In The Deepest Space
Shahn – NO
Unam – Mother
Dietska – Their deity
Three Years Later
Three years. It's taken us three years to finally get knocked up. From what I understood way back then, it was supposed to be this spontaneous thing. Like, you think about having a baby while you're fucking, and BAM, I pass my little egg into Edwaird (puke) and his body both fertilizes and holds the embryo/fetus. I'd never felt more reptilian as I did when we were first trying and I was continuously asking Roe-salie and Emmeet all these questions.
The thing was that I couldn't wrap my head around not carrying the child. Truth be told, I wasn't really that heartbroken about it. Yay, I wouldn't get huge like the women on Earth do, but for the life of me, I couldn't get it straight in my brain. I continued to focus on Earth pregnancies and I swear, every time I would think about having a baby, I pictured me with a swollen stomach. The psyche is a powerful thing, because we did not get pregnant, couldn't. We wanted a baby, both of us. Edwaird and I were ready to move to the next level, and being that I was the person that everyone looked up to, I felt like a baby would give them hope that I would be what and who they wanted me to. I wanted to be a leader they could trust, and I also wanted to offer them hope, and beauty. I felt that by having a child, they would see I was much softer than my biological mother ever was. Besides that, I wanted a baby. I had become so close to Misssska Antouk, gotten much practice with her, and I love her. I wanted my own.
It finally happened, because I was finally able to picture Edwaird with his fanny pack instead of me with a big round stomach when we were having sex. We had all but given up and decided that we couldn't stress ourselves anymore. I knew Edwaird was disappointed that we were having trouble and I was, too, but we were stressing out about it too much and it was affecting our relationship. Such an earthly concept.
So anyway, here we are. It has been a long pregnancy, and Edwaird has had some rough spots, but we are close now. I feel it in my gut that it is going to be a girl. Ah-liss knows, but isn't saying a thing. She has the entire nursery decorated, but she is the only person with a key to the room, so, we wait. I haven't picked out a boy name, just a girl name, but why bother with a boy name, I'm sure it's a girl.
On Earth, we would have been able to find out, but here, even though they are capable of the technology, they don't invent it. They believe that only fate decides on your child's sex and to find out what the sex is will jinx the child. Whatever. I don't care what sex our child is, so long that it's healthy.
I head down the north corridor of the ship and head toward the control room. We've been on a scouting mission for a couple of weeks now. While we thought that we had rid ourselves of Sulpicia's loyalists, we found we were wrong. There are still several groups that broke away from the rest of us, choosing to live out in the rough hills far from the city. They somehow developed a way to create a new radio signal that we could not detect, enabling some type of connection to her without our knowing it.
Up until about six weeks ago, they had been kidnapping random people from the city and we had been unable to both stop them or find them...that was until Jasspeer accidentally latched onto their signal. It didn't take the rebels long to figure out that we had found their signal, and they took off. Of course we went after them.
This trip is turning out to take a touch longer than we thought, and it's beginning to make me nervous. Edwaird is near his delivery time and with all of the complications he's had through the gestation period, we believe it best for him to deliver on the ground, that way, should anything go wrong, we will have all the help and all the equipment we need.
In the control room, Edwaird is curled over a sort of ottoman. His stomach muscles have been bothering him a great deal as he continues to grow, so this position is the only way he has been able to find relief.
I crouch down beside him; his head rests on a smaller little foot stool and his eyes are closed. His breathing is labored and his eyes flit around behind his closed lids. I lift my hand to his hair, playing with a brown lock. His hair has gotten significantly longer, with it nearly reaching his shoulder. Even with that length, it is still able to stick up in some crazy angles. I'll cut it for him after the baby comes, he doesn't want to cut it before then, believing that the baby will feel it. I've told him that the baby can't, but he disagrees with me, so I drop it.
Edwaird sighs in his sleep and I let him be; he needs his rest. I join Esme and Roe-ssalie at the control board to see if they've found anything new.
