Over the Hills and Far Away

Chapter Six of Secrets

Written by jrcsalter

Allison lay in the hospital bed with Kate beside her holding her hand. She listened as Kate told her everything. Allison remained tense throughout; at times she gripped Kate’s hand a little too tightly. She had dreaded this moment for almost a year, and now that it had come, she had mixed feelings. It was certainly a relief she didn’t have to hide it anymore, but her mother’s reaction had been much more violent than she expected.   ‘She hasn’t been arrested,’ Kate said, ‘but they did say she could come back as long as she doesn’t lash out again.’   ‘How’s your arm?’ Allison asked   Kate held it up to reveal a neat white dressing. ‘I’ll live, the cut didn’t go deep, but there may be some scarring.’   ‘Well that’s good,’ Allison said, ‘but I won’t forgive her for it.’ She hung her head for a second, then looked at Kate. ‘I really don’t want to go home.’   Kate looked at her, sympathy in her eyes. ‘You have to, honey. I’ll be there with you and we can confront her together.’   Allison looked into Kate’s eyes. She couldn’t see any anger or disappointment, only love and determination. ‘You don’t hate me?’   Kate let go of Allison’s hand and sighed. ‘I hated you for what you did. And I can’t say I’ll ever forget it. But I love you. The moment I thought you were gone, I realised how much I did. And how much I would miss you if you did leave. And despite what happened, I trust you, and I feel I know you. I think you deeply regret what happened and were willing to confess just before … she … made an appearance. I want to believe that if I made such a mistake, I could do the same. Basically, what I’m saying is to have an honest relationship where neither of us is afraid to screw up and tell the other.   And if you agree, I’m willing to move on.’   Allison smiled and Kate leaned over to kiss her. ‘You practised that, didn’t you?’   ‘Little bit.’   Just then, a nurse came in, and Kate jumped off the bed. Allison laughed. ‘We got nothing to hide anymore, honey.’   Kate gave her a sheepish smile. ‘Habit.’   The nurse pulled the curtain fully across. ‘Ok, let’s take a look at you. Have you felt any discomfort?’   ‘No,’ Allison said, surprised. ‘I’m here, lying on my back, and I feel nothing.’   The nurse raised her eyebrows.   ‘I’m not lying!’ Allison said to the implied accusation.   ‘Turn over.’ Allison did so, and the nurse lifted her hospital gown. Allison felt a cold draught of air hitting her back, and she did feel a few pricks of pain, but before she could say anything, the nurse gasped.   ‘What?’ Allison said.   ‘Oh, Alli,’ Kate said.   ‘Impossible,’ the nurse said.   ‘What!’ Allison said again.   Allison felt the warm touch of Kate’s fingers on her back. ‘There’s nothing there. Well, a few red patches, but other than that, you’re … you’re healed.’ Allison turned halfway over to look at Kate, the nurse still examining her back. ‘How?’   The nurse took her hands off Allison and stepped back. ‘I’m not sure.’ She turned to walk through the curtains without waiting for Allison to pull the gown back over herself. ‘I’m going to find a doctor.’   Allison stared at Kate, and before she could say anything, there was a familiar voice at the curtain. ‘The doctor won’t be able to help.’   ‘Cat?’ Allison said, a note of anger in her voice. ‘Where the hell were you? You tell me all that bull about you being an angel, and then when some weird shit does start going down, you’re nowhere to be found.’   ‘I was unfortunately occupied with some other rather urgent business,’ Cat said. ‘However, I have not been entirely gone. You saw me last night.’   ‘No, I didn’t.’   ‘In Eden? There was a tree, disneyfied critters, you were naked?’   Allison glanced at Kate, then back again to Cat. ‘What? That was a dream.’   ‘Was it?’ Cat looked to Kate who stared at the two of them.   ‘What?’ Kate said, confused.   Allison rounded on Cat. ‘What’s she got to do with it?’   ‘Alli,’ Kate said, a note of fright in her voice. ‘Speak English.’   ‘I am sp—’ her eyes suddenly widened and she looked back to Cat, speaking in perfect Afirian. ‘How? This is impossible. I’ve never even heard this language before.’   Cat continued, in English for Kate’s benefit. ‘It was not a dream. I am an angel. And you are God’s soldier.’   ‘No,’ Allison said, thinking about it. ‘This is … I don’t know what this is.’   ‘It’s hard to accept, I know. I’ve seen how others have reacted to similar news.’   ‘Why me?’ Allison said as an accusation. Cat paused, but before she could say more, Allison continued. ‘I mean, I’m nothing special. I’m an ordinary girl. I don’t even know how to fight. Let alone have the strength to do so.’   ‘Unfortunately, I don’t get to choose … and neither does He. It is you, because you have the inborn ability, though you do not know it yet. No one else will be able to do what you will.’   Allison got out of bed. ‘I need to go to the ladies.’

