What She Deserved



Scene Title What She Deserved
Synopsis Eileen seeks answers on Pollepel Island.
Date May 11, 2018

Ruins of Pollepel Island

This is the place.

Rainwater washes over stacks of rubble and carves a muddy path down an embankment steepened by years of unchallenged erosion. It plasters hair and clothes to skin, and gathers on eyelashes as fat, distracting droplets that the woman in black cannot blink fast enough to shed, so she wipes them away with the back of her hand instead.

The river churns in the background, a dull roar that joins that sound of water striking out against stone, leaves, and the makeshift memorials that have sprouted up all over Pollepel Island like weeds.

Eileen stops to survey a tall wooden cross painted white and covered in old photos. Their edges either curl in on themselves or dissolve away, so faded and weathered that she has to squint to pick out the faces that they depict. And even then there are none that are recognizable to her, except—


There is a young woman with a tangle of messy brown hair and a daisy pinched between her teeth, hands tugging at the collar of her coat as she poses for the camera with only a hint of a smile in her eyes and in the corners of her small mouth. Eileen reaches out and plucks it from the cross, caring little about the tear she creates at the top of its frame where a thin, rusty nail had been holding it in place.

She studies the picture with a flat expression that betrays none of the tightness in her chest or throat. Remembers a few moments later that there’s no one here that she needs to hide her emotions from, so she releases them in the form of a sharp, jagged sigh. It scissors out of her on her next breath as she decisively crumples the photograph into her palm.

The protesting croak of a white raven seated on the cross above steers her attention back to the sky and the storm clouds gathering there.

“Nobody asked you,” she says to the ghost-bird, pressing forward, and does not look behind her when she hears it launch itself after her. Booted feet carry her through the field of memorials and leave fresh prints in the mud. Like maintaining her composure, this isn’t something she’s worried about — few people set foot on the island’s shores, and those that do aren’t interested in the living.

There are other birds rattling in the trees. She feels them crowding her periphery, drawn to movement and the sound of a person picking through broken chunks of stone. Her ability, too, pulls them into her with the the strength of a slowly atrophying muscle that she finds herself using less and less every day.

Eileen thinks she might be running out of time.

“Show me,” she asks the flock, and tugs at the psychic thread of fear and anxiety she can feel hanging taut in the air.

It’s snowing.

Sleet and hail pound Pollepel Island with enough force to break brittle branches and churn mud. It slams against the battlements and cascades over the walls in a ceaseless torrent. What doesn’t pool in the courtyard runs off into the drainage system, which feeds the swollen river far below.

There is the sound of what feels like, to Eileen, an explosion. Glass shatters and crows descend from the shelter of the battlements and dense island trees in a surge of black wings and flashing claws. They grasp at the shape expelled from the empty space where a window used to be, tearing at skin, hair, and silk in attempt to stop or at least slow its fall. Gravity, however, proves to be stronger than the combined efforts of the small flock. It breaks apart, scattering into the wind when the body its members had been trying to hold aloft crashes unceremoniously into the mud below.

Fine shards of glass rain down after. Some tinkle against stone. Others are swallowed up by the dark and do not so much as glitter where they land.

In just a few minutes, she will be dead.

Eileen moves into the courtyard, toward where the psychic projection of her mangled body appears to be bleeding out into snow that isn’t really there.

She asked the birds to show her, and so they do, sparing no detail.

Her brother and her friends leave her there, all except Gillian Childs, who gathers the smaller woman into an embrace that casts them both in the violent shroud of the amplifier’s ability. She siphons all that she is into the gathering swarm, leaning on the storm of emotions that wracks her body with panicked, wheezing sobs. Fear. Remorse. Anger.

So much anger. She directs it at Heller and his soldiers. But also at the retreating Ferrymen, whether she consciously intends to or not.

Eileen’s death is a betrayal on multiple levels.

The birds descend on Gillian at the end, claws and beaks catching in her bloodsoaked hair and tearing feverishly at her exposed skin until she’s driven from the courtyard. Eileen receives no quarter either; she’s still struggling to draw breath into her lungs when they break through her sternum, and no amount of screaming makes them wonder whether or not this is the right person to be stripping down to the bone.

Her last thoughts are of Gabriel, who is both nearby and an entire world away. But also of the ones she’s already lost in one way or another: Zhang Wu-Long, Ethan Holden, Iago Ramirez, to whom she never said goodbye, and Kazimir—

Dziadzio. Help me.

She watches it play out for longer than she needs to. Her blood saturating the snow until it can’t hold anymore colour. The squabble over her organs. At some point, after her head is detached from her body, one of them snatches her pocket watch off her neck and spirits it away into the darkness, leaving her other self with only a grim, nagging feeling.

“Enough,” she says, and only then does it end.

She smudges tears and rainwater from her cheeks with her fingertips. “The more you fight, the more you’re victorious, the more the weight of your victories pushes you down.” She looks back over her shoulder through the shattered archway, toward the river at the boat awaiting her there. “Eventually, the inertia of your own successes are the chains that drag you into the deep.

“Kazimir tried to warn you, but you didn’t listen, did you? Not really.”

She holds out an arm and the raven finds it, swooping in to latch onto the loose, woolen fabric of her coat. With a mindful, steady hand, she strokes her knuckles along its pale back.

“She got what she deserved,” she says to the raven, which nips and nuzzles against her touch. “Come. There's something I need you to do.”

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