The light behind the velum like frailty of his lids was weak. It was a pauper’s gas lamp, struggling to burn through the harshest of winter nights. A mere glint of it struggled behind his pupils as slowly his sealed gaze peeled open, casting its pathetic reach into the vast sea of dark. The boy could not find strength enough to even work free the dusty whimpers of pain that collected in pillar of his throat, for certainly the dull ache of his ripped spine and brutalised skin demanded it. That skin had fused miserably to the floor, knotted flesh and jutting bones recalling their mistreatment. And when words came, they were disoriented, needful and lost. “Eau ... la pluie... eau.” It was a lament typical of a wearied traveller, one who had tarried too long in lands foreign and strange, his lips dusted with sand. A spark of resilience encouraged the youth to rise from his grave, stretching the damaged skin of his back in a curtain of pain that fell before his eyes like dying stars. Dizzied by the brilliance of it, he crumpled back into his former placement with a brutal crack of bone and moved no further. It seemed he would in fact not be moving from his terrible bed so swiftly at all, for it clung to him so fiercely.
There was no tooth clenching defiance, no grunting effort to rise back toward the brilliant flame of contrived freedom. Perhaps because he could no longer testify to what it was he must escape so desperately from, for his heart murmured to him of such horrors. But they were half memories, childhood fancies about toothed creatures lurking in the shadows beneath his cot bed... and oh, he felt so old, so tired, and bitterly cold. Bewildered fingertips patted tentatively along the rise of his sunken chest, down toward the emaciated dagger point of his hipbone, feeling across grey flesh that was bumped and unclothed. “Est-ce purgatorie?... Suis-je mort?” He asked softly of the shadows and the judge who presided over them... regardless of whether he was currently there or not. Somehow, it didn’t matter; Fabien knew he would still be heard. But as soon as the words departed his lips, they were haunted by terrible laughter. It was as gentle and sombre as the sweeping of a stick broom across gaol floor, brushing away the foot prints of the damned. Beneath such laughter were horrors unimaginable, a neatly contained Pandora’s Box of rot and ruin... glazed over with this impish mask of smooth indifference.
Somehow it looked like perfection.