Kerra slowly drifted into consciousness. It was as if all her senses turned on one by one. Her ears were ringing. Her head and heart were still killing her, but she could feel that she was lying on a very soft bed. She was too weak to move her head, and each breath she pulled sent fire into her lungs. She wrenched her eyes open to slits. Though at first her eyes were blinded by what little light there was in the dim room, eventually she was able to focus on a face. It was Drigg, watching her from a chair against the wall. His usually so carefree face was heavy with signs of worry: his eyebrows were drawn together, and his mouth turned deeply down at the corners.
Kerra tried to speak but all that came out was a groan.
Drigg’s eyebrows shot up and he was at her side in an instant. “Kerra, can you hear me?”
It was a moment before her sluggish eyes could find his eyes again, and it took all her effort to give even the barest nod.
Drigg released a great sigh of relief. “We didn’t know what happened. All at once you just fell off the table and you were just writhing on the floor. And the screams. Oh Kerra, the screams. I was terrified. It wasn’t till Gran burst into the room that I finally stopped panicking and actually could do something. She told me to take you to her bed. I thought we should call the doctors, take you to the hospital, but she said there wasn’t anything wrong with you that she could tell.” He looked as if he were about to continue, but then snapped his jaw shut. “Sorry. I’m rambling.” He murmured.
Kerra winced with a new pulse of pain in her head. What was wrong with her?
“I just… I was really scared Kerra. More scared than I think I’ve ever been.” Drigg rubbed the back of his neck and sat back down in the chair. “I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad you’re okay.”
It took her massive effort to reach out to Everen along the connection, but she did it. Everen?
There was a very long delay—odd for Everen, who usually jumped at the opportunity to talk to Kerra—before she responded. Yeah?
I feel awful. I don’t know what happened.
Another lengthy pause before a distant, weak flicker of surprise and fear. You too?
Kerra knew her brain wasn’t functioning right, so she wasn’t sure if she’d understood.
You had it too?
Kerra’s mind reeled. She knew she and her sisters shared a connection, but they had never had a scared experience like this before. She wondered if Shandi had felt it too. But her head was hurting too much for her to connect to Shandi.
No wait, the connection… wasn’t there.
She was sure of it. She searched the incorporeal part of her that she knew would allow her to communicate with Shandi, but she couldn’t find it. It just… Didn’t exist.
Kerra reached back for the connection with Everen. Can you talk to Shandi?
There was a pause, and then Everen sent a sharp feeling of fear and despair. What does this mean?
I don’t know. But already, she knew. Not even thousands of light years could break the connection between them. There was only one thing Kerra could think of that would completely sever it.
You don’t suppose… she’s dead? asked Everen, giving words to Kerra’s thoughts.
Waves of pain, both emotional and physical, crashed over Kerra. What else could it be?
Oh noooo, Everen moaned. No, no, no, no…
Kerra felt the same way. She felt hot, heavy tears start to form in her eyes and spill onto her cheeks. Her breathing became even more ragged, and she let out a sob.
Drigg appeared at her side again, running his hands through his hair. “What? What is it? How can I help? Do you need more pain meds? We stuck a pain patch on you already, but I don’t know if that works with your skin, to be honest. Do you think you could take a pill?”
She gingerly shook her head. She knew she didn’t need a pill. Slowly becoming more able to process her pain, she realized that she hadn’t actually hurt anything physically. But even as the knowledge that she had no physical injuries sunk in, so too did the realization that Shandi was gone. She sobbed again and realized she was hyperventilating. She had to get out of this bed. She had to breathe. Had to get to Shandi, wherever she was. Had to go. She clawed at the covers and tried to sit up.
“Whoa, whoa, don’t push yourself. I don’t know what’s wrong with you but I would not recommend sitting up after you collapsed like that. Just calm down. Take it easy. You’re okay. You’re going to be okay. We’ll make it through this.” He leaned over her and tried to arrange the covers again in some semblance of order.
But Kerra knew it would not be okay. Shandi was dead. A piece of herself had been ripped out, and she was bleeding out inside. It would never be okay again. She reached up with her hands and pounded weakly against his chest. How dare he keep her there? She wanted to scream at him, but all that would come out of her mouth was sobs and saliva and whimpers.
“Hey now, hey now,” Drigg said, clearly surprised. “None of that.” He tried to wrestle her arms back under the covers. Usually his tight grasp on her wrists would have sent searing pain up her arms and caused her to gasp, but now, the pain was just a distant echo, a prick of pain compared to the void that ripped her up inside.
Finally, one of her sobs morphed into a word. “Shandi.” Her voice was high and broken. The weight of her name breaking free from her lungs felt as if she’d coughed up a boulder. But when she inhaled, it was back, twice as heavy.
But Drigg just looked perplexed. “What about her? Do you want me to find her? I could probably find her if you needed me to?”
Some crazy part of Kerra believed him. Believed that he could just go out and find her wandering around on the street somewhere. She wanted to say, “Yes, please go find her,” but she knew that would be cruel to Drigg. More tears streamed down her face as she shook her head.
“Then what? What?! Tell me Kerra! What do you need?” His voice broke on the last syllable, and he looked as if he were about to break down crying as well.
“Shandi,” she whispered.
“Then let me find her!”