Monday, March 18, 2013
PART 1, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE: Chapter 7 (UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT)
If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Chapter 6 before proceeding to reading Chapter 7.
Nicolae sat up, surveying the area. The field was dark as was the edge of the woods at the end of it. Teresa lay fast asleep across from him and his bag with Eloisa’s ashes remained beside him. But Sebastian was gone.
Nicolae stood up, slinging the bag over his shoulder.
“Sebastian!” he called out in a whisper. He checked to make sure he did not wake Teresa who remained asleep. Nicolae took a few steps forward and called out to his brother again. His heart pounded in anticipation of seeing his brother safely back with him. He started to call out again when he saw him, standing a short distance away from him by a tree. Nicolae stopped, staring ahead to where his brother stood. Part of him wanted to run over and throw his arms around the younger boy. But there was a gnawing feeling he had in the pit of his stomach that something may not be right.
How can it not be right? Sebastian is right there…
But why was the boy just standing there?
Perhaps he really is angry and is under the impression that I did just leave.
Two years had passed and Sebastian would be about thirteen now. But one thing Nicolae noticed was that his younger brother didn’t look any older than he had when they left Romania.
“Sebastian, I—“ Nicolae began, but cut his words off when Sebastian turned and began walking back toward the forest at the edge of the field.
“Sebastian!” Nicolae called again, “Sebastian! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to leave you!”
But the boy continued walking as though he had not heard Nicolae. Nicolae stopped, remembering Teresa who had not awoken. He knew he couldn’t just leave her alone. The idea of her waking to find herself alone in the field did concern him and he didn’t want to risk putting her through that. He looked back toward Sebastian. Nicolae had always been a fast runner and he knew it wouldn’t be long at all before he would catch up.
He watched as his brother walked rather slow, stiff steps. The gnawing feeling in the pit of Nicolae’s stomach intensified. Chills covered his body as he remembered the version of Sebastian he had seen with black eyes and razor sharp teeth. Nicolae stared ahead, his hand traveling to his dagger.
God, what am I doing? Nicolae thought as he jerked his hand away from the dagger. He was immediately disgusted with himself. This was Sebastian, his little brother who he had taken care of from the age of two. Nicolae roughly raked his fingers through his hair, forcing himself to remain calm.
That thing with the black eyes and several rows of sharp teeth was not your brother… Nicolae shuddered as he tried to push the image from his mind. Sebastian continued walking slowly ahead of him toward the forest, keeping the same slow stiff movement he did when he walked in his sleep. Nicolae’s eyes widened at the realization. He turned to the sleeping Teresa.
“I won’t be long,” he promised.
Clutching his bag, he began moving in swift strides toward Sebastian; but while Nicolae did move quicker than Sebastian’s slower steps, the older Ganoush brother never seemed to catch up to his brother and the more he tried, the more Nicolae began to feel dizzy. A throbbing appeared in his temples as his vision grew blurry and a magnetic pulsing overtook him. Nicolae came to an abrupt stop as he stooped down putting his head in his hands. His breath quickened at the feeling of being smothered and he fought to regain his stance so he could catch up to Sebastian. He couldn’t lose his brother. Not again.
Nicolae hadn’t done a whole lot of praying in the last two years of his life, even when staying at monasteries during the winter. But his mind was uttering out what one may consider a prayer as he wished for the physical pain he was enduring to subside in order for him to have a chance at catching up to his brother. For a second, he wondered if he was dying. But the pain finally began to alleviate and he was able to breath evenly again. Nicolae slowly began rising to a standing position, finally feeling as though he was returning to a state of normalcy. But what he would see after that would make him marvel in the years to come that he didn’t die from shock at that very moment.
When Nicolae rose, he was no longer in the field in Spain. In fact, he would never be sure how to even describe where he found himself and because of that, this incident would be even more offsetting than visiting the island with the impaled human bodies for trees.
