It was unfortunate that she could see again. For the lights - the lights were blinding. Scattered and staring. Ultimately confusing in their own way, although after everything that had happened she was not easily flustered.
The woman - if one could still call her a woman - hadn't realized how much she relied on the darkness. One cannot wrap one's self in the light, or childishly pretend to be cocooned in some imaginary fortress of blankets. For when illumination pierces sanctuary it cuts like a laser, a surgical strike against the complacency of comfort. Eyelids open, it becomes harder to tell one's self that all is dream or that dream is all.
There had to be a reason that she could see. Nothing happened without a reason in this place. Not hope, or even madness. Before she was taken away she had heard that there were devices for that - drugs, maybe. They were fond of the drugs, whatever they were doing. Until that horrific moment when the light had seared her eyes once more she might have sworn that this was not a torture chamber but her mother's womb. The chemicals were subtle and quick and those who would administer them reaching even greater levels of complexity. They were, after all, skilled enough to let her imagine what they were doing. Men like that must want things that way. Not that she knew them - lamb, they had named her - but mulling over her thoughts in the period between descent and eternity had produced a peculiar understanding. Could they picture that, throw it up on silicon more mystical to the senses than any ether effect? Most likely. They could do anything, if they could do this to her.
Sometimes she hoped that they would let her go mad.
This was one of those times. For her eyes could see, and what they saw was the tattered rag of a body reflected in titanium mockery. A bulkhead - was that it? Or a funhouse mirror. And the twisted, gaunt shapes beyond the fluid were so distinct that as they danced before her vision she could just reach out and touch them...
If she could move.
Which she could not.
Indeed, she would rather be mad than see the patched up corpse which sunk beneath her field of vision. It was good that her eyeballs could move. It felt nice. Like a breath of air might enter her lungs right then and there - a dram of hope to steel her nerves. Why would they do that? It was cruel, and it was needless. For her eyelids stood at stiff attention, forced into the same paralysis as her psyche. They should... they should let her go mad. Or was this the reason that they teased her senses? She'd know that whatever was to be done there would be no choice, but why, why, why were they letting her see this...
There was only one. She knew that now, and treasured it - savored turning such a rare new concept about in her mind. There was one. One to hold at the firing line on the day of judgment. A judge that saw to her every flaw and and every fate, illuminated in the clinical glow of that merciless, merciless light. Surely he was the one they feared in the holding pens, their Lord to drag them away in the night.
Lord Krelian. That was it. Krelian. She could feel the texture of that too. Once the supposed woman had had her own name as well. That didn't matter, though. That was stagnant and forgotten in the sterile waste surrounding her.
Krelian. He was beautiful, she decided. She knew that he shouldn't be.. but he was. Wasn't he the one that took the pain away? Wasn't he the one that had given her her eyes in some cruel act of mercy? Wasn't he the one that they said was not even human? It shouldn't be so hard to hate him... it shouldn't be so easy to think that he was trying to help her... but he was. He was, he was, he was, he was going to let her go mad and then she would see mother and father and...
Help her? She was mad.
The needle pricked. It has always pricked. It would always prick - drawing away her life more slowly and painfully than the common torture of time itself. But she didn't.. she couldn't...feel it as much, when she concentrated on him. On what he was doing, or thinking perhaps. Was that a furrow on his banded brow? Was she a failure? Did he want to kill her oh how she wanted him to kill her then she would be free, free, free, and flying far away to mother and father...
He stopped and looked. Yes, he should look at her. See every backlit crevice which she could not possibly hide with far greater clarity than might be granted her own misshapen eyes.. Yes, yes, yes... judge her, kill her, save her for she was mad and he had succeeded and didn't he see that he had succeeded and now, now he would take her away, take all of it away...
The plexiglass shielded blur moved back.
Where was he going?
Why was he leaving?
He was, he was supposed to... Nothing here happened without a reason. Nothing. They had told her that in the holding cells, in the fever dreams. After a while they had become her and she them and all of it a memory. But they had said so, and she had believed.
Yet he wasn't there. He wasn't. He hadn't done anything...
And there was no reason for her to gaze upon a chamber of uniform nightmares.
And there was no reason for her to be caught in this unnatural chrysalis.
For when the light was gone, she saw that the room was lined with creatures just like her. Their deformities would be of little function in a world beyond glass. They had been wrong in the holding pens - they had been wrong.... and she could do nothing but hope that the forgotten reams of tissue around her would not meet with the same terrible fate. It was a terrible thing to be forgotten.
If only he really would surrender her to it. Insanity, death... it did not matter. Such demons were one and the same in their damnation of the soul to oblivion. Krelian, Krelian.. he was not there to surrender her, and she had to find a way to close her eyes...
For there were no miracles here.
And there was nothing else to be done.
He didn't want to be seeing this. A hulking mass of flame - some mythical avenging angel in the guise of the fires of hell. He didn't want to be seeing this...
She didn't deserve it.
Dear God, she didn't deserve it.
There was a woman in there, that territory conquered by death and fire. Someone with a soul so beautiful that it hurt the eyes for more than the plague of flame that engulfed it. Such a woman should not have been in a place like that. Yet really, when it came down to it, she might also have been the only one of their number who could have borne it.
No. No, that wasn't right. The general would have died for Sophia, or even the simple chance to be her knight in shining armor. For her countenance, her character - it was the stuff of the dreams of saints. Balm to the penitent and warning to the damned. A priest might have killed for her smile. That cleric would not have been a fanatic.
Or at least Krelian liked to think so.
Why - why had she gone? His Holy Sophia - the only light in this interminable darkness. She didn't deserve it... she was better than that.&nb