Chapter 2 (Part 1-The Aquarius)A Chapter by Syrinx
Esme talks about her second day at the Virgo
I look up to see his burnt hand, reaching down for me, begging for me to join it. His eyes, the light blue reflecting with fire. He smiles, hoping I’ll join him. He screams my name, for hours he screams my name and follows me but I’m faster. Long fingernails in my skin. I’m dead.
I shoot out of bed and scream, awakening from the bad dream where Cedric, Harvey, Niles, and Felix stand over me and make me jump again in fear. “What the hell? Were you all watching me sleep?”
Cedric pulls out a flashlight and looks through my pupils. “Yup, I believe its night terrors, Esme what were you dreaming about?”
I wipe the sweat off my face and wait until my heart beat calms down. “Just a past incident.”
Cedric turns off the small flashlight and looks to Niles. “Probably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I could put her on Benzodiazepine, but unfortunately I don’t have any left. We may want to contact Nastya-“
“No way! There is no way! I am not taking medication from that bloodthirsty dog!” I yell at him, looking at all of them as they examine me like a dog at the pound.
Felix clears his throat. “What about therapy? I’m sure that could help. There’s a hospital in Sharonville I could go to. It’s not that far-“
“No! Not by yourself Felix!” Niles says hastily.He looks towards cedric. “I will go there; you all will just have to watch over the Clan for today. I’ll take the copter.”
“Wait wait, what is going on why are you watching me sleep?” I yell at them. Niles turns and leaves. Harvey follows him out and Felix sits next to the bed, where I asked him to sit last night. Cedric sits on the corner of my bed.
“You were screaming we came to see what was going on and you were throwing your body all over the place shouting, crying and hitting things. It’s a night terror, I’m sure it’s due to post traumatic stress disorder, for what you’ve been through it’s almost impossible not to have it. I can give you medication but we need to talk it out also.”
I rub my eyes and lie back down. “What time is it?”
“Only midnight, Felix was just leaving your room when you started screaming. Esme this is important, your emotional status is just as important as your physical status. It’s most likely we will start therapy before you go to bed every night, it will help you sleep. Would you like to start now?”
I laugh a little. “I’m exhausted, I just want some sleep. I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
Cedric nods and begins to leave the room. He looks over to Felix, “Come get me if it happens again, okay?”
Felix nods, and his head turns to me. We make eye contact and his dark grey eyes match the ash that rained on my dress so long ago. It also matches the ash that rained down as Evander reached out to me, with the burnt hand.
“Thank you Felix.” I say. He just nods and watches as I roll over and fall to sleep.
A burnt hand-Something shakes me and I jump up again. Over me stands Felix, he flinches as I jump up and moves back a little.
“I-I am sorry you were started the night terror and I-I didn’t know if you wanted to go through it again.”He stumbles through.
I smile and unravel the covers. The alarm clock on the nightstand near my bed reads four thirty in the morning. I yawn and stretch. To all four sides of me, beautiful fish streak the walls, some following each other and others seeming just to float around. I smile at Felix, and he shyly smiles back. “Thank you. Can you give me a tour of the aquarium?”
He nods and I follow him out of the room. “This area is the Tropical section, mostly just fish from all over. It’s the largest part of the Aquarium. My father used to be a janitor here for extra money; we were really poor because my parents have an illegal marriage. My mother is poleen like me, but she loved my father and he loved her. They were never legally married here because of the laws regarding the caste system. So they got married in Britain where my father and Cedric grew up. They moved back here together and the government punished them for it. After the apocalypse, our house was critically damaged. My father took us here, and no damage was done at all, it was a miracle! There weren’t any zombies either. So we settled here, Cedric and Harvey joined. They were my father’s friends and survived as well. We started leaving, and searching all through the ruins of Cincinnati for survivors. We found only twenty, and most of them were injured. Cedric is hazmat, and was the chief of medicine at a hospital until he was fired for illegal marriage with a Lotus. He helped lots of the injured people after the apocalypse. The zombies really took everybody out in three days, same with the rest of the continent. Over here is the Shark tank, I really like the sharks and we feed them dead zombie. They seem to enjoy it. That one with the scar,” He points to a long shark with lots of crooked teeth. “That’s a tiger shark. Then the fat one, it’s one of the only great white sharks in captivity. There are also three lemon sharks and a bull shark. The tropical sections also have Zebra sharks, white tip, black tips, nurse, mako, hammerheads and saw sharks. Saw sharks are my favorite, they are purely white underneath and their gills look like faces, so when they swim over you they look like ghosts in water. Over here are like the coruscations, crabs, lobsters, also some small squids and jelly fish.” He points to a small alcove with a cave like interior, are little small tanks of the animals. “Next to it is exotic fish, angel fish and other reef fish. Across from the shark tank is the turtle tank. It has every sea turtle except leather back. Here is the entrance, and the sting ray tank. You can touch the sides of them, just not the spine.”