Esme looks at me funny, but then quickly rearranges her face. "Bell-a, I trusssst you had a resssst? We are exxxpecting contact ssssoon."
I look to the glass screen where she is pointing, and notice a small congregation of signals that were not there merely two hours ago. "That's a new development. Are they moving at all? How long have they been there?"
Roe-ssalie pulls up another screen. It shows a map of the three planets closest to us. Two of them are uninhabitable, but the third could be lived on, given they bring their own water and provisions.
"They are near the planet Noossssta. They have not yet entered the planet'ssss lining, and we musssst not let them. If they do, we rissssk lossssing them," Roe-ssalie says as she changes the screen yet again. This time, she pulls up actual photographs of the planet Noossssta's landscape. There is no way to describe it. The ground itself is more like jagged volcanic rock that has these sharp organic spears that stick out of nearly every surface. There are no trees, but some of the ground gives way in random areas, leading to some underground, infernal-looking space.
"How can anyone survive in that?" I ask, nodding at the screen.
"The planet hassss enough oxygen to ssssurvive, but water and oral provisionssss are being taken in. That issss what they are doing in the hillssss of Ssssisla, they are growing food. They have sssssome type of sssstorage area there. It issss our belief that they have been on Noossssta nearly the entire endurancccce of their dissssappearance from Ssssisla. It wassss their dessssire that we undersssstood them to merely be hiding within our hillssss, sssso that they could hide from ussss, what they were doing in reality." As Esme speaks, she zooms in on a portion of the planet.
She taps the screen and suddenly, I see. I don't know what it is they are building, but I do know that it will destroy us, destroy our planet. I also know that they must be destroyed before that happens.
"How much time do we have?
Esme doesn't answer me right away, and when she finally looks me square in the eye, I know. We have no time. We have to do this now, or we all die. If we don't go there right now, we risk the chance of not getting to them in time and everyone I love will perish, including my unborn child.
I swallow thickly and nod my head. "Okay. Let's get ready, then." And with this said, it is either our future, or our end, that is set in motion.
Roe-ssalie and Esme nod their heads at me and we all run in opposite directions. My direction is toward Edwaird, who heard every last bit of the conversation. I can see it in his eyes, and he is afraid. But me? I am not afraid. This is her all over again, I can feel it. She has everything to do with this and if there is one thing I know, it is that she will not win. I will win. I will not let her do this to me, to us - again. She is done for. I didn't kill her the last time, but I will be damned if I am going to live the rest of my life wondering when she will show up next. Bitch has to die, so bitch will die.
Three Days Later
"You musssst tell me what it issss that you have ssssseen, Ah-lissss." A woman's voice, Esssme, for sure.
I stick close to the wall down the corridor from them so they do not see me. As it goes, we always have meetings the second Ah-liss has a vision. For some reason, she and Esme are choosing to keep it from everyone this time around. I take several steps closer, tip-toeing my way nearer to them to try and hear what Ah-liss is saying.
"There issss no way of telling. The outcome issss not decccided. I cannot sssssee it," Ah-liss says in a panicky tone. I don't like where this is going one bit.
I take a step in their direction to find out why they are keeping secrets but halt in my tracks as a blood curling scream sounds throughout the ship.
And I run.
"He remainsss in a ssssuitable ssstate now, Bell-a, but he needsssss much ressst," Carliss says as he places his hand on my shoulder, holding me in place so that I can't continue my pacing path. I finally look into his eyes and nod my understanding.
Sure, he's stable, but for how long? His body isn't handling this pregnancy very well, and nobody can understand why. The entire pregnancy he was healthy, he had a ton of energy, and then he suddenly got sick about six to seven weeks ago. It didn't make sense. There was nothing in his body indicating he had a virus. All of his blood levels were normal; hell, he didn't even have a fever, but it was painfully obvious that Edwaird was sick. Not so long ago, for four long days, he didn't speak. He woke for very brief periods, but even then, he was not with it. It was almost as if he was possessed by something, but obviously, that couldn't be true, could it?
