. A swirl. She tried to block everything out; Mylar could not understand why she was plagued with such musings that particular night. Somehow, she felt detached from everything, in a way she never had before. Someone could drive a nail through her hand at that moment; it would matter little. There was a deep emptiness spreading through her, and she couldn't explain it.
Her mother's words drifted to her.
"Don't let yourself be used," she'd told Mylar in a sad voice, a distant look in her eyes. "Find what you want and hold onto it. Do what I didn't. Don't let it slip away."
Those words, which she knew so well, had played over again and again in her mind, suddenly took on a new meaning. What was it that my mother wanted? Wasn't she happy with Father? He was so much older, butbut?What did she mean? I don't understand. She asked herself what she remembered about the night her mother left. She'd only gone for a walk. That was all. Or a swim. She fell in the river, or she swam out too far. That was how it happened. It wasn't her fault. She wouldn't have done that. She wouldn't have. No, it
A noise disturbed the silence, disrupted her thoughts. A voice, coming through the darkness.
"D'ya think he's dead?" It was a low voice, and scratchy as the voice of someone who'd smoked since he was six might be.
"Who?" A woman's voice, a bit too high, and squeaky, as though out of tune.
"The president of Shinra; who'dya think I was talkin' bouts?"
"Well, I didn't know," the woman said coyly.
"That explosion in Midgar; theys never found 'is body, ya know. Not that there'd a been much ta find."
A suspicion crept into Mylar's mind.
"You ever seen him?"
"O' course! Whaddya think? Always wearing that white coat, blondish-or'ge hair?"
"Well anyone could tell you that. How long has he been missing.?"
Realizing suddenly that she was seated next to the Shinra base, Mylar jumped to her feet. She didn't wish to hear any more of the conversation. Instead, she ran swiftly through the streets, back to her home. where her patient lay sleeping, the cup empty and placed upon a table.
How long was I gone?
Mylar closed the door silently behind her, and stood leaning against it, staring at her patient. Her eyes fell to his hair. Those wounds he hadShe shook her head determinedly, and walked past him into her own room.
Rufus stepped out of the helicopter, straining to hear above the roar of the propeller. It was night and the stars stared down at him, the angry faces of the dead, accusing him. He was accustomed to cold accompanying darkness, and so was surprised when he first breathed in the thick, humid air. The heat of the jungle island was sticky around him. Strange insects flew past him as the sounds of the helicopter finally quieted and died.
"Rufus Shinra!" someone shouted, causing Rufus to turn toward the direction of the voice. A young man wearing a dark, blue coat ran toward him, short brown hair blown about by the wind. He came to a stop in front of Rufus. "You are Rufus Shinra?"
He said nothing, simply nodded, his eyes steady upon the person in front of him. Whoever he was, he had the strangest eyes Rufus had ever seen. They were an odd, intense amber color, glimmering gold in the darkness.
"My name is Jem Buckley," the young man said, holding out one hand. There was a friendly smile upon his face, though he could barely be seen in the dim gleam of the compounds outer lights.
This is one who has seen little of trouble in life, Rufus thought immediately, slowly, gingerly lifting his arm from his side and taking the offered hand. Jem Buckley shook his hand steadily, but not forcefully, then released it and motioned for Rufus to move away from the helicopter.
The humidity hung around him, clinging to his skin.
The moon glared down in glowing menace.
Again, the propeller thundered as the helicopter prepared to leave.
"Im to show you around the compound," Jem told him, nearly shouting. Behind them, the helicopter had slowly begun its ascent into the dark sky. Rufus pulled off the black coat he wore, slung it over his shoulder. "Dont worry, youll get used to the heat. You wont be doing much outside work, anyway. Your father mentioned to me that youll be taking over here in perhaps as little as a year."
Numbness encased his emotions. He turned to Jem, uncaring eyes. "You spoke with my father?" If Jem had done that, he must have been much older than Rufus had at first guessed. Hed figured the young man at no more than nineteen, merely two years older than Rufus himself was. Youth yet hung upon his face. But, if he were in a high enough position to be speaking with the President of Shinra, he would have to be much older.
"Yes. Your father spoke very highly of you. Im certain youll fit right in here."
