I now know why Molly’s dreamscape showed Orion, almost skewered by the Shard, high in a black night sky.
Unfortunately, knowing means that I can no longer avoid telling you about Min. And Tak and Lam. And Rigel and Saiph. The last two – they’re dogs. That was easy.
Tak and Lam are the friends who speak all diddly – as in intro-diddly-ductions. Remember them? The diddly bits, not the twins, Tak and Lam.
As for Min, he’s the nearest thing to a big brother that they or any of us have. He’s always there. Always protective. Always teasing-but-at-the-same-time-kind. Always ready to play. Always gently correcting our faults and encouraging us to be better. A bit like he’s showing us how we could be, and if we like what he shows us, he’ll help us to get there. It’s good to have Min around and on your side. I’d hate to upset him or do something to make us enemies. Somehow, in being all of these things, he manages to be calm and funny. He’s the still waters and gentle breeze on a sunny day after a week of storms, while also being the ship’s mate, who’ll help you sail through whatever hail and thunder and fierce gales life flings at you.
Min is also a Leyak a type of shape-shifter, but not the were-wolf kind … though if that’s how you imagined him, that’s what he’d be. Although, he’d be a gentle were-wolf, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. That’s how it works with him – you hear his voice or feel him near you, perhaps a shadow disturbing the air, perhaps a muffled footfall, and your brain starts to construct a jigsaw picture of what he might be. Once all the pieces are in place, that is forever after, how he will look to you.
I knew before I met Min that he was a God of sorts … an ancient one … and also one of the stars of Orion. I knew he was sharply intelligent and had a reputation for fierce loyalty to his friends. I had heard that he was small in stature but strong enough to stand up to the might of Scorpio … look into the sky and observe the nightly chase of Orion by Scorpio; always chasing, never catching; Scorpio rises as Orion sets. I don’t know why, but my head imagined a silver haired, dwarf-like figure with broad shoulders and bulging, stocky limbs, in full body armour, carrying a short, silver spear and shield, with a quiver of arrows in a long leather pouch on his back and a willow bow across his shoulder. He berated me for giving him weapons, when we first met – “I cannae git at me ‘ands!” When we meet now, I’ve become accustomed to acting as his weapons bearer – a portering duty that is entirely my own fault.
Anyway, why am I telling you this …
… because Molly is back.
I’m not sure she ever truly went away. Her atoms rearranged themselves after she and Silas Disappeared. After the big bang of their disappearing they slowly re-aggregated, re-aligned, following the imprinted memory of atomic bonds, forming a reconstructed … almost Molly. If you are outside on a sunny day and someone stands between you and the sun, all you see of them is the halo of light around the dark shadow of their body. That halo is too bright to look at and you are forced to squint your eyes. Well … that is how Molly is now – a flaring, fluid, flickering silver outline. Inside … in the bit you can’t see … she is just the same. The innocently trusting Molly, naive and lovely as she was before. But there’s a slight catch in her voice, something strained like an over-tight violin string being played with a frayed bow, something that hints at a pain she is trying to hide.
I think that’s all that matters. Though I worry that thinking that way comforts me, without properly considering her. She sacrificed everything. For me. She said goodbye with her dream-scape. For me. She didn’t expect to come back. To me. I struggle to find the words to describe how that makes me feel – I guess the best word is love … what she did, for me, it made … no, it makes me feel loved.
She thinks she was brought back for a reason. To warn us? Perhaps. Paternoster thinks something like this has happened before. He won’t elaborate but his mouth looks like that of a fish who’s just been told there’s a pin-hole-sized leak in his fish tank and that there is no fish-sized plumber, mollusc or tool-wielding crab skilled enough to fix it … even if any of those elusive creatures shared the tank with him. And that – as the tank owner is more interested in girls than fish and keeps the tank in his bedroom, at his parents’ house and has a ‘Do not enter – toxic waste within’ sign on the door and his mother, who might have entered, moved out three months ago – no one will notice the slow drip-drip-drip of water onto the heap of dirty socks on the floor. Time for the fish will drain away – slowly, if the hole doesn’t enlarge; with a fraction more panic, if it does. Paternoster doesn’t normally do worried but his fishy mouth gives him away.
Silas had to return too. Apparently, because he has a role to play. Though I suspect Molly couldn’t have returned without him. If I can stay out of his way and keep Molly away from him, I’m okay with him being back; I guess he’ll be easy to spot in the dark tunnels …
First, however, I need to finish this story – the tale of Agatha and of Patrick.
Then I can tell you Molly’s story.