On the fifth day, he woke up and it was like he was a different person. He was mean, spitting words at me like having to communicate with me was poisoning him. There were times he would speak to me cordially, almost like he was amused by me, but then, he would suddenly turn angry with me. He would look for the nearest thing to throw at me and launch it, and I'd run, then he'd vomit and tire out.
That lasted for six days, and then he slept two more full days, and when he woke up, he couldn't remember any of it.
Something was happening, something big, but none of us knew what, not even Ah-liss. She would endure extreme pain when she tried to see around Edwaird. I couldn't take seeing her that way, so I told her to quit looking. We would find out in due time, or not. We couldn't dwell on it, we had more important things to worry about.
I lay down on the bed next to Edwaird. His eyes flicker open and he gives me a weak smile. "Mine Bell-a. I fail you."
"Shhhh. No no no. You could never fail me, my love. You are so brave. You are doing so, so well. Please, don't talk like that. The baby will be here soon, and we will all be happy, and you will be healthy again," I say to him in a whisper while I smooth the hair away from his temple.
From behind me, there is a tap on the door and in walks Esme. Edwaird's eyes are closed again and so she thinks he is sleeping. She says nothing, but moves about the room picking things up and making sure everything is in place should Edwaird begin to seize again.
I close my eyes to rest beside my mate, but hear him in my head. "Bell-a. Ssssomething issss wrong. I feel assss though I am three beingssss - three ssssoulsss, but two of them fight for dominancccce and I will not be a winner nor a player."
I open my eyes to see his boring into me. He is terrified. "You listen to me. You will fight, and you will win. You cannot let something take you over, do you hear me? You fight, because without you, I am nothing. I need my Edwaird, body, mind, and soul."
A tear streaks down both of our cheeks at the same time and he smiles at me.
"Rest, my love."
Twelve Days Later
"The ssships are in placccce, Bell-a."
"Thank you, Jasspeer. You need to go and attend to Ah-liss. Please contact me if she sees anything."
Jasspeer nods at me and I see a flicker of something cross his face, but he quickly turns and heads down the hall, leaving me to wonder what it was I just saw.
"Esme, this has to be an air strike or we'll never get out of there. Are you sure we have enough explosive material to level whatever it is they are making?" I ask, looking over the data that Emmeet has compiled.
"That issss correct, Bell-a. It would be the end for ussss all, if we were to enter Noossssta's atmosssphere. Emmeet and I have calculated thissss attack in varioussss sssscenarioss many timessss, and thissss isss sssstill the ssssafesssst option."
I nod at her, and then, I finally ask her the thing that I've wanted to ask her since the day that I overheard her and Ah-liss talking.
"Is there something else that you need to tell me, Esme? Something important, that maybe you've been keeping from me?"
She takes a few steps toward me and raises her hand to cup my cheek. "My child. I greatly wissssh that my knowledge could be yourssss, but it cannot. We musssst let desssstiny'ssss path unfurl."
She takes a shaky breath as I watch a solitary tear streak her cheek, and then, she is back in control and moving off to prepare our ship to detonate a bomb. A bomb that will be sent from our ship via light beam to the core of Noossssta, killing all that reside on it.
There isn't much to be said about watching a planet get blown to smithereens. It was sad. I know that there were lives on it, but they were lives that were going to kill every last one of the people that I love...plus all of the lives that I am sworn to protect. So while I hated having to kill them all and destroy a planet as well - even if it was a nasty planet to begin with - it sucked, but had to be done. Thousands of people are safe because they are dead, but still, are they truly safe? Somebody had to mastermind their little pow wow. And I know who, and I should have killed her when I had the chance, but how do you do that? How do you kill your biological mother, no matter how murderous and evil she is?
I just don't understand how she survived. Fucking cannibalism, that's how. It's the only way she could have, and even after all this time, I can't believe she is still alive. It's not like I dropped her off with a crop of fresh Sislans to pick off every time she got the munchies. She would have had to plan carefully, and not only that, she would have had to convince those men to give their lives over to her so that she could live - only hoping to exact her revenge. Which there is no doubt in my mind that they would, but still. The whole situation is frightening and far-fetched...as most things are anymore.
