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Inner Demons


by yatomiyuka

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This morning, I woke up in the same place. The sky was grey - the clouds had killed the sun. It brought back memories of the days when I used to play in the rain, making mud pies and getting soaked from head to toe.

     Things aren't like that any more. Not since yesterday - the day my life changed forever. I woke up today wondering if I still have a mind, or if it'll work the same way if I do. It hurts to think. Tell me they're gone now - tell me they're gone... I'm sorry...

     The Gelert doctor heaved a sigh. "She's been living the same day in her mind for the last three years. We've done all we can - when we take her anywhere else, she gets worse - violent sometimes." He sighed again, shaking his head a little.

     Karrie and Katrine had been the only survivors of the attack on their house, three years ago - and the two were, or had been, very close. Karrie, the yellow Ixi, stared at her sister, who was still shivering on the stark hospital bed.

     "Katrine, listen to me," Karrie hissed, desperate to wake her sleeping twin, who had fur as grey as the sky she described. "You don't have to be sorry. It wasn't your fault."

     "Was," the grey sister retorted, her eyes still closed. "It was all my fault."

     The yellow Ixi sighed, seeing that she had done all she could. "Okay, doctor - can I visit again in a week?"

     "Of course," the Gelert replied, resting a green paw on Karrie's shoulder. "You can visit her any time."

     "Thanks."

     Without another word, Karrie stalked towards the door of the ward. This had been going on for months now - ever since she had returned, hoping to find her sister well again. Every week, the same thing happened. Every week.

     It was all so surreal - it had seemed so since the attack. Katrine was an explorer, and had come to tell her stories to the family over a hot dinner. Their mother had been serving the soup when it happened - Karrie remembered it so clearly, it was like a film playing in her minds eye, showing every last detail.

     She shook her head to clear the thought. It wasn't time to remember, not now. Her feet had carried her to the hospital doors. The sky was pitch black, the colour of a brewing storm. Someday, she realised, she'd have to remember. She'd have to share her memories, too, if her sister was to be helped.

     Well, standing there wouldn't do much good. The rain was coming down in force by then, almost hissing as it hit the pavement. Karrie bowed her head against the driving wind and set off at a brisk trot. The thunder tore at her ears, but she shut it out - home was only a short way away...

     The rain stopped. Karrie tore her eyes open, and realised that she was on her own doorstep. Of course, it was only one street away from the Neopian General Hospital. Shaking the rain from her fur, she stepped inside and went straight to her room. Now it was time to remember. If she could remember it, she could know it - and only if she knew it could she leave it behind her, in the past, where it belonged.

     Karrie's room had a calm feel to it - everything was green and blue, from the ceiling to the carpet. It was her haven, her sanctuary - a place she could retreat to, no matter how violent the storm might become.

     She sprawled out on her bed, and pulled her journal and quill towards her. It was time to remember... picking up the quill carefully, she started scratching out the events of that day, as she remembered them.

     ***

     The sky was full of soft, white clouds, and the air was full of birdsong - it was a beautiful morning. I was in the garden picking berries with my mother when we heard the doorbell ring. My brother Derrix, who was in the house reading, answered the door for us.

     "Hey, mom! Guess who it is!" he called through cheerfully - but we didn't have to say it. We already knew.

     Katrine bounded into the garden after Derrix - both were wearing their characteristic smiles; Katrine's looked more genuine.

     "Long time, no see," I said, and she handed me a basket of shells and codestones.

     "I'm sorry I've been away so long," she said, looking around. "Nothing's changed much."

     We both laughed. We spent the day playing games, and pretending to fly. Katrine's always wanted to be Faerie, but we don't have much money. That was one of the reasons she left, to find fortune - and adventure. I asked about her adventures, but she said she was saving it for tea-time...

     By tea-time, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The sky was grey, and the birds had flown. Our mother, Kanya, came out of the house at 5:00 to tell us our food was ready. She'd managed to cook Katrine's favourite dish, in honor of her return. It was Juppie stew - she made a fantastic Juppie stew...

     Anyway, as we ate our stew, Katrine told us of her adventures. She found the codestones and shells on the beach of Mystery Island... she had stowed away on a pirate ship from Krawk Island, and bought lunch at the Golden Dubloon with stolen money. Then she reached the topic of Faerieland.

     "I got a lift there from a nice Faerie," was all she could say before her eyes would mist over and she changed the subject. It worried us all, and we exchanged meaningful glances, but said nothing. Katrine didn't seem to notice.

     Then came the asparagus soup. Kanya had removed the plates, and was ladling the stuff into four bowls. Katrine's always loved asparagus, too. As our mother was putting the bowls on the table, though, a change came over Katrine.

     Her eyes flashed black, and she seemed to freeze up. She ignored the soup in favour of watching us eat - finally, as I started to stand up and put my bowl in the sink to be cleaned, Katrine leapt forward, and stood in front of me.

     "You can't do this," she hissed. "You're upstaging me." Her eyes were still black, and as hard as lumps of coal. I backed away and dropped the bowl on the table, but she pinned me against the wall.

     "Katrine?" I asked frantically, but she didn't reply. We all watched it happen - but only I lived to tell the tale. Huge black wings sprouted from her back. Her eyes grew red, and her fur a deep violet.

     "I am not your sister now," she hissed at me, before turning to mother and adding, "Or your daughter. I'm with a different cause now."

