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The Cunning Ether (Novel) A mystery adventure of murder, love and paintings, spanning continents

#26 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 02:12 PM

Hello! ^^ I know I still am!
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#27 User is offline   padfoot7726 

  • glotahn (beginner)
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Posted 03 November 2009 - 03:52 PM

Good to hear. :evil: Another chapter:

Black Silence

They had planned it out perfectly. It could not fail, Joss tried to convince himself as they took a long route around to the office building behind the gray one. Joss had scouted around, earlier in the day, to see if their plan would work, and so far, to his utmost satisfaction, it was completely airtight.

The moon was new that night, the darkness pressing in on them as they made their way to the front door to the office building. Bertrand led the way, without any preconceived reason.

When they reached the door, Bertrand had only to turn the knob and walk in. They had made sure of this earlier in the day, walking casually through the building. The rooms inside, they had soon found out, were rented as offices, and the building itself was accessible any time of night. There was a stairway that led up through the building, past numerous hallways. On the second landing of the stairwell, they found, to their great luck, was a window, exactly level with the lower roof of the gray building. Their plan was going so well, that they were almost grinning as they had scouted it out.

The window pane itself was a measly wooden sill that they found did not even possess a lock. As they made their way into the building, silently creeping through the lobby, they could already see up the stairs to the window, sitting there right were they needed it. The stairs creaked slightly as they made their way up, slowly padding against the paneled wood. As they reached the landing, both of them stopped for a moment, listening. If anyone was around to hear them open the door, then they might just be done for.

Absolute silence was all that they sensed, aside from the ever present buzz of ambient noise. Moving ahead, neither of them said a word. The plan had been lain out strictly, as to where neither would have to speak during the mission. Joss, remembering exactly his job at this point, stood guard at the landing, as Bertrand gently pried open the window, the distant calls of birds and the soft slush of the water of the canals filling the building like fluid.

Their plan was to simply jump across, the alley being so thin to make it quite possible. The gray building's lower roof across from them was only a few feet lower, but both of them knew that a good leap and they could make it. This was one of the more shaky parts of the plan, Joss knew. The roof across from them was covered in a sort of gravel, which would make their landings much louder than either of them wanted. Glancing towards the windows and doors, Joss was glad to see that they were closed and curtained, and further away then he remembered, because he knew that their landing would sound all the louder in the deep silence of night.

Joss, as was planned, was the first to go, taking Bertrand's knife with him, hanging quite loosely through one of his belt loops. Striding up to the window, he stuck out his head, examining the are around them carefully, before he made his jump. Taking a deep breath, and trying not to look at the ground, Joss crawled to a stooping position in the window, somewhat resembling a gargoyle standing guard.

Remaining silent, the exertion welling within him, Joss pushed off from the sill, the ground sweeping by what seemed like miles below. His stomach turning over on itself, the air soared by, making not a sound. He felt lighter than he ever had before, the ledge accelerating towards him as time seemed to slow down itself. For an overwhelmingly panicked moment, he thought that he would fall short, but the ledge slammed towards him again, stretching out like a hand to catch him.

Nearly losing his balance, Joss' feet crashed onto the gravel roof, the sound noticeably echoing off of the surrounding buildings. His feet had scraped to an unbalanced halt only inches from the edge, sending his arms silently flailing, trying to find the illusive balance.

Regaining control, Joss stood, alert, staring, unblinking, at the door. He did not chance looking back to Bertrand, who still stood behind the window, silent. If anyone was watching, then if he glanced back towards the window, then they would know that he was not alone. That, in itself, could risk Bertrand's life in addition to joss' own.

Joss, following the plan to the utmost, Catherine in mind, after about a minute of silent watching, tapped his finger to the knife three times. Bertrand, seeing the planned signal through his one good eye, immediately leaped from the window's rickety sill, gliding down into a soft and nearly noiseless landing on his feet. Crouching, Bertrand stayed absolutely still, listening. After several seconds, he stood, examining their surroundings with the utmost care.

