Prologue | Chapter 3 – Helen

image source: JakeBowkett

Mandrake’s scribblings: Little late. But still the same day~ Enjoy chapter 3!

<Chapter 2 | Main | Chapter 4>

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Night had descended on California in America. It’s 7 pm and the cities had lit up, illuminating its surroundings, looking like a glowing hive viewed from the sky. Across the entire state, hundreds of hospital had turned off some of their lights, save for the populated patient dorms and the nurse stations.

In one particular hospital, a nurse switches off the lights in a corridor and strolls towards the nurse station. Dressed in green medical scrubs with a ‘Helen’ name tag and holding a file folder on her side, she hums a happy tune. She raises her hand to let loose her hair that had been clipped into a bun. Her jet black hair spills out, reaching past her shoulders. She brushes her fingers through her hair and enjoys the cool air in contact with the back of her head.

Helen: “Huuuuu~”

Feeling refreshed, she adds a spring to her step. It has been quite a hectic day. The number of patients had skyrocketed and the hospital staffs were overwhelmed with the amount of work. Rising to the occasion, she worked harder in full vigor and managed to reign in control among the disarray. That incident happened throughout the day shift, yet she is working in the evening shift with no loss of her vigor as if the backbreaking work did not happen hours before.

Helen: “Hm? Hmm…”

She heard noises from the female nurse locker room. Someone is changing in the locker room. Knowing the culprit, Helen enters the locker room silently and approaches the source of the noise. A woman is just about to finish dressing into evening attire fit for the night out. Helen sighs internally as she watches over her friend and colleague.

Helen: [Dianne… At the last minute?]

Not missing the chance, Helen mimics the stern head nurse of the evening shift with a sharp rap on the folder she was holding.

Dianne: “Gihii!”

Dianne jolts from the sound and lets out a little squeal. Turning her head and catching Helen’s smirk from the corner of her eye, Dianne loses her tension, unstiffens her body and takes an annoyed pose, hands on her waist and her torso angled forward.

Helen: “You’re running late, aren’t you, Dianne?”

Dianne: “Helen! Stop it! You know if Bonnie finds out-“

Enjoying Dianne’s reaction, Helen gave a playful shrug.

Helen: “Cat’s out of the bag, Dianne. Bonnie knows.”

In a moment, Dianne loses her air of calm and freezes in place. Helen, uncomfortable with her friend’s reaction, places both her hands on Dianne’s shoulders.

Helen: “It’s fine, Dianne. I’ve talked it over with Bonnie. She’s okay with it.”

Dianne: “Helen?”

Helen returns Dianne’s insecurity with a firmer grip on her shoulders.

Helen: “Dianne. It’s fine. I’ve talk with Bonnie. She will overlook this. No strings attached. It’s better than her finding out later and punishing you tomorrow.”

With Helen’s assurance, Dianne’s eyes shines with hope once more. Helen releases her grip and smiles widely.

Helen: “You’ve worked extra hard today. You earned this time off for your date.”

Dianne, knowing Helen’s nature, accepts this. But nonetheless, she has to ask.

Dianne: “Are you sure you’re fine with this, Helen? You’ve been working the whole day shift too.”

Helen: “I’m still full of energy even after all that. I also wanted this anyway. There’s nothing for me to do at night either. So get out there. You’re going to be late for your date.”

Dianne’s face lights up.

Dianne: “Thank you so much. I’m sorry for having you do this.”

Helen: “Tsk. Tsk. Kindness doesn’t come cheap. Remember our deal.”

Dianne: “Yes. Yes. I’ll buy you a bottle of wine when we both get a day off.”

As her friend gratefully takes her leave, Helen continues with her nursing duties. She left the locker room and walks over to her station overseeing the maternity ward. A middle aged woman is present at the station. Her feet are placed on the counter and a show is airing on her tablet nearby. Helen walks over to the woman and pinches her foot.

Helen: “Bonnie. We’ve been over this. Feet off the counter. Use a chair.”

Bonnie huffs in indifference and moves her feet to a nearby chair. She pauses her show and looks at Helen as she leans against the counter.

