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Epiphany

copyright 2001, by Kabochon

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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PROLOGUE

When she slapped the cuff on his wrist, he yanked up her arm and bared his teeth at her.  She faced him, a tear escaping her eye.

“Where are the keys, Clarice?” he demanded.

“No,” she breathed.  The morphine was doing a number on her senses.  She could barely talk, yet she was fully cognizant of her actions…she hoped he would be as well.

He picked up a shiny, sharp meat cleaver.  “You leave me no choice, Clarice.  This is really going to hurt.”  He pulled the cuffs taut and raised the cleaver over his head.

“No,” she breathed again, “you don’t understand…”

Dr. Lecter looked into her eyes, looked at the reluctant tears that were forming in them and understanding dawned.

* * *

When the dozen or so police cars arrived at Paul Krendler’s lakeside home, they found his remains in the kitchen, next to the island gas range.  One of the officers, upon seeing him strapped in the chair with an ungodly portion of his frontal lobes missing, immediately regurgitated into the trash bin.

There was no sign of Hannibal Lecter or Clarice Starling.

 

PART 1

Clarice had no idea where she was, although an interior sense told her she was near the water.  Her head felt as though it was full of goose down.  She rolled her eyes to either side and discovered she was in a cozy bedroom decorated in mauve and ivory.  Her hands were tied with scarves and there was an IV needle inserted in her right hand.  Across from the bed, in a chair, was a man.

She looked at him, her vision hazy.  He didn’t move from his chair, which was just as well because she drifted back into unconsciousness.

The next time she became aware, the scarves and IV needle were gone.  But still, she felt as though she was outside of time, outside of space.  She had no idea when it was or where she was; save for her intuition telling her she was near water.  Clarice was able to move her head this time and tried to sit up.  She succeeded and looked down at herself.  She was wearing a pale blue silk nightgown and her hair was down.

“Good evening, Clarice.”  The voice was unmistakable.

“Hello,” she replied, taking some time because it had been a while since she last spoke.

“Don’t rise just yet.  I would like to be sure of something before you move.”  He approached the bed with a penlight and shone it into her eyes.  “Ah.  Good.  Do you feel able to get up?”

Clarice blinked and threw back the heavy coverlet.  She stared at her ankles for a long time.  On the right one was a copper anklet, made with tiny s-c links.  She wondered when it had gotten there and reached to unclasp it.  However, there was no clasp to be found.  It was fixed around her ankle like a shackle.  She exhaled and closed her eyes for a moment.  Hesitantly, she swung her feet over the edge and looked down.  Blue slippers were by the bed.  She slipped her feet into them, not surprised at the fit or the comfort.

“There’s a comfortable bathroom off to the left.  Why don’t you freshen up?”

She rose, reaching for the matching blue peignoir that hung by the bed on a coat tree.  It sounded like a good idea.

The bathroom was plush and done in the same colors as the bedroom.  Clarice found every amenity she ever dreamed of.  She ran a steaming hot bath; pouring two capfuls on Bagno Crème a Miele and watching the honey-scented bubbles fill the marble tub. She put up her hair and stepped out of the peignoir, gown and slippers, and slid into the water, closing her eyes.  She sat with them closed for some time before she realized she was no longer alone.  Without opening her eyes, she smiled. 

“Dr. Lecter? Where are we?”

“Marseille.”

“France?”

“Yes.  We are by the Mediterranean.  I imagine you can smell the sea.”

“How long has it been?”

“A couple of weeks, my dear.  I don’t imagine you remember much; you were under the influence of heavy drugs.”

“What happened?”

”Don’t concern yourself with that.  Enjoy your bath.  You might like to wash your hair.  There’s some shampoo in the basket by the tub.  Lunch will be in an hour.  Maybe you’ll feel like eating.”  It wasn’t a question. 

Sometime later, she was seated beside him at an elegant mahogany dining room table.  In one of the closets, she found clothes of all kinds, fabrics and colors.  Unused to such rich garments, Clarice had been confused for a full five minutes, debating on what to wear.  She finally decided on blue wool and cashmere.  Her hair she brushed until it shone, doing so without looking in the mirror.  She slipped her feet into gray moccasins.  Dr. Lecter was at the sideboard, serving lunch:  Gironde oysters, foie gras and Anatolian figs.  The rich smells captured Clarice’s full attention and she found herself salivating.  He set a gold-rimmed plate in front of her and poured her a stem of Batard-Montrachet before serving himself.

Her clothes were an exact fit.  The blue brought out the blue-gray of her eyes and the purity of her skin.  She looked a million times better than she had, but she was still not where he wanted her to be.  He had kept her doped for several days; under the influence of hypnotic drugs to cleanse her of her rage from her father’s death and bring her to some sort of balance.  She was not totally free, however.  The hypnosis had been valuable, but for what he wanted, she needed to be completely aware.

“Dr. Lecter?”

“Yes?”

“There’s a copper bracelet around my ankle.”

“I know.”

“Did you put it there?”

“I did.”

“Why?”

“In time, Clarice, in time.  Enjoy your lunch.”

Questions plowed her mind and she desperately wanted answers, but obeyed the order to eat her food.  After some time, he spoke.

“Your refusal was only the beginning.  Clarice, you are a prisoner of your inhibitions, fears, and ridiculous principles.  Your allegiance to the FBI even after your career stalled was absurd and misplaced.  How can you honor what doesn’t honor you?  It was becoming tedious.  You need to be liberated and the removal of the anklet will represent your emancipation.”

Words escaped her.

“All you had to say was what you said, and you could have done it long ago.  Yet, you were stuck in that foolish, loveless, one-sided marriage to Jack Crawford and the FBI.”  He pushed back his chair and rose, extending his hand.  Clarice put down her fork and stared at it.

“Come with me, Clarice.”  His eyes pierced her.

After a moment, she rose and took his hand.

“I will set you free.”

Fin

Part 1 of 3

copyright 2001, Kabochon

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