Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part,
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard,
Oh, take me back to the start.
~Cold Play, The Scientist
The following scene occurs during the last scene of Eulogy.
Air gathered in abiding silence high above the church's lonely century year old benches. It moved like a weighted sadness for a few moments, then dropped almost apologetically down to where Helen stood isolated inside her Sanctuary stone walls.
Helen felt the soft touch blanket her face tingling the skin with it's icy presence, perhaps a cold hand saying her last goodbyes that she could not answer to.
Crumbling layers of stonework surrounded her, it's small cracks a cry to its age and all that it has seen. Each bricked stone block encompassed her like a strangled breath. Her raw soul felt sickly, all wrapped up in a confused fog that was this moment.
The air continued to crawl about her face, a soft breeze that could have been a familiar hand. Every second now it chiseled away what was once her tough exterior that she fought to uphold, for so long. But now it was achingly numb to all but her lasting memory of her fierce daughter.
It was well into the night and the only light emitting was from a single white candle Helen had lit and placed to the stone floor.
Slow passing air continued to crawl calmly between small minute crevices of stone, high above from broken window panes lining the chapel walls. The tattered oak wooden benches sat alone, quiet, like shadows of friends and family members that wanted to comfort away the pain, but not with words because nothing one could say could ease the pain, but with an embrace.
Helen's deep sobs echoed through the open precipice. She placed a tear drenched hand on top of Ashley's coffer. Helen's mind was overcome with images of her daughter, of her youth, her once carefree laughter and wonder for life. Her smiles and grief from their years together. Each memory bled in and out of her mind, order less and sporadic without control.
She stood alone in a world that needed such honest and compassionate people. The world is better for it. The world is better with it.
"Ashley," the name barely broke a whisper. Her tears slipped across her flushed cheeks spilling down her neck, her voice a helpless plea and shaking cry, "I should, have never let, you go. This is, my fault."
But no response came.
It is when you lose someone you love, one often speaks aloud as to force a truth that one's words are carried to the lost—to the dead. To the one you will never stop loving. Forever.
Helen could barely stand. Her heart so heavy it seemed to pull her towards the ground. So she let her body slowly fall, and gave in to the dark sorrow. She leaned her back against the casket and stared intensely at the little lit candle. She drew her hands to her face and choked through her sobs at the reality.
For a brief moment she raised her head to a passing breeze raking across her face again. Her eyes fell at the candle's orange flame twisting and waving its tiny fiery glow. It reminded her of Ashley's final seconds in this world. Cobalt eyes closed to the memory once more. With it her grief pressed warm tears to touch the cold night air. She silently cried her weighted grief to the dark empty room, burying her face into her hands again.
"You were my life..."
Gregory Magnus strolled along an empty cobbledstoned avenue in the Praxian underworld. A soft passing vapor mass danced quietly across the capital buildings and streets like a creeping shadow. Although Hollow Earth did have its own controlled environment that did in fact produce actual various weather patterns prevalent to the surface above, like this very miasma fog. For Gregory it was still, artificial and unalive, a recreation and most literal; fake.
The mist and dew of the night lingered on his face, like a soft rain. He was walking alone back to his residence from a recent Council meeting. There was a peaceful air on the street, lit and aided by hanging lanterns that flickered its flame twisting and bending inside glass lamp poles. Every evening was like a passive walk into the past, of old London.
Gregory wiped away the watery mist from his forehead with an old hanky, given to him from Helen. It was a small gift she had presented to him as a child, for Christmas. Or rather one of his she had found in his work desk that she had wrapped with care in paper and string. He never went about without it.
On nights like these and even during the days, the fake days of sunshine and night, Gregory would imagine Helen walking out from a side meeting street, arms open for a hug. He missed her so. He knew that to keep her protected he had to walk away for her. Staying at the Sanctuary would only endanger her and her work and he would never let that happen.
