After they broke away, Stephanie giggled, and the man laughed, and they threw the glasses against the wall. They howled and laughed, and he punched her in the face knocking her to the floor. Perdita took a step forward and Liam bent down to pick up the crying woman. Amara reacted faster than the other two by pulling her gun and slamming the butt across the man’s jaw. There was a sickening crack and he slumped over moan/laughing.
“Are you okay?” Perdita asked Stephanie.
“WILD!” Stephanie shouted fixing her jaw into place.
The man didn’t get up. He laid on the ground curled up sobbing and screaming for his mother through a broken jaw. It didn’t sound like mother, but something a pathetic drunk would say that had mommy issues after way too many drinks. That’s what he sounded like, and it made Amara want to hit him again, but she didn’t.
“Let’s go to the back,” Stephani shouted with blood running out of her mouth.
They followed her while she kept rubbing at her chin where more and more blood kept coming out. There was a black door behind the bar that had no number code and she pushed it open to a dull gray hall with the same type of lighting as the other hallway until they made it to a red door. That’s when Stephanie stopped walking and turned around smiling large showing her dark red teeth. She spit out a few teeth and held up her hands.
“Welcome to the main tap,” Stephanie said. “This is where the magic happens.”
“We’re not going to like what is inside,” Liam said. “I guaran-fuking-tee.”
Amara looked back at Liam and frowned, and he shrugged. She knew he was right. But they were both following Perdita because she was doing something for a reason that they knew they would never understand.
“Open her up,” Perdita said.
“We already have,” Stephanie giggled as she opened the door.
In the room were sixteen beds with sixteen child size bodies in them. There were massive machines with tubes coming out and going into the back of the neck and one larger tube that went into the exposed belly. They could see that each of the entrance wounds were infected. There was a metal halo on the children’s heads that flashed as they went through REM.
“You’re draining them,” Perdita said walking into the room.
“We open them up,” he hooked her thumb up above them. “And fill us up.”
They all look up to see twenty adults encased in glass tubes. They were sleeping but floating in a liquid with tubes running into their mouths, stomachs, and the tops of their heads. There was no hair on them. Liam could see a part of the room was full of wigs and fake facial hair. It looked, from what he could tell, that the hair was sewn into the skin.
“What are you taking from them?” Liam asked walking over to the wigs.
“Serotonin,” Perdita answered looking at one of the children.
“Ding ding ding!” Stephanie shouted. “Now get up and get in those tubes. You have been out long enough.”
“We’re not part of those tubes,” Amara said.
“You’re not,” Stephanie asked. “Then what are you?”
She got close to Amara and took a deep breath. Amara tensed but allowed her to do it. They watched as Stephanie’s face changed. It rippled and tremored and when she opened her mouth her teeth elongated through the dried blood.
“Natural,” she said. “You have it in you natural.”
“And why don’t you?” Perdita asked.
“Because of a woman that looks like you,” she said. “Took every bit from us.”
“What do you mean,” Perdita asked. “Took it from you.”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Just fucking took everyone’s.” “For what?” Amara asked.
“To leave this place,” Stephanie said as she walked over and pushed a button on the wall.
The tubes shuddered and started to lower.
“Just came to us and told us this was important for the world, then she drained us until we couldn’t make anymore and stepped right through the fucking air into nothing.”
As the tubes lowered Perdita backed up to Amara and pulled free the other pistol. Liam pulled free the shotgun. They knew what was happening and Stephanie didn’t seem to notice. She was pulling the skin off her face to reveal pink flesh and muscles. They could see that the teeth were curved and three inches long. The canines sank into the flesh on either side, she turned to say something, her tube-like tongue lolling to one side.
Amara put a bullet in her head while Perdita shot into the glasses along with Liam. The bodies jerked and convulsed, then hit the concrete floor. Their skin was weak and their bones hollow. They split open and spread across the floor.
“There’s probably more of these,” Perdita said.
“Sure,” Liam said. “There’s got to be a ton.”
They didn’t say anything to one another, just left the building, got into the van, and started driving. They drove until they entered a massive desert. It started immediately and didn’t make any sense, but they kept driving. The sand turned from a dark red to brown, to gray, to white and then to black.
By that time, the sun had started to fall to the horizon.
