New Eden

Scene 5


She was crying. Her chest aching from the sobs, and her limbs heavy from the deep ache in her soul. But it felt fuzzy, like a memory, or a dream. She couldn't see, everything was purple.

Marny twisted, whimpered. She didn't even know why she was crying.

Suddenly, the purple velvet hem came over her head, and she was wadding her gown up and tossing it into her trunk. Her tank top gathered up under her boobs, leaving her midsection goosepimpled with cold.

"You are over-reacting," Eric sounded almost bored as he stood back, watching her, thumbs hooked in his sword belt.

"Fuck you, Eric," she yelled, spit flying from her lips as she slammed her trunk closed. "Just...just fuck you, is all." She yanked her tank down and looked around for her tshirt. It was, of course, in the trunk.

"Really mature, Marn." He turned to the side, letting the street lamps in the parking lot glint off his new rapier. "I have to wonder if this is really going to work, between us. You're just not acting grown up enough."

Fumbling with her keys, she popped the hood open again, grabbed her tshirt, and then paused for a deep breath, looking through the wadded-up tent and other items she'd just thrown in during her temper-tantrum. She had to get control of this, or it was just going to keep happening. "This isn't going to work, Eric. Because you had your tongue down someone else's throat. This isn't going to work, because you had your hand up her skirt, Eric." She yanked her shirt over her head, and closed the trunk in her best calm, adult manner.

Marny's eyes rolled, her mouth filling with saliva. What she wouldn't do right now for all of the gear in that trunk.

"This isn't that kind of relationship, Marny." Eric said, with that heavy, disappointed sigh that used to just crush her world.

"This isn't any kind of relationship, Eric." Marny answered, getting into her car and starting the engine. Tears still running down her face, chapping cheeks already stinging from a bit of sunburn, she pulled out of the gravel lot and away from the site. Barrelling down the dark, rural highway, she made her escape plans. Maybe she would quit her job and move; it wasn't like she had tenure yet. Just cash in a CD, pull up stakes, and bail. At the very least, she would find a new medieval reenactment group to play with; no more Sir Eric and Lady Josephine for her. Though, to be fair, if it wasn't Lady Jo, it would be Mistress Ellen, or Dame Mary, or... the supply of heavily-bosomed women willing to play with the studly stick-jock type was pretty endless.

Marny whimpered. She remembered this part, somewhere in her mind. And she wanted to relive it even less than she wanted to get back together with Eric.

A bright light suddenly flooded the car. Brighter than a whole caravan of old drivers with their brights on. Marny squinted, raising a hand to shade her eyes, trying to see. The whole cab of her car seemed to fill with light, so much that it seemed to take on a physical presence in her car. She took her foot off the gas and slowly tamped down the break. She couldn't see enough to keep going forward, but she wasn't sure she should stop, either. The light surrounded her, held her in a warm but increasingly smothering grasp.

Her mind goggled as her car stopped. How could light touch her? How could the light touch her and lift her? And now her car just didn't seem to be there any more. She was floating. Her body didn't feel real any more, didn't feel like all of the parts belonged to her. And then there was a face--

Marny jerked up, every muscle in her body cramping, her lungs gulping in the chill air of the cave. Her heart literally felt like a bird trying to get out of a cage, pounding against her ribs. Around her, the others snored, mumbled in their sleep. Quiet, soft, night sounds. Outside, the double moons had begun to set, sending cold light through the waterfall curtain into the cave. Enough light that she could see the forms around her well enough to identify them. And she couldn't see Dick in his usual spot next to her.

Frowning, she tucked her legs under her and stood slowly. On quiet feet, she moved forward along the lines of sleeping bodies, slipping toward the waterfall gate and out. She paused, just outside of the waterfall, breathing in the cool, moist air and looking around the central grounds. The bakers were up, yawning in the early morning, getting the fires stoked in the ovens and working on the dough for the first bread of the day. Marny took a moment to be thankful both for their work, and the fact that she wasn't on the baking crew.

She found Dick over by the fire pit, slowly feeding the seed of the bonfire. "Hey, Alison. Where did the fire guard go?" she asked, wrapping her arms around herself and walking up.

Dick looked up, and gave her a warm smile. "He was asleep on his feet, so I sent him in to bed." He patted the spot on the stone next to him.

