Post by Eira on Feb 25, 2014 4:53:54 GMT -5
Opening her eyes with a few blinks to clear her vision, Eira finds herself in a dingy room. A cot is shoved up against the far wall, her pulse beginning to pound as she notices the leather restraints attached to the rusted metal frame.
That voice... the sands of time and shifting solar winds blending together in a multi-tonal chorus of madness better suited to an Ancient One rather than the little girl pitches it attempted to emulate. The light click of hard soled shoe on tile, and Eira knows without turning who’s behind her.
Alice swishes around in a rustle of blue silk to sit in the chair next to Eira, clearly pleased that she'd been recognized so quickly. "You knew it was me! I have wormed my way into your brain. Now I shall lay eggs."
Eira blanches, her eyes darting to the cot again in building panic. For her part, Alice looks contrite, smiling that pointy smile that never seemed to reach her light-eating black eyes.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Let me make that prettier. I shall plant seeds in your mind and make them blossom."
“Thank you. I think.” Eira tries to stifle a shiver, failing in the musty confines of the chilly room. “Why am I here, Alice?”
Alice gestures in front of her towards a crudely constructed puppet theater.
“We’re here to watch a puppet show! It tells a story you might find interesting.”
With a clap of her hands, the interior of the theater lights up with an eerie glow. A monstrous figure rises from the corner, clutching a diseased, dark-spotted heart to its chest. On the far right of the stage, two large men leading a ragged horde of smaller figures begin to advance; a perfect pantomime of a mob, complete with pitchforks and tiny glowing torches.
The monster moves forward to fight them off, but finds himself hampered by his precious burden. With a growl he sets it down, focusing his attention instead on his attackers rather than on his only thing of value. The monster swipes and claws, snapping teeth at the large men as the horde of lesser brutes begin to batter at the heart, the two large men seeming to laugh cruelly at the poor beast’s hurt and anger.
As she watches the heart kicked and buffeted this way and that by the little men on strings, Eira feels an odd sense of protective impulse and moves as if to rise, but Alice grabs her wrist in a viselike grip. Forcing herself to remain still, she continues to watch as the ragged mob begins to fall away, all their energy spent on trying to destroy the indestructible.
“It’s almost over.”
The monster surges forward between the two large puppets, his long limbs outstretched and snatching up the heart. Curling protectively around it, he snarls over his shoulder in preparation of renewed battle - only to see the two large puppets tangled in their own strings! Done in by their inability to function as a whole, too many strings tugging on too many parts were their downfall. The monster and the heart, however, triumphed by being just as much a part of each other as they were separate things unto themselves.
Alice applauds quietly, the monster figure inexplicably vanishes but the small, battered heart remains. Eira rises and moves to the puppets, reaching out slowly towards the bruised looking object in the corner. Threading her hand delicately past the inert dolls, she picks up the stuffed heart, cupping it in both hands and examining it. Up close it could be seen that the dark, diseased looking spots were actually a crude sort of stitching.
Stepping up beside her, Alice glances at the heart in Eira‘s hand. “You are not the first who got to hold it, you know. See the stitches? Others were careless, so he had to fix it himself.”
Eira holds it in her hands, a palpable weight to the seemingly innocuous object, tracing the rough stitching in spots with a single finger. “It feels heavy. Almost like it’s alive.” With those words, the simple shape in her hand started to warm, an almost imperceptible pulse throbbing through it. Disconcerted she sets it back on the makeshift stage, glancing over at Alice’s odd little giggle as the girl turns and leads Eira down the hallway.
“You see, it’s his heart. It’s his weak point. It’s going to get him hurt if he’s not careful.”
“Wait, what? Whose?”
“You know whose. You MUST listen. His heart is what will be the downfall of both. He cannot be distracted, he has to instead trust that it will survive.”
Stepping up to one of the many doors, Alice reaches up with both hands to twist a knob, the door opening with the hollow click of a poorly maintained lock and the creak of long neglected hinges. Eira steps forward and peers into the room, turning around to stare at Alice in plain confusion.
“This room is empty. This room doesn’t even have a FLOOR, Alice. What are we doing here?”
Alice smiles sweetly, dropping a curtsey. “It’s time to go home, Eira. I’ve had a lovely outing with you, but we’re all out of time now.”
