Fear The Dawn: Chapter 49

Where is she?”
Where indeed. In all the time since that night, he had never caught so much as the faintest trace of Banshee, and he had long since accepted that the method of her disappearance was likely one from which she was not likely to return. Now, though, the reminder that she was still missing hit him hard, and he couldn't bring himself to tell Line that she was lying at the bottom of the sea thanks to him. He couldn't find any words to say at all at all, but somehow he found himself taking Line towards the common room where he had last seen her.
Where are we going?” Line asked as they walked through the darkened halls. His eyes seemed to widen a bit as he saw the gashes on the walls, but when Karma opened the doors to the dusty common room and some of the white hairs were stirred up it seemed to dawn upon him.
What happened?”, he asked, a bit dumbstruck.
All Karma could manage to say was “she's gone”.
Line wandered about the broken room in disbelief as Karma watched from the doorway, his head drooped in shame. He didn't want to think about what conclusions Line must have been coming to as he ran his paws across the destroyed furniture. Absurdly, he stopped to check behind and underneath every piece of rubbish, as though Banshee might simply have been hiding somewhere for all this time. Karma was starting to get annoyed with him when he pulled something out from underneath the couch that Banshee had been lying on.
What's this?”, he asked, holding up a small black object. Karma had never seen it before, either. He stepped into the room for a closer look. “It's some kind of book”, he said, opening it up.
Inside were a lot of handwritten scribbles about life on the ship and the goings-on in the mornings. “Banshee wrote this”, he said, “she must have been keeping some kind of journal”.
Line's eyes lit up. “Let's check it out, then. Maybe there's something in here that can help us find her!”.
His eyes were so full of hope, but Karma couldn't share his optimism, in fact it made him feel a bit uneasy. Line was very fond of Banshee, but he didn't understand how difficult it had been to track him down. Even if they read the book, there were no guarantees that it would help them at all, and he didn't know if he could take that. Still, if there was a chance, they had to try.
Let's get out of this dusty place, at least. We can look at it in my cabin.”
So they left the broken common room and returned to the deck to see what secrets the little book might hold.


Banshee looked out towards the sea and sighed. The ship was gone. It had been there last night, but by the time she returned tonight there was no sign of it. It always went like that, as though they were avoiding them. Maybe they were, she thought, sadly. They had enough reason to, but still she wished they wouldn't.

She felt a vibration in the boards beneath her feet. Blackie was back. He hadn't had to climb out of the water this time, and he looked happy, so maybe things had gone well. She hoped so. Things had not gone well for her. She had met a stranger who was very friendly and nice, and they had gone to a bunch of fun places together. She warned him not to get too close to her, but he became very fond of her anyway, and despite her objections she was not above enjoying such things. Unfortunately, when the sun started to go down, the fun places they went to started to vanish, and when it dawned on the stranger that she would be going too he became very upset.
This is just another dream, isn't it?”, he lamented. “Why is it that I can only ever be happy in my dreams?”
I warned you not to get too close to me”, she said. “I'm cursed”. That was just how things went. Whenever anyone got close to her, they got hurt. They never heeded her warnings, either. That too was part of her curse. She could see the darkness coming but she was powerless to do anything about it. Morning after morning, the results were the same. Terrible misfortune would befall some poor stranger and she could only stand by and watch, wishing desperately for the pain to stop.

By comparison, the nights were a little better. In this world, she couldn't talk at all, when she tried to speak no sound came out. Nor could she hear what others had to say, or anything else at all, the nights were completely silent for her. It was as though she existed in her own little world, cut off from everyone else, but that was probably for the best, it kept her out of trouble. The evenings could be a bit lonely, but they weren't nearly as painful as the mornings could be. Besides, even though she couldn't hear, she could still feel the soft caress of the wind against her fur and smell the fresh scent of the ocean mist as it rose up from the sea. She liked those things, and they were there for her, night after night. She spent most of her time in the evenings leaning out over the railing, enjoying the night air and imagining that a better world might lie out there for her, somewhere beyond the waves.

She was not truly alone on the ship, of course, there was also Blackie, the stern-faced, black-furred captain of the ship, but their interactions were limited due to their inability to communicate. On occasion, she saw Blackie in the mornings, in the guise of a stranger of course, and they could communicate there, but... those were often the worst mornings of all. It wasn't Blackie's fault, he tried to work with her so they could both get back home safely, but when she was around things tended to go very wrong and that made Blackie very mad, so she tried her best to stay out of the way. She felt sorry for Blackie, too, his life must also have been pretty sad, having her as his only companion. He needed a friend, someone who could give him the things that she could not. Unfortunately, he was also stubborn and proud, so he wouldn't seek out others on his own, but perhaps that was something she could help with. Although she couldn't speak or hear, her other senses were very well-developed, she could see a very long way, and she could feel certain things, too. The first time she had fallen into the water and felt the signals she had been terrified, she thought something was coming after her and that she was going to drown, but eventually she had come to realize that they represented other ships that were far away. Over time, she learned that she could sneak down the rope ladder when Blackie wasn't paying attention and dip her tail in the water to get a sense for where the other ships were, then she would watch out over the railing to see if she could see any of them. She had spotted one last night, but it had gone away. There were others, though, and she remained hopeful.

