Stirring Deeply – Episode 9

With a touch, a kiss, and a burst of emotion my entire existence had been annihilated.  A single moment frozen in time, a single perfect moment.  Joy… Pain… Pleasure… Immersion… Ache… Longing… Bittersweet…  Soft… Warm…  Complete…  I’d fought for survival so long that I hadn’t realized until this moment just how weary my soul had been.  I didn’t have time to reflect, survival, and my tasks laid out before me always took precedence.  In this tangled rendezvous, I felt that I could die, and for once not care.  For once, to not be bitter if I met my end here.  I’d never realized how tired my soul had become in consummate isolation that was my life in this dystopic world.  The first bright spot I’d found in a desolate landscape.  This world still full of life, felt like a moon scape in my heart until this very moment, where for the first time in what memory remains I felt alive.  I never sought to have my existence defined by the profile of another’s gentle silhouette in the pale blue light, but all I could think of was to be folded into her, over and over, for an eternity.  I felt as though a billion years had been spent floundering in the darkness, seeking her touch.  My every hope, my every dream rested on her bosom as her gentle caress was awash in my mind.  Just the thought of her soft fingertips against my face felt like ecstasy.  As she bows down to kiss me once again, the last of my strength leaves my body and I collapse into her.

Almost as soon as my eyes closed and I lose consciousness I am standing in that field again, in my dream.  The lights aren’t flashing this time, and unlike the cold sensation that consumed it before it is now a warm and pleasant meadow.  I am standing on the banks of a placid creek, and I crouch down to touch the water.  It’s gently chilled, and in the dream I feel weightless, though I am still bound to the world’s gravity.  My hair floats about around me like slowly moving fire.  I see a ripple in the pond.  And again. And the ripples begin to look like foot steps walking across the pond.

From the surface of the pond steam rises and forms into the body of a woman.  But the sun is now lower in the sky, and it’s blinding brilliance permits me only to see her naked silhouette.  I hear a murmuring.  I know this voice… I can hear Yuzuho speaking to me…  But I can’t see her face.  I can’t understand what she is saying, but I have no doubt it’s her voice.  The murmuring grows warbled, and harder to discern.  I swear for a moment I hear start a statement saying “I am”.  She is trying to reach me, but it’s as though there is a barrier of air between us.  I reach out my hand and sudden a fierce wind starts to push me away.  The air is filled with daffodil petals and the wind grows more intense as I try to fight against it more.  I want to get through this wall of air, I want to hear what she is saying because for some reason I feel as though everything, my whole existence depends on it.   I push too far, and I fall off into the water, and it’s so cold I instantly start to shiver.  The water sucks me down, and down, and I can still feel Yuzuho above me calling to me but her voice fades into nothing… “al…a   a…ra….  al…ra….   Alira”, I hear a voice now shouting”

Suddenly another wave of cold water doused me, and my eyes begin to open.  Through the water in my eyes, I see people standing over me shouting “Alira, wake up, Alira!”  My eyes now open and clear of water I can see my room light is on, and Sheila and Fallon are standing over us one with a small cup now emptied of water.  Two other female students and Cadet Ensign Partridge crowded around my opened door still in their pajamas.  I feel very faint, and I can’t seem to compose myself.

“Alira, are you okay?”, says Fallon crouched over me on my bed with her head ducked down under the upper bunk.  “I… I… I…”, and I am only able to speak in a whisper.  After a few more attempts I finally get sound to go with it, “I don’t know”.  My voice is squeaky, quiet and wispy.  Sheila pulls Fallon back a little and crouches over me with a flashlight and a BTTG dot in her hand.  With the penlight still in her hand she puts her hand behind my neck so she can affix the BTTG to my forehead.  Once placing it she shoves a thermometer into my mouth and begins to shine the light in my eyes.  She furrows her brow a bit, and turns my head to the side a little to palpate my neck looking for nodules.  She gets wide-eyed seeing, or feeling something with her fingers about my neck, and reels back a bit.  She then reaches in to the pouch she is wearing around her, and pulls out a portable blood pressure cuff.  From behind her I hear the other girls ever so slightly, “What happened?  Why was it so hard to wake her?”, “Hey why was Vampire Chick sleeping in a stain’s room on the floor”,  “Just get her up already, or we might get in trouble”,  “She’s just feigning illness, get the bitch out of bed”.  Sheila takes my blood pressure, and turns now to the door while it runs its cycle, “Shut the fuck up, ladies!  Return to your rooms before I reprimand you.  Get ready for breakfast, that’s an order”.

