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2013-09-30 01:19 am (UTC)
eight lives, eight women
“The Archiver is not a friend,” she said. “Don’t have friends.”
Though the Salamander regarded Tejinder with a matter-of-fact nature, there did linger a certain fondness for the man. A fondness that drew her to save his life without Tremond’s say-so. For some reason, she did not wish to see him die. In fact, she found herself grateful that he still lived.
“Surely you wouldn’t have been so swift to step forward if you felt nothing for the man,” Tremond urged.
“Not to sound disrespectful, sir, but you have never understood my feelings.”
Gregory Tremond’s eyes rose. This was clearly not the answer that he was expecting. “Really? Your feelings? And what is it you’re supposedly feeling?”
“Confused.” She looked over to the body bags. The bloodied one remained stationary, unlike David’s bag. Red soaked through the open holes.
“You want to see what’s in there, don’t you?” Tremond beckoned her to the body bags.
The Salamander didn’t respond. She strode to it without prompt, as casual as anyone could to a corpse. She knelt beside the body bag and held out her arm. The pulsating had stopped, as did the rush of heat flowing to the ends of her fingertips.
“What are you feeling now, Salamander?” Tremond’s inquired coolly, like a silken trickle of false security.
“Afraid,” the Salamander whispered.
“Why are you afraid?”
“Because.” She placed her hands over the bag. One held onto the zipper, the other over the side. She leaned over the bag, already smelling the stench of rotting flesh. “We know what is in here.”
“Then what’re you waiting for? Open it.”
So she did.
The Salamander stood up.
Her own face was looking back up at her from the body bag. It could have very well been her spitting image, if not for the meat well beyond rigor mortis. Threads of brown hair had already fallen out. Worms weaved in and out of her shrunken eyes and mouth, her ears secreting some kind of off-colored fluid. Jagged jaw hung agape, ready to snap off after years in decomposition.
She flashed back to the morgue.
Long after it had shut down, the Renaissance Sanitarium still housed several bodies of the dead. But only the morgue itself. Though the rest of the hospital reeked of must after a few forgotten years, she remembered that crematorium. That smell, and all those bodies...
They were all her. Corpses of the former Salamanders. Each of them given similar records that Tremond had fabricated: A twenty-nine-year-old veteran of eleven years in whatever armed force she was a part of. Always at the rank of sergeant or something similar:
Rey Stone, the American or Canadian marine and a child of drug addicts.
Sheridan of the Defense Forces of Ireland, who hailed from a family of alcoholics and had no desire to drink a drop of hooch herself.
Silva of the Argentine Navy, raised by deadbeats with no drive in life.
Steyn, the daughter of a man who worked in human trafficking, and threatened to send her to a brothel for any insolent behavior until she ran away to the South African Army.
Sarfati, a girl who knew of war at a young age when her family were killed. She then joined the Islamic Republic of Iran Army.
Schuyler, a Dutch woman who watched her mama murder her papa while having a drunken argument, and enlisted for the Korps Mariniers to escape her maniacal mother.
Schmidt came home from school one day to find her parents dead on drug overdoses, which led into her joining the German military.
Then there was Safronov. Rey Safronov, the Salamander. A psycho who became a sniper during the Kristiv Resurgence in Russia...
For many years, she had dreams of Ashwater. Red skies dawned from the Battle-Brave, rent from the city below. These moments were trapped in time, doomed to repeat for many long and agonizing years.
With the image of herself still fresh in mind, the Salamander moved over to the other body bags. She knew what waited inside, but she unzipped them all anyway.
When she did, the face was far less decayed than her other corpse, but still withered away with golden peach-colored skin. Her eyes had turned to mush. Some of her teeth had been knocked out. It remained in a present state of disintegration, with a fly making its journey to and from her left nostril. The Salamander turned, finally, to the last body bag, and revealed it to herself as well.
This one, strangely enough, was not much different from the rest, except for a significant detail. Her hair wasn’t short and brown or black or dark red, but replaced by long, gold-colored tresses. The decay had not yet affected her. Though dead, the golden-haired vessel somehow appeared as though she were only sleeping.
The Salamander stumbled back, staring at the three corpses. The stench of her own rotten, bloody body filled her senses, while the golden one did not seem afflicted by the hindrance of time.
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