The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
Victor Kovach’s body was burning. Tristam’s was still and lifeless. Gawain Wight stared at the supine forms in bafflement. What had just happened here? What did it mean? He stood and turned back to the altar, Pam was almost gone, barely a scrap of a soul. He didn’t have to be able to see her face to know she was in agony. The sane thing to do now would be to just run for it- ‘Retreat, regroup and retaliate’ as Thalia would say.
What am I supposed to do here? How can I stop this?
The building was shaking, pitching on its foundations like a ship on a rough sea. The tone of the Monarchs’ roars had changed somehow. What was it he heard in them now? Panic? Anger?
Gawain took hold of Pamela’s shoulders, they felt insubstantial and boneless. There were many incantations that could harm and even more incantations that could fool the senses or contact beings from outside reality. There were just a few incantations that could heal and offer aid- it was the way of the world. Gawain knew just one- it allowed one spirit to draw strength from another.
This could kill me. This could kill both of us. He thought recalled the Summerian chant from memory. He’d never tried this before. He’d never had a reason to.
A wave of light-headedness washed over Gawain, making him feel years older. Pamela began to come back, she was wounded and screaming but she was coming back. Gawain kept chanting watching the outline of the girl fill in, the dark, sweat-streaked hair, the torn clothes, the blood running from her wrists and gut. “Hurts.” she said.
“I know.” Gawain glanced over at his son. There had to be a key in one of those pockets.
The floor pitched, metal and wood bent and snapped. Gawain made his way over to Tristam and started going through his pockets. His son wasn’t breathing. Another one lost to him. Gawain mourned at the thought, He had such potential. I never realized.
The key in hand he made his way back to Pam and freed her. The moment her hands were loose she doubled up, clutching her belly. “Can you walk? We have to get out of here.”
“Why did...” She caught her breath, “Why did Tristam save us? Why did he come back?”
He looked back to the burning corpse, “That was him?”
“You couldn’t see?” Pam got to her feet. Gawain held her arm, helping her keep steady. A rafter gave way and fell from the ceiling, what remained of the Imperial Hotel’s penthouse began to crumble. A section of the floor dropped away with a crash.
“We have to get out of here.” He said again, ushering her to the door.
Pam looked up at him, the hand grasping her gut was stained red from fingertip to wrist, “My baby’s dead isn’t it?”
“I’m not a doctor.” They started moving down the stairway; clumps of bloody garbage were everywhere.
The Monarchs bellowed again. Gawain wasn’t sure if it was a trick of his ringing ears but they sounded more distant now. The building however continued to heave around them, metal squealing, plaster crumbling.
Pam’s hand tightened around his. “I know him.” She said, “That’s Greg.”
At first Gawain thought she was losing her mind but then he looked down and saw a kid there, not much older than his son-
My son is dead.
Greg Fletcher had tried to pull himself up into a sitting position but his right leg was bent at a stomach-twisting angle. He waved fitfully at them.
“What are you doing here?” Gawain and Pam moved to where he was.
Pam answered, “He came with Tristam.”
Greg asked, “Where is he?”
“He’s dead.” Gawain looked back up to the penthouse. The thought was setting in now, starting to hurt. “My son is dead.”
“Are you sure?” Greg asked.
“Can you walk?”
Greg laughed a little, “No.”
Something below them snapped and gave way. Gawain Wight looked around the landing but there wasn’t anything he thought he could make a decent splint with.
Pam asked, “How much do you weigh Greg?”
“Maybe one hundred and sixty pounds.” Greg gave her an uneasy glance.
“Can you carry that much Gawain?”
“Sure.” Gawain said, “But he’s not gonna like it.”
“Do it.” Greg tried to pull himself up.
Gawain turned to Pam, “What about you?”
“I’ll make it,” she said.