I'm going to help you, Blackie”, she thought, looking at him. That was why she had decided to start keeping this journal, too. She had found it in an unused room below deck, along with some ink and a pen she could use for writing, and she realized she could use it to keep track of the signals that she read and her progress towards finding a friend for Blackie. Writing in the journal also gave her something to do on these long nights, so she often wrote about the things that happened to her, as well. Even when bad things happened, which they often did, it somehow made her feel a little better to write about them, perhaps just because it allowed her to feel like someone out there might care. That wasn't really the point, though, she had her curse and it was just something she would have to live with. If she could help Blackie, that would be enough to make her existence worthwhile.

Blackie got tired of standing on the deck and went into his cabin. She kept a careful eye on his door for a little while, and when she was convinced that he wasn't going to come back out she crept over to the ship's wheel and adjusted it a bit to steer them a little closer to one of the other ships. It could only be a little, Blackie would turn it back if he noticed, but maybe if they got close enough one of the other ships would come and investigate. It was the best plan she could come up for now. She went back to the railing. The sun wasn't going to be up for a little while, so she went below deck to write in her journal. There were no distractions down here and she had all the privacy she could want, but it was also musty and damp and all of the empty rooms served only to remind her of how lonely things were aboard this ship, so she didn't linger very long. Just before the sun came up, she gave the wheel another tiny tap towards the other ship for good luck, not that she ever had very much of it.


The silence of her world was broken by the gentle rustling of the wind through the trees and she knew morning had come again. She opened her eyes and looked up at the big blue sky. The sun was shining bright, and big fluffy clouds languished peacefully in the air.
Ahh”, she said, stretching her vocal chords. It felt nice to hear her own voice, faint, tender thing that it was. She found herself standing on a path atop a grassy hill, sparsely dotted by trees as it wound down towards a clear lake. Here and there little flowers sprouted out of the grass, mixing the green with white and yellow. It was a pleasant scene, and she tried to take it all in as she walked along the path. There were certainly things to like about this world, however fleeting as they were.
She hadn't really noticed it before now since it wasn't very heavy, but she had been pushing along some kind of moving box as she walked. The box sat on four wheels and there was a handle for her arms, which made it easy to push along as she walked and it didn't distract from her enjoyment of the balmy morning.
Ahh”, said another faint, high-pitched voice, but this time it was not her own. She looked around to find the source of the sound, but there was no one else around as far as she could see.
Hello?”, she said, timidly.
Goo”, the same voice responded. She wasn't great at determining where sounds came from, but it sounded like it was coming from right in front of her. She bent down and peered inside the box and to her great surprise, underneath the flap there was a tiny little stranger in there, all nestled up inside a padded seat. It was absurdly miniscule, its entire head being barely the size of her hand, and all of its features appropriately shrunken to match. She could hardly believe it could be real, but it blinked and turned its head to look up at her.
You're so small!”, she said, touching the tiny stranger's nose with her finger. “I've never seen anyone like you.”
Da!”, the stranger replied. It stuck out its tongue and made a soft gurgling sound, then it laughed. It didn't make any sense, but it was strangely heartwarming anyway.
Aw, aren't you just the cutest thing?”, she said, lightly tickling its tiny cheek with her fingertip. “What are you doing in there?”
It didn't respond this time, it just smiled at her. Perhaps it was just enjoying the nice weather, like her. She gave its nose another light tap with her finger and went back to walking down the path. They came around a corner and the path slowly started down the side of the hill. There was a rumbling sound in the sky, and the sky turned grey as a cloud passed in front of the sun.
Waaah!”, the little stranger cried, suddenly upset.
Hey, what's wrong?” she asked, leaning in close again. “Don't worry, it's just a cloud.”
WAAAAH!!”, the stranger cried louder. She was used to her sunny days disappearing in a hurry, but it seemed very upset. She tried to calm it down, but her efforts weren't helping at all, which she was used to as well. No one ever stayed happy around her for very long.
She looked around for something that might calm the little stranger, and then she spotted something. “Look at this”, she said, bending down and picking a little white flower from the ground. “Isn't this pretty?”
Yet as she reached out to hand the flower to the crying stranger the box slipped away from her and began to roll down the hill on its own. “Wait! Stop! Come back!”, she yelled, dropping the flower and running after it, but the stranger was tucked fully inside the box and couldn't get out, and it was rolling too fast for her to keep up. “No, please!”, she begged as she saw to her horror that the path led straight down into the lake. The stranger cried out even louder than before and she begged her body to run faster, but just as she was finally starting to gain a little ground on the box she tripped and fell. She tried to catch herself, but she landed on one knee, which hurt quite a lot. She looked up just in time to see the box run off the edge and into the water with a splash. She forced herself to her feet and dove in the water after it, but it was too late. The stranger and the box were gone, lost beneath the waves forever, and the silence of the night swallowed her up again as the peaceful hillside melted away into the ocean. All that remained was the ship, waiting to take her back to her lonely world.

