Two moons over, p.17
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       Two Moons Over, p.17

           Levi Shipley
 
just a little drawn to them and fascinated by them. They had orchestrated Chrissenian liberation operations with no success. Whatever they were doing, he was glad that they never came to Redora to bother him, and yet he was also hoping they would.

  He didn’t understand what about them he liked. He thought that it might be their youngest, a woman named Salina. Men ogled her when she made an appearance on a report if only a photo. Cecil supposed he might have that same feeling within him. He was also certain that her beauty was ephemeral, and that her heart and soul were of the most malign nature. And something about her made him feel younger, though Cecil knew he was already young. It was an odd sensation, and he guessed he’d developed some form of psychosis. But he reasoned that two years without sleep could also be the cause.

  Two

  A storm had come over the mountains to the east one day. There was nothing unusual about it. Often on days like this Cecil would go out to The Point at the base of the foothills and see if the lightning would strike him. On this day it did, three times to be exact. And the results were the same, none. He would laugh as the sleet pelted his cheeks and his hair stand on end. But this was a day that would change his normal pattern. From the core of his skull he felt something welling up, like his brain was expanding out from the center.

  He fell down the steep path leading up to the crest. His body rolled and struck every rock on the way down. The base of The Point met him with mud. He laid there bracing the sides of his head, the only hurting part of him. As Cecil’s pain began to ease, he felt an urge to clutch his chest but didn’t. His eyes were shut out of reflex, and he opened them both as if he were afraid he’d forgotten how to. He couldn’t see the mud he wallowed in. Instead, he saw himself reaching to unfamiliar ground to pick up a very peculiar looking lantern in a forest. He had no control over the body that he watched, but he felt as if it were smaller than the one he was currently using. He wondered if this was a younger him. But before he could ponder too intently, he looked up and saw some kind of monster looking back at him. For a moment he saw a female wolf dogman staring into his eyes, but she wasn’t a dogman. Cecil didn’t know how he knew she wasn’t only that he knew. He found her stare convicting and horrifying. She grinned, revealing a row of unhealthily sharp fangs. He was certain that she would lunge forward and kill him in this strange wood.

  The pit returned and he was screaming. It had been a long time since Cecil had dreamt against his will and even longer since he had a nightmare. He was covered in mud and completely unaware of it. Seeing that a lantern did not lie next to him, he sighed in relief. He stood up and noticed the mud caked on his skin and clothes. He didn’t bother to rub any of it off, as he had almost no care for his possessions as it was.

  Three

  From there he went south. There was a place he went to every night to practice. It was almost midnight, and he had to work in the morning. But when you didn’t sleep, eight in the morning felt pretty late. So he carried on as usual.

  He knew that a few people from town had seen him come out here, but since no one had bothered to bring it up to him he never bothered to either. A single dead oak tree was amongst a sea of the living. He had broken a strong branch from it and proceeded to attack the dead thing every night. This time calmed his nerves and made him feel whole. He couldn’t explain why, but he knew that a piece of him was missing. Somewhere in all the chaos was Cecil’s fulfillment. This little exercise brought him closer to it, or so he thought. And maybe someday he could be a swordsman with the Leviathans, but he thought not. Something about the guards didn’t sit right with him, but he supposed that could be another sleep problem.

  The branch he’d been swinging for a week now finally broke as he delivered a terrifying, yet useless, blow to the oak. With all its limbs used up, he would have to move on, again. Cecil took this note to call it quits. He wasn’t tired, and never was, but perhaps he was bored. This suddenly felt to him like a waste of time, but he knew he had enough time that he couldn’t help but waste some of it.

  As he walked back into town toward his apartment, Cecil decided that a vacation would do him some good. It wasn’t like he hadn’t the troths to take one. He never bought food or drink, and he never wasted money on controlling the temperature of his room. A fund had been set aside to buy a real sword someday, a crystal one that even he couldn’t break. But now that venture seemed silly to him. He resolved he would take a leave from work. They didn’t need him, not in that season. Perhaps it would help to set his mind right again.