Satisfied, he turned to Joss, nodded twice, and turned back towards the door. Joss knew what to do. Tiptoeing across the gravel, he approached the left window. A blue curtain lay draped beyond it, unmoving. No light emanated from its edges.

Remembering a small detail in the plan, Joss started, and turned around. Bertrand's eyes were wide, as he knew exactly what Joss had mistaken. Gently scuffling back to Bertrand, Joss silently removed the knife, handing it hilt first to his partner, as they had planned. Nodding twice again, and keeping the knife at the ready this time, Bertrand let joss continue on to the door, following close behind.

The night air was cool and the wind was brisk, giving the atmosphere an icy tinge that sent a shiver down Joss' spine. It could not have been very cold, but to Joss, the night air felt colder than anything he had ever felt.

There was a brass handle on the inside of the sill, gleaming in the ambient light from the surrounding buildings. Flakes of rust had started to show on its surface, falling away into the dark expanse of the room beyond. Hoping as great as he could, Joss tapped lightly on the pane of glass, immediately flattening himself against the wall to the windows left, Bertrand to the right. Mentally, both of them counted to sixty, listening for dear life at any signs of life on the other side of the glass.

Nothing. Joss reached thirty seconds, eyes wide, and focused on the dark outline of the sill. Still nothing. Joss reached forty five seconds, the tension easing somewhat.

Suddenly, a flash of gray, and Joss nearly jumped back from the wall. Panting noisily, Joss came to his senses, looking down again at the sill. A bright gray spotted pigeon lay perched upon the sill, glancing back and forth between Joss and Bertrand, eyes wide and unblinking.

Bertrand, silently, looking a little frustrated himself, puffed his cheeks and blew forcefully onto the bird, silently forcing it away. Looking a little annoyed, the pigeon flapped its wings slightly and flew off, to lay perched upon a rain pipe on a nearby pallazzo.

Taking a deep breath and continuing on with the plan, Joss leaned into the window, gripping the sill. The wood was painted white, flakes peeling off in places, making for an easier grip.

Exerting himself silently, looking through the glass all the time, the wood eventually jolted apart from the sill, croaking in hoarse protest. Biting his lip, joss listened. That had been loud. Too loud, he knew to be true. Neither of them moved. Neither of them breathed.

Silence. Releasing his breath in a noiseless gust, Joss gently pushed the window further up, the wood moving in creaky jolts that prompted Joss to stop and listen for moments at a time. The night was cool, but sweat drenched his forehead once the window was open completely.

The curtain rippled and flowed in the breeze, Joss' hand shivering as he reached in to pry them apart. Glancing behind him, Joss saw, somewhat reassuringly, Bertrand with the knife up and at the ready. Slowly curling his fingers in the fabric, Joss gently moved it aside, exposing the inky blackness of the room beyond.

Gulping with dreadful anticipation, Joss stepped up and through the window, pausing only to glance backwards once again at Bertrand, still standing, wide eyed and at the ready.

The room behind the window was utterly black. The only spot that was even remotely illuminated was a small, grimy spot on the floor, wood paneling, Joss could see. The rare shafts of light that made it through the window could only do so much. The room was absolutely dark, and Joss could see in his minds eye a gunmen, waiting in the shadows for the perfect moment to strike.

Joss waited, standing, as Bertrand crawled through the window, trying hard not to make a noise on the dull wooden floor. the darkness was oppressive, pushing in on Joss like the air was somehow thicker than it should have been.

As Joss' eyes started to slowly adapt to the pitch black curtain that hung over the room, Bertrand made it inside, brushing himself off silently. Joss wished, at that moment, that one of them could have smuggled in a candle or even a simple box of matches. The darkness itself was breeding insanity deep inside joss' brain. Curves and lines began to form in his eye, devilishly hard to read. Joss couldn't be sure weather or not they were real or imagined, floating out there in space.

