The blank white walls and dead silent room did little to calm my inner turmoil. In fact, both stood to remind me of my future. Or lack of future, all dependent on the intimidating man looming above my head, engrossed in the heavy machinery surrounding me. In that moment, I allowed myself to look at him freely, to see myself in the shape of his nose, mouth, for we were made from the same impenetrable materials.
As if he could read my thoughts, his icy gaze shifted onto my trembling figure. He continued to stare, ensnaring my mind in such a vice-like grip that I froze for a moment.
"Ready?" he said suddenly, cutting off my train of thought. His voice was void of emotion, only succeeding in increasing the anxiety that had cocooned me in its grasp. I was completely at its mercy, no intention of fighting back. I only gulped in response, afraid that the receptors in my brain, threatening me to hurl, would win the clearly effortless fight.
Still, the question dangled in the air, baring almost too many similarities to a blinding star in the midst of an ink-filled sky.
I'd traded. Traded my life in exchange for the skills Malodza had to offer. Whether I was mentally prepared for this point in time, did not matter.
"We're not taking all of it, you know," came Jack's reassuring words from somewhere within the small, claustrophobic space. But for some odd reason, I couldn't stand to be reassured, for I knew that what they were taking would be the most vital of my memories.
It's going to hurt, he had told me not so long ago. I'd asked him to be blunt, finding no amenity in comforting words.
Silently, I relaxed into the cushioned chair, knowing the soft fabric was only a small grace before the pain began. I felt my hair being pulled gently back by unhurried fingers. Wires were attached to the now bared skin on my neck, forehead. The buzzing of machines coming to life irked me as I wiped down the perspiration that had accumulated on my hands.
The bump of my stomach still hasn't faded away completely when I'd been reminded of what exactly I had agreed to. They'd wipe my memories, they said. Take the ones which would hinder me from becoming one of them, as if they were a distinct breed. And I hadn't argued, not when I knew the stories, when I had read from the terrifying legends.
Suddenly, the lights in the room snapped on, bright, unyielding white met my eyes, even as I squeezed them shut.
I was not given a warning when the process began. And for this I was grateful.
Searing hot pain laced through me, embedding itself within every cell of my body. My limbs began to numb, and a feeling of pure terror washed over me as I lost control of myself. My mind felt pressure, enough that it caused scream after scream to tear out of my throat, raw and unfiltered.
But I welcomed the pain with open arms, knowing I had nothing to lose. Nothing to go back to. No one to care.
An image of a bronze baby surfaced in my mind.
His eyes wide, as blue as the lightest sky, hair smooth and curly, as dark as ebony.
He was mine.
So I fought the darkness, knowing a light existed.
A light which waited for me to awaken.
Waited for me to nourish it with the little love I had left in my body
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