Expecto te

Title: Expecto te
Time Period: August 4, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Flint receives company, always unwanted.

Late afternoon is leaning into dusk by the time Deckard finds anything worth prying at along Dornie's desolate shoreline. Netting knotted up in a length of driftwood catches his eye on his way out and he turns back, salt and sand stiff in the bristle about his skull. Months after his arrival here he could still easily be taken for fresh flotsom — the loose catch of his shirt around his shoulders is sunbleached where it isn't stained with use and his trousers are torn off past the knee. He doesn't have any shoes.

Just a stick to extend his reach, which he prods into damp netting before he crouches to pick through the rope with his fingers.

He is focused while he works, concentration honed to a hard edge far opposite his usual drift off the rails of reality. A bit of seaweed is freed first; he sniffs it twice, thinks about tasting it. Tastes it.

The steady lapping of the water upon the shore is joined in brush-soft cymbal by the tah tah tah tah tah of paws upon the wet sand. A big black dog is trotting in purposeful line along the shore. Towards Flint.

It's got something in its mouth.

At first it looks like a crab, with a round shell. It's legs have all been torn off. Holes puncture its pale belly. But it's not a crab. The holes resolve into the dark pits absent eyes, and the drunken jawless half-grin comes into focus.

It comes to a stop right next to him, at a familiar or even domestic distance, but does not wag its tail. Man's best friend? It bows its head and sets the skull carefully upon the ground. The dog looks down at the skull. The skull looks up at Flint.

The seaweed isn't great.

Flint swallows it anyway after chewing for too long, the rest pulled out and flicked aside as refuse in a few large clumps.

An effort made to catch at a little crab that weaves away from freshly exposed wood falls short when he has to glance after the sound of paws at his back instead. A longer look over his shoulder follows the glance at a spit take. The crab scuttles to safety.

Impulse to follow suit mashed out before it can take hold in a flinch of his weight sideways, Deckard holds his ground, eyeing the dog sideways, now. Hands full of sand. It's a big dog. It's very close. It's brought a skull.

The dog seems to be waiting for something. It’s poise is expectant in that particularly canine way - ears perked for the voice. The water around the skull drains out of the sand and gurgles up into its eye sockets.

What bubbles up is a whisper that slices like an arrow through the background noise. Directed clarity. Heard low in the ears, and high in the temples.

“You hide. From what?”

Flint flinches again at the voice, core clamped in hollow on itself. Idiot terror grips mandible to socket and after a moment spent locked in himself, he — stupidly, and in a stupid way — leans and reaches to dump the sand in his near hand out onto the skull's face.

The seaweed follows at a two-handed scoop.

Not sure that this will be enough, after a panicky second guess he adds another scoop of sand.

The black dog growls, hackles raised, bristling at Flint's disrespect. A quick application of long-clawed paws recovers the skull's gaze, the bubbling water-

The voice: "We know you. We remember what to you is dead. Cut away." It's intonation is flat and impassive, as if recited without inflection.

"Do you remember when you first forgot? How deep is this forgetting? What is lost?"

There is almost a fight when the dog first reaches to undo Flint's handiwork. The beachcomber stiffens through the shoulders and neck, incredulous that any sane entity would want to uncover a creepy talking skull.

Why is he so popular with dead people.

"Everything," he says, more out of frustration than any real interest in having this conversation. "Leave me alone."

"No. Never."

Flint's interlocutor doesn't sound thrilled about his involvement in the enterprise either. Only the dog, modeling close attention, seeks to be gratified by the experience.

"We can give it all back. We know where it is."

The tender subject of his past pulls Flint's face longer than it already is, resentment bunching up into the lines between his brows when he frowns back down at his net. It occurs to him that it'd take the dog a while to find the skull if he picked it up and threw it out into the harbor.

He says, "Maybe I don't want to know," instead.

"Then you will kill more people," is matter of fact by its very phrasing. The dog looks up, for the first time, watching for Flint's reaction with animal intensity - reading, not relating.

"Maybe they will kill you," the voice continues, "if you let them.

"We want you alive. That will never change."

Every time Flint starts to relax some ghoulie comes along and smothers him in dysphoria. Like miserable clockwork.

It isn't hard to see that he's unhappy. Guilty. Disquieted. The lines weathered in around his jaw are distinct around steep edges and he doesn't have much of a poker face, eyes flicked down when he feels a probe at his profile.

A slow build of momentum into movement sees a slide of scapula over knee; he rolls off the same push onto his feet and down into a reach to heft the skull free of the mess they've made. The same arc of his arm promises to send it sailing out over murky water sans intervention.

"Your soul is frayed.

"We can mend it.

"Don't fear the nee-

The voice continues until Flint heaves the skull sea-wards. When he does the whisper sizzles into silence like a candle snuffed out by wetted fingers. It trails a furl of spray as it spins out and then strikes the water, bobbing a couple times before filling up and sinking down.

The dog follows the projectile with its eyes, then barks three sharp reproaches at Flint. Now look what he's done.

A sane man might realize the poor state of his perspective upon second guessing throwing a talking skull as far away as possible but Flint is short on options and shorter on friends. Talking to skulls is a bad idea, he has to reassure himself. Don't trust anything that uses a royal 'we.'

Breathing hard, the way people do on the verge of panic now that he's up and moving around, Deckard rounds on the (judgmental) dog too quickly and with too many teeth showing behind a point. "No. Fuck you."

It’s not a dog anymore. It's a great seabird, so large it's ungainly. It's wild gold eyes view him with an alienness that looks like cold madness. It beats its wings, cawing three times, hoarse, horn-like exhortations.

Then it takes wing. Nothing else to say.

Out there a hanged man's skull begins to sink into a shallow grave, far from home.

Struck for a beat by the transition, Flint doesn't hesitate for long before stooping as he did for the skull to lob a lump of wet sand and gravel after the offending bird. Dog. Familiar.

He doesn't say anything else once he has. Just stands and fumes until he's caught his breath and burnt off the last of his temper. It's getting dark.

No one will see if he sheds his skin.