**Author’s Note: Vincent’s Descent is a continuous story that began on April 1st, 2023, as part of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Most chapters are not designed as stand-alone. I’ve done my best to keep each chapter a touch over 500 words each so they are not too dense to follow along, IMO. For the entire story, please start HERE. Comments are always welcome.
Chapter 25: Yasti Pinnacles
“I’m tired, Maria. Faye.”
“I know, Vincent.” Maria nodded, staying on the couch but leaning in toward him.
Impatient, Faye left the living room, returning with a fresh bottle of whiskey. She placed it next to her empty tumbler, keeping her back to him while she opened the top.
“Enough with the ‘I’m tired’ BS, Vincent.” She turned, having refilled her glass. One hand rested under her elbow while she raised her wrist, taking a long sip. “You didn’t kill your mother, and you didn’t kill the guard.”
He shook his head.
Vincent looked to Maria, pleading.
“No. You tell her.” She looked at Faye. “She knows enough, now.”
Vincent hung his head, chin digging into his chest. He sucked in a deep breath, letting the air seep through tight lips. He startled both women with the abruptness of his getting to his feet. Feathers began to poke out of his forearms. Vincent looked down at his plumage, willing it to recede.
Three remained on each arm.
Faye’s drink sloshed over her thumb. She licked it, moving a step back. Maria reached over and gently pulled her back onto the couch to sit beside her. She placed her hand on top of Faye’s knee.
“You see?” Vincent looked at both of them.
“When I first portalled, I had so little control. That old bastard,” Vincent left out naming his faux-grandfather by designated name,” was brutal. He left inner scars and kept pushing, pushing. He…it…never explained the why of it all. It just drove me, the first guide, the first to punish in both worlds, the blackbirds and this one.
My father pushed me to be with it. Said it was his father, and I should follow its lead. I did as he said. I was afraid of the two of them, Humi and Cat-Grandpa.
I thought I was doing well, but I would get lost and need to be retrieved. The verbal, emotional, and physical beatings grew worse with each ‘mistake’ I made. I always retreated from the blackbirds’ world when I was young, searching for safety.
It was my mother who made the difference.”
“Oralee,” Faye blurted into her glass. She turned to Maria, who nodded back, shushing her.
“She gave me my first snow globe as a child. I loved it for all its simplicity. A house in a field, a grove of trees, and when you shook it: winter in my hand. We kept it by my bed. Nighttime was nightmare time, so with a nightlight ready, I could reach over, shake the globe, and the nightmares dissipated.
Until they didn’t, that was when the birds appeared in my room, at home, or its cabin. My mother would ‘know’; she knew they were in this world. She’d rush in and place herself in front of me, encircling me.
That was after I had first traveled, maybe the third time? I’m not sure now.
Mom was having a hard time of it. The birds were pecking at the two of us. She was batting them out of the air, speaking in what I now know as their language, but they kept coming. One scratched her deeply, and another dove into her chest, pushing her back. She dropped beside me on the bed.
I had been frozen during all that, but she jostled me. I reached over, grabbed the snow globe to throw at one of them, the bigger of the three, and
It began to glow yellow.
Then it deepened into a warm gold.
My mother placed her hands over mine, put her forehead on my forehead, and the golden light spread over us. She shone like the sun.
The light was warmth and safety. As it reached what I learned later was its pinnacle, it dimmed, and the swirling material in the snow globe settled. The birds were gone, it was just us, and we went to the kitchen for food. We were both ravenous.
And she explained what she knew, that we could affect the axis of realities, the universe. Different planes of existence that living portals can easily travel. The portal stories I’d read were hidden messages disguised as fiction. She taught me how to safely travel, where the Condor was vicious in its agenda.
“Which was, what? Mating with that thing?” Faye again.
Vincent shrugged, nodding.
“Not my idea, Faye.” He made eye contact. “Her Lavender Grace was not my idea. Or my want.”
She shook herself.
“Ok. So, you did not kill your mother. Can we get back to that?”
“My skills were limited at first. My mom thought the snow globe was a great focus tool. I still loved them, so they were added to the collection when we found ones that had a specific resonance.
I was able to port easier. She traveled with me when she could, a better guide. We explored, crafted, and we changed the world around us.
My father interfered. He pushed the Condor on me, and I found out later that the Condor sent the murders after me. And my mother.
The night she died – twilight always seemed to be the worst, that death of day to the rising of darkness – was the first time the feathers burst. The pain,” Vincent was panting hard.
“Vincent,” Maria said softly. He focused on her as she modeled a slower breathing pattern, following along.
He gulped, closing his eyes.
“That was the night my mother had had enough, found the strength to leave my father. We were in a hotel, hours from our house, and I had only taken the first snow globe with me.
Then the change, and I screamed, and with my arms turning into wings, my mother held me tight, and I felt something calling through my chest, my face ached, and my body convulsed, and I yelled and yelled and screeched and cawed….
And the Condor emerged through me and tore her apart.
Then I tore it apart.”