“But, Cadet Captain!”, says Partridge as she is cut off by the Captain, “That includes you as well, Ensign!  Now, out of my sight before I start getting serious!”  Partridge salutes and darts away shocked that the Sheila actually used her authority to give orders.  Sheila is the same year as us, but started at this school with a higher rank due to her ranking at her Elementary level schools.  I can see a visible blue glow on the bunk above me as Sheila returns her attention to me and the blood pressure cuff.  A sense of confusion and befuddlement crosses her face.  Fallon irks in under the bunk up by my pillow and looks, “Is that normal for you?”  I am too weak to do much more than nod my head.  “Well, that is odd… Very odd.  I am dumbfounded.  I have treated many people with tempest sickness, and I have never seen someone display all the signs of it, while having such an intense BTTG read”, says Sheila.  “You are a blood expert, are you not?”, she says now looking directly at Fallon.  “Yes, yes I am.  I removed as much of her poisoning as I could last night, but I am sure there is residual.  I also did regeneration on her after she passed out.  I heard her scream last night and found her laying on the bed unable to move.  I did first aid, but she was otherwise not in danger.  However, I stayed awake all night watching her from the futon on the floor, Captain”, says Fallon.  That’s the most I have ever heard her say in succession, and she didn’t once mention what really happened last night, and I understood that was for the better.

The captain sticks a blood tester to my index finger and with a sharp jab, draws and tests my blood.  “Just as I thought, your blood is very leached of glucose and electrolytes at the moment”, Sheila says confidently.  “I knew that already, ma’am”, Fallon retorts. The Cadet Captain quickly rebukes while leering at Fallon through the corner of her eye, “As I’d expect from a hematologist.” My body feels leadenly affixed to the mattress, and even attempting to adjust my position was difficult, as I had little strength to do so.  Fallon is holding my glasses apparently spacing out a bit while seemingly inspecting them.  “Fallon, I am putting you in charge of watching over her for the next two days.  You will be permitted to leave to get food, changes of clothing, and other necessities, but you will shower and everything else in her room”, Sheila demands gently but firmly.  “Can you manage that task?”, she adds to which Fallon only nods.

“Okay, good.  I’ll leave this to you to manage, and will sign and authorize 2 days of medical leave for the both of you.  Also, take this, and attach it to her.  If her condition changes the box will alarm and wake you up.  You need rest or we’ll be treating both of you for tempest related disorders.  You’ll have to sign for the gear later”, says the Cadet Captain, now standing and handing a while medical box from the bag to Fallon.  “Cadet Ensign Rutger, I have tried and tried to get you to be more participatory for the sake of unit cohesion.  Tried and failed.  While I am sure some would have preferred you to show that sort of attitude towards everyone, and not an Exile, I am none the less happy that you are taking the time to take care of your fellow classmates.  I don’t know what encouraged this, but I guess that doesn’t really matter.  I leave you in charge here, contact me via this card if anything happens”, says Sheila now handing Fallon a chipped contact card.  “If she starts to experience hallucinations as a result of poisoning make sure to take her to medical immediately, or call emergency care line 302”, she finishes while walking to the door.  “Take care”, she says then shuts the door behind her.

Fallon begins setting up the medical box and pulls out the auto-retracting sensor wires and begins placing fresh sensors on their tips.  She is stone silent, and I am both weakened and sort of paralyzed at the thought of what I just heard.  Did I imagine it in a vivid dream, did I hallucinate everything that happened last night.  Fallon wasn’t at all acting how I would expect her to act now that we were alone.  She’d resumed her strange stoic silence, and wasn’t speaking a word.  She was very cordial while attaching the sensors to my head and arms, and she reacted just as a nurse would when she had to pull back my blanket and apply sensors to my chest.  This transformed mood of hers caused a pang in my chest, and that sort of worried sweat I get when I am nervous makes my skin clammy.  I am nervous that I was hallucinating last night, and worried that perhaps it was in my head, and wondered what I did in that state.  There was indeed a futon on the floor, but I was sure she was in bed with me last night.  And come on, how weird is it that she’d be a vampire, someone who sucked the blood of humans.  As I laid there being taken care of by Fallon, I picked apart my experience of the night before.  Picking apart the plausibility of it all, calculating in the effect that I may have hallucinated…  Nothing made sense, but it felt real to me.  But as a skeptic, I was forced to concede, reluctantly, that my experience itself was anecdotal.  She finished applying sensors and turned the box on.  Then holding down three buttons simultaneously made the screen flash green and red.  An instance later she looks toward my console on my desk, while still holding the buttons.  The console auto-activates, and instead of my student desktop it is displaying my vitals.  She pulls out a fiber optic link cable and connects it to the blood pressure cuff.  The blood pressure cuff is a single unit, integrated armband with finger O2 monitor, which she extends the lead of and tapes to my ring finger tip.

