The engagement party

The walls are cream colored, everything a variant of white with accents of beige. Victoria is staring at her visage in a full length mirror frowning, she matches the room. Her blonde locks down defiantly framing her face in an almost wild fashion. Our girls been bored for ages and this new venture appears to be no different.
The door opens with the sudden sound of the celebration outside, it’s him. The bridegroom-her bridegroom.
“Baby girl!” He’s drunk, she exhales eyebrow twitching “why you hidin’ whatcha playin’ at” He reeks of brandy, the closer he gets the thicker it becomes until she can’t escape it. Her eyes still fixed on the mirror “you dirty girl” grabbing her ass he whispers “did you want me to come get you?” His hand moves from her ass to her abdomen before shooting between her legs.
Protesting she turns to face him “hey!” prying his hands away she attempts to return them, but she already knows he’s too drunk.
“It’s okay baby” pushing her into the mirror he laughs smashing his face into hers while pulling at her thighs. Mouth still over hers he mumbles “you can still wear white” he’s lifted up her dress desperately trying to remove her panties.
Turning her face to the side feeling the cool, hard, mirror as his chin digs into the visible side of her jaw. “No!” One hand raises to her face forcing her lips back to center, his tongue forcing it’s way inside her. Our girl’s in shock. He’s rubbing her mound furiously over the lace of her underwear the sensation startling and unwelcome.
All she’s thinking is: this dude drinks brandy, in a garden, regularly. Then her fist meets his face-glass jaw. This dandy’s never taken a punch which is apparent the second time around, and all the times thereafter.
Our lady’s fist makes contact about seven times before brother Clayborne saunters in having heard the struggle from the hall “oh my word, sister, sister, what have you done?” He’s speaking softly, the door now closed, his soft hands take hold of her wrist, wild eyes fixing on his own. The bridegroom is sobbing, in far too much pain to move.
“He attacked me” she hissed, and of course the injured man protests trying to speak through cries and the sucking in of snot.
Clayborne covers Paul’s face with his handkerchief “if that’s the case, which it certainly is, I shall handle it.”
The bridegroom struggles to sit up as Victoria’s knee sits on his chest “I didn’t… I-you attacked me” he spits blood as he speaks “look at my face!” His words sound like mush, but come out shrill all the same.
“Hmm, why yes, she did do a number on you. Victoria, go sit down over there. I’ll talk to mother and father” scanning her tsk “and fix yourself up dear, you look dreadfully gorgeous considering the circumstance” rolling her eyes she does as directed. Reluctant, but accepting. Knowing all too well that he was far better equipped to preserve her reputation than she.
As she walks away she can hear Clayborne wince as he weakly punches the bridegroom’s face, she could hear him say ‘one must make it believable after all’. The world is ever so predictable. Sitting only steps away from the door she begins to tear and rip at the beige dress, then smears her makeup all while watching the men, seeing nothing new, nothing exciting. Pinching her right cheek, holding the flesh inbetween her thumb and index finger, she doesn’t feel a thing.  
The men leave like children each hoping to get their story heard first. Only her twin knew it didn’t really matter. Her brother, as always had class on his side.
Victoria waits. It won’t be long, but life is an eternity. What would come next would be dreadfully predictable. She plays the whole scene over in her head, waiting.
She exhales as the sound of footsteps rush the door. Her once expressionless face contorts into sobs, dropping her head into her hands, she trembles.
Mother Humphries burst in dramatically, her arms flung open as she runs to her daughters side. She wails “oh darling what did he do to you?” She cups her daughters face “did… did he get… an-anything?” Her voice is shaking though her eyes are hard-she’s furious. Internally, our girl sighs. A bored Victoria throws herself into her mother’s bosom with nothing much to say she just buries her head and continues to sob. As  she does this she counts the steps until Mr and Mrs McClure walk in  their son mere moments behind them.
Once they enter Mr Humphries turns to his son “again, Clayborne, tell us what hap-”
Mrs McClure cuts him off sharply as she closes the distance between the two families “there is no need! Your son is a pathetic little whelp-there is no way he did this!” She points a sharp finger toward her sons bloody face “it’s that little whore! She did it! She’s an abusive slut! She-” she thrust herself forward with every word, finger still pointed at Paul’s downcast face.
“Martha-enough!” Her husband interjects, his eyes seething, she’s shamed them both. “Paul, tell us what happened.”
The room is still as his son eyes our blonde bombshell, his golden ticket “it was Clayborne-I-I wasn’t doing anything! I-I-Victoria tell them-tell them baby” she looks up at him tears streaming down her cheeks. Everything is terribly predictable. “Baby-baby tell them!” He nearly squeaks as he takes a step toward her immediately his father grabs his forearm. Keeping him at a distance Paul continues to babble “tell them-we-we can still get married-just tell them!” Victoria begins to tremble in her mother’s arms, cowering now, as it should be.
Mrs Humphries stands suddenly, stamping her heeled foot delicately, mocking the other woman “oh! no, no-no-no the wedding is off! You’ve shown you and yours have earned you’re stripes” Victoria’s ears perk, her lips twitch-now that’s interesting she thinks, biting her tongue not to laugh. “Get out and leave the bill-we shall cover this whole fiasco.” Her words come out cold filled with that old world lush. She has completely decimated the McClure’s and now everyone will know.
Martha begins to protest, but her husband takes her by the mouth-he’s had enough. “Thank you, for the kindness Mrs Humphries” he swallows hard eyeballing the still trembling beauty, longing. “Mr Humphries” he nods before dragging his family away.
“Kindness indeed! The nerve of that woman-did you hear her?” Belle asks her husband as she glares through the door, soft eyes turned daggers. “And that boy! Oh what a ruffian-Victoria what on earth were you thinking! Fix yourself and stop all that crying… you look-feral!”  She demands as she wags a glove covered finger in her daughters face. Predictable. “All the time you wasted.” Dreadfully so. “You are not getting any younger.” Her small voice went on and on.
Her father said nothing, in fact he wouldn’t look at her-time is money and money has been wasted. Clayborne takes her hand, giving her gentle, dignified eyes, she exhales-dreadfully predictable.