We approach the tank, he smiles and catches my eyes. “Go ahead, you can touch them they won’t hurt you.”
Underneath my hands is a large open tank. The stingrays float in the water as they seem to race each other around the perimeter, Small sharks that seem to smile race with them. My hands linger over the open aquarium, waiting for me to be brave enough to touch the sides of the stingrays.
Why can’t you touch them? I think to myself, you’ve killed two clans off, more than a thousand zombies and you can’t even touch a stingray?
Felix’s soft hand covers mine as he slower lifts are hands down to the water. My fingertips invade the cool chill of the water and a smile warms my face. Felix stretches my whole hand down into the shallow tank, and a stingray passes, letting me brush the smooth skin. My smile becomes even bigger, and I laugh a little. Felix laughs along, and our hands fly out of the tank from fear. We smile at each other or a minute, then his hand finds mine as we intrude the water once again.
We had to be there for half an hour, his hand helping mine caress the stingrays. We didn’t talk much, the smiles never left our faces. His hand never left my hand, and it’s odd to say I was glad it didn’t. I liked Felix, probably more than I should. It was odd, because before the apocalypse no guy considered me. Mostly the only reason we ever went out was for sex. But now, it seems like every guy is after me. Before, I couldn’t get a guy to look my way if you went out stark naked. Now I could get their attention is I wore a gorilla suit. Even though I thought I felt something special between us, his hand turned from white to a burnt crisp and his voice began to sound more like Evander’s. I try to shake it out of my head, but it doesn’t happen. I look at his face, and his dark blonde hair grows bright blonde and his eyes turn blue.
I look away from him. “Wonder what your father would say If he’d walk in.”
Felix laughs. “I was hoping he would. He wants me to be with a girl like you, someone who has a future after this all gets sorted out.”
He removes his hand and we both feel guilt, mine for Evander and he for something else. He looks away and focuses on a blank object.
“But you don’t?” I say. “There’s a girl, isn’t there?” He shyly smiles, and like Elaine, a smile spreads across my face and I get excited. “Oh my gosh! Is she here? What’s her name? Are you a thing?”
He looks back at me; his smile now seems genuine, and happy. “She’s kind of here. And I don’t know her name, and no I’ve only talked to her once.”
I let my hand feel the serene wings of the stingrays. “What do you mean she’s kind of here? And would your father not want you to be with her?”
He sighs and sits on the ground against the glass of the stingray tank. “When we were searching for survivors, I found her in a crashed house living under a bed. Her whole family turned into zombies, she had to kill them off, her own family. That alone, could make anyone crazy. We call her miracle girl, because she was under that bed in the open for at least a month before we found her, and she somehow didn’t catch a parasite. However, she doesn’t talk or eat and screams a lot when she sleeps, kind of like you. Cedric keeps her in one of his asylum cells. Basically, it’s an office filled with matrices. My father doesn’t want me with her because he doesn’t think there will be place for us in the New America.”
I remove my hand, and sit next to him. We both stare in the never ending abyss of sharks as the circle around each other. “Why do you like her?”
“She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. She’s Haima, even though we are all supposed to think that royalsis are the most beautiful, it’s not true. I’ve never seen a royalsis even close to her beauty. Her eyes remind me of the grass, the plants that use to rule the world.” Felix plays with his fingers as he nervously looks down. “Those bands on your wrists, they’re suicide bands, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, they put them on me so I’d never slit my wrists, I tried to overdose freshman year. I’m amal, my family was hazmat but I was born Harle and forced to wear a wig and contacts. Eventually, I just stopped and started to be who I really was. I was an untouchable for the suicide attempt, and for being an amal in a lesser caste.”
