Fourth in a series.
If it bleeds you can kill it.
Ye olde table of contents:
1. Drysdale, Kira and Company, Repetition, the Great Outdoors
2. Kira alone, History, Crying, the West Hall, the Honorable Locker War
3. Repetitions, Mural, Somba
4. Christiana, Nadia, Kira Kuriah, Dead cold failure
5. Rigor, Songs, Flicker, Roam
She was Christiana Blythe, familiar to Kira by face not personality. But Christiana knew her and said:
“Oh, Kira, what are you doing here? I was afraid I was alone.”
Christina had curly blonde hair that was in wakes down to her shoulders, where she wore a sundress with flowers on it. Below where her left breast should have been there was a hole roughly two palm lengths wide clear through, so that Kira could see the desk behind the other girl clearly.
“Chrissy,” Kira said grinning in hope that this ghost was not as she saw it. Not a classmate with a gaping gigantic hole in her chest, leaking blood on the textbook that sat on the desk, but a hallucination produced by an overtaxed brain.
“Kira, Kira,” Christiana said. “Do you know who’s crying? I’ve been trying to figure it out.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Kira said looking away from the girl’s chest as if it were a breast exposed and not a few ribs. “For a second I thought it was you.”
“I’m never sad,” Chrissy said brightly. “But I’m a bit confused. It’s half-past and nobody’s here yet.”
Kira looked at the clock. It said half-past nine and Kira was not surprised that the minute hand was not moving at all. She looked at the textbook Chrissy had on the desk. It was open and showed a picture of a wolf knocking at a pig’s door. The spine of the book said ENGLISH LIT. The only color on the book was the red of Chrissy’s blood.
“No,” Kira said trying to keep her voice natural. “I think they’re late.”
“Oh,” Chrissy said not noticing how thin Kira’s voice was; stretched between Chrissy and the sobs coming from the other side of the school. It was dangerously thin and sounded more like a thirteen year old boy’s voice cracking than a seventeen year old soprano. “They’d better get here soon. Even the teacher’s late. Did you see Aaron today?”
“Aaron?” Kira asked. She was trying to keep her eyes off Chrissy by moving them around the room. It was as it was usually; same posters and desks and chairs, no change to the walls or chalkboard (which was mercifully blank), no change to the small Macintosh computer in the corner. Chrissy was the only odd thing in the room. Kira knew with one hundred percent accuracy that the girl was a ghost. Not a ghost in the traditional sense because in the real world Chrissy was still alive. But this Chrissy was dead regardless.
“My boyfriend,” Chrissy said smiling. Kira noted how pale her cheeks were.
“No,” Kira said shaking her head. “I haven’t… I haven’t seen him today. I don’t even… I haven’t seen him at all.”
“Oh, well, do you know who’s crying? I’ve been trying to figure it out.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Kira said opening the door and stepping backwards out of the room. “For a second I thought it was you.”
She shut the door and sunk to the ground before scooting to the far wall and trembling, eyes wide and teeth showing.
“Oh good God,” she said through her teeth. “I’ve got to get out of this place.”
She stopped speaking as the sobbing noise intensified. She slowly got up and walked back to South Hall A, laughter in her chest and her heart in her throat. Was she dead like Chrissy? She slowly felt her body over, checking for holes and pressing hard enough at points to hurt.
No holes, no damage.
“Hah, hah, hah,” she said. “Oh boy, oh boy.”
Lack of holes proved nothing. She could still be dead. Strangulation wouldn’t leave holes, just bruises. She almost went to the bathrooms to see but fear retarded her progress completely.
“Am I a ghost?” she asked the air, eyes traveling about her environment looking for somebody to ask.
Nobody and no answer.
“Answer me!” she screamed and again the crying stopped.
“I don’t care! I’ve had enough!” she roared into the hall and began storming in the direction she thought the sobs were coming from. She didn’t notice the locker doors slowly opening and closing or the flickering in the lights above.
In the far corner of the building in front of a room she had never been in before, Kira halted before throwing open the door and marching in.
The crying girl may have had a hole in here head as if she had been shot but Kira recognized her anyway.
“Nadia!” Kira said. “Stop crying, I can’t stand it!”
Nadia stopped crying out of her remaining eye and looked up at Kira. There was blood all over the classroom, and Nadia, sitting in a desk like Crissy, was a mess.
“Kira, what are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” Kira returned.
“I made a mistake,” Nadia said, “and I don’t know how to get out. Is… Is Chrissy here?”
Nadia looked at Kira with such hope that Kira’s rage deflated and she sunk once again to the floor.
“Yeah,” she said. “Chrissy’s here.”