Holding his hand up to the dim light streaming in from the window, Bertrand pointed towards the far wall, not saying a word to Joss. As Bertrand moved, Joss could hear the soft taps of his feet against the floor, the sound itself a comfort in the supreme blackness of the room. Memories of the boat's looming hull repeated themselves in his mind, reminding him of the icy blackness of his mission to retrieve the fuel tank. Once again, it felt like so very long ago.

Having felt he had waited long enough, Joss began to move forward, his hands outstretched, feeling for the furniture that he was sure would be there. But, as he made his way further into the room, there was nothing. Moving in this black expanse was something akin to swimming in very deep water, with absolutely no vision to lead your way. Ahead of him, Joss suddenly heard a soft bump and clatter of wood against the floor. Bertrand had bumped into something in the room, he realized quickly.

Stopping in his stride, just to listen, Joss heard the low sharp clatter of metal. A doorknob, he realized, as the sound turned into more of a sliding noise. Closely following, the creak of a door penetrated the room, the sound devilishly loud, Joss biting his lip as he winced. Somewhat disappointed, Joss realized that the room or hall beyond was dark as well. At the same time, he was slightly relieved, as the dark was their only camouflage as they made their way through this foreign building.

Again, the soft tapping of footsteps started up, as Bertrand apparently tiptoed through the door. Joss held his breath, knowing that there just had to be some burly man with a pistol waiting right where Bertrand would find him.

But no scream or gunshots came, and in his tension, Joss realized that he was still standing, arms outstretched, in the first room, and gently hurried to catch up, lunging out in the darkness for the edge of a wall or the face of a table.

The solid grain of a smooth wooden wall made him stop for a moment, before he continued to the right, feeling along the wall. After only a foot or so, he reached the edge of the doorway, the door still left wide open by Bertrand. Smiling invisibly in the darkness, Joss made his way through the doorway, looking left and right into the room beyond.

With an almost painful sensation, Joss saw the outline of an open window, rays of light dancing in onto a green rug. The sharp distinct outline of a door stood a few feet from the window, very much closed. The window itself was quite a ways away, making it apparent to Joss that this was in fact a hallway. With a gasp, Joss saw Bertrand's silhouette cross over the window, moving towards the door that Joss had just noticed.

Bertrand himself was stooped low, moving like a wolf on the prowl, the door being his unmoving prey. Joss noticed for the first time that there was a slight flicker of light coming from underneath the door, shining across the stout fibers of the rug. It was now very obvious to Joss why Bertrand held the knife so high. There could very well be a person behind that door.

Holding his breath, Joss saw Bertrand reach out his free arm towards the knob. He had never actually thought this far ahead, he realized. The fact that they might actually make it this far had seemed somewhat trivial. Their plan after this point had seemed, in an odd way, somewhat implied, and this realization was more than frightening for Joss.

Standing right behind Bertrand, Joss watched as he did his best to silently turn the knob, the brass insistent on echoing around the hall. Joss looked up again, seeing Bertrand's hand gripping the hilt of the knife, white knuckled. His face was silhouetted from the soft light of the window in quite a ghostly way, making his expression seem more stoic and grim, but he could tell that Bertrand's eyes were just as wide and terrified as Joss' were, only inches out of sight.

The knob was turned fully now, Bertrand slowly pushing the door out into the room beyond. The intensity of the enigmatic light seemed to wane as the door opened, having been concentrated through the smallest crease. As Joss watched in frozen terror, the door opened completely, exposing the room within.

The room's ceiling was lower, stopping at the top of the door. The light, Joss saw, came from a dimly glowing lantern, hung onto the wall by a rusty nail. The glass was warped and scratched, evidently by years or even decades of wear.

The floor was the same scratched wood panels that had covered the floor outside, extending to where the lantern's dim glow ceased to illuminate. The room itself was small, but the door opened into a cramped hallway towards what Joss could only guess was the main portion.

No pictures or paintings lined the walls in welcome. Nothing seemed to occupy the room at all, as far as the light extended. If there were windows in the room beyond, then their light was completely shrouded.