“I had a similar problem. Because my parents are different castes, I was an untouchable like you. One day, I decided I was going to kill myself because I was tired of it. I walked to the Suspension bridge, and there next to the railing I swear it was her. She looked over, and smiled at me. I walked home and I got over that stage. I don’t know why her smile changed everything, but it did.”
“So, do you both spend a lot of time together?”
He shakes his head. “The only time she gets let out the asylum cell except to use the bathroom and to bathe, and both are monitored. She’s not even allowed to use any type or fork or spoon to eat. They’re so afraid she’ll try to kill herself. Cedric tries to help her a lot, but she doesn’t talk.”
I hug my knees and rest my chin on them. I think of the three days at the Jefferson memorial where I slept or just laid there, not talking to anyone or looking in Evander’s eyes. “What about at night? Maybe we can sneak you in. Is there a guard there?”
“There’s no way Esme! I can’t! What if I just make things worse! What if Cedric or my father finds out? There’s a guard but he watches all the cells. Besides, they’ll suspect something when I’m not in my room.”
I think for a minute, of all the possible ways Felix could be able to see miracle girl. If the guard has several rooms, he’ll have to use the bathroom sometime or turn around. I could sneak him in then. But for his room, I couldn’t act like him because then I’ll be missing. “I got it Felix! We’ll sneak you in when the guard is turned around, and then we will just say you’re sleeping in my room for the night terrors. If I have one, we can just say you went back to your room. What do you say?”
He doesn’t respond, and throws his head back in exhaustion. He plays with his fingers some more and watches the sharks with me.
“What would you do, if you were in there?”
He sighs and looks into me. “Just-Hold her.”
‘Don’t you think that’s what she needs right now? Not someone to force feed her or talk to her with therapy. She just needs someone to hold her and tell everything’s going to be okay. Trust me, I know. I’m probably in the same boat and if it wasn’t for Evander I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
“Evander?” Felix asks, looking at me in confusion, “who’s he?”
I open my mouth to say just some guy, but I couldn’t do that. No matter how much I hated it, Evander will never be just some guy. “He’s my person on the bridge that smiled.”
“And where is he now? Is he dead?”
“God I wish.” I said, almost shouting it. “He’s with the Gemini. He thinks I’m dead, they all do. The worst part is I could have taken him with me, but I didn’t.”
“Well why not? Did you, love him?”
“Because I’m an idiot. Because I was mad I thought he didn’t really love me and everything then just needed to burn down okay!” I sigh, and look away from the blue water that reminds me of his eyes. “So are we going to sneak you into her cell or not?”
Felix smiles and nods. “Let’s do it, but you should tell me more about this Evander kid.”
So I told him, from the first time we made eye contact in Spanish class, him standing up and clapping at the rally, to him punching Tobias. I spilt my heart out to him about finding him at the Virgo clan, kiss before the battle, the kiss at the Lincoln memorial, and then the three days of no talking followed by the kiss at the hoard. I went on about when he laughed at my feelings about them, then instantly fell in love with me at the Gemini. I shared how he waited for me to wake up for two weeks, demanded to see me, had full faith that I would find him. I even told him that Evander told me he loved me and I said it back, and then the proposal with Silas and I told Evander I should have never said it back. Lastly, I spoke about the nightmares that were just flashbacks that night, and the letter from the Gemini I found.
I spent almost an hour explaining it all. At the very end, he asked me if I really did love him. I told him I didn’t know and it was complicated. Cedric appeared by the Shark tank and told us breakfast was ready. We followed him in the same dining room we were yesterday.
We sat down and the chef came to the table. He was a very short man with salt and pepper hair, he wore glasses (which were really rare) and talked with a heavy Italian accent.
“What would you like today, bella?” He says as he reaches me. “Let meha guess, howa bout a omelet or Frittata?”
“I’m not really hungry-“
“No no no! It is long day for you Esme Caliente. Breakfast a must!”
“Okay, then just make an omelet and stuff it with as much cheese as possible.” He smiles and nods, then moves on to Felix.
