Author: planet p PM
Are werewolves real, or just a story? And who is the Daughter of Nash? Douglas/OCRated: Fiction T - English - D. Willard - Words: 2,207 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-28-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4893127
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Flamingo pie by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
What he'd done – what they'd said he'd done – he'd never done. But even he had said he'd done it. The chance to serve his corporation, the chance to do something in this world, had been a chance he could not refuse. And, of course, they had promised him his Chosen. He could live many lifetimes in the duty of his corporation, but his Chosen might live only one. So, he'd agreed to do it.
Even he had had to admit, the first time he had seen Jarod, he'd thought, maybe this time… maybe it won't work… maybe he won't buy it. But Jarod didn't know of his kind, didn't know of his corporation: a powerful and, some would say, ruthless rival of Jarod's home corporation, the Center. And if Jarod had known of his corporation, of his kind, it would be as a company of savages, of brutal, miserable excuses for human beings, and he would be just another savage among countless; a savage with teeth and talons, a thing of nightmares, and tales of vampires and werewolves.
Jarod did not see, did not see the vastness of his corporation, the infinitely complex and intricate way they wove into everything around them, did not see the lies. If bloodshed had to come, if countless had to die, so be it, for no other – the Center, nor any other – would have the Daughter of Nash. She was their heart, their living, breathing, beating heart! Without the Daughter of Nash, they would surely wither and die. She was unparalleled. Not even her numerous, countless offspring could match what she could do – and his corporation mourned the loss of Nash in their soul, and in their heart, as his daughter did.
So Jarod bought the lie, reported back to his corporation; the Daughter of Nash was dead, as though a mere mortal could have felled her. The Daughter of Nash! Their shining beacon of hope and glory! Their beating heart!
Douglas had never been more proud than on that day. More joyous. A day of days! Their greatest enemy – befooled! His partner, Funsuni, had been less joyed. She'd been the one who'd had to play the second 'Daughter of Nash', the second kidnapping victim. She'd been anything but joyed. And when it was done, she'd said, when the enemy had awayed, she was just glad to be going home, home to her little sister, Swiftly, whom she had named herself. But she was young, Douglas knew. So, Funsuni returned home, and he stayed on to guard the secret of the Daughter of Nash.
He'd waited, waited and waited. Soon, he'd told himself, soon I will leave, soon I will be with my Chosen, soon it will be. But it never was. And he missed the feel of the air when he ran, faster and faster. And he missed the others of his kind, even Funsuni, who would ever-whinge. The females of his kind where not as abundant as the males, he knew. Funsuni and her little sister, Swiftly, were to be treasured, were to be cared for.
He'd thought of the program, thought that if he hadn't agreed, that he'd have had at least one – maybe more – offspring. But he had reassured himself, because he'd agreed, the Daughter of Nash had had many more offspring, and incomparably more useful, than any of his own potential offspring could have proven, and who – he had not known – might have even have had offspring of their own.
And then, the day he had been waiting for, the day he thought would never come, and he was free.
She was not speaking to them, they told him. She refused to speak even one word. Her name, to the best of their knowledge – they'd had techs and Empaths working on it – was Bridie.
Bridie was small – smaller than him – but with heavy bones, and thick dark brown hair, and two large sleepy brown eyes set in a pale face, even its spots were pale.
Bridie was his Chosen. He thought of the offspring they could have, thought of the beautiful teeth they would have, the beautiful talons, their brown eyes and dark brown hair. But Bridie would not talk, not even to him.
The corporation said take a vacation, take a holiday, take Bridie somewhere nice, somewhere special. He took her to dinner, and then to a motel, the Sleepy Sun. She sat on the one bed and said nothing. He sat on the other end and said nothing back.
Finally, he stood and walked around the one bed, stopped in front of Bridie, decided he would show her the teeth, show her the talons. And she fainted, fell off the bed and hit the floor. Not quick enough to stop her from hitting the floor – that thud! – he quickly scooped her up and lay her on the bed, stood back and stared, still in shock, put away the teeth, put away the talons, stood in shock for many moments more.
The next day, he took her to a zoo. Looked at teeth and talons and stripes and pink tonsily yawns all morning. Feathers and scales and slithering paths. Stopped for lunch in the cafeteria, next to the gift shop. Bridie stared at her food for a long time, threatening to fall asleep and face first into her lunch tray, before she finally ate something, sipped her coffee. He bought her a stuffed pink flamingo from the gift shop, wondered what flamingo would taste like in pie. Got back on the coach.
He took the window seat, Bridie the aisle seat. She hadn't been talking, hadn't said which seat to take. Watched Disney's The Lion King on the small television set at the front of the coach, frequently interrupted by announcements – they were passing this where that had happened, this place was famous, that place was notorious, or glorious – songs stopped in the middle, started in the middle, an animated cartoon lion caught in the middle of a yawn.