  He took a shower with the coldest water he could. Sometimes he used the hottest, but it was warm that night and he assumed he might be warm. He toweled off and fought a juvenile urge to shake like a dog. He then brushed his teeth, mostly because he liked the minty taste of it. As he did, he had a chance to see his shirtless body. Perfect. No signs of emaciation, which he should be well past by now. There were no bruises from his earlier tumble and no burns from the lightning. Not that anyone else had ever seen him without full clothing, but it bothered him to see it. Not because he didn’t like being in shape but because it only added to his confusion. He fixed that right up by throwing on a t-shirt and some jeans that were a bit large on him.

  He spent the rest of the night laying on the apartment roof and watching the moons, one of his favorite forms of respite.

  Four

  The week passed by slowly as they always did. He bought a ticket to Mirwa, which was a small vacationer city a few hundred trots north of Redora. His employer encouraged the break, which gladdened Cecil. However, two days before he would board the rusty end of an old locomotive, there had been a prison break in Fraushein. The former governor of Chrissenia, Partheus, escaped and not without inside and outside help. When something like that happened, travel routes slowed down to comb for fleeing suspects. And even though Fraushein was half a continent away, Cecil knew he would be held up for some time before and after boarding. At least he wasn’t an elf, as Partheus supposedly was.

  Downtown Redora, (if you could say Redora was even large enough to have a downtown) where the station was, rarely had any congestion. Now however, Cecil thought he might be getting in line for free beer and burgers for life, as if that would do him any good. The seldom used steel line markers were being used, and from where he stood behind the station gate nearly outside its property he could see a very long snaking path of travelers leading up to the passenger train. Cecil didn’t even think there were enough people in Redora to make up this line, at least not enough that needed to go somewhere during the dry season.

  But he waited. Time was a luxury he had too much of. After a few hours of taking a single step at a time, he arrived at the security check. Cecil was patted down, questioned by an aemon guard, and laughed at by a little boy after almost tripping on a suitcase. He showed his ticket to the conductor and was delighted to find out that he was upgraded to a class better than Peasant Fare. The food would be better, which didn’t matter, but also the smell would be improved. Cecil accepted this and boarded.

  Five

  He took a seat by a window on the right side. For the moment he was alone in his row. There were two empty seats next to him, then the isle followed by three more seats on the opposite side. In those seats across from him were two aemon, one male and one female, and an empty seat by the window. Cecil paid them no mind and began to look out his window with growing anticipation. The glass was a bit dirty, as could be expected, but was more than clear enough for him to see the foothills. From behind him he heard a man grumbling about the wait. He had to be at least five rows back and whispering, but Cecil heard him as if he were sitting beside him.

  Cecil meanwhile gazed out the window. All sound around him seemed to become muffled as he fell into his thoughts. His mind drifted back to the Wolves. Now that he thought of it, Salina was not so far beyond the other two females in looks. And he’d seen models on commercials, an
d many of them were more appealing. Though he supposed the models were heavily coated in make-up, and they always had the right light. But if it wasn’t a physical attraction, then it had to be something else, something deeper. The idea terrified Cecil, but he did not know why.

  Six

  By the time he moved on from this thought, the train was moving. He realized that he did not see it take off and knew it might have been moving for some time now. The window showed him that they’d yet to pass the mountains, as he could still see the foothills.

  No sooner did he process this than his vision was obscured by absolute darkness, and the cab’s inner lights flicked on immediately thereafter. They had entered a tunnel. This one in particular ran under Bishop Summit from one end to the other. It was miles long and would take a few hours to get through since trains always slowed to a crawl in such tunnels. There was no way to communicate with the outside world in here, and a minor problem could turn into a disaster. So let them take their time.

  Most of the passenger slid blinds over their windows. Not so that they couldn’t see the dark, as there was nothing to see. But because there were things out
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