Fear The Dawn: Chapter 40

It's all my fault...”
Wake up, darling, it's morning. Are you all right? You were tossing and turning in your sleep all night.”
He opened his eyes. She was leaning over him, her long golden hair lightly brushing against his face. She had a kind look in her big blue eyes and a soft smile on her face, and perhaps it was just the early morning light streaming in through the window, but her skin looked especially radiant, like fresh-fallen snow on a winter morning. He wrapped his arms around her and held her body against his, and he knew he had come home again.
Hey, what's this about?”, she asked playfully, returning his embrace.
He gently pulled her down onto the bed. “I just really missed you.”

Had it all been a dream? Visions of the Destroyer and the other cats passed through his mind. It was so detailed, and he still remembered the details quite vividly: The Destroyer's cruelty towards his friends, the realization of his mistakes, his efforts to redeem himself, and his eventual downfall. It had all seemed so real, yet as he kissed her and caressed her delicate body, the images began to grow fainter in his mind, as dreams always did.
She had been there in the dream, too. In the back of his mind, he still remembered her, still cared for her, still needed her. No matter where he went, that would never change. He took another long look into her eyes, it felt like it had been so long. Even in their moment of passion, her kind, loving nature always shone through. He felt briefly embarrassed by the intensity of his desire for her, but she leaned in and nuzzled him, letting him know it was all right.
Don't worry”, she said, “we're together now.”

It really had been a strange dream. The notion of another world, a whole different life, totally separate from this one. Where had it come from? All night long he had been searching, trying to figure out how the world worked, find his place inside it, and to undo the mistakes of the past. Surely that couldn't have just come from nowhere. Was there something in his subconscious mind that was bothering him?
He remembered that scene on the train, where that stranger broke down and revealed everything to him. Knowing someone from a past life? Maybe it could be true. Ever since the first time he met her, he wanted to be close to her, to keep her safe, to make her happy. He was almost at the end now, he felt the softness of her tongue kissing his neck as he ran his fingers through her hair and it was all he could do to hold on. The memories of their life together started to come back to him, replacing the memories of the dream. He remembered how they met, the first time they went on a date, the first time they made love, the day when he proposed to her, and the day they were married. It had been a wonderful, happy life that they'd spent together, totally unlike the one from the dream.
He couldn't hold on any longer. He held her tight as they reached the end together, and didn't let her go until they were both completely finished. She collapsed onto his chest and they kissed passionately.
I love you”, he said, staring into her kind blue eyes.
I love you too”. They laid together contentedly for a while.

He looked out the window next to their bed. It was so bright out the world might as well have been pure white, but as he his eyes adjusted the colour gradually started to come back.
What do you want to do today”, she asked idly, running her hands along his chest. “We don't have to get up, we can stay here if you want”.
He turned to look at her. She gave him a soft smile and he found his desire for her beginning to build up again. “It's up to you”, she said, “if you want to stay, we can stay”.
He did want to stay. The dream had almost completely faded from his mind now, he felt the last traces of it slipping away as he came fully awake. But there was one moment that stuck in his mind, that scene on the train, and that friend who hadn't been able to leave. He was trapped in that world, waiting for someone to come and rescue him. It hurt to think of it, an awful, sickly feeling of guilt and regret that wouldn't go away.
He found himself getting up from the bed. She sat up and looked at him. “Is something wrong?”
Sorry, but I have to get up. There's an old friend waiting for me, and he needs my help.”
She smiled warmly. “I'm glad you've remembered what you need to do.”
The light started to grow bright again, enveloping her body. The details of the dream were coming back to him again. Karma, Line, Banshee, Pack, Lapse, Corsair, he remembered all of their names, and their stories. Now it was this world that was fading away, and it hit him like a knife to the chest.
Wait!”, he cried, tears streaming down his face. “Don't go! I don't want to forget you, either!”
She gently folded her arms around him and gave him one last warm smile. “Don't worry, my darling. No matter how far apart we might be, I'll always be watching over you”. Her hands slipped through his body, and the world around them was swallowed up by the light, taking her with it.
Thank you for a wonderful life, my Karma.”

She was gone. Karma opened his eyes, and he was back on the deck of his ship, still lying flat on his back. She was fading from his mind again, but this time he grabbed hold of her memory and engraved it into his mind. Her face, her body, the feel of her touch, the sound of her voice, he would never forget any of them again. He owed her that much, at least, as painful as it was to remember.
Karma dried his eyes with his paws. He had come back for a reason. Line was still out there, there was still hope. But what could he do now? He still didn't have any real leads on how to find Lapse, and Pack didn't seem like he was going to be any help. Who else could he turn to? Corsair was gone, and his calico-furred friend was broken. Was there anyone else he could rely on?
Lace. She recognized who he was on the night of the celebration, but despite that she had only wanted to help. She also seemed to have some understanding of what had gone on between those strangers and how they had brought them back together. He hadn't really wanted to get involved with the others, but she seemed like the only one who might be able to help him right now. He had to give it a shot.

Karma climbed down the rope ladder to read the signals. His mind was clear now, and tonight he found them without any particular effort. He tried to think back to which direction he had seen the ships leave from, but it seemed like so long ago now. He decided he'd just have to try to go after them one at a time until he found her. In a certain sense, he wasn't pressed for time anymore. Everything he had tried to prevent had already gone wrong, so at least things couldn't really get much worse. The whole world had fallen apart, and now it was time for him to start putting the pieces back together.

