This story was originally printed in Code 7 #4. All 4 Code 7 zines are available again through Agent With Style. Her web page is: http://www.agentwithstyle.com, or you can email her at: email@example.com. Comments from this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author.
Delivered to Thee
--Reality is a state of mind
In a haze of swirling colors, images danced on the air. Like a kaleidoscope of life, time gone haywire . . . even as he reached out a hand in appeal they were off on the wind, tumbling like multi-colored leaves. Disjointed voices floated through infinity, calling to him in vain, but a tenuous anchor of reality held him in place. Gathering speed, the reflections spun into a single encompassing blur, moving ever faster with dizzying swiftness until he screamed.
He came out of the tempest abruptly. Strong arms were holding him tight, offering warmth and safety, shutting out the world. He lay still, letting himself relax in their quiet familiarity.
Everything's all right.
He nodded, not knowing who'd spoken; indeed, if anyone had. It felt good. Peaceful. He opened his eyes to view the beloved face of the one who held him.
Starsky found himself lying on his back on a sandy beach, staring at the bright blue sky. A sky the color of Hutch's eyes. Turning his head, he watched the foamy waves wash in to almost touch him before receding. Then he sat up, brushing off the grains of sand that clung stubbornly to his curls.
He was alone on the beach.
He had no idea how long he'd been walking the endless stretch of sand. He seemed destined to do this, and he did not question. Everything before him was shrouded in haze, and nothing was quite real. The mournful cry of a gull echoed under a vivid orange sun. A lonely sound. Casually, he turned his head toward the sea. Hutch was walking beside him.
"Hutch." Starsky's voice sounded rusty and distant to his ears.
"Hey Starsk. You look kinda down. What's wrong, sweetheart?"
Starsky shrugged. "You never called me that before."
"Sure I have."
"I miss you Hutch."
A warm hand slipped easily into his, to form a link of two souls . . .
Sand slid through his fingers and was gently blown away on the ocean breeze. He closed his fist too late. Gone. He stared around him, squinting at the glare he hadn't noticed before, Wondering what insanity felt like.
It was dark. He could hardly see. He felt his strength deserting him as he forced himself up the stairway. One step at a time . . . two, three, four . . . just a little further. He had to make it. A sick feeling in his gut quite apart from the ravaging poison told him what would go down if he didn't. Hutch would not be able to make the choice if it came to that. At least not the choice he, David Michael Starsky, decreed. So he pushed on, after an eternity reaching the roof. As he struggled desperately to clear his wavering vision, two figures swam before him, finally coalescing into a scene that froze his soul. The gun, threateningly close to his partner, a simple target . . . No!! He pulled the trigger of his own automatic with unsteady hands. Five shots sounded in the night air and the threat was gone. He gave in to it then, knowing this as his last and greatest deed. He would not have died in vain.
"Hutch, is that you?"
Hutch sat across from Starsky on the patio floor, his long elegant legs crossed in front of him, Indian style. Fading sunlight shone golden on the pale hair, radiating light and tranquility.
"Who else would it be?" Hutch smiled, and the world opened up.
Starsky tore his gaze away from the vision and looked around the garden with interest. It might have been a place where they had made love once, but he did not recognize it. "Where are we? I don't know this place. Why are you playing this game?"
"It's not a game, Starsk. I'm here because you need me."
"Then why can't I be released? I can't be with you this way, it isn't fair to make me stay here. What did I do to deserve this punishment? Why am I still alive??"
The roaring in his ears was deafening, yet it was a part of him. Emotion beyond description spurred him on with only a single thought. He felt the primitive stirring deep within himself, and knew what the outcome would be. Hands with no feeling gripped the motorcycle handlebars. Eyes that did not see led him to the fated sacrifice. As a cold deadly force he dropped to the street and aimed, with a practiced accuracy, for the gas tank. Determinedly pulled the trigger. The car exploded in a mass of flames. It was done.
Starsky was in the garden again, or still. He could smell the faint traces of something burning, even as the car disappeared into oblivion. Murder without mercy, or guilt? The sudden impact of his deeds swamped him. But I didn't realize . . . A phrase entered his head, playing over and over. Ignorance is no excuse . . . no excuse . . . He forced himself to think of Hutch, blot out the truth he couldn't face.
Another image appeared, this one as unwanted as the others. Like a slow motion movie unreeling, two bodies lay entwined on the lush grass. Words and rites of love enveloped him, warming where he had thought nothing could. He was both watcher and participant, an odd feeling. But then it was gone, as he'd known it would be. A brief moment to tease and torment.
He fell to his knees, sobbing. When he looked up through tear-filled eyes Hutch wavered before him. "I want to die. Wanna die and I don't have the guts."
"It's the coward's way out, Starsk."
