FORTY-ONE - Esmarine

FORTY-ONE - Esmarine

A Chapter by Justin Xavier Smith
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Esmarine wakes up.

"

Why can’t I open my eyes?

It was the first thought she remembered having since… what?  What was the last thing I remember?  Her mind was completely empty.  The only thing she knew was the pain surging through her body.  It began in the back of her skull and wrapped around her head and rendered her entire body useless.  And I don’t even have any idea where I am.  She could feel a hard surface beneath her body, but that could be anywhere.

Think, Esmarine… What was the last thing you remember doing?

But the pain was making it too difficult to focus on anything.  Any thought she had vanished in seconds.  There was no point trying to make connections.  The most she could do was try to imagine that the pain was gone.

I feel like I’m forgetting something important…

And then it clicked.  Something happened inside her head and everything came rushing back�"a flood of memories bursting into her consciousness harder than the wall of water she had seen bursting out of the tunnel underneath the Passing of the Seventh.  She saw, as though she were watching it happen before her eyes, the giant boulder crushing Vanderford against the wall under its immense weight, saw the water rushing towards her…

She burst upright where she was laying and her eyes flew open.  The hard surface she was on was dripping wet with something and she gasped for air in a panic, thinking she might still be drowning.  She blinked, her eyes adjusting to the room she was in.  She wasn’t underwater, and she wasn’t underneath the Passing of the Seventh any longer.  A small amount of light was coming from a candle on a table in the corner of the room.

Where am I?

She lifted her hand to see that the wet substance coating the stone she was laying upon was blood.  Still wet.  Is all of this mine?!  She reached her hand gently to the back of her head to feel the wound she knew was there.  Even the slightest touch send shockwaves of pain through her body and she collapsed back onto the stone.

Okay, lesson learned�"don’t do that again.

When the pain lessened to a more tolerable amount, she sat up again.  Maybe I deserve this pain… I wasn’t able to save Vanderford, and I still haven’t been able to help Saxon or Sephora…

She was about to crumple under the weight of everything she had seen in the past few days and reached her arm out to support herself when her hand brushed against something on the other side of the table.  She turned her head to see what it was and realized she was lying next to another body.

How did I not notice that was there?  Am I really that out of it?  The body was turned on its side, facing away from her.  All she could tell is that it was a man, and that he was badly injured.  His neck was heavily wrapped, and blood was still trying to leak through the wrappings.

This must be the Healer’s Room.  She had never been here before.  Any time she felt sick she would convince herself (and her father) that she wasn’t so that she would still have her freedom.  If there’s one thing I hate, it’s people trying to take care of me.  I guess it’s a good thing I was brought here now, though…

She got off the table and slowly dragged herself around to the other side.  Moving her body at all was a chore, but her curiosity got the better of her.  She wondered if she knew who this man was, or if she would even be able to recognize him covered in all of those bandages.  Every step was agony, pain pulsing through her body, but she managed to get to the other side of the table and look at the stranger’s face.  Only… it wasn’t a stranger at all.  It was her father.

She screamed.

“No, no, no…” was all she could say.  She screamed again.  How did this happen?  Who did this?  Why?!

She didn’t hear the sound of a chair scraping across the ground coming from the next room.  She didn’t notice Willoughby bursting through the door and dragging her away from her father.  She felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing.

Willoughby tries to cover her eyes, but she lashed out, clawing at his hands with her nails.  He recoiled and let go of her and she used the opportunity to spin around and, still screaming, begin kicking him, punching him.  She didn’t know what she was doing… she just knew she wanted someone, anyone, to feel her pain.

“Stop, stop!” he cried, but she was a wild animal, fighting to get out of a cage.  I’m asleep.  I must still be asleep, and this is just a nightmare.

Exhausted, she stopped attacking Willoughby and collapsed to her knees beside her father’s lifeless body.  She nuzzled her head into his side and began to cry, her entire body convulsing with each sob.

“Daddy… No…”  I’ll be an orphan.  Mom has been dead for years.  If you die, I’ll have to live in the Outskirts like Atherton and steal food.  And when the flood takes over the city, I’ll die alone.

But she wasn’t going to let that happen.  You’re my father.  You’re strong.  You’re going to survive this because I said you are.  She began pounding at Silvan’s body.  Her tiny fists slammed into his ribcage, into his arms, getting dangerously close to the gash on his neck.

“WAKE UP!” she shouted.  “I’m not going to let you die!”  Willoughby tried to stop her, but there was no point.  He was exhausted, and she was young and full of rage.

One of her blows hit the bandage wrapped around Silvan’s neck.  He must have felt it, too, because his eyes flew open and he gasped in pain.

“Daddy?” Esmarine took in a sharp breath of air.  “You’re alive?”

Willoughby pushed her out of the way, looking into Silvan’s eyes.  “Don’t try to speak.  If you use too much of your strength, you’re going to die.  You need to rest now, and let your body take care of itself.”

“Es…” he wheezed.

“Daddy!  I was so scared…”

“You need to leave,” Willoughby said sternly.  “If you make him try to speak, you’ll be responsible for his death, do you understand?”  She nodded and turned to leave.  “You should get some rest as well,” he called after her.  “You’re not fully healed.  Don’t push too hard.

