The following day I was taking care of the garden with Newt. The atmosphere between us was different from before. We were trusting each other. We also knew how the other was working so were starting to be faster and more efficient.
“It is starting to get bloody hot again.” Newt said while I was drinking long gulp of water.
“Agree” I answered, more to do the conversation than actually feeling the hot weather.
I threw him the water.
“Ahhh don’t agree. You look like you don’t feel the hot at all, you almost not sweating!” he complained to me.
“Actually I love this weather. The sun feels so good!” I said before stretching and closing my eyes to face the sun.
“Ahhh you are a strange one!” He joked.
“Coming from you, I’m not really sure if it is a compliment or not.” I looked at him, suspiciously.
“Of course it is!” Newt said taking an offended air, a hand over his heart.
“Can’t believe you don’t trust me.” He added.
I laughed before grabbing my shovel. Before I could start to work again, a strange sounds stopped me. It was loud and coming from the middle of the camp.
“What is….?” I asked Newt who was turning white
“It’s the elevator. The one we all arrived from.” He simply answered, not focusing on me at all anymore.
He moved toward it. I followed him, realizing that everyone was already gathering there.
He stayed on the outside of the circle that was already formed around the elevator’s door on the ground. Alvi was already facing them.
The sounds finally stopped and some guys opened the door. Alvi looked inside.
“Get him.” Ordered Alvi to one of the guy who opened the door.
When he raised his face I saw him glimpsing at me before looking at Newt. They had a silent conversation. I threw a glimpse at Newt.
“Hey, what’s happening?” I whispered.
He didn’t answer me. The guy who had jump in the elevator was climbing back. He was followed by another one. He was small but strongly built, black hair cut short. He looked way older than us, in his mid twenties maybe? He looked confused.
“That’s going to complicate things.” Newt murmured.
I looked puzzly at him but he ignored me again.
“Hey that’s a newcomer!” exclaimed someone from the crowd.
“Already?” asked another one.
“Well not really, he was supposed to arrive today. Wasn’t he?” answered a third one.
“What? No you’re wrong.” Commented the first one.
“Wait I guess it’s true.” Said a surprised voice.
The group was starting to murmur.
“That’s the previous newbie who didn’t arrive at the good time.” Someone else commented, less friendly.
“The Midget, always with Newt, remember?” whispered someone in front of me.
Oh, so that was he meant. I stiffed. The group was not aggressive, but the ones close to me were already putting some distance in a discreet way. I didn’t look at them, I tried to look like I was focusing on the new guy. The way he was moving, observing around…he looked like he was looking for someone. He saw the movements of people and his attention got on me. He focused on me and only me. He knew me. It happened for only a couple of second but I was sure of that. I needed to talk to him. I started to move forward but Alvi asked him to follow him and Doc’. They were going to check him like they did to me I guess.
How was that possible? How could he know me? I didn’t get a clear catch of his face, but even if I had, I doubt I would have remember him. I mean I forgot everything. And I was not looking for him.
After all he just arrived, having forgot everything, it is just impossible that he was looking for someone here. I was starting to get paranoid. I breathed.
“He was just lost and he probably was looking for a face that looks friendly and not too threatening.” I thought
“I’m not sure about the friendly face, but it’s true you don’t look threatening.” Answered Newt.
“The Hell?! Can you read minds now?” I looked at him, shocked.
“Unfortunately not. You were kind of aloud when you were wondering what the new guy was looking for.” He answered, amused.
I hit him lightly on the arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?” Newt said, rubbing the spot I had just hit.
“For saying I’m not friendly face!” I answered him, joking around.
Having nothing else we could do, we went back to work.
It was really hard to get focus on work. Especially because I could that the people around me were checking on me. I tried to forget about them and to think only about what I was supposed to do.
“Hey … you remember that we are not supposed to try to dig a hole, just to take care of the bad herbs?” Asked me Newt.
“Hein?” was my only answer.
I looked at my work. Well … “destruction” would be more accurate. I did a hole bigger than a plate.
“What….a swimming pool would be nice, wouldn’t it?” I tried without big hope to cover it up.
“Hummmm maybe not in the kitchen garden.” Commented Newt.
“Ah…right…didn’t think of that.” I sighed.
I went ahead and this time tried to focus on doing something smart, not to try to kill the growing vegetables.
