stranger than earth...
BOSTON | 2015
At first it is just a mild inconvenience. 3 AM isn't an unknown hour, but Katya wakes with a start and everything feels wrong. The bed is her own. Thank God. The covers are pushed off quickly as she fights for breath. It is too hot and her head is pounding. This one is stronger than the last time. She strips down and paces by the bed. She wants to scream out, but thinks better of it. Tara has enough to put up with. She steels herself, and her feet remember the way to her dresser without the light. Her hand closes over the little, orange bottle and shakes out the usual dose of the muscle relaxer. The room spins before she reaches the glass of water by her nightstand. She falls. She keeps falling. Falling down. Falling through.
ODESSA | 1941
Her stomach grumbles with hunger. They have been walking for hours. Children are crying, but her face is solemn. It isn't hard to understand what will come next. The fear returns, but it is not just her own. There is a star on Katherine's jacket. There are men in uniforms watching her shuffle past in a line of hundreds. The building ahead is grey. If she tries hard enough, she can hear the sea. The mud beneath her feet is dark. Everything is dark. "Екатерина!" comes her mother's cry and she feels the weight of someone pushing her down. Into the mud. The shots ring out into the night. The final count: 36,000.
DEERFIELD | 1995
The floor is cold and it keeps her calm for now. It is an old fall-out shelter her family inherited from the previous occupant. It's a fitting location. No one can hear her here. No one can see her. Her hand tugs hard on her hair. It is tangible. It is real. Kitty reaches for the book by her knee, turns it over, flips through the pages. Then it falls from her fingers and her hand disappears. Her hand disappears into the book! Kitty screams. The book flies across the room. She keeps screaming. Her mother finds her on the lawn in the morning with her clothes soaked through. Kitty refuses to see the doctor.
WESTCHESTER | 2006
Piotr kisses her and her face goes blank. It isn't on the lips. He kisses her temple and he may as well have called her little sister. It isn't the kind of kiss that she wants and it isn't fair! Ariel wants him more than anyone else does, more than anyone else ever will, she just knows it. "You're too young," he says and it might be true, but she doesn't care. He is the first and she knows he will be the last. His expression seems pained, he squeezes her shoulder and walks off. Ariel doesn't let anyone see her cry. She skips all her classes the next day. Mouths off to Wolverine when he finds her eating peanut butter with a spoon in the kitchen. Writes angry entries in her journal and promises to never fall in love with a mutant again.
ORION'S BELT | UNKNOWN
Her central nervous system is at odds with itself. The fear is real. As real as it will ever be for the reptilian brain. Adrenaline is a tricky thing, but it's not new. Star-lord wants to fling herself out the air-lock. She wants to tear all her skin off. She wants her knees to stop shaking. Her back is dripping wet. Her skin is on fire. There is no external threat. It is all happening inside. Her eyes finally open. The silence of space magnifies her frantic heart. There's an engagement ring on her finger. It feels like it belongs. There's a man in the bed next to her. His musk is intoxicating and it's on her too. She realises that she is naked. Far off, she can hear music. My baby, he don't talk sweet, he ain't got much to say, but he loves me, loves me, loves me. I know he loves me anyway.
The elevator is out and Katya is climbing down the fire-escape in her work-out gear. Her fever sets her skin alight but the night air is soothing. Exercise has always been the perfect antidote for her anxiety and this episode shouldn't be any different. If she can just get out into the street and put feet to pavement it will all fall away behind her. Katya has a dozen justifications for the pain she is in, for the hallucinations, the memories of lives that are not her own. It could be anything from bad food, bad drink, late-night television, work-hours, stress, that damn cat. Time would reveal the cause and there was no reason to worry excessively or to deviate from her usual routine. Her laces are tightened and she stretches against a wall, then she is off toward her favourite trail, intent to keep herself together. Nothing can unnerve her. Not the eerily silent streets and not the man in black and purple following her down her jogging path...
to be continued...