Everything is grey. The buildings, the cars. Everything. What little color there is is muted and washed. It’s quiet. A wind blows through, hardly startling the weeds that pop up in the between the cracks in the pavement, but it makes no sound.
A can is suddenly thrown out onto the street. It makes a muffled clank on the road as it bounces twice before rolling to a halt by the curb.
Adult Grace steps out onto the sidewalk, surveying the area. She meanders across the street to a nearby building, pulling down a fire escape ladder and ascending up towards the roof.
The view is dismal. Far off in the distance, there’s a mild fog, but that’s about it.
Grace walks over to a blanket and picks it up. It’s ragged and has probably been in every gutter and alleyway. Grace doesn’t seem to mind. She holds it out and folds it in half.
The wind picks up. The blanket starts flapping, softly at first, but then more and more violently. Grace regards it suspiciously. Slowly, she turns around to take a looks behind her.
A twister is not more than half a mile away, and getting closer. It hardly makes a sound. Sign posts, cars, and other debris whirl around it.
Grace drops the blanket. It flies away in the wind.
Grace rushes down the fire escape, her hair whipping all over the place. She can see that cars in the street are beginning to slide down the road. The twister is closing in fast.
A stop sign comes speeding out of nowhere and rams into Grace’s left side, sending her crashing to the ground. There’s a large gash on her side that leaks blood through her shirt. It pools on the ground.
The edges of the pool begin to turn black and start creeping towards the center, turning Grace’s blood black.
“Oh, no, no, no.” Grace panics.
Grace rolls over onto her stomach and forces herself up on all fours. The blackness completely overtakes the small pool of blood on the ground.
Grace manages to crawl farther back into an alley, where the wind is not nearly as strong and anything heavier than a tin can stays put. Out on the main street, however, car parts and tree limbs are still being thrown about.
Grace looks down at her side. She’s clutching it well, trying to prevent more blood from spilling out. Carefully, she takes her blood-stained hand off to inspect the wound. A section has turned black and has creeped up to the blood into the wound. It’s just a little, but it’s enough. Grace stares in horror.
The blood drips off of Grace’s fingers.
A vial of blood crashed to the ground and shattered. Blood splattered across the white, tiled floor. The poor lab assistant who dropped it stood in shock.
Chex stared at Adult Grace, mortified.
“How?” was all Chex could manage to spit out.
Little Grace stood up in her chair. Everyone had been ignoring her so far, but this was something that directly concerned her.
“We’re not two separate people.” She said. “I mean, we are. She’s there and I’m here. But we’re not like twins or something. Or even clones. She is me.”
“But that shouldn’t matter.” Chex disputed. “What goes on in her body doesn’t have anything to do with yours. She’s 20-something, and you’re eight. If she’s connected to you in a way that could do you harm, then she’s also connected to you in a way that would make you older, too. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“The world doesn’t exist to make sense for you.” Adult Grace said.
“It has to do with our minds.” Little Grace said, hopping down from her chair. “We were originally the same mind. But then we got split and she took half.”
“You took half.” Adult Grace spat at the little girl.
Little Grace reached up to stand on her toes, fists clenched and neck outstretched at Adult Grace.
“Just because you’re older doesn’t make you more of me than me!”
Little Grace had to yell to keep her voice steady. Adult Grace raised an eyebrow at Little Grace.
“Grace, calm down, okay?” Chex said as he placed a hand on Little Grace’s shoulder.
“She thinks she’s the original.” Adult Grace said.
“I am the original!” Little Grace started crying.
“Hey, hey, cool it!” Chex intervened.
Chex lead Little Grace over to a seat and sat her down in it. He kneeled in front of her and brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes.
“It’ll be okay, Grace. It doesn’t matter.” He said to her before whipping towards Adult Grace. “And you! Stop provoking her.”
Adult Grace rolled her eyes.
“It doesn’t matter who’s the original right now.” Chex continued. “What’s important is how we figure out how to stop you from dying, and to do that, I need to know how you two are connected. So unless you don’t know, you need to tell me. Now.”
Adult Grace heaved an exasperated sigh.
“Our minds got split.” She said. “But it’s still just one mind stretched across more than one body. We think the same thoughts–and we don’t.”
“That doesn’t make any…”
“You don’t make any sense! Disappearing through a portal doesn’t make any sense! I swear if you say something doesn’t make sense one more time I will shove you into the next dimension!” Adult Grace snapped.
The room fell silent. Adult Grace took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry.” Adult Grace sighed. “This is difficult to explain. Grace and I, we share one mind. She can hear my thoughts and I can hear hers.”
She walked to the lab table and picked up a vial of her blood.
“This is my blood. My cells don’t just die. They’re aging faster. More of them are growing old and dying than my body can reproduce. I’m not going to keel over at any moment. I mean, I don’t think I will.”
She set down the vial.
“But if I die, then half of her mind is gone. And she will die from that.”
Adult Grace hopped up onto the lab counter and looked at Chex.
“Don’t say it doesn’t make sense because I will kill you.”
“I wasn’t going to say that.”
“He was.” Little Grace piped up.
“Okay, maybe I was.” Chex said. “But even if you died, Grace here could still survive with only half a brain.”
“We’re not talking about half a brain, Chex.” Little Grace said. “Half a mind.”
“It’s not physical, Chex,” said Adult Grace. “It’s psychological.”