A couple of hours after, red hair –alias Damien- came to get us.
“Alvi is asking for you guys.” He said to Newt and I.
I looked at Newt surprised. Newt, I understand, but why me?
He shrugged, as puzzled as I was. We followed Damien to the big hut in the middle of the camp.
We arrived inside to face a tired Alvi, sitting on the stage at the end of the hut.
“That bad hein?” Asked Newt.
“We have to convene the camp.” Answered Alvi.
“Yeah, I felt it in the atmosphere.” Commented Newt, rubbing his face.
“There is still chance is not that bad.”Alvi tried to say optimistically.
“Yeah, it’s not like we were in a bloody Hell already.” Commented Newt.
Alvi smiled at Newt words.
“What do you, mean convening the camp?” I asked, tired of being ignored.
Newt answered for Alvi.
“It has been 5 years that every month a new man is send to the camp by the elevator. 5 years that we always arrive on the day of the full moon.”
“So….what?” I asked, feeling dumb but still not getting his point.
“Today is the full moon.” Answered Newt patiently.
In front of my absence of reaction, he continued.
“You arrived 10 days ago, before the moon got full.”
I finally got it.
“….And my arrival broke 5 years of traditions. I got that part. But so what? It is not like there were a guide book anywhere right?”
Newt passed a hand on is face before facing me, all smile away from his face.
“The new guy arrived as usual. You are not the one they were supposed to send. So everyone is wondering who you are.” He said simply.
“Ahhhhhh I was wondering when I would got the “spy” talk again.” I aggressed him, upset that he was facing me like that.
“Midget! This is serious talk! It has been 10 days you are here but you still don’t remember your bloody name.” Newt answered, loosing his composure.
I stepped back on his words. It is true that all the boy of the camp remembered their name from 1 to 7 days after their arrival. It was my 10th day here and I had no idea.
I didn’t tell Newt about my dream, about the feeling of acceptation that “subject 13” was the only name I ever had. He couldn’t know how deep it was scaring me.
He hesitated, looking like he realized he had gone too far. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something but Alvi cut him.
“Enough. This is an issue but we do not consider or think of you as a spy.” Alvi said.
Refusing to look at Newt, I realized how upset I was at him. I was upset that he said that. I was upset he could have consider even one second I was lying to them. And I was even more upset because he was right in a way. I was not a spy but I never told him the truth about me. And more than that, I was upset at myself to not come clean to him that instant.
I am a coward. I realized.
“But the camp is back on the same track that they were at your arrival.” Alvi continued.
“Majority of us accepted you but some will restart the debate and they may easily change minds.” Added Newt.
“Yeap, can see the picture. So, what’s going to happen?” I asked, already tired.
“I don’t know.” Admitted Alvi.
“Of course we will be with you Midget.” Answered Newt at the same time with vehemence.
I looked at him in surprise.
“Of course Midget, you’re bloody one of us after all!” Newt smiled at me.
I smiled back at him, it was contagious. There were no other option in front of his warmth and confidence.
“Of course I am!” I punched him in the arm to hide my embarrassment.
“Good grief, it looks like I’m the only one who gets worried down here.” Alvi commented.
He stood up.
“Ok, Newt call the camp. Tonight we are going to officially introduce our two newcomers.” Concluded Alvi, clapping his hands together.
A couple of hours after that, I was back inside the hut, sitting in front of the stage. This time, it was full of young men and a big fire was burning in the middle of the stage.
Minho was sitting next to me, all excited by the event.
“So you see, that happens every month to welcome the newbie. Well, the two of you today. You’ll see, the ceremony is pretty cool.” Minho was so enthusiast that I almost forgot that it could turn in a bad way. Almost.
“Look, It’s going to start!” He said while slamming hard his elbow in my stomach.
“….Ouch!” I hit him on the shoulder before focusing my attention on Alvi, advancing on the stage.
An excited silence filled he hut while everyone was watching him.
“Tonight, the moon is full again.” Alvi started with the fluency of a repeated speech.
With his tenor voice, I could feel the excitation starting to build up, looking forward to every words he would say0
“The moon is full!” Scream the mass of people, echoing his words, making me jump on my sit.
“Tonight is our night! Tonight is the night of the camp!” shouted Alvi.
