Chapter Twenty Four
In the end, Gwen wasn’t put too far away from the others. She was put in another room, but every so often she could hear the others when they got a little loud. If she needed to, Gwen could shout and her message would get across, though she wasn’t sure how her voice would hold up under the abuse. It was good to know at least, but she would only use it as her last resort. Shouting her message wouldn’t exactly be inconspicuous to those who had captured them.
She grabbed at the bars of the cell and pulled herself to her feet. She made an annoyed sound as the chain from the handcuffs clanged noisily against the metal. They had decided that she was to be bound at all times, and Gwen could only be glad that they hadn’t put the ropes back on her.
Although, with the ropes, Gwen might have a chance of getting free. The handcuffs however, were certainly not going to give anytime soon. They were chains that could not be broken with human hands. She had even tried twisting the chain to see if the metal would give, but it merely gave her unnecessary discomfort.
Days, or at least what Gwen thought were days though she couldn’t be too sure, passed and she wasn’t sure what they had in store for her. No one had come down here, not even to check that she hadn’t escaped, which surprised her. She was a flight-risk now, and she had expected to be kept under watch every single moment of the day.
Her anxiety was starting to get the best of her. What were they planning? Did they plan to keep her in isolation and starve her to death? Surely not.
She didn’t want to die this way, locked in captivity. She didn’t want to die in any way, she knew that now. It was a shame that it took someone that had been nicknamed ‘Doctor Batshit’ to take them captive for her to realise that.
And then the screaming from the other cell started. It definitely had to be someone from her group because the panicked cries wouldn’t arise anyway. She couldn’t quite make out the words which made her irritable with worry.
She began to feel sick. She couldn’t tell who it was that was screaming. It could’ve been anyone and she wouldn’t know. She would probably never know if she didn’t make it out of here.
The screams seemed to go on forever, and then cut off without any warning. The cries also fell silent, and Gwen pretended not to hear the sobs.
It didn’t mean that they didn’t resonate to her very soul.
The screams became more frequent as the days went on, and she knew without a doubt that they had been here for close to a week, at least. Hunger gnawed at her stomach, and her throat ached something awful from the lack of water, leaving a terrible tasting film coating her mouth. Her head seemed to constantly pound with the beating of her heart, and she felt ready to die.
And then there was the first sign of another person in the area she was in. She immediately shot to her feet despite everything that was plaguing her, standing at the door like a guard dog. She waited for a moment, the footsteps coming closer and then Lukas was standing in front of her cell.
“Hey.” He said, and she silently stared at him. She still kind of resented him for being in the way.
He sighed. “Listen, I’m sorry that I stopped your great escape. Let me make it up to you. Food?” He held up a tray, a plate of food and bottle of water sitting there temptingly, the condensation running down the sides almost seemed to be the tears of angels. “I’ll give these to you only if you promise not to run as soon as I open the cell. I don’t really feel like being executed any time soon.”
Again, Gwen said nothing but she stepped back a little bit, pressing her back to the wall. It wasn’t like she had the strength to make any daring attempts anyway.
She watched him unlock the door and open it. Rather than dropping the tray on the floor and slamming the door shut like Gwen had expected him to, he stepped forward and handed her the tray. He didn’t leave as soon as she had taken the tray either; instead he sat down on the floor, crossing his legs and seeming far too casual for someone who was sharing a very tight space with someone who was infected.
“Sit.” He told her and after only a moment of hesitation, she did so. She picked up the fork and poked at the food on the plate cautiously.
“It’s not poisoned, if that’s what you’re worried about.” He told her.
“Aren’t you worried that I’m going to stab you with the fork or something?” She asked, and he laughed.
“No, I have a knife in my pocket if you wanted to make any daring attempts to kill me.”
“So you’re not excited to see me?” She asked, and she couldn’t help but smirk when he choked slightly.
“No.” He said once he had recovered. “Just eat.”
After a moment of pondering over the food, she dropped the fork and reached for the bottle. She quickly undid the lid, and drained the bottle in a matter of moments. When she had finished the bottle, she greatly regretted it, feeling sick from how quickly she had consumed the water. She paused for a moment, letting the water settle before starting in on the food. It tasted like plastic, but that didn’t stop her. It was the first time in days she had been given food and she didn’t know when she would next get some more.
