Days passed and I still wasn’t taken from the prison cell but Zuri was pulled out seemingly more and more often, hurtled onto our mattress each time bruised and cut, but she never once complained about her situation and continued to bring hope into my life while in turn, I would save her two of three portions of what they thought was enough food for multiple people. I wondered what had happened to the other person who would be supposed to eat the last portion of food, but, deciding I didn’t really want to know, I banned the thought from my mind.
One day, I paced across the cell, knowing somehow that something was wrong. It was like something at the back of my mind could hear Zuri crying for help, but this was impossible. I didn’t have my powers. How could I hear her? I tried to tell myself she was okay but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had happened. I needed to find her. I needed to know if my one source of light in this dark pit of despair was alright. Her voice continued to call out to me. I found myself yelling back. I found myself screaming back, begging her to tell me what was wrong but there was never an answer. “Zuri!” I yelled to the wall. “Zuri are you there?” No reply. “Zuri, I need to know if you are alright!” I shouted, my voice echoing across the empty cell. “Zuri!” I called out to her. I called her name again and again. Fear had snuck into me like a panther through a door I had only left open for a moment. This fear had laid dormant for some time waiting for the right moment to strike. This was it. This was the moment my terror drove me. It needed to know the one person who understood what was happening was still breathing.
Light poured in through the small opening they had created as they dropped her unconscious body down. They laughed when they had managed to miss the massive mattress at the bottom of the door leading into our cell. I glared up at them before rushing to Zuri, who had several large cuts in her arms and legs which had clearly been made by some kind of knife. I grabbed her shoulders and did my best to keep her off of the floor as I dragged her over to the mattress. I then set her down carefully, begging who or what ever was listening to let her live. I ignored the overwhelming possibility that she wasn’t going to make it through the next few hours. “Zuri,” I whispered hopelessly, needing some kind of sign that she was alright. I repeated her name as I worked, knowing exactly what to do as if I had been preparing for this my entire life. I bent down low to the ground and stepped behind my handcuffs as I had seen in movies, surprised to realize that it had actually worked. I thanked my ever-thinning and malnourished body for allowing me to slip out from behind the cuffs before sloppily tearing strips of cloth from the thin blanket we had been given to share, using them as bandages for Zuri’s wounds, turning her from side to side to get a better angle. I checked her pulse often, hoping it was improving but it never was. It continued to stay faint and abnormal. I kept telling myself that Dr. Brown wouldn’t waste someone with the abilities Zuri supposedly had. I told myself that she would be alright because Dr. Brown knew what he was doing, whether or not he was evil, he knew what he was doing. I knew how insane this sounded but held onto my logic because it was the only thing keeping me from descending into darkness. It was the last bit of hope I had. She was the only person who understood the kinds of transformations I was going through. She had experienced for herself the shock of accidentally using your powers for the first time. It was Zuri, who knew what it was like to lie to your family and friends because you fear what they might say if they knew who you really were. “Come on, Zuri,” I begged her. “Come on.”
For a moment, her hand moved. I quickly snatched it up as she opened her wonderful dark brown eyes. “Oliv,” she said through wheezes. “Oliv, if I don’t make it…”
“Don’t talk like that,” I interrupted, holding back my tears.
“Oliv, just listen,” she said almost silently. I nodded. “I want you to go to Phoenix and find Zuri Sharp’s little brother, Maxwell Sharp and I want you to tell him everything,” she said, beginning to cough. “He’s supposed to go to my aunt Faye if I can’t take care of him,” she finished and closed her eyes once more as if allowing herself to slip away after saying what she needed to say, her grip loosening as her hand fell to the ground.
“No!” I yelled. “No, Zuri come back,” I screamed. I stuck two fingers on her neck and checked her pulse, begging for something to still be there. “Thank you,” I whispered in her ear as I felt a faint beating which showed just how hard she was fighting to stay alive. “Thank you for everything.”