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Aug 21, 2019 3:03 AM
fuchsias and palatinates in all night laundry
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-Shit. Ant does eir best to catch Bina, and lower her to the floor. Ey pulls off eir jumper to wad up as a pillow, tucking it under the woman's head.


Bina remains unconscious and bleeding.

And then - 

Bina's Dream: Age 6

 Bina is six-and-a-quarter years old. She's visiting her grandmother in Hyderabad.

Grandma is cool. She has a cane and a cigar and used to work in the newspaper so she knows all the stories.

Bina is drawing. A special drawing. Don't worry, she'll be able to finish it.

She has plenty of green crayons after all.

It's just her and her grandma and her friend Ant right now. Her parents are sleeping.

Tomorrow Bina and her grandmother will talk about stories. Grandma will tell her lots while they sit on the bus with the open roof and look at the buildings.

But not now.

Now's for talking about monsters.


Ant leans close, eager to see what Bina's drawing. Bina's better at drawing than Ant is.


"No peaking," says the kid, hunching over her drawing. "It's not done yet!"

"Your mother says you've been scared and haven't been sleeping, Little Bean," the grandmother says.

Bina ducks her head, hoping her grandmother will go back to the crossword.

But her grandmother continues - "Are you afraid you'll get sick again?"

Bina shakes her head, then says - "There's monsters. At night. I know they're not real, but they're gonna get me..."

"Oh, Little Bean, who told you monsters aren't real? They are."

(Mom and grandma will fight about that all afternoon.)

(But this is later in that conversation, before the fight. Bina's done drawing. She's sitting on an armchair with her grandmother.)

"How do you prepare for the monsters, grandma?" Bina asks.

"Don't second guess yourself, Little Bean. Pay attention to what's around you, and don't listen to people saying it's all fine. If you think you're in trouble, you probably are."

Bina nods. And opens her picture, letting grandma and Ant see it.

It's a funny little monster. Scrunched up. Because it's in a bunch of places at a bunch of times, little Bina explains.


It's cool, but also terrifying. And Bina needs to be ready, and needs to know that not everything is fine. (Ira never lied to Ant, not about the important things.) So Ant won't lie to Bina. (Ant would like Bina to actually wake up.)


"I think I'm in trouble. Right now. Really, really bad trouble," little Bina says, she doesn't know whether to her grandma or Ant.

Grandma says she knows.

"Can you help grandma? You always know what to do..."

"No, Little Bean, not this time. Remember? Granny's dead. Nine years from now, of a stroke.



"Is there a magic charm for the monsters?"

"No Little Bean.

"No magic charms or spells. There are no shortcuts for monsters, not the real ones. Real monsters are beaten the hard way or not at all. By being faster or smarter or luckier or better prepared than they are."


That makes sense.

Bina starts to tear up.

"Oh Little Bean, don't cry. There's no time for crying now."

She holds out her scarf then, red with a faint pattern of flowers.

Bina takes it -

And wakes up.


"Oh thank fuck! I thought you were gonna die on me there." (Ey's shaking slightly. There was a lot of blood.)


There still is a lot of blood. Bina's sort of lying in a puddle of it.

She tries to sit up, and her arm spikes into a sharp agony. She tries to cradle her arm, but that just jostles the thing piercing her. Her vision goes grey before steadying out. Kind of.

A wire's trailing from the not-TV, threading through her palm and then her forearm near her elbow. There's a jagged end sticking a few inches out of her forearm.

The wire's rubbery and wrong, humming against the bones of her wrist and worming into her teeth.

"I - I need to get this out - " she says, trying to keep her voice steady.

Touching the wire hurts, but it doesn't pass through her hand.

Her shirt won't make good bandages. Her jeans would be even worse. She doesn't really feel comfortable asking someone she just met if she can borrow eir clothes.


Her grandmother's scarf is beside her.

(She tries not to think too hard about that.)

"Can you tear the scarf in two? I'll need a bandage of some kind..." Bina says, taking a few deep breaths. She isn't panicking. She's kind of gone past that.


