Magical Girl Syn
by Jennifer Kohl
“Are you sure you’re okay on the floor?” Cynthia asked Morgan, aware she was asking it for the fourth time.
“I’m fine!” Morgan insisted. “You’re the guest, and I’ve got plenty of cushions down here.”
“Well... okay,” said Cynthia. She tugged at the old t-shirt of Morgan’s she was wearing as a nightgown. Morgan was a lot taller than her, but thinner, so the shirt more or less fit. “Thank you.”
Morgan shrugged. “Like I said, I’m perfectly comfortable down here.”
“No, I mean...” Cynthia waved an arm to indicate their surroundings and the entire situation. “Thank you.”
“Oh!” Morgan replied. “Well... we’re both running from the same guy, right?”
“Yeah,” said Cynthia. “But it’s my fault you got into this mess.”
Morgan grinned. “Nah, I decided to blame Lawrence for it.”
Cynthia laughed, a little, then went somber again. “I feel like I haven’t laughed in a long time,” she said.
“Yeah,” Morgan replied. “You know, that was the main thing that drew me to Lawrence. He could make me laugh, and I realized I hadn’t done that in a long time, either.”
“I used to laugh a lot,” Cynthia said. “I... I didn’t had much, but I had Ruth, and—” She waved her hands as she ran out of words. She felt like something was bulging in her throat, pushing down her words, making it hard to breathe, pressing against the backs of her eyes and making her tear up.
“Who’s that?” Morgan asked. “A sister?”
Cynthia shook her head, then stopped. “She... she kind of was? I—I’ve never had a family, I’ve lived my whole life at St. Anne’s. Ruth and I, we were left there the same day, and—and...” She could feel that pressure expanding, could barely see through the lenses of water in her eyes. “We’ve never been apart before.” She couldn’t hold it back anymore.
“Hey, hey now,” said Morgan, getting up and sitting on the bed next to Cynthia. “Don’t—it’s okay, don’t cry.” She awkwardly patted Cynthia on the shoulder.
Cynthia turned, threw her arms around Morgan, buried her face in her chest, and sobbed. She could feel Morgan tense up in her arms, but then the other woman seemed to relax, and put her arms around Cynthia.
“Shh,” said Morgan. “Shh shh shh shh shh...”
Cynthia’s tears shuddered to a stop, and she looked up at Morgan, eyes wide and red. “How do you do it?” she asked. “When I’m her I’m not scared, but when I’m me, I just—how are you so calm?“
“Calm?” Morgan laughed bitterly. “I’m fucking terrified, kid. The cops are after me, the whole city’s gone insane, fucking magic exists now apparently... I’m so scared I ran right back to my parents!” She flinched. “Oh, sorry.“
Cynthia shook her head. “No, it’s okay. I get it, sort of. I wish I could go back to the nuns. Well, no, not really, but back to Ruth.”
“You really love her,” Morgan replied.
“I mean, of course! She’s my best friend, my sister. And she’s so gorgeous, you have no idea. And smart, and kind, and—and—”
Morgan grinned. “Oh yeah, you’ve got it bad.”
“What?” Cynthia sat up sharply. “No, it’s not like that! I just—she’s—” She could feel her face getting hot, and she knew she must be blushing crimson.
Morgan laughed and patted Cynthia. “I was just teasing. Got you to stop crying, didn’t it?”
“Hmmph,” said Cynthia. “I’ll have you know, I like boys!”
“So do I,” Morgan replied. “Doesn’t mean either of us doesn’t like girls.”
Cynthia’s blush deepened. “I told you, I don’t—! I’m not—!” OK, sure, Syn will go for anything with a pulse, but that’s not me, that’s her!
Morgan laughed again.
“I thought you said you didn’t laugh much?” Cynthia asked, desperate to change the subject.
“I also said I liked Lawrence because he made me laugh. Maybe I like you, too.”
“Um—” Cynthia started, pulling back from Morgan. “I—I don’t—”
Morgan shook her head. “You’re too young for me, kid. If you were a couple years older, maybe, but I’m not into high-schoolers. Sorry, I hope we can still be friends.”
Cynthia was now brick red, verging on maroon. She shook with confusion and indignation, sputtering as she tried to come up with a response.
Morgan held her serious expression for just a moment, then burst out laughing. “Oh, you are fun to tease!’
