Category: Kieran



Trev: Driven by unspeakable shame, he inexplicably heads back to see Sal. Rain slashes his face as a vicious wind whips a steel gray sky. He doesn’t notice.

Mairi: Unconscious on the cold floor, her head in a small pool of dark blood. She tried to stop Trev from going. He punched her in the face.

Emy: Her new found sensitivity to sound is driving her insane. She is currently floating her agitated arse in an isolation chamber. She holds her brooch in her hand, realizes she can no longer see her mother and starts to punch the side of the chamber. No one can hear. Blood drips from her knuckles. She starts to smile as salt stings her open wounds.

Cait: Sitting in the study with the Commander and Tom. She has been informed of the circumstances and looks on as the Commander outlines his plan. When the Commander mentions Kyra, Cait stands up and yells, “I will not have that bitch in my house!” Ariel appears in the doorway and all three adults turn in unison toward the small child.

Kyra: On her way to Duckhead. She is the plan. She sits in meditative silence on the private transport oblivious to the multi-hued lights flashing by.

Von: Refused to take no. He is with Kyra. His left hand has a firm grip on his right. It shakes anyway.

Rog and John: Making idle conversation. The Matutinal Mercy has not yet been delivered. The room is ice cold. Neither notice.

Yul: Still in hospital. Too high to wonder why. Too low to care.

Kieran: Closely watching events unfold.

The Unknowns: Closely watching Kieran.

The Kyra Star


Papa and Kyra are walking down the beach on their way for ice cream when a man and his son approach them. The man speaks of need and solicits money from Papa.

K: Papa, why did you give that man all our money?

P: I did it for the son.

K: But we can’t get any ice cream now.

P: Ice cream might make the belly smile, but to give love makes the heart smile, or, as I’ve heard it put, makes your soul shine.

K: Soul shine? Really?

P: (kneeling down) Look closely at my eyes.

K: Oh.

P: Soul Shine.

K: Can you make my eyes do that?

P: No.

K: (frowns)

P: Only you can do that.

K: Show me how.

P: (smiles) I just did.

K: (looks confused)

P: Every day we are blessed with opportunity, the opportunity to give, to smile, to paint the world around us with yellow, to touch the canvas of another with the paintbrush of our heart. Do that, and your soul will shine. Do it enough and . . .

K: And what?

P: (looking more serious) And you become a light unto the world.

K: (looks with wonder)

P: Yes, but can I tell you a secret?

K: (Kyra leans in) Only if you promise to tell and not show.

P: (Papa smiles) Look into the heavens my precocious one, just above the horizon. What do you see?

K: I see my star, the Kyra star. (Papa had named the brightest star in the Hynerian sky after Kyra)

P: And?

K: It is the brightest most brilliant star in the whole sky.

P: Yes it is. And do you know why I named it the Kyra star?

K: Because you like teasing me with lessons.

P: (Papa laughed—sometimes he forgot he was conversing with a child) Because, my child, you have a gift, an ability, a potential, if you will.

K: (looks somewhat puzzled)

P: (Papa puts his hands on Kyra’s shoulders, his eyes looking into the endless cisterns of her young sapphire eyes) You are that star Kyra.

Kieran: I must go now.

K: I know.

Kieran: You know, Papa was right.

K: (looks searchingly) About what?

Kieran: You are the—

John: Hey, I appreciate the family reunion, but we best get moving before reinforcements arrive. And they will.

Commentary and Reading: The Kyra Star

Categories: Story, Papa, Kyra, Kieran, John Discovery


Ed note: The following bits and pieces surfaced on the flight yesterday. They may or may not have happened in the story. The image is what I call “Place Your Bets,” an allusion to which bits below you think really happened.

Internal Affairs visited Cait. They wanted to know where John was. Said something about a chip.

Mairi finds Trev. He’s a mess. Camera pans away with Mairi holding Trev in her arms like a frightened child, her hair blowing in the wind. She is wearing a long pleated skirt with a mustard colored blouse offsetting her auburn locks.

Dr. X discovers that Châtelaine’s undergo three months of training to communicate with their eyes.

The signal Rog recognizes comes from Kyra’s Zing Tao ring.

Taren is forced to destroy the ring, and under duress has to do it in front of Kyra.

This unleashes a side of Kyra never seen and she destroys the entire compound.

When no one is left alive, she collapses in a heap as a light is seen around her–Kieran.

When Mairi finds Trev he has blood caked on his upper lip, his eyes stare unblinking, lifeless; he can’t form coherent words or thoughts. His body feels strangely cold and he trembles uncontrollably.

