After grabbing some sandwiches I had follow Minho and Newt to sit next to the fire, on some carved woods. I voraciously ate my sandwich, not even stopping to wink in pain when my movements were opening the cut on my lips. After making sure that my stomach was filled I sighed while stretching myself.
“Feel better? Dude, you’re so small, where do you put all the food?” Said Minho, spitting some food on me.
I punched him lightly in the arm before cleaning my face with the back of my hand.
“That was gross even from you.” Added Newt.
I smiled at his remark. There were only the 3 of us and the red hair from before. We were a small group amongst the other. The bigger group was near the hut, with Alvi and Doc’.
Sitting, contempt as much as possible I lost my sight in the fire. I was starting to get really tired. That was a Hell of a day. Unconsciously I knew that tomorrow won’t be the same. I have accepted everything pretty easily today, and no need to be a smart ass to get that the chock probably have anesthetized me.
I vaguely listened to Minho, feeling my eyelids growing heavy. Before I closed them, I observed Newt silently leaving us and going to Alvi.
“Hey” I interrupted Minho. ”Who is this Newt?” I asked him.
Not feeling disturbed by my intervention, he must been used to it, he answered me.
“One of our best runner except for me and Alvi. But Alvi doesn’t run a lot anymore, taking care of the camp.” He said succinctly.
Ah so that was the reason he looked like a leader and that people were following him unconsciously
“Well, he also is the second in command after all added Minho” making me realize I talked aloud.
A diffuse feeling of worries grew inside me. If he was the second in command, Alvi were going to tell him about me. I straighten, keeping my intention on him. I didn’t hear what they were talking about. Alvi looked at me for a second before entering his hut/tent, followed by Newt.
“Oy, you’re ok? You’re all white?” asked Minho, concerned.
I almost jumped when Minho put his hand on my shoulder in attempt to get my attention.
“Oh……yah…Just tired I guess.” I answered evasively.
I reported my attention on him.
“Well, yeah, it always is the case when a greenie arrive. Come Dude, gonna show you you’re bed.” He proposed.
I followed him to realize that the mention of bed was outclass.
“You should review the definition of a bed.” I said looking with disbelief at the hammock in front of me.
“It’s more comfortable that it looks.” He said while throwing me a used blanket.
Well it’s not like I had a choice. I put myself inside, with some difficulty.
“Dude enjoy your rest. Tomorrow they will probably give you a job.” He said.
“Like runner?” I asked.
“Ah no. This one is not for the newbie. You will be more like cleaning the dishes, chopping woods, taking care of the camp.” Minho answered.
“Wah, sounds like a dream job.” I joked.
He laughed before leaving me.
I was alone in this hut, too early probably, the sun just disappeared after all.
It was still really loud, people all around the hut chatting, laughing with enthusiasm.
I will never be able to sleep.
I proved myself wrong almost immediately. I was most exhausted than I expected and fall immediately asleep.
“Wake up!” shouted a powerful voice.
I moaned, trying to turn away from the disturbance.
“I said wake up!”
A sudden shake throw me away of my hammock. I felt on the hard and cold ground. I immediately opened my eyes and, lost, looked for where I was.
My eyes saw a guy standing next to me that didn’t ring a bell in my memory. He obviously was the one who made me fall.
“What the hell?!” I shouted while standing to face him, angry.
“Good morning Midget! Time for breakfast and then work!” Said an energetic voice.
“What?” I asked confused.
But already, he was leaving. Puzzled, I looked around.
“That was Nigel. He has the bed next to you.” Said a voice.
I turned to face a blondy guy.
Ah right, Newt. Fuck, that wasn’t a dream.
“Come on. You don’t wanna miss the breakfast. The cook is really good trust me!” He added while pushing me out of the hut.
I hadn’t a second to think from that moment. Newt was pushing me around, making me eat, showing me where was everything necessary, explaining what I was supposed to do in my new job –taking care of the garden, big enough to feed a horde of hungry men-.
