Sacrifice (3 of 4)

Tina wakes up.

“Thysiazo is dead,” she realizes.

She stretches. She looks at her clock. She sits up and puts her legs over the side of the bed. She puts her feet in a pair of bunny slippers. She stands and stretches again. She pads over to the mirror.

“A mother should never have to bury her child,” she says to her image in the mirror. “I will have him cremated.”

She walks out into the main room. She knocks on Iphigenia’s door. Iphigenia opens it.

“Mom?” Iphigenia asks.

“Burn Thysiazo’s body,” Tina says.

“Mo-om,” Iphigenia protests.

Tina gives her a glare. So there is heat and there is light and in the basement of the house Thysiazo ignites.

“Did I ever tell you,” says Tina, “that when I was young, I went to school, and they taught me of your kind?”

Iphigenia brightens. She has never been to school. “Was it like Harry Potter?” she asks.

“No,” Tina says, flatly.

“Or Grease?”

Iphigenia has had a sheltered upbringing. It does not entirely surprise Tina that Iphigenia’s image of school involves singing wizards with slicked-back hair.

“I called the ways of your kind dark arts, and I lusted to kill everyone born of the soul. Eventually they threw me out and threatened legal action if I should ever seek to return.”

“Oh.”

“I was right,” says Tina crisply. “And they were wrong. They had no answer to that, so for all their blustering they could not control me.”

“What happened?”

“They paid for my home education,” Tina says, “and for my college.”

Tina takes off her pajamas and dresses herself. She puts on her coat. She walks down to the basement. There is blood on the walls. Some of it is fresh.

“Do you know what did this?” she asks Iphigenia.

“Something Micah brought?”

“He did not comport himself well,” says Tina. “I should have hurt him more badly.”

“It smells of ghoul.”

Tina looks up. “Does it?”

“Yes.”

“And Liril,” says Iphigenia.

“Ah.”

Tina goes to the phone. She picks it up. It is dead. “We will have to follow her,” she says. Tina goes to the car. She gets in. It will not start. She gets out. She starts to walk. The wind rises. Soon she is struggling. She stops, and stands still, and the wind fades.

“I am blocked,” she says.

“We could leave her,” says Iphigenia. “I’m really kind of busy being the sun.”

The image of Tina in Iphigenia’s eyes seems to pulse. Iphigenia sees, with a certain mad clarity, how thin a line separates her from Micah in Tina’s eyes.

“I mean, if we had some other way to cut her off,” Iphigenia corrects.

“We need an oracle,” Tina says. She turns. She marches back into the house. She goes down to the oracle’s room. The oracle is a crouched and maddened thing surmounted by a large eye. Tina keeps it chained to a radiator. “Tell me how to catch her and confront her,” Tina says.

“You won’t,” says the oracle.

She kicks it. It is a measured blow.

“I knew you would do that,” says the oracle.

Tina raises a penciled eyebrow.

“I can’t help being contrary,” says the oracle. “So I’d rather you didn’t kill me.”

Tina kicks the oracle again.

“The wind’s changed,” says the oracle. “So if you want to catch her, you’ll have to give up what you love the most.”

“Why that?”

“Because you can’t change the course of events by doing what you want to do anyway,” says the oracle. “If you could, then it wouldn’t be the course of events; it’d be a byway.”

“I could cut off a finger,” says Tina. “I don’t want to do that; it would disrupt the flow of things.”

“That would probably help, if you were a yakuza.”

“I’m not.”

“You could join,” Iphigenia suggests.

Tina does not have to look at Iphigenia. The set of her shoulders is a withering glare.

“In what fashion will giving up what I love allow me to pursue her?” Tina asks.

“It will let you move freely through the wind.”

“Burn him, Iphigenia.”

The oracle sighs. “I liked the radiator,” it says. “It was nicer than death.”

There is a light rising in the oracle’s vision, a sun-shaped disc burning, and its fires spread through the oracle’s soul and the oracle is gone.

“And now yourself.”

“Mother?”

Iphigenia is sweating. She is not simply standing next to Tina. She is in the sky, commanding the horses of the sun, and they are pulling harder than is their wont.

“I would rather have lost a finger,” Tina says. “So you have that, at least.”

The heat is too much. There is nothing to breathe that does not burn Iphigenia’s lungs.

“It’s stupid,” says Iphigenia. “Why should my death matter?”

“Because while I love you,” says Tina, “I am something that the enemy may comprehend.”

“It’s not a sacrifice if it’s someone else!”

But there is a wind and a flame and Iphigenia is gone.

4 thoughts on “Sacrifice (3 of 4)

  1. Interesting. More indications of what it might mean that the wind has changed, other than that Jane and Liril seem to have come into their power.

    -Eric

  2. Man, Iphegenia got a raw deal. :(

    …And now I just realized why you gave her that name. Interesting.

  3. This entry prompts me to renew my vow to one day re-read all of Hitherby, more or less at once.

    When’s the collection coming out, again?

    Will there be an index?

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