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PostPosted: Wed Apr 4, '12, 1:39 am
At the Gates of Eden

The blonde guardian opened her eyes. A faint light could be seen through her blurred vision. For an instant, she could not feel anything. She had died; she was sure about it. As the images started focusing, the girl's eyes were flooded with a dark brown blot. Certainly, she was not in heaven. She couldn't hear any distinct sound and, as her mind started regaining awareness of what her senses indicated, she could feel that the temperature was cool, so it didn't look like hell either. As the images fixed in her iris, she distinguished some shapes in the dark brown blot: they were pieces of wood. As the forms became clearer, Anna was surprised to see wood as part of the ceiling structure. Most of the buildings were made of light metals, steel, plastic and carbon polymers. It should a place in the afterlife, a church perhaps. Anna didn't know where she was, but as her senses sharpened slowly, it didn't surprise her. She considered it part of the dying process. Yes, it was expected that she would take some time to recover the conscience after passing away. But now she was feeling better, she could even feel the straw in her hands, despite of the overall numbness of her mind.

Straw? The blonde guardian was startled. So she was still in the barn. Now the past images came back to her mind. She was in the same barn where she was killed. Maybe she would be trapped there for all the eternity, to remember the shame of being killed by a mere scorpion. That would be worse than being sent to the hypothetical hell, given such a thing really existed. She started wondering what had happened to her body now that she was dead. But wait, how could she feel the straw in her hands? Was it an illusion?

No. She was alive. The numbness gave place to a small moment of lucidity and Anna felt strong pains all over her body, especially on her legs and in the * that had been injured by the scorpion. She was still alive and she was still lying in the place she had fallen before. The pain was very strong and her mind was not completely clear, but she had to get out of there. She remembered the injuries caused by the scorpions and, if there were scorpions still lurking around, she was powerless to protect herself from a probable fatal attack. It was already a miracle that she was still alive; she should not lose the opportunity to try to rebuild her life once again. It was ironic how she wanted to die before and how she fought against death when it came near her. Even the image of Lizzie's head being blown up didn't scare her much. She tried to lift her head in order to examine her leg. The image was repulsive; her legs were covered by clotted blood. The wounds looked even worse, infected with pus or even gangrene. Anna couldn't guess what was happening to her, but before she could inspect better her wounds, her head swoon, she heard a loud hum inside her ears and things became black again…

The guardian opened her eyes. The images were not clear; she could see just a dark brown blot. Was it just a dream? Was she dead or alive? It was a most important question; if she was dead, she could let the numbness possess her mind, as she had all the eternity to understand what was happening to her. On the other hand, if she was alive, she had to do something if she expected to survive. Anna was still unsure why she wanted so much to survive, but she didn't want to die that way. Maybe it was pride; it would be a shame to die from a scorpion bite. Maybe it was her ego screaming inside her mind that she could not die so that she would be forgotten immediately; she had to do something that would keep her memory alive, be it for people close to her or to strangers. Probably that was the reason why so many women still had the same old dream of being mothers, despite the Palmian society being thousands of years ahead of the old paternalistic society where women were nothing but a shadow of their husbands and the only purpose of their lives was to bear children. Only by bearing children, they would avoid being old maiden aunts, just nuisances for their family, whose deaths people would celebrate, whose memories would be forgotten in less than a week after their deaths. Not that Anna ruled out being a mother one day, but that would be hardly her biggest dream. Palmian women were mostly strong and independent and so was Anna. She wanted to live because she still believed she could redeem herself from her past errors.

As her senses became sharper, she realized she had just passed out one more time. The strong pain returned, making her remember the whole ordeal with the scorpions. This time, though, Anna tried to prevent blackening out again, so she waited for some minutes before trying to get up. The wait proved to be almost unbearable to the otherwise cold blonde guardian; for the pain was too strong and she had the feeling that her leg wounds were rotting. Trying to think rationally, she realized that waiting for some minutes would be less harmful than blackening out again. While waiting, Anna wondered how she was still alive after being poisoned. She concluded that the providence was always acting in a way to make her suffer the most from each situation, without giving her the benefit of finally attaining the eternal peace.

