Author's Note – Brace yourselves. This one isn't exactly about sunshine and lollipops. This story is sort of freaky. It wasn't on my upcoming stories list pretty much because I didn't know it was coming up until about an hour ago. I had listened to the song 64 Little White Things by Cake Bake Betty earlier that day and had just seen the movie Rio. Not a bad movie, but I was a bit 'happy-endinged out,' if you know what I mean. As soon as I got out of the theatre, I was itching to get my hands on a pencil (or in this case, a keyboard). So I wrote and… this monstrosity occurred. Interpret that as you will. To better preserve the mood of the story, I refrained from putting an author's note at the end, which is why this one's so long. Oh, and I nearly forgot – Review, review, review! Well, I say it once again – Brace yourselves. This one isn't fun.
Warnings – Implied character death, insanity, depressing writing, creepy quotes.
Disclaimer – I don't own MBS or any of the characters or Rio de Janiero or 64 Little White Things or Cake Bake Betty. Phew!
~Bones and Babies~
Get. Me. Out.
I need to flee – to leave this place of death and suffering. Why am I here? What purpose could this possibly serve?
Surrounded by the dead. My friends. My enemies. What does it matter? All lie, cold and unmoving, upon the charred remains of Rio de Janiero.
I run. Run, as far away as I can, from this town – this city – of the dead. As my feet leave ash swirling in the hot breeze, the faces of the dead flash before my eyes.
Reynie. Constance. Sticky. Milligan. Martina. Curtain. Matthew. Bludgins. Hertz. Mr. Benedict. . Miss Perumal. Rhonda.
They will never return. Their bodies will decay here, their bones will be bleached by the sun here, the jungle will grow on their dust here. And all because of me.
Tears begin to fall from my eyes, already watering from the smoke hanging thick and heavy in the air. Too in shock before, now I let myself feel the pain, the pain, the terrible, crushing, maddening guilt that is mine.
Swimming in front of me, Reynie, happy and clever and brave, appears. He smiles at me.
"It's all right, Kate," he says. "We know you didn't mean to."
"No!" I stop running, staring stricken at Reynie, who advances. His face warps, becoming the cruel, sneering face of Martina Crowe.
"Nice one, Wetherall." Her voice is like ice – like it was back in the Institute, back when we were both children… But I am a child. I am only nineteen. Nineteen, and responsible for the destruction of a city, for the deaths of my friends…
"Kate! Kate, RUN!"
"I can't leave you! The parade will start any second!"
"GO, Kate! We can stop them in time. You need to tell Number Two and the others that –"
And then the world exploded.
"You killed us all. At least now you won't have to carry –" The face before Kate warped and twisted again, this time forming the face of slightly pudgy nine-year-old girl, " –Me around anymore. You hated me right from the start, didn't you?"
"I didn't. I didn't hate you!" My voice was cracked and broken, both from the explosion and from the horror of what I had caused.
Constance Contraire laughed and spoke with Marina's cold voice, "Liar! You didn't want me at all. In fact, you wanted to leave me behind! I saved your life, and you killed me, Kate Wetherall. You killed me!"
"No," I whisper so quietly that not even I can hear. "No, please."
Somehow, the bizarre specter before me, now in the form of Mr. Benedict, hears me and laughs again. But instead of Mr. Benedict's dolphin-like giggles, a horrible squeal issues from his mouth. "Please what? Please stop telling you the truth? But I thought that you liked the truth, Kate Wetherall. I thought you liked it when people told the truth."
I was cowering from this mutated version of Mr. Benedict. Who was this? Not even Mr. Curtain was as cruel, and not even Mr. Benedict knew me well enough to know what hurt me most. "I do!" I scream.
"You do? Well if you like it, then let me give some to you. You killed everyone that you know and love, not to mention thousands of other people who lived in this city. Pure, complete, truth!" He spat the last word at me like it was poison, and indeed it was.
"NO!" I was up on my feet again, stumbling blindly away, away, away from this burned city, away from these dead people, away from the daemon who tortured me with its evil words.