It was always this way, night after night. No matter where she went, no matter how bright things might seem, they always ended up right back here, in the cold, dark waters of the endless sea. “Poor little stranger”, she thought, “it didn't do anything wrong except get close to me.”
That was why she couldn't be the one to be Blackie's friend, she'd just create more problems for him. She had to find someone else.
As she sat there, bobbing up and down in the water and feeling sorry for herself, she started to feel a tingling sensation in her tail, and then she remembered the other ship from last night. It hadn't gone away! She scrambled up the rope ladder and leaned out over the railing, not even caring that she was all wet. She couldn't see the ship yet, but if she was right it should be close. Maybe they would even find it tonight. She wondered what kind of people would be on that ship. She couldn't ever remember meeting anyone from another ship before, and the thought made her so terribly excited that she momentarily forgot about the rest of her problems.

She was still watching out over the side when Blackie came back. She looked over at him, wondering if he knew anything about it, but he had that scary look in his eyes again. “Blackie, what trouble have you gotten into?”, she wondered warily. Ever since that morning, he hadn't been the same, he was almost always very cruel to the strangers now, even when they hadn't done anything to him. True, she couldn't claim to be innocent either, any stranger who got close to her tended to end up getting hurt, but that wasn't on purpose, she just couldn't help it. “Hurry, other ship”, she silently pleaded with the unseen vessel in the distance.

She finally spotted it later that evening. At first she couldn't be quite sure, but as she watched it came closer and closer until there was no mistaking it. “It's here!” she thought, her tail twitching back and forth excitedly. “It's here!”
Eventually even Blackie noticed that something was up. He finally caught sight of the other ship and it must have spooked him, as soon as he realized what it was he grabbed her shoulders and tried to pull her away from the railing.
No, Blackie!”, she thought, digging her claws into the railing and holding on as hard as she could. “It's for your own good!” He tried to pry her away, but she held tight, and eventually he retreated to his usual hiding place atop the sail. The other ship was clearly heading towards them at this point, there was no stopping it now. Actually, now that it was so close, she was a little scared as well, what if the inhabitants of the other ship didn't like them? What if they were bad people? Was Blackie right to be worried? What if this ended in catastrophe, just like everything else she did?

There was no more time for self-doubt, the other ship was close enough now that she could see someone on the other deck. It was a man with cream-coloured fur, and he was watching her too. Their eyes met, and he smiled at her. He had a warm, friendly smile, and all of her worries immediately melted away. She could tell instantly that he was just who she had been waiting for. His ship pulled up alongside theirs, and he collected a board to put across the gap between the ships, which immediately fell in the water. The cream-coloured man made a funny face and disappeared from view before returning with another board as Banshee giggled silently. He didn't drop the second one, and he carefully balanced his way over to the deck of their ship, where Banshee was waiting for him. He nodded to her and gently took one of her paws and pressed it to his lips. It was a strange gesture, but she could tell it was a friendly one. She wished she could hear what he was saying, but all she could do was smile back at him as he tried to talk to her. He nodded to her again and stepped towards the middle of the ship.

Blackie, stop!”, she tried to call out as Blackie pounced down on the cream-coloured stranger from above, knocking him to the ground and pinning him there. “He's friendly!”
Of course, he couldn't hear her. She was going to try to break them up when the cream coloured one popped back up to his feet as though nothing had happened, knocking Blackie to his backside in the process. Blackie made a scary pose, and the cream-coloured one made a silly pose of his own, and then they started talking about something.
Oh good”, she thought, relieved. “They're just playing”. The new arrival seemed to be enjoying himself. He extended his paw towards Blackie, but when he reached for it he quickly pulled it away, leaving Blackie with a dumbfounded expression on his face. She laughed and clapped her paws, happy to see everyone getting along.
Shortly thereafter it seemed like it was time for the cream-coloured one to go. He walked over to her and said something else, giving her a little squeeze before he went back to his own ship, waving to her as he removed the board and sailed away.
Goodbye Creamy!”, she waved back. “See you again soon!”
Blackie gave her a weird look. “That wasn't so bad, was it?”, she thought. He went back to his cabin. It was good progress for one night, at least. After Blackie was gone, she climbed down the ladder and dipped her tail in the water, following Creamy's ship as he pulled out of sight. As soon as she knew where he was going, she carefully adjusted the wheel to follow him.
See you again soon”, she thought happily, looking out over the ocean.

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