Runic - Sempiternal Solo

Young violinist Lola Pern is starting to realize how far one can go in order to perfect something, in every sense of the world. A song from the past haunts every corner of her life, one that has made for a dramatic turmoil as she gets thrown into a whimsical nightmare of violence and beauty. With only one way out, she revisits a point in time when every mistake was met with travesty in hopes of bringing closure. However, altering such forces is bound to be dangerous, and with a childhood as fragile as hers, the risks can cost dearly.

Novel Website - https://www.crimsos.org/sempiternalsolo

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3. Chapter 3 - Bring Me Blasphemy

 

 

"...To put things into context, the realm of Yevital manufactures more stained glass products than Grove, Zesh, and Druantia combined..."

-A lecture given at Gerenham's economy department-

...

The apartment room didn't notice that someone had entered, its mouth opening without even the slightest click as the door lock slid back into place. At last, Lola was barricaded from the outside world, away from dolls and lights and icy prisons. Yet, her hand remained clamped on the door knob, squeezing it until each finger became brittle sticks of bone that could snap if just a little more force was applied. After an eternity of standing there, forcing her legs to stop electrocuting themselves, she was eventually able to grip onto reality and hold it close, backing away into the living room. Each murmur her heart pumped sent thick liquid through their capillary tracks, scalding cold, and pronounced enough so that each one was felt, beating every millisecond, then every half second, then every second, coming down from its high.

She sat tiredly on the kitchen counter, head in hands, but those hands would not cease their jittery dance, even though her heart had resumed a normal rhythm. Both of them had been injected with an imaginary syringe full of caffeine, unable to function no matter how much her brain screamed to get their attention. Even though the violin had been placed far away on a shelf, she could still feel its unliving glare bleed through its case, through the dresser's wood, and give her backside the prickling sensation of acupuncture.

Lola unveiled her eyes, and expected the dim light to at least give some notion of reassurance, only to find that it brought nothing but soft, uneven rays on her face. So, with a weighted sigh, the girl decided to push every emotional spike aside and indulge a little in some homemade pleasures. Perhaps if she put some food into her system, changed clothes, and washed her face, everything wouldn't seem like such a dumb, depressed remnant of what happened not an hour ago.

After step three of this ingenious plan was complete, the shaking had nearly stopped completely, and now, wearing a comfortable set of pajamas, those icy prisons would have a hard time materializing again. It was still early afternoon, but that mattered not, because no more activities were planned today. To top it all off, she flipped through her extensive collection of music records, sifting through the large onyx colored platters, and picked out one containing lazy banjo duets partnered by a few saxophones. Their harmonics were loose, borderline lazy, but it was just the shallow fun her ears needed right now, a whimsical vacation from layered pieces of symphony. Her gramophone player was a treasured legacy from relatives long gone, yet, it still played whatever disc that sat on its needle head spindle. That, and radios never had a speaker that could outdo this device, no matter how well made they were, at least, not yet.

Soon, music was giving her home a dose of light playful fun, and the girl even went to fetch a set of playing cards from the bedroom to play a few rounds of Spider Solitaire. Her hand reached into the nightstand drawer to grab the small stack of paper held together by a rubber band, not thinking about anything specific, pushing every ghastly thought towards the cold ocean floor so that they would never surface again. Perhaps what happened was all just a fluke, a cruel joke ushered in by life's desire to play around with an unsuspecting mind. Yes, it had to be Krayble's uncommon tutoring methods alone that caused everything to deteriorate so fast. Playing in front of crowds was something that always gave her unease, right? No matter how early she peered into her personal timeline, playing before congregations of any type brought anxiety, and pronounced agitation. Even if those who watched were soulless, just bodies of threads, with ropes for hair.

Lola's hand squeezed hard around the cards, eyelids pressed shut, her back turned away from the door leading into her living room. All at once, the music died, and a cool draft ran up her shirt. The urge to turn around was met with hesitation, because if this was anything like before, it would only bring a repeat of these abhorrent images destined to linger forever, a carbon copy of recent memories thought to have been buried by her feeble attempts. Even so, she couldn't stay still like this for eternity.

Shoving any reservations aside, she turned, slowly. The apartment wall was cracked open, and its mouth breathed in, manifesting another breeze to gently comb her hair, as if wanting to know its consistency and texture. Perhaps this was a reckless mistake by the maintenance crew, or a curious apparition trying to prove something. However, that failed to explain why the music disc was dormant on its Gramophone. A wash of phobia began its lethargic journey up her back. This was not the same anxiety from before. It was more frantic than frightening. It was as if an intruder had entered, one with floating footsteps, and apparently, the right room key.

