Sunday, 17 March 2013
11:27:30 AM (GMT)
Darkness, a dull ache just above her right ear which made her head echo painfully.
Where was she? Kari opened her eyes slowly, adjusting to the bright light that was
streaming through the window. She shivered slightly as a cool breeze followed the
sunlight, and she sat up slowly, one hand placed to her head as it rushed, making her
wobble slightly on the bed.
"Tick tock, darling... Hurry up and die..."
Kari squeezed her eyes shut. She had heard that voice before, but couldn't put a
name or place to it. After the resonance had stopped, she opened her eyes again and
looked around. She was in a circular room with a door and a bed in the centre facing
a single window, which had muslin curtains flowing gracefully in the breeze. There
was music too, a simple, haunting melody on the piano. Kari swung her legs around
and stood up slowly as she tried not to stagger. After a moment to steady herself,
she walked towards the heavy wooden door and pushed against it, turning the handle to
allow herself to pass through. Almost instinctively, she followed the sound of the
music down a stone spiral staircase, pausing every so often to look out a window over
a beautiful landscape. It was perfect, everything she'd dreamed. As far as she
could tell, the staircase was inside a tower, meaning that the room she was in was
the top. She must have been so high up... After what seemed like forever, Kari
reached another door, slightly smaller this time, which she opened and stepped
through. The music was much louder here, although not unpleasantly so. How could it
be, with such beauty behind every note?
It was familiar- words from some far off, distant place: "Once upon a time..."
She scanned the room for the piano, and sure enough her eyes met it; a large old
grand piano with a smiling familiar face seated behind it.
"Val..." Kari sighed with relief and started towards him, but stopped when she was
about a meter away. Why couldn't she move any further? "Val..?"
"Maybe he doesn't want you there."
Kari jerked around at the sound of the voice, searching for it's origin. She could
have sworn she recognised it...
"Maybe he just humours you. Who could really love someone so infatuated with him?
It's probably just pity."
Kari took a few steps back from the blissfully unaware figure at the piano and shook
her head, "No... He wouldn't have told me he loved me if he didn't... Who are you?"
A laugh. A painful, echoing laugh. "You don't recognise me, Kari? Useless girl..."
After a few moments of silence, a shape formed in Kari's peripheral vision, causing
her to look over, and stumble back immediately. "Aha, you know me now..."
"W-what are you doing here? Get out! Go away!"
"Now now, Kari, is that any way to speak to your mother? You always were utterly
worthless and ungrateful. I'm surprised you got this far, being so hopeless at
"Leave me alone!"
"I don't need to, sweetheart." The word was mocking, "You're already alone. Look
around. He won't listen, and where's everyone else? They don't care, Kari. They
She shook her head firmly, reeling back until her back hit the wall, "No... No, they
don't! I have friends, and they're the best!"
"So naive... I suppose you mean Salem and Skye? And him?"
Just as Kari started to nod, two more bodies appeared in front of her, their cold
gazes penetrating though what little resolve she had left. Salem smiled
emotionlessly, his eyes dead.
"You really think I could still be your friend? After sixteen years of meaning
nothing to you? Sixteen years, Kari, then that idiot wins you over in one." He was
spitting the words at her, making her flinch back against the cold stone wall. "You
dream too much. You're living in a make-believe world and it's stupid. Blieving
everyone's good and honest. It's pathetic."
Almost on cue, Skye stepped forwards as Salem took one step back, and resumed the
speech, "You can never put yer faith into somethin'. It'll jus' hurt ye. Ye can'
believe in anythin' 'cause it'll snap ye. Look what believin' in us has done to ye.
Yer a bloody wreck. Shakin' and scared." Skye gestured at Kari, laughing blandly at
her as she took something from her jacket- a genie's lamp- and handed it to her,
"G'wan. Rub it. Make a wish."
Kari took it hesitantly and rubbed at it's side. Nothing. She tried again, but it
remained merely a lamp.
"Ye know why it won' work? Cause ye don' believe in it any more. Yer losin' faith,
Kari, an' it's good too. 'Cause in the end, the only person ye can depend on is
Kari lowered her head, shaking from silent tears rolling down her cheeks and Skye
shrugged, taking a step back to stand beside Salem again. The music had stopped, and
footsteps approached; the soft click of wooden heels on the stone floor. A hand
reached forwards, wiping the tears away and tilting her head upwards again. Val
smiled kindly at her, but it was different. So different... Kari said nothing,
afraid of being hurt yet again. This was far worse than any kind of physical torture
she could endure... Far, far worse...
"Don't be sad, Kari. It's not worth it. Being sad only matters if people care
enough to make you happy." He said it so gently, so perfectly that it broke her far
beyond repair, "Now we're all even. We don't have faith in you, we don't believe in
you, and now you don't believe in us either."
"No, please... please stop this..."
"There's nothing to stop, Kari, it's always been this way."
She shook her head, trying in vain to block out his words, "I can't do this... I... I
Val smiled again, reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out an elaborate blade
that glinted in the low light, "You don't have to. End it all, and then you'll never
have anything to believe in again."
She looked up and met his too-kind eyes before glancing down at the dagger. It would
be better, wouldn't it..? She reached out, her fingertips brushing the palm of his
hand as she took it, and Val nodded. "It'll be easy. Do it, and save everyone the
trouble." He smiled and kissed her forehead, "Hurry up, Kari."
He turned the dagger towards her, still smiling and pressed the tip to her chest
before stepping back to join Salem and Skye. Kari closed her eyes, shutting them out
as best she could. Do it. No one will care...
She took a deep breath, and pulled the dagger closer, coughing as the hilt pressed
against her. This was it. There was nothing left. She fell against the wall,
opening her eyes to spare one final look at her friends. They wouldn't miss her.
They were right. Their gazes seemed to finish the job, and Kari stumbled, falling
sideways and cracking her head against the stone.
A silky voice.
"Congratulations, you're alive."