It wasn’t until the middle of the afternoon that I was able to have some time to think.
“Hey. Aren’t you supposed to be a runner?” I asked him while drinking some long sips of water.
My back was killing me, my arms and legs were threatening me to give me some serious pain tomorrow but I was happy to see that nothing was wrong in my body.
“I am. Runners don’t run everyday. We would just exhaust ourselves. There are turns. Today was supposed to be mine but I covered for this bloody idiot yesterday.” He stopped. Stretching himself he winced at me, making me smile while he was talking about Minho.
“Make sense I suppose.” I commented.
He stopped, looking at me in a strange way.
“You are taking things fairly well since your arrival.” He said slowly, judging me.
“Well, except screaming and running to slap my head against the wall –which would not help it- I said showing my bruise, I don’t see what else I could do.” I commented.
“…Yeah I guess so.” He hesitated then smiled again
“But you are probably more mature than I was. I just cropped in a corner, refusing to talk to anyone. It took 2 days to Alvi to make me move. He was bloody pissed off at that time and made me think of an ogre. I was half expecting to see smoke getting out of his head.” He laughed at the memory.
I tried to picture Alvi like this, with success.
“Yeah, it would totally fit him!” I said laughing too.
“I know right?!”
“So….when was that?” I finally asked.
“When was what?” he stopped laughing.
“When did you….picture him as an ogre?” I asked hesitantly.
I wanted to say “since you arrive here” but it didn’t sounds like a good idea.
He observed me before answering slowly.
“I am here since 4 years I guess.” He said. “4 bloody long years.” He added for himself, going back to work.
I hadn’t anything to add at that, so I focused on my own work.
4 years…. I don’t wanna stay that long. I have to get out of here.
Yeah, but to go where? Were there anyone looking for me right now? Who send me there? Why? Did I do something wrong and was I punished? If so, what was it? And, who was I? I wondered.
Without clear reason, I was feeling like all of the other trapped here. If we were getting out of here, we will have all of the answers.
That is the only hope after all.
But I was a pretty dangerous situation myself. Nobody know who they are. I didn’t know neither but was already hiding what I was. It made me remember of yesterday night.
“Hey, what did you talk about with Alvi last evening?” I said, doing my work while focusing discretely my attention on his reaction.
“…Yesterday? Hum nothing special. Just usual talk. Why?” he asked without looking at me.
“Hum? For nothing.” I smiled, continuing my work with application.
Nothing he said. But he had frozen for a second when I asked. What did they talk about? Did Alvi told him? Or was I something else? I knew it concerned me, the way Alvi looked at me before leaving with him was a mix of guilt and suspicion. I was really good to read people. Strangely, I knew that despite of not remembering my name.
I doubted it was directly related to my gender. Newt was not the kind of man to treat a girl the same way than a guy. I may have been wrong but my guts were telling me I was right.
Then what was it?
I continued working hard under the sun until the end of the day.
“Pfiou, my body hurts everywhere!” Said Newt.
Too tired to answer, I just positively nodded, before letting me go down, my back under a tree.
“Grab this.” He said while throwing me the water.
I gulped the not so cold water with long sips, watching him sitting next to me. Our arms were touching but it was not bothersome. Like a long day of shared pain had made us closer.
“Aaaah, feel alive again. Thanks!” I thanked him.
“Does it still hurts?” He asked pointing at my face.
I passed a hand on my bruises and on the scar on my forehead.
“Not really. I guess the pain on the rest of my body is stronger than this one.” I lied.
I was tired and my headache was starting to come back. It was still a diffuse batting on the back of my head, and my face was giving me the impression of wanting to get away of my body and roll on the ground. So nothing I couldn’t survive.
“Don’t push too much Midget” said Newt, seeing through my lies.
He ruffled my hair softly.
We stayed there, sitting next to each other in silence for quite a while.
Minho finally joined us, just coming back from his run without any news. We chatted all together for a while before going to dinner.
