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Drifting on the Infinite

copyright 2001, by Leeker17

Disclaimer:    Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were created by Thomas Harris.  He is 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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The silvery water reflected the infinite points of the stars and those balls of light we label planets. Chesapeake Bay was especially seductive tonight; lighted by a million starts and a thousand planets. Sitting in the midst of this was the slumped figure of Clarice Starling. She had no idea of how long she had been sitting on the park bench staring blankly out as the ships passed silently and the water lapped gently at the shore. It was an eerie concert in the otherwise silent evening.

Clarice sat in the damp sand caused by the low tide and gravity wells, not caring that an hour ago the sand beneath her feet had been dry. Such as she sat in a timeless vacuum devoid of any hint of the hours and minutes and clocks that so haunt human existence. Dimly, she recalled with damning clarity what has transpired merely twenty-four hours before. A dim ache in her stomach and a clenching of muscle bayed she not forget. Ruefully she recalled the myth of Prometheus giving fire humans only to be betrayed and tormented. The fates needed no eagle to tear at her, nor any chains. Her own choices and hindsight would suffice and the weight of chances not taken bowed her low.

Choices, words spoken, I came three thousand miles to watch you run. Why only watch, Doctor, why not follow or vice versa. His face carved in the moon, Clarice, I already do, join me. We can run together. Fly, fly, fly, little Starling. You’ll crash My Pigeon and no one will be there to catch you. So, she had crashed, and no one was there to pick up the pieces. Oh. how the curse of memory stings; as the memories and sights of that fateful night came back to haunt her and dog her more, implacable than Hannibal Lecter and memories as bitter as those of her father.

Groggy, she had awoken to soft whispering and the smells of cooking downstairs. Starling almost lulled back to sleep by the swish of a fan. She had stood for a moment by the window, enough to catch a glimpse of a boat tethered securely to the dock, safe from the churning bay. The talk, Paul Krendler with his bloody brains exposed, for all his empty-headedness. Why had she not taken the gun, she had watched a human being killed and consumed before her. The only reaction pathetic dry heaves that really had more to do with the medication and pain. No, there was no convenient moral out for her. Her hands were stained.

She opened her eyes and dipped her hands into the icy water of the Chesapeake; whether to wash away the cloying sand or to wash away the memory she could not tell. As her hand met the icy fluid she flinched, recalling the chill the bay possessed even in the summer. It wrapped around her in an icy shroud, sapping her heart of precious warmth and leaving a cold, dead carapace. Still the fire of memory would not be quenched nestled between the fibers of the Corpus Collosum.

An image seared itself into her head.  For a moment as she woke Clarice looked out across the bay.  Lashed securely to the dock a small boat, tossing gently in the lapping water.  Later, her hands raised in the air in surrender the boat moving gently, hugging the shore.  Now in the present, her neurons firing in miasma of confusion, came the realization…she was alone.  The one being that understood her was gone.  She willed herself to hate what the Dr. for what he had done to Krendler and the pain he caused.  To, will otherwise would see her excuse drowned in truth.  She was numb to the events at the house.  Numb save till the very end, flash of clever and the “snick” of the handcuff. 

“This is going to hurt Clarice.”

Face upturned to the warm night air, inhaling a breath that could not warm the chill chambers of her heart, “Damn you Doctor. You were right, this does hurt.  Damn me, for causing the pain.”  But no divine judgment was heralded upon her, only the guilty silence of the night.

No, she had chosen not to run the race.  Clenched tightly now in her right hand, John Brigham’s badge.  In the light the metal shined happily.  Reflected in the water the badge refracted back, larger than life.  What had she left?  Her career was done.  What pained most, the loss of the one person that understood her and told her the truth; her life was far from over.  But, that horrific night she had ceased living.  There was time now, only time.  Limbic anger raced through her and she hurled the metal trinket into the water.  For one instant the FBI blossomed in size, only to shrink as the shield was swallowed by the wet darkness.

With a clarity of thought she wished she didn’t possess, Clarice Starling realized she had been the master of her own fate.  Nothing more than boat drifting in the openness and seemingly infinite ocean.  A boat set adrift by it’s own harbormaster and Clarice had an eternity to dream of the possibilities.  A pity her navigation skills lacked the ability to follow the fair winds that blew.  No more left to her than the icy wind that blows from the North.  Doomed from the start, never getting any closer or farther from her goal, yet so achingly close.

Ex-FBI agent Clarice Starling rose from her sandy perch and walked along the beach.  She kept a course near the water following where the water and shore didn’t quite meet.  She was walking parallel to the shore.


copyright 2001, by Leeker17

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