“You—” Cynthia sputtered. “I—”
Morgan patted her on the head, then got up. “Get some sleep. We have a reprieve for now, but who knows how long it’ll last.”
But it took Cynthia a long time to fall asleep. Complicated, confusing thoughts tumbled through her head—Morgan’s mock flirtation, her insinuations about Ruth, which were obvious nonsense, of course.
Even if they’re not, she would never, Cynthia thought. And that was a certainty she could focus on, to help keep her away from that distressingly uncertain if.
Half a state away and the next morning, Ruth walked slowly back to her dorm after breakfast. There wasn’t really anything to do there, or anywhere really. The dorms were near-empty during the summer, while the school was out of session, and the only other orphans living there were half her age or younger. That was why she’d always roomed with Cynthia, why they’d always stuck together, inseparable.
She supposed she could go back on those Internet forums she’d stumbled across. Weird phenomena, monsters, angels. But really what she wanted was to know what happened to Cynthia, and what connection she had to the angel that had... saved her from something. Or something like that, Ruth’s memory of that night was extremely fuzzy.
Except I do know, don’t I? Ruth thought. The angel’s face won’t stay in memory, but I know that somehow it was her. Cynthia came back and the angel came, the angel left and she was gone. But that doesn’t make any sense!
Cynthia was her friend, her best friend. Only friend, really; most of the kids at school tended to keep away from the orphans, and the other orphans were too young. They’d been together since they were babies! There was no way Cynthia could be anything other than, well, Cynthia. Ruth would know!
“Oh hi! Ruth, right?”
Ruth turned at the familiar voice, and froze. It was that woman, the reporter, the one who had—
“Remember me? Meghan?”
“Yeah,” said Ruth. “Sorry, but I’m—” She tried to walk away, but the other woman laid a hand on her arm.
“This would only take a moment,” said Meghan.
Ruth shook her head. This woman had offered her help, but had led her to... to whatever it was going on in the Mayor’s office. Ruth didn’t know what it was, but it had felt at least as strange as the angel—and very much in the opposite direction. “I don’t want to.”
“Don’t be silly,” Meghan replied, smiling. “Wouldn’t you like to see your name in the paper? To find your friend?”
Ruth shook her head. “Not—not with you.”
“Whyever not?” Meghan asked, looking hurt. “I’m trying to be your friend, Ruth. Trying to help you and to help your friend. I told you before, I know people who can find her. If you hadn’t run away—”
“I don’t trust the people you took me to,” Ruth answered, pulling away. “And I don’t trust you.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.” Meghan looked genuinely pained, and for a moment, Ruth hesitated. “I’m not with them anymore. But I still want to help you, if you’ll let me.”
Ruth paused, studying Meghan’s face. “No,” she said finally. “I’ll look on my own.” She started to turn away.
Meghan lunged forward and grabbed her arm, then yanked her painfully around. “Listen, I know you know. Something weird’s going on with your friend, and you know something about it, don’t you? Don’t bother lying, it’s written all over your face.”
“You’re hurting me,” Ruth protested. “I’ll scream!”
“No, you won’t,” said an unfamiliar woman’s voice from behind her.
Ruth tried to scream, but no sound came out. I’ve had this nightmare, she thought, and desperately tried to pull away from Meghan’s vice-like grip. Please, please let this be a dream, let me wake up—
Then she was face to face with the woman. She was beautiful, red-haired and with green eyes that seemed to loom huge in Ruth’s vision. They had little gold flecks in them, she noticed, flecks that sparkled as the eyes loomed larger and larger, seeming to fill everything.
Her fear was draining away. She tried to hold onto it, knowing that the worst thing she could do was relax and stop struggling, but it was so hard in the midst of all that soft soothing green. Without the fear to hold it up, her anger fell away as well. There was only the calm drifting greenness and the beautiful sparkling gold and the ever-growing feeling of peace and safety and contentment.
She was barely aware of feeling her mouth droop open, her eyes glazing over. It didn’t matter; nothing did. She could float off, sink down, fade.
From somewhere came a voice, telling her things. It was the only sound in the stillness, and she couldn’t help but latch onto it. It echoed in her head, guiding her to think about Cynthia, and she did. Her friend, her closest companion, whom she missed so terribly. A wave of sorrow washed over Ruth, and then drained away just like everything else. There was no room for sorrow in all this comfortable warm happiness.