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Withdrawal

“Green?! Green!?” We find ourselves again with dear Wicked. Who after several days of normal pleasures consisting of traveling through Liberation Land, enjoying a read in the gardens, and even taking in an afternoon of free theatre finds herself in a fit. “NO! NO NO NO NO!” but even as she wailed she knew, she always knew this would happen. Hot tears run down her grassy cheeks as she stares wide eyed into her broken mirror. She isn’t nearly as green or vivid as before, but as her blood boils she can feel the color grow. She watches in horror as brown eyes turn green and crumbles to the floor sobbing “how… how could I-” stopping herself in that very instant she rises from the floor. It’s been four long years since she made her bed in the sewers and this wicked witch isn’t about to give up. She moves toward the door grabbing her hat as she races for the cure.
Once out she’s taken aback by the sight-just yesterday everything looked bright, but today everything looks like the town of Blight. Tears swell again “what the fuck did he do to me?” Boots crash against the muck as she finds the yellow bricks. Our witch is on fire now running down the road memories of slick yellow men and the tongue not her own all playing in her head. Her skin is glowing greener, as madness builds she runs deeper and deeper-until the pitter-patter of tiny little feet catch her ears. She sees the yellow glow, hears the disturbing giggles and veers clear of the road.
She’s headed now to the Town Below, the seedy side where the drunks and addicts roam. Wicked doesn’t notice she’s after the tiny feet.
As she runs suddenly one appears a little yellow man glowing, giggling, and singing “if you want another taste-another cleanse of skin-follow me to the place where all your dreams begin!” the sound sends shivers down her spine as she can feel the slick flesh on her tongue.
Deep green lips part “get back here! You creepy tiny little MAGGOT!” but he doesn’t look back, just continues to giggle, as he runs up wood steps and disappears through a shop door. The Clinic. Wicked doesn’t know this place, but her instincts tell her to go.
She takes one step up, and then another, her mind is screaming no. Visions of the blindfold darkness, and the physical memory of restraint near choke her, but she moves on. Green hand on the door knob she throws herself inside, pulling down her hat to obscure her eyes she sees them-FREAKS of all kinds. They’re laid out on couches, the floor and each other. They’re smiling-all smiling. The corners of their lips twitch. They don’t even know I’m here she thinks as she notices a curtain taking the place of a door. Again her instincts scream, but she moves towards it. Pulling it open, eyes shocked to what they see, a yellow, slick blob melting into itself, and a circle of FREAKS wrapped in it, sucking on tentacles of it, molested by it.
Wicked wants to run, wants to wash her eyes with acid, but as she turns to leave a gurgling bloop happens and he’s there.
The yellow man stands grinning though almost translucent “welcome wintergreen, time for another round?
“What the fuck did you do to me?” she ask through her teeth. Her legs won’t work and her body won’t scream.
He looks at her sort of bewildered “I gave you what you wanted”
“Well then why am I green!” Stamping a foot-she can move! Now that she isn’t trying to run her body relaxes, she wants the answers she came for-she wants to see if this FREAK has blood.
Shrugging “unfortunately there’s nothing I can do, permanently. You are what you are and I am what I am-”
“Which is?” She’s pulsating and glowing brightly trying not to remember one more thing.
He laughs watching her intensity grow almost salivating “a dream maker” he winks.
“Don’t-” puts a slick almost airy finger to her lips.
“I live off your energy-and you are quite delicious. Some don’t provide for me, but I can take them places I-”
“You drug them yo-” again the finger falls this time she smacks him away her hand going right through his finger, dirtied and wet with his slick.
“I’m the drug-as you can see” he gestures toward the circle, but she doesn’t look “you can think what you want, but you’ll be back again.”
“Fuck you.” She spits moving past him. Our girl has seen enough, but mostly tears have begun to well and she doesn’t cry in public.
“That would make it last longer” he tempted smoothly as she hears the gurgle and bloop right before he appears in front of the entrance stopping her dead in her tracks “or whatever you’d like. I’ve never tasted anything like you-you don’t have to give up cash-just the taste” someone fell out of their seat behind her, but she doesn’t move, doesn’t look. Memories and tears threaten to shatter her as she can hear the land above “you can be a part of that” he says softly as if he knew-did he?
“Get out of my way”
He smirks “you can walk right through” and so she does feeling the slick of his substance cover her.
She doesn’t turn back. She just keeps walking home. Feeling the corners of her lips twitch as the world appears cleaner, and she knows.

