Anxiety 1

If you want the express reading order for part 1, or to refreash, make sure you've read the quotes on the following articles in their presented order.

I usually don't add warnings. Most know the content of my work enough to have an idea of what they may be in for, but I make a special case regarding anxiety and panic attacks. Both are depicted here, so be warned.
Character | Mar 5, 2021

She broke into heaven; The enemy of humanity.

Plague Ships
Vehicle | Mar 5, 2021

Lifeless ships that drift in the void.

Caydie Meredith Kines
Character | Mar 5, 2021

The best of us, and taken before her time..

Void Boarding
Technology / Science | Mar 5, 2021

The process of boarding enemy vessels.

    Caydie took a sharp breath. She heard the rapid rhythm of her heart, the veins in her ear thumping as the shuttle neared the station. The man named Mute scoured his hoard of salvage, counting in his head, and on occasion out loud.   "Why are you counting?" She asked, trying to compose herself.   "Salvage rights. On the station salvagers get paid for their efforts by law."   Caydie laughed. "I'm glad it was you who boarded and not anyone else, then."   Mute scoffed, "If it wasn't me, you'd still be drifting. You were marked as a plague ship. I'm the only one crazy enough for a job like that. I get hazard pay, too, I think."   "You think?" Caydie asked. He didn't respond, which only made her more nervous. Her eyes darted around the shuttle, but not with a particular goal in mind. Her hands trembled as she tried to occupy her thoughts. "What kind of name is Mute?"   "I don't have a universal translator," He replied, turning from the salvage and focusing on a series of screens. "That should answer both of your questions."   Caydie walked from one end of the shuttle to the other. She could feel Mute watching. She felt tired, weak. She longed for the promised meal, but did not want to step foot out of the shuttle to get it.   "You should sit down, " Mute said. He stood up and moved to the nose of the shuttle, taking a look at her before sitting in the pilot's chair. "Are you alright?"   "No."   After a moment of silence he shook his head and laughed. "Care to share what's on your mind?"   "How many are there? Different species, I mean."   He squinted, then his eyes went wide. "Oh, I never really bothered counting. Quite a few." The color drained from her face and he hastily added. "Most aren't so bad. After what happened in the first war, most won't even look at a human. Don't worry. "   She opened her mouth to speak and the pod latched onto the station. She screamed as the moment of contact jostled the ship. She nearly toppled over.   "I did warn you to sit," Mute said. The moment the doors made a proper seal, they opened. "Flight control never bothers to warn me. They know I can't understand them." Mute stood up and wheeled the crate of salvage into the next room. He motioned for Caydie to join him and when she did, the door to the shuttle closed.   The lights flickered, the repulsive white replaced with something closer to purple. A sudden rush of fog filled the room.   "Sterilization?" She asked, her voice shaking.   "Yup, and a thorough one, at that," Mute replied. He pressed against a panel on the wall. The panel broke loose and swung down on a hinge. After dropping a stand, the panel served as a table. A mechanical arm extended from inside the wall, a hose dangling from its frame.   Mute took out each piece of salvage, placing it on the table for the arm to inspect. The arm sprayed fog onto each item, patiently waiting for Mute to flip it over, or replace it with a new item. "This could take a while," he said.     Caydie looked up and saw what she assumed to be a camera, silently watching as Mute went about his work. "Won't someone notice you came back with more than just scrap?"   Mute turned to her, his brow lowered. When she pointed to the camera he laughed. "No, that's a fake. We have a fault in the power grid. They had to disconnect security systems to make sure life support didn't fail."   After cleaning each item, the door to the airlock opened, and Mute wheeled the crate into a long hall. Perpendicular lines, each in a different color, trailed along the walls and floors.   As they walked, the lines broke away from the group. Caydie imagined they led to color coded locations sections of the station. It looked as if they were following the red line.   Caydie took a sharp breath of air as one of the station's residents walked past. It was humanoid, about as tall as she was. Its head featured numerous eyes, but no other recognizable features. It hunched over as it walked, each eye desperately avoiding Caydie's stare. It never realized just how scared she was.   Mute reached out his hand, but stopped just before touching her shoulder. "Caydie?"   "I'm fine. I Just need a minute," she replied, tears forming and running down her face.   "Yeah, they aren't always easy to look at." Mute said. He stopped and wheeled the crate to the side. He leaned against it as Caydie took a deep breath, facing the wall.   She shook her head. Despite her best attempts, she failed to maintain control. She took the role of a passenger in her own body. "I don't think I can do this."   "What's wrong?" Mute asked.   "I don't know," she said, forcing each word out as her lungs seized. The horrors she endured lingered on her mind, the acts of hatred that far outweighed Rael's kindness. They experimented on her, cut her open and did who knows what.   Caydie took deep breaths. It helped, but at the same time, it felt as if she had little to do with it. It was like her sudden panic left of its own accord, fading to the back of her mind until it wished to be known again. It lingered there, watching and waiting for a time to strike again.   "Can I help? What can I do?" Mute asked.   She pushed herself off the wall, crossed her arms and clung to herself as tight as she could. She nodded, more to reassure herself than him. "I'm fine. Lead the way. I don't mean to be rude, but I need to eat soon. I feel like I'm going to pass out."   Her body ached, her stomach turned at the thought of food despite its desperate need for it, and her mind raced as she tried to force out the memories. She tried to keep up with Mute as they pressed forward but fell behind on numerous occasions.   He walked with a purpose, his demeanor less casual and with a sense of urgency. He stopped in front of a large door and turned to Caydie. “Wait here, and I’ll be back. Once I get paid, We get food. Will you be okay?”   