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Chapter 4: Now You Know
I roused from my slumber with a palm against my wrists. A wail of terror released forth from my timbrels. A quick hand covers my cry as I gazed up into Vanity’s tense face that suggested trouble. Her iron grasp on her face loosens to settle upon my lap. “We have to go now.” she barked.
I groggily sit up. “What, why?”
“I’ll explain as we go.” She threw a clean change of cloths onto my lap. They were not my usual cloths but were far tougher. “Put these on fast.”
Fright fills her mind as I placed my legs through the holes of my knickers. “Did something happen?”
Vanity move to the door. She looks through it as if she was awaiting someone to come through at any moment. She then shifts to me. “I don’t know Prina baby. I know one thing, though. We need to get you out of here.” She has another glance before she goes on. In the gloom I put my head through the shirt, the light from the wide door setting upon me. “I owe you this, Prina. I owe you this.”
“I don’t understand, what is going on?”
Seeing that I am dressed Vanity grabs my arm lifting me from my bed. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”
Her response was stranger than I had expected. Vanity kept pace as she marched up the stairs in the vestibule with me being towed behind her. She careens to the medical bays without saying much of anything at all. “You mentioned you would explain.” I moan.
“A lot of this you will not understand.” she responded with such a flat manner. “But there is this thing called Azergile. Its enslaved the entire world. You need to find Azergile and kill it.”
“What!?” I couldn’t help but burst out.
“It sounds crazy I know but you’re the only one who can do it. Your disease, it’s in your blood. It can deactivate it. You just need to get to it and deactivate it. Do you under stand Prina?” I shook my head. Not much else I could do. But then an unnerving thought came over me. Is this some imposture like Hellibor warned me about? Is this the Vanity I knew, or was it something else altogether? “We need to break you out of here. The normal exit is ruined, so we need to use the subterranean gate. But there is something I have to do first. Trust me, Prina. You trust me Prina, right?” Vanity said standing in front of the door to her station. I nod as the door opened up. Didn’t have much choice in the matter.
“I trust you.” Vanity eyes were watery. She looked away and made her way into the room. I followed, but I was not certain I should. My freedom to run was gone.
“Get onto the table.” Vanity commanded. Walking over to the steel examination table, I slide onto the frigid metal. Vanity opens a white overhead cabinet, searching inside for something. “Doctor Winters knows the colony is shutting down. He prefers to trap you down here. Keep you a secret, for his own selfish desires.” She picks up a glass of clearish liquid and a metal ring like object from the cabinet. “We can’t let that happen, Prina. You can end this nightmare!” she frantically says with all the vigor of a bona fide lunatic. “I am sorry.” she sets the metal ring down next to me. Then she peels off the plastic casing around the bottle’s cap. “This is the only way I could think of making it work.” she sniffles.
I stare at the object she carries in hand. “I don’t understand.” That metal circle. It looked menacing, like it sheltered a sinister mystery.
“I know, honey. I know.” Popping off the metal crown of the clear liquid, she douses a white rag next to me. “Prina honey, you need to unbutton your… shirt and give me your left arm.”
“Ok.” Is all I mustered. As each silver button unsnaps I felt more apprehensive. Still, I went on as I was told. Then it got to removing my shirt off over my head. I bowed my head inside the shirt, and I half expected Vanity to attack me. I pulled out of the garment. “Ok, Vanity. You scaring me.”
She glanced at me with frozen. Tears welling in her eyes. Then she lunged at me and placed to white rag over my mouth. I felt the weakness returned at trying my best to fight her. Finger clasped hard against my cheeks. I kicked and punched with both of my arms as I wailed.
“Please, I am so sorry it has to be this way! It will be all right. I promise it will be ok. I am so sorry. Forgive me.” Vanity tearfully pleads. I remembered that grasp. This, this happened before. The beach…
The heaviness of that familiar sedation creeps its course through my veins again; its weighty impact multiplying by the minute. As I went limp Vanity lets my body down onto the table to rest easy. “Why?” I wearily asked.
“I am so sorry.” Vanity wastes no time and slides the chilly metal ring up my left arm. The device releases a loud hiss, and in that moment I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. A burning pain came over my arm. I look at my left arm to see it resting next to me on the table, leaking blood. My mouth opened agape. I look up at Vanity, who was crying. A silent scream leaks from me before the world spins and falls back into that icy darkness.
Cold, I was freezing. I wake to that intense burning agony in my left arm. Hoisting my limp body up, I cradle the hurt limb. I didn’t even look at what was around, merely the quiet grays of the room greeted me. My mouth snapped open as a long a dreadful cry leaves my lungs. I let the thing down and look at the circle around the arm. That was when I looked at it. The color on one side of the ring and the other were not identically. I raised the limb up to my face and to my fright I stared at a hand that was not mine. Long painted crimson fingernails, a matured hand, not like the one I knew. But this hand, this hand was another.