Joss, going on sheer random will, stepped first into the room. As the light of the lantern faded from his eyesight, the thought came to mind that the floor could just end, and he could just fall off of the edge, down into the great black oblivion. His footsteps echoed off of the walls he could not see, creaking against the old wooden floors. Bertrand, he heard, was walking in right behind him, breathing audibly. The noise of their entry was more than they would have bargained for, as the room was apparently so empty, that the sounds them self seemed louder.

"Hello?" Joss jolted, stopping in the middle of the room. The voice had come from directly in front of him. It was hoarse, dry, but light and feminine. It was a voice that Joss was frightened of, and confused by, yet was more overjoyed than ever before to hear. "Hello?" it said again, coughing slightly into the dark echo of the empty room.

"Catherine?" choked Joss, biting his lip, eyes wide. Hope was something that he had never considered. It was a part of him now, and was quickly becoming a source of sheer joy.

"Joss?" the voice came, more forcefully. More hopefully, "Joss?"

Suddenly, light flickered around the room, wrenching Joss from his overwhelming happiness. A happiness that meant more than anything he had ever had in his life. Bertrand had picked up the lantern from the wall, Joss saw, turning around.

"Quiet," said Bertrand, mouthing in the lantern's dim light. His face was a strange concoction of happiness and dread, cocking from side to side to listen for any small sound that could make it's way through the building. Walking further into the room, holding the lantern, Bertrand shed light into the darkest corners of the room, one of which held the frail figure or Catherine.

She was wearing a small, torn dress of faded red and green, hunched in the corner. Her face was one of pure awestruck joy, matching Joss' at the moment. Thick bags lay under her eyes, dirt patched across her face. Her long, mouse brown hair was matted and tangled, frayed strands hanging down over her face. Her liquid green eyes had become weary and somewhat sad, only perking up at the sight of Joss.

Her hands were behind her back. Joss soon, realized, as the dim glow caught the ropes, that she was tied to a post jutting from the wall. Joss did nothing. He only stood there, mouth agape, marveling at the very sight of her. She seemed more beautiful to him than she ever had before, having been so far away for so horribly long.

Joss, shaking himself from his reverie, saw Bertrand walking towards her, holding the knife at the ready. It took him more than it should have o understand that he was cutting her free. No words were said, as Bertrand had made very clear to all of them. Joss only stood there, silently, watching, as Bertrand tore into the ropes with the knife, the grinding of the fibers present throughout the room. Listening intently, Joss tried more than anything to hear the patter of feet, or the soft wail of voices. None came. It seemed that everything had gone perfectly, as Joss stood there, and in the joy of the moment, he nearly grinned, the ropes falling away, freeing Catherine, at long last.

Standing shakily, Catherine ran to Joss, embracing him in a tight, silent hug. She did not cry, he saw, as they parted again. She stood, lips curled into a weak smile, staring into his eyes.

Tearing himself away from her hypnotizing gaze, Joss saw Bertrand waving his arm towards the door, his eyes now the exact picture of absolute fear. Their smiles fading, Joss and Catherine followed, hand in hand, towards the door. Her grip was tight, he noticed. Almost painfully so.

Bertrand leading their way through the dark hallway, Joss now saw it fully in the dim light of the lantern. It only extended for a few more doors, stopping at a staircase that spiraled down into darkness. A few more doors lined the hall, prompting Joss to fleetingly wonder if there were other poor souls who had been kidnapped and thrown into this terrible gray building. As Bertrand led the way back into the first room, towards the open window, Joss now saw it, also, as it truly was.

The room they and first entered was a shabby dining room, a long table, covered in dust, pushed to the right side. A few chairs lay next to it, one of them having been set sideways on top. The rest of the room was quite empty, the walls lined with scratched black and white, but yellowed photographs in old wooden frames. As Joss crept by, still holding Catherine's hand in a tight grip, he saw what the photographs held. They were grim, or at least he saw them that way. Darkly suited gentlemen stood outside buildings, on streets. Some were even seated at the very same table that they were walking past, all turned towards the camera in a strange, stoic patience.

