It was an Accident (Madeline’s side)
Madeline stood staring down at Becca’s arm and felt the breath leave her lungs. She almost let her legs buckle and collapse into the ground under her. She just barely held herself up, knowing now was not the time to give up, not just yet. It was there staring straight at her, there was no denying it.
When Becca had first come home, arm hidden away, Madeline had prayed it was just a misunderstanding. A much less deadly infliction, something easily cured and forgotten about. Even after Becca had uttered those words, Madeline still refused to believe what was transpiring.
Sitting in the living room, kneeling beside the one person who would forever hold her heart she watched as inch by inch the horrific scene was revealed. There staring at her in deadly black was the first of what would be three images. Two women, hands just about to release from one another. Looks of sorrow and resignation on their faces, looks of the end. Madeline looked away, praying she could somehow erase that image from her mind.
“Honey,’ Madeline wrapped her arms around Becca and buried her head into her lap. “I’m so sorry,” she said softly. She wanted to all out sob, to fall apart; but she knew she didn’t have much time left and being a blubbering mess was not the last memory they needed to share with one another.
“Make it stop.” She sounded so sad, so pathetic. It wasn’t an angry or scared request, it was one of pure desperation. “Make it go away,” Becca begged. Tears falling onto Madeline’s face.
Madeline buried her head into her love’s shoulder and just kept whispering, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” over and over again. She had nothing else to say, there was nothing she could do.
“Stop saying that. Fix this before I see that moment.” Still pleading, still desperate Madeline couldn’t look into that face and know what she had to let happen.
Madeline sat back on her heels and said gently, “I can’t,” it was true. She couldn’t stop this, she had nothing at her disposal to help. “I’m not allowed.” Again not a cop out.
“Not allowed?” Becca gave her a pissed look. Her sniffling stopped and her voice increased an octave, she wasn’t scared now, just angry. “Who cares what you are allowed to do! Fix this, save me!” her voice broke on the last words.
Every fiber of her being made Madeline want to reach out, gather Becca up and save the day. But she couldn’t, she had nothing. “Honey, you know I can’t. My hands are tied,” she felt like a prisoner, locked behind bars and forced to watch the world burn around her; unable to do a single thing other than give out useless phrases of pretend comfort.
“This is your fault,” Becca bit out at her. Pushing Madeline from her and onto her backside. Madeline caught herself quickly, watching Becca move to the center of the room. “You started this. You are the reason everyone is terrified of every other breathing person. You are the reason people panic at the slightest blight on their arms. You started this, now end it.” That look was so accusing, so spiteful. Madeline wanted to argue, but she knew it was useless. Becca was right, it was all her fault.
“It was an accident, you know that,” it wasn’t a good excuse, but it was all she had. She let herself fall completely onto the ground, defeated. She didn’t know what to do or what to say. For so long she had been running from this moment only to back right into it.
“I don’t care,” Becca spat. Madeline just nodded, she understood. She didn’t blame Becca for her anger and confusion. She was fully entitled to it.
Two years ago she had been so excited and honored when she had gotten a call offering her the job of a life time. Develop a serum to allow operatives to glimpse the future, just enough to gain the upper hand. A challenge customized for her, a project tailor-made for her alone.
For months she had done experiment after experiment until she had finally perfected the serum. Six months later the government was jumping around rejoicing, ordering huge batches of the serum and rewarding her handsomely.
Then two months later the world had flipped on its head. That morning would forever be burned into her mind. The pictures of that man hanging with that giant tattoo still made her feel queasy. A tattoo detailing the absolute worst moments of his life. Moments that any sane person would want to get away from by any means necessary. She had known right then this wasn’t some isolated side effect. No one would listen to her though, not until body after body showed up, in every state, effecting every race, gender and age.
Body after body all with tattoos showing the worst moments anyone would have to endure. Moments shown to them before they happened, moments that couldn’t be escaped. They had sprung to action too late, a pandemic had broken out. She had been forced to research a cure, a task she still struggled with until this day. A year later and they had no answers. They still had no idea how it was passed on or why. People avoided contact with the inflicted. The victims became leapers hidden away from the rest of the country. Hiding away until that last image appeared showing them exactly how to end the whole ordeal.
Madeline had developed possible aids but nothing that could stop the process. Also the side effects were horrific, from losing limbs to becoming nothing but a shell. A shell with a brain still alive but not allowing the victim to interact or live in their world anymore. They weren’t cures but more curses, ones that were much more painful and terrifying. Becca would not suffer like that. Madeline could not watch Becca suffer like that.
“Becca what do you want from me?” Madeline begged, still on her knees, hands clasped together in front of her. Although she knew the answer and it was the one thing she just could not do.
“To not let me die,” Becca sobbed, barely able to catch a breath. “Don’t you have anything? You’ve been working on this for years. There has to be a way to delay this or stall it or something!” Madeline just hung her head.
“We have something but the side effects are horrible,” she would not go into details. Becca knew her, knew she would do anything to keep her happy and alive. If she had even a slight chance at stalling this, she would; but she would not destroy the love of her life. She would not destroy her body, watch her fall apart slowly before her. Though this fate was terrible, any other option was ten times worse. At least this would be quick and definite.
“As horrible as watching the nightmare of the last bit of my life unfold in front of me?” Becca jabbed out her arm. Coming into vivid focus was another image, below the first of the two of them parting ways. Madeline could only look at it for a second, it was Becca huddled in a ball, eyes wide with fear. All alone.
“I-I-I,” Madeline felt her head become woozy and her heart spring up into her throat. She loved Becca with every bit of heart and she would not be witness to this moment. She sprang to her feet and grasped Becca’s hands. “I can’t do this,” she pulled Becca into a deep impassioned kiss. She gave Becca every bit of love and sorrow she possessed.She whispered one last, “I love you,” before releasing her hands and running from the room and out the door.
She ran out onto the porch, barely able to breathe or think clearly. Her head swam, making her feel like she was going to faint. She fell to the cold stone floor and tried to gather herself, to get the world back into focus.
Trembling she laid her head back against the wooden door, tears streaking down her cheeks. She had tried so hard and had failed as miserably as she knew she always would one day. Still shaking, she gathered the handful of pills she kept in her pocket. She threw half of them into her mouth and swallowed with great difficulty. She repeated the process with the second half.
As she felt her body begin to break down, and the world begin to break up and fade, she pulled back her long sleeves, (ones she had worn for two years) and stared at the three images. Three images that had haunted her since that fateful morning when they had found the first victim. Becca showing Madeline her arm, Madeline leaving and Madeline on her back on this very porch.
Fo two years she had worked to erase these images, and only these images. She had worked so hard to evade her own fate, and only her own fate. Now as her vision faded and the world receded, she finally understood. Fate was fate.