Nicolae was standing in the middle of a town. It was small but developed. There were some houses that resembled the colonial farmhouse the cloaked figure had taken him to. But what really alarmed Nicolae were the carts that moved by themselves, without horses pulling them. Nicolae had heard of some richfolk aquiring steam ran carts (the Domn had been looking at a few over in England). But even the carts that were run by steam didn’t move very quickly and these carts not only moved at a very quick speed, but a rather odd roaring noise came out from them. Nicolae jumped back in astonishment as bright red one roared passed him. He noticed a young man a couple of years younger than he was steering a wheel at the front of the cart. The other passengers in the car were two other boys and two girls, all appearing to be the same age as the driver. The cart did not have a roof as some of the others did and the young passengers joyfully screamed and shouted as though they didn’t have a care in the world. They didn’t even seem to notice that they had come close to hitting Nicolae. Nicolae looked around at the buildings of the town. The young passengers did not seem to be the only ones not taking any notice of Nicolae. There were other people in the town, of all ages, who passed him on the side walkway without seeming to have seen him. Nicolae tightened his grip on his back, always making sure Eloisa was still there. The more he watched the people passing him, the more it seemed that they were really unable to see him. He also noticed the fashion in which many of them dressed was different from anyone he had seen in his lifetime.
What is happening…?
Nicolae turned around to see Sebastian, across the road from him in front of a large, stone building. The boy’s gaze seemed to be fixed and staring.
“Sebastian!” Nicolae called.
After taking care to make sure none of the fast carts where approaching, Nicolae ran across the street toward Sebastian. But the boy had vanished by the time Nicolae had reached the sign that was in front of the building. Nicolae surveyed the building’s grounds for Sebastian but his younger brother was nowhere to be seen. Despair pulsed through Nicolae as he turned his gaze over to the sign in front of the building. The sign read:
Pinewoods High School
Though Nicolae did recognize the language as being English, he was unable to completely make out what the words spelled.
Nicolae looked back up at the building one more time before he took off again down the sidewalk. He continued passing people of all ages and none of them acknowledging his existence. For some reason, the anonymity he seemed to have in the place made him feel relieved despite the fact that this made even difficult to search for Sebastian and he still didn’t know where or why he was even here.
Nicolae came to an abrupt halt as he heard what sounded like music coming out from one of the buildings along the sidewalk. It was unlike any music he had ever heard. He wasn’t sure if he liked it or not, but the music had been enough to make him want to stop at the source of it. The male singer sounded like someone Sebastian’s age and the words he sung in were English. Nicolae struggled to make out the words, but an understanding for the language came over him for a second. It was long enough for Nicolae to get that the singer was asking why fools fall in love.
Nicolae walked over to the window of the building the music came out from, peering in. The building was filled with young people, around his age and a little younger, sitting around tables eating, drinking, and seeming to be having the time of their lives. Some were dancing to the music that floated through the air and Nicolae also noticed that the music was coming from a large and rather colorful box that many of the young patrons seemed fascinated over. It was all overwhelming for Nicolae. He turned away from the building, trying to get his bearings and think of a way to begin his search for Sebastian and get them both out of there and back to the field in Spain. Then he remembered Teresa and hoped she was still safe and asleep. Nicolae was shaken from his thoughts when a group of boys practically ran into him as they were exiting from the building. The boys looked to be about 18 or 19 and, as others in this town had, walked by Nicolae without taking any notice of him. Nicolae watched as the group walked by him, all of them laughing, talking, and playfully jabbing one another. And then Nicolae saw them. Among the boys in the group were two particular boys, one with dark hair and the other with sandy hair. Both of the boys had the same slim, but solid build that Nicolae had. Nicolae was also close enough to see that the boy with sandy hair had blue-green eyes and the boy with dark hair had hazel eyes. The two boys had similar facial features, obvious indication of the two of them being related.