As I run, I feel arms, soft and reassuring, clasp around me. Milligan? But the face above me is not my father. The person holding me has features sharp and deadly, and has fire where hair ought to grow. Death has claimed me.
Number Two looked over the city of Rio de Janiero from her perch. Seated high above the trees in an old stone tower, she kept a careful eye out for Reynie or one of the other members of the party that had ventured into the streets.
She sat in a rather uncomfortable position, with Kate's spyglass in one hand and a jar of dried apricots in the other. Her neck was bent at an annoying angle, her back ached form the knobbly stones behind her, and Moocho attempting to learn how to play a set of bongos he had recently acquired certainly didn't help her pounding headache.
That's when she saw the fire break out. One of the taller building had started pouring smoke and flames, and it looked like the fire was spreading to where the festivals were about to start – and to where the group was. Then a nearby gas station had exploded, sending shrapnel and fire everywhere.
"Moocho! Get up here!" The moustachioed man arrived, panting slightly, at the top of the tower a few minutes later.
"What's… going… on?" he asked, gasping for breath. Wordlessly, Number Two pointed at the mushroom cloud now forming over the city. Moocho's eyes widened with sudden understanding. "Kate and the others!"
Number Two nodded and stood up. "We have to save them! We have to warn them about the fire!"
And then Rio de Janiero exploded. More specifically, the parade grounds of Rio exploded. A huge fireball could be seen stretching into the sky, turning the grey clouds an ominous black. When the shockwave hit, it was enough to rattle their teeth.
When the shaking stopped – and Moocho and Number Two had regained their feet, both having flung themselves onto the floor with their arms held protectively over their heads – Number Two looked horrified. "What happened?"
Moocho was shaking his great head, as though trying to charm a snake. "I… I don't know. Do… do you think Kate and the others survived that?"
Number Two looked out over the smoking crater that had once been a flourishing city. "I don't know. We should check for survivors."
Moocho agreed, and with that decided, they set off down the narrow dirt road that led to the city – or what was left of it.
When the two arrived, hot and sweaty, they stopped dead in their tracks. The city was gone. In its place lay a blackened mess of charred wood and burned fabric. Smoke lay thick upon the air, and here and there a crumpled heap could be seen among the wreckage… Men? Women? Children? It hardly seemed to matter now.
The two adults decided to split up, increasing their odds of finding a survivor. At the next place where a street had once been, Moocho turned left, Number Two right.
Number Two had been walking for what seemed like hours – a mere ten minutes in truth, however – when she saw something stirring through the haze.
She drew a bit closer, and saw that it was Kate.
Kate had fallen to her knees and was shielding her head from some unknown foe, or perhaps trying to keep the smoke out of her lungs. "I do!" she yelled brokenly. Then she twisted, turned, writhed upon the ground. "NO!" she screamed, and it was horrible to hear the terror present in the normally cheerful and confident voice of Kate Wetherall.
Kate got to her feet once again and began staggering towards Number Two. Number Two ran forward and embraced the girl, hugging her tightly, not understanding why Kate was screaming as though she was being hugged by the devil but glad that she was alive to scream. At least one of them survived, Number Two thought.
But what made Kate scream so? Confused, Number Two released her and carefully scrutinized her face. It was covered in grime and tears, but that didn't bother the older woman much. What bothered her was the frenzied, wild, crazed look in Kate's eyes.
What had happened? What was wrong with Kate?
"Get me out of here!" I scream at Death. "PLEASE! They said I killed them! I killed them! Please, take me away! PLEASE!" Death doesn't seem to comprehend. Death releases me and looks at me closely. Death's flame-hair whips around in the hot wind fanning the fires –my fires – all around us.
"What's wrong, Kate? What happened?" Death speaks with Number Two's voice. That means that she's dead too!
Everyone I know is dead. Everyone. And it's all my fault.
I scream. I scream and scream, and my eyes rove burned city trying to find a way out, a way out of the city full of death and fear and my body writhes and twitches in helpless terror and the scream goes on and on and on…
Come and get me out of this town now,
Come and save me.
Come and rescue me from this giant hotel full of bones and babies.
– 64 Little White Things, by Cake Bake Betty