After taste

Back in the shack we still find Wicked enamoured with her flesh. She hasn’t moved an inch yet. She’s breathing slow and steady, heart beating loud within her chest-not green. A smile breaks the silence a laugh escapes before she leaps to her feet eyes on the front door. Before she can exit a flash of light catches her attention. She turns to see a mirror and for a moment looks closely at her face. Her hands touch soft skin the rosy cheeks that once always came with exhaustion-they are back! She kicks her heels before exiting.
Boot clad feet hit the familiar yellow bricks which led to this salvation. Cleaner now they seemed. She almost sang. Running down the yellow road to the bright light of day. Through The Town Below blind to all the FREAKS that were stunned by the lack of glow. No one really knew her but you can’t forget that green. Our girl doesn’t notice their stares she just races towards the light to run past it’s beams and up, up a ladder. She’s climbing into an abandoned building up, up, and up she goes, out through the dark sewers, out of a makeshift manhole.
Our girl is tired, but she’s too excited to mind. Huffing and puffing after the climb Wicked’s still smiling as she collects herself “slow down, breathe, and walk out slow” the corners of her lips twitch as she speaks.
Taking one confident step forward and then another. Putting one foot in front of the other while giggling inside. Walking out into the shadowy streets she breathes in deep, moving towards civilized folk, checking her hands periodically. Only half chancing on believing.
Light hits her brown eyes as the sounds of the street hit her ears. There’s still a few shops including the cafe and bookstore she revered. It’s been four long years.
Our girls a worker as even the unwanted need to eat and today she’d feast.
Turning left onto the sidewalk she sees a few children and some young adults presumably meant to watch them. Their collective attention on the shop windows. On candies being made by a craftsman one of few that remains, a showman of course-they are captivated. She passes it all merely smiling at a young girl who held one hand on a lollipop stick the other on an child who pulled constantly away. They didn’t scream she dances inside the corners of her lips twitching.
She enters the glass door of the cafe-she gets it all to go. Several bags worth of treats; baked, pre-made sandwiches, and several bottled drinks. The cashier just smiles commenting on her hat. Our girl actually blushes remaining silent but handing him her cash. He shrugs it off as she dances away. Tucks away her bills flashing one last shy smile before she’s back on the sidewalk. Walking down the streets she’s repressing singing, she’s almost hysterical with all of the joy. She’s didn’t think this was possible, but she made it to the bookstore.
Once inside let’s just say our girl, she spends hours-and hours flipping through pages.
When she finally makes a purchase the day has nearly turned into night. She leaves carrying all the goods the long way-going through Eden to keep out of sight. The last thing she wanted was to deal with someone else’s desperation.
Tonight Wicked has a taste of luxury when she finally gets home she forgets all that came before its almost like she’s a girl again-like before she had to run. She’s happy here, reading and believing it’s done.