The images of the two young men burned into Nicolae’s mind along with the memories of Emilian and Lucas flooding back to him. Nicolae was also reminded of the sandy haired boy he had seen with the dark haired girl at the house the cloaked figure took him to and realized that it was the same sandy haired young man he was watching walk along the sidewalk with his friends. He also remembered seeing the two little boys, one with dark hair and one with light hair, running though that field playing with a ball…
There was something about the two boys that drew Nicolae. As he followed the group they were in, Nicolae passed by another large building with another sign that he couldn’t read very well:
Pinewoods Public Library
The building also had a board that was made out of cork out front. The cork board was teeming with paper that seemed advertise an event of some kind and all of them were in English. Although Nicolae wasn’t very experienced when it came to the English language, he was able to make out dates on the papers and that was when he kept noticing the same set of numbers at the end of the dates:
Nicolae stared more closely at the dates on the papers to make sure he was seeing them correctly.
Nineteen hundred and fifty six???
That was over one hundred years ahead from Nicolae’s own time! Of course, it sort of made sense as hardly anything happening in this town was like anything Nicolae had seen. But at the same time, nothing seemed to make sense at all.
The group of boys disappeared over a hill down the road as Nicolae’s body was unable to move. The town then faded into a dimly lit sitting room. There was a soft, sad, but romantic song playing on a soundbox that was much smaller than the one he had seen in the town. Nicolae didn’t have much of a chance to take in his surroundings before he saw them near the soundbox that played the music. The sandy haired boy held the same dark haired girl Nicolae had seen him with two years ago at the farmhouse. Nicolae reached into the bag and clutched the box of Eloisa’s ashes as he watched the young couple. Although the music playing from the box wasn’t music from Nicolae’s time, it affected Nicolae to the brink of tears.
Nicolae turned his head away, escaping into a nearby room as the boy and girl leaned their faces into one another for a kiss.
Nicolae shut the door as the song continued to play in the other room. He could still hear it muffled through the door. The light from the moon entered the dark room through the curtains that hung in the windows. It was enough for Nicolae to see that he had entered a bedroom. Nicolae sat on the bed, taking Eloisa’s ashes out from the bag, holding the box to his chest as the song flowed softly into the room. He was haunted by ghostly images of him and Eloisa walking through the woods on a moonlit night. It was then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Sebastian sitting next to him on the bed.
“Sebastian!” he exclaimed, not caring if the couple in the other room could hear him or not.
But Sebastian just stared at him with sad, brown eyes and Nicolae realized that he and his younger brother weren’t the only ones in the room. Something in the far corner next to a washroom; it was a dark shape that was outlined by the moon beams. It was the shape of a human…but then again, it wasn’t…
Nicolae kept his gaze on the shape, setting he box bag into his bag, placing the bag safely behind him, and reached for his dagger.
“That won’t help,” Sebastian said.
Nicolae started to ask Sebastian what he meant, but he noticed the shape beginning to grow in size. As the soft, romantic music played in the other room, it began slowly levitating toward the ceiling.
By the time Nicolae drew out his dagger, he had found himself in the field back in Spain. He frantically turned his head, surveying his surroundings, his adrenaline still on high. Nicolae called out to his brother a few times, but the little boy was no where to be found. He also realized that his bag was not with him.
He searched the field and caught site of it on the ground not too far from where he was. Nicolae ran over, scooping the bag up, feeling the box inside.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered to Eloisa’s remains, “I’ll never leave you like that again.” Nicolae then remembered Teresa was still left alone at the campsite. He hoped she hadn’t woken up and gotten herself lost as she frantically went to search for him. He had also hoped that by some off chance, Sebastian would be there as well. Nicolae arrived back, relieved to find that Teresa still lay sleeping but his heart sinking when Sebastian was still nowhere to be found.
Nicolae sat down, resting his back against a tree. It would be next to impossible for him to fall back to sleep. Nicolae had tried to find logical reasoning for the cloaked man taking him to the island of impaled humans, the little boys in the field, the dark labyrinth, and the town in 1956. It’s possible he could have been dreaming or hallucinating, but Nicolae would dismiss that theory as he didn’t want to also come to the conclusion of the nights he had spent with Eloisa following her death hadn’t been real.
