Warnings: Surreal horror, possible yaoi and spoilers
Notes: I am not responsible for this story. My Knives muse just...sort of.... ordered it. I wrote four pages, realized what I was doing, and ended it as quickly as possible. ^^; This is very surreal.... Knives is the living dead, searching for a happy ending with all of his broken soul.
"Tell me a story."
He ... He still remembered back when he had first laid eyes on things like this, these tomes of irregular shape and size, bulky and inconvenient, could still bring his first sight of them to the surface of the mind, where it skimmed just under the rivulets, blurry but obvious, and he had hated them. Yes, he had, hadn't he? With a hatred, or maybe a jealous love, that stuck like acid in the back of his throat... Had he? They tickled his nose with filter-escaping debris and fumes of decaying paper, peeling plastic and dead glue-worms... He thought had always, always hated them. Filled with words, beliefs, thoughts and emotions - all of them human, dusty, decaying and old. So old.
She... had treated them like precious jewels - not that jewels were an item he placed any value in, either, of course. They were bright and pretty, sometimes, but were nothing but cold stone inside, silent and dead, and so... so... familiar. Too familiar.
But the books.
He could still recall her soft fingertips as they brushed over the surfaces, as she examined her own skin and laughed, showing them the swirling lines of her fingerprints etched bright in the gray dust. She had been so damned happy in her musty room, amidst blankets with patches and little yarn knots, each inch harboring a story she loved to tell. Who she was had been lost to him long ago, but those small slivers of recollection....she had been important, maybe. Long ago.
He wandered on through the room, pupils dilating until they were deep black pools edged only by the merest hint of cerulean blue. Yes, he remembered what they held - these books, tomes of old - they held stories of songs and.... and poetry... and sometimes he had laughed, and sometimes he had cried... they were bedtime tales, for warm nights together. Some had 'happy' tags attached to the memories in the analytical files of his fractured memory, memories of someone curled against him, memories of a precious joke that had made him smile once and somehow remained untainted by the mouth that spoke it. He wasn't sure why some things were so hard to recall and reconsider, if it was his own mind blocking the images, he didn't sense it. If he was just getting old...
He thought he was old, but he wasn't sure.
How many years? Once he had known down to the day, but now it seemed faint and unimportant, like the disintegrating dust flecked across the bookshelves his hands were resting on. Slowly, lingeringly, he let the palms of his hands flicker against the filthy snow, a thin smile stretching to his lips as he recognized what he had drawn, but could not recall the name of it. A perpetual... wasn't there a word for feeling like you've been somewhere before? Or lived before? Or heard...something...what....?
Soft spikes. Apples. Sometimes he felt like he was forgetting things.
The air was dry and crackling, just like outside, only with the sharp edge of the tinny atmosphere removed by slats and wood, tucking them safely away from the cruelty of the suns. The lone man crept on, smile never ceasing. Oh, he remembered, sometimes, and what he remembered made him shiver with blinding, brilliant ecstacy.
There had never been color, only red, and gold. Mostly gold, because when they slept it caressed the pillows in undulant waves - red because of something...what had it been? Just black, pricked with bleeding specks of light that humans were fond of wishing on, and the cold, hard gray of a metallic crypt. It rocked, thrumming with surreal life ticking by beneath flourescent lights, and he had always hated the constant motion, escapable by anti-gravity rooms where his hair flowed like water, but always there, never ending.
Something about sleeping, people sleeping, so many of them and never going away, never sitting up, never rolling and murmuring like he had always done. He had hated the way they lay like corpses, yet he wasn't allowed to touch or explore, only to stand with sanitized paws against the glass so cold that his metallic breath traced swirls against the surface, beneath the eery, not-quite-dim red lights. She would stand, and smile with pink lips tinged blue by frost, and always promised that they would wake up someday and he could ask them himself all the things he wanted to know. Who were they? Why did they lay like the dead? Were there dreams laced in ice, mirroring their frigid, still bodies?
And always the thick paper volumes, he remembered. Laying in her arms with his....his..... someone's hand in his own, squeezing and tickling and memorizing grubby boy-nails and their matching fingerprints, copied swirl for swirl on one another's palms. He had liked that. It had a 'good' connotation in his brain, was tinted a soft green like someone's eyes, was friendly and.... she had read to them. He knew she had. Not who she was, nor the sound of her voice, nor the words that she spoke, but the blankets had been warm and smelled like some sort of flower, and the boy next to him always smiled and giggled and begged for a few more pages when the cover of the story tamped softly shut.
The man sighed, sending motes crescendoing into the air, dancing and falling still once more beneath the shadowy ruins of rotting shelves. They caught in his hair and stuck, invisible against stark white gold.
Bad things. He had hated the bad things. He had hated the fists and nails and strong-legged blows from those too tall, too broad, too determined to fight against... he remembered the acrid copper taste of fear and blood, rock hard in the pit of his stomach, it was more real than anything else. That and the ache of loneliness for something he could no longer recall.
