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Remember Me

By Helen Parkinson
Page 3 of 6

For a long time, or so it seemed, there was nothing but blackness, then Avon heard Orac's voice. It was a long way off and he couldn't make out the words. Then there was light. Avon knew where he was at once: a corridor in the lower levels of one of the domed cities of the Earth. He wasn't sure which, they all looked the same, but it felt familiar, almost like home. He shook himself to clear the impression and looked round. He had the strangest feeling that the city existed only directly in front of him: that if he were to turn his head fast enough he would see a grey mist. He could almost see it now, just at the edges of his vision, a faint wavering in the corner of his eyes. Almost like the onset of a migraine. He wondered for a moment where that analogy had come from.

      There were people about, as always, in the overcrowded cities, but they paid him no heed. That was to be expected, he knew, for he wasn't really there - or maybe they weren't. Avon smiled to himself, then sobered, remembering why he was there trapped in Blake's nightmares of home.

      Reminded of the man, Avon began looking, searching the passing faces. He wasn't sure if he should stay where he was, or move around. Orac had supplied no clues, had given no hint of what the dreams might entail, and he hadn't been prepared to ask Jenna.

      "Avon!" The voice came from directly behind him and made Avon jump even as he realised it was Blake. "Avon, thank God. We thought you'd been arrested." Hands grabbed his elbows and he was spun round to find himself face to face with a very happy Roj Blake.

      Blake was delighted, aware he was grinning, and his face reflected everything he felt: pleasure, surprise and not a little relief. He searched Avon's face intently, waiting for the other's response, too pleased to have found him to worry about the consequences of daring to manhandle the man.

      Even as he recognised Blake's voice and was turned, the rational part of Avon's mind was screaming in protest. This was not possible. Blake shouldn't see him and even if by some fluke he did, in his dream state he couldn't know him.

      Seeming to realise what he was doing, Blake let Avon go. Almost automatically, Avon noted with pleasure, he had the grace to look at least embarrassed by his behaviour.

      "Sorry," Blake told him. "But it's such a relief, we were so worried. Turner said you'd been arrested. Hell." He grabbed Avon's elbows again and shook him gently. "It's been four days." He let go to pull back slightly and look properly at Avon. "You look terrible."

      Avon felt the blood drain from his face and he had no doubt that at the moment what Blake said was true. Blake, however, gave him no chance to reply. Becoming concerned by his colour and lack of reaction, he began to push Avon along the corridor.

      "Come on," he encouraged. "Let's get somewhere a little more private." He pushed Avon through a door marked 'Storage,' following him quickly into the empty room, and shut the door behind them.

      Avon stood against the far wall, his mind racing, his heart pounding, almost in panic. It didn't make sense. This was Blake's dream. He shouldn't register as a visible presence: he was just supposed to be monitoring the nightmare, not getting involved. Even if, by some freak of Blake's naturally perverse nature, or a result of what the Federation had done to him, Blake should see him, he could not know Avon. For Blake 'now' was four years in his past. He couldn't know Avon.

      Avon realised Blake was staring at him, searching his face, looking for something. Avon had no idea what, but the fact that Blake didn't find it was obviously worrying the other man.

      Avon?" Blake asked again, becoming more concerned by the moment. "Are you all right?" Avon didn't appear to be injured, but he seemed to be in shock, confused, and he was obviously hurting. Blake knew Avon well enough to read that in his eyes. Avon thought to hide behind his eyes and his habitual stone face, but Blake had learned long ago how to read him. It was knowledge hard won and he refused to let it go to waste.

      Avon realised that Blake's concern was genuine and he was disconcerted to find he felt a need to respond. He squashed it down. "You recognise me?" he asked. Blake took a shocked step backwards, the colour draining from his face until his pallor matched Avon's.

      "Of course I do," Blake said gently. "Do you know me?"

      "Yes," Avon replied, lifting a hand towards his face as if to cover his eyes. "But not yet." He dropped the hand, closing his eyes and resting the back of his head against the wall.

      "What did they do to you, Avon?" Blake asked, taking a concerned step closer. The horror in his voice was unmistakable.

      "They?" Avon opened his eyes to find Blake's concerned face inches from his own and it was as if he had been punched. Just for a second the pain was incredible in his head and stomach. He felt sick, shaky, and his heart began to race.

      "The authorities. Tanner said you were arrested. I didn't believe him at first but when you didn't turn in for work, then you missed the meeting..."

      "Meeting?" Avon heard a voice ask. It had to be his own but he would never have recognised it.

      "The Freedom Party, Avon," Blake told him.

      Strong hands grabbed Avon's arms, holding him up as his knees buckled beneath him. Avon remembered. In a rush of pain and horror he knew at last why Blake had known him.

      "Avon!" Blake shouted his name as the other man slumped forwards. Then louder, more urgently, more afraid, "Avon!"




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