Once we get our food, we begin to eat as Harvey tells me today’s schedule. Until lunch I’m training with him, we will be working on hand to hand combat. After lunch, Cedric will teach me how to properly make and use a tourniquet until dinner. There will be a dinner party, which all Aquarius members (except the mentally insane) will attend. There, they will present me to them. After dinner, Cedric will start our first hour therapy session. I figured while walking back to my room, I could find Felix and sneak him into Miracle girl’s room.
After breakfast, Felix, Harvey and I walked to the training room, which is in the basement of the aquarium, the first place I haven’t seen fish. In the room already were four other teenagers. Two of them were muscular large hazmat twins, later known as Ian and Conrad. There was a skinny Aiania boy that wore thick military glasses and a cameo long-sleeved jacket, he was Dex. The only girl was a pale Azina, Clarissa who I’d soon become good friends with. Felix took his place, and to my enlightenment Harvey did not introduce me.
“Alright harle, let’s see what you got. You’ve got one punch before I shoot you, punch quick and the right place. Go!” I freeze, and punch him in the liver. He falls backwards and bellows over. I fall to him and he smiles and winks at me. “Good job! You sure do know your anatomy! Quick! Give me four other lethal places to punch someone!”
“Um, spleen, nose with an upright punch, solar plexus which in between the stomach and ribs, and the temple?”
Harvey smiles and lifts up my arm. “Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Your only fault is that you punch like a girl. Go hit those punching bags for a good hour and come back to me.” He turns away from me. “Dex! We are NOT shooting someone stop being so accurate!”
The day went on, for lunch they made me eat special protein and iron filled vegetables. Cedric’s class went by fast; I sat next to Clarissa and helped her a few times. We didn’t talk much, just mentioned our names and where we were from.
Niles got back before dinner with the Benzodiazepine. Someone left me a change of clothes on my bed for the dinner party. I took a shower in the employee showers for the aquarium, and then dressed in the purple skirt and grey wide-sleeved shirt. The dinner party was pretty banal, instead of talking to the fellow Aquarius; I just sat there and ate. Niles announced me and I stood up and waved. He spoke about all my achievements, the Virgo, Libra, The button, the zombie hoard, the Gemini and burning New York City. At the very end, he invited me to come up and say a few words, something I certainly wasn’t prepared for.
I walked up to the podium and took a deep breath. The two dozen Aquarius all stared at me with intense eyes. I had a feeling a few words would turn into a speech.
“Hi, I’m Esme Caliente. On October 17th, I tried to kill myself by driving off a cliff.”
Everyone remains silence and wide eyed at me. I guess they never knew the full story.
“Instead, I awoke in a land full of ash. The next day, I woke up to Lance, Elaine, and their father. They all made clones to try to kill me but I killed them all, first time I used my swallow by the way. Then Lance and I set out for Florida, but then he tried to kill me and we got a little sidetracked when the Virgo did the same thing. Of course, I killed them all. After that is when this old woman told me who I was, and what I had to do. I’m not an excellent speech giver, and I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this but-“ I think of the night when I spoke about my country, and threw the alcohol in the fire. “One day, I will dance the lead of a ballet across the Sydney opera house. One day, any of us can marry who ever we want, have whatever job we want, and there will be no ‘caste’ system. No one will be genetically modified to be more beautiful than others. There will be no amals, everyone will feel beautiful and superior. Laws that don’t punish you by humiliation will be created. In my country, we will be all one country with justice for all.” Niles shoos me off stage so I couldn’t ruin the speech anymore and the Aquarius clap for me.
That night at my therapy session, I start from the beginning, and tell Cedric all about the phoenix rouges. After an hour, I’ve told him everything up to the battle. He lets me go, and I find Felix outside my room. He shows me to the asylums. I peek out to see the guard, and he instantly notices me and runs to me. I push Felix back and tell him to go around. The guard chats about his ideas to me while I nod and smile and act like I’m listening as I watch Felix slip into her room. After the guard is finally done, I thank him and return to my room. I lie in my bed as I watch the ceiling full of fish until I fall asleep.
© 2012 Syrinx
Fire and Ice
AboutMy names Emily Puckett,I am 17, and I enjoy writing :) It's a release for me, after a long school day, baton and flute practice, I love to sit and write my fantasies (not those type you dirty mind!). .. more..