“I would’ve brought more, I know they haven’t fed you this entire time, but I don’t think they’d be too happy with me if I did.”
She shook her head. She wasn’t sure if she could eat anymore anyway. “About that knife…” She started, and he laughed. “I was joking about that, though next time I’ll be sure to bring you one.” He glanced at his watch. “I have to get going. Be warned, they’ll be down here soon.”
“I can’t tell you that.” He took the tray from her hands and stood. “But just be prepared.”
“Tell me.” She demanded, though she realised that she wasn’t exactly in a position to do so. He didn’t answer her at first, instead walking out of the cell and closing the door, shaking it to make sure it was locked. The keys sounded like a wind-chime as they hit each other, though it wasn’t soothing to her ears. It was harsh and grating and made her head throb more and her heart stutter.
“They’re trying to help you, but it will hurt.” He told her, and then he left.
True to Lukas’ word, two guards and the Doctor came down only minutes later.
“I hope you enjoyed your meal.” The Doctor told her, a slight smirk on his face. “That will probably be your last for a while.”
She didn’t answer him, just stared at him blankly. If she couldn’t fight against him, she was sure as hell going to make him as uncomfortable as she could, but the stare didn’t seem to faze him too much. He nodded towards one of the guards, who unlocked the door.
They looked wary when she stood, but she didn’t make any abrupt movements this time, no daring attempts at escape. She just let them force her against the wall, feeling like doll that could not resist against a clingy child.
“No fighting today?” The Doctor asked. “Has your spirit already been broken, my lioness?” She scowled at him and almost resented the nickname, a slight growl escaping from her. If he was going to call her a lioness, then she was sure as hell going to act like one.
“Only in your dreams.” She told him, and he grinned. The smile was too friendly to be trusted and she figured that many others had felt the same way. In fact, it was far too friendly that even a four year old would be able to tell that the man had devious plans.
“Ah. Good to hear.” He said and stepped forward into the cell. He held a syringe in his hand and panic laced through her body, like a whip had coiled around her. Was this what they had done to Anthony? She didn’t want to turn out like him; the man had barely even been lucid when they had spoken.
“Now, Gwen. That’s your name right?” She didn’t bother to answer him. “This is just a test run of one of our cures. Don’t fight against it, and we won’t have to kill another one of your friends.” His voice was like the ones that real doctors used when talking to small children, sweet like a lollipop, and far too kind to be heard on a man like him.
Kill another one of your friends. Who had he already killed? Was he bluffing to get her to cooperate? God, she hoped so. But she didn’t fight anyway, didn’t even squirm when he inserted the needle into her arm, because if he wasn’t bluffing another one of her friends would die, because of her. She didn’t want to be the reason of any more deaths.
Whatever was in the syringe burned like blue flames as it entered her body, and she arched her back, crying out in pain. In moments, the guards and the Doctor had exited the cell, slamming the door shut. They stood there, watching her without an inch of sympathy on their faces, like she was some show on TV.
She hated them.
The hate drained from her as the pain took over. It burned through her body, and froze her veins. Her strength gave way, and she could no longer hold herself up. She fell against the floor with a strangled whine. The pain was excruciating, ripping the breath away from her body and chewing at her flesh like starving rats. She could physically feel insects crawling through her muscles and tearing them apart, could feel the sharp pain of small knives being stabbed into every single inch of her body and then being torn out. It felt as though her body were trying to turn itself inside out.
A scream tore from her body, and then the pain turned to darkness.
When she woke, she was alone. Her clothes were soaked with sweat, and every single part of her hurt. Even her eyelashes seemed to hurt. She moved to sit up, but the pain was enough to make her cry out, and she quickly gave up on that idea. She stared up at the roof, her breathing stuttering at only the memory of the pain.
The pain was gone now though, only leaving aches as a reminder of its terrible presence. She was relieved of that, but the relief didn’t last long.
Footsteps sounded down the corridor, and she let out a tired sigh. She couldn’t even find the energy in her to panic. They stopped outside of her cell, but whoever they were; they didn’t make any effort to unlock the door. She could feel their stares however, and felt like a caged animal in a zoo.
