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Sleepless Nights

copyright 2002, by ChinaMail

Disclaimer:    These characters 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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Clarice tossed restlessly in her sleep as she had done each night for the past two weeks. Her arms flailing to and fro, her legs twisting in the sheets, as she vainly tried to escape the torment of her dream.

The dream didn’t change much from night to night. She found herself in an unfamiliar room, her eyes closed to the man standing in front of her. An unanswered question hung in the air between them but she refused to face up to the fact that there was a choice to be made. She felt his warm presence slowly moving away from her and finally dared to open her eyes. Only to be met by a pair of dark red eyes that stared at her sadly before floating away from sight.

The eyes were quickly replaced by a pair of red flashing lights and the sound of sirens filled the quiet night. The sirens grew louder and more distorted until they were screaming. The screams weren’t the sound of lambs; they were words, words that she feared might tell her something that she didn’t want to know, yet she strained to decipher them. Louder and louder they screamed until she realized it was her own voice she was hearing. She clamped her hands against her ears to block out the sound but it was no use….A THOUSAND YEARS A THOUSAND YEARS A THOUSAND YEARS… was all she heard reverberating through her head.

She bolted upright as the scream began to die in her throat and seconds later Ardelia was beside her. Again. She had come each night, awakened by the screaming, reaching out to comfort and soothe her dearest friend. “It’s alright Clarice, it’s alright. Sshhhhh.”

Clarice could feel the sweat on her forehead and wiped one pajamed sleeve to wipe it away. Just as she wished she could wipe away the unwelcome thoughts that refused to go away. “Sorry Delia. God, I wish it would stop.” The tears came then, tears of frustration mingled with tears of sorrow that she could not explain, even to herself.

“I keep telling you, you’ve got to see a shrink Clarice. Enough is enough. This isn’t good and I’m really getting worried here.”

“I told you I’d think about it. I AM thinking about it, really. It’s just that…..”

“You’re afraid to find out what they’ll tell you? That you got the living shit scared out of you by a cannibal and you’re afraid he’s going to come back and—“

“NO! I mean yes. God, I don’t know Delia, okay?” She shook her head and pushed the hair back from her face. “Listen, can we just drop it? I’m sorry I woke you up again. You just don’t understand….”

“I don’t understand?! You’re kidding me, right girl? You saved his ass and in return he gave you a free pass to his own private freak show. He made you watch while he carved up Krendler’s brains for God’s sake! “

“No, no!! What I mean is…” She buried her face in her hands and dug her fingers into her scalp. She took a deep breath and answered in a muffled voice. “Don’t you see Delia? There’s unfinished business between us and until it’s finished—“

Ardelia’s outrage was evident as she jumped up from the bed and began stomping about the room. “What the hell are you saying? Are you saying you want to see him again? You want to finish some ‘unfinished business’ with him? What the HELL is that? I think your brain is bent. You are NOT in your right mind and if you won’t call someone, I’ll call for you.”

With that Ardelia stormed out of the room. “’Delia, Delia, wait!”

“First thing tomorrow, no more discussion! Now goodnight!” Clarice’s bedroom door was slammed shut and five seconds later she heard Ardelia’s door slam shut too.

“Oh shit.” Clarice punched her pillow hard and buried her face in it. Well, thank God she’s gone back to bed. I was close to telling her, she thought. She had yet to tell anyone what had transpired between her and Doctor Lecter those final minutes in Krendler’s kitchen before he had made his escape. How could she? Wild horses and all the FBI’s men couldn’t drag it out of her. All she had to do was imagine the disgust she would hear in their voices, “Lecter kissed you Starling? He KISSED you?!” Oh yeah, Pearsall would have loved that.

As it was, she had been suspended indefinitely from duty until they sorted out the mess of that awful night. There were four men dead and one of them was a high ranking federal agent named Paul Krendler. But one notorius fugitive by the name of Dr. Hannibal Lecter remained alive and well thanks to her. Well they most certainly hadn’t thanked her - the fact was they were royally pissed and she was kind of surprised they hadn’t fired her on the spot.

She pulled the covers up over her head and wondered if she’d fall back asleep tonight. And she wondered how many nights she would have to endure these nocturnal eruptions of her subconscious. No doubt until she was ready to face up to what was really going on here. Talk about unfinished business. Hell, she hadn’t even acknowledged there was any unfinished business until the words came out of her mouth about two minutes ago. Maybe she had better take Ardelia’s advice and see a professional; that is if she dared tread into such dangerous waters.

But how could she hope to ever sleep through the night again if she didn’t face up to the meaning behind her nightmares – no, they weren’t really nightmares were they? I guess most people would categorize it a nightmare if you woke up screaming. But nightmares are all about fear, aren’t they? And strangely enough I’m not afraid of him. She thought back to that night in Krendler’s kitchen and remembered that she hadn’t so much as flinched when Lecter had leaned in to kiss her, not even when he had made a move to bite her. She could still recall the look in his eyes but had yet to decipher what she’d seen hidden there. Had it been just a trace of sadness? Or was it regret? She realized she may very well never know. Doctor Lecter was an enigma, a man who masked his feelings all too well.

But there was one taletell clue he’d left behind that night. It stayed ever present with her – lurking in the recesses of her mind. ‘Would you ever say to me…’ She shook her head before turning out the light and lay there thinking about it. What had he meant really? Had he been toying with her or was he declaring himself to her? What feelings did he carry in his heart? She flopped over on one side, gave her pillow another punch and told herself it didn’t matter. Lecter didn’t have a heart. And besides she had shut him down effectively enough with her answer. The one that shook her from her sleep every night.


Part 1 of 3

copyright 2002, by ChinaMail

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