The Survivor Part 2
[An extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]
Late afternoon, the setting sun’s dying rays filtered golden through the curtains. The reflected dust motes danced and twirled, more awake than Phillipe who dozed amongst the sheets and crumpled doona on his bed.
His Dad had broken the news to Max the night before. Strange how Dad made the whole disaster appear as though it was Mum’s fault. Liam could never understand that. Dad was always blaming mum. It was as if, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much of a pure victim, Mum was, somehow Dad construed the whole situation to be Mum’s fault; as if Mum was willing it to happen. So, as far as Dad was concerned, the tragic disappearance of the plane over Antarctica, was solely Mum’s fault. After all, hadn’t she insisted on assisting Boris in his endeavours?
Dad was furious that Mum would desert this life and leave him with two teenage sons—Max (fifteen) and Liam (thirteen). How dare she! And what was worse, Mum was not around to shout at and take the punishment of the pain that she was now putting Dad through.
‘Get yourself outa bed, you lazy princess!’ Dad roared and then hammered on the door.
Max yawned and stretched. ‘In a minute.’ Then he turned over. He wasn’t ready to rise from his slumber. I mean, the sun hasn’t even set. How dare Dad disturb his twelve hours in Neverland?
The door crashed against his mountain of soft-drink bottles, a shrine to the hours of playing Craft of Warts. Boots stomped on the chip packets. A hand clasped his hair and dragged him to the floor. Max landed with a thud and crunch on last night’s pie crust and left-over sauce.
‘I said, “Get up Princess!”’ Dad yelled.
Max sat up and wiped the sticky sauce off his ear, and attempted to ease himself back into bed.
‘Oh, no you don’t,’ Dad said. He grabbed the lad by the elbow, dragged him into the family room and then dumped him sprawling on the carpet. ‘Oh, and clean up your room, it’s a pig sty.’
Max pulled himself up off the carpet and hobbled out of the room. The family room had already taken on the atmosphere of a morgue where his brother Liam sat at the pine modular table. His younger brother struggled to grind semi-dry Weetbix in his mouth. Since Mum’s assumed chilly demise, Dad had put the boys on milk rations. Actually, everything had been rationed in the last week, not that Max was particularly hungry.
Dad was psychotic. He hurled stuff out of cupboards. ‘Where did she hide the keys?’ He rambled as a mantra as he emptied one cupboard after another in his fervent search. ‘I swear she’s put them in a parallel universe.’
Max picked up his mobile phone from the middle of the dining room table and began to tip-toe from the room. Dad was too mental to notice him leave, he hoped. He spied the keys in the centre of the table and realized that the phone had hidden the keys beneath it. He stopped. He sighed and muttered, ‘Do I? Or don’t I?’
Max snatched up the keys and held them up and cried, ‘Here they are!’
Liam kept his head bent, eyes focussed on the dry flakes, and continued munching.
Max’s calls for attention fell on deaf ears. Dad had gone past all realms of reason. Still Max persisted in following after his blind, deaf and psychotic father. He dangled the wanted keys between his fingers. ‘Here they are! Here they are!’ He called as he trailed his Dad from kitchen to the lounge room.
‘Stop harassing me! Go clean your room Princess!’ Dad yelled. He pushed Max towards his room and totally ignored the keys in his son’s hand.
‘Fine then,’ Max mumbled.
He slipped into his room, secreted the keys into his school bag and crawled back into bed. And continued his dream of a faraway land where the sky was mauve and where his name wasn’t Max, but Phillipe, and Liam wasn’t Liam, but Karl.
Out of the Ice-Cave
In a haze of bewilderment, Letitia blinked. Fractured rays of sunlight winked at her through shards of ice. About two metres above her a pale turquoise tinted sky strained through the ice, smooth and clear like glass. Little suns bounced off the icy barnacles and pillows of snow above her.
All was too calm, too silent in her frozen grave. The absolute silence troubled Letitia more than the concept of being buried metres in what appeared to be a snow cave. In this eerie world devoid of noise, she heard her rapid breathing.