The week passed by, without much changes. Newt was picking me up in the morning and staying with me until the evening. I grew used to his presence next to me. It even was comfortable to be working with him.
I was exhausting myself at work to avoid thinking of who I was and looking for answers. It also helped me to look like I ignored the constant eyes judging me. A small team of guys were very reluctant to my presence here. They were well behaving but always checking on me, like I was some kind of spy.
It could have bother me more, but with the presence of Newt, I didn’t gave them a lot of attention. Some decided to focus on other tasks or started to get bored. At the end of the week, only a handful of them were still unfriendly. Minho was in another group but always joining us for dinner. Doc’ and Alvi relayed each other to have lunch with us. The red hair –actually called Damien- was joining us time to time. He was friendly and always in for a good joke. Nigel, the one sleeping on the bed next to me was usually joining Newt and I for lunch. Quiet guy, I was still not sure of his personality.
I was starting to do my nest inside the camp. I started to feel more comfortable. Nobody cared I didn’t remember a thing, we were all the same. So I could stop worrying about that.
That night should remind me that I was becoming naïve.
Empty. I was feeling so empty. No emotions, nothing. Like this room. Dark, without any furniture except for the blanket I was on, in the corner. No windows. Only a close door. Only me. Then an aggressive white light was turned on. It was so bright I filled naked. I wanted to press my head against my knees, to hide from this. But I couldn’t move. I knew what was going to happen.
The door open.
“Subject 13, come with me.” Said an emotionless voice.
I knew the face of that voice. Tall blond woman, with her hair strictly attached together in a bun.
Without being able to protest, I obeyed, automatically. I didn’t want to go. No! Not today again! I scream and scream again, but no sounds could get away from my closed lips.
And even if I refused to go with her, I was following her. My mind was throwing itself against its own limits, refusing them, trying to get control over my body.
“Sit.” She ordered without even turning to check if she was obeyed.
Of course she was, my body was following every words coming from her.
She took a needle, already prepared for me.
*No! No, no no no!!!* I thought while watching my arm stretching towards her.
I watched the needle pierce my skin, next to the amount of already closed holes in my tender skin. I felt the icy product getting mix to my blood…
Gasping for air, I stand up. I was all tangled in some blanket. Panicking, my heart beating like crazy in my chest, I frankly struggled against it. Finally I was able to get out. Still frantic I lost balance and fall on the floor. Shaking, I gasped for air, not moving, my hands against my chest.
“Oy, the fuck’s happening here?” I heard an half asleep voice asking.
I froze. There were other people. In the dark, I stand up and rushed out of the hut. The cold air of the night slapped me in the face. Without thinking I started to run, running far, far away from this woman. I stormed into the forest, my foot running like the floor was on fire. I ran until I couldn’t see the main fire anymore. Then I lost balanced, my foot catching themselves in something on the ground. A sob escaped my lips. I couldn’t stop. She would catch me. I stand up but lost balance, my foot refusing to support me. On my knees, I dragged myself until I came against the big wall. I was trapped.
“Noooo…. “ I slapped it as hard as I could, again and again.
I didn’t stop, like if I was trying to make a hole in this thick wall in order to escape from everything, including my memory.
“Stop!” Some strong arms grabbed my forearms, stopping me from slapping the wall again.
“No, don’t touch me, no, no! Let me go!” I screamed.
“Oy bloody calm down.” Added the voice.
“No no no!” I struggled to get free.
“Sorry, you don’t leave me a choice.” Said the voice again.
I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my cheek. Gasping, I realized that I just got slapped.
Who was now staring at me with worry.
“Newt?” I asked, unsure.
“It’s ok. It’s ok Midget.” He let go of my hands, realizing I came back to my sense.
I started to shake. All my body was shaking. I had no idea if it was from pain, cold or scare. Probably all of that together. Totally lost I didn’t know what to do.
I hugged myself as hard as I could, feeling sick.
“It’s gonna be ok.” He said in a voice full of attention, while rubbing my back.
