Blind the Stars (Rose of the Dawn Series Book 3)

BOOK: Blind the Stars (Rose of the Dawn Series Book 3)
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Blind the
Stars

By Ily
Maguire

 

BLIND THE STARS TEXT © 2015 ILY MAGUIRE

Cover Design © 2014 Saffie Design & Illustration

All Rights Reserved

 

For Janine. Happy Honeymooning.

From
The
Picture of Dorian Gray

By Oscar Wilde

(1854-1900)

 

There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened
before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamored
of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the
chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and
instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends
itself to Gothic arts its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy,
especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of
reverie.

1

“I
said, go!” Dory pushes me in the direction from which Pike and I came. Away
from what’s left of my home.

“Dory,
wait! Slow down!” If she pushes me any farther, I’ll fall backward down the
stairs.

“Rose.
Please.” She pulls me close for another hug and then releases me from her
embrace. Her body is cold. Her eyes move about without focusing on any one
thing.

“Are
you hurt?” I ask, but she doesn’t answer.

“No
one has followed us here if that’s what you’re worried about,” Pike interjects.
“We’re pretty sure of it.”

“But
they’re still here, watching.” Her eyes dart from me to Pike and then around
the hall. She doesn’t ask who he is and he doesn’t offer an introduction. “Always
watching.”

“Who’s
watching?” I ask.

“They
are,” she snaps. “They are always watching.” Shadows creep across the walls and
over the floor. It makes my neck warm with sweat and my skin crawls.

“Where
is everyone, Dory? Mom and Dad? And Evie? Where’s Evie?” I don’t mention the
small gravesite where Sofie, our dog, is buried outside. I’m sure Dory already
knows about it. She may have been the one to bury her.

“They’re
gone.” Dory stands there. Her attention drifts with her eyes. Most of her hair was
cut from mid-back to shoulder-length. There’s dried blood around her temples. Grey
hair is matted to the blood. She’s aged, yet she’s not even twenty-two. A
breeze wafts around my face. I look from Dory to the giant hole that is above our
heads.

“Gone
where?” Pike asks.

“Away
from here,” she responds. I think this is may be the first time Dory studies
him. Her shirt is in tatters. She isn’t wearing any pants. Just this long
shirt, to her knees, and socks mismatched with a hole at one of the toes. She
shuffles up the steps and we follow. She sits at the top.

Her
skin is so pale and sallow. Her new, short hair hangs in uncombed clumps and
she tugs at a lock, nervously twisting it.
What has she become?
This
isn’t her. This isn’t the person who was beside my bed that last day before I
left. I look at Pike, but he isn’t looking at me. He’s staring at my sister.
How
has Dory deteriorated so quickly?
What’s happened since I left?

“From
here to where?” Pike resumes.

“I
don’t know,” she shrugs. I can’t tell what she’s looking at. She’s apathetic.
Almost angry.

“Dory,
you have to make some sense!” I hold her shoulders. The flesh is thin and her
bones delicate. Brittle almost. Like they may snap if I decide to squeeze. “Where
did they go?”

“I
don’t know.” She shakes me off. “Away. Away from here. I don’t know where they
went. I don’t know.” Her head falls to her hands in her lap and she cries.

I
keep my tone level. “Did they leave you behind, Dory? Why didn’t you go with them?”

“They
had to go, Rose. It was okay. I wanted to stay. I was waiting for you. I knew
you’d be back. I had to wait.”

“For
me?”

“For
you.” She repeats, her voice is monotone. Numb. Dead.

I’m
the reason she is this way. My eyes well up with tears. I wipe my eyes.

“How
long have you been here?” I ask.

“A
while, but not long. Not long enough. Not too long, I mean.” Dory stumbles on
her words. On her thoughts. Her eyelids close and she looks tired.

“Listen,”
Pike begins and Dory and I turn to him. He stares at Dory. “You wanted us to
leave. Why? What’s happened here? How did all this happen?”

Dory
looks up. Her shoulders sag and the shirt falls below her neckline. I gently
pull it up and adjust it. She doesn’t notice. Her skin is moist. And clammy.
The temperature is warm, but her skin is still cold. My skin sweats. It’s the
humidity.

“The
crows,” she answers. “It was the crows.”

“What
crows?” Pike asks. We both look up to see nothing.

