Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chapter 17: Elise Had Also Been Waiting

Fri, October 23, 2074 3:59 am: 88 Wilkins Ave.- Camden, Pleasantview


A girl of about Elise's age was seated at the piano, her head bowed low over the keys. The notes that she played were incandescent with fury. They raged like a gasoline fire. Elise approached her tentatively, all the while awaiting some sign of acknowledgement. When the girl did not look up, Elise finally spoke.


"Um, excuse me? Miss?"

"She's mute." Elise nearly jumped out of her skin. Only a moment ago, there had not been another person in the room. She was certain of it. Elise whipped around to face the owner of the disembodied voice. It was a scrawny, rather angelic-looking boy, deeply engrossed in a book.


"She hasn't said a word in years," the boy droned. And then added with no small amount of bitterness, "not even to me."


"Oh how awful!" Elise felt a surge of pity for the grim, speechless girl and for her pale companion. He noisily flipped a page.


"Anyway, how have you been?"


"I'm ok, I guess. Have we met?"

"No." The boy went back to his book, clearly having lost interest in the conversation. Elise bit her lower lip. She was uncertain of how to proceed. The boy reminded her a little of her brother Arnaud, who was often very distant.


The girl at the piano played faster. Her raven hair swept across the keyboard until she and the piano appeared to be one, hideously writhing creature. The mere act of watching was making Elise dizzy. The boy suddenly glanced away from his book as though he had just remembered something.


"I am sorry about your mother, Elise. We did everything that we could," he said earnestly. Never had two sentences provoked more curiosity in Elise. She stuttered incoherently, her brain a dense fog of questions. The boy smirked as though he found her to be somehow endearing.


"I... Thank you?" It was the only complete thought that she could muster. The boy nodded silently.


"There is a gentleman downstairs waiting for you. He comes in every night."


"I'm sorry. Who?"


"You'll know him when you see him." The boy returned his scrutiny to the page. Decidedly, things were no less strange on the second floor than they were on the first. Perhaps Elise ought to have taken her chances with the old man and the prostitutes.


Elise watched the boy for a little while longer. Even the tiniest of his gestures fascinated her. His breathing was slow and labored, like a much older man's. And though his eyes did not seem to be moving, he underscored each sentence by dragging his pointer finger across the page. He was only pretending to read. Ultimately electing not to keep the man downstairs waiting, Elise began to walk off.


"Come visit me again sometime, won't you dear," the boy shouted after her.

Elise left the room, muttering to herself, "What an extraordinary thing to say." As the door closed behind her, Elise could hear the boy chuckling merrily.


Descending the staircase, Elise felt as though she had somehow been robbed. Three months she had waited for the completion of this dream. And for what? She wanted a palace with marble arches and gilded ceilings. She wanted to find her parents there. Instead, all that had been granted her was the opportunity to pace up and down the steps of a whorehouse, wearing her least favorite pajamas. Elise had a strong urge to kick something but she was too afraid for her shoeless feet. Sighing, she cast her gaze down upon the crowd.


And it was then that she saw him.


He was the only man in the room that had not been there earlier. Watching him, it seemed to Elise that she had also been waiting. Not just for the past three months, but always. The boy upstairs had been right. She did know him. A name started to form in her mind. Kuh... Kuh-vor. Cover? That wasn't a name. Kuv... She would just have to ask him.


He was talking to a woman with long blond hair. It did not look like the sort of conversation that Elise could presume to interrupt.


He held his head back and furrowed his brow, giving Elise a closer look at his face. He had such a perfect, perfect nose. If Elise had been a boy, she would have wanted to look just like him. The blond woman stalked away, incensed. Now was Elise's chance. Maybe she and the gentleman could leave together.


Halfway down the steps, Elise stopped again. The man had locked eyes with the couple on the sofa. His fists balled at his sides but his expression was unreadable.


The girl lovingly rested her head. The old man glared at the gentleman with more triumph and malice than Elise had ever seen in anyone.


Elise was overcome. This was not a typical feeling of sympathy for others. She was not sad for him but with him. And then in a flash, the gentleman was out the door.

"Wait!" Elise ran as fast as she could. She pushed past Mary and the scary brunette at the foot of the steps.


But once she reached the door, he had already vanished. She wanted to shout for him but the name still refused to gel. Her vision was fading. Elise could smell bacon and waffles. It was over.

I will not forget this dream. I will not forget this dream. It was a mantra, an oath. I will not forget this dream.


  1. I'm sorry if anyone was trying to read this while I was experiencing technical difficulties. Every time I think that I can trust Blogger's automatic coding system, it invents new and never-heard-of tortures for me.

    Anyway, 500 points to the person that can pick out the Maxis characters from this chapter and the one before it. :-p

  2. Hi, Penelope! Thanks for stopping by my blog - and I really am glad that you did. I read the first few entries of Dragging Blue Lake a while back and liked it a lot, but I forgot to bookmark it and then couldn't find it again. Yay! Now I can read more!

  3. (slaps forehead) - oh yeah, it's a dream... no points for me as I'm completely confused about the characters....

  4. It starts coming into focus sooner rather than later. ;)

  5. That image of the girl and piano writhing as one was so evocative (eek I sound like my English teacher). But it really was :P.

    Very creepy little boy. He reminds me of this kid in a Swedish movie about vampires. Creepy.

  6. Thanks, Verity! Those kids are very important and will be back later. ;)

    Funny that you mention vampires...

  7. Oooooh, I just came back to this chapter on a whim and it is a gold mine! :D

    I remember I once asked if, since Elise and Ermengarde both have their rather double-edged abilities (for lack of a better, less spoilery-for-all-who-have-yet-to-read-this-chapter word), there was anything special (again, for lack of a better word) about Vince or Arnaud, and you said there was something about Arnaud. Elise compared Fricorith to Arnaud here. Is that of any particular significance?

    Also, Elise seemed rather unnerved by Gvaudoin. Does this have anything to do with the way Kvornan felt about Gvaudoin? And quickly looking back at Chapter 56, was Gvaudoin truly mute?

    And who is that old guy with Rainelle? Have we seen him elsewhere?

    Sorry if this is total spoilery :(



    Oh! Arnaud and Fricorith share a rare trait but it isn't obvious and I don't mind telling-- They were both marked for vampirism. That is to say, they could be made vampiric, where most people would not survive the process. Certain immortal jackasses we know and love were not marked for vampirism and those immortal jackasses (who shall go unnamed) expected to die from the process.

    Elise was put off by everyone in this chapter, universally (with one notable exception). This has more to do with how Kvornan felt about revisiting that space and those people. She didn't know it but she was feeling what he was. Keep in mind, this is his dream.

    This is an interesting chapter to go back to because I have since revised my ideas about what happens to these characters after death. Gvaudoin went mute postmortem but really, I don't know how she would have managed to contact Fricorith in the afterlife anyway.

    The old guy is Samael in one of his many guises. :D
    That is never going to come up again so I might as well let you know.



    It occurs to me that this was a "recurring dream" for Elise. Fricorith and Gvaudoin might have been meeting there every night that Kvornan tried to open up to Elise. For the record, that will be where Fricorith and Gvaudoin came into contact postmortem.