The school day was wretched. She gives her drop of blood and takes her seat. Swan’s skin feels clammy, crawling with subsurface spores. The bracelet pulled at her mind like an anchor, or a ruptured hull through which poured cold saltwater. The class is about to do timed exercises. They are seated in a circle, maybe twenty of them, each in white mesh chairs that tilt their bodies upward. This is to induce relaxation, but Swan is not relaxed. In the center of the circle is a squat pyramidal device with several upright branches rising from it. The base is made of slats of a dark-colored plastic through which extend many hexagonal rods that terminate in glassy lenses. Each student’s chair directly faces one. An attendant wearing baggy coveralls stained with brown streaks is circling the pyramid, stopping at each rod and taking a pill that is dispensed, then bringing it to the student the rod faces. Her head, nose, and mouth are covered by a clean, white fabric, making her resemble an ageless drone, and extension of the pyramid’s presence, though she is in truth not much older than the students in the chairs.
The attendant gives each student a pill and a small cup of cloudy liquid, watches while they drink it, then moves on to the next. Swan smiles at her when she arrives. The attendant waits, the pill poised in her latex covered fingers, until Swan dutifully opens her mouth wide. The attendant does not notice the second pill that is hidden under Swan’s tongue. Swan drinks both down. She knows she has extra needs, extra concerns that the others around her do not.
Secrets — Pharmacopoeia
Dream of the Pig's Head — Swan
Never Ask Into a Hollow — Fragments