The Lab

Ten days till she got to see her boyfriend. Her coworkers were tired of her bubbly excitement about the upcoming event. She had told everyone she could about it. She knew they had betting pools for how long this long distance relationship would last. She was determined to prove them wrong.

She toiled through the workday, making samples for analysis. The week flew by faster than she had expected. Every night at nine at night she got a call that made her heart soar.

“Hey babe!” She giggled into the phone.

“Things good?” He asked, she melted over the sound of his husky voice.

“Things would be better if you were here.”

“I know honey but not much longer.”

She yawned loudly into the phone, “Sorry, I’ve got data to crunch before bed. I’ll talk to you later and see you soon.”

“See ya.” The line disconnected.

She needed to write an eight page paper on her current research for a grant. Resigned she typed away at her keyboard and eventually fell asleep on top of it. She woke up in a panic in the middle of the night realizing she was only half done. Frantically she wrote and inserted her data. She muttered to herself trying to remember what she needed to include in this particular paper. The sun was starting to peak into her window when she finished. She clicked send on the email and looked at the clock which was just ticking over to seven. She dressed quickly and scurried out the door.

“Hey how’s it going?” Her supervisor said standing over her shoulder.

She continued to sort samples and prepare them for analysis. Her supervisor was making her nervous. “Good.”

He moved on to hover over the next person he spotted. He gave her the creeps when he would hover like that.

She packed up her samples and carried them down the hall. She knocked with her free hand nearly spilling her hard work on the floor.

“Hey, these are ready to go. Do you know how long its going to take?” She passed them through the door.

“Are they time sensitive?”

“To some extent, but nothing specific.”

“I’ll have them ready Thursday at six.”

“Thanks.” She went back to her work space to clean up. She was looking forward to her nightly call.

She stopped to pick up dinner at her favorite Chinese place. She had the menu memorized, but she still looked it over just to be sure. She made her choice and handed over her credit card as she ordered. “Can I have a number five?”

The guy behind the counter nodded and ran her card. Her food came up and she ran back to the car, snow was starting to come down. She ate and without a paper to write she curled up in bed right after she hung up the phone.

She tossed and turned all night, when she got into work she was cranky. She didn’t mean to slam the door to the lab closed. While preparing samples she put four instead of three drops of solvent in.

She cursed quietly under her breath. She had to ditch the whole tray of samples. She jumped when she heard someone behind her.

“Hey its just me…” He said trying to calm her down.

“Sorry…” She muttered trying to get away from the office perv. He had more sexual harassment lawsuits pending than anyone else in the company.

“Did you want to go out tonight, just the two of us?” He reached and leaned over to trap her.

“No thank you.” She said ducking under his arm and getting back to her work station. He hovered around making her skin crawl. He would occasionally make a remark that she ignored. Eventually he got tired and left to find an easier target.

“I don’t know how they keep him on staff here. He’s one lawsuit away from holding the world record.” Her friend said on the phone that night, before the usual nightly call with her boyfriend.

“You’re telling me, I have to work with him.”

“Oh, Jackson is going to call you soon, I’ll let you go.” Her friend said disconnecting before she could say another word. Her phone rang in her hand, she was delighted to talk to her boyfriend again.

She went into work the next morning battling winter storms. She hoped Jackson’s flights wouldn’t be delayed. She stepped into her lab and had just taken her coat off when she heard one of the others curse loudly. Then the explosion.

There was an article in the newspaper about the incident, and the counter for days without injury was reset to zero.

 

Lost Girls

Peter Pan had his Lost Boys. They were our inspiration. A group of kids who banded together to survive. We called ourselves the Lost Girls. Me and two other runaways started it years ago. Our leader calls herself Wendy to the new recruits, her real name is Peggy. She and Antonia ran away to be together at thirteen, they found me starving in a warehouse. We’ve been together ever since. We’ve gained new members since then, orphans, runaways, anyone needing shelter for a night or two.

Some stay around. Peggy and Tony screened the new members making sure they are loyal to our girls. I start the training. We are in a rough part of town most of the buildings are abandoned. We have claimed about a block for ourselves, mostly warehouses. I usually hang out in the training space.

“Babes we got a new recruit.” Tony told me as I practiced kicking the bag.

“Got it.” I grunted.

“Who’s face this time?”

“Give you three guesses.” I knew she had a pretty good idea who’s face I wanted to be kicking in.

She sighed at me. “I’ll bring the girl.”

