Tale of Souls Chapter Four
There’s a sliver of the television flickr, a small sliver that managed to wash off onto Lily. This is because of how long ago they had to pass this to us to be able to fight. We tried to fight the clean way, you know the good vs evil bullshit? Yea, nobody fights clean as adults, and it’s not just man vs not man – but it’s about time folding in on itself. Fixing time is the first battle, and in the future each folding is a tsunami. Replacing the cigarettes with coffee would be the next progression in the story you could say.
“FUCK.” My eyes opened up again, and this time I knew where I was. I’m where I was five minutes ago, ok – an hour ago. Before Lily went to class, before she told me about the guestbook. Or at least, that’s what it looks like.
“FUCK YOURSELF, i stopped collecting guestbooks years ago.. Go scratch it in a wall you dipshit.” Rana growled at me and slapped me with the notebook he was writing in. “We only just got back to the haven, we had to break a few rules in the pandemic to cross street boundaries. I HATE FIGHTING, but I had to punch an anti-masker, an anti-vaxxer AND someone who tried to rip my shirt off to find my mark.”
Ok I was half right.
“Sorry, I thought .. “ I sighed and rubbed my eyes, “How long this time?”
“About 48 hours. Don’t worry, you’re literally like – conscious and existing when you’re gone – just that you have no recollection of what you’re doing until after it’s all said and done.” Rana opened up the notebook and pointed to the writing. “More so this is the data I’m collecting now.”
I forgot, the only part of Lily left besides the others – was Rana. Long story short, he’s the closest thing left to who Lily was. Somedays he’ll answer to that before he answers to Rana. It’s adorable yet annoying. We all have a mark, mine’s on my right arm just below my wrist and almost to my elbow on the underside. Ryan’s is on his left eye, and Rana’s is on his back – where it was since we were born. Kristoff shares the same location as me, or at least that version of Kristoff does. He’s meant to be me in his time, and somehow he’s stuck here.
“ANSWER!!” Rana laughed, and grinned.
“Besides me, are any of us 2nd or 3rd gen walkers on the team? Not just us, but like anyone left.” I had a theory, and maybe I wasn’t meant to know but I’m determined to find an answer to the puzzle so I can use it to get ahead to start racing and running instead of crawling and falling. “I realize I may not need to, let alone be allowed to, know.”
“No, you’re fine – Mike didn’t say it wasn’t ok to let you know that. His last rights were to give it to several people. We don’t know all of them but we know a couple of them. That’s why Kristoff is partially stuck here, he’s one of Mike’s 3rd gen walkers from his time. Like, our mike is the same mike from all times.” Rana grabbed the photo that I’d seen just hours ago inside the cabinet. “Uh, wait – hold on DID I NEVER RETURN THIS?”
“Because, I mean you know – Don’t you?” Rana raised an eyebrow, he’s aware that i’m not quite all there. He’s aware that I’m trying to figure everything out but since the nightmares became something more into walking between dreams – I lose track. This is what Mike means about running, walking instead of crawling. I need to be aware of myself, and stop falling over and losing track of who I am between the lines. “I’m not sure I should tell you.”
“Why?” I gave him a side eyed look and sighed, laying back down and rolling my eyes. “It’s not like you tell me anything anyways?” Oops, bad habits.
“YOU SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH. I thought you were better than that. Maybe you don’t deserve to be told. “ Rana slapped my arm and then punched me in the knee, and then punched the breaking wood on the bed frame. “FUCK YOU.”
“Sorry! God, I didn’t – I didn’t mean it that way. Also did they lock this room off at some point, this bed’s falling to bits.” I sat back up and crawled out of the bed only to find my legs weren’t legs anymore. “Alright. SPEAK. WHAT THE FUCK.”
“You’re married, you remember that right?” Rana rolled his eyes and waved the photograph in my face.
“YES BUT WHERE ARE MY DAMN LEGS AND WHO FUSED AN OCTOPUS TO MY ASS” My face was ghostly white, and I was utterly confused.
“You’re married, and you … GOD YOU ARE FUCKING DUMB. You’re NOT HUMAN ANYMORE AND HAVE NOT BEEN FOR LIKE FIVE YEARS maybe SIX YEARS. Me? Fucking longer than that, and YOU HAD A GODDAMN CHOICE.” Rana snarled and turned away from me and walked towards the door.
“Uh. 2+2 = WAIT WHAT?”
“Vampires sire nocturnal emo goths, your husband changed you with your permission. Your husband shared his history with you. Your child also is stuck here from the goddamn future because he decided babysitting his half-human self was going to be such a brainiac idea.” Rana opened the door and gasped. “Oh. Hi.”
“HI UNCLE. ARE YOU TORMENTING MY FATHER AGAIN. BECAUSE IF YOU ARE, I KNOW MORE ABOUT STABBING THINGS THAN MY PAPA DOES.”
“Psi.. Psilas… I didn’t.”