Reaching the window, Bertrand silently gestured for Joss to go first, opening the curtains wide for him to pass. Joss, letting go of Catherine's hand, looked her in the eye before he stepped up and out of the rickety wooden frame, and into the dark landscape of the gray building's roof. Standing on the gravel, he looked back down at Catherine, climbing softly through the window, taking Joss' hand again for support. It was now that Joss saw that the roof was actually slightly higher than the floor inside the building, meaning a step up for anyone coming out.

And then, Catherine stood on the roof of the building, blinking as she saw, for what Joss realized may have even been the first time, the dim skyline of Venice. Looking back over through the window, Joss could see Bertrand, still holding the knife at the ready before he began to step up to the edge of the window sill. A few lights were on in an adjacent building, illuminating the scene somewhat. Joss held Catherine's hand hard, glancing around, almost paranoid.

"CIAO! VOI!"

Joss whirled around, pulling Catherine to the wall behind the window. A gunshot pierced the air, Joss' eyes bulging numbly at the sound. He scrambled to the wall beside the window, seeing the fleeting image of Bertrand slumped against the window sill, fumbling with the knife.

"NO! BERTRAND!" shrieked Catherine, apparently unable to contain her horror.

The man was running towards the window, towards the waiting knife, Joss saw. Before the man reached Bertrand though, Joss quickly turned from the window and pulled Catherine with him.

The earsplitting sounds of the knife piercing flesh, the scream of the man, and the continuing fire of guns did not phase Joss as he ran. His only objective, painfully clear in his mind, was to save Catherine. That was what mattered, he tried to remind himself, as the sound of Bertrand's choking scream cut through the cool evening air.

"JUMP!" he yelled, not hesitating as he ran for the edge of the building.

Catherine did not answer, or was too afraid to speak. Joss could not be sure, but she neither hesitated nor made a sound as they leapt towards the ink black water of the canal.
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#28 User is offline   padfoot7726 

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 02:17 PM

Zeus

The water hit their feet like icy concrete, the water flowing around them, freezing their skin in icy pin pricks. Both of them flailed, underwater, for several long seconds, before swimming frantically to the surface, under the wooden pathway. As both their heads emerged under the walkway, Joss still held her hand in a shivering, tight grip. Catherine herself looked tired, weary and not at all prepared to swim for any long distance. But, as both of them knew quite well, they had no choice in the matter.

"Follow... me," stuttered Joss, pulling Catherine in the direction of the inn. He knew the way exactly, or at least he hoped he did. The walkway over their heads was dark and slimy, occasionally dripping water onto the couple.

Tugging Catherine along by the hand, Joss shakily teed water towards the inn. Planning out their course in his head, it seemed much longer than it had, as they swam through the freezing black water. Occasionally, Joss could numbly hear the muffled thumps of footsteps above their heads, moving painfully faster than they. Glancing back at Catherine, Joss could see her getting tired and cold, and wanted only to suddenly emerge out from under the walkway, right below the inn, but, of course, he knew that they still had a long ways to go.

As they had when, way back when he had retrieved the fuel tank, his toes began to go numb as they froze. He could still feel his legs as they kicked forward in the water, but the feeling simply faded away after that.

The water wasn't as clean as he had hoped, he soon found. It was actually quite dirty, filled with dust and bits of floating wood and brick. Every now and then, Joss would be jarred awake as his foot caught the side of the muddy foundation, sticks and branches having somehow found their way into the brick. Even though these obstacles were rushing past them as he frantically paddled, his grip on Catherine's hand never faltered. Although, Catherine herself was beginning to become heavier in his hand, as she struggled to stay afloat in the icy water.

Finally, after what had felt like hours of soughing and choking on the dirty water, Joss reached what he hoped was the inn. As he stopped swimming and realized that they were at their destination, Joss whispered to Catherine to swim out into the canal.

