Ace's Past: Emotions Unleashed
The boat stuttered to a slow stop, the engine dying. The orange container was empty. They were out of gas. But, they had gotten far, and so far no one was chasing them. It made Lucy wonder if she had chosen the right path. Earlier on, there had been a fork in the river. She had chosen to go left, not knowing where either path would take them.
"Where is we?" Ace asked, looking up at the young teen. His eyes were drooping from lack of sleep, bloodshot from all of the crying he had done. Lucy's eyes were bloodshot too, though not nearly as bad as Ace's eyes were.
"I don't know," Lucy replied. It seemed they were in the middle of a desert, with the river being the only source of water for as far as the eye could see. Lucy noticed the sun was rising, turning the land orange and red. Lucy cursed to herself. They couldn't travel in broad daylight, it was much too dangerous. Her eyes quickly scanned the horizon, looking for a hiding place where the two could rest for the day. But it was a desert. There was nowhere to hide, no trees to take cover under or rocks to hide behind. Not in the near area, at least.
Lucy's head whipped around. Her eyes widened at the sight of several boats approaching them. "No, no, no, no, no, no," She began chanting. Quickly, she scooped Ace up into her arms and then jumped into the river. It was absolutely freezing. She had forgotten how harsh the summer nights could be in deserts. With her arms full, she kicked as fast as she could with her feet.
They surfaced, taking gasping breaths. Ace coughed as Lucy swam with the current, bringing them to shore despite her numb limbs. She turned and saw the boat drifting away, then looked at the boats in the distance. They were getting much too close for comfort.
Lucy sprinted as fast as she could out of the now knee-deep water. Her legs pumped, bare feet pounding on the rough sand as she sprinted, trying to ignore the sting in her thigh. Ace clung to her, eyes watching behind them. Squealing sounds echoed, and something hit the boat. Ace's hands gripped hard to Lucy when he saw the boat they had just been in burst into flames, followed by a loud boom. Pieces of the boat went flying.
"Don't look back, Ace! Close your eyes!" Lucy panted as she ran. Ace buried his face in the crook of her neck, squeezing his eyes shut. Lucy kept running in the direction of the rising sun. She hoped it would blind the men behind her. She heard gunshots, which made her run faster. How? How had they known the two had escaped? Lucy didn't remember leaving behind any evidence that she had escaped and-
Lucy looked down. Of fucking course, she thought to herself. She had been shot in the leg. And while she had removed the bullet on the boat - digging her fingers into her thigh, trying not to scream because she had told Ace to close his eyes and not peak, she said nothing about covering his ears - and bandaged it with the old clothes she had left on the boat when Anne had found her months ago and given her new clothes, that didn't mean she didn't leave a blood trail.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" She whispered to herself as she ran. Her boat had been far from the house, but she remembered when she had looked back once that their boats hadn't left yet. They had been following her blood trail, so even if they hadn't seen the boat, they knew she had entered the water.
Still, she kept running. She had run away from this before, and she could do it again. She would do it again and again and again until she finally found freedom. Until she was safe.
Ace opened his eyes, looking behind them. It was somewhat difficult to see with the bobbing of Lucy's running body, but his eyes widened. They weren't chasing them. They were in their boats, staring.
"Lucy, they's not chasing us!" Ace told her. Lucy's eyes widened, but she didn't stop running. Her mind was racing. Were they sending the planes? Were they going to gun them down with trucks. Were they going to die in this desert?
But nothing ever came. She kept running, but never heard the planes in the sky or the cars on the ground like she thought she would. It was just the two of them, running in the direction the sun had risen in.
Eventually the sun was high in the sky. Lucy could run no more. Every step she took caused her body to wobble. Sweat poured down her face, and she could feel her skin roasting under the hot desert son. Ace had fallen asleep against her shoulder, but she could tell he wasn't doing well. He was panting as much as Lucy, was covered in sweat, and shook every once in awhile. Lucy herself could barely keep her eyes open.
Lucy's foot hit something and she began to fall. She fell on an incredibly rough, boiling hot surface. She shook as she landed, the head causing her body pain, but she was too exhausted to try and move. She could only hope Ace wasn't touching it.
Before she passed out, she could faintly register the sound of a car engine.
Ace woke up after Lucy. He didn't know what the day or time was, or where they were. He knew he was on his back on a bed, so he was extremely confused when he could see the stars twinkling above.
"You're awake," Ace heard Lucy say. "We're inside. It's a glass ceiling. That's why you see the stars."
Ace sat up, looking down at his body. He was dressed in white with a strange band on his ankle. He looked at Lucy. She was dressed in white as well. Her clothes covered her whole body though, whereas Ace's only covered him from the waist down. She sat cross legged on the bed. He saw she had strange bands on both ankles and wrists. She looked clean, and her wound was newly bandaged.
"Ace, for a little while, this is going to be home."
Lucy refused to look at Ace. The two sat on the white sheets of the bed, the only piece of furniture in the glass room.