“Ok FILL IN THE DETAILS because i’m confused as fucking hell right now.” I tried not to scratch my face, my dry as hell eczema laden face. Too late, it itches, stress makes it worse. Actually it wasn’t itching, I was trying to scratch my eyes out but I missed.
“There is no gender bias in our race and anyone can shit out a kid?” Psilas grinned like he was making a joke, though he was right – it was so generalized that you could tell he was hiding the truth between the lines.
“You’re one of Mike’s other walkers.”
“YES DADDY. You’ve caught me.” Psilas growled, “You know this already.”
“For lack of wisdom, i’m gonna quote your idiot grandfather, I HAVE A 4k MEMORY, REMIND ME.” That was worse than a lack of wisdom, computers haven’t been KILOBYTES of memory since like the 80s and 90s.
“He’s not walking like he should, and his mind keeps playing tricks on him Psilas please stop making it harder for him.” Kristoff walked by in the corridor and slapped him over the head, walking back – dragging Psilas from the doorway and walking into the room himself. “You not human, you had sex – it’s kinda like the social norm now. That’d be why they keep pawing at you for a mark, they’re assuming your mark has to do with your changing of races. That more what the protests are for, but they’re clearly batshit and stupid – because i’m the only human one left out of the godforsaken 2nd gen walkers.”
“You a walker, or a crawler then” I curled my lip and pointed to where my legs once were.
“OH, to get stuck here? I ran here, I was chasing a wraith and the portal closed. Stupidly, your stepchild is stuck where I’m from and he has to deal with my timeline. I’m sure you don’t quite have that many kilobytes left in that brain mush of yours. Deal with yourself before your crawling ends up crunching under the weight of gravity.” Kristoff knelt next to me and motioned for Rana to grab something. “Get the damn pants out of the drawer, I’ve been here long enough he’s not ready to do this himself.”
I was kinda shaking. I was traumatised. I’m sure I’ll get over it. I’m sure once I figure everything out and things return to a point that I can make headway – I’ll learn. Right now? I haven’t even had a chance to ask why I keep having a barrier where I’m watching myself from the inside.
“WILL YOU STOP TRYING TO AVOID PUTT.. GET.. These ones in this leg, and then .. YOU WI.. STOP THAT.” Kristoff was asking me things like I was some kind of child, who refused to put their pants on. You’d be pretty right, I could feel these things like they were a form of legs and i’m pretty sure I can finagle them back into a form of legs but i’m just so grossed the fuck out. “THIS – yes, do your leg thing – get past the squick – I get you think it’s gross you dork but you chose this and you’re gonna have to remember. Wanna stop crawling? Try harder, try remembering each time you come back from someplace. You’re not a 2nd gen, you’re a 4th gen. Walker that is, you’re whatever generation of Warai and Illyara your husband is, plus whatever our human background is.”
I squished my eyes shut and did my best to think about how I’d have legs right about now and within seconds my trauma moved into relief. Ok sure, this wasn’t true trauma, nobody abused me to get me this way. I was just grossed the hell out, and I’m aware that not everything is about me. He’s right, I need to learn to run, and not crawl. Walkers aren’t called walkers for the physical walking motion – they’re called that because we can move between the lines.
“Good.” Kristoff started laughing, “I never thought i’d end up being a walker, let alone my own god-damn babysitter. You’re only a fourth gen because of the timing of who in the succession had to go back and give you the ability. Yes, in a sense Mike gave it to you – but it was given to three others before you. “
“I’m sorry that I don’t know everything right now. I’m sorry that I had to take five minutes to scream about something so inconsequential. Rana? I’m sorry I accidentally treated you like we were 21 again.” I sighed, and nodded. “I may not remember but I have the feelings there – I wanted to ask why it is that I can’t remember.”
“You have to break your own barriers. Also, I have a feeling someone forgot to take down the mental ones that are not of your doing. You’re old enough to handle it, at least now.” Kristoff tapped me on the knee. So earlier when Rana whacked me on the knee? WAS THAT A KNEE? AM I TRIPLE JOINTED ON ONE OF THOSE SQUIGGLY THINGS THAT – just ugh nevermind don’t answer that. “We’ll work on that today at some time, once we have those down you’ll have the tools to get a mental sledgehammer process going. That’s how they did it to me at least, I don’t know if it’ll work on you – you’re more stubborn.”
“What? Why? Why am I more stubborn? “
“You just are. You had more time to live, you’ve had more time to exist… By the time I’m a walker in my time, the brothers are gone. I wasn’t given it younger in my life, I was given it as a dying gift from an ex. I was too stubborn to take his gift that he had for me years before that, but it seems that you’re only stubborn when it comes to memory – so that’s a plus.” Kristoff stood up and whispered something to Rana and tapped him on the shoulder. The two of them snickered, laughed and Kristoff walked to the doorway. “I’m proud of you all, I wish I didn’t have to lose you all so fast in the war on my side.”
Want to read the book in a google doc format rather than single chapters on a blog? https://catharticnightmare.carrd.co/