Under Cover of Darkness
By Laura Feltyberger
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Lesson Five

Michael sat in the rooftop garden of his apartment building. He watched the nighttime traffic buzzing below like glowing insects and breathed in the sweet warm air of approaching spring. On a night like this he normally would be anticipating the longer days of warm weather, running in the park, swimming down at the shore, and just enjoying the sunshine. That was all over for him now, but still he felt the rush of spring fever.

He realized he was also feeling residual effects of Andie’s death. As faint eddies of her passing rippled through his mind he knew that part of his hopeful mood sprang from the knowledge that Andie was truly at peace. He pondered his newfound insight into the phenomenon of death, his thoughts eventually leading to Martine.

Why had Martine denied him his own passage to heaven? Surely she knew it would have been better to let him die than to leave him in this altered existence; surely she knew the rush of another’s crossing of the threshold, or had she? She had said she did it for selfish reasons, but how much of that was true? Was there another reason, an unselfish one?

How many times had Martine tasted heaven and known she could not have it for herself? Too many years she had spent on the welfare of others with only regrets of a life and death of her own. She had wanted this for him, to know the suffering of others and to know he could control it, conquer it, and know that when his end came he would embrace it and know it wasn’t truly an end. It was a harsh lesson he’d had to learn, but he felt he was closer to understanding the meaning behind Martine’s gift to him.

Michael opened the locket and stared at her face, at his own face beside her. He remembered the happiness he’d felt at the time, remembered her in his arms, her kiss, her smile, her laughter. He stretched out his arms to catch the breeze and sensed that somehow she was there with him.

When he came back down to the penthouse Sedrien was waiting for him. He was quiet, pensive. Sed did not look up when Michael entered the room, but waited until Michael had almost reached the stairs before he spoke.

“You took an awfully large risk with Andie. You could easily have been overwhelmed by your emotions.”

Michael stopped at the foot of the staircase. “I knew what I was doing.”

“Did you? You never thought to ask me, did you, never thought to talk about the consequences of your actions.”

Michael didn’t really want to get into this fight, but they had put it off this long and now was the time to settle it. He knew that Sed had more experience, more knowledge, but he found it hard to explain his reckless actions.

“Sed, I know I should have spoken to you about what I was going through. It’s hard to describe. My instincts took over, and I knew that I was heading in the right direction. I know you only wanted to protect me.”

“Damn right. Other Psionics have gone mad doing what you’ve done. That’s the reason I’ve been pressuring you to take more precautions”

“It was the only way I could stay sane. How do you think I could stand to take in someone else’s emotions while I buried mine? The only way I could stay in control was to leave myself open to everything. If I can’t feel, I’m as good as dead; that’s the only way I can explain it.”

“It will mean your death someday.”

“God, I hope so.” Michael sighed. He started up the steps.

“Why did you not take her fears at the end when she needed it most? You insisted she let go of them instead of making her passage easy?” Sedrien stepped into the faint gold light of the street lamps reflected from below the window.

“How could she accept heaven if she was afraid of it? Do you think I could keep her fears at bay when she’s out of my reach? She was the one who had to take the last step, I couldn’t carry her over the threshold.” Michael would have continued up the stairs if he hadn’t heard Sedrien’s soft last question.

“What was Heaven like?”

Michael hesitated before he answered. “Warm, comforting, alive. Like sunlight.” He finished climbing the last few steps and disappeared down the hall to his room.

Sedrien contemplated Michael’s words as he walked through to his study. Sitting at the desk he ran his fingers over the leather cover of the heavy book on the desktop. He’d been through the entire thing looking for a reference to what he’d seen Michael do tonight. There was no mention of a Psionic vampire who had seen the threshold to heaven. It had been so long for him, so long since he’d seen it last that he had difficulty imagining what Michael had described.

Sunlight.

The End

Lesson One
 Lesson Two
 Lesson Three
 Lesson Four
Lesson Five

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