[Notes/Summary] Set between season 2 and season 3. Morse is hearing something but he doesn't know what it is.
It's like the ringing in the ears from being too close to an explosion or a gunshot. Morse knows this is a stupid way to look at it, not least because prison is never silent, there are always shouts and doors slamming and footsteps and every single one maybe a threat, every single one maybe the last he’ll ever hear – so perhaps that’s it? Perhaps he’s trying to block it out? But even when he learns how to fall asleep, how to convince himself he will wake up if he hears someone unlocking the door, even when he is lying on a hard mattress with his eyes closed he can hear this – something. Something under real life. Ringing. A whine. A scream. Perhaps it is deafness. Perhaps it’s the shot, re-echoing.
It’s still there after he gets out and for a good couple of weeks he doesn’t even bother to listen to any music. When he does eventually put on a record he hears each note singly but it doesn’t join up. The screaming is always louder. It’s louder than people’s voices, as well. It makes what they’re saying feel even less useful. And the sound of doors opening and closing. Footsteps behind him on a dark street.
In the cabin, by the river, there’s silence at last. It’s still drowned out, but he's not missing out on anything not hearing it.
[Title] There Is No Dog
[Fandom] Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles / Afro-Ken
[Notes/Summary] Savannah tells Ellison about her new friend.
“I’m going to be good at school,” Savannah says from the back seat, hugging her toy giraffe and watching Ellison over the top of its mane. “Afro-Ken said I should try.”
“Who’s Afro-Ken, honey?”
Savannah wrinkles her nose. “He’s my friend.”
After the events of the last few years Ellison’s got a healthy suspicion of anyone professing to be Savannah’s friend whom he hasn’t personally verified is a real flesh-and-blood kid. “Uh-huh? He go to school with you?”
“No. Afro-Ken doesn’t go to school. He’s a dog.”
Okay, that’s slightly less likely to be a killer robot or a rogue AI or a terrorist. Still. “A dog, huh? Someone’s pet?”
“Not a pet,” Savannah says. “He just shows up sometimes when I’m sad. I can cuddle him and he tells me it’s okay.”
“You… sure he’s a dog? You… you did see him, right? He isn’t a computer-friend?”
Savannah shakes her head. “He can’t use computers. He doesn’t really talk. Dogs don’t talk. But he smiles and then he kind of tells me things and I know them in my head. Like God. Or making up a story.”
“What kind of dog is he?”
“Don’t know. A little dog. But he’s got hair!” She giggles. “Big fluffy hair like a clown. Sometimes his hair’s the clouds and sometimes it’s stars and, sometimes, it is frothy milkshake.” Pause. “Maybe after school, maybe we could have milkshake again?”
Ellison resolves to keep an eye out for any suspicious characters as he waves Savannah goodbye at the school gates. Heading back to the car, past the bushes and clumps of trees, he does actually see a dog, lying in the shade, an oddly serene grin on its face. And the way the shadows are falling it does look like the dog’s got its head festooned with hedge, like someone put a topiary wig on it. He blinks the sunspots out of his vision and the dog’s gone.
[Title] Minding the Gap
[Fandom] The Confessions of Dorian Gray
[Notes/Summary] Dorian dislikes tube trains.
Given the choice, I avoid the London Underground.
Not that this would be a surprise to anyone who knows me. I give the impression of being a man who enjoys the finer things in life – well, I do enjoy the finer things of life – none of which are represented by being packed into a metal tube nose to jowl with the rest of humanity, the air smelling of musty seats and very old cigarettes, and nothing but garish advertisements and harsh lights to illuminate the miles of black concrete and wire through which you are speeding.
Some things never change.
However, this is not the reason I prefer to avoid the Underground. The real reason is far less tangible. It is something about being unable to see the sky. One could argue that it reminds me of the grave, which sounds trite to my ears… but I can’t deny that I much prefer the lines which run overground, taking one through little stations covered with frost or dusk light as if you are moving from town to town.