Just a taste

Peering out from the gutter eyes glow green, a passing dog begins to growl the owner tugging at its lead, and a child sitting outside the small cafe sees the twinkle under the sidewalk. The child stares deep through the gutter bars catching her subject, eyes wide as her tiny mind makes out the visage-green skin, green eyes, wide brimmed hat? The image is confusing, disturbing to the child’s mind and she begins to blubber.
Our Wicked witch flees back below before anyone else could see her, boot clad feet echoing in the sewer puddles. Reluctantly she’s heading back home.
Wicked sighs as she walks lamenting her life, it’s been too long since this girls sniffed between pages. Nothing in the sewers was worth half a shit. FREAKS didn’t read-they drink, but that’s just not Wicked. Removing the glove from her right hand she grimaces-green. Toxic, unnatural-green. A tear escapes her left eye as she just stares at her flesh, still moving. Our girl walks, and walks. Absently entering The Town Below she hears nothing, but echos from the past. She sees nothing, but that toxic skin. Completely unaware of the yellow bricks her feet decided to follow.
She used to be beautiful. She used to have talent. She would have been on the stage. She would have lived normal-but now? These thoughts are what’s crushing her even though other memories keep surfacing she knows, this is her life now. But is there an answer? Could there be hope?
Suddenly she trips. Face first into slick, grimy brick the sound of tiny footsteps all around. She looks up in a panic, yellow little legs dash past in a whirlwind then the sound of inhuman giggling “welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” tiny voices cheer. To Wicked ears though they are all the same. A dozen little men-all the same circle around her.
“Get away from me!” She wails. This is just too much-tiny, glowing, yellow men, giggling like children “get! Get! Get!” She’s standing now.
While the tiny man directly in front of her frowns “well you don’t have to be rude” little hands at his side he kicks out his leg “just saying hello”
Another chimes in from the crowd “thought you might want a taste”
All together “yeah!” Wicked doesn’t know what to do, or what they’re talking about, but she’s seriously disturbed.
The ‘leader’ speaks again “yeah, a taste of something special-for you today it’d be free!”
Another chimes in “it’ll make you feel incredible!”
And another “it’ll make you a lot less green!” The group snickers in their very disturbing way.
“Less green?” She’s interested now. She’d do anything now-until a tiny little yellow man holds out his hand, she recoils. All the tiny little faces frown as the same tiny little yellow man thrust out his hand again. This time she takes it resulting in cheers, they’re all the same person Wicked thinks as shivers run down her spine.
Still circled around her they lead our girl down the rest of the brick road to a little brown shack resting deep within the sewers. They are surrounded by black the only light coming from the yellow glow emitted by the tiny men and of course the glow of Wicked. The stress of the situation lighting her eyes and skin in a brilliant display that’d give most nightmares.
All at once everything is black Wicked cannot see, there is no yellow glow and certainly no green. Reaching out she feels something slick, not wet, not sticky-just slick like oil. She hears a bubble pop, and the sound of muck gurgling and then a mouth covers her own. Eyes wide to no avail-she cannot see! Reaching for her face her arms get pulled down hard to her sides. She cannot breathe. Cannot move. She panics-mind racing our girl fears for her life. She doesn’t give in though, oh no, Wicked knows pain-our girl knows trauma. Memories explode behind eyes as she begins to thrash her head hits a slick solid substance knocking the blindfold just slightly revealing a yellow glow. It’s too late to think, too late to cool down her flesh is burning now. Screaming into the mouth of her captor it’s probing tongue enters her as she is preparing too explode.
She screams and screams.
And screams.
Basically our girl spends about 45 minutes screaming into the slick captives mouth only to grow extremely tired, and limp. She’s let go, dropping down, down, down onto a what feels like a bed. The blindfold fully falls off and she sees the bare mattress she’s laying on, dirty makeshift walls, and the glow-the yellow glow. She pushes herself up hoping to strangle the closest little man she can grab only to find a man, a yellow average sized man, standing, staring, with a grin. “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”
She flies at him without thinking hands gripping his neck before recoiling-his flesh is slick! “Ugh! I’m going to kill you!” The rage instantly exhaust her as she calls back onto the bed burying her head in her hands.
“I’ve no idea why you got what you wanted.” She looks down at her hands, eyes wide, not green-not green! Looking up the yellow man is gone.

