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A working peice March 9, 2006

Posted by batduck in Friends & Family.
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posted Thu, 03/09/06

She awoke with a start, sweat beading her forehead and upper lip, dripping down the valley between her breasts.  She looked about her into impenetrable darkness but could not discern even the slightest movement in the bedroom. Trying desperately to calm her haggard breathing and slow her heart she waited for her eyes to adjust to the gloom of the bedroom. Slowly, gradually, her breathing resumed its normal, even rhythm, her heart settled into her chest and her eyes could look around and see the room for what it was, rather than walls of darkness surrounding her.

There, across the room was their alarm clock whose digital display was bright enough that she could see shapes that were familiar enough for her to name. There, in the corner was the dog’s bed with their dog sleeping peacefully (and with wild abandon) sprawled on his back. There were no monsters here, nothing to create such anxiety in her heart. “It must have been a bad dream,” she tells her self and she looks to the prone form laying next to her in the bed. Her husband slept on unaware that his wife had just fought a grave battle with an unseen fear. Slowly, carefully as to not wake neither her husband nor their dog, she tip-toed into the bathroom. In the darkness, leaning over the sink, she turned on the faucet and filled her cupped hands with lukewarm tap water. Gulping the water down she tried in vain to ease the burning in her throat from gasping in cold night air while asleep. “Must have been quite a nightmare,” she thinks as she turns the sink off and dries her hands. “I doubt I’ll get much more sleep tonight.” The sweat that had been pouring out of her, now made her shiver as it dried on her skin and the bedroom which she had found sweltering just moments before, was chilly and just the way the couple liked it “The better to snuggle up under the covers.” as they say.

Pulling two of her pillows off the bed she crept across the room and slipped through the door. So quietly in fact, that the dog never even lifted his head. Once in the hallway, she moved less quietly and went downstairs. Pausing long enough to disengage the alarm, she grabbed a throw off the couch and her book off the recliner without breaking stride. Sliding open the back door she walked out onto the patio in back of their house. Wrapping the throw around her, arranging the pillows behind her back, and placing the book beside her on the bench swing, she settled in for a few relaxing hours with one of her favorite authors. Settled and comfortable, she opens the book and settles it on her lap, her eyes already eagerly reading the first lines of the page. Without glancing up, she reaches to the side table, picks up her cigarettes and lights one.

She remains this way for some time. The only movements she makes are economical and swift; the turning of a page, the quick flick of a lighter, the impatient dousing of a spent cigarette butt into the ashtray. Only when reaching for a fresh cigarette and finding none does she raise her eyes from the printed page in front of her. The cigarette pack is empty and a quick glance at the ashtray confirms why. Rubbing her eyes and looking out into the lawn, she noticed that the first streaks of dawn are coming up and the birds have started their morning songs.

Unfolding her legs from beneath her, she once again grabs her pillows and the book and passes through the sliding glass door. The throw back on the couch, the novel back on the recliner, she carries her pillows back up the stairs and to the master bedroom. Opening the door she hears the soft rhythmic snoring of her husband and the rustle of the dog stretching as he climbs out of his bed. Taking a moment to greet the dog good morning, she rearranges her pillows on the bed and climbs back in. Quickly pulling the covers over herself to ward of the chill in the room, she scooches and shimmies over until she is pressed against her husbands back. He murmurs in his sleep and settles down again. 

She remains this way for maybe fifteen minutes before she gets too antsy to lie there any longer. She had hoped to fall back asleep for a few hours but that just wasn’t going to happen. Once again getting out of the bed as quietly as possible, she takes a few minutes to go through her normal waking routine. With her teeth brushed, her face washed and a load of laundry in her arms, she heads back downstairs. Now awake, the dog follows her and makes it known that he needs to go out. Asking him to be patient, she fills the washing machine and sets it to run and heads into the kitchen for a new pack of cigarettes and again picks up her book and the throw on her way to the back door…

Easily engrossed once again in the story unfolding itself on the pages in front of her, she doesn’t look up until the dog nudges her leg many minutes later. Closing the book once again and rising from the swing, she pets the dog and heads back into the house. The washing machine has long since finished its wash cycle and she transfers the load to the dryer. Glancing at the clock she notices that it is fast approaching eight in the morning and decides that it is late enough to start some real work. Heading up stairs, the dog close behind her, she peeks into the master bedroom checking on her husband. He has moved now to the center of the bed, looking for her perhaps in his sleep and kicked off the covers. Now that the sun is coming up, the room is no where near as chilly as it was in the pre-dawn hours. 

