What can I say? I was feeling very inspired today.
Word count: 963
She is kneeling in the mud, heedless of the mulch staining her heavy white gown and legs. Her hands are clasped tightly, knuckles white and she whispers a prayer over and over, as the rain streams down her face. Her hair is damp, plastered to her head. Down and down, the droplets fall, from her nose and eyelashes, from her hands to the ground.
She can’t remember how she got into the gardens. One moment, she was staring out the window, watching rivulets form on the transparent surface, distorting the view. Then, she was running, through the white corridor, screams and crying and soothing voices all around her. Someone called out her name, but she didn’t stop. They wouldn’t let her go outside and she knew she had to get out.
Now, she is there, the rain all around her and there are no screams, only faint wet sounds, as the water meets the ground. There is her voice, rasping, words mingling on her lips, rushing out in a frantic pace, as if taking a breath might still them forever.
They will come for her, she knows that. They will drag her back and feed her pills and strap her to a bed, and she will fight and bite and scream, beg them not to. She is not clean. She has to wash it all away and the showers will not do. She tried, but they were there, the fingers, the claws, the twisted limbs of the unclean reaching out for her.
They twisted everywhere, under the beds, into the ventilation ducts and brought their filth with them. She had burned them, as had her sisters, but it was not enough. They came and came and came, an unending river of mutant waste, howling their obscene prayers and reaching out to them. They grabbed and pulled, tore and bit, until only one was left.
The promethium had long run out, so she cut, the howl of her chainblade joining their screams. Her armor was stained, unclean, everywhere filth and the screams, they never stop, why, they are dead, they died, her sisters died and they touched her.
She needs to wash away their touch and they couldn’t have touched the rain, could they? The water will be still pure and so will she, if she just stays outside long enough. It will all go away, seep into the ground, away from her…
She can almost feel it, something sloughing down her skin, thick as tar and sinking into the mud, deeper and deeper.
The rain is cold. It falls heavily. She rises again, slowly and tears away the stained gown. It’s wet and caked in mud, but it had touched her skin, her filthy, filthy skin and she needs to be clean again.
The change is minimal—she had been wet long ago, but now she can free herself from the taint. She cups her hands and holds them out, letting the water gather in them and then she looks at her hands and sees its still there, it’s under her skin, crawling deeper.
She needs to get rid of it, the taint it’s there, it will corrupt her, she will be one of them.
It hurts, but this is good, pain is clean and she scratches into her skin, tearing and tearing, at old scabs and scars, she needs to get it out.
Blood mingles with rain and they fall to the ground, pink little droplets lost as soon as they are formed. She doesn’t care, all she cares about is that she needs to get the taint away and its inside, so she needs to get the rain inside, but she can’t find the taint, only blood.
Red—her hands are red now, like her armor had been, but it wasn’t the right red. It was their blood staining it, so she had to scour all away, her armor was desecrated, so she scrubbed and scrubed, and tore away the paint, marred the etchings, but it was all there and then she knew it was on her skin, it seeped through the armor and now it was inside.
And then she sees, it’s the rain, it’s always been the rain. She backs away and looks around wildly, but where can she hide? The taint is everywhere, she was breathing the air and drinking the water, polluting all that she touched, she cannot hide and she cannot wash it away, because it will be back.
She runs. Her movements are jerky, wild and she trips. Even now, even as broken as she is, she instinctively catches herself and picks herself up to run. She doesn’t look where she is running and she barely notices when she collides with another woman.
The newcomer is dressed in serviceable simple clothes. Rain is simply rain for her. She is calm, solid, her face lined with age and worry. Without hesitation, she places her large hands on the naked woman’s shoulders and smiles reassuringly.
The broken thing doesn’t seem to care that one of the hands that is resting on her shoulder is a cold augmentic limb. She stands still, like a statue, eyes wide. Her breathing comes in ragged gasps and she trembles.
“Come now, Sister Aurelia,” the newcomer says gently. “You will catch a cold.”
There is nothing to show that Aurelia understands the words. She is still for seconds, before breaking out into a scream. It’s a long wordless wail of a trapped animal, a sound that ought to never come from a human mouth. The other woman remains firm and pulls Aurelia away, towards the large square building. She drapes her raincoat over her naked shoulders and murmurs soothingly.
The rain falls around them, slowly washing away the footmarks they leave.