Week 242: Hospitality

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Jul 17, 2014
7; Hospitality
When her eyes opened again, she was alone; a dreamless rest her only company. The bed she rested in was much the same, just as sterile and prim, just as plain and just as much of a trap. Rosa was still gone. She wallowed in the stillness of the room as the late morning sun cast visibility unto the dust particles that swarmed near the entrance to her room. She assumed the light came from a window or opening of some kind near the outside of her room, as the walls around her were solid; she had seen Cura clinics before, but never one in a building. Micali was unsure of the layout of the building.

Micali continued to stew, shifted her body occasionally to test the waters, and eventually concluded that to stand was an option. She slid her legs out from under the safety of her blanket, the cold air a difficult adaptation, yet still she pressed on. She wiggled her toes and took a deep breath before she stood. Her white robe was ill-fitted but covered her, so she couldn’t complain too much. Her legs wobbled and wavered but with a hand steadied on the disrupted sheets, she managed. She just stood there for a second before she sat back down. Her body was stiff, but she supposed that being unconscious for four days could do that to a person. Micali had only begun to stretch when a cleared throat at the entrance to her room caught her attention.

A spurii man in a brown dress coat and black slacks looked to her. He was very visibly enlil, with some velen in him; his light grey feathers were spare around sections of smooth skin of an ashen brown pigmentation. “I see you’re up. I’m Dr. Sati.” He moved around the edge of the bed but didn’t approach any closer. “You had me worried for a while there that you were going back to sleep for four days.”

She clenched her jaw at that, and kept her eyes on him. “Yeah, well, I didn’t.”

He whistled low at that, and whispered to himself, “a fighter, gotcha.” He adjusted his jacket ever-so-slightly with both hands, dusted off the non-existent dirt on his sleeves, then stopped to just look Micali up and down. “Well?”

Annoyance creep up inside her. “Well what?” The laicar stood again, but wasn’t focused enough and had to sit back on the bed before she attempted it again, this time successful. Their eyes met, hers defiant and his full of pity.

Well,” he drew out the word as though she knew exactly what it was supposed to mean, “how are you feeling? Everything right up there? Remember your name? What’s two plus two?” He held up one finger on both hands, mashed them together, then moved one hand forward with two fingers up while the opposite hand retreated to his coat pocket.

Okay. “Fine, yes, yes, four,” she watched the barely visible wisp of fog from her breath and realized just how cold she really was. She moved to her things, stacked on a stool in the corner of the room.

He moved out of her way without protest, and looked down at her with azure eyes. “How old are you? Remember what year it is? Nine times nine? How you got hurt?”

She pulled on her pants, surprisingly comfortable and dry. They must’ve cleaned her clothes. Micali sighed as it dawned on her that Rosa may not have been lying. “31, 504 PT…” She trailed off as the math question dawned on her, but she decided to pass on it. “And none of your business.” She turned her back to the doctor and removed her robe. She offered a wordless scream for him not to mention the scars there. Most of them were from the night she tried to forget. Micali peeked her head back as he spoke.

“You didn’t answer the math question. What’s nine times nine?” He leaned toward her, and it became obvious that he didn’t care for her privacy.

“Do you tend to stare at strangers while they get dressed?” She grabbed her sky blue tank top, unfolded it from its neat square, and stuck her head through the largest hole before sticking her arms through as the doctor offered an empty chuckle.

“I changed out your bedpan for four days. I’d consider us acquaintances at worst.”

Micali shuddered. “I’m not great with math.” After straightening out her tank top, she looked to her charcoal tunic and slipped it on with ease, a practiced effort when you wear similar clothes for years.

Dr. Sati nodded slowly. “From the slums, then? Or just a bad neighborhood in Fere Divi?”

She looked to him, her jaw went slack and her eyes carved holes in him. “Again, none of your business.” She began the practiced process of buttoning up her tunic..

He paced the room for a second before he moved to where she’d stood from, tidied up the bed as he spoke. “Quite the attitude, huh? That where you got the scars?”

She stopped at the fifth button from the bottom, the top one still left undone, and turned to Dr. Sati. “What are you really asking me, huh?” She folded her arms in front of her. “Or are you just preparing me for the keepers that’re waiting outside for me?” She didn’t even bother to hide the vitriol from her tone, every word spat with a deathly stillness and a bristled ego.

He stared at her blankly, gave another low whistle. “Y’know, mood swings are a symptom of brain trauma.” He shifted his weight from his heels to his toes while he looked at her. “You haven’t been discharged, by the way. So - you have a couple options. Storm out of here without a proper diagnosis,” he said while he paced and held a finger out to signify the list of options, “or find it in yourself to sit down and let me ask you a dozen or so questions to ensure you’re fine.” His fingers were out again. This guy had patterns.

