Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): A Heart Full Of Dust Part Seven

The Nick Of Time

(and other Abrasions)

A Heart Full Of Dust


Al Bruno III


Vagabond guessed he was alive because being dead simply could not hurt this much. Lily knelt at his side, wearing nothing but his tattered, bloodstained shirt.

He blinked, it was pitch dark save for the bluish light of Lily's screen. They were in some kind of a tent but the walls were sagging inwards. Rhea was lying next to him, her breathing shallow, her eyes closed.

A smile spread over Lily's face, “You're awake. Thank goodness, I was afraid I'd lost you.”

“When I wouldn't let you talk- were you trying to tell me that the fire was getting close to the grenades you had stockpiled?”

She nodded sadly.

“How badly am I hurt?” he screwed his eyes shut, afraid to look.

“Some burns, a lot of cuts.”

“Is everything still where it's supposed to be?”


“Nothing bent or jutting out at odd angles?

“Don't worry.” she said with a girlish giggle, “I checked you all over.”

He looked down, “Where precisely are my pants anyway?”

“They caught fire.”


She shrugged, “It's like you always used to say, every time you get mixed up with the Monarchs you end up being near an explosion.”

The walls sagged in further, a ripping sound filled the tent. “Well just once it would be nice to be wrong,” Vagabond sat up.

“Yes,” she smiled, tracing the line of his jaw with her fingertips, “except usually the explosions are caused by you.”

A trickle of dirt began to seep into the tent, filling the gap between Vagabond and Rhea.

“Lily, where are we?”

“There was a storm coming so I pitched a tent.”

“But, wasn't all your equipment destroyed in the blast?” he looked around the tent for something to cover his nudity with.

“Oh it was, but mother buried a few things around the perimeter of our home just in case.”

“Really?” he settled for the corner of the sleeping bag that he and Rhea were sharing.

“Mother may hate you but you sure as Hell taught her the six P's.” her fingers left his jaw and began tracing patterns along his shoulder.

Vagabond nodded, “Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

“Mother won't hurt you now, you saved our lives.”

“I can speak for myself.” Rhea sat up.

Lily made a squeal of surprise, Vagabond scrambled to get the sleeping bag back over the more embarrassing parts of his anatomy.

“And now they have the Xenon Splinter,” she stared at her bandaged stump emotionlessly.

Vagabond said, “You hid it there?”

Lily crawled between them, “I hate to break this up but there is a storm out there and our tent is about to give way. If either of you are interested in survival let's do something here!”

“You're right my daughter, as always.” Rhea raised herself up to her knees, “Link hands and I'll get us out of here.”

“I don't suppose there's time to find me a pair of pants is there?” Vagabond asked.


The hole in the tent's roof widened, a waterfall of dust poured over them. As gingerly as he could, Vagabond took hold of the older woman's bandaged stump.

“It's not going to bite you know.”

“What?” he shot Rhea a disbelieving look.

“Grab hold you little imbecile or you'll fly apart the second we hit the Maelstrom.”

Vagabond tightened his grip.

For a moment they all sat there in silence, slowly being buried alive. Then Rhea spoke, her eyes rolling back, “Paradinis Dellfah Lacht.”

A gentle tingling began to work its way over Vagabond's body, a ticklish current that rode his every pulsebeat.

“Paradinis Dellfah Lacht.”

He stared at Rhea, it was as though she was turning into a ghost right before his eyes. She was fading into a gray haze blur.

“Paradinis Dellfah Lacht. Mondat Onret Yarinnesh.”

The monochrome blur began to work its way up his and Lily's arms. And everywhere the haze traveled, it replaced the prickly sensation with an all-consuming numbness.

“Hey.” Lily said, turning to look at him even as she was fading away, “Don't be scared.”

“Who me?”

She grinned as her monitor head faded away, leaving her smile for last.

The haze consumed his vision, Vagabond closed his eyes and still saw gray.

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