We are on our way back toward Sisla now. It will be another two weeks or so before we arrive, as we have to make a few stops to some of the beacon station ships. The signal from the closest ship has been choppy and communication has been here and there, so we figured we would check out the situation and make sure all is well. We will go to the furthest stations first, and hit the last one before going home, since it is closest to us.
This is where things get funny - the part where the whole Ah-liss/Esme conversation keeps pounding inside of my head. As soon as Roe-salie announced that we needed to stop there, there was this moment in the satellite room between Ah-liss and Esme. I don't think anyone but me caught it, but it was just a quick look, and then it was gone. I watched Ah-liss as her eyes fluttered, but within a second's time, she was back to normal. After that, she decided she needed to go lie down.
Something is going to happen at the last station. I know it without a doubt. The scariest part of it is that I have only ten days or so to prepare for it, but I don't know what it is I'm supposed to prepare for. It has something to do with her, so I know that a big part of it will be a mental battle, because with her, it always is.
Over the next several days, Edwaird and I spend most of our time together, but secluded from the rest of the family. We both know our lives are going to change drastically when the baby comes and while we are excited to begin this new chapter, we both know that we will not be able to devote as much time to each other - alone.
This particular day is a bad one for Edwaird. His body temperature has been elevated for the last eight hours, and he refuses any form of food or liquid. He is sick, and his strength is failing quickly.
While he sleeps, as he has been for the last six hours, I read. Sometimes I read out loud to Edwaird and the baby, and sometimes just to myself, but my eyes are beginning to grow tired. I set the book down on the nightstand and snuggle further into the bed, beside Edwaird. That's when I notice it.
The smell. Without jostling the bed much, I lean over Edwaird and literally begin smelling him. I know the smell is coming from him, but I don't exactly know where from, or what from. I smell him through his clothes, and even in desperation, peel away his socks to smell his feet, none of that is it. Finally, I give up and lie back down. I smell it quite strongly again, then lean in to smell Edwaird's hair. It is much stronger, and as I get closer to his ear, the smell becomes disgustingly strong.
This is wrong. Very wrong. Our ears don't smell. I remember when I was a child on earth and that putrid Eric kid would stick his fingers in his ears, then smell his fingers and make a funny face, and then lick his fucking fingers. I knew human children's ears smelled because Eric stuck his finger in front of my nose on several occasions and the smell triggered my gag reflex. That stupid boy even had the audacity to stick his fingers in my ears one day. He later told me that my ears smelled pretty.
This is how I know that something is wrong with Edwaird.
"Esme!" I yell out into the corridor.
I run back to Edwaird and climb onto the bed. "Baby?" I say, gently touching his face with my hands, rub at his arm, kiss his lips. "Baby, wake up. Please. Edwaird, please wake up."
Somewhere, more people come into the room, but I can't be bothered. This is worse, way worse than the last time.
"Something's wrong, so much worse, Esme. What do I do?" I ask, falling to the bed beside Edwaird and erupting into a fit of tears.
"Ah-gishhhzzz, my ccchild." Esme croons in my ear.
Still unable to fend off this skill of hers, I melt into her arms. She hands me over to Carliss, who scoops me up completely into his arms and heads toward the door. I struggle to get down, but he buzzes at me and I once again go limp. Just as he moves us through the door, it is quiet, but in a small voice, I hear her. I hear Ah-lisss say, "It hassss begun."
Edwaird suddenly rights himself on the bed, screaming out in what sounds like both agony and terror. I wiggle away from Carliss and fall to my knees on the floor. I want to stand, but I cannot move my body. I want to speak, but I have no voice.
This must be a dream. Everything has to be a dream because I feel stuck, caged. My hands grip virtual bars and yet, I feel them. I feel how they hold me back, and I push, and I pull, and I can't break them. I can't break the things I can't see.