"We have to repay them for saving us," Lucy said after a while, lips pulling into a grimace. "If all goes well, we'll be out of here in three months."
Every day, Ace sat in that room. Lucy left early in the morning and would return late at night. Ace had absolutely no idea where they were. The ceiling may have been glass, but the walls were solid concrete. He only ever saw the sky change.
Lucy left every day. Ace could tell she never wanted to go. She would walk slowly towards the door and be escorted out by strange men in suits. She didn't return every night, but almost every night the two would fall asleep, curled up together on the large bed in the center of the room.
Ace would be given meals every day. It was never the same thing, but it was always something elaborate. He wondered why they gave him such fancy food, because he would've been content with bacon and macaroni and cheese every day.
He didn't have much to do though. They gave Ace boxes of crayons and markers, lots of paper and coloring books, and then left him alone. He colored a lot, often drawing pictures of home with Mama and Daddy and Anne and Lucy all playing with him. Sometimes if he got really frustrated and if Lucy was really hurt, he would pound on the doors, screaming until his throat went dry. If he got exceptionally furious, he would try to attack the guards.
It was a strange peace, stuck between attacking the guards and having nothing to do with them while he mused about freedom. Ace didn't know those peaceful days wouldn't last.
Ace had fallen asleep in the bed, but woke up in the back of a truck. He was strapped in, wrapped in blankets. He couldn't move his arms or his legs. He felt trapped. He blinked, staring out the windshield he could see from where he sat. Mentally he was panicking, but his breath for some reason remained oddly slow. Against his own will, he fell asleep again.
The second time Ace woke up, he was in a strange cellar. He was alone. He heard people talking in what appeared to be other cellars. Ace took in his surroundings. The walls and floors were made of cement. There was a blanket, thin and worn, in the corner of the cramped space. Ace shivered and began to rub his arms with his clammy hands. He looked behind himself and noticed there were bars running along the wall. He approached the bars, crawling on all fours, and gripped the frigid metal tightly in his bare hands. His fingers twitched and he sniffled.
"Lucy?" He whispered, voice wavering. "Lucy?"
Ace became violent. Any adults that got near him faced the almost four year old's wrath. He would bite, scratch, scream, kick, and smack at them. They called him the devil child as a result. To add onto Ace's growing fury, they began to say terrible things about his father.
"He let his wife die, what a failure of a man!"
"He led his enemies right to his family, the fucking dumb ass that he was."
"He was a merciless monster. He killed out of cold blood. Everyone hates him."
"He did nothing good for this planet!"
"He's a terrible person. Everyone's glad he's dead."
"I wish I could've killed him myself! I would've loved to wring his neck or stab him in the gut to watch him suffer!"
"Slit his throat, that's what they should've done to a demon like him."
Ace eventually stopped running to his father's defense. So many people supposedly hated Roger. Ace, who had once loved the man with all of his heart, turned all of his precious memories of the man into memories of deceit. The man never loved Ace, or Anne, or Lucy or Rouge. It was all an act. He let them die, after all. He was a horrible man.
He didn't want to. In the depths of his heart, he hated hearing the men saying such things about his father, but if they said such words then it must be true. Ace's image of a family-loving man turned into the image of a monster. It didn't stop him from biting just a bit harder on the hands of the men who said the worst things about his father, though. All he knew was he had to hate his father, because that was what everyone else did, even if hearing such cruel words killed the boy on the inside.
Ace learned to savour meat. He was normally fed two pieces of bread with one bottle of water every day. It was rare he was given meat, but sometimes they tossed him two pieces of beef jerky. Meat became the only thing that tasted good anymore.
Ace had been sitting curled up on the blanket when it had happened. He had been trapped for months, being fed scraps of bread and harassed by the prison guards well past his fourth birthday. He didn't know when his fourth birthday was, he just knew it was on the day called January first, but he knew it had to be past that point by then. He assumed it was, at least.
A loud explosion shook the whole facility. Ace's head shot up upon feeling the tremors wrack the cement floors and walls. Ace looked up at the ceiling as it happened, but his gaze moved upon hearing the guards screaming.
It was like a scene out of an action movie. Ace quickly approached the bars on his shaking legs. He grasped onto them, looking down the hall lit only by one light. There was a door at the end of the hall. The many other prisoners, just as malnourished as Ace or even more so, had dragged their fatigued bodies to the bars. Ace's grimy hands held tightly to the metal surface. The door at the end of the hall was shaking, as if someone was pounding on it. It happened for several seconds, and then stopped.
The door was blown off of it's hinges, rubble flying everywhere. Ace was blown back by the force of the explosion. He coughed as he stared at the dust cloud, watching the shadows of people move through it with relative ease.
Someone came up to the door of Ace's cell. He watched as the person, wearing a mask and dark clothing, hit repeatedly at the lock of his prison with a long metal stick. He could hear the sound all down the hallway. They were doing it on each and every cell. Ace watched, anxious and waiting.