There were lots of things he sometimes remembered as he stood silent in the shafts of light, breathing in dying leather and the scent of words being rubbed out of the world. He wasn't sure if he liked being here, wasn't sure - but came back, always, just in case he could find out, just in case that one thing he wanted to remember, but couldn't....quite....
He thought he had hated many things, but sometimes they were just too deep in his mind, too far under the accumulated weight of years, decades, generations, for him to understand what they had meant. Sometimes he reached, and reached, and felt his fingertips skitter across nothing but icy gold and the red of something he could not quite recall.
Sometimes he thought that he must have hated too many things, because of all the terrifying memories, because of the unfulfilled need that resided somewhere in his mind, that he couldn't touch, nor understand. Sometimes he felt that maybe, whenever the memories had been, he had loved someone very much.
No. He knew. He had always loved someone very much.
Sometimes he couldn't remember, or was it sometimes that he could?
But the leather and the silent words, they were familiar, just like the most frequently reflected upon portions of his memories. They were still alive, unlike the other things that he kept with him, they still told their tales. He remembered, with the frailty of the 'good' memories, that the books - though he hated them - had been irrevocably touched by the tiny palms he remembered, the warm skin, the soft, expressive eyes.
He paused in his selection. The eyes had been green, and the edges had turned up when the other man smiled, and they had filled with tears spread gossamer thin on eyelids, and he remembered the salty taste of them.... So sweet, those green eyes. The man smiled at his own brilliance and filed the knowledge away to be forgotten again, because hadn't it been so long, too, too long? Since he had gazed into those precious eyes.
Once upon a time. Always started with 'once upon a time'....and ended 'happily ever after', wasn't that right? He wondered if that was true, if everything ended with a happily ever after, as he pushed through another cobweb and peered at the spines on the shelves. Soft coughs broke the silence and his fingers rested for a moment on a promising story and rustled up a cloud of dust. He pulled it free.
There were pictures, lots of them, and he liked that - because somehow he had lost the meaning of the words, and it had been so long since someone had taught him again the truth behind dizzying curls and loops that were meant to tell a tale.
"I want to hear this one," he whispered, and his voice was stale and cold, cracked like the leather of the bound books that surrounded him. He pulled the book against his chest and held it there, breathing heavily with pride, because his decision had been made. Slowly he turned and gazed into the sockets of the other being in the room, with him.
The man smiled, and the dead one smiled back, its eyes black pits in a cracked skull, one metallic arm folded neatly across a book in his lap, one the man must have forgotten to return to the shelf. He reminded himself to remove it and wandered back to the figure, smiling hopefully, stupidly, his thin, luminescent skin stretched over pulsing fingers that twitched with anticipation. "It has lots of pictures. See? Red. And...yellow." He couldn't remember the other colors, but smiled, hoping his companion would not notice. Please read to him. He wanted to hear.
The skull smiled on.
He giggled, the sound was shrill, at the prospect of a good story to help stir the decaying memories in his rotting brain. The dead man looked back at him, always the same, always safe, his secret and only his..... He thought that maybe the man had been important once, and then shook his head - wait - he knew the man was important. Someone....He, himself, yes him - he had promised once, he thought, to always protect the dead man. He would never leave him alone. He had always promised...
His. Only his. He would never leave. Never alone. Never -
The man paused before his friend. He offered the book, and the figure remained unmoving, no trace of apology in its grinning, inhuman expression. Clumsily the man opened the volume, frowning faintly as pages tore loose and melted under his blocky, eager fingers. "Read to me," he begged, blue eyes shining.
There was a grate fastened to the dead man's left rib cage. There were bolts in his back, and a plate in his head. The man had forgotten why they were there, but they made a sort of sadness burn inside of him. He wanted to cry, but he had forgotten somehow, somewhen.
He picked the first page, looked up and pointed, setting the book in the man's lap. Slowly the man (what had his very own name been? Something short and tough, he thought, but no longer knew. It had been a good name, and he had liked it, and felt sorry for not remembered it) settled into the degenerating couch beside the body, smiled thinly. "It's okay if you want to talk soft," he said. "I remember how it starts."
He lay his head against a thin, cracked calve, a bone that was not quite white and almost gray, lazed with deep gashes and scars, tucking his knees up to his chest and clasping his hands with the thin, rock-cold bony remnants of another palm. It was hard against his cheek, but he didn't mind, because he could remember - yes, he could - when it had been soft, and warm, and living, and so he let himself remember, and it was soft once again. "It starts just like... this. Once upon a time..."
"Once upon a time," the boy read, his eyes sparkling with mirth, fingers tracing block letters across the page. "Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he lived in the most beautiful place, a forest full of animals..."
And the other smiled back, proud of his twin for learning to read so quickly, proud of the woman for letting them borrow her soft books, so real and physical instead of the glaring books the monitors displayed. He liked reading the books with the boy he loved.
"And he was so happy there, with streams for swimming, and trees for climbing, and a hollow trunk that was the perfect home... It was his garden, his Eden."
The blue eyed one smiled.
The blue eye one smiled. "And it always ends with happily ever after."