In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Eighty Seven
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
It was a sensation of swirling downwards yet spiraling up. She felt the material world settle into place around her. Some part of her, some part of her buried deep inside, mourned the loss of that directionless chaos. She tried to orient herself, her senses returning one by one; there was the December cold settling into her bones, there were the pale white clouds passing overhead doing their best to obscure the sun, then there was the crisp smell of the forest.
And someone was calling her name, “Isobel!”
Isobel knew that voice and she knew should answer but she didn’t want to just yet. For now she lacked the energy to do anything more than lie flat on her back and wait. The sensation of being drawn in two directions continued and with it there was the realization brewing that something about her was about to change.
No. She realized, the change had begun weeks ago, she had just been too busy to notice. A deal had been forged, an agreement she had been a party too even though she could not remember or understand the specifics.
“Isobel!” the voice cried again.
Was that Zeth’s voice following after it, “Where is she?”
A new cloud was working its way through the sky, it was dark and twisted in the air like an exotic kite. As a child Isobel had loved to fly kites with her brother. In truth he had flown the kites while she had watched. She had never the touch to get the damn things airborne on her own but her brother had been an expert coaxing them to rise higher and higher, teasing them into doing tricks.
Growing up she and Warren had shared many adventures but their lives had moved on and she barely spared them a thought until now.
“What is that?” Hao’s voice had moved from concern to outright panic.
Those adventures had given away to tawdry dramas and then to monotony. Needs and responsibilities had replaced wonder. Learning that anger was easier than love had been such an easy lesson.
The tendril of darkness squirmed and twisted in the air. It was growing closer. It looked alive, alive and terrified like a snake in the path of an oncoming car. It was getting lower now, zeroing in.
“There she is!” Zeth’s sharpshooter eyes had seen her first.
“Oh Phalen’s bones...” Hao cried, “Get up Isobel! Get up!”
Get up? What was the use of getting up when the whole world was determined to push her back down again? It was best to stay where she was, to wait and see what happened, to wait and see if she could remember what had been promised to her as she fell towards the Engines of Creation.
Except... had it really been her decision in the end? Hadn’t there been another voice that had first shouted her down and then won her over?
The dark ribbon was speeding downwards, moving and twisting like a bolt of befouled lightning.
The moment was coming now. Her stomach fluttered in terror and anticipation.
Then she was engulfed in a shadow that squirmed and howled.