Allison walked out the ward, her bare feet frozen by the floor, and down the corridor to the washrooms. It was impossible; how could any of this be true? Was she still dreaming? No. She was awake. She could be going mad, but Kate witnessed her have a conversation in an unknown language. It made her question everything. Sure, the language could have been made up​—​it had been done many times before​—​but the fact she knew it without first learning it was…   She went through it all. Everything Cat told her, what happened at the wedding, and the funeral, her inexplicable resurrection. It went against everything she believed, everything she had logically considered, everything that had been backed up by hard evidence. Yet it was hard to deny all these people who seemed, not only to believe, but to know. That alone, she could maybe put down to insanity, or mass hysteria or some other scientifically proven condition. However, it all fit together with her new found talent.   So what if it was all true? What would she do? She started to wonder what this gift that was mentioned by the hooded woman. Somehow, she didn’t think it was a new bicycle. Everyone seemed to depend on her. She had never had that kind of responsibility.   She felt her stomach clench and walked faster. Reaching the toilets, she rushed into a cubicle and retched over the bowl. She held her forehead and felt the clamminess of sweat. Her heart smashed against her chest and her breaths became quicker and more irregular. Feeling light headed, her legs weakened and she supported herself on the tank. A dry sob escaped her throat making her retch again.   After a few minutes, she attempted to calm herself down without much success. She stopped retching and controlled her breathing, but as she walked back to the ward her heart still tried to shatter her ribs. With the panic attack now subsiding, she looked around and happened to glance through a door as a doctor exited a private ward. She saw a familiar face with bandages covering his head, a dressing on his left cheek, and one eye swollen and purple. In the brief instance the door took to close, her memories came rushing back.   Her fist slammed into his face and knocked him off balance. Falling to the floor, Allison followed and continued to lash out. In her madness, she had failed to notice the sickening sound of his head hit the concrete. He fell limp, but still she beat him. Over and over. Pure anger concentrated in one fist. She remembered the feeling of his hard skull crack against her knuckles and the pain that it caused.   Unconsciously, she rubbed her right hand, still red but unbroken. The horror of what she had done to Mathew came back and intensified her already horrible feelings.   She walked away and back to her bed.

Cat was still there, having an awkward conversation with Kate when she came back. Cat turned to her as she walked through the doors. ‘Are you alright now?’   ‘I just went to the loo,’ Allison said, climbing into the bed.   ‘No you didn’t. You felt sick at the responsibility ahead of you.’ Allison was about to say something before Cat cut her off. ‘I know. It is my duty to know. I have been assigned to protect you.’   ‘Why?’   ‘I’ve told you why.’   ‘No. You said I’m God’s soldier. But what is it I’m supposed to do? Why are you protecting … Wait.’ Allison paused, thinking for a second. ‘At the wedding when the woman shot…’ Allison swallowed at the memory, ‘…she said something. It was a different language. It wasn’t Afirian, I don’t recognise it, though some words sound familiar, Calauſa, Aſoŋŋon, Þruſi … and a few others, but I’m not sure what they all are. Anyway, she said it was about me and that you may not even realise what it all means.’   ‘Sounds like the Sands prophecy.’ Allison looked up, surprised. ‘No, not named after you. It was made by one of your ancestors, hence the name. It’s in Calnissian, a derivative of Afirian and the basis of it is:—
‘In the Earth and the Fire
‘The Gift is given
‘In the Air and the Water
‘A great Power is born
‘But it all comes down to the translation of the word “Rebáel”. It evolved from the word “Ala”.’   ‘That’s the number one,’ Allison said to Kate.   ‘Yes, but in common usage it meant more. It acquired proper noun status and, when coupled with “rampau”, it came to have a broad meaning of an Immortal, Power, or even God. However, there are other words the prophet could have used, but the fact she chose that one has led us to believe it may have deeper consequences. Daniel’s murderer may be wrong, but considering you did receive your powers in the middle of a storm, where all the Elements had been aiding you, leads me to suspect she is right.’   ‘I’m sorry, what?’ Allison said. ‘What do you mean, a storm?’   ‘Didn’t Daniel mention this to you? When you were a month old, your father’s murderer attempted to kidnap you.’   ‘No,’ Allison felt a prick of betrayal from her father. Why had he not mentioned this? ‘Why would she do that?’   ‘Presumably to raise you as her own, and to use your power for her own ends. But that was stopped when she was struck by lightning with you in her arms. That bolt jumpstarted your powers, unfortunately you need to learn how to use them. And that won’t be easy. Also unfortunate, is that she received the same powers.   ‘The rest of the prophecy says a few other things, some are a little ambiguous, but one thing it is clear on is you are destined to fight the Emissary. Yes.’ Cat began to talk half to herself. ‘It would make sense. I’m an archangel, not a common guardian, and you’d need all the protection you can get. The Emissary will be powerful, and defeating him will require more than just immortality. No, Allison, you are not merely God’s soldier … You’re His general.’   A general? What kind of leadership qualities did Cat expect her to have? ‘Surely there’s someone better than me?’   ‘Maybe, but the Fates have chosen you. And even I cannot discern the motives of them.’   ‘What does this mean for Alli?’ Kate said. Allison felt a moment of pride for her; she had accepted this situation without question.   Cat turned to Kate, ‘It means she will receive her abilities soon. And at some point the Emissary will make himself known.’ Cat paused. ‘And she will need to fight him. However, right now, I am needed somewhere else. I will see you soon, Allison. You have hard times ahead, but know that I will always be watching over you, even if I cannot be there.’   Cat turned to leave, and Kate whispered in Allison’s ear. ‘If she’s always watching over you, does that mean she’s seen us having sex? That’s creepy.’ Allison giggled in spite on the sickness rising up inside her.