When she was feeling stronger, she started raising her head and back slowly from the floor. She was feeling very weak, but this time she was able to keep her conscience. Anna took a good look at her; she must have bled a lot, given the quantity of clotted blood scattered on the floor. She didn't know it at the time, but the bleeding saved her life because it made most of the scorpion venom leave her body. The wounds were closed, but they didn't look good. If Anna expected to survive, she would need to get out of that barn and seek help.

Anna lifted her body a little bit, assuming a seated position. She observed her surroundings and there were no signs of scorpions, except for the three carcasses of the scorpions she had killed the night before. That would explain why she was not killed while she was unconscious. The awareness of that situation made Anna think of how unlucky she had been; had she not tripped over the last scorpion, she would probably be safe at her home, enjoying the few meseta she would receive for the mission. But not, she was there, struggling for her life, because of one damned scorpion. Probably the providence was doing that on purpose.

She slowly tried to get up, but that would be an inhuman task for her, given her health conditions, so she tried to drag herself towards the barn door, not before taking hold of her boomerang and flashlight, which was still lit. It was very painful for her to move, but staying in the barn would not help her situation, so she had to try. Despite the excruciating pain on her legs and *, she managed to drag herself for a few feet, leaving a red trail behind her. When she finally reached the barn door, she was shocked by what she had seen outside. There were several scorpions roaming the farm fields again. Anna felt like having a bad nightmare, where the things she had done before had been undone. However, she had no time to stay complaining of what should have been and what should have not been. She had to deal first with the immediate scorpion threat. So, she leaned on the barn door to raise herself a bit from the floor, trying to put herself in a steadier position to throw her boomerangs at the scorpions that had infested the crops again. She was feeling weak and trembling; it was almost impossible to aim steadily at the scorpions, but she had to try. With her right hand shaking, she made a strenuous effort to grab one boomerang and throw it, but the boomerang fell less than two foot away from her. Before Anna could do anything, her vision blurred, she heard a loud hum inside her ears again and collapsed on the ground.

The light, a very strong light, washed the blonde guardian's eyes. She was dead, for sure. Could it be heaven? Was God so merciful that he forgave all her sins? However, why wasn't she in peace? No, it was something warm hitting her face. What could be it? Fires from hell? No, she wouldn't be fooled once again. She was still alive. It was just the sun in her eyes. Her body was still lying on the grass, by the barn's door. No one came to help her. No one cared for her. She was alone in the world. Maybe it would be better to let her be killed, so she would stop being a nuisance. She would not pollute the air anymore; she would not exhaust planetary resources; her useless body would not occupy a place another person may want to occupy. But no, she had to do something. She had to react. She couldn't let the scorpions kill her. She would prove the world she was not a worthless piece of flesh. No, she would show her how capable she was. She would fight. For what, she didn't know yet, but she would have time to decide it later. If nothing, she would fight to prove to herself that she was not just a victim of fate; she would be the ruler of her own destiny. It was a spiritual revelation for Anna; her God was telling her that she should stop playing the blameless victim of fate and start dealing the cards. Not that she was supposed to control every aspect of her life, but she had to be able to control every aspect of her life that depended on her and only on her. If she wanted to be able to fight fifteen opponents and win, it only depended on her. That would be the only way for her to be able to say she had lived her life, so she deserved eternal damnation or salvation. And she would start ruling her own life by finishing her mission, collecting her bounty, and resuming her life as a successful hunter.

Easier said than done, her wounds were so painful that Anna could not even try to drag her body to the boomerang she had pathetically thrown before blackening out. The contact of her leg wounds with the grass felt like a million of razors piercing her skin. Besides, she felt so weak that the minimum effort was enough to make her feel dizzy. This time she knew fainting again would be potentially fatal. Judging by the Algol star position, it was past noon, so she had spent half of the day fainting and waking up. Now it was time to act. After painfully dragging herself to reach her boomerang, she seated on the floor and waited. It was time to use her brain to sort out the situation she had emotionally put herself into. Her hands were still shaking, so she had to wait before she could try to finish the remaining scorpions. After some minutes observing the scorpions, she felt her hand more firm to try a throw, and so she did, using her torso rotation to imprint the strength she needed in the blow. The boomerang missed the scorpion by almost a yard, but at least it returned to her hand.

