I never saw Karen at the Capital Limited Re-education Center after that morning. It was like she had completely disappeared. They replaced her with another mentor who wore the same pink dress and had the same sickly sweet smile. I never bothered to learn her name. She would only show up to give me my breakfast or dinner and quickly leave. When I asked her what happened to Karen, she would reply she had been re-assigned and leave it at that. It didn’t matter much anyway because my re-education was at an end.
I had taken the Mother Examination the day Karen and I had our talk. I did rather well on it too. A week later the results came in on the tray with my breakfast. It was sealed in a business envelope with an address window on it with my name in bold letters. I was a little afraid to look at them first, but I knew this fear was ridiculous. I waited until I knew I was alone. I did not want to have to break down if the results were not what I had hoped they would be, but when I opened the envelope and looked at the results I breathed a sigh of relief. The score of 80 percent showed brightly in between the jumble of the other words surrounding it on the page. I just barely scored high enough to be placed on the second floor. Husbands-in-need-of-a-mother would not be able to distinguish me from the ones who scored an 89. Even though I would never be able to see my children again, it comforted me to know I was going to be able to find another family who would at least be kind, gentle and loving. I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a husband who could barely make ends meet. It meant I could focus all of my energy on raising the children, instead of having to struggle with the finances and the children at the same time. My life was about to change again, drastically.
The Capital Limited Re-education Center had a graduation ceremony scheduled for us. We were all given new dresses for the ceremony. The color and type of dress indicated how well we did on the Mother Examination and where we would be placed after the graduation. If a mother was given a white dress, she would be going back to live with her original family. A gold dress signified she would be placed on the upper floor of the Mother Mall. The graduates who were to be placed on the second floor were given a green dress, and those on the ground level were given a blue denim dress. Those who were going to try it on their own were given uniforms meeting their ambitions. Women who wanted to try to become nurses were given stark white nurse dresses and little white hats with a red cross emblazoned upon them. Women who wanted to become secretaries were given business suits and were required to wear cat-rimmed glasses even if they didn’t need them. And women who wanted to take their chances out in the dating pool were given a red frilly prom dress with a short skirt. Back in high school, this was the kind of dress insuring a wonderful night for the lucky boy who took the wearer out to the dance.
This was also the order they in which would enter the ceremony. I was proud of the fact I would be part of the group entering the ceremony in the third position. There wouldn’t be many women in front of me. Talking to the other ladies, I found out there was going to be only one who was allowed to wear white at the ceremony, and only four who were going to be wearing gold. There was also one woman who elected the prom dress, and two who wished to try their hands at nursing. Five women were given their business suits and for the most part, the rest of us were going to be given green dresses. There were a couple who were going to wear the blue denim dresses, but for the most part if a woman had passed the test just barely and had to wear one of these dresses, she usually chose to opt out of this assignment by going into one of the other fields besides mothering.
Classes had turned into a more enjoyable affair after the test. We would spend time preparing for our graduation, and working at activities we found enjoyable but at the same time helped to make the Capital Limited Re-education Center run more smoothly. We could choose to cook the various meals, or participate in the gardening that needed to be done. There was also sewing that needed to be finished because there were so many dresses that needed to be made in order to fit all of the mothers being brought here for re-education. If one of the graduates wasn’t able to handle any of these then she was assigned to the task of cleaning up the rooms while the other women were at their classes or doing the laundry and cleaning up the dresses so they could be ready to be worn again by the students at the center.
Due to my abilities in the kitchen, I was given the more prestigious job of cooking the meals. It was in the kitchen where I was able to find the happiness I once enjoyed as a mother. It was two weeks after we got results back before we had our graduation, and being able to work in my own arena allowed me to start to feel human again. There were four of us given the task of putting together the meals for the rest of the mothers being re-educated, and we became pretty good friends during these two weeks.
One of them was Sandy. She was the woman who was going to be wearing white during the ceremony. We were so happy for her because she was lucky enough to have a husband that still loved her. She talked on about how excited she was to be able to see her children again after the ceremony. She had a pair of twin girls, Maxie and Mandy, who were just turning seven and had just started kindergarten while she was working her way through the program. Sandy always talked about how she missed a couple of the more important moments in their lives, like the first day of school, the first lost tooth, and both of them learning to swim for the first time. Even though she had missed these milestones, she was still happy to be able to get back to these moments again.
