Heartweed: Chapter 26

This is the beta version of my novel. If you are a new reader – welcome. You can read from the start here.

New sections are released every Tuesday and Friday. Please let me know your opinion in the comments section. Thank you for reading.

 

Chapter 26

The dream began in darkness. Artie floated in a soundless void. Her skin prickled, then a flood of sensations poured over her: hot, sharp, silken, electric, rough, soothing, cold. She stretched her fingertips wide, she stretched more, stretched further, stretched beyond her fingertips.
She was more than she had been. Long tendrils of her lashed out into the darkness, seeking something. Artie concentrated and drew those tendrils in; she curled and uncurled them like a fist.
She became aware of a low growling noise that grew higher and louder until she wanted to throw her hands over her ears and scream for it to stop. The sound dropped away back to the low sound like the slow grate of stone over stone, like the sound of the world moving and shifting around her.
The darkness split open into a light so bright that she tried to snap her eyes closed. In this dream she had no eyelids. The light modulated through the spectrum and from bright to dim and back again.
Calibrating.
The light fixed at normal levels and Artie saw Gorth in front of her. He had a drink in his hand. She was back in the cocktail bar. Artie looked around – it was as crammed and lively as it had been earlier, but silent. The only noise was the persistent scraping.
Gorth’s mouth moved as he leaned in to speak to her; no sound came out. Artie watched his lips; he was asking her if she wanted a drink. She looked around. Gorth continued to turn to the bartender as if she had answered him. This had all happened before. A memory. But why was she reliving this memory? And without the surround sound?
Flickers of a deep non-colour writhed over the scene in front of her. Like the floaty things she sometimes saw in her eyes – but millions of them, and they were aware, moving with purpose.
The swarming fragments outlined Gorth’s cheeks and eyes. Something snapped into focus and she could see, overlaid on his human face, the subtly different faerie face that he had worn when they met. She could see through his glamour. And the flickering shreds that swarmed around him – that was magic. She could see magic.
The supermodel-thin woman sauntered into the memory. Artie watched, fascinated, as the reality emerged from beneath the glamour. She wouldn’t have thought it possible but the woman was even thinner. Her arms had two elbows each and the curling mouth spread from ear to ear, but the eyes were the same.
The dream pulled her out of this memory and sent her spinning through the scenes of her life in no sensible order. Each memory crawled with magic, some thicker than others. Artie delved into those magic saturated memories. There was so much she hadn’t seen. For her whole life. There was so much that no one saw. She submerged herself into the memory of March’s faerie ball; she almost swooned. So much here. Such rich food. Magic so thick that she could swim through it.
Artie felt a lurch in her chest, like there was something in there tearing to get out, reaching out to bask, to feed. It pushed outwards through her skin. The long tendrils she had noticed earlier strained out of her command. They reached deep into this well of power.
Blackness. Silence. Everything vanished. There was only the feeling of the power flowing in. Into the hard cold thing in her chest, which swelled and pulsed. A rough, sour taste rose in Artie’s mouth: grainy and rich, like soil. It choked her.
Voices emerged through the blanket of silence. She felt the pressure of hands on her arms.
Artie snapped awake.

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