He stared out at the water, remembering with an intense pain how he’d watched a mirror image of himself dressed in clothes from the late 1700’s, carry Kiyoshi into the waves. He recalled the joy in Kiyoshi’s laughter as he chattered on, his rapt attention focused on the man who was not him.
The waves crashed onto the shore and Emrys Marlowe growled, knowing that the inbound tide would soon roll over his bare feet… and that it would be cold.
Stepping into the chilly water, he sucked in his breath, his voice quiet when he used it. “I know that I didn’t dream all of those months with you, Ki… I know I didn’t.”
I can’t stay here and live, and he can’t stay here at all… Emrys, I belong with him.
“Don’t I bloody well know it,” he answered the phantom voice of the man he’d fallen so hard for.
Our home is not of this world.
Fishing in his jacket pocket for his cigarettes and lighter, he vaguely realized that he couldn’t feel the temperature of the water.
Find World’s End and you will find us.
Agitatedly, he puffed on the smoke, muttering, “Find a place that I cannot figure how to get to, ’ey? I don’t even know where to begin looking for that place. Everywhere I’ve looked, Ki, I’ve not found anything that sounds like the place you described!”
Should you need me, remember always that you can find me in your dreams… I’m certain that I’ll be there.
“But I’ve tried—” Emrys broke off as a thought entered his mind, One owes respect to the living. To the dead one owes only truth. “Voltaire, once again ye slay me, mate.” Tears slipped down his cheeks. “You speak of death, but he’s not dead. He’s in a different world…” Emrys finished the cigarette, pinching the cherry off as he walked up the beach to stuff the butt into the can of cat litter he’d dragged down from his porch, and he continued to ponder aloud. “He’s in a different world… it’s not death if you refuse it.”
Whirling on his heel, he looked out at the tide, the waves nearly black in color with the fading sunlight… and he recalled that the sun had sunk beneath the horizon when Shelly, Cam and Kiyoshi disappeared from sight.
“It’s not death if you refuse it,” he recited, the memorable lines belonging to a much beloved graphic novel about a man who returned from death to right terrible wrongs. Emrys nodded to himself and stripped his jacket from his body, dropping it in the sand next to the makeshift ashtray and his cigarettes and lighter. “It’s not death if you refuse it,” he said a third time as he headed for the water, his stride filled with purpose as he stepped into the frigid waves.
His mind set on Kiyoshi, Emrys waded further out into the water, not hearing his name called from behind, not hearing the shriek of some impending danger. He focused on not accepting death, on seeing Kiyoshi again.
It has to work! This is where they came to us and this is where they then left with him—
His feet lost purchase on the shifting sand and the undertow caught him in its wicked grip. The ocean swallowed him whole and he watched as the light danced on the surface of the water as he held his breath.
Is this how it happened? Is this where they slipped through time and space? Is this—
Something hard hit his head and startled him, causing him to expel all his air and he thrashed, concentration broken. The light was leaving him and it was so far up! Emrys knew that he wouldn’t make it—something hard hit his side and then his legs—
He came to choking and sputtering, and his lungs angrily expelled the saltwater over and over again. Looking up, he found a shivering Xavier sitting over him, wrapped in a thick blanket, green eyes bright with fear and pain.
“What were you thinking?! What were you bloody well thinking, you fucking prat!” Grabbing him up, he clutched him close and Emrys held tightly to him. “The water can’t be more than fifty degrees and don’t you pay attention to the signs? Hello, sea turtles! Migration! You were almost out of sight! Damn you, Em!”
Emrys looked up as a blanket wrapped tight around him. The realtor that had come to take photos of his home, gave him a small smile and he returned it before he pushed his face into Xavier’s shoulder, whispering, “I have to find him.”
“No, Em… what you have to do is find where he’s at. There’s a difference. Say your goodbyes to him and renew your research—for World’s End.” Xavier’s arms tightened around him. “And never scare me like that again!”
All right, Ki… but I’m not saying goodbye. I’m saying for now. For now, you’re lost to me, but I will find you.