Mairi puts hands on his head, closes her eyes and has flashes of his mind. She cries, something a hardened Châtelaine would never do.

Kyra spares Taren, barely. The number of dead in the compound count into the hundreds as she moved of body and mind.

Von said it was the most terrifying and beautiful birth he had ever seen.

Emy couldn’t talk about what she saw for months.

Mairi feels guilt at encouraging Trev to sow his oats.

BC is pissed Lil’ let Trev go and not kill him.

Kieran holds Kyra as Mairi holds Trev–tells her he has someone that wants to say hello, someone that did not take the last ship out of dodge.

John writes in his journal that “After the Kyra Incident” he is losing his moral compass with Cait.

Mairi looks to the heavens and cries out, “My Janus, what have they done to you.” Tears streak down her cheeks and she looks back down at Trev’s blank stare and through her tears she utters, “My dear child.” She wipes his hair away and shaking her head says, “How will you ever forgive me?” She is rocking back and forth as a mother might rock a frightened child to sleep.

“Papa?”

Kieran says she can’t directly connect with him but that he can act as a conduit.

Message from Papa: “We can still get there from here.”

Von: (Looks at Rog) I hope you brought some snoot?
Rog: I did.
Von: Good Hynerian.
Rog: I drank it–all.
Von: (deadpans)
Rog: But I have a plan.
Von: Yeah?
Rog: Looks at John.
John: What?
Von and Rog: (Start laughing)

I Love You, I’ll Kill You by Enigma is the Soundtrack for “The Kyra Incident.”

Interview from Earth:

T: Can you explain what happened?

K: Taren’s hammer was like a pickaxe. The down stroke to Papa’s ring broke, and I shiott you not, to my mind’s eye, I saw it as clear as day, but broke layer upon layer of inhibition and doubt while harnessing a synergistic melding of practice, theory and application that took years of pieces and in an instant painted, how would you say it, a Mona Lisa.

T: Wow.

K: Don’t ever say that word again in response.

T: Okay.

K: (starts laughing) I’m just shiotting you. Bring more whiskey–nine glasses.

T: (just smiles)

The Eighth Glass

Von stood behind the bar as if he had been there for years listening to patrons and dispensing wisdom with an avuncular smile. Rog had his ear and Yul, her arm around his waist, had Rog’s. Just a couple feet away Mairi was telling stories of Dr X and Emy and Trev looked like children at story time, eyes wide, drinks holding steady in tight hands with elbows tucked and still. Kyra stood at the doorway, observing the crew and smiled. Something special was in the air, she could feel it, a presence just out of reach, but the feeling was there.

As she stepped into the room, Von’s eyes caught her first, and like falling dominos, everyone stopped mid-conversation and looked in her direction. Kyra’s entire wardrobe seemed to consist of black venusian leather, but in the year they had been together, no one had seen this outfit. Her shinning sable mane flowed from head to shoulder like an Egyptian queen, a slight bounce with each stride, which in and of itself was in marked contrast to her normal ponytail. (Yul squeezed Rog just a little tighter).

Kyra wore long melanic gloves and polished fuligin boots but, well, neither caught the crew’s attention as much as what was not covered in black. Her formfitting outfit curved seamlessly from shoulder to breast, cupping each perfectly firm globe like a second skin, but unlike her bodyglove, from neck to glittering bellybutton was skin porcelain white, taut and tight, exposed like a sensual river reflecting the evening’s glow in the shadow of mountains atrous in dusk. Nestled low, in the seat of birth remembered, sat one brilliant sapphire, matching the twin windows of eyes deep as cisterns blue on a clear day. The natural flow of the design took eye from high to low and minds from welcome to hello.

“Never seen a girl before?” Kyra laughed, knowing full well they had never seen her dress like this. “Von, line them up. Only your best snoot, drinks on me tonight.”

Yul grabbed Rog’s arse and whispered in his ear, “Would you like me to pick them up?”

“What’d you say hon,” said Rog dully.

“Your eyes. Do you want me to pick them off the floor?”

Von reached under the bar and pulled out seven shot glasses, placing them down with that familiar knock of heavy glass on hard wood, as pleasing to the ear as eye. Moving from one to the other he filled each to the brim with golden nectar. Filling the last glass he placed the bottle down on the counter and looked at Kyra.

“One more.” All eyes moved to Kyra and Von looked at her with a blank look. “One more glass.” When he hesitated she added, “eight glasses. We leave no one behind. Now get that eighth glass before I have to mindbat you.”

