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Delerium Part One


Delerium, Part One (mc, FF, FD, goth)

By Aerosol Kid <> Visit me at The people and events in this story come from
my brain, not the real world. Regardless of what that tells you about my
brain, it means that I'm not writing about you, your mom, your friends, or
your friends' friends. So you can't sue me. Neener neener.

If you're underage in your territory (and you know what I mean), then
read something else.

Note: I started this one right before my half-intentional hiatus, before
Halloween. It comes directly from my fascination with Suspiria, a
deliciously twisted Dario Argento movie. So I tip my hat to Mr. Argento
and hope he wouldn't mind.

(c) 2001 Aerosol Kid

Sunday, Week One

The heat in the car was oppressive. It was only September, and the
leaves were just starting to reach that too-vibrant shade of red before
they rained to the straw-colored ground. It wasn't all that cold yet, at
least to Sofia, but the driver of the BMW taxi had the heater cranked,
suffocating her with hot, dry air that made her throat itch.

She unbuttoned the top of her white blouse, not very concerned about the
attention this might draw from her stoic driver in the front seat. He'd
paid her little mind since unceremoniously chucking her bags into the trunk
at the airport and shooing her into the cab. He was one of those bearish
Slavic guys with a prominent jaw and an inscrutable, stony expression. The
kind of guy, Sofia thought with the faintest of smiles, that might play a
lab assistant in some ancient Hammer horror flick.

As she smoothed out her skirt for the hundredth time during the
hour-long ride, they left pavement for a frighteningly narrow gravel road.
They were high in the mountains, and Sofia did her best not to look down as
they rounded the tight curves. The sun ducked behind a cloud, and she
shivered in spite of the heat inside the car. A single red leaf fluttered
by the window, and she watched it drift lazily down into a gorge in spite
of herself, deeper and deeper, around and around. Deeper. That one tiny
leaf, spiraling down into the valley, which was carcarpetedth already
swallowed leaves, just like... She put a hand to her mouth to stop - the
vertigo? Or was it... Shifting in her seat fitfully, she decided to look
straight ahead for the rest of the trip.

Then the hills parted, revealing a magnificent old estate.

The Conservatory.

This was the school that Sofia had sweated blood to gain entrance to,
practicing her viola for long hours during most of her high school life.
They only took a few new students each semester, all girls, and this was
her life's accomplishment, such as it was at eighteen. She should be
stoked to finally be here, to study under some of the best instructors in
the world, but now her blood ran cold. It could've been the fact that she
was thousands of miles from home for the first time. Or the way the clouds
swallowed up the sun and made the world go gray, or maybe it was the
intimidating presence of the campus that made her feel like she was five
years old again. She couldn't take her eyes off it, and

In the dream she's naked, surrounded by silent cats in a forest
clearing. In the middle of the night. A beautiful crystal goblet,
suspended from a tree branch by a long silver string, is slowly swinging
back and forth. It's also spinning in the moonlight, refracting ghostly
hues that sparkle playfully. Enticingly. Sofia can't stop watching it and
she wants to wake herself up, but the dream always wins in the end. She
always watches the pretty colors that twinkle against her retinas,
unlocking songs in her head, dragging her down deeper and deeper, until she
finds herself in another, deeper dream and

She realized that she'd paid the cabby and he was already driving back
up the gravel road, leaving her dazed, standing there with her luggage.

Tuesday, Week Two

The first days of classes hadn't been so bad, once she got a feel for
the campus. The ornate, creepy architecture of the buildings tended to
confuse the unfamiliar, but on her second day it seemed to make a weird
kind of sense. The staff seemed stiff and overly formal to her, but Sofia
just chalked that up to being in a strange country. In the end, this was a
music school, so she quickly reached a certain comfort level.

It was the other students that she couldn't figure out. They were
strangely aloof. Probably because most of them had been here a whole week
before Sofia, who arrived at the last possible minute. Since the
conservatory wasn't exactly in a metropolitan area, there was nowhere to go
in the evenings except the dorms or the practice rooms. This was fine to
Sofia during the first few days - she was here to become a professional
violist - but by the next week her fingers were sore and the thought of
spending most of the night in her austere little cubicle was depressing.
So she decided to hang out in her dorm room and see what kind of people she
was living with.