What was happening? His fatherspeaking highly of him? That couldnt be. With a feeling of disbelief, he asked, "He did?"
The sounds of the helicopter faded entirely as they walked closer to the large, white building hidden in the forest. With the helicopter gone, his only means of escape vanished.
Beneath his feet, the soft dirt sunk slowly, giving the illusion that it was not solid ground. The trees crowded around him, grasping at him with their crooked branches. He felt sweat slide across his brow. The air closed in on him.
He slapped his neck harshly, then pulled his hand in front of his eyes. The crushed form of a large mosquito lay upon his palm, which he quickly tried to shake away, then, when that failed, wiped across the left side of his pants.
"Not much farther," Jem reassured him, walking easily through the sticky jungle night. "Its just ahead."
Rufus turned his gaze forward. And he saw itTur-Ah Compound. It loomed large in the distance, a big white monster of a building, meant to instill fear in the hearts of those who entered. Somewhat resembling a prison, its shape was mangled, distorted. Looking at it, Rufus wasnt certain whether it was his own vision that was blurred, or merely the look of the building that was so strange. Barred windows dotted the sides of the walls and a large, abnormal platform jutted out near the roof.
As they neared the building, a door that Rufus hadnt seen slid open, spilling yellow light onto the forest ground.
A grim nuance suddenly entering his tone, Jem said, "Welcome to Tur-Ah Compound."
Mylar pushed her way through layers of sleep, through a sea of dreams, into the light of morning. It was a surprise to her that shed slept, and woken not once in the night.
And she could not remember what shed dreamt.
But she knew there had been a dream. A nightmare.
Its claws were yet digging into her heart, making it pound quickly, forcefully. Her breath came in small gasps, and felt like fire. That same familiar fear crept into her, touching her back with fingertips of frost.
Im alright, Im alright, Im alright, she told herself, sitting. Her quilt slid down her, dropping from her knees like a waterfall and pooling around the valley of her feet. She slid her eyes to those knees shed bared. They were still knobby, bony, as they had been when she was a child. There was a scar upon one from when she was ten, and fallen from a tree. Her father had scooped her up in his arms, as she criedI have to stop thinking of this. Chilled, she pulled it quickly back up, covering her bare knees. I have a headache.
With a sigh, she removed herself from the bed, wrapped the quilt around her, and left her room. The cold wood tickled her bare feet as the quilt dragged against the old, scratched boards.
The cool, fresh breath of early dawn spilled in through a window she hadnt realized shed left open. Mylar crept through the houses outer room, being careful not to step upon boards she knew would creak and perhaps wake her patient, and closed the window, dragging it down slowly. From there, she moved to the kitchen.
Upon entering the smaller, yellow-painted room, Mylar abruptly released the blanket and pushed her arms upward, feeling the stretch all through her. The sleeves of her nightgown slid down past her wrists, then back to her fingers as she let her arms fall to her sides.
The nightgown had belonged to her mother once, and was too large for her.
Sunlight colored the ground of the kitchen, putting into sharp relief the disrepair of the scuffed ground. As a child, shed raced shrieking through that kitchen, her laughter ringing through the walls. Unlike the others, that memory did not make her sad; instead, it added to the soft serenity of the morning. Mylar felt a deep peace within her that she hadnt felt for a very long time, and was surprised that she felt. Much had happened of late.
Retrieving the quilt, she placed it upon a chair that sat near the table, then set about to making herself something. Hunger, somehow, did not lay within her; so she made simply tea. Mylar sat upon the chair, cocooned in the warmth of her quilt, and sipped her tea quietly, the liquids warmth spreading through her, while her patient slept soundlessly within the other room.
The room was bare, dimly lit. He stepped in slowly and closed the door softly behind him, his eyes taking in the alien surroundings. He felt the click of the door connecting with the frame echo through him. Gingerly, he moved one arm across the wall near the door; he sensed his fingers touch plastic. He pushed it upwards. More lights came on, adding to the desolation of the place.
There was a simple bed covered in white sheets, near a window that was barred both inside and out. A door, evidently holding a closet, was on one side, a bathroom was on the other. One bare shelf was built into the wall near his bed. Set upon the lone table in the room was a small, brown box.