Excited scream answered him, making my hair stand on my arms. The excitation was contagious and I had a hard time trying to keep it away. I needed to stay focus. I remembered the exchange and concern in the eyes of Alvi. Even if that seems to be far away of him tonight.
“Brothers, tonight we become bigger! Our camp is expending!” claimed Alvi again.
“Yeaaah!” answered a massive crowd.
He did a short pause and throw me a glance.
This is the unusual part I guess.
I carefully watched around me. For the moment, I only read wild excitation on the faces surrounding me. But I also noticed that the sit next to me had stay empty.
“Greenies, take a step forward.” Ordered Alvi without hesitation.
I looked at him. That was it. With a deep breath I stand up. Silence filled the room. Without turning back, I walked toward Alvi on the stage. On the other side of the stage, I saw the other greenie who arrived this afternoon. He looked a bit groggy, walking heavily toward Alvi, his face looking at the floor, hidden behind his mid long hair. He finally stopped in front of Alvi and I reported my attention to the boss of the camp.
“You who have arrived, you are our new brothers. We may not share the same blood but here everyone is part of the same family.” Pronounced Alvi.
“Wait, you are not going to welcome both of them?!” Screamed a voice from behind.
I didn’t flinch, didn’t move an inch.
“Gal….” said Alvi in a voice that was all but welcoming.
“Come on! This is no surprise isn’t it? The Hell is happening here! This one was not supposed to be here!” Said the same angry voice.
I didn’t have to turn on my feet to recognize the owner of this voice.
He was the guy who jumped in the cage when I arrived, the one that I bite. His voice was the same full of anger than 10 days ago. Since then, I hadn’t try to get next to him, feeling his dislike on me. I had hoped it would pass him.
Yeah, sounds like an awesome plan! Look how well it worked out!
Oblivious of my internal monologue, Gal was keeping talking.
“Alvi for God sake! You know it as well as I do! They always send one person, every full moon. This one shouldn’t be here!” Gal shouted.
He was certain of himself, I felt it; And I was not the only one, according to the murmurs of the crowd.
Alvi raised a hand toward Gal.
“If you are so certain he was not supposed to be here, that he is not one of us, what proof do you have?” questioned Alvi.
“He didn’t arrive when he was supposed to!” answered gal.
“So what?” asked Alvi simply.
“…. “ Gal let a confuse silence answer for him.
“Does any of you here, have a clear schedule, given by them, the ones who send us here?” Alvi added.
I recognized these words, they were more or less what I told him this afternoon.
“That is how it was for 5 years!” Gal finally found his voice back.
“And for 10 to 15 years our life was different!” Shouted Alvi.
Everyone shut up and listened to him.
“Do I have to remind you that the enemy is not inside?” Alvi deep voice was echoing in the hut
“The enemy are the one who took us away from our life, who threw us here, parked to survive like animals, struggling to find an exit.” He kept going.
If I could have turn around, I would have read the sadness on the face of the guys around, probably echoing the one I saw in Alvi eyes.
“I don’t know why we are here, who we are. But one thing is sure. All the people you see here are the only one you know. The only one that will stand next to you.” Alvi stopped, watching everyone.
“I don’t wanna act suspicious for any of us. If we start like this, what will we have at the end? No memories, and no one to create new ones.”
His last words stayed in suspension in the air for what looked like eternity, finding their way to everyone hearts, saying aloud their darkness scare.
The silence kept going on. Even I, who just arrived 10 days ago, was chocked by his words. Chocked by the truth behind them.
“Welcome to our new members!” Scream a voice from the crowed. I almost turn toward it, recognizing the English accent of Newt.
“Welcome to our new member.” echoed a voice I recognized as Minho’s.
“Welcome!” Repeated some enthusiasts.
“Welcome!” Repeated Alvi, putting his hands on our shoulders.
I turn back toward the other guys, pushed by him, at the same time than the other guy.
“Now time to celebrate! This night is ours!” Screamed Alvi.
This time, the answer from everyone else was more joyful and enthusiast. The other guys started to stand up, moving towards some buffet everywhere in the corners.
I watched them. At the same time, I took a pick on the new guy next to me. I could see his profile. He was already observing me.
“Crazy night hein?” He said with a grin.
“Yeah,….” I answered, not really comfortable.
