Manette first appeared on Glass Cases back in June with a sci-fi short story, Thief of Souls. She is a senior in college in South Dakota, preparing for a move east to Pennsylvania after she graduates.
A Touch of Madness
By Manette Eaton
After a couple hours, Gliane got out of bed and turned on the light. She still needed something to put in Ivefrid’s capsule and had no idea what to send with him. If she had been allowed back to Zup she’d have been able to come up with something.
Gliane tried to think of all the things they did together when they were kids. She wanted desperately to give him something, let him know how sorry she was. There was nothing though.
She froze. There was nothing in her room.
Gliane hurried down to the basement and boarded the Manlin. She didn’t turn it on because she didn’t want it asking if she was okay again. Anyway, they’d talk soon. She’d have to go back to Zup eventually since she was no longer welcome on District One.
She did turn on a light though and jumped into the cargo hold. There were boxes of things Gliane had collected while traveling with her father and a few things Ivefrid had sent her from Treya. Those she was keeping. There was something very specific that Gliane was looking for. She was sure that it was here. It had been a special thing from a very special day. She had gotten in the habit a while ago of keeping the things that meant the most to her on the Manlin. It would make escape easier if the opportunity ever came up.
Finally, she found it. A feather from the wild lakrin she and Ivefrid caught when they were children. Ivefrid had taken one as a souvenir too but she didn’t know what had happened to his.
Gliane put the panel back over the cargo hold and turned out the lights then went back to her room. The feather was still in great condition. Gliane had taken it out a few times over the years to check on it before finally figuring out how to preserve it properly. That day catching the lakrin had been one of the few when she and Ivefrid had worked together on something and didn’t tell on each other. They had stuck together the way siblings were supposed to.
She set the feather on her dresser. After a quick look at the clock, Gliane decided she might as well get ready. For this, she’d be able to go barefoot, but it was her brother’s funeral and she wanted to honor him in every way that she could think of. That was what they had done when her mother’s father had died. Gliane barely remembered that funeral though and Ivefrid hadn’t even been born yet. It was the only other funeral Gliane had been to and she hadn’t known the man very well either. He had been sick in his last years so Gliane was kept away.
In the closet Gliane pulled out a white vest with silver thread and trimmings. She put it on then looked for the matching skirt. There should be one in there but Gliane was having trouble finding it. Her mother had sent too many clothes the first time. It always annoyed Gliane how her mother was always thinking about every possible outcome and planning for them all.
Gliane doubted that this had been one of the outcomes she considered when packing Gliane’s things and sending them to District One.
After moving completely into the closet, Gliane finally found the skirt she was looking for. White with silver trim, just like the vest. She put it on then examined herself in the mirror. That would work. She took her hair down and brushed it out. It would stay down for this.
After checking the clock again, Gliane took the feather and left her room. She walked down the hall and stopped in front of one of the doors near the end and knocked.
It took a little while before Drelee opened the door. She looked mildly surprised to see Gliane and said, “Are you alright?”
Gliane shook her head so slightly the motion was almost imperceptible. “Will you stay with me?” She asked.
“Of course,” Drelee said. “Why don’t you come in? I’m almost done getting ready then we’ll head out together.”
Gliane went in and stood uncomfortably near the door while Drelee went to her own closet and pulled out a vest and skirt. Hers were a very dark blue but also had silver trim. But Drelee hadn’t lost a relative, she wouldn’t wear white.
When Drelee finished with her own preparations, she squeezed Gliane’s hand and asked softly, “Are you ready?”
Gliane nodded and they went back into the hall.
Gliane couldn’t remember District One ever being this quiet. Even in the middle of the night, there was always something that needed to be done. No one ever stopped working.
Except tonight. In respect to the families who would be launching their dead, everything had ceased to happen in District One.
Only the families of those who died- the Representatives and the remaining Successors- would attend the funerals. It was better that way to keep things quiet. The last thing the mourners wanted to deal with were a lot of citizens telling them how sorry they were for their losses.
Gliane almost wished she didn’t have to attend. She was so ashamed of what she had done to her brother. True, he had asked her and he had been in so much pain, but if it hadn’t been for her, he would have been left alone. Even Dr. Reptid had said so. The only reason he kidnapped Ivefrid was to manipulate Gliane and she fell right into his trap. She had tried to go against what he wanted but he was a master manipulator. All he needed was for her to be angry enough and lash out at the first guard who touched her.
Many of the attendees were already waiting outside and the rest were just arriving like Gliane and Drelee. Drelee squeezed Gliane’s hand and didn’t let go. They stood on the opposite side of Gliane’s parents.
Four egg shaped capsules lay side by side. They were all open but empty. The four bodies lay beside them in white shrouds that covered everything but their faces. All had been successfully preserved to wait for this day.
Yarid stepped forward first with his wife and lifted Jiden into one of the capsules. They lay their gifts in beside him. Gliane flinched when the door shut and locked.
Next, Mishna and her husband put Ifren into his capsule. Both were sobbing openly, their last child being sent into the sky.
Gliane gripped Drelee’s hand tighter. Another hand lightly touched her back and when Gliane looked around, she saw Miztru. He looked at her sadly then nodded at her parents who had already stepped forward.
Gliane took a deep breath and crossed the empty expanse of soft grass to where her brother’s capsule lay. Her father lifted Ivefrid’s body into the capsule. Gliane stood back while her parents left their gifts. Her mother never turned around. It was unclear if she even knew Gliane was there. Last, Gliane approached the capsule, twisting the feather nervously. She crouched next to the capsule and put it beside her brother. Her mother must have brought some things from home because some of Ivefrid’s charts and equipment lay beside him too. Gliane brushed the tears away, kissed Ivefrid’s cold forehead, and closed the capsule. The door clicked shut and a slight echo vibrated in the air as she locked it. Gliane couldn’t bring herself to turn around when she heard the sobs behind her. Somehow, Gliane got back to her place beside Drelee and Miztru who hugged her tightly.
Xide put Bera into the final capsule. Gliane listened to the last click of the lock. He stepped back into the crowd again.
Jiden’s family stepped forward again and picked up his capsule. They set it on a sturdy stand and set it to launch then stepped back again. The capsule glowed red and shot into the sky. All eyes were on it as it flew toward the stars and exploded. Sparks of red and orange splashed against the sky.
Ifren’s family went next. They clutched each other tightly as their capsule exploded. Gliane wondered where all the little sparks and pieces ended up.
When Gliane’s parents advanced again, she moved forward. Her father looked at her and waved her back. She was too shocked to do anything but obey.