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[fic] somnambulist, THG
hwister
Title: Somnambulist
Summary: Annie keeps dreaming. An exaggerated account of madness.
Disclaimer: Suzanne Collins.
Warnings: Horror. More imagery than plot.
Notes: So, I've done drabble, pairing-fic, gen-fic, character sketch, and the abomination crackfic. Here's trying another genre. Written for an FFN prompt:

~.~

Annie dreams in vivid. She always had.

At five, she has a memory of sea-witches crooning ancient words into her skin as she lay surrounded by a flock of them, a child-sized voodoo doll with green-gold skin, radiant in the flickering firelight. Ink dripping groggily on her limbs, hollow mad predictions whispered in her ear.

At seven, she remembers wearing a bone-white dress on a ghost ship, straining against a thick starlit fog to follow the sounds of creaking wood and splashing water. The chipped woodgrain of the balustrade sensate against her hands, the smell of wax from the candlelit bath where a woman lay with her face obscured by water, cold and still.

At ten, she wakes up on the beach in the pale dawn sunlight, cold seawater lapping at her ankles, seagulls pecking at the beach behind her. Intoxicated, unaware. Her last memory a path in the woods – unheard of, in District Four – a sharp scream of birdsong, bubbling brooks.

Once, she fell asleep on the schoolboat, lulled by the gentle rocking and the warm sunlight reflecting off the clean slate of ocean. She dreamt then of District Four's tributes swimming back from where their bodies had been scattered to sea, alighting on the desolate shore with their skin translucent gray, eyelids chewed through by fish. Their pain was a tangible force, choking joy and warmth and life from her skin. She wakes up gasping.

On the eve of the reaping, Annie dreams of Finnick Odair.

~.~

It's not her first.

The first had been on the night he received the weapon. Annie and District Four hadn't gone to sleep themselves until they saw Finnick safely out of sight of his fellow Careers, well-fed by sponsors, hidden amid the tangling vines of his rainforest arena. She dreamt pursuing him through a sweep of tall, wild trees, through trickling nectar and sap and venom, instinctive to his direction as a fish magnetically swimming east to west. When she finally found him, it was his hands on her face, his lips in her hair, his silver trident through her chest, blood-tipped, his eyes black and inhuman and startling as burning charcoal.

Annie has many dreams of Finnick Odair.

~.~

A somnambulist, the real Finnick says on the ride to the Capitol, when he catches her bleary-eyed, halfway hanging from the window of the moving train, the rushing wind spinning waves in her hair. Somnambulist. Sleepwalker. Were you running, Annie Cresta?

Running. Annie wants to laugh – it could never be that simple. Her nightmare that night consists of blood flooding between her thighs, a miscarriage of a fleshy mass and white feathers that grow stick with the liquid red. Infant-sized handprints on her reaping dress. She dreams of bleeding out, wracked with childbed fever, mutilated beyond recognition.

~.~

Annie grew up dreading the grace of sleep, but in the Arena –

A battleground of rocks, layers upon layered of dark caves, pervaded by feral opponents and bloated wolves and explosives. The only living things that stem from the earth are gnarled, desert trees with needles and thorns, riddled with wasp nets, hung like corpses. Beyond the cliffs, red bleeding into the gray sky like smears of blood, speckled with silhouettes of predatory birds. A dry stink like dried meat and moss and rot. Terror surging in her veins, hot and real. Everything is real.

– the dreams are the safe harbor.

~.~

Her District partner dodges the arc of the axe just in time. That night, a dark bruise develops like a noose around his neck. While he keeps watch, Annie sleeps. She keeps dreaming. They come as a dissonant melody, without beginning or end, kind and cruel by turns.

In her dreams, she wins the Games.

Annie dreams of Finnick, much nicer than he ever really were, the brittle-sharp quality of his frown gone and his tongue sweet as honey. They live together in victor's village, weaving nets and collecting sea salt and making love during warm summer nights, so painfully real at times that Annie could lose herself in the slumber. His mouth nuzzling her hair, the curl in his voice possessive: nobody loves you like I love you. In the nightmare, he cheats on her with a thousand women, coming home slick with their perfume and sweat and adoration, mouth bloodied red. Nightlock grows on their windowsill. There are babies drowned in their sink.

Annie dreams of riots, District Four's wharf set on fire, a stretch of glowing red cinder on the turbulent black waters. Cannons firing from fishing boats, gray smoke unfurling in the sky. An entire neighborhood gassed out of their homes, huddled in a ditch. Entire groups of fishermen herded in the District Square and shot unceremoniously. She dreams of torture, unspeakable things and unspeakable hurt being done to her body, bearable only because they are not real. The gnashing teeth in the stifling darkness, the beating on the prison bars, the injections, the drugs, the wretched screaming are not real. The bloody handprints on the chrome-plated floors, their metallic scent mingling with the distinctive cloying scent of rose, are not real.

Annie dreams of a wedding so bright she seems to see it only through a hazy gauze. There is a cake of crests and gullies that flow ebulliently, and Finnick's hand like cool, clean water on hers, his smile wider than his face. In a dream, Annie never really knew where her senses ended and on her tongue, the turquoise icing is sicksweet, like overripe fruit crawling in her mouth. The dream collapses then. In the middle of their wedding dance, Finnick unravels, his smile unwinding into a glasgow grin and then nothing more.

Annie dreams of a revolution, the world gyrating into a fire, the war a depraved thing possessed of a life of its own, of insect eyes and tusks and many rows of sharp teeth. Warships filling the sky like locusts, dropping angry hollow-cheeked men, cratering the earth and raining iridescent shards of broken glass in a constant drumming noise. There is a dark maze vaulted beneath the earth in which she is hunted like an animal, filled with slithering reptiles and disembodied heads. Sirens and bombsmoke pierce the air. Elves dance on the bones of the newly dead.

She dreams of her baby and he is so lovely. For once, the dream doesn't cross the boundary into nightmare.

~.~

She wants to stay in this dream, where everything is ugly and beautiful as they were but more distant, less painful, their reality a fast-fade into illusion and the beings mere shades and wraiths of people she had and hadn't met. A Finnick who swirls and dissolves like the crashing tide, his breath warm upon every memory, alive and dead and alive again, too in love with her to be thwarted by mortality. A most wonderful baby that turns like a phantom in her womb and spins in the bubble of her arms.

Annie dreams in vivid. This dreamworld is real enough for her.

But trumpets are blaring and bells are shrilly ringing, water is rushing in her ears and rattling in her bones, and she could hear her mentor Finnick yelling himself hoarse through the great distance, screaming for her to Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

When Annie opens her eyes, she's still in the Games.

(They never seem to end.)

~.~
~.~
~.~

  • 1
Ugh, oh my god, this is wonderful & your imagery is absolutely beautiful. I'm always a fan of sensuous, dream-like description mingled with horror, and this is such a perfect example of that, and I love your take on Annie. Will totally be reading the rest of your THG stuff. pls be prepared for eventual spam. :]

Edited at 2011-04-22 06:39 am (UTC)

Thanks! I really wanted an addled Annie Cresta mixed with a little horror. You don't have to read the rest. Believe me, they're quite a different style from this one.

  • 1
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