stefanie_bean: (lost people)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 2: The Shattering Sky
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Jack Shephard, Kate Austin, James "Sawyer" Ford, Michael Dawson, Bea Klugh, assorted Others
Rating: T
Length: 1568 words
Status: Complete
Notes: Set between Season 2 and 3.

Summary: The quest to find Walt has failed. As Hugo makes his lonely way back to the beach camp, he discovers that the Island is stranger than he ever imagined.


Chapter Two: The Shattering Sky

Jack and Michael, Sawyer and Kate walked all through that day and into the night, with Hugo lagging behind. He ate nothing, barely drank, spoke hardly at all. He also suspected he was beginning to hallucinate. For one thing, there was that big bird which swooped over their group and called out his name. Of course nobody heard but him. Typical.

Now the birds were talking to Hugo, too. Not that anyone else heard that, either. Once in awhile flocks of rainbow-colored parrots passed by, showering broken bits of phrases such as, "Don't worry," or "Chin up." Songbirds like blue jewels perched at head-height and said, “Watch out,” when he almost collided with a thick branch.

It could have been worse. Sometimes voices yelled at you, or told you how stupid and worthless you were. That had never happened to Hugo, though. Even when Hugo and his imaginary friend Dave had capered around Santa Rosa, Dave had always been open and friendly. Even if everything he had said was a bold-faced lie. Some of the guys at Santa Rosa, though, they heard bad stuff, and they suffered for it.

So while twittered encouragement from bright little songbirds wasn't that bad, it still didn't make Hugo feel any better. Because he was still hallucinating.

Then, in a moment so horrible that even the birds fell silent, Michael admitted to Hugo what he had done. For a few seconds Hugo didn't care what happened to any of them. Let the Others kill us all, he thought. Better that than for yesterday's cold manic rage to return. Better than Hugo squeezing out Michael's last dying breath through a broken airway.

“That's it,” Hugo said. “I'm going back.”

He couldn't, Jack argued. The Others already knew they were coming. There was nothing to do but go on.

So, with a soul shot full of novocaine, Hugo followed the group as Michael led them into a narrow valley ringed on both sides with soaring emerald cliffs.

Up ahead, in a clearing surrounded by the soft green trees the castaways called "feather trees,” sat a mound of black-and-white speckled composition books. Not just lying on the ground, either. Instead, the notebooks were stuffed into what looked like plastic bank tubes, the kind you use when you go to the drive-up window.

While Jack, Sawyer, and Michael bickered over how far Michael had led them from the sea-coast, Hugo and Kate inspected the notebooks. Hugo didn't care how close or far they were to the coastline, because he couldn't have found it on his own anyway.

The men's voices rose in argument, Jack's hard and insistent, Sawyer's loud and blustering. At one point Sawyer reached for his gun. Kate grabbed his hand to stop him, while Hugo turned away. Just because he had lost the desire to throttle Michael didn't mean he was going to stop Sawyer from blowing Michael's head off. He just didn't want to watch.

Over at the tree line, the birds were really shrieking now. Their wild caws and screeches sounded like, It's a trap, a trap, but Hugo ignored them. Instead, he took one of the notebooks out of its tube and began to read. When he got to the line, "#37642 picked up a men's magazine and went back into his bunk, again," with the last word underlined and circled, he gave a little joyless laugh. Kate shot him a look of annoyance, probably payback for his earlier coldness. He set the notebook down.

Then Hugo's brief, dry amusement gave way to terror. The argument between the other four reached a fever pitch. Jack called Michael a traitor; Sawyer bellowed that Sayid had already known this, and how could Jack have been such an ass that he couldn't admit it. Kate snapped at both of them to put it back into their pants; this wasn't a pissing contest and what were they going to do about it now? Michael stammered excuses and then fell silent.

It wasn't their shouting which terrified Hugo, though. That he barely heard, because a tidal wave of sound suddenly washed over him from overhead, drowning out everything else. The white overcast sky split down the middle like a torn sheet, and out of that great black rip poured forth a flood of deafening, barely-understood whispers. Then, the black hole itself broke into thousands of fluttering things shaped like crows, but which flew about like bats. And, oh God, each one of them had a tiny, scrunched-up human face.

