Nearing the edge.
He sleeps and he dreams of the memories and the voices-- Nightmares.
By: Rosethorn Li

The dark of his dreams was terrifying, so empty and yet full of memories that--

"The war is over! Praise the Heroes!" A rain of flower petals descended from above and

it was snowing again. Mama'd catch cold if she din't tighten her shawl. I told her, I

but he was saying, "Near out of food. When're they sending more?" in a hot, dank space too far pressed with so many bodies it was suffocating. What were they all to do here, rot and die together or

survive. The only one to survive. He was he was

alone.

Alone again, in a dark place, waking tangled in his sweat-drenched sheets with too many voices in his head. They all, he remembered them all, and for an instant he was overrun, taken over by the confusion of "which am I?" "who am I?" "where? whenhowwhy do I exist?" that was happening all the time now.

Now that he had his own room, in this cold place he had created, with all the smiles turning into screams except that one, the one with the dark hair that kept asking, "How can I help you?" Oh so sincere, this mere girl, this fragile doll of a woman who couldn't survive on her own. She proved useful, so useful in his projects, to achieve his goal. What would she look like, he wondered, as one of them?

An Angel. A messenger from God

who watches over his Flock and will guide you wherever you may go. Amen.

He, a priest who didn't believe in God, would create the Angels.

Twisted, tormented things with the impulse to destroy, to rend and tear and devour every thing, any thing, the whole world. How he longed for the dark and the terror to end, for there to be nothing. So empty there was not a sound.

That was

"Go to sleep my child. Go to sleep and dream so peacefully," a singing woman bent over him with a gentle smile and loving eyes and only as her hand reached out to stroke his forehead did he realize she was his

"Mother!" someone was whining at him, tugging persistently at his hand for his attention. "Buy me some, please, Mother! I want

fruit so far up from the ground they had to climb the trees to get it. Sand between his toes and he caught the brown, fuzzy fruit in outstretched hands, laughing as a tan boy nimbly climbed down. He help it up triumphantly, because now he could catch them good, right? and the boy ruffled his hair, grinning

all teeth, so sharp, snapping inches from his face. Caged in but not scared, keeping the camera carefully in position to get the

"-best shot in town, he is. Could shoot a mouse right between the eyes at fifty paces. Only one to ever best me in"

"Anything, my dear?" he asked, crooked old hands handing back the change. Eyesight so poor he was in need of glasses and the cold making his bones ache but at least John was back from the war and helping out. Hadn't he been to war?

A thousand wars flashed before his eyes, victorious and dieing and captive and tormentor and why was he laughing? Laughing so hard because the others, they thought war was glorious!

And he was laughing, laughing at it all because wasn't it just so funny? Why couldn't anyone else see?

He wondered if he should be laughing, if anyone would notice the sound, but even if they did, who would care?

Confusion and turmoil dulled his mind and he thought, 'Why is it like this? Why only me?' in the part of him that refused to stop caring, a small little voice that truly wanted to know, that was just as twisted as the rest that drove him deeper and deeper into the dark. The never ending dark and the voices he wanted so badly to be rid of.

Gripping his head in his hands, hair course between his fingers, his laughter dulled to a chuckle, bursting up at random occasion to a full cackle.

"Yuca! Yuca!" he heard a voice calling him, thin, high and desperate.

Yuca? Was that his name now? Yuca? Not Simon? Not Paul? Not LolaBernardKarinUricDesireeDavisRemi or the whole gaggle of names that shouted to be heard as "this is who I am!"?

With a thunderous crash, the door burst open, the knob hitting the opposite wall hard enough to dent. Someone came rushing forward, flying across the room to throw themselves at him and he didn't really care, they could do whatever they wanted.

Sudden warmth of another person and--

Was this what waking was like?

Across his hunched shoulders was an arm, covered in a jacket to fight the chill of the mostly metal building. Around his middle, another arm, and pressed up against his side was the shuddering body of a thin woman, whose long hair fell across his bare back, long enough to brush the sheets pooled in his lap. It tickled, her hair, and her fragile arms clutched so desperately, so tightly.

He remembered her, the prize among his subjects, the girl so willing to help and he knew her name, didn't he? The carefree girl who loved him, had said as much so many times and was now sobbing on his shoulder. Great, heaving sobs wracked her body and he wondered with slight distaste what was the matter.

She was important to him, or suppose to be, wasn't she? Should he comfort her? Would that be 'right'?

"Freya…" Oh yes, that was her name. He had said it, hadn't he? Or was that someone else, someone not 'Yuca'?

"Y-yuca," she hick-upped, face still pressed close against his shoulder. "You were s-screaming and I heard you all the way…" She looked up, then, and met his eyes. Blue eyes, once so wide and vibrant, were now dull and dark but still bored into him, accusing as they searched his eyes for something. Something that was or wasn't there. "Are you alright?" She continued to ramble, voice raising in hitch and eyes widening in a helpless way. "Is the something I can do? Please, Yuca, if there's anything!"

"It's alright, Freya," he said, allowing her to embrace him. "What you are doing for me is all I need."

"But you were screaming," she said, worked up enough to pout, just a little. "What's the matter? Nightmares again? Oh, Yuca!" Her arms tightened, yet he remained lax in her hold.

How had she gotten our of the cell block? He'd have a talk with the guards. She shouldn't be running loose in this place; she was his precious little project, who couldn't be allowed to come to harm. Not yet.

"Tell me: what's the matter?" Her eyes bored into his, regaining their determined spark. Willing him to answer, as if she could get through to him at all.

"Nothing is the matter," he said, smiling politely, removing her hands from his arm in a casual motion. "What are you doing up this late, Freya?"

"I heard you." Freya remained uncowed, though her hands were folded meekly in her lap, eyes on them. Still far too close, pressed up against his side, her knees brushing his outer thigh.

"I'm sorry to disrupt you," he sounded so sincere, still smiling. "You really should go back to bed."

Hesitantly, she asked, "Am I doing alright?" Eyes downcast, fingers fiddling together, she was the picture of uncertainty. Through narrowed eyes he sized her up, thinking, 'She's testing me.'

"Of course you are. The test results are very promising." Smiling and nodding, taken in a different sense. "You are doing very well." Truth, but twisted into the way she wanted to hear it.

Freya looked relieved, but he knew better. She was still suspicious, especially now. But he needed her; she had shown the most success so far. The closest to being a real 'Angel'.

"Let me call someone to escort you." He reached for the phone, and she didn't stop him, even though her eyes were imploring, telling how much she would have liked to stay.

The guards came quickly at the scientist's call. With a guise of gentleness, they surrounded the known subject and herded her back toward the cell block. He waved goodbye, and she kept glancing at him, looking back over her shoulder even as they turned round a bend and continued on.

Yuca watched her go, the one who would bring him life.

Life to Rain.