Interlude: Past as Present
David J. Duncan
Notes: The characters from Forever Knight are owned by Sony Tri-Star. The characters from Xena Warrior Princess are owned by StudiosUSA and Renaissance Studios. The characters from Mutant X are owned by Marvel and Tribune. The characters from Smallville are owned by DC and the WB. All other characters are fictitious and of my own creation. Please send comments to
"Gollum's Song" was written by Howard Shore and Fran Walsh in addition to being performed by Emiliana Torrini for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" Soundtrack.
The Faerie Empress speaks...
As the allies prepare for the battle with the sorceress' ghost, David Dubois deals with his own doubts and recalls more of what happened before....
The Double Helix streaked through the dark skies over central Massachusetts, heading straight for danger. All onboard wrestled with their thoughts, worrying about the battle to come. In the back, Clark and Lana talked, trying to reassure each other. Karen relayed more information onto her daughter, niece, Miranda, and their friends about their destination. Eve and the two clergymen-Father Richard and Brother Tony-prayed together. Nick,
LaCroix, and the Mutant X members spent the trip in somber solitude, putting their own insights together.
Xena and Gabrielle, however, watched Dave carefully. They knew about the emotional tempest raging inside of him and could guess at the cause.
"Xena?" Emma asked.
"Yeah?" the warrior responded.
"He's going to explode. What should we do?" the psionic wondered.
"Let him work it out. If we're gonna have a fighting chance, then he needs to deal with his feelings," Xena replied. She analyzed him again. "And he has some major issues with this place."
Emma sighed and retreated back to her seat. While she wanted to help the medievalist, she knew that Xena was right. Dave needed to deal with his problems and confront his fears. On another level, he needed to trust in the Child. In a place of pain and weeping, how will he hold up?
Against the rear bulkhead, Dave sat in a lotus position, meditating on the situation-both past and present. It had been so long since he lived in Rowenshire. A generation had come and gone yet the pain was still intense.
["We shouldn't be doin' this," the Child noted.]
["They need our help," Dave rebutted.]
["Aw, screw 'em! They never helped us! 'Member how they ran us outta town?"]
The historian scratched his head, trying to remember what the Other told him.
["Ya'll don't, do ya? Well Ah do! Stupid freakin' hicks! They hated us! They spat on us!"]
["Stop it!" Dave ordered. "I can't deal with this right now, all right?"]
[The Child sighed and pressed on callously, "Poor baby...always feelin' sorry fer yerself. It's time to stand up fer yerself! Fer us!"]
And as if a switch tripped in his mind, Dave remembered everything....
[Rowenshire: February 20, 1978]
The trip back from the cemetery had been hard for Dave. He had dealt with his feelings for the entire time-the pain, indignation, and anger. Only one person at the service talked to him and that guy was slightly half-baked himself-asking questions that were really none of his business to ask.
He walked in the house and changed clothes. Today was his birthday, but he didn't care. The ghost and the big black thing had stolen the joy from his special day.
Normally, his mother would have tried to make a halfway nice dinner for the family to celebrate the occasion.
But she was downstairs crying because she missed her father and drowning her sorrows in a bottle of wine.
Cybbie would have gone walking with him, as it was such a warm day for that time of year.
But their father had sent her away because he had never wanted a daughter to begin with.
As he walked up the stairs, his footsteps echoed in the emptiness around him. The air was icy and cold. He stepped into his grandfather's room, hoping that this was all a nightmare.
It wasn't. The elderly man-his Virgil in the darkness of despair-had fallen in battle, worn down by the fight and trying to protect him and Cybbie.
Worse still, he heard the laughter. That hideous cackling he knew to be the ghost's thinking she was triumphant. That he would soon be hers.
And then, a doleful lyric started in his head....
Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more
Don't say-I didn't try...
He sighed. Grandpa, where are you?
Shrugging, he turned and left the empty room. Walking outside, he got on his bike and rode the three miles into town. He needed to get away. He needed some air. He needed to see some friendly faces who were willing to talk with him.
At the general store in town, Dave wandered the aisles aimlessly, not caring who looked at him or why they did so. He knew the owner, Sam Brown, had a policy against people loitering, but frankly, he could have cared less.