It had been really difficult for her and her husband ever since they found out they were pregnant. They were struggling to make ends meet. They were both in education and she was required by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act to quit her job as soon as she found out she was pregnant. They were left with only one small income to pay all of their bills and make ends meet. When they discovered she was pregnant with twins, it only added to the problem. They were pretty sure they would be able to provide enough with only one extra mouth to feed, but when they learned it was two more mouths to feed, they constantly worried about how they were going to make it work. They knew it was going to be a tight fit but they were sure they were going to be able to make it work.
It was during the seventh month of the pregnancy things became even more complicated. The twins were threatening to be born early and the doctors didn’t know if they would be able to survive if they were born that early. The doctors did everything they could to make sure the twins continued their development in the womb. Sandy was required to stay in bed and do nothing in order to ensure the health of her children. That was the first year she failed her mothering assessment. She had kept her assessor waiting at the door because it took her a long time to slowly move down the stairs of their tiny townhome to answer it. The place was a mess because she was required to stay in bed whenever possible and did not have time to keep it clean. Her husband tried to help, but being an English teacher, he did not have much time to help around the house. His job was just as important as hers or they wouldn’t have the required income to make ends meet. She was also marked down because she was standing when she answered the door. It was not healthy for the children and an obvious violation of Standard Number Six: A mother should regard the safety of their children as a top priority.
The twins were born later that day after the assessor left. They were born a month and a half early and were forced to be kept an incubator during the first two months of their lives. The bills piled up and Sandy and her husband had their home foreclosed and had to move into a one bedroom apartment. Mandy was a healthy girl and grew strong, but there were added complications with Maxie. While the twins were still in the womb, they were inflicted with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. If the doctors would have detected this earlier, they would have been able to do something about it. Because of the insurance the Slavers had, the doctors wouldn’t look into this beforehand because then it would be a pre-existing condition, and Maxie was born less developed than Mandy. Basically what happened was Mandy took most of the nutrients from Sandy and didn’t give her sister as much. Because of this, Maxie’s kidneys didn’t develop properly and she ended up having medical problems for the rest of her life. When she was old enough, she was forced to have a kidney transplant in order to live. Until then, any of the nutrients her body needed were feed to her through a tube to her stomach.
A trial like this would tear many families apart, but it only brought Sandy and her husband closer together. Life was still difficult but every day they were able to spend with their two daughters was a joyful miracle. Maxie struggled developmentally, but they were able to find a kidney transplant donor when she turned the age of three. She would have to have another one later in life, but things were working out well for the time being. Life was always hectic. There were impromptu doctor’s appointments, rough nights and long days. Mandy and Maxie both had to learn to grow up quickly for the sake of each other, but this sometimes caused Sandy to neglect her duties as a mother according to the precepts of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. She always struggled to maintain a proficiency mark on her assessments, and finally she slipped below the mark she needed. She was taken away from her family and was sent to the Capital Limited Re-education Center to be re-educated in the arts of motherhood. She had been away from her family for the last couple of months, but she was ready to return to her children. All of the other graduates were so proud she would be representing the color white during the graduation.
When the day before graduation approached, we were all excited to be able to return back to society. Because of this excitement, not much work got accomplished that day. We were required to work in our stations during the day, and in the evening when we would return to our rooms, our dresses would be there waiting for us. We were all excited to try on a different color than orange and to see how wonderful we looked as we walked down the aisle towards our new lives. I remember thinking how stunning I would look in the green dress. It would highlight my eyes and I was sure by the end of the week, there would be a new husband ready to snatch me up at the Mother Mall. I thought I would have a bunch of new children to raise and it would ease the void in my heart from the loss of my own children. Things were starting to look up for me until I returned to my room that night.
When I walked in, I was expecting to see the green dress waiting for me on the dressmaker’s dummy, but that is not what I found when I entered the room. Sitting on the dummy was a vile blue denim dress instead. I quickly turned around to get out of the room to tell somebody about the mistake, but the door had already locked behind me. It didn’t stop me from jiggling the knob a few times to see if I could open the door. It had never worked in the past and this time was no different.
