oh come, child, in a cross bones style Who: Fiona What: finding Karin Where: CASKET. Pax. The Island. When: 31 October: the wee hours Warnings: Gore.
She’d left work at the end of the party. Cleaned up her station, been tipped out, gathered her shit. It had been a fucking weird night, and she was glad, in the end, it was over. Even so, she left CASKET without her usual sense of contentment and a job well done.
Things felt... wrong. As she walked out to her car, and saw another, familiar one, she knew why.
But there was no reason to panic, she thought, even as that damned dark voice inside her insisted otherwise. Maybe she and Sean had gotten trashed and gotten a cab. Maybe they’d decided to walk, or go fuck somewhere almost-public.
None of the explanations worked; none made the dark voice shut the fuck up. No. She was missing. She was missing, and she hadn’t gone home early, she hadn’t gone to bed. She felt it, felt her, that dark power, roaring inside her, telling her that something wasn’t right, that TiamatKarinTiamat was lost. Everything inside Fiona went cold.
There was an urgency in her, a rising sense of what might have been panic if something inside her -- something dark and deep and old -- weren’t keeping a firm grip on her somehow.
The drive to Pax went so quickly it almost felt as though it hadn’t happened -- but it didn’t matter.
None of it mattered.
She ran through the lobby, through the back door, toward the shore. Her boots sank into the sand too quickly, and she fumbled, unzipping them as quickly as she could and wrenching them off so hard it might have ached if she’d noticed.
The island loomed almost invisibly in the distance, in the dark.
Fiona swallowed, her fingers curling into fists.
That darkness inside her pushed her onward.
The fake glasses she’d been wearing hit the sand without a sound. She tied up her hair with an elastic from her bag. She slipped her .9mm into the same double-Ziploc that her phone was in, then made sure both bags were sealed tightly, and her bag strapped securely across her chest.
Then she dove in.
Immediately, she was struck by the cold of the water, but it didn’t deter her. Every stroke made that dark voice -- Ereshkigal, it insisted -- stronger and stronger.
She tired. Soon, every stroke took more effort and burned worse. Still, she only swam harder. Her heart was racing, and she knew with total certainty that this was the right direction.
There came a point when she’d all but given up, thinking she’d swim forever and die out there, because Karin was a stronger swimmer than she was, a stronger everything than she was, and she was going to fail, she was going to fail her when she needed her most.
It was that thought that kept her going, that made her almost sob her relief when her feet and knees touched sand and she dragged herself to shore.
In her bag, she found one of the numbered napkins she’d collected that night and dried her hands on it, smearing the ink. She found her phone and through the plastic pressed the button that would let it light her way, but she found she didn’t need it. Every step she took was certain, the way was sure, into the woods, through wet earth and some abandoned place that didn’t matter anymore, or maybe didn’t matter yet.
Ereshkigal was pushing her harder, pushing her harder, berating her.
“Shut the fuck up,” she muttered harshly to herself at the incessant demand of the wordless communication. She tripped over a root; she fell to her hands and knees.
She saw the door, wide open.
Then she saw Karin.
There was no reason to have recognized her. It was just a dark shape face down in the dirt in front of that door. The light of the slender moon didn’t give her more than that. But she knew.
“No,” she whispered, her face crumpling as she scrambled desperately forward, struggling to rise to her feet in the slippery mud, her limbs screaming in protest. It hadn’t rained. There was no reason for it to be this wet. No reason.
She reached for her.
“Karin?” she said in a trembling voice as she shook her shoulder, then turned her over. “Kar?” She pleaded hoarsely. Everything was soaked in darkness, the coppery smell filling her nostrils.
“Kar, please wake up, please,” she said, tears starting to stream down her face. Her body was limp and cold and heavy as stone and wet, so wet, and when she looked down, she realized it was ruined, ruined, and she needed help, and she didn’t know how. The dark voice was silent now, or Fiona had blocked it out as she leaned down to kiss her sister’s muddy forehead, pulling her into her arms.
“Kar, please,” she begged in a whisper. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry... I’m so sorry, Kar...”
She shook her head, wiping her cheeks with the back of a blood-soaked hand, and dug into her purse, fumbling for her phone, wiping bloody mud on the soaked, blurred napkins inside, covering them forever, until she finally managed to get the fucking thing out of the Ziplocs.
Her hand was shaking as she found the number, shaking as she cried and she rocked Karin’s inert form, then pressed “Call.”