in

056: Awake to Blue     057: Driftslave (i)     058: Driftslave (ii)
059: Driftslave (iii)
*     060: Naked in the Mist*     061: Surrounded : Alone


Post: 07.17.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Awake To Blue

                    swirling
            swirling
                        swirling
                                    mind
                                            and eyes open

Fingers gnarled, nails digging into thighs.  Pain awakening from every sensor.  Knees at my chin; lips kissing knees.  Smell and taste of salt on tongue.  Throat scraped with a wire, raw and fiery.  Smooth skin slick with water.  Almost an oily consistency, causing flesh to glide against flesh.  Thin bars of blue in front of eyes, matting out the world.  Nostrils burning with the smell of smoke on a breeze.  Hard.  Lying on something un-giving, and my arm.  Can't feel the limb.  Huddled like a fetus against the cold air.

I'm naked.  Blood on my finger drips.  Plop.

My name is...is (2)syl.  Somehow I'm not dead.

Jerking my head moves the hair from my eyes, but my neck protests, letting me know that all isn't well there.  I hear vertebrae pop back into place.  Looking.  Morning darkness.  I'm on the deck of a boat.  It's listing to one side but still floating, swaying in the waves.  I'm mashed against the side, one foot actually hanging overboard through a rend in the railing.

Get up.  Not just yet.  Finger is leaking at an alarming rate, the flow running to the deck, through a groove, and over the side.  Have to patch that up soon.  Need to keep the red stuff on the inside.  Yeah.  Oh.

What happened to my clothes?

  Post: 07.22.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Driftslave (i)

Not again.

Glitch.

Not even a month ago--although it seems like several years--I was just like I am now.  Unclothed and exposed.  Vulnerable to the elements, and unprotected from attack.  Is somebody trying to tell me something?  Is it a joke?  If it is, ha ha, I'm not laughing, not a bit.

The boat is rocking gently, but no wind, and only a little light.  It's dark enough still, so that's good.  I'll be more vulnerable in daylight.

Getting up.  Mistake.  Back down again, dizziness swirling inside my core like a whirlpool.  Noxious bile comes up, trickling into my mouth, then I'm coughing it up and out, good riddance.  Managed to turn my head away--my purge landing elsewhere, flowing down the deck and over the side, mixing with the blood stream from my finger.  Body fluids racing away, but some of it is dripping from my lip, hanging from my chin--sinewy tendril of slime wiped away with the back of my hand.

Stomach instantly growls.  When is the last time food entered my body?  Not sure.  Sometime yesterday, but it was early.  Been an epoch since then.  I need to replace what I just vacated.

Head is throbbing, but no static thank you oh so much.  Moving more slowly this time, allowing my body to adjust to new positions.  Looking myself over, kneeling on the deck, I can see that I've been abused.  Feel like it too.  Bruises and cuts marring my skin.  

(just like that mark on my back how did that get there it's not a tattoo)

The island...  The wave...  The water is a harsh lover.   I escaped its embrace--or somebody escaped me.  Can't be sure.  Don't see anybody around, or much of anything--still too dark to really make anything out except the tilted boat I'm on.  Once again, events in my life go unexplained.  At least I'm still alive.  What about Phoenix and K'Thos?  The wave took them from me.  Will I see them again?

     (never going to see Aran again he's dead)

The water slaps against the side of the boat; it's not the Lady Luck.  Too small to be.  Feels like I'm drifting, caught in the complexity of currents which make up this shifting landscape I'm on.  Direction?  Don't know.  Destination determined by forces outside of myself.  I'm a slave to the drift, bent to its will, under its rule and helpless.

I manage to stand--on unsure legs--moving the hair from my eyes.  Those three silver clips are still up there, doing less of their job than before.  I reach up and readjust them, trying not get blood in my hair.  When I'm done, I'm not completely sure that certain hairs are shooting off at unattractive angles, but only a few uncooperative strands are in my eyes, so I let it go.  In my current state of dress, I don't think anybody who sees me is going to notice my unkempt hair.

The boat isn't sinking, but that doesn't stop it from giving off that impression, leaning like it is.  It's about ten meters long, and noticeably damaged.  All along the deck are pieces of shrapnel and debris.  I'm standing just beside the main control console--looks like a incendiary grenade went off against it.  The once flat panel proximity controls are now torn and crispy.  Even in the darkness I can see the damage is severe.