I knew there was a mistake because I had scored an eighty percent on my Mother Examination. That had qualified me to wear a green dress during the graduation. I would have taken a different job if I knew I was to be sold to some lower class citizen. There was no way I would have accepted the denim blue dress. I was not some bargain they could place on the bottom floor and try to pawn off to some cheap husband who could care less about the quality of mother he was getting. I deserved better than that. The women who wore the blue denim dresses were the type of people who raised children like Palin. My mind raced with images of different Palins of various ages running around a trailer home. All of them would have that absurd poofy haircut she always wore. There would of course be the teenage version lying on the couch, smacking her gum, and talking to her boyfriend on the phone. There would be a boy version running around the trailer with a football helmet on to tackle various forms of furniture and put dents into the weak siding of the walls. There would be a little girl version who would stand on the front porch and lift up her dress for any of the white trash neighbors who were willing to pay her five dollars. And there would be a young boy who would sit in front of the television and play video games too violent for him with women characters who barely wore any clothes at all.
The worst part of it would be I would be in the middle of it wearing that denim blue dress. My imagination continued to run away from me because I would look down at my belly and see I was seven months pregnant with another Palin wriggling away in my belly. I could feel her working on her hair within my womb and she would kick me demanding I eat bags of junk food and drink beer because it was against the standards not to give her what she wanted.
My husband would walk in the door. It would be another Palin except he would be wearing a wife beater underneath a greasy mechanic’s jumpsuit. He would see me in the kitchen stuffing my face with Doritos and swilling a beer as the kids ran around the house creating havoc. He would instantly get mad at me because I hadn’t done up my hair properly. He would demand I get in the bedroom right away. Of course, I would have to obey. In the bedroom, I would have to get down on all fours on the bed and he would get behind me with a brush and a gallon of hairspray. He would flip my skirt up so he could have his way with me while he styled my hair. The baby would continue to kick. The teenager would come in and take pictures with her cell phone. The teenage boy would sit in a chair in the corner and take notes. The little Palin girl would pull out a case of makeup and start to pile it onto my face, and the little Palin boy would make a game of it by seeing it he could hit my side with Nerf darts.
At the end of my vision, all of the Palins would start pointing at me and I would look exactly like one of them. I would end up being a Palin. It was all because there had been a mistake with the dress I was supposed to get.
I turned around and looked at the place where I knew the camera was in the corner of the ceiling watching my every move. I waved at it, trying to catch somebody’s attention. I took off my high heel shoes and started to throw them up in that corner. The first one bounced harmlessly off the corner of the room. The second one was thrown just right. The heel came crashing into the lens. An explosion of sparks blew up from the corner of the room and came cascading down on the floor below. I knew this final act would get their attention. It was only a couple of minutes before the door opened and Dr. Blur walked in with Steven behind her.
“Miss Ervaring, what is going on in here?” she asked as Steven shut the door behind them.
“There is a blue denim dress in the room,” I said pointing at the hideous monstrosity.
Dr. Blur looked at me incredulously, “Yes, Miss Ervaring, there is a denim blue dress in your room.”
She didn’t understand the significance of my panic. “I’m supposed to have a green dress. I got an eighty percent on my examination. I’m supposed to go to the second level. I shouldn’t have a blue dress.”
Dr. Blur furrowed her brows and looked down at her clipboard to see if what I was saying was true. She flipped through a couple of pages as my heart beat harder. I knew there had been a mistake and the clipboard would tell Dr. Blur everything she needed to know to correct it. She read down the page she was on until a look of surprise came over her face. Her fingers flipped through other pages until she found the one she was looking for and scanned it. When her finger stopped on the information she needed, she let out an, “Ah!”
I felt it was safe to respond, “So I did score an eighty percent?”
Dr. Blur looked up from her clipboard. “Yes, Miss Ervaring, you did score an eighty percent.” I was able to let out a sigh of relief. “But there hasn’t been a mistake with the blue dress.”
Dr. Blur collected the pages back into an organized stack. “Let’s be honest Miss Ervaring. An eighty percent is just barely squeezing by on the Mother Examination. It could have easily been a seventy-nine as it could have been an eighty.”
“But it was an eighty.”
“But that is not the problem with the Mother Mall. You see there has been a surplus of mothers on the second floor. There really isn’t much of a demand for them right now. Most of the husbands in the market for a mother are either looking for a high end mother or one of the lower end mothers. A score of eighty doesn’t qualify for you to be placed on the top floor of the Mall. So that places you on the bottom floor where there is a higher demand. That’s the reason you have been given the blue denim dress. Does that make sense?”