I have, once or twice, been alone in a carriage, below ground, late at night – though you would not know it was late at night apart from the lack of crowds. Only myself and the repeated messages to mind the gap. Occasionally, the voice of a real person, advising that we are being held at a red signal.
Someone else seen out of the corner of my eye. When I turn, there is no one there. The pages of an abandoned newspaper turn over and over. I hear something whispering my name.
Perhaps it is proximity to the grave. I have encountered enough not-real things above ground. It would seem logical that there are more of them the deeper you are buried. So far I think I have not attracted their attention. After all, they see millions of others. But there is no harm in being cautious.
And I really do dislike the excess of advertisements.
[Title] Shadow Puppets
[Fandom] Battle Royale/X-Men: Days of Future Past
[Notes/Summary] Charles Xavier/Kazuo Kiriyama. Charles should be frightened. He's everything but.
Charles should have found Kazuo frightening.
People carry their thoughts around with them. If you happen to be a telepath, you work not to read them; constantly listening would be exhausting for you and invasive for them. But their thoughts are still there, like their breathing. A hum of worries and memories and curiosity and sensation, of hunger and tiredness and drunkenness and sore feet. Sometimes people have asked if it’s like music, but that’s not it. Music has an internal rhythm and each part is in harmony with the whole. Music is generally pleasant to listen to.
Thoughts are more bearable than they were, but hearing them isn’t relaxing. These days, Charles compares it – if anyone asks – to light. It isn’t words, it isn’t necessarily tidy, it isn’t synchronising into one central message with a point, but it’s there and recognisable none the less.
If most people are like light, Kazuo was a shadow among them. It’s not that Kazuo didn’t think. It’s that he had none of that… hum, that static. His thoughts were typed sentences.
The first time they’d met – their families moved in the same circles, they’d both been teenagers at a dull party – Charles can only remember the fascination of sensing something that shouldn’t exist.
In Oxford, as a student, he ran into Kazuo again because the latter was visiting to present a paper he’d authored (the youngest person ever to do so at this particular conference). All he can remember feeling this time is fascination as he works out that Kazuo is watching him as much as he is being watched. Kazuo can focus on things, undistracted by the normal human rush of being alive. Kazuo is initially mildly intrigued by Charles. Then – and Charles can remember the mix of amusement and incredulity at realising this – then he is bored.
It is Charles who seeks Kazuo out later, after the school has closed, once everyone’s voices are getting too loud. The oblivion of his old friend’s mind is delicious, like cold water on a burn. Kazuo never feels joy or fear or fury. Sometimes he feels curiosity. Generally, he feels boredom. When Charles is with him, he feels physical pleasure at what they do with each other. But it is as dry as that. Most people’s minds collapse into a warm red haze of Yes and This and More. Kazuo watches his own arousal as if he is studying anatomy. It is a thin red line in his thoughts. A closed vein. It doesn’t bleed.
By this time, Charles prefers this. Too many people bleed. They bleed and scream and hurt and he hears it all.
The serum helps, of course, and so does the alcohol. When Kazuo’s thoughts are hidden, he becomes intriguing. He becomes someone who could be hiding deep feelings, who could be shy, or wary, or inexperienced, or cruel. Charles finds himself speculating when he already knows the answers. As if he is looking for other people’s pain.
If humanity were all like Kazuo, the world would be a terrible place, but Charles wishes it anyway, enjoying the rejection of feeling, of caring.
But he can’t reject. Each time he hopes that this time will be the time Kazuo’s emptiness engulfs him too. Afterwards he can feel it hasn’t, that emotion is choking him, that blotting out the cries of others has only made his own louder.
Kazuo leaves the country shortly before Logan arrives. Charles can’t remember why. Thinking back, he can’t remember a lot of details about their meetings. Shadows grow indistinct, or vanish in harsh light. Actually, Charles knows why he can’t remember. With the serum, Kazuo was not a shadow but a mirror, and Charles was trying in vain to see himself reflected. And that self is not a self he particularly wants to remember.
And perhaps, now, if he encountered Kazuo again, the emptiness would be terrifying after all.