She nodded and watched as he entered the next room. Caydie forced herself against the wall and slid down, stopping once seated on the metal floor. She made herself as small as possible with her head low to avoid contact with the station's residents.   Mute appeared several minutes later, wheeling the crate behind him. "Got it. Let's go."   This time they followed a green line, she wouldn’t look at anything else. She heard voices, a loud mix of languages so dense the translator couldn't handle the overload. She felt disoriented, unable to focus through the half formed words and blended sentences.   They stopped in front of a glass panel. Mute pressed his finger against it. Colored shapes and words appeared, as if trapped between the panes of glass. He placed a small device into a port near the window.   “What are you doing?” Caydie asked.   “Shopping,” he replied, making several selections.   She could read each word as it appeared and faded away. Mammalian, omnivore, human, and balanced meal. When the goods arrived, they were sealed away in several containers.   “I thought you said you didn't have a translator,” caydie said.   “I don’t,” he replied. He made a final selection, confirming the purchase, and turned to her. “My mom taught me the right sequence a long time ago.”   Caydie looked to the bottom of the screen and shook her head. The words "identify language" pulsed in the bottom right corner. She pressed it and the screen suddenly displayed a language they could easily read.   "You're kidding," Mute said.   “Someone must have gone through extensive trial and error,” she replied, crossing her arms once more. When the payment went through, the case covering the containers lifted. She carried several containers and followed him along the yellow line. “You’ve lived here your whole life?”   “Yeah. My mother did too," mute replied, entering a hall with doors spaced out on both sides.   "No one bothered to help you? That's such a simple thing to miss."   "You may find that humans are not well liked out here. We can't communicate, lack the technology needed to make us relevant, and we need to eat like everyone else." Mute paused, turning the crate to follow the yellow line. "Before the war, we were little more than immigrants here to take jobs and valuable resources to them."   "Did we do something that changed that?"   Mute shook his head, "No way. By all accounts. We should have lost the war. We had friends in high places though. Another species helped us in the war, one of the big players in the galaxy. They're afraid of humans now. They don't want to risk pissing off our big sister."   "At least we survived. How can so many species live on one station safely? To think you were worried about me."   "We have regulations here, limits on room capacity and interaction. Mix that little bit of security theater with routine sanitation, and a bunch of desperate folks like myself, and you have yourself a community."   Mute stopped at a door, opened it and entered a clean but sparsely furnished apartment. A door situated on the far side led to a bathroom. Along the same wall was another door leading to a small bedroom.   "Desperate folks?" Caydie asked, stepping inside and sitting in a chair against the wall of the room.   "This is the edge of civilized space." He replied, handing her one of the containers of food and a two pronged fork to eat it with. He sat down across from her and watched as she dug into the brick of compacted nutrients. He opened his own container and took a small bite. "Most of those who end up out here are either on the run, lost, or near death for one reason or another. All of that can make one pretty desperate."   Caydie nodded covering her mouth as if to hide just how full it was.   Mute laughed. "I wouldn't eat so fast. You've been without food long enough for the stomach to shrink. If it bursts..." he stopped and his smile slowly faded, "just be careful."   She stopped chewing. She hadn't considered that. She forced herself to slow down, taking time between bites to gauge how she felt. "Sorry."   "No, really. Don't be. I'd be doing the same in your shoes. I've seen it happen though. It doesn't look fun." mute replied. He spoke again after a moment, his voice unsure, "Are you okay? What happened back there."   "I don't know. It's never happened before. It felt like I wasn't even here, like I was back in that ship being cut open again."   He stared into the container, poking and shifting the pieces of food with his fork, "Must have been rough. I'm sorry."   "I'm honestly just happy to be alive. No one else on my ship was that lucky." She replied.   "Your ship?"   "Yeah, The SVN Phoenix. I practically rebuilt it from the ground up."   Mute nearly choked on his food, "The Pheonix?"   Caydie nodded. "It was the first time I ever went into space. Not a good first impression."   "You commanded the first ship lost in the war? That's some kind of bad luck." Mute said with a chuckle.   Caydie shrugged and set the container aside. "I suppose so. Until you mentioned it, I didn't even know there was a war." She felt a tickling feeling in the back of her throat and coughed. "You said it was two years ago?"   Mute set his own container aside. "Yeah, but that doesn't mean much. The station's orbit is fairly small compared to most planets." He stood up and walked to the large crate, "Time is different everywhere you go. I have no idea how much time it'd be for someone living where you're from."   Caydie's eyes went wide. She hadn't considered that either. It shocked her how different things were here. Back on Safeharbor, just getting through the day was foremost on everyone's mind. She never once considered how time could be different.   She watched as Mute pulled out several pieces of salvage from the crate. "Did you not sell it all?"   "Sadly not. Somethings just aren't valuable anymore. They won't even take storage devices. Costs more to get rid of them, I guess. You're free to dig through them if you like."     She nodded. She learned so much in the last few hours but felt like she knew next to nothing new. She still didn't know where she was, how she would get back home, or who would be alive if she did.   She took a deep breath and let out a fit of coughs and wheezes. It took several moments to catch her breath.   Mute tilted his head, the look on his face showing concern and a hint of fear. "Caydie?"   She didn't answer, partly because she felt the same fear and partly because she realized it was getting increasingly difficult to breathe...