The next day, The hospital discharged Allison. Even the redness was gone, and there was now no sign that anything had happened to her. Not even any scars. The doctors seemed perplexed, but saw no reason to keep her around. She gathered her things, got changed and took the train home. With Kate by her side again, Allison knew there was nothing to fear … until they reached the top of her street. Just like the day she got shot, Allison looked down at the house and felt foreboding rise up in her stomach. She still hadn’t set foot there since her suspension and had yet to confront her mother.   ‘You can do it,’ Kate told her with confidence. ‘I’ll be with you.’ She took Allison’s hand and smiled. They walked down to Allison’s house and arrived at the door; taking a deep breath, Allison took hold of the door handle.   The corridor was dark and the atmosphere fell thick around her. She heard nothing but silence and it felt taboo to break it. Turning back to Kate, she gave her a questioning look. The other girl shrugged her shoulders, motioning towards the living room with her eyes. Allison moved to open the door while Kate closed the front one.   Inside, the curtains had been drawn, letting in a dull and sickly yellow light through the cream coloured fabric. She saw no one as she walked in, followed by Kate. She began to feel mildly safe until she heard breathing coming from the corner of the room behind her. She turned, half wishing the breathing was Kate, and felt her heart sink as her mother came into view. Allison couldn’t tell where Emma ended and the darkness began, they seemed to be one. And as they looked into one another’s eyes, she felt the urge to sit down. Slowly she placed herself on the sofa. Kate followed and took up her hand in defiance of what was to come.   ‘Get out,’ Emma said, her barely visible eyes staring with loathing at Kate. When Kate didn’t move, Emma stood up, screaming, ‘GET OUT!’ Kate ducked as something flew across the room, showering her in shards of glass and an aroma of alcohol. ‘OUT!’ Emma screamed again, rushing across the room and grabbing Kate. Kate stood her ground as best she could, but Emma was the stronger and dragged her towards the door. Allison tried to wrestle Kate free, but Emma pushed her back. She crashed into the wall, hitting her head. Pushing herself up, she blinked away the dazedness and saw the last remnants of Kate’s body being thrown outside. Emma reached for the lock as Allison ran for her, but she bolted the door before Allison knocked her over. Emma pushed Allison back into the living room and got up.   Allison faced Emma, listening to Kate’s frantic banging on the front door. She made another lunge, but Emma pushed her back again. Recognising futility, Allison calmed down. She’d see Kate again, but she wanted her there for support.   They stood in silence for a few seconds before Emma spoke. ‘You are not to leave the house. You are not to see that girl, ever; and I have bought a house, far away from here, so you will be unable to. Once the lease is up on this one, we will be moving. Do you understand?’ From that moment on, Allison never called Emma her mother.