Eira blinks at Alice and glances back over her own shoulder towards the abyssal emptiness of the room to her back, not liking the implications of the room and the phrase ‘go home’ combined. More important matters crowd to the forefront of her mind, and she makes one last effort to wring a straight answer out of the enigmatic being. “But I don’t understand! His heart. Is it Murdoc? What’s going to happen to his heart? Is he sick?”
Alice glares at her, the fathomless eyes in the childlike face burning straight into Eira’s core.
“You have the information he needs. Go. Home!” Without warning, Alice charges at her and shoves, the world dropping out from beneath Eira as she plummets into the darkness.
Eira lurches upright with a gasp, breath sharp and fast, trembling with unspent adrenaline as she scrambles backwards, her shoulders slamming into an unyielding barrier behind her.
The voice is familiar, but the haze of panic still has her in its grip, sending her off the soft surface she's on and onto the floor with a haphazard thud.
"AMBA." The sound of a large body landing lightly beside her and the feel of powerful arms wrapping around, pulling her close. Responding to her weak struggle by holding her tighter, Murdoc's expression is one of clear worry. A few more moments and Eira's eyes finally open, finding and focusing on HIM rather than the phantoms of her mind; her muscles going lax and the trembling easing.
"THERE you are." Murdoc's large, weathered hand brushes tangled strands of hair back from her flushed face, noting the hollow look to her dark eyes. "What happened? Are you alright?"
"I wasn't here. I was somewhere else. There was a girl. A little girl. Her name was Alice.” Eira chokes on the name, having never before mentioned the strange visions to Murdoc. “She was - she told me things. A - a stuffed heart. Stitches and strings..." Eira's voice, frantic at first, slows as she struggles to recall the details of a rapidly fading dream that had felt as real as the man holding her. "I - a... a puppet show?"
"A puppet show. A heart shaped toy and strings. A little girl named Alice?" Murdoc's eyebrows knit together, if not for her reaction he would assume a dream with those components couldn't possibly be a nightmare.
Eira frowns. "I know it sounds insane. I swear it- it felt so real." The frown shifts to a grimace of disgust at her cliché words. Rubbing her hand over her face in tired frustration, she struggles to remember more of what was slipping away.
"She said...she said something about your heart." Eira feels a pulse of remembered panic, sitting bolt upright within the protective circle of Murdoc's arms.
Murdoc frowns, rubbing her back lightly. "My heart? Are you sure you're not just having nightmares because of NCM's stupidity on Twitbook?"
"I don't know. I don’t think so? I tried asking, but she made me leave. She said she had already given me the information that...the information that you needed? Then I woke up...or whatever that was." Eira gestures to the rumpled bed and glances down at the floor, eyes closing again, this time in embarrassment as well as fatigue.
"Where were you?” Murdoc’s expression remains unreadable as Eira glances at him in mild confusion.
"I'm not sure. Cement walls. Lots of metal doors with little windows...she said it was a place people find things, but it just looked like some kind of high security hospital. A mental hospital, maybe?" Eira's voice reflecting her chagrin at the retelling of something that could just as easily have come from a low budget survival horror video game.
"It's alright, you just need sleep. Between your body trying to heal and the demands of your new, high publicity position in PCW as the World Champion...well, you're just overwrought, Love." Murdoc's response seeming a little too automatic, as if his mind was already working on something else. Looking up at him, Eira studied his eyes for a hint of his thoughts but came back with nothing but blue. Ice blue.
Eira immediately takes a breath to argue. "I can stay up, I did wake you after all and -" she begins, already trying to muster reserves from a system strained beyond the point of exhaustion, still recovering from her post-match injuries at Trauma 148.
"I think you'll manage just fine." His voice resonant with a certainty that seemed far more a directive than any effort to reassure her. A bit of a pout on her lips, she scans his features once more, hoping to find any hint of flexibility on this point.
"Will you be with me?" Her tone is plaintive, almost childlike, a vulnerability that Murdoc found charming for both its intimacy and its rarity. Gazing down into her with the softness forever hidden from the world at large, he smiles to himself as he hedges with a cleverly phrased response.
"I promise you’ll fall asleep with my arms around you, Amba."
The nervous energy draining out of her as fast as her memory of the nightmare, Eira lets Murdoc help her up and settle her back into bed. His presence warming her to her core, Eira quickly drifts off again, her fingers still entwined with his as her breathing deepens into that of true sleep.