     Katrine laughed harshly and closed her eyes, and the whole house shook as bolts of lightning formed in the sky and struck at it. We ran. I got outside first, and dived behind a log. I looked back at the house, and saw the others run from it blindly as it collapsed. Katrine stayed put. She seemed to be surrounded by a forcefield of black energy, which was feeding on her, keeping her alive.

     The lightning retreated into the sky momentarily, but it struck again and again, missing us by inches. It didn't seem to want to stop. Eventually, it hit my brother - he fell to the ground. Our mother rushed to his side, but she was hit by another stray bolt. Then Katrine fell to the ground, as though she had been struck too.

     I came out from behind the log, and rushed to check on everyone. Katrine was alive, but barely. Her fur was no longer either yellow or Darigan - but grey. It seemed that something had drained her vital energies, and left her an empty shell.

     I couldn't wake her, so I left her, and tried to find help. That was the day she was admitted to hospital.

     ***

     That was enough. Karrie dropped the quill, and dissolved into dry sobs. It had been too long, hadn't it? Was there nothing to be done?

     After the attack, Karrie had tried to forget - she even took up her sister's mantle, and went travelling, but returned quickly. Things hadn't changed much since then.

     After half an hour or so, Karrie felt her head drooping. The sky had been dark for an hour already, so she decided to call it a night. She lay back on her pillow, her journal forgotten, and let herself slip into a fitful sleep.

     ***

     Dark, black. I could hear a breezy sound, and everything was cold and silent. It seemed an eternity - but finally, she spoke.

     "You are the one who can help her, if any can," said the voice. It was soft and sweet and held a kind of comfort that reminds me of my mother. I listened.

     "Look her in the eyes, and let yourself slip into her mind... it may be difficult to do, but it may save her, if you and her combined can do what she alone cannot."

     I waited again, but no explanation came. The blackness and the silence returned, and eventually, I felt myself growing sleepy...

     ***

     The Ixi woke with a start that morning, her long yellow fur in a tangled mess as she rolled from her bed. Her mind felt clearer than it had in a while - maybe putting pen to paper had helped a bit. It was a bright day, though the streets were still wet and the clouds still on the horizon.

     After a hasty breakfast, she decided to visit Katrine again. She'd always visited on the same day, maybe a change of routine would help. Throwing open the door, she left the house, and set off at a brisk trot towards the Neopian General Hospital.

     The Gelert doctor watched her arrive with curiosity. It was the first Tuesday visit in.. well, ever.

     "Good morning, Karrie," he greeted as she entered the building. "Your sister is the same as ever."

     "I'd like to see her, anyway," Karrie confirmed. The doctor smiled - she was dedicated to her sister, even after what had happened. He found the key quickly, and unlocked the ward door with a single movement. Karrie stepped into the room, and drew the curtains. Katrine was still asleep.

     "Wake up, Katrine," said the yellow Ixi softly. "Look at me. I have something to tell you."

     It took a moment or two, in which the grey Ixi continued to mutter, but her eyes opened. She looked dazed, and almost still asleep. Karrie met her eyes with difficulty, and reached out with her mind.

     ***

     She felt herself becoming lost in her twin's tangled thoughts, an ocean of darkness and bittersweet memories twisted beyond all recognition. Somewhere, in the middle of it all, she could see the form of her sister, blackened and terrified.

     "Tell me, tell me they're gone..."

     Katrine backed away as Karrie approached her mentally, but Karrie persisted.

     "It's okay," said Karrie, "I'm not like them. I've come to help. Trust me?"

     Katrine stayed put. Karrie reached out again, and her sister took her by the hoof.

     "I think I can trust you."

     The ocean around their island became less ferocious, but the shadows were still there. They seemed to be growing into one shape, one entity. It took the form of a faerie - a silent faerie, cloaked in shadow, and blurred at the edges. It took a step towards Katrine, and she shuddered.

     "You own me... you control me..."

     Karrie shook her head, and stood between the Faerie and her sister.

     "No. She doesn't. Push her back, deny her, and she can't claim control of you again. Ever. I promise."

     The faerie's wings dissipated, and she seemed smaller.

     "Keep it up, Katrine... you're worth ten of her any day. That faerie is not you, just an out of control phantom."

     Katrine stood up, and pulled her hand from my grip. The faerie fell back into the ocean, and seemed to disappear.

      "You don't own me - and you never will," Katrine shouted after her. Karrie felt herself slip back into her own mind as the phantom lost its fight for control.

     ***

     Katrine's eyes came back into focus, and she smiled.

     "Thank you for helping me. I was so scared of losing control again..."

     "But you didn't. For three years, you held it in, and let it destroy you - rather than let it control you. I didn't do anything. It was you who beat the phantom, you who repressed it at the cost of your sanity. Thank you, Katrine..."

     "I couldn't have done it without you."

     "Well, we did it together, then," Karrie compromised. "You can come home now if you like. Later on, we can play games in the rain, and make mud pies."

     "No... I have other plans. It sounds wonderful, though."

     "What else do you plan to do?"

     "Well, I wanted to travel again. Maybe I could find out where I picked that Dark Faerie up," she said. "I don't want it to get to anyone else."

     "Oh, okay," agreed Karrie. "But don't forget what I said. No matter what happens, you're not alone - and simply never will be."

The End

 
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