MILY THE MILLENNIAL | The Eighth Chapter

VIII. CLOCKWISE

Read the Book In-Progress: theprose.com/book/3224/mily-the-millennial

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“And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”
NIV 1 John 5:6

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What exactly happened while Mily was underwater, she could never comprehend with a hundred-percent certainty.

When she broke the surface, it was March the Ninth, and the year was Two-Thousand-and-Two. How she knew, Mily never-ever understood. But it was true. She did remember.

Mily remembered Everything.
.
.
.


Underwater, there was Song.

The music started the second she saw Something – Mily heard the first notes as the undertow drew her down to the bottom of the lake.

Do-re-mi, do-re-mi

Somersaulting, the riptides yanked her further out.

Far-so-la, fa-sol-la-si

Mily knew how to swim and she tried with all her might, but it took all the breath she had left to curl in her four limbs and slow the topsy-turvy spinning.

Far-sol-re-si

Why is there singing ?

La-si, fa-si, re-mi

Waters shifted and twisted Mily’s head into the sand.

Sol-far-so-re-si

She was either dreaming or dying; Mily’s thoughts were rugged, but her gut said it had to be either-or.

Si-fa-la-mi

She wished it was a dream – anything that meant this wasn’t the way she Went.

Si-la-mi, la-si, la-mi-fa-sol-re-si-do

Help ! !

Do

Dad ! ! E ! ! Will ! !

Do

Anybody ! !

Do

Please Save Me

So-sol-se-re-do

Mildred Junegrass faded.
.
.
.

Bird appeared in the Infirmary in a whorl of worry, wildly piloting a scruffed-up wheelchair aimed for Mily’s bedside.
It was lucky they were both in the Recovery Wing because Bird really shouldn’t have been going anywhere – After all, she had just had a baby. Mily tried to sit up straighter, but she just sank squat into the old cot springs and ended up huffing when Bird landed alongside her.

“Are you all right?” Mily’s mom asked, full of foreboding.

“I drowned Mom!” Mily expelled. “They said I did, but I lived!”

“Thank Goodness. Are you hurt?”

“My chin hurts, and my voice does. And I’m really cold but my skin feels like it’s burned.”

Bird gave a tense nod. “You’re still cold Sweetie because you were hypothermic, but it’ll go away soon. Your skin hurts because you got frostnip.”

Mily gulped. “But not frost-bit, right Mom?”

“No, no frostbite. I’m so glad you’re all right.”

Mily tried not to sqirm because it made her skin sting way worse. But her fear of frostbite was longstanding, ever since she’d seen pictures of Uncle Earn’s little toe… She couldn’t get comfy on the lumpy cot and thought about crying anytime the sheets touched her body anywhere. “You promise I don’t have frostbite, Mom?”

“I promise. All your skin is still skin-colored, Doctor Moormen told me so himself.”

“No charcoal toes?”

“None whatsoever. He said he checked twice. I’m sorry it hurts though Sweetie.” Bird sank back into her wheelchair and slouched. Sweat dotted her brow, and Mily thought she looked a little green in the cheeks. The wave of illness lasted only a few seconds before her mom’s braveface was back in place. “We’ll both get better soon. And you can stay with me in my room!”

Mily’s eyes went wide. “With you and the baby?”

“Yes, if you’d like to. I know your little sister would love that.”

Mily beamed and wailed as her lips ripped in a couple of places – Her nerves felt as fragile as perforated trimmings of a wellworn spiral notebook. The salt of her tears stung in the small cracks and wounds.

“I – I – ” Mily sobbed, trying to hold the crying in. “I mi-might cry m-more than my n-new sis-sister does.”

Bird giggled and put a hand on top of hers, which somehow didn’t hurt. “She won’t mind, Silly M – ”
Doctor Moormen materialized from behind a privacy curtain. He wore a long white coat and a stethoscope around neck, and some of his gray, wispy shoulder-length hair was trapped beneath the tubing. He’d brought Mily a sugar-free sucker – She could see its wrapping poking out the top of the doctor’s breast pocket.

“There you are, Wood Women!” Doctor Moormen said when both Bird and Mily had only smiled in response to his presence. He had that effect on people, often setting patients so at ease that they forgot to speak or greet him.
Mily’s brows drew together in the middle. She looked down and caught sight of the waxpaper intake bracelet taped to her wrist:

ID#: 50003024
NAME: EMJAY WOMACK W.Y.
DOB: 1993-07-20 | BT: O Negative

That’s how she remembered she was not called ‘Mily’ anymore. She turned the bracelet around so she wouldn’t accidentally see it again.

My name is Emjay.
.
.
.


The blackhole Mily had fallen into while sprinting through Lockdown spit her out at the edge of an underground spring. There was a babbling stream which stemmed from cracks and fissures in one side of the cave wall. Water dripped down and ran through narrow gaps in the rocks and pooled near the other end of the cave, where Mily found herself displaced.

It was light enough to see just fine. The light was strange, steady and blue, and she thought for a second that pool itself was glowing, making that cobalt hue.

But then Mily spotted them.

Those tunneling crayfish Eyani had wagered might live this deep underground covered the boulders and slick cragstone from floor to ceiling.

The mud daubers were glowing bright blue.

Mily stood up. She was wet with mud, and a couple of crawdads were latched onto her shoelaces. They had some mighty pincers but looked friendly enough. She attempted to detach one by pulling gently on its hind end, and another reached out and pinched the bent knuckle of her index finger.

Mily giggled. It didn’t hurt one bit.

I guess you can all hang-on if you want.

