It buzzes electric in my fingers, pushing against the flesh and bone in an attempt to force its way out. It had always been like this—ever present, demanding in its vibrancy. For the first time, however, I can’t let it out.
It doesn’t like that. It singes my veins, saturating me in sharp electricity. The scratching heat of a scream rises in my throat, but there is no place for it to go. I choke on the cloth gag shoved in my mouth, licking my esophagus. My fists and heels pound against the table, my wrists and ankles ping ponging between the leather restraints and the metal surface with a thump that echoes through my body.
Our captors see it as a sickness, a malady of the female sex. They see it as an opportunity to propel their domination further. They call it the mark; women call it the energy.
These men are going to take it, just as they did the others strapped to this table before me. A woman can’t have such power, can’t handle it or be trusted with it. Leave it to the men, they say. They will dissect this virus, learn to control it, and use it to develop a weapon the world hasn’t seen before. Men can protect us better than we can.
The energy reverses its course, slithering through my left palm and wrist, up to my elbow. The appendage tingles with numbness as though I fell asleep on it. Then the snake makes its way up my other arm. The buzzing intensifies, white noise crackling around me.
Everyone knows what happens once they complete the extraction. Women aren’t as naive as believed. The men call it recycling, as though it’s a rebirth or redirection, but in reality it is just a fancy name for throwing someone away. Without the energy, what are these women? What am I? Fragile. Female. Forgettable in our normalcy. Men feed on women like that, those without the energy. Those they can squash as easily as a bug.
But the ones who have had the energy, these hybrids of beast and woman, can’t be left alone. Once they are butchered, physical pieces of themselves removed for harvesting, they are sent to “The Sanatorium,” where they live the rest of their lives confined to the grounds of an old asylum on the outskirts of the city. The marked women are seen as contaminated, toxic to the status quo, to the point where even after the energy is cut from their veins they are considered dangerous. Lepers to be kept away from the impressional women without the mark. The men worry it might be transferred as easily as a glance or a wave between the female of the species. Everyone knows after Eve there is no trusting women, and that a group of them can start a war.
The energy’s buzzing becomes a hiss, static and searing. My jaw tightens, bracing against the pain. The hissing loudens. It is as though the energy is whispering to me, yet I can’t make out the words.
The drill whirs in my brain, distracting me from the energy’s frantic plea. Without anaesthesia, I feel every second of the furious digging of the manmade drill. Like untouched earth, it tears me apart, yet instead of planting something new, it leaves me empty, the roots removed. They already took bone marrow from my ribs and tissue from my thigh. They are planning to lobotomize me after they find the source of the energy, as they have the others before me.
It is believed the mark was caused by an infection. Before our captors began their butchering, they said the words slowly to me as one does when explaining something to a small child. “We believe it has caused an alteration to the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain. This can affect the amount of nutrients the nervous system tissue is receiving. It’s why some of you describe the sensation as magnetic.”
You. It was so pointed, brimming with accusation. They might as well have said, “It’s all in your head.” It always is when you’re a woman.
Suddenly, the energy rises to my shoulders, flooding my heart and lungs. I can feel it swelling, building like a massive wave. What is it trying to tell me? I close my eyes. The drilling grows louder, the digging sharper, and I bite into the cloth gag, wanting to tear it to shreds. Tell me what to do, I say to the energy. It answers with a rattle, an SOS. It doesn’t like being confined by a cage of blood and bone. It doesn’t want to live in manmade machinery. It begs me to release it, to save us both.
I want to tell it it’s too late for that. We’ve been found out. We’ve been captured. This is the end, just as it was for the others before us. We are just like the others.
Except that we have never been like the others. The sensation of the energy is not simply magnetic for me, nor has it possessed me like a ghost haunting the halls of my body. We hum together, in sync, the energy and me. We grew together and have taken care of each other. We are one.
One woman. One energy. One beast.
I release my grip on the gag. Our energy isn’t like the others, I tell it. The energy answers with a low rumble that vibrates through my body. My flesh prickles. Men are trying to take it from us, like they did the ones before, I say. I rub the scars carved into the flesh of my fingers. Then I release my fists and spread my fingers wide. We aren’t going to make this easy for them, I say.
Like a lit match, the wave of electricity surges through my body. It pours from my fingers, invisible and deadly, a tsunami of heat and destruction. The blood boils in the men’s bodies. They won’t survive this. The room explodes with blood, skin, and screams. Around us, men are all dying or dead. I rip through the restraints and spit out the gag. I sit up from the table and walk through the carnage, track lighting and pieces of the ceiling dripping like amputated limbs around me. I trace the burnt tips of my fingers, the charred flesh taut and rotten smelling. They will turn to scars soon enough, adding to the pink etchings that mark the times the energy has been free.
The energy purrs inside me, a pleased cat ready to nap. I let it course through me, feeling it like the sun on my skin, warm and vibrant. More men will be coming in a minute, hundreds of them with guns and explosives, shooting to kill. The energy and I know better now than to be scared though. Man’s greatest fear is the unknown, after all, and we are not like any others.
Christina Rosso is a red-headed siren and bookstore owner living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and two rescue pups. Her work has been featured in Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Across the Margin, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, and more. Visit https://christinarosso.wordpress.com/ or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.