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Iron Quill - Identity - Accident


DrTroglodyte
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Accident

1431 words

All Ingredients

 

 

 

The dull throb of thoughts that pooled in Ellie's waking mind circled around, too much like water to catch, to hold on to. Her feet hung from the low dock that the workmen used to cast their nets across the lake, the banded lines of water rippled across her mind as she remembered. She stared into her own eyes, lit barely by the waning moonlight. Her eyes trailed upward hoping to bathe in the calming presence of pinhole stars, but the approaching treachery of the Malifaux dawn had already blotted them from the dome above her. Her reflection beckoned.

 

Ellie could feel the heat of her own eyes, they bored through her skull as she searched for meaning beyond the quiet hum of compulsion. She rested her hands upon her stomach, shielded from contact by a thin, wet, dress. She admired the peonies that filled the green void, a garden all to themselves. Her stomach pulsed, she listened, she felt, she waited. No movement. No sound. She smiled.

 

“At least I did something right.” She bent her neck to either side and marveled at her hair in the water. It lay straight, flat against her skull, dripping water across her shoulders. She raised her hands to address it, wringing small sections onto the dock. A tune returned to her; she began to hum. Her hands ran through the spider-hair, a makeshift comb so far from home. She remembered the morning, perhaps it was this morning, or some yesterday's morning that continued to haunt her mind. She had roused, she had been alone. She recalled drifting down the stairs of her tiny stone house, into the kitchen. Tea served to quell the morning malady that she suffered early in the process, and as the time neared, it comforted her to have routine.

 

She pressed her fingers through a large rip in her dress, against the flesh of her rounded belly. “We loved tea, didn't we?” The soft coo of her voice cradled the still water below, then vanished beneath the docks. The harsh roots of the Malifaux wild created pungent teas, and there was always some new root to cure any ailment. Perhaps she would have a cup once she returned home.

 

Ellie searched her reflection for clues. Apart from the tear in her dress and the silence in her body, she seemed no worse for wear. She turned her head to the side, noticing a missing earring. She reached up to remove the remaining twin from her left ear and it fell easily into her palm. She stared, uncomfortable, at the pearl. Something about it seemed off, or unimportant. She raised her arm and threw the trinket into the river. “Damn thing.” She

winced at the words. Did she just swear? Was that something she did?

 

But the discomfort she felt from the accessory didn't leave with it, her thoughts continued to be driven from her mind, and the water rippled against her feet. It was cool, warm, comforting. She looked around the dock for her shoes, then questioned why she would walk through town without them. “Perhaps...” she craned her head to look around at the buildings up against the river. “Perhaps we live close-by.” The discomfort abandoned her, she felt the building intensity fade into nothing.

 

On the far bank, a blackbird lighted upon the ground and began to root in the mud. Ellie watched it with meticulous curiosity, the creature's mechanical, automatic, violent movements stirred her fascination. She liked wild things. She could remember, the smell of decay in the swamps, the bogs outside of the city. Her pants hiked high so as to not soak in the stench, the grime. She could see herself scooping around in the water, skimming through the mud, searching, questing. The bird made a harsh noise, then looked at her. The discomfort returned. This time she winced and her entire body followed suit, muscles tightening, coiling around her as she lay down on the dock.

 

She was ill, perhaps. A long night of drinking, a late night swim that resulted in a sickness. It was nothing that couldn't be remedied with rest. And tea, of course.

 

Paul. The discomfort faded into nothingness once more. “That was his name.” Her words fell from the wood, dropping into the water like pearl earrings. She could almost hear the words strike, disturbing the still water surface. She remembered back, further back, to when she didn't wake alone. Before she swelled, before the tea. His crisp, clean uniform, nicely pressed and hanging above the doorway, two golden sun-stars on the lapel, a symbol of all his accomplishments. She could see the deep red cap upon his head, he looked boxy, less handsome without it. He smiled at her with bright green eyes, they reminded her of the sea.

 

The sea! It seemed so distant, separate from this river. The motion of the waves, the tide as it slid between her toes, the salty air that took her in its arms and lay her against the sand. His hands pressed on her sides, the calming revelation: “I got us tickets.” She remembered the train ride. A doubling pain coursed through her, accompanying the discomfort that seeped through the cracks of memory. The water now between her toes transformed, a glue-like consistency replaced the flowing water. She recoiled her feet and stared back at her doppleganger. “Who are you?”

Her words bounced from the water back into the streets. She pulled her legs up, curling even more tightly as her nerves fired wildly about her body, needles against her skin, pinpricks in her sight. She writhed for moments, long moments, her dull thoughts too placid to break the surface of pain that wracked her.

 

The ebbing tide of misery returned to the void. But she found her hands gripping the soft, wet, wrinkled flesh of her stomach. She pulled her hands away, staring at the weak, loose skin that hung off of her bones. She wrung her hands like her hair, her dress, and water burst forth. Horror seized her for only a moment before the pain returned. She coughed, and water erupted from her lungs. She gasped, gasped for breath. Breath that wouldn't come. She heard the flow return to the river, her eyes clouded with the same water as it realized how close it was to home. She struggled to scream as the movement from within began once more. A turning, turning kicking, clawing, scratching, moving pain. The cool water that fled her body did little to soothe the white hot pain that began to erupt, a spiral out from her legs, upward to her chest.

 

The water ceased pouring from her eyes, and as the vision cleared she saw another woman, crouched over her, wild hair like hers, twisted face. The mystery woman wore a brown cloak, and what looked to be pieces of a nurse's uniform. She held, in her left hand, a scalpel, which she was tracing, delicately, around Ellie's stomach. A raspy voice crawled from the woman's throat. “There, there, dear. We'll get you free.”

A moment was too short for Ellie to realize what was happening. A harsh twist of the knife, flesh and dress torn aside as one. She remembered dying. She remembered needing to save her child from the life she'd created for it. And now, that dream was violated. The anguish within her mind was beyond the physical. She moved, struggling to free herself from the invader's grasp. But her body retained its weaknesses from life, she was unable to stop the onslaught.

 

Moments, long moments. And then a glassy-eyed figure was wrenched from her body. “You're not too wet, are you dear?” The harsh voice cooed to the tiny human. Was it human? It looked grey, grey and blue. It moved though, squirming in the bloody hands of the violating midwife. “Yes. You're beautiful. So beautiful.”

 

The woman stood, and Ellie found she still couldn't move to stand. She felt parts of her body. Not where they should be. She gasped as she felt the heel dig into her side, and slowly press her toward the edge of the dock. Ellie sputtered a soft: “Please...” and watched the water rise to meet her.

 

--  --  --  --  --  --

 

“Sorry, love. Sometimes you accidentally get both.” Amerine rubbed the small face of the newly created babe. Pulling from her bag a soft linen cloth, she swaddled the figure and pulled it in close for a kiss. She glanced toward the water's edge. “Well now, Love. She was a mess, wasn't she.  Guess I'm your mother now.”  

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