“Do you think it worked?”
“No. See her arms? Veins are still as thick as they were before.”
“It might be slow working.” The voice of the Doctor drawled and a soft growl left her throat at the sound of his voice, but she made no movements. She heard him chuckle at the sound, and she swallowed down her disgust.
“So we just wait and see?”
“Hopefully, we’ll see results in a matter of days.”
And then Gwen didn’t know if they said anything more, because she fell back into unconsciousness.
“I’m a monster.” Ryan said to her, again and again. “I’m a monster.”
“I’m a monster.” He cried, his voice taking a hysterical note, and then he was on the ground, curled around the hilt of the knife. “I’m a monster.” He said quietly.
“Ryan-” She tried again, her voice choked with tears, and his eyes flew open meeting hers. They had an angry look in them, and his lips pulled back in an animalistic snarl.
“This is your fault.” He spat at her.
“You’re a monster.”
“… I know.”
She awoke with a gasp, and she took a moment to get her wits about her. It took her a minute to realise that there was someone else in the cell, and another for her to recognise who it was.
“Jesus.” She cried quietly when she saw Lukas, though not in fright. “What happened to you?”
He sat cross-legged across from her again, and his face was bruised, his eye swollen and a cut on his lip. He gave her a grin, though it quickly fell when it pulled too much at his cuts. “They didn’t like that I fed you.”
For a moment, she panicked, wondering if he had gotten himself locked up too, but she was reassured by the slightly ajar cell door.
“Why are you here?” She asked. “Won’t they hurt you again?”
“I’ve had worse.” He told her, sounding completely serious. “And they don’t scare me.”
“Why are you here?” She repeated again.
“You still want that knife?” He asked quietly. She then realised that he was holding a knife in his lap. It was similar to the one that she had used before, and she nodded, sitting up. Moving made boiling water bite at her muscles and joints and she moved slowly and knew that she would no longer complain at old people moving slowly.
Once she had eased herself into a position that didn’t hurt as much, he handed it to her. She curled her fingers around the hilt, testing how it felt. It wasn’t quite the same to the one she was used to, but she could work with it if need be.
“Why are you giving me this?”
He shrugged. “They’re trying to help you, I’m actually helping you. Take the knife.” He lowered his voice once again, to a pitch that was almost inaudible. “I can help you get out of here and help you free your friends, though I don’t know how many of them are in a good enough condition to escape.”
“Are you serious?” She asked in a hushed voice. “Why would you do that?”
He shrugged again. “I was a good man before all this shit, worked in the police force and everything. I can’t stand idly by as they torture a bunch of kids.”
“None of us are kids.” She told him. “We’ve all been made to grow up, and some of those people are at least in their mid-twenties.”
“You’re still young.” He argued. “I’m not an asshole. Just accept my help.”
“Okay.” She said after a moment of hesitation. Lukas didn’t look surprised, instead offering a small gentle smile. “But I’m not sure how much help I’m going to be.” Even though she said this, the pain was receding. It still hurt to move, but she didn’t feel as though she was being put through a paper shredder anymore.
“You need to follow my every instruction.” He told her. “None of this great escape shit either. Just listen to me.”
“Swear to me that you won’t.”
“Good. Lunch is in ten minutes. That’s also when the guards switch over. This floor will be mostly empty, and if you’re strong enough to take out one guard, I can take out the other. That’ll give us fifteen minutes to get you and your friends out of here.”
“Will you come with us?”
“I don’t know yet. If I stay behind, they’ll use me as a test subject without a doubt, but I don’t know how I’m going to go with running with a bunch of kids. I’m not exactly young anymore.”
“You don’t look that old.”
“I age gracefully.” He told her. “How are you feeling?”
He winced in sympathy. “Will you be able to take down one of the guards? If his back is turned, I’m sure you can get the drop on him, kill him from behind.”
“Got a problem with that?” He asked, not sounding angry, more curious. She paused for a moment before hesitating.
“Before they took us captive, yeah, I would’ve. But…” She trailed off.
“After what they’ve done to you and your friends.” He finished for her.
“Yeah. Does that make me a bad person?”
“Well, I can’t arrest you if that’s what you’re worried about.” He chuckled, and she cracked a smile.
It felt weak.