What The Thunder Said


i. violet hour

The waves lap softly at the sand, and in the darkness the sea isn't really a colour. Black-green, black-blue, it's impossible to tell. Just a presence, and the whispers of the tide. She walks through it, the water sometimes washing over her feet. The path of the moon is cold, vaguely enticing, and the world for now is dark and silver. She breathes in the night air. Like starlight - far-off, cut-glass. The sea is not of blood, and it isn't boiling over. It's still, it's still, and only the crickets make a noise in the trees off the beach. The moon stains the sand the colour of bleached bones.

ii. much of the night

He lies curled around her, and as he breathes in and out she feels his slight pressure on her back and just that slight movement of her hair. It's rhythmic and calm. He's always got to sleep quicker than her, although she can't say anything about how easily he sleeps - he doesn't talk about his dreams. Fair enough; nor does she. The air's a little oppressive. She drifts in that state between, a semi-sleep where everything is vague and nothing matters, almost oblivious in the red-orange behind her eyelids. Sleep comes, and with it nothing and dark.

Dreams: cigarettes clouding her vision with smoke; and thrown down, bursting into flames. A baby (her baby, the baby) cries and cries and his voice comes from nowhere, because he has no mouth and no eyes and he is faceless. Lost children. Children who wander fields of dust and with blank and pitiless gaze stalk each other through the caves. A small girl stands in front of a small boy, and fixes him with her stare, and he screamsscreamsscreams (it rents the cave apart; stones begin to tumble), runs with black, and is frozen into stone. The girl Medusa turns away, and carelessly notices Scully, who doesn't run, doesn't hide. She's in space, circling, watching them stretch and pierce him. She's on a slab, cold and decaying, and she can't move; someone kneads her flesh. They reach in through the squishy, inelegant mess, and pull out her heart: it's tarred, like the pictures of smokers' lungs, like an oil-slicked beach, like infected skin. It's dropped on the floor in disgust - splat - the black forms a pool and begins to move.

It's not the dreams she minds so much: it's waking up, and knowing they are true. Always there's a minute when she suffocates under the weight, and she thinks: breathe.

iii. red on sweaty faces

Too hot, too fucking hot for this. Which has never stopped anyone before. Sweat dripping down her face, she's astride him and desperate. She kisses him, pushes her tongue inside his mouth and pulls on his lips; as always, she dislikes the feel of the beard scratching her, wishes he would shave it off but knows he can't. His hands are under her shirt (loose, cool, un-FBI) and pulling it off, hers are doing much the same to his. She can feel him hard against her and she fumbles to open his jeans. He pushes inside her, thrusting rhythm beating through and through her, and his hands are large and all over her breasts. Harder. The sounds of heavy breathing are loud in the air, and she comes violently, shocks running through her. She lets out breath, takes in shallow gasps. There's a film of sweat over everything, and for a moment she's content.

iv. unreal

Here newspapers don't come through the door each morning. They don't search for them, because they don't want to know. It helps to lose time; she tries each day to forget the date. Sometimes it works. She doesn't know which is worse, to be counting down from the day, or to be ignorant and just to feel it coming.

They rarely know what time it is, and watch the sun, a return to the first times. The setting of the sun has a different feeling, now: its constancy is no longer reassuring. Sometimes its red light reminds her of apocalyptic visions, though other times its just a picture from countless poems. But you can't drag the sun back through its path; and it's like a cancer, inexorably spreading under the skin.

They rarely know what time it is, and sometimes she questions the point of waking up in the morning, because they've nothing to do. They could sleep through the day and emerge in the night, like vampires, become creatures of darkness. But it seems more fitting to display some semblance of normality.

Nothing to do, and they walk for miles in the heat, they talk as they go. She holds him in her arms and tries to fill his emptiness, though she has nothing to give. They talk sometimes of William, of hope and of despair: she tells him they can survive, and they can fight and nothing must come. That there is no such thing as destiny. These are empty words, but they need to be said. He holds her too, silently, as time passes - tick, tock, tick, tock, the waves taking the place of a clock. Tempus fugit, like sand slipping from underneath your foot, pulled away by the drag of the sea. Scully reads. She talks to the locals and tries to improve her language.