Still anxiously watching her in my lethargic state, she walks over to the monitor and presses an orange button on the screen.  The door latches it’s lock electronically, and the light on it flashes orange instead of solid pale green.  I seek to purge my mind of this feeling, of this ache and conscious anxiety knowing Fallon is in the room, and that I may have hallucinated the entire event last night.  With a wave of her hand she turns the light off.  The sun is up outside, but it’s cloudy and snowing.  I can’t see the snow fall amount, but there is a tiny bit on the lip of my windowsill, and a decent rate of snow falling that is barely visible from this angle.  Fallon looks at me, then checks the sensors visually, and lays down on the futon to sleep.  I am no longer looking at her, but I can hear this in the silence and dim, bluish light of my room while staring at the bunk above me. I look over and see her reach up to press a blue/green button on the front.  She rolls up to her knees and takes an Auto-inserting Intravenous Device (AID) and attaches it to a special “Wire/Tube” combo assembly.  She then puts a plastic syringe tip in it, and pulls off the blue cap.  Peeling the adhesive off the arm band she places it on the inside of my forearm, and snugly adheres the band with the adhesive tab.  Pushing the blue/green button again causes a tiny laser light to shine on my skin, at which point I can see the needle aiming itself via tiny servos.  The needle activates, and penetrates my skin and puts a plastic catheter in a vein.

I wince and feel nauseated enough watching it that I have to avert my eyes for a moment.  The white box beeps a few times, and a woman’s voice comes out of the box, “Ready”.  She then pushes a blue and white button on the top of the box causing two retainer plugs to eject with a popping sound.  One plug was blue and one was white.  From the medical bag she pulls out two long tubes of fluid (one of water, and one of a bluish tinge with electrolytes and sedatives) with sockets at the bottom that look like the sockets on bottom of the plugs.

“What are you doing”, I ask in my wispy voice.  She just looks at me and presses her lips together in a half concerned face, and a half-smile.  Each tube of liquid has a rubber seal at the tip with a clear tube going up the center all the way to the opposite end.  At the end of the clear air tube in the center was an air cavity with a plunger separating the liquid and air in the tube affixed to the air tube itself.  She pushed the water into the white socket, and the transparent blue liquid into the blue socket.  I could hear air pressurizing the tubes of liquid and start pushing the plungers down.  Upon pushing the blue and white buttons again the diluted blue mixture started to flow down my IV tube, and hit my injection site.  With an intensely cold sensation, it flowed up my veined, up through my arm and into my shoulder.  It tingled a little bit.  My leaden body became uranic, as I felt as though my entire body became intensely more dense in mass than it was before.  Fallon crawls over to the edge of my bed and rests her head on her crossed arms, and watches me.  I am starting to feel dizzy, and light-headed, more than before.  I look at her and we stare into each others eyes as the heaviness in my body makes me submerge into deep sleep.  I am not sure how many hours passed, but I awoke to a sound at my door and it’s now very dark in my room.  Via the external street, and building lights I can still see the frozen precipitation falling, and I hear someone outside the door rattling a metal tray.  “Rutger, Cadet Ensign”, I hear from behind the door.  The door light flashes green and Fallon walks in with two trays of food stacked on top of each other on top of a rolling bed table.  The clock reads 9:07 pm, and the white box has only a 3rd of its water left and half of the blue fluid.

