34 Chapter 34 CAUTION Very graphic and disturbing chapter!
Joseph was 6 looking up at the man his little sister and he were placed with. It's been two weeks since they were placed here and one month since their parents were killed by the drunk driver. The man had been fine until today. He started drinking around noon. The lady they are supposed to call mom now, hid them in their room.
Joseph heard them fighting downstairs.
She screamed, "You promised you were done!"
There was a crash and she started crying, but it's been quiet for a while now. He hasn't found them under the bed yet, but he knows they were in this room, because it was the only locked room. He kicked the door open and broke the lock. Emily was trying so hard not to cry but Joseph couldn't shush her like mom used too, or he'd hear him.
It didn't matter. He found them.
Joseph tried to run with Emily, but he grabbed her hand. Even drunk, a 6 and 4 year-old didn't stand a chance.
Why is he taking off her dress?
"NO! STOP! Don't touch her!"
He hit him so hard he didn't know what happened. He was doing something to Emily, and it was her scream that woke him back up. There's blood on his face.
"NO STOP IT!"
He kicked at him, but he ducked.
Emily's bleeding! What did he do to her?
He picks him up, and threw him out of the room. He crashed into the railing, but fall over it.
He didn't remember hitting the floor.
After he was old enough to read the report, Joseph learned that he had died. By the time he woke up two weeks after that night, they had had to resuscitate him four times on the table. His face required reconstructive surgery and his spine was damaged in the fall. He wasn't awake to attend Emily's funeral, but he couldn't tell if that was better or worse.
Due to a mix up with the paperwork, he was 20 before he could even find her grave. The scars made him ugly. The spine damage meant he couldn't play with the other kids. The fact that he didn't have real parents meant the other kids made fun of him. The lady he was placed with wanted kids, and the husband was humoring her. She wanted him to fill the hole in her life, her husband wouldn't. He never wanted to talk to him unless the social lady was there. He barely made it a year. He ran away when he was 8. His 7th birthday was apparently in the ICU. The man who raped his little sister to death, tattles on the leaders of a drug ring, so he was put in witness protection instead of jail.
Joseph liked math because it made sense when nothing else did. He became an accountant because people were going to hate him anyway, and he liked math. He never found the one. Nobody was willing to look past his messed-up face and gimpy walk. He tried online dating some, but nobody wanted to meet once he sent a picture.
Joseph woke up screaming.
"Joseph! It's okay! I'm here! Please wake up!" begged Stella, as she held him, looking terrified.
He clung to her like he was dying. She stiffened as he sobbed on her chest. Flashing back to what that evil man had done to his sister, he was suddenly gagging.
Letting go of her, he jumped out the carriage door. He threw up until he was dry heaving and then passed out.
There were voices. It sounded like his dad.
"Will he be ok? What the hell happened?"
"Sir, it looks like the assassins burnt Oranche plumes in the field over there. The smoke is known to make people drowsy and it looks like they intended to put the sentries to sleep in order to sneak in and either kill you and Joseph, or kidnap your son. If he hadn't reacted so poorly and quickly, they may have succeeded. It is a powerful narcotic and it appears young master Joseph is allergic to it. He will recover but it can cause powerful hallucinations. His screaming alerted the guards.
Joseph woke up slowly. His head felt awful and he still had the taste of vomit in his mouth. When he finally opened his eyes, Stella was way too close.
He jerked and immediately regretted it.
"Joseph! You're awake!"
"Shhh. Not so loud, beautiful."
She paused. "You must be fine."
"No, I'm not. But if I don't joke right now, I'll start crying again, and neither of us want that. Shavist! What the hell was that? Can I have some water? My mouth still tastes like vomit."
"Here." Stella handed me some water.
He leaned back after a good drink. "What happened? Was it really poison and did anyone stop the assassins?"
"How do you know about that?" She seemed a little nervous.
"Crap, so that wasn't a hallucination. Did you tell me you loved me?"
"No, seriously what?"
"Sorry, just trying to distract myself."
"Are you in pain?" she asked worried.
"Yeah, but I'm used to it. Ah Shavist. I'm not used to it. But a former me got used to it. I should stop talking. My head hurts and even I can't tell if I'm making sense. Would you sing to me? Something. Anything. Just softly please."
"Joseph, you're kind of scaring me. Was your dream that bad? Do you want to talk…"
"NO! I don't even want to think about it. Please Stella. Anything."
Nodding, she thought for a moment, then began to sing a soothing, quiet song, in a language he didn't know. It was soothing for some reason, and helped to distract him as he leaned back against the pillow.
"Joseph, you're awake!" His dad poked his head into the carriage, and the look on his face was of such relief, that Joseph couldn't hold back a small smile.
"Hi, dad. Have I ever told you how wonderful of a dad you are?"
"Um…yes. Anything you want to talk about?"
"Not unless someone is going to poison me again if I don't. So, Stella brought you up to speed?"
"No, I was almost awake a few times and I heard you talking. Do you need to talk about it?"
"I…I don't know. It was…It was so awful." His voice cracked and tears came to his eyes unbidden.
"Fine, we can talk about it later, if we need to. I honestly don't know how your memories are so strong. I barely have fragments of mine."
"Both of my lives had memories, almost as good as I do now with the system for one."
William turned to Stella. "Stella, do you have memories of your previous lives?"
"Are they strong for you?"
"Yes, Master. I'd rather not talk about them."
"Are your memories terrible too?"
Her eyes grew dim as if she were looking far away, "No, my memories are really good. It lets me know how terrible this life has been."
"Oh." William was stunned for a minute. "Well, thank you for the help you offered with the assassins. I just want you to know that I am not your enemy."
She nodded in understanding.
"Go ahead and rest son. Stella, please stay with him. Anyone but me, or a healer, knocks on the door, and you stab them got it?"
He nodded, then left. They could both hear him talking quietly to the four guards outside before he finally headed back to this carriage.
"System. What the hell was that?"
(SORRY. THAT MEMORY SHOULD NOT HAVE UNLOCKED ALL AT ONCE AND SHOULDN'T HAVE STARTED UNTIL 15)
"Did you just apologize?"
"So… Why did it unlock?"
(THE ALLERGIC REACTION TO THE NARCOTIC WAS OUTSIDE OF EXPECTED PARAMETERS. THAT NARCOTIC WAS NOT IN MY DATABASE)
(CORRECT, NO INSTANCE OF MYSELF HAS ENCOUNTERED THAT SPECIFIC MUTATED SPECIES IN ANY OTHER REALM. PROTECTION OF SEALED MEMORIES FROM ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO UNKNOWN MUTATED CURSED PLANT SPECIES WAS…INSUFFICIENT.)
It took two days until he could focus on magic again without a splitting headache. Apparently, Breath at intermediate level was likely the only reason he survived. It slowly expelled the poison from him. He was still scared to go to sleep. The System promised to keep him from dreaming about anything, and so far, it had. It said it would only keep it up for a week though, humans needed to dream.
Stella stayed close, choosing to sleep by his bed on the floor, and held his hand. She didn't know what his dream had been, but she knew that hollow look in his eyes all too well.