Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chapter 30 Wake Up

At first I can't even tell if I've managed to open my eyes.

The darkness suffocates. I'm aware that I lay on my back staring up. The ground under me is hard, and under my finger tips at my side I can feel bumps of the warped wood. One of my finger tips rest perfectly in a groove on the warped wood. I don't want to move, but I try to glance around carefully as my eyes slowly adjust.

There's a window near by that's broken, and I can see the sky through it and feel the slightly chilly air seeping in. A tiny bit of light comes in from the moon. Alex sits near by, completely still. I can't see him clearly from the corner of my eye, but I'm sure it's him.

I listen for the sound of anyone else, but I don't hear anything. It seems it's just Alex and me, and I'm not sure that I want to wake up yet. He used his power on me. After he said he wouldn't. That hurts. It cuts through the fear and I find myself focusing on the red hot truth of it. I don't know where I am, and I'm alone with Alex in some building that isn't Henri's.

The room is mostly bare from what I can see. The walls are covered in paper, and I can see bright spots where the paper has been ripped off to reveal the dirty white wall underneath. But other than that, there's nothing. From my angle on the ground, I can't even get a good look at the buildings around us to see if I might recognize any of them or might even get a clue.

Alex moves slightly. There's the sound of his foot scraping on the warped wood of the floor. "Paula?" He whispers it, but just seeing him move towards me at all is enough. I hop halfway up and scoot away from him right into an old heavy cobweb.

I flinch as it tickles the back of my neck beneath my hair. "Eugh!" I turn around right away and scoot back towards the center of the room, the sound from my throat a gut reaction.

He slips easily behind me, wrapping his arms around me and holding me against his chest. I'm pinned in a tight hug. I push against him with everything I've got, even trying to push back with my legs in a desperate effort to break free. But he's completely unyielding. I want to yell, but there's an oppressive silence that suggests I shouldn't. Not that it would help any.

"Paula," he whispers frantically in my ear, "please."

"No." I break the quiet of our struggle with my normal speaking voice. "Let me go."

He shushes me right away, a hiss in my ear and a stronger grasp on me that almost presses the wind right out of me. "You must be quiet," he hisses. "Sound goes far here."

I stop kicking, out of breath enough that I'm almost dizzy. I lower my voice in an attempt to compromise. "Where?"

"Outside of the Southlands." His grip doesn't loosen. I worry his forearms will leave bruises when he removes them. "Few live here. Some human, some not. They see my skin in the day and leave us alone, but at night I would need to fight."

I don't say a word. I just stop fighting him. His chin presses gently against my shoulder, the short hairs of his stubble scratching my neck. His grip loosens slightly, enough for me to breathe deeply.

"You used your power on me." I say it quietly. The way I'm sitting with my back to him feels as if I'm not really speaking to him even though I am addressing him.

I feel him soften against me, his hold becoming more of a proper embrace. "I am sorry. I need your help."

That surprises me. "Usually it's appropriate to ask for help first."

"There was no time." His voice in my ear sounds remorseful, but still tinged with desperation. "I need you to help me get my first born back."

I suck in a breath. It's not that I'm unaware that he's had sex, but somehow I just never thought that it meant he would already be a father. I sit between his legs, trying to understand it. "You have a kid?"

Even softer and quieter than before, he speaks directly in my ear. "A daughter."

I turn slightly to look at him, but my eyes don't dare to look further than his chin. "You never said that before."

"There is much I never said." His grip on me is completely loose now that he's sure I won't scream or run away. And I don't. My back is against his knee, his arm draped over it.

"What do you need me to do that you and the others can't do?"

His lips press together in the darkness. "I can't tell you."

"What?" I stiffen. The word has trouble escaping my throat.

"You must trust me."

It's like a nightmare. I'm dizzy again for a moment, wondering if this is really happening. "Wait. You used your power on me and you want me to trust you? Why can't you say?"

"They have a mind reader. She will read your thoughts."

And when she does, I'll remember this moment where the complete feeling of betrayal was overshadowed by the fear that whatever he needs me to do is probably too awful for him to even tell me. Because if he does, I might not go along.

He gives me the night to think it over. Tells me to go to sleep while holding me near him. I don't want to, but his arms are so warm. In the bareness of the room he is the one thing I can hold onto in the dark.