Nicolae looked over at the sleeping Teresa. Normally he would have just picked up and moved on after waking up regardless of the time of day or night. Nicolae had always been a light sleeper which only heightened after Eloisa had passed. But he had Teresa with him now and he still had hope that Sebastian may be around somewhere.
The hours passed as Nicolae stayed awake that night keeping a watch for Sebastian. Every so often, his eyes would turn to look at Teresa. She was a sweet, beautiful girl. Nicolae sat, wondering why she was so intent on accompanying him. She had given him her reasons. She didn’t want to get married to someone the people of her village chose for her and Nicolae could understand and even relate to what Teresa was feeling about that. He kept his gaze on Teresa, watching her peaceful sleep. Her chest moved slowly up and down in response to the soft breaths she was taking. Nicolae broke his stare, bringing his hand to the box as an immense guilt went through him. Here he was, betraying Eloisa. He forced any thoughts of Teresa from his mind, gripping the box as he looked up at the moon. A breeze rustled the grass and trees in the field. Nicolae listened, thinking he could hear that sad, romantic song he had heard as the sandy haired boy and his lover held one another. The ghosts of himself and Eloisa began to come back to him. He was with her, walking under a starry and moonlit night, feeling alive as he always felt with her. He could hear her laughter and see her eyes lighting up. He saw her intense, passionate gaze as she looked into his eyes and told him how much she loved him before she would bring her soft, full lips to touch his. He tasted the sweetness of her lips, parting so they could explore each other’s mouths with their tongues. The images of her were vivid as he saw her sit down onto the mattress, unlacing her blouse before he helped her remove it. He touched the softness of her skin. Her moan echoed in his ears as he brought his rough, callused hands to her breasts. Her nipples grew hard under his touch. It wasn’t long before he and Eloisa were locked in an embrace, warm skin against warm skin before his lips moved across her upper body, to her stomach, and down between her legs. The taste of her, the touch of her fingers raking through his hair, and hearing her responding to him as he got her ready for him to enter her took over him completely. Every thrust, every cry of pleasure from him and Eloisa filled Nicolae until he was spent. As he sat in the aftermath, the images of Eloisa resting in his arms with her head against his chest faded until Nicolae was back to the Spanish field, alone behind a tree and out of Teresa’s view. Nicolae realized he had once again spilled himself on to the grass. Nicolae let out a defeated sigh as he reached into his bag and pulled out a cloth, wiping his hands before readjusting himself back into his pants. He then took his bag and walked down to the stream to rinse the cloth, occasionally checking behind him to ensure Teresa’s safety as she slept and still keeping watch out for Sebastian, though his confidence in finding his younger brother was fading.
Nicolae returned to the campsite, placing the cloth next to the one Teresa had used to dry herself off with. The fact that he had just washed his seed away in the stream reminded him of how any desire to have children had died with Eloisa. The memories of Eloisa coming to him shortly before her death with the possibility that she was with child came back to him. At the time, Nicolae was overjoyed at the possibility of becoming a father and Eloisa having his child. It gave him even more of an incentive to plan for him, Eloisa, and Sebastian to leave for a seaport as soon as possible as Nicolae did not want his child being born into slavery. But before any of that had been able to happen or even before they could be certain of the pregnancy, Dimitri had intervened.
Nicolae lie back on the ground, staring up at the sky. He could hear Teresa’s soft, slow breathing across from him as he curled a protective arm around the bag, feeling the box through the material. He placed his other hand on his dagger, the same dagger he had used to defend Eloisa one last time before he would be on the run.
“Goodnight my sweet Eloisa,” he whispered before falling into a dreamless sleep.
Nicolae stirred at the sound of a female voice calling to him.
“Nicolae!” the voice said again with more urgency.
Nicolae opened his eyes to the morning light and Teresa shaking him awake. He could see a worried look in her eyes.
“Nicolae,” Teresa said, “shouldn’t we be going soon?”
Nicolae groaned, bringing his hand to his throbbing head
“Nicolae, are you alright?” Teresa asked.
“I will be,” Nicolae said sitting up, “just give me a minute.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Teresa asked.
“I said just give me a minute,” Nicolae replied.
