During the Revolution Maximilien’s habit had been to stay up until at least midnight, writing his drafts, revising, answering correspondence, and while working on the Committee, arguing bitterly with Collot d’Herbois and Barras.
However he found himself more easily tired now. It was as if death had sapped all of his energy, he thought, somewhat wryly.
Max persisted, eyes tracing over the familiar words of Rousseau. He knew that he it did him no good to dwell, but it didn’t stop him from wanting the comforting presence of what he knew.
Rainbow Miller kept hinting at his reputation after his death, but Max very carefully kept from that as well. For him, it had been less than a week since he made his speech to thunderous applause at the Jacobin club, tried to make his declamation to the Assembly, been arrested, escaped jail, seen his comrades shot, been injured, and finally sentenced to death.
It seemed to him that ripping open the wound, as if to blood let, would do nothing to aid his adjustment to his current situation.
So he re-read The Social Contract, Émile, and made it into Confessions, before inevitably, his eyes started to close.
He was in the Pantheon. Torchlight from a wildly swinging latern made shadows sway along the tombs. Maxime looked around and realized he was standing among familiar bodies. Camille and Lucile rested closest to him, eyes closed peacefully. At first Max convinced himself they were sleeping, but then he looked closer and realized that Camille’s head was actually simply placed near his neck, not on it.
There was no blood.
Max walked between the bodies of Augustin, Charlotte, Henriette. The Duplays. Horace. Saint-Just. Danton.
“These are yours.” Max suddenly realized that Marat had been standing next to him the entire time. He still had Corday’s knife sticking out of his chest. He gestured to Louis Capet and Marie Antoinette.
Max shook his head. He could not speak with the scent of death rising up around him.
Marat took his arm and started leading him past more bodies. Brissot, Couthon, Mirabeau, Bailey.
“These are all the ones that you caused to be killed,” Marat, in his typical fashion gesticulated wildly, arm sweeping around, the knife in his chest wobbling with every movement. His voice started to be pitched higher and higher. “Jacobins, Girondists, Indulgents.”
Max stumbled to a stop, and clapped a hand to his mouth. He could feel bile, oily and hot, rising in his throat. Grey mist rose in front of his eyes. Was it the torchlight or had Augustin’s head turned to him? Was Camille blinking slowly or was it his mind?
“The entire Revolution, lumped in with the ilk of Cromwell.” Marat finished, standing in front of Max. His yellow eyes seemed to burn in the strange atmosphere of the Pantheon.
He opened his mouth to speak and instead felt the bile rise, and rise until he was gagging.
But it was not bile at all. A huge, grey, slimy worm emerged from his mouth, spilling out down past his neck and chest, squirming lazily. Max’s mouth hung open dumbly as the weight of the worm forced his tongue to the side. He could taste the rot and dirt from the invertebrate in his mouth.
Marat took hold of the warm and yanked on it, and Maximilien nearly fell into him. The suddenly hands from all around were grabbing at him, at the issue of his mouth.
“Terror shall be the order of the day.”
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”
Words that he’d never said, never declared spilled from the worm while the dead tried to rip it from his body. Pale, stiff hands pawed at his face and shoulders.
With a final yank, delivered by Phillipe Lebas, still bleeding from temple, the worm was ripped from his mouth. Maximilien looked at the slimy appanage.
But it was not the disgusting insect from inside, it was a sluggishly bleeding tongue instead.
Max woke with a start, hands flying up to his face and knocking his new glasses askew. His skin was clammy and shivers ran over belly and back. He shuddered as his fingers brushed over the raised skin of the guillotine scar.
He put the book on the side of bed, and curled himself under the covers, still shaking with the aftershocks of the dream.
It took a long time for him to fall back asleep.