"Everything I do, I do for you. But they wouldn't let me trade again. Now for everything I've done my payment's come due. Hasn't it?"
"You tried." A statement of fact, no accusation.
Starsky remembered. Felt the cold hard blade against his wrist and wished for it again. He was unable to lie. "Yes."
"What have you learned?"
"Too much. Too late. I love you. I'd do anything for you."
"Sometimes it doesn't work out that way." He eyed Hutch with suspicion. "Are you gonna leave again?"
"I haven't gone anywhere."
"Why can't I stay with you?"
"Doesn't 'anything for me' include living for me?"
"It doesn't matter now. I'm hollow. Like the chocolate bunny you gave me last Easter." He changed track again, following his unsteady mind as a rat through a maze. Never doubting that Hutch would understand. "I knew it all along, you know. It's because of my sins I'm paying this price."
It converged on him in a cataclysm of sound and light. Noise, guns, screaming in the night. Just one bullet from one punk to end all life. A blinding searing pain that he knew as his own, though not of his flesh. A body, broken, bleeding, blond, beloved . . . gone. Then the world went black.
Captain Dobey had gone to the machine down the hall for coffee, leaving Starsky to the sterile emptiness of the waiting room. Sitting rigid on a sticky Naugahyde couch that smelled faintly of ether, staring straight ahead, seeing nothing. As he'd sat for hours. Black knight, carved in stone.
A short, skinny, overworked doctor stepped through the double doors. Spring-actioned, Starsky was on his feet, eyes hopeful, pleading.
"He's gonna be okay, right?" It sounded like an order to his own ears.
The doctor shook his head. "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do." Impossible to comprehend. "He's dying."
Now it was Starsky who shook his head, violently. "Nooo . . ."
Period, End of line, finis. A sentence passed, time to be done in purgatory. Something snapped then, in a descending white haze. Crying out from the depths of his tortured soul, Starsky lunged at the doctor, driving him back against the wall with all the strength he possessed. The man's neck snapped back, head hitting the wall hard.
Dobey returned at that moment, dropping the steaming cups he held in each hand. Starsky swung around at the noise, letting go of the doctor completely. The man fell, striking his skull on the edge of a table.
Dobey rushed over to stop the madness. But it was already too late.
"Why'd you kill him?"
"You're not listening to me, Hutch."
"Okay, but you wanted to."
Starsky ignored Hutch's comments, insistent on his own. "Deliver me?" He gazed searchingly into the blue eyes. Hutch remained silent. Calm. "What can I do to redeem myself? Caught in this void--it's wrong. I don't belong . . ." Comprehension dawned like rays of summer sun. "Are you blocking me? Answer me. It is you, isn't it? All along . . . it isn't because of my sins, it's you, You don't want to let me die, even to be with you." He imagined he could see tears shining in the blue ayes. Truth.
"The . . . lesson was for me . . ."
"You won't keep me here in pain." The tone was Starsky determined. "Let me leave here. My dreams were shattered by a love I can't erase."
"Where one goes, so goes the soul of the other . . ." Hutch whispered.
"Now ya got the idea. Never apart. Never will we exist apart again. Our life was sealed long ago by something we'll never understand."
"Me . . ."
Captain Dobey hated having to make the trip every month. The resulting sadness left him depressed for days. Edith had pressed, but for some reason he preferred to shoulder this burden alone. Perhaps it was the least he could do.
There was a new attendant accompanying him today. Young, fresh, innocent. Reminding him of a time when they'd been . . .
"You're new, aren't you? I haven't seen you before."
"Just started last week. How long has he been in?"
"Ever since . . ." The night Hutch died. "Eight months. They tell us there's no hope, he'll be cataleptic the rest of his life."
"Shame, so young."
Polite conversation ended, and they walked the rest of the way in silence. The long hallways always seemed unbearably endless to Dobey, playing on his nerves. But conversely, he wished it would go on forever, not wanting it to end and force him to face that room. But end it always did.
As the attendant unlocked the door, he wondered, as he always did, if he would be making this trip for the rest of his life. And why did they lock the door? It wasn't as if Starsky was going anywhere. The door swung open and they stepped inside, Dobey preparing to paste on a smile that Starsky never noticed anyway.
They knew immediately. The lifeless form that had been David Starsky sat in its usual position in the chair at the window. Sightless eyes stared out, never to behold the mortal world again. In death is freedom.
Dobey turned his eyes away from the body as something else claimed his attention. It was on the other side of the room, a scrawled message on the wall, near the ceiling. Bright red blurred letters wrote his epitaph. The rich smell of blood filled Dobey's nostrils. While the attendant went to look for the non-existent wound, Dobey read the words again . . .
I AM DELIVERED TO THEE.