One Long Painful Week
Tara lasted one long, painful week in the Maclay house before it became too much for her, she had thought that at least there she was isolated from the people she really cared about. That she would be able to endure life in the hands of her father and brother if it kept Willow safe from her, but that first night in the house her dreams intensified, became more vivid, more real as if they weren’t dreams but something she had lived…And being ‘home’ again was accelerating the growth of darkness inside of her, in an almost unthinkable way she feared that having cut herself off from the light in her life, from someone so vital to existence a part of her will had been lost as well.
A part that fought the evil inside of her, in a sick way it made sense to her unconscious mind. People fought evil because it was the right thing to do, but more then that, they did it to protect the people they loved. And without that fervent devotion to protecting those around her a little more of her was being consumed by that icy darkness.
That first night Tara dreamt of the red headed women again, the one with the deep voice and glowing eyes, Hathor…
Like Tara had done, the goddess bathed in a pool of scalding water, water that would have no doubt blistered her skin only left the lightest tinge on Hathor. Dozens of men moved around the bathing goddess, some carrying grapes and other food in intricate gold and silver wrought bowls while others fanned the goddess, more from a sense of ritual then in any attempt to cool her.
As she dreamt Tara saw that Hathor was in the centre of a large temple, enormous pillars inscribed with ancient forms of hieroglyphics surrounded her while a yellowish gold light bathed the room. But where most of the room looked to be from a scene out of ancient Egypt a number of Hathor’s servants held strange metallic staffs with bulb like ends.
And as she slipped further into her unconscious names, descriptions and ideas began to filter through the dream, she knew those staffs were some kind of advanced energy weapons and that the bulbs at the end could open and be fired from.
She knew that those large, impossibly strong men were called Jaffa and were in the service to Hathor, that the black tattoo like brand in the centre of their foreheads marked them as belonging to her. She also knew that all of those men had a strange sort of bisecting cross on their stomachs, the mark of a pouch in which some kind of larvae lived.
What happened next was strange even by Tara’s standards as the dream rippled and left Tara standing beside the tub in which Hathor lay, but now that she was closer she saw that the goddess was not bathing. The water bubbled and hundreds of small creatures swam over the goddess and through the water, screeching through clawed mouths and navigating by blackened eyes. It was a horrific sight as the monstrous little critters emanated a sense of pure…evil…
At the same time the goddess radiated a maternal pride for the creatures, gently stroking one of the albino snakes as it rubbed against her. The dream dissolved from anything coherent after that, just flickers of random images and sounds, too fast and too many for her mind to even begin to comprehend as they rushed through her.
Tara started awake, jerking into a sitting position and gasping as she pulled on her ribs. Gritting her teeth she climbed from the soft refuge of her bed and wobbled across the cold floor until she stood before a full body mirror.
She honestly wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or amazed as she carefully turned and pulled at her robes. The bruises along her face were a deep shade of purple and black, with the faintest traces of a dark green which spread up he jaw and cheek, a good third of her face and neck were obscured behind the bruising. Her lip was still slightly swollen from when it had split and she thought it might even scar if she didn’t try to ‘encourage’ the healing process.
As for the damage to her torso…she had to remove her cotton robe completely to see the full extent, the bruising was darkest at her ribs and they sent a shooting pain through her every time she moved. The bruises also extended across her chest and around her back.
They all hurt considerably, but she knew she would survive and so slowly endured the process of dressing. Loose clothes only, anything restricting would have been a further agony she truly did not need.
Making her way downstairs she found her Cousin Beth busily moving about the kitchen with a happy smile spread across her face as she sizzled bacon and cracked eggs.
“Good morning sleepyhead” she said quite pleasantly, only frowning slightly at the bruises on Tara’s face. “Would you mind juicing the oranges?” she asked, “You know how your father likes his fresh orange juice.”
Tara tried to reciprocate with a pleasant smile, but it was beyond her as her jaw felt inflamed when she tried. So she settled for what she hoped was a pleasant nod.
By the time her father and Donny had woken up and made there way down to the kitchen a complete breakfast had been served up which they devoured in silence. Carefully setting down his knife and fork Mr Maclay looked towards his daughter “After you’ve cleaned up I’d like to talk with you” he said “And Beth, I’ll see you in the other room now”
Nothing else was said as Tara busied herself with the dishes, wincing with every movement. Donny didn’t help matters by ‘accidentally’ pushing her as he made his way outside, she cried out in a brief moment of pain before stifling it and going about her work. Even after a two year absence she knew what would be expected of her by memory, it was almost built into her muscles after having done it all for so long.