Next Chapter -->


  1. Oh, that last line, and the last image of him holding her, was just beautiful! And heartbreaking, for the trust they've lost. :(

    I agree completely with her, no matter how good of intentions he has, that was really no way to bring her into this mission. She probably would have helped him, if he'd asked, wouldn't she? But he didn't give her that chance and only violated her trust instead. Shame-shame.

    Oh, Alex, you're losing a couple points from me, buddy! Good thing he already had a stockpile of them, lol! ;)

    I was wondering at first if what they'd taken her for had something to do with her mom, but now it's looking unrelated. (Will we still get to hear for sure what's happened to Cheryl? I'm dying to know who those three people in her last picture were!)

    But I'm glad to hear from Paula again! :)

  2. Well, I can understand the reasoning behind Alex's actions (though it doesn't mean I agree with it) considering the mind reader aspect of it all. Though, I wonder what kind of security he can provide Paula with in this scenario. Though, I am a bit more curious as to what will happen to Alex when (or rather if) Henri finds out about this.

  3. Laura, aww thanks.

    She probably would have. Maybe. Of course he'll never know now. Good thing he does have a stock pile!

    I hope to get back to Cheryl's final outcome sooner or later.

    Migy, I'm glad you can understand the reasoning. Of course Alex has to deal with a telepath at the destination and a semi-telepath (basically pretty much) at the place they just left too. He's surrounded.

    Also, lol, yeah I keep trying to imagine that scene. Oh boy, Alex probably better just not come back.

  4. Henri is going to be pissed--unless maybe the kid has some incredible powers that could totally make or break the entire operation?

    It's good to see these two again, even if under rather sketchy circumstances. I hope they manage to pull this off without any serious complications--I'm very curious about Alex's daughter now :)

  5. Wow. It feels like so long since we've heard from Paula! I'm glad to check in with her again.

    Alex has definitely lost some points with me too. Or maybe just one or two points, lol. I can see why Alex probably felt like this was his only option. Paula may well have agreed to help him, had he asked, but I don't know if she would have so readily gone with him without being given any information. Of course, she's still not being given any information now but he's got her there now and I guess he figures that's one hurdle out of the way? Or that now she's there, she doesn't have much choice but to help him? It doesn't make it right but desperate people do desperate things.

    So most of my sympathies still lie with Paula here. She's still relatively new to this world and she trusted Alex and this was a huge betrayal. I guess she might have to get over it, seeing she has no idea where she is and Alex is her one shot of getting back home.

    Sidenote, but how much time has passed from when Paula was first taken away from her mother and now?

  6. Alex needs Paula to help him. I really wonder what it is about her that will allow her to help him when no one else could. I mean, you'd think he could have asked Kyrene or maybe Brandon. How can he expect her to help him when she won't even know how to do it? I can understand why he can't tell her, but I really wonder how he thinks she'll be able to help him.

    This makes me wonder...what if Paula does have a power, and he knows what it is and that it will help in this case? OR...what if he's trading her? OH man...what if his daughter is being held by Killer, and he's going to trade Paula for her? That would be terrible! I'm not sure I can believe that he'd do that, though he's apparently not completely averse to putting her in harm's way.

    If Henri doesn't kill him for this, Brandon will. Alex must have a talent for keeping his thoughts benign, because I doubt Brandon would have ever left Paula with him if he'd had any clue of what he planned.

    So many questions! Love it.

  7. Oh, and I love the pictures! The poses are wonderful, and work so well for this scene! I think I can see how you did it, but it still looks difficult to pull off!

  8. OMG ... I don't know where to start. All my brain seems to be able to do after reading this is generate questions.

    Why was there no time? Did something happen to move his agenda up? Did he lie to her when he promised he would never use his power on her or was this unplanned, a rash, desperate act?

    Alex seems torn in this piece, I got the sense that he has genuine remorse for what he put Paula through; but to him there was no other way - this is his child he is trying to save, and that would override so much. When he's asking her to trust him, I wonder if he's asking something more of her - to forgive him. He's either an incredibly good actor or there is a genuine depth of feeling for Paula and he's afraid he might lose her friendship.

    It's times like this I remember he isn't much more than a kid himself, despite everything he's already experienced.

    And a final question - will he take her back if she doesn't agree to help him?

  9. I lied, there's another question - is there any possible excuse Alex can give to Henri to explain not only what he's done, but what he's about to ask Paula to do?

  10. Van, for real. And a pissed Henri can't be a good Henri at all.

    We're completely wining it now, so I hope so too!

    Carla, It has been a while-- like two months our time I think. Man time flies!

