Chapter Thirteen: Charisa
The first thing I do when I wake up is whisper, “Two. Four. Six. Eight.”
Kyle doesn’t answer.
When Wanda comes to fetch Faith and me, I have to bite back my questions about Kyle’s location. I can’t let her know we have any communication link.
But where is he?
After cleaning up, Faith and I are led to the cafeteria. Wanda leaves and returns shortly with Tim.
But not Kyle.
I stand so quickly my chair falls over. “Where is Kyle- Three?!” I demand.
Wanda frowns at me, like she can’t believe I knocked her furniture down like that. “He’s in detention.”
“Wait- you’re telling me that being kept in this underground bunker against our will isn’t detention?!”
“No. And if you want to see Three any time soon, I suggest you remember yourself.”
I clench my fists and grit my teeth, trying not to give into the temptation to punch her out. “Oh, I do. I remember that I am a human being, and I don’t belong here. And that’s the truth.”
“Why are you so obsessed with the truth?”
“Because, if I know the truth, then it will set me free.”
Wanda narrows her eyes at me, but then turns and walks away.
I turn to Tim. “When did you last see Kyle?”
“Yesterday morning,” he answers, his face a cross between apathy and concern. “Right before I was dragged away to test the ‘Cure.’”
“You haven’t seen him since then?”
Tim shakes his head sadly.
Wanda returns with our food, but I have no appetite.
When Faith and I are returned to our cell, I begin pacing. And reciting even numbers under my breath.
“Three. Five. Seven. Nine.”
I stop in my tracks. “Kyle?!”
“The one and only,” he assures from wherever he is. “I’ve just returned from detention. They returned me to my cell and took Tim away again.”
“Why were you in detention anyway?”
“Oh, the usual. Yesterday afternoon, I tried to contact you, but you didn’t answer.”
I bite my lip. “Sorry about that. I… couldn’t.”
“I assumed as much. So when they came to escort me to the running track room, I broke away and started searching for you. I didn’t find you. Where were you?”
The shame of that room and what they did to us and how helpless we were washes over me. “Somewhere… soundproof. You shouldn’t have done that.”
“I should have. Because while I didn’t find you, I did find the control room of this place. I was able to sabotage all the cameras before they found me again.”
I grab the wall to support myself. “You did what?!”
“I know- I’m awesome. We’re escaping at the first possible moment. Maybe with the cameras out, we’ll be able to find an exit before they notice we’re gone…”
“I know where an exit is. When they took me to test the ‘Cure’-”
“They did what?!”
Before I can repeat myself, my cell door bursts open, revealing Wanda and two guard. Wanda points at Faith’s corner, and one of the guards grabs her.
“What?!” Faith cries. “Not again! Not again!”
The other guard steps towards me.
“Leave her,” Wanda orders. “Jin has special plans for her.” With that, she, the two guards, and Faith leave the room, slamming the door behind them.
“Chrissie?” Kyle says.
“Twelve hours,” I answer. “We’ll escape in twelve hours. When they return Tim to your cell, steal either Jin’s or Wanda’s key card-”
“Wait- you’re actually going to let me steal something?!”
“Shut it and listen. Once you have Tim and the key card, follow my voice and make your way to my cell for Faith and me. Then we’ll all return to the ‘Cure’s’ lab and take the elevator to freedom.”
“You know that there are, oh, so many ways that plan could go wrong, right?”
I sigh. “I know; but I’m willing to risk it. I’d rather die trying to escape than live in bondage any longer. I refuse to live in this bunker of lies any longer. I know the truth-”
“And it will set us free,” Kyle agrees.
Just moments after I announce the escape plan, my cell door reopens. Wanda stands on the other side with- what else?- two guards.
“What?” I demand.
In reply, the two guards grab each of my arms.
“What?” I demand again as I’m dragged out of my cell.
“We don’t have time to be idle,” Wanda answers. “While One and Two are unconscious, we must use you and Three to your full extent.”
“What do you want with me?”
Wanda’s lips curl in what might pass for a smile if it were on anyone but her. “The truth.”
