Chapter 8: Edge of Insanity, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Lance opened his eyes. He was hanging from something, the pressure suspending him mainly on his lower stomach. His vision was blurred, but with a bit of focus he saw his own arms swinging downwards, and a pair of shoes occasionally stepping into his vision.

He blinked. Was he seeing that right? There looked like there was a tail.

He reached towards it, trying to swim through the fog in his own brain. Tails weren't a thing. There's no way. His hand wrapped around the base, feeling the person carrying him suddenly tense. Sharp pain met his palms, his fingers. He pulled his hand away with a quick wince.

He opened his palm, seeing the needles embedded into his skin. He was bleeding, too. Beside him, he heard someone sigh; like they were relieved.

"Probably hurts, doesn't it?" The shoulder carrying him shifted, moving his body for a moment. "Let me know next time you do that, alright?"

Lance pulled his head up, enough to see they were moving down a hallway—some fancy one with bright lights and a long, elegant rug. His hand was throbbing now, the spaces underneath the punctured skin pushing more blood out to the surface. Despite this, he didn't feel very much pain. His head was still foggy, too; he couldn't move very much, either.

Had he been drugged?

They'd stopped; Lance's vision had suddenly been spun to the side. He kept his head up as much as possible, seeing a door on the opposite side of the hall. There were many other doors, too. On both sides.

A beep sounded behind him, a loud click accompanying it. A doorknob turned, and Lance felt himself moving again, being taken out of the hallway and into a room. Halfway through the doorway, he heard the quiet hum of lights turning on, saw the glow as they continued on.

"Huh." That same voice again. "Automatic lights. Nice touch. Almost makes it worth the price..."

He watched as they passed by a countertop, the entrance swinging shut behind them. The door slowed during the last moment, making its impact nearly silent. Lance shifted his head, watching himself pass by a kitchen. Bright. Very bright.

He suddenly stopped again; movements slowing.

"Couch is probably best, right?" the person carrying him asked, nearly speaking to themselves. Lance barely felt some pressure against his leg; a head turning in his direction. "Yeah. Glad to see you're talking."

They started moving again, Lance's vision spinning for a moment before he felt himself slipping backwards. His sight tilted to the ceiling, moving a bit further up as he was set onto a couch. Comfortable; his body sank into the leather instantly.

He blinked, trying to focus enough to keep his gaze in front of him. Someone was crouching down, meeting his gaze with their head tilted to one side.

"Looks like they've put you on some pretty heavy medication." A hand extended bringing Lance's face towards him. Blue eyes. Blond hair. Lance tried to focus on the eyes; there was something familiar about them.

"Yeah... That might take a while to wear off." He watched the eyes move, seeing worry lines decorate the space between the brows. Those eyes met his again, voice speaking directly to him. "How're you feeling? Can you talk to me?"

Lance shut his eyes, trying to focus hard enough to think straight. Form thoughts that weren't just single words.

But his tongue felt thick in his own mouth; like it didn't belong there. He didn't know where to begin—he didn't have any clue what was going on.

His hand felt like it was being pricked. He moved his head to the side, seeing fingers pulling the needles out of his skin. Those needles were long, too; at least four inches in length. When they left his skin, he watched the small amount of blood get swept away by the pad of a thumb, the small wound instantly closed.

"Don't worry; that healing is from me. We'd be in pretty deep trouble if the cells were this far along already."

Healing? Cells? None of this was making sense...

Fatigue swept into his mind, closing his eyes to the sight of his skin healing. After what seemed like a moment later, his eyes opened again. Lance was alone, but most of his attention was on the fact his head felt so heavy. His eyes briefly shut as he moved forward, pushing himself upright on the couch. His body hurt, and something about the soreness seemed too familiar.

Lance blinked, looking around at his surroundings. There was a TV right in front of him, which was nice, but it wasn't one he recognized. The couch was foreign to him, too, and the balcony off to the left side of the room was peculiar as well. Shakily, he got to his feet, bending forward slightly as he fought to regain his balance. His legs didn't feel like they were working right...

His mind focused in on something behind him; a pressure that zeroed in on a single spot at the back of his brain. He turned around, seeing someone at the kitchen table. Sitting down, reading something. They looked around his age.