She smiled and sat. "They probably don't have any coftea ready, do they?" One of the good finds from their use of local flora and fauna was a leaf that, when dried and brewed like tea, tasted remarkably like coffee regular. And it seemed to pack an ideal caffeine punch. Which likely kept half of them from killing the other half with their bare hands. The smokers were still out of luck, however.

Dick shook his head, tossing another strip of bark onto the small kernel of fire. "Not yet."

"So, couldn't sleep?" She reached her fingers toward the small circle of warmth coming from the fire. The humidity made the mornings seem so cold, but they'd all be dripping sweat soon enough.

"Nah," Dick shook his head with a chuckle. "It's too quiet without the Crying Girl."

Marny had to think a minute to figure out who he meant. "Oh, Amber." She nodded her head. They had finally chosen a volunteer to go live with and help Ted and the pigs. Marny would like to think it was because they'd felt Amber's meek demeanor and willingness to follow direction had been why she was chosen; but she couldn't deny that ridding themselves of the girl's constant snivelling hadn't played a part in the nomination. "You know, she had two young children, in the before. She was a stay-at-home mom. They were her whole life."

Dick gave a rather heartless shrug.

Marny blinked. "Ouch," she whispered.

Dick shook his head, reaching out to pat her knee somewhat awkwardly. Some day, perhaps, the gesture would relax and become familiar; right now it just wanted to be. "I didn't mean it like that, except where I did. I mean," he pushed out a frustrated sigh. "We were all someone, somewhere, in the before. For some it was good, and hard to leave. Maybe those of us who are doing the best here, are coping better because what we left behind wasn't the best. But, sweet binary, all that woman did was cry. All the time." He chuckled. "I didn't think she would ever stop. And, now that she's not here, it's just too quiet."

Marny's answering chuckle came flat, not because she didn't understand, but because she remembered what woke her up. The bird in her chest started to beat its wings again. She let the silence spill out between them.

"Do you remember the before?" she spoke finally, her words barely a whisper.

"Sure." He gave a careless shrug, still staring at the fire. Once the fires in the ovens were blazing, they would bank this down to just coals. But they were terrified of losing the flame.

"No, I mean like right before the before." She gulped. "I think I dreamed... I mean, that I remembered while I was dreaming... I think I know what happened."

Dick stopped what he was doing and turned to her. "What do you mean, Marny?"

She took a deep breath, tried to get the bird back on its perch again. "I was asleep, and dreaming about a fight that I got into with... someone. It was right before...I think it's what happened, before I got here."

"Okay," Dick said, nodding his head.

"Dick, I think that maybe... aliens brought us here." She started talking all in a rush, so that he didn't interrupt her. "I remember driving away, driving down a rural road. It was late at night. And then all of the sudden there was this light. I can't describe it. The light was heavy, and it made everything else go away."

She paused and shook her head. "Jesus, I sound crazy. I know it. But there was this face. And it scared me, so bad, to remember it, that I woke up from the dream. I know the fight was real, and leaving the event. I know that's a memory."

She reached out and took his hand in hers, the muscles in her fingers standing out like a bodybuilder posing. "Dick, what if aliens abducted us all and brought us here?"

Dick put his hand over hers, and gave it a pat. And then he shrugged. "What if?"

Marny blinked. "No, you don't understand--"

"Yeah, I do." He shrugged again. This was becoming a rather maddening habit. "What does it matter, Marny, how we got here?"

She blinked twice.

"Will knowing change what chores we have to do today to survive? Will knowing get us back to the before?" He looked down at their hands clasped together. "Would you even really want to go back? Now?"

"Huh," she said, her shoulders slumping and the bird in her chest dozing off to sleep.

"What does it matter if it was God, or aliens, or a government conspiracy that put us here. We're here." He held his breath as he slipped his arm around her. "Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't mind if they dropped a hardware store down somewhere in walking distance; but I don't think I'd want to go back."

"Really?" she asked, settling into his arms with a sigh. She could hear his heart, fluttering a bit, like it had awoken to the restless bird in her chest.

"Could you sit at a desk for eight hours a day? After living like this?" He chuckled, the vibration spreading through her body like the world's best massage. "This may be hard work, it may be dangerous. And I may be crazy for saying this. But I've never felt more alive in my life, and I don't want to go back. Ever."

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