Title: Lead the Dance
Other Info: Sequel to A Change of Grace
Excerpt: The city really never sleeps. Even in the smallest hours, when human biorhythm is at its slowest, heartbeats sluggish, breathing deep and low, when the mind pulses in unmatchable pattern, the city is awake. Lights flash into tired aching eyes, horns blare into exhausted ears, and the night people, denying it all, pursue their relentless battle for fun, never knowing they fight. The city never rests, at most there is a lull, that space between moments, between heartbeats, missed in an instant.
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day.” – Macbeth
The city really never sleeps. Even in the smallest hours, when human biorhythm is at its slowest, heartbeats sluggish, breathing deep and low, when the mind pulses in unmatchable pattern, the city is awake. Lights flash into tired aching eyes, horns blare into exhausted ears, and the night people, denying it all, pursue their relentless battle for fun, never knowing they fight. The city never rests, at most there is a lull, that space between moments, between heartbeats, missed in an instant.
To the boy in the window, high above the streets though not above the din, the city shrieked. The sound was enormous, louder than it should have been as he swallowed the suspicion that he wasn’t hearing it only with his ears. He turned from the window, his face a mix of petulant and pensive.
“Even the glass can’t block it out, Tay, did you ever notice that?”
His tone caught his brother’s attention, the odd inflection bringing the older boy’s glance up, eyes locking.
“Can’t block what out, Zac?”
“The sound, can’t you hear it?”
Zac shook his head a little, squinting against sudden disorientation, and a silver shimmer that seemed to superimpose itself over everything. Taylor, on the other side of the shine, seemed as insubstantial as air.
“Can’t you? It’s everywhere…”
“I don’t hear anything Zac…” He set aside the computer he’d been working, stretching a little as he got up. It was late, he was tired, oddly enervated despite being used to late nights. Every time Zac was in the room with him, he noted vaguely. As if he drew the energy out of him.
He stepped closer, eyes flickering to the window. Below the streetlight blinked, flashing red, and he caught a faint flash, probably a cigarette being lit. It looked quiet, the thin hours before dawn in New York City.
“What do you hear?”
“The screaming. I hear it screaming.”
“Tay, just be quiet…” Zac’s voice drifted off, eyes falling back to the street. He could sense it, feel it, the wrongness out there. It filled him, the only thing that seemed to matter anymore. That and the feeling that he could change it… that it was in him to somehow quiet the angry wail.
He felt Taylor, close behind, and leaned back a little, resting against him, suddenly tired. “It chases itself, Tay… and never gets anywhere.”
“Yeah, sometimes it feels that way.” He kept his voice low. Wherever Zac’s mind was taking him, it somehow seemed wrong to intrude.
“Taylor… did you ever wish there was something you could do about it?”
He tensed, feeling Taylor’s heartbeat, holding his breath for a right answer he didn’t realize he needed.
“All the time, Zac.”
“If someone could… could change things, if someone were responsible, if it was their job, or their life, to keep it all straight, do you think they should do it? No matter what?”
Taylor sighed, slipping an arm around the boy in front of him, knowing now where this was coming from. In the small hours of the night, memory came thick and heavy, thoughts moved on a more profound level. Zac was remembering… and realizing things Taylor, personally, had hoped he never would.
“There’ll be time for that, Zac. They told you, don’t you remember? That you’d know when it was time?”
“I know… I think it’s time.” He pulled away, stepping up onto the raised ledge under the window, resting his forehead against the glass.
“It’s all out there, Tay. Not just the city… everything. Everywhere I look now, I see that glow… those… those strings, all different colors, all blinking at me. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
His head came around again at the soft click of the door, eyes dark, and Taylor caught an unnerving glimpse of his pupils pulsing, pinprick small to cats eye wide, timed with the beats of his heart.
“I know, I caught it too. It’s happening, isn’t it Zac?” He slid a hand into Zac’s, holding gently. “When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.”
“He thinks it is time.”
Zac’s nod was vague, his eyes moving again to the window, drawn, uncontrollable.
“Yeah I do…”
“Then Zac… you’ll do what you have to.”