The stranger looked up, noticing him there. For a single moment, Lance's focus was taken by dark blue eyes. Familiar ones... But somehow Lance knew he had never seen this person before.

The stranger grinned, laughing a little. "Hey! Glad to see you're finally up!" The empty chair across from him moved, pushed back a few inches by some invisible force. "You might wanna take a seat; this will take a while to explain."

Lance stared at the chair. That didn't just move on its own, did it?

His brain focused on the stranger; it was more important than something moving on its own. The stranger simply motioned with his head, giving a reverse nod to the chair. "Take a seat."

"What?" Lance looked around the room again, taking a step back before his leg hit the coffee table. He looked in front of himself again, meeting those dark eyes.

Movement caught his focus, bringing his stare downwards. He almost jumped, somehow suppressing a curse as he spotted a tail moving. It was long, having to curve in order to not hit the tile flooring. The fur looked soft and medium-length, the longest strands residing at the tip.

"Y-You..." Words left him.

The stranger followed his stare, as if noticing the tail was there. "Oh, yeah. Guess it's as good of a transition as any; this is what I need to talk to you about."

The limb moved as he spoke, rising upwards and allowing Lance a better look. Lance moved himself back against the coffee table a bit more, voice yelling now.

"How the hell are you doing that?"

The stranger only gave him a small grin that almost looked nervous. "Same way you would move your arm, I guess. That's kind of a hard question to answer, honestly..."

Lance tried to focus on breathing, feeling his head get light with the lack of oxygen. He couldn't look away, though, and part of him was still holding onto the idea that the tail was fake. But the way it was moving...

The limb dropped down, curling upwards as it reached the floor. As if giving a second thought, the end relaxed, completely resting on the tile.

"I have to be dreaming," Lance said aloud.

He tore his stare away, bringing it to the kitchen counter that divided the table with the sink and refrigerator. "I have to be sleeping..."

"You just woke up," the stranger replied, motioning a little to the couch with his head. "How could you still be dreaming?"

Lance looked down, hands finding his hair. "Then I'm crazy." His head shook, dismissing the thoughts telling him he wasn't. "There's no such thing as tails..."

The stranger leaned forward, hand curling outwards as if motioning for him to finish. "No such thing as tails with..."

Lance gave him a confused look. "People. People don't have tails."

Fingers snapped. "That's right! People, in other words, humans don't!"

Lance paused. His mind clicked together the explanation, the realization incredibly reluctant. 

"You're saying you're not human?" he asked.

The stranger scratched the back of his hair, one eye closing in thought. "Well... We could twist that definition, but it'd take some time to explain. I mean, I'd be happy to tell you, but short answer is technically, no. We're not considered human."


A hand waved, dismissing Lance's question. "I'll get to the specifics in a moment; back to me not being human."

"You're insane." These words fell from Lance's mouth in a breath. He blinked, not truly focusing on anything. "You're absolutely crazy. You're just some nutcase with..."

The napkin dispenser suddenly lifted, and Lance looked towards it. Nothing else was touching the object; no hands, no wind-devices from below or wires from above, nothing. It was floating in mid-air. Levitating.

"Like I said, I'm not human."

Lance stared at the dispenser, unable to think. There... There had to be an explanation for that... He watched as the object lowered, gently being set down onto the center of the table; the same spot as before. As this happened, Lance saw the stranger's eyes change. Their color becoming a lighter, softer shade of blue.

These eyes looked up to meet his, the bottoms curving as the stranger smiled.

"Your name's Lance, right?"

"How do you know that?"

A sheepish grin came to him, light blue eyes dimming a little bit. "I... Can hear your thoughts if they're loud enough. Accidentally picked up your name, I guess."

"You can hear thoughts?"

The question was answered with a nod. "It's part of what I am," he said. His posture straightened a little, arms coming to rest on the table. With his hands folded in front of his mouth, the stranger looked back to Lance. "You can call me Zidane, by the way."

Weird name, Lance thought. His stare dropped back to the tail, watching the tip unconsciously flick towards him. Guess it fits, if this guy isn't human...