That's okay.  Don't know how to pilot one of these anyway.

Could be clouds that are blocking all the twinkle stars up there.  Or smoke.  Glitch if I can make anything out.

It's the middle finger on my right hand that's spitting out the red stuff.  It's hurting, but hadn't noticed till now.  Only a few seconds, and it starts to feel like I'm holding a fire in the palm of my hand.  I put some pressure near the wound--pain!!pain!!pain!!--my finger feels fat and meaty, swollen.  I begin to walk across the deck, looking for something to bandage my wound with when I realize that--

     (hurt here)

          (indistinct)

          --another part of my body is sending me pain-o-grams.  Oh wow, oh ow, it's my foot--the same one as before and in the same place--

     (the alley)

     --as before.  The wound in my foot--the one from heel to small piggy--is a torch flame held against my flesh again, tapping a rhythm of hurt in some ancient code up my leg.  I grab my leg at the knee.  Glitch.  Used my right hand, and now I've got a red splatter pattern on my leg.  How attractive--a naked, bloody, blue-haired girl on a broken boat.

At least it's my own blood this time.

There.  Off to the side--a compartment.  Inside I find seven bottles filled with a clear liquid, some small, silver packages, and a single, pristine white towel.  The towel goes around my finger because a quick check of my foot reveals five cute little toes and a scar, but no blood.  The silver packages contain vacuum compressed food substitutes.

Even though food substitutes smell of synthetic dyes and plastic, my saliva flows in such a rush that it hurts.  The towel around my hand slows me down, so I drop it, tearing into the packages, and then mashing the stuff into my mouth.  Probably drinking my own blood, smearing it on my food substitute, but my body is demanding more.  Feels like I'm eating and swallowing the silver package material instead of its contents, but I know it'll get the job done.  Function over flavor is the mantra of the companies that produce this j'aa.

     (never tasted so good)

I'm just starting to wonder if there are any other storage compartments on the boat, perhaps even one with some clothes, when there's a stir of wind--no not wind, but-- 

WHAM!!!

Something just collided with the boat.  Something...oh...not small.

  Post: 07.26.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Driftslave (ii)

Enormous shape in the darkness, a black on black contrast against the cloud/smoke filled sky.  The shape juts out of the water like a cliff of shadows.  I can feel the deck shift underneath my feet as the boat I'm on is pushed backward.  I'm drifting no longer.  I'm being drifted.

Some sort of sea-going vehicle.  And a quiet one.  Can't hear any machinery propelling it through the water.

But I can hear other noises.

Looking up, my eyes tell that there's movement up there, at the edges, something--

     (looking down at me)

Can't be sure, but I duck to the deck.  The feel of the cold deck brings the word neoplastic to my mind.  I can feel its tactile surface against my chest and thighs and toes--flesh warming synthetic surface chilling flesh--I shiver at the unnatural material contacting my skin.

Then there's a beam, a light, pointed to the sky at first, but then rotating down here.  Glitchglitchglitch!  Rolling sideways to my knees, bright light against the water now, moving directly towards the boat.  I grab a length of railing that's still stable, and push off with my feet, launching myself over the side, into the water. The light beam illuminates the deck of the boat and I'm enveloped by the ocean, a freezing, suffocating blanket around me, hiding me from discovery.

     (foe?)

or

          (friend?)

or

(other?)

Didn't think.  Just reacted.  Just jumped.  Better not chance it.  My limbs are not for some salvage-savvy flesh farmer's early morning meat-gathering voyage.  I like my appendages attached to me.  Glitch, and that finger is really stinging now that I've bathed it in salt saturated water.  Hope I didn't make too much of a splash.

I bring myself to the surface on the far side of the boat, away from the larger vehicle.  My boat--it's mine now anyway--is caught dead in the beam of light.  My boat is still being pushed, and to keep from getting left behind I have to grab a twisted piece of railing that is arcing over the side, trailing in the water.  My boat needs some major repair work.

Just like me.

The light beam winks out.

     (and then there was darkness)

CRASH!! A shape drops onto my boat--just a ghost of a figure.  There is quiet for a few minutes after that, and no movement.  Waiting?  Listening.  Then it moves.  I hear a hissing that irritates the wet hairs at the base of my neck, and a coagulated breath sound.