"What is this we're listening to?" her new roomie wanted to know. Bebel
was an alarmingly pretty Brazilian girl, who seemed nice, if a little glib.
But not nice enough to keep a certain judgmental tone out of her question.

"Bauhaus," Sofia offered neutrally.

Bebel's friend Hannah, a devout classical pianist, looked up from her
perch on Bebel's bed across the room. "How can you listen to this..."

"...Music made in the last fifty years?" Sofia finished for her. She
smiled at Hannah to take the edge off a little. She wanted to make
friends, but she wanted to be able to let her hair down in her crib. And
there was more to her than a voracious viola student.

To her relief, Hannah grinned at her little jab and sat up on the bed,
pulling a cigarette from her blouse pocket. She turned her attention to
the song as she lit up, and looking to Bebel she said, "Mmmm. Well, it
sounds kind of like..."

"NachtMusik." Bebel offered charitably. Sofia relaxed her guard and
decided that there was a possibility of friendship here.

Hannah nodded. "Yeah, it goes with your hair, and your complexion.
That shirt." Sofia was wearing a black tee. Hannah, unbelievably
disconnected from popular culture, had just figured out what Goth was.

Bebel brightened. "It's like the Romantic period, only electrified."
Her lilting Portuguese accent made the statement seem even more outrageous.
Sofia smiled around her cigarette as she lit up. "Well, I don't know
about all that. Berlioz in mascara..."

Bebel laughed, obviously intrigued by her new roommate, but Hannah was
looking out the window, at the moon peering in through the trees. "Yes..."
she whispered. "It reminds me of this dream I keep having." She frowned,
then seemed to look past the moon, to the velvety purple sky itself.
"Where I'm in this forest... And there's something spinning in the air.
In front of me."

Sofia turned from her desk to Hannah. "What did you say?" she asked.
The red-haired girl was muttering, heedless of the long red cherry on the
cig in her hand.

"Spinning. Round and around. I can't stop looking at it, and then..."

"Hannah," Bebel prompted. "Cut it out." Hannah blinked, then turned
away from the window to meet Bebel's icy glare.

"Sorry, I..." Hannah mumbled, stamping out her cigarette in the ashtray.
"Need to go practice." She ducked out of the room without meeting Sofia's

Sofia regarded Bebel, who had turned her glare to the window. "What was
that about?"

The corner of the Brazilian girl's mouth twitched, then she reignited
her sunny wattage. "Oh, don't worry about her," she smiled, putting her
hand delicately on Sofia's knee. "She has these dreams about witches." She
rolled her brown eyes comically.

Sofia resolved then to find out what was under Bebel's glib exterior.

Monday, Week Three

"Do-mi-sol-la-sol-fa-re-ti-do." Sofia was singing the painfully simple
solfege exercise with her classmates. She was already close to nodding
off, ten minutes into class, when the classroom door creaked open and
Hannah attempted to sneak in past Miss Zemanova. The severely dressed
young teacher crisply gestured for everyone to stop singing.

"Miss Pendleton," she intoned.

Hannah froze, halfway between the door and her desk and hung her head.
"Yes, Miss Zemanova." There was a sudden, oppressive silence in the room.

"This is the first time you have been tardy. This semester. May I
remind you that this is your second attempt at this course?" Although her
expression was very serious, there was a smile in her voice. A cruel one.

Hannah didn't answer. She looked as if she were trying to become very
small. Sofia looked around the room, but none of the other girls would
meet her gaze.

The lecture continued. "One reason you failed the first time was your
frequent truancy." Miss Zemanova was clearly jumping at the chance to dress
Hannah down in front of her peers. "The other reason was your lack of
enthusiasm." Smiling a little too broadly, Miss Zemanova pointed at the
only empty desk in the room. "Now sit down, Hannah. You have some singing
to do."