Neon Lights

It’s one of those nights. Those lonely nights in splendor a bored blonde stands upon a rooftop terrace. The wind blowing as it does from 15 stories high through those pretty locks the music booming right behind. Our girl dressed to the nines staring down at the Capitol lights the blood splatter in her eyes.
“Memories…” she sighs through red lips parted just so. As he steps out she pulls the end of her cigarette holder to those lips, before he speaks “got a light?” voice that sweet kind of ready.
He makes a noise and begins bumbling through his pockets until he nabs his torch. She smiles the wind tossing her hair every so tenderly as flame meets home. She breathes in.
“So baby what you doing all the way out here?” his breath stinks of schnapps. Wrapping a well toned arm around her satin wrapped waist “you should be where the action is” he hoots pulling her closer their chests colliding. At least he’s built well she smirks taking a long drag those full red lips delighted at the odds.
Some nights a girl just needs some company. He’s smelling her hair as her attention moves toward the glass doors. Neon lights in darkness shadow all the bodies the boom of the music masking the screams in her head, blood splatter still painting her eyes. “Let’s go sweet thing you can finish that inside” he was right she only came out for the view. Now it was time for a little do-si-do.
He leads her through the glass doors the bass almost nauseating “I found the golden ticket!” the stud shouts the crowd responds though nothing’s heard.
She takes a drag watching the slow exhale of the smoke-an excuse to take in the room. She follows the show pony rather guided by his grip, reaching out taking a glass of wine- she sips that red. A drop falling from lip to breast the cool sensation a flash of vindicated regret. Our blondes remembering a face she can never forget. Blood splatter and that bass is sounding thick. He twirls her suddenly out of underneath his weight in her heels she spins the wine spilling over her silver draped body her back hitting the DJ booth. The pain in her spine the trigger.
Thud then swipe the neon colored lights dancing off steel as the beat gets hot.
A flip of our miss and she’s on top the studs shoulders. Face first. He’s enamoured by her intimate wear completely missing the fact this little blonde’s cut clear through the nape of his neck. His blood soaks her thighs as she rides the stiff backwards through the crowd. The  decapitated hottie takes her to the center of the room before the timber begins to fall. To the sound of the bass she goes flying cartwheeling off shoulders before dropping heels into the eyes of another lovely guy. Knife in hand our lonely lady shakes it off the blood splatter illuminated in the dark by neon lights. A girl screams as the blonde reaches number four she sees the rolling head being kicked about the scene. The blondes knife takes another dog while the screaming girl tries to tell someone anyone what’s she seen. Finding the only man whose still breathing, but to her horror takes the words right out of her mouth literally as he shoves his tongue down her throat. She struggles still screaming-as best she can as he paws at her flesh, so after those lips. The music is thumping the tempo a heart attack as he stops her struggle with a hand crack across her face.
Above the quarrelsome pair our blondes legs twirl over the crowd, she watches, the now silent screamers face frozen in fear as the still breathing dog continues to maul. The severed head still being kicked amongst the living.
The beat drops as the observant blonde let’s long legs fall the neon lights flash red, lips sighing “memories…” her heels hit shoulders digging in-delicate fingers release the strap on either side-another pair bites the dust. Nylon covered feet drop to the ground forcing our girl between the passionate duo, her knife comfortable within the dogs chest. She turns it. Red lips next to his breathing in the taste of vodka and soda “you won’t remember me, but I still remember you.” She turns the knife again his hands about her throat weakened by the last of the poison. Oh-how girls do love their poison heels. “All of you.” Pulling her knife out thud another one bites the dust.
The neon lights keep dancing as do the drunk honeys that showed up. The damsel screamer is long gone didn’t even bother informing the gaggle, but luckily left the blonde time to retrieve the heels and saunter out before the red lights interrupt the neon shadows.