Watching these people go about their lives, seeing the bustle and the troubles; she longs to tell them. She could stand before them and preach, teaching of the horrors that have been and those that are to come; draw down the fire of the gods, perhaps quote Revelations. She always hated evangelism. She would shout to them all of the coming apocalypse, warm of the fire and the brimstone. But nobody likes a prophet of doom, and what good would it do her?

None, except to know that other people could now carry the weight of the world, and perhaps she would feel less responsible.

v. the third

A hole in her existence. The absence which can't be filled. She sees him in the faces of all the children, and when small boys catch the corner of her eye she still turns with an upsurge of joy. There is nothing, there is nothing. When I count, there are only you and I together... one plus one equals three, three minus one equals zero. Science has no relevance. He is a shadow and a ghost at the edge of everything they do, when she turns to look, he is gone. Just a void in the centre of her.

vi. withered stumps of time

In mirrors her hair is long and dirty blonde. She ties it up and sometimes plaits it, and does not look like a scientist. So it is with jeans and long skirts, and loose floating shirts and tight t-shirts and casual shoes and little make-up. She misses the pantsuits, which kept her in, and she misses the hair, which was so striking. How long could hair grow in ten years?

She keeps the gold cross, she holds it in her hands and feels lost. The years contract and the universe expands.

She doesn't think in the language of science. She just lives and dies. Remembers from a faraway world sitting behind a desk and running in heels. There's no running now, only waiting. Because really, nothing matters.

She sits in a small and empty church. Light pours red and gold through the window, and she watches the dancing motes of dust. Christ in the glass is very beautiful, and the atmosphere of holiness is only quiet. The thick stone blocks noise. She floats in the silence - it's thin and enveloping, like mist. The sun is rising higher and the glare falls on the cross in her hand, it sparkles and shoots its light into her eyes and it seems much bigger. The soft hairs on her forearm are bleached by it. The light produces a distorted view. The sun moves again, its light falling on a dusty patch of stone; she refastens the cross around her neck, and the church is only a building.

vii. burning

There will be nothing left. Fire will come from the sky, as if the heavens have opened; people will scream and weep of God's wrath. She will know why, but she will not say. There will be blazes all around, and an acrid smell which will fade to one of death. Perhaps survivors will wander in the ashes. She might be alive, or she might not. They will run, flee from the hunters, which they have done many times before. There will be so much black, oil covering the world. Ozone will be withered away, and the sun will beat down out of a blue sky so pale it's almost white. The earth will be parched and cracking. There will be no water, her tongue will be too dry to form words, she will be pressed down by the oven wind.

Maybe there will be no-one left; if the world falls to nothing and there is nobody to see, does it really happen?

Eventually the towers will grow old and fall, crashing and dry smoke rising where they land. It has happened before. Maybe this will be the last time; maybe no humans again will stand and construct dwellings and temples from wood or stone. If no-one's here to see, does it matter? There will be no life. The barren will stretch on and on, just as it does through most of the galaxy. Most of the universe is empty space, anyway. And she has no idea what will happen.

She watches children playing in the distance. She picks up a handful of sand and holds it in her palm, wishes she could count the grains; lets them trickle through her fingers, red and stone. All the burdens of the world.

What do you want, Sibyl?

I want to die: but she is already dying. She's been dying from the moment she was born, and now she's only dying more. All paths lead to this.

vii. and down we went

The moon stains the shore white, and she sits at the water's edge. Waves lap at her, they could pull her down. It's quiet. She sees him coming, a dark shadow in the faint light, and he sits down beside her. The water surrounds them and brings them together; their hands touch under the cool sea. The moon is very cold, and the stars are only colder, and the night draws on.

Time passes.


inspiration, title, section titles and the occasional quote from TS Eliot's The Waste Land


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