I push the cream painted doors of the library open and step inside it is dark, so I flick the lights on and look around it is empty I hear a noise from the far end.
‘Rita is that you why are you hiding?’ I ask loudly frowning as I walk further into the library. All the hairs on my neck stand on end and I shiver.
’Rita this isn’t funny, you will get me in trouble with Naomi. I call again still nothing but I catch a glimpse of someone behind a shelf, I take half a step forward, I hear Andrea shouting my name I turn as the doors burst open and Andrea rushes in as a hand clamps over my face holding a piece of cloth over my nose and mouth, I struggle for a bit until my eyelids start to close and I am slowly lowered to the floor. The last thing I hear is Andrea’s voice shouting and popping noises, as I sink into darkness and someone pushes my sleeve up on the arm that has my number tattooed on it.
The constant drizzle of rain is draining my energy reserves as I shiver from cold, I look around to see where we are but everything is grey and muddy looking as I gaze around at the landscape, we are still in open country side and I can’t see any houses anywhere not even farm buildings. I have no idea which part of the country we are in some where North I think. My map indicated we are still in France, but to be honest we could be anywhere.
I had woken to gunfire as Andrea carried me away from the chateau. Rita behind us leading another horse laden with supplies. Now I am leant against Andrea concealed beneath a blanket as she holds me tight.
‘Soon be safe Aaron,’ her voice sincere as if I would ever doubt her.
We finally slow as we near a small village and I am so grateful I really need to stretch my legs. Andrea signals to Rita as she leads the way to a cottage. Andrea lifts me down and I follow her to where there is a small barn for the horses. I sit on a bale while Rita and Andrea unload the horses and brush them down before feeding them. I stroke Milton while I wait, nobody talks, the trauma of the last few days have drained us of anything to say.
We slowly walk to the house and Andrea feels for the key on the lintel above the door. Unlocking, Andrea pushes the door open and we all troop inside, as she switches on the lights. A cold damp permeates through the house, indicating it has been empty a while. I shiver and wrap my arms around myself as I glance around. We are stood in a kitchen if the sink and stove are anything to go by. A fire is laid out in the hearth and Andrea soon gets it going as Rita rummages through all our bags collecting dirty washing, she has a thing for clean clothes. I smile at her and fill the kettle at the sink and switch it on. Andrea’s fire soon warms the place up as Rita finds some tins of soup and heats it up while making cheese on toast to go with it.
We sit in silence and eat the toast and soup which although is just plain tomato is delicious. I help Rita wash up while Andrea drifts into the other room and puts the television on. I have never watched television we were only ever allowed to watch films at the facility. I swallow the lump in my throat and push those memories away. So, I am fascinated by the news that Andrea is currently watching. It’s not that interesting about Gen-Corp mostly, until a picture of a boy’s home comes on screen.
The president of Gen-Corp comes on. It is her, my companion, Gillian. How did I not know that? She is very young and has a nerdy appearance with the black rimmed glasses perched on her nose. I miss her that realisation slams into me. Even Andrea tensed when she appeared on the screen. She is dressed in a severe grey suit that is not suited to a woman of her young age and she does look uncomfortable in it as she fidgets as if she was made to wear it for the television broadcast.
She pleads to whoever has me, to give me back, that I am special and delicate, and I could get sick out in the open, that I am not used to the contaminate. She is very convincing even managing a tear in her eye, as she says how much she loves me and wants my safe return. I frown and glance over at Andrea, she is pale. I didn’t understand any of that. Andrea switches the television off and just stares at the blank screen.
‘Andrea, what did she mean? I thought I was meant to be with you,’ I ask watching her, waiting for her to explain.
‘Aaron,’ Andrea comes and stands in front of me. Making me swallow with nerves unsure as to what she will say. She shoves her hands in her pockets and it looks like a nervous gesture, as she glances at me. ‘That wasn’t about you, it was about your brother. He has run away as you know. It would appear Celina has lost him,’ I can’t help it and I smile while congratulating Adam.
‘She said I will get sick, is that true?’ I study her face looking for some sort of reaction.
