Friday, April 15, 2011

Another excerpt from Sexton Sand (Sexton Chronicles, vol. 4)

Raj, as King Rajahd'een of Crescens, struggles to fight the possession... 

Chapter Sixty-seven

 Raj was trapped in darkness stronger and sweeter than dream. From immeasurable moment to immeasurable moment, he could feel the grip of the demon tighten and loosen, loosen and tighten around his consciousness. It did not pulse with any sort of regularity, nor did it ebb and flow. He could find no way past it.
   Where am I?
   The question floated around him in all layers as if the words were objects rather than a conveyance of ideas. He wondered where his spirit was trapped. Was it trapped in his head, his brain, his mind, or did it lie restless in a spirit cage between paradise and the pit? Glimpses stronger than blackness—allowed or required by the demon, he could not be sure—showed him he was physically with Tom and John and Andy. He wanted desperately to ask their help in this...but could not break through.
   Where are they taking me? He wondered. The demon gave no answer. Silence. Surrounded by silence as thick as the darkness that held him. There was no sense of the physical. Is this death? Was death naught but the cessation of the physical, leaving the mind to fold in on itself until finally fatigued beyond all sanity it swirled in useless circles like sand caught in the dry wind of the desert?
   He roared with his mind, half expecting to hear hollow echo, but of course there was none. How could there be an echo in a void where there was nothing from which to bounce sound? Indeed, how could there be sound in a void?
   Fringes of panic tickled him like invisible fingers. He squelched the feeling. Centered himself. Paused...
   Something did not make sense. Did not add up as his American friends might say. The link. It was possible for the demon to kill him, but if it had...
   If I am dead, my body is dead as well. If my body is dead, the demon would have nothing to possess. The silver cord remains. I am connected to my body. This is a false darkness. This touchless blackness is a curtain rather than a wall or a void. I am capable of movement. I must be capable of movement. How? What must I do?
   He decided to begin with his extremities: fingers and toes. The concentration was easy, but sensation was difficult. It was as if he was trying to move someone else’s arm by the power of his imagination. Time was meaningless in his present state. He had no frame of reference for it to know whether it passed or whether he was outside its reach.
   Finally he felt something. As if he was sliding his fingers into a glove—as he had done only in Sexton—he slipped his imagined fingers into his real fingers. Moved the index finger on his right hand. Raise it. Lowered it. Again.
   Andy was only half awake as the light of dawn started to turn to the long planes of sunrise slanting in through the crack under the door when he saw Rajahd’een’s finger move. He cocked his head to the side, staring. The guy didn’t move his hand, arm, or head. Just raised the one finger and let it fall. He glanced at John and saw he was asleep. A glance at Tom and he was pretty sure Tom was asleep too. Moved his gaze back to Rajahd’een. The hand was still again, resting on his leg. I probably imagined that, he thought. He hoped he did. John didn’t seem to mind punching Raj in the jaw to knock his body out, but it wasn’t on Andy’s list in his head entitled: Things I’d Like To Do Today. Possessed by a demon or not, Andy didn’t like the idea of punching a good guy. On the other hand, the demon who was the king of the country—the country that took him prisoner, thank you very much—was not completely out of the question.
   He looked back down at Rajahd'een's hand. The index finger was in the air again. His eyes widened. He leaned forward without getting up. What’re you doing, Raj? He wondered without knowing for sure whether he was asking himself or the guy with his finger in the air. And so much for not wanting to punch anyone.
His right hand was clenched in a fist. I’ll pop ya good before I let you hurt us. He raised his left hand to push himself off the floor. Crouching on his haunches, he started to get ready to move. Another movement—caught from the corner of his eye—made him stop. Tom held up his hand. Andy looked at him and saw him shake his head. “What?” he whispered.
   “Let’s watch him for a minute,” Tom whispered. “This isn’t like the last time he woke up.” He grinned. “...But stay ready.”
   STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY! The demon roared through the void fully awake and in firm control once again. With a spasm of the soul more than the mind, all sensation left Raj and swept him away from touch...

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