The lack of light did not diminish the structure in front of them. It was a massive metal sphere with three-foot nodes that were glowing a dark orange. Skeletons circled the structure four rows deep. They could hear and feel this deep reverberating in their chests.
“Pull as close as you can to it,” Perdita said.
Amara stopped the van ten feet away and they walked the massive metal structure and Perdita put her hand on the smooth surface. There was heat and noise and something else. She pressed her ear to it and closed her eyes.
“She’s in there,” Perdita said. “Actually this is her.”
She held out her arms to the thing.
“This entire metal thing is a version of you?” Liam asked.
“I can’t see the golden light,” Amara asked. “Stephanie had it.”
“Stephanie was made as a decoy,” Perdita said. “Anyone that was ‘activated’ would have looked like a decoy.”
“Then what is she doing as this thing,” Liam asked.
“She’s surviving from Perdita Prime and people like me,” Amara put her hand on it.
“By draining the entire world of their Serotonin?”
“I don’t know how she’s using it, but yes,” Perdita said.
“It’s her fucking soul,” Liam said. “This is her soul.”
“We don’t know if souls are real,” Perdita said.
“They have to be with this thing,” Liam said.
“Do you think she plans on staying here,” Amara asked.
Perdita walked around the thing and they followed her. She ran her hand over the thing until she stopped when the vibrations stopped. She pressed on the smooth surface and there was a click and hiss. The door slipped open with steam coming out. They could feel the intense heat coming from inside.
Perdita pulled the gun from Amara’s holster and stepped inside. There was a very long silence. Amara and Liam looked at one another and followed. Inside there was a massive machine that was built all around the sphere with green lights flickering throughout. In the center was a naked woman with atrophied limbs floating in a green glass tube.
In front of her was Perdita, she was wearing a metal halo that was attached to the machine. Her eyes were closed, and her mouth was moving. The lights, Amara noticed, were flashing with her mouth. The thing in the glass started moving, but only in small motions. As if she were tired and drained.
“What do we do,” Liam asked.
“We let her do what she’s doing?” Amara said holstering her gun and taking the one from Perdita’s loose grip.
“What the fuck is she doing?” Liam asked.
“Talking, fighting, or fucking,” Amara said. “Whatever she’s doing, we’re going to cover her.”
They sat down with their backs to Perdita staring at the door. Hours passed and both of them slipped in and out of sleep. Liam would count the lights and drift, wake up, and count the lights and drift. The fourth time he did it he noticed that his count was off. So he made himself wake up and recounted the lights.
“Amara,” Liam said sitting up.
“What is it?” Amara raised up. “More Stephanies?”
“She’s killing her,” Liam said as more lights went out. “Slowly.”
They watched in silence as more and more lights went out. It took another two hours and Perdita had collapsed on the floor, but her mouth was still moving. All that was left was the glass glowing with green inside. The atrophied figure was wide awake and trying to will their limbs to hit against the glass. Her bones bent when she struck the glass. There were places where the translucent bone broke through the skin and began to bend.
Eventually, the thing in the glass stopped moving and floated to the bottom of the now draining tube. Machines started shutting down and hissing. Perdita stood up as the halo glowed around her head and she turned and looked to Amara and Liam, her eyes were glowing gold and then she blinked, and she was normal.
“We have to get out of here,” Perdita said. “This is going to explode.”
“How far?” Amara asked rattling the keys in her hand.
“Three lines over,” Perdita said. “Now.”
“Fuck me,” Liam said. “Fuck this.”
They jumped. The thing exploded and the explosion didn’t expand outward like a normal explosion. Instead, the reality just ceased to exist, the reality beside it bent and shattered and crashed into the reality beside it. The implications of what that meant no one, or thing had ever considered. But there were people that were shoving their entire arm into the mouths of others while saying the pledge of allegiance.
When they came to they usually slipped into a place where there was no one around. They picked a nice forest but when they went through there was a flash and they were standing in the middle of a town square with the population standing in front of them. Cameras hovered above them. A man in a wheelchair was on one side of them and a large man with a huge black coat was on the other.
Everyone cheered as a man stepped forward introducing himself as the mayor.
“Welcome friends,” he shouted into a microphone. “We’ve been waiting three thousand years for this!”
Perdita looked at everyone and frowned.