Speak 24-Vignette


I Am Sick.

One year and eight months ago, or thereabouts.

“Edith?” Flint asked hesitantly. He went to place a hand on her shoulder, but paused as she flinched away.

“...sorry,” she said after a moment.

“It’s okay,” he replied carefully. “Are you…”

She stared off into nothing, and didn’t reply.

“If you two are done with yer little cry-fest, I could use some help over here,” Lisette called irritatedly from the other side of the room. She was currently dragging the corpse on of the twins over to one corner of the room, where she’d already moved the halves of other one and Schism.

Flint ignored her, turning back to Edith. “E, I…” he trailed off, words failing him. His mind was still reeling; he’d gone from never seeing anyone die to four within the space of a minute. And that wasn’t even getting into who’d done the killing. And to whom it had been done. “Edith,” he repeated after a second. “I… what’s next? What happens now?”

For a second, he wasn’t sure she’d even heard her. Then, slowly, she let out a long breath, and seemed to… return to her body, he supposed. He wasn’t sure where she’d been, but he doubted it was pleasant. “I don’t know,” she said hoarsely, almost too quiet for him to hear. “I really don’t know.”

He put his hand on her shoulder again, and this time she didn’t jerk away.

“I’m… this was supposed to be it, you know?” she said quietly. He opened his mouth to reply, then realized it wasn’t really a question, and closed it again. “I was supposed to… she was supposed to…” she choked on the words for a second. “...she was supposed to be here. Everything that happened, everything I went through - everything I did. It was going to be worth it. For her. But now…” She made a vague gesture with one hand, and Flint tried not to flinch at the blood staining her skin. “I’m lost.”

“Sometimes…” he tried hesitantly, “life doesn’t work like that.”

He realized even before finishing that it was the wrong thing to say.

She spun on him, knocking his hand away. “Why not?!” she demanded, and he realized she was crying, eyes swollen and red. “Why can’t it?! Why should I have to go through all this, why should I have to suffer? Why should I have to kill and lie and fight my own mother, and then find out the whole reason I’ve been doing it is completely useless!” She was yelling by the end of it, and she shoved him violently back.

“Edith-” he began to say, but she cut him off.

She’s gone!” she screamed. “My. Sister. Is. Gone. She’s probably being… sold for parts in some third-world country, or- or-” her fists clenched, and blood started dripping from them. “...and I failed,” she finished, all the anger draining out of her as quickly as it had come. “I failed, Flint. It’s my fault she’s gone.”

“Edith, that’s not-”

“YO!” They both jumped, and turned to see Lisette waving at them, looking irritated. “Can I please get a hand here?”

“Give us a minute!” he replied. “Edith,” he continued, turning back, “this isn’t your-” But she was already moving, brushing past him and stalking over to where the other girl stood. Sighing, he followed.

Lisette had finished moving the corpses into their corner, where they lay in a limp pile on top of one another. A pool of blood had started to form underneath them, and a nauseating smell was beginning to drift over to them. Flint gagged involuntarily, but apart from a grimace on the latter’s part, neither Lisette nor Edith seemed particularly effective. Lisette was standing with her foot on the chest of Crusade, casually pointing a pistol at his head like it was the most natural thing in the world. Flint had seen people more tense while waiting for a bus, and, not for the first time, worried about the woman he’d gotten mixed up with.

“There’s no bounty on this one,” she said to Edith as they arrived, “so I personally don’ give a rat’s arse what happens to him. I can shoot him if ya want, but I’ll be wanting the fifty cents for the bullet.”

“We can’t kill him!” Flint protested. “Look at him!” The man in question was still unconscious, head lolled to one side and a string of drool stretching to the ground. “I can’t believe you’d-”

“Off,” Edith said quietly, waving a hand. Lisette shrugged, but acquiesced, stepping away, but keeping the gun drawn.

“Thank you,” Flint said, obviously relieved. “Can we-”

Edith stomped on Crusade’s stomach, hard. The Cabalist jerked upwards, choking, eyes slamming open.

“The fuck?!” Flint yelled involuntarily.

Ignoring him, she kept her foot on his stomach, and leant down close. One of her hands wrapped around his throat, not squeezing, but definitely considering it.

“Randall,” she said. Her voice was… empty. Like a robot. “You saw what happened to my mother. Either you give me a better answer, or the same thing happens to you. But this time, I won’t make it quick. You’ll probably bleed out before I finish cutting, to be honest. I’m not too concerned. The end result is the same.”

“Edith,” Flint said, staring at her in horror, “what the fuck.”

“So,” she continued, ignoring him. “What happened to Eve. Who did my mother sell her to. And how can I find them.” She drew back the hand around his throat, and it suddenly turned into a whirling blade of salt. “Think fast.”

“I don’t know!” he blurted out immediately, eyes wide and shaking. “I never met them, it was all-”

The salt blade grew closer, and he cried out as blood flew from his neck. “Wrong answer,” Edith said dispassionately.

“...they never gave a name,” he said hurriedly. “A man just… appeared in here. Said they’d been watching us, that they could offer us power, if we gave them… people.”

“Any people?”

“N-no. They had to have powers, or be closely related to someone who did. That’s why-”

“When was the last time he was here.”

“A-a few months ago.”

“Did he say how he found you.”

“N-no.”

“What did he look like.”

“L-large. Tall, white. Had a beard, bald, wore a suit.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Randall,” she said, and cut his head off.

Flint stared at her in muted shock as she stood up, dusting her hands off. “E-edith, wh-”

She spun on him. “You know what kind of person he was! What kind of things he did! He didn’t deserve to be alive any more.”

Lisette nodded, seeming impressed. “Checks out fer me.”

“What was the point!” he yelled. “So many people had already died, why did there have to be one more?!”

“So that there were no witnesses,” she said grimly.

“W-what?” he stammered, caught off-balance.

“This person thought the Cabal could work for them. Serve their purpose. My mother is gone, but the Cabal doesn’t have to be.”

Realization dawned on him. “Edith, no. No no no no no, you can’t.”

“It’s the only way, Flint.” The words sounded like she was pleading, but as she met his eyes, he found them completely empty. “It’s the only lead I have.”

“Edith, you’d have to- you just said, everything you’ve done-”

“Will be worth nothing if I don’t find her,” she shot back. “If I stop here, everything I’ve done will be for nothing.” Something, some unreadable expression, shone through on her face for a moment, only to disappear again. “...I can’t do that, Flint.”

“So, what,” he demanded, “you’re going to become your mother? Take over? You’re sixteen, Edith. And half the Cabal are dead, anyway!”

“I’ll make it work,” she snapped. “By any means necessary.”

Flint looked down at the corpse of Crusade, and then at the pile in the corner, and a shiver ran down his spine. “Edith,” he tried again, “please. This isn’t right. This isn’t going to solve anything. Let’s just… let’s just go. Let’s leave this fucking building and never come back, let’s go home and get all the blood off and put this entire thing behind us. Please.

She stared at him. “...no,” she said at least, so impossibly tired. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Flint. I need to do this. This blood,” she raised her stained hands, “isn’t ever coming off. I might as well get some use out of it.”

She turned and began walking away. “Edith!” he called after her. “I’ll… I’ll report you! To the Tower, I’ll tell them about-”

“No,” she said sadly, without turning around. “You won’t.”

He watched her leave, and wished she was wrong.

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