I nodded my braid swinging and hitting me in the butt. The new girl showed up an hour later.

“Max?” She asked approaching cautiously.

“Yep.” I grunted stopping my treadmill.

“Wendy sent me here.” She said as I stepped off dripping in sweat.

“Yep.”

“You’re going to train me?”

“Yep.” I grabbed a towel from a bin. We were well equipped after so many years. “Any skills?”

“I can run fast.”

“Show me.”

She stepped onto the treadmill. She was a tall lanky thing her strides took up at least two of mine, and she was decently fast. Not quite up to running supply raids yet, but she might be able to outpace a bike cop. I don’t get any of the background on the girls, but here is supposed to be a fresh start. Only Peggy and Tony knew my story, and that’s how I wanted to keep it. I nodded approvingly. She was out of breath quickly. I made a note to work on endurance with this one.

“Anything else?”

She shook her head.

“We’ll work on that.” I told her. Then I showed her around the compound, and set up a training schedule to get her up to snuff for raids. She would be responsible for herself here.

I went to shower off in the residential quarters. I dressed in my usual black clothes and headed to the headquarters.

“Any raids planned?” I asked, I helped pick teams if I wasn’t going myself.

Peggy looked at me worried. “Something is wrong with Tony. Shes been acting weird lately.”

“What do you mean?”

“Restless. She can’t sit still. I’m worried shes going to run away from us.”

“To where?”

“Scarlet…”

I knew Peggy was worried about Scarlet, a troubled girl who had joined our ranks and nearly destroyed us. She started her own group, she was like our Captain Hook in the Peter Pan analogy.

“Tony isn’t going to leave you. You’ve been together for nearly seven years.”

“I still get worried.” Peggy said rubbing her forehead.

“The Lost Girls need both of you.” I rubbed her back the way that I always did when she was freaking out about Tony. “Tony knows that.”

“I guess, how is the new girl?”

“Fast, that’s about it. She should be ready to help more soon.”

“Good.”

We walked out of the headquarters, and it was back to business as usual.

“Can you deter the police tonight.” Peggy asked. “Flu is going around.”

I nodded, I liked reroute the police missions. Sometimes they came by to check out what all the noise was about. I headed down to the street.

“Time to do my job.” I said excitedly in the twilight. I saw the cop car coming down our street. I flagged them down. “Can you help me? I need directions.”

“Miss call a taxi if you need to go somewhere.” They said dismissively, they drove off.

I walked the streets waiting for the next one to come by. We needed to keep them away since we did weapon training with all the girls and sometimes it got out of hand. I dodged some of Scarlet’s scouts, their territory almost bumped against ours.

I ran a solo mission for supplies, mostly feminine hygiene products, we were always low on those. The cops sent over two more patrols during the night, I distracted them from the lights in the warehouse.

Peggy freaked out over Tony more in the following days. The new girl got trained and fit in well with the other girls. Tony was the same as always. Things were pretty normal in the clubhouse.

Agent 5474

The blood dripped from her fingertips she never expected her powers to be this strong. Everywhere she looked her mind flashed back to the events. Finding the den, slipping inside unnoticed, nails tearing at her skin as she sliced throat, warm blood spraying, then silence.

Her polished boots were soaked with blood, and they squelched when she walked through the red puddles. She placed a gloved hand on the door knob glancing back at the destruction one more time. She felt like a tiny part of her had died along side them, but they needed to be exterminated.

She flipped open her cellphone as she slipped down the fire escape.

“Agent 5474 reporting. Hostiles eliminated. Returning to base.” She hopped the last section of the ladder and landed neatly on the street. She walked calmly to the street, her black clothes hiding most of the blood. She wiped her face with her sleeve and put on a pair of extra large sunglasses. A baseball hat hid her hair.

She hailed a taxi as she pulled on a red sweater from her go bag. The cabby didn’t need to know it was also full of guns. She smiled politely and slid into the back. She gave him directions to where she needed to go. She walked the few blocks left to headquarters.

“Why red?” Her assistant, asked he had too heavy of an accent to do field work. She arched an eyebrow at him. “I mean why do you always wear red after a successful mission.”

She shrugged, she had plenty of reasons for wearing her sweater after a mission, just like she had reasons why she brought guns. “Backup plan.”

“I don’t understand.” He shook his head, and let it go. The whole organization had an understanding, let field agents do as they needed to as long as they got the job done. “The Commander is waiting for you.”