“The
ones outside,” she says.

“There
were none outside,” I say.

“Yes,
there were. Okay. No.” Dory shakes her head.

“Are
the crows people?” Pike offers, probing for more information. I’m not sure what
she’s talking about. From what I’ve read there haven’t been crows on this part
of the planet in years.

“No.”
She keeps shaking her head. “Yes.”

“Dory,
did they hurt you? What happened?” I reach over to touch the side of her head,
but she jerks away. She mutters to herself, but I can’t make out any words.

“Pike,”
I lean over and whisper. My face is turned away from my sister. “What’re we
going to do? What if whoever was here is still here? What if they come back?” I
look back to Dory.

“It’s
still early and it won’t be getting dark any time soon.” Pike moves down the
hallway to stand directly below the most open part of the roof.

A
loud, thunderous rumble shifts my attention as well. Dark clouds pass overhead.

“A
storm is coming,” Pike states and pulls me away from my sister. The sky isn’t
just overcast. There are so many clouds that they’ve blocked out the light
completely.

He
runs down the stairs and back to the front door. I look at Dory who sits down
watching the sky, playing with her hair. I run down the stairs after Pike. He’s
back outside.

The
sky rumbles again. It’s as loud outside as it was inside.

“It’s
snowing,” I observe. Soft, white flakes fall from somewhere in the sky. Water
vapor frozen into ice crystals fall at an unprecedented rate. Within seconds, I
can’t see more than ten feet in front of me. And it’s gotten cold, too. Pike
steps farther onto the porch. I take a step after him, but then he’s gone into
the white-out. I reach out to grab him, he couldn’t have gone far, but I grasp
nothing. “Pike?”

I
step closer to the edge, but I don’t want to leave Dory, even though I’m not
sure she’s fully aware of my presence. The snow falls. I haven’t experienced
this. I’ve read about it though it’s never snowed here in my lifetime. White
and fluffy becomes wet and sticky very quickly. The lawn and all of the debris are
being covered by snow. I don’t see Pike anywhere.

My
body shivers trying to maintain balance and my new arm rubs the real one to try
to warm it. I don’t feel anything on the side of my body that lost my limb. I
look around, but don’t see anything. Anyone.

“Pike?”
I call. I look to the ground, but any footprints he may have left have been
covered over. I can’t tell how long I’ve been out here. At least fifteen
minutes? Maybe more. The sky has gone dark and it’s still snowing.

Another
loud rumble and a few seconds later a crack and a bright flash illuminates the
sky. Lightning. I jump back into the doorway.

“Rose?
Rose!” Dory’s voice shrieks from the top of the stairs, inside the house.
“Where are you, Rose?” She yells, demanding my whereabouts.

“Dory,
I’m here. I’m still here. Wait where you are – I’ll be right up.” I step back
toward the porch and cup my hands around my mouth. “Pike?”

Again,
no answer. Again thunder. And more lightning. Then I see him. In the brief
flash, I see Pike dart across the lawn. Another rumble and flash. Pike is up
the stairs and standing beside me. He breathes deep, catching his breath. His
hair is white with snow and he shakes it suddenly, sprinkling water all around
his head. I reach up with my hand and rub the rest of it away. I surprise
myself. He doesn’t seem fazed. Water dries on my hand upon contact. The sensors
on my fake hand glow orange as they try to mimic a body heat response.
Footprints Pike left up the stairs are gone and there’s no trace of his path
across the lawn.

One
more timid rumble, no lightning, and the snow stops falling. The sky brightens
with a dusty-pink glow. The storm is over.

“Micro-storm.
It’s passed,” he states.

“I’ve
never seen anything like it,” I respond.

“You’ve
never seen snow before?” His voice gets high at the end and he’s surprised. He
wipes the remaining condensation away from his arms and shoulders.

“Uh-uh.”
I shake my head. And as I look down at the lawn beyond, the snow that a few
minutes ago covered the ruined front steps of my house has begun to melt.

“I’ve
never seen it melt so fast before,” Pike observes.

A
strange sound makes us look up. The topiaries that lined our once
neatly-manicured lawn and blocked us from our nearest neighbor five hundred
feet away sounds like it’s moving, though there is no breeze. I don’t see
anything at first. Then Pike and I watch a large bird fly down onto the lawn. A
crow.

