Cold Dead Places
Xena blinked hard. Her eyes were dry and cold. Slowly her vision cleared and her body started to have feeling. She was lying on a cold metal table and the cold had seeped into her bones. Above her was a bank of florescent lights; the kind that you would find in a warehouse. The walls that she could see without moving her head were white and featureless. Her other senses began to awaken. From her left she heard the faint sound of someone breathing. It was shallow and labored. It was female. She recognized the rhythm. Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut and willed her tear ducts to moisten them. Her fingertips felt the cold metal slab that she laid upon long before the rest of her body. She clawed at it unintentionally when she sucked in a long painful breath. Her lungs felt like they had been dipped in glass. The sound of her own breathing sounded harsh and loud in her head. Gradually she forced herself to take shallow breaths. When she did her ears caught the sound of someone on her right. She listened for only a moment or two before she realized that she knew who owned that breathing pattern. Without looking; both women slid their hands from beneath the thin sheet that covered them and found each other’s hands across the twelve or so empty inches that separated them. They clamped down tightly to the hand of the other.
“Gabrielle” Xena’s voice was rough and clearing her throat only brought a spasm of pain.
“Xena” Gabrielle’s voice was barely above a whisper.
In answer they both squeezed each other’s hands slightly. Xena tried to look at her partner and found it very difficult. Her neck was stiff. As a matter of fact her entire body was stiff.
Gabrielle was trying the same maneuver and found the same condition in her body. She immediately started to practice some Yoga exercises that would help her body to become more limber. Xena was employing her own kind of Yoga on her body. It took several minutes but it wasn’t long before Xena sat slowly up on her metal table and a moment later Gabrielle also achieved a seated position.
They turned to look atone another and as one they groaned when they saw the face of the other.
“Well, at least I know why I feel like I was dead.” Xena croaked.
“Did we get killed again or did we pop into corpses?” Gabrielle actually sounded as if she might be sick.
Their faces were both pale and tinged in blue. But they were definitely in descendants as they looked a lot like they had when they had been alive. Gabrielle’s hair was short and blond and her eyes were hazel and Xena’s hair was longer and dark and her eyes were steel blue.
They both sat on their cold metal tables and thought for a good minute before Gabrielle finally spoke again. “I remember being in our house. We had stayed up all night… talking…right?”
“Yah, and then I remember lying down on the carpet in front of the couch. I couldn’t figure out why I was suddenly so tired. But I remember pulling you close to me.” She threw her legs over the table and nearly lost her sheet. She grabbed it and pulled it over her shoulders. “We fell asleep.”
Gabrielle had also thrown her legs over the table edge but she had gotten a good grip on her sheet beforehand. “I remember that I was suddenly so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I lay down on the rug and I remember you pulling me close… and that’s all. I don’t even remember dreaming much. I just remember feeling your arm around me.” She was shaking her head minutely.
“So my guess is that we popped into some corpses.” Xena said bluntly. “They were young and nice looking and this one is in really good shape… or she was. I wonder what killed them. I don’t see any marks on my body or on yours.” Xena pulled the sheet away and motioned for Gabrielle to look at her back for any marks. Gabrielle shook her head and asked Xena to make the same examination of her back.
“By the feel of my lungs, I might guess that it had something to do with breathing.” Gabrielle looked out at the rest of the room where many more bodies were covered by pristine white sheets. There were at least twenty bodies in the room besides them and one wall of the room was covered in body lockers. There was no telling how many more might be sequestered in the lockers.
Xena had been following her gaze and her train of thought. “It looks like it might have been some kind of accident. But what kind of accident doesn’t leave a mark on the body?”
“Dangerous fumes or poison. That might explain the feeling in my lungs. Is there anything else but you in your head?” Gabrielle’s voice was getting stronger but shortly after speaking she broke out in a coughing spasm. She spit something on the floor that she had brought up from her lungs. It was orange and black in color and it had tasted rank. She and Xena stared at it for a moment before they both started hacking deliberately trying to dislodge more of whatever that had been. They were quite successful and they both made quite a pile of nasty orange and black gunk but they were nice enough to put it all into some trays that they had found. The first clump still sat on the floor where Gabrielle had hacked it.
They could feel when their lungs were clear of the offending mixture. They both took long, deep cleansing breaths and then blew their noses into the sheets. More black and orange crap came from their noses. They kept blowing until it was all out. A few deep breaths later and the color of their skin began to return to pink.
They slid off of the tables and began to explore the room. In their roaming they found a sink and once their lungs and sinuses were clear they began to wretch in turns into the sink. More strangely colored fluid emerged but not much; once their stomachs were purged, another round of nose blowing ensued. They turned on the water in the sink and they both snorted water into their sinus cavities and leaned their heads back to rinse them completely. With each purging their skin took on amore lifelike color. Finally after a lot of strange and unappetizing sounds the two women felt as if they had gotten everything out that they could.
A cupboard on one side of the room had a large supply of sheets to which they helped themselves. Soon they were both sporting mostly pink skin and white togas. They turned to appraise the look of the other. “You look alright now.” Xena said with a grin.
“You too. I guess we answered the manner of death question. It looks like some kind of poison.” Gabrielle was pulling the small knots out of her hair with her fingers.
“Yah, it does… in answer to your previous question… I seem to be alone in here. But there’s a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have before. How about you?”
“I’m on my own too and like yours my body is in great shape and there’s a lot of knowledge in here.” Gabrielle was twisting her neck in circles. “Except for this crick in my neck this woman was in excellent shape. I wonder if she broke her neck somewhere along the way. But all in all… it’s not bad for late twenties to early thirties.”
Xena smiled, it was clear that she agreed with Gabrielle’s assessment both for Gabrielle’s body and her own. “Well, what say we find out where and when we are?” Xena pointed at the door near the back of the room.
“And who these bodies once belonged to.” Gabrielle added. She for one would be glad to be out of this refrigerated room. The floor was cold and her toes were still numb.