She nodded and headed up several flights of stairs to the penthouse floor.  She pushed open the huge doors and stepped into the well furnished office.

“You’ve got quite the nickname.” The commander said looking over her files.

“I am aware sir.”

“We will have to see if Silent Death can take these out.” He offered her a stack of files. “All our info on your next target.” the

She took it and walked to her living quarters. She showered and changed into civilian clothes. She would be out on her next mission tomorrow.

She left at noon dressed in fresh black clothes, her go bag full of guns slung over her shoulders. It had everything she might need, but she hadn’t needed any of it yet. She went to the address of the den. It was a nondescript house it looked like all the others on the street.

She slipped into the backyard and threw a window into the house. She knew exactly where they would be this time of day and descended the stairs to the basement. Sure enough they were all there, sleeping in piles on bones and corpses. She had seen it enough that she didn’t gag anymore. The smell of the whole place was revolting.

She slipped her dagger from her sleeve into her hand. The first two went down without a sound. The others in the room did not know that death would soon be upon them, but they would smell the blood soon enough. Warm blood dripped from her blade, her hand soaked with it. Another went down without a fight. Thy were waking up. She would have to be fast. She willed her powers forward.

There was a sharp hiss as she sliced though two at once. Her sliver blade holding onto the blood. There were still a substantial number left. Faster, she urged herself. The next one went down with a gurgle her left hand holding onto its trachea as the body fell away.

The blood coated the floor, her arms, her face. A shower of blood got the rest of her when she spun to take out one that had just waken up before it could sound the alarm. The pile of bodies was substantial, every movement she made dispatched more of the monsters.

The room smelled of death. She walked up the steps and out into the sunlight. She wiped her face with her sleeve and pulled on her red sweater. No alarms had been raised, any other dens in the area would not be alerted to their raid. She called and reported her success. Silent Death had struck again.

Rags to Riches

“Are you sure about this your Highness.” The squire asked as the King donned the rough clothes.

“I do not want my queen loving me for my title, or riches.” He declared.

The squire looked at him questioningly. He did not approve of the Kings plans at all, it was far too dangerous.

“Everything will be fine.” He assured his squire with a firm pat on the back. He walked out of the room. His squire followed close behind him.

“Now Sire, it’s a little different out there.”

“I know!” He shouted, “Let’s get on with this search.”

“Yes Sire.”

“Don’t call me anything royal out there.”

“What shall I call you My Lord?”

The King was deep in thought, “What about Ennis?”

“As you wish Ennis.”

They walked out of the palace, the squire sped up to walk next to his King.

“What are you doing?” The King asked pointedly.

“Out here, we would be equals.” The squire squeaked falling back a bit.

“Oh, okay…” The King said uncertainly.

They walked through the square to the markets. The King looked over all the young maidens with a critical eye.  On occasion he would nudge his squire and ask a few questions about the woman before them.

Once he got his confidence up the King went up to a young lady.

“Hello, you are the most beautiful maiden I have seen all day.” He smiled charmingly. The woman ignored him. “My name is Ennis, would you be willing to accompany me to the tavern for a drink tonight?”

She reached past him to get some bread. “Sorry Ennis I’m busy tonight.”

“Busy doing what?” He asked. She didn’t respond and pushed past him. He returned to his squire. “Why didn’t she say yes?”

“Sir. I mean Ennis, if I may be so bold, you were a little forward with that young lady.”

“What do you mean?”

“You scared her off. I can show you the art of seduction.” The squire said. He departed from his lord’s side and approached the young lady who had just rejected the King. He reached for the same piece of fruit as she was, they bumped fingers. He apologized, and laughed. She smiled brightly, the King watched in awe as his squire got the girl who paid no attention to him to agree to meet his lowly squire again.

“How did you do that?” The King asked when his squire returned.

“You have to be nice.”

“I was nice.”

“You were being Kingly. Think of her like a princess you are willing to do anything for.”

“I would do anything for her.”

The squire sighed. “Pretend you are a servant and she is your queen.”

“But I am….” The squire shushed him.

“Until you find your queen, if you want them to like you without your power, you must not use it.”

The King sighed, “I guess you’re right.”

“Lets try again.” The squire prodded the King to try with another beautiful woman. His attempt to make the woman swoon failed. They tried again, another rejection. The whole day was full of rejections. The King was getting sick of it at the end.

“How can you be so charming?” He asked his squire.

His squire shrugged. “Lets try a less difficult target. Lets try that homely girl over there.”

