A group of accidental space-travelers has to survive on a dangerous alien planet.
|Eleanor eyed the shadowy snowflakes; her head was against the glass – bumping whenever the road decided so – and her skin was burning from the cold. She was like a snow-girl: motionless, silent, lifeless and soulless.
Her physical body was sat at the back-left-side of her father's red Volkswagen, and there wasn't anything particular about the machine. All the while, as it moved Eleanor form the first irrelevant location to the next one, it filled the silence with the hum of its engine and the whoosh of the A.C. - both were sounds that couldn't actually fill anything, and made the silent feel more present. And it slid sometimes, the car, on some rougher turns they took in that snowstorm. To Eleanor, those moments felt like falling back in a chair. There is that moment there, her subconscious would whisper, that brings a great promise of better things.
Subtract the physical body, and the rest of her was lost in a boundless world of her own making. And even though that world was confined into a pineapple-sized head of ghostly skin and snow-white hair, there was always just enough room there to fit everything in the world that mattered.
Her father, for an example, mattered. So, every now and again he would reappear, and he would recite the words Eleanor could not bear to hear. And then he would again fade away, and something else would pop up: but never anything good.
It was more of a hell than a dream world, but, ever since her mother died, it was her new home.
So, Eleanor kept quiet and eyed the shadowy snowflakes; ending their existence with her breath; coming to terms with her psychopathic, new self.
The previous day ran amok in her mind, creating a word of loud, overlapping memories.
At the background, constantly, were the teachers who were yelling, and the principle with his low, psychiatrist voice, trying to maintain order.
At the foreground, sharp and eagle-focused, was Dolly. She was falling, back first, hands spread like an angel – like a snow angel.
Eleanor paused to smirk. That was her kind of humor now: the darkest.
And Dolly kept falling, an entire flight of stairs in one smooth swoop.
A slow-motion replay.
Her eyes wide with fear.
So much fear and confusion!
And a thump.
And lights out.
Dolly remained on the landing, spreading her hair in the reddest of all bloods – and not an inch of her moved.
Such a quiet. The most justified, the most deserved quiet of Eleanor's life.
And as no one had intervened, she knew right away that either there was no God, or her actions had been divinely approved. She was in the right, no matter other people's opinions.
New Elanor had emerged from the pathetic shadow of the last one. And it felt good.
The car pushed forward, blasting frozen water into the ditches – always the same way. Hours had become irrelevant. Darkness had consumed all. At some point they would reach a destination, she knew, but that wouldn't solve anything. It was her father's method of curing madness: but the method was a fool's errand. Eleanor was too far gone. A clearer perspective of a nowhere hunting cabin could not bring a dead girl back to life. She was now that other thing – and that's just how it was. In fact, the new Eleanor felt very certain that she had outgrown her life, and it was time for her to move on, to make her own psychopathic way.
So, she kept eyeing those snowflakes, not looking for answers, but dwelling in her own conviction. And she barely reacted when the car started to slow down.
What did it matter why they stopped? Sometimes things just stop, she would have thought, were there more than Dolly on her mind.
The car kept losing speed, then turned to the right, and then came to a full stop. Most of the button lights went out with the engine, and the hum was replaced by a much more piercing alarm, calling on you not to leave your keys in the ignition. But even that died down a moment later: it was just silence then.
"Do you want something to eat?" Her father asked, his voice was as cold as a seasoned prison warden's. It was a familiar tone, and though she would not admit it, not even to herself, it punctured Eleanor's heart: even now, when she was stronger.
She considered an answer, lips closed, head still against the glass and eyes on the snowflakes, which had grown almost extinct; and decided not to give one. What was there left to say? Words were useless – they couldn't save her, or her father.
Then a door opened, allowing the cold to enter, and win the swiftest battle against the heat.
Her father, named John, continued his monologue: he was more of a judge now than a warden. "You have to eat."
Eleanor's muscles did not move. Eyes still on the outside, she could see his father exit the car, take a few steps forward, then stop and turn, and then roll back like a tank, pulling Eleanor's door open, almost dropping her into the snow.
He then commanded, a warlord now – he had no patience left. "Now! Eleanor!"
Eleanor's dim and dead, lazily dramatic, eyes moved upward. And when her lips parted, her voice was almost too fragile to be heard over the wind. "I'm not hungry."
John, the father, paused for some effect, or to shape-shift into another character Eleanor had no desire to witness, and replied with more honey, but still barking mad. "Of course you are." He was a psychic now, thinking he knew Eleanor better than she knew herself.
Eleanor let her eyes fall back down; she felt tired and weakly and angered by the exchange she knew would lead them nowhere.
"I'm not." She still mumbled, voice growing even weaker, reaching the levels of the terminally ill.
Her father's foot scuffed the snow, and for a moment his lips pushed together as if they were a dam holding back a flood of words that could never be taken back. But much like with water, all it takes is a crack. And John's words squeezed themselves through his teeth. "We have a long road ahead of us. You'll get hungry."
Eleanor's eyes rolled. Not to annoy him, not to make things worse. It just happened – and it felt so good. It was as if when she rolled she rebelled. And every inch of her desired to rebel. "I don't care."
A silence followed, relative; nothing has stopped the wind from blowing or quieted the almost graspable low rhythmic thump of the diner housing the nourishment John so desperately wished his daughter to devour.
He had locked in place, a life-like sculpture of ice.
And then the iceman's head started shaking, and his fingers formed fists, and then, much like a dragon, his lips blew a ball of fire. "You don't care? Huh? Well! How nice for you, not to care. Just go around doing whatever you want, huh? Hurting whoever you want? That's what you're like now, yes?"
Eleanor could not breathe, on her instinct she hunched away, growing her armor, letting the daggers bounce off her iron skin. There was nothing more to be said. That was it. That was the last firefight. He could never understand. And even if he could, he would not.
"You could be in prison right now, you know that? Can you understand that?" He turned into a rhino, thumping his feet in the snow, digging himself into the desert powder. "MY DAUGHTER pushed another girl down the stairs! She could have died!"
Armor again cold and fresh, Eleanor allowed a sigh – and again she rolled her eyes. She could not have cared less about the recovery of Dolly.
"You don't listen. I just don't know... I look at you, and I CAN'T seem my daughter. What happened to her? If only you're mother were alive..."
And with that, John warped into a warlock. He had spoken the forbidden word and summoned a darkness no light could escape from. It was a demon, and it overtook Eleanor's body. Her blood went boiling, as hot as it was in the hell the demon sprawled from. And it came with a vision so clear the advocates of the devil could not talk their way around it. "WHO SAID I WANT TO BE YOUR DAUGHTER?" She demanded.
The snow still blew. The thump of the music's drum still sounded. And John, the father, stared at his psychopathic daughter as if seeing her for the first time.
They had no words left to say. Their breaths were smoke, their looks were ice, their ground was without structure, and their love – it was a distant memory.
And then John turned from his daughter, and he thump-thumped away, leaving Eleanor to wipe the tears from her face.
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