Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Reavers were not the only horror on Miranda


Standard disclaimer here. Serenity and Firefly are property of Joss Whedon. Comments are very welcome. This one is kind of dark, so be warned.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

As long as I can still do this, there's hope. Seventeen pairs of lungs in this room. Seventeen people slowly breathing, the only thing any of us have done in days. Sixteen now. I haven't heard Miriam inhale for a while, at least a hundred breaths. Don't need to turn and look. After two weeks in this room I know where everyone is and what everybody's breathing sounds like. I think she might be dead. I should go over and check. I should call somebody. I should say something out loud, so someone will go and check on Miriam. I stay in my seat.

It should matter to me, that she's dead, the fourth one in the room to die. It really should. It just doesn't, not enough to make a difference. Nothing does. Maybe that's why I haven't stood up in so long. Maybe the others feel that way too. I wish someone would talk about it. I miss hearing people talk.

Inhale. Exhale. God, I'm thirsty. And hungry. There's food and water around the corner. That would be so good. I could stand up and go over and eat. I could bring some back for everybody, they'd like that. I can stand up. I know I can. Just one minute to get ready. Just one moment. Inhale. Exhale. I'll get up in a minute.

I remember the last time I wasn't here, when I was standing. I was home, with Bernie. Lovely, lively Bernadette. She came here the same time I did, but she did it of her own free will. No indentured colonist, her. She wanted to get out of the Core and start fresh on a new world. Miranda was perfect for her. A fresh place with all the civilization of the Alliance, a beacon of what every world on the Rim could be, according to the broadsheets. Miranda was named after the beautiful, perfect daughter of an exiled king and wizard, Bernie told me. Miranda would be a perfect place to have a life. I couldn't help falling for her. Out of my league, sure, but I knew I was the luckiest man in the 'verse when she said yes.

I don't remember why we were fighting that morning. I remember she was furious, cursing and slamming things. Whatever it was, it just didn't seem that important to me. Maybe that's why we were fighting? She stormed out, shouting at the top of her lungs. I'm sure she went to her shop, to make her jewelry. I finished my coffee and came here, to the call center. I was going to call her, really, to apologize, but I didn't get to it. There were so many calls that day, people needing help with their programs. Most of them were so slow and stupid I wanted to scream. Some were screaming so loud I wanted to run. I tried to be patient, but each call was worse than the last. Everyone was getting the same thing, I knew. The calls backed up and backed up. Any other day and I would have been worried, but that day it just didn't matter. I figured I'd stay late, to help clear out the queue. Everyone must have felt the same. We all stayed, even after the calls stopped coming.

It's just as well, since that night the rioters came around, running and screaming. I was scared, we all were. Jin said he was activating security, sealing the building. He was so tired that Rance and I had to help him punch the sequence from our desks. We all heard the seals shut, and we were safe. Plenty of air, plenty of everything. Jin said, "We'll stay put until help arrives" Those are the last words I heard anybody say since. We were all so scared and tired. Miriam and some of the others just laid down on the carpet to rest. Miriam's never going to get back up, now.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I can't take this. I'm numb all over. I need to get up. I need to eat. I wish I could cry, but I'm so dry. I pissed myself days ago and didn't get up to clean it off. That's not right, but we all did it, so does that make it normal? Am I still normal? God, it stinks in here. Two weeks of everybody sitting in their own filth. I can't stand to take another breath. From where I'm sitting I can see outside. I see sunlight. I bet it's a beautiful day with a fresh breeze, like the ones when Bernie and I would go hiking in the hills and talk about where we'd place our land grants. Three more years for the both of us, and we could live where we please. Do what we please. I hope Bernie's okay. She got out. I know she did. I need to get up. How come I'm not getting up? Where is the help? Somebody help!

Wait. I see something outside. It's an animal. It's a dog! A little furry one, must have gotten off it's leash. For the first time in forever, I'm smiling. Aw, poor guy, sniffing around the courtyard. He looks hungry. Maybe he'll try to get in and open the door. No, he's running away. Don't go! Come back, don't run away.

Hey, there's a person out there. He's dirty, but there's someone out there! He's got to see us. He'll bring help. Thank you, God. Thank you. He looks familiar. Something about the hair...and the way he's...Bernie!!? It that you!? Yes, it's gotta be. Bernie, over here!! Gorramit, Mickey, move your arms or something. Get her attention.

No, she's looking away. She can't see through the window. She's going to leave me. Don't leave, please!! I gotta do something. Okay, grip the arms, get ready. One..two..three!!

Ai ya, that hurts! My legs want to fall off, but I'm standing. Okay, move your foot next. One step, you can do a step. She's going to leave if you don't. Right foot...there. Good. Use your arms, balance on the desk. Now the left. Okay, keep going, half way there. Just don't stop. God, this hurts. Some of the others are looking at me. Some don't even notice. No one says anything.

I make it to the window. I want to fall over. Don't do it. Stand up like a man. That's Bernie on the other side, gorramit! I need to bang on the window. Arms feel like lead weights. I swing my hips, let the movement bring my hand to the glass. tap..tap..tap.

She hears it! Yes, that is Bernie. In the shade, on the far side of the courtyard. I'd know her anywhere. Same hair, just matted some. She must have had a rough time. Yes, that's it. Come over. It's me. You'll know it's me. We'll figure it out like we always do. Come on, just a few more feet. C'mon, keep tapping, Mickey. She sees me. She's coming to the glass, Her mouth is open, she's saying something I can't hear. She's coming right up to the glass.


