14.7 The Price of Power

by Matt P.

Walter hadn’t done drugs, not really. A couple of joints when he was a listless High Schooler who figured he had nothing better to do with his life, but the only substances he had used beyond that were alcohol and tobacco. So he really had no frame of reference for his thought that what drug users were trying to feel like was what he felt right at the moment he first took in Oberon’s power.

It was agony incarnate, like molten lava had somehow replaced the blood in his veins and then further been lit on fire somehow. But beneath that agony there was such sweetness, humming with the very force of creation itself, and it made Walter feel like a God.

He heard a sound, but it seemed to be very far away. He couldn’t place it exactly, although it sounded familiar; but he was too distracted by the intensity of the feelings within him. It was swimming with the power of heaven itself, and he wasn’t entirely sure that he could focus on it anyway. He felt so warm, so deliciously warm.

Something…wait…there were people here, he thought. His thoughts were disjointed, rising and falling like the warmth flowing across his body. Flowing across his face…he blinked against the brightness, focusing for a moment to see if he still could.


That’s what it was, he thought. Screaming. A second later he realized one of the voices was his own, screaming incoherently in pain, as he bled from the eyes and his ears. After he realized that he suddenly realized he was incoherent with pain, and fell to the ground in agony.

**** ****

For a single moment, Antigone watched her father lift slightly in to the air with a glowing aura of power around him. It was what pictures of Jesus looked like in churches, except significantly more blood-splattered. It was strangely compelling, and no one outside the school seemed to be breathing at all.

The moment broke when her father began screaming. Antigone had heard her father making a lot of different noises, all the normal sounds of a living human. But she had never heard him scream in absolute pain and terror. It shook something inside of her, shifted a fundamental pillar of her life that had been immovable to that point. It terrified her in a way she wasn’t sure she could have described before that very moment. But worse than the sound was the look in his eyes. They were glazed, focused on a far off horizon only he could see and nothing nearby. He didn’t even seem to notice that he was screaming.

Oberon screamed and fell to the ground, but that went largely unnoticed. All eyes stayed focus on Walter, whose glow only intensified with each passing second. He no longer looked like a messiah but a sun God, or perhaps the sun itself, and he seemed completely unaware of it. A moment later he began to bleed, slowly at first but then with increasing speed and pressure, from the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.

“SHIT! SHIT! WHY IS HE BLEEDING FROM HIS EYES?” Siobhan screamed. She had banished her sword and clutched her hands together in panic at a terror she couldn’t swing or snark at. She started to take a step forward toward the glowing maelstrom, hesitant and fearful but with determination in her eyes, until it stopped. All of the light, all of the power flickering through the air like fireflies on steroids, suddenly shot back in to Walter. Awareness flooded back in to his eyes and they looked around in terror as he collapsed to the ground next to Oberon.

Antigone, Siobhan, and Morgan all rushed to his side, kneeling down next to him. His skin was flushed, heated with the power he had absorbed from Oberon through the black knife. His eyes flickered around fearfully, and he tried to open his mouth to speak. Flickers of light escaped his lips, but no words came with it. Each exhalation sent little golden motes in to the atmosphere, dancing and swirling for two or three heartbeats before they faded away.

“It’s killing him!” Antigone said, because she could not think of anything more useful to say.

“You think?” Siobhan said angrily, reaching out to wipe some of the blood away in a shocking disregard for hazardous material protocols. “Why is it killing him? It didn’t kill Oberon!”

Morgan reached out and carefully checked Walter’s pulse, shaking her head. “Because Oberon was a full-blooded Sidhe, and was already used to dealing with power. Walter is mortal, and his body can’t handle it.” She reached up to wipe her eyes with the back of a hand that hadn’t picked up any blood, and Antigone saw tears there. “That’s why I was trying to do it.”

Antigone fidgeted with her hands now, and she saw Siobhan was doing the same. Siobhan because she had to do something or she would break down; Antigone because she felt like there was something she should be doing it. She didn’t know what it was, didn’t know what it could possibly be, but it was there. She felt it in the same part of her that had known how to close the door. It infuriated her that she didn’t know what to do but felt like she should. Tears of anger, and an all-encompassing terror, rolled down her cheeks as she stared at her dying father.

She reached for that knowledge, like someone reaching for a dream after waking. Reaching in to her mental recesses while Siobhan shouted for Morgan to do something. It felt like it was just beyond her mental fingertips, just out of reach. If she just closed her eyes…

The dreams, she thought. The ones where I help him die.