The CSD finally found Miseri.
She had been caught up an Outlaw attack.
Just out past the slums on the north side of the wall. It was «DARK STAR». An Outlaw we've been trying to pin down for awhile now. My girl and her friends, they found them all — but only a handful survived. By the time the Sons reached the scene, the Outlaw had long since disappeared. The bastard.
The news broke my heart in two — yet I felt selfish hearing it. Most of those children's mothers and fathers weren't as lucky. At least my girl could finally come home. At least she could be safe in my arms again, I thought.
But the paramedics told me that wasn’t possible.
She’d become Afflicted.
I thought I was going to tear out my own throat when I heard the news. I still might at any moment.
They've placed Miseri in the Medical Ward — a few floors below my own office. I visited her and saw her through the glass. They got her penned off like an animal. Wouldn't let me get any closer to her. I told them again and again that I was her mother. But none of them cared.
"I don’t care if I become Afflicted too! She needs her mother there with her, goddamn it!"
That's the only thing I remember saying.
They told me that her Affliction was caught early, as if that might have provided me any comfort. It's unlikely to ever stabilize completely, but with medical treatment, it's possible the paramedics might be able to keep the effects from worsening. Miseri would be able to return to a relatively normal life. But everything that's required for that... Miseri wouldn't even have a home to come back to. I would have to sell everything we own just to cover a fraction of the medical costs. And that's not even including long-term care. I'm not even sure that a promotion in rank would help — that is, if the Archbishop was even serious about her offer that night.
I don't know what to do.
Zandes talked to me today. He's been doing a lot better as of late. Him and all the boys seemed to have recovered. Even Tell managed to show up back to work again. Whatever happened that night seemed to have faded into oblivion. The poor kid even gave me a hug, told me he had heard what happened, said everything would be alright.
"My brother went through the same thing," he mumbled. "I know how it feels. It's hell."
"You're being too nice to me," I replied softly.
"Just returning the favor, is all," he responded.
I felt myself begin to cry.