“You’re bloody cold.” He added while pushing me in his arms, rubbing me all over.
I relaxed in his embrace. His contact, his smell, that I knew, that I was trusting. I grabbed his shirt, realizing I was crying.
“Newt, I….I……I don’t know who I am.” I gulped.
“It’s ok.” He was talking to me like a child having a panic attack, comforting me.
Wow, because this is what is happening. A child having a panic attack after a nightmare. I slapped myself mentally with this thought.
I wanted it to have been a nightmare; I wanted it so badly. But it was not. I remembered the marks on the hollow of my elbow. I had just seen a piece of my past. A memory. The realization made me shiver again. I felt Newt arms grew stronger, hugging me closer to him.
In the same voice, he talked, trying to distract me.
“Do you know the head of Nigel when he came to me, waking me up? He was saying things like the devil kissed you, you got crazy and run like hell in the forest. Fortunately he just woke me and Alvi.” He added.
“How…did you…know…where…I was?” I asked, shaking on my words.
“Well, you were not really discreet, destroying everything on your way and just rushing to go straight.” He commented with a small smile.
I laughed, small and strange sounds. He didn’t let me go and asked me
“So, what scared you almost to death? Did someone tried to hurt you?” he asked, concerned.
“Hum kind of I guess.” I answered, still lost in my memory.
“Who?” He said his voice sharp like a sword.
“I don’t know. It was….confused. A memory.” I explained, feeling his anger on the idea that someone on the camp could have tried to disrespect the rule number one, never hurt each other.
His anger didn’t change, making me feel like it was maybe more, maybe he was angry that someone could hurt me.
I started to feel ashamed. Crying and shivering because of a memory, running away in the middle of the night. Was I just trying to blow away my cover by acting like a cry baby girl?
“I…I am so sorry. I over reacted.” I apologized.
“Stop.” He said softly, letting go of me he grabbed my shoulders and looked at me.
His gaze was so intense I just shut up.
“There is nothing wrong of being scared. Our situation is….well, bloody bad. And suddenly remembering some seconds of the past we have no idea about, discovering who we may have been…There is nothing to be sorry about. His hand were trembling a bit. I realized he may have felt the same way.” He said intensively.
“Did you….did you get some memories back?” I asked him, sincerely moved by his words.
He looked lost for a bit and let go of my shoulders. I suddenly felt really alone.
“Maybe... Anyway, let’s go Midget, before you catch a cold.” He said, putting some distance between us.
He didn’t trust me this way. Not enough to tell me about him. I couldn’t blame him. But I felt really sadden by the idea.
“Yeah, sounds a good idea.” I lied.
We stand up. I bit the inside of my cheek under the pain. I had hurt my foot while running barefoot across the forest. Not my best shot on that. I did my best to follow up with him.
“You’re bloody bleeding!” He realized after a few meters. “Why the bloody hell didn’t you say anything?!” He scream at me.
“It’s not that bad, I’m fine.” I didn’t want to look even more girly. I had to take it like a man0
“You’re bloody not! Get on my back!” he ordered.
“Excuse me?” I asked, dumfounded.
“Get on my back!” he repeated.
“I told you I am fine!” I said.
“And I bloody told you to get on my back so you are bloody going to do so!” he shouted.
I stared at him and then it was too much. I started to laugh, harder and harder. Confused, he stared at me like if I was losing it. Which was probably right.
“I’m fine, it’s just, all of that. This is comical.” I explained.
He stared at me, standing barefoot after running away, in the middle of the forest and him screaming at me. And then he started to laugh too, joining me, laughing our ass off in the middle of the forest.
We finally calmed down and I accepted his support. He stand on my left, I was grabbing his left arms while his right one was around my hips, supporting most of my weight. I was able to enjoy his warmth and even the pain couldn’t get my attention away.
We finally arrived back at the camp where Alvi was waiting for us. Without a word he went to find the Doc’ while Newt was taking me to the infirmary.