Mallaidh’s stomach grumbled. Having only managed to finish a small bowl of porridge along with half a glass of water, she was hungry, despite the plentiful offerings that would have been tempting at any other time. Even then, it had been a great effort to get it down and keep it there.
When the others returned, Molly stood apart, leaning against a wall, one hand massaging her stomach with a slow, pulsing motion. She didn’t want to throw up; it made her worry about whether she needed to take her medication again. Lots of things made her worry.
From the outside, she might seem rather dour, brow knitted and lips pouting.
She recoiled at the sudden appearance of the strange, shimmering doorways through reality. She watched Lady Eve, and all the others, each retrieving similar, if-not-identical, files. Only after everyone else had stuck their hand into the aether did Mallaidh follow suit. Despite being last, her heart still leapt forward against her chest when she watched her hand disappear.
It didn’t get much better after she had retrieved the dossier. Lady Eve gave a brief summation, and as Molly comprehended it, a wave of guilt washed over and blurred the words. She tried to read them. And again. It was no use; she couldn’t focus. Missing children? Just like home… What she had done would always catch up with her, it seemed. Anxiety’s iron fist wrapped itself around her throat and the air was getting thin. Bullets of sweat trickled down her forehead. Her eyes darted to everyone, only once, and then glued themselves to the dossier and the jumbled words she could not read, no matter how hard she tried. Breathe. Why did she always forget to breathe?
Only half mindful of what had been said by the others, she watched some leave. She was glad of that; they seemed resolute in the supernatural nature of this, and so far, Mallaidh hadn’t heard anything to convince her that was the case. She’d feel less stupid voicing her doubts now the most vehement were absent.
“Uhm, Lady Eve,” her voice was a wavering trill. She cleared her throat, and tried to sound calmer, “Are we to treat this as explicitly, uhm, special? It doesn’t seem beyond the scope of… natural evil. The parents could simply be good liars.”
She took a deep breath to steady her voice, which had begun dropping towards a lower octave, “So, is there something that concretely sets it apart that I’ve missed?”