Chapter _; book ii or iii.
Working chapter title: midnight changes
*author note: please keep in mind that the events in this chapter happen together. Meaning, each paragraph is in chronological order.
She opened her eyes.
Before her stretched a beach, the sand as soft and warm and plentiful as the beaches she and Pilot had visited in Jamaica. Behind her was a lush forest, thick and mossy, full of greens and browns and reds. She wore nothing except a long-sleeved men's shirt, flannel, with buttons all the way up the front. Red and blue. She held a single shoe in her hand and momentarily wondered what had happened to the other. She dropped it onto the grass.
Where was she? Eden took a step forward, her toes sinking into the sand, and squinted against the bright sunlight. There didn't seem to be anyone within sight, not a house or a dock or a firepit to be seen. She frowned and turned to look more closely at the forest behind her.
Where had she been coming from? Was she fleeing or searching?
Her hair fell into her face and she scraped it out of the way with her fingers. Her face felt wet where her fingers touched and she looked at her hand. Ruby-red blood was splattered against her skin, all the way up to her elbow. Startled, she glanced down to her legs and discovered she was covered in mud and dirt. She didn't find any more blood.
Again, she wondered, fleeing or seeking?
Her shirt fell from her shoulder, hanging loosely, and she let it go. It would just fall again.
She turned toward the forest completely and stepped into the shadows of the trees. Somehow, she had to find out what she was doing here, and why she was mostly naked. She could find no traces of footsteps, hers or otherwise, and she wondered how that could be possible.
Distantly, she thought she heard something. A drumming noise, growing clearer; constant and strong. In seconds, it overpowered her, crippling her other senses as it filled her head. It pounded against her skull, reverberating down her spine and along her fingertips. She took a breath in and the rush of air cleansed her awareness. She could see again, but the drumming didn't cease.
She closed her eyes.
Pilot sat up in the dark silence of his bedroom. He listened intently for a sign, any clue pointing to what had woken him. His fingers curled around his pistol, stuffed between the mattress and headboard. The narrow line of light beneath the door attracted his attention. He could hear the faintest footsteps; like feathers fluttering to the carpet.
He released his grip on the Glock and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Rubbing one eye, he glanced at the digital clock on the wall. One in the morning. They'd only gone to bed an hour ago. Maybe she just hadn't gotten to sleep yet.
He felt around on the floor for the shirt he'd been wearing earlier and tugged it over his head. It was inside out, but he didn't care. Her shadow fell just outside his door, the footsteps stopped.
She sat atop a counter when she opened her eyes, her legs dangling in front of her. On the floor was the body of a woman, laid out, cold and tinted blue. Nude. Footprints in oil littered the linoleum floors. The same oil covered her legs, from her knees down, and dripped from her toes. Her curls hung down, she would have sworn she hadn't dyed her hair blonde, and swung into her vision as she leaned to study the body.
Golden sunlight streamed through the curtains to her right. Sunset.
She wondered how she had ended up here, and where she'd come from. De ja vu struck her like a wet wall and she tried to shake the fog from her thoughts. There was something she wasn't remembering, and she closed her eyes, struggling desperately to pinpoint it.
Somewhere far-off, she could hear a thumping. Hard, but melodious.
Familiar. De ja vu again, she thought, and tried to shake herself free of the strange sensation. The cadenced pounding grew.
The doorknob turned. Her shadow shifted as the door opened, oh-so-slowly, and he marveled at the glow around her frame. What she was doing wandering around the house at three in the morning in her panties and old t-shirts, he didn't know, but there she was. Her hair a mess of curls; slept-in, falling into her face. He couldn't see her eyes.
What the hell was going on?
She stepped into the room, and her elbow accidentally brushed against the door, closing it.
He cleared his throat and said, "Eden?"
She didn't respond, and he wasn't rightfully certain she'd even heard him. But she stepped forward, one foot at a time, her long legs stretching across the distance with a languid ease. She was on her tiptoes, but the movements were graceful and easy, natural.
He was struck with an unwelcome remembrance of everything about her. All the little details he'd battled to forget. The soft spot on the back of her knee, the beauty mark on her ribcage, the gentle noise she made when she first fell asleep. Almost a humming, but not quite.
What was she doing?
She was only a few feet away, and she still hadn't spoken. He wondered what to say. Then he heard it.
Almost a humming, but not quite.
She was sleepwalking, he realized. Into his bedroom.
He swallowed down the curious lump in his throat as she came right up to him. She stopped only when her thighs pressed against his kneecaps.
She opened her eyes.
She was in a small, cave-like room. Material stretched over her and hung down, make-shift walls, and the only light was from the strands of tiny light bulbs that were strung up along with the blankets of material. Fat pillows littered the floor, which was also covered with soft fabric. There was a pathway in front of her, but it turned sharply a few meters ahead. She couldn't see where it led from where she was.
Footsteps fell beyond her vision, and she froze.
She wondered, flee or seek?
As the steps got closer, the sound seemed to change. All at once, her head was filled with the rhythmic drumming that had been haunting her. She remembered it, then, she remembered everything. She moved forward, toward the steps, compelled by the sound.
Then he was there, without warning or give-away shadow, and he moved closer.
"Good, I found you. Come on," he said, extending a hand to her. There was an edge to his voice, as if he felt rushed. "We have work to do."
"Don't you hear that?" She hesitated to take his hand. "You have to hear it."
He huffed at her petulance. "Of course I do, that's why we need to get moving."
She frowned suspiciously at him, "What's going on, Pilot?"
His eyes darkened and he sighed. "Eden, there's no time for this. We need to go. You've wasted enough time."
That made her angry. How had she wasted time? She had only been there a matter of seconds. Why couldn't he just answer her questions instead of arguing?
Frustrated, she closed her eyes.