|Rafael Atala (freyr) wrote in paxletalelogs,
@ 2017-11-27 12:39:00
all my ghosts came a'calling
Who: Rafe, with a brief Obed cameo.
When: Tuesday, November 14th, 2:45 a.m.
Warnings: Assault, drug use.
Rafael had not enjoyed a full night's sleep since the party. At first the nightmares had focused on what had actually happened there: Gabe—Xochipilli—slipping into the quicksand, sinking down to his shoulder, grasping up toward his friend. But with time, rather than easing, the nightmares turned to what might have been. Over and over Rafael watched Xochipilli and his beloved vessel disappear beneath waves of hungry earth, crushed by falling palm trees, or drowned in flung food and stamped into the earth by dancing tipua. The moment he closed his eyes he heard the hissing of a great serpent and the low popping of superheated metal as it shifted and sparked. More than once he woke in a cold sweat, trembling in his lonely bed, damp sheets twisted around his ankles.
The cocaine returned as a simple coping mechanism following the failure of melatonin, Benadryl, NyQuil, and booze—in that order, blessedly not simultaneously—to provide any relief. If he could not sleep, Rafael reasoned, then he would sleep as little as possible. He tried to moderate his use, at least, restricting it to working days alone. At first this resulted in far better sleep when he was sober, but this respite lasted only a week. And then they returned. In force.
Rafe had fallen asleep on the sofa, the dim glow of the aquarium the only light in the room. He awoke to that same glow, a bluish tint that made the entirety of the room seem underwater. He shuffled into the kitchen, supposing a glass of red wine would further aid the combination of NyQuil and Xanax already coursing through his system. He poured himself a glass and drained it in a single go. He poured a second. He paused as a sound carried to him: His front door had opened, and footsteps followed close behind. He finished pouring, then padded back into the living room.
His voice echoed in the empty room. His brow furrowed; his smile faded. Once he moved deeper into the living room he could hear a soft stirring in his bedroom. What might have seemed strange were he sober did not now feel so much so. The hallway seemed to stretch long before him. His bare feet did not want to move, and yet he forced them to do so. A drawer in his bedroom opened and closed. He heard a quiet humming in a voice he knew too well; his guts turned to water, his knees weakening just as he reached the doorway.
Abel stood there, a black leather belt hanging from one hand. His slow grin seemed to light up the dark room. Rafael mumbled something, but the words did not register even as he spoke them. Abel advanced on him, and still Rafael could not move. There was nothing hurried about his attacker's motions: He moved like a predator who knew its prey was caught, confident and calm to Rafe's scurrying, slipping heels. The wine glass dropped from his grasp. Wine spattered the walls like bloodstains. Rafe fell hard. His chin bounced off the floor. He spat blood as he clambered to his hands and knees, but Abel was atop him before he could rise.
His breath fled him in a single gust as Abel's weight settled over him. He clawed at the hardwood flooring, crawling even as he felt the noose tighten around his throat. One nail caught in the seam between two polished boards. The nail broke down to the quick, sending droplets of blood to the floor and a wave of nausea flooding over him. Cold metal pressed to the nape of his neck. Multicolored stars burst across his vision.
Rafael pled, bargained, and cursed, but none of it helped any more now than it had before. He had managed to drag the both of them to the very edge of the living room, Abel still atop him, but after all his fruitless exertion he lacked the breath to even call for help. Another nail had broken and still his hands were hooks dug into the hardwood in a futile effort to claw his way further toward safety.
Then another hand reached down. Ghostly pale, unnaturally thin, and clad in draping black cloth, at first it did not appear to be the lifeline for which Rafael had so desperately prayed. But he followed that slender limb upward and saw a familiar face, one which looked far more welcoming, though no less somber, than Rafael remembered it. He reached up and took Obed's hand, letting himself be lifted from the floor. There was no weight on him any longer; no-one else in the hall with them at all. The spilled wine remained, as did the belt, still coiled where it had apparently fallen. Rafael turned, blinking blankly down at the floor.
With the immediate danger past, Rafe slumped against the wall as tremors began to rack his body. Bone-deep sobs soon followed, broken up in parts by a steady stream of prayers he had thought he had forgotten.
He awoke with a start, one leg kicking out so hard it struck the coffee table. Sweat soaked the sofa's cushions beneath him. He pulled a hand through his wet hair, sweeping it back from his face. He was shaking, still, but a single glance into the hallway confirmed his suspicions. No glass, no belt, no blood, and yet Rafael felt anything but relieved. He strode into his bedroom—undisturbed, of course—and into his closet, rifling through a stack of folded clothes until he found what he sought. Only a few precious bumps remained, and even as Rafe told himself he would ration them wisely, he went into the bathroom and used the rest of his supply to make a series of thick rails and do each one in rapid succession.
Breathing deeply, Rafael folded his legs beneath him on the bathroom tile. He sat leaned against the wall, his head tilted back as he felt the last of his supply tear through him, and tried desperately to think of nothing at all.