PART 3 – The Cure
It was such a relief to hear Papa trying to break down his door.
He had come to when the house began to shake with Papa’s repeated banging. He rubbed his eyes, and forced himself out of the bed, moving to the door like a sleepwalker.
‘I’m coming, Papa’
‘Emil, baby, are you okay?’
‘Uh-huh’ he hummed, feeling sick inside. Papa shouldn’t be asking him this; he should be trying to get Mama to the hospital. Wait…no, she couldn’t have…
He pushed away the barriers obstructing the door and flew into his father’s arms.
Papa took his face in his hands and searched his eyes. Looking for red in the sapphire? He wondered.
It was not a note of relief or a question.
It was pride.
Emil could read that off his face.
‘I thought I would…I thought I would become like…like them…’ he shook uncontrollably, and his heart began hammering wildly again. ‘, You know I don’t want…I don’t have to…’
‘Of course not, sweetheart. You were wonderful, today…I wouldn’t have fared better’
He felt immense relief as Papa cradled him.
‘Mama…?’ asked Emil, suddenly remembering the cause of all this terror.
His father’s face hardened. ‘In the hospital. She’s…she’ll be all right’
Something in that voice was not all that right…
‘Are we going there now?’
‘Yes. If you are ready’
‘Are you sure, dear?’
There was fear in Papa’s voice.
Emil looked down. ‘Yes’
‘Not to worry. I’m sure you’ll be fine, child. You make me proud.’
He felt a small smile tugging at his lips. That felt good to hear.
‘We’ll…go? I want to see Mama’
Papa picked him up and stared intensely into his eyes. There was a lot of love in those eyes, a lot of pride…and doubt. There was fire, fierce hatred against them who had hurt Mythri…and confusion.
And something Emil had never thought he’d see in those eyes.
I watched the boy as we sat under the glaring lights of the Slayers’ secret hospital. The doctor, a good man, was attending Mythri, trying to deduce the cure.
We already knew the analysis of course.
The word rang in my head mockingly, driving away every other thought that tried to take position in my head. The vampire had begun the cycle of transformation, and if she didn’t get the cure soon, I would lose her…to those scions of the night.
To those wretched…
That was beyond tolerable.
Why couldn’t she have been killed?
Death was a better option than this. I felt hope deserting me. This very morning, she had been her own true self, smiling and singing as she readied the broken boy sitting next to me for a normal day of school…. this was so unfair. I felt as much a child as Emil sitting here, in the pristine waiting room, maybe as helpless as a newborn. How petty our lives were!
She now rested in the icy depths of the cryogenic chamber, her blood frozen to still her heart, to stop the transformation until the cure could be found. Emil was sitting by me, his head between his knees, sobbing inconsolably. His blue eyes were already red, but from crying. He’d become unreachable the moment the doctor had revealed Mythri’s condition to us. He hated his kind as much as I did. That gave me a curious feeling.
There were other slayers with us now, sitting across the room: my brother, Jai; the twins Arav and Amithi; the pretty Devyani, who looked like she belonged with a fashion label than with us…
‘Was it…?’ Snarled Jai, as Emil looked up.
I shook my head. ‘No. In fact he was the one who informed me…I would have been too late if…’
I smiled at the boy, put a hand around him protectively.
Jai made a strangled sound that was somewhere between a gasp and a groan. Emil snuggled closer to me.
Arav’s face split into a grin as he looked intently at something quite out of my sight. I felt my heart flip painfully as a stretcher was wheeled around the corner.
‘Now we’ll see!’ hissed Amithi.
Devyani leaned forward interestedly. At that moment, the heartless behavior of the slayers repulsed me almost as much as the manic bloodlust of the vampires did. Almost, but not quite. Truth was, I was almost as curious as they were to see how much restrain Emil could have on himself. Associating with blood all our lives- as part of very bloody careers – had made our noses familiar with the scent of blood. This man on the stretcher was practically a blood pipe.
I watched him closely as it was wheeled past us.
The boy’s eyes turned red and manic for a split second, and then reverted to their scared star sapphire and snow. His hands were clenched into fists.
I smiled in triumph.
‘Well’, said Arav, through a long whoosh of breath. ‘, You trained him well’
‘Never seen anything like it’ whispered Devyani, eyes sparkling with interest in her cold face. ‘, Tame…very well, Iha. I will admit it…you have done better than we ever predicted’
I was only acutely aware of the changes the boy was undergoing, hearing this conversation. He was sort of cringing into himself, as though trying to hide away, as though trying to hide inside himself. His cold skin seemed to slip a few more degrees down, so cold I could have been holding an ice sculpture and it would have made no difference.