Carefully, Lola placed her deck on the nightstand. Without looking away, her body gradually lowered to slip a hand under the bed, briefly giving a mental sigh of relief -no crackling joints. The small pepper spray canister was metal, so its cool touch was easy to recognize. A break in, while rare in this part of Yevital's townscape, wasn't unheard of. A few uneasy steps forward allowed her a full peek abroad the main room. At first, there was no movement, no signs of life, just a soundless vacuum disturbed only by her own heart thudding inside its cage, trying to escape. Then, a nearly inaudible rustle prompted Lola to gaze down, and instantly, everything collapsed.

Sallow afternoon rays made the little girl standing there appear confined within a tawny prism of light. Her small dress was royal blue, and it bloomed, like a superimposed stain of fabric that contrasted everything around it.

Lola's fingers relinquished their grip on the pepper spray, its drop muffled by carpeting, a reaction not brought about because of what this child wore, but rather, what was creased within her tiny hands. She was certain Hummingbird's Verse had been left jailed inside the violin's coffin, yet, here this Intruder was, holding it, looking the sheets over with a tenderness expanding all throughout time. Because somehow, time had bent backwards. Lola knew who this girl was.

It couldn't be real.

This had to be fiction, an impossible occurrence, a delusion in result of a food deprived body fuzed with insomnia. Yet, with every attempt of rejecting this image, her words of defiance against this fairytale hallucination was mute, as if that alone would make the girl vanish anyway. Only vapid, startled gasps escaped her lips. No voice. No rejection. Lola's shock only grew when the little girl peered up at her, with eyes encased in wet glass. Maybe she was welling up in tears. Maybe she herself was going to well up in tears. How could this be happening? Instantly, the room seemed charged with a disorienting aura, as if the air pressure had just lowered, making it hard to breathe, harder to think. But, she had to think now. Thinking logically would make everything go away.

"Get away!" Lola was finally able to force something out. She darted back, sporadically coughing as if her throat was a tube made of sandpaper. The bathroom greeted her with a mirror that reflected someone who looked utterly terrified. She flung open the medicine cabinet and grabbed a small white bottle of pills that would make all this insanity disappear. The instructions demanded that one capsule was enough. She wolfed four without water. The beatles crawled down her pipe with their pea sized bodies. More were gagged up than swallowed, but her sputtering hands shoved them back until each one was devoured. She stared down at the sink drain, arms viced straight, trying to imagine all her affliction swirling into that bottomless hole before disappearing somewhere underneath. She counted, slowly -one, two, three, four. Good, everything was getting back to normal. Five, six, seven -These drugs were doing their magnificent work without fail. Eight, nine, ten. It was over. Everything was fine, and tomorrow she would tell Krayble this episode was merely a fluke.

"Is this yours?"

Lola's body stopped, as if it had transformed into a cold mannequin, left in suspended animation to watch through the eye holes. Peripheral vision confirmed the girl was standing just a few feet away, and it took every bit of fortitude to break off this plastic skin and look at the ghost directly. This young child was holding a hand out with the pepper spray resting on her palm.

"W-what?"

Those wet eyes of glass widened, and the girl promptly took a step closer. "Uh, I said if this was yours."

Her words went by as weightless noise, because Lola's sight was again magnetized to Humming Bird's verse lazily held in her other hand, as if were a toy meant to be handled with a carefree attitude. No ghost could be holding anything solid, or say anything of substance, but that profound realization was pounding its fist on Lola's brain, yet the door would not open. So, perhaps it was best to act as if this intruder was just that, a ghost, a phantom with no depth. Warily, she knelt down, letting her inner mind reach out for the spray, before moving physically.

The girl jerked back, and squeaked, "Hey! I said take this, not that!"

Lola had tried taking the music instead, only to be rebuffed. By now she could barely manage a quavering whisper. "Who are you?"

"I guess this spray thing's mine now since you don't want it."

"Please, just tell me who you are."

"Thanks for the toy, but mama's gonna make me give it back anyway, so, I'll just leave it here." Her little arms had to partially reach up to set the cherry red canister on the sink counter, and after an obviously fake smile, she preceded to walk out with a trotting skip punctuated by her teeny flip flops smacking away. They were white, a vanilla hue that stuck out like baby snow rabbits.

"Wait!"

The small blue dress rippled as the girl turned back around, wearing a flustered complexion that waited anxiously. Lola was also flustered. Those rabbits had animated a very familiar sound, like remembering someone's early days of Hopscotch, a sound that further shaved away more layers of doubt, a sound that reeled time back when everything was simple. She was on all fours now, inching closer to her, this aura that defied all notion of reality. When her fingertips finally made contact with the dress, the girl remarkably did not pull away. It was made of velvet, just as expected. Another familiar piece. But one more was needed, one more to complete the set. So, reluctantly, she allowed her sight to drift down to those miniature hands, one of which was still holding the music sheets. Both of them were blotched with beaten bruised skin, fingers and all. Their ravaged discoloration made it seem as if they had been stricken with frostbite, brittled to the bone.

