Sunday, April 13, 2014

Writing without a net: Convergence, Chapter 2

You can find Chapter 1 here!
Chapter 2

I found myself stumbling blindly through the jungle, disoriented and confused.  Charlie, Sayid, Jack, they had all claimed the Others possessed the strength and cunning of ten men.  So what was this broken rag-doll of a man in our Hatch?
And yet, his eyes were not pleading, but immeasurably hungry and calculating as they searched my face.  Contrary to my purpose, this encounter had answered nothing, but only intensified my curiosity.  Who was he?  And what was he?  As weak as his battered and half-starved body, or as sharp and cunning as his gaze?  I kept looking back on his face in my memory, split lip, black eye, clothes ragged and torn, and I found that I felt pity more than anything.  What were we keeping him in a cage for, anyway?  From the whispers on the beach, no one was even certain he was an Other, and not just some hapless survivor like ourselves. 
I began again to think about Ethan.  The only true Other I had ever met.  Had he not been helpful, if not aloof those first days?  I remembered him hauling firewood.  I remembered him slicing mangoes.  And wasn’t it true that, when Charlie shot him, it was in the middle of the jungle, witnessed only by Jack and Sayid?  I grew a little cold at the thoughts I was entertaining.  These people were my people.  They were only trying to protect us… right?
                As the days went by, I found myself returning to my previous state, existing as the silent cog in the wheel of our camp.  Each day, I considered trying to go back to the hatch, trying to get another look, or at least to snoop outside long enough to hear his name.  If they knew his name.  If they had even bothered to learn it.  And then something happened.  Michael returned.
I was far from the first to find out, predictably.  In fact, the only reason I found out at all was because, about a week after I first visited the hatch, I finally gave in to my temptation to try again.  I came this time, armed with the laundry of half the camp, hoping that, with the addition of Ana Lucia into hatch rotation, I could finally convince someone that an all-night laundry bender was someone’s idea of a good time. 
Unfortunately for me, the Island decided that it just wasn’t laundry day.
I found myself on the path to the Hatch not long before dusk.  Jack and Kate were out doing… whatever it was that Jack and Kate did.  Locke was off duty on the beach.  Hurley was even more cheerful than usual.  I thought I had it in the bag.  The sun had begun to set as I found myself deeper in the jungle, and I suddenly remembered why it was unwise to leave camp in the evenings. 
If anyone else would have known where I was headed that night, I would have sworn up and down that I hadn’t heard the gunshots.  And that much was true.  I was pausing to adjust my pack of laundry when I heard it, almost quiet enough to miss, the sound of rapid footfalls, deftly in the brush. 
I found myself suddenly awash in a pool of torchlight.  As my eyes began to adjust, I saw that it was him.  As he registered my face, his expression became overwhelmed by what I could only describe as terrible disappointment 
“It would be you, wouldn’t it?”  He asked quietly.
“What did you do?” It tumbled out of me, absurdly. 
“Nothing.” He stated simply. 
She really had been the last thing he expected to see on this god-forsaken path.  Gardner.  He couldn’t remember anything else about her, save the fact that her passport photo had very much resembled a mugshot, she had looked so surly.  In the dancing firelight, as at the Swan, she didn’t look surly at all, just delicate.  And right now, she was trying very hard to stop staring stupidly at him.  As she straightened, he barely registered a hint of movement at her collarbones.  She was wearing a necklace.  It was an ankh.  He silently cursed Jacob for this. 
“It would be you, wouldn’t it?”  He asked quietly. 
“What did you do?” She was practically shouting. 
“Nothing.”  He stated, emotionlessly.  “Walk with me.  Quietly.”

                “What did you do?”  I asked again, this time with purpose.  Who was on duty tonight?  I moved to drop the laundry and leave him on the path, but he shot out a hand and stopped me.
                “Nothing.” He repeated.  “But if you go back there, there is a very good chance that Michael will kill you.”
                “Michael?” I asked, perhaps too shrilly.  His eyes flashed in the firelight.
                “Yes.  Michael.  It’s really quite astonishing, what someone will do for their child.”  At these words, he began to move off into the jungle.  I hesitated, then stumbled off after him. 
                “Take me with you.”  I hissed.  It burst out of me, unbidden. 
                “No.”  He didn’t look back, but instead continued to pick through the underbrush, torch flickering ahead of him. 
                “Take me with you.  Please.” 
                “Tell me, I’m curious, why on earth would you want to just take off into the jungle with a strange man you’ve just met?”  He asked, tonelessly, picking up speed.
                I caught him by the crook of his elbow, swinging the both of us to a sudden halt once again in the darkness.
                “You may know, in your heart, that they had every reason to beat you and lock you in a cage.” I murmured, meeting his eyes again for the first time.  “But they don’t.  So take me with you.”  

                He rounded on her.  If she was going to be in the habit of just asking the same questions until she reached a satisfactory answer, she was going to be far too much trouble to accompany him further.  He scrutinized her face.  She stood her ground, resolutely.
                “I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve misplaced your implicit trust.  That belongs with Dr. Shepherd, not me.” 
                “Jack and Locke have no justification for their actions, aside from the excuse that you are the Other, and they fear the unknown.  I’m tired of fearing the unknown.  I want to know it instead.”
                They stood in silence for a long moment, one expectantly waiting for an answer, the other perking his ears for the sound of encroaching footfalls. 
                “Take me with you.”  Nine-year-old Ben was pleading with Richard Alpert.  What had he said?  He had closed his eyes, composed himself, and his eyes had filled with the same vague disappointment that Ben was busy twisting his expression into now. 
                “Maybe that can happen.” He finally said, demeanor softening deliberately, and she straightened with surprise.  “Maybe.  But if that’s what you really want… If that’s what you want, I want you to think about that.  You’re going to have to be very, very patient.” 
                He turned away again, and conducted her through the jungle in silence for some time.  Eventually, she stopped once more, shifting the pack of laundry and clearing her throat. He bristled and came to a halt. 
                “Yes?” He murmured testily.
                “If I’m not coming with you, just where do you think you’re leading me?”  She asked, half proud of her cleverness, half dreading the answer to her query. 
                “I am sorry, Tristan.  I am.” He responded quietly and, before she could even process what he had said, he had pulled Michael’s gun from the waistband of his pants and slammed the butt of it into her left temple. 

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