I woke up with a start, shivering. I held my cold white sheets closer and brought my knees to my chest. I took long, slow breaths. It was empty in the room, nothing except for the moon’s reflection on the white tiled floor and cold medical equipment. It wasn’t the sound of the IV. I was accustomed to the rhythmic dripping of the IV. This dripping sound was sporadic, and seemed to mimic the soft thump-thump of a living heart.
I shook it off. It was just the morphine. I was alone, always alone. Thank god for morphine. The numbness was not comfortable, but it was much better than the pain from the stitches. Heart surgery was definitely not a walk in the park.
Aida wandered around the hospital - the blood that ran down her ribcage was dripped ever more slowly. She started becoming agitated as it got later, and she could still find no one was awake for her illusions. What if there was no one? She shuddered at the thought and her empty ribcage rattled as she shook. She leaned against the nearest door, pressing her palms against the window, black nails softly scraping against the glass.
I was insane, I was sure of it. I tried to laugh it off, but the chuckle caught in my throat. I told myself that it was only my imagination but that soft thump and scratching against the door was all too real. I didn’t want to turn around but I my curiosity took hold. I saw her, and stopped breathing.
Finally, there was a girl who was awake. I slowly made my way into the room. Her dark hair was matted with the sweat stemmed from a nightmare. Perhaps that was why she was awake. Her skin was pale, and she was a thin speck of a young thing. The stare from her eyes showed different. There was age, maturity, and shock in her eyes. Shock? Her eyes were wide open in shock. I staggered back in surprise and the dark eyes followed my stumble.
There was a girl in my room. THERE WAS SOMETHING IN MY ROOM. I stifled a scream. I couldn’t scream. I could barely breathe. I wanted to scream, but instead came a muffled whimper. It wasn’t a girl, and I didn’t know what it was. Her upper body was nothing but a charcoal emptiness surrounded by a decrepit mess of bones, flowing from it was the drip-drip, drip-drip of a missing heart. I couldn’t move. Was this a reaper? Great. I had finally died. She had a horn that glowed an iridescent pale red. Her skin was paler than mine at my worst. Her hair was an ice white, blue and wintry. I met her eyes and she stumbled back. Her gray blue eyes, emotionless at first, showed surprise and incredible fear. She was just as scared as I was, and perhaps as delicate as I was.
We stared. Neither of us dared to move; dared to speak; both of us cowards afraid of the dark, the unknown, the silence.
She spoke, her voice soft, shuddering and weak.
“You… aren’t supposed to be able to see me?” It was both a question and a confirmation. The recipient answered with a question of her own.
“Are you a reaper?”
Perhaps I was a little too forceful because she took a step back, looking confused.
“Am I dead?” I demanded, agitated. My heart clenched a little and I immediately knew the answer. There was no way I’d be having heart problems if I was already dead. God couldn’t be that cruel.
“You… don’t look dead?” She looked more confused than I was. “How is it possible that you can see me?”
“I don’t know but seeing you nearly killed me. You aren’t exactly what a sick person wants to see.” Calm. Stay calm. Breathe deeply. I took long breathes, in, out, in, out. My heart steadied and I can again hear the mechanical pitter patter of my pathetic heart.
This girl could see me. I didn’t know what to do. She was asking me all of these strange questions, and I had never talked to a human before. She wasn’t frightened of me, maybe at first, but I had seen more shock than fear in her eyes. I didn’t even really associate with other unicorns because they were fearful of me. I was different, incomplete, and unnecessary- but all I wanted to do was to live. I didn’t even know why I existed, if I should even exist. Others looked at me like I was a parasite. I wasn’t like Seine or Ceros. I didn’t give dreams - didn’t chase away nightmares. I just gave hallucinations. I couldn’t help humans at all; I just took their blood so I could replace my lack of a heart. I was an abomination. What could I do? What was I supposed to do? Her voice interrupted my thoughts.
“So, what are you exactly?” I lowered my voice as the girl looked like she was on the verge of tears.
“Hey, well I’m incomplete as well, but if anyone asked me what I was I would’ve said human or something. Unless, that’s what race or species you are?”
She slowly shook her head. “Unicorn” she paused, “Or as much as much of a unicorn as I try to be.”
I chuckled, my imagination was certainly strange. “Girl, I thought unicorns were horses with these horn things. Now, you have a horn thing, but it’s red, and then you’ve got a girl’s head and a skeleton’s body. That’s definitely not what I pictured a unicorn to look like. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s pretty far from what anyone imagined one to look like.”
“Not girl. Aida. I’m Aida. I told you, I’m incomplete. This-” she motioned to her skeletal figure “Is not supposed to look like this. As for the human look,” She paused, “it’s just a form, the other form… is more horse…like.”