Hollow Earth was like a futuristic London, perhaps a London that had never seen the light of day, per se, of the dark ages. A sort of realm that existed to show what great feats of humanity could arise if man had not condemned punishments to new ideas that caused absolute fear. Fear from the unknowns of what man did not understand.
Gregory remembers reading, with much sadness, how alchemy in its early years would have warranted prison and death. It was the early days of science. For it is man's greatest need to learn and discover new frontiers and ideas. As like the Salem Witch trials once did, death asserted itself from fear. Man has so much to learn. So much not to fear. It was sad that Hollow Earth, the mere center of the very planet was where man and Abnormal could live together in harmony and continue making efforts to improve life.
Gregory leaned into his wooden cane, as his black boots shuffled over the laden stone, the bottom end of his cane clicking each time he placed it back on the street. It almost sounded like a horse's hoof. It had been a long time since he had ridden a horse. The very thought amused him into a smile.
He loved walking the peaceful streets of Hollow Earth at night. There was always a sentiment of magic in the air in the wee hours of the morning—an odd sense that made him feel like he was in a dream world, where time actually stood still. He thought of Helen and her Sanctuary and all that knowledge she had wanted to share and the decades of work that had been studied and cataloged. Gregory's thoughts fled back to the last time he saw his daughter last and his brief time getting to know his granddaughter. Ashley had grown at a normal rate as any child would. However, Ashley did have the recessive gene as did John, for teleportation. Helen had discovered this shortly after Ashley was born. There was a rare genetic sequence, thousands of threads long, which held a specific magnetic field. The field itself surrounding these genes were minuet but the smallest of variances in the sequences held the power of instantaneous transport. But these traits were recessive and dormant. And as a medical doctor one knows that such genes usually do not 'turn on' during one's lifetime.
Gregory let the memory fall away as he found himself studying the weaving patterns from inside a lantern's housing just ahead. He watched the blue tinged leaf shaped fire flamed dance in twisted life when suddenly, a noise startled him. A loud thud accompanied with a roaring cry filled the empty spaces around him. It had come from an adjacent meeting street just ahead.
He began to walk faster, aware of his limited range of motion but nevertheless quickly stumbled around the corner. A gasping and disoriented body met him. His only companion on this quiet street. He approached with reserve, not wanting to startle a fright and reached down with his left hand to try and steady the person crouched at his feet. "Be calm child. You are safe, what has happened?" Gregory bent down further, dropping his cane to the cobbled street and placed a hand to the shoulder of the stranger.
The relenting gasping continued as a face slowly surfaced and groggily stared up at him. "Dear god child." Gregory nearly collapsed at the site of his grand daughter.
Ashley's blue eyes were entirely unfocused and unnaturally dilated. He could tell this much from the soft yellow glow from the street lanterns. Ashley's labored breathing was loud and automatically erratic, and she clawed and reached her arms out unconsciously as if to draw air back to fill her lungs.
Gregory could see her nails were long and black, vampiric like. He had seen his before, in Nikola. "My dear," his voice increasingly frantic. Gregory kneeling beside her, was lost in absolute confusion as he watched his granddaughter fight to find breaths right in front of him. He could not fathom how she was there, in Hollow Earth. But that was the least of his worries.
"It is me, Gregory, your grandfather. Ashley can you hear me?" He gently grabbed her wrists to keep her from reaching up to his face, unwillingly as she was. But her heightened strength was subsiding. He could feel the resistance abate the longer he pushed her hands down to her stomach.
Ashley's pupil's kept their unusual black dilation, slowly rolled up into her head slipping her into unconsciousness. Her breathes remained loud as her autonomic response took over once again as her body ached for the life supply of oxygen. Ashley's body was slumped at his feet, and on her side. Gregory knew he had to get her off the streets, and fast.
He reached to his side grasping for his cane. He leaned into the brick wall of the side building and used it as a second crutch to stable himself to his feet. He only had to get Ashley half way down the street to his front door, and get her safely inside.
