Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fifteenth Day

Official halfway time today. Only 15 more days of this to go. And by the way, I mean it about needing title suggestions. C'mon and help me out, people. I feel like I'm doing all the work around here. :-)

Chapter 19

On Friday night, Gordon's mind was, understandably, completely preoccupied with thoughts of the field trip, of Lucy, and of her note. It was a thrilling preoccupation, but confusing as well. She had kissed him! And asked him to call her that weekend! But when really should he call her? Give it a day, maybe, so as not to seem over eager? And what would they talk about? Should he ask her out somewhere? Where?

He had left the note on his desk with his sketchbook, and attempted to go to sleep. He found it rather ironic that starting to dream too early could actually make it harder to get to sleep. The insomniac's curse of a busy mind. But he had drifted off eventually.

* * *

Malcolm was angry that night. It had been a frustrating day, all around. He was, of course, far to dignified to express his anger outright in public. Roaring and yelling, or taking his anger out on underlings was not at all befitting a noble demon of his rank. No, the proper thing to do would be to let it all out in a dream. It would be safe there, and no one would have to know about it.

He had gotten tired of killing mice, and their flying cousins, the sparrows. He wanted bigger prey. Unfortunately, he was still trapped in the small, cotton and polyester body of a cat, and couldn't tackle anything much bigger. What he wanted to hunt was the giant who had tried to lock him in the box, but that was out of the question until he could get his Tyrannosaurus Rex body back. He snuck into the room anyway to glare at the giant's sleeping form.

And then an evil little idea popped into his brain. In a calmer state of mind he might have denounced it as unworthy for a demon who prided himself on his virtuousness. But he noticed all the drawings that the giant seemed to be so attached to...

* * *

In Gordon's dream, he and Lucy were back at the castle, only now they were up at the very top, and all of Edinburgh – all of Scotland, even! – was spread out beneath them. It was glorious. But then the idyllic silence was broken by a ripping, tearing sound. Gordon turned around sharply and saw in the distance the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, one of the blackest, most evil looking structures in the city. It tore open, splitting down its middle and revealing a giant set of crown jewels within. But then the split continued, with a sound like the ripping of an enormous sheet of paper, and a crack appeared in the earth beneath it, spreading quickly up towards the castle on the mound. It reached Gordon's feet and tore him in two, and he awoke to a loud THUMP.

He squinted at his alarm clock. It was only 3:15 or so in the morning. Ugh. Just weird dreams and nightmares. Forget it and go back to sleep. But then another thump caught his attention. A book had just been pushed off his desk and fallen to the floor. He flipped on the small bedside lamp and saw what looked like a tiny storm of shredded papers forming on his desk. His sketchbook and some other books were open, with their ragged pages hanging out or scattered around or flying through the air. And in the middle of it all, furiously tearing away at it all, was Ixy.

She had frozen when Gordon turned on the light, looking up and staring him straight in the face with her black little button eyes. Then they both broke into action at once. Gordon lunged at her, knocking his desk chair over, and scattering more papers and a school notebook to the floor. At the same time, though, Ixy had leapt down behind the desk, and squeezed in between it and the wall where Gordon couldn't reach.

Gordon pulled one end of the desk away from the wall and thrust his arm behind it after Ixy, but she slipped out the other side and ran along the wall. He threw himself after her, landing full length on the floor but with his hand around her tail. A sudden flash of claws drew blood, though, and surprised him enough that he let go in shock, and the possessed cat was away again. Gordon rolled over to get between her and the door, and she skittered for a moment in uncertainty, and then dashed into the open closet.

Gordon leapt up and slammed the closet door. Brilliant! There was no way Ixy could get out of there on her own, as long as he kept the door closed. He sat down again and leaned with his back to the door. His heart was racing, and having gone from sound sleep to violent activity in such a short period of time was making him feel a little light headed. He looked around the room, and saw now that several of the drawings on the lower sections of walls had been torn down, or ripped in two. That little bastard! So that had been the ripping sound in his dream.

There was a knock on his door. "Gordon? Are you alright?"

It was his mother. Why did she always have to be such a light sleeper? He jumped up again, looking frantically around the room. There was no way he'd be able to clean anything up before letting his mother in. Especially since she simply opened the door herself.

"Gordon! What are you doing? What's going on?"

"Hello, Mum. I'm fine. I think I was just… sleepwalking maybe."

"Sleepwalking? But what have you done to your desk? Why are all your books on the floor?"