The King walked up and tried to be charming. The girl seemed flattered by his attentions and agreed to meet him again.

“I did it!” He said triumphantly. “I’m not sure I want to meet her again, she isn’t exactly my ideal queen.”

“Lets just see if we can make it through the meet up.” His squire said. “We should end this day on a high note.”

The next day went worse when they met the second time. She stormed away from him obviously upset.

“What did you say to her?”

“I was just being myself.”

“Sir you have a mark on your face.”

“I told her she wasn’t exactly my usual type.”

His squire rubbed the bridge of his nose. “We’re back to the beginning then.”

It took three more days before he got another woman to go out with him, this one was a humble scullery maid, not one of the beautiful doted on girls the King wanted.

The King sighed into his tankard at the local tavern, “Maybe I should just host a ball and have them all come to me.”

“I thought you wanted a girl to love you for you.”

“None of the pretty ones seem to like me…”

The squire sighed. The pretty ones he was referring to were the ladies groomed from birth to attract wealthy men for marriage, men exactly like the King. The problem was they didn’t want anything to do with a knight. They could be flattered but would never consider anything serious.

“That scullery made seemed really interested in you as a person.” The squire consoled.

“I have to wait till tomorrow to know for sure.”

The date with the scullery maid went well enough, she had agreed to see him again if he approached her father.

“I don’t even want to see her again.” The King complained.

“She’s the only one who has seemed to like you.” The squire told him bluntly.

“Boy that was too far.”

“Sir, if I do not tell you things honestly you will be chasing your tail with the wrong women. Those who are pretty are looking for money.”

“Then I should tell them I am the King right?” The King slurred drunkenly.

“Sir what is the point of us being out here at all if that’s what you’re going to do?”

“Right, right. Love me for me.” He slammed his tankard on the table.

“Lets get you home.” The squire said slinging the King’s arms over his shoulder and leading him back to the castle.

The squire dragged the hungover King out of bed the next day. They needed to talk to the girls father about continuing the courtship. They jumped through more hoops. She seemed to really like him, and she was growing on him. She was cleaned up and dressed simply but she looked moderately pretty.

A few more outings together and the king confided that he may love the girl, who was lucky to have a knight even glance her way.

“Its about time you asked for her hand in marriage.” The squire told him.

“How do I do that?”

“You get a ring, and say will you marry me?”

“What sort of ring should I get?”

“If you get something fancy she will know you are wealthy, if you get something simple you will maintain your ruse.” The squire said. “At this point I think she loves you for you.”

“Maybe something moderate.” The King fretted.

When he finally asked she said yes.

“How do I tell her I am the King?”

“Bring her to the palace and have the wedding there.” The squire suggested.

“We should start planning.” The King planned everything, there was an announcement throughout the kingdom that the King had found a bride. He brought her to the palace on their wedding day.

“Isn’t it a bit rude to have our wedding the same day as the King’s” She asked nervously.

“I don’t think he minds.”

Her father trailed behind them to sign papers, the squire walked beside him. The King threw open the doors and led her down the main hall to the throne.

“Where is the King?” His bride asked looking anxious.

“My dear, I am the King.” He said grandly sitting down on the throne.

“Honey get down from there I don’t want you beheaded.” She nearly giggled.

The squire produced the papers for everyone to sign, making the marriage legal. Servants rushed out with food, and musicians appeared and started playing.

“Let the celebration begin!” He announced clapping his hands then taking his new brides hand.

“You really are the King…” She stuttered as he lead her to the head of a long table.

“I wanted you to love me for who I was.” He said kissing her hand.

“I don’t have the right to be queen…” She whimpered. “I’m just a servant.”

“A servant who fell for me without my riches or power.” He said excitedly.”And I fell for you too my love.”

“This isn’t what I wanted…” She sobbed. “I wanted a simple life in the country…”

“It’s okay, I have a country estate that we can go to.”

“Who will look after my father?”

“He can stay here with us. I can take care of your every need. You will get use to the luxury. Give it a chance.”

She cried through the whole wedding.

Road Trip

The sun streamed into the hot car, her legs getting sunburned. The seventy mile an hour wind wasn’t helping cool her off much in the humidity. The wind whipped her hair into her eyes and mouth. Clouds threatened rain off the horizon, but didn’t block the sun. The radio was turned all the way up so she could hear it over the roar of the wind. She sang along to every song.