The old man can cut me some slack today. Finally, he decided on a Pepsi and, after paying for it, left the store.
An hour more of wandering brought him to the old school building. Up until that year, he had gone to school here. Then, the town closed it, sending him and the other kids to Ware for their education. Like they care about us there. Yeah right. He sat under the big oak tree beside what once was the playground and sulked.
You said that I wasn't alone, Grandpa. If so, where are the others? "WHERE ARE THEY?" he screamed in rage to the sky as the tears began to fall.
He knew that any pleasantness held in the house and the town for him was gone. He would live there, but it would never be home for him ever again.
These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies
You told us
The hurt, the blame!
He finally broke down, ascertaining that he was alone and wouldn't be disturbed.
Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Dad will just call me a blubbering sap again. He doesn't care about anything except his stupid business and putting me down.
Then a voice asked, "Dave?"
"Huh?" he queried, looking up. There, he saw one of the girls from school. "Oh hi. Nancy, right?"
She smiled and sat down beside him. "You look as though you need a friend."
"Who cares? What I need is for my grandfather to come back," he sobbed. "At least, he didn't make fun of me because I like to read."
She shook her head sadly. In school, the other boys jeered him because he was smart and kept to himself.
I wish they would all just leave him alone. It's not his fault that his father is who he is.
"Not everyone. I think you're nice."
"Y...you do?" he asked.
She smiled and nodded. "You helped me a couple of times. Thanks."
"You're welcome, I guess," he sighed.
But, just as he felt like opening up, a slender man with brown hair ran over and yelled, "Nancy! Get away from him!"
"Daddy, it's okay," she protested. "He just lost his grandfather, all right?"
"He's a Dubois-what did I tell you about associating with them?"
"Not to talk with them," she parroted.
He grabbed her arm hard, pulling her away. "We'll talk later about this, Nancy. Meantime,
Boy, you stay away from her! Bad enough that your father has screwed up this town, but I won't let you mess with my daughter!"
"He wasn't..." she started, the tears coming to her eyes.
"It's okay. He's right. My father's scum and so am I!" Dave told her, getting up and running into the woods.
As she was being led away, Nancy knew he needed support, but couldn't get away from her father.
Meantime, he watched from his hiding place, brooding over his assigned place in the world and his fate-to be ashamed of who and what he was.
At that point, the song started again....
And we will weep
To be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home
[Four months later]
Dave helped carry the last box down the stairs and out to the car. His mother wanted to leave quickly before her husband returned. After hearing the stories from her children, Sarah had finally encountered the witch for herself and knew she couldn't subject her sons to that situation any longer.
"Okay, that's it. Now, let's go, kids," she told them, hustling them to the car.
"Where are we going, Mom?" Randy wondered.
"A trip, Randy," she explained.
It couldn't have come soon enough, Dave mused to himself as he placed his burden in the trunk and closed the door. "That's it."
"Thanks," she said. "Let's go!" But, as she went to start the car, the driveway was blocked by a mob of people. "What do you all want?"
"Going somewhere? What's the matter? The town not good enough for you?" a rather heavy-set man challenged.
"That's none of your business!" she retorted.
However, three men from the throng grabbed her and started beating on her.
"Mom!" Randy protested. "Dave, what do we do?"
"Stay here," his brother ordered, glaring at him. "I mean it."
Randy nodded nervously, knowing the stare meant that his older brother was beyond ticked off.
Dave grabbed a baseball bat and stepped out of the car. "Hey, leave my mother alone!"
"Well, the biggest brat. Show the slugger who's boss," another man cracked.
Two other men, one African-American and another, white with blond hair, came at him. One cut his arm with a box cutter.
In response, Dave lost his temper, swinging the bat and hitting the other across the back. Then he turned on the African-American and whacked the latter across the knees and rammed the end into his stomach.
"Anyone else?" Dave snarled.
A shot rang out, hitting the boy in the thigh, staggering him.
"Good one!" a woman yelled from the mob as they all cheered.
Dumb idiots! I ought to take them all! Looking to the window of the house, he saw the glowing woman laughing at him.