“So, I’m hallucinating, and I’m talking to my hallucination. I’m Cheryl” I laughed. I was experiencing that hallucination from medicine I had always wanted have. I had seen others under anesthesia but I had never remembered anything of what I had gone under. I was introducing myself to my hallucination, it seemed polite at the time.
“No. I’m not the hallucination, I only make hallucinations.”
“Seriously? Give me one then!”
No one had ever asked me for a hallucination before. They were very rarely pleasant, full of rats and maggots, childhood traumas and pain. Hallucinations thrived off fear, off worry, people were always scared, pessimists, and damaged beings. But here was a girl just welcoming the pain.
“Can’t be worse than my current situation, don’t you think? Besides, I already think I’m hallucinating so why not make it more of a hallucination? MY HALLUCINATION IS TALKING ABOUT GIVING ME A HALLUCINATION” I laughed at the absurdity, laughed hard, for the first time in a long, long time. “Make it a good one!”
We fell with a thud, past a sea of empty nothing. I was falling into a hallucination I had not conjured. I didn’t belong in hallucinations, I couldn’t control one if I was in it. I grasped the air desperate to grab onto anything, but it was useless. When we landed in a cloud of dust, I braced myself for the worst of the worst hallucinations, but this one was different; there were no maggots in the IV, no sea of rats. The sky was golden, and the ground dusty and warm. I knew this. This was a memory, and warped memories were the worst hallucinations. They felt real; they were real, and they distorted memories shut and locked away. We had to run.
I grabbed the teary eyed girl who had already stood up, standing stone still, watching the house we had landed in front of. I pulled harder, but there was no response. I no longer saw that strong girl that had wanted a hallucination, but a small child.
What was her name again?
“Cheryl!” But it didn’t come from my mouth. A man had called from the porch. I was invisible to him.
“Papa!” the girl smiled, oblivious of my existence, lost in her happy memory that would soon turn sour.
This was the day that my father died. It had been a blazing summer day; too hot, too muggy, I could feel droplets form on my forehead.
No. There was my father, right there, calling for me. Why had I imagined such a horrible thing?
((Dad can’t die?? Dad commits suicide, blames Cheryl(dad dies in car accident;; uhh); life insurance; mother blames Cheryl, wants Cheryl to die sooner so that she doesn’t have to pay the bills, she’s taken a life insurance claim on her, so if she dies there more money her mother gets??))
This was dangerous. Someone had given Cheryl too much morphine. That’s why I was dragged into something I had not created, lost in a memory I couldn’t get out of. Someone didn’t want Cheryl around—blahblah I knew I needed to get away??)
(dad disintegrates in front of her??)
I snapped, “You’re actually alive and you want to be dead. I want nothing but to be able to feel as you do, live as you do, have an actual body instead of these skeletal remains and a need for blood.”
It was different
I felt something for the first time. A feeling of exhilaration, a feeling of fear: I felt ALIVE. It felt better than
It’ s the damaged edges that make you unique
You gave me the life I never actually had.
I’ll always remember you; even if you forget about me.
But she didn’t, and always kept that shockingly icy white lock of hair tucked securely away into the locket that never left her side, knowing they would meet again.
Humans were humans, loud, egotistical, and above all, selfish.
There was a reason we had decided to separate from them, cutting off all interaction. But they were destroying themselves, and the time to the world’s devastation loomed nearer and nearer. There was nothing we could do but help them. We, arrogant and aged, too old, too tired. We had lived since before the sun was alive with its flames, and we would continue to live. We refused to burn with the sun.
“Council session will proceed!” A lean, older woman announced the continuation session. It had been hours since the discussion had started, and yet there was still no conclusion to the human problem.
There were 12 of us total, one for each month of the year, 6 men, and 6 women. From a distance an outsider might view us as human, but we were far from that. We had kept tabs on the human race for years past, in recent years we stopped keeping track. So here we were, closed off in our own world, a population of about 2 million, absolutely unknown to the human race.
But now there was the climate crisis, there was the high level of pollution, and there were the cries of the earth. There was no way we would not be involved if we didn’t want to watch the earth crumble away.
We could have left, could have moved our ancient island, but there was something endearing, homely about earth no one put their hand on. And there was all the trouble of moving, which would take as much energy as solving the current earth crisis.
I wanted to help the earth, but that meant being involved with the humans.
I also didn’t have much say in the council, because I was by far the youngest member, at age 70, I but a child compared the elders in their 3 and 4 hundreds. I was voted onto the council because I had been born with an immense amount of crystal energy, and I knew that the closer I was to the top, the better they would be able to keep an eye on me.
“Aeotha!” I jerked up in surprise. Not once in the past couple hours had my name been called. Bleary eyed, I stared at the woman who had called me and immediately straightened. She didn’t look kindly on my apparent absence.