The lock broke, falling to the ground with a loud clank. The masked person opened the door and then went further down the hall. Ace assumed they were going to open more cells.
Ace stared for a minute, stunned by this unexpected freedom. The person in the cell across from him was staring at their open door as well. Then, suddenly, they stood and ran as fast as their malnourished body could run.
Ace jumped to his feet, sprinting out the open cell door. He climbed over the rubble on the ground and leapt, jumping through the open space where a door once was. He fell to the ground, but quickly lifted himself to his feet as the prisoners slowly began to run out of their prison. Ace joined them, running up the only visible way out, a stair case.
There were so many stairs, winding up and up and up. There seemed to be no end to them, especially for Ace's small legs. Ace could feel people running around him as well, trying to avoid the smallest, slowest person.
Ace felt someone lift him up and he would've bitten them and screamed had he not noticed it was another prisoner. Ace held on as they carried him quickly up the stairs. Ace had no idea why this person helped him, but the young child appreciated it greatly.The stairs ended and turned into a hallway. Several people were already running down it. Ace could tell once it had been beautiful, but it was now destroyed from explosions. Blood was on parts of the walls and bodies lay in the hallway. Ace dragged his eyes away, looking forward as the stranger carried him to freedom.
The open doors opened to a bright blue sky, the desert, and a beautiful blue river. The person who carried Ace let the child down and ran. Many were screaming and crying, but Ace just started running in a new direction. He ran along the river side, trying to get as far as he could from the wretched prison he had spent so many months in. He watched as some swam across the river, others ran the other way, and some just stayed where they were. All Ace knew was that he was going to run as far as his body could carry him, because there was no way he would ever return to that hell.
At some point, the river met a bridge. It hadn't been too far from the building he just escaped, but it was far enough that the two were not in visible distance of each other. Ace and a few of the other escapees chose a way to walk and then separated. Ace went one way, but the others had decided to go others, some following the road in the opposite direction, others turned back, some continued to follow the river. None had any idea of where they were walking to, but they all hoped it was to freedom.
Ace walked at that point, too tired to run any more. The pavement burned the bottoms of his feet, but it was the first time he felt warm in what felt like ages. In a way he was happy to feel the bottom of his feet burn.
He walked for hours, stepping on and off the road to aleve his feet but also feel the burning sensation. His body swayed, in desperate need of food, water, and rest. He panted with every step he took, his vision blurring. Eventually, a short time after the sun had set, he had to fall to his knees. He looked at the road, wondering how far it went.
Ace sat there, staring at the rising moon until the sky was pitch black. Eventually, he saw headlights approaching. As they approached, he noticed something started blinking red and blue. He didn't move, not even as they came closer, pulling up on the side of the road. Ace let it happen, wondering if these flashing lights would kill him.
"How did you get back on the streets if a cop picked you up?" Law asked, his voice raspy. He stared at the younger child, who was now staring at the door. It was silent outside of the thick slab of metal. Law wondered what it meant.
"He put me in the passenger's seat. He left his door open at the station, I think he was getting help. I don't know. I was scared and I climbed out and hid. I didn't know where I was or why I was there, but I didn't want to stay there."
Law looked from Ace to Smoker as the silence took over. Smoker was leaning backwards now. His eyes were somewhat unfocused. Law wondered if he would be able to survive much longer in these conditions.
The light in the room, a sole fluorescent light on the ceiling, flickered. One of the three bulbs of the fixture died. There were now two dead light bulbs, as the only working one flickered. The string to turn it on trembled a bit. Law noticed Ace was staring directly at the concrete floor now. Something about the way the light fell on the child was eerie. It made the child look so unbelievably, terribly lonely. His shadow on the wall looked like it would become a monster and consume him.
"Ace?" Law asked, voice soft.
There were sounds of loud thumping. It shook the floor. Law wondered why, but it sent a shiver down his spine.
"Ace, what's going on?" The teenager asked, struggling just a bit against his bindings.
"We've run out of time," Ace said, body slumping forward just a bit. "Just like Lucy did."
"Ace," Smoker began, coughing just a bit. "What happened to Lucy?"
There were footsteps echoing down the hall. They were getting closer and closer with each passing second. Ace didn't say anything for a bit. Law felt his heart begin to race as the footsteps finally stopped outside of the door of their prison. He could hear his heart pounding in his chest.
Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum.
He watched the door as someone fiddled with the doorknob.
Dadum. Dadum. Dadum.
He heard a click as it was unlocked from the outside. It was silent for a second.
"They killed her."
The door opened.
Law felt as though his heart stopped as the tall, dark, looming figure of a man stood in the doorway. His eyes were locked on the ominous figure. He really wished he had a knife or a gun on him right then. He would've felt more at ease with he did.
Ace made a decision when his eyes landed on the shadowed figure. Now, he just had to wait.