An inhale and an exhale.

Scraping noises as the thing moves across the deck.  I'm trying to breathe quietly, but it's difficult when it feels like icicles are penetrating my lungs.  My toes and fingers are going to go numb in about two seconds.  I clench my teeth to keep them from chattering--not going to last much longer like this.  Something needs to happen.

And it does.  There's a whoosh! of air all around--chills my face--and the figure shoots upward, tracing an arc up to the edge of the larger vehicle.  Silent except for some movement which trails off.  Then, the behemoth slows, my boat beginning to pull ahead, momentum carrying it and I.  Just drifting in the sea...

I'm pulling myself onto the boat in a silent frenzy.  Limbs exposed to air now begin to shake and shiver.  I crumble to the deck, crouching my body, trying to conserve whatever heat might still be left in me.  Cold so cold oh so cold.  Nothing.  There's nothing on the boat that I can cover up with.  Wait, the towel.  It's big enough to wrap around part of me.  Crawling across the deck, I can't see it.  It's gone.  That g'ekk swiped it, bloody as it was!  Glitch!  Other storage compartments...can I find them?  Can wait until there's a little more light out.  Be able to see better.  Yeah.

Already shivering out-of-control, my body temperature seems to drop another degree as a burst of air passes over the boat.

And then there is light.  A whole sun's worth of light.  It's all around and directly on me.  I've been--

     (foolish girl)

--duped and detected!  Glitch me to straight to Eiech!!  I am such an idiot!

Blinded, and prone on the deck, I shield my eyes with my arm.

"Who's there?" I shout.  It's a foreign voice, hoarse and weak that comes out of my mouth.  Stung my throat too--like my vocal cords aren't lubricated, rubbing against each other, dipped in sand.

CRASH!!  Again, something lands on the deck, only a few feet from me, but just out of the light beam.  There are those disturbing breathing sounds again--like lungs coated with acid.  It stands there for a few minutes, just watching...me.   I don't know if it's human or not, but it has eyes.  I can feel them on me, softly flowing over my curves.  Imagination on overdrive.  Don't think about that stuff.

I open my mouth again, "Who are--"

But there's a little gurgling laugh, and panic thrusts a knife in my being when the figure speaks.  "Why, hello there, my little keetcha.  Do you believe in destiny?"

  Post: 09.02.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Driftslave (iii)

i'm
back
in
the
alley

and all those feelings that I felt then are in me again.  Vulnerability and hopelessness.  Fear and terror.  Now, cold and pain.

Can't see him yet, but there's a horror standing above me.  Not a human, and not alive, but a real-life-back-from-the-dead horror.  Footsteps tapping on the deck, circling, like a monster-of-prey.

" 'Coincidence' is such a cruel word," he says, neoplastic squeaking underneath boots that briefly flash in the light bream.  "I don't trust my life to such nonsense.  A godless existence is hell, bowing one's neck to the myth called 'chance.'  I trust that you and I see eye to eye on this?"

I'm keeping my mouth shut for the moment.  I don't know what I have faith in yet anyway.  Maybe if I could just remember what I used to believe...

"Not talking, keetcha?  Ah, well, your free will is yours for the moment.  I know exactly how you feel, not wanting to talk."  He pauses, stops moving.  "Of course, in my case, I was unable to talk because you--"

Static bursts into my mind like a gunshot.  So glad to have it back.

"--punched--"

His voice changing, gargling.

"--a hole--"

A wind goosebumps my skin; it's like being pummeled with needles.

"--THROUGH--"

Danger!  Danger!  Danger!  A static-siren in my head.

"--ME!!!"

Without my permission, a whimper of fright comes from my lips as the Dokk steps into the light, bending down, screaming.  I face him, his yellow visor juts into my face, and the eyes behind it are tainted with insanity--or perhaps simple rage.

Dokk One, back from the dead, drips saliva on my nose.  I'm so cold, I don't actually feel it.  He seethes above me, breathing heavy, unnatural sounds--like bubbles bursting in slime.

"Look at what you did to me, keetcha" One says, his voice grinding and wet.  He throws back his trench coat, letting the garment fall to the deck.  "Look at how you ruined me."