I stood there stammering, “But I got an eighty percent.”
Dr. Blur took a couple of steps closer to me and Steven followed behind her. “Yes, Miss Ervaring, you already said that and I explained to you what the real problem is. It has nothing to do with what you scored, Miss Ervaring. It is more a matter of economics. We need mothers for the lower class. You’ve been chosen to be one of those mothers.”
“But I got an eighty percent.”
“I’m not a lower class mother. I’m a middle class mother. I got an eighty percent.” I was hysterical. Dr. Blur’s explanation made no sense to me. It should have been a matter of black and white, but she was throwing grey into the mix. It didn’t seem fair to me. I could care less if they needed women to take over the lower class families. I had worked hard on the program after I had accepted what was necessary, but that did not seem to matter to these people. All they cared about was the demand of their society. I did not understand why I needed to be a part of their concerns.
While I continued on babbling about how I had gotten an eighty percent, I moved closer to where Dr. Blur stood in the middle of the room. My arms were raised and I waved them about madly as I tried to make her understand I deserved a green dress and not a denim blue one. She tried to calm me down by stating my name over and over again. Mr. Clicky-Pen waved down in front of me as if he would simmer me down, but I continued to move her and that infernal pen closer to the corner of the room. I needed for Dr. Blur to understand. I needed Mr. Clicky-Pen to quit concerning himself about my business and my affairs. I needed to get out of the Capital Limited Re-education Center and be placed with a loving family who met my needs and my lifestyle.
Dr. Blur stopped moving when she was backed into the corner of the room. I grabbed her by the shoulders and started to shake her as I yelled over and over, “I GOT AN EIGHTY PERCENT.” That was when I felt the needle being jammed into my arm. I had completely forgotten about Steven. He was injecting some liquid into my veins. My panic hit a new high, but it was quickly quelled as the clear liquid in the hypodermic needle began to race into my bloodstream. I don’t even remember slumping down to the floor. Everything went black and the argument I was trying to have was over as far as Dr. Blur and Steven were concerned.
When I came back to, I was slumped in a chair. I could feel my body flopped over it like rag doll. My butt barely hung onto the edge and my legs were shot out directly in front of me. My left arm was pinched into the chair’s arm rest. I could feel the flow of blood cut off from it to the rest of my body. My head was drooped over to the left side and rested on my left shoulder. My right side of my neck was stiff from being placed in such an awkward position. Drool had been dribbling out of the corner of my mouth for awhile and I could feel where it was pooling up on the clothes I was wearing.
I hadn’t bothered to open my eyes yet because my head felt as if it was swimming just under the surface of the ocean during a turbulent storm. It swayed and rocked to some unrecognizable beat thumping through my temples. I groaned, hoping it would alleviate some of the pressure, but it only made my head hurt more.
I heard the sound of people walking around in front of me. I could feel their eyes upon me, but I still didn’t want to open mine because doing so would require me to acknowledge the feeling I was having. I wished I could ignore the pain for just a little longer. They tried to whisper to keep things from me, but I could still hear what they were saying.
“What do you think happened to them?”
“I don’t know, but they were like this when I got here.”
“Do you think they drug them in here and placed them like that?”
“After the couple of months I have been through, anything is possible at this point. They were definitely put in here against their will. I worked with both of them in the kitchen the last couple of weeks and look, they are both wearing the blue dresses right now.”
“According to them, neither of them was supposed to get the blue dresses.”
“Well, you can’t trust them. That one, Rachael I think her name is, took forever to become a part of the program. I had a few classes with her and it took her forever to accept wearing the dress in the first place. As far as you know, she could say anything to make herself look better in our eyes.”
“But I saw the results of her Mother Examination. She was so excited she scored what she needed to in order to be wearing a green dress. She got an eighty percent. According to my understanding, she shouldn’t be wearing the blue dress.”
“What about the other one?”
“She was supposed to be in white.” Hearing this, made me stir a little bit more.
“Quiet, one of them is starting to wake up.”