Rufus went to it. He placed his fingers on the sides, looked at the writing on the top. "To Rufus. From your father." Carefully, slowly, he lifted the top, placed it on the table.
Inside was something small. It was rectangular, and blue. Rufus pulled it out, curious. A book, no writing on the outside, no title on the spine. He opened it, and found handwriting.
"December 5th," he read aloud, his voice shaking. "Today Rufus and I" In one quick movement, he slammed the book shut. Darras diary. He knew it without reading more. He had no desire to know what it held.
Fire flooded him. He grabbed the book, held its spine tightly in one fist, hurled it against the wall with all his might. Thudding against the bare white wall, the small diary fell onto the ground, spilled open.
The fire ate at him. He felt its rage consume him. Rufus was slave to that power that held him. It was not enough to throw the book; it had to feel what he felt. It had to be torn up inside as he was torn. So he went to he book. He plucked it from the ground, stared down at it for a moment, then let the fury overtake him. His fingers locked around one page, pulled. The sound of it tearing tormented him, but he could not stop. First one page floated to the ground, then another, then a flurry of yellowed paper rained from the air and littered his floor with the thoughts of a girl three months dead. But he couldnt stop tearing. Rufus pulled each page from the book, one by one, stormed through his room and dropped them to his floor, so that when he moved, he stepped upon the pages, heard them crackle beneath his feet.
And when the book was empty of pages, he dropped the shell of a book to the floor, then turned in dizzy circles, his eyes flying to the words scrawled upon each page. He could not make them out, but they were there, accusing him. He should have saved her. He could have saved her.
And it was too much.
He had to extinguish the fire within.
Rufus stumbled through his room, into the adjoining bathroom. He moved to the bathtub, sitting alone in the darkness, barely taking time to flick on the light. No thoughts left within him, he saw, as though detached from his body, his hand reach down and turn the knob, did not feel the cold, cold water that rushed onto his arm.
Searching frantically about the room, his eyes at last captured the sight he sought; a bar of soap, and, strangely, a scissors, placed near the sink. These, his hands made tight fists around as he carried them back to the tub.
He did not bother to remove his clothing. Instead, he let himself fall into the tub, let the freezing water seep into his clothing. He set about to cleansing himself.
The bar of soap was slippery in his hand; its residue clung beneath his fingernails, but it mattered little. In a frenzy, he scrubbed the sleeves of his shirt with the soap, letting the bubbles slide across the cloth, as though he could wipe everything away. And when he was finished, felt slightly free of the dirt of death, he grabbed the scissors and brought them to his hair.
A hand, powerful, unyielding, gripped his arm, fingers closing around his wrist, and forced him to drop the scissors. It fell into the water with a splash. That same hand, and another, grasped his shoulders, heaved him upward, so that he stood in the bathtub, the water splashing out, running through his clothing.
"Out of there, now!" said the voice of Jem Buckley, low, angry. He forced Rufus out of the tub. Without speaking, he pulled Rufus shirt from him, threw it across the room, stripped him of shoes and pants, leaving him standing nearly bare.
"You damned fool," Jem raged, wrapping a white towel around Rufus, then placing something whitea coat? on him, ordering him to place his hands in the sleeves.
Then Jem pushed Rufus out of the bathroom, forced him forward, pushed him toward the bed. The torn pages clung to his wet feet. "Go to bed," Jem commanded, and Rufus had no choice but to obey.
And when he woke, there was no sign of the previous night.
No pages were strewn about his room.
No water was spilled upon the ground.
The only evidence that something had happened was the towel and the white coat that Rufus wore, nothing else.
He did not ask how it had come to be, how Jem had known to go to his room and stop him. He never spoke of that night, and neither did Jem.
She walked slowly across the barren plains. It was hot, unusual for the areas surrounding Midgar. The cold usually clung to everything, seeped into bones and joints.
Shed been hotter places, though, and she could handle it. And she was dressed for the weather, and unusual occurrence for her. Scarlet preferred different types of clothing than light pants and a plain white blouse. Her shoes, too, were not what she was accustomed too; they were meant for trudging for long distances, in unknown areas. Yes, she could cope with her current situation.
Scarlet simply didnt like it.
