The orderly stopped at a door and knocked before opening it. “You have a visitor, Mr Lewin.” He turned to Glory, removing the radio from his belt. “I have to get back to the office to see what’s up with my idiot coworker, but I shouldn’t be more than ten minutes. Do you know how to use one of these?”
“Sure,” Glory said, snatching the radio and brushing past him. For all she cared, he could fall in a hole. She was grateful he’d answered her question about why her father was isolated so truthfully, but there’d been no need to speculate on how easy a lobotomy would have been to perform.
“OK… and er, sorry if I said anything to offend you. I tend to say things without thinking.” When she turned her back on him without responding, he shrugged. “Well, if you need anything, I‘m Marley. Just hold the button a few seconds before you talk.”
Glory didn’t move until she heard the door click behind her. Like the rest of the building, her father’s room had seen better days. Layers of ancient wallpaper and paint had peeled away to reveal a strata of colors and patterns. At least he’d been afforded the luxury of his own bathroom. It was probably an essential unless the staff wanted to be cleaning up after him on a daily basis.
The room was sparsely furnished. There wasn’t much beyond the bed and dresser. An ancient braided throw rug occupied the center of the room. It might have been colorful once, but it had faded to a dull, dirty gray. Even where the sun illuminated its dusty twisted fabric, any remaining color was obscured by the antique dust.
There were two barred windows, grimy with filth but still allowing a decent amount of light into the room. Her father might be blind, but it appeared he still enjoyed the feel of sunlight on his skin. He sat with his back to the door in a pool of sunlight, a bowl of what looked to be oatmeal in his lap. She could hear him quietly muttering under his breath as she approached the rocking chair.
“Daddy?” she said in a tiny voice. There was no change in him aside from the sudden silence which followed.
What remained of his eyes was covered by gauze. It was less clean than she would have liked, and there were two stains in the grayish gauze, one for each eye. She wondered that they should still be leaking fluids after so many years. His hair was coarse and gray, but despite its length, he had no beard. Why would Marley bother to shave him but not trim the rest of his hair, she thought.
She crouched down next to his chair, kneeling with her back to the window near his feet so as not to block his light. “Daddy?”
“G-g-go aw-wway, g-girl!” he bellowed, his hands gripping the arms of the chair with white knuckled fury. The bowl went flying, spilling the lumpy, viscous goop across the floor. “He d-don’t care about yu-you s-s-so long as he g-g-gets wha-what he wa-wants.”
“What does he want?” Glory asked. She gently touch his hand.
He gasped, drawing away as if stung. Almost immediately, his whole body shook and then relaxed into the chair as if he’d had a fit of some kind. Glory bit her lip, wondering if she should call Marley. She didn’t want to. The man had not impressed her as particularly sympathetic.
“You’re too hard on the boy,” her father said in an entire different voice, a strong cultured voice that sent chills up her spine. It was the voice she remembered from her childhood, her father‘s voice. “I rather like Marley,” he continued as if he was privy to her thoughts. “A pragmatic, incurious lad.” He turned his head, tilting it down to where she squatted as if he could see exactly where she was. “Now what have you done to yourself, my dear? You really should have come into your power by now.”
He caught her by the wrist, yanking her closer and tracing a cruel finger over her tattoos with an amused chuckle. “Oh my, how amusing. But they don’t explain why…hmmm.” He paused, lifting his head and frowning as if he smelled something. “I see you, parasite,” he hissed, and she felt Phoenix shrink away in babbling terror.
A cloud covered the sun, and the room was plunged into sudden darkness. At least, she hoped it was a cloud. The shadows in the corners of the room writhed and slithered across the floor. Her father held her immobilized, pulled halfway across his legs. Squirming did nothing more than make his boney knees dig more deeply into her stomach.
“Don’t worry, my little one. We’ll soon have this situation remedied. This really will kill two birds with one stone. I had worried about how to send you or your sister where I needed you to be. I didn’t imagine you’d come to me! Tell your siblings in Kadath that the time is nearly right, and they will direct you to Ubbo Sathla in Y’qaa.” He leaned down, stroking her hair with his free hand. “This is why you were born, dear. Succeed, and you will be set higher than any of your brothers or sisters. Fail, you had best hope you die in the effort.”
The growing shadows brought a chill with them that seeped into her bones like acid. It engulfed her until it was all that she felt. She was colder than she could remember ever being, even before Phoenix had robbed her of her senses. As if her body embraced the sensation to make up for lost time. Glory struggled to speak, but the darkness wrapped its tendrils around her limbs, her arms… and finally found her neck, spilling into her throat to freeze her from the inside out. She was cocooned in the darkness, was the darkness, and it dragged her down like a riptide into strange depths.
to Book 6, part 2, page 19