Burning in the Void – Chapter 32

green vines _Sera

Sera opened her eyes for the first time in a long while without being struck with the impression that she was about to be killed. There were no flashing lights telling her that deadly measures of radiation were ripping through her body, no demonic doctors with wires and metal boxes sprouting from their heads, no assassins in blank-faced white suits pulling her through space, and absolutely no bald technicians leering at her with their puffy faces as they brandished glittering needles.

She lay on her back in a room filled with flowering vines. They grew all around the walls, curling through metal and plastic shelves, twisting around a framework that surrounded the door, and sending out pale green tendrils towards the center of the room where she lay. The space reminded Sera of the garden where she and Master Rigel had grown the many herbs they used to brew tinctures and craft poultices. The air was fresh and had the smell of tilled soil after the compost and manure had broken down into a rich black dirt that would crumble between her fingers and gave the herbs enough nutrients to grow tall and thick.

She lifted her head and gazed down her body to find that she lay naked atop a clean white sheet. She was surprised to see that she was not tied to the bed, nor was she tethered to a bank of humming and blinking machines by thick tubes that pierced her skin. Dark scars still puckered her arms where the people who had rescued her, the Melders she remembered them being called, had inserted tubes which carried her blood away to be refreshed, but none of the thick needles remained in place. The skin of her torso and legs was speckled with bright red welts, like the splotches left behind when a child sucked on its arm for too long, and her knees and palms still bore the faint scars from where she had skinned them falling to the corridor decking during her escape through the hidden passages.

Despite the condition of her body, Sera felt no pain, and the queasy sensation that had come over her in waves ever since Kamon had disconnected her from the machines in the hospital had faded.

Kamon. She was dead now.

The scene played back through Sera’s mind: The flash of light. The shattering window. The cold agony of the airless place beyond the window. Kamon’s body turned to ash in an instant. Dominic striking out against their attackers as Sera was hauled away.

He was probably dead now as well.

And Anna, her cousin whose sickness had brought about this whole terrifying string of events. The last time Sera had seen little Anna she had been on the mend, but still too weak to stand from her cot. God only knew what had become of her in the days since then, but Sera had a sinking feeling that if Anna was not dead already she would be soon. The priests had said that her body was forever tainted and would be sacrificed to cleanse her soul.