Crossing the room to the bed she sits on the edge and looks at him for a time. Relaxed in sleep, he looks peaceful and she can’t bring herself to wake him just yet. Rather, she grabs another load of laundry and carries it back downstairs with her to load the machine. Not wanting to create too much noise and risk waking her husband upstairs, she decides to put off running the vacuum cleaner or any other loud household appliances. Rather, she starts to tidy up the living space of the cozy little home. 

The clothes dryer buzzes, announcing that the timer has run out. Checking the clothes, she finds them dry and puts them in a hamper for folding. She transfers the next load over and takes the hamper to the living room to fold. Taking a moment to sit on the sofa while folding she gets lost in thought and begins to neglect the task at hand. Comfortable, with the load of warm dry clothes next to her, she drifts off on any line of thought her mind takes her. Before long, comfortable and warm with the clothes next to her, she drifts off to sleep.

She is awakened by music. Slowly opening her eyes, she finds that the clothes she had been folding are neatly packed away in the hamper and so is the load she had just put in the dryer. The dog is asleep on the rug at her feet. Her cats, making their first appearance of the day have both curled up in balls near her waist on the couch. Realizing that the music that woke her was her cell phone, she gently dislodges the two cats and rises from the couch to find her purse and cell phone. From the kitchen, she hears the ringing phone stop and her husband’s voice answering. Walking to the kitchen, she is greeted with a warm smile and an apologetic smile. After making excuses to the caller, he hangs up and wraps her in a tight hug. 

“Good morning sleepy head,” he says into her hair. Burrowing deeper into his embrace she only grunts slightly in response. They stand this way for a few minutes before, with a kiss on the top of her head, he steps back and away from her. Awake enough now to make civilized conversation she asks, “How long ago did you get up?” Smiling indulgently he answers, “A couple of hours ago. Long enough to fold a few loads of laundry and watch you sleep.”

Laughing, she tells him how she had pretty much done the same thing earlier in the morning. Pulling a carton of orange juice out of the fridge and pouring a glass she asks who was on the phone. “Ben,” he responds, “wanting to know if we were available for dinner tonight.” She pulls a face, letting him know exactly how she felt about dinner with Ben tonight. Smiling because he knew to expect that response, he grabs her glass and drinks the rest of her juice and pours her a fresh glass. 

They both walk to the dining room table and sit. Years of being together have them both well trained to their usual routine, and they move together now in a harmony only couples deeply committed seem to achieve. Here, they discuss their plans for the day. What he wants to get done, and what she hopes to do. They compromise on plans that they won’t be able to fit into their day and reschedule them. After twenty or so minutes in deep discussion, their plans for the day are complete and they get ready to really start the day ahead. Having already agreed to their plan of action, neither had to speak to the other as they let the dog out again, gave the cats a kiss and locked up the house. Walking to the car, they climbed in and drove down the street to their favorite neighborhood diner for a quiet breakfast.

It’s a quiet life these two lead. Their routine rarely varies and they even more rarely needs to. It works for them and they make no secret of their love for each other, their happiness to be together, or the abjectly boring natures. This very boringness, the routine they follow like clockwork is also what made them the perfect target…

What the couple didn’t know, going through their quaint and quiet morning routine is that they were being watched.  Constantly.  Now, in the diner as they finished the last of their breakfast and paid the bill, they were watched.  Walking to the car, they were watched.  Lighting their after breakfast cigarettes, they were watched.  Their watcher waited, he was in no hurry, he knew he wouldn’t lose them.  He felt his quarry to be ignorant to his presence and in many ways they were, yet, seeing the wife shoot up in bed this morning had startled him.  Had she noticed him some way, there in the room with them?

He followed them through their errands, not really trying to mask his presence from them.  No one, but the very trained would detect him at all.  Well really, if he was honest with himself, no one but the very trained, or the innately talented would detect him.  In his many, many years of doing this, not many had been innately talented enough to find him, so he did not fear this couple.  Their stalker couldn’t explain why he was so drawn to them.  This seemingly boring and ordinary couple was nothing at all like his usual quarry.  In the three weeks that he had been watching the couple had very rarely altered their boring routine.  But he was inexplicably drawn to them, to her really, and had no idea why as of yet.  He was sure the reasoning would be revealed to him in time, but, until then, he watched.