This is her fault! If it's the last thing I do, I'll get her!
Another shot hit him in the arm.
"Dave! I got Mom! Let's go!" Randy yelled.
Dave nodded and tried to get back to the car, but the mob cornered him.
He roared in anger and retaliated for the wounds on those nearest to him, but eventually, he fell beneath superior numbers.
"Now, let's teach Dubois a lesson!" the brown haired white man declared.
"No, Daddy! Stop!" a girl's voice interjected.
Dave looked up to see Nancy standing between him and them.
"Get out of our way!" the mob yelled as one.
"No! It isn't his fault! Isn't it bad enough that he's leaving? Just let him go!" she argued.
"No!" someone yelled in the mob.
Brown hair put his hand up. "Nancy's right. Okay, Boy, you can go, but if you ever come back here, we'll kill you."
"You can try," Dave growled.
"Nancy!" the man bellowed.
She sighed and stepped out of the way. "I'm sorry. Get out of here, Dummy!"
Dave gaped at her, but composed himself quickly. He ran as fast as his wounded leg would allow toward the car. Getting in, he got down into the space between the seats next to his brother.
"Hang on!" his mother told him and his brother as they pulled away, speeding out of the town for all that the station wagon was worth.
As the car sped away, Nancy cried miserably, not believing what she had just done to him.
I wish I could tell him I'm sorry. I wish there was a way.
For Dave, he glowered over the scene as the car headed down the state road. Even as he did, he heard the song again....
So in the end
I will be-what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me
Now we say-goodbye
We say-you didn't try...
These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame!
And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost
You can never go home
Even though he was with his mother and brother, he was alone. Although he knew Nancy had no choice but to give way, she had left him alone with his tears and shame.
He was alone....
The wet feeling of his own tears brought him back to the present. "Not fair. It's not fair," he muttered.
"Dave?" Karen asked, stooping next to him with Emma and Xena right over her shoulder.
He forced himself to look up at them through his bloodshot eyes and tears. "What are you all looking at?" he demanded.
"Geez," Brennan retorted.
"Brennan, enough. Just fly, all right?" Emma requested firmly. "He's got enough to deal with right now."
"No, Emma...It's okay," Dave asserted, standing up. "You all head for the town center, but find yourselves some cover or land cloaked. I've got some business to take care of." He opened a portal. "See ya there." With that, he vanished into the mists.
"Dave, come back!" Cybelle protested. "Of all the dumb moves!"
"Where did he go?" Clark asked.
"The old house. Deirdre, stay with everyone here. Karen, Nick, and Xena, you're with me," Cybelle told them as she enveloped them in the mists.
The others kept going, hoping that everything was going to be all right.
Dave popped out of the mists and looked around anxiously. I know you're here someplace, Lichtenfeld. Placing two shafts into firing position, he surveyed the property carefully.
Maybe I can't go home again, but I can sure as Hell do some damage here.
"Dave!" Nick called.
The medievalist wheeled around and saw the others pop out of another portal. "Guys, I told you to stay with the others!"
Xena drew her sword and held it ready. "You're being stupid, David. You don't need to take such chances!"
"Especially given what happened here the last time," Cybelle pointed out.
"I'm ready for her," he asserted, glancing about. "But it's not a problem. She's here, but she's hiding."
"What?" Karen asked.
Cybelle did a sensory sweep of her own. "He's right. She's watching us right now. Come, the others are waiting...for all of us."
"For you," Dave retorted.
"And for you as well," Nick stated.
Opening a portal, Cybelle urged, "Let's go!"
Before following the others into it, Dave looked around one more time. "You can hide for only so long,
Witch! When we finally do meet, you'll regret it!" With that, he vanished through the portal.
Barely a minute later, the witch's ghost shimmered into view with a great smile on her face. "Aye. We shall meet again, but ye won't like it one bit!"
Off to the side, her companion, the twenty-foot fire demon howled.
"We depart for a bigger city. Let them poke around in the burned out hovels down yonder road! Tonight, there's a grander game afoot!" she cackled, waving her hands as they both vanished.
TO BE CONTINUED.... For more, go to the Dark
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