Author's note: Started for a school assignment, this piece took off in my mind and became this story.
Chapter 5Panting, the man sat up in his bed. Sweat poured off his body; he wiped his face with a corner of his silk sheets. A window had come open sometime during the night, and the sweet scent of lilacs drifted through the small bedroom, calming him.
As soon as he was able to catch his breath, he gave a weak smile. “Some dream,” he muttered. He was surprised when his voice came out hoarse. “I need water,” he managed with a cough. He stumbled into the bathroom, his legs weak. -Why am I talking to myself?-
The man looked into the mirror and stumbled back, crashing into the wall behind him where slid down to the floor. Soon though, his fear of the unknown gripped him. Cautiously, he stood and glanced into the mirror again, expecting to see the phantom faces of three that haunted his memory.
His memory. -Oh gods.-
He remembered. -“You’ll never know true pain, son. You love yourself too much.”-
The man slumped to the cold tile floor as the memories he had struggled to forget flooded his mind.
He remembered. -He was sitting on a beach. It was night, dark. He was alone. He was thinking about his failures. He heard the screams of his dying comrades. He saw his strong leader fall under a hail of gunfire. He took a drink from the bottle beside him, tried to lose himself in the strong drink. He saw himself running away. He heard the cries of his friends begging him to come help. He heard an all too real scream, a scream too close, too scared to be in his thoughts. He remembered jumping up, spilling his bottle, looking for the girl who had screamed. He heard her scream again. Her cry came from the ocean. The angry, ominous ocean, full of hate, like himself. He walked away.-
“Why did I walk away?”
He remembered. -Picking up the newspaper the next morning. The blaring headline “Girl Killed by Shark, Alone?” It reported the empty Bourbon bottles found strewn around the beach, mere yards away from where the attack had occurred. He remembered collapsing; promising himself things would be different from then on.-
He remembered. -Happy people, too happily screaming on their various rides surrounded him. He pushed through them, had to get away from their contagious happiness. He passed the tent offering to “tell you your life.” His eyes met a little girl’s pale blue eyes. She was blind. He saw the rough hand that shot out and grabbed the girl. She screamed. She was yanked backwards, disappearing into the crowd. He ran after her, wanted to get to her. He saw her talking with a large man, nodding as he wiped her tears away. He walked away.-
The man cried, and beat his head against the wall.
He remembered. -Three days later, hearing on the radio the parents of a “blond haired, blind girl, age five,” begging anyone who had seen something, anything at the fair that day to please report it to the police. It must have been a coincidence. She knew that man! He left for home that day. She was found four years later, dead, her body terribly abused and disfigured.-
He remembered. -Walking by an alley, his soul drunk away like it had been for the past seven years. He heard the groans of someone’s pain. He turned; his eyes met a masked man’s cold stare. He saw the man curled at his feet, moaning in pain. “Leave if you value your life.” He didn’t. But he still walked away.-
The man straightened, bracing himself against the wall.
He remembered. -The screams of the dying man echoed into the night, haunted the tortured soul until he drank more to forget. The businessman had been married, had two young children, and a third on the way. He had been young, the same age as the man, then.-
“Why didn’t I help?”
“Because you love yourself too much.”
The man whimpered.
He watched the three females from his dream advance toward him in the mirror.
He couldn’t turn around, yet he could feel their presence behind him.
He knew they were real.
The model from the pool spoke first. “The old woman told you to beware the one you love the most and you didn’t listen. Of course you would not listen. You never listen.” Anger laced her voice as her contemptuous gaze took in his well groomed body slumped against the wall.
“Sister, he is only human,” murmured the teen from the amusement park.
The old woman, who had first warned the man, pushed between her sisters. “Why did you not listen, foolish mortal? Thrice I offered you the way out and thrice you ignored the cry. Surely you knew that you loved yourself the most. Surely you knew the one you heard was your own soul!”
“I do now, I do,” moaned the distraught man.
The teen smiled sadly at the man and turned him around to face her and her sisters. Her touch, though gentle, burned like a thousand suns, but the man hardly felt the pain for the fear that coursed through his veins.
The model stepped forward and touched the man at his shoulders and hips. He fell against the sink, limp, and he knew what was to come. The oldest sister pulled her spindle from the man’s pocket. It grew in her hands, and shone so brightly that the man could hardly bear it. She spun it expertly three times, and tugged at the golden thread. It flowed smoothly from the spool, resting near the man’s feet. She nodded at the youngest looking of the three, the one who looked like a teenager. The girl removed her earring, and it grew until it was about a foot long, like a ruler but blank. She held it in her left hand and touched her other hand to the man’s chest, where his heart would be. She counted a rhythm only she could feel: his life thread beating, beating. “02, 14, 12,” she whispered, nodding. The numbers appeared on the rod in her hand, and she laid it by the thread.
The sisters began to sing together, harmonizing in a horrible melody. The eerie, lilting tune reverberated off the ceramic tiles. It enchanted the man.
The women lifted their hands and waved them over his body. He felt droplets of water sprinkle across his face and hands.
He watched the water hit his smooth skin and curve down across his fingers.
He watched as the water running across his hand turned red, slowed, thickened, left a crimson trail on his skin.
The model lifted her shears and cut the thread.
The man knew nothing.
“I wish you luck in your death,” murmured the old woman reverently.
The women wrapped their cloaks around their bodies, still singing. They spun three times and vanished, leaving only their parting cries to haunt the night.
“Moirae, Moirae, Moirae!”