I slowly blinked my eyes open so I was able to adjust them to the light of the room. I saw the room was full of my other classmates and they were all wearing the dresses they were supposed to. There were a lot of them in their green dresses as they milled about the room. I raised my head from where it rested on my shoulder and tried to sit up in the chair they flopped me down in. A dull ache thumped against my brain and I had to quickly close my eyes in order to make the pain bearable. When I was able to get my head to quit swimming, I slowly opened my eyes. I looked down at myself. I had been dressed in the blue dress while I was knocked out, and I could see the puddle of drool on my shoulder make a nice stain adding to my humiliation. I was in too much pain to care much about what I was dressed in at the moment.
I looked around the room, and I could see various women huddled together trying to avert their eyes from where I was sitting and whispering into their hands. I felt like the center of attention and it made me even more self-conscious. I wanted to rip off the dress and run from the room naked, but pins and needles ran up my left arm from being slouched in the chair in such an awkward position. The rest of my body felt so worn I could barely move it to make sure it worked the way it was supposed to. It wasn’t worth the effort and I came to the realization it wasn’t the women in the room I should be mad at. It was the system that placed me in such a precarious situation. These women were just trying to get their lives back together just as I was. It wasn’t fair of me to place blame on them because they had fallen victim to the same unfair circumstances. I should have felt proud they were going to be able to break away from this situation without the same troubles I was going to encounter. I left them to their whispers and their pains because their lives were full of just as many uncertainties as my life was.
I looked to the right of me and I saw another woman slumped in a different chair wearing a denim blue dress as well. She was also starting to stir from her slumber. As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, she looked down at her situation. I could see the pain flow into her face as she realized she was not given the opportunity she should have. My heart sank when I recognized it was Sandy. If I thought about the travesty of the way I was treated, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how she must have felt. She was meant to walk down the aisle during graduation wearing white. Her husband was supposed to take her home to her children tonight. I couldn’t imagine him changing his mind at the last minute and deciding she wasn’t worth hanging on to. There was no way he would have asked for a divorce at the last minute.
I reached over to Sandy and squeezed her wrist to show her I felt some empathy for her. She looked up from the dress she was wearing and looked over at me. Tears were welling up in her eyes.
“Sandy, what’s going on?”
She leaned over and hugged me tightly. “Oh Rachael, please tell me this a bad dream. Please tell me they don’t plan on selling me off as a cheap discount.”
I wanted to comfort her in her grief and tell her what she wanted to hear, but I knew anything coming out of my mouth would be a lie. Instead, I took her in my embrace, and cradled her head in my hand.
“They told me yesterday I would be shipped off to the Mother Mall today wearing a blue dress.”
“But Sandy, I thought your husband was going to come by and take you home tonight.”
“Dr. Blur… Dr. Blur said…” She stumbled over her words unable to get them out.
“What did Dr. Blur say, honey?” I asked her as I patted her head and calmed her down.
“Dr. Blur said this was not the way re-education worked. It seems Jeffery needed to come up with the money they spent on my re-education and if he was unable to do so by the time of my graduation than an automatic divorce would be implemented. In order to make their money back, they would sell me at the Mother Mall. They told me this just yesterday, and acted like I should have known about this the whole time.”
“Wasn’t your husband able to come up with money?”
She really started to cry and that moment. “Where is he supposed to come up with money like that? We were barely making ends meet to begin with. All of the doctor bills were piling up just to keep my daughter alive. That’s not to mention the mortgage, food, clothes, and transportation. How is he supposed to add the expense of re-educating his wife on top of all of those other expenses? What they are asking of us is impossible.”
I just couldn’t believe this was happening to her. There was no way this was legal. They couldn’t just divorce two people because it helped them meet their financial ends. If re-education was so expensive, why did they require mothers to go through it and then tell them the expense of providing this service was placed upon them? It was absurd, and it made me so angry I no longer thought about my problems. I started to feel genuine pain for what Sandy was going through.
“Can they do that? Don’t they need the signature of one of the people in the marriage in order to make the divorce stick?”
She looked up at me. “That’s what you don’t understand. He did sign it. I know they forced him to sign it. He wouldn’t have signed it if they didn’t have something hanging over his head. They must have threatened to take away the children if he didn’t sign the papers.”