“Can you take me to her?” Nadia asked.
Kira sighed, “I— sure.”
Nadia laughed shakily, “Thanks, I can’t see very well, so maybe you can guide me with your hand?”
The dead girl raised a hand palm up. Kira bit her bottom lip. She didn’t want to touch Nadia, but the girl’s voice was plaintive.
But! It could be a trick. Perhaps the girl would suck out Kira’s life force with just a touch. Could Kira risk it? Could she take that chance? No! No, no no; no, no. It would be folly, a mistake, to so mark oneself with death. Kira, Kira, Kira Kuriah. Kira, Kira, Kira Kuriah. Kira, Kira, Kira Kuriah.
Kira squashed the chanting that rose in her head. That was madness in itself.
“I…” Kira said eyes bulging, delicate brown skin darkening with blood.
She couldn’t think.
“Please?” Nadia asked.
And all Kira could hear was; Kira, Kira, Kira Kuriah; over and over again in time to the pounding in her head.
What broke her out of her trance was the need to breathe. She gasped.
“Yes,” Kira said. “I will.”
She sprang up and thrust her hand forward toward Nadia.
The other girl’s hand was cold, but not as much as Kira had thought it would be. It was full of fading heat, and Kira was sure Nadia hadn’t been dead very long.
“Thank you,” Nadia said trying to smile but spitting out blood instead. Kira smiled weakly and helped Nadia stand up.
The other girl had problems walking and guiding her to the door was a problem.
“I seem to be having trouble with my legs,” Nadia said leaning on Kira more than the other would have liked.
“That’s okay,” Kira said even though it certainly was not. Looking at her supporting arm, Kira saw that Nadia was getting blood on her soft sweater. It irked her on some fundamental distaff level that her clothes were now stained.
She got Nadia out of the room, staggered drunken zigzags across the hall. All the lockers were open now, but Kira didn’t notice. She was too busy trying to keep Nadia from pushing her into a wall.
“So,” Kira said trying to distract herself from this strange situation. “How did you get here?”
“I was shot,” Nadia said.
Dead silence. Kira didn’t have a response to that. But she slowly forced one out, just to keep talking.
The dead girl didn’t respond.
“So,” Kira said as the girl’s weight grew, “how do we get out?”
“Don’t know,” Nadia said.
Kira trembled. There was a long way to go to get to Chrissy and the other girl wasn’t just getting heavier, but colder too. She didn’t even want to consider the wreck that was Nadia’s head. The grisly hole was on Kira’s side and so if she turned ever so slightly toward Nadia, it gaped at her like the yawn of God, larger than anything she had ever seen, more expansive than any desert horizon, leaking dark blood at an increasing rate onto her sweater until she could feel the cold damp and see clots of it in the fiber.
So, she avoided looking to her left as she carried Nadia down the hall. And that was what made her reluctant to resist the corpse’s insistent push right. She couldn’t see the other wall and if she hit it Nadia might squish and Kira didn’t want that.
“So,” Kira said again, “what is this place?”
“The school,” Nadia said slurring the words as if drunk.
The reply was disturbing. Kira believed that Nadia was becoming less a ghost and more an actual corpse. Kira believed that the girl had to hold on to make it and so she told a lie:
“Come on Nadia, we’re almost there.” It was less than half actually.
“Okay,” Nadia said. Kira couldn’t tell if this was more coherent than Nadia's last sentence.
“Listen,” Kira said. “Listen! I’ll have you back with Chelsea and the others in no time.”
There was no answer.
“We’ll talk about the dentist’s kid,” Kira said mouth practically throwing sparks at the speed she was talking, “about how hot he is. We’ll set one of us up on a date with him and we’ll ask Karen McLloyd to stay away from the cottonwood grove and stop smoking those cigarettes, because she should be a good girl and, and, we’ll have to ask nicely ‘cause Karen’s not that nice so we have to be. And, uh. You know the grove, Nadia? Nadia! The one around Drysdale Stream? Nadia, Naida! Nadia!”
There was little of what one might call life left in the girl. The remaining eye was loose and rolled freely in its socket and the body was freezing cold.
Kira dropped the body and it fell to the floor without a sound. She covered her mouth with her hand and stared at the corpse. Patches of rot had invaded the cheeks and the teeth were visible through receding lips.
Kira turned and walked down the hall stoically, her hand never leaving her mouth.
I at one point had a list of all the kids going to Drysdale High. Kira, Nadia, Chrissy, and all the rest had tiny little bios to go with them. I think the fun of fiction is creating entire worlds and so I’m willing to go to great lengths to figure out who Kira’s teacher for English is even though that detail isn’t important to the story.
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