The street signs flashed past. Her metallic aviators shielded her eyes from the glare of the sun as it beat mercilessly on her car. She took a swig of warm water, it had been cold when she grabbed it. Her shit was plastered to her back with sweat. There was no relief from the heat.

Her stomach growled and she pulled off the expressway. Without the wind the heat was stifling. She went inside to order, sighing sweet relief in the air conditioning.Her sweaty shirt was sticking to her. The back of her legs were slick from her sweating in the car, she nearly slid out of her chair as she sat down to eat. She went to the bathroom and wiped the sweat off of her neck with a paper towel. She looked into the mirror. Her makeup had run down her face. The bags under her eyes were more pronounced than they were yesterday. Two days on the road already were wearing on her. She splashed cold water on her face and cleaned up the makeup. She smirked when she realized that was why the cashier gave her a weird look when she had walked up. She used the mirror to pull her hair back off of her sweaty neck. When she went back outside the heat hit her like a hammer.

Her car felt like an oven while she drove in the stifling heat. The drink from the fast food joint was cool and refreshing before the ice melted. She could smell herself baking in the car. She would need a shower as soon as she got off the road. She brushed her hair back from her forehead. The radio station she was listening to turned into static. She flipped through the stations eyeing the horizon nervously.

There were at least another hundred exits until she would reach her destination. She was miserable as she saw the rain break from the clouds. She quickly rolled up her windows. The heat was killing her. It felt like she couldn’t breathe in the heat. Sweat dripped down her forehead and neck, as rain sluiced down the windows. There was still so far to go.

 

Apprentice

“Don’t bleed on my floor.” The magician said looking at his young apprentice’s disheveled appearance.

“I’ll try not to.” The apprentice said clutching his side.

She flicked her fingers at him, lifting the fabric of his clothing to examine his wound. “Now if you had done your studies in healing this wouldn’t be a problem.”

He shuffled past her. “I should have gone with Master Milo.”

The remark cut deeply, she had been fighting to be recognized as a magic user for most of her life. Things were not going well with her first apprentice. She rubbed her dark eyes. “Come here and we can review healing and get you right as rain.”

He walked back over to her, and lifted his shirt.

“Now touch your fingers here, and repeat after me.” She spoke the arcane words to heal him. He repeated after her and his wound stitched itself up.

“I got that thing you wanted.” He said holding out a frosty orb. “Why did I have to get it?”

“Because that’s how I learned.” She snapped. “You need to learn the practical side of magic not just the theoretical use.”

“Charlie with Master Milo doesn’t have to go find stuff.” He whined as she took the orb over to the enchanting book.

“Does Charlie know how to summon a horse spirit?” She said placing the orb on the stand and beginning to chant.

“I can’t even summon a horse spirit.” Her apprentice said.

“Well I can teach you.” She placed the orb on the ground and snapped her fingers. A huge ice stallion appeared in their tiny work space. She led the horse outside and picked up the orb. “You keep this with you and when you snap your fingers ta-dah horse.”

She showed him the spell in the book, it was a fairly simple summoning spell. The hardest part was finding the summoning orb.

“I’ve got to run some errands, would you like to come along?” She smiled kindly hoping he would, for learning purposes.

They went into town. She picked up supplies for potions and explained each of the properties to the boy. She spotted one of her childhood rivals walking towards them she tried a deterrent spell but it didn’t take, she was too nervous.

“If it isn’t the little witch.” The woman said. The Sorceress saw her apprentice unable to take his eyes off of her.

“Master Babette,” She corrected. “I believe you are now mistress to the Ovenstine clan?”

She gleefully saw the fire ignite behind her rivals eyes.

“I see you’ve taken a younger lover.” Her rival said fanning herself from the heat of the scandal.

“Abracadabra.” The magician shouted, the other woman flinched and nearly fell to the ground in terror. “Oh… you’re still a bitch.”

She left the scene the other woman standing there in shock. Her apprentice had to run to keep up with her. She had no patience for people who disrespected her, she had put up with that enough though her training. She could see new respect, and possibly fear in her apprentices eyes.

“Can I use that?” He asked as they left the market.

“What toadsfoot, of course you can.”

“No…” He stumbled over his words.

“Boy, you can stand up for yourself when you need to.” She smirked. “Make sure you know its a fight you can win. I can show you how to win fights.”

He nodded agreeing to her terms.

Sixty Seven Days

I can hear cheering and congratulating. I try to open my sleepy eyes. They are so heavy.

“Breathe.” A voice commands. I do my best, its so hard, I don’t want to make them angry.

