Liquid Death (The Edinön Trilogy Book 1)

BOOK: Liquid Death (The Edinön Trilogy Book 1)
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Liquid Death

MITZI C

 

 

 

The characters and events in this book are
fictitious
. Any similarity to real events or real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Dedicated to my mother/editor, to my cat, Susie, and to those people who strive to make others happy with love, kindness, and patience.

 

Author’s Note:

This book contains scenes of violence and abuse, along with implied rape, thoughts of suicide, depression, and drug abuse/alcoholism.

 

PROLOGUE – Leyla

The First Patient

 

             
Apr. 18, 2010             

                           
“I received your message,”
Leyla Hendricks said as she donned her white coat, grabbed Patient 1’s file, and rushed in stilettos down a bright, sterile hallway. She propped her phone between her chin and shoulder as she perused the file’s contents. “How’s she doing?”

              “She’s stabilized,” Doctor Bills responded, breathing heavily. “If Kanidie were anyone else, she wouldn’t have made it through the night.”

              “Give her three doses of
Theratocin
to take the edge off. I’m coming.” She hung up the phone and slid it into her coat pocket, her gait accelerating as she neared Room 23.

              The moment she opened the door, a fresh puddle of crimson spread across the floor to her black shoes. Leyla grimaced and stepped obliquely, looking ahead at her thirteen-year-old patient rocking on her heels in the corner, while Doctor Bills checked her temperature and heart rate. He glanced up and smiled grimly. “You’re back.”

              “Yeah,” she exhaled, brows furrowed. “Are you going to take care of this?” Blood covered the naked girl and the entire floor.

              “I have a crew on the way.” Bills stood and wrapped a red towel around Kandi. His brown hair was graying over his ears, but he still appeared younger than fifty. “Do you want to take her?”

              Leyla pursed her lips and nodded, stepping gingerly around the blood and pulling the girl closer. “Come here, Kandi. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

              As usual, no response came from Patient 1, who continued to stare into the distance like a living corpse, blond hair and white skin streaked with vermillion.

              She walked Kandi to the bathroom and turned on the shower, absently humming an upbeat tune. She placed the patient under hot water and lathered her hair with raspberry-scented shampoo. “Happy birthday, sweetie,” Leyla said, scanning the girl’s eerily perfect form for new markings or injuries. “Today is a big day.”

              Once again met with silence, she added, “I hope you like chocolate pie.”

***

             

CHAPTER 1 – Kandi

The New Aide

 

              Dec. 14, 2016

                           
I used to think my life
could not
be more miserable. That was over seven years ago, before my worst nightmare became reality.

              I wake before dawn on my bedroom floor, drenched in frigid sweat and scorching tears, hugging my legs to my chest and shaking with unimaginable pain – pain from all memories of torture, distant and current, culminating simultaneously for a spontaneous bout of pure physical and psychological agony. My mind habitually resorts to suicidal contemplation before I remember in my semi-conscious state that I cannot die. My head pounds like thunder, my knees knock together, and my teeth violently chatter. Hot/cold, hot/cold, hot/cold… my mouth gapes wide open as a sharp sensation slices across my spine like I’m being split in half by a sword. I stop shaking suddenly and lift quivering fingers to my clammy forehead, expecting to see blood. When I find none, the pain slowly quiets to a dull ache in my limbs. My knees cease knocking and dizziness overtakes me. I black out…

              …And wake up again on the floor three hours later. My eyes espy the time on my alarm clock, reading 7:04. Shivering, I raise my head from the shaggy brown carpet and rub my face. I can hear my heart thumping in my chest as I force myself to my feet.

              I stumble to the bathroom to get ready for school, yawning until my jaw pops. A stranger stares back at me from the mirror as I comb my hair and brush my teeth. I scowl at my unfamiliar reflection and spit in the sink.

              The doorbell rings then, shocking me into full
alert. I slip on a ratty pair of jeans and an old sweatshirt before crossing the rickety house to the front door. I hear my uncle snoring like a chainsaw in the back room, which elicits a nauseating twist in my gut. I swallow bile and open the door. Ms. Hendricks stands on the other side in a lavender suit, her dark skin radiant in the early morning light.

              “Good morning, Kandi!” she greets with a smile that could blind half the block.

              I mutely follow her to her silver sedan and climb into the passenger seat. She buckles my seat belt for me, carefully avoiding physical contact. I lean my head back and close my eyes.

              “Kandi, I’d like you to meet your new aide, Kyle Smith.”

              I squeeze my eyelids together so tightly my eyeballs should be rolling free in my cranium.

              “Hey, Kandi. I’m Kyle.”