As they swam out of the stark shade of the walkway, Joss could see and feel the soft beams of sunlight, as the sun gloriously rose out of the west. They had been out there for hours, he realized. Their blind romp through the building had taken more than two hours, he knew now, as the sun's reflection gleamed off of the water, striking Joss' blinking eyes. The sunlight hit his eyes almost painfully, burning them in the brightness.

Reaching up and grabbing hold of the walkway, Joss pulled with all his might, sitting on the edge of the wooden path, still holding Catherine's hand. Pulling again, he then helped Catherine fall into a frozen heap on the wooden path, panting with their hours of freezing exertion.

"Come on," said Joss, gesturing towards the inn.

"Okay," choked Catherine, still coughing on water.

And, as they reluctantly stood on the path, Joss led the way through the door, dripping onto the wooden panels inside the inn. Waving casually to the bemused front desk clerk, they made their way up the steps to the room that Joss and Bertrand had shared.

Opening the door and walking inside, Catherine stood at the window, looking out at the gray building. It sat there, silent, in the yellow light of dawn. No gunshots rang out into the cool morning air. No screaming pierced the silence of the city.

Joss, grimly stood at the dresser, gathering what they would need to get back to Athena. Money, he knew, was in Bertrand's satchel, still lying on the lower bunk. There was no food there, he knew, so they would have to buy some when they reached Liborno. All of it was passing by so quickly, he did not look up as he packed what they needed into the canvas bag. Engrossed in the eerie, grim silence of work, he tried to forget about what had just passed.

"Where are we going?" asked Catherine, still staring out the window. Her voice was shaky, and as Joss looked, he saw that tears were dripping onto the floor with the still present water from the canal.

"Athena. There's a train station outside of Venice that'll take us to Liborno. She's not far from there," he said, not looking up from his packing, "We need to get out of here. And fast,"

"Where will we go, though?" asked Catherine, her face a picture of sad confusion.

"I don't... know," said Joss, realizing it right there, as if it was implied, "We just have to find something,"

Catherine said nothing, turning back to the window. The gray building still lay there, no motion or people outside its doors. Bertrand was gone, they both knew. It was certain. This time, it was certain, Joss knew.

"Come on. We have to get going," sighed Joss, gesturing towards the door, holding his canvas bag. The floor was pooled with water now, Joss saw, looking around at the room. Catherine still did not speak. She only followed Joss through the door, keeping pace with his stride.

As they exited the inn, the sun was higher in the sky, making the waters shine in the bright cloudless light. The sky was bright blue, and Joss could see flocks of pigeons drifting across the sky in a perfect V. As they walked, glancing about, it seemed as if the entirety of Venice had gone silent, in the wake of Bertrand's death. In mourning, Joss thought.

Catherine looked quite fidgety and scared as they walked quickly along the wooden pathway, staying in Joss' shadow as they finally made their way towards the bridge out of Venice.



* * *



As they both boarded the train to Liborno, they both saw the future as a sleepy blur. Nothing was in their future to grab hold of, they found, laying back in the train's old leather seats.

The passengers on the train looked so happy, they saw. Not a care in the world. It seemed like every single person on the train had something good to look forward to. Every one but Catherine and Joss.

The landscape outside was purple tinged in the morning sun, the dew drops settled sharply on the window pane. Joss remembered sitting here with Bertrand, and how they had been strangely silent, all through their trip. He wished now that he had talked more. Gotten to know Bertrand. It had seemed so trivial back then, even with everything going on, and Joss had been thinking of other things as they had ridden the train to Venice.

Catherine sat back in her seat, closing her eyes almost instantly. Joss now realized just how tired he must be, having been running for so long, and as he thought, the train began to move, slowly grinding along on the track, pulling them closer and closer to Athena.

Joss was frantically afraid of his future, as he stared out the window. It was so vague and undecipherable, that he wanted to turn and run away. But, as he began to drift off into much needed sleep, he remembered just how much he loved to fly.



* * *



Athena was in sight by late in that very day, a dark lump on the flat horizon South of Liborno. The town itself was long in their past, as they walked through the flat haze of the endless fields. They had been mostly silent all through the early morning ride to Liborno, in quiet mourning for Bertrand.