Von reached under the bar and placed an eighth on the counter.

“Fill it up.”

He did.

“A toast,” said Kyra and she lifted her glass as the others followed suit. “To love, to life, to all we hold dear. A toast to you my friends and a toast to our future. We may part in the morn, but the ties that bind our hearts know neither time nor space.” And with that Kyra drained her glass in one motion and slammed the glass down on the bar as the rest, like a wave, joined and in that motion it seemed a light flashed quick as lightning. “Von, another round.”

Bottle in hand, Von just stood in place, his eyes locked on the end of the bar. The eighth glass was empty.

To be continued . . .

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von, Rog, Yul, Emy, Trev, Mairi, Kieran

I Know


T: Rog, thanks for granting us this interview. Kyra will be along in just a bit but I think we can get started.

R: No problem. Let’s do it.

T: If you would, start from your time in hospital.

R: Sure. My recovery proceeded much faster than anyone expected; and, I was able to convince John to release me a day early without telling anyone. I wanted to surprise Yul. They had flowers, which may seem like a strange thing to say, but in space, you don’t exactly come across them everyday and we hadn’t for some time. Yul loved flowers so I knew I had the perfect makings for a wonderful surprise.

T: Did you know at this time why Yul had acted so strange when she first came to visit you?

R: No frailing clue. I felt like such a blockhead because all the signals were there—that something was wrong—but I was so self-absorbed in my own good fortune I didn’t see it. I suppose Kyra is right. We do see the universe as if we were dead center and everything else revolves around us. Not exactly the best prescription for building a relationship is it.

T: I suppose not. So you got out a day early and no one knew.

R: Yep.

T: And you had flowers.

R: Yeah, I did. Very exotic. John said Cait grew them in their garden and that they were sure to make the impression I was after. I knew Yul was going to love’em. I was determined that whatever was bothering her I was going to fix, or, as I used to think, use my force of will to wash away. Much power in a smile, but sometimes . . .

T: Sometimes? Please continue.

R: Sometimes you need just a little more. And sometimes [Rog looked down], sometimes you just need a little luck. Hindsight, well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

T: So you were released early. What happened next?

R: I walked, no, actually I ran to my quarters, jumped in the shower and tried my best to scrub that hospital smell from my hide. You know, the one that reeks of stale linens and that strange metallic scent. So I scrub my skin red, jump out of the shower and as I’m standing in front of the mirror drying my hair I’ll be damned if that smell isn’t still there. No can do. Believe me, there would be no babies if we all smelled like that and besides, the last thing I wanted to remind Yul of was that moment in the room.

T: So, how did you get rid of it?

R: Look, if you are going to interrupt me every time I get started on this story, I’d just as soon stop now.

T: Sorry, please continue.

R: First time I met Yul I had used some homemade goat’s milk soap in the shower that morning—very strong scent that tends to stay with you all day. She loved it. Said it was pure Rog. Down-to-hyneria, strong and pure with a touch of raw integrity, whatever that meant, but she just loved the smell. I didn’t normally use it since it can overpower all other smells, not a good thing in tight quarters; believe me, in space, a strong smell can get old real fast. Besides, I didn’t want to interfere with the flowers, but, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. So, I jumped back into the shower.

T: I take it, it worked?

R: [Rog laughed] Yeah, it worked. Couldn’t smell the flowers anymore but what the hell, I was after bigger fish if you know what I mean. And failure, as they say, was not an option. Had a lot of confidence at that time in my life. Ignorance breeds it—or stupidity—take your choice. You know how they say everything happens for a reason?

T: Yes.

R: Well, drum that idea out of your head. Sometimes shiott happens and there ain’t no reason. And there ain’t nothing you can do about it either. That whole universe thing again. Truth doesn’t bargain nor suffer fools-kinda like Yul I suppose. My nut was a little tougher to crack. Dad always said I preferred the hard way. Can’t say he was wrong, although at the time I would have lived up to his argument.

T: Not sure I follow that last bit?

R: Maybe a couple shots of snoot will clear your head. Hey [Rog motions to my assistant], bring us some snoot or whatever you call that stuff. We’ll sort you out. Anyway, this is what you don’t know. The whole time I’m pimping in front of my mirror, Yul was sitting in front of hers too. You got that Jack? Ask Kyra about the difference a few seconds can make. Frailing vanity. Cost me a few minutes. Not much of a trade but then again hindsight is a cheap beotch turning her last trick of the night. How was I to know?

