Burning in the Void – Chapter 11

awakening _Sera

Scent was always the first sense to return.

The sharp tang of metal, chemicals, and plastics filled this place, washing over Sera and surrounding her as never before. Sera knew these scents, to her they were the scents of the market, where artificers heated scraps and broken equipment in their forges and reshaped them into useful tools, and of the Festival of Giving, when the priests would distribute gifts, newly formed from the mind of god, the people. There, in the market, the acrid scent cut through the stench of humanity.

At first Sera panicked, thinking that she was chained to the execution plinth in the market. She tried to open her eyes, but her body refused to follow the directions screamed within her mind.

Then the black veil of sleep would settle down over her again, blocking out all senses in a warm flood.

Often hearing would be the next sense to return and Sera would jolt into wakefulness at the sound of a harsh noise, or a concerned voice. There were times when she lay paralyzed for what seemed like hours, listening to the gentle stirrings of air through the ventilation ducts.

Sight came later, after uncountable cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Ghosts of light played out across her closed eyelids in flashes of red and yellow twisting through the darkness, telling Sera that she was no longer asleep. She concentrated all her will on opening her eyes, only to fall back into unconsciousness again, defeated by the weakness of her flesh. This happened several times until, after what felt like several days, she succeeded in willing her eyes open.

She was bound to a soft bed in a chamber with pale blue walls and a white tiled floor. Someone had dressed her in a loose fitting white robe. Sera had never seen a place so clean, or colors so crisp. Master Rigel had always insisted that she follow the priests’ teachings on cleanliness and so they had spent countless hours cleaning the chamber of healing, but even after a thorough scrubbing the chamber had still been filled with blood stained bandages hanging out to dry and the omnipresent scent of human sweat. The bed in which she lay was comfortable, despite the bonds that held her to it, and Sera was grateful to have a soft place to rest her head.

Only her left arm was uncomfortable. A strange itching sensation seemed to penetrate to the very bone at several places from her shoulder down to her wrist. Sera was unable to turn her head, but she managed to open her eyes wide enough and roll her eyes down just far enough to see that a series of tubes of various thickness pierced her skin. Liquids in an array of colors ran through the tubes and into her body, seemingly fed to her from a series of boxy machines resting beside her bed. Sera wanted to scream at the sight of the tubes and machines. It was heresy, she was sure. She had never seen such devices in her training as a healer and if a simple tonic, such as the one she had given to Anna, could be heretical, then she felt certain that these machines with their tubes and liquids and blinking lights had to be blasphemies of the highest order.