Tobias: Chapter Nine
"Caleb, where is it?!" Christina yells next to me as we run out of the elevator, no longer having to worry if our cover is blown. It decimated now. "I'm trying to locate them," he yells back, his voice now frantic.
"There's a lab on that floor, go to it! Down the hall, first door on your left."
We run down the hallway, our guard façade now broken. Almost simultaneously, Christina and I retrieve our guns, barrels pointed, trigger ready. "Caleb, we're almost there, do you have them?" I yell, the sound of voices picking up behind us. I throw myself around a corner, nearly slamming into the wall.
"The code!" he shouts, "the code is seven, four, three, pound, pound, one, eight, one!"
I turn the last corner, stopping short at the air-sealed entrance. I mentally repeat the number, punching it in. A red light flashes green and the vestibule door opens. "Christina, wait outside," Caleb orders. "He needs a keycard to get back out that way if it closes. There's another door, but I can't find the code for it."
Christina nods, stationing herself in front. I waste no time and hurry past inside. The room itself is categorized by shelves of glass, vials and tubes filling the walls. Each one is colored differently, and labeled differently. I don't even know where to look.
"Caleb," I shout, "where are they?!"
"I'm pulling it up now, they're..."
The alarms are splintering, but the echo of the walls allow me to hear a noise, coming from the other side of the room. I pause, thinking of guards; men with guns on the other side of the shelf. I raise my own and pivot slowly, trying to glimpse what's around the shelf.
In the corner, I see a man clothed in white, standing above a chair, his hands working hurriedly to untie something. I edge my way closer, and know instantly that something is very off.
Because what I see can't be real.
There's a girl, sitting in the chair, and at first, I can't understand. I think it must be some cruel, cosmic joke and the noises around me are abruptly cut off, leaving nothing but a faraway echo in the back of my mind.
No. I think I speak it out loud.
It can't be.
I stare at the girl, feeling as if the floor has disappeared beneath me. Like nothing makes sense anymore, and everything is just wrong. Impossible. And my entire body is suddenly burning, burning, burning.
Please, I beg, as she looks back, a question in her eyes. The weight of seeing them is crushing me, turning me to dust from the inside out.
Please, not again.
I close my eyes and wait for her to disappear; to return to the caged memories I've stored her away in, wrapped in chains that I refuse to unlock. But the sight sends them spiraling back and it's like the years resurface, the pain and clarity of them all sharp and tormenting.
I see kisses shared under the roar of a chasm.
Her small frame against mine, talking me through my fears.
A blur of grey as she falls into the pit.
A small hand held up to the glass, pressing against my own.
The body of a short, blonde girl, lying lifeless on a metal slab.
I meet her eyes again, and in them, I see a brilliant flame that is anything but weak. A flame that could set a city on fire and all I can do is stare, whispering her name over and over again in my mind.