Someone pushes my eyes open its too bright to see. There is some angry discussion.

“Our experiment was a success.” Someone says, not to me.

I try to form words but I can’t really feel my face at all. I hear someone crying in the corner. I feel a vague pressure on my hand. The crying sounds like my mother.

“Its okay sweetie, you’re back now.” My mom says.

“Mom?” I croak, almost not a word. I try to grab her hand back I don’t know if it worked.

I can hear a reporter speaking, “The world celebrates with the first human revival. Humanity has finally defeated death. It has been a tense two months watching her progress. Please send in your questions.”

“What?” I say a little better. Last thing I remember was going into surgery for my lung.

I can feel her petting my hair back from my forehead. “It’s okay… It’s all going to be okay.”

The doctors named me a success and bundled me up to go home. I could hardly move let alone walk, but everyone seemed so happy. I was able to see after a few hours of trying to open my eyes.

“You know sweetie all you’re friends were so worried about you.” I heard my mother say from the front seat of the car. I kept my eyes closed most of the way home, the world was blurry and it was making me feel sick. “We are going to have your favorite dinner when we get home.”

I didn’t want to eat dinner, it tasted like cardboard. There was a constant stream of people coming in to congratulate me, tell me how happy they were to see me. I could only voice a couple words, my vocal chords hurt.

“So is she like a zombie now?” I heard a little girl ask, I couldn’t remember who she belonged to. Her question startled everyone they all fell silent. The question rolled around the room in whispers.

“Zombie?” I asked feeling gravely wounded.

“No honey, not at all.” My mother cooed.

“Monster?” I choked, starting to cry. I felt embarrassed for crying in front of all these people. I couldn’t go anywhere, my muscles were not strong enough. I could barely hold up my hands to cover my face.

I could hear the little girl being admonished for her question. I’m sure everyone was thinking it.

“Go,” I managed having a hard time breathing. My mother helped me out of the room and away from the people.

“You’re not a monster, we all wanted you back. We missed you so much.”

That didn’t change the fact that the people downstairs were looking at me like I was going to eat them. It didn’t change the blurry vision, or the tasteless food. It wasn’t the same. Everything was a struggle to do, I moved so slowly. My mom put me to bed. The night felt better, cool, dark safe. I could see better without all the blinding lights, the constant headache was gone. I lay in bed all night looking at the stars. I fell asleep when the sun came up. My mother tried to wake me but I was too tired.

I could smell breakfast but I didn’t want tasteless pancakes. I kept sleeping. She came in again at lunch and dinner. I slept until the sun went down. I tried to move but I was too weak. I watched the moon travel across the sky though my window. More TV crews showed up the next day interrogating me, forcing me to be awake during the day. I couldn’t help but glare at them as they shined bright lights in my face.

They asked my mother all kinds of questions, they tried to ask me but I only gave them one word answers, which was all I could manage.

A week passed, my mother did interviews for me letting me sleep during the day, leaving food for me to eat in my room. Then the letters started to show up. Hate mail mostly. Telling my mother I was an abomination, the dead should stay dead. She tried to hide them from me, but it was easy to read the graffiti on the sidewalk.

We watched old news reports that were playing constantly since my revival. It was hard to watch the “live” broadcasts of my surgeries where they poked around in my body. The first five failed revivals before they finally woke me up were terrifying. I couldn’t watch them and looked away most of the time. Mother seemed to be riveted by them.  She read me articled about how magical it had been that I had been revived.

I couldn’t take any more of it. The life I had now seemed fake, less sparkly than the first one, even if it was short.

After a month I could feel my body starting to deteriorate. I could hardly see things, it hurt to make any noise, my skin was flaking off to reveal the atrophied muscles underneath. I looked disgusting. My mother didn’t even want to see me, but the news crews flocked like flies to the living rotting corpse. I couldn’t object since I couldn’t speak. This was the worst death I could imagine.

Everything was pain. I wasn’t eating, or drinking and I was still alive. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me when they came with their TV crews. I could hear my mother pleading with them to put me out of my misery. I was their crown jewel, there was no way they were going to let that happen.

Once all the TV crews had left, and it was just me and mother. She was crying.

“Baby, I’m so sorry I did this to you.”

I wanted to cry with her.

“I’m going to fix it…” She whispered kissing my forehead. I saw her pull out the gun and put it to my temple. I wanted the sweet release of death from this torture. “I love you…”

I summoned all my strength. “Love you too…”