Teresa sat, watching Nicolae as he rubbed his forehead, trying to relieve himself of a pain in his head that assaulted him like the morning after a bad night of drinking.
“Can I ask you to stop staring at me?” Nicolae snapped.
“Sorry…” Teresa said, turning away from him.
Nicolae turned his eyes to the dejected girl.
“Teresa, I’m sorry,” Nicolae said, “It’s just…I didn’t sleep very well last night.”
“It’s alright,” Teresa said slowly. She kept her eyes off of Nicolae as he rose to stand. Nicolae placed the two drying cloths back into his bag, and offered Teresa a small amount of food which she accepted with a quiet ‘thank you’ before eating.
“Shall we?” Nicolae asked as he slung his bag over his shoulder.
Teresa nodded and the two of them continued heading west, walking in silence before Teresa spoke up again.
“What do you dream about?” she asked.
Nicolae turned his head to look at her. “That’s a peculiar question. Is there a reason you ask?”
“I like to interpret dreams…or try to, at least. My mother did that…at least I think she did.”
“And why do you want to interpret my dreams?” Nicolae asked.
“I’m just curious. You toss and turn a lot,” Teresa said, “and sometimes you talk.”
Nicolae looked away rather sheepishly. Teresa had always fallen asleep after him and she seemed to be a heavy sleeper.
“Have I ever woken you?” Nicolae asked, afraid of what Teresa may have heard. Sebastian would sometimes tell him that he heard him say Eloisa’s name a couple times.
“Only two or three times,” Teresa said, “but it was enough for me to be worried about you.”
“I usually don’t remember my dreams,” Nicolae said, keep his gaze forward to avoid Teresa’s.
Teresa glanced up at Nicolae. “There are things you’re not telling me. Who’s Eloisa?”
Nicolae stopped and turned to face her. “Look. Part of our agreement was that we don’t pry into each other’s personal lives.”
“I know, but…” Teresa started but Nicolae cut her off.
“I’m telling you for the last time to not ask me personal questions. I’m not looking for close companionship or for anyone to get close to me.”
“But why?” Teresa asked.
Nicolae paused, feeling the anger pulse through him before he exploded. “Because everyone who has ever meant anything to me, I’ve lost! It started with my parents being executed in Romania where my family and I were slaves.”
“But you told me you were from Moldova!” Teresa cried.
“My mother was born in Moldova. So what if I stretched the truth. After my parents were killed my brothers and sisters and I were all separated at a slave auction. There. Does that make you happy?”
Teresa watched in astonishment as Nicolae walked with forceful steps ahead of her.
Slavery…That explains his scars…
“Nicolae! Please! Don’t be angry with me!” Teresa cried, running to catch up to him, “I just want to help you!”
“And how do you propose you’ll do that?” Nicolae said in a dark, quiet tone dripping with sarcasm.
“Everyone needs someone to talk to,” Teresa said, “no matter how much they think they don’t! I want to be there for you.”
“Teresa, trust me when I say that I’m well beyond that.”
“You expect me to trust you when you won’t let me know anything about you?”
“Well then go back to your village!” Nicolae yelled, “I never even wanted you traveling with me in the first place!”
Teresa fought the tears that eventually spilled down her face. “You’re going just let me go by myself?”
Nicolae calmed down, but maintained a grave disposition. “Of course I’m not going to let you go back by yourself. But…I made a mistake in allowing you to come with me.”
Nicolae continued, “It will take us a fortnight, maybe more. But it’s what I should have done when I found you at the old house. Now come.”
“I’m taking you back. End of discussion,” Nicolae said firmly.
Nicolae turned and began heading in the opposite direction they had come in. Teresa could only stand stunned, numb, and as though someone had knocked all of the wind out of her. Nicolae stopped and turned back, waiting for her to catch up to him. Teresa could barely feel her legs as she walked to catch up to him. She kept her eyes lowered, wiping the tears away from her face and keeping a safe distance between her and Nicolae as they began the journey back to her Gitano village.
Read on to CHAPTER 8 .