Bonnie: “How many times are you going to take over the nurses’ evening and night shifts? This time is Dianne again. Is she going out with Fitz? I’ll overlook this because of today’s workload but that’s the third date this week. Is she hoping to start a family that young?”

Helen: “Aw, come on, Bonnie. You always liked me more. Isn’t this for the better? Plus, I wanted this. I’d rather stay in this ward than do nothing at home.”

Bonnie shoots a skeptical look at Helen.

Bonnie: “You could rest or sleep, you know. You’ve been working all day. I’ve seen you working for three days straight but filling all this hours can’t be good for your health.”

Helen: “I’m fine. I can pull of long hours without getting tired. Maybe it’s my young, beautiful body~”

Helen straightens up and twirls around with one arm straight in the air and the other pointing downwards as if mimicking a ballerina. Bonnie snorts in response to Helen’s showy dance.

Bonnie: “Mmhmm. Keep that up and you’ll look like an old hag soon enough.”

Helen: “Huhaha~ Aw, Bonnie. I’ll be fine~ I’ve been working like this since graduating high school. As long as I have some time under the sun and drink my juices and wine, I won’t get tired. I won’t turn into a hag just yet.”

Bonnie: “You’re getting wine from this, aren’t you? You drunk.”

Helen: “Ahaha~ I’ll be sure to share a glass with you. But only one glass. The rest is mine.”

Bonnie: “Mmhmm.”

Helen forces a greedy smile. Bonnie, satisfied with the conversation continues watching her show. Helen walks over to the window looking into a room in which glass cribs are arranged into rows. A great number of the cribs house a sleeping newborn baby.

Helen: ”Huuu…”

She lifts herself on the tip of her feet to closely watch over each baby starting from the furthest in the back. Her face slowly turns into an open smile with her tongue touching the upper teeth. One by one, she watches over each baby who is sleeping silently and moving the limbs now and then.

It was a hectic day. Thirty seven babies born today, more that the average of the mid twenties that this hospital usually gets. Helen is glad the babies were delivered safely. She still remembers the tired but blissful faces of the parents as their baby was presented to them. Safely delivering the baby and watching over the parents as they receive their child is always a joyful moment for her.

Bonnie: “Is someone visiting at this hour? Visiting hours should be closed.”

Helen: “Hmm? Why do you say that?”

Bonnie: “I smell fresh flowers. Oh! Is it Fitz?! The hell?! Are they having their date here?”

Bonnie is getting alarmed. Flowers that usually signify the presence of hospital visitors shouldn’t be present at this time and the blame will easily fall on Dianne and Fitz. Fooling around in the hospital is frowned upon and bringing flowers to a maternity ward where the pollen might affect the babies is very dangerous.

Helen: [Oh dear.]

Helen quickly turned to Bonnie to defuse the situation.

Helen: “Bonnie, Dianne already left. Fitz did not come here. They were going to meet up at their date place.”

Bonnie: “Then where did the smell of flowers come from?”

Helen quickly thought of a lie.

Helen: “Flower smell. Flower… Oh! Maybe it’s my body wash? I took a quick shower before I got here.”

Bonnie: “Huh? Why did I start smelling them now?”

Helen: [Bonnie… You ask too much…]

Helen racks her mind for a follow-up to her lie.

Helen: “I used a mild one. I don’t want a strong smell bothering the babies. I guess you caught a whiff of it.]

Helen smiled as Bonnie looks around to catch another whiff of the scent.

Bonnie: “…Alright then… ”

As Bonnie settles down and continues with her show, Helen places her hand over her chest and calms herself.

Helen: *Alright. Calm down… Calm down…*

Whispering to herself, Helen knows what caused the flower smell. The source of the smell… It’s Helen herself. It’s very embarrassing, but when she feels heartfelt happiness from watching over the babies, her body will emit a fragrant smell of flowers. No perfumes or scented beauty products. This scent is released from the pores of her skin.

Calling her special is a light way to put it. She has a completely different lineage than that of other humans. This bloodline first transpired from her mother who received a blessing from the mysterious magician Rosetta. It is no surprise that Helen inherited her mother’s blessing, genetically unhindered and strong.

