Chapter 7: Ill Communication

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Chapter 7: Ill Communication

I thought I might have a hard time disappearing back into my bedroom after lunch, but Bruce actually suggested it.

“You still look tired,” he told me. He’d traded relief for concern shortly after I’d finished my salad.  “Are you sure there isn’t more to this than you’re telling me?”

“No,” I said, drawing the word out into a yawn, though not a big enough one to look fake. “I’ve just been feeling under the weather, that's all. But I’ve got my appetite back now. So, that good news, right?”

Bruce gave me a scrutinizing look. I stared back at him openly, as if I had nothing to hide. Lying had become easier once my reasons for keeping secrets weren’t purely selfish ones. If I didn’t keep them, Keel wouldn’t just be battling the side effects of the bond: he could be facing down a paranoid mob of sorcerers as well.

“If you’re still feeling off tomorrow, we’d better call Ephraim,” Bruce said. “Illness is rare among sorcerers. This could be a sign of... something else.”

I wondered why he didn't just say it: This could be a sign of the bond. Did he think if he didn't use the words, I wouldn't think about it? Even before it returned, it was a constant concern, an itch that no amount of scratching or ignoring could alleviate.

“I’m fine,” I assured him. I couldn't let him call my father. It’d ruin everything.

I went back to bed with a mission, rejuvenated not only by my decision to take this situation by the reins, but by the imminent threat of Ephraim's interference. He wouldn’t understand. He’d simply see this as another problem to be solved, in the most perfunctory way possible. I needed to try to repair this mess before he strong-armed his way in and made things worse.

Of course, I had no idea what “repair” meant, only that it had to begin with either communicating – a thought that both repelled me and made my heart thump furiously against my rib cage – or by putting an end to these dreams, for both of us.

Despite the uncertainties, this was the most right I’d felt in a long time. I had purpose again, a raison d'être.

I set my alarm for 7 a.m. instead of dusk. I’d been avoiding Nosferatu Keel, but if we could still communicate through the bond, I doubted it’d be during the cavalcade of disjointed memories. Realistically, the only Keel I had any chance of talking to was King Keel. The Keel of here and now.

As I drifted off to sleep, my room faded and was replaced with his — the old one, not the black-on-black travesty he occupied now, with all its gloss and sharp edges. 

We were sprawled across his bed watching me pluck books from his heaving, overstuffed bookshelf. I was flipping through one after another, searching for something. Many of the tomes were ancient; the leather they were bound in cracked and crumbling after centuries of use. I’d scoured Keel’s library often, so I couldn’t immediately pinpoint the day he was reliving.

Eventually, I returned with one of the newer volumes and deposited it on the bed in front of him – us. It sank into the down duvet. “You want me to translate this?” Keel said. Most of the Nosferatu texts – even the more modern ones – were written in vamphyrric.

I nodded, and I marvelled at the serious expression on my face. This knowledge had seemed so important back then, even though it’d ultimately proved useless. But now… maybe there’d be something of worth in this recap, provided the dream didn’t change the sets too soon.

“Do you even know what this is?” Keel asked, sounding stunned. 

“It’s a book about Nosferatu physiology.” The pictures inside had given it away. Languages may differ, but medical drawings were more or less universal.

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