The Implicit Denial of Infinity

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Chapter 17: Talk

Kai woke to a slight sting in her arm, and a cool draft. Slowly, she opened her eyes, only to find a bright light shining directly in her face. After a moment of adjustment, she realized the devastatingly bright light was, in fact, just the sun. With equal hesitation, Kai sat up, taking in her surroundings. Her glasses had not been recovered, and as such the room was reduced to soft, fuzzy edges. It was somewhat calming, though inconvenient. A twinge of pain in her left leg brought back a rush of memories. How long had it been? Hours, days? It had been night when she’d been sedated, and she had no idea how long she’d been out for. She had to assume it was less than twenty-four hours, but supposed it didn’t matter. It wasn’t as if she kept track of the date. She threw back the thin blanket covering her leg to find it in a plaster cast. Was she in a city? That seemed unlikely, but such materials and skills didn’t exist elsewhere. Someone had also changed her clothing. She was clad in what appeared to be a scrub top, and a pair of pajama pants patterned with blue birds. It was a rather strange outfit, but she couldn’t complain. It was better than the jumpsuit, and far better than being left to die in the forest. The young lady cleared her throat, which was quite dry, and then extended a hand out to brace against the small side table by her bed. Her eyes settled on the crook of an elbow, where a bruise was beginning to form. Odd. Had someone taken her blood? She didn’t know. Shaking the thought from her mind, she slowly pushed herself up to stand.

“Hey…”

There was a knock on the door frame.

It was largely a pointless gesture, as the place had no door, and the figure was already standing there. Kai couldn’t quite make out their face, but could deduce, based on the pitch of her voice, that she was a woman. A woman wearing a white coat.

“Hi.”

The woman took Kai’s flat greeting as an invitation to come closer. Really, it was an appreciated gesture. Without her glasses, she really couldn’t see this stranger’s face. She had just appeared to be a mass of blue-gray clothing, clothing that looked quite a lot like medical scrubs. Such an appearance was rather jarring. It had been quite some time since she’d seen any formal medical professional. Most of the new-world doctors she’d dealt with in the past years had been a strange mix of young people who had completed part of nursing or medical school before being forced to flee, veterinarians who found themselves without work, as few owned pets, and the odd legitimate doctor who saw seeking out hiding youth as an act of charity. She’d always wondered if that’s what charities targeted these days.

Screw the shelter dogs.Donate just a dollar a day to help a young person hiding from aliens.’

How compelling.

She couldn’t help but laugh. Really, Kai was just about certain she had a head injury. It wasn’t that funny.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay. Did you see my glasses?”“I’m afraid not. Do you know your prescription? We’ve found a lot of eyeglasses that never shipped.”

“No.”

“Oh. Well. Maybe you can try them and see if any work.”

“Okay.”

The world was swimming again, so Kai slumped back to sit on her bed. She squeezed her eyes shut.

“What’s wrong with me?”

She was aware it was a stupid question, but she felt it was important to voice it. This didn’t feel like a head wound. It felt like she was exhausted, and rather cold.

“We had to take some blood.”

“What?”

This caused her to open an eye, arching a brow. They’d taken blood from her? In what way? This woman hadn’t phrased it to imply that it was for testing. It sounded like it was the root cause of the problem.

The woman’s eyes darted from side to side, “Well. First we had to run some tests, and then-”

“And then what?”“Well. You weren’t the only one we found.”

“So they needed a blood donation?”

Another pause, and then an answer. “Yes and no.”

This woman’s hesitance was beginning to irk her. Whatever it was certainly couldn’t be bad enough to warrant this level of hesitation, could it? Rather than asking once more, she waited. After all, this woman would have to get her thoughts together eventually.

She did, after a moment. “As I was saying, we found another person.”

Kai tsked impatiently.

“One of them. The aliens. Whatever they are.”

“What?” This was enough to make Kai’s eyebrows shoot up and her mouth partly drop open. She’d never heard of one of them being left out, to the mercy of humans. Well, then again, she’d never asked, but it still was rather shocking. The invaders, whatever they chose to call themselves, had always made an effort to be otherworldly. Well, otherworldly beyond the obvious manner in which they were. They didn’t allow themselves to be seen with any frequency, nor did they ever leave the safety of their compounds. One being potentially wounded, at the mercy of humans, was an exciting prospect indeed.

“Is it talking?”

The woman’s brows pressed together, clearly confused. “What?”

“The alien. Have you been able to get anything out of it?”

“What do you mean?”

Kai pushed her arms back, bracing herself to sit up straight. How could this woman not understand? She shook her head.

“Interrogating it. Questioning it. Whatever you want to call it.”

The woman shook her head rapidly, “It’s not like that. She’s..She’s really hurt.”

“And she needed my blood?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Don’t know. She said she needed a blood transfusion. Had this little device. Some kind of medical equipment. You were a match.”

Kai opened her mouth to speak once more, rage boiling up inside of her. How could this stranger steal her blood and give it to the enemy without asking? It was her blood, was it not? Wasn’t there some rule about that? And the room! It was moving again.

Definitely a head injury.