But then, it didnt matter much whether she liked it or not; she had something to do, something important, and she couldnt stop until shed completed her task. It was that simple. She would find Rufus Shinra, because she was certain he was alive.
And then, most likely, she would kill him.
Dark clouds hung in the sky, shadowing the ground but offering little protection from the heat. Ahead of her, Midgar was a massive pile of metal and wood, plastic, cement, jumbled together in some sort of twisted caricature of life. It leered at her, holding within it the bitter lives of the dead.
Scarlet grinned back at the structure, saluted it, and those shed left behind to die. Like Heidegger. Somewhere in that tangled mass was the body of that man, whod lusted after her all those many years, only to be disappointed, left in the burning rubble of Midgar. At his life, she sneered.
Although at first shed humored Heidegger, teased him, the entire thing had become a bore to her. There was only so much a girl could take. She could still feel that slimy gaze upon her, could feel the mans sweaty palms trying to grasp her own hand.
With one last twisted mile, her eyes narrowing as she gazed at the metal bulk, Scarlet turned away from the ruins. There were more important things for her to be doing.
Scarlet headed toward one of the small clusters of make-shift houses that had sprung up around the ruins, making a trail of shacks from Midgar to Kalm. It was at a small structure some distance away that shed procured the clothing she wore, discarded the tattered, dirty dress, and spent the last few nights. During those nights, shed lain awake and thought of what to do next, with Midgar destroyed. Find Rufus, her thoughts commanded. Find him, and from there, you will decide what you must do. Whether or not he should be allowed to live, now that there is nothing preventing you from doing the deed you should have done years ago.
A child of about seven looked at her, dark, round eyes widening, then scampered inside one of the shacks as she approached.
Damned bugger, thought Scarlet menacingly, glaring in the direction the child had gone. Damned little wretch. I should squeeze the little brats throat until he bursts. Shaking her head forcefully, Scarlet took a step forward. No Scarlet, you cant do that. You have more important things to attend to. Ask these people what they know, and if they know nothing, continue. Someone, somewhere must know.
She spotted a man, his dark hair falling past his shoulders, leave a house and move toward a chocobo-drawn carriage. Tapping her fingers against the side of her legs, she moved toward him, a smile creeping across her face.
Hed given her a place to start, and she supposed that was good.
But she couldnt be certain whether he was lying or not. Hed looked at her directly, letting their eyes meet, and told her that hed picked up a girl and a wounded man a short time back. And hed taken them to Kalm.
Something told Scarlet, though, that he couldnt be trusted. The man had recognized her; shed been certain of that. Therefore, she couldnt be sure whether or not he spoke the truth. Few common citizens liked the executives of Shinra. Few would be willing to lie to them, but she no longer held any authority. It bothered her, the uncertainty of it all.
Having little choice, Scarlet had demanded he take her to Kalm. And he had complied. Without question, without protest. That, too, bothered her. And, after arriving there, the man had disappeared again, leaving her to find what she could on her own.
Well, she was accustomed to doing things on her own.
The dewy residue of sleep left a web of confusion over him. He woke, and it first was not certain where he was. Sitting, he looked at his surroundings, and for a moment, he was seeing it anew.
Then everything flooded back.
He could hear the sound of the girl moving about nearby, the noises of her feet falling upon the ground as she walked. And he knew that, in a moment, she would come into the room, bearing something to eat, then go sit by the window while he ate. She would sit, the sunlight falling through the window to splash down her dark hair, and stare out that window, watching for something that would never come. Something in him told him this; whatever she was waiting for would never return to her. It was lost to the darkness, like everything eventually must be.
Already, he was tired of lying there, of being indoors. He wondered how it was that Mylar did it each day, went about her business, ate, slept, breathed, without something to break the monotony. There seemed no excitement within her.
As hed known she would, the girl came into the room. But she didnt have food with her. In fact, she seemed somewhat startled to find that he was even awake. Upon her face a somewhat lost look, as though she were staring at something that was not there. When she found him sitting, she made a small, startled sound, and placed one hand at the base of her throat.
"Are you alright?" he asked her, confused by the girls odd behavior. He brought his brows together and frowned slightly.