"Hey, what happened here?" Lola said softly, not knowing rather to push the girl away or to hold her close and never let go. It was a question that required no answer. She knew it already. Maybe it was asked merely to hear this phantom speak again, or, rather to finally conclude that this image was not a phantom at all.

Seconds passed in silence.

"...please, say something. Why are you here? What happened to your hands?"

Like a chemical reaction, a spark of of anger gleamed within the girl's eyes. "What do you mean? You know what happened!" Her voice of ice was followed instantly by desecration. She raised Hummingbird's Verse with those same bluish green hands and began ripping its wings off.

"No!" Lola scrambled over, trying perilously to pry this bird from its abusers' grip. It was a vicious back and forth that had quickly altered into an excruciating struggle. Her younger counterpart squirmed to keep the music out of reach, arms flailing, legs kicking. Lola winced when a set of nails drew across her skin like thin red markers. The girl bit down on her wrist and wiggled free, spirting outside the bathroom with a swift clacking tempo. She gripped hard on the deep row of teeth marks blaring with agony, but managed to stand regardless. Confusion turned to acceptance, and then to anger. A disjointed trail of paper made it easy to follow the intruder into the living room, where it all began.

It was too late.

The girl held the tattered carcass of feathers. Lola was feet away from a murderer, and she kept asking why. Why perform such a blasphemous act? But with each unanswered question, the girl took a step back, retreating until her back struck the wall.

"Why did you do that?" This time Lola bit her angry tongue in favor of a gentler tone, even though yelling would have felt much better. She knelt down on bent knees, getting on eye level. "All I want is an answer. Where did you come from?"

Again, her questions drowned in silence. Seething anger swelled once more, threatening to escape her lips and transform into destructive words, but that would only make everything worse. She approached much slower than before. Only a foot separated them now.

"It's alright. I don't want the music anymore." Lola was only able to say this because, looking over, she noticed that her violin case was still clamped shut, meaning her own copy of Hummingbird's Verse was safe in its narrow house. Please, let me see your hands. I won't hurt you."

The girl pouted. "You're lying."

"I'm not."

"Liars always look away."

"I'm not looking away. You need help. I can help you."

"How?"

Lola managed a smile. "Well, for starters, I can take a close look at them." She offered out her own hands, palms up. "Trust me, I know what it feels like."

After sliding between faces of defiance and unsureness, the girl released what last bits of paper remained, and raised her discolored fingers. The two pairs of hands met, the bottom one supporting its wounded partner. Finally, contact was made that didn't result in anguished frustration or injury.

"See? I'm not all bad." Lola was gazing abroad mangled skin long since induced to endless strain. If even a little pressure was enforced on them, she might be able to hear the light snap of bones. She wiped an eye to find it on the verge of tears, trying not to shake again. Her vision blurred. Another wave of frozenness began from her chest, as if an icy shard was trapped there, expanding.

She looked up.

What looked back was not a girl with glistening eyes, silky hair, or small rosy lips. No, it was grotesque, transformed face. Ropes had replaced long black hair. Tight stitches were sewn where that little mouth once lived. Hard, plastic beads pressed into sockets where teardrop eyes sat only a moment before.

Lola could not move, or breathe, or do anything except sit there and stare. The doll leaned forward, animated by invisible strings. One of its rounded, stubby arms stretched out and pushed on her chest. It was like putting hot iron on a splinter. Her teeth gritted as the shard beneath her skin reverberated in waves of pain crashing against muscle, pounding them senseless. Pulling back was impossible, so she was bound to take it. The arm drove harder, and when she was about to scream out in one desperate cry, the doll smiled at her, ear to ear, pulling its mouth to perform a devilish grin. Then, in one fleeting moment of overwhelming horror, its body detonated, letting loose a rain of shriveled cotton that sprayed her face like bullet clouds. Simultaneously, the music resumed, and the door slammed shut with a cold blow of wind.

It was over.

Lola still sat there utterly dazed for eternity, or what seemed like it, arms limp, fathoms deep in bewilderment. Each layer of noise and feeling came back in phases, each one weighing down until she felt whole. She took her first breath and touched where the shard had laid buried. It was absent, replaced with a heartbeat fit for someone three times her size.

Cotton was everywhere, but the girl didn't dare look down as she lethargically made way to the bedroom, taking small steps, trying to keep it in just a little longer, long enough so that soft blankets could sooth everything away.

Lola made it halfway before it became too much. She clumsily toppled down and allowed the wall to prop her tired body up. Her brain kept flashing snapshots of what had just transpired, again and again. Every single hour of this day had scraped along at an unbearably slow tempo, each one rubbing her raw, each one dropping dismay in one form or another.

Please, I've had enough.

Everything became granular noise. Her throat quivered. Her eyes squeezed shut, and released their grieving trails. Sobs disturbed the light hearted music that continued playing, but no one else heard them. The only other person had just died, leaving her alone to be swept away.

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