Hannah took her seat quickly, and the girls were all keen to get this
ugliness past them, so class resumed. Sofia stole glances at her for a few
minutes over her sight-singing book, trying to catch her eye and shoot her
a conspiratorial smirk or something, to show some solidarity, but Hannah
was mortified. Obviously she was embarrassed at being humiliated by Miss
Zemanova in front of everyone. But it was soon clear to Sofia that her
friend was struggling with the exercises they were singing. No, that
wasn't right; she was struggling against the exercises. This seemed odd,
but it also made sense somehow. Sofia tried to pin words to the intuition,
but was unable to concentrate on the underlying drama in the room and sing
at the same time.

That was even stranger - this was Beginning Solfege (which they wouldn't
let her test out of, for some odd reason) and she could sing this stuff at
age ten. Why was it taking so much effort for her to keep up? They'd been
singing in the same key for twenty minutes, for God's sake. But she was
getting drowsy from the monotony of those same eight pitches, and soon she
was unable to think of anything but the simple moving lines. The chorus of
girls' voices, which blended in more with the strict teacher's minute by
minute, drew her in. Miss Zemanova's hand waved through the air and led
her steadily through the exercises. Deeper. And the way the notes on the
page led her eye from left to right and down. Left to right and down. And
In the dream she's kneeling, naked in a forest clearing. It's the
middle of the night. Cats regard her from all sides, and a beautiful
crystal goblet, suspended from a tree branch by a long silver string is
slowly swinging back and forth in front of her. It's also spinning in the
moonlight, refracting ghostly hues that sparkle playfully. Yellow and
orange and white. Sofia can't stop watching it and she wants to wake
herself up, but the dream always wins in the end. She always watches the
pretty colors that twinkle into her eyes, unlocking the songs in her head,
dragging her down deeper and deeper, until she finds herself in another,
deeper dream and

The book dropped out of her hand, onto the desk, as Miss Zemanova walked
by her on the way back to the front of the classroom. "That will be all
for today girls. Practice the next ten lines in Lesson Three for this

Sofia looked down at her book, blinking hard while trying in vain to
remember the last hour. The commotion the girls made as they gathered up
their things motivated her to do the same, and this herd instinct carried
her out into the hall before she snapped out of it.

Snapped out of what?

Wednesday, Week Four

Sofia smacked her dry lips in her sleep. Wine. That's all she could
remember in her fitful, dreamless slumber. She struggled to awaken and sit
up in bed, but all she could coax her uncooperative body to do was to roll
over, making her nightgown bunch up uncomfortably around her sweaty back.

Just before she slipped back into deep, relentless unconsciousness, the
memory of a weird celebration in the dining room unrolled behind her
eyelids. Miss Zemanova had summoned them to an impromptu gathering
downstairs, a few hours ago. The occasion was murky, red and elusive, but
images of her sleepy classmates, rubbing their eyes with one hand and
loosely clutching goblets in the other, teased at her. Then she lost the
will to remember and sighed restlessly as sleep took her.

Which is what Miss Zemanova wanted.

Knock knock knock

Once again Sofia wrestled her awareness from sleep and now she knew
she'd been drugged. This was enough to motivate her to sit up in the dark
on one elbow.

Knock knock knock knock

The soft tapping on her door urged her to try to stand up. Once she'd
gained precarious footing, she raised up on shaky tiptoes to look at Bebel
in the top bunk. In the moonlight she could see that her roommate was
nude, posed seductively on top of the sheets. Fast asleep.

Someone in the hall whispered, "Sofia!"

Her head wobbled uncertainly toward the door, and her legs made a stab
at locomotion. She reached out to grip the doorknob, to steady herself.
"Who is it?" she hissed, straining to make her tongue work.

"Sofia, it's Hannah! Open up!"

Just then Sofia's knees gave out and she slid down slowly, her rear
kissing the cold floor. "Can't... The wine..." she burbled.

"Sofia please! They're coming to get me!" Hannah's whisper was turning
into a panicked half-shout. She sounded desperate. Out of her mind. "You
have to fight it!"

"Hang on." Sofia worked at the lock from her seat against the door.

