“River,” Mother hisses at me. My eyes flutter open. “You have to go.” She pulls me up by my arm, twisting it painfully. I sit up in the grass looking around wildly. Nothing looks familiar. Wait, there, in the distance I can see the school. I start for the school, but mother grabs me, spinning me around. “Are you crazy?” She slaps me across the face.
“Mother?” It didn’t really hurt, but I’m shocked. She never hit me. Then it dawns on me that this must be a dream.
“You have to leave. Simon’s waiting.”
“Simon?” I ask, rethinking my dream theory.
“This way, come.” Mother turns and I hurry after her. We run out of any area of the school I recognize, until nothing but trees are flying past. I slide to a stop at the edge of a cliff, water crashing far below.
“Where’s Simon?” I ask out of breath.
“Down there.” Mother points to the water below and I lean over, she gives me a hard shove and I am free falling, arms spinning wildly.
“Why?” I scream, it’s taking forever to land.
“You’re sick, this is the only way to be free.” Mother is still watching me from the cliff but she sounds like she’s right next to be.
I woke up just as I heard the waves crashing. Nevva stared down at me from beside the bed. I sat up, realizing I was in the dorm covered in cold sweat on my bed. I felt the edges of the bed, noting the mattress had not grown.
“I have no recollection,” I sputtered, looking around.
“They brought you back around lights out.” Nevva, sat on the edge of my bed. I scooted away from her without thinking. “Are you okay?” She reached for me, but I flinched back.
“No touching.” I held up a finger on both hands as if I could hold her off with them.
“What?” Nevva looked hurt.
“She understands, she doesn’t comprehend.” I stared at my fingers, shaking them side to side. “The ships.” I looked up at her.
“What?” she asked again, looking confused.
“I know how to escape.” I whisper to my fingers.
“River.” She glanced around the room, but the others are still asleep. She took my hand and I let her, though it felt like a million spiders crawls from her skin to mine. “Are you sure?”
“We have to go now.” I stood and padded across the room to Lee’s bed. Nevva followed. Lee jumped and sat up when I tapped her shoulder.
“Nevva, what’s going on?” She looked from me to Nevva, not bothering to ask me because I was clearly insane.
“Time to go.” I turned, leaving the room. I heard whispers behind me, but they meant nothing. I knew they would follow Before I reached the stairs they were behind me. I led them quickly though the dark hallways and turning gardens until I stood outside the boy’s wing of the dorm.
“River, they’ll find us in there.” Nevva tugged my arm. I pulled away and motioned for them to stay still. Slipping in the door I focused on Gunner and Hai. I moved motionlessly through the dorm, disturbing no one until I stood by their beds. Both were wide-eyed to see me there, but followed me out.
“That the hell is going on?” Gunner hissed at Lee.
“She says she knows a way out of this place.” Lee shrugged.
“So you just followed her?” Gunner looked stunned.
“Didn’t you?” I asked, letting my hand drift along the white brick of the school.
Lee smirked. “Look, we haven’t made any progress on finding a way out, so yeah, we followed her.”
“She’s nuts,” Hai whispered, “totally off it.”
I smiled at him as I pressed my ear to the building. “Shh, the mice are sleeping.”
“Maybe, but she knows things,” Nevva said. “Let’s go. River, where to now?”
“To where we can dance with the wind.”
After exchanging looks, they followed me across the school ground to the forest I’d dreamed of the night before. We moved one step in front of the guard patrol, as I’d known we would. It’s a short walk through the forest to the cliff. We stop and stare down at the ocean. Waves crash far below, beating the rock into submission, but it is stubborn. I glance to the right and see what I’d noticed in my dream fall.
“What, are we gonna jump?” Hai asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Great plan, Mouse.” Lee looked disgusted.
“There.” I pointed.
“Nee ta ma duh tyen-shia suo-uo duh gai si,” Hai breathed. We all turned to him. “Sorry.” He blushed.
I led them toward the ship that sat tucked away in the trees.
“It’s the one they brought us here on.” Nevva smiled. “River, you did it.” She squeezed my arm. I smiled slightly.
“Gunner, can you fly this?” Lee asked.
“Of course,” he scoffed. “I can fly anything they want me to.” I gave him a real smile then, and opened the door to the ship. As soon as I did I knew there was trouble, this was wrong. Dr. Mathias stepped from the ship, a wide grin on his face.
“Well done, River.”
“No, no,” I muttered, stepping back. He spoke into a radio.
“First mission, complete.”
“No, there was no mission. I am not for you to direct,” I cried.
“The subconscious is an easy tool.” He smirked.
“River!” Nevva shouted. I turned to see them each held by a guard. But no guards I had seen before. These guards wore nice suits, and blue gloves.
“Das Fallen schneller abwärts,” Lee screamed, but nothing happened. Dr. Mathias shook his head.
“You think we didn’t realize you had found the triggers? Everyone’s trigger has been changed. Guards, take them.”
“No.” I started to run for the guards, but Dr. Mathias grabbed me. I twisted and kicked, slamming back my head into his jaw. He cried out and let me go. I spun and kicked him in the stomach. A pair of blue hands grabbed me from behind. I threw up an elbow catching the guy in the throat, but he didn’t let go. I slammed my head back, but received only a headache, his vice grip never lessened. Finally I sagged in his arms, not able to find the killer inside me without their damn trigger.
“Take her to solitary.” Dr. Mathias spat blood, he grabbed my chin. “You are nothing but a weapon, don’t forget that.” I glared at him.
“Your sin runs dark with the blood on your hands. Liu kuoshui de biaozi he houzi
de ben erzi,” I spat at him.
“Your friends blood is on your hands.” He smiled, and I felt myself pale. “Take her away.”
I began to struggle again, even though it was hopeless. I wasn’t going to make it easy. Finally a blue hand clamped over my face, wet cloth pressing against my mouth and nose. I tried to hold my breath, but finally had to breath in deeply. For the second time that day the world faded to black.