His smile were not going to his eyes. These last ones sounded really cold. But who could blame him after a day like this?
“People here are not that bad.” I said, trying to make a conversation.
He just smiled at me.
“I would like to introduce myself, but I can’t remember my name. Call me spider.”
“I’m Midget then.” I said, trying to look friendly.
“Why spider?” I asked while watching Minho waving at me from the buffet.
He seriously looked like he wanted me to try one of the things there.
“Because of that.” The new guy answered me while showing me his right wrist.
I could observe a black spider tattooed on his skin. It was covering all his inner wrist, so detailed it looked like it was going to move from any seconds.
I couldn’t get my eyes away.
Sitting on a cold chair. A white room, nude of anything. Nothing inside, no windows, no hope. There was only me sitting on this used padded leather chair, the clinical table, the plates full of different needles and icy products. Nothing else except the cold within the room. Or was it inside my veins? Even deeper, inside my bones. But even through this cold, I could feel the sweat on my forehead, some drops on my upper lips. I couldn’t move, immobile under the piercing light. The only thing I could observe with my blurry vision was a black spider. It was going to devour me. It was going to put its venom in my blood. Again. And again. And again. It will ignore my quiet tears….no actually….it would enjoy it like a kid eating a lollipops right before dinner. When he shouldn’t and this idea makes it even better.
“I don’t want to do that neither you know.” Lied the spider.
I could see the smile on its lips, ear the pleasure in its voice, see the anticipation in its accelerated gesture while it was carefully picking up one needle among the others.
I wanted to throw up but I couldn’t even do that.
“You will see, it won’t be that difficult.”
I could hear the satisfaction in the spider voice. It was taking pleasure of seeing me scared, unable to defend myself. I could feel its excitation to hurt me again, to see me scared but unable to defend myself and to resist it.
*No, don’t look scared, don’t make it happy* I thought trying to push myself, to resist.
But I knew what was coming. I couldn’t control it.
The spider came closer, feeling my terror like a shark smells blood.
“It will be over soon.”
A lie again.
The spider’s needle get under my skin, pushing the icy product in my veins…
“Hey, you’re ok?” asked a voice.
I realized I was still inside the hut, talking to the new guy.
“Yeah…sorry….too hot inside.” I lied.
I needed to get out of there. Woobling, I stepped back, looking for an exit.
“Hey, do you need some help?” He asked again, concerned.
I shook my hand.
“Nah, I’m fine…just too hot.” I answered, having difficulties to form sentences.
Without waiting for him to come back to me, I speed toward the exit, ignoring the ones who were trying to talk to me.
Finally I was able to step outside. I kept walking, putting some distance between the main hut and me. In the darkness I kept walking toward the high tower. I thought you had to be willing to die to even think of climbing that. I was wrong. You also could have run away feeling to be able to climb it.
I started to climb the old ladder, making it to the first floor.
Still 2 to go! I encouraged myself.
This exercise was good. Having to keep focus allowed me to stop thinking. I finally made it to the last floor.
Breathing hard, I stand up. It was not that high, I still couldn’t see behind the walls. But I was able to see above the top of the trees of the camp.
“Still not high enough, hein.” I said to the night.
I lied down, watching the stars.
This memory was not really making any sense. However, according to my shivering body, it remembered it or believed in it for real. I hugged myself, looking at the sky.
“Midget!” Shouted a voice from downstairs.
I was too tired to move or answer to Newt. I stayed, immobile, lost in my thoughts.
I heard the protestation of the ladder supporting his weight to come up here.
He finally arrived to the last floor, where I was.
Without talking, he joined me on the floor, watching the stars.
I could feel his body warmth from where I was. I knew that if I move my hand from one inch, I will find his.
“You will have to explain to me sometime, why you like running away when nobody expect you too.” He said softly
“I was not running.” I protested
“Hmmm not sure that the expression “walked away liked if you saw a bloody ghost” is in the dictionary yet.” Newt joked.
“….I saw a spider.” I answered, opting for a lie which wasn’t really one.
“A…bloody spider?” Newt repeated, surprised.
“What, does anyone like spiders?” I answered, evasively.
He laughed. His laugh made me realize that I was calm down since the instant I heard him calling for me. I waited for the silence to come back.