Light shines on me through the hole in the Dokk's bare chest.  My body continues to shiver, my eyes taking in a horrible sight.  Some sort of metal tube has been placed in the hole, keeping the flesh from being fully repaired.  I--

     (not me didn't punch through him not me)

          (only into him)

     (not me didn't do that not me)

--don't want to think about what I did back then, but my mind does what it wants, shooting me images of what happened in that alley:

     (a molesting...and...a killing...stop it...that's enough please no more)

The flesh around the Dokk's wound doesn't match that of the rest of his torso--parts from other persons with much darker skin.  The different patches of flesh are crudely fused together with rough, ridged seams and wire stitching.  It's an explosion of mismatched flesh.  And the centerpiece of it all is a wound I caused.

"G-G-Get off-f-f m-my boat-t-t," I say through chattering teeth.

The Dokk grins at that, his mouth wide and flat, perfect teeth--white.  "Two didn't survive the wound that your youngling wirewitch friend inflicted on him.  She severed his spine with that body of hers.  And I didn't see which one of you killed Three, but they told me that somebody stuck an ion destabilizer in his mouth and pulled the trigger.  Wasn't any brain material left to salvage after that.  You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

"I-I k-k-killed him," I say, "and I-I enj-j-joyed it.  Get off-f-f, or the s-s-same m-might happen to y-y-you."  Static in my brain'll get you.

One smiles even wider, leaning closer.  Can feel his breath on my cheek.  "I don't think so, keetcha, my love.  I do believe that you killed him, but I doubt that you enjoyed it.  You don't seem the type."

"W-W-What the g-glitch do you kn-kn-know about me-e-e?"

"True, we did underestimate you to a high degree.  But a youngling wirewitch and a even younger female--it was an easy mistake to make.  Your...parts would have sold quite well."  His eyes trace my body to punctuate his words.

Yeah, but you didn't want to sell our parts at all, but to use them.  You were going to rape us, you twisted techtrash g'ekk.  You deserve to die for that.

One continues to smile.  "There still may be time for some fun between us, my lovely, naked keetcha!  Are you still intact?  You are, aren't you?!?  You didn't let anybody...get close to you since the last time we...got close, did you?"

There's a way out of this.  Having a hard time thinking.  Body, so cold.  Static, constant and low.  "You t-t-touch me ag-g-gain a-and--"

One moves fast, grabbing my arms, pinning them wide.  His smile is gone, his eyes jerking infernos.  "I'll do what I wish with what is mine, and you are mine!!!  I'm going to prove it to you right now!!!"

Never never never! my mind rages.  Never give myself without my consent.  My body is mine!  I'd rather die!  Glitch!  I'm going to have to kill him.

Again.

"Get ready, my little maiden keetcha," One says, saliva running down his chin, his knee at my stomach, his foot wiggling, burrowing between my knees.  His chest is touching mine--can feel the seams in his chest, ragged clefts of patchwork flesh--and that cold cylinder all the way through him.  His body is cold.  Colder than mine it seems.  His visor is at my forehead, and I'm looking at those perfect teeth, gleaming, reflecting light from the beam on his ship.

"You're mine," One says.  "My slave."

     (driftslavedriftslavedriftslavedriftslavedriftslave)

Those teeth.  Pristine.  Drenched in saliva.

"You'll like being my slave.  One day you will beg to me, on your knees."  My legs are being forced apart, heels sliding across neoplastic, faintly squeaking.

Oh, so straight, teeth.

"And then, one day, I will take a look at your body, inventory your parts, and cut them from you one by one!  Now won't that be a party!!  I'll invite friends!!"

Those teeth, so close, so pure.  I know what I have to do.  Static a constant hum.

"Get rea--"

Don't feel pain, only pressure as I shove my forehead into his visor and my knee into his groin.  My knee hits something metal and rebounds, ineffective, but my forehead shatters the visor, shoving sharp fragments into his face.  My nose connects with his teeth, can hear several of them break loose, bending inward.

One grunts and snarls, but pushes back to his knees, hands going to his face.  It's all I need to escape.  Everything hurts as I move--blades and pins and ice caressing my body--but I crawl backward, out from underneath.  Glitch, pulse is tapping out high frequencies.  Pulling my knees to the side, I roll, then push myself to my feet.  Whoa.  Highly unstable now, shaking.  Could fall back to the deck at any second.  Searching for escape.  Where?  How?  Glitch!