Micali just breathed. She finished the top button on her tunic. Silence pierced the room as she put on her socks. She looked from him to her boots then back to him, then let out a long exhale as she carried her boots back toward the bed, where she promptly sat and waited for him to begin his interrogation.

“Alright, we’ll start simple. What’s your name?” His eyes pierced hers.
“...Marilith Caritas.” She refused to meet his gaze.
He smirked at her, his expression an obvious show that he knew she was being less than truthful. “You need to be honest with me, or the questions keep coming.”
“Fine. Micali.”
He looked at her expectantly.
She assumed a voice several pitches higher than her own, as though she had to serve drinks at the bar. “Micali Vita Alsara.” Hopefully the sarcasm was enough to get him not to push.

“How long have you lived in Lucrus?”

“Where in the city were you raised?”
“Estro Boris.” Not entirely a lie.

“Never travelled?”
“No.” Almost entirely a lie.​

“Any relatives we should contact?”

“Parents? Any siblings?”
“No to parents or no to siblings?”
She shrugged. “No.”​

“A spouse? Children?”

Dr. Sati cleared his throat as his eyes continued to stare into hers. “You’re a hunter, I presume. When was the last time you hunted, what did you catch?”
“Couple weeks ago.”
He didn’t press for the second half.​

“Any history in your family of mental illness?”
“Not that I know of.”

“Pollen, mostly. Seasonal, or whatever.”​

“And education, did you go to school?”
“Home schooled. Skipped most of the bookish stuff.” An understatement, to say the least.

“Do you drink alcohol? Any substance use?”
“I drink occasionally. Haven’t been drunk in years.”
“And drugs?”

“Have you experienced brain trauma in the past? Any head injuries?”
“A couple. First one was a concussion, second one was a cracked skull.”
The doctor winced. “Must have been a talented healer that helped you.”
She hummed the most noncommittal noise she could muster.

“Where’d you get the scars from?”
“I’d rather not talk about it.”
Both of his eyebrows raised to meet the feathers along his forehead, but he moved on.​

“What day of the week is it?”
Micali took an instant to contemplate, but sighed. “I don’t know. I’ve been a little bit occupied.”

“Favorite colour?”
“Red. Dark red, like…” blood. “The apples that grow in Iridia Park.”​

“And how long have you worked at Dom’s?”
She perked up at that, her eyes inquisitive but her face a blank slate. “Almost three years, now. How did you…?”

“Well, when Rosa asked for me specifically to look after you, I asked her why. She explained that you work together. Consider it me trying to pry and test you at the same time.”

She hardly heard the last sentence. Fuck. Fuck. Rosa wasn’t lying. Micali curled the sheets in her hand, her knuckles white. “How long have you known Rosa?”

Dr. Sati’s expression turned to a nearly unreadable sullen. “The fact that you have to ask that tells me that I shouldn’t answer you.”

“Look. I said some stupid shit to her before she left. I’m just trying to understand what happened when I was out.”

“And that’s something you’ll have to ask her yourself.” The spurii stood, dusted himself off again - despite the still pristine conditions of his outfit - and moved to the side of the bed. He cleared his throat. “Rosa’s sensitive, take it from me. She’ll cry it off and come back around, just give her time.” He approached, and pulled up the stool that was off next to the wall, which had balanced her clothes not ten minutes prior.

Despite her instincts, she allowed him to reach up to the bandage on her head.

“All things considered, you’re doing pretty well. Thanks to someone’s healing magic,” he spoke as he smirked to himself, “you’ve made a strong recovery. My recommendation would be to go home, rest up.. If anything feels off, I’m sorry to say there’s not much that can be done. Brain trauma is unpredictable, and the level of healing magic necessary to reverse it is beyond me - beyond most, really.”

She nodded as the words registered, and he pulled the bandage down from her head. She still felt as though her head carried the weight of the bandage - which in itself weighed nearly nothing - despite its absence. “So you’re basically telling me that if anything is wrong with me, I’m fucked.”

He shrugged and smiled. “Pretty much. Now get out, we got other people who need these beds more than you.”

She scoffed, but saw the fairness in it. Her boots were easy enough to get on after she picked them up from beside the bed, and she swung Cora over her back before reattaching her bag to her belt.

The rest of the clinic was what she expected; a small building with about ten branched out rooms from what she saw as Dr. Sati escorted her out. Cura must have gained some kind of wealthy donor to have upgraded from tents to actual walls. As she moved to leave the premises, he displayed a small smile. “Take it easy, Micali. You still need rest.”

She nodded, an unspoken promise. Not the first lie she had told the doctor.
The early morning air was a welcome refreshment. Micali walked with purpose; she had to make a stop before she got home.

To say she was frustrated was perhaps an understatement.