T: [Puzzled look]

R: Not your fault. I’m getting ahead of myself. All these memories exist for me as one thing, a single event, and I don’t normally separate them out into chronological order. So here we are, me getting ready for my surprise visit while at the same time Yul is sitting in front of her mirror. She is getting ready too. Of course, I had no idea.

T: Okay.

R: So I sneak down the hall and let myself into her quarters. Of course, I had the code for silent entry. Her quarters were dark, which at the time I thought was a little odd, but again, I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than my own agenda; was feeling quite proud of myself actually. I called out her name. No answer. I knew she was there—in her quarters that is. I saw a dim pale blue light coming from her private quarters, so I tip toed toward the bedroom. The light was coming from her bathroom. With the flowers held behind my back and the biggest grin I could muster I poked my head around the corner.

[Assistant shows up with snoot] Care to join me?

T: No thanks.

R: Suit yourself. [Rog knocks back his shot and mine and tells assistant to bring more] I wouldn’t normally drink during an interview but I think you’ll understand in a minute. Have you ever had a moment when you felt her heart was going to knock itself right through your chest and onto the floor?

T: Well . . .

R: Hold that thought. When I poked my head into the bathroom Yul was lying on the floor, a dark blue liquid dripped from the corner of her mouth and had formed a puddle on the floor around her cheek, which caught the flicker of the candles she had burning on the vanity. That dance of light was the only thing moving. [Rog stopped, starring straight at me]

A: Kyra has arrived. Should I bring her in?

T: [I looked at Rog] He nodded.

K: I hope I’m not interrupting.

R: Not at all. Your timing is right on, again. I was telling our friend I had just walked into the bathroom and found Yul on the floor.

K: I see. Please continue.

R: At that time in my life, I felt I had experienced quite a bit. When I saw Yul, unconscious, cold, on the floor, my knees buckled at the hands of fate and I knew—I knew in that instant, in a flash and I can’t emphasis that enough, the moment was quicker than the snap of my fingers, I knew that I knew nothing and I knew that my whole world, everything I thought I held dear, trusted was so, was slipping away. Hard to explain the moment, the feeling, the sensation. Your eyes see and your mind thinks but there is a disconnect between the two. All that you stand upon gives way and the emotional fall knows no bottom; and so you fall into the pitch of darkness for what seems like eternity. Part of you just wants to hit bottom and end the nightmare. But there is another part, arms wailing, that wants to grab hold of some imaginary branch. Your heart feels like it is in your ears, your stomach in your throat while your mouth lips words–but no sound comes out.

K: Was this the moment you commed me?

R: No, not yet. In what seemed like a lifetime but must have only been seconds I dropped the flowers, fell to my knees and immediately grabbed her head—my Janus, I had held her head a thousand times and it had never felt this leaden. The conversation is still as blurry in my mind as her face was in my tear streaked eyes and I wasn’t sure how much was directed toward Yul and how much toward Janus. She had no pulse. Her eyes were open, wet; and they seemed to be staring directly at me, kinda like one of those painting that no matter where you stand in the room the eyes always seem to be looking right at you. They looked like doll eyes, glassy and all I can remember is violently shaking my head back and forth.

My Janus, those eyes. Do you know what it is like to see those eyes, those eyes you have seen so many times, those eyes that animate your every waking moment, those eyes that have brought pleasure and delight in the sparkle of midnight stars. Do you know? Can you imagine seeing those eyes staring back at you now—lifeless, begging? They seem to say, where were you? Where were you when I needed you? And all you can think is what a frailing stupid idiot you were pimping in front of the mirror because that is where you were.

T: With all due respect, seems a little harsh to view your actions that way.

R: [Rog smiled] I had dropped the flowers on the floor when I saw her. After all the begging and pleading and swearing I pulled her limp head into my chest and cried for I don’t know how long. I think the goat’s milk scent interfered with my ability to smell, but when I pulled her head to mine and that viscous blue liquid rubbed against my skin, the burning sensation told me what I needed to know. And then I saw the vial, broken as my soul, upon that stone cold floor. That is when I commed K.

T: [Turning to Kyra] Where were you when the call came?

K: I was in my quarters standing in front of the window looking down at the planet and wondering how I had let John talk me out of accompanying his search and rescue team. Preoccupied, in my own world one could say. I knew I would only get in the way of their teams and that John was right, still, I felt I owned it to Mairi to be there when they found her. So, I was having a pity party and my mind was filled with the self-doubt that only the ego can manipulate.

T: What did Rog say when he commed?