A night mist is gathering around my boat, beginning to obscure vision.

One stands, his broken visor pushed up, shards of it still embedded in his nose ridge and below one eye.  "Keetcha!!!" he screams, fumbling for something on his belt.  "Should not have done that!  I'll have to kill somebody to fix my face!"

"G-Get off my b-boat.  I'll k-k-kill y-you if y-y-ou d-d-d-don't."  He's forcing me to do things I don't want to do.  Don't want to kill anybody.  It's not right.

     (it's not me it's not is it)

One pulls a small cylindrical object from his belt and flips a switch with his thumb.  A thin wire of light snakes downward, hitting the deck, then coiling at his feet.  A flick of his wrist and the coil moves backward, trailing about four meters behind him.  A sever-whip.  "Glitch your virginity, keetcha.  I can take care of that after I cut out your heart."

One takes a step forward...

  Post: 09.17.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Naked In The Mist

...and I take a step back.

The mist is getting thicker, trying to engulf my boat. Trying to engulf me. Swallow me up. At some level, I feel comforted by its presence around me, cloaking me from One and his sever-whip, clothing me in puffy clouds.

Without his trench coat there's an element of intimidation missing probably, but he still towers over me. He's wearing a gold-tinged emblem on his belt which glints in the light from up above, piercing the mist into my retina.

Glitch, there's nothing to fight back with on this wreck. Static is like a heel-spiked boot stomping in the back of my head. Starting to see spots. Hair is getting in my face. Clips must be loose up there, not doing their job. I brush the strands away, but I think I'm glitched.

"Come here," One says. "I want you to dance with my sever-whip. I want its hot flesh to touch yours."

BOOM (Static explodes) BOOM

I shake my head, forcing the static back. "Dance? Sorry, I never learned."

"It'll hurt a whole glitch of a lot, but I'll...teach you with a loving caress, my little keetcha."

"You've touched me for the last time, my little g'ekk." 

One winces, bringing the sever-whip forward, but I'm already moving somehow, directly at him.  The sever-whip cracks over my shoulder, sparking in the air, heat and energy detonating.  Sparks stinging my back.  My fist buries itself into his stomach, directly into the cylinder in his chest, which is big enough to accommodate my fist after all.

"No," One says, pulling back the sever-whip.

"You were warned," I say.  Hand already reaching further--through him.  Fingers grasping the edge of the cylinder, right at his back.

"No," One says again, pushing at my shoulder, knowing.

In the end, the static makes me do it.

I jerk my arm back and tear the cylinder from his body.

"GaAAKkkkk!!" One screams.

Blood, in generous amounts, begins to pour from his reopened wound.  One grabs frantically at my body, but I kick out, catching him in the side of the leg, twisting his body around.  He curses as he goes down on his knees, a thick pool leaking onto the deck from inside him.

The sever-whip drops free, spasming across the deck, smell of burning neo-plastic immediately permeates the area.  Still holding the slick cylinder, I rush past One.  He reaches out, almost snagging my heel.  A second later, I have the sever-whip in my hand.  The handle is light and cool to the touch,  vibrating calmly in my hand.  I can feel multiple controls dotting its surface beneath my palm.  Don't know what any of them do.  Doesn't matter--it's activated, and I'm going to use it.  Flick of my wrist and the sever-whip skitters across the deck, pooling at my feet.

One is coughing, saliva falling from his lower lip.  "You think I'm dead, keetcha?  You don't even know how to use that!  Come here, you little j'aa eater!  I'm gonna eat your eyes!!"  One is standing again, his chest wound dripping down his legs--blood and some purple goo intermingling.  He pulls a small bladed weapon from his boot.

Enough.  I'm ending this now.

He charges.  Dokk on approach.  The sever-whip reaches out.  SPARK!  Flash of white and blue.  Streak of red.  Something tumbles into the darkness.  Whoa.  One's right hand, still holding the weapon.  Splash.  I don't--how the--

     (glitch did I)

          (do that)

               (don't know how)

--sever-whip coiled at my feet, burning the deck.  One moving to tackle me.  I sidestep, sever-whip a bold streak in the pale light.  The handle jerks in my hand, pulled taut as One passes by, diverted.  I hold tight.  SPArkkkkk.  The sever-whip pulses through the wire, sending waves through my arm.

