Bones (Part One)
Dry, dead leaves crackled beneath her feet with every step Lorraine took through the darkness. Damp dirt cold on bare feet that didn’t seem the least bit odd as it squished between her toes and coated those feet with a thin layer of mud. She didn’t know where she was or where she was going, only that she had to keep moving forward. She couldn’t see anything, the shapes around her merely looking like darker shadows against the night. Blurry and out of focus, a fog rolled across the ground as unintelligible voices whispered through a wind that howled around the shapeless masses, bringing a chill that was more than just the physical.
As she moved, the voices seemed to grow louder, though no more clear. They seemed to be pleading, pain filled and agonized. Words not understood, but the torture behind them clear, they somehow managed to pierce her heart and conscience and inflict pain themselves because they were begging for something she should have been able to provide and didn’t know how.
The sounds below her feet had changed slightly, the leaves giving way to what felt like stone or granite, grinding together underneath the pressure of stepping on them but leaving no pain or sensation of anything physical even as they cut through skin and left streaks of blood behind them. Her forward momentum was not hindered, even as she stumbled into one of the shadows, cursing as a pain finally shot up her leg from a knee colliding with stone and a glance down revealed that it was not just any stone, but a tombstone.
The words could not be deciphered, too old or rubbed off to read and she had a feeling it didn’t matter anyway. Knowing the name wouldn’t bring her the knowledge she needed and it wouldn’t silence the voices still swirling around her.
Moving on, it never crossed her mind to wonder why she was walking through a cemetery. Alone, without shoes or a jacket with an unknown destination ahead of her. It simply was and she accepted it as if it were an everyday occurrence because something had brought her here and she had no other choice but to carry on.
The sound under her feet changed again as the surface beneath them shifted and she almost lost her footing. A clicking sound accompanied the snapping and shattering of brittle…something that felt like slippery sticks but also nothing like them at all. This time she didn’t want to look down because this was no leaves or rocks. This was something else. This was something she didn’t want to see.
Another step and a bigger shift and she was falling before she realized what was happening. Her hands shot out in an attempt to catch herself and were buried in what was most definitely not smooth and crumbling sticks. As her hands touched these things, the clouds above suddenly parted, letting the full moon shine down in all its glory to highlight the bones beneath them.
Human bones, clicking and clacking and crunching under her weight as she tried to contain the shock that came with realizing these were people beneath her – or once had been. Not buried in the ground beneath the tombstones as they were supposed to be, but scattered for any and all to see.
Catching herself became a nonissue as soon as her hand touched a skull and the screaming started. Squeezing her eyes shut, her hands came up to cover her ears, but it did nothing to shut out the high pitched torturous sound that seemed to be torn from numerous throats to pierce her mind and heart and drive her into her own version of madness.
It took a long moment to realize that one of the screams was her own.
Still screaming, she bolted upright, eyes squeezed shut as the blankets that had been covering her dropped to the floor in a heap. She didn’t notice the shifting of weight beside her as Ed jerked up as quickly as she had, pulled into wakefulness by her screams. She didn’t feel his arms grasp her shoulders to try to get her attention, to try to pull her out of whatever she was stuck in.
“Lorraine!” He shook her, trying to get her attention, trying to get her to come back to him from wherever she had gone. Her cries cut right into his soul and he wanted nothing more than to make them stop, to make whatever was causing them go away. This was not okay, this was terrifying and not just for her.
After several minutes of similar attempts, her screams suddenly cut off and her eyes snapped open, the sudden silence almost more eerily disturbing than the previous panic had been. “Lorraine?” This time it was more questioning because he wasn’t sure she saw him. He wasn’t sure of anything. “It’s me. It’s Ed. Can you hear me?” His voice didn’t shake or tremble, but it was a massive effort to make sure of that. He couldn’t show weakness if he wanted her to respond and he did want – need – that.
After another long moment, she blinked and life came back into those eyes that he adored so much. “Ed?” Her voice was soft, unsure, confused. But, it was hers and in that moment that was all that mattered as he pulled her into a fierce embrace. He didn’t ask what had happened because he didn’t think she could yet answer. He just wanted her to know that she was with him and she was safe.
“Shh.” He lifted one hand to stroke her hair as he held her close. “It’s okay. It’s me. I’ve got you.” He continued to try to soothe and protect, hating that he didn’t even have any idea what it was he was protecting her from as she trembled in his arms, terrified and silent as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I’ve got you.”
When her tears finally stopped, he pulled away just enough to look at her. “I want to ask if you’re okay, but that seems stupid, so I won’t.” He told her seriously, his concern clear in every word. “What happened?” He didn’t know if she would tell him, but he had to ask.
She was quiet for so long that he almost asked again. “It was just a dream.” She finally mumbled, sounding almost like she was trying to convince herself of that rather than him. “It was just a dream.” Perhaps repeating it would make it so. She sniffled and reached up to wipe her cheeks. “I’m okay.” She ignored the look that said he didn’t believe that at all.
Avoiding his gaze, her eyes dropped to the foot of the bed where her legs still rested. What should have been clean white sheets were smeared with brown and red. Mud and blood from feet that were dirty and cut and only now starting to feel pain.
“It was just a dream.”
It was just a dream...