              This must be some kind of joke. What happened to my former aide? I keep my eyes closed through the duration of the ride, hoping they take the hint and pretend I don’t exist.

              “Don’t take this personally. She doesn’t talk to anybody.”

              “Oh, it’s fine, Doctor Hendricks. I’ve done my homework.”

              “Of course.” The car slows and halts. “Come on, sweetie.” I hear unbuckling seat belts and opening doors. Ms. Hendricks’ distinctive heel-clicking on the asphalt follows as she walks around the hood to open my door. My new buddy Kyle beats her to it.

              “You don’t need to worry, Kandi,” he assures me. “I won’t touch you.”

              I open my eyes and slide out of the sedan, almost slipping on ice in the process. I catch and steady myself before lowering my gaze and following them into the school.

              We always arrive early to avoid incoming crowds of students and eat free breakfast. To the casual observer, this school might appear normal. Our theme colors are blue and yellow, so we have blue walls and yellow lockers. Posters hang haphazardly throughout the building, reminding students of deadlines or club meetings or upcoming dances. The smell of low quality cafeteria food is perpetually prevalent. And, like any other school, it feels more like a prison than a center for education.

              However, some differences from regular high schools are all but impossible to miss, such as the advanced security system and metal detectors you have to navigate to enter the building, the security guards, the occasional screams of terror echoing through the halls, the lack of sports teams, and the fact that the entire staff is in excellent physical condition. Oh, and we have an infamous, overqualified doctor for a school counselor.

              I am nineteen and graduated from high school when I was ten years old. The only reason I am “enrolled” in Sunny Days High is so Ms. Hendricks can monitor me throughout the day (my uncle isn’t the most attentive guardian).

              The cafeteria is relatively small, with barely enough seats for almost half of the 120 students who attend Sunny Days High School. I pick a spot closest to the exit and stare at a brown stain on the table while Kyle retrieves some food. Ms. Hendricks sits two seats to my right, placing her black purse on the table and her hands in her lap. She starts talking to me, but I don’t listen. Instead, I focus on breathing like my mother taught me to relax my racing heart.
In through the nose, out through the mouth…
As people begin wading into the cafeteria, my heart develops a will of its own and dances to an all-too familiar tune. Why do people have to exist? I dig my fingernails into my palms and wrap my arms around my stomach to keep it contained.

              “Here you go, Kandi,” Kyle says cheerfully as he passes my tray across the table. My eyes flick up to his face and back to the cup of fruit, dry scrambled eggs, and vegetarian sausage. My gut roils in protest.

              Kyle seems like a nice guy, but that doesn’t matter because he is a human being who breathes, thinks, and talks. He has skin and hands and… I shiver and pick up the plastic spork at the end of my tray. I wish my aide could be a specially trained dog. Maybe
then
my mental state would improve.

              The early bus arrives to drop off more kids like me who can’t afford to eat breakfast at home. Soon the cafeteria is buzzing with voices, and I feel the contents of my stomach backtracking to my esophagus. Without even realizing it, a groan slips past my lips.

              “Take her to study hall, Kyle. Here’s her schedule, medication, and some wipes... Thank you for everything.” The school counselor stands up and leaves me with a stranger. My groan involuntarily turns into a whimper.

              Kyle rises from his seat and stacks my tray on top of his, then walks to the garbage to dump them. During those brief seconds while I am utterly alone at the table, the clamor becomes unbearable – the voices so loud in my head they form a threatening roar. When Kyle returns moments later, I am too shaken to move.

              “Are you okay, Kandi?”

              Am I okay? I peer down at my tremoring hands and compel my feet to plant on the floor. I will be better when I am in a quiet room, with fewer people and fewer voices.

              My feet take me out of the cafeteria to the hallway, which is even more crowded as students visit their lockers and hastily locate their friends before class. My knees buckle underneath me, and in less than a second I find myself huddled against the wall on the floor, my vision blurring.

              “Hey, guys, can you quiet down and move away, please? I need to take Kandi to class.”

              My cursed acute hearing reminds me why I loathe people as they shuffle away.

              “Who’s this new guy?” asks a girl to her giggling friends.

              “Man, look at her, crying on the floor like a baby. She’s so pathetic.”

              “I mean, I get the nickname, but how can you even tell if she’s hot when she dresses like
that
?”

              “Why should we do anything this guy says?”

              “Her new aide is hot. I’m glad Ms. Hendricks dumped the old one. He was a nightmare.”

              “Eye-Kandi’s got a new boyfriend!” followed by high-fives, jeers, and raucous laughter.