"Yes, quite," was the reply. Quickly, she brought her expression under control, changed it to a look of calmness. "Im fine. I just wasnt expecting you to be awake, thats all."
Her hair was messed, curling haphazardly around her face, and was, for once, not tucked behind her ears. She wore a black pair of pants that was obviously too long for her, since the cloth bunched up at her ankles. The sleeves of her blue sweater were pushed up past her elbows, and her shoes appeared to be missing.
As he looked at her, her hands strayed upwards, caught her loose hair, and tucked it away. She sighed. "Will you be alright in here for a moment?" she asked, biting down upon her lower lip.
Confused, he nodded, then watched as the girl fled quickly out the door, closing it quickly behind her. He wondered if she was still upset over his question about her mother.
Feeling guilty, he stretched his legs out in front of him, then pulled himself out of the bed and looked around. It was the first time hed been alone in the house and not too exhausted to do anything but sleep. He knew that he should leave well enough alone, lay upon the bed and wait for her to return, but curiosity overtook him.
He decided to do some exploring of the house.
The floorboards creaked beneath him as he walked into the kitchen, which he hadnt before seen. Its walls were yellow and faded, but remarkably clean. A window was placed above the sink, another a short distance away, the blue curtains, which were drawn, wrinkled and torn in places. Sunlight spilled in upon him, incredibly bright in the unlit room. Cupboards ran across one wall, stopping near the refrigerator, their brass knobs looking the worse for wear. There was a cup turned over in the sink, and one chair was pulled away from the table, which sat in the center of the room. That table held three chairs, yet Mylar was the only inhabitant of the house hed seen.
Her father had gone somewhere.
And her mother was dead. He knew this, though she hadnt told him.
Leaving the kitchen, he headed down a hallway, looking at the rooms.
He found Mylars easily, being able to tell which was hers by the open door, by the nightgown flung atop a bureau. Knowing he should not go in there, he nonetheless stepped inside.
A faint smell of lilac clung to the walls, as though it had seeped in there during warmer nights, attached itself to the wood and refused to relinquish its grip. It wasnt unpleasant, simply strange.
Looking about the room, he moved slowly farther inward, sliding his left hand across one blue-painted wall as the soft ticking of a nearby clock drifted to his ears. The would was rough beneath his fingertips.
The room itself was rather cluttered. There were shelves all along the walls, one holding books, but most holding strange-looking plants, strips of cloth, and other things the girl must use when she played doctor. Photographs, placed in frames, dotted the walls, adorned the shelves, took up odd corners. Moving toward one, he pulled it from the shelf, wiped dust off the frame with his thumb, and looked at it.
Two figures started out at him. They stood upon the houses porch, looking toward the house itself, while behind them, the sea blazed orange against the purple sky. A young girl, laughing, sitting in a chair and swinging her legs. Behind her, a older woman, eyes sad and tired, smiled tersely while placing one hand on the girls shoulder. The womans hair was slightly damp and pulled away from her face.
Mylar, and her dead mother.
Shivering suddenly, he replaced the photograph on its shelf, then hastily left the room. Moving quickly, as though being chased, he returned to his bed and sat upon it. He waited.
The early morning air colored her cheeks as she walked swiftly through the streets of Junon, to where Priscilla had requested they meet. Earlier, the girl had informed Mylar that there was news of those who left to fight Weapon. Barely taking the time to dress, Mylar felt her heart beat rapidly, her breath come short.
Her father was dead. She knew he was dead.
Dont think like that, Mylar! Hes fine. He has to be.
Around her, she could hear the sounds of the small town coming to life, young children shrieking in delight as they chased each other around the houses, men and women preparing to do their work. Through the background of noise, all she could hear was her own beating heart.
There is Priscilla. Shes there. Shes waving. Everything must be alright. Mylar broke into a run, disregarding the feel of the pavement, the small sharp rocks, biting into her bare feet. The sooner she reached Priscilla, the sooner she would know.
"Mylar!" Priscilla called at her, cupping her hands around her mouth, though Mylar could hear her perfectly well. "Mylar!"
"Im coming, Priscilla!" she shouted back, feeling her feet fly beneath her. "Are they back? Is he alright? My father, is he alright? Priscilla, are they back?" The words fell from her mouth so quickly, a waterfall of syllables and sounds, that she wasnt ever certain what she was saying.
