I have Nightmare Disorder (along with Night Terrors which is not so much fun), and a lot of my dreams and nightmares make it onto the page in some shape or form. If you’ve read Now Entering Silver Hollow, you’ve met a creepy character by the name of Undaga (OON-dah-gah). Undaga came springing right out of my nightmares to where I remembered him vividly three months later.
Another character from my dreams is a woman named Kathryn Cross. She has many purposes and has been alive in my mind since I was about sixteen years old. So she has been a lot of things–in RP, in fan fiction, and in original fiction.
Awhile back I had a dream about her (she is British, or in the Silver Hollow world, Albionian), and in this dream, the UK was still intact. But I was so moved by the melancholy nature of this dream, I thought it would be fun to share it. Perhaps, if you enjoy reading it, I’ll do a series of short fictions with this story. Perhaps it will develop supernatural elements. This doesn’t take place in Silver Hollow’s world, though. Kit has a gift of traveling into other dimensions. She’s in Now Entering Silver Hollow, in fact. You’ll see her more in the sequel, too.
Enjoy. (I used UK spelling, so if it looks unusual to you, that’s why.)
“Is there a spot here where we could be assured we won’t be overheard?” Kit sat forward in the round-back chair. The plush office reminded Kit of her days in the Headmaster’s office at boarding school. The mahogany-panelled walls, the thick burgundy carpeting, and the scent of old books and fresh ink transported her back to a time when Headmaster Herrick, the short balding blond man, was telling her that if she didn’t bend over that desk, he would ensure she was sent out on disciplinary action.
Her call to Father rather helped with that bridge troll.
Now, though, here she was, clearly not being invited to bend over the desk—he wouldn’t dare and likely didn’t have the inclination—sitting in the best school in the UK for boys, being told that her son, Thomas, was close to being expelled. ‘Non-compliance with the boys’ internship programme,’ he’d said.
Her stomach churned. Headmaster Winter, a man in his sixties, was as glacial as she appeared to be. He surprised her by leaning forward and giving her a small smile, his chair creaking softly against the quiet hum of office equipment and the ticking of the grandfather clock that had likely been there since the 1700s.
“Indeed. Please, walk with me, Your Ladyship.” He stood up and motioned to the door.
Kit held up her hand as she rose, smoothing out her skirt with the other. Her hand was almost the same cream-colour of the suit she wore, but her knuckles were white from having clenched her fist. “Please, Headmaster, call me ‘Doctor.’ That title I earned, and I prefer it to the one I inherited.”
Headmaster Winter opened the large mahogany door and allowed her through first. “Yes, of course, Doctor Cross.”
The secretary kept sneaking glances at Kit until she caught the doctor’s eye, where Kit glared at her until the assistant shrank—a delicate flower in the hot sun, or mould creeping away at the dry heat coming from her eyes. The last thing that Kit needed was this little personal assistant running to the press to chit-chat about all the internal crises the family was facing.
Headmaster Winter led her up three flights of stairs to the building’s rooftop. Ornate gargoyles and intricate mason work stared back at her, matching the grey skies above and the grave faces upon it. A chill, unrelated to the weather, settled over her. She would be able to speak freely, and she wasn’t so sure she wanted to, now.
A stretch of silence ticked out between them. Kit gave the Headmaster a stern look.
“Should any of this leak to the press, Headmaster, I will know it was you, and I will do everything in my power to ruin you. Despite what you’ve heard in terms of scandals since my husband’s death, I am well-connected and can assure you that I’ll make your life more miserable than mine. Are we clear on that point?”
Winter nodded, face pulled into a deep frown. “Doctor Cross, I’ve kept the confidences of many and will take their secrets to my grave. During the war, I was tortured and still not revealed a word of what I know. Rest assured there is nothing you can say that will shock me, frighten me, or otherwise cause me to reveal anything to anyone about what you’ve said to me today—and I do believe that you could ruin what has been my spotless career. I cannot assure you any greater than that. My greatest concern is for your boys—Thomas, Damien, and Klarion, and my only wish is to help them.”
A hint of relief washed over Kit’s body, mixed with its usual cynicism. Could this man truly be an advocate for her children? Could she really trust him with the internal family scandals?
Only one way to find out.
She’d start with the things the public already knew.
“When Malcolm was murdered, the public vilified him, calling the investigation a waste of the taxpayers resources. Though I tried to shield my children from the press, they became increasingly rabid—and hearing their father was ‘not worth the money for the investigation’ was devastating to them. The Press—mad dogs, the lot. They began badgering my two eldest daughters with intimate questions, getting worse by the day. I didn’t realise that Malcolm had been such an impressive shield for the children. Phillip—their uncle—intervened as well, and the two of us were able to stop the harassment, but by then, the damage was done.”
Kit took in a shaky breath and looked over at Winter, who gave her a nod. He said nothing, prompting her to continue.
“Alice began to take drugs to cope with the loss of her father and the terrible things the press had bombarded her with day after day. I had to bring her to the U.S. for rehab at Betty Ford.” She would not allow tears to fall. Instead, she detached from the emotion. The tears could come later. “Hermione began to fail classes. She lost her concentration, her focus. She’s sullen and rude, though she’s picked up her grades, she simply isn’t the same. Kate is vicious to the girls at school. She gets in fights. And now you tell me that Thomas is not attending his internship. Klarion and Damien are barely holding it together … and I’m alone.”
Phillip was back in the U.S. so he could keep an eye on Alice as well as run the corporation’s new base in NYC. He frequently came home to check on the family, but he was of little help with his cool demeanour and seemingly uncaring reception of his little sister’s problems. Not that she burdened him with them. These days, they were the patch-up duo. They kept the scandals out of the papers as best they could, and ignored the press as often as possible.
“I have staff. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not alone in the sense that I have and entire team of people to assist me and the children, but I am alone in my misery. I took Malcolm for granted. I didn’t think I did, but now I realise it’s so.” She paced to the edge of the roof and looked down. For a fleeting moment, she wondered how quickly they’d clean up her body.
Kit turned away from the ledge and back to Winter, her shoe making a crackling echo on the concrete of the roof. “The bottom line is this: I will do whatever it takes to keep Thomas in school and improving. Clearly without his father he’s asea, and I can’t reach him. So I’m turning to you, to air the dirty laundry of my family so that you’ll be able to understand where he is right now, and help him.”
Winter took a step closer to Kit and put a finger over his lips for a moment, in contemplation. “I believe I can help the boys, Doctor Cross, not to worry.”
She feigned relief in her expression and thanked the Headmaster, but inside, she was more worried than ever. Her family was slipping away from her, spiralling downward into an abyss, and she couldn’t save them.
End of Part I.