Due to her lineage, she inherited abilities and characteristics that do not exist in humans. She is able to fully enjoy all 24 hours of the day as she does not require sleep. Although she had to sleep when she was young due to her body needing rest from growing, when she reached adult size, she has not slept since. As long as she consumes some food for energy, there is no need for her to rest or sleep.

However, her lineage does not always bring advantages to her daily life. Her lineage had caused her to be able unable to digest meat and only digest small amounts of oils and fats. Nonetheless, she enjoyed a vegetarian life with her favourite being fresh sweet fruits.

Lastly, she has stowed away another blessing. One granted by the mysterious magician Rosetta when she sworn into Rosetta’s alliance. Along with her blessing, she is also bestowed a task which is…

Helen: “Right. Today’s report. Hmmm… Seventeen girls.”

Helen recalls the number of girls born today and grips the file she is holding. She walks over to Bonnie who has returned her feet to the top of the counter again. Helen pokes her foot to get her attention.

Helen: “Bonnie, feet. Also, I’ll be making my rounds. Ring me if anything happens.”

Bonnie, focused on her show, nodded in response and removes her feet once again. As Helen walks away from the nurse station, her view drops to the file she is holding. Helen opens her file and looked through its contents. There are documents which contain the DNA test results for any genetic illnesses in the baby girls.

Helen: “Isabelle… Bella… Belle… Bella… Catniss…”

Helen lists every baby girl’s names as she carefully reads through the test results. Walking a route so familiar to her that she needs not pay attention to what’s in front, she evaluates the health of every single baby girl.

Helen: “…Penelope… Huuu~h…”

Finished with evaluating the health of the last baby girl, Helen stops her pace and casts a long sigh. None of the baby girls showed any problems and are in their pink of health. Relief and gratefulness envelopes her heart. Shutting the folder closed, Helen holds it tightly to her chest and closed her eyes in silent prayer.

Helen: “Please. Please. Please. Let none of them be her.”

Focusing hard on her prayer, she hopes for none of the baby girls to be the fated girl the Rosetta searched across the world for. She had prayed for this outcome every time on a daily basis. Even though she is loyal to Rosetta, she will never agree to let Rosetta send a young defenseless girl over to a strange world far away from her family with no guarantee for her safety.

Helen: [What a reckless decision. This is crazy, even for you, Rosetta.]

She had voiced her complaints to Center who also shares her sentiment, but to no avail. Rosetta had finalized the decision and had placed this search as top priority. This is very unnatural for the wise and powerful Rosetta. It is as if he is possessed. Finding this girl seems to be the most important thing for him. Helen opens her eyes, feeling sorrow and frustration at the turn of events.

Helen: “This girl…”

The poor girl has been commended by Rosetta as the last one. The most important one. Helen shakes off those disturbing thoughts and continues walking. She arrives at the end of the wing and approaches a window. Checking her surroundings for any people, she opens the window to reveal a tree with its branches grown closely to the window. The tree itself has grown in a strange manner, with its trunk grown twisted towards the building with its branches reaching for the window. As she reaches out to the branches, the branches and leaves reach out as well and curl around her hands.

Nature magic. This is her blessing from Rosetta. She had joined Rosetta’s alliance many years ago when she reached adulthood. Despite being an adult and passing the human age window for magic and mana training, due to her lineage, she is still able to learn and practice magic. It is upsetting that her mother intervened in protest and as a result, got the same blessing of learning nature magic. Her blessing was made less unique but she shouldn’t complain since she inherited everything from her mother’s blood.

Helen: [Alright. Connection made.]

She gently grasps the twigs and closed her eyes. Her hair slowly flutters as if air is blowing through them in slow motion and the surrounding air around her hair grew dark as if a dark aura has enveloped her hair. Her hand grips harder on the file and green pulses ripple from the edges and converges to her hand many times at great frequency, causing a green flickering glow. Her other hand entwined in the leaves and twigs release a similar green pulse, this time from her hand to the twigs and leaves. The pulses travel from the leaves and twigs towards the tree; its glow fading as the branch thickens nearer to the trunk.

This is how the scene appears but of its significance is that her magic copies and converts information from the documents in the folder into magic signals compatible to plants and sends them to the tree. The documents and the folder which are originally from plant materials also help in facilitating the conversion. The tree will store and spread the information throughout the ‘plant network’. This ‘plant network’ is a network of plants and trees that transfer and receive information in a form of magic signal undetectable to most forms of magic. This network is a culmination of decades of work by Helen and her mother which has established itself across most of the North Americas.

