The Implicit Denial of Infinity

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Chapter 4: Card

James had left her to her own devices two hours prior, locking the door behind him. She’d tested it multiple times, even going as far as to kick it. Unsurprisingly, nobody had come to free her, and in the time since she’d been left alone, she’d alternated between pacing and sitting on her cot. Kai could hear her captors moving around upstairs, it almost sounded as if they were celebrating. The thought turned her stomach. The idea of her fate being sealed, her future stolen was too much to bear, and Kai forced her thoughts to anything else. Escape had already been ruled out, clearly she hadn’t been the first trapped here, as the basement contained no method of escape, or anything that could be used to cause harm, even the towel beside the sink was cut short enough that it could not be used to presumably choke anyone. The sink itself and the toilet were both shallow, perhaps to prevent self-drowning?

Kai by no means wanted to hurt herself, but wondered what had presumably led others to do so. After all, why would these strange precautions be taken if someone hadn’t done something fantastically reckless? She supposed she could understand the sheer desperation of someone trapped and unafraid to die, in fact she herself had felt that desperation for, but now now.

Shaking the thoughts of death from her mind, Kai rolled onto her back, hand slipping into her jacket pocket and removing the ID card. It was a plain piece of plastic, mostly a dark blue color, with her school ID number and picture. The girl in the picture was almost unfamiliar, with long brown hair cascading past the bottom of the photo and a flawless smile, newly free of braces. Her lips were stained pink with a light coating of gloss, and her eyes framed with dark eyeliner behind large, round glasses. Kai couldn’t remember the exact day she’d stopped wearing makeup, but she could remember the day she’d broken her glasses, tripping and dropping them on a rock only a month into her time alone. She was near-sighted, but not enough that it was impossible to function without her glasses. Moreso, the slight blur of vision and the need to squint was an annoyance.

As far as she knew, the glasses themselves were still in their case, tucked into a side pocket of her bag, where she’d put them to avoid further damage. Kai tucked the ID card into her pocket, hesitated a moment, then rolled out of bed.

After all, if she was to lose herself to these monsters, she assumed she might as well be able see them at a distance.

Locating the case took almost no time at all, but she did spend a moment simply looking at it before touching it. The case was a light gray, painted with tiny roses, roses put there by Jess, who had been Kai’s closest friend, on a night that she’d stayed over. The roses, though faded now, were still beautiful. A smile flicked across Kai’s lips as she remembered that night, it had been a week after she’d come out to her parents. They’d accepted her, as expected, but had been concerned that Jess, who was most definitely straight, was somehow her secret girlfriend. Both Jess and Kai had found this notion quite hilarious, and Kai could almost hear Jess’s joking lament“You’re already my gay best friend, I can’t handle you as my girlfriend. I’ll have to come clean and tell your parents I’m straight!”

Jess was one of the first she considered lost to the aliens.

Kai sighed softly, flicking open the case with her thumb. The glasses inside were as she remembered, wire framed and large, sporting a crack in the left lense. Kai ran her fingers around the rims of the glasses, closing her eyes. She found her mind back on Jess, on the argument that had finally torn the two apart.

“Don’t you want me to be happy?” She’d screamed, angry and tearful, “It’s like you don’t care! You just want me here!”

Kai hadn’t known how to respond then, she’d only been to yell back through her own tears, “You know what? Just go! Die for all I care!”

Maybe she had, either way, Kai never did see her again. Those words were one of the few things Kai really regretted. In her years alone, she’d had many outbursts, but none with as severe fallout as with Jess. In truth, she acknowledged that Jess had most likely gone to be tested, and hopefully had matched.

She wondered if she’d somehow see her again, once her own fate was sealed. Kai took her glasses off once again, setting them on the floor beside her cot, and staring up at the ceiling. She somehow preferred it to be blurry, with softened edges that somehow made the whole place seem kinder, less harsh. Isolation had never been an issue for Kai, not until now. This was somehow worse than being immediately given off to the creatures above. She felt like a prisoner on death row during their final twenty-four hours, just waiting to die. Sleeping felt wrong, as if it was a waste of what little time she’d been given. She slowly sat back up, rubbing her eyes, then swung her legs over the side of the bed. Kai paused a moment, then moved to slowly unlace her boots, then slide her socks off. Looking at her bare feet, Kai was reminded of just how long it had been since she’d last had a shower.

Her ankles, one of the very few bits of her body frequently exposed, were covered with dirt. Kai herself barely ever changed clothing, and found herself now mildly itchy. She sighed, looked around for some imagined enemy, then removed her shirt, stretching and scraping her nails through her hair, as if she was truly washing it. Kai wiggled her toes, then slowly stood, beginning to pace the room. She wondered if her captors would somehow allow her to bathe before she was taken. The idea of looking like some sort of forest creature as a first impression to a group of inhuman monsters bothered her slightly. Kai stopped to lean against the wall, palms pressing hard into the wall. She became acutely aware of the calluses on her palms, of the dirt beneath her nails and on her face. In truth, Kai wasn’t sure just how much of the filth came from the chase through the forest and how much had simply sat on her skin without notice. Being able to bear it no longer, Kai ran to the room with the sink, turning it on and sticking her face beneath the sink.

The water was cold and smelled of iron, but Kai held her face beneath it, rubbing furiously until the skin turned pink. Her breath came in ragged, gasping pants as Kai propped herself up against the sink, glancing up into the mirror.

The girl on the ID card was most definitely gone. In her place stood a thin, dirty creature that seemed to fit in perfectly with its surroundings.

Kai smiled.

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