Twelve

The voices are hushed and anxious, zoning in and out, blurring into the background music of bleeps and clatterings. They come and go, sometimes saying strange things. One in particular is a low monotone drone; the sound of someone reading aloud who is not very good at reading aloud, but is determined to see it through.

“The story of how the Kraken rose from the depths to teach the Children the Secrets of the deep is a sacred one. Once heard, you are yourself a Child of the Sea and governed by His rule. The Kraken knew the Great Truth that only can be known by sinking down within the murky ocean. We must seek to find on our own accord this Truth by sinking deep within ourselves…”

The voice was loud and close. I could almost feel it. I could feel myself rising to meet it, slowly up towards the dancing light of it…

“You are deep down now, Child; you can find the Truth where you are. How I envy you…”

A deep sigh, and the voice was gone, leaving a cool darkness in its place; I sank down, down, down…

And then again, some while later, it was all tuning back in again, becoming sharper and louder and closer until…

“Um…”

I opened my eyes very gradually. The lids were incredibly heavy.

For a while it was too bright for me to focus properly.

After a long time a lady noticed me and came over, peering at me half-open eyes.

“Ah, you’re coming to. I’ll get the doctor. You’re in hospital.”

“Oh,” I said.

She went away. My eyes were too heavy to keep open, so I let them fall shut again.

I was dimly aware of people looming over me and saying things. I knew that I was supposed to have found the Secret and that I had failed, so I guiltily tried sinking back down, but I think all that happened was that I fell asleep.

When I next woke a nurse was doing something to a machine next to my bed. She saw that I was awake and smiled kindly.

“Your mother’s here,” she informed me. “She’s just gone to get a coffee. I’ll let her know that you’re back with us.”

She was gone before I could ask her not to.

But the woman who appeared a few moments later was not my mother. She was wearing lipstick the shade of blood, black leather gloves and glamorous dark glasses. She lowered them in order to inspect me. She was Not Pleased.

“You look like shit,” said Marina.

“What happened?” I asked groggily. My throat was horribly dry and grating.

“You’ve been in a fucking coma, you fucking idiot,” Marina snapped.

“Oh,” I said.

“Oh?” Marina repeated. “Is that the only explanation I get from you? Oh?!”

“I think someone attacked me…”

“Well I know that much Kit! We found you squished all over the pavement! The thing that I’d like to know, the question I have been asking myself for several weeks now whilst you lay here useless and insensible, is why the fuck you left the party in the first place, particularly when you had finally got Mason within your sights? Well?”

The party was difficult to recall. I could vaguely envisage a silvery gentleman with sharp blue eyes…

“That was Mason?”

“Yes!” Marina hissed. “That was fucking Mason!”

Oh dear. Mason, the man she had been pursuing for so long, the man she had thought that somehow I might help her procure… and when I’d finally met him, after so many attempts, I had ruined it; I had walked away… I pulled my mouth down hurriedly, fighting down the urge to smile.

“Excuse me madam,” the nice nurse was back, eyeing Marina reproachfully, “you’re son will be very tired and need his rest. I think it might be best if you leave now and come back tomorrow.”

Marina glared at her, replaced her glasses, administered me an accusing peck on the cheek, and swooped out in silence.

The nurse watched her go looking slightly stunned, then smiled at me reassuringly. She clearly pitied me for having such an unforgiving mother. If she only knew the half of it…

“Is there… any damage?” I asked falteringly. I was wondering mostly whether my face was ok.

“I’ll see if I can get a doctor for you to explain how you’re doing.”

“Thank you,” I said, smiling back as best I could.

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