Helen let go of the leaves and twigs and breathed a sigh of relief. This information will be dispersed throughout nature across the states to be collected by Center at her leisure. She has finished with her task for today without incident. Had she been spotted by someone, she won’t know what to do. That incident. The only incident that happened a year ago is still fresh in her mind.

An old man who was a patient in the hospital was going on a night stroll to sneak a peek at his newborn grandson and saw the scene. He caused a ruckus, calling Helen a demon and cursing her to the point that Helen was nearly in tears. The real heavy blow happened on the next morning when the old man demanded that Helen be kept far away from his grandchild. He even appealed to his family in putting a restraining order against her. Thankfully the hospital and the family were skeptical of the case and the restraining order was never filed, but the baby in question was placed in the care of other nurses.

Having done her task, she held on to the leaves some more. This time she will draw information from the tree. The information drawn, the information of babies born in the states today. This information has been collected by Center and surveillance plants in the network near all the hospitals in the country.

Helen: [A healthy number of a little more than eleven thousand. Roughly five thousand girls, huh…]

An uneasy feeling grips her heart. Five thousand is still a large number even if it pales to the actual population of the country. Every new girl is a chance that she could be the one. Helen draws more information, this time the comparison results of all the baby girls born yesterday to the fated girl completed by Center.

Helen: [None.]

Helen lets go of the leaves and breathes a sigh of relief. None of them matched the fated girl. But the relief seems only temporary. The next day would spell the same burden of worries. This seems trivial compared to Center, who has been repeating this ordeal every day for years.

As Helen withdraws her hand and closes the window, she looks at the tree with admiration. She knows of the magic of the enemy that forcefully finds Rosetta and his companions through the use of electronics. In a modern urban environment, one can even say that the magic is comparable to the omnipresent eyes of God. However, for a network of plants established through extensive research and utilization of nature magic, this network entirely made of nature magic may have very well been on another plane. There was no need to use magic tools to fool their magic as nature magic is beyond their detection. Furthermore, with a huge area of the country populated by nature, the network mimics the internet in terms of connectivity. Truly a remarkable feat by her and her mother.

In spite of this, only a select few of Rosetta’s alliance are able to use the network as most members do not have a degree of skill in nature magic aside from the usual group of Helen and her mother, Center and Rosetta. Nonetheless, an intelligence network with no threat from prying eyes is crucial in finding the girl. If it is not for this miracle network, the task of searching the North America will be impossible because the entire continent falls under enemy territory. Center, who is somewhere in the United States, will also be in danger.

Helen leaves the hospital wing and returns to her normal patrol route. She glances again at the folder of documents detailing the DNA test results. She has to return them to their proper places in the medical archive but a discernible detail has been bugging her mind.

Helen: [How did Rosetta get the data on the girl?]

The girl’s data. The identification data that had been prepared by Rosetta. How he managed to obtain the data when he never found her in the first place seems to go beyond reason. Nonetheless, this matter will be added to the list of questions she will personally confront Rosetta with when he revealed himself upon finding the fated girl. She is sure even Center will side her on this one.

Rosetta has been too suspicious on the topic of the fated girl. No doubt it will cause rifts in the alliance. Eventually, someone will betray again. Helen wasn’t involved in the incident 23 years ago because she hasn’t sworn in yet. But she still remembers how her mother held her tightly when the incident broke out. Being a young child, even fear can be understood. Emotions went wild and everyone feared for their lives when it happened.

Helen: [If that happens again. Rosetta, I’m sorry but I will not support you anymore. My mother and I will disappear from everyone.]

Helen reminds herself of this conviction and replaces her solemn mood with a happy one. With everything put away for when the time comes, she continues with her patrol around the hospital wing.

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<Chapter 2 | Main | Chapter 4>

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Author: Q-ichi

I'm a mandrake

4 thoughts on “Prologue | Chapter 3 – Helen”

    1. I’m usually keeping it in present tense. I used past tense when the action in context has already passed. Could you tell me where it should be corrected?

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