He looked away, pushing the thoughts out of his head. What am I saying? Of course he is!

Then how could he have lifted that? The memory of the napkin dispenser played in his mind again, the shock echoing a second time. A string? Some sort of magic trick? But he wasn't even moving his hands... There was nothing...

"Look." Zidane stood up, placing both hands on the table. "I'd really like to stay here all day and not do anything, but we're kind of on a time limit here."

Lance's stare was on the sides of Zidane's pants, where guns remained in holsters. On the left, a normal-looking handgun. And on the right, something else; narrower, thinner. Knives were below each.

Zidane's hands moved towards his legs, his voice coming to Lance as he spoke.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Lance. Trust me, I'm here to do the opposite."

The knives withdrew, cautiously being placed on the table. The other, thinner gun followed suit, and Lance faintly recognized it as something similar to a sniper rifle. More compact, seeming as if the scope and barrel could be stretched out, as if the stand for the gun could be easily unfolded.

"You heard what I said, right?" Zidane asked him.

Lance looked up, watching Zidane's focus stay on him, his hand going into the small pockets on his upper arm. Lance's breath stopped in his throat as he saw the fingers withdraw, a small ring through each of them. Compact spheres dangled; grenades.

Zidane extended his fingers, the bombs knocking against each other quietly.

"Inactive. They're mostly smoke grenades, but I've also never had to use them, so I really wouldn't know."

At Lance's alarm, he grinned. "Bad time for a joke, I guess." The grenades were set onto the table along with the other weapons. He pulled the handgun from its holder, finally setting it near the sniper rifle on the opposite side of the table.

Zidane padded himself, feeling the remaining, unopened pockets.

"Everything else is just medical supplies. I can remove those if you want me to. Really just want you to feel as safe as you can..."

A thought suddenly struck Lance. "Where's everyone else?"

"Everyone else?" Zidane asked, blue eyes darkening again. "You mean there was more people with you?"

"Y-yeah..." Lance's mind was thinking back, retracing what he remembered. "I was in the hospital, my mom was there, my friends..."

Another realization came, and quickly his mind connected the pieces. Zidane looked up to meet his stare.

"The voice..." Lance said. "That..."

Zidane nodded. "Yeah, that was me." He sat back down in the chair, arm resting against the back of the seat next to him. "I'm pretty sure your friends and family are alright. They weren't supposed to get hurt."

"Get hurt?" Lance repeated. Anger flashed through him. "Like I was supposed to?"

Zidane thought for a moment. Then he nodded. "Unfortunately, yeah. But that's part of the reason why I'm here. I'm doing what I can to make sure you don't get hurt."

"I'm crazy..." Lance stepped back, falling over the coffee table and sitting on it. He didn't mind; it looked expensive but probably wouldn't break. Especially if it wasn't real in the first place.

"I have to be crazy. None of this makes any sense."

"That's why we're here talking like this," Zidane replied. "I can explain everything, if you'd like."

Lance turned to him. "Everything?"

Zidane shrugged. "I'll tell you what I am, what's happened to you. Where we can go from here..."

"What's... What's happened to me?"

"I need to explain a few other things first." The tail rose up again, directing Lance's sight to it. "We've already covered the tail thing, and the fact I'm not human. Part of what I am, and the same part that makes me have this tail, is a race called Spiro."

Lance repeated the word in his head. Then he looked down, dismissing the thoughts, the pads of his fingers finding his closed eyelids. "This isn't real..."

"Wait, but hold on; let me explain. You've probably noticed my eyes changing, right?"

Lance looked up, hands dropping to hang over his knees as he saw Zidane's eyes were indeed a little lighter than they were before. Lance stayed quiet, suddenly too worn out to voice an explanation about how the lights above them were just making his eyes brighter.

Zidane shook his head. "No, not lights. Another racial trait."

"Are you going to listen to every thought I have now?" Lance asked.

Zidane grinned, and Lance couldn't help but notice his eyes dim slightly. "I can't sever the connection completely, but I'll set the bar as low as I can, alright? You'll have to scream inside your head in order for me to hear it."

Great. "That another trait, too?"