First she washed, dried and put away the dishes, what should been a short task took her nearly an hour as she winced with pain almost every time she moved. After that she milked the cows, again what should have taken her a relatively short time was drawn out by her slow and cautious movements, and by the time she returned inside the rain had begun to fall again and she was slightly mussed but not too wet or too cold.
Next came the floors, the old oak boards had to be brushed and then scrubbed…a task made more difficult as Donny felt the need to trudge new mud through the house every few minutes. The shelves had to be dusted, the carpets vacuumed and a succulent roast had to be prepared and set to cook. The routine was monotonous for her, but she put her mind to it as well as she could so that she didn’t begin to think of other things.
It was only when she was setting places at the dinner table that someone spoke to her again.
“We only need three places,” her father said, “Now that your back your cousin Beth has gone home to look after her own father” Tara felt a stab of dismay as she heard those words, her father was distant, Donny was cruel. Beth had been the only chance of anyone decent still living in the Maclay household, perhaps the only decent conversation for Tara…now she was condemned to be truly isolated. In a twisted way it was what she had wanted, she didn’t want to be around anyone she cared about, and now she really wasn’t.
“I’m glad to see your settling in well” her father commented on the second night of her return as they sat down to a quiet meal. “Your family is glad to have you home Tara, and I know your glad to be back” she just gave him a distant smile which he took for agreement
“Yeah.” Donny said stiffly, in a clipped tone “Real. Glad. I’ll show you just how much later” Tara took that to mean he wasn’t going to give up his subtle abuse anytime soon. But as long as he didn’t try to beat her again, she thought she would survive.
Though by her third day tedium was settling in on her, the Maclay farm was certainly no hell mouth. No demon attacks or spur of the moment Scooby meetings, who would have thought someone could actually miss being attacked by monsters every other night?
She put it down to adrenalin in the end, after living somewhere you had to be constantly on alert, constantly ready to ‘spring into action’…of course she had done more springing into hiding then into action, but the idea was the same.
The routines of farm life were just tiring and boring, and she was beginning to worry that was as bad as having cut herself off from the ones she loved. The dreams were continuing to become more intense and she thought the tedious life she now had was making it worse as some part of her mind yearned for something a little more…exciting. She was beginning to find just how upsetting it could be when the world provided what she wanted…
With nothing else to distract her she couldn’t help but dwell on dreams and her rising darkness. And it was rising, almost like an hourglass Tara could feel the grains of sand sliding through, the sand being the evil that was beginning to fill her…Sighing deeply Tara tried to brush off her dismal thoughts as she returned to her room and carefully lay across her bed in exhaustion. But after a few moments she dragged herself to a standing position and pulled her shoes off, she was almost accustomed to the pain that accompanied most of her actions.
But she was very glad that it was fading, if a little faster then it should have naturally…well no one like to be in pain. Pulling off her woollen top Tara turned so that her back was to the door so she could put the top neatly on her bedside table. It was coolish in her room and her chest stood naked without a top, her ribs and skin still too tender to consider a bra.
Gazing out the open window she thought that if she had felt a little more cheerful or could have moved a little more freely Tara might have gone to her open windows and bathed in the beautiful silvery light that hung like a veil across half of the room, a light that created a whimsical, almost enchanted sense in her… but any thought of that happening quickly vanished as a chill wind swept across her and with a shudder set her skin to prickling like goose bumps rode over her.
She smiled, almost coyly, as a casual wave and the smallest surge of magical energy resulted in the window closing itself.
“Naughty Naughty” the voice startled her and she jumped to her regret as pain tore through her side.
“D-donny” she stuttered, doing her best to cover her breasts with just her hands “W-what are you doing in h-here?”
“Just checking on my little sister,” he said and a new chill washed down her spine that had nothing to do with physical cold. “Of course I didn’t expect to find you looking like such a whore or using that magic” a disgusted tone hit his voice with the word magic. But that wasn’t what concerned her; his eyes were casually sliding across her, almost leeringly. She was revolted as he didn’t even try to hide what he was doing, he made her feel filthy…dirty…and her breath caught as she felt real terror looking at him.
Biting his lip he continued “You know I meant what I said yesterday little sister, I would be real glad to show you how much it means to have you home”
She painfully swallowed a wave of vomit and held herself tighter as he advanced on her.
“I mean wouldn’t it be nicer if we were a nice happy family…” he suggested “I could think of a lot of ways we could be a happy family little sister”. He was right in front of her now and she was frozen with fear as he took her hands and painfully forced them down while pressing against her.