The school allowed Allison back a couple of weeks later. She rejoiced at being able to go outside and get away from the house. Emma had ignored her most of the time; even going so far as to not cook meals or do washing for her. She questioned Emma’s logic in letting her back to school where she would be able to see Kate, but didn’t say anything about it.   As soon as she reached the bus stop, she saw Kate and ran into her arms. Partly through relief at seeing her again, but also through open defiance of the demands set on her. ‘Are you okay?’ Allison said, ‘She didn’t hurt you bad?’   ‘No,’ Kate said. ‘I was more worried about you.’   ‘I’m okay. Aside from doing my own washing and cooking. The worst part is just being around Emma. I can’t stand her. It’s not what she says​—​she barely says anything​—​but she ignores me. And if our eyes do meet, she gives me the most repulsive look. And she’s going to move so I can’t ever see you.’   ‘What?’ Kate said, her strong demeanour evaporating at the thought of losing Allison completely.   ‘When the lease is up, which is June-July time, she’s going to move.’   Kate regained her composure. ‘Well, we won’t let that happen.’ She kissed Allison’s forehead and boarded the bus when it came. ‘So,’ said Allison, when they sat down, ‘what did your mum say when you came home all beat up?’   ‘Didn’t go home straight away. Sat at the end of your path ‘till about midnight, hoping you would come out or see me through a window. I would have stayed longer if Mum hadn’t called. She was a little shocked at what happened and when I told her—’   ‘She didn’t shout at you though?’   ‘No, she did say not to see you in case Emma hurts me again.’   ‘Bugger that!’   ‘That’s what I said.’

Aside from Emma, the rest of the year wasn’t too bad. Christmas came and went without so much as a turkey, and Allison fell asleep a couple of hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve. But come the new term, Allison looked forward to school. She had no intention of obeying Emma and saw Kate as often as possible during school hours.   Mathew remained in the hospital, comatose, so Allison had very little to fear at school. Curiously, she never saw Linda again. She wondered why, but didn’t let it occupy her mind too much. Although, she did think Linda hadn’t actually enrolled at her school, and that she would be the type to have skipped off her real one just to see her.   As the rest of the school knew about the pair of them, and Allison didn’t worry about their relationship getting back to Emma, they were able to be quite open about it.   Come the end of the school year, Allison knew Emma would never allow her to attend the prom, and it came as no surprise to her when Emma said she couldn’t. She wouldn’t miss this last chance at happiness with Kate, so she took her purse with her to school the day of the prom along with her bank card and a few other precious and portable items. She would not be going back.   After school, she intended to catch a bus into town, but Kate stopped her. ‘I wouldn’t waste your money on a dress, Alli.’   ‘And I’m not letting this day pass without it being perfect,’ Allison replied, turning to walk towards the bus stop.   Kate grabbed her arm, pulling her back. She looked into Allison’s eyes and smiled. ‘And I’m not going to stop you. But follow me.’ Allison did as Kate said and they arrived at Kate’s locker. Kate opened it and pulled out a large box, giving it to Allison.   Allison gave her thanks, sitting down on a bench to open it. Inside was a deep blue dress made of a velvety material. Allison pulled it out, putting the box beside her and stood up. She let it open out to admire it and felt tears begin to fall. ‘What if this all goes wrong?’ Allison said, turning to Kate. ‘What if Emma takes me away again? This could be the last we see of each other.’   ‘Whatever happens, happens,’ Kate replied, handing her some blue shoes that were in the bottom of the box. ‘Let’s just have the time of our lives. And if it is the end, we’ve had one hell of a run. But bear this in mind, I’m never going to let that monster take you.’ Allison couldn’t stop herself from smiling if she wanted to.   So instead of going home, Allison stayed behind and got changed. She used the school showers and Kate lent her some make up. She couldn’t get her hair done properly, so she settled for merely having it loose. Come seven o’clock, she and Kate walked into the school hall and felt like a proper couple for the first time.   The sports hall had been decorated with large photos taken throughout the year. A photo of students playing football, a picture of a couple of guys mixing what may have been a cake, there was even a photo of Allison and Kate, the two of them giving each other an affectionate hug and laughing at the camera.   There was no live band, but two large speakers blared out some popular music that was never to Allison’s taste. She grasped Kate’s hand and looked back to her. Kate wore a massive grin and went in to kiss her. Allison put her arms around Kate and broke off the kiss. ‘Thank you so much.’   ‘I live to please you,’ Kate said.   Allison pulled Kate onto the dance floor, and began to dance, holding Kate’s slender waist.   An hour later, Allison went to grab a drink for her and Kate. Coke, Orangeade, or … some kind of red fruity stuff in a bowl. She ladled a taster into a plastic cup and tried it. Not bad. Filling the cup to the brim, she started on Kate’s as Olivia, a tall girl with bleached blonde hair she shared Maths and Geography with, came up to her. ‘Its nice to see you two so happy.’   Allison smiled at her, finishing Kate’s portion. ‘Thanks.’   ‘I mean, after the year you’ve had, you deserve a little happiness. I never really got a chance to say how sorry I was to hear about your father.’ Allison’s smile dropped a little, and she shook her head. ‘Don’t worry about it.’   ‘I also never got a chance to say how pleased I was that you put Mathew into hospital.’   Allison turned away. ‘He didn’t deserve that.’   ‘Everyone knew what he did to you, even if no one knew the specifics. He may have been liked by the staff, but we all knew how he was.’   Allison moved back towards Kate at the edge of the hall. ‘Thank you for your kind words,’ she said without looking back.   ‘What did Olivia want?’ Kate asked as Allison offered her a cup.   ‘To open up old wounds.’   Kate put a comforting hand on Allison’s shoulder. ‘Let’s dance some more.’ She downed her drink and left the empty cup on a nearby table. The gentle movement of the dance, cuddled up with Kate, was calm and blissful. Nothing else mattered. Not Mathew, not Emma, not her destiny. Just her and Kate.   ‘Can we stay here forever?’ Allison whispered into Kate’s ear.   Kate gave her waist a gentle squeeze. ‘Until the End.’   ‘You mean that?’   Kate moved her head to look into Allison’s eyes. ‘I promise.’   A tear fell down Allison’s cheek, and Kate kissed it away.   The night went by far too quickly, and their perfect moment was almost at an end.   ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Kate said. As they left the hall, a trophy under her arm in the shape of a heart, with the words ‘Couple Most Likely to get Married’ written on the base.   ‘Never been more certain.’ Allison lifted the trophy from Kate’s arm and looked at it. ‘If nothing else, we’ve got to fulfil this prophecy.’   ‘Got to make it legal first.’   ‘Screw legality, you pretty much married me already when you said you’d never leave me.’   The two girls laughed and made their way to the taxi.   ‘What if she comes looking for me?’ Allison said, failing to hide her fear as she opened the car door.   ‘Whatever happens—’ Kate said.   ‘—happens,’ Allison completed. And, with renewed vigour, she said, ‘Let’s do it!’ Climbing into the taxi, Kate gave directions for her house.

