Hawkes Hall, Hawkes Harbor, Delaware July 1965
Even from across the great hall, Louisa Kahne felt rather than saw the young man tremble.
"Did you accomplish what I asked?" Grenville asked. He paced the great room with his impatient stride, curiously stealthy for a man of his height and weight.
"N-n-no. I, I c-can't do it."
"Go to your quarters. In a moment I will join you and we'll discuss what you can and cannot do."
Louisa saw Jamie Sommers flinch but leave the room with robotlike resolve.
"Dr. Kahne," Grenville said, "I believe volume six contains some mention of what we were looking for. You will excuse me for a moment."
Louisa met his eyes. She hastily looked down at the scattered piles of books and documents and began a fumbling search. Her hands were shaking.
Within a few minutes of Grenville's departure, she heard a low, despairing wail from the back of the hall. Louisa swallowed. Some of her brash self-confidence ebbed, for the first time since she began this... project.
Grenville returned, and as if there had been no interruption, seated himself opposite Louisa across the large rough-hewn table.
She slid an old, leather-bound ledger before him. "Is this what you were speaking of?" she said coolly. "I'm quite certain this is what you meant."
Several hours later Grenville started to open the front door for her, but Louisa stood resolutely in the hallway. She had made up her mind.
"I want to see Jamie before I go."
"Jamie seemed indisposed. He's not receiving visitors."
"There are questions I feel he can answer."
"Not this evening ..."
She ignored the malevolent look he gave her and went through the large hallway that led to the back of this ... house? Fort? Castle? Modeled after a hunting lodge in England, he had told her. Never intended to be the main residence...
The last door in the hallway was shut; she pushed it open without knocking.
She had a quick impression of a spare, bare, L-shaped room, then saw Jamie sitting on the edge of a narrow bed, rocking back and forth.
He gave a violent start as she opened the door—then calmly said, "Hello, Dr. Kahne," as if she showed up in his room every evening.
She had noticed this about him before. In spite of his nervous edge, the way any unexpected happening made him jump, he still had the air of a man who had experienced the biggest surprise life could hand him, never again could he feel awe.
In a way, he very much resembled the new kind of patient they were starting to get at Terrace View—the young veterans of the war.
And it's so cold in here, she thought, her own teeth chattering, no wonder he's shivering ... far too cold for summer. He moved away as she reached out to touch him. "I'm okay," he said politely. "I appreciate it, but I'm okay." He'd been crying. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Just a little dizzy. Weak. It'll pass." Jamie always spoke politely, but hesitant, as if he wasn't quite sure how. He gingerly touched his turtleneck sweater on the right side of his throat.
"This ain't that bad. Anyway, I heal up real fast. It's part of ... being like this."
"Here." Louisa opened her purse. She took a bottle of capsules, shook two into her hand. "Stronger than aspirin."
"No, thank you. He wouldn't like it."
"What do you mean?" Louisa saw, with queasy pity, a light bloodstain seeping through the sweater.
Jamie thought he couldn't be much clearer, but explained, "He don't want me drinkin', smokin', taking pills. Messes up my blood. I tried to take aspirin before, couldn't get 'em into my mouth."
He was lucky to get to eat and sleep, he thought. Grenville could and had stopped that for a time, too. "Could have been worse," Jamie said. "Surely, he doesn't beat you."
Jamie stared at the floor and said nothing. This woman was so naive.... Like It needed to do that....
"So. You going to cure It?" Jamie still thought of Grenville as "It."
"Perhaps 'cure' is an incorrect word in this case. I don't see the affliction as an illness. I would like to be of help, however."
"He told me it wouldn't make any difference to me. I'd still be..."
Fucked up, Jamie stopped himself from saying. "Like this."
Powerless. Helpless. In Its power. No will of his own.
"Don't ya want to be cured?" he'd asked It, when It had been debating Louisa's offer of help.
"It will make no difference to you. Only death will set you free," It had replied.
Well, Jamie had known that already. Was trying to do the best with what he had.
Louisa looked a little conscience stricken. "Honestly, I haven't thought of the possible effect on the victims."
"Victim," Jamie corrected. "I'm the only one—alive."
Louisa tried to gather her much-valued self-possession. I am a researcher, an investigator, she thought, this is the case of a lifetime, I will be able to prove the link between the psychic and reality, the actual existence of two planes, I cannot, I will not become personally involved. I will take advantage of this opportunity calmly....
"What's it like?" she asked.
Jamie had no words for her, but he thought, You just keep on the way you're going, lady, you'll find out soon enough.
She had no idea what she was messing with. You could tell she thought she was pretty damn clever; but Grenville Hawkes thought she was a fool. Jamie had to agree. But still, she had a lot of guts.
"You were bitten?"
Jamie's skin crawled at the image her words evoked. Taken. Used. Branded. Owned.
"How many times?"
"Four or five ..."
Jamie stared off into space. He was going crazy.
He could feel it. Today, he was refinishing a windowsill, and looked at his watch to see he was missing three hours. His mind had just left; he had no idea where it'd gone.
Maybe next time it wouldn't come back.
He'd looked out the window to see the setting sun, barely had time to get outside before he puked.
He started shaking at sundown, these days.
He was so tired. He was so tired.
And this week, buying varnish and sandpaper and candles at the hardware store, Jamie lost his ability to understand language—all he could hear was gibberish, he had no idea how to speak.
He'd had to run out and leave all the stuff there and just missed being punished for it.
"But he can't really use it now. It just... keeps me in line."
"He can no longer use your blood?"
"He has to go get fresh. Mine is too much like his now."
That's why sunlight seared his eyes these days. He was ah ways cold. The smell from Vinnie's Spaghetti House made him gag. He had to avert his eyes to pass the chapel. He had to stay awake in daytime, to guard it, run the errands, but found it very hard to sleep at night.
Jamie wondered how long it'd take Grenville to kill him, once It realized he was crazy.
From the beginning, It had threatened him with the most horrible death possible, even given him a small sample in the effort to break his will—
Jamie hummed as he rocked, Dr. Kahne forgotten. The monster had reached from the coffin, taken the cur by the throat— broken him, trained him by cuff and by kick—found him surprisingly useful, but expendable—
Jamie's feelings were much more complex.
He saw the evil, the cruel caprice, the almost random violence. It controlled his behavior now, sometimes even his thoughts.
He was totally dependent on this being who thought no more of him than of a fly—his existence was so tied to It he couldn't imagine freedom.
His greatest fear was Its anger, his only pleasure Its rare praise. He could no more rebel against It than raise his hand to God.
Jamie wanted to know why. An event of such magnitude ... why him?
And he wanted desperately to matter to It. As long It needed him, he could live.
So maybe that was why he
found himself thinking "we," "us," "our."
In this together.
We Us Our
Like It was his old buddy, his old pal.