“Rose,
is it over?” Dory calls. There’s no hostility in her voice. It’s quiet, but she’s
close. I don’t think she can see the bird on the lawn. Her voice doesn’t shake
and she sounds less anxious. She’s still inside.

“Dory!”
I run back in and to the bottom of the stairs where she waits. One hand on the
only part of the railing that hasn’t been mangled. Even with the gaping hole in
the ceiling and my sister beneath it, she is still dry and the stairs haven’t a
drop of water on them. “It is over. It was just a small storm.”

“There
was a storm?” Dory asks. I’m not sure how it’s so dry inside.

“There
was, but it’s over now.” I wrap my real arm around her shoulder and she leans
into me. She hugs herself with her own arms.

“Did
you hear them?” Her hands move up to cover her ears, something I’ve never seen
her do before.

“Hear
what?” I only heard the thunder.

“The
crows. They’re coming back.” She closes her eyes.

“We’re
going to have to get somewhere safe regardless. We can’t stay here,” Pike says
pointing to the open ceiling. “There’s no one else here, right, Dory?”

“No
one,” she answers. “But the crows. We can use the quarantine cellar.” Her shirt
slips down again.

“Is
that where you hid all this time? Then why were you hiding in that closet when
we got here?” I ask, pointing behind her up the stairs. She doesn’t turn.

“I
didn’t hide down there. I didn’t hide at all.” Dory’s eyes wander. She stomps
back up the stairs and we follow. She goes to the closet that used to contain
the linens, folded in perfect squares, organized by color: white, blue, and
beige. Now it’s an empty hole in the wall with any shelves or even a door. The
linens are all over the floor.

“What’s
the quarantine cellar?” Pike asks. “Why didn’t you go down there if you knew it
would keep you safe?”

“I
was waiting for the crows to quiet down.” Dory looks down around the ruined
house. “They were outside and then inside. They were everywhere.”

Pike
looks from Dory to me.

“It
was always off-limits,” I start. Dory rummages through a heap of towels on the
floor of the closet. She mutters something again, but I can’t make out what
she’s saying until she turns toward us.

“It
was the epidemics!” She yells and then turns back to the closet.

“Epidemics?”
Pike asks.

“With
the repeal of vaccinations, houses were required to include a quarantine cellar
in the event that an infected person could contaminate the population. With the
rise of desensitized disorders and the unknown spread of them, the room was
designed to keep disease out rather than the other way around. It’s furnished
and fully stocked and can keep us alive for years. As long as an epidemic or outbreak
could last,” I tell him.

“But
disorders aren’t diseases,” he says. I shrug. I know, but does it matter?

“How
come you didn’t just go down there?” He asks. Dory doesn’t pay any attention.
Her fingers fiddle with an imaginary string on her shirt. Stretching the air
and then twisting it around her finger. Over and over again. Better that than
her hair, which lies in detached strands all over her sleeves.

“Why
wouldn’t she go down there?” Pike turns to me.

“Maybe
she never had the chance,” I answer on my sister’s behalf.

“But
it would’ve kept her safe,” he retorts.

“She
might not have had the time, I don’t know.” I pull Dory up from a pile on the
floor, holding her beneath the arms. She doesn’t fight me, but reaches back into
a heap nearby. Clothes are matted and compacted and they smell musty. I sneeze.

Dory
pulls a green long-sleeve shirt from somewhere at the bottom, which looks and
smells miraculously good. It must be self-cleaning. She stands on her own and
we walk toward the back stairs.

She
trembles as she nears our rooms. “What’s wrong?” I ask. Dory doesn’t move from
where she has stopped in the hallway.

“Rose,
don’t –” Dory says. She doesn’t have enough strength to stop me. She doesn’t
even try. Instead, she hides behind Pike.

I
slide the door open. It’s heavy, but manageable. It isn’t activated and I’m
guessing the floor isn’t heated either. There should be more than enough solar
power to energize the house and I’m caught off-guard that it isn’t. I push the
door all the way open and glimpse inside. The light is bright, almost blinding.
Like what I imagine too many stars in the night sky to be like. The sensors
aren’t working either it seems because if they were, the room would be dimmed
with soft light. Pike touches my shoulder and I let the door close.

BOOK: Blind the Stars (Rose of the Dawn Series Book 3)
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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