Yeah, right.

She whirled around.  “Who did this to him?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Someone did this to my dad.  I want to know who.”

“I have no idea.  We won’t be able to know for sure until he’s able to speak again, which may be awhile.  As soon as I know, I promise I’ll tell you.”

“You’d better.  I don’t want them to come back and try again.”

“Yes, that’s fine, but right now you have to leave!”

“I love you, Daddy,” she said to her father.  “I have to listen to Willoughby so you can get better.  Do it fast.  Please.”

Silvan let out a sigh and nodded his head slightly in response.  Even though he barely moved, he winced in pain.  His neck was nowhere close to being healed.

“Don’t move,” Willoughby ordered.  “You’re not doing yourself any favors.  The stiches I put in are barely holding your head on your body.  Too much movement and it could fall right off.”

Silvan closed his eyes.  Willoughby turned to Esmarine and ushered her out of the room.  He closed the door behind them.

“If my father dies I’m going to make sure the same thing happens to you.”

“You seem to be doing a lot better.  It wasn’t long ago you were almost dead yourself.”

“I mean it.”

“I understand.  I promise, I’ll do my best.  I’ll have you know, I’m no stranger to threats.  If you’re going to do it, you’d better follow through, or no one will ever take you seriously.”

“I’ve never been more serious.”

Willoughby sighed.  “If it starts to hurt any worse, come and see me.  I can try to help you ease the pain.”

“I can handle pain.”

“I don’t doubt you,” Willoughby said.  “I’m just offering.”

Pain flashed through her body and she struggled to keep it hidden from the old man.  She covered it with a question.  “How long was I unconscious for?”

“About twelve hours,” Willoughby said.

“Twelve hours?! No, no… that’s impossible!”  She turned and ran from the room, leaving Willoughby exhausted and confused.  How could I have been out that long?  It’s tomorrow already!  Atherton is still waiting for us in my house… I have to get back to him!  What if someone found him?

She quickened her pace, but the harder she ran, the worse she felt.  There was a constant, searing pain, as though someone were stabbing her in the back of her head.  Her legs gave up and she nearly collapsed, catching herself just in time to stop her face from slamming into the floor.  She stood up and clutched the wall for support.  Okay, so I can’t run.  But I have to get there as quickly as I can.  I just hope nothing happened to him

She passed the Passing of the Seventh.  The door was closed again, and there were no sounds from inside.  In fact, there were no sounds from anywhere in the castle.  Something is wrong.  She slowed down, walking quietly and carefully towards the front entrance to the castle.

As she neared the front of the castle, she heard sound coming from the distance.  It’s coming from outside.  That was bizarre enough, typically Xantom was silent, the Xantomians keeping to themselves in their homes and not making any trouble.  But now there was a distant, dull roar… the sound of hundreds of people shouting at once.  Something was definitely happening.  And more likely that not, it wasn’t anything good.

As soon as she pushed open the front door to the castle, the roar became deafening.  The sound echoed inside her head, making the pain even worse than it had been before.  She felt like her head was about to explode.

When she got a little more used to the noise, she realized it was coming from the Outskirts.  She could see in the distance that a mob had formed outside the front gate, and they were furious.  Some of them had torches, but all of them had something to say, and they were saying it loudly.  The tone in their voices couldn’t have been more clear.

Apparently a whole lot has happened in the past twelve hours, and I have no idea what any of it was.  I can worry about it later.  Right now I have to get home to Atherton.  Unless they already found him, and that’s the reason everyone is so upset…

Somehow, she made it all the way to her front door.  The noise had gotten louder and more painful with every step.  But she pressed on, and here she was.  She pushed the door open… and there was nobody there.

No… She searched the house for something, anything that might be a clue as to his whereabouts, but found nothing.  She walked back into the main room and kicked a chair, which skidded across the room and nearly crashed into the fireplace.  She didn’t even mind the pain upon impact.  Why is everything going wrong?

There wasn’t anything to do about it.  She had no idea what she was supposed to do, where she was supposed to go.  Her father was lying in a bed, near death.  She had nearly died, herself.  Saxon and Sephora needed to be taken care of.  The Outskirts were rioting.  Atherton was missing.  Vanderford was dead because she had failed to save him.  It was all going wrong.

There’s only one other place I can go.  She made her way through the streets, even closer to the front gate, plugging her ears with her hands so she wouldn’t black out before arriving.  Finally, she was at Riordan’s front door.  She opened it and rushed inside…

…and it was just as deserted as her own house had been.

That’s it.  I have no other options.  I’m completely helpless.



© 2015 Justin Xavier Smith


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Added on February 10, 2015
Last Updated on February 10, 2015
Tags: Pain, Revival, Death, Xantom, City, Exiled, Exiling Ceremony, Willoughby, Silvan, Father, Sadness, Loss, Regret, Vanderford, Dome, Atherton, Future, Plan

Xantom: Forgotten City


Author

Justin Xavier Smith
Justin Xavier Smith

Los Angeles, CA



About
My name is Justin Smith. I am a writer, actor, and filmmaker. I am fascinated by human behavior and the weird things that we find "shameful" or that we are unwilling to talk about. So I talk about the.. more..

Writing