“I had a flash back.” I finally said the truth.
“Hum…” he said, encouraging me to say more without wanting to push me.
“I don’t think I have a past.” I said, confiding him my biggest worry.
He stayed silent but I could feel his gaze on me.
“We all have one.” He answered softly.
“I mean, of course I have one. I don’t think I have anywhere I wanna go back to.” I tried to explain.
I sighted. I was starting to get upset, not knowing how to describe the feeling that was growing on me. Newt said nothing, letting me organize my thoughts.
Feeling I was not going to keep talking, he said
“It’s ok, you have us now. We are your present and probably your future.” He said with a smile.
“That would be nice.” I answered sincerely.
But I knew it was not going to happen. I was not one of them. And if my memories were correct, I was from nowhere, I was just a guinea pig.
I wanted to tell him. I really wanted to tell him who I was. And naively, was hopping that he will tell me he understood. That everything will be ok, that he knew I was a girl and that he accepted it.
The temptation of telling him everything was so strong but I was scared of his rejection. More than I should have been.
“I am not who you think I am.” I finally said.
His gaze was back on me.
“What do you mean?” He asked when I didn’t keep going on.
What did I mean?
I am a bloody girl. Oh and also a freak who spend her past in a cage being used for experiments I tried to answer in my head.
“You shouldn’t get close to me.” I finally added.
I didn’t look at him, but I could feel his body freezing a bit.
“What did you remember exactly?” Newt asked.
Surprisingly I didn’t hear any suspicion in his voice. He was not thinking that I was a spy, or send for another reason than the rest of them. I guess I was hoping for it. It would have make it easier to keep him away without having to tell him everything.
“A name, and …. Some other…memories.” I answered.
“Tell me.” He asked
His voice was so serious, I had to look at him. His eyes were fixed on mine, observing me without even judging me. I couldn’t avoid his gaze.
“They….they were calling me subject 13.” I said with difficulty.
“I was in…. some kind of laboratories. It was cold. So very cold... It was when I was few year younger. And then maybe some month younger. I don’t know how many years, but they were testing some…stuff on me. It was painful. I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t control my own body.” I said in a neutral voice.
I suddenly feel warm on my cheeks. Without saying anything, Newt was caressing my cheeks, taking away the tears I didn’t even feel. I closed my eyes to escape his gaze. And also to feel his skin against mine.
I raised my hand and grab his. I didn’t pushed him away but I stopped him.
“I feel that they are going to come back. They are going to get me back.”
I felt it to my bones. I was sure of it. There were no escape.
“I don’t know what they did to me or what they will do. But I know that I shouldn’t be … close to anyone when that will happen.” I concluded, feeling I was putting words on the growing tension I was feeling since the first memory came back to me.
I gently let go of his hand. Even if I didn’t want to. I shouldn’t get too close to him. It was starting to get dangerous and I knew that my feelings were growing up too much. I won’t be able to keep them under control if I stayed close to him, physically or mentally.
Suddenly, I felt his hand on my hips.
“Newt…?” I asked.
He pushed me against him. His other arm get under my head, making sure I was all against him.
I couldn’t move away from his grips. My head was in his chest, his smell was all around me. I tried to get away, to push him away. He was way stronger than I was and didn’t let me.
“Don’t….please.” he said in a small voice.
I stopped moving, hearing it shaking.
“I don’t care. I don’t care about all of that. I care about you. I care about the Midget than is always trying to act brave when he is scared, always putting a front, always trying his best for the sake of others. I am not going to bloody give you up to some assholes.” He said passionately.
“Newt….But….” I didn’t know what to say or what I wanted to say.
“No bloody but! No but anymore! I’m fed up of but!” He said, hugging me tighter than before.
Hesitantly, I put my hands on his back. I could feel the muscles of his backs all contracted to get me closer.
I grabbed his shirt and pushed him closer to me.
“Don’t reject me. I’m on your side. I’m on your bloody side.” He whispered in my ear.
I was crying and smiling at the same time, hiding my face in his shirt.
“Thank you.” I said in his shirt.
He laughed. I could feel it as much as I was hearing it.
I stayed in his arms. I was warm and safe. Nothing could hurt me, nested against him like this. Not even the memories of a forgotten and tormented past.
No, nothing at all I thought before falling asleep.