Rolling over to my bed while kicking the futon beneath it, she waves her hand under the bunk and turns on a bunk light.  The bunk light is a blue aura around the edges of the bunk above me and provides very soft whitish blue light.  Their flicker is like that of LED’s.  She rolls the table over me and pulls my chair up to the bed side.  She pulls out an extra table on the side after lowering its height to my lap, and pulls her tray off the top and sets it on the extended side.  She opens the mini-fridge and hands me a green 24 oz recovery drink after removing the cap.  “Your electrolytes are still very low, and your blood still isn’t totally free of toxins yet.  You need to drink or you won’t recover”, Fallon says finally situating herself down to eat.  I drink half of it, and set it down on the table.  I pick up my right arm which is very cold from being above my blanket, with cold fluids flowing into it and begin to eat.  Fallon only picks are her food, like usual, and I wonder to myself why she gets so much if all she does is consume mostly protein enriched rescue drinks.  The food is artificial turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, and something that looks like either spinach or collard greens.  It’s too mushy, and very bitter so I avoid the green goop.  But the gravy and mashed potatoes are like those of a TV dinner, both in flavor and consistency.  I can still taste the fact that the turkey substitute is mostly soy.  Fallon picks at her food silently, and in some ways it almost feels like she is sulking.  But I don’t know why.  She also seems subtly worried with her down-turned expression.

“I’m sorry that you end up being my nurse, and being forced to stay up all night watching over me”, I say to her trying to reassure her and ease my tension fueled by her expression.  We both seem nervous, as she finally speaks something other than a request to me, “It’s no problem.  I couldn’t leave you in that miserable state.”  I start to feel guilty at this point, wondering if perhaps I made her do something she didn’t want to because of her own guilt, or empathic capacity.  I feel a lump in my throat thinking about it, and I am unable to resume eating.  “So, I didn’t hallucinate and do something weird last night, did I?”, I ask and she immediately goes red in the cheeks and drops her fork causing it to clang against the table.  She appears very troubled by that statement, and she stares down at her tray for several moments unable to respond.

Her eyes still turned down, “It’s okay.  I am sorry.  If you want to hate me now for how I responded to you last night then that is okay with me.  I went to far, so please forgive me.  I gave in against my better judgement, and I know that I am not supposed to.  Please forgive me. I did it without your expressed permission in a state where you were physically compromised”, she rattles off apologetically.  I was unsure how to respond to that, but I felt both tense that she was in that emotional state of worry and anxiety over me, and simultaneously I felt relieved that I didn’t do something awkward in a compromised state, and that it really happened.  “It’s okay.  I don’t see anything wrong with what you did last night.  You don’t need to apologize.  If I didn’t like it I would have told you, straight out” I reply warmly.  She looks up at me from her food with a surprised look, and starts to blush a bit.  As if to attempt to wash away the sudden surge of emotion inside her, she giggles a little nervously and then hides her face behind a bottle of cherry protein as she tips it back to drink.  She is so nervous that she is now chugging it and not paying attention, causing liquid to spill over the edges onto her civilian clothes.  Pulling it down from her face rapidly she chokes and coughs on the improperly consumed beverage.  Now, with her free hand, she pats up the liquid from her chin, neck, and shirt.  She is wearing an Ark Guard Citadel turtleneck shirt, and a very long skirt with tights under it and winter boots.  The outfit is in standard military colors, and the sweater has her rank and class on it with 2 green dots.  I had yet to wear my off-duty winter gear yet, so this was the first time I’d seen it.

Regaining her composure now she inquires, “So, um… Are you, um?…. Uh…. Never-mind… Forget I said anything”.  “Am I really transsexual?  Is that the question you wanted to ask?” I prod.  I should have waited until she was done drinking to ease her sore throat from her earlier attempt to drink, because as soon as this slipped out my lips she sprays cherry flavored sports drink all over her tray full of food from her mouth.  Grabbing a napkin from my tray, she pulls back a couple to dry the table and her mouth.  Patting down the rest of it she looks at me through her raised brows with a feeling of reluctant curiosity.  “Yes”, I assert hesitantly, as even though most people know that marks relate to sin, most don’t know what they mean without looking them up… There is nearly a 137 of them after all.  “You don’t taste any different”, Fallon says then turns bright red realizing the alternative interpretations of her statement, “That’s not what I meant.  Uh, I mean, that if… You know… Uh… errr… That, um… Sorry, just sorry.” She goes to stand and walk away but I grab her hand as she uses the table to push herself up.  I can feel her trembling, and she stops in her tracks and stares down into my eyes, and me into hers.  “Please, don’t leave”, I say to her softly trying to hide any emotion I feel in this awkward moment.  “I’m not leaving, I have to use the restroom.  I know what you want to say.  I can feel it inside you, but I just need you to hold that thought for a minute”, she says with me now releasing her hand.  She walks backwards for several steps, all the while watching me, then turns away to enter the restroom.  I am anxious again sitting in here waiting for her to emerge from the water closet, half worried that she’ll disappear inside that room and I’ll never see her again, though I know that won’t happen.  My courage seems to wither in the silence as I anxiously anticipate the end of the silence.