“A mighty peculiar exchange, if you ask me.” I look up to meet Helibore who was perched across from me in a chair, his legs over each other and his grip at his mouth, his other hand laid lazily next to him. He had on his physician’s coat, which was not remarkable. However, the vast slash of blood on his jacket was.
I mustered up the courage to ask him, “What happened?”
He uncrossed his legs, sat up straight, and demolished all I knew. “I guess you deserve a bit of an explanation what has been going on.” Doctor Winters got up from his chair and turns a casual amble to me. He puts his arm on shoulder observing the new arm offered to me. He watches me with those glazed blues. Slipping his hand into his pocket, he retrieves the needle gun. “This will be the last time I take blood from you, Primina.” And it was in that moment I understood him. The blood. All of this is because of my blood. He needs it for something. “Do I have you permission?”
“Yeah,” What more could I have said. “Go ahead.” The familiar sting falls over my arm again as Helibore sticks me with the needle. I could virtually feel it sucking my precious rubies from my veins. Like the arteries of the world, and the gold which men go into a dangerous vault and mine out. That was my blood. “So, are you finally going to explain things to me? Vanity tried to tell me, but she wasn’t making sense.”
“She panicked. I told her the truth of the situation earlier.” Hellibor stated, he bit his lower lip after. I could see he was not thrilled with giving that bit of info. “She left. She ran away. Its just you and me now.”
I became disoriented swinging my feet off the side of the table, kicking imaginary ghosts away. “So,” I replied. A line of silence pass over the two of us. “What did she do to me?”
Doctor Winters took a step away from me. “I ah,” he answered, holding a sizable pause with what he was about to say. “That arm. I could tell you recognized it. It turns my stomach.”
No. That could not possibly be. “What do you mean?”
“It’s her arm. She gave you her arm.” I raised my, that arm again. I stared at it. It, it could not be. The paint on the nails, nevertheless that would be the thing that would make me admit it. “Well, let me explain things. You, as you know, have a disease. After the genesis of nano machines, we began treating illnesses with them. Your disease however has a strange structure. It deactivates nano machines. So treatment for your disease is impossible, as drug don’t treat the issue. Eventually it will kill you. The disease itself is in your blood.” Hellibor explains, gaining my full attention. “Primina I am over five hundred years old. Everyone in the colony was at least four hundred.”
A slight gasp leaves my mouth. I could not accept it. This is a lie. It has to be. I inquired, “How is that possible?”
“We perfected the machines to keep us alive. It would repair any blemish we had. So we are trapped in our own bodies.” Immortality. “We thought we were so clever. We defeated death. Ah, how foolish were we. We would not discover until later that the nano machines would restructure our bodies and minds if we suffered any kind of slight wound. For instance, a scratch would twist and mangle our bodies. In doing so it would redesign our neural networks, turning us towards insanity. Granted, the insanity did not happen. Oh no, that would have been too kind. First, we feel pain. The twisting and turning of our organs, and everything that made us. However, the blemishes and changes lead that way. As long as we maintained our human form we tended to be all right.”
“So, what do I have to do with any of this?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“You are the transmigration of our original sin.” Hellibor removes the needle from my arm and faces me. “You see, originally we could die. We played god… and we lost, we then manufactured a godchild of our own and it deemed us unworthy. Our paradise in perfect bodies turned out to be our cage in hell for eternity.”
Hellibor growls placing the needle into his arm allowing the blood to drain into him. “What are you doing!” I yell at him. I wrestle the gun, but alas I was not strong enough. With a snap of his other arm, I plunge into another bed.
“Sacred blood, untainted by the soul of man’s iniquities. It is through you we cross over to the afterlife. That veritable paradise of eternal slumber that was stolen from us. Through you the world shall die and be given everlasting peace, whatever that may be. At least I will have peace.” All I could do is watch as Hellibor let himself fail. My eyes spread wide with tears as I stared up at him. “It has finally arrived. Primina my angel of death. You are not fit for suffering. I wish things could have been different. I wish you had stayed asleep. But I was convinced. I allowed my emotions to cover my logic.”
I jump to my feet and embraced him with a hug, and he folded his arms around me. “Please don’t die on me, Hellibor” I begged him.
“It’s ok. You need not fear.” he spoke as he reached for a surgical knife. My stomach sank as I watched his hands clasp around that blade. I wanted that moment to last. I truly did.
In an instant, I shoved him backward into a bed. Out of my mouth like fire, “Get away from me!” I shouted.
Hellibor twisted back toward me with his knife in hand and announced, “Allow me to clip your wings and give you the precious gift of death you have provided for me.” He drew a stride towards me, all the while looking at me like a mad man. “You don’t understand how horrible things have become. It is better for you to die now and never know what became of the world. Don’t mistake me for Primina. This is an act of love. Vanity begged me to release you to the world. She has it in her mind you will be able to deactivate the central computer. There is no way you could make it though that hell. You would die a terrible death, or worse. Please don’t resist.”
I shook my head no. “You’re insane.”