It felt so good to drift and relax and let her thoughts go where the voice guided. She could relax into the pleasure and feel it building slowly, urging her on. Memories of hugs, the accidental brushing of hands, seeing Cynthia undressing before bed every night. Feelings that—
That had to be locked away, kept safe, kept hidden, never even to be looked at, because it was wrong, it was dangerous—
Green. Soothing peaceful green and sparkling gold. Drifting, floating, safe here in her own head. The voice didn’t judge. It liked where her thoughts had gone, approved, wanted her to feel good about it. She wanted that too. Wanted the heat she felt to build, wanted to imagine more, to at last indulge the fantasies she’d tried so long to hold at bay.
Of course Cynthia was an angel. What else could she be? Beautiful, and beloved, and—
Ruth gasped in pleasure, shuddering as Meghan held her upright.
“It’s definitely her,” said the strange woman whose voice sounded so much like the one that had been in Ruth’s head.
“Are you sure, Mistress?” Meghan asked.
“No question. The girl we’re looking for is her missing roommate. I have a name, a face, everything we need.”
That was probably bad, Ruth knew, but it was so hard to focus on while she was silently gasping and whimpering in pleasure that went on and on, even after the two women were gone. Slowly it faded, leaving her feeling deliciously tired and sleepy. She staggered slowly back into her room, collapsed into her bed, and let the world go swimmy and dim for a while.
But then she sat bolt upright. “Cynthia!”
Morgan woke to find the bedroom empty. Yawning, she pulled on some clothes and plodded downstairs.
“Good morning, sleepyhead!” her mother said cheerfully. “It’s nearly noon!”
Morgan glanced at the kitchen clock. “It’s ten-thirty, Mom.”
“Which is far too close to noon to be sleeping in that late!”
Morgan sighed. She knew that there would be no winning this. “Fine,” she replied. “Where’re my friends?”
“Lawrence is helping your father,” her mother answered, beaming. “Cynthia is in the your father’s study, on his computer.”
Morgan froze. “His what?” She rushed out of the room and down the hall. She found Cynthia, as she’d feared, on social media.
“What are you doing?” Morgan demanded. “Do you not understand, they could—”
“Find us?” asked Cynthia. “How? This account’s not under my real name.”
“They could be monitoring—” Morgan began.
“If they’re watching us here, they’ve already got us,” Cynthia pointed out, reasonably.
“It’s still an unnecessary risk,” Morgan replied. “Why do you even have an account with a false name?”
Cynthia shrugged. “Ruth and I wanted somewhere we could talk and make friends that the nuns wouldn’t know about.”
“So she knows about it? That’s even more dangerous! What if—” Morgan stopped at the expression on Cynthia’s face. “What is it?”
“It’s Ruth,” Cynthia said. “She said someone came after her, looking for me. She’s worried next time they’ll hurt her.” She turned to Morgan, her face contorted in fear. “We have to bring her out here! She’s—!”
“No!” Morgan snapped. “Shut it down, now!”
“But—” Cynthia started.
Blanching, Cynthia meekly obeyed. “Why—”
“Because if they’re watching Ruth, they might have seen her fake name account, and used it to find yours. And if they’re watching that, they could trace it here!“
“We need to leave, don’t we?” Cynthia asked.
“Yeah,” said Morgan. “I have no idea how far Feiticeiro’s tentacles stretch, especially with him gone, but I’m not waiting for them to hit here. My parents should be safe as long as we’re not here. The only question is where to go.”
“If Ruth’s in danger, we have to go back for her.”
“Fuck no! I’m not going back to the city! The cops are probably already looking for me, for fucking murder!“
Cynthia stood and glared up at Morgan. “I’m going to help Ruth,” she said firmly. “We can drive there together, or, or I can change and run back to the city.“
“It’s over 90 and hundreds of miles!” Morgan retorted.
Cynthia smiled grimly. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem for her.“
Morgan closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “There’s no talking sense into you, is there? All right. We go back, we grab your friend, and then we get the fuck out of town, all right?“
“So do you think she sent the message?” Meghan asked Carice.
“I’m certain she has by now,” the witch replied. “I made sure to leave her with the impression that it was very important to warn her friend that they were both in danger. It’s sure to lure her out of hiding, and then...“
“She’s ours,” said Meghan.