Taking deep breaths, Priscilla raised one hand to stop Mylars outpouring of words. "Give me a chance to speak, Lar, would you?"
She hushed. She looked Priscilla directly in the eye and waited. Above, the slightly cloudy sky began to send water down upon them. First one drop, then another, landed upon Mylar.
"The boat came back a little before dawn. There were three survivors in it; I dont know who. The Shinra left here in Junon rushed them into their building, wouldnt let anyone see them. Theyre supposedly being treated for something. I dont know for certain. The man I spoke to wouldnt tell me much. Mylar?"
She shook her head, turning away, casting her eyes to the ground. Mylar felt dizzy. Though hope should have been a bright, shining light within her, all she felt was a deep sinking feeling in her stomach. Breathing was a terrible effort.
Shaking her head, Mylar moved away from Priscilla. "Tell me when you know more," she requested simply, then moved slowly back to her house.
Beginning to pour, the rain spilled down upon.
He did not have to wait long. Almost as soon as he sat upon the bed, the door opened and Mylar walked slowly in, exceedingly wet. Water dripped from the sleeves of her sweater, from her pants, rolled down her face. Damp, her hair had darkened and curled.
Her cat, its one eye gleaming with mischief, came from seemingly nowhere and wove between Mylars feet, demanding attention.
An absent look upon her face, Mylar dropped to a crouch, scratched the cat lightly behind its ears, then stood once more and began ringing water from her hair onto the floor.
"Are you alright?" he questioned, trying not to let concern creep into his voice. The girl was much more of a puzzle than hed at first imagined.
"Its raining," she told him simply, her gaze directed toward him, but her eyes not seeing. Dripping water, she pulled the blue sweater off, revealing a plain white blouse beneath, and walked down the hallway into her room.
Frowning slightly, he waited for the girl to return, watching that cat of hers carefully. It sat staring at him, the one large eye focused upon him. He shivered; that stare bothered him.
Youre being silly. Its only a little cat, a crippled little cat. Stop being like this.
In order to prove to himself that he was not afraid, and there was no reason for him to be afraid, he stood and walked over to the tiny animal. It continued to stare at him, not even blinking. Stooping, her reached a hand toward.
It the wicked little thing dashed away from him, running past him quickly. When he turned, it was perched happily in Mylars arms. Having reappeared, she was again dressed in dry clothing, her damp hair tied loosely behind her head. Her eyes were sad.
She looked so much like the woman in the photograph it was frightening.
"Are you hungry?" she asked him, looking down at the smirking cat, stroking one hand across its back while cradling it with the other arm. "Youre a pretty girl," she crooned down to it.
"Not particularly," he told her, uncertain how to respond.
"Alright. Ill get you something in just a bit," Mylar replied, as though not hearing him.
She let the cat back to the ground, then walked slowly into the kitchen.
Curious, he followed her.
The door opened before her, and someone called for her to enter. She was tired, cold, dirty, and her heart hammered rapidly within her.
They were going to kill her. Shed done the murder, and they knew it, and they were going to kill her. Scarlet did not want to die. It hadnt really been her fault?that damned girl had started the fight. Killing the little witch had been Scarlets only option.
The floor was cold beneath her feet, and an odd, tangy smell hung in the air.
Far in front of her, a lone man sat behind a desk, smirking at her. From behind, someone pushed her forward, telling her to walk faster. She obeyed, and soon the visage of the president of Shinra could be made out clearly. As she approached, his eyes moved down her body, then back up it. His grin widened.
"That girl you killed was a close friend of mine," President Shinra told her in a suggestive voice.
The man cut her off with a flick of his wrist. "Stop. I dont need to hear it. I wont kill you, girl?Scarlet, isnt it? Yes. I wont kill you, Scarlet. I have a job for you. Yes, I think youd be just right for the job. Come closer. Of course, Ill have to be certain you are correct for the job . . ."
Trailing off, President Shinra gave her a speculative glance.
