thisfatefulhour: (Hunted across space and time)
[personal profile] thisfatefulhour
October 20, 1983

"It's late." Bradley yawns, slapping his pencil down onto the counter. "If I try one more equation, my head it going to explode."

"Go on," Charles says absently, frowning at the chalkboard he's been working on. "I'm staying here for a few more minutes."

"Charles, it's after midnight. We're in tomorrow. Go back to your room and sleep."

"Just a few more minutes," he repeats.

Bradley rolls his eyes at his lab partner. "When did I turn into the sensible one?"

Charles blinks, and looks over his shoulder with a faint smile. "It's the witching hour. There are more things in heaven and--"

"Whatever." Laughing, Bradley grabs his bag and heads for the door. "Don't stay out too late doing physics."

Charles' snort is cut off by the door closing.

An hour later, Charles finally concedes exhaustion, gathers his things, and heads out himself. His dorm is only four blocks away, but the weather is starting to swing into true autumn, with its biting winds rushing down between the buildings, and four blocks seems like a long way.

A block down Broadway, someone hisses something pleading from the mouth of an alley. Charles pauses in spite of himself, pulling his jacket closer around himself.

"Hello? . . ."

Another indistinct question.

"I can't--" He hesitates, looking around at the unnervingly empty street, and takes a few steps closer to the alley. "I can't understand you. What do you need? Should I call someone?"

The voice whispers again, soft, I need, come closer, help is, andCharles feels his stomach clench with sudden, undefined fear.

He steps forward.

As he passes the mouth of the alley, the smell of something rotting, putrid, assails his nostrils. He gags.

Then a shadowy shape appears in front of him, and he places the stench, and the fear

(that means the enemy)

has a name.

He stumbles backwards, coughing as the smell catches in his throat, and collides with the wall of the alley. The shadow advances, and Charles, in a panic, casts out his senses, trying to find someplace to tesser to. The familiar sense of pressure starts, and he almost relaxes in relief.

Then

              (they are everywhere in the universe)


everything


                                                        (don't let go!)

                                                       shatters

it's all wrong it's all wrong



Something screeches high and triumphant


Suddenly the stench disappears from Charles' nostrils in the face of a cold so deep that it hits like a physical blow

(for destruction ice is also great and would suffice)


He gasps and nothing comes but vacuum

                                                  (O crazy daddy
                    of death dance cruelly for us)


and in one last flailing push he

reaches

and finds

(there's a hell of a good universe next door)


and

                                             (in this fateful hour)


crashes

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Charles Wallace Murry

September 2009

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