Cover image: by Vectorium


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3 Apr, 2021 18:24

New chapter!! Yeah!!! God damn I'm dying to read more, the wait... so long... I feel sorry for Caydie, I can't imagine what she's going through.

Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse

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Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
3 Apr, 2021 21:46

Sooooon lol thanks so much. I love that you're enjoying it. Next bit will be up soon!

3 Apr, 2021 21:28

Wow. That is an arresting account of an anxiety attack! Very, very well done. I love the way you have portrayed Mute as well. Either he has had experience with panic attacks himself, or he's just got a knack for interacting with anxious people. I suppose that goes with the territory, given what humans have gone through. It certainly gives me a new perspective on life in The Void Between.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
3 Apr, 2021 21:49

Thank you! I'm glad it was portrayed well. I imagine he definitely has some expirience handling and being around those with anxiety. I really wanted this to shine a light on what it's like for humans, especially on stations. I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for the praise!

4 Apr, 2021 17:54

Right now I'm wondering if Caydie knows the safeharbor protocols. If she does, it could go a long way to solving her problems of getting back home. If not, or if earthen technology is particularly rare, she may have a problem.   I am curious why you feel the need to post a warning about anxiety attacks. I guess it's not really the first thing that comes to mind when someone says 'content warning'.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
4 Apr, 2021 19:35

On anxiety and panic attacks, anxiety is really weird, but it can also be contagious. it's like a memetic hazard. it's possible to actually cause a panic attack due to a reader expiriencing it vicariously. I'm sure it isn't common but its possible to prime someone for it and I certainly dont wanna do that.   Earth tech is extremely rare, but there is a group out there who actually collects it... I mean they are already somewhat invested and are certainly present in the story...

4 Apr, 2021 20:02

both things that are good to know!

Master TimeBender
Unknown User
5 Apr, 2021 00:11

Aw yes! An update! Poor Caydie though. She's having quite a rough time. I hope she makes it back to Safeharbor somehow! I don't know how, she's very far away... Can't wait to see what happens next!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
5 Apr, 2021 16:39

I'm glad you're enjoying it! Thanks so much! Caydie is definitely having a rough go.

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