Catherine was more lively as they made their way towards Athena, the familiar shape appearing distant on the horizon. Joss was still unsure of where they were headed. The winds would take them somewhere else, he knew, as they walked towards the basket, only a looming speck on the horizon.

The cool breeze was chilling against Joss' skin, the afternoon mist drifting about them both. Once again, as it had been when Joss and Bertrand had left Athena, the field was fogged over, the horizon just a faded, hazy line, miles away.

Catherine was the first to make it to Athena, sprinting ahead to see how she looked. Joss stayed slow in stride, just happy to see her at all. She looked severely rained on, and Joss was quite glad that he and Bertrand had remembered to drape the envelope over the basket. The makeshift roof was now covered in deep, weighty puddles of rain water.

Locking on the pump, Joss, once again, watched as Athena's grand envelope yawned awake, looming above them in the cool afternoon mist, quite a sight to behold. As the dappled sun spilled over her, he remembered that she still looked quite old and weary, with large visible sections still patched over with tape, but Joss was happy to see her awake and ready to fly, even just for now.

As Catherine and Joss climbed into the basket, the clouds looked as if they were brewing a storm, and Athena would be in the middle of it, he knew. Reaching up to the burner crank, he turned the flames to high, hoping to get above the storm before they were swamped. Slowly, but surely, the basket grew lighter on the ground, the sparse grass of the Italian countryside slowly falling away beneath their feet. Joss, still examining the storm clouds, almost did not hear Catherine speak, over the soft roar of the burner.

"I forgot how much loved to fly," she said, looking down over the edge of the basket, emerald green eyes wide with the astonishment that seemed to only be around in the air. "I forgot how much I liked the sky."

Joss did not speak, he only smiled blissfully, as he looked at Catherine, and then back over the edge of the balloon, the horizon stretching away beneath them. The burner was warm against his skin, in the cool afternoon breeze, the sun fogged over by the slowly drifting storm clouds, lumbering across the sky like the armies of heaven. The light spilling over them was tinted slightly blue, by Athena's looming envelope above them, rippling with the heat of the burner. Joss turned back towards the other side of the basket, only to see the minuscule shape of Liborno drifting towards them. It seemed so small, from so high.

Liborno was passing by, now, the rocky coast shifting in their direction. Small squares of farmland lay scattered across the countryside, before they were slowly dominated by beaches, as they passed over the sea. Joss smiled still as he glanced over towards the water warped frame of Catherine's portrait, still partly covered by the old rain tarp. It lay there, its subject still gazing infinitely out at Joss, as he eventually turned back towards the sky and earth that was unfolding like a yellowed map below.

Catherine still peered over the edge, elbows on the basket, at the great globe of cloud and earth that surrounded them. Joss knew then, that at some blurry point in the future, they would both have their stories to tell, but not now. Now was a time for bliss and mourning. He knew that. And as he put his arm around her, and looked out over the great expanse of earth, the clouds engulfing Athena slowly, he rejoiced in one perfect truth.

Catherine was alive.


THE END
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#29 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 03:08 PM

AW! So niiiice! :miw:
I'm sorry I didn't comment on each chapter! :evil: But since no one else did, I'd like to let you know that it was a really good story! I really liked it! ^^ However, I was just wondering about something: is the island where Joss finds "Girard"/"Bertrand" supposed to be in the Atlantic or the mediterranean?
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#30 User is offline   padfoot7726 

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 06:08 PM

View PostAllatwan, on Nov 7 2009, 03:08 PM, said:

AW! So niiiice! :miw:
I'm sorry I didn't comment on each chapter! :evil: But since no one else did, I'd like to let you know that it was a really good story! I really liked it! ^^ However, I was just wondering about something: is the island where Joss finds "Girard"/"Bertrand" supposed to be in the Atlantic or the mediterranean?


Well, the island was mean to be ambiguously placed, but I guess I meant for it to be Atlantic, somewhere perhaps far off the coast of Spain.
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