2.12: Dreams of Blood

Posted: February 18, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

It never began the same way but there was always the smell of blood.  Her feet squelched through pools of scarlet congealing on the carpet.  The edges of the room were blurred.  Tendrils of shadow crept forth from the corners.  They surrounded her, testing, careful, but they never touched.  They crawled along the outside, slowly, a mass of seething darkness.  The tunnel of shadow heaved.  It was never still.  There was something underneath it all, slithering, watching.  Her skin crawled.  Fear filled the depths of her gut with ice and began to spread.  She could not bring herself to touch the shadows of the tunnel but there was no way back.  She had to follow it.

He was already dead.  They were alone.

It had not happened like this.

This is how she knew it was a dream.

Her eyelids drooped, heavy.  The tension in her back released like a spring and she sagged forward, the glass tilting in her hand.  A wet nose pressed against the palm of her other hand with an accompanying whimper.  She forced her eyelids open and caught the glass just before it emptied its contents on to the carpet.  She reached out and gave the huge dog a scratch behind the ear.

The velvet blackness and silence of the night had given way to hazy grey light signalling the encroaching dawn.  At least one bird was determined to beat the morning rush, already up and about, performing a solo.  In the gloom, she stared at her reflection.

You look awful.

Her face was drawn, pale except for the huge suitcases that had taken up residence beneath her eyes.  Her eyes were shot through with a web of angry red veins but she couldn’t see that from here.  The severity of the recently shorn hair only managed to enhance the gauntness of her face and make the angles of her cheekbones sharper.

Look at yourself.  You’re losing it.  Pull it together, Perrin.

She studied herself critically, the scars that told where she had been and what she had done, the paleness, the way her hip bones protruded just a little too much to be healthy, the fragility of it all.  Shaking her head, she put the glass to her lips and drained the last of the whiskey.  It was cheap.  It burned her throat as it slid down.  Her stomach caught fire and her thoughts muddled as she put the glass on the nightstand and slid beneath the cool cotton sheets.

The beginning was always different, except for the scent of blood that filled her nostrils.  The air shimmered like waves of heat on the horizon on a hot summer day.  These waves of heat were hazy and crimson.  Vapours of blood.  The tang of copper stained her mouth and she knew that the air was filled with his life, slowly evaporating.  He was still alive, just.  Why was nobody helping him?  Where was everybody?

They were alone.  He was dying and they were alone.

It had not been like this.

This was how she knew it was a dream.

He was so still.  His chest heaved, desperately, as he struggled for air.  The vapours of blood struggled to stay free.  A few stragglers returned to his body but after a moment they escaped and they had multiplied.  Globs of crimson spluttered from his lips as his skin turned ashen.  As she sank to her knees in the bloody carpet, scarlet seeped through her jeans and stained her skin.  It was hot.  And the smell… burnt flesh and copper.  It was the kind of scent that pressed itself indelibly in your mind.

She remembered that.

It had been like that.

This was when she forgot it was a dream.

She froze.  Panic seeped into her and her mind went blank.  He was struggling, his own blood choking him, and when his hand grabbed for her she didn’t know what to do.  There was so much blood.  She didn’t understand how a man with all his blood on the floor – in the air – could grip her hand with such strength.  His eyes met hers and they burned into her so that she could not… would not… look away.  He had a secret.  He was keeping something from her.  She did not know how she knew it but she did.  That could not happen if he did not want her to know, she thought.  And then she realised that he wanted to tell her something.  His grip pulled her closer and he wanted to talk but the words wouldn’t come out.

It had been like that.

Hadn’t it?

“It will be okay.”

He held her there.  And then she felt it.  The familiar twist in her gut as space shifted around her.  It was already too late.  The pain… it was instant, paralysing, a blaze of fire racing up her spine.  The blood welled across her shirt, steaming, mingling with his.  She collapsed onto his chest.  More blood.  And his face… his skin was transparent and his lip twisted in what might have been a smile and there was a scarlet bubble and then nothing.

“You’ll be happy there.”

She rolled onto her back.  Agony shredded through every nerve.  She did not know why she still felt the pain.  That was wrong.  She should… she thought… be dead.  Surely she should be dead but she wasn’t and her insides were burning.  She should be dead.

But it hadn’t…

It hadn’t happened like this.

This was when she remembered it was a dream.

Every fibre of her being was screaming for an end.  She gulped a desperate deep breath of air and the vapours of blood – his blood – swept into her lungs.  That was when she saw it.  The shimmering waves of blood coalescing.  As she breathed, deeper, they stayed within her.

“I promise.”

This is a dream.

She awoke, clawing the sheets, frozen for a moment as she gulped for air.  Her skin was hot and slick and the sheets soaked through.  A flash of panic welled in her gut – blood – until she threw off the sheets and the sweat evaporated on her skin leaving behind only a chill.  She reached for the glass on the nightstand, forgetting its emptiness, then cursed and knocked it across the room.

Dammit, Perrin.  You’ll wake John.

The bottle was empty as well.  She pulled on a long jumper and padded down the hallway in the dawn’s light to get a fresh bottle with a dog at her heels, past the fearsome spear laid against the wall, dried blood still encrusted on its blade.


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