“I can feel the blood pumping through my body. It burns, it feels so good to know. To think that just your blood is killing off these horrible machines; that soon it will pump through my body and I can leave this retched world. Don’t be afraid, Primina. I will make sure it does not hurt for long.” He suddenly started toward me.
Clutching the metal table next to me covered in medical tools, I thrust the table at him in dramatic fashion. The tools take off into the air, Hellibor lifts his arm to shield himself as the sharp objects and diverse metal parts rain onto him. Exploiting this moment, I rush out the door of the room through the hall. “You can’t run Primina. Everything is shutting down.” he screeches out the door.
The lights in the building flickered and flashed as they coughed with the last moments of power they held. Looking to Vanity’s arm, I wondered why she would do such a thing. Suddenly I knew what she wanted. She wanted me to leave; through that black door.
And like that, I was staring up the stairwell to my liberation. I would slip away this hell and these crazy people and get out of this ghastly hospital. Starting up the steps, I made my approach up to the large black door. Once at the top, I peered into my reflection. Nothing was right about what I stared at. I was bloody, and I tore my attire. The entire thing looked terrible. It was bizarre. As if not me, but someone else looked back. I raise the left hand and placed it onto the crisp slate. Twin slabs separated, allowing me into it, and my blood ceased.
“Why?” was all I could sob. I wander into the shadowy room to look at a wall of enormous vats with people floating in them. Each one at a distinctive stage of developments. Some young, some older. All of them with black hair and all female. Worse was the rear of the room. It was, it was awfully extreme to witness. Body part swung from the meat hooks as lasers zapped them. They regrew themselves upon the hooks as if they were vegetation in high speed. I went further into this room of horrors, this slaughter’s market, and there was an array of organs curtailed to the wall. It squirmed with life.
“Adrenochrome.” I choked and whirled around. Hellibor stood behind me, but it was not him. His face was tumbling to pieces violently. “To think we made everything here of you. We cloned you so many times. It never worked. Your blood never was quiet the same, so we had no choice but to wake you up and use you. Your older than me, Primina, did you know that? Let me put you to rest.”
He slashed so hard he screamed. I evaded his attack as he caught the organs with a bone saw. Brown fluid surges all around the place. I sprung against a vat, feeling the balmy glass on my back. With chunks of his skin slipping loose from him, he charged at me again. Side stepping the raking invasion, he struck the vat. With a clash and the harmony of splintering glass, chemical fluids rush onto Hellibor. Captured in the flood, Hellibor was face to face with the reproduction of me, whooping as it draws its first and last gasps. “Prina don’t run! I was only joking! It’s a game!” Doctor Winters shrieks as he is forcing the body off of him.
Madness. I must run, is all I can think of. I go deeper into the cave, averting the many experiments. Through another set of double gates, I vanished. I wished I had not come in through there though. The hallway had turmerous growths all over the place and meat like muscle developed on the walls. I paused staring at the hideous sight. That is until I heard Hellibor was not very far behind me adding, “Primina don’t go in there. You have no chance of survival.”
I did not even look back. I flew so swiftly through the hall, I must not have even touched the ground. Fate has a funny way of ridiculing someone though. There was a rusted shut gate; stained with juice and alien fluids. “Open!” I yelped as I rattled on it with both my fists, suddenly I caught a switch off to the side. I pressed the hydrolic switch, and the doors started to open with a rough grumble. Turning my head only proved the direness of my situation. Hellibor was limping towards me like a cripple. The door was not opening fast enough. I pushed against it, hitting it in vain. His legs had become infested with boils and his arms like a blooding carcass, and his face was all but gone. “Primina. Don’t be afraid. Just give up and die, die, die” Hellibor says as he lurches towards me.
“Get away from me!” I screamed, forcing my back against the gradually opening doorway. With a snap, a bone came sticking out of his leg. Red ooze flowed from the wound, and with his last step he sank down on his face. His body burst when it struck the floor. I trembled and faced away from the gory mess.
The passage by this time had opened, but to my utter terror, the mass of flesh moved. Two arms or legs… or something else grew out of the pulpy wad. I hustled through the doors into thick webs of muscle. I peered backward and discovered that thing was chasing me. Running through that nightmare the tissue got thicker forcing me to creep on my belly. Still on my track though was Hellibor, marching on nubs.
As I wriggled through the flesh as it pulsed and turned about, shifting and spasming and squeezing my frame. It prevented me from moving head; like a maggot making my way through the confines of some carcass. I shrieked when I felt the Doctor’s skeletal hand clasp my ankle. Still pushing through the rigid muscle, I thundered. I can’t see a thing, but I kicked. I kicked so hard. The surrounding flesh went through another seizure and I squealed as I battled against the meat. Instead of being crushed however, I forced myself through to the other side.
Brushing what I could of the blood that got on my clothes, I relaxed by the flesh wall. Then I looked at the home they provided me. The skys were lavender and gleaming. The building that I saw were ruins as far as the eye could see. Looking at the few rocks and the all encasing flesh I sat upon, I realized home was inside, and that too was dead.
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