Don’t Kill The Messenger, Kill The Messenger
“So, Greyscale, are you gay?”, I ask during our Sunday breakfast. Greyscale halts a spoon of oatmeal from descending down his mouth. “What makes you ask that?”, he questions in a disbelieving voice. “Cause I was wondering why you keep showing up at our breakfasts like this all the time. You either don’t know how to cook, or you’ve got the hots for Hermann.”
Greyscale and Hermann stares at each other. They start to laugh, as if decided by a predetermined signal. “No I don’t have the hots for Hermann”, Greyscale says between laughs,” I just like free food”, he says, like it’s the most common thing in the world.
“I”, I begin, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. Hermann gets up with a knowing look on his face, and leaves the kitchen. I turn to Greyscale. “As I was saying, I think-” “Rune”, Hermann states in emotionless voice.
I blink, taken unaware of the change of tone. The last time… the last time Hermann used that voice, I was in a bed, in a hospital, and I was asking him about the rest of my family. Claire and Kjell step out behind him, both of them with ‘Concern’ written in big bold letters on their faces. Claire opens her mouth, but she stops at some silent signal from Hermann.
My apprehensions sky-rocket. I feel it, like static in my head, increasing in volume. This, what they’re doing, it’s what Mom and Dad, especially Dad, used to do. ‘Preparing’ me, if you could use that word, for something that will upset me. None of them seem to realize that this ‘preparation’ often has an opposite effect.
“It’s about your sister”, Hermann says. “My sister is dead”, I respond. “You were there. We had a big funeral. The Daily Fallowfeller covered it. Lots of black clothes”, I continue with an sharp edge in my voice.
“Someone-” Hermann mentions, a quick glance at the detectives,” someone stole her body.”
I stare at him. Then at the detectives, who nod. “When you say stole…”, I trail off. Why would someone steal a dead body?
/A necromancer would./ Panic sets in almost immediately. Without meaning to, I pull five helixes from Verde. The necromancer has my sister’s body. I repeat it like a mantra. With it he could conceivably bring her back. Make her a puppet.
Hermann, Greyscale and the detectives are talking, but I don’t hear them. Oh dear god. The necromancer could be hurting her. Forcing her to remember the Accident, all over. Or worse…. Eight helixes.
/Rune, contain yourself./ My nails elongate beneath the table. Maybe the necromancer is torturing her.
/Rune, you’re using too much. The detectives will find you out./ The skin between my fingers becomes webbed. I can feel it, the helixes clamoring to divide further. More. More magic. More power. Closer to that of a member of the Flight, than that of human.
/Last chance, Rune./ I don’t respond. There is a yank, and I am transported to the Summer Isles, that strange place inside my soul, where Verde sits on a giant sandy dune. The sudden change of location is like a bucket of ice-cold water poured down my back.
“Why’d you do that!” I glare at him. “You told me that you wouldn’t take control of my body!” Verde doesn’t answer, but instead points at the crystal-clear water around us. I kneel grudgingly in front of the water and look. “Look at your nails”, Verde rumbles. I glance at my nails, which are long like a woman’s. “Look at your eyes”, Verde speaks. The eyes reflected on the surface has green rim around my single pupil, a rim that deepens in shade as I look.
“That”, Verde continues,”is the face you presented to the two detectives before I brought you here. Right now, out there, you’re unconscious. Any later”, the surface of the Carribean sea ripples as a twin to my reflection appears ” and Greyscale and Hermann would have had to kill the detectives.” The twin to my reflection is me… at my worst. My single eye is a dark green. My mouth is open, and silhoutted against my darker skin are teeth that would make a wolf proud. My nails are badger-long. But it’s the expression on my face that takes me from merely dangerous to horrifying. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they can give you a human look, and conversely, the opposite is true; humans can give each other truly savage looks.
And that’s the second reflection of me, something that isn’t human, wearing the skin of human. “I… I think understand. They wouldn’t kill them, would they?”
Verde rolls over the dune like a giant reptilian puppy. “Hermann loves you, and Greyscale treasures you. There are supernaturals with powers of mind and illusion, but neither of those two has that kind of ability. So in order to cover for you, they would murder. Make no mistake.”
I sink down on the beach, not properly feeling my legs. I put my feet in the warm water and think of what I have done, feeling properly chastised. “They would, wouldn’t they?”, I ask. “In a heartbeat”, Verde answers.
“Control Rune, you mustn’t let yourself lose control so easily”, he contributes in a patient tone. I nod.
I fix that second reflection in my head, and remind myself that I am still human. That humanity is an ideal, not a matter of looks. That’s what I tell myself.
Control, that’s what I will strive for. Control in my abilities, in all things.