She emerges from the door, and walks to the sink quietly.  Waving her had in front of the sanitizer dispenser she cups her hand to receive the foam in her palm.  Rubbing vigorously above the sink, her hands trigger the faucet and she washes them clean.  She turns and looks at me again with the towel in her hand drying them, and then chucks it down on the edge of the sink.  Noticing that I am mostly done, she removes the drink from the table and rolls it out of the way.  I grab the beverage, now on my night stand, and drink it down to a quarter of its full volume.  Fallon walks over and sits down in the chair again.  “Well, you know… You were a little ‘too’ eager last night, if you ask me”, she says with a light smirk on her face while giggling a little.  I avert my eyes and I can feel the warmth in my face.  I am sure I am three shades of red brighter than I was before.  She was calling me out as revenge for making her sputter, spit out her juice, and turn red so much.  “That’s a side of me no on has seen in nearly a decade”, I say solemnly.  Fallon stops giggling, and her face seems pained now… “I have to know if that was a fluke”, she says then almost lunging across me over the side of the bed.  I am shocked so I reel back more into my pillow, and her face is hovering over mine.  She puts her left hand against my face and she reaches down.  I can feel her breathing on my face again, and her lips hovering hesitantly over mine again.  She sighs and I can feel her respired breath across my lips.  I feel as though my lips are eagerly awaiting hers.  With her right hand she interlocked fingers with my left, and pins my hand against the pillow to balance herself as she leans in more.  She is still hovering there above me, looking at me, and me at her.  She leans in, and at first her lips passively touch mine.  But after a moment she kisses me deeply, and I kiss her back.  A warm sensation fills my chest and shivers go up my spine.  Nothing could feel more right.  She leans back up again, and sits on the side of the bed releasing me.  She sighs at me, takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling.  “Not a fluke”, she says reluctantly.

“Alira”, she says now looking over at me, “I don’t understand any of this, but some how I know it’s right.  I feel as though I knew this truth before, but I can’t quite remember why.  I’m scared.  If it was found out, I’d surely be branded as well, and there is no way of knowing if I could stay in the Citadel.  And, as I am sure you are aware, I have less of a chance of fending off carders. I’m overwhelmed, Alira.  I barely know you, but it’s like I already knew you…   I just don’t know what to do… I mean, what am I supposed to do?  This world doesn’t accept what I did, what that could make me, and the chances of us fleeing to Iceland are slim.  I was raised by the Church, by society, to be revolted by what I did, what we did.  Yet, no matter how much I know that, I don’t feel that towards you.  I just fell right into it, effortlessly.  As if it were as natural as breathing.  And, there is this weird disorienting deja vu in the back of my mind.  The familiarity of your scent is messing with my head.  What are you doing to me?”

Her rambled together statement moved me to tears, “No, don’t do that… I’ll cry too if you do”, she resounds.  She turns her face away, but it doesn’t stop her from crying as well…  I reach out my hand and hold hers, and she holds mine back.  She is trembling again, and bobbing her knee up and down nervously.  She leans in to kiss me again, and as soon as her lips touch mine her trembling stops.  She pulls back again and covers her face partially with one hand for a moment, then she wipes her tears away.  She is still holding my hand, and I am starting to feel heavy again.  The food and drugs still in my system are taking their toll on my consciousness.  In her embrace, and touch, there is no doubt that it could cause me to fall into sleep.  I was so relaxed in her presence.  My world was transforming around me even though little had actually changed.  I guess that is how it is when you long for the touch of another, and when you get to experience their embrace.  Your whole world changes… Everything shifts into new hues and colors.  Something stirred deeply in me, and I was powerless to control its cresting wave.  But the future was more uncertain than ever now, as the world we lived in was a hostile place.  We couldn’t fight the world alone, but in her presence I didn’t care.  We went to sleep together again, and we got to spend two whole days together, alone.  At the moment, even though there was uncertainly we both followed our feelings and hearts where they led us.  The world is seldom so simple, but in that simple feeling it seems that way some how.  Our last night on medical leave we made a promise to each other.  We promised that we’d be there for each other, and that we’d do whatever it took to stay together.  We also promised to keep our feelings for each other secret from the world that hated what our love represented.  We willingly took on that burden, knowing very well what it could bring.  Where would this road lead us, what was happening to my powers, would we make it out alive?  All these questions infested my mind.  What will this new future bring?