APHELION: Chapter 4, Desperate Measures

A free web serial; Cyberpunk-lite, Zombie Apocalypse included, and Soul Magic to tie it all together.

There’s laughter.

It has sharp edges and it rattles with glee; like a belly fashioned from metal that shakes and booms and clanks. Sophya stands surrounded by it, her eyes fixed on her hands. They’re trembling. A steel grey ring sits on one of her fingers, its wide band etched with delicate fawn antler patterns. Her chest tightens. She knows the ring; knows when she’s last worn it.

But this isn’t right— is she dreaming?

That can’t be. Sophya doesn’t dream. Hasn’t ever and would never.

When she looks up, there’s Krisi. A long-fled home surrounds them, the memory of it washed out like a painting soaked in water. Krisi walks a step or two ahead.

Sophya hurries after her. She doesn’t want to, would prefer to turn around and walk the other way, because she knows what’ll happen when she reaches her; she’ll grab for Krisi’s slender shoulder and Krisi will pull away. That’s how it always went. That’s how it would always go.

No, she’s not dreaming. She’s fashioned her own Hell and starred herself in its opening act.

She grabs for her sister. And catches only air.

“Krisi, please,” she hears herself plead. “It’s not what you— we didn’t— I’m not—“

Gods, she doesn’t want to be here. She doesn’t want to see any of it, not ever again, and she’s certainly not okay with how she feels it all so vividly, how her heart drums in her ears and her throat constricts like she slipped a noose around it.

When Krisi spins around, her eyes are puffy and red and filled with rage and grief.

“You’re defending it!” Krisi shrieks. It’s not a question. It’s an accusation. “You’re defending it and they’re dead!

The noose tightens and Sophya can barely breathe. Her lungs scream. Her eyes feel as if someone threw a handful of salt into them. There’s no steady footing under her — the world is upside down but she’s not falling.

She should be falling. She wants to. Anything would be better than being here.

“She had nothing—“

Krisi slaps her. It’s a quick, sharp blow, one right across the cheek. Her head whips to the side. Blood wells in her mouth. For a moment, Sophya stares at the wall. When her eyes find Krisi again, her sister has composed herself. She stands very straight, her spine stiff, her shoulders back. Her chin is up and her eyes hold a subtle glow; she’s made a call.

Her lips move.

Sophya knows what she’s saying, word by word. She hears it so, so, so often and it never changes. Always ends the same.

“… there’s a NetPagan in my house …”

There’s laughter?


She can’t breathe.

・・・ ”SNAP OUT OF IT!

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