"Well," Gordon made a show of being groggy and attempting to remember a dream, "I think I was looking for something, in my dream, you know. But since I was sleepwalking, I guess I kind of just made a mess of things. It'll be alright, really." He started shoving a few books off to the side, to minimize the visible mess.

His mother's eye fell on one book that had landed face up. Gordon saw where she was looking, but failed to reach it first before she picked it up.

"Coping with Satanism?" She looked at him worriedly. "Is this yours?"

"No, of course not, it's from the library."

"What I mean is... come here, dearie." She sat down on his bed and pulled him reluctantly over to sit next to her. "Are you really alright, Gordon? You've been acting a bit odd recently."

"I'm fine, really." Gordon was trying not to cast what would look like very suspicious glances at his closet door. At least he had latched it, and he didn't think Ixy could deal with a latch on her own.

"Is everything okay at school, and with your friends?"

"Yes, Mum. Everything's good."

"Well, I just want you to know that you can always talk to me. Just if anything ever bothers you. Anything at all. I know that high school is a difficult time, and there can be peer pressure, and social circles to fit into. And sometimes people have trouble making good decisions in situations like that, and they get into drugs, or other… sorts of trouble. Cults, for instance, or…"

"Don't worry about me, Mum, really. That book, it's just for a report I'm doing. We're studying, um, alternative religions. I'm just reading it, that's all. For school."

"Well, alright. I don't want to be nosy and prying, but I do worry sometimes. I'll trust you on this, though, and I hope that you'll be able to trust me too if you even need to talk about anything. Deal?"


She gave him a squeeze and got up.

"Are you going to be able to get back to sleep?"

"Sure. I'm still really tired." He faked a large yawn.

"Okay. Good night, dearie."

And finally she was gone. Gordon heaved a sigh of mingled relief and frustration. The last thing he needed now was his parents suspecting that he was some sort of Satanist drug addict. He hoped she had meant it about trusting him, but he figured he'd probably be having his actions scrutinized rather more closely than usual for a while.

He surveyed the damage on his desk. There were some decent sketches ruined, but nothing that had been super important. His best drawings were higher up on the walls where Ixy hadn't been able to reach. Look on the bright side.

Then suddenly he began plowing frantically through the piles of papers and books, looking for a small piece of blue lined notebook paper with purple ink on it. He found the smaller piece of it first, a torn corner with the initials "L.C." on it. When he found the rest of it, it had been savaged beyond legibility.

Ixy was going to have to pay for that. Gordon put his ear to the closet door and heard a faint scratching from inside. He would wait until morning, and not have her scampering away from him again. He got a pillow and blanket from his bed and lay down in front of the closet door. Latch or no latch, he wasn't going to take any chances. He turned the light out and slept undisturbed the rest of the night.

In the morning he woke before the rest of his family, thanks no doubt to his less comfortable sleeping situation. He listened at the closet door again but heard nothing. Nevertheless, he took care to close the door to the hallway, and to block off the area under his bed and behind his desk. Then he slowly opened the closet door just a crack.

Nothing moved. He opened the door a little farther, and Ixy fell out. He pounced on her instantly but she was completely inanimate, a soft toy kitten without even a hint of the teeth or claws that had wrought such damage the night before. Gordon still didn't trust her in the slightest.

He got some duct tape and thoroughly bound Ixy's front paws and back paws together. Then, though no mouth or teeth were currently evident, he wrapped some tape around her muzzle as well. Then he put her in the shoe box from before, taped her to the inside of it, put the top on, and bound all of that up in tape as well. That should do well enough until he decided how to deal with her once and for all.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like that was going to be that weekend. Gordon was reminded at breakfast that his aunt Mary and uncle Charles were going to be visiting from London for the weekend, and his younger cousin Colin would be sleeping in Gordon's room. His mother had given him a long look when she reminded him to tidy up before they arrived. Plus, he thought it would be safest to be on his best behavior for a couple of days and not risk get caught trying to perform bizarre exorcism rituals on a toy. He just hoped that he had tied Ixy up tight enough that she wouldn't be able to make much noise from under the bed. Of course, if Colin happened to hear anything, Gordon could probably just pass it off as a little kid being afraid of the dark. Colin was only 10, after all.

He was mostly upset, though, that he wasn't going to be able to call Lucy now that he had lost her number. It was going to be a long weekend before he could see her again on Monday.

* * *

Malcolm was now finding his dreams distinctly unenjoyable.