"Not for this race," Zidane replied. "That's the other half of me."

"One that's different from the tail..." Lance's voice trailed off, his stare once again going to the strange limb.

"Yeah. That's right." Zidane's attention went to his hand, and as he hooked his thumb underneath the grey fingerless glove, he kept speaking. "Razaleks and Spiros are pretty different from one another, but they do share the same common ancestor, so I guess that's a similarity."

With his glove removed, Zidane held up the back of his hand. Lance thought the design to be a tattoo at first; a blood-red, six-sided star with diagonal lines curved inwards, a small circle in between the north-west and south-east spaces. A large circle enclosed the shape, going around every point except for the south line, which disappeared into Zidane's sleeve.

"For any healthy Razalek, this marking is supposed to be golden. Different colors mean different things, but dark red in particular signifies an infection within the body." The hand was lowered, the glove replacing the marking once more as Zidane continued on. "Both my sides see one another as a threat. It's part of having mixed blood."

"So you're both of them, then?" Lance asked. He looked to the tail again briefly. "This race isn't the tail one?"

"No," Zidane answered, and once again he levitated something. The empty chair across the table. "This is the race that allows me to influence my surroundings."

The chair was set back into position, leaving Lance to stare at it. He abruptly stood up, putting his hands in his pockets.

"Yeah, none of this is real."

He was across the room, hand reaching for the doorknob when Zidane's voice called to him again. Words spoken calmly but shocking him enough for Lance to stop.

"You've got Spiro cells injected in you."

Lance's hand was at the doorknob. He couldn't move, couldn't open the door. But his body was working; technically, he could very well leave this place. The shock just wouldn't let him. The sound of a chair scooting back pulled his attention to his right, and he watched Zidane stand, both hands spreading on the table. Almost as if presenting all the weapons there.

"Look," Zidane said, "the only reason you're currently not strapped to a table getting your insides torn open is because of me. I was supposed to bring you back and have that happen, but I'd honestly prefer as little blood on my hands as possible."

Lance blinked, mind trying to catch up to what he just heard.

"There's no way." He shook his head and opened the door. A bright, empty hallway greeted him. And for a long time he stared at the door to the room across from them. "There's no way this is happening."

And yet, as much as Lance knew he needed to step forward, step outside this room and into the hall, his foot was sliding back. He was stepping back, mind still moving at a snail's pace. Trying to piece together a puzzle made up of foreign words. Spiro? Razalek? This wasn't even real—it couldn't be.

His foot completed the first step as his hand left the doorknob, fingers slipping away from the metal. He watched the door swing back, covering the sight of the hallway, thinning that brightness until the sight disappeared. The entrance—his only exit—closed again, leaving the room absolutely silent.

"You were... supposed to have me dissected?" he asked.

The response came after a moment. "Yeah," Zidane replied. "I chose not to."

Lance turned to him. "Why?"

Zidane was staring at the table, eyes focused on the end opposite from him. There was hardly any blue in his eyes, despite the bright lights above. "I said it before. I don't want any blood on my hands."

In the silence that followed, Lance found his gaze sweeping down, catching sight of the golden-tan tail again.

"Your tail's actually real?"

Zidane looked up, deep eyes meeting his. The limb in question moved, gently whipping out, rocking from base to tip like a wave.


"This doesn't make any sense."

"That's because you're human."

"And you're not?"

Zidane's head bowed, a sigh leaving him. "That's the whole point of this conversation, Lance." He looked up, eyes darkening further. "No, I'm not human. I'm pretty damn far from it."

An emotion had slipped into his voice towards the end; a hint of sadness.

Lance shook his head, forcing himself back from examining it. He needed to get out of here...

"You're absolutely positive you don't know where my family is?"

"I have no idea," Zidane responded, shaking his head. "But I'd be more than happy to take you to them."

"Right. 'Cause you probably got my wallet, too, huh?"

"Your wallet's missing?" Those eyes darkened again, a genuine sincerity in his voice as he added, "That sucks. I was thinking more along the lines of teleportation."

"Oh, great!" Lance threw his arms up. "Now you can teleport, too! Jesus, how many drugs are you on?"