    True, people do desperate things for the ones they love. I did expect that Alex would lose some points of course. He's basically kidnapped her. I don't know if there's really anything that can really excuse him.

    Also, I haven't really been keeping track of how much time has passed, lol. (I should though knowing how bad I am mentally with dates.) She was with Brandon for a bit over a week, and I think she's been with Henri for a bit. I'd like to say that she's been with Henri a couple of weeks, so I'd guess a bit over a month? It doesn't sound like a lot, I know, for all that's happened. So I'd like to say that the time spent is more symbolic, lol. (Really, I am just horrible with the passing of time. Horrible. Even in real life.)

  11. Rachel, well you never know, lol. You're good at asking the right questions though, I'll give you that!

    Also, haha, true. If he survives Henri, he'll definitely have Brandon to worry about next. (And probably Maria third, lol.) Also, true. Alex knows Brandon from before, so he must have some tricks up his sleeve to pass suspicion. Brandon's power is far from perfect after all.

    Also, thank you about the pictures. It's just the sitting on the floor from the picnic basket, and then fiddling around with one or the other standing.

    Illandrya, oh more great questions. Really really good questions in fact...

    Oh I'm so glad you get that sense about Alex. I do think he is torn here. He probably feels like he has no choice for various reasons, and so he probably is asking for her forgiveness in a way. Because I don't think he could be a good actor ever.

    True, he really is a kid himself. Will he take her back? That's something she'll have to ask him.

    And your very last question-- I wonder but I would highly doubt it to be honest.

  12. Hmm, I'm incredibly curious as to what exactly Paula can do that no one else can to help him get his daughter back. I get the feeling it's something simple, and I'll probably kick myself when I find out.

    Great chapter, can't wait for the next one :)

  13. Interesting discussion about trust and Alex betraying a promise, and whether he should have trusted Paula to help him. Well. What if she turned him down? Where's his first allegiance? To his daughter or to a girl he likes?

    Obviously he's desperate if he's out there with Paula, risking Henri's wrath, risking death (if he's concerned about fighting, he must be concerned about losing the fight). Risking Paula's life too, and it's clear he does care about her.

    I have no answers. You raise difficult questions, and, as always, do them remarkably well.

  14. It's interesting that he felt the need to use his power on her, abduct her and then expects her to help him after all that. It's a roundabout way of asking for help. Something definitely seems to have Alex scared for him to go to such lengths. And like Poida, I'm curious as to what Paula can do too for him.

    I'm very curious as to what will happen next!

  15. Poida, it's a good question. Don't kick yourself too hard though. ;)

    And thank you, as always.

    SB, as always you see the other side of the coin. I knew Alex would take a hit here for what he'd decided to do. But it is his daughter he's doing this for.

    You're right, he doesn't do this lightly.

    Thank you.

    Hey Carnaxa! Very true. It is a round about way to ask for help, so something has to be off.

    Thank you for the support!

  16. Hmmm. I am not ready to wag a finger at Alex here, and I am not sure why.

    Desperation and worry will cause someone to break their promise, though in this world, not sure how strong a promise is at any rate. I think a promise kept, is rare. And not because the person doesn't want to keep it. *ramble*

    First born? He has more than one child?
    And I like the way he is holding her, a combo of restraint, and also, tenderness I think, almost protective.
    What a dilemma~

  17. I really want to know how Paula is going to get pass the broken trust, if she's able to.

    First born huh? Way to blindside a girl.

  18. Drew, it's good to hear you're not ready to wag your finger at him either. Yes, plenty of desperation. And when you care about someone who might be in trouble, it does get so complicated.

    Ha, that's a good question. :)

    Nicole, we can only hope since there are some more important things to worry about right now.

    Also, lol, true.

  19. One of the things that first struck me is how, in the last piece, Cheryl was laying on the ground and here we find Paula in a similar situation. Of course Paula isn't facing imminent death...

    Also interesting that Paula's first impressions are not fear but anger, betrayal and curiosity.

    I am seriously intrigued at how Alex is going to let Paula know what she needs to do without actually telling her...

  20. Gayl, oh you're right. That's one of those things I didn't really notice until I was putting it together and then was all, "heey..." haha.

    No, Paula isn't facing imminent death, but perhaps a chance at her new life here.

    True. It's probably about damn time, lol. But it is very telling that with Alex she's not afraid. If she'd woken up with someone like Jimmy near her, it'd be a different type of story.