Into the Mist

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Chapter Seven

I have never felt so alone as I did that Tuesday in April 2366. My empty journal page taunted me. I had a Braille typer, but the empty page matched my empty head. Where had they taken them? My only friend, my only family, my only source of information. I couldn’t help feeling lost, misplaced. Even as a little girl, new to the colony, there was so much to learn and do, I had never felt this... abandoned before.

I went to the gardens every chance I got. My classes all forgotten, giving rote answers, going through the motions. Even my training with Steve was quiet. I was sure he knew what was happening. I didn’t press him, though; it wouldn’t be fair to push for answers I knew he couldn’t give me. So, I ran to my oasis, and when I fell to my knees in the dirt, every tear I had withheld began to course its way hot and stinging down my cheeks.

“Are you here?” I whispered. Nothing. Even the mist had left me stranded. I began to sob, really shake, my body wracked with emotion. I felt so hopeless, was I a soldier being trained for war? Would I be doomed to a life mining helium on the dark side of the moon? It’s not like I would miss the sunlight, but did they have gardens there or was all our food grown here? I had no one to ask, no one to cry to. The mist didn’t come. But my greatest enemy did.

Melissande Delta didn’t have to sneak up on me. I was so oblivious in my pain, I never heard her. I think I surprised her, though. She was walking the path and nearly tripped over my foot.

“What are you doing there?” she half sneered. “Playing in the dirt?” But when I lifted my tear-streaked face, she was quiet. “I heard they took Robin away,” she said. Great. I wasn’t in the mood for a heart to heart.

“What do you want Mel?”

“I just came to the gardens, same as you. Lots of people like coming here, you know.” She sounded defensive.

“I’m sorry,” I sniffed. “I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“No problem,” she said warily.

“Mel, do you think you could do something for me?”

“Like what?” Now she was really apprehensive.

“Would you help me open the airlock?”

“What for?”

“I can’t explain it. I just need to get out.”

“Are you crazy?” she nearly shouted. “Do you know how much trouble I’d be in if I killed you, or helped you commit suicide, or whatever you want to call it?” She was getting loud. “No. No. No way.”

“Shh,” I tried to calm her, “It’s not like that.”

“I think the warden needs to know you’re suicidal.”

“Oh please, don’t say anything,” I begged. “I just figured you wouldn’t mind sending me out, just in case it killed me.”

“Just in case? It WILL kill you, Arienne. Have you gone stupid?” she quieted down. “Besides, I don’t hate anyone that much.”

I didn’t mean to get emotional that time. “I have a secret, Mel. I’ll tell you about it if you help me.”

“I’m listening.”

I told her about the alien mist and my returned sight. I think I convinced her of my insanity. Just when I’d given up, she asked, “Would they heal me too? So I could go home? They’d have no reason to keep us here if we were healed, right?”

“I’m sure they would. I have to ask. I only hear them in the gardens, though. I don’t know if it’s the plant life or maybe the past lives that exist here or something else entirely. They never told me why.”

“What? What past lives?”

“When we die they compost us back into the gardens, for nutrients in the soil.”

“Ick. I wish I hadn’t heard that.”

“Anyway, that’s why I’ve been spending so much time here. So I can communicate with them.” Suddenly I felt the mist. “Do you feel it?” I asked Mel.

“There is a mist around you,” she said incredulously. “I hear it,” she said, “like a wind chime.”

The mist spoke to me. “Child, you must come out to be healed.” It only ever repeated the same message.

“My friend may let me out if you ask her,” I pointed in Mel’s direction.

“She is full of malice,” it said.

“I know, but she’s the only other person I know who can do it. She’s privileged here. She may be able to help me escape.”

“We will talk to her.”

I heard Mel gasp as the mist moved away from me. “What are you?” she demanded.

I could not hear what they told her, then I heard Mel say, “Maybe I could do it. This is just too unreal for me. I don’t believe in aliens and all that sci-fi junk.” I heard it tinkle like laughter. Then she asked, “Would you heal me, too?” I waited. “So if I help her, you’ll help me?”

“I’ll try,” she said and the mist was gone.

“So now you know my secret,” I said.

“Our secret,” her voice smiled. “I want to go home. I want to hold my parents and have my own things and be like all the normal people.” I could hear the desperation in her voice. I didn’t have the heart to tell her what Ivy had said, that we didn’t ever go back; besides Mel might actually have the connections to go home. “I’ll help you.”

“We just need a plan.”

“Could you get Galen to work with me?” she asked. “He likes you, you know.”

He likes skirts, I thought, but out loud I said, “You know I can’t talk to him, right?”

“But I can give him a message from you.”

We set to work on a plan to get the warden’s son to help us do the unthinkable. I was so giddy to have an accomplice. And someone to share my secret with. It made me think of Robin and my heart began to break. I missed him. He had already been gone two weeks and I wondered if they had reassigned his room. The hole in our wall had been patched. I had heard someone moving around in his room, but when I tapped on the wall, a security guard came to tell me to stop. What were they doing to his things? I had heard of “reconditioning” when a student had gotten out of hand or gone moon crazy. I didn’t know what happened, but they came back empty, numb and reconditioned to accept lunar life. I had no idea how long they’d keep him, though.

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