"It's so nice that we could get out to this little coffee shop again, Dmitri." Misha said and then sipped foul water from a rusted can.
She looked across the battle scared table at an empty chair that was pushed out form the table to allow it's nonexistent occupant space. Misha had set the only cup she could find in the abandoned shop in front of the empty chair. She glanced at the cup expecting it to levitate to her late husband's unseen lips. A phony smile appeared on her face, and quickly vanished before she drank. The chair creaked under her as She shyly fidgeted while listening to Dmitri explain some excellent figures: these numbers likely had something to do with his father's business. The information went in one of her ears and out the other, though, it was really only in her head. Misha either nodded or smiled whenever her husband showed delight in a particular number, even the little decimals that to her seemed odd to be excited over. She did not bring this point up or ask what any of the numbers or acronyms meant; instead she congratulated him on his success and then stared at a wall where his eyes would have been if he had survived that day.
Misha wrapped a mauve and pulsing tendril around her leg nervously. She looked over at the counter that minutes ago she had placed an order at; part of the bottom had been blasted off it. Misha knew the cashier who stood behind the counter a month ago, a chubby girl named Mindy. The weight did not flatter her in Misha's opinion, but now she was not plump at all. Mindy was just a heap of bones behind the counter that scavengers, human or otherwise, had picked clean weeks ago. While she reminisced a tingling sensation in Misha's stomach made it's presence known. As it gained intensity the world around her became clearer which only worsened the feeling.
Misha scanned a wall that was half covered by a creeper in an attempt to distract herself from the awful sensation in her gut. The plant had bound up a few shelves and paintings of freshly brewed coffee in mugs. At random points tiny star-like glowing flowers sprouted from the vine attracting a swarm of gnats. The sparse shining flowers reminded her of the night sky before the city was ruined. One of the few things Misha appreciated about the war was how beautiful the night sky had become without the city lights stifling the stars. Some nights she could see other galaxies and would wonder to herself if there was anything out in the cosmos as hideous as her. Then some abomination would hobble by on uneven legs and she would not feel so horribly alone in the world.
The sensation had come back with force and was quickly spreading through her legs making them shiver, but Misha kept her composer as best as she could. Misha looked through a hole in the ceiling, it was noon. The sun was half hidden behind a distant expanse of beaten skyscrapers. The light was glaring off of the few windows still attached to the tall buildings. Misha lifted her massive sausage of an arm to shield her eyes. The limb was a deathly shade of grey, riddled with lumps and bleeding patches wear the skin had been torn away in some scuffle for survival. She stared at her own arm as if it was the first time she had seen the grotesque limb. Her stomach sank as the tingling feeling spread to all parts of her body. Misha could feel the world closing in on her as she stared at her arm. It was a terrifying sensation: a medley of awful emotions that left her eyes wide and mind blank. Something clicked in Misha's head and pulled her a little ways out of the mental void. This something was Dmitri demanding that they leave for a business related gathering were she was to serve as eye candy. Misha made a small sound in the bottom of her throat attempting to agree. She heard her dead husband command her again. She turned around expecting to see him, but their was nothing. She was looking through a destroyed wall and into the distance of the war ravaged city, a city that once lead the world in amazing science and the business that grew with it, but was now a disease ridden corpse. Misha tried to swallow the lump in her throat, but she felt tears in spite of her efforts. Dmitri spoke again, but it was distant and garbled with only the harsh tone of his voice recognizable.
"You're dead Dmitri!" Misha screamed through sobs. "Dead!"
Misha dashed out of the coffee shop in a random direction.
"I shouldn't be hearing you!" she shouted.
As Misha ran blindly through the streets her massive swollen arms dragged behind her snagging on upturned pavement and twisted metal. She stopped running only when the pain in her bare feet became unbearable. Misha pulled her monstrous limbs into eyesight. They were gashed and bleeding, but Misha hardly felt the pain. She lifted her wounded arms which writhed with a mind of their own.
"I shouldn't look like this." she said while breathing heavily.
Misha felt a sudden fury fill her body. She stood and bellowed inhumanly and then slammed her bloated arm into a mail drop box with all the might her exhausted body could muster. The box flew from where it was bolted to the side walk while spraying month old letters into the air.
With the rage and sorrow out of her system Misha was able to notice she had done something stupid. She could hear things scuttling around just out of eyesight; hungry things. They had heard her fit and smelled her blood. They were circling and closing in on her from the front, sides and rear. The things came into view: horrible, ugly, disgusting, savage creatures like herself. They wanted to kill her; she knew this, but it confused her. She was the same as them, but they still wanted to eat her. Even as one of the monsters tore into her hump, she felt as if she belonged with them, as one of the mob. She tore the monster off her back and held it before her. Like her it had been human at one point. She stared into its empty black eyes with her own pleading ones. A second creature leapt onto Misha's back. She felt a pressure around her neck and dropped her brethren to try and pry it off, but she was too tired to resist. Misha fell to her knees with the great weight on her back. She collapsed under its mass as the life was sapped from her by its jaws.
"Please," she begged her kind one last time. She then shut her eyes and perceived nothing.
Misha found her self dashing towards home with a blurry and colorful wall on her left. The wall was shouting and panicked as muffled blasts came from with in the city surrounding her. At its end the wall began breaking apart into the individual people that formed it which is where Misha stopped at the entrance to an apartment complex. Do to her urgency in getting home she found the door to her apartment on the second floor instead of the seventh. She flung open the weightless door and rushed into the room. There were two bodies on the floor, but Misha could hardly make them out; she did not want to. She willed her eyes shut. Her body was moving on it's own, as if possessed. Even without the use of her eyes she mad her way to the nightstand. She tried to stop or make herself collapse, but despite her efforts she arrived at the stand. She felt herself pull open the top drawer slowly. She knew what was in it without looking. Misha felt her fingers wrap around something cold and slender. The object was brought to her forehead against her will.