Coming suddenly out of her reverie, Scarlet realized something. While waiting in the entryway of the inn, her mind had drifted, bringing memories to her in an spontaneous flood of past occurrences. And when the left her just as abruptly as theyd come, her mind was clear, and she knew something of great importance, knew it without needing an explanation of how shed come by the knowledge.
Rufus Shinra was not in Kalm.
She would have to travel elsewhere.
Mylar took a deep breath. She did not understand what had come over her so swiftly, the strange darkness that crept across her heart. There was ice within her, and her breath came short.
She hadnt even noticed that the young man had followed her into the kitchen until she turned suddenly, and there he was, standing in front of her.
He repeated his previous question. "Are you alright?"
An intense swelling of anger pushed into her. "Im fine!" she burst out, the words tumbling from her mouth in an outraged flood.
And she did not know why she felt such anger; it was simply there, filling her.
She calmed herself, clenching her fists at her sides, then slowly releasing them as she drew in a slow breath. Turning away from him, she said, "Im sorry. Im just a little upset. Its nothing. Ill make something to eat now. You dont need to be in here. I really am fine" Go away, go away, go away! she shouted at him in her mind. Please, just leave me alone. I want to be alone right now. You cant help me.
Though it surprised her, he was gone when she turned around again, not having made a sound.
Good, she told herself. Hes gone. Good. Then I wont have to talk. Its good.
He could not understand what had upset the girl, or what was wrong with her. There had been such fury in her eyes, something hed not seen in her previously. Whether it was directed toward him or not, he was uncertain.
Waiting for her to return, he let his mind wander.
Surprisingly, no visions came to him, flooding him with tastes of memory. Only the soft ticking of a clock disrupted the silence that enveloped him. And he saw nothing but the room in which he sat, felt only the beating of his own heart. He simply sat and waited.
Eventually, the girl emerged from the kitchen, bearing food. She set it down in front of him, saying nothing. She went to her window and sat, staring outward.
The lack of sound in the room made him uncomfortable.
He told himself that that was the reason he spoke, the reason he asked her the question.
"What is your father like?"
Clearly, the question startled her. She whipped her head around, causing her hair to fall into her eyes. As hasty hands tucked away the hair, the mouth upon the surprised face opened slightly. Momentarily, Mylar closed her gray eyes.
When she opened them, she spoke. "My father is very tall, and strong. Hes a fisherman, so I suppose he needs strength. His hair is gray, some of it white. I dont look like him; I look like my mother. He doesnt always know how to act around people, so he doesnt talk much to those he doesnt know. Thats strange, considering his profession, I suppose. He used to sing to me, when I was little." She turned her entire body, then pulled her legs up from the ground and drew them against her. "I think most people judge him too quickly. They see his appearance, find how he talks little, and they dislike him. Thats why he went with the others to fight that creature. Im sure thats the reason. He wanted their regard." Bowing her head, she rested her chin on her knees. "What a silly thing to risk ones life for. What a silly thing to die for." Shaking her head, Mylar turned back away from him, and continued to look out the window.
Then, abruptly, she turned back, wiping a tear away from her eye. "And you? Are you remembering anything yet?"
He began to shake his head. And the vision hit him, like a shot, coursing through him.
He was running. He felt the ground move beneath him.
What was that sound? It roared in his ears as his heart thundered.
Its a helicopter. The sound is a helicopter, and I have to get there.
"Sufur! Are you alright?!?"
The girl had grasped his hand, but it was someone elses cold, lifeless hand he felt within his grasp. Blood spilled from that person, splashing across his wrist.
You will suffer. You will suffer.
He didnt understand. Whose voice was that? Why couldnt he remember anything?
He was running again, and dragging someone with him. She tugged at him, pulling backwards, trying to return.
"No! No, hes not dead! You have to believe me! He isnt dead he cant be dead he isnt dead! Go back oh God go back. Dont leave him there. Please. Take me back to him!" The girls voice was panicky, high and frightened.
"I have to get you out of here!"
"Sufur, try to stay awake!" But he couldnt. He felt consciousness slipping from him.
"Please oh God, he cant be dead. He cant be dead. He isnt DEAD!"
"Im sorry, hes¾ "
"No, he isnt¾ "
Their voices blended together. "Dead."
Go To Chapter 5
Return To FF7 Fanfic