There is a voice and OH! I'm not alone. I duck down to hands and knees, crawling to my corner. I know that voice. I cannot be seen. And so I am not seen. I am quiet. I am invisible. I am simply not until I can be.
We all watch assss Edwaird awakenssss, disssoriented, and within a moment of hisss waking, Bell-a isss being taken over. I obsssserve assss sssshe esssscapessss from Carlisss' hold, falling to the floor. Her computer shell tips back assss though ssshe isss looking toward the sssky, and her armssss fly out to her sidessss, in the air. Palmssss facing forward, a crimsssson light pours from her mouth, her eyes, and her palmssss. Sssshe lets forth a ssssoundlesss ssscream, one that only sssseems to be heard by Ah-lisss, who coverssss her auricular receptors, cowering at Jasssspeer's feet.
Thisss issss it. The crucccial moment hasss arrived. Assss Ah-lissss hasss been sssseeing, it happenssss in the exact moment of time predicted. The true war hassss begun.
It issss within my knowledge, the undersssstanding that Bell-a wasss aware of a truth both Ah-lisss and mysssself were keeping from her. Thissss wassss ssssomething that ssshe could not be told, for informing her of thisss knowledge, what Ah-lissss had sssseen, would only make her more weak. By educating her on what wassss to come, we would have opened a loophole for Ssssulpicccia to enter. The passsst queen wassss counting on thissss. Ssshe knew that what sssshe sssshowed ussss, Ah-lissss would sssee. We knew we could tell no ssssoul. It was our bearance to carry, assss we did.
When it came to our realizzzzation that Ssssulpiccccia had not perissshed assss we hoped sssshe eventually would, we knew it wassss only a matter of time. I have thought about thissss for a great deal of time, and have come to the conclusssion that Ssssulpiccia wasss able to ssssense the impending birth of her grandcchild. A new heir. A new ssssoul. A ssssoul that sssshe wanted to abduct, invade, and then dissssperse hersssself through it. Conquer isss her only focussss, and it wassss too late for usss to realize after we let her live so long ago, that sssshe would never give up until sssshe met her final death.
And now, sssshe weighs two ssssouls to determine which issss the bessst "fit" for her. Her choiccces: her daughter, or her granddaughter.
Bell-a wassss correct in her asssumption that Edwaird had fallen ill. The pregnanccccy had made him ill, but it wassss hissss diminisssshed life forcce that had weakened hissss ssssoul, which allowed Ssssulpicia to enter first through him, and then into my granddaughter. Bell-a's *coun-chah* - her fear of lossssing both Edwaird and their unborn child allowed Ssssulpiccia into her mind. Sssshe couldn't have known thissss was possible, and sssshe didn't. Yessss, mysssself or Ah-lissss could have warned her, but thissss is the fight - the final battle to be fought. There wassss no alternate path.
The protective sssshell around the ccchild issss beginning to crack. The time issss drawing nearer and it will ssssoon be the time when the decissssion isss made. Ah-lissss sssearchesss at all timessss. It issss her only burden, but a great one. There are inssssignificant flasssshes of the future, but none that tell ussss the outcome, which frightensss ussss in abundanccce.
Carlissss gatherssss Bell-a up into hisss armssss onccce again and carriessss her out and down the corridor to her quiet area. There issss nothing to be done now, but wait.
Bella's POV ~
Sulpicia comes and goes. It's almost as if she visits me, and then another, but I would never consider her a visitor. She is a parasite, hidden within me and making me sick, sucking whatever it is she needs to survive, from me.
She is gone now and I pace my cage. I must get out. I have to get out. I grip the bars and scream in anger.
My eyes fly open. Light feels like a cool drink of water and I drink it, as much as I can. I look around for my family, but I am alone. I feel the grip of something reaching within me. I shake my head back and forth on the bed I lay on. No, no, no. No more sleep. But I can't win.
"I will win. I will always fight you, Sulpicia."
Her laugh is molten lava in my ears, melting my mind.