Anna's hopes of surviving the ordeal were increased and she kept trying to build confidence. A second throw missed the scorpion by a few inches over a foot, making Anna believe she would be able to score a blow soon. The third blow missed the scorpion's head by one inch. The scorpion was scared by the whizzing sound of the boomerang flying close to his head. It decided to give chase to the mysterious animal that tried to attack it and started running towards the blonde guardian. When Anna noticed, the scorpion was running towards her. Her heart stood still for a moment and she almost panicked. Her new resolution, though, made her stood firm. When the scorpion was ready to strike her, she made a rapid movement with her left hand and decapitated it by throwing her second boomerang towards it.

The successful kill had a positive effect on the blonde girl's morale. Now she felt she was still useful and capable of performing her duty as a hunter. Her usual coolness returned. She was ready to become again the vicious fighter she used to be. However, if she became overconfident, that would mean her demise, for she was still in a sad state, almost dying. So, she waited until a good opportunity for dispatching another scorpion presented itself naturally. And this opportunity didn't take long to appear. One of the scorpions started heading to the barn. Anna started wondering if the scorpions were still nested in the barn, leaving for food. It that was the case, she had been very lucky for not being attacked further by the other scorpions while unconscious. That didn't matter much at the present time, so Anna concentrated on the nearing scorpion and waited. When it was close enough for a good hit, she threw the first boomerang, which missed the scorpion by a good margin. She immediately threw her second boomerang and this time she managed to score a hit, severing some of the scorpion's legs. As it did not pose a threat to her anymore, she turned her attention for the other scorpions in the field, certain that the crippled scorpion would eventually bleed to death.

Carefully, Anna dispatched every scorpion, one by one. It took her a long time to do it, and the guardian girl could not ignore her pain and her weakness. Many times, she felt like passing out again, but she knew it would mean her demise, so she used the last of her forces to keep alert and ready. When she finally finished the last scorpion, she felt a huge sense of relief and prayed to her God, thanking him for giving her the opportunity of learning with that situation. Learning by pain was always the hardest way, but at least she had learned something and, according to her beliefs, that put her a bit closer to the salvation she intended to attain. There was no reason to complain about life.

However, it was not over yet. While she was preparing herself to leave, wondering why she would make it through the miles that separated the farm from her house, she reminded that the farm owners complained about the presence of biomonsters in the main house's basement. She panicked for some moments, but then returned to her senses. The temptation to leave the business unfinished was very strong, but Anna was decided to finish that mission or die trying. The sun was almost setting in the horizon, so she tried to run, though the most she could do was to crawl slowly while feeling an excruciating pain in her legs. She wanted to storm the basement before the lights faded out completely, to avoid a dangerous situation like the one she had faced the day before in the barn, which almost cost her life. Besides, she was weakened; both her agility and her precision were seriously compromised. That meant she wouldn't be able to confront the biomonsters directly; she had to take her time and build a strategy.

After crawling for almost a hundred yards, almost passing out from the effort, with tears in her eyes from the unbearable pain, the blonde guardian finally reached the basement door. It was locked from outside, with a chain and a large steel lock. Although most doors had electronic locks, most probably, that door remained unlocked and the farm inhabitants improvised that lock. Anna severed the chain using the sharp blade of her boomerang, sighed deeply and opened the door, praying for the number of biomonsters inside to be low, for she didn't know how much she could still endure without medical care.

Inside the basement, it was already dark, so she turned the flashlight on to take a look inside. Shyly moving her head into the dark room, she was shocked and disgusted by the sight, but at the same time, it has brought her a strong feeling of relief. Rats, cockroaches and other insects had overrun an extremely dirty basement, with piles of rotten food, dirty clothes and other assorted thrash lying on the floor and over the decaying furniture and electronics. The noise of the rats running and cockroaches flying scared by the light of her flashlight was so loud that she was not surprised that the farm inhabitants mistook it for the sound of biomonsters. The smell of the room was putrid and almost made Anna throw up the acidic contents of her already churned stomach.

Before she lost her senses because of the disgusting sight and smell, the blonde girl slammed the door closed and retreated her steps. Finally, she was free. She had accomplished her mission. Just to make sure that would not be further surprises, she checked the barn again, but it was free from scorpions, save from the rotten carcasses of the ones she had killed. It was very painful to look at the big red stains and know they where her own blood spilled on the floor, but she was on the limit of her forces and she still had a long way home. She searched for something she could use as a walking stick and then left the place where she almost lost her life, thanking her God for still having a chance of redeeming herself.
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