The Marradith Ryder Series: The Art of Shadows, Part 33
Keiko was beautiful. She lay sleeping, her eyes closed, black hair falling against the pale skin of her cheek. She looked like a porcelain doll, with eyelashes fashioned from thread and lips blushed pale pink.
Nora observed her from the window of the infirmary. The Sojourners were keeping her in isolation. Since Keiko’s pregnancy was discovered, she’d been put on an IV of blood, which served two purposes: to stop the increased blood lust that came with her condition, and to insure the child she carried received proper nutrition. Her belly had begun to swell.
Nora was sure there were other things in the mix to keep Keiko sedated. The Sojourners were unparalleled when it came to finding new and innovative technologies.
Especially when it came to drugs that controlled the mind, for Others and humans alike.
Nora walked in the room and stopped a few feet from the bed. Keiko opened her eyes, and the two women regarded each other in silence.
“Well,” Keiko said with a little sigh. “Scott gets his looks from your side of the family.”
“It’s good that you know who I am,” Nora said. “Saves the introductions.”
“What do you want?” Keiko’s eyes narrowed.
“You tried killing my daughter.”
“And?” Keiko spat. “I’m supposed to apologize?”
“I hear you’re carrying my son’s child. Is that true?”
“It’s looking like you’re going to be a granny.”
Nora crossed her arms. “Do you have any interest in this child?”
“Well according to what they’ve been telling me, I’m going to be executed. So if I’m going to die, then I guess the answer is no.”
“If there were one thing that you could have, other than your life of course, what would it be?”
“Why the fuck do you care? Handing out wishes today?”
Nora smiled. “You know, my daughter is only a child yet. I can do things to you that are much worse, and right now, you don’t want to make more of an enemy of me than I already am. I couldn’t give a damn about you if I tried. The baby is a different matter. You do realize they’re speeding up the baby’s gestation? You don’t have a whole lot of time.”
Something like an emotion - panic – flashed through Keiko’s eyes.
Nora looked at the clock.
“I’m going to propose something to you, Keiko. And I’ll give you one whole day to make a decision. After that, no deal. If you chose not to cooperate, we can just wait until you have this baby, and give you a proper execution right afterwards.”
At night, the sound of the ocean kept him awake.
Scott lay awake in bed, watching the fan rotate above his bed. He’d slept a while, but the dreams that came always involved blood. He woke, and the beginning of hunger crept into his stomach.
There was a bottle on his bedside table, and he lifted it to his lips, taking a small drink. He could tolerate small draughts of blood at a time. It was thick, and sweet but coppery, too. He laid back down again, trying to relax.
This time, he closed his eyes, and settled back down, and drifted again into an uneasy sleep.
Keiko’s face floated into his vision. He imagined her in a red satin dress. Surrounded in darkness, she was the only thing that he could see.
When he called her name, she couldn’t hear him. He ran behind her, trying to catch up.
She fell off the edge of some invisible precipice, and he stopped, just short of plunging behind her.
She screamed, and the sound rang through his ears after he’d jolted awake.
Paul was waiting for Nora in his suite.
He was sitting on the couch, looking weary. She didn’t say anything, but went to stand behind him, placing her hands on his shoulders. Nora had been at the Compound for hours, but between Fiona and her emotional state, and the time that she spent with their daughter, he hadn’t really spoken much to his wife since her arrival in New Mexico.
“I suppose Zasha called you?” he said.
“Yes. She told me about Keiko.” Nora replied, gently working the shoulders in his back.
Paul lowered his head. Her hands were warm, and the gentle pressure was pleasing.
“I see. So this ends your shit talking?” he said quietly. They’d had a blow out argument when he first arrived at the Compound, and she hadn’t spoken to him using more than two syllables for days. The word divorce was mentioned, and though he didn’t believe she was serious, Paul knew that Nora could still surprise him.
“I don’t see where I can stop you from being an idiot if you’re determined about it,” she said. “I don’t have to be happy about it. But no, I am not ready to send you out to pasture yet.”
“That sounds like a resounding endorsement.”
“Well. After twenty-something years it is.”
She sat down beside him, and he put an arm around her.
“You went to see Keiko?” Paul asked ”She’s showing now?”
She sighed. “Yes.”
He nodded, and kissed her forehead. If there was anything that he knew, it was how she felt about children. He wished then that he could have stopped her from seeing Keiko, but he knew that it was too late the moment that she arrived in New Mexico.
“Lenora?” he whispered.
She put a hand over her mouth as tears began to spill from her eyes.
©2011 Lori Titus
Lori has two novellas set for release in September, 2011: The Moon Goddess and the long awaited Hailey’s Shadow.
Green Water Lullaby and Lazarus are both available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/3ztbtnh
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