Mind of Darkness

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Chapter Twenty-Nine: Emily

Christopher is waiting for me outside with a backpack.

“We have to hurry,” I say, hurrying past him before backing up to run my hand through his hair to look for a bump. “Did you find any bruises or anything when you woke up?”

“Why would I?” He frowns and touches my black eye.

I shiver.

“What happened, Emily? Why did I wake up in bed when I never take an afternoon nap?”

“They’re messing with our minds. Hypnotizing or conditioning or something- I don’t know. But we have to get out of here.”

“I’ve had a bad feeling about this place for a long time,” Christopher takes my satchel for me and puts his hand on my back to propel us forward.

He doesn’t want you to get educated. He belongs to an ancient strand of chauvinism that says a woman shouldn’t be bothered with even belongings.

I take my satchel back as I walk forward. “I’ll feel better when we’re out of here.”

“Really, though, Emms. Who hurt you?” His tone is tender, but when I turn, I see the fire in his eyes.

He’s territorial. He acts like he wants to protect you, but he’s actually the one who hurt you. He’s playing mind games to keep you under his thumb.

I massage my temple at the headache and keep moving forward. “It doesn’t matter.”

“I promise I won’t kill them until after you’re safe.”

He’s a violent man. Even worse, he doesn’t realize it. But you have to. You have to get away.

A twig snaps, and Christopher quickly grabs me from around the waist and pulls me behind the bush, jostling my sore head.

Just promise me you won’t try to leave the school grounds with him alone. I’m worried he might try to harm you.

Christopher looms over me as he peers over the bush. “Okay, coast is clear.” He stands up before grabbing my hand and helping me up.

You don’t need a gentleman in your life. You’re a strong, independent woman. You could have the world if you gave him up.

“Let’s go,” I whisper. “Let’sgolet’sgolet’sgo-”

He glances at me. “Emily, are you all right?”

“I said let’s go!”

Nodding, he wraps his arm around me again and we move toward the exit just as thunder booms.

I jump and it echoes in my head.

“Emily, it’s okay. They’re not going to hurt you anymore. I will protect you.”

“I… I know.”

The worst sociopaths are the prettiest with the smoothest tongues.

The rain begins to pour down on us, and Christopher holds his jacket over me as we step onto the asphalt of the parking lot. The rain triggers so many memories of London days with him. Of Island days with him.

Of a man who tried to kill my sister and me in the torrent of rain.

Gasping, I grab my head. Why isn’t that memory clearer? I don’t forget any trauma. What’s going on?

The figure steps toward us in the rain, a stone in his hand and a leer on his face, but I can’t see the details of him-


Christopher’s face is right in front of me. In the rain. Just like that man. That attacker.

Just promise me you won’t try to leave the school grounds with him alone. I’m worried he might try to harm you.

My hand reaches for the knife in my booth. “Stay back!”

He doesn’t even take a step back. “Emily, what’s going on? Where did you get that knife?”

“You don’t want me to be able to defend myself!”

“What? Of course I do! I’m just confused-”

I aim the knife at him. “You don’t want me to defend myself against you.”

“Why would you ever need to do that? I’d die before I’d hurt you. You know that! I almost died to save you!”

“That doesn’t mean you own me!”

Something flits past his eyes. Fear.

But Christopher has never shown fear before.

He hasn’t shown me a lot of himself before, though.

“Emily, please, give me the knife.” He slowly reaches for my hand.

Remember the bruises on your chest. Your face. That was just his fist. Don’t ever let him get the knife.

I scream. Then I plunge the knife at him.

He jumps back. “Emily!”

Yelling bloody murder, I lunge at him again, and he just narrowly misses my jab by grabbing my wrist. Then he grabs my other. “Emily, please, you’re scaring me-”

I lift my knee and kick him where it will hurt the most. He inhales deeply and I pull out of his grip. Then I knock my leg into his bum leg, sending him toppling.

Jumping on top of him, I do my best to pin him down with my tiny body. The tiny body he’s never felt remorse for hurting before. I must not feel remorse either.

I lift up the hand with the knife to make better impact.

He grabs my wrist again, his eyes wide. “Emily, this isn’t you. Snap out of it. They’re in your head.

“So are you. So is everyone!”

“Emily-” His gaze falls to the writing on my arm. “I love you.”

“Hmm,” Dr. Earnestine says, looking over my note. “That’s not what I wanted you to write. Other arm.”

Trembling and unable to fight the hand in my mind any longer, I take the pen to my other arm.

But I fight inside my head. I fight to think about the words on my head. God help me- let those words remind me when this is all over. Remind me of me. Of him. Of Him. God help me.

My brain explodes with the pain and I drop the knife, just narrowly missing Christopher’s jaw. Then I collapse on top of him, all strength gone from me.

