Scarlet Cough

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Last time, on TAOCM…

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!”

“…feeling better?”

“Much, thankyou.”

And now, the epic journey continues…

_________________________________________

“Daniel?”

I’ve just woken up in Delirium, once again. My last moments in Reality were spent on the run from another shadow, until he had thrown a bar at my head. The last thing I was thinking was that my friends were going to kill me. I had deserted them, again.

“Fuuuuuck,” I rolled over. Rock, cool uncomfortable rock. But there’s light, so I’m not a prisoner, thank god.

I hear footsteps, and I brace myself. When Daniel comes into view, I’m relieved. But then I see his face, and the man behind him.

I snarl. “What do you want?” I demand.

“I wasn’t aware she was part animal,” the fat man muses.

“I’m human,” I retort. “Isn’t that the same to you?”

“Temper, temper,” he says in what I think he intends to be soothing. Or he’s deliberately trying to rile me up even more. If the latter is the case, I don’t give him the satisfaction, but I glare at him, making it clear that he isn’t allowed to step one foot from where he is towards me. “I only want some questions answered.”

“I’m sure you do.”

“And are you going to answer them?”

“Will you give me a reason why I should?”

He smiles, and says in a dangerously low voice, “Mutts and freaks aren’t meant to be running around, my girl.”

I glance at Daniel, who inclines his head towards the fat man. I just sigh. “Ask what you will.”

He begins. “How long have you been acquainted with your friend Kaya?”

“We are not friends,” I say. “But I’ve known her since the beginning of last year. Perhaps longer.”

He raises an eyebrow, and when I don’t elaborate, he moves on. “And what do you know about her death?”

“As much as you would,” I reply.

“Which is?”

“Very little.” He flinches when I look at him. “But I do not blame her for wanting to die.”

“Why ever not?”

I raise my hand, the one with the scars that read FREAK. “There is little sympathy for us in this world,” I say.

The fat man recovers, and clears his throat. “May I say you speak eloquently, my lady. It’s hard to come by these days.” He looks meaningly at Daniel.

I refuse to accept the compliment. “I am not a lady. Do not address me as if I am royalty.”

“Many would relish that title,” he points out.

I raise an eyebrow. “Kaya was a lady,” I told him.

He moves on. “Would you care to give your insight on the incident with Kaya’s murderer?”

It wasn’t murder, I nearly spit out. I wonder if he hears my thoughts. I wouldn’t know by his face. It shows nothing. “I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“Say what happened.”

“But I don’t know what happened. Not really.”

He looks at Daniel, and he returns to me with a smile on his face. “I have just one more question for you.” When I say nothing, he continues. “How many times have you experienced death?”

I shut my eyes and count. Fire, Drowning, Stabbing, those horrible treatments, and all those times on the Lake of Ghosts…. “A lot.”

“So why are you still here?”

I scoff. “Do you really think I have an answer?”

“I’m merely curious.”

I sigh. “As far as I’m concerned, this world is only in my head. When you die in a dream, you wake up in Reality, correct?”

“So why do you continue to return to the dream?” His tone is somewhat disproving, as if I was doing something wrong. Maybe I am. But it’s not as if I have control of it, do I?

“I’m not sure. Maybe I’m meant to do something in the dream. Maybe it’s not a dream. I keep asking myself that,” I muse.

“Do you believe we are merely a figment of your imagination?”

“I don’t know what to believe,” I confess. “But in all honesty…” Something you are far from capable of… “I think this world is too real to be a mere hallucination. I may think differently later, but that’s what I believe.”

He nods. “I’m interested in these…resurrections of yours. If you don’t mind, I’d like to do an experiment.”

The word experiment automatically unsettles me. “Don’t you dare…”

Daniel, who had been quiet this whole time, is suddenly in front of me, a blade raised in front of the fat man. “Don’t be so stupid Daniel,” he sighs. “I wouldn’t be as foolish to give her to them…”

Then I feel cool steel against my neck. “I can see it happen for myself, without their assistance Daniel. Don’t worry, if it is as you say, she’ll be back soon.”

Daniel flips around, horrified, and when the blade pierces my throat, he screams out.

I woke up in Reality. I wondered why I still had the taste of blood on my lips, even though Delirium was a world away. Then I coughed, and realised the taste of blood on my lips was actual blood.

I had been coughing up blood.

And then I saw him. He was a shadow, but somehow I knew it was him. “Get away,” I snarled.

He merely grinned, and slammed into me. “Ah!” God he’s fat… All of it overwhelms me; the events in Delirium, the sudden body slam from a man as large as a Snorlax (yes, that’s the only way I can describe it), and now, Kaya’s voice screaming in my head at the man, who is now climbing out of the bathroom, through the roof. Let me have control, she begged. I can take him, I can kill him, I can end him!

I nearly refuse, but I’m too weak, and I don’t want to feel the pain anymore. I let Kaya carry the taste of blood and my aching limbs.

She didn’t end up killing him. She was me, and I was weak. I wish to god I wasn’t. I wish that somehow I had some measure of strength in me.

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