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Blood Dust

The only option is to run.

By Dan GeePublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 5 min read
1
Blood Dust
Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.

And under that sky, Cassandra ran, the light show above forging a path below.

All this for a teddy? thought Cassandra

Their shoes gripped the dirt as the silhouette of the illuminated night towered over them. Getting out of the factory wasn’t the hard part. It was staying out. Some were addicted and found their way back, some just couldn’t get far enough away. With clipped wings, no wand and nowhere to go, those who escaped nearly always ended up back where they’d begun, in one way or another.

No fairy at the factory had a chance. Once their blood was spent, their fingers worn to the bone, or their brain turned to mush, there was nothing to do but find replacements.

Their footsteps reverberated into the night and Cassandra regurgitated what had happened.

The blood, so much blood.

“What’s this fuss about then?” he’d asked, in his polite way. Cedric was always like that, polite to start, almost friendly, but as time had gone on, she’d seen the darkness. She’d experienced it first-hand.

He sat at his desk. He wasn’t a big man, but when you’re 3ft tall, everyone feels like a giant. A litany of knick-knacks littered the desk. A fountain pen in a stone pen holder, an oversized vape tank in an oversized case, a pile of mobile phones of varying shapes and a small glass bottle filled with little wooden sticks. It smelt of lavender.

A year ago all she knew was the scent.

“One of the team says you refused to give up this little teddy. Is that right?” he asked.

“Now you know me, I’ve been fair with you the whole time. I’ve kept you two together in the dorm, and I’ve kept you two on the same workstation. I mean, look at her. She’s too small. We make everything so your tinkers can work easily. But even for the adjustments, that we pay for, she is too small. But I still let you two work together. So why do you think it’s fair to cause me trouble?”

His eyes were locked on Frances. Hers were locked on the floor. It was Cassandra who answered.

“But she’s not hurting anyone and he said she could have it. We both work, and when she can’t reach, she helps me.”

Cassandra’s voice broke. She was used to being her sister’s voice, hands, eyes and ears. She’d already argued with the guard. This was reckless.

“He gave it to her?” Cedric asked, this time looking at Cassandra. “Forge gave this little tinker a teddy?”

Cassandra nodded, and Cedric hid a frown.

He passed a ball between his two hands, then squeezed it hard, forcing his knuckles to rise and fall. He pushed his tongue into the corner of his mouth. Cassandra looked up at him and could see the darkness starting to form. A moment passed.

In the silence, Cassandra looked out of his window and onto the factory floor. Bright-white LED lamps swung down from the factory ceiling, held in place by rusting metal chains. The light from the bulbs reflected on the metal worktops, and even from up in Cedric’s office, it was enough to give you a headache.

Cassandra and Frances were due to start their shift soon, mixing raw materials before they were turned into a paste before it was dried into a powder. Mixing was the worst job you could have. The chemicals burnt through the glove and stole your fingerprints, and the rest was a reminder of how much you’d lost.

Caro was down on the powder mixing table. She had only been there a week or so, but Cassandra could see the signs. The distant stares, the cries at night and the gaunt, faceless expression of a fairy who didn’t have the heart to cast a spell even if they wanted to. She still had the bandages. On her wings from where they’d been clipped and on her arm where her first batch of blood was taken. She wouldn’t be here long.

Cassandra felt her own wings, an endless map of scalpel scars, with wounds piled on wounds, piled on wounds. She felt her arm and the track marks they’d given her. Blood for their Dust.

“So. Here’s my problem,” said Cedric. “If I let your sister keep a teddy, then what next? Are you going to demand that you wear headphones? Or is that new tinker down there going to…”

“Don’t call us that,” interrupted Frances.

“Pardon?” The darkness was spreading.

“I said, don’t call us tinkers. We’re fairies. They are not nice words.”

Cedric rose from his desk and tower over them. He began to shout, spit brewing in the corner of his snarling jaw.

“I brought you here. I’m the one that feeds you. You owe me. You’re working because you owe me…”

“No you didn’t,” interrupted Frances again.

“No I didn’t, what?”

“You didn’t bring us here. Dr Forge did. You just run the factory. You just use our blood. He gave me the teddy. He’s nicer than you.”

Cassandra’s arthritic metronome heartbeat transformed into a pounding bass drum that had suddenly been forced into life.

“She didn’t mean it. Look, we’ll go. We’ll work double shifts, we’ll…”

But before she had time to beg, to give all the reasons why he should just let it go, his all-consuming darkness hit her with all his might.

As they ran under the midnight sky, her jaw throbbed. She could feel her eye swelling up and the tightening of the drying blood on her face. Each step on the unforgiving ground sent a jolt through her spine.

When she came to, he was standing over Frances by the factory window. Screaming, bellowing. He was just darkness now.

“Fucking tinker! You’re just a fucking blood bag here remember!”

Cassandra pulled herself up and placed her hand where he’d hit her. She could feel the blood beginning to pour. Her blood.

“Forge, Forge, FORGE! Fuck. Forge. This is my factory.”

Frances cowered below this man of rage and ill will and defiantly pulled her wings in tighter to protect her teddy. Cedric clawed at her, trying with all his power to get the thing that should so easily be his. Cassandra climbed onto the desk.

As he drilled his fingers under her wing, Frances snapped her teeth shut. She jacked her head back like a snake clinging to life in a desperate act of undying.

He stumbled back, gripping his hand. Blood poured from the knuckle and as he turned to grab something, anything to stop the bleeding, Cassandra drove his pen into his neck, then snapped the barrel in two.

Guttural roars and gargled breaths filled the room. Gasping, rasping breaths.

Cassandra ran to her sister, still curled up, still with the top half of Cedric's finger gripped tightly between her teeth.

“Come on, we have to go,” said Cassandra, pulling the finger out of her sister’s clenched jaw. They stood, then looked down on the factory floor one last time. Caro lay in a heap of powder, convulsing and ready to burst. Dying at the hand of her own blood. Death by an overdose of Dust.

“This is our chance. Let’s go.”

So they ran.

As the plumes of smoke turned the clouds purple, and Cedric lay in a pool of blood and ink, they ran.

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About the Creator

Dan Gee

Writing from Brecon, Wales. Father of two, lover of music and spicy food. Artist Relations/Marketing by day.

Much love.

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