I hear a small voice then. It simply says, "No."
I run quickly to the bars again, reaching through them, "Who is that? Please, answer me." But there is no answer, so I pace again.
I don't know what time is here in this place. Hell, I don't even know what this place is. All I remember is that I opened my eyes. Oh! This is a dream!
She laughs again, but this time, it is ice in my veins. Somehow, I'm able to feel her malice within me, like I own part of it, but how is that possible.
I hear the other voice again, so small, and realize it must be a child.
"What are you doing, Sulpicia? What kind of game is this?"
For the first time, she comes into full view before me. The gown she wears is a red the color of blood. The sleeves of it flow down past her fingertips, belling out, and dripping. The dress swirls, as if it has a life of its own, dripping blood to the floor only for it to reform into the bottom part of the dress at Sulpicia's feet. Her hair is woven into braids and twists atop her head but they move, alive, and pass through her skin to resurface on another part of her head. The sight sets my stomach roiling, but I have to squelch it. It's what she wants. She is counting on my fear for her.
Sulpicia begins to move around me and I hear a protested no from the child that I cannot see.
"Daughter. It appearssss that the cccchild of yourssss issss proving to have a sssstrong life forcccce. One that adamantly refussssessss to acknowledge me. Ssssuch an impressssive trait - remindssss me of my own sssself." She smirks at me and I hiss back.
"It would be mosssst wisssse of you to consssserve your ssstrength, Daughter. You will require it ssssoon. Very ssssoon."
Suddenly, the child that I cannot see cries out and Sulpicia disappears.
"Hey! Are you there? Little one?" I get no response. I am once again alone.
Esme's POV ~
All but Carlissss remain in the room with Edwaird. Hisss pain issss at its peak but insssstead of ssssteadying my orbssss on hissss form, they resssst on Ah-lissss.
Her own orbssss have rolled to whitessss. Jasssspeer cradlessss her; he whisssperssss and moanssss for hissss mate. Ah-lissss ssssuddenly returnssss to ussss. Her form abruptly righting assss sssshe ssssearchessss the room. Sssshe locatessss me, and relief fillssss my form for my granddaughter. At that moment, the final sssstage issss completed, and my granddaughter finally comesss to ussss.
The female child issss a perfect mixxx of Bell-a and Edwaird. Her orbssss tell of a ssssoul that originated long before any of usss, and sssshe reactssss to the environment jusssst sssso. Sssshe makessss not a ssssound, but ingessssts all that sssshe sssseessss.
When sssshe isss cleaned by Roe-ssssalie, Edwaird reachessss for her, and sssaysss, "Bell-a."
There issss only ssssilenccce, and Edwaird looooksss to me. "Unam?" he quessstionssss me.
Bella's POV ~
Sulpicia comes back, but does not let me see her fully for some time. When she finally does, I realize why. Her blood dress that was such a violent scarlet color earlier has now begun to turn black. It appears lacking and I realize that something has happened.
"What have you done?"
I can feel it, rather than sense it with my ears or eyes, but the child that was here earlier is gone. "What did you do to her?"
Sulpicia chuckles, but it is emotionless, like she is unable to muster the appropriate hate and scorn to make it sound vicious. "It issss more appropriate to assssk what the child did to me."
She doesn't say anything to elaborate, but I refuse to ask her to explain what she means. Instead of walking around me as she did before, she instead sits on the floor - something I never thought I would see, as this puts her at a disadvantage to me as I stand above her, ready to take her on.
She hisses, and in less then a blink, she is on the other side of my bars - the bars I cannot see, but can sense.
"Afraid of me now, Sulpicia? You should be!" I say through gritted teeth.
Her face changes before me and her dress grows blacker.
"Who was that child? Tell me. I want to know."
Sulpicia slowly walks back and forth, out of my reach. She seems to contemplate something for a few moments, and when she makes up her mind, she stops. She moves her face close to mine and says, "Your child."
I scream and reach past the bars, trying to swipe at her, but she quickly backs away.
