O, Death: Part 1

by Matt P.

Saturday, 3 AM.

There was screaming in her ears. Screams of pain, screams of fear, screams of the outside trying to get in. It was in her ears and in her head, and she couldn’t get away from it. It echoed and rebounded the walls of her mind, taking on a mocking quality at times—and others the tones of damned souls crying for release from torment. She couldn’t escape them, and she ran through the dark corridors of her consciousness to try to find some way out.

“Do not run, child…it is only the closing of your eyes, and then nothing…”

Siobhan Richards woke up screaming, gasping, and crying. The room she was in was dark, and for agonizingly long moments she didn’t know where she was. She stared up in to the darkness between her and the ceiling that seemed like it was swirling, like it was alive, and tried to remember…anything. Slowly it began to come back to her where she was—but remembering didn’t decrease the fear. Quite the opposite; as she remembered more her heart began to pound faster and the feeling of how monumentally screwed she was bore down on her like a physical weight.

She sat up and her head swam with the exertion, the dark room spinning around her. She carefully slid out of the bed and gasped as her bare feet touched tiles that felt like ice. She looked down to see that someone had changed her in to a hospital gown—a terrifying thought on its own. She shivered as she came out from under the blankets, and between that and how frozen the tiles felt under her feet she realized she probably had a fever.

I’m in the hospital, I have a fever, and very few of the lights are on. Shit, shit, shit, gotta move… her brain felt like it was finally beginning to speed up as she stumbled toward the door. There were lights on in the hall, albeit dimly, and she was able to open the door carefully. She slid out in to the hallway silently, edging carefully in to the light toward the nurse’s station. Padding lightly down the blandly painted green hallway, she heard something coming from the station. She leaned up against the corner to peek around it…

And then literally and figuratively slumped in relief at what she saw. It was a sign of how confused she had been that finding Antigone hadn’t been her first thought. Her twin was at the nurse’s station trying desperately to dial out on the phone there, and cursed as she slammed it back down on to the receiver. She looked up, and the annoyance was replaced by relief. “Oh thank God,” Antigone said seriously, coming out from the station and running over. In the moments before they were desperately hugging one another Siobhan saw Antigone was dressed in the same hospital gown and lack of shoes.

“We have got to find some goddamn pants,” Siobhan gasped in to her sister’s shoulder before they pulled apart. “What happened?” She surreptitiously reached up to wipe her eyes while she asked that, and knew Antigone was pretending not to notice.

“Do you remember the flash of light, and then all of the lights going out?” Antigone asked. Siobhan grimaced, and nodded. It was about the last thing she remembered, followed by searing pain in the center of her skull and then what she supposed were unpleasant fever dreams. “I think that was the hospital being cut off from the rest of the city. Only the kids who had started to show symptoms of the fever are still here—I can hear them in some sections, but with you unconscious…” she trailed off, and Siobhan knew. Antigone had wanted to go after the children, but wouldn’t leave her sister.

Siobhan’s voice was a bit hoarse as she spoke. “Thanks,” she said, trying for gruffness before she looked around. “Matt and Nat?” She asked. Antigone shook her head.

“I think they must be in one of the other sections.”

“Do we have any idea what it is?” Siobhan asked. She closed her eyes and began to focus, letting the familiar energies flow through her the way Morgan had been teaching her, to summon her sword. As she did so Antigone went back to the nurse’s station and pulled out what looked to be an old school notebook, the front cover faded yellow and the spiral-binding barely hanging on to the paper. “I found this in the room Matt and Nat woke up in. I think it’s their journal,” she explained as she began flipping through pages.

Siobhan nodded, leaning over to see. There were some sections that were filled with the scrawling text of preteen handwriting, and some with drawings of surprising detail. “Any hints?” She asked hopefully.

Antigone nodded, finding the page and looking at her sister. “There is, but it isn’t good. Bonnie, I think that I know what’s here. Death…gone mad.”