“I’m sorry for bein’ so nasty before sis…let me make it up to you” he whispered, his hands clasping her waist and moving up to cup her breasts. Her mind had seemed to shut down, what was happening was just too unbelievable for her. Even if they weren’t nice…a family wasn’t meant to do something so disgusting.
A big brother was supposed to product his little sister, not molest her. Soft tears trickled down her cheeks as he squeezed her, getting the feel of her body. As far as her almost broken mind was concerned it was like a trail of filth on her, she felt slimy, disgusting, perverted as he tried to push her down over the bed.
The he whispered something that brought her back; her mind went into over drive and suddenly she was in control again. Not a terrified, helpless damsel. “And that whole lezzy thing is” Willow…Lezzy, Lesbian, Willow!
For a brief moment her mind soared through time and space to find something warm an reassuring, for a brief instant Tara felt everything that Willow was encompass her and it gave her strength.
As that rush of Willow essence rode through her Tara shoved her perverted brother off her, he flew through the air and smashed against the opposite wall with a tremendous impact that caused her mirror to fall and shatter. With that power riding through her it was as if Tara felt every shard of that glass shatter, she felt the world burning bright around her in a way that she could have only ever imagined possible. It was what Willow felt every time she tapped into that torrent of power that eluded Tara…and it was absolutely intoxicating.
Before it could fade Tara felt Willow try to reach across the void that separated them…like Tara could feel all of the warmth and love that existed in Willow, so could Willow feel all of Tara’s pain and anguish, the magic’s rippled through her before she could completely shut her lover out and the magic’s healed her broken body, though they could do nothing for her mind.
Tara…the word echoed across that void before she blocked Willow out. But the effort cost her, Tara collapsed against the bed, physically sapped of what little energy she had and her mind lapsed into a coma like sleep.
~*~Where am I? Tara thought vaguely. It was as if she stood in space itself, stars twinkled around her and vibrant, almost beautiful lights streaked by those stars.
“Here”, a voice echoed around her, ”you are safe.”
Tara swirled to find the voice and it was like those beautiful colours twirled in her wake, an ankle length skirt shielding her from space as she turned to see…herself. But as she looked at what appeared to be herself Tara saw differences too.
This Tara stood tall, a boldness running through her as she radiated confidence. Radiated an inner determination and strength that the real Tara didn’t possess. But more then that, the new Tara looked like an Egyptian Queen. Dark black hair hung over her shoulders, a straight line of it hanging in a fringe.
Her skin was sun kissed and dark shadings surrounded her eyes and trailed in a thick line to her temples. She also wore strange clothes; a garment part fabric and part links of gold only partially clothed her. And rippling across her hand was the same device that the Hathor of Tara’s dreams had worn.
The greater portion of the other Tara’s stomach and back were only covered by skin and the other Tara’s clothes also showed a great deal of her legs. There was also a darkness emanating in that radiant confidence, a sense of secrets and hidden worlds.
“I’m unconscious” Tara said hesitantly, “So, we’re in my mind?”
Egyptian Tara nodded “This is a…recess…of your mind, a place most people will never know exists in anything more then an intellectual way”
“This is where the dreams are coming from?” Tara guessed
The other nodded again “What you consider dreams are really escaped memories”
“Escaped memories” she repeated, after everything that had been happening to her recently she felt she had the right to be a little slow
Egyptian Tara’s full red lips curved in a knowing way as she continued, “The part of your mind where we currently exist is a place were most humans keep the most primitive of reflexes or knowledge which they pass on to their children”
Tara just blinked at her
“Instincts might be a better word for it” she explained, “The instinctive fight or flight reflex in dangerous situations, or how a baby knows to hold their breath underwater”
“I think I’m starting to understand”
“I know you are” Egyptian Tara said confidently “Now where most humans only have the most basic of instincts that have been learned over generations stored in this part of their mind. You my dear, have millennia of stored memories that have been genetically passed to you. Only recently has your mind begun to develop to the point where you might be able to understand, or at least comprehend these memories”
“Does this happen to every female member of my family?” she asked and again the other Tara smiled in an all too knowing way.
“You’re starting to catch on. Yes, these memories are what Maclay men so fondly refer to as the evil in Maclay woman”
“But they are evil” Tara said hesitantly “The-they drove my mother insane…”
“Did they?” the other Tara asked
“What do you mean?” Tara responded quickly
“Just think about what’s happened to you since you returned ‘home’ Tara, you’ve been beaten, abused, subjugated and its been the same for every woman in your family”
“You’re saying that it’s not this evil, or this um, genetic memories, that messed up my mum and are messing up me. Your saying it’s the Maclay guys?” she asked
The Egyptian Tara placed a hand on her hip as she patiently made her point “Maybe it’s a bit of both…trying to deal with thousands of years of memories can be very difficult for the human mind to come to terms with. Perhaps the treatment the Maclay men give the women in your family just pushes you over the edge”
In a way it made sense to Tara, if she could trust the Egyptian version of herself that was…but that wasn’t something she wanted to try and think about right then. Whether or not to trust herself…
Trying to process the idea that it wasn’t really evil inside of her she hedged and asked another question. “So if these memories have been escaping for a few months why am I here now?”