K: He said, It’s Yul, it’s Yul. Please Janus, It’s Yul. What have you done baby. My Janus, what have you done? I commed that I was on my way. When I walked into that bathroom he had Yul’s limp body pulled tightly to his and the two of them were smeared in what appeared to be a purplish blue liquid. I knew instinctively the situation. Not good.

R: I don’t remember K arriving. One moment I was pulling Yul to me as if I could squeeze the poison from her pores if I just held her tight enough and then the next moment I felt K telling me to let go.

K: Actually, I told you to let go of her hands and to hold her head in your chest as if her very life depended on hearing the beat of your heart and to think of nothing else. Oh, and I think I told you to keep your mouth shut too if I recall correctly. You were mumbling like a baby.

R: Really?

K: Yes. Now, as I said before, shut up. I think he wants to hear the story from one who was there. [Kyra winked at Rog and Rog signaled for more snoot]

T: Kyra, the floor is all yours.

K: I held both of Yul’s hands in mine with my chest pressed up against Rog’s back as he held her head in his chest. All three of us are still on the floor. I closed my eyes and focused my heart. My mind filled with white light and I saw Yul and then Kieran. Yul spoke first and this is what happened:

[Yul]: I see the light. I feel the light. And you want me to go back to darkness? (laughter) Get the frail out of here.

[Kyra]: The light will be here—when it is your time.

[Yul]: And who are you to tell me when my time is?

[Kyra]: I have something to show you. (I showed her the scene back in the bathroom with Rog holding her head tightly to his chest, his eyelids shut so tight they appeared to be squeezing out the tears that were raining down upon her beautiful mane.) Our life is not ours alone. The way to light is love. This room is not the room, but rather an antechamber, a waypoint so to speak, the nexus between this world and the next one. If you decide to stay, I cannot promise that when we leave you will remain in light. Look again at the scene below and ask yourself: Did you bring love here with you or is that love crying out for you right now? Look Yul. Look at those hands holding your head so tightly to his chest. Can you hear the beat of his heart? Can you feel the energy of his love? Can you see the light in his soul shinning out for you? Look again. Tell me what you see?

[Kieran] Time is running short. You must decide. We cannot hold this chamber open much longer.

[Yul]: (She looked again. Kyra’s eyes were closed and her entire body seemed to be trembling with a slight glow, her hands locked on hers. Rog held her head and sobbed) I don’t know. I don’t know if I can go back to what is there. You don’t know everything.

[Kyra]: True, but I do know love and I know there are no guarantees on when or if you will ever find it. But I will say this, when you do find it, run, run like the wind and embrace it like Rog is embracing you right now. If you can’t see that, if you can’t feel the merging of his soul into yours, then I say try harder. Yul, listen to me. I can’t stay here much longer. I’m your ticket back. Come with me. Come with me now.

[Kieran]: Ask yourself where love is. If you believe you have it here, then stay. But if love is back in that room, then go to it. That is where you belong. Either way, you must decide now.

R: All I know is when she released the contents of her belly and that blue slime spewed all over me I thought I had squeezed the life out of her. And then she coughed and threw up some more and I could feel a pulse and her eyes blinked and looked at me in a way I don’t think I had ever seen before. All I could say was that I loved her and that is when she spoke these words: “I know.”

T: [Period of silence] Kyra, you said there was a note.

K: Yes, we found a note. She never asked about it and so we suspected she didn’t remember writing it.

T: Can you share what was in the note?

K: Perhaps another time. It doesn’t really fit with this part of the story.

Categories: Story, Rog, Yul, Kyra, Kieran, Earth, Interview

The Return

Mairi felt it. So did Kyra.


Categories: Story, Mairi, Kieran, Kyra, Paintings

Pisces


“I don’t know if I can let you go,” said Kyra.

“There is nothing real to let go, only that which is unreal,” responded Kieran.

Kyra tightened her grip.

Kieran continued. “We are as two fishes swimming in the same ocean forever bound by the very fabric of life.”

“But why must you leave? Why can’t you stay, stay in this reality and help me?”

“Time.”

Kyra looked puzzled, “Time?”

“You really don’t know do you?”

“Know what?”

Kieran smiled.

Fire and Water


“Kyra, fear not the natural order. What appears to be two worlds are but reflections of one,” said Kieran.

REMember

“I need you to let me go,” said Kieran.

“And if I refuse?”

“I can’t leave if you won’t let me.”

“Bullshit.”

Kieran didn’t respond.