Her shoes were soaked straight through. She slipped them off and wrung out her socks on the ground. All the mud daubers released her laces as soon as her feet left the soles. The stone floor was spotted and bumpy, but it didn’t pain her feet to walk across it. Leaving her socks and shoes to maybe dry out some, Mily walked a few steps toward the edge of the spring, and the l’il lobsters crawled after her.

The pool was a perfect circle with one massive stalactite suspended above the very center, where a single column of sparkly droplets rained straight into the spring. Rippling rings stretched their circumferences to the pool’s edges. Mily stepped closer so her toes just touched the tiny waves as they splashed against shale and limestone rubble.

Mud daubers piled on top of each other under the surface, each one gleaming very blue, as bright as neon glowsticks, making the pool look like living glass. As she absorbed the stunning sight, Mily hardly noticed the water climb over her ankles, the wake grow wide and uneven, or the waves break in mist which coated her shins.

Like she’d been punched in the gut, Mily became suddenly conscious of the water level rising super fast. She whirled around but couldn’t identify any kind of exit, not even the hole she knew she’d been spit out of. Panic spread like icemelt throughout her whole body. Her gaze followed the ripples and swirls back to the center of the pool, where a whorlpool was forming.

The spring was bubbling right out in the middle.
.
.
.


The Maternity Wing was too cold. Mily couldn’t sleep. Bird and baby Novah were both snoring. Novah’s snores sounded more like a soft simmer – the grinding breaths belonged to their mother, resting with her mouth wide-open, propped up by so many pillows.

Ignoring the sting of her frostnip, Mily rolled off her cot. The bed Bird’s nurses moved into the room for Mily to sleep in was way comfier than the one they gave her in the Recovery Wing. But the sheets did nothing for the chill. She was shivering.

But that didn’t matter to Mily. She was having trouble staying away from Novah’s cradle for any great length of time. Minding her mom’s IV, she tip-toed to the edge of her little sister’s tiny bed.

‘Hi, Novie,’ Mily mouthed. Novah was swaddled tight in yellow blankie, but the matching knit hat had fallen off, revealing a headfull of black hair with white-frosted ends. Bird had said it was really uncommon for newborns to have so much hair already. Mily didn’t think it strange – She just thought Novah was beautiful.

Her baby sister didn’t stir. She seemed utterly at ease. Mily was right when she thought she might cry more than the infant did. She had. But watching Novah sleep settled her brain and helped her not think about how much her frostnip hurt.

‘I know you don’t know words yet,’ she went on silently. ‘But I want you to know my real name, okay? My name is Mily. I know you won’t remember, and… and it’s okay for you to say Emjay but – just so you know – I’m really Mily.’

Novah hiccuped and woke herself up. Big brown eyes, still cloudy from birth, which Bird said was normal because most babies couldn’t see well for a while, widened. She watched as spittle dribbled and blew into an impressive bubble and popped. Then Novah blinked and drifted straight back to sleep.

Mily thought maybe her sister did understand what she’d told her.
.
.
.


The water had risen to Mily’s knees, and she couldn’t see the floor anymore. She was afraid to move – The bubbling water was frothing and tugging, and a few times the current nearly knocked her off her feet.

Mily stood firm. Blue-lit mud daubers spun in spiraling arms, shooting stars on the water. She high-knee marched backwards until she hit a big rock and slipped a few times trying to clamber on top of it.

{ Emjay
{ Come in Emjay
{ Can you hear me?

E! E! I can hear you! Mily clung to her rock, which might’of been a stalagmite that got its top lobbed off at some point – it was awfully steep. Eyani! Can you hear me?

{ Yes! Yes!{ I hear you too!{ What is your location?

No idea, Mily thought back, watching the churning springwater prowl steadily higher. But I think I’m in trouble.
As quick as the thought sent, the water’s rise began to slow down. Mily expelled the air in her lungs and stared at the bubbling center of the spring – and held back a scream.
Something’s in the water!

{ Water?
{ Where?
{ How do we find you?

No time to explain!

Whatever was in there seemed to be letting the water out of the cavern. Away it all drained faster than it had risen in the first place, funneling round and round, dragging hundreds of mud daubers down what looked like the opening of a very large pipe.

Whatever it was, it was huge.

Mily remembered thinking of snakes during the truckride to Dune Park Waystation and felt punched in the gut again. It knocked the wind right out of her.
.
.
.


The digital clock above Bird’s Maternity room door said 4:32.

Mily still hadn’t been to sleep. She had been chugging dixiecups of water one right after the next, and everytime she thought about crawling back onto her cot, she had to use the bathroom and wound up wide-awake all over again.
Night sky outside the window was navy, but the horizon line glowed brightest blue. Snow was still falling, but the blizzard had passed. The sun would be rising soon.

Besides the frequency of Mily’s calls-of-nature, sleep evaded her because of the flashbacks. When she closed her eyes, she was back There.

She didn’t want to be but – try as she might – Mily kept going back.
.
.
.


Out of the spring rose what looked like two massive tree branches made of solid silver. They had perfect symmetry, every bend and twist of their metal mirroring their opposite. Reflected in the water, the boughs trembled and shimmered till the whole pool turned to quicksilver.

Mily was stunned. Was it magic?

She peered through the sterling backscatter underneath the branches and determined it must be some sort of magic or miracle.

Mily was struck dumb. A pair of gold eyes were watching.


* * * * *

/ n o t a r e

Excerpt from the New Testament – 1 John 5:6 (NIV)
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%205%3A6&version=NIV

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