Hugo tore his glance away from the shattering sky to the people around him. They moved in slow motion, a video played at half-speed and entirely predictable. Whatever was happening with the sky, no one else seemed to see it. Jack and Sawyer still screamed and waved their arms about. Kate flung herself between the two men before they came to blows.

Then Hugo felt rather than saw the burlap-clad men and women who lurked in the dense underbrush at the outskirts of the clearing. At that moment Jack yelled, "Run!" but it was too late. The Others poured out of their hiding places with rifles and worse. The attack had begun.

Hugo didn't hear the darts whiz through the air, didn't hear Kate's shouts as she fell convulsing to the short dry grass. The brown-clad people ran like sleek beautiful animals loping across a savannah, with grace their natural gait. The attackers darted about on the periphery of Hugo's vision, but what drove him to his knees was not the Others, but the black fluttering shapes which gathered and swung across the sky in a thick, undulating flock. At first Hugo couldn't believe that everyone else still ran about and fought. Couldn't they see that dense cloud which filled half the sky and covered the sun? Couldn't they hear their gibbering, frantic shrieks?

Apparently they couldn't. Then terror shook Hugo even harder. The black fluttering things cried out, filling his ears with an irresistible chorus. He pressed his hands over his ears as hard as he could and shouted without control, trying to drown out the voices, although no cries from his own deep chest could cover the sound of that throng.

The Others chased first after Sawyer, then Kate, while above the whole plain of battle the airy black things fluttered. Hugo knew with delusional certainty that they fed off the Other's cold anger and his own and his friends' terror. The bat-shapes clustered around almost everyone, it seemed, but not above him. Nor did they swarm around the lean, brown-skinned woman in a dark grey head scarf, who stood unmoving and calm at the edge of the fray.

So while the flapping black things left Hugo alone, the whispers came louder still, and now they formed into clear words which pierced him with mocking torment.

Elizabeth, the whispers said. Elizabeth.

The harder he pressed his hands against his ears, the louder and more distinct the voices became.

"No," Hugo moaned. No, this isn't happening." He crouched further down into his grassy shelter, trying to bury his head in his arms as deeply as he could. He screwed his eyes tight, but that only made it worse, because all the uncanny figures came into focus sharper than before. The trees themselves glowed lime-green, pulsing in time to the crooning chant.

A flock of birds took off from the largest of the glowing trees, and from behind his screwed-shut lids, Hugo saw that they had faces, too. Theirs, though, were of beautiful women with skin green as grass. Their eyes glittered, and their black hair streamed behind them as they flew about in the midday sun. The women-faced birds swung around and dove into the bat-things, chasing them off into the tree-tops.

Hugo knew that if he opened his eyes to look across the valley he would see all this and more, and that he would not be able to bear it, because that would prove that he hadn't just popped one gear, he'd stripped them all. Better to hide behind closed lids, and tell himself that this was nothing but brain chemicals. Just brain chemicals.

But he knew it wasn't.

Hugo collapsed into the grass with a small whimper. The screaming had stopped, but he still heard faint whispers and fragments of human conversation. The Others conferred with each other, until a low-pitched woman's voice rang above everyone else's, and all others fell silent.

Everything around him fell silent. Hugo thought, I'm good as dead. They killed everybody, and I'm next.

He stiffened, waiting for the gunshot, the blow to the head. Please, I'm sorry. For all of it, whatever it was. For hurting Ma. For yelling at Dad. Everything. Just don't let it hurt too much.

When a hand touched his shoulder, Hugo gave a great shudder. But instead of an ax-blow, he felt a touch like the gentle shake a big sister gives her small brother in the throes of a restless and troubled nap. Hugo didn't move or open his eyes, so the light prodding came again, more insistent.

"Hugo," the low voice said, and this time he looked into the dark sculpted face of the kerchiefed woman who had stood so calm and still at the edge of the crowd. She gazed down on him with an expression unwavering and kind. "Hugo, get up."

(continued)


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