…by the time Selma will notice the sedative she’ll already be asleep.”
“She won’t need a sedative, she’ll fall asleep in two hours trust me.”
“I wouldn’t count on it, she’s….
November 4th 1995
Selma leans back into the couch letting the leather upholstery slowly swallow her. Her knees lift away from the blanket that lies between her and the couch as she begins to disappear between the cushions. Except for the videogame the shed is quiet.
Her boots and jacket lay buried somewhere in the cramped cluttered space. The dozen or so boxes stacked around the room cast strange shadows across the door. An overturned milk crate and a large bag traps Selma on the old couch. A handful of dream catchers shiver in the breeze where they hang above her.
Selma suddenly looks up when she hears the growl but just as quickly goes back to her game. Shaking her head she whispers. “Don’t worry. It’s just the wind blowing tree branches against the roof. Yeah, just branches.”
Selma forehead creases with worry, as the growling gets louder and more ferocious.
Now Selma’s hands are shaking. She lowers her Gameboy awkwardly resting it in her lap. She inspects the room and finds herself completely alone.
She sits up trying to focus her tired eyes on the Gameboy but the shaking spreads up from her hands up her arms causing her to shoulders to shudder.
She shakes her head as other newer sounds fly past; the sound of a train running over its tracks, of a girl yelling out food orders and of a car honking at a swearing pedestrian.
Selma doesn’t bother to explain what she’s hearing this time. It is not a television set, it is not a radio, is its not her imagination, it is not a ghost and it is not a prank. She knows what it is, it was the sound of the beginning of the end. Selma is falling asleep.
She was falling into another coma, one filled with visions she couldn’t control. She wouldn’t let it come not until she was out of the city and out of the Center’s reach.
Fear alone, Selma realized wasn’t a strong enough motivator. It faded the longer you waited, as the comfort of normal life and soft beds invade your senses, killing the darker parts of your imagination. The parts that hold your superstitions, the parts that keep you safe.
Selma feels the cold air nip at her neck keeping her awake as it floats in through the open window behind her. With every tick of her necklace watch the shed seemed to change; the shadows jumped, the moonlight danced, the shutters groaned, the wind whispered.
Selma blinked, she could still see the up-side-down milk-crate and the unfinished drink it supports. Selma can still taste the sweetness of its sugar and the bitterness of something that should have kept her awake. Selma’s vision blurs as she tries to remember how the Center managed to drug her. She hadn’t eaten any of their food.
Selma looked between the bottle of green juice and her nurse lifting her eyebrow in question. At her nurse’s prodding she leaned forward in her stool eyeing the drink with suspicion.
“It’s something new I put together for you.” Nurse Jenny said turning away from the light that seeped through the barred windows.
Selma looked doubtfully at the drink and then shook her head warily.
“It’ll help keep you up.” The old gray nurse whispered encouragingly.
Looking at her old friend Selma nodded in understanding. She grabbed the bottled drink unfastening its lid.
"Thanks, I'll see you later. The usual place, make sure no one follows you this time." Selma said gesturing with the bottle before taking a sip.
Making a face she forced down the shockingly bitter drink.
“I’m sorry Jenny but this is gross, where’s the sugar.” Selma said eyeing the bowl sitting on the counter.
“Sorry but beggars can’t be choosers.” Jenny said pulling the bowl out of reach as Selma tried to grab it.
“If you can find someone else to knock together some meds to keep you awake then you can ask them to poison you with sugar.” Jenny said sugar like it were a swear word.
“You’d better get going now.” She said shoeing Selma out the room.
Swinging her bag over her shoulder Selma left the nurse station wondering what the old lady laced her drink with this time. Selma grinned as she took out a packet of sugar from her pocket.
Ripping it open she poured it into the green drink, glancing back to be sure Jenny wasn’t watching. Satisfied Selma recapped the bottle. Giving it a good shake she walked down the hall.
“I don’t get it,” Said a figure leaning against the wall. He wore a baseball cap low over his face. “You know she puts her own sugar in her drinks, so why bother banning it?” His arms were crossed over his chest he looked about sixteen. His raggedy black hoodie, gray pants and bare feet clashed with the Center’s hospital clean floors.
“Hello Liam, you don’t have to understand it doesn’t affect your mission.” Jenny said unfazed by his sudden appearance, she was used to it.
“I remember Will saying it was because your kid and your dad had diabetes. Which doesn’t explain much because Selma isn’t your daughter and sugar has little effect on her.” Liam said coolly walking over to the counter.
“It’s not like she’d become diabetic by eating sugar either. I looked it up.” He picked up a spoon and began to stir the sugar in the bowl.
“I know.” Jenny said quietly.
She stared at the boy before whispering, “You really are a different people.”
“I only look like him. He might be wonderfully good at reading people but he’s weak. I’m stronger then he is.” The boy said picking up a spoonful of sugar. Jenny rose her eyebrow at him as he bent close to smell the sugar.
Liam frowned it didn’t smell sweet like he thought it would. He tasted the spoonful and widened his eyes in surprise it was sweet. This world was strange and wonderful in ways he hadn’t predicted. How could anyone give this up?
“Don’t confuse me with Will. He was stupid enough to make a deal with me. Stupid enough to think magic and a girl was equal in any way to this.” He mumbled.
“I’d never confuse you with Will. Will has a soul.” Jenny said pointedly.
“He has a soul? So what. I’m the one getting you what you want and Will’s incapacitated because he trying to be heroic.” Liam said dropping the spoon. It fell against the sugar bowl leaving a mess. It was the first time Liam had shown emotion since Jenny had met him, it seems she’d hit a nerve.
“That there is something you could learn from Will, sacrifice. Will knows what he’s given up. You aren’t able to understand.” Jenny said watching Liam study the sugar on the counter. She was half expecting him to lick the counter or the pen he was using to prod the pile of sugar. Liam had only recently discovered his taste buds and was still experimenting.
Liam scowled. “Would you stop comparing us? I don’t care why anyone sacrifices anything as long as it doesn’t interfere with the plan and as long as the plan gets me what I want, my freedom.” Liam said angrily.
“You people have no idea what freedom is worth. But that’s because you’re from this world. Whatever, as long as you’re committed. You are committed to doing whatever it takes aren’t you?” Liam asked pointedly.
“You know I am.” Jenny said giving the boy a look but he’d already disappeared.
The sugary mess he’d made had gone with him; it was like he was never there at all.