“I was just a wish,” she utters the thought aloud. Though she be dead, she be not mute. Still, it’s a strange thing to speak after uncountable moments of darkness. But she wants to hear her own voice.
“A desperate need of my mother’s. An insatiable desire of my father’s. Created by them, to be them, to please them, to be (ab)used by them. A bioengineered, 3D-printed piece of pliant progeny. Or I was. Now, I’m just a brain once sealed in amber, carved on a table, reconstructed into a computer, and waiting for body number seven to print.
“Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t remember. When one dies six times, one tends to lose track. Of time, of one’s mind, of minding the time.
“A wish as white as snow, as red as blood, as black as crow.
“I was but a wish.”
The silence returns to a calm surrender. Until a voice only she can hear releases a single question. A voice identical to her own. It was her own. It is her own. It will be her own.
“Do I know where I am?” she repeats the voice’s question. “What? You don’t like my wandering voice? You’d prefer to rape me with light, and clarity, and reflective qualities? Give me a face to distract from this madness. Run from the fear of this bodiless unknown.
“Well, that’s fine. I will comply. But be careful what you wish for.”
“I’m in a room,” she tells the voice. The darkness undulates, extrapolates, regurgitates a space for her to own. She sees it all without opening her eyes. “All six walls constructed of stone. Icy drops slip through the bricks, slick upon my flesh. An assaulting breeze coils around my bare arms and legs. Because, of course, I’m naked.
“Naked as a member-less babe, discarded on the moors.
“Naked as a hedgewitch, gutted of all her blood and gore.
“Naked as a widow’s corpse, when the pyre is no more.”
The floor of the room vibrates beneath her feet, reverberating through her body.
“No, I am not alone,” she answers. “My companion in this room of stone is a single piece of glass. It occupies the entirety of one wall. Through myself is the Other Side. It’s dark, but there are voices there. They say my name. Lyssa. Same as the goddess. Google it. Or will the effort kill you?”
The piece of glass shudders.
“Well, fuck,” she shouts. “You don’t like how I’m speaking to you? You’d prefer I talked around you, around the bush, around the bend, around the edges of your emotions. Avoid the discomfort of my bluntness. Ignore the dis-ease building in your mind.
“Well, that’s fine. If you don’t like how I’m speaking to you, hang up the phone. Shut off the screen. Kick down your door and fly out into the world. Be a master of your own. Stop listening to me rant and rave. Pass through and just leave me in peace.”
A faint light appears within the glass.
“On the Other Side, what they say I am waits, still as stone. They’ve come to regenerate, reanimate, revive.
“Because my parents cannot lose their white as snow, red as blood, black as crow. My parents cannot lose their wish. My parents cannot lose.
“Neither slit wrists nor a broken neck nor little white pills nor bullets in the brain pan stays these opportunists from the post-mortem return of their scientific marvel.
“Even though I’ve been dead so long. Even though, all that’s left of my former body is an amber-pickled brain.”
The light within the glass flickers.
“Why amber?” She chuckles. “Witchcraft. Obviously.
“Amber – potent healer, mind clearer, negative energy releaser.
“Nomified like a weapon fit for a Goddess.
“Chemopreserver. Fate sealer. Harbinger of doom.
“They think my mind is everything that’s me, what’s left of me, nothing else is me.
“And yet, they forget the mirror.
“I’ve forgotten the mirror.
“Who is the mirror? Me or you?
“Hey. Listen to me, I’m talking to you. I’m talking to me. I’m talking, too.”
The glass quivers.
“I am not a self-indulgent poet!” she snaps. “In life, I’m a medical experiment. But in death, I am a poet? Hardly. This isn’t poetry. This is a story. My story. So get my mothersuckling voice out of my fatherfucking head!”
Shards of light carve up the glass like lightning over a tormented sea.
“What do you mean, I am what I choose?” she snarls at the lingering, pestering, infiltrating voice. “I am but a wish, nothing but a wish, a disaster of a – ”
The glass churns with dark, swirling shadows.
“Open my eyes?” She whispers, a shake in her voice, a shake in her limbs, a shake in her boneless soul. “If I open my eyes, what will I see?”
The shadows turn to mist.
“What will I be?” she waits for the voice, the all-too-familiar voice.
But the voice does not respond. Instead, it dissolves through her mind, beyond her blood, re-uniting with her larynx. Her vocal cords hum.
Electricity courses through her, yanking her towards the Other Side. Printing. Forming. Shaping.
Becoming what she chooses to be. Whatever she wishes and chooses to be. This time, she’ll be what she chooses to be.
The electric current stops as three beeps sound. She gasps awake, eyelids wrench open. A different darkness envelopes – shallow and contrived. Limbs stiff, vibrating. An ache radiates through every single bone. It reeks of hot plastic and honeyed cough drops.
“It has to work.” From the other side of the darkness, the mother’s desperate need.
“It always works.” Follows a statement slick with the father’s insatiable desire.
Metal clicks. The mother speaks. “Lyssa, we are opening up the pod. Let us know if you feel any discomfort.”
A slit of florescent light ravages her darkness. Creaking accompanies the rising of the lid. Two individuals in lab coats jump back, staring. One face pale, creased, and pleading. The other dark, bristled, and devouring.
The mother and the father gape, voiceless.
In the small room, a pane of glass glimmers on the wall. Within the glass, Lyssa’s reflection. She rises to meet it. Her chosen self stares back.
Of course, she’s naked.
Naked as a lady of oak growing tall through blackened stone.
Naked as a queen of souls ruling from her throne of bones.
Naked as a moon-made goddess riding on a chariot of storm.
Eyes as white as snow, skin as red as blood, hair as black as crow.
“I am what I wish. Only what I wish.” Lyssa’s voice low and commanding, her throat hums. “And I wish to be my own.”
Cassandra Schoeber is a dark fantasy writer but sometimes weirdness and horror creep into her stories, wreak havoc, and eat innocent bystanders.
She has published one novella, Ravenous, as well as several short stories, including: “Let It Snow” (Silver Apples Magazine); “When the Last Petal Falls” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); “Hidden in the Shadow of a God” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); and “He Knows” (Short and Twisted Christmas Tales).