The building was empty, much different from the state Micali had last found it in. She figured it was still too early for people to have gotten their blood pumping. A familiar jade-handled knife slammed into the desk of one certain brothel keeper. Gemma looked up from the nails she had finished picking at and took her feet off her desk, mere inches from where Micali had stabbed. The prior looked as though she had hardly slept, a departure from Gemma’s typical put-together demeanor. The guards all moved to surge forward as wood splintered, but Gemma simultaneously raised a hand, a sign they all took to back off, though they kept their eyes on Micali.

“Micali. How can I help you, girl?” The owner of the Pleasure Emporium’s nonplussed attitude only furthered the disdain of the archer.

“What the fuck, Gemma!? You care to explain this?”

“‘S too early for the yelling, girl, slow down. What awful thing that I’ve done did you just find out about?”

Micali shifted her weight from right heel to left, then back again. She gestured to the knife that protruded from the desk.

“...Oh,” she stated matter-of-factually, her dark navy pantsuit prim despite the bags beneath her eyes.

“Yeah.” Micali readied herself, prepared to pounce across the desk.

“Huh. Just a second.” With that, she pulled open a drawer and out came the jade-handled knife.

Micali didn’t get it. She waited for Gemma to explain, because surely she had the answer to this; Gemma always had answers.

The dark skinned laicar simply sat and dislodged the knife from the wood of her desk, and laid both out side by side. She examined them slowly, and Micali felt beads of sweat form above her brow. She began to contemplate that she may have overreacted.

“You got duped, girl. I didn’t realize it at first, but the knife that you brought me originally? Ain’t Pal’s. Look here,” as she spoke, the larger woman pushed both knives forward, evident twins, though the newer one seemed worse for wear. “The little scratch marks here and...here? This is Pal’s, no doubt, but this other one…” she trailed off. “Did you kill him?”

Micali nodded slowly, still unsure of what it all meant.

“A shame. But yeah, the one you brought me is a fake, so whoever you got it from was a ripoff.”

“Oh.” Micali felt dizzy. Pallorus hadn’t sent the man, likely wasn’t involved at all given how he had received her. And here she thought he was playing dumb. “Do you have a chair I can use? I...I need to sit down.”

Gemma looked her up and down, her eyes transfixed as Micali swayed. “Nah. You stabbed my desk. Get out.”

Micali tried to understand, but in that moment she just needed to shut off. She walked out of the room without a second thought, both knives sat on Gemma’s desk as she heard two small impacts. She took a single look back to see Gemma stare her down, both feet back in their position from before Micali’s act of interruption.

She probably should go right home, but she found her legs had wandered of their own volition. She just walked aimlessly, tried to gather her thoughts. Pallorus likely had nothing to do with the attempt on her life. She had killed him, but her reason was three years old. Was it too far in the past to justify justice? She stopped at a bench in the park she was in - a small one, close to the border of Estro Boris and the mercantile district, though technically in the former. The late morning was silent, and she thanked whatever power deemed it to be so.

Maybe Pallorus hadn’t meant to kill her this time, but three years ago still happened. Cora was dead, and Micali should have been. She picked at the inside of her cheek with her teeth as she thought. She didn’t regret it. She couldn’t, or else it would break her. She regretted that it came to it, but it was done, so there was no point to linger.

Except...he let her kill him. He put up a fight, had her moments from death before him, and he...he helped her. He gave her the knife so she could plunge it into his heart. Was he remorseful after all? If she truly did have any regrets, it was that she didn’t understand. Pieces weren’t there, scattered about while she tried to figure out the whole picture.

She wondered, on that bench in that quiet park, how it would feel to kill the rest. If she wanted to, how she could, if she could. She had no bad blood toward Corruma, nor Talrigori in the grand scheme of things. The other four? She spent many nights in her recovery after the incident in her head with rapid visions of dismemberments and small, precise cuts. To skin, to flay, to hurt. Not Pallorus. She wanted his death to be quick and gone. A bullet to the head and that would be all. She imagined the irony of a bath in oil for Valgora, and a match dangled above her tied body, dropped only after she realized her pleas wouldn’t be heard. The removal of Olivor’s tongue - along with other appendages - and the agony that a slow loss of the eyes could inflict. Cidisti, she wanted to-

“Excuse me, Miss?” A young man stood before her, an enlil. Chestnut feathers reached a lilac toward the middle, light enough to be mistaken for white.

Micali looked to him, a silent acknowledgment and acceptance of what he would say next.

“Do you know the directions to Obitus Ironworks from here? I’m afraid I’ve become frightfully lost.” He held out a map of the city, and she looked at it. The building was a large one in the mercantile district.

The brunette pointed to it. “Follow Arc Street all the way down, then two lefts, then one right. It’s the large warehouse, probably a bunch of guards around it.”

He seemed worried that she knew that last detail, but chose not to speak on it. “Yeah, uhhh...thanks.” And he was off.

Micali watched him leave, then turned back to the park. She decided to leave her dark thoughts on the bench as she returned home.


Writing Week is 266

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