"No." Someone said. It came from beneath her.
A hand wrapped around Misha's leg. She opened her eyes from the shock.
"I want you to see." Dmitri said and then tightened his grip on Misha's leg. He was in his best suit that now had a slowly growing blood stain across the chest.
Misha then saw that the man grabbing her leg was not her husband, but instead a man with skin as black as oil.
"Now shoot." He said.
Misha felt a pressure on her forehead and woke up. That had been the first time Misha had dreamt in over a week. It was also the first time she slept for more than a half-hour at a time since fending for herself. She quickly put the nightmare out of her mind and tried to open her eyes, but they would not cooperate; the same was true for the rest of her body. She then noticed she was moving, but at the same time was not on her feet. She heard something being dragged through across the ground and then felt her head bounce off another rock. She made the connection: she was being pulled across the ground by something.
With her eyes closed and body mostly numb Misha's mind felt safe to drift. The even pace of her body moving over the wet grass was like blowing along the water on a boat, but the salty smell of ocean was missing. That scent had been with her since birth and it's absence was unnerving. The aroma was like the background music in department stores: nobody really cared for it's droning, but at the same time the store felt barren and lifeless without it. Misha was never fond of the salty air that accompanied island living. It lead to year round chapped lips and nose bleeds at the most inconvenient times. She remembered cursing the scientists who could make frog-cats, but not eradicate the loathsome nosebleeds that plagued the island's inhabitants.
Misha's eyes opened just wide enough so that she could see the world was moving away from her. This brought her back into reality. Her eyelids felt like they were weighed down, but she forced them open. There was grass and unfamiliar kinds of trees slowly moving into the distance. Misha felt as one of her tendrils twined around something by it's own will. This something felt metallic. The tendril then crept up what Misha thought was a leg until it touched smooth, warm flesh. Alarmed, the leg kicked and shook to dislodge the rogue tendril. Without putting up a fight the slithering appendage fell to the ground and was then stomped on. It then slowly retracted back into Misha's arm like a poked slug's eye.
"The tranquilizers are wearin' off boss." A rough male voice said.
"Leave it hear then. We don't need it going ape-shit before we can get it in a cell." This second voice was even grittier than the last.
Misha's legs fell to the ground. After some awkward and exhausting maneuvering of her grounded body she could clearly see the two that had been dragging her. Both were bulky, brutish-looking humans, neither of whom wore a shirt which exposed their bizarrely colored skin: one was a sickly green and the other a watery blue. The green man had a leg and arm replaced by mechanical prosthetics. They were both heading towards a long neglected city while discussing something. Misha struggled to her feet and then leaned on her horribly outsized arms to avoid collapsing.
Misha felt like she was floating while she stood on a hill and swayed in the wind like a sapling. A monochrome grey smog hung over the ruined city, but it was obvious that the place had not seen any normal bustle in years. This city had few building more than seven stories tall and most were built of brick and wood. The disheveled appearance of the place reminded Misha of home even without the salty air, palm trees and ferocious beasts.
Misha stood in silence as she scanned the city like a hungry vulture. She could see houses and stores that were missing boards and bricks. Few of the buildings she could see had intact windows and many of them had their doors beat in. This was not the destruction of war, but looting. She thought about it and decided that a riot of some sort had occurred and was quelled, but the city looked like it had been abandoned for more than a few weeks. As Misha made attempts at piecing together the cities history she could hear Dmitri mumbling in the back of her mind. She tuned into his voice. He was talking about leaving their parents's home together and finding an apartment of their own. As she listened to Dmitri continue talking she could feel the drugs's effects begin to take hold of her again. She yawned and her eyelids began to sag. Misha wanted nothing more than to find someplace dark and quite to sleep while the drugs ran their course.
"Well," Misha began. Dmitri was discussing a flawless strategy for lowering the monthly rent of a fancy apartment, but it was Misha's duty to decide where in the city they would live.
"That seems like a fine place to live, don't you agree?" Misha said as she lazily gestured to a general area in the decrepit city before her.
Dmitri agreed and then enthusiastically began estimating costs and strategizing for the haggling to come.
Misha nodded and carefully made her way down the hill on wobbly legs. It was nearing twilight and the sky behind her had changed to cheery hues of pinks, purples and oranges. Over the city though, thick cobalt colored clouds had begun to role in, slowly covering the bright sky. It was going to storm soon, and violently. Misha stumbled down the last of the hill as the first distant boom of thunder sounded. Just as she managed to reach the paved city streets the rain began; it was an instant downpour. Misha moved as fast as her exhausted body would allow her and found the remains of a general store. She pried open the busted automatic doors not wanting to brave the jagged glass shards that lined them. Misha lurched past empty shelves while stepping on papers and boxes that had been tossed to the floor by pillagers. Her search brought her behind the counter of the built in pharmacy. All the medicine had been taken leaving a wall high shelve filled of empty drawers that hung out of place. Misha noticed a door leading to the stock room for the pharmacy. She opened it gently and peered into the small space. The dim closet was filled with boxes of various sizes that were covered in brand names she did not recognize. Misha closed the door behind her making the stock room dark as night. She sat down and leaned against a stack of boxes. She was asleep a moment later.