Title: Pricks & Thumbs-18
Fandom: Fear Mythos
Characters: Rich Providence ♂, Laia ♀
Rating: G (L0 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Faintly creepy?
Notes: Fish finally returns to the city, and Laia’s there waiting for him. They try to draw conclusions, before the bell rings.
I finally dreamed again. And there was the city. There was Arowana, the provident fish, the city of dreams. And the black glass of the hotel licked up in rainbows in the corner of my vision, as I walked past. It felt like coming home, if ‘home’ was the remains of a quarter-century decimated civilisation that had vanished in their tracks.
I remembered the dream I had, coming back from The River, where the city came apart, and all the people disappeared from the streets. There was a story in there, somewhere, but I couldn’t even begin to figure out how to tell it, or what it even was. But, I knew it. I knew I knew it, which is kind of weird, under the circumstances. But, it’s like that thing where you dream something that’s super important, in the dream, and then you wake up with that sense of importance, but the dream itself is gone.
And, then I looked up, and I was already standing on the corner. The broom and the hose were where I’d left them, which I wasn’t expecting, and the door was already open. Laia was waiting for me.
I helped her through the door, and we spent a little time just talking about nothing. Just like talking to Jimmy, really, but if Jimmy was my sister. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? I told her how I named the city, and she shouted when I got to the part about The River.
"Did you leave your brain in your other pants? Fish!"
So, then I had to explain about The River and my relationship to it, how I got my name and all that. She got still, just watched me for a bit.
"I wonder…" Her head tilted and she squinted like she was looking right through me. "But, I’m not stupid enough to try!"
"What about you? Your name mean anything weird?" I figured it was a safe question. Anything to get the subject off The River.
"I spent a lot of time in doorways," she said, sort of answering the question. "It’s short for ‘Propylaia’. Father says it means ‘before the door’."
There was something about the way she said ‘father’ that reminded me of the round-faced Librarian. Like maybe outside the dream, we didn’t speak the same language all the time. Or maybe she just has a weird accent. I don’t know. Even in a little town like ours, people’s accents from before survived. Older people could tell where people had been from, before, by how they sounded, sometimes.
"You got a nifty name. I got… Fish." I laughed.
"Look at this city! You can’t tell me fish aren’t cool! We’re standing in the city of the One True Fish!"
"What about your city?" I asked her. "We know the door works for you, but I still can’t get to it. What does it look like? Did you name it?"
She stared into the emptiness in the door, for a while, before she answered. "It doesn’t have a name, yet. Did you see any signs? Anything written in the street, like ‘seek out the armoured fig’?"
I told her I hadn’t. And then it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. If I couldn’t go through that door, but she could, maybe I was supposed to use a different door. But… there were so many doors. But, if Laia was right, the door would be labelled. There would be some sign that it was the door I was looking for.
"Should have named it the City of Doors," I muttered under my breath, looking down the street.
We took a walk through the streets, and I found they had changed. The fog had moved back, and there were more buildings, more roads. Some of them looked like they didn’t quite match up. Almost like bad scars,if a city block could have scars. I took that as my cue to tell Laia about the dream.
"They just… disappeared?" She squinted up at me.
"They faded away." I couldn’t say why it was important, but there was some vital difference between disappearing all at once and fading out of existence over half a minute or more. "It’s like the world changed and they weren’t part of it, any more, because right after that, the city came apart, too."
That still bothered me in whole other ways. Every time I thought about it, I could feel my stomach roll, as if I were riding on every part of the city at the same time. I guessed it explained the scars, though, and I pointed that out to Laia.
"Is someone moving the parts? Are you moving the parts?" She looked around us, eyes lighting on one scar and then another.
I shrugged and shook my head. I didn’t know the answer. But, if it wasn’t me, then who?
"What if it’s The One? Our One?" I asked her.
"Someone must Walk Before Us. But, don’t people usually get clearer messages?" She paused by a scar that ran through the sidewalk and up the side of a building, and her hand twitched, but she didn’t touch it. "What if they are scars? Literal scars. What if this isn’t a real city at all? What if it’s… I don’t know, organic?"
"Then I think we’re in for a mangler of a ride." I whistled and looked down the street, toward the fog. "Hey, what if that’s why I can’t find the door to your city? What if your city is my city, and the parts haven’t met, yet?"
"Met? That’s… I guess if it’s organic." Laia stared into space, her eyes occasionally twitching with the movement of some thought she wasn’t sharing with the rest of the class. "What if we can’t find the door, because we’re walking in the wrong direction?"
She grinned wryly and I laughed. It was a good point. We really didn’t have any proof, just a walk through a corner of what was suddenly a larger space than I remembered it being. I was about to suggest we pick a direction and walk until we got to the intersection before the fog, and then move over to the next street and go the other way, but the bell tolled.
Her eyes got huge.
She lifted off the ground, stretching strangely sideways, like those sap candies the Dryads liked. "Later!" she yelled as she was pulled back toward the door. "We’ll make a map!"
I swear she passed straight through the corner of a building. And then I was alone, in bed.