Glass and Steel, Part 9 - To Add Insult to Injury
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 8 December 2005, 3:50 am
Glass and Steel
Part 9: To Add Insult to Injury
Ren could feel his muscles twitching, how his body was desperately trying to force itself out of this unrelenting dream. It was a nightmare, a nightmare that had smothered him in its evil. How so much grief could build in him—in such a small amount of time, after just arriving at his new home—was a mystery. He traced the nightmare to its source, and wondered, How had this happened?
He remembered meeting Ariana. She was nothing at first, just a subject of interest—but then suddenly she was the missing piece in Ren's life, the girl that had been missing during his years on Reach. He began to love her...he stayed at her house overnight, believing he was justified. A storm had just rolled in, Ren couldn't have walked home. But it was disobedience. Ren had left his parents in the dark—
"I'm so sorry..." he suddenly burst, and began to cry into his pillow. "I'm sor—sorry I didn't listen to you!"
Ren's parents were there with him in the hospital. He knew they were—he felt the sense of comfort and security that had been absent from him for the past two days.
"It's okay..." his mother's voice soothed, and Ren felt her hand rub his bandaged arm. Her touch spread warmth through his body...
"I went to her house...you told me to—to come home but I didn't listen!" Ren continued, his breaths growing shorter with every tear. "I should have...come home."
Ren envisioned himself in Ariana's house, completely still and quiet. He saw himself frantically searching for Ariana, then going outside and seeing the crowds of people make their migration to an unknown destination—
"It's okay, you're safe and you're going to be fine—"
"J-Jeffery..." Ren cried. "Laying there in the wreckage..."
"Who's Jeffery?" Ren's dad asked, finally speaking from his chair across the room.
Ren so vividly remembered. Carrying Jeffery back to Ariana's house, Ren had not expected anyone to occupy the home while he'd been gone. A flash, and he was on the ground, staring into those cold, ruthless alien eyes that sought to kill him—
"Howard..." Ren said, his voice muffled by the pillow that he'd dug his face into.
"Howard?" his mother repeated, baffled.
The madman had saved Ren's life. The irony sort of amused Ren, how the man had angrily hit him only a couple days before saving his life, but what was even more unbelievable was the cold-blooded murder of Ariana's parents. Howard had killed them without mercy, with the same gun he had used to kill the alien and save Ren's life.
Ren was a murderer, too. He opened his watery eyes to take in his environment: this white hospital room, this soft bed, these caring parents. Ren didn't deserve such luxuries. He deserved Hell for killing the only girl he had ever loved.
"Ren!" his mother screamed. His father sprang out of his chair and rushed to Ren's bedside.
With furious anger, Ren mauled himself. He tore and ripped at the cast the doctors had put on his arm until it lay in shreds on his lap. Then he tore open the cuts and scrapes that had been caused by the car crash—this way he would feel the pain Ariana had felt. This was his punishment, and at the same time it was his revenge against himself.
"Stop it!" Ren's father yelled over the screams of his wife. The man thrust his hands down to restrain his son. There was nothing Ren could do—his father was too powerful. Through heavy, heated breaths, Ren found himself being forced back onto his pillow.
"I killed her," Ren spoke calmly.
"If you're talking about Ariana," Ren's father said, "the nurse told—"
"I killed her!" Ren cried. He felt his throat rubbing against something that he just now noticed wrapped around his neck—a neck brace. His punishment—his revenge—could continue.
Ren's mother's screams intensified and his father let out a startled gasp as Ren twisted his neck as far back as he physically could, absorbing the excruciating pain that twisted his face in agony. He would feel Ariana's pain!
Suddenly Ren felt his muscles weaken into a jelly-like state, and his eyes drooped downward so that all he saw were the white bed sheets in front of him. At first he thought he had paralyzed or even killed himself, but then he heard a new voice in the room—
"There," the new voice said. "That sedative should work at least until his mind is at rest. You can sit down again, Mister and Missis Basely."
Ren forced himself to fight the drug and looked up at the doctor. He was a slightly older man than Ren's father, with dull blonde hair that was fading to gray and wrinkles that became apparent when he frowned at something on his clipboard.
"Ren," the doctor said, still frowning slightly, "the nurse found an interesting object in your pocket. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
Ren knew what he was talking about. He pictured the alien, looming over him like a bloodthirsty hound, wielding the glowing sword of death...
"He's just been sedated; he doesn't have the energy to answer questions!" Ren's mom exclaimed. Ren looked at her and tried to focus his eyes on her expression. She was worried—truly worried about him.
"What was the 'object,' doctor?" Ren's father asked. The man was stressed. He kept running his hand through his hair, rubbing his eyes. He was worried about Ren, too.
"We've identified it as Covenant technology, possibly a weapon—" the doctor explained.
"A weapon?" Ren's mother whispered, almost soundlessly. "But..."
"We can talk about weapons later," said Mr. Basely in a definite tone. "I want to know how my son is injured."
The doctor pulled down a white screen from the ceiling, tapped something on his computer, and a gallery of X-rays appeared on the screen. There were two columns—the first was labeled Basely, R. and displayed several images showing Ren's injuries, from the displaced bone in his neck to the fracture in his arm. But Ren already knew his own injuries very well—so he directed his attention to the column on the right, interestingly labeled Martin, A.
"Whose...pictures...are those...on the right?" Ren said through a sedated, slurring tongue.
The doctor looked at him with sympathetic eyes. "The young woman you were driving with."
Ren blinked. He thought her last name was Jiles—had it been Martin all along? No—she had told him her name was Ariana Jiles, hadn't she? Confusion filled Ren's throbbing head.
"There's a—a mistake," he said. "Her name is Jiles—not Martin."
The doctor said something, but Ren couldn't hear it. He began to feel his body succumbing to the sedation more than ever, even though he knew that he had to stay awake, in at least a sort of semi-consciousness so that he could look at the injuries Ariana had sustained—because of him. He blinked to wash away his blurry vision, and caught a glimpse of an X-ray of Ariana's neck; she had some sort of problem there as well, but it looked worse than Ren's case. Something about her skull, too—damn it! Ren had killed her, in cold blood—and the fact that her brother Jeffery wasn't on the screen at all must have meant that he was concluded dead. All Ren's fault. All his fault.
"Noo!" he screamed, slamming his fists into the bed. Screw the sedative—it had no control over him. He had control of his own body—he could kill his own body if he wanted to, or if he needed to just so that he would be even with Ariana, so that he could keep her from waiting in heaven, so that he could rise up out of this hellhole and be with her again—
Something pierced his arm. He didn't even know how much he was thrashing about until it all came to a stop when something soothing seeped into his body, calming his heart and relaxing his muscles. Ren spiraled out of consciousness once again...