The Academy

Chapter 10

River POV

A week in solitary confinement, only blue gloved guards in and out, and me in and out of consciousness. None of them talked to me. No one would tell me where Nevva and the others were taken. I cried a lot, and I knew they were doing tests while I was unconscious, my brains being scrambled, wires crossing in the street. And the dreams, they got more vivid, more strange.

The dream that stood out from the rest involved a black man in my room. Older, a proper man in a nice shirt and slacks with white hair. I’d never met him, but he seemed familiar all the same. He sat on my bed and took my hand. I didn’t know him, but he knew me. Saw inside my head and understood me like the blue hands never could even will all their fancy tests.

“A very lost little girl.” He smiles, like a father. “You carry big secrets don’t you?”

I shake my head. “No secrets, only whispers.”

“Ah yes.” He nods. “Parliament is very proud of the work here at Pyxis you realize?”

“Yes.” I stare at my pale hand in his dark one.

“You are key to the work.”

“Great works. We are doing great works.” I nod.

“Most of you are, there is one though.” He stands, dropping my hand and beginning to pace the room. “There is one who only has initiative.” Always there, the dream fades away.

I lost track of time. Morning, night. It was no different. Always darkest before the dawn. Finally Dr. Mathias stepped into the eight by eight sterile white cell I spent the week in.

“Hello, River.”

“No one’s here.” I shook my head, knocking it against the smooth white wall.

“None of that now.” He gently cupped my head to pull it from the wall.

“No touching the animals,” I scrambled away from him.

“I need to take you to the interview room.” Dr Mathias stood, holding out a hand.

“You need to wash your hands.” I glared at him. “Where are Nevva?” No that wasn’t quite right. “Where are Nevva and the others?”

“Guards.” Two of the new guards stepped into the room. I stood before they could reach me and walked past Dr. Mathias. He followed me, but before we reached the door and turned back to him so quickly he almost ran into me.

“Shh.” I tilted my head, listening, then turned back to him, grinning. “Do you hear it?”

“River, I must insist we continue on.”

My smile faded and I traced my fingers across his chest over his heart. “They’re coming you know. Counting down to the end of days.” I tapped his chest. “Three, two, one, he’ll know you.” Dr Mathias gave me a confused look, and pushed me along. I go willingly. I’ve seen his future.

“River Tam. It’s been a while.” The interviewer. He shook my hand, and everything was clear, everything flowed through me in a way it never had. They had cameras in all the rooms, not just audio. We should of known, even here they were watching us, they had cameras in the boathouse. They wanted to see what we would do. They’d known our plans all along.

I could see Nevva and the others in the dark clearing above the cliff. They were being dragged away. Hai fought, bit a guard so hard he let go. Shot Hai in the back when he ran. The others fought then, Nevva was hurt bad, maybe would have been killed, but the interviewer, he stopped them, knocked the others out. A trigger for that as well.

They dragged them into a room I had never been in, hooked Nevva to tubes, tried to keep her alive. Gunner attacked the interviewer after the guards left, wrestled a gun from him. Gunner had given up. I could feel his fear, his hatred for living at the school. He shot himself.

But Nevva and Lee, they were alive. The whole week I was in solitude they were alive. They broke Lee first, tapped into her brain and mixed it up. Nothing but soup in there now. She sat terrified in her own head, screaming when the doctors tried to get near her. No longer of use to the project, they put a bullet in her.

Nevva was their next test. How far can you push her? The interviewer wanted to know, parliament wanted to know. Trap her in a cage? No water? How long can she last? She died after five days of reduced air, extreme temperature changes, and no food or water.

I jerked my hand back, dropping into the chair, feeling too weak to move. There was silence as my brain tried to wrap around the facts. The others never took to the sessions like I did. If they’d behaved they might have lived, but tried to escape and became rabid dogs. Had to be put down. My life belongs to the academy now. But I won’t go down quiet. I remember who the black man in my dream wanted dead now, who was standing in the way of great works. Who had killed my friends. The interviewer.

“You’re very quiet today. How did your session with Dr. Mathias go?” He asked finally.

“He gave me a mission.” I smiled softly to myself. A mission, they’ll know that a person is not a weapon. A person is too unstable to ever be a weapon.

“Really? Did he...tell you your mission out loud, or did you just hear it?” He looked interested, thinks I’m playing their game again.

“He plays hide-and-seek with me.” I frowned, unsure of myself. I’d felt Simon, but that was impossible.

“Dr. Mathias?”

Simon hadn’t forgotten me. He was looking, looking all along to try and save me. He didn’t know it was too late.

“My brother. Is a doctor. He thinks he can find me, but...I am deep down...and I do not make...a sound.” A lost little girl.

“River, what mission did Dr. Mathias give you?” He’s getting annoyed, I snap back to the present, to what needs to be done.

“I can’t tell you.”

“You can tell me anything, you know that.”

“Can’t. Tell. I’ll have to write it down.” I knew it all hinged on this. I put out my hand for his pen. He paused briefly before handing it to me. I took it slowly, not meeting his eyes. I held the pen, so small, and yet it could be deadly. Like a little mouse. I stood and moved as if to take his pad of paper. Instead, I lunged, jamming the pen between his ribs and puncturing a lung. He wheezed a breath, his eyes meeting mine and filled with fear. Wide-eyed, he stared at me and everything he did the others filled me once again, a silent rage blooming in his chest. I yanked the pen back out. It made a wet, plopping kind of sound.

I slammed it back in, puncturing his heart. Warm blood began to coat my hands as I pulled the pen out only to stab it into his other lung. He gurgled unintelligible sounds, looking at me with disbelief. I leaned in close to his face. I wanted him to know I was the one who killed him, that it was my choice. He deserved to die for what he’s done, and he, the project, parliament, they gave me the power to kill him.

“Your blood is on my hands.” I cupped his chin in my hand, giving him a little shake and leaving a bloody hand print. I tugged his shirt to pull him from the chair. I could hear the guards. They would been in the room soon. I jumped to the camera and pressed my hand against it’s hidden source. “I can see you.”

That was it. I’d told them I knew everything. I wondered how much longer I would live. Blue handed guards entered the room again. Two by two, they carry me away. One stayed behind, calling Dr. Mathias.

“We’re bringing her to you. Hen ji!”

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