Seeing her face, the woman raised her hands defensively. Her expression was odd, unreadable. This lasted for only a moment, before the soft, professional smile returned.

“Would you like to see her?”

“What?”

“The person you saved.”

“Not a person.”

Clearly, the woman didn’t like this answer. She drew in a deep breath to calm her frustration, then spoke.

“Shall we get you into a wheelchair?”


The walk, or rather, ride, was silent. This was nothing of concern to Kai, as it gave her the opportunity to take in her surroundings. It was becoming increasingly clear that this place had not been a hospital, but rather some sort of hotel. It had electricity and working elevators, both of which Kai appreciated. Part of her wondered where the medical supplies they appeared to have had come from. Perhaps it was the new world’s version of a hospital. It was clearly a place out of the way, a place that she was now healing. There had to be other patients here, she thought. Enough that this woman – this woman whose name she had yet to ask – was here to manage them. She seemed to be a doctor of some kind. Or maybe a pharmacist? An optometrist? A white coat didn’t narrow it down. Kai turned her gaze forward once more.

“Here we are.”

She didn’t reply, and as such was pushed through the doorway and into the room. It really did look like a hotel room. Perhaps some sort of small hotel? The bed was distinctly a hospital bed, however, and the layout of the room was much different than Kai’s. While her room had possessed the distinct attempt to mask the feel of a hospital, this one made no such effort. Machines, ones meant for monitoring vitals, Kai supposed, were pushed up against the wall. None were connected to the patient, leaving the room in eerie silence. The figure in the bed was curled on her side, and completely covered by blankets. She was strangely still, save for the subtle rise and fall of her side. Soft breaths. Something about this being was very wrong, wrong enough that Kai found herself bracing against the arm rests of the chair.
“Get me out of here.”

“No.”

“I said get me out of here!” Kai dropped her good leg to the ground, aiming to stall the movement of the chair.

“Reese.”

A quiet, hoarse voice croaked from the bed.

“Let her go.”

Kai found herself frozen. It talked. The figure, the lump of creature laying in the bed, had talked. She’d assumed it to be asleep.

“You speak English?”

“Yes.” Slowly, the creature rolled over, turning to face her. She was hard to see, wrapped in a blanket, and wearing a paper surgical mask.

“How?”

“Your internet.”

The woman, now known to be Reese, took the conversation as permission to roll Kai closer. She didn’t protest, though she wanted to.

“I’ll leave you two to talk.”

Reese’s footsteps receded, and the door closed with a click. Kai didn’t watch her go, keeping her eyes on the bundled figure. Slowly, it moved to sit up, the blanket partly falling away. A hand, one that was pale, tinged red, reached up to peel the mask away from her face, casting it aside. The same hand moved to rake through her mane of long, silver hair. The face below the mask was angular and long, marked with long vein-like lines of yellow-bronze. Her large, round eyes were deep red, and wide-set. Her nose was thin, as were her lips. She was beautiful, but inhuman.

“Hi.”

Kai startled as she spoke, still gaping at the strange being. She cleared her throat.

“Hi.”

“My name is Aster. What is your name?”

“Like the flowers?”

“I like them. That is why I picked them.”

“I’m Kai.”

“Did you pick it?”

“Yes.”

The creature tilted her head, a smile creeping up on her face. It was almost childlike, as if she was truly fascinated, “Why?”

“I liked it.”

Aster nodded, slowly moving to sit up, cross legged. She extended her hands out to Kai, slowly reaching toward her arms. She seemed genuinely surprised when the young woman recoiled.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s cold, and I have blankets.”

Kai raised an eyebrow. Maybe the customs were different among her kind. It seemed like they were rather touchy. She didn’t like it.

“Don’t try to pick me up.”

“Why not? Your leg is broken, so you should not walk on it.”

“It’s an invasion of my space.”

“Oh.” Aster nodded, an awkward, exaggerated gesture, “I forgot.”

“How?”

“It is very strange.”

“Is it, though?”

“Yes, that is what I said.”

Kai scoffed, then found herself swatting at the alien’s hand as she reached out once more. It was strange, she thought, how quickly this being had decided they were friends.

“Stop.”

Aster nodded once more, seeming slightly crestfallen. It was very strange, Kai thought, that this being was so worried for her. The warmth in her eyes was far different than what she’d seen from others of her kind. “Here.” Aster spoke softly, then lifted off one of the blankets from her bed, moving to wrap it around the other girl’s shoulders. She moved quickly, fast enough to remind Kai that this being was not human.

“Thank you.” Kai’s voice was just as soft, drawing the blanket in and around her.

With the loss of the bulky piece of fabric, the alien’s frame could more clearly be seen, as she was left with just a sheet and a thin blanket. Even sitting down, she was tall, posture rigid and straight. The shirt she wore was sleeveless, the rest of her skin being the same reddish hue as the rest of her. Those same lines crossed her in a somewhat random, patchwork pattern, seeming to divide her up into sections.

“You are looking at me.”

Kai dropped her gaze, muttering an apology. She hadn’t meant to stare, but truly she couldn’t wrap her mind around the presence of this being. The others of her kind had been masked at the very least, and fully shrouded at most. This one was dressed in a sleeveless shirt and pajama pants. Pajama pants with smiley faces on them. It was ridiculous.