"Yeah. Yeah. I can do that." And ey does, seeming a little less shaky for having something to do.


"Thanks. ...You, uh, might want to look away."


-Yeah. That's a good idea. Ant closes eir eyes.


And Bina grabs the central length of wire, taking three deep breaths and then yanking. It jerks out of her arm, a spurt of blood following behind it, and she ties the first bandage with her teeth and free hand.

Now. Now comes the hard part.

She has to go slow. The wire's touching the delicate bones of her wrist, and there's a lot more of it.

She starts to pull... And has to stop, panting and shaking, only a third of the way through.

She glances over at the couch people, but they're too far away to help, and she really doesn't want to bother Ant for this, she can tell when someone has a phobia.

Bina. Is going to have to just tough it out.

Her head feels barely tethered to her body as she continues pulling.

She has to stop again, then realizes she hadn't been breathing and sucks in a few quick breaths through her teeth.

Almost there. Only six inches left. Hardly anything, really.

She tightens her grip, pulls, and keeps pulling -

And the wire comes free.

She tosses it away from her, ignoring the wet slithering sound as it hits the cobblestones, and ties the second bandage in place. She can't get it very tight, and the scarf's rapidly soaked through with blood.

Bina wants to rest, but she's too close to the not-TV. She can feel it like the vibration in the air near an active power line. 

Bina gets up, back firmly to the not-TV, and says, "Ant? I'm done. I - could use some help moving away."

(She isn't convinced she won't fall over if left to her own devices.)


Ant opens eir eyes, and pointedly doesn't look at Bina's arm. "Sure, here, let me-" Ey shifts to the side opposite the injury and carefully wraps on arm around Bina's waist to help her up.



Bina's pretty tiny, and does try not to lean too hard on Ant, but there's some shuffling and stumbling involved as Bina approaches the couch people. Behind the couch seems like a good place to rest.

"You didn't come in the same way, did you?" asks the man on the couch as they make their slow way over.

Bina squints blearily at him. "No...?"

The woman sighs. "I'm Sun-ja Hyung. This is Grandimir Petrovich, the laundromat owner. You weren't grabbed by that woman?"

Bina considers shaking her head. She's probably too unsteady. "No? There was a woman in the laundromat but she left. I... Need to sit down..." Her feet feel increasingly far away, and she barely manages to stumble the last few steps, even with Ant's help.


Ant glances sideways at the mention of the woman, and slowly helps Bina sit down behind the couch. "I mean. I didn't come that way either," ey points out. (But ey was here before the others.)


"So. What? This's some kind of weird afterlife tied to the laundromat? Something weirder? ...I think I need water. And sugar. I'm. Dizzy."

Sun-ja and Grandimir are meanwhile starting to argue about what the not-TV even is. Sun-ja thinks an alien. Grandimir thinks that's ridiculous. Bina tunes them out.


Ant looks around, trying to see if there's anything ey can find that has sugar and liquid to help replace some of the liquid Bina's lost.


There's piles of sugar beets over through an iron gate, and a tap on one wall near it with a bucket full of some kind of black tarry stuff under it.


Well. Ey's already dead. Can't get any worse right. Ey turns the tap on to see what comes out.


More black tarry stuff. Smells faintly sweet. There's a label in French above the tap - "thick juice."


Ey swipes a finger through it and tastes it - is it drinkable?


It's sickly sweet and tastes faintly similar to blood, and is probably too thick to outright drink, but it does seem edible.


Well. It's the best ey's got without trying to get to those beets. Ey carries the bucket back to Bina. "If you'd prefer sugar beets I can try to get those..."


"...Ugh, no. Thanks." She tries the syrup and makes a face - it's overwhelmingly sweet to her, and tastes jarringly metallic. "...I might try exploring some. There might be other food? It - those're latin letters on that smokestack over there. People built this place once. There - there's got to be something." She doesn't sound convinced of it, but she doesn't particularly want to try raw sugar beet or the weird tasting syrup until she's desperate.


More desperate.


"Wanna hand?" Ant offers. "I'm apparently a pretty good crutch?"

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