My thoughts went back to the night of my voyage to the Old Stone Church. I hoped what she was telling me was closer to the truth. I had never met her husband before, but after I saw Robert move on without me, I began to wonder if all the men in the world were nothing more than slime. I was sure they would do anything in their power to have a new woman if one was available for them. I was sure my view on men at that time would not help with her situation, so instead I thought it was better to comfort her by saying, “I’m sure you’re right honey. Everything you’ve told me about your husband points to him being a wonderful man. He would never do anything to jeopardize his love for you and your children.”
“Do you think so?”
“I know so.”
I wasn’t able to comfort her anymore because Dr. Blur walked into the room. A hush fell over the ladies as she walked over to a set of double doors at the far end of the room. She stood there patiently as everybody gave her their attention. When she had what she wanted, she said, “Okay, ladies, it is time to get ready for your graduation.”
It was meant to be inspiring, but only half of the room started to cheer after they heard her say it. The rest of us performed the conciliatory clap and waited for what else she needed to tell us.
“I need you all to line up in your groups. The gold dresses first, followed by the green, blue, secretaries, and then nurses.” I suddenly remembered there was supposed to be a woman in a red dress as well. I looked around to see if I could find her, but instead when I looked behind me, I saw Steven standing there looking down at Sandy and me.
“Ladies, I suggest you get moving to your spots.” He leaned down closer to both of us so we could see his bloodshot eyes. “Now!”
The threat was real enough and we got up to find our places. We made our way towards the back of the line. There were quite a few more women in blue dresses than we expected and fewer women in nurse uniforms and secretary clothes. We were required to walk in the hall in two columns and I stood next to the woman who was supposed to enter the graduation in the red dress. She looked as if she had the same headache Sandy and I were experiencing. I wondered how many more women were thrown into a blue dress to make the re-education process more profitable. I thought about running from the hall and trying to make it on my own outside in the harsh desert. It would had to have been better than what my fate offered after graduation. When I looked over to the side, I saw Steven standing there with his arms crossed looking directly at me and shaking his head. I decided I would have to find another way and another time to save myself from this hell. I returned my attention to Dr. Blur.
“Remember ladies, this is a big moment for the re-education program and we need you to put on our best faces. Big smiles and stand up straight. Show them how proud we are of you.”
The double doors opened and the song “Pomp and Circumstance” could be heard playing from loud speakers somewhere in the room. The mothers in the gold dresses made their way into the room. I could see flashes of lights exploding as soon as they entered. Sandy was standing right in front of me and before she crossed the threshold into the room, she looked back at me with a worried expression on her face. I smiled at her to reassure her, but I didn’t know how helpful my gesture actually was.
She crossed into the room and I could see a hand from the other side of the wall reach out and grab her wrist. She was tugged from out of the line and a collective gasp came from the politicians, reporters, and merchants inside of the room. I stepped inside and looked to see what happened to Sandy. I saw her running down a skinny aisle towards a door on the far side of the room. She was being led by a man wearing ragged khaki pants, a faded black shirt and skinny tie.
My attention was directed away from the scene when I heard Dr. Blur shout from where she stood at the front of the procession, “Stop them.”
Steven was still in the place where the ladies were standing in line and he tried to push his way into the graduation room. He was wiggling his way around me so he could give the renegade mother pursuit. It hit me that this might be Sandy’s last chance to escape into a life of happiness, so I stuck out my foot and watched as Steven took a vicious tumble onto the floor. I felt proud of myself as I saw him sprawled out.
I looked up to see how Sandy was doing with her escape. She had made her way to the door, but Dr. Blur had taken it upon herself to stop the renegade from ruining her ceremony. She left her place in line and ran over to where the two were pushing their way through the crowd. The good doctor flew through the air like a linebacker sent after the quarterback. Her arms were spread out wide. Mr. Clicky-Pen still waved madly from her right hand. She gathered the renegade couple up in her arms and threw them to the ground. They all disappeared from my point of view as the crowd moved in to watch the show unfold for them.
Dr. Blur came back into view as she stood up. She had a wild look in her eyes as she looked down at the two deviants on the floor. “Get back in line, bitch!” she screamed at them.
She raised up her right fist with Mr. Clicky-Pen in it. He threatened the couple on the floor by pointing his dangerous tip down at them. Dr. Blur jumped at the couple like a wrestler performing a body slam on one of his enemies. With her right hand she came down in a stabbing motion. An arch of blood rain squirted in the air from where the action was taking place. The crowd gasped in awe.