One is caught by the neck, sputtering and groaning, the sever-whip wrapped around like a serpent, hissing and spitting.  His hands--no, hand flies to his neck, but stops just short of touching the wire.  The other arm is a stump, partially cauterized flesh stems the tide of blood trying to escape through the fresh amputation.

I smell burning flesh.  I feel static tearing me apart.  I see pockets of black in my eyes.

"Don't...do it!" One gargles.  "You don't want to kill me, keetcha!  You know you don't."

"Oh," I say, stepping closer, keeping tension on the sever-whip, "and you know so much about what I want?"

One smiles.  Perfect teeth.   Evil grin.  "Little keetcha, let me go and I'll show you what you want.  I know you want me ins--"

"You're over," I manage to say between gritted teeth.  Static detonates a nuke and my vision goes black, taking my hearing with it.  One of my limbs jerks--the one with the sever-whip or the one with the cylinder?--and then I'm on my knees crying and screaming because the static is bludgeoning my brain around in my skull, pounding and pounding and pounding,  harder and harder and harder.  I clench my eyes against it all, tighter and tighter and tighter and--

THUNK

Static fades, and with it the pain, but the memory remains.

Then it's raining.  Without warning.  Warm shower, thick streams and drops.  All around, soft on the deck and my bare back, rolling down my side, down my thighs.  In my hair, dampening my strands, onto my forehead, down my nose.  On my chin.  Against my chilled skin, the drops are like fire, searing my neck and shoulders, tracing lava flows down my arms and fingers.  The rain tapers off after only a few seconds, leaving my skin tingling with the contrasting hot and cold sensations.

     ...scared to open eyes dropped the sever-whip I think vulnerable...

Eyes unclench, open, and...oh!

I'm bathed in red my body is coated with blood my second skin a layer of liquid all over me.

But I feel alive.

  Post: 09.23.2001
Date: 01.01.2196
Time: Morning

Surrounded : Alone

All around me, the dawn descends, finally filtering through the mist.  Low-hovering clouds begins to break apart as the sun crawls up, spraying radiation across the hemisphere.  Get up, it seems to say.  Wake up.  It's a new day everybody!  Open your tired eyes and behold this planet of glitch.  Gaze upon this wretched planetscape and give your eyes a full view of its poisoned waters.  Drink in the macabre sights, let them burn your retinas till blindness in its mercy takes your vision from you.  But don't forget, never forget that you're stuck on this ball of dirt with no escape but death.  Take a good look at this scarred planet, because it's the barren face of your killer.  Good morning, Earth!

Somewhere in there I fell asleep, right here on the deck.  Cheek squished up against neo-plastic.  Arm crushed and devoid of blood beneath my stomach.  Limbs splayed like a child's plaything, as if my sleep was a disturbing event, filled with nightmares--digital poltergeists, Reapers, Swarmlings and Gooblyns.  Didn't dream--not that I remember.  I would remember, wouldn't I?  Don't need to dream to experience nightmares anyway.  I meet them while I'm awake.

Don't remember deactivating the sever-whip either, but the handle is laying there without a plasma wire protruding from one end.

I took a blood shower earlier.  One's blood.  Now the goo is crusting all over me.  Skin feels constricted and tight, and unclean--worse than the last time I killed him.  So much of him is all over me, congealed proof that his life-flame has been doused.  No more coming back into my life, you glitched g'ekk.  Body is buzzing, static threatening to rise back up inside me as sparks of anger flare inside me.  Take a few breaths, deep.  Calm down.  Calm the glitch down.  Listen to the water hit the side of the boat, the wind across the deck, against my skin.  Through my hair, stray hairs pillowing against my forehead.  Small breaths sounds in my chest, whistle of air between my teeth, out through dry lips.  Overhead, a flying creature calling out to a mate it will never find.  Threat of static recedes.

I didn't use to be like this.  I'm sure of it.  This isn't like me.  This isn't me! 

There's a dark deep down inside me, and it let itself out.