Wo de ma. Oh, Bernie, what did they do to you?! Who'd do something like that to you! Oh, Lord, your eye. Those cuts! I open my mouth, but no sound comes out. I swallow, try to get enough spit to talk.

I look at her mouth, trying to make out what she's saying. There's blood on her mouth. Bernie, what happened to your tongue? You must have been attacked. Must have gotten away. We'll get you help, darling. I promise. I gesture feebly to the door twenty feet away. Get the door open, Bernie. Get me out. We'll take the food and walk out of here. We'll find a transmitter, get you help. Oh, Bernie, I thought I'd never see you again!

She's barefoot and her feet are cut up. Her clothes are tattered. She's wearing a necklace I don't recognize, and holding a stick in one hand. Something shiny on the stick. I'm nauseous from standing, I want to lie down. No, gorramit! Lie down later. She's been through hell, and she's still standing. You damn well do the same.

I think she gets it. She's looking me up and down. Yes, I know I'm a mess. We'll both be fine, now. I nod. It feels like pushing a mule.

She scratches on the glass with one hand. Pauses. Pounds on it with her fist. No! The door, go open the door, I told you the pass code. The glass is too thick to break. She keeps pounding. Her fist is bloody, she brings up the stick and I see it has a kitchen knife tied to the end. There are brown stains on the knife. Bernie, what are you doing? She's ferocious, beating at the glass with fist and blade. She's biting at the glass, almost in my face. Why's she doing that?

I look down, I don't want to watch her. I see the necklace and if I had anything in my stomach I'd throw it up. It's an eye. No, it's her eye. I know the exact shade. It's looped around her neck with some thick ropy thing. It looks like sausage, but I think I know what it really is. Ah lien. This is crazy. Bernie, what's going on?

I look into her one eye and I see...nothing. She doesn't know me. No, there's not nothing there. There's rage, so much rage. Madness. I don't see Bernie in there anywhere. Please, let there be something left. Bernadette, please be there, we can make things better just please be in there you have to be in there just stop pounding the glass and let me know you're in there!

She stops and I almost fall over with relief. Then I see, she didn't stop for me. The dog came back. It's sniffing around Bernie's legs. She turns and grabs for it. The dog dodges and runs. Bernie, or whatever that is with Bernie's face, is on its heels. Run, boy, go! Get out of here. The dog almost makes it, before Bernie catches it. I close my eyes as she bites down. I don't open them for a long time. When I do, it's just in time to see her leaving the courtyard. Hunting down something else.

She's gone. Bernadette's gone. No. Please come back, Bernie. She's not coming. No one is coming.

I feel my legs start to give out and I fall forward against the glass. I feel something wet roll down my face. The glass is warm on my cheek. It's a beautiful day outside, so beautiful, and I am so tired. Behind me, I hear Jin isn't breathing anymore.

Inhale. Oh,God. Bernie. Exhale I miss you so much. Inhale I'm so scared. Exhale God forgive me Inhale I'm just so tired Exhale.


Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:36 PM


Wow! Very dark and powerful, and so very chilling. Awesome job.

"I love my captain."

Thursday, May 25, 2006 8:05 PM


excellent job creating a back story for the guy stuck against the glass! It took me a while to realize who you were portraying. Keep up the good work! :)

Friday, May 26, 2006 12:43 AM


Scariness times horror, powerful stuff having that hope crushed so cruelly in the realisation of what had happened to Bernie. I can't think of anyone else who has written anything from the perspective of one of the last survivors. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, May 26, 2006 1:45 AM


Wow. This is the best take on the events on Miranda that I've read (not that I've seen many around). It's really dark and powerful and scary and painful. You made this sound so desperate, which is exactly the kind of feeling I'd think the people on Miranda would have. The feeling of desperation and dispondency permeates this piece and I really enjoyed it.

It was also very interesting the way you used the point of view of the guy in the window that scares Kaylee. And you actually have a female Reaver, which is all manners of scary/cool!

Friday, May 26, 2006 1:55 AM


Oh. My. God.

That was what I was repeating throughout the whole thing.

Sobering, powerful stuff here...

Friday, May 26, 2006 3:54 AM


So morbid and something Stephen King would write if he had enough sense to be brown coat...

Friday, May 26, 2006 12:55 PM


Just completely wow.

That was brilliantly awesome!

I just love the way you gave such a chlling and dark yet very interesting and moving story to the guy against the glass and to one of the newly made Reavers.

To be truthful, when I next watch Serenity (I do that at least twice a week) I'll look at that guy behind Kaylee behind the glass and see him differently.

Now he's Mickey.


Friday, May 26, 2006 1:33 PM


Wow...just wow....this was some amazing stuff, schooner!

Giving background to the figure that scares Kaylee during the initial investigation of the Mirandan city really drives home the fact that 30 million people with lives and families and hopes and dreams were either killed or driven mad by science's attempt to make the "better."


Saturday, May 27, 2006 8:05 AM


Not exactly cheerful but well done. It really brings home just what the Pax did to people, and why it was so important to get the word out. You had me rivited the whole time!


Sunday, January 7, 2007 8:14 AM


All I can do is agree with BEB - perfect.

And with Lucas Harper - that scene will mean more thinking about this story and the moments that it reflects.

Friday, May 4, 2007 11:53 PM


This was very chilling and, like BEB said, amazing stuff! I'm actually liking the way you jump around in the Firefly 'verse like this. Giving us flashes of a history or a future. Like I said on your previous fic, it keeps us all wanting more but not quite knowing (and possibly worrying) what we're going to get!

Saturday, January 19, 2008 7:20 AM


I cn't think of anything to say that hasn't already been said, so just add all the comments above together and say that I said all that brilliant stuff :)


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