Now it was the other Tara’s turn to pause, to hesitate “Your not going to like the answer to that question”
“Answer it anyway” she said
“Ok, but remember that you asked. You’re here now because the past few weeks have culminated for you in an extreme psychological and emotional breakdown…your mind has literally refused to cope especially with your brothers sudden…interests”
Tara shuddered at the mention of her brother, and suddenly a whole new batch of horrible thoughts hit her, and very uneasily she asked her next question “Wh-what’s happening to me, my body I mean while I’m in here?”
The other Tara just looked at her
“I’m sorry” Egyptian Tara whispered
“So-so, who or ah what are you then?” She really didn’t want to think about what her brother was doing to her.
“I’m a part of your sub-conscious mind which is sort of bridging you and the genetic memories. I think when your mind fractured you created me as an intermediary, to try and explain to your conscious mind what you already knew at the unconscious level. When you look at me you see and feel a sort of compromise between the person you are now, and who you might become if you were to completely integrate the memories,” she explained
“Oh” Tara said again, “Um, assuming your not just a hallucination or some kind of demony trick why would I went to ah integrate all those memories, the dreams I’ve had so far haven’t been very pleasant”
The other Tara shrugged “Sooner or later the memories will emerge, this way you won’t spend months or even years tormented by partial memories that slowly help to drive you insane”
Tara was beginning to become resigned to the idea that, again if she hadn’t already gone insane, she was going to have to deal with all of the genetic memories sooner or later. “And maybe a thousand years of new memories might bury the last few weeks?” Egyptian Tara said, echoing the real Tara’s thoughts.
She was slowly succumbing to the idea as a part of her own mind rationalised it to her. Evil. Insane. Or not? It was all inevitable either way from what she understood; she could try and accept the genetic memories, come to terms with them now, or let them slowly find their way to the surface on their own.
“Wo-would they change me?”
“We are but the sum of our experiences, so every event in our lives, every new experience or memory changes us in a way. They build to create the person we are from moment to moment”
“And your sure they’re not, well, evil?”
The other Tara looked at her with amusement, like you might look at a child who had asked why the sky was blue and not red.
“They’re just memories, how can a memory be good or evil? Like everything its how a person chooses to use them that defines what they are” It vaguely occurred to Tara that it sounded like the other Tara was almost trying to convince her, but maybe she was just being paranoid.
She had really just reached her limit on what she could handle, good or evil the memories seemed to be a part of her and they had already been torturing her for months, she could let them continue like that or just take everything they could throw at her in one blow. And at that particular moment in time that seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. Hell she had apparently already suffered a complete breakdown, what was a little more insanity added to the mix?
“How?” she asked, she didn’t need to say anything more; after all she was technically speaking to herself.
Egyptian Tara smiled with a radiant satisfaction that seemed to spread, a good humour that enveloped normal Tara. “Just breathe,” she instructed.
The Egyptian version of Tara reached out to touch normal Tara as her body began to dissolve into a pure energy, tendrils of black and white light mixed like the day and the night as in a rush that energy ploughed directly into Tara. She gasped as it suffused her and pinpricks of light rushed through her vision, overwhelmingly intense as millennia upon millennia of memories and knowledge tore through her.
The pain was like nothing Tara had ever felt before, it hurt but in a good way like the pain of a tightly wound bandage being removed. Her senses exulted in the overload of new information, for a time she feared that it was more then she could handle, more then she could possibly survive. But that feeling abated and suddenly the universe both shrank and expanded exponentially.
At a conscious and subconscious level mysteries of science and technology were unravelled before her very eyes, but for every scrap of knowledge gleaned a thousand new question emerged. Even as it rode over her like a tidal wave Tara couldn’t help but think that Willow would have given her right arm to experience such a vast intelligence, to have learned so much.
The insignificance of her single lifetime was washed away before such a vastness, but even with her every sense riveted to the wondrous answers to so many questions, to the countless worlds of a thousand solar systems Tara felt the distinct bile like taste of something more insidious, something darker lurking in that sweet array…but she just couldn’t bring herself to care…
Far away in her bed a lovely red headed girl started awake as she felt a chasm, a rift where her world had been. And she began to cry.