It took him several nights to find the ship. He drew up to a safe distance and raised his sails, retreating to his favourite perch to check out what was going on. He had formulated a basic plan to sneak on board, but it quickly became evident it wouldn't be necessary. The ship was practically deserted, and he was concerned that something might have happened there, too, but then he spotted a lone figure on the deck, staring out to sea. It was her.
Well, it's now or never”, he thought, dropping down from the sail and climbing down the rope ladder. He didn't know if it was just a coincidence that she was there or something more than that, but he knew this was his chance. Karma dropped into the cold water and began to swim towards the distant ship.

Karma!”, she exclaimed as he pulled his drenched body over the railing. “What are you doing here?” He merely flopped down onto his knees and grumbled in response. The water had been colder than he remembered. She quickly darted off and returned with a towel for him. He dried himself off as she watched expectantly, waiting to see what he had to say.
What happened here?”, he asked once he finally stopped shivering, “this place was a lot more lively last time.”
Her expression quickly sank. “Things haven't been too good around here lately. Ever since Mr. Corsair left, Captain Lay just stays in her cabin most of the time, and everyone else has been feeling down. It's very quiet most nights now.”
What about you?”
She seemed taken aback by that. “Well, I'm doing the best I can”. She looked down at her feet. “...did you come here to see me?”
Actually, I did. I need your help with something.”
Her face lit up. “If there's anything I can do, I'd be happy to help.”
Karma looked into her deep blue eyes. She had a kind of gentle kindness that was not totally unlike the girl in white from the other world, though there was still apprehension in his heart. “I've come too far to turn back now”, he thought. He had no other options anymore, he had to try trusting someone. So he told her his story. He told her about Line and Banshee, and his past cruelty towards them. He told her about Lapse, and how Line had been so hurt by it that he went away. He told her about Banshee throwing herself in the ocean, and the night he himself had went away. He was sure that she would be appalled by his story or condemn him, but she never did, throughout it all she just listened intently, never saying a word.
When he finished, she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. “You poor man”, she said, hugged him to her chest. “You've suffered through so much.”
He was very surprised by that, but he didn't feel the same urge to break free as he did the first time they met. Gingerly, he placed his own arms around her. She pulled her head back a bit and rubbed her nose and forehead against his. “You don't have to face these things alone anymore”.
It wasn't totally unpleasant, but it wasn't what he came for, so after a few more moments he gently pulled away from her. “Some time after I came back, I encountered Line in the morning. He told me that he had come to the world of the strangers looking for Lapse, but something happened between them and he lost track of her. Now, he's waiting inside a strange moving box for her to return and he won't come back until she does.”
Well, maybe she'll return to him. If things are truly meant to be, people will find their way to each other eventually”. He thought he caught a glimpse of something in her eye as she said that.
I don't think so. I could tell from his words that he knew she would never return, at least not on her own. It's like what happened with Steven and that other stranger.”
...Michelle”, she said, after thinking on it for a moment. “That was the name of the other stranger. She was the one who gave us the message to deliver. I'd almost forgotten about it after all that's happened recently.”
I think I somehow need to find her and tell her that Line is waiting for her, but I have no idea how to go about it.”
She looked down at her feet. “I can keep a look out for her, but I'm afraid the others around here may not be a lot of help.”
Thanks, but I think this is something that I have to do myself. After all, it's my fault that they're in this mess. But there is something you can do for me. I need to know... 'why?'. Why did they split up? The one called Corsair came to me for advice the night before he disappeared, too. He said he was having trouble with his friends and he wanted my advice, but I had no idea what to say. Something bad occurred between Corsair and the captain of your ship as well, it would seem. Just what is it that's causing all of this?”
Why, it's love, of course”.
He looked at her blankly for a moment, and her face quickly turned to concern.
Oh Karma”, she said, “don't tell me that you've had such a sad life that you don't know what love is.” Lace looked like she was about to cry, but she gathered herself. “Love is the strongest, most wonderful bond that can exist between two people. It makes them want to do anything, overcome any hardship, just to be together.”
Karma shook his head. “That doesn't sound right at all. Whatever it was caused everyone to split apart. Corsair is gone. His calico-coloured friend has given over to complete despair. Line and Lapse are trapped in the world of the strangers, separated from each other. This is what you'd consider a strong, wonderful bond between people?”
Lace looked hurt, as though he had just hit her. He was surprised by her reaction, and he felt badly about it. He hadn't meant to hurt her feelings, it just didn't make any sense to him. He thought about putting his paw on her shoulder, but she started to reply before he could. “...Love can have a dark side, too. If the bond is threatened or damaged, things can get very bad. People can get badly hurt, and love can even turn into hate. I imagine all of the people you saw had their love go bad like that.”
So what do you do when that happens?”
I don't know”, she said, sadly. “It's best to prevent it before things get to that point.”
Karma closed his eyes, collecting his thoughts. “It's too late for that. Things have already gone bad for Line, I'll just have to find some way to convince him to move on”. Lace still looked sad, and this time he did put his paw on her shoulder. “Thank you, Lace. I think I may have what I need now.”
He turned to leave, but he felt a paw on his back. “Wait”, she said. “I can help you. I'll try to speak to Captain Lay, and maybe together we can find your Lapse. You don't have to do this alone, Karma. I...”
He looked into her eyes, but she avoided his gaze. Although what she said was new to him, he wasn't stupid, he could tell what she wanted easily enough. She was sweet and kind, but she had no idea what she was getting into. He had to say something this time.
You really have helped me a lot”, he told her, taking her paws in his,“but please, don't concern yourself with this. I don't want to see you wind up like the others. This is my problem, and I'll find a way to deal with it or die trying.”
With that, he hopped off the railing and into the water.
Karma...”, she said, sadly. He did glance back towards her once as he swam back to his ship, but only for a moment. Prevention was the best defense.

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