The Event Cycle 6—Alannah Burke

She wakes curled up in a ball and keeps her eyes shut against the pain.  Her stomach hurts.  Her arms and legs hurt.  Even her hair hurts.  Shivers wrack her sweat-soaked body despite the cold.  “No, no, no, no,” she moans through chattering teeth.  Detox.

She has to get up, to find something to take the edge off, but her body protests.  She rocks back and forth against the pain and feels her stomach lurch.  She opens her eyes to find a place to vomit and discovers she’s curled up on a grassy bank.  The grass is brown, and it crunches and pokes her as she rolls to vomit downhill.

When her body finishes convulsing, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and lifts herself up onto all fours.  She is on the side of a two-lane highway bordered by grassy ditches and dry cornfields.  A line of electrical poles stretch as far as she can see along the opposite side of the road.  That’s all.  The road is empty in the early morning light.

She utters another moan as she turns and sits, hopeless.  That’s when she notices the blood on her hands.  “Oh!” she says in surprise, looking from her hands to her clothes.  There’s blood there, too.

It comes back to her—she’s been in a plane crash.  She examines herself as best she can.  Her eyes are watering and out of focus and she hurts too much to twist her body and look at the hard-to-see parts.  She can’t find any injuries, though.  Then where did the blood come from?

She collapses back into the grass on the side of the road, crying.  In the void behind her eyelids, an image of the headless boy from the plane emerges.  Blood.  Lots of blood.  It’s splattering her.

She snaps her eyes open and struggles to her feet, swaying against the gravity that’s trying to pull her back to the ground.  She steadies herself.  She can’t lay here.  She has to move.

Putting the rising sun at her back, she steps up onto the edge of the highway and begins following the solid white line.  Surely someone will come along soon.  Surely someone will help.


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