Carpathia III: Episode 64 - Meltdown


The Outlands, Nita's House

Though the nightmares persisted, Jaze was finding it easier to rise at a more suitable hour with each passing day. Nita's food was already making a noticable change to his body. His skin was smoother and more supple and his body looked less bony. Spending his days doing odd jobs for Nita and Jacob helped keep his mind from the nightmares and the compound.

Jaze slid groggily out of bed and slipped on his clothes as the smell of Nita's cooking wafted through the tattered curtain separating his room from the kitchen. Brushing the curtain aside, he found Nita cooking breakfast and Aten cracking eggs into a large, black skillet.

Jaze: I'll get the plates.

Nita replied without looking up from her frypans.

Nita: Thank you, dear.

Jaze rounded the table to the sideboard where the plates were neatly stacked. Nita continued nudging the meat in her pan while Aten clumsily flipped his eggs, breaking the yolks.

Jaze: Is Ryuu eating with us?

Nita: He already took a piece of meat and left. He said he was going get himself cleaned up in the river.

A bath sounded nice and Jaze thought he would go to the river and do the same. He took three plates from the stack and placed them on the table behind him. As Nita and Aten continued cooking, Jaze arranged the table nicely with utensils and ceramic cups.

As Jaze finished, Nita removed her pan from the fire and scooped a hearty portion of meat onto each of the plates. Aten followed suit with the now-scrambled eggs. Aten could barely hold the heavy, iron skillet and it wobbled in his hands as he clumsily scooped the eggs onto the plates. By some miracle, Aten never dropped the skillet and, when he was done, placed it back onto the stove.

With the cooking complete, everyone took a seat at the table and began to eat. Conversation was on mundane topics, mostly centering around the day's chores. Jaze's attention faded in and out several times as he slowly ate his meal, frequently taking time to absentmindedly push his meat around his plate. On a few occasions, so engrossed as he was in daydreaming, he was startled when a question was posed to him directly.

Nita and Aten finished before Jaze and, as Nita stood, Jaze stuffed the last of his meal into his mouth quickly.

Nita: I'm going to tend the flowers. I trust you two can clean up?

Jaze: No problem. I can do the washing if Aten brings me the dishes.

Aten: Okay!

Nita left everything on the table and stepped over to her shoes by the door.

Nita: I'll be right outside if you need me.

Nita slipped on her shoes and strolled out the door, leaving Jaze and Aten by themselves. Jaze picked up his plate and took it to the sink. After plugging the drain, he took a bucket of water from the counter and poured it inside.

Jaze took a rag and began wiping his plate. As he did so, Aten began piling dirty dishes on the counter next to him. All went smoothly for only a few moments.

*Crash*

The sound hit Jaze like a gunshot and he gasped as he jumped, dropping the fork that he was scrubbing. As he clutched his chest and took deep breaths, he spun around to see Aten sheepishly standing over the shattered remains of the cup that he just dropped.

Jaze: You clumsy idiot! Watch what you're doing!

Right away, Jaze regretted the words that he just said. In horror, he watched as Aten's eyes became glassy and a tear rolled down his cheek.

Jaze: Aten, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean...

Before Jaze could finish, Aten suddenly began sobbing as he ran towards the front door.

Aten: WAAAAAAAAHHH! Nita! Jaze yelled at me!

Jaze's legs suddenly felt wobbly and weak. He propped himself against the sink in order to keep from collapsing on the floor. Outside, he could hear the muffled sounds of Aten crying to Nita. Jaze held his head in his hands, furiously considering ways he could make amends.

Soon, Nita entered the house and slowly slipped off her shoes. Jaze tried to read her face, trying to guess what she was going to say. He couldn't and, in a panic, suddenly started trying to babble an apology.

Jaze: Nita! I didn't... I didn't mean to... I mean, I was trying... I didn't want...

The more Jaze continued, the harder it was to speak. A wave of uncontrollable emotion washed over him until he finally collapsed to his knees, sobbing hysterically. Not being able to see through his watery eyes, he was surprised when Nita reached around him and pulled him close.

Her doing so only made Jaze cry harder. Nita stayed with Jaze and held him for as long as it took for him to regain his speech. Finally, his uncontrollable sobbing faded into a dull whimper.

Jaze: I don't know how I can live. Every night, I hear the sound of guns. I hear voices screaming.

With a quick spasm in his chest, Jaze inhaled sharply before continuing.

Jaze: I hear the sound of my cell door clanking shut. I see blood. And the eyes... the horrible, yellow eyes... they're always watching me.

Jaze buried his face into Nita's shoulder as she continued to hold him tightly.

Nita: Jaze, I am so sorry. I cannot imagine what you've been through.

Jaze sniffed heavily as Nita continued.

Nita: Whatever happens, just remember that we take care each other here. You are safe.

Nita continued to hold Jaze in silence for awhile longer until Jaze slowly pulled away of his own accord.

Jaze: I'm sorry. Is there any way I can make it up to Aten?

Nita stood and offered Jaze her hand. He took it, and Nita gave a gentle pull, helping him up.

Nita: Let me talk to him first, dear. You just sit on your bed and rest for now. After that, we can all go down to the market together. I need someone to help me carry some things.

Nita slowly lead Jaze to his room and sat him gently onto his bed.

Nita: I'll be back soon. You'll be okay here, then?

Jaze: I'll be fine, thanks.

Nita nodded and, brushing the curtain aside, exited the room. He heard her soft footsteps fade towards the door and the creak of the door opening and closing. It wasn't a quiet moment to himself, for he could hear the muffled sounds of Nita and Aten speaking to each other, though he could not understand anything they were saying.

After awhile, he heard the door open again and more soft footsteps heading towards his room. Nita, he thought, was coming back for him.

The curtain brushed aside and, to Jaze's astonishment, it wasn't Nita standing before him. It was Aten, with his ears slouched down over his head and a doe-eyed look on his face. Jaze panicked, trying to think of something to say, as Aten sat down on the bed next to him.

Jaze: Aten... I'm so sorry. I didin't mean to...

Before Jaze could say another word, he was shocked when Aten suddenly threw his arms around Jaze's chest and hugged him tightly.


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Miyumon
Kurama-chan
Teddybear-93

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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