I felt a painful twinge. He was actually suffering…
The new blast of cold air that fanned out from our right made even Emil cower.
The doctor walked out, wearing a warmth suit. I jumped to my feet, and Emil went back to cradling himself. I kept my hand on his shoulder as the doctor removed the facemask.
‘How bad?’ I whispered.
He stared at me, at the quailing young vampire…his eyes hardened.
‘Bad’ he stated bluntly.
Emil looked up again; he was biting his lips in pain, tears pouring down his face. The boy might die if anything too horrible happened to Mythri, I realized, looking at his unfocussed eyes, his wild panic.
‘As in…?’ pressed Devyani.
‘She…I’m sorry, Iha…you were a little late…’
‘She’s…’, I gasped, recoiling back ‘, She’s…become…’
Emil stumbled blindly to his feet. He staggered towards the cryogenic chamber door. Devyani made a hissing noise, springing towards him, violence in her eyes. It wasn’t necessary.
The doctor struck first- the force of the blow threw the boy back, and he slammed into me.
‘Stop!’ I yelled, scooping him up in my arms as he trembled in speechless horror. ‘, He’s my son! No one lays a finger on him!’
‘But he just – ’
‘He wanted to see his mother!’ I growled. ‘, Baby, that’s what you want right?’
He mumbled incoherently into my shoulder. A lot of it was just utter nonsense- unconnected sentences, unfinished lines…the works.
I held onto him, and his sanity.
‘Well…?’ I demanded, because the doctor and Devyani did not release their stances.
Devyani gave a disgusted growl and went to stand with the others.
‘Continue…?’ said Jai.
‘It’s bad. A lot worse than we expected. It’s already in her heart…we’ll have to go for the extreme’
‘What’s that?’ asked Amithi, her serene voice unfaltering.
The doctor hesitated.
‘Well?’ I asked, my voice a guttural snarl. ‘, Didn’t you hear her? What in the damn hell is it?’
‘Maybe the boy…’said the doctor, hesitating. ‘, Maybe the boy should see her now…’
I narrowed my eyes at Arav as he stepped forward.
‘I wont hurt him. I’m taking him to see Mythri’ he said, in a conciliatory tone.
I set Emil down. Wildly, the boy clutched at my shirt, his wide eyes huge with terror. I stroked his silky dark hair.
‘You’ll be fine, baby…’I told him, leaning on my knees to look into his eyes. ‘, He’s taking you to see Mama.’
He looked at me in puzzlement. ‘Mama?’
‘Mama. Don’t you want to see her?’
My heart was hammering, tearing out of my chest. The way his eyes were…like something had died deep down in him… like something had been taken from his childish, innocent mind…like he had been exposed to the despicable…
He cocked his head emptily. ‘See. Her.’
I felt tears in my eyes. It was bad enough that I was losing Mythri…not Emil too, he had to pull through this, and he couldn’t just leave me…
There were no tears in his eyes now, just stark blankness. Too much, I thought. Too much damage…
‘Go see Mythri’ my voice broke at her name. ‘, Go see Mama, baby, she wants to see you…I’m sure she does’
Arav led him away; Emil was still looking very bewildered.
I collapsed onto a chair, pinching the bridge of my nose with my fingers. How much worse could this get?
‘I can take whatever news you’ve got for me. I’ve lost everything.’
‘Now, don’t be like that…’said Jai’s voice.
‘You saw him, you saw his eyes…was that an eight year old boy’s eyes, Jai? So tortured…empty…soulless…’
I shuddered. I wanted to cradle myself, throw away this strong man cover…just hide…
‘There’s still hope for Mythri’ said the doctor.
I looked up at him. ‘Yes?’
‘One cure. Simple’
‘Anything’ I was almost begging.
He took a deep breath. ‘Vampire blood’
‘What?!’ I almost snorted. Something as easily attainable as that?!…
The doctor seemed to sense my thoughts, for he said ‘No, Iha. You don’t understand me, my man…I mean the black blood. The real blood…spilled by the Holy Knife…the blood of a vampire who surrenders willfully to it.’
‘Surrenders willfully…’I said, eyebrows furrowing. ‘, No. No, no, no, NO! You cant mean…you can’t!!’
My voice rose to a high, frail pitch…the blood pounded in my head…
‘Iha…’ called Jai.
‘There’s no other way…’ said Amithi.
‘He has to die…’ muttered Devyani.
My world crashed around me.