Cassandra ‘Cassi’ Maire Johnson

The sky is a crisp blue the world is bright and the birds are singing. Everything is shiny. Everything smells of apple pies, of Liberation Day and of celebration. The not too distant ocean breeze carrying the anticipation of fireworks later that evening.

Mrs Johnson stands with her husband watching from the kitchen window “we’re never gonna find her a husband” she spreads soft hands across floured apron sighing.
“She’s a good girl, Susan” his voice is rough just as the hand he places round her waist. “Pretty too, and handy-what man don’t dream of a woman who can fix dinner and his truck!” He laughs a full belly laugh pulling his wife into him.
“That’s the problem Phil she can’t fix dinner!” delicate Susan bats at him her eyes focused on the fossil truck in the driveway. Young Cassi is currently tuning the ancient vehicle, but would burn the roast without turning on the oven. “She’s eighteen now, and has had more time with engines from the dark ages then boys-that’s a problem that’s a-”
“Attractive quality” he proudly interjects she looks up at him in horror, but before she can protest “a man loves an experienced girl for” he struggles rocking his head and shrugging “say a nice cruise up to cherry hill” she blushes as he bumps hip with her “but the girl you marry, the girl you marry spent her adolescents busying herself waiting for you.” He’s looking down a romantic smile in his eyes as she looks up still unconvinced “that’s why I married you”
Shoving him off “oh! What are you trying to say Phil!” she demands stamping delicately heeled foot to freshly installed linoleum floor.
He laughs again full belly “that you were a good girl” grabbing her by the wrist he pulls he in “the best girl-that’s why I married you while other girls were playing fast, my Susan was at home cooking and taking care of her studies. Every boy wanted you” her arms are wrapped about his rather barrel stomach looking up lovingly as he looks down smiling eyes “but I saw you, and you were mine. Cassi might not cook yet, but you didn’t know the difference between fossil and hybrid before I met you.” He hugs her tightly as she buries head into chest “or filo and watercress”
She laughs kicking his shin gently, not moving. Sighing that ever so lovely womanly sigh “you’re right, Phil, I’m sure when that boy comes along she’ll want to do those things and I’ll be here to teach her. Just like you talk her how to build par-”
The windows shake, hoots, cheers, and the roar of a road techtank fills the air. The couple sees Cassi pop out of the hood as the tank reaches their front yard “ahh the Castillo boys are home” Phil laughs waving into the window excitedly.
“Oh that’s wonderful! Diane will be so happy to have her boys home! And just in time for Liberation Day!” Susan comments to no one listening as Phil’s attention is on Cassi whose attention is on the eldest Castillo hanging off the tank looking down at her.
Musing he comments “this year let’s go to the Marina with’em pay respect to the boys”

Betty Ruth Sinclair

Again she’s laying in this bed no shadows, just light, bright white light. She’s wondering if they’ll visit today she might like to hear them, but if not maybe someone will turn on the music? It’s quiet, always so quiet, but Betty has become accustom to it having known no other existence.
She knows she is in the Capital, in the premier Medical Center of the nation, and she knows she was born defective. She has never seen a thing only shadows from above, or to the side. They say she is lucky for she will soon be fixed. No real use of the eyes, a missing leg, forearm, and hand, paralyzed from the neck down this pink haired angel cannot speak they only recently discovered she can hear. The whole twelve years little defective Betty heard every last sound. Since the discovery they’ve been reading to her the gossip has stopped, mostly. They say it’s so she’ll be ready, but she’s found she misses the daily drama.
The incubator begins to close around her, eyes shoot open, she cannot move. The light is changing as they lock her in, restraints attach, and the shadows still-silence.
She hears distant heel clicks, Mrs Sinclair, she’s with her husband and the doctor. What’s happening? Betty is terrified-have they changed their minds? Darkness covers everything as the nurses enter with a pitter-patter and hushed breathing. Everything sounds so strange, the incubator pump making everything hollow, milky eyes are watery.
She can hear Mrs Sinclair “are you sure?” her voice is small, but piercing. “I mean it will take? I don’t think I can handle a mishap.”
The incubator begins to shake as nurses ready the medical bed to begin. It’s happening. The heels are moving away, the shadows break in quick succession as bzzzz air hits her ears, the light return, her head is being held in place. There’s a tickle on her temples tendrils licking at her skin then pain. Severe pain. Six tendrils on either side dig in as the visor drops on open eyes. She screams, but there’s no sound. Down her open mouth drop several disk forcing the scream to remain.
Inside she is crying for her mother, father, the doctor, God, anyone to make it stop-is this fixing?
The bio-tech limbs fall into place again with a tickle and then with a bang. As scalpel goes down to chest she cannot see it, but when it touches skin another silent scream this time with static distortion.
The agony turns her numb as tear drops stream down pure white skin-is this being fixed?

