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Summertiiiiiime, when the Muse is distraaaacteeed... - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
Summertiiiiiime, when the Muse is distraaaacteeed...
Rightie-o, I finally appear to have achieved Draft or at least 'screw it I want this out of my hair' with this one, so:


Jason decides to take the long way back -- perhaps wanting to put off the reckoning with Customs as much as I -- though calling it the 'scenic route' is something of an exaggeration, to my taste. But I'll grant the drive's not quite of a calibre of dullness as the post-industrial hellscape at the fringe of his own city, that dismal prelude to a solid day of motorway through landscapes so flat that I felt as if I was going to fall off. Jason laughs that I'm still unhappy about the terrain: remind me never to take you downstate.

(I've been, actually, piled into a camper-van with too much relief-work gear and too much worry, waking to a glimpse of Orleans on a sign and for a bleary moment thinking we had driven to France as my sense of distances was insisting. This bloody continent.)

We need to determine a quiet place for Jason to have his night-out. He's made off with some old camping equipment Michael's family had been keeping for spares, saying that what Susan's father hadn't taught the grandchildren about roughing it wasn't worth knowing, so he's keeping a weather-eye out for his opportunity, insisting that memories of childhood visits will suggest the general area.

Not yet the high-season this far north, we have many of the smaller roads largely to ourselves. Jason lets me have a go driving on a deserted stretch where we can see anyone coming for leagues. I've barely been behind the wheel of a motorcar since the paperwork started requiring photographs; You drive like James May, Jason says, and I do think we'd be calling Jill's nondescript hatchback the Reasonably Priced Car if that weren't too macabre in the context.

Still a few splashes of my blood in the footwell.

Come the evening we're standing in a field, as discreetly removed from any early holidayers as we can manage. Jason begins stripping off, folding his clothes neatly as he lays them into the back-seat of the car. "Do you ever mistake the day and then you're stood in the dark with no pants on?" I ask.

"Only that one time and that was Button-Down's fault."

He finishes his rummagings and steps away from the car, bare to the setting sun. "Not going to need that out here," I point out as he reaches to fasten his collar round his neck.

"Yeah, but I feel weird without it," he says, settling the jingle of tags at the hollow of his throat like a surfer's seashell choker. "Like I'm forgetting my keys or something."

I suppose he may be thinking of Stuart, lucky to have been brought in to animal-control after an accident rather than just left on the roadside or worse. As Jason stretches and shifts his weight onto the balls of his feet I'm not quite sure where to look. "Would you like me to...?"

"Nah, I mean, where you gonna go? Just, don't, like... scream, or, or laugh, or... And yelling 'Moon Cosmic Power, Make-Up!' is right out," he finishes with a theatrical gesture of dismissal.

"Would not have been the thing that occurred to me, honestly."

All the weight of a complicated childhood is in Jason's eyes. "You're obviously not my brother."

Not much more to be said, to that. As the light bleeds from the sky I can picture the scene so many ages ago when humanity struck its first bargains with the eyes beyond the ring of firelight. Jason's alert, on point for signals only his wireless is tuned to; damn secure encryption, he'll grunt when I suggest this. We all have our own entries to understanding.

It's different from the un-making, slower, unfolding with eerie grace round Jason's look of sudden and welcome surprise. I almost want to avert my eyes as I recognise it: ecstasy. He drops into a crouch, fingers clawing deep into the earth. And howls, full-throated joy echoed moments later by another wolf in the distance, answering him in song.

The resolution is as sudden as is its undoing. In a shudder of curls Jason lies splayed on his belly on the ground, panting measured breaths that steam silver in the moonlight. Presently he lurches up onto all four feet, swaying. He lifts a paw as if considering to take a step, then looks up at me, blinking: well, so now you know. How it is.

Good a night as any for a meander, quartering the area within scent of the car in lazy arcs. We don't need the cover of a lead, but Jason stays close anyway, frisking away through the shoulder-high weeds but always darting back within a few strides as if to check I'm still following, still there. Still an audience, perhaps.

Jason turns to nip at his flank and then shoots me the oi, Thumbs toss of his head at the offending itch. I find the burr that's worked its way into his fur and disentangle it. With the closest look a wolf's face can manage to an expression of gratitude, he flops to rest a bit, and I go to fetch a blanket to sit upon, spreading faded cartoon-hero fleece over the short grass near where we've left the car.

Stars here in abundance, the positions of the brightest closer to less wrong, but still degrees off from where instinct says to look for them above phantom hills and sea. I'm weeping, suddenly. Jason sits up on his haunches, and tilts his head as if to say, if you think I'm going to lick your face, you're crazy. But then he comes to rest his head on my knee, and I think he'd be throwing a stick to buck me up if he could.

Not very long at all after moonset Jason's up again and eager to be off, fired with the revelation that the night's other singer was one of his own; or as he phrases it, Wasn't no wolf-wolf, dude. I assume that he would know, some difference in the dialect if nothing else. He bundles away the night's scattered belongings into the car and soon has us jouncing down a rutted track through the forest that he describes, quite rightly, as the sort of road where you don't stop to pick up Neil Patrick Harris. But Jason presses on, excited to meet a were who's not family by blood or custom. "One or other of you couldn't have just gone off for a recce last night?" I ask.

"Yeah, but then in the morning you're a hundred miles from your pants. Get my mom to tell you the Carhenge story sometime."

Jason's reckoning of the distance brings us up short at the edge of a sloping bluff above the lake, the alleged road tailing out into an indeterminately gravelly patch that may have once been meant as the car-park to an old lighthouse and its keeper's quarters. Jason shrugs and gets out to go knock. The quizzical face of a pit-bull appears in the window as he approaches, the door opening only a moment later onto a weatherbeaten man with short silver hair, face some distant kin to our neighbour Miguel's Aztec profile. He looks Jason over and says, in a voice as gravelly as his driveway, "So much for hoping you were a chick."

feeling: exhausted exhausted

2 responses | moved to respond?
ashnistrike From: ashnistrike Date: July 22nd, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Oooh ... that one's pretty. And hey, new wolf!

robling_t From: robling_t Date: July 22nd, 2014 10:30 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
And here's hoping it won't be another three or four months before I can get the NEXT one out... *sigh*
2 responses | moved to respond?