“You heard me. That’s bullshit. You are not going to lay this on my shoulders. I’ve been busting my ass to save you and so has Trev. Rog and Emy put themselves in harm’s way just to give you a chance and now you are just going to sit there and tell me you need to leave? Where the hell do you think you’re going and what makes you think they need you more than we do?”

“Kyra, I don’t expect you to understand.”

“For crying out loud, don’t patronize me Kieran. You know me better than that. Has the virus affected your brain?”

Kieran laughed. “Perhaps. So you want me to call a spade a spade. Think you can handle it?”

“Take your best shot,” said Kyra.

“You’re in love with me and I mean love with a small “l” and it’s clouding your judgment. You’re not acting in the best interest of anyone including yourself.”

“No, no, no, don’t you dare go there.”

“You’re being a selfish little bitch Kyra. This whole episode has been about you. Even now you’re risking your life, and oh by the way, if you get the virus, there ain’t a damn thing I or anyone else is going to be able to do to help you. Trev was right. Do you hear me Kyra, Trev was right. You should have never come in here.”

“What’s that data-slate tell you?” asked Rog.

“Hard to tell. Physically I can find no sign of the virus and her hands are healing quite nicely but . . .”

“But what Trev?”

“She should have awakened by now. I’m a little concerned at the length and intensity of her REM sleep. I’ve never seen a patient sleep this long nor have this level of activity.”

“Think we should try to wake her? It’s been a week,” said Rog.

“No. Could do more harm than good. As long as her vital signs look fine, we’ll stay the course. Can I ask you a question?”

“Shoot.”

“Would you tell me what happened in the ward?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. So don’t ask me again,” said Rog as he turned and walked away.

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Kyra moved to the left side of Kieran’s bed. Rog moved to the right. The room felt cold, looked cold, was cold. White sheets, silver metal and the lonely smell of medication greeted the pair. Kyra resisted the thought, the association of that smell with death.

Kieran’s complexion, his pale grayish pallor, reflected an eerie sense of peace and transition. Kyra wondered if they were too late. Was this going to be the story–too late with the agent, too late with her visit, too late for Kieran?

Rog looked across the bed as if to say now what.

“No matter what you see Rog,” Kyra responded, “you must not interfere. Is that clear?”

Rog leaned his head slightly to the right. His tight lips rolled inward, cheeks rose and eyes squinted. Kyra had never known a Hynerian with a more expressive or communicable face. As much as Rog loved to talk, he really could have got along quite well without ever saying anything.

“Rog. Promise me. No matter how much you think you might need to step in, no matter what you think you see or how much danger you think I’m in, promise me, promise me here, promise me now, you will not interfere.”

Rog weighed the measure of her request. Kyra leaned her head to match his, signaling her desire for a reply.

“No matter?” asked Rog, looking for wiggle room to hedge his commitment.

“No matter,” answered Kyra.

“Ok.”

“Ok what?”

“You have my word.”

Taking a slow steady deep breath, he watched Kyra reach out and take Kieran’s hands in hers. Warm pink flesh wrapped around cold lifeless digits. Kyra’s eyes closed and her hands started to tremble. The open cuts trickled bright red blood on the clean white sheets.

“Hello Kyra,” said Kieran. “Good to see you again my friend.”

Kyra looked around. The bed was gone. So was Rog. Rapidly blinking her eyes, trying to regain her usually sharp focus she was stuck by a glow. Everything seemed just a little soft, just off-focus enough to disorient.

“Don’t be afraid Kyra. Nothing can harm you here.”

“Where am . . . I mean, where are we and where is Rog?”

Kieran smiled. She had seen that smile before. Where? Where had she seen it?

“Don’t you know Kyra? You called me here.”

The room glowed white. In fact, everything was white: the walls, their clothes, the table and chairs. Kyra sat directly across from Kieran. Her hands still tightly locked on his. No blood, her cuts completely healed.

Rog watched in wonder and terror. Sweat dripped off Kyra’s brow—so strange since the room was so cold. Her entire body appeared to tremble in intense concentration. Blood flowed forth from Kyra’s hands. My god, he thought, if she keeps bleeding like this she won’t have to worry about contracting the virus. Then he felt the impulse.

“I don’t want to lose you. Please help me help you. I know together we can beat this virus,” said Kyra.

“That is true. You have the ability to pull me through and beyond this illness, to pull me back into your world. You have the gift. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation would we?” Kieran smiled again.

Kyra looked strangely back at Kieran. His words seemed not to compute, their meaning eluded her, his intent seemed distant.

“You’re not coming back are you?” asked Kyra.

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