Stephanie Merle Nakamura

She’s sitting in the waiting room kicking her feet just above the floor, the chair too big for the tiny girl. “This is it” she whispers to herself looking at the floor “this is my only shot”repeatedly pushing round glasses back up her sharp little nose “I got in. I know. I. Got. In.” Foot steps. Her ears perk “six sets” heart pounding in her ears “this is it!” she squeaks to herself.
Her mother and fathers shoes fall before her eyes dare to rise up the light turning lenses to mirrors-they’re smiling!
The recruiter is beside them-he’s smiling too! “Welcome to the colony Stephanie” his voice startles her as she notices her parents eyes are shaking. They’re crying-tears of joy?
“May we have a moment” her mother says weakly he mutters an of course and steps away. Both parents kneel down to eye level with their eight year old daughter “honey, you know papa and I love you very much”
“Yes” little Stephie smiles-she had to have gotten in!
Her father puts a heavy hand in her knee “Stephie, mama and I, we had no idea-”
Mama interjects “what it would mean if you got in-”
Eyes wide with excitement “I got in!?” jumping up she begins to scream in elation jumping up before mama’s form hands bring her back to sitting.
“Yes. Now, Stephanie listen.” Her voice is serious, but all the child can think of is happy. “If you join the colony program you won’t live with us anymore. They’ll take you, right now and-and-”
Papa jumps in “we see you for at least ten years.” His voice is grim, they weren’t prepared for this, none of the website mentioned it. No one mentioned it, until today, after testing.
“Now? I get to go now!?” her little heart can hardly contain the excitement.
This is what they were afraid of “is that what you want, Stephanie?” her mother is horrified because she is not surprised.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” She’s on her feet again bouncing on the chair as the recruiter returns handing the girl a white lab coat. Throwing the coat on she continues to bounce in circles “I did it! I did it! I did it!”
The recruiter laughs saying “yes, you did kid. In fact you scored so well I’m taking you to the fourth sector” his eyes are salivating, he pulled gold today.
Mama grabs her once again “honey are you sure? What about mama and papa?” Stephanie is their only child.
“I’ll see you in ten years” she says matter-of-factly her voice almost dry. Her parents exchange looks and resign themselves, but before they can say goodbye she’s gone.
Stephanie’s walking out of the waiting room hand in hand with the recruiter. “At least she’s happy mama” her father sighs hands on his wife’s shoulders.
“Yes, but it would have been nice if they’d told us before” she sulks “now I’ve nothing for the gala”

???