The guards drag me past several doorways- more than I’ve ever passed before. At the end of the hallway, we meet up with Jin and two other guards holding Kyle.
I smile at Kyle it’s like a breath of fresh air to see him again- and fresh air is rare in this underground bunker.
However, Kyle doesn’t seem to notice me; he’s too busy glaring at the twin doors we’re standing outside of.
“Why detention again?” Kyle asks. “I didn’t do anything this time.”
“This will all be over soon,” Jin assures before clearing his throat. “We’re just going to ask you and Four some questions about-” He clears his throat again. “About stuff. Carry on, Wanda.”
Wanda nods and lets herself into one of the two doors. The two guards holding me down follow.
The room is small and dimly lit. a single light hanging from the ceiling serves as the only illumination. A table and two chairs stand below the lights.
I lick my lips. This whole set-up reminds me too much of Uncle Rivers.
“Have a seat,” Wanda orders, taking one herself.
My guards push me down into a chair and then release me. Defiantly, I stand up and then sit down on my own accord.
If Wanda notices, she doesn’t address it. “Now, I’m going to ask you a few questions. If you cooperate, no one gets hurt. If not…” She pats her pocket where her remote of pain probably lies. “And don’t bother lying to me. Your friend is being question as well. And if your stories don’t match up, you’ll both be punished.”
I keep my face as emotionless as possible to disguise the tumult of emotion inside.
What am I supposed to do?
Wanda seems bothered by may mask. “Don’t believe me? There he is over there.” Wanda points to one of the walls, which is actually a half window. Kyle is on the other side of the window, sitting in an identical chair, glaring at Jin.
“Kyle!” I call.
Kyle doesn’t respond in any way.
“They’re soundproof,” Wanda explains. “Now, first question: how did you acquire the leaf that gave you your superpowers?”
I don’t answer.
“I’ll ask you one more time. How did you acquire your superpowers?”
“You don’t deserve the truth,” I retort.
“Very well.” Wanda reaches into her pocket.
My anklet begins electrifying me. I cling to the arms of my chair to keep from falling out.
“Tell me,” Wanda orders.
I ignore her and try to ignore the pain.
I still don’t. I can smell my skin burning. The pain is overwhelming. “You… didn’t… say… please.”
Wanda sighs and reaches her hand back into her pocket.
The shocks immediately stop.
And Kyle practically flies out of his chair.
“Stop it!” I scream.
In response, I jump out of my chair, soar across the table, and land on top of her.
Immediately, both guards join our dog pile, but I cling to Wanda. Groping her, I finally find her pocket. I remove the remote and crush it before being pulled off of Wanda.
Wanda quickly stands up and brushes herself off. “Take her back to the cell. Roughly.”
The guards obey. They drag me out of the room. They administer several kicks as they lead me to my cell, where they toss me in. then they slam the door behind me.
I stand up and brush myself off. Then I glance around my cell. Still no Faith.
“Two. Four. Six. Eight,” Kyle calls.
“Three. Five. Seven. Nine,” I answer. “I’m in my cell. You?”
“The same. Because you destroyed the remote, they couldn’t threaten to use it against you.”
“Did you tell them anything?”
Kyle takes a deep breath. “I tried to ignore you and anything they were doing to you, but when they electrocuted you, I sensed it. So I told them that I received the leaves as an anonymous gift several years ago.”
I breathe a sight of relief. “Did you tell them anything else?”
“No- and I wasn’t planning to either. And even if I was, I was suddenly electrocuted… I have a feeling that Wanda will not be getting the best lab assistant of the month award.”
“Well, we have a big day ahead of us, so try getting some sleep until Faith rejoins you. If anything happens, signal me immediately. Though, I doubt that they’ll be bothering either of us for a while. Probably not with lunch, sadly.”
“Got it. Over and out.” I try not to think of how hungry I am. Or all the food I got to eat yesterday…
I climb into bed and instead focus on more attainable things. Like freedom.
Because it will be mine. Tomorrow.