Anthem Of The Angels

rating: +27+x

Katalina shifted the cluttered papers in her office. An all-too-familiar numbness washed over her body. She stopped, staring at a picture of her— who was this man in the picture? Was it her husband? A faint memory played in her mind of the man gently holding her. Wedding bells rang in her ears.

She blinked, her thoughts being slowly washed away. Seconds felt like years, but there was no clock to tell her what time it was. She returned to her task of moving boxes; every so often a wave of emotion pierced her mind, causing her to lurch forward. She felt her world shift and morth, her body shaking and buckling under a non-existent weight. She felt a tight compression around her chest and shoulders, momentarily making it hard to move before it faded.

There was a frozen breeze drifting through her office, though it wasn't winter, it was summer. She looked up to see the window open. Anger filled her vision.

“Who the hell opened my window?” she yelled into the hall, but was met with no response.

Katalina rolled her eyes, closing the window and returning to the task at hand. Files were an annoying-yet-necessary part of her job. As much as she hated it, she had to clean out old files. There was barely any room in the cabinet for new ones. She opened the next drawer, putting files into white boxes until they bulged at the sides.

Something still felt wrong. It wasn’t a slight feeling either. Something was extremely off. Katalina looked around, unsure if she even knew where she was. It didn’t look like her office. Her mind went blank for a second and her face paled.

She continued moving boxes full of paperwork. She struggled to lift a box, heavier than the rest. She slowly noticed that the cardboard didn’t feel like cardboard anymore, akin to rough fabric against her hands and body. That wasn’t right. She dropped the box with a thud. Her hair stood on end.

Her brain felt like a cork board, with push pins worming their way into it. This was unlike the pain of audio or memetic hazards; almost as though her mind itself was screaming out for help. As quickly as the feeling had appeared, it vanished. Her heart pounded in her ears and her vision swam before correcting itself again.

The question “Why?” repeated itself in her mind. Maybe she was just tired, needed to sleep and relax. She’d been working a lot in the last week, so it would be a welcome change. She decided to go down to the med center, preferring to get medical leave over just going missing.

She opened the hot metal door, brain starting to pound against her skull. Her feet plopped on the floor, the sound filling the empty, blue-tinted hallway. She closed her eyes, taking in the details. The sterile smell to the quiet whispering to the cold feeling of linoleum on her feet.

Wet blades of grass moved against Katalina's feet as she kept walking. She quickly opened her eyes, looking down. It was still the cold and unfeeling floor beneath her. She felt the grass glide against her right arm, and a thick liquid dripping down her neck. She closed her eyes again, the world starting to swim.

She shook her head and looked up. Her eyes scanned the ceiling tile, she realised that this wasn't her site. It wasn’t even close. She didn't know where her feet had been taking her, just that they were. It may have been reflex, but she began to doubt that. Her head snapped down to survey her surroundings.

Katalina’s breath hitched and she started hyperventilating. She continued walking, but her lungs started to sting without oxygen. Her eyebrows scrunched together and her jaw was agape. Her feet kept carrying her down the hallway, which looked longer now. Somehow it had extended beyond the site itself. Screams rang through her, without a source in sight. The sound was anguished. Heart-wrenching.

She blinked, tears running down her cheeks involuntarily. She wiped them, and tried to stop anymore from escaping. Her thoughts were still, only focusing on getting to the medical center. Though that idea was slowly deteriorating like sand. A shiver ran down her back, pins and needles running through her arms and hands as she slowly lost all sensation in them.

An inky blackness slithered its way down the floor and walls, and started dripping. The substance slowly seeped towards her, pooling at her feet. Katalina stopped at the edge of it. Her heart was hammering.

The pool looked so welcoming to her. Warm. Freeing. She took a step into it. The warm black lapped at her foot, inviting her to take another step. Katalina’s breath started to slow. Her entire body slowly gave into the sensation of the dark as she waded further in. She sighed.

It was so calm. All of her thoughts and feelings melting into the ink. Her body floated within it. She looked back out towards the hallway, but it was gone now. Her eyes widened and she choked on her own breath, unable to inhale. Her heart was slowing.

She slowly gave in, feeling grass prick at her legs and arms while a cold and thick ink covered her. The two sensations fought for dominance. She didn’t care. All feeling had left her body, not even the cold registered on her pale skin. She didn’t want this, but it was inevitable.

Her vision swam as though she was underwater, soon giving out to the will of the ink as well. The sterile smell was gone, replaced with nothing. Splashes inside of the pool soon turned into silence as her body sank into the murky depths. No breathing room was left, not like she could breathe anyway. Despite her blindness, she had kept her eyes open. Though her eyelids were heavy, she didn’t have the strength to close them anymore.

The nothing finally took hold of Katalina’s fragile body, holding it close as her mind faded. The nothing was a cruel, yet necessary evil. A soft transition of sorts. The nothing was forgiving, kind, and gentle. The nothing cared for her, and all those who would come after. The nothing was not intrinsically evil or wrong, its grip only serving to help.

Cal gripped Katalina in his arms, continuing to shake her and call her name. Tears ran down his face as her breathing slowed. They had been having a great time! An outing for just the two of them, a walk around the lake.

Leaning against Cal, her legs brushing the tainted grass. Blood spurted from the bullet wound in her neck. The lake consumed the red, dying itself a copper hue that turned Cal's stomach.

His body wouldn’t listen to him, continuing to shake. He held onto his lover as though she would slip away at any second. He couldn’t stop tracing her soft cheeks with his eyes. He expected her hand to reach up and hold him one last time, but he knew that wouldn’t happen ever again. His chest heaved as he let out wails and sobs. He had tried to plug the wound with his fingers and his jacket, but the blood ran through as though there was nothing there. He called for an ambulance, but it was too late.

He felt it. Her pulse stopped. He knew. He couldn’t accept this. Another scream wracked his body and he pulled her into a hug, weeping into her left shoulder. It wasn’t fair. He felt bile rise in his throat.

His stomach twisted, his heart thudded in his chest. He couldn't accept that this cold, lifeless replica had replaced his beautiful wife. He couldn’t help but feel it was his fault. He could have stopped the bullet. He knew he could have.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered into her ear, tears dripping onto her lifeless body. He stopped hugging her for a moment, and looked into her eyes.


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