Continued from ‘No Pain, No Gain‘
Her chest heaves. Sweat trickles down her cheeks. Her hair plasters to her head. Blood covers the whole of her shirt now caused by other slices she’s endured from my water attacks. She even looks ready to tip over. Yet, she stands before me, shoulders slumped and half-dead, still ready to fight.
Before I may have called her stubborn. Now, I call her stupid. Only a fool would continue to fight in such a state. And what are we even fighting over?! Even now I have no idea why she attacked. At first it might’ve been fun. At first she might’ve been curious to fight me, but now?!
I swallow, only to choke on the dryness of my own throat. All sweat- all moisture has been removed from my body in my desperate attempts to keep up with Alice’s attacks. Unlike her, my adaptation feeds off the liquid on my body. Hers is created by the transfer of energy, which she could sustain until it kills her. At this rate, it might…
My stomach rolls at the idea of her dying from this. I can’t let that happen. I followed her out from the city in my attempt to keep her safe, not be the reason she dies. The reminder drops my hands to my side lifelessly. It’s not like I have any moisture left to offer up anyway in my attacks. I can’t defend myself anymore. “Alice,” I plead, my voice coarse and feeble. “Please…” Once more I try to swallow to no avail. “Let’s stop,” I cough. Now I’m pleading with her. Now, I’ll beg.
The anger still lingers in her gaze, not as bright as earlier, but still there. “No,” she returns, sounding just as exhausted as she looks, just as exhausted as I am.
“Why?” I whine.
“Because,” she heaves, obviously having difficulty breathing. “I have to make you go home.”
Confusion wrinkles my forehead. “What?” I choke.
“You… have to… go home,” she breathes, looking ready to topple over.
“That’s why you’re fighting me?!” I scream. The screaming grates on my throat, causing me to wince. “Why-” is all I get out over the pain.
“You have to go home,” is all she repeats. With that she moves, but it’s like she moves in slow motion, barely getting her hands to come together to produce the fire. Just the motion itself seems to drain her. However, the cost of converting energy is what really does, tossing her to the ground after she releases the last burst of flame.
Pointlessly my hands slide over my exposed skin in search of some form of water, but my body provides nothing. It’s dry. I’m as dry as the ground beneath my feet and I’ll be even drier once the fire crashes against my body.
Pain slices across my arm. I expect it to be the fire, but it hasn’t reached me yet and, what’s more, water dances around my fingers. How, I don’t know. I’m parched. I have no sweat left and yet something clings to my sliding fingertips, drawing away from my body and meeting the flame. It only barely extinguishes it. The remnants blast into me, alighting my shirt in flames.
Feebly I pat them away. Only then do I notice the blood seeping from my arm. Odd. Fire would’ve charred the skin, not caused me to bleed like this. I swipe away the red liquid. Quickly, it pools again. Each of the pores on my skin where hair grows out from my arm, is a tiny dot of blood. The dots expand.
Once more I brush my hand over the blood, rubbing it again only to feel the sensation of water from before. Thicker than water. Heavier than water. Even so, it clings to my fingertips like the sweat from earlier.
Drawing my hand away from my arm, the blood follows like water would were I manipulating it with my adaptation and my stomach heaves. The force saps all my energy. My knees buckle and I crumple to my hands and knees, my stomach emptying itself of lunch. As it does, the blood trickles down my arm. It mixes with the bile in a disgusting array of colors and I force my eyes closed for fear of vomiting again.
When my eyes open again, having regained control of my stomach, I search for Alice. She lies on the ground. Motionless.
I crawl forwards. “Alice,” I whisper, barely able to form the word at all. A trail of blood follows me through the dirt as I move towards my best friend.
Her chest moves slowly up and down. The sight settles me slightly and I lay myself down next to her to catch my breath when a shadow cuts across the sun above me. What was that?
My eyes squint into the sky. Another shadow flashes over us and I pull myself up in search of the source. Yet, before I locate anything dust falls from the sky, tickling my nose. I sneeze forcefully. My throat and chest burn. My hand moves to press against the pain, but it doesn’t move. It hangs limply at my side. The blood no longer pours from my body, but my arm doesn’t move either way.
Confusion drapes over me along with something else: the inability to move. It starts in my face, numbing my lips and eyelids. From there it works to my throat, my shoulders, my arms, my spine until my body falls back against the ground completely unable to move.
Am I dying? Is this what death feels like?
Next Installment: Dinner