"Alright, I am going to help you," he promised through a shaky breath. "We are going to find out was has happened." Gregory was doing his best to keep his fears from keeping his own body from collapsing down, motionless onto the street corner. He knew he could not pick his granddaughter up with his injured leg, so he did his best to gently pull her to his front door. With one hand on his cane, and one hand clinging to her black collar, he made his way warily to his door across the street.
There inside Gregory had Ashley safely inside his home free from prying eyes. He had brought her to the glass elevator and to the top floor of his building, into his library. As a scientist and medical doctor it was the safest place Ashley could be. Second only, at her home, in her mother's care.
Gregory's residence was a building located on a corner street in the center of Praxis. Large windows the size of walls opened to the city beyond. His library was almost incredulous to the eye. He had pulled Ashley into the middle of this room, and placed a small pillow beneath her head. He had gone to his study and gathered both his medical instruments as well as Hollow Earth technology to find the cause of Ashley's critical state.
Ashley's breathing had digressed back down around 80 beats a minute. Gregory had kneeled down to her and was checking her pulse from her neck. She laid still and unconscious. Her black nails had retracted and no sign of the other Sanguine Vampiris traits. Gregory had formulated a hypothesis of a late genetic mutation occurring in her DNA. He knew she was a child from two source blood parents and he often wondered why she had never herself had traits surface like this before.
He had learned of Ashley during the short stay at the Sanctuary, after Helen had removed the Cabal cockroach that kept his memories suppressed. He had learned much but not enough about the life Helen and Ashley had lived, alone without him. But he did know that Ashley had no prior Abnormalities surface in that time.
"Alright, your breathing is normal, no sign of visible trauma," his voice was shaky as was his knees and hands. He continued to speak aloud as he walked his way through his assessment. He opened her eyelids and checked her pupil's responsiveness to light. The black pupil, still dilated did not retract in size as he shined a small blue light over her sightline. "Head trauma may be a possible cause." He hoped that she wasn't bleeding inside her brain. Brain swelling could be a very cause of her eye dilation.
Gregory pulled a small silver tablet from his small pile of medical instruments. The Hollow Earth device had a touchscreen and beeped as he tapped the corner with his thumb. He held it above Ashley's head and watched as colors lit up following the neural pathways of her brain. The handheld device was measuring EEG activity. The scans revealed normal Delta wave patterns associated with deep sleep. He watched as a 3D colored image of her brain transposed itself above the touchscreen as a hologram. He could clearly see that there was no sign of bleeding in the brain.
He let out a sigh of relief—as he feared he may have had to bring her to a medical unit here in Praxis, and it was the last thing he wanted to do, without having any answers. He placed the silver tablet sideways against the side of her head to keep a current scan and real time overview of her condition. If anything changed the medical tablet would notify him with a beeping alert.
Gregory put his stethoscope to her and listened to her heartbeats. "Alright, there are no irregular rhythms or fluid in your lungs. That is a very good sign." If no outer and inner trauma was visible, it would be up to the blood tests to determine a cause. Or at least that is what he hoped would give him the answers that he needs.
He took a Hollow Earth hypodermic encased in a clear glass-like syringe. He placed it over her jugular and extracted a vile of blood. He filled numerous vials as he did not know if he could do this once again when consciousness would return.
He took the vials and gathered his medical instruments and went to take a seat at his desk in front of the large window, overlooking Praxis. He placed a few drops of blood onto the surface of another touchscreen tablet and watched as a holographic graph emerged, revealing both the contents found in Ashley's blood and plasma.
The substances and genetic codes were instantly crossed with the Hollow Earth's Abnormal and infectious data base. The words Sanguine Vampiris was highlighted in red and hovering over a specific sequence. Gregory was intrigued but still in fear of why this was happening.
But it was the holographic images of her DNA that warranted the most confusion. The double helix DNA spun slowly around from above the screen in a spectrum of reds, yellows, blues and greens. But in between the sequences, portions of the DNA chains were blinking.
He reached out a finger and waved over the highlighted genetic floating ribbons. Anger hissed from his voice. "Bloody hell, someone's done something to you."