              Kyle crouches in front of me and whispers, “Don’t listen to them. Let’s just go to class, okay? They’re clearing the hallway for you.” He stands, and then I stand, my feet carrying me to the classroom reserved for the retarded.

              Henry, a sophomore with Down syndrome, is already fitting puzzles together in his corner when Kyle and I enter. I glide straight to one of the computers along the far wall and log-in with my school ID and password. Kyle greets Henry and his aide, Catherine, then sits a few seats to my left. He pulls a notepad from his laptop case and starts taking notes like a good little intern. I pull up a secret, special internet browser and search his name, indifferent if he notices. Expectedly, there are fifty billion Kyle Smiths in the world, so I narrow the search to ‘Kyle Smith intern Blue Skys.’ I click on the first result and read through his bio. He was a Psychology major at Columbia before switching to Social Work and earning his PhD. Marvelous. So why is he working with me?

              He has blue eyes, dirty blond hair, and a pleasant smile in his profile picture. I glance at him peripherally. Yep. It’s him.

              “I could tell you everything you want to know. All you have to do is ask,” he mutters.

              I ignore him and type the name of my former aide, Zach Bryce.

              “He moved to New Jersey, Kandi,” Kyle helpfully informs.

              Ah. New Jersey. Of
course
he would want to leave me. Kyle will probably be gone before the end of the school year.

              I exit the browser and open a chess game, opting to play against the computer.

              “Would you mind if I played?” he asks, sliding closer.

             
Ugh. Yes.
I move my center pawn forward a space. The computer bot makes its first move, and I move the pawn forward another space. Kyle returns to his previous position and starts texting on his fancy phone.

              I spend the entire 75 minutes playing chess before moving on to second period: AP Calculus. The first bell rings, giving me two minutes to get to class before the
real
bell rings to signal the end of class for everyone else. Kyle escorts me to the usual seat nearest to the door and sits behind me. The bell rings, and the hallways instantly swarm with human beings. I sink further into my seat and straighten my pencil and tablet on my desk.

              I am one of three students in AP Calculus at Sunny Days. Mrs. Jameson is a good teacher, but the class is painfully slow. By second period, lack of sleep, boredom, and my daily intake of the cafeteria’s toxic waste combine forces to induce drowsiness, and I often fall asleep during her lessons. Today is especially fatiguing, since it is a Wednesday. Five minutes into the lesson, my eyelids are already drooping. I lay my head on my desk and surrender to slumber.

              To my surprise, I am awoken minutes later by Chelsea, one of the two other nerds in the class. She is a short brunette with freckly pale skin and an average-looking face. I raise my head and look at her assignment. She has a question about a graphing problem. This is odd. They usually don’t come directly to me for help.

              “I just… I don’t know if I did this right. Is this line supposed to intersect this one?”

              I pick up my pencil and make a few minor changes to her solution, emphasizing with extra lead the places she miscalculated. Then I hand the paper to her.

              “Thanks.” She smiles and swivels back to Michael, whispering the answer to him. He nods and erases something on his assignment.

              My hands are shaking now, so I turn to Kyle, rubbing my fingers together. He nods and fishes in his bag for a wipe. I snatch the wipe from his hold and quickly cleanse my hands, panic gnawing on my throat.

              “Here.” He extends an open palm, and I place the used wipe upon it. “Do you want some crackers to reduce the nausea?”

              How does he know I’m nauseated? Not even Zach was that in tune with me. I meekly open my hand, biting my lower lip as he pours a few crackers onto it. I grasp the crackers and face forward, savoring each one on my tongue before chewing and swallowing. A random tear leaks from the corner of my eye and slides down my cheek. I absently swipe it out of existence and wash the crackers down with a swig from my water bottle.

              My third hour is therapy with Ms. Hendricks. Kyle walks with me to her homey office.

              The office is furnished with plush leather chairs, a sofa, a mahogany desk, and a matching bookshelf containing titles on psychology, therapy, and self-help. A window above the sofa offers a tasteful view of the litter-strewn west parking lot. I cross the small space between the door and the couch and sit upon it, delighted in its softness. Kyle settles into one of the chairs, leather squeaking beneath him.

              “Hello, Kandi,” Ms. Hendricks chirps, removing her reading glasses and smiling at me. “Anything in particular you want to talk about today?”

              “She assisted another student with her assignment,” Kyle boasts.

              “Really?” The counselor seems impressed. She clicks the end of her pen and jots something down. “I got a call from Doctor Eddington’s office. After the winter break all patients will be required to attend group session at least once a week. Kyle, you might have to attend a session or two with her until she’s comfortable with the new arrangement.”

BOOK: Liquid Death (The Edinön Trilogy Book 1)
5.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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