Hello all! Tis Tuesday, Blog battle day! (And Cinco De Mayo!) This week’s word, given by the lovely Rachel Ritchey is “Madness.” For more entries of blog battles click HERE! (For part 1 of this story, titled “Libations,” click HERE.)
* * *
Claire could almost laugh at herself, the memory of months past having swept past her like rushing wind through the trees in the midst of a summer storm, save for in this place, in the true home of the one for whom she played surrogate, there were no trees, nor wind, nor…anything earthly, not even time.
“This is MADNESS!” She recalled her first words upon waking. In all truth she felt like she had been undone and reborn, inside out. The feeling was almost as bad as when she ate oysters and lemon for the first and last time.
Only one good thing had come out of that experience and that was the doctor she had ended up dating for a year and a half afterward.
It was a good year, but it just didn’t work out.
This, being a surrogate was having a similar affect. She just prayed for a different ending, one that didn’t have to end at all.
She thought back on her transition, her first moments of insanity, finding herself without a body of flesh and bone, but with a mind still completely human and only able to reason as a human, the memory as clear as the sun-burst that danced wildly across the universe around her.
“You need not be frightened, Claire.” The voice that spoke to her as she awoke was close, familiar.
Claire’s mind thought to gasp for air but had lost any semblance of a mouth with which to breathe. “Hank!?” Her mind shouted as light and fire echoed from within her.
Hank’s face, set upon stardust of pearl rippled into focus. “I am not Hank. I am your Non-Essential.”
“Correct,” Hank, not-Hank responded smiling back at her. He spoke again without Claire ever putting voice, fire and light, to her query. “I am a program, a non-essential part of surrogacy, but an invention designed to help you through this process.”
“Non-Essential, but you’re Hank.”
“I am…a replica of his subconscious, embedded into your subconscious. My features are designed to bring you comfort through familiarity,”
If Claire could have grimaced, she would have. Hank’s creepy-suaveness was not something she would have thought of as comforting, especially not in face form only.
Non-Essential Hank continued, “You signed the waver, but it is clear you did not read it fully. Being left alone in this state would have caused you to corrupt the gestation and miscarry that to which you are host-an entire galaxy.”
Thousands of stars ripped throughout her being. She likened it to the cosmic equivalent of butterflies. The madness of insanity had turned into a madness all together lovely.
She was hosting a galaxy.
She quickly lost the excitement recalling Hank’s artificial subconscious being linked with hers. “How,”
“Hank deposited me into your subject when he relived you of the goblet moments before you partook of its contents. It was a clever hand trick.” Non-Essential smiled.
“Correct. Invented to aid your need.”
That was how it all began, madness bleeding into confusion, gratitude, wonder, fear and then expectancy. Fear for the black hole that sought to eat everything within its path, especially beautiful galaxies barely in the dawn of their own first light.
Claire knew very little of the brilliance beyond her presence. She only knew that what she had become was greater than any collapsing star that sought to take others in its dive to death.
That did not stop it from searching however.
“It is magnificent, isn’t it?” Non-Essential, the artificial voice that had accompanied her all these months commented as they watched what seemed to be nothing but gases and dust seek and destroy, often times being avoided when those in its wake were strong enough to move out of harms way. “The witnessing of the souls within the stars. They are not much unlike us humans are they? ”
“Us?” A storm broke out within her, suspicion rising. “I thought you were artificial. What us?” The question was harsh even though she had wanted there to be an us…foolish.
* * *
“Be careful of your answer. Or else she will know.” Non-Claire, laid up on Earth, a galaxy in human form with a belly full of baby that would never see the light of terrain day, warned.
Would it be so bad if she did? She is coming back, any day now. There could be us. Hank pressed his eyes closed. “It was a slip of the tongue,” He tried to down play his feelings for the Surrogate he had crossed the line to aid.
“One that could cost us all.” Non-Claire braced herself and took in a deep breath, pain similar to that of labor tore across her middle. “Hank! It is time!”
Hank rushed to where she lay in bed and prepared Non-Claire for what was about to happen.
* * *
Claire stared at Non-Essential, he who had actually become more essential than anything or anyone she had known. Outer space was too immense to be alone and for nearly 10 months he had been her comfort-creepy, Merlin, Non-Hank.
Claire had mourned his soon to come absence from her life, nearly everyday. But in that moment something akin to hope burst throughout her center like a million stars exploding.
Panic riddled, she called out to Non-Essential again, but his face was fading and his mouth was unmoving, until being swallowed up by darkness.
Claire was shrinking but somehow growing…she was slipping away again like she had those many months ago.
Madness again tore through her as her inside out conversion replayed itself in reverse. Madness at the unanswered question of the “what us” that should not have mattered but somehow mattered more than anything, tore at her heart.
She thought she was going to vomit, felt like she was burning and freezing and falling, ever falling, until strong hands pinned her down by the shoulders. A familiar voice calling her to consciousness. “Claire! Claire, it is done! You are home again. Claire!?”
She felt her body, limbs and all, thrust to the side and empty itself of glowing liquid, the very liquid she had drank down nearly 10 months ago. Too disoriented to be embarrassed she grabbed his face, Hank’s face, as she had longed to do for months, feeling the warmth of his flesh against her fingers, the stick of the stubble that grew from his cheeks.
“Hank?!” She said his name and tears sprang up in her eyes. This was Hank, the real Hank, not Non-Essential. Not the one who had shared 10 months, that by the looks of her clothing, the very items she had slipped into that morning when she first came to the office, was really no more than a matter of a few hours.
Time is not measured the same way throughout space. She thought. “The bab,” She stopped herself from saying “baby” and exchanged it for galaxy. “It survived?”
Hank nodded, still hovering over her. “It over came. It survived because of you.” He pointed towards what looked like a window that peeked into the vastness of the universe, the very place she had lived for so long.
All that time, all of those feelings…Non-Essential…gone. She mourned. The loss weighed on her in a way she certainly had not signed up for.
“Not, gone…just,” Hank’s voice echoed in her head. “Just,” He pulled from her thoughts, the connection having warn off, and spoke out loud. “Just different, if you are okay with that. If you are okay with us.”
Hank smiled, less confident, less creepy, and yet all comfort. Completely essential. Claire smiled in turn.
Alas I went over by a little over 300 words but I had fun! I hope you did too!