‘I can breathe,’ she mumbled, her lips stung, the cold dry skin splitting into cracks. The sharp air cut her lungs. But her exterior didn’t register the cold. Should she be worried? She checked her fingers in the dim light. Were they blue? How long had she been lying there? Did she have frostbite? Would she get it? Or would the nano-bots ensure some protection?
Her body, stripped of clothing, was numb. Her designer Mirror (French, of course) slacks burnt and shredded. What remained of her silk shirt hung limply over her breasts. Her ankle high leather boots dangled at the end of her feet, the rubber soles having melted into distorted blobs. There was a sticky mess woven into her socks; her socks that held her frozen feet. Her feet were clumps of cold meat that seemed not even to belong to her. The ice scrunched and crunched beneath her as she shifted position.
‘How did I get here?’ Letitia asked. ‘Oh, that’s right—Boris. How dare that creep spoil my life again!’
She rubbed her hands together. ‘Right, well, not this time. You’re not going to do it to me again, evil one. God is on my side. He’s saved me again. I’m alive, aren’t I?’
Letitia looked up. ‘Jemima? What happened to you? God, help me get out of here. Help me find Jemima. Help me do what I can to destroy Boris.’
She wriggled her glowing white fingers. A surge of warmth ran through the veins in her arms to the tips of her fingers. The warmth, it seemed supernatural. She rubbed her shredded boots together and wiggled her toes. Blood rushed to her feet. Agonising pins and needles ensued for several minutes.
Heat, as if from an unseen being, poured over her head and cascaded down her body. She remembered the sensation. She’d experienced it before when she’d attended a healing service and the people had prayed for her.
‘The heat of the Spirit,’ they said. A good thing.
The ice beneath her melted. The snow caved-in around her and Letitia sank. She spread out her arms and stilled her limbs. ‘God,’ she cried, ‘what are you doing? Save me.’
A small voice inside her head spoke, ‘Patience. I have it under control.’
The floor under her feet became firm. She turned and examined the surface below. Her feet scuffed at deep brown gravel-like ground through the glassy plate of ice. She was on land.
She scraped the snow and ice above her in the snow tomb. The whole situation had an unreal edge to it. She swayed and slumped against the side of the cave. Bits of snow and icicles gave way as the heat of her body radiated and melted the frozen parts. The sun and its dozens of reflections shone through an ever-widening hole. The opening, just out of reach. Letitia clawed at the frosty sides and marvelled at the snowballs accumulating in her fist. She dumped the unwanted snow at her feet and stood gazing at the gap.
‘How am I ever going to get out?’ she groaned.
She continued to scrape at the frigid walls of the cave, each time hurling the unwanted snow at the floor. A hollow where she had dug began to expand and the soft fluffy snow began to give way to smooth walls as hard as glass. She stepped on the frosty mound beside her feet to reach fresh wads of snow, only to find her feet vanishing into the mush. She continued to shovel, dig, climb, and sink.
‘I’m not getting anywhere,’ she sighed. ‘I’m just making a wider ice-cave; that’s all.’
Letitia smoothed the frozen walls with her warm bare hands. The activity, she assumed, was keeping her blood circulating preventing her from the inevitable death by deep freeze.
She stopped again and wrung her aching hands. ‘Useless! Absolutely useless. I’m not getting anywhere.’ She chastised herself for getting into this slushy mess in the first place. How did she cause this to happen? It began with a party. A date. Nathan. Tall, dark, handsome. Funny. Nathan. How could she resist? Nathan. He had invited her to the twenty-first birthday party of one of his IGSF colleagues. Frieda. In space. La Grange point.
Then. Boris. And years of “Purgatory” living with on that world. Mirror World. What had she done this time? How did Boris know she had wanted out, and that this was her out? How did he know what her daughter, Jemima was planning?
She recalled the on-line survey. Confidential. They promised. Gathering data. That’s what they said. Data, nothing else. So, she’d filled in the survey. After all, they promised a prize. A new washing machine. Never came. Perhaps her answers weren’t so anonymous. Maybe Boris had access to the information provided…Had she inadvertently allowed spies into her world?
‘I won’t let that cockroach win,’ she said.
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Inside the Fee Glacier, Swiss Alps © L.M. Kling 2014