“You can look at me if you want. I know that I look strange to you.”

“A little.” Kai gave a small smile, hoping to appear at least somewhat friendly.

It was hard to dislike this person, despite her species. She was strange, but not malicious in any way.

“What makes me strange?”

The question, though simple, caught her off guard. Kai paused, “The veins, or whatever they are. Those lines.”

It wasn’t exactly that, but it was the first thing that came to mind.

“Oh. Well. There is not a lot I can do about those.”

“It’s fine. It’s not like they’re gross or anything. Just different.”

She didn’t know why that was her choice of words, but it seemed to calm the creature slightly.

“Would you like to see what they do?”

She paused. “I guess.”

Aster smiled, leaning forward on the bed as she set her right hand on the bed. Two lines crossed it, one on each side of her middle finger. She had five, like a human, though they were far longer, and ended in a very small crescent-shaped finger nail.

“Watch.”

Slowly, the segment covering the little finger and ring finger began to take on the powder blue color of the sheet below her. This extended up her arm, to her elbow, stopping at another line. Aster slowly extended her leg out, bringing the fabric of her pant leg into contact with her thumb. Slowly, the section began to take on the color of the fabric: purple.

“You’re like a chameleon?”

“I think so.” Aster withdrew her hand, the sections maintaining their colors. “They mostly change for communication, right? That is what we do. Or, used to do.”

“But you need to be touching something to change color?”

“No. It is just easier to match, and it seems impressive.”

Kai couldn’t help but laugh at that. It was fair enough, she thought. She did, however, have a question, something that had been nagging at her.

“That woman – Reese– she said you were hurt. Are you hurt?”“Oh. Yes.” Aster gave an affirmative nod, moving to lift up her shirt. Her entire abdomen was bandaged, with blood having stained through in a long line, illustrating exactly where the gash was.

Kai’s eyes widened, leaning forward to examine the injury. It wasn’t like there was a lot she could do about the injury, but she still was concerned.

“That looks like it hurts.”

“Not really. I heal quickly. See?”

Without waiting for response, Aster began to unwind the bandages from around herself.

“Wait! Shouldn’t you wait for the doctor to come back?”

She waved a hand, peeling back the final layer to reveal a puckered, pink cut. It was jagged, and spanned from the top right of her ribcage to the center of her belly. The top of it appeared to be concealed beneath the sports bra she wore. It was still sutured shut, even though it didn’t really appear to need such help.

“I told them I did not need stitches, but they wouldn’t listen.”

“Why did you need the blood, if you heal so fast?”

“I lost a lot.”

“And you can take human blood?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I do not know. I’m not a scientist. The sensor said I can have your blood, so I asked for some.”

“Sensor?”

“Oh. I forget you don’t have anything like it. This.”

She pulled down the neckline of her shirt, revealing an odd little implant just below her right collarbone. It was smooth and gray. It reminded Kai of the screen she’d met her initial match on.

“See?” Aster lifted a finger to lightly tap it, the screen slowly coming to life. The same strange logo, of crossed hands and a flower, lit up the screen. “It monitors everything.”

“And it doesn’t hurt or anything?”

“I’ve had it my whole life.”

Kai nodded. Really, she was more surprised that the alien had suddenly begun to use contractions in her speech. She didn’t know why that was. Maybe a head injury was still at play, or maybe she was just in some sort of shock. She didn’t know, and really didn’t care to find out. Right now, the strange calm acceptance of this bizarre situation was ideal.

“Does it bother you?

“No. Why would it?”

“You’re very pale now.”

“Oh.” Kai laughed softly, dropping her head down into her hand. She lightly massaged her temple, encountering the line of stitching there.

Aster tilted her head, though she didn’t speak. As Kai lifted her gaze, she saw that the being was smiling.

“What?”

“You. You’re funny.

“And that’s a good thing?”

“I would say so.” Aster leaned back, holding her weight up one one hand, the other laying in her lap. “Are you curious about me? About why I am here?”

Kai paused, then nodded.

“Why not ask, then?”

“I don’t know.” Kai admitted, shaking her head. “I didn’t want to seem rude, and I wasn’t expecting you to be well, like this.”

“Like what?”

“A person.”

“That’s rude, isn’t it?”

She shook her head. Really, it was. This interaction was strained at best, and bizarre at worst. She was beginning to feel rather bad. Her gaze dropped down to her lap, fingers moving to pick at the stitching on her pants. An uncomfortable silence settled over the two, neither knowing just how to end it. Glancing through her hair, Kai found Aster twisting her bedsheet through her hands.

“I am not one of them. The people that took you.”

“Aren’t all of you?”

“Are you part of everything your species does?”

She did have a point.

“What were you doing there, then?”

“Protest.”

“Prove it.”

“How?” Aster set the blanket down, leaning forward. “How can I?”

This too, was a good point. Kai dropped her head back into her hands, massaging her temples.

“You don’t know. And you know that I need you more than you need me.”

That caught her off guard. The human lifted her head out of her hands. “What?”

“I need you.”

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