Another night, another motel. He sat on one end of the one bed, back to Bridie, Bridie on the other end, back to him. She with the window seat this time, he with the wall. Stared at the wall – eyed the little cracks, the stains and spots and shadows and bumps – and told her tales of his battles with the Mongols, with Russian armies, with British soldiers, of exile in the Ukraine, Finland, the secret life of a hundreds-year-old werewolf. None of it truth, all of it make-believe. He was as old as he looked, still in his first cycle. The moon did nothing for him, neither transform him into a savage, insatiable, carnivorous, hairy beast against his will, nor inspire romantic longing or poetry. He didn't read. Bridie never slept.
On the coach, she slumped against his arm, asleep, midway through The Lion King, which they hadn't finished watching from the day before.
They visited an art gallery. Bridie stood in front of the landscapes for a long time, didn't wander off to look at the other exhibits, stood and stared at a rainforest in watercolour. Once he'd seen everything five times, he walked over and stood behind her, staring at the rainforest too, wondered if she thought if she stared at it long enough, she could spirit herself away to that rainforest, or spirit the rainforest to her, huge green boughs changing colour soaring up out of the red-carpeted creaky floorboards, the sound of crunching, cracking, splintering wood echoing off walls, carpet tearing, ripping, hurting ears. He looked either side of him for telltale signs, a bulge in the dusty, many-trodden, red carpet and saw nothing, looked behind him, nothing either. Turned back to the painting, thought rainforest thoughts. Nothing came of it. The rainforest stayed firmly in its gold-crusted frame.
On the street, the sunlight hurt his eyes. He wondered if the corporation had not been wrong. He felt nothing especially for Bridie that he could not feel for any other person, any other woman, and Bridie, from what he could tell, felt nothing especial for him, aside from fear. The big bad Bogie Man in the night.
A vampire would have charmed her with his vampire charm, he thought. A vampire would have burst to flame; bright, licking flames. He'd only copped sore eyes. He thought he would have taken the flames – damnation – for some of the charm.
Bridie was mute. She'd been born with a tongue, but her spirit had lost its tongue in a previous lifetime. She couldn't speak, even if she'd wanted to. Of course, he didn't really believe this. She stuttered, she was embarrassed to talk. He didn't really believe this either. He wondered what they'd told her. If she'd had a family – a boyfriend or husband – before she'd been taken.
He watched the credits, the words he couldn't read. They'd finally reached the end of The Lion King. He glanced at Bridie. Her face, like her tongue, gave nothing away; pale-spotted, chalky and sullen, and anchored by thick cords and bundles and small nests of dark brown hair. He tried to get a look at her teeth, made a mental note to buy a mirror. Bridie was a centuries old vampire, which was why the sunlight didn't burn her, turn her to ash on the pavement – float away in the wind – why she never ate, picked at her food like a pecking bird on the pavement – a rainforest ground, hopping around tangles and lumps of mossy roots protruding from the soft, humid, dark earth – and why she never slept, except on buses, when the rock and sway of the carriage, the hum and bawl of the engine lulled her to slumber. But, of course, she wasn't a centuries old vampire, just as he wasn't a ferocious, man-eating werewolf. She was an ordinary everyday human child. She didn't even possess the anomaly that he did, that their offspring would.
He drifted off to sleep, dreamed of the farm he'd grown up on as a child in Montana.
Days later, he swore he'd seen Jarod, standing across the street with a younger man who, irritably, had been trying to look as though he wasn't there at all, and as though he didn't know Jarod was there either.
Douglas had wondered who he was, if he was from the Center like Jarod, if they'd been following him, if they'd been tracking him, or if his seeing them across the road was a mere coincidence. He hadn't stuck around to ask, however, and had pulled Bridie after him, into a nearby diner, and when he'd looked again, they'd been gone, and his arm had started to bleed from the scratches Bridie – without saying a word – had put into it, bright red pearls blossoming on his skin. He pulled her after him once more, into the bathroom marked as the men's, to clean the blood off his arm with a sheet of paper hand towel, though, instead of a paper towel dispenser, he found an automatic hand drier fixed to the tile wall; washed his arm at the sink, waited for the skin on his arm to heal, Bridie hiding in the very last toilet cubicle.
He decided that one week was enough, it was time to go home, time to cash Bridie in, send her home too. She didn't want him, she'd made that very clear, and he didn't want someone who didn't want him. If he'd wanted that, he'd have stuck to the program, have asked for a partner on the program.
He told Bridie, of course, that he knew where she lived, knew what she was doing at all times, sometimes even before she did herself, and that, should she breathe a word to anyone, he'd especially know where she was then.
She tried not to, tried to be strong and unaffected, tried to be a rock – in a rainforest some place – but he noticed it, felt it as though it was him, not her, a – short – tower of mute silence standing shaking, frightened, on the inside, strong inflexible, unswayable rock on the outside.
And then he went home. Funsuni laughed at him. He let her, he was just glad to be home. Swiftly, who was fourteen, demanded to know everything, all the 'gory' details. He told her about the kung-fu fighting circus performers he – hadn't – had met, the unicycle riding bear. She bought it all, eyes round with wonder, and shook with laughter. Funsuni didn't buy it, but kept this small detail to herself.
He was just glad to be home, and wondered if, maybe one day, he would finally meet the Daughter of Nash – beating heart.