"The life forcccce of your child wassss the ssssweetessst nectar on my tongue. I crave more. Yourssss will not be assss ssssweet, but it will ssssufficcce."
She is baiting me, and something deep within me snaps. Rage and hate for her and love for Edwaird and my daughter and my new family boil up inside of me. Like water of the hottest temperature, I feel the emotion in me grate at my insides until I am raw. I grip the bars of my cell and within my hands, they begin to melt, and shimmer, with steam coming off of them from where my hands touch them.
When Sulpicia sees this, she gets angry, but I am angrier - so much more. I know what this is now. I know what she is doing, and I'll be damned if I let her play these mind games with me, which is exactly what all of this is. I get it now. She was in Edwaird because he was weak, and then she was within our child when it was old enough to start having rapid brain function, but they both pushed her out, and now she wants in my head so she can take me over, so she never has to die. But like I said. BITCH. HAS. TO. DIE.
I picture a cell, much like the one I think she probably pictured for me, and I place it over her. She screams and snarls at me in fury, animalistic and primal as she prepares to fight me. I can see that her life force has diminished though, as it is shown on her dress. I am stronger.
"I will win." I advise her.
She shakes her head back and forth at me, and I watch as her coiled hair slithers apart and begins to wrap around her neck and her wrists.
"I've already won," I declare.
She screams at me, but it is nothing coherent.
I maintain the picture of her cage in my head, while at the same time, continue to imagine the white heat coming from my hands. I melt the rest of my bars away, a space large enough to fit through, and step out.
I make her cage smaller and smaller in my head as I walk toward her. She cowers, then lowers herself, curling into a ball as the cage bars touch her on all sides. She cannot move an inch.
I kneel down in front of her and move to a position where she can see my face, see my eyes, and tell her, "You are dead."
"Shahn!" she screams.
The cage grows smaller and smaller, and she is all but a ball of blackness within it now. It grows smaller and smaller, and it is a small box, and then it is nothing.
She is nothing. Nothing but gone, forever.
I sit abruptly, noticing my entire family in the room. Edwaird sits at the end of the bed I rest on, holding our daughter. I'm so thirsty. I've never had this kind of thirst. I move my hand to my throat and Esme thrusts a cup into my face. I eagerly accept it from her and ingest the contents of the cup quickly. Only after it is gone do I realize the funky taste of it, but I feel better.
I feel different.
My tits hurt.
Before I put much thought into what I actually drank, I reach out to Edwaird for our daughter. He looks reluctant for a second, as if he is worried that I am not truly myself.
"Please, Edwaird?" I ask. My voice sounds different to me somehow.
Edwaird's eyes go large and he looks around the room. Everyone's expression looks the same as his, but he immediately hands our daughter to me and oh, she is the most exquisite thing I have ever seen. I check her from head to toe, much to her dismay, and when I get to her chest, I see the familiar spackle of freckles.
I smile at Edwaird and our little one makes a sweet little noise at me. It makes my breasts ache all the more, but I want to give her name in front of my family before I nourish her for the first time.
It is a name I've had picked out long before I knew I was pregnant, but it had come from a line of a book that Edwaird had been reading to me. It spoke of Deitska, and spoke of her sister, Soul of all Souls: Nissss-uhlani.
"She is Nissss-uhlani Emehl," I announce. Esme lets out a gasp and Edwaird looks at me as if I am this new, better person.
Everyone but Edwaird clears the room and he lies down next to me. I put our daughter to my breast and she begins to feed, and my life is changed.
As she feeds, I look into Edwaird's eyes as he lay beside me. I think about that look of wonderment I'd seen cross his face and about how he made me feel new, better. Maybe I am. I feel different. I feel more, like my soul has grown exponentially, and my body may have a hard time to contain it.
Our daughter falls away from my breast, drunk, and her head lolls to the side. I look down and gasp. Edwaird lets out an amazed hissing noise.
Five holes. Nissss-uhlani has five flain holes, and I realize, she may just be the soul of all souls.