Zidane just grinned, laughing a bit. He sat back down, the motion a bit heavy like he had fallen back into the chair. With the smile still on his face and his arm draped over the empty chair beside him, he gave a shrug.

"I'm really not sure what I can do to convince you this is all real," he said. "But I mean, it makes sense, I guess. Most of the time, everything is all clear-cut facts with you guys."

Lance ignored the sting of what was possibly racism. "What, like with you it isn't?"

Zidane's hand waved outward, dismissing the question. "You're going back pretty far in time with that question. But short answer is no. It isn't."

Lance moved his hands out of their pockets, gesturing them outwards as he stepped back again. "So—what? You're just this race nobody's ever fucking heard of before?"

A smile hitched onto the side of Zidane's mouth; he was watching Lance as his thumb ran across the nail of his pointer finger. The excess nail suddenly dropped away, falling past the table. "You really think we've never shown up in your guys' history before?"

Lance stopped thinking, only staring. Watching as Zidane turned his hand over, inspecting the nails of his fingers.

"Ah, too short." The pad of his thumb withdrew from the tip of his pointer, and Lance saw the nail grow back again. It was cut off in a similar way as before; this time shaped a little to the left. Zidane turned his attention back to Lance, seeming a little surprised.

"What?" he asked. "Alien conspiracy theories, Black Plague... That was all us."

"You caused the Black Plague?"

"No, technically and I guess physically speaking, I didn't. Razaleks did. A little parting gift to the humans before leaving."

"Yeah. And where'd they go? Did they leave for space?"

Zidane was grinning, completely amused by the question. "You think we went to space? Far from it. Think lower."

Lance's confusion went to his face, mind trying to figure out what the tile beneath his feet had to do with anything. Zidane shook his head.

"Way lower," he responded. His finger pointed downwards. "Try the center of the Earth."

Lance turned back to the door, throwing his hands up behind his head. His eyes shut, thoughts pushing themselves out of his mouth unfiltered.

"There is a molten-fucking-core in the center of the Earth. There's no way anything could even get close to living there. Ever."

"Mm." Zidane was resting the side of his face against his arm, blue eyes light. "What if I told you that 'core' was just a barrier to keep humans out? How angry would you be?"

Lance pulled the door open again, yanking the knob past himself, feeling the circular base hit the side of his hand at the force. Laughter greeted him. He turned back to Zidane, teeth gritted together as he watched a hand go to Zidane's face. The light amusement calmed down, hand waving to him again.

"Alright, alright, I'll be serious now."

Lance scoffed. "Like you were being serious before?" His attention went back to the tail. "Can you get rid of that tail?"

"Tried it." Zidane was suddenly serious; his eyes darkening. "Doesn't work."


The crossbreed shook his head. "I can hide it, if you want me to. I kinda figure it's best for you to see what it looks like."

Lance shook his head, hands pushing through the sides of his hair. "Because I've got that shit injected in me, right?"

"Spiro cells, technically speaking. It'd be pretty bad if you got shit injected in you. Make my job a lot harder." His grin faded as Lance looked to him, eyes dropping down. "Right. Sorry; I'll stop with the jokes."

"Job," Lance repeated. "Someone hired you to do this?"

"No," Zidane replied. "But someone was paid to get you. You remember that guy I warned you about, right? Did you ever see his real face?"

The memories of being in the hospital flashed; skin flaking off of the doctor. Revealing blue hair paired with yellow eyes. The same face that had flashed into his mind the night before.

The same face a disembodied voice had warned him about.

"That..." Lance looked back, words failing him.

Zidane nodded. "Yeah, that was me. I tried to stop it, couldn't, so we're here."

"This doesn't make any sense." Lance shook his head, mind digging up another question. "Why would someone have this done?"

"Not sure; I was just sent here to pick you up."

"You do this kind of thing often?"

Zidane shook his head. "No. Special request."

The doctor's voice rang out in Lance's head, repeating a memory: "Quite the request, I might had. You're very lucky to be chosen by her."

Lance blinked. "That guy... Thing... He told me I was chosen by someone."

"I'm really not sure of the details," Zidane responded, "but yeah, someone probably hand-picked you."