Allison woke up in the morning to see Kate lying asleep next to her. She smiled. It did not matter that she had left most of what she owned at Emma’s house, she was going to stay with Kate as long as possible. She would get a job soon, get her own house and take Kate with her. She would never see Emma again, and they would be happy.   Kate stirred and turned to face her, still asleep. As Allison drew her arms around her, she heard raised voices coming from downstairs. She couldn’t make out exactly what was said, but she did recognise one voice. And it destroyed any happiness she felt.   The sound of hurried footsteps scared her, but it was nothing compared to when the door to Kate’s bedroom banged open.   Allison had never seen Emma this angry before, but she pushed back her fears and looked at her with defiance. When Allison spoke, she did it with a strong, matter-of-fact voice. ‘I can do what I want. And you can’t stop me.’   ‘The hell I can’t,’ Emma said, walking up to Allison. She wrenched on Allison’s arm and pulled her out of bed. Kate woke up, wide eyed and still dazed. She shouted at Emma, but the older woman ignored her, hauling Allison’s naked body across the room and down the stairs.   Allison tried to fight back, but her futile efforts only earned her a slap from Emma, culminating in her being thrown out of the front door onto the street. Allison cried out as wet concrete shredded her skin and cold rain pounded down, stinging her wounds. A little distance now stretched between her and Emma and she used it to run at her, knocking her over into a large puddle. Kate appeared at the door, tying on a dressing gown and running to Allison. Emma got up and pulled the two girls apart. Kate swung her fist at her, but Emma pushed her down and dragged a crying Allison down the driveway. Allison felt the ground scrape her heels as she looked back at Kate on the floor. She heard Emma opening a car door and, as Emma shoved her in the car, Kate ran towards them.   Emma slammed the door shut, leaving Allison crying on the back seat. A second later the sound of the car start up and drive off made Allison sit up and stare out the window at Kate running along behind them, her dressing gown already soaked through with rain. Kate followed them until they reached the end of the street where she fell on her knees and out of sight.

Cover image: by JRCSalter


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