The couple had first been revealed to him when he felt a surge of power from one of them.  Now, after having watched and waited and read them over and over again over the past few weeks, he began to doubt his own reliability after all this time.  But, his ego got the best of him, and he always returned to surveying them to be sure that if another powerful spike comes from her (or even him) he will be there to witness it and move ahead with his plan.
As this day draws out as every other over the past few weeks, he loses interest in them and decides to return to the apartment he has rented while tailing the couple.  In the small studio, he has hung black out curtains to keep out any sunlight and only lights the room with candles.  Sitting on the bare floor, he lights five of the candles closest to him and closes his eyes.  Centering himself, he finds the steady even flow of his power and floats along its current. 
He pictured himself riding this current.  In his mind’s eye he was nude, his pale skin luminous in the light of a full moon in a dark and starless sky as he floated along on his back.  The further he floated, the faster the current and after a few minutes, the current was quite brisk indeed.  As it carried him along swiftly, picking up the pace as he went, he felt his power growing and swelling as the river carrying him did.  When the pace of the flow reached its peak, he pulled back a bit on this vision and opened his eyes in the gloomy room where he sat.
Staring into the flame of the candle directly in front of him, he took the power he had just built up and pushed it out of himself.  The flame fluttered as the energy passed through it and the top of the candle slid forward, severed in half.  Pleased with his accomplishment but still annoyed that he need expend such a vast quantity of power for such a small task, he stands.  Blowing out the candles he walks to the kitchenette and takes out a bottle of juice, and an energy bar.  He eats his small meal as he stands, chewing mechanically, his face void of any emotion.  Finishing ,he sat again on the floor of the room and closed his eyes.

His body now replenished after expending such energy, he didn’t at once seek his power again, but rather drifted, neither here nor there, in his mind and let it wander.  He remembered again the scene in the bedroom this morning.  It is impossible that the woman saw him there, after all, there was nothing to see, and she didn’t sound any alarm nor wake up her husband.  But still, her abrupt awakening, instantly fearful and cautious made him curious.  Was it simply a bad dream that had awakened her or did she unconsciously know he had been there, inches from her sleeping form staring intently at her, indeed through her, to find the power that resides within.

Had she not suddenly sat up awake and startled him, he would have turned to the man next and scanned him.  Previously he had scanned the man and had found a power there, but it remained untapped.  The powerful energy spike that had brought him was unlikely to have come from him.  But as he watched them, it seemed just as unlikely that the spike had come from here either.  Debating his sanity but continuing none the less, he had even gone as far as scanning the three household pets.  They were all powerful in their own right, but years of experience had taught him that this was true of most animals.  The one cat was a powerful little creature, more so than the others, but she was of no use to him and still didn’t have the appropriate amount of power to have lured him here.

Some one in that house held a power like most people only dreamed of and had used that power in an energy release whose signature he had found.  He would not leave this area until he learned who or what had generated that spike.  And when he did, he would kill them and absorb the vast amount of energy into himself…

Back across town the couple was home again after having finished running the errands they had decided to complete that day. Satisfied that the vast majority of the work they needed to do had now been completed, they settled in at home for a quiet evening together. 

Desiring a little alone time, the wife gave her husband a quick kiss and headed upstairs to their spare room. There she sat down at her computer and checked her e-mail and responded to the few she had received during the day that were not junk mail. That small task completed she swiveled around in her desk chair to see one of their cats enter the room. Lizzy, the female of their two cats walked in rubbing the door frame and staring directly at her. Moving slowly but intently and never breaking eye contact, she jumped up on Suzy’s lap and laid down. 

Smiling, Suzy petted the small cat and enjoyed the soft purrs coming from her mouth. Although she loved all her pets equally, this little cat had a special place in her heart. She was only a kitten when they had adopted her and so she truly was, as Suzy often called her, the Baby Girl of the house. Leaning her head back against the computer chair, Suzy enjoyed this quiet time with Lizzy. With Marcus downstairs in front of the television with their male cat Moochie and their dog Sosho she and Lizzy were alone in this part of the house. 

Although she had fought the general malaise she had felt all day, as she sat there, vulnerable and relaxed it crept back to her slowly. What had startled her awake this morning, she wondered. Raising her head off the back of the chair again, she gently picked up the cat and cuddled her closer. Rubbing their faces together she returned Lizzy’s headbutts with kisses and tried to calm her once again frayed nerves.

Lizzy started to stir indicating she wanted to be let out of the embrace Suzy was holding her in. Gently placing the cat back on the floor, Suzy smiled as she watched the cat walk quietly around the room. As her eyes followed the cat over to the futon, Suzy’s gaze brushed past and then returned to the small box sitting on the lowest shelf of the big bookcase in the room. Slowly, hesitantly she stood and walked across the room to the box, knelt down and retrieved it.