"You don't know? So, what, you just show up and start telling people this bullshit?"

Zidane studied him for a moment, unaffected by the outburst. "It's probably best if you try and control your anger. The cells might feed off it."

"This is a joke."

Lance closed his eyes, fighting back a headache beginning to throb against the inside of his skull. He breathed, passing a thumb hard along the base of his eyebrow. Trying to think. He had to get out of here.

But the maze his mind was trying to go through just kept leading him to the same conclusion.

He opened the door again. The hallway was bright. Almost looked nice.

"I have accepted the fact that I am completely crazy," he announced.

"No—" Zidane stood up. "Lance, you're not crazy. Trust me, everything I've told you is real."

Lance laughed, releasing some of the depression inside him. His head found the side of the door, hand resting on his stomach. He shook his head as he spoke.

"Really? There's no way. There's no way any of this is real..."

He heard Zidane give a subtle sound of frustration—like a groan from the back of his throat. Lance opened his eyes, staring at him again and feeling the smile on his face break into a grin.

"You're not real, either," he said. "I mean, like—" He motioned to the tail. "I dunno why I gave you a tail. Or why your name's so fuckin' weird but hey! Guess that's what makes me so insane." Lance laughed harder. "Hey! Your name makes sense now!"

Zidane let out a small breath, muting it in his throat. He looked away, dark eyes focusing somewhere off to the side.

"I don't..." he began. Both shoulders rose in a shrug and his stare turned back. His hand turned upwards, motioning. "I don't know what I can do to convince you any of this is real."

Lance flung both hands off to the side. "Hey, neither can I! Guess we're finally on the same page, huh?"

Zidane's head bowed, a large sigh coming from him. A moment later, he sat down, hand resting against his hair.

"This is a crapshoot," he said. His head lifted as both hands came to his eyes, fingers parting and running across the center of his forehead. Like a headache was coming on. "I can't believe I actually thought I could do this."

"Do what? Be a figment of my imagination? Pretty easily, probably."

This statement was met with a harsh glare. Lance stared back, feeling the anger like it was a line of energy aimed at his chest. Could he actually feel that, if he was crazy? Would he be able to feel the emotion like it was from a real person?

He swallowed, looking down. His hands found the pockets of his jacket, the same one his mom had told him to wear. He shook the memory away, wondering if that too was made up. If any of this was actually real...

"Tell me something..." Lance began, shuffling a hand into his hair. "Tell me something I have no way of knowing. Something that proves I'm not crazy."

Zidane was alert again, searching around the table as if the answer would be there.

"Uh, let me think..." His finger was tapping against the wood rapidly. "My village, where I was born. A place called Lanquim, off the East River."

"Lanquim," Lance repeated, focusing hard before shaking his head. "That's just a word I could've made up. East River is normal..."

"I have a girlfriend. She's..." His hand found his eyes, covering them as his head bowed in concentration. "She's everything to me. I owe her absolutely everything..."

There was something about that... Something like an emotion was beginning to come forth, rising from somewhere far away.

"What's... What's her name?" He wasn't sure where the question was coming from.


A bolt of pure, light energy erupted into the center of Lance's chest.

He opened his eyes. Why did that name seem so familiar...

"I..." He was at a loss for words. He blinked, searching the floor below him. Shifting his feet, trying to distract himself for a moment. That feeling was still lingering, like an arrow made of light had struck his heart.

"I..." He tried again; still couldn't speak. He couldn't explain the feeling. Couldn't explain anything. He shook his head once more, eyes shutting. "I can't explain that."

"Explain what?"

"Anything about that," Lance answered. "The name... The feeling..." He breathed, focusing on the inner light as it began to dim. "What was that?"

Zidane only stared at him, just as surprised. Over time, the blue in his eyes came back, lightening again.

"I don't know," he answered. "But it's something you can't explain."



Submitted: November 03, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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Al Ashcott

With every new chapter we, the readers, seem to dive deeper into this unknown world, but I do like the fact the nightmare isn't so overwhelming. Step by step, you introduce us to this new reality, making Zidane our guide. Nice work!


Wed, October 27th, 2021 12:20pm

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