"No. Oh God no." Hannah wasn't talking to Sofia anymore, and the
hysteria in her voice made Sofia's fingers fumble faster. Then the lock
snapped back and she began the difficult job of opening the door while
trying to scoot her uncooperative body out of the way. When she had it
open a few inches, she peered into the hall through the crack.

Hannah stood right at the doorway, one hand on the doorknob, the other
drawn up to her face as if she expected to be struck. Sofia was so
delirious from the wine that all she could think about was how glamorous
and beautiful her red-haired friend looked. She admired her form, fit like
a dancer's, under a whisper-brief negligee. And the stray auburn curls
that stuck to her damp forehead. Her teary eyes, limpid in the bright
moonlight, were wide as could be. She was immobile, transfixed. Sofia too
was mesmerized, unable to realize that her friend needed help.

And then she knew it was too late, because Hannah's eyes closed, then
she nodded once at someone unseen at the other end of the corridor, and her
hand retreated from Sofia's doorknob. And noiselessly, she walked out of
Sofia's view, to her doom.

Hours later, Sofia fidgeted absently in bed, awakened by the cold. She
tried to adjust her nightgown under the thick blanket, only to find that
she was naked on top of the bedding . Before she could waken further, she
found that she was touching herself lightly, and with a shiver, she slipped
back into the dream about the goblet.

Friday, Week Five

"That's not it. Did you even look at this movement before rehearsal?"
Lewellyn, or Evil Bitch as she was known privately to Sofia, was flexing
her authority as quartet leader again. This was an advanced group, so they
were taking a stab at Bartok's Third, and although Sofia felt capable with
the high demands of her part, nothing was ever good enough for the prissy

"What do you mean, exactly?" Sofia inquired, a slight edge in her voice.
Lewellyn's green eyes narrowed into a look Sofia was getting
uncomfortably familiar with. "The mixed meters, Wednesday. You're
dropping beats."

Sofia took a deep breath, so that Lewellyn's new nickname for her
wouldn't piss her off even more. Miranda and Reese, the rest of the
quartet, were silent. "Really," she mused, with a toss of her long,
straight black hair. "Let's take it from the top."

"Oh do yes, let's." Lewellyn held Sofia's challenging gaze for a long
moment, causing Miranda to shift her cello awkwardly. "Try to keep up this
time, Wednesday."

They began the quiet, threatening opening strains of the Third Movement
for the eighth time that hour. Sofia put extra effort into the insistent
melodic fragments, to show Evil Bitch she meant business. After a few
measures, she relaxed into the mood, tortured as it was. Her gaze wandered
away from the page during a passage she had memorized, to monitor her left
hand. Then Lewellyn's glittering pendant caught her eye. The light in the
stuffy old practice hall seemed to dim, and Sofia couldn't take her eyes
off the thing, resting lightly just above Lewellyn's bosom. She began to
take her cues from the violinist's breathing, indicated by the rise and
fall of the luminous pendant. Amazingly, the group of girls was fiercely
in sync, and before she knew it they'd reached the stunning climax of the
quartet. Miranda was just nailing the final vicious slides down the neck
of her cello as Sofia and Lewellyn drove home the ascending diminished
scale melody. And then, the final staccato chords rang out in the hall,
with just the right amount of weight to the final chord, as if they were
one violinist raking the bow across all four strings.

Sofia lowered her bow, in sweaty disbelief. She hadn't been reading the
score for some time. No one spoke, not wanting to spoil the moment.

Except for Lewellyn. "Well, that was a little less anemic than before,"
she pronounced as she began to stow her violin in its case. "We'll run the
whole thing next week." The other girls took their cue to make their
escape, lest they incur more critical barbs from their tyrannical leader.

Sofia just sat there, fuming over Lewellyn's sour attitude. The uppity
bitch! She was two years senior to everyone else in the room, and she
should've been in another group by now. That's probably what made her so
awful, Sofia decided. The fact that she was held back with the more gifted
Freshmen. Lewellyn, she scoffed, with her expensive violin case and
Italian boots. And her black leather pants. And her big boobs. And what
about those captivating green eyes? And that fabulous ass...