‘No Aaron you are fine,’ she reassures me, but she doesn’t sound that confident. ‘Your brother, however, well let’s hope he is somewhere safe when he gets sick,’
‘What we have to find him!’ I demand horrified at this, having just found out he is alive I don’t want to lose him because they are incompetent.
‘I heard at the castle the staff thought I might get sick, that I’m not a proper Adam. That I am an Echo child and I don’t even know what that means,’ My voice breaks as I look at Andrea, I take in a shuddering breath holding back the tears that threaten. She moves to me and wraps her arms around me and awkwardly hugs me. ‘Even Rita explained some stuff to me how I am different,’ I mumble into her chest feeling safe, the anxiety slowly melting away. We stand like that for what seems like ages before Andrea speaks again.
‘What did Rita say Aaron?’ Andrea frowns at me and I shuffle my feet a bit, worried I have got Rita into trouble.
‘That I am…um different, I can, I um have a weird immune system that’s why I get sick all the time, why drugs dont work. I was part of another program not an Adam, that’s what She said um Gillian,’ I look at Andrea and bite my lip unsure. ‘What if I get to Tribe and I’m no good and they don’t want me, because I’m small and sickly, not a proper Adam,’ Andrea is watching me she must have seen all those conflicting emotions on my face. I release my lip which I am currently worrying with my teeth and attempt to smile at her.
‘It’s nothing Aaron, you are fine, they are just trying to scare you that’s all,’ Andrea smiles at me and she squeezes my shoulder in a reassuring gesture, but I don’t feel very reassured. Scare me, well they have succeeded I am scared, as all sorts of stupid ideas run through my head. Andrea was lying, that thought is at the front. Everyone lies to me at some point, my Companion, Rita, even Thom did and now Andrea, I sigh and wipe my eyes I really have got to stop crying it makes me weak, I decide.
Her phone rings and she takes it from her pocket walking out the room as she answers it, I can’t hear what she is saying. I find a music channel and just listen to it not paying any attention until Rita comes in with a hot chocolate for me, she smiles gently at me and I know she is worried, probably waiting for all my questions to start but I don’t. I need to think, sort out everything that is in my head. I sit and drink the chocolate it is soothing and nice. She has been different around me since we left the château. I catch her looking at me as if she is waiting for me to break or something.
I have a restless night dreaming of burning houses and bodies and me melting, whatever that’s about, finally I curl around Rita holding her tight, I feel her kiss me and talk to me but I don’t register what she is saying, it is soothing like when She talked to me, I feel the tension leave my body as it reacts to the tone Rita is using. Rita is touching me as she kisses me and I am hard and uncomfortable, as I open my eyes and gaze at her half asleep, she smiles at me and strokes my face gently before kissing my lips.
‘It’s okay Aaron,’ Rita whispers as she pulls me to her.
‘Bad dream,’ I mutter, moving on to my side curling up and fidgeting.
‘Just relax,’ she mutters kissing me, moving over me as I move onto my back.
‘Rita,’ I hiss biting my lip, closing my eyes trying to process the amazing feeling I am experiencing as her body envelopes mine tight and slick. Rita rolls us over, so she is beneath me, I lift my weight off her while still joined.
‘I haven’t done…ah Rita,’ she moves, and I bite my lip trying to control my body as I am awash with more sensations, I shut my eyes, overwhelmed. I only ever did this with Her.
‘Ssh, just relax,’ Slowly she moves her hips as she leans up and kisses my mouth. A moan escapes my lips as sheer pleasure fills me. I groan, emptying my head, letting my body take over. Remembering the skills, She, taught me. Rita moans with pleasure as I explore her body.
‘Aaron,’ Rita pants my name.
Rita kisses me hard on the mouth as she grips my shoulders her legs wrapped around my hips panting softly against my lips. She grips me to her saying my name, kissing me as her body tenses and then trembles around me making me gasp as my body shudders and I groan out her name, slumping against Rita as the familiar exhaustion washes over my body.
‘Aaron you okay,’ Rita asks kissing my lips and brushing my sweat soaked hair away from my face.
‘God yeah, amazing, so tired,’ I mutter drowsily curling against her my arm around her, our legs still tangled together.
‘You have done that before?’
‘Yes, She, my companion taught me,’ I don’t like saying her name. I never said her name before.