Chapter 6: Cato
I stand behind Astrid and watch her check each hallway leading off the main hall. It makes me kind of sad that she thinks we can ever get out of this place. And when we do, what will happen to the adults? It makes me wonder if we will ever see the light of day again. I don’t know why I said my name was Chris. Now that I think about it, I guess I wanted a different name. Kind of like a fresh slate. When we move to the far side of the school, she stops and sniffs the air.
“Umm, not trying to be rude or anything, but uhh, when was the last time you took a shower?”
“Wow. Okay. Is it really that bad?” I sniff my armpit and jerk my head back. “Okay. It kind of is.” I laugh. “It’s not like I’ve got many places to shower. We don’t have one in the basement.”
“Come on.” she says. “I’ll repay you for saving me from Peter.” She grabs my hand and walks swiftly down the hall. We walk down a small hall that leads into the boys locker room.
“Welcome to your new shower room. I’ll lock the door and I’ll even let you borrow some soap. I’ll be right back.” she says and runs out. I look around the room and almost sigh. I can’t wait to feel what a shower feels like. I look up at all the corners of the room and find no cameras. I lock one of the doors and head over to a shower stall. I turn the spray on and watch it fall to the ground. I take off my shirt and untie my boots. I unbuckle my belt and unbutton my jeans. The door flies open and Astrid comes in with a bar of soap.
“Oops. Should have knocked before I came in.” She covers her eyes with her hands and holds out the bar of soap. I laugh and take it from her hand. “I also brought you a sheet you can dry off with.” I grab it and throw it over the stall.
“Thanks. It’s been so long since I’ve taken a shower.” I say.
“Well, don’t let me stop you.” She backs up until she hits the door. “I’ll uhh, stand guard.” she says and closes the door behind her. I chuckle and walk over to the spray of water. I slide off my jeans and underwear and step in. I sigh when the stream falls down on my body. It’s cold, but it feels like rain. Not a summer rain, but a rain that comes with a storm. I run my hand through my hair. I feel a pull to a memory I had while I was in the research facility come floating into my mind.
I stand underneath the ice cold stream. The only water I get is scorching hot or ice cold. I take a breath and use the shampoo that they gave me. A small bottle about the size of my finger, but at least my hair will be clean. I lean back into the spray and watch the camera that is always watching me. I stick up my middle finger and wait for a response. When I don’t get one, I chuckle to myself, happily. I stand underneath the spray until the water shuts off. They don’t allow me more than five minutes in the shower. It’s not like I need all five minutes, but it feels nice to feel clean. When I step out, I wrap myself in a white fluffy towel and pad out of the bathroom. I grab a clean t-shirt out of my dresser and find a pair of boxers. I go back to the bathroom to brush my teeth and stop myself when I see my reflection. I trace a finger over my face. I’ve never looked so thin. My black hair drips down my face beginning to dry in waves. My green eyes stare back at me with a look of terror. I look terrible. I’ve never looked so terrible in my life. My eyes are sunken and my cheekbones stick out of my cheeks. My lips are the only thing I recognize about myself. My mother’s lips. Although I can’t remember her very well or at all. But I do have a picture of my mother, father and my little sister. I can still remember the day I was dropped off here. They thought they were doing something great for the world. Finding a cure for Cancer. For heart disease. Their only son. I don’t hate them for the decision they made, I just wish they hadn’t made it on me. I look away from the mirror and begin brushing my teeth.
That’s the last time I looked in a mirror. Now I stand in front of the scratched up locker mirror. I look at my face and look a lot better, if not skinnier. I pull on the same clothes I wore before and give myself a once over. When I open the door, Astrid is standing in the hall with her back facing away from me.
“Please tell me you are dressed.”
“Why don’t you see for yourself?” She turns and laughs.
“Did you have to make it so intense? You could have just said. Yes. I’m dressed.” She mocks me with my own voice.
“That wouldn’t have been as much fun.” I say.
She stops in front of the gym and stands outside waiting. “I’ll see you later, I guess.” she says.
“Yeah. If Peter gives you anymore trouble just come get me. Okay?”
“Okay. Oh and find some other clothes. I’ll wash those for you.” she says.
“No. I don’t want you acting like my maid. I’m fine with the clothes I’m wearing.”
“Don’t argue with me. I won’t take no for an answer. Put them outside my room or knock on the door and my sister may answer. She’ll take them from you.” she turns and walks away. I shake my head. That girl is going to be the death of me. I walk to the basement with my head stuck in the clouds. When I get to my room with Zach in it, I ask for a pair of his sweats and a t-shirt. He hands them over without complaint, but with a bit of confusion. I take my clothes up to her classroom and knock on the door. It takes a minute, but an exact replica of Astrid meets me at the door.
“Uhh, hey. Your sister told me to leave my clothes and she’d wash them for me. Supposedly I stunk so back she had me take a shower and now she’s washing my clothes for me.” I say.
“Hmm. Well hand them over.” She takes them and throws them behind her.
“What’s your name again?”
“Iris.” We shake on it and then she steps back. “I’ll see you around?” She looks me up and down with a suggestive look on her face. She licks her lips and stares at mine for awhile before looking back into my eyes.
“Uh, yeah. See ya.” I say, slightly embarrassed and curious. I’ve never gotten a girls attention like that before. Not even with Astrid, but with Astrid I feel something. Something I don’t with Iris. She closes the door. I head back to the basement, unsure of what to do.