“You’ll lose your arm?” I said, shocked. “There has to be a better way to do this!”
“Unless you want Mesa to most likely live, there isn’t. It’s your choice Ed.”
“Just… fine. Cut your arm off if that’s what you have to do,” I said.
Kal winces, but continued the ritual. The wound on Mesa’s chest begins to close up, and the shadowy stuff is pulled from her body. Kal’s arm is pulled into the crystal too, but very slow.
A river of tears falls out of Kal’s eyes, but the expression on her face is one of painful determination. Her arm begins to crumble, like broken marble, slowly being drawn into the black - or more accurately, white - hole of the crystal. Only the area above her elbow is intact now, and even that is crumbling.
Mesa’s almost completely healed, the hole in her torso closed up fully and the last few strands of darkness being sucked into the crystal. The final bit flies into the gem just as Kal’s arm finishes falling apart.
Kal’s mouth is in a terrified, sad smile as she looks at me. Her once-dark arm is now completely gone, the stump where it used to be burnt and pale.
“I’m fine.” Kal says in a cold voice. “I’m pretty sure the Republic had some kinda arm-replacing robot technology, but I’d rather not go there right now.”
She storms out of the office, dropping the crystal on the floor as she goes. It shatters on impact with the floor, and the darkness inside it spills out across the tile. “Oh shit!” I scream, making Mesa stir awake.
“Ed? Where are we?” she mutters, sitting up and blinking.
I’m about to answer, but the darkness launches at me, and I black out.
Switch to Mesa’s POV
I keep screaming until the door bursts open, and Phoenix, backed up by a large group of guards. Ed is lying on the tile floor, shuddering every few seconds as his body is covered by a black essence. They all file in, and start asking me questions, panicked.
Phoenix crouches by Ed, careful not to touch him. “This looks like what was covering Kal’s arm… How did it get on him?” she muttered.
The door swings open again, and Kal marches in. Her arm is… gone. The second she sees Ed, she backs up, into the wall. “What have I done?” she gasps.
Phoenix turns around, but ends up stumbling and cutting her hand open on something. “Kal… I gonna need you to explain.” she says slowly, picking up shards of some crystal-like thing from the floor.
“Well, I used that crystal to fix my arm. I was trying to get all of the darkness shit out of your chest and off of my arm. I succeeded. My arm’s gone 'cause my arm got too corrupted. And then I dropped that damn crystal and screwed everything up. Now I’m gonna have to get it off of Ed somehow.” Kal says in a scared voice.
“Wait!” I scream. “If… If that shit covered your arm and trying to fix it ended up cutting off your arm… well… then… if it’s on Ed’s whole body… then…”
“Your boyfriend might die. I’m sorry.” Kal’s trying to feign apathy. Is that how people are supposed to act towards death in the Luminescent Republic?
“There’s got to be another way we can get rid of it. The Republic couldn’t have just used the crystals, right?” I ask.
“I don’t know… I think it was just the crystals.” Kal mutters, covering her eyes with her hand.
Phoenix, who was handing a broom and dustpan to one of the guards, turns around. “Hold on. I think Mesa may be onto something. Kal, remember those blueprints we dug up from the buildings that fell from The Southern Providence?”
The silver-haired girl looks up. “Yeah, I do. What about them?”
“You had said they looked like some sort of purifying device. Right?”
Kal gasps. “Holy shit, yes they did! Let’s go grab th-”
She’s cut off as John sprints into the room. “Mesa!” he shouts.
I roll my eyes.
“I don’t wanna hear your garbage, John. Ed might die, and you need to get this fixed. Right now.” I say, angry.
“Are you serious right now Mesa? For real? You still care about this idiot?” he angles his foot at Ed.
“Yeah. So cool your bullshit, and help for once, kay?”
That was the wrong thing to say, it turns out. To a chorus of startled protests, John swung his foot at Ed, his shoe connecting solidly with the black muck. It seized hold of him, and his skin became filled with black lines almost immediately. “You complete idiot!” I yell, jumping off the desk.
I land unsteadily, and John reaches out to help me stand. Kal slaps his hand away with a broom. “Not so fast, Mister I-Am-Complete-And-Utter-Bullshit. No infecting anyone else. This room is quarantined, now that we know whatever that stuff is is contagious. Phoenix, get a hazmat squad down here ASAP. This is a plague infirmary now.”
“But we don’t have a hazmat squad…”
“Then you’d better set one up. Everyone clear out!”
“Including me? I want to protect-” I said, before being quickly interrupted.
“No, Mesa. You get out too. You can’t stay here. Not with them. It’s too risky.” Kal says, pushing me away slightly.
“But I have to be there for him-” I say.
“God, who taught you that bullshit?” Kal answers. “Your stupid cult family? Well, forget about that misogynist crap. You need to stay alive.”
“No more questions, no more pleading, just leave. I want you alive.” Kal says in a stern tone. “So leave. Right now.”
I walk out the door, sighing a defeated sigh. I take one look before the door closes behind me.
Wanting to get as far away from Phoenix’s office as possible, I head to my room, which was across the campus from it. I shoulder open the door, and promptly fall onto the cluttered floor. “God damnit Mesa…” I mutter to myself, standing up.
The room is average size, with my bed pushed under the lone window. A skinny wardrobe is at the foot of it, the door still open. The easel with some assorted paints and brushes are a few feet away. “Ok… Clean up, then listen to some music and paint. That should help.” I whisper.
Cleaning up is unremarkable as I pick a few shirts, pants, and bras off the floor. I attempt to ignore my worries. The whole process takes about thirty minutes.
I walk over to an old CD player, load an album I like, and press play. The music is bittersweet ukulele and a soft female voice singing strange, sad lyrics - “But recently, everyone says they are seeing less of me, I could do better if I had energy, be how I used to be”. I dip my paintbrush in watercolor, trying to make the outline of a girl out of greens and pinks and purples and blues. The shape looks somewhat recognizable as human, but looks quite a bit like an anime character. I paint hair, clothes, and facial features, but no normal colors like the color of my actual hair or skin.
I dip my brush in black paint and draw streaks from my chest, aggressive streaks, painful streaks. What happened a few hours ago, in fact.
I plunge the brush into the water, and the dark color spreads like an oil spill. I use the water left on it for tears, two wavering lines falling from each eye. The brush falls from my hand, landing on the floor as I stumble back, the same tears of the painting mirrored on my face.
The painting’s really good, but I don’t really care about that. I’m thrown into a state of depression, not knowing if Ed would be okay or not.
He will be ok, I have to believe that, for his sake, my sake and his daughter’s sake.
(HIS DAUGHTER??? ED IS LIKE 16!!!)
It was one night a mistake but our child won’t be a mistake. I just hope he’ll wake up to see her birth and her life