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Favorite Part of Secrets

The Lost
It's so hard to give you my favorite part of Secrets because so much of Secrets is spoilery for The Avengers! Yet this has to be the sequence. This is the one where my editor's jaw dropped and she fell into capslock. This is a flashback sequence about a third of the way into the book, only the beginning of it so as not to spoil too much.




Once, she had a name. She walked in springtime beneath the cool blue sky of Athos, leaves budding on the trees in the uplands, though the valleys were already green with spring. She had a name, though it was gone from her now. So much was gone. There had been a man with a beard who pulled the cart she rode in, a red beard and a wide smile, but she could not remember his name. There had been a boy older than she. He walked beside the cart, ranging back and forth, filled with energy. He had dark hair and a square face. And she did not remember his name.

No one named her here, not even Kairos, the assistant who bent over her, only human as she was, his homely face a study in concern. She could feel his concern, feel it touch her like water falling from the sky.

She remembered rain. It had rained on the morning that marked her seventeenth year, and she remembered no mornings after.

"Vital signs are stable," someone said. One of the Ancestors. One of the gods. She must have been badly injured somehow, she thought. So badly that they had petitioned the Ancestors to save her. She did not remember it. But there had been people who would have done so. The red bearded man. The boy. Even Kairos. Perhaps that was how she knew his name. He had brought her here to save her.

She closed her eyes against the brightness, the lamps that never flickered and never died, the lights of the Ancestors. She closed her eyes and dreamed. She dreamed of home and springtime, of the lake with its still water and a soft mist rising, a white waterbird taking flight.


"That is the ninety-first of the females," one of the Ancestors said, and he did not even draw the sheet over her still face, distorted by purpling blotches beneath the skin.

"The other nine are stable," another said.

Indifference. No sense of loss. What terrible thing had happened that so many died? She turned her head, but there was only the quiet of the room, white draped beds with patients, the two Ancestors standing by the bed at the end of the room. Too far away for her to have heard. She had thought they stood close at hand.

One of them shrugged. "We've only lost one of the males. The Y chromosome is acting as some protection against the most radical changes brought about by the retrovirus. Perhaps…."

A surge of anger. She felt it as though it were within her, but it was not. Kairos stood nearby, and his hands closed at his sides. It was him. The anger came from him, brought forth by their words that she did not understand. But he did. And it filled him with despairing rage.

"Kairos," she tried to whisper, but nothing came out. Not a sound escaped her.

And yet he turned unerringly, his eyes filled with tears. "I am so sorry," he said.


"Little one." The voice was a whisper in her mind. No words were spoken, but she heard them anyway. A woman's voice, older, softer.

"Yes?"

"Can you hear me?" Soft, urgent.

"Yes." She waited in darkness. She had woken in darkness. Only the fitful lights of a few machines winked here and there, like the stars she half remembered. "Who are you?"

A momentary picture in her mind, a woman's distorted reflection in a mirror. Forty, perhaps. Black haired, with olive skin, a round face and brown eyes, tall and full breasted, a white cloth holding back her pinned up hair. And then, sadly, "I don't remember."

Her voice was like the comforting dark itself, like waking from a bad dream to find that your mother is waiting, that she is safe and so are you….

…like tucking your child safe in her blankets, whispering her back to sleep…. An answering picture of starlight, of night through a window, a sleeping child.

"You are Night," she said. "I will call you Night, and we will be together in the dark."

A hesitation, as though there were something she were keeping back, as from a child who has been very ill. "Do not let them know you can hear me," she said. "Little one, please be safe. If they know we can speak like this they will kill us."


"It is only a blood draw," Kairos said. "I will be quick and try not to hurt you." His hands were gentle on her arm. It was not because of him that she screamed.

When he lifted her arm into the light she saw it rightly for the first time, mottled green skin like something long dead, dark emerald veins twining around the back of her wrist, the back of her hand. Her palm was opened, turned up, purpled tormented flesh surrounding a long gash across her hand, lips open and straining like a second mouth.

She screamed. She screamed until the second needle slid into her flesh, returning her to oblivion.

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jo_graham
Feb. 11th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it's fun to speculate and play with! I hope you do, and that you enjoy it.