She wakes up in a ditch rain drops hitting her dirty face, a storms coming. Head aching she slowly picks herself up out of the dirt. She’s naked “fuck” sighing she begins ambling toward civilization. She doesn’t remember a thing, not a name, not an age, nor location-where the fuck are her clothes? But at least she sees houses. She’s in the suburbs of the Green District though she doesn’t know it yet.
The rain begins to fall harder and faster drenching our girl completely. She just keeps walking forward barely a shiver, there’s no time for cold, she’s hungry.
Coming to the first yard she finds herself in the back with a serendipitous clothesline and no one in sight trying to save it. They may be wet, but at least they’ll cover. Grabbing a black shirt, and ill fitting jeans she scampers to the next yard having eyed a pair of work boots left out all alone. Slipping into the wet boots she sloshes her way to the front still no real idea of what to do. Nothing looks familiar though quiet and homely. The sound of rain hitting ground fills her ears as she passes house after house, stomach roaring.
She’s watching her feet appear and disappear listening to the storm while everything else is gone. Mumbling as she goes “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…”
“Katherine!” a man calls out from a car she keeps moving mindlessly unaware of the sound.
A woman burst from the passenger seat nearly slipping on her dainty heeled feet “excuse me! Katherine!?” rushing to our nameless girls side she startles her. Jumping back she screams eyes wide the woman puts hands up “oh! I’m sorry! I’m sorry we scared you Katherine” she’s  ridiculously tall almost like she’s been stretched out, incredibly thin, moving like olive oil in the rain “we didn’t mean to be late picking you up! The whole situation with your bags had us all confused!” She’s laughing and smiling while she speaks.
Our girl smiles and laughs too thinking maybe Katherine likes food?
The woman leads her to the car where the man is waiting dry and cozy “hey there, Kathy, do’ya mind if I call ya Kathy?” he’s wearing thick square framed glasses and smiling bright.
“Yeah, that’s fine” it’s not lying, right? They drive off down the road with the Mrs asking all sorts of one word answer questions our girl just nods. Though she finds out Katherine was suppose to be at a bus stop thirty minutes further down the road, apparently they thought their girl walked all that way. They drive and drive while olive oil chit chats mostly to herself though her husband laughs saying “you’re so right dear, Kathy you listen to that.” She’d nod, but all she’s really hearing is her stomach at this point.
They arrive at a quaint farm with a picturesque little house front and center. Where Kathy is assured they run and own, not maintain or work this “little slice of heaven” as the Mr calls it. She’s ushered to the front porch where under its awning she’s able to dry off enough to sit and eat dinner.
Which she destroys.The food a bit cold from sitting out waiting for their arrival, but nonetheless fork in one hand, spoon in the other she plows through plate after plate. Meatloaf, potato’s and gravy, peas and cornbread-so much food. The couple watch as their newly obta-adopted daughter shovels the well prepared meal graciously into her face.
“I hope you enjoy it Katherine! And when your done I’ll bring in the dessert” she’s smiling ear to ear and so is ‘Kathy’-dessert! Her eyes water from happiness-so good!
“Welcome home Kathy” the new father says proudly ” Katherine Kelley” so that’s their name Mr and Mrs Kelley-our girls wondering what happened to Katherine.

Dorothy May Parker

She’s packing her things away smiling nervously as the theater empties. Our Dorothy doesn’t want to go home, but as the house lights flick off there’s nowhere else to go. Bag over shoulder she exits the dark. The sky is grey blue, the wind blowing hard, her dress whipping about her legs. She throws her arms out smile bright “at least I got this” if there were hills they’d be alive.
While she walks she takes her pulse, all day a weird feeling. She’s warmer than she’s ever been, but it feels oddly comfortable though her skin does feel clammy to touch. She keeps walking the wind picking up static is in the air it crackles as our sweetheart hums herself into a happy place.
Turning left, there’s her front door, her blue little house a picture of wholesome until-crash. Someone’s in the kitchen with Dina and our young Dorothy knows who. With a sigh she walks down the stone path smash up the stone steps thud hand on doorknob thump opens the door “you like this!? Is this what you want!?” Her mother screams as she quickly shuts the door. Rule one after all.
“Alright!” Paul screams from the kitchen floor as she passes by, his face is stone. Dorothy never really knew why it got to this, but Paul typically asked for it.
In her room she quickly changes to pajamas she’d stay late enough no one would question it. At least she hopes. Tucked in tightly Dorothy silently recites her lines her mind spinning to the tunes of the stage.
Hours pass with our girl sleeping sound when in the middle of the night the floor boards outside her door creak.
She doesn’t open her eyes. Sometimes she won’t stir her if she’s not awake. Hand on leg the blankets begin to move. She breathes in slowly-scent is different. Eyes open there’s Paul he’s smiling face stone. Her eyes are wide-she had a birthday last week. He’s smirking, she breathes-is it getting hot in here? The blankets off, she’s sweating, he has no clothes on.
Why button up pjs? Mom likes them. One button comes undone as he climbs on top he’s breathing heavy and hot but it feels cold. Her top undone his mouth meets nipple-it’s cold. She squeals and squirms her body is tearing apart. His hand between her legs pinching her mound as he mindlessly tires to rip off her bottoms. He tries again and again, she screams.
Is the room light on?
why is his face green?
Looking her dead in the eyes his face is no longer stone. He’s afraid-petrified. Her bodies ripping apart. Boom. The room turns toxic green, the house shakes, windows rattle and Paul’s not breathing anymore.