Fear The Dawn: Chapter 43

I'm sorry I hurt you, but you'll be better off without me. We had fun, and I'll always cherish the time we spent together. Be well, Lapse.”
The girl didn't turn around. Pack started to walk away, but then she started to cry.
Lapse... I'm sorry. But it's best this way.”
Her voice rang out through the night like the wail of a ghost. “Everyone's left me. I'm all alone. Again.” The darkness surrounded her, closing in from all sides. “Please, no... Don't take me back there! “Someone! Anyone! Please help me!”
Pack ran towards her, but he fell in the dark, unable to reach her. He tried in vain to reach out for her, but it was too late, she faded away before their eyes, screaming horribly.
Pack slumped to the ground. “No! Please! Not again! Not again...”
You fool”, Karma remarked, watching the scene unfold. “How long will you lie to yourself? Your heart still cries out for her. Would you have things end like this? Would that make you happy?”
It was I who sent her into the darkness in the first place. She's better off without me.”
Karma growled angrily and lashed out with his claws, dispelling the illusion and sending everyone plummeting into the water. Pack still didn't get it. It was so obvious, and yet still he refused to accept it. He pulled himself out of the water, but the grey-furred one was nowhere to be found. Karma climbed the ladder to his ship and shook his fur dry.

He had been working on Pack for a while now, but he remained infuriatingly stubborn. It seemed that he knew that Lapse had returned, but he refused to go to her out of some twisted sense of remorse. Karma had tried everything he could think of save subduing the grey-furred one and bringing him to her, and his patience was growing thin. He was already beginning to contemplate taking that approach.

He probably should have been in higher spirits given their apparent recent progress, but somehow he felt more frustrated than ever. Perhaps it was that his goal was so close now that every setback felt that much more severe, or perhaps he just didn't like the fact that control of the situation had slipped from his grasp once again.

Karma climbed down from the deck to check the signals. There was little point to it these nights, but it had become something of a habit for him. Lapse and the calico were still together, that was good, he hoped she was having more success than he was. He wanted to go check on them, but he realized that he had to let the calico handle this. The last thing Lapse needed was to see him or the frightful visions that he brought, his role in this was already complete. Karma tried to work on repairing the damage below deck, but he'd had little desire to work on it lately, another causality of his growing restlessness. He settled for climbing to his favourite perch and thinking about Line's situation in the other world. It had been a number of nights now that Lapse had been back, but Line was still out there. They had been separated, so he almost certainly didn't know that she had come back. They were going to have to go and get him, as soon as things were better with Lapse and he could risk approaching her. He hadn't quite figured out how he was going to explain the situation to her, between the way they had met the last time and whatever had happened between herself and Line in the other world she was not likely to want to help. He would just have to think of something when the time came, for now he simply had to wait. Karma sat down and looked out over the horizon. It was still dark, it was going to be a long night.

While checking the signals the following evening he caught wind of something interesting. Lapse and the calico had split up and one of them was coming this way. At first he dared hope that it was Lapse, come to reunite with her friend, though this quickly gave way to fear that Pack would not accept her. He was trying to devise a plan to stall her or fix Pack before she got there, but his concerns were alleviated when a closer inspection revealed that it was the calico instead. Karma watched from afar as she came aboard Pack's ship, then they discussed something for a short while and she left. Perhaps she had found him just as stubborn and uncompromising as he had, he had no way to tell. Her ship gradually sailed away, out of sight, and then a short time later Pack's ship slowly slowly started to follow after her. It was really happening, somehow he was going back to her. He didn't know if she had tricked him or made him feel guilty or whatever else, but somehow he was going back.

Karma stood upon his perch, watching as the big ship slowly disappeared from view. Pack's ship was slow, they would not make it tonight, but tomorrow it would all come to a head. His own place was here, that much he knew. He understood precious little about friendships and love, all he knew was how to break them and to cause pain for others. This was something they had to solve on their own, and he merely hoped that they would work things out. Pack knew the truth in the back of his mind, that was clear enough, but he was a stubborn fool, unwilling to admit his own feelings. Somehow he would have to get over it by tomorrow night.

Lace would know more about all this, it seemed to be her area of expertise. Part of him wished to see her again, but after seeing what had happened with Corsair he didn't want to get her wrapped up in this. It was better that she didn't get mixed up with him, for her own good.
I sound just like Pack”, he thought, shaking his head. He briefly imagined the situation being reversed, with Pack chiding him for his reluctance to go to her. “It's not the same”, he told himself, he and Lace had never been that close, and Pack was not nearly as dangerous as he was. Perhaps sometime, after this was all over, he might see her again. If this went well it wouldn't be too long now.