“I’m so sorry,” I gasp, not sure if I’m crying of if it’s just the rain. “I’msosorryI’msosorryI’msosorry-”


Lights blare on around us, and I look up to see Dr. Earnestine flanked by several of the campus security guards.

My twisted therapist gives me an equally twisted smile. “Looks like you didn’t listen, my sweet. How very, very naughty.”


I wake with a start and find myself in a darkness in a sitting position. Blinking, I try to stand, but can’t. My wrists are tied to the arms of my chair by some kind of tie.

“So you’re awake again, my dear?”

The voice sends shivers down my spine and I turn to see the deplorable face of Dr. Earnestine stepping into my line of sight.

“Then I suppose there’s no need to keep this in the dark.”

Lights turn on instantly, and I have to close my eyes at the brightness of it all. But then I force them open. I don’t want to be anymore vulnerable before that man than I already am.

The lights illuminate a large, metal-walled building with dusty floors and one door. I long for that door with all my might.

“Where am I?” I whisper.

“My office away from office.” Dr. Earnestine comes behind me, and my heartbeat quickens immediately. Then he turns my chair around.

And I find myself looking at Christopher. An unconscious, bloodied Christopher. Tied to a monstrous machine that looks like something out of some bad Frankenstein movie that has two chairs connected to it. The other chair is being used by an also unconscious Dr. N.

“Don’t hurt him,” I whisper. “Them.”

Dr. Earnestine comes around my chair and leans on one arm. “You’re not going to ask me what I want to do with them?”

“I don’t care. Just let us go. Christopher and I won’t cause any trouble. Just let us go home.”

He laughs like this is so amusing. “Ah, but my dear, I would be so lonely without you.” He reaches to touch my face.

I lean back, repulsed. “I’m not your pet. I will never be yours in any way.”

“Unfortunately, you are correct. A higher power than myself wants you for herself. Which is why you cannot leave.”

“Wait- what? What are you talking about? No, don’t tell me that. Tell me nothing and let us go!”

He slides away from me and shakes his head. “I already told you- I can’t do that. But don’t worry. I’ll fix that.” He taps my forehead. “You won’t be so scared anymore. Neither will be you precious boyfriend, though in a slightly different way.”

“Don’t touch him! Don’t you dare touch him!”

“Like you did?”

I feel all blood drain from my face. “What did you do to me?”

“What I’m about to do to you again. It’s much more specialized than what I’m going to do to them.”

My mouth goes dry. “Wh-what are you going to do with them?”

“Oh, basic mental conditioning. That machine will sense their thought processes and intertwine the thoughts we want them to have in there. Make them better human beings.”

“Christopher is already a brilliant human being...” Breathing is hard to do right now. Life is closing in. “So it’s like… mind control?”

“Oh, no, no- much more organic. They still get to live their lives and make their choices. They just don’t realize that they’ve had their lives redirected the way we want and are more heavily persuaded to make the choices we want them to. We call them patsys. They will be the drone army of the new age.”

“No!” I try to break out of my confines. Why don’t I have super strength? Where are the superhumans when I need them? “You can’t!”

Dr. Earnestine looks confused. “I’ve done it plenty of times before. It is more than theoretically possible.”

“That’s wrong-”

He waves his hand as if morality is something beneath him. “This is the way of the future. Don’t worry- I have something better in store for you.”

Sweat sticks to my back and I try to pull away from him. “No-”

“You and that word. It’s so limiting. Just like this machine.” He gestures back at the monster Christopher is hooked up to. “No, this process is even more organic than that.”

“Wh-what do you mean? What technique is this?” How on earth can I fight it?

“Not any of this rudimentary government-issued technology, I assure you.”

Even as he speaks, the machine starts to make noise, like it’s firing up. Christopher and Dr. N. start crying out simultaneously.

“Stop it!” I scream. “Please- I beg of you- I’ll do whatever you want- be whatever you want- just don’t hurt him!”

“Oh, you’ll be who I want just fine, my dear,” Dr. Earnestine says, stepping between me and Christopher, who is still screaming. Still ripping my heart out. “Because this technique I’ve been using on you is special. Taught to me by beings beyond us.”

“Please stop hurting them. Please.” I lunge forward, but it does nothing. “In the name of all that is good and right!”

“Those night terrors I spoke of. They weren’t night terrors. They were real.” His eyes get a twisted gleam in them. “The things that came into my room at night were more than phantoms. They took me places. Showed me things. Taught me their methods.”

I can just barely see Christopher over Dr. Earnestine as he convulses in his chair. “It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to be the lonely master of puppets. I can be your Pygmalion.”

He smiles, amused. “Oh, I’m not alone. But you are.”

“Jesus, help me,” I breathe just as he snaps his fingers.

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