Lewellyn shot one last, enigmatic look at Sofia over her shoulder as she
exited the hall, and Sofia hoped she could get back to the dorm quickly to
get out of her soaked underwear.

Tuesday, Week Six

Bebel was obviously irritated with Sofia's line of questioning, but she
pressed on anyway. "Seriously. Have you or anyone else laid eyes on the
Headmistress this entire semester?"

Bebel sighed somewhat patiently as she hoisted herself up to her bunk,
dangling a tan leg in front of Sofia before disappearing from view. "She
doesn't teach. She's strictly an administrator," she offered in soft,
Portuguese-flavored tones. "Why should anyone ever see her?"

"She has to leave school to go home at night, doesn't she?"

"With classes, rehearsals and practicing, who has time to stand outside
the Admin building every night? I'm tired, Sofia."

Sofia was insistent. "I've heard rumors."

Bebel turned off the light by way of response.

"I heard this school was started as some kind of college for the occult
arts, two hundred years ago."

Bebel was suddenly irate. "That's horseshit. You shouldn't listen to
silly girls who run their mouths too much. Good night, Sofia."

"Bebel, things go on around here. There's stuff I can't remember."

No answer.

"And all the youngest instructors are so strange! The old ones...
they're sweet and patient. But the young ones, they always play these mind
games in class."

A gust of wind against the panes right next to Sofia's bed made her jump
under the covers. Then some tree branches tapped against it, seeming to
echo Bebel's warning to drop the subject.

And then, another noise distinguished itself from the flapping tree
limbs. It was the creaking of wood. From the floor out in the hall.
Someone was walking out there.

"Bebel!" Sofia whispered.

"Shhhh!" Bebel hissed back. "Shut up!"

The creaking stopped right outside their door.

"Bebel, if you know what's going on, you better tell me!" Sofia sank
deeper into the blankets.

"You don't know when to leave things alone," her roommate whispered
forcefully. "It's better for you to sleep."

"Fuck sleep!" Sofia snapped back, her voice rising. "Tell me who's

Bebel stirred in the bunk above, then said, "I want you to sleep now."

Silence from the hall. Sofia grew confused. "Why?"

"Sleep now."


"Sleep now."

An unnatural coolness flushed Sofia's cheeks, then bled into her chest,
freezing her heart. Her eyelids drooped. "Why, Bebel?" she murmured.

"Shhhhhh. Sleep, little initiate."

The coolness reached her toes, but it was warm between her legs. Speech
failed her, so she just whimpered as her eyes closed.

The creaking outside resumed, and moved off toward the stairs.

"Sleep," Bebel intoned. "And dream."

Sofia's head slackened on the pillow as her lips parted. Her hand
brushed against her nightgown on her thigh, and

In the dream she's naked, kneeling before the goblet in the forest
clearing. The moon feels cold, and she can hear Bartok on a far off hill,
howling at the moon in stacked fourth chords. The coldness binds her to
the moist ground. The cats around her are quizzical, but silent. The
goblet spins in the moonlight, and milky white points of light glint on its
surface. She wants to tell Bebel to make it stop, but she feels Bebel's
hands on her head, forcing her to look. The goblet spins on its silver
thread, and Sofia knows it's a violin string that's holding the crystal in
the air before her eyes. The dancing points of white light become streaks,
and the songs in her head begin, lulling her to sleep, only she's already
asleep, so she begins to tumble into a deeper dream, where...

She's pinned to a cold stone wall, arms outstretched. And dark figures
are in front of her, women, reaching out to dab paint onto her body.
They're whispering to each other about composition, balance. Many wet
fingers are tracing designs on her flesh, and sometimes they touch her too
nicely, so she starts to breathe faster. She moans loudly, trying to make
out the faces in the dark, but they ignore her and keep painting. She
feels a rush in her head and she can't breathe fast enough, so she whips
her head back and forth to try and wake up. Her long hair spills down over
her shoulders and into the wet paint, as she climaxes roughly.

They don't stop painting.

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