He broke into a run when he reached the corridor, burying his face in the crook of his elbow as if this would hide the fact that he was crying his eyes out. Rezyn, what was wrong with him? He had never considered himself to be the weepy sort, but now…
I’ve gone soft, dammit. What happened?
Seoc. Seoc had happened.
He found himself outside somehow, stumbling down a set of uneven stairs onto a thick, verdant lawn. He didn’t know how he had gotten there; must have taken a wrong turn somewhere; but it didn’t particularly matter, did it? At least he was alone. No one to see him sobbing like a baby. He sat down on the bottom step and dropped his head into his hands.
No one to see me.
This sudden, peculiar thought crossed his mind with jarring importance, and he looked up, drying his eyes on his sleeves, self-pity, anxiety and helplessness forgotten for the moment. Something grey and stony poked out from around the corner of a nearby building. It struck him as out of place. Out-of-place objects, in a detective’s world, beg further investigation, so he stood cautiously and approached it.
It was a small, weathered tombstone, situated at the edge of a tiny cemetery, tucked away behind the infirmary building. All the stones, in fact, were exceptionally small and unassuming, a notable contrast to the elaborate sarcophagus he had seen earlier in the crypt, and he surmised, upon glancing at the dates on a few of them, that the inhabitants of this particular graveyard had all died as children.
There was one marker that stood out from all the others. It was more recent, still with the shine of polished marble, and it was adorned with a neatly-arranged bouquet of autumn leaves—leaves so fresh that they couldn’t have been placed there any earlier than that very morning. All this he observed from a distance, for it was located at the opposite edge of the cemetery, but curiosity willed him nearer, and he crossed slowly over to it, picking his way carefully through the jumble of knee-high, leaning headstones to reach it.
KIRSTI, read the inscription. 1201-1211. Loving daughter of Alasdair and Mialina MacQuarrie. And below this, a single word: TAKEN.
No one to see her.
Taken where? By whom…or what?
Where no one can see her, by nothing that sees.
Rezyn, the little voice in his head was sounding more and more like Simon Edmund every day. His own brain was working in riddles. He was too hungry and muddled for logical thinking. The last remnants of sunset were fading from the horizon, and he hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day.
With a sigh, he glanced down at the ground, and noticed an earthworm wiggling along through the grass. What was it doing out? Winter was nearly at hand, and anyway, the dirt was dry. He had seldom seen one surface save for after rainstorms.
Let it craaawwl, screamed the Simon-in-his-head.
Seymour bent and plucked it up, placing it on his upturned palm. It wriggled and writhed, slick and slimy upon his skin, its only knowledge instinct, its only instinct to return to the familiarity of soil. He watched, fascinated, as it performed its gymnastics upon the platform of his hand. How strange it must be not to have a mind of ones own, to have no senses except touch and perhaps smell…
Then he remembered where he was, and what skeletal remains this very worm might have been crawling through not long before. With a shudder, he deposited it back on the ground and wiped his hand in the grass. It was time to go. He had had quite enough of hanging about in the presence of dead people for one day, thank you very much.