Sitting on the futon next to Lizzy, she slowly brushed her hands over the lid of the box and just held it in her lap for a moment. Feeling Lizzy brush her knee she looked across to her and watched her knead the coverlet on the futon before settling down in a comfortable position, clearly in no hurry to run off and play for the moment. Steeling her resolve, Suzy gently lifted the clasp that held the box lid down securely and opened it. 

Nestled inside this box was an odd assortment of items. The vast majority of the box’s contents were hidden, covered in black velvet. Lifting the velvet out and folding it neatly again before setting it on the futon beside her, Suzy gazed down into the box. Just looking at the contents soothed her. Here were her old friends, friends she had neglected for a long time, but felt drawn to, inexplicably, at the moment. 

With more purpose now, Suzy began to pull items out of the box one by one. First an ssortment of candles in many different colors. Next a velvet pouch with the drawstring pulled tight to seal it. Two daggers, one with a white handle, one with a black one. A pentagram, a cast iron cauldron, incense and a chalice. This was, as Suzy affectionately had termed it, her Altar in a Box. Since marrying two years earlier, Suzy had only ever had her ritual items out once before when she had heard a friend was deathly ill. She gazed down beside her now, with all her things spread around her and felt calmer than she had all day. She didn’t quite understand why she was drawn to her things now, when she hadn’t been in so long, but she knew enough not to question her need to touch each of the items reverently before beginning to pack them back into their box. 

When it came time to pack away the bundle of candles, she hesitated for a moment and chose a small white candle from the bunch before packing them away. Closing the box again, she returned it to its place on the bookshelf and left the spare room. Walking across the hall she went to the master bathroom and changed out of her clothes. She changed into a huge t-shirt that fell to her knees, consciously omitting any undergarments or shorts. Grabbing a spare lighter as she went, she returned to the spare room and closed the door. Lizzy was still on the futon, not deeming Suzy’s movements important enough to have followed her to the other room. Sitting down on the floor in the middle of the room, Suzy put the candle in a spare candle holder and placed it on the floor in front of her. Realizing it was too low for her needs, she got her sewing box from the desk next to her and used it to raise the candle off the floor. 

Suzy lit the candle and settled herself comfortably in a lotus position on the floor. Staring intently into the flame of the candle she slowly regulated her breathing and let her thoughts flow freely in and out of her mind. Surprisingly, Suzy found herself calmed and relaxed quickly. She had found after previous long periods of not meditating that she had to regulate her breathing and calm herself for a nearly thirty minutes before even starting to find the calm she found so readily tonight. Deciding not to dwell on the ease with which she found her calm place, Suzy continued to stare intently into the flame of the candle and breath slowly in and out.

She stayed this way, meditating by staring into the candle flame until the small candlestick had burnt itself out. Standing slowly and stretching, she put away the sewing box and put the candle holder on the desk out of the way. Walking towards the door of the room she turned back remember that Lizzy was still in the room with her. Lizzy was as she had been before Suzy had started her meditation, laying comfortably on the futon, staring intently at her. Smiling again at the cat, Suzy patted her thigh calling her over as she opened the door to the room. Turning her back on the cat, knowing better than to expect her to come when called, she left the room and headed downstairs. Marcus was on the couch in front of the television still, a video game controller in his hand. He looked up and smiled as she walked into the room. Suzy returned his warm smile and reached down to pet their dog who had come trotting up to her for a little attention. She head into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of juice before joining her husband on the couch.

“I went up to get on my PC, but I decided it was best I didn’t disturb you when I saw the door closed,” he told her, “is everything okay?” Smiling at his concern with understanding since closed doors were a foreign notion in their marriage she reassured him that everything was okay but that she wanted some time alone to meditate. Nodding his understanding, Marcus saved the game he had been playing and used the remote to turn off the television. “Just meditating up there, or did you do witchy stuff?” he asked with a grin. Grinning back at him, reminded again of how lucky she was to have a husband that accepted her nontraditional belief system she told him that she was just meditating. “We haven’t meditated together in a long time, I would like to do that again some day. Like when you taught me how to open my chakras,” he said. “Yeah and got further in your first session than I did in the first month after learning the technique,” she teased. Shrugging and grinning again he put his arm around her and pulled her close. “What do you want to do with the rest of our evening,” he asked, nuzzling her hair. “I dunno, what do you want to do?” she responded with a grin at their long standing inside joke. Playing along with her he answered, “I dunno, what do you want to do.” Unable to hold in any longer she giggled and snuggled a little closer to him. “Well its still early, we could go out with some friends if you want, or, we could stay home and lock the world out.” 

“I like that second option,” he responded, standing. Pulling her to her feet, he gave her a kiss and lead her up the stairs to their bedroom…

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