Karma went to check on the signals again. They were getting there, the three of them, they would all be together before long. The other signal, which had to belong to Lace's ship, was far apart from them, nearer to where he was. It would not be long now, soon he would find some way to bring Line home. He leaned back in his perch and watched the sun come up, and for the first time in a long time he felt a tinge of hope for the future.

Karma opened his eyes to find himself once again wrapped in that warm white light. He was surprised to be here again, but it was not unwelcome. Sitting up, he looked around for the girl from his memories, and he caught a glimpse of her standing above him, the light shining down from behind her so that she almost disappeared into it. He reached out for her, longing to feel her touch again, but she was beyond his reach.
Something very important is happening tonight”, she said urgently, her voice not as soft nor as gentle as before.
I know”, he replied. “They're going to meet up tonight”. It didn't cross his mind not to tell her about his world, somehow he felt that she knew, anyway.
No”, she said, “something is very wrong.”
He sighed. “I was worried that they might not be able to work things out, but there's nothing I can do. The calico knows those matters far better than I”. He beckoned for her to come to him, but if anything she seemed to fade further away.
They are in grave danger. You must go, or all will be lost.”
But-”, he started to say.
There is no time, you must hurry!”
And with that, the light went out, and Karma found himself back on his ship. He looked out over the ocean. It was very early in the evening, in fact some traces of the sun's light still lingered as it set on the horizon. He had never seen the sun set in this world before, but he had no time to admire it. What sort of danger could they be in? Was Pack going to say something stupid and cause Lapse to go away again? Could there be a fight between all three of them? Or could it be something else entirely, like when that ship had disappeared into that heavy fog? He had no idea, but the urgency in the girl's voice convinced him it was something dire. He had to do something, but what?

Without any idea where else to turn, he decided to check the signals, in case they might hold some clue. The three ships still hadn't come together yet, it was likely that they had yet to return from the morning. The one thing she had given him was time. He had time to catch up to them, but what then? What could he do or say that would change things? He just wasn't prepared for this, it wasn't like any problem he had ever dealt with before..
Then the last signal came to him and he knew what he had to do.

The sun had set completely by the time he reached the other ship. There was no time for swimming tonight, he had already gone out of his way and it would be difficult to catch up to them now. Karma took a deep breath and sailed directly towards the other ship. They would be able to see him now, he was past the safe range where his darkened sails would hide his presence, he had no choice but to somehow hope they wouldn't be alarmed. He pulled out his spyglass to check the situation on the other ship. It would seem that several of them had noticed him now, and they were all lined up to look at the approaching ship. Someone pushed their way to the front of the crowd, it was Lace. Quite a commotion had arisen by the time he pulled up alongside her ship, and he was fearful of what reception he might get when he crossed to the other side, but he didn't have to. The moment his ship came to a stop Lace placed a board across the ships and came over to him, throwing her arms around him and leaving the others in a bewildered silence.
Karma!”, she exclaimed, “You came back! I thought I wouldn't see you again.”
He patted her back gently. “I'm happy to see you too, Lace, but there's not time for that now. There's trouble, the other ships are in some kind of danger and we have to do something to help them.”
She nodded, understanding quickly. “I'll get Captain Lay”, she said, darting off back towards her own ship. The crowd parted immediately for her, as though she might be contagious, then she disappeared down a flight of stairs as Karma and the crowd watched each other uncomfortably.

A short time later he found himself on the deck of the other ship with Lace and the one called Lay. The crowd had dispersed by now, most of them took off when Lace beckoned for him to come onto their ship, and Lay dismissed the others. He explained the basic situation to her and she agreed to accompany him.
I know where the others can be found, just follow my ship. If we hurry, we should be able to make it before the sun comes up.”
All right”, Lay said. “Before we get there, can you give me some idea of what we're up against?”
I have no idea”, Karma said, grimly, “be ready for anything.”
He was about to return to his own ship when he felt something tugging on his arm.
Karma, take me with you. I want to help.”
He reached over and patted her head with his other paw and she released him. “It's going to be very dangerous, Lace, and I'm not sure if I could protect you. You should stay here with the others where you'll be safe.”
She looked unconvinced, but he couldn't afford to spend any more time arguing about it. Then he did something that really surprised himself, he threw his paws around her and held her very close. “You've already done a lot to help me”, he said, “if something happened to you I'd never be able to forgive myself.”
She nodded and closed her eyes. “Be careful”, she said, kissing him, then quickly turning away afterwards. “You have to hurry”. He returned to his ship and they set sail immediately.

It was a long, tense night as they sailed towards the others. Karma went over a hundred possible situations in his mind, trying to prepare for what lay ahead, but still he felt incredibly tense, like every fur on his body was standing on end.
I see them!”, he shouted to the other ship, hoping they could hear him from there. The sun was coming up, but the other ships had just appeared over the horizon. There was no further time for speculation, the dawn was upon them.

No comments:

Post a Comment