One's severed head over there is evidence of that.  Can only see the back of his head and one side of his face from this angle.  Good.  Don't want to see those lifeless eyes.  I don't want to see the expression he died with--I wasn't watching when it happened

     (wasn't in control)

and I missed it.  Good.  Wasn't meant to be seen.  I killed him, and I don't want to know what was in those eyes at the last moment.  I'm...I'm...scared of what might have been there.  He was an enemy, and he wanted to do terrible things to my body--to me.  I feel a sigh deflate through my mouth.  I don't like what I did to One.  Each second I think about it, I like it less and less.

But.

But I'm so happy to be alive.

This feeling drowns out all the others--oh so many--which swirl inside my breast.  I want to hold onto this one for a moment, clutch it close and feel it wrap around me.  Feel it dig into me and take root.  Oh, yeah, that's good, stay right there and keep me warm.

Some moments pass before I find the strength and will to stand.  Sun on my skin.  I'm naked for all the world to see--a blood-stained, blue-haired girl--only there's no world to see me how I am.  I'm alone, surrounded by nothing but water and some sparse, floating debris.  No sign of the vehicle One was using.  Unfortunate.  There might have been something useful on it--like some clothing!  No land masses in sight.  Too much pollution at the horizon.

Glitch, I'm going to tidy up my boat.  One's head is the first item to be pushed overboard, and I try to ignore the sound it makes in the water--splash.  His body is heavier, but it goes easily enough in the end.  SPLASH!!  Can't bring myself to wear his trench coat, so it goes too.  I'm unable to find his hand.  Well, maybe it flew into the water when I relieved him of it.

A quick survey of my boat's condition: bloody streaks and splatters all around the deck, railing on one side completely gone, control panel blasted, listing in the water to one side, propulsion system looks undamaged, might be functional.  Several compartments inset into the deck at the prow of the boat contain more silver food substitute packages and more bottles with clear liquid--water it seems.  I drain two of the bottles before I stop myself with thoughts of surviving into the future.  I'm alone out here, and the chances of running into a friendly aren't as good as those of running into an--

     (just take a look at those stains on the deck)

--unfriendly.

I wish JACK were here.  At the short, simple thought of her, I want to cry.  It's an urge I can barely restrain.  Suddenly, it's hard to draw breath, like there's something stuck in my throat.  I can feel moisture beginning to seep at the corners of my eyes.  Blink blink blink--the tears whisked away.  There's an ache in my chest, near my heart, as an image of her face forms in my mind.  At first it's the face of the youngling she was; then it's as she is now--the grown wirewitch, leader of her coven.  My friend, the wirewitch.  The only real friend I know at this point.  Kiiziiziixii, 2-85, and Phoenix are all...what?  People I've encountered to be sure.  Friends?  That's not a proven fact yet.  Saved my life, each of them.  And Aran.  I don't even know where to start with my feelings regarding my chrome knight.  They're all...mixed up.  And now.  Now there's nowhere to go with him.  He's dead.  That line of emotion can go no further.  Haven't even mourned him yet.  Perhaps because something in me can't accept what I believe to be true.  I shut that sequence of thoughts down before it continues.  Thoughtflow deleted.  No images of Aran infest my mind.  Later.  I'll let them come to me later.  I'll let myself grieve him later.  Not now.  It's not the right time.  With JACK it goes even deeper though; my feelings are clearer.  Even the short time we've known each other doesn't mar this pure reality.  I shared a lot with her in those short moments we had alone together.  Oh, I wish she were here!  I need a hug from a witch!  I need a companion on my journey!  The remembrance of her skin texture--ridges under my fingertips--springs to the front.  Her smell...don't remember that at all...what did she smell of?  That particular memory won't come to me, and there's just a bit more loss added to the pile I'm wallowing in.  And then the sensations and images start to fade, darkening like impending unconsciousness, then they're as transparent as the evaporating mist around me.  Feeling them slip away is like a knife-edge sliding along my heart, and this time I don't stop the tears, letting my sense of aloneness surround me, letting it literally pull the liquid sorrow from my ducts.  On the deck, my tears mix with splotches of blood, and inside me, the ache in my heart throbs and throbs and throbs.

Underneath a piece of twisted debris, I locate the white towel I thought One had taken.  I lean over the side of the boat, dipping one red-stained end in the water.  Tears continue to flow down my cheeks as I set about the task of cleansing myself of the crusted blood which scars me.

this page and its contents copyright (c) by ethan a. cooper