19. How to Rot in a Glorified Cell
Well, this was definitely an improvement. Kind of.
The good news is, this room is far better than the cell I was in earlier. For one, there was a proper bed - a rather large bed, as a matter of fact, and I had it all to myself. It was quite comfortable, as well. Secondly, there’s a bathroom - a private bathroom, where I could go in peace without any awkwardness whatsoever. There was a mirror in there, too. A glass one. I filed the information away for later, wondering if I’d ever need an excuse to break the mirror.
In the main room, besides the bed, There’s a wooden table and two plush armchairs in front of an empty bookshelf. There’s a desk, but that, too, is empty. The windows are reinforced with what I assume is plexiglass - meaning much, much more force is required to break them. It’s just as well, anyways. I promised not to escape, and I’d keep my word - for now.
All in all, it’s quite the upgrade. It was even better than the bedroom I’d had growing up. I could only hope that the Alpha kept his word and gave Opal better living conditions as well. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to visit her.
I’m not allowed to leave the room at all.
I discovered this the first day I was here. After a few hours of being inside, lying on the plush, comfortable bed, I’d begun to get a little stir crazy. I had been staring out the window, noticing how warm it seemed, and felt the sudden desire to go outside. I wanted to relish in the October weather. I wanted to breathe air that didn’t come through a vent. I wanted to hear something that wasn’t muffled by walls or fabrics.
So, I did what any rational person would do. I waltzed over to the door, expecting there to be a guard or two standing outside of it. I planned on telling them that I was going to go outside, no matter what, and their Alpha could go on right ahead and throw a hissy fit if he didn’t like it. I had an entire negotiation mapped out in my head, the words ready on my tongue.
I do love a good negotiation.
What I didn’t expect was for the door to be locked.
Jiggling the doorknob excessively didn’t help. I tried for a grand total of seven-and-a-half minutes before the door shook with rattling force as somebody pounded their first - I hoped it was their fist - against it.
“Quit it, Hunter!” A voice snarled from the other side. Ah. So there were guards there, though they weren’t there to keep me inside. No, they were there to stop me if I managed to pick the lock or somehow managed to gain super-strength and broke the window. The Alpha wasn’t taking any chances.
Sighing, I gave up, tossing myself into one of the armchairs, where I continued to spend the next several hours sitting in silence.
I haven’t left this room in three days.
Twenty-nine. I spend much of the twenty-ninth day staring out the window, watching the full moon rise over the campus, feeling a sudden tug to be outside. During the last full moon, I was free. I started the chain reaction of events that led to this moment. I was hunted down and captured.
Each day was exactly the same as the day before.
I haven’t spoken to another being in over a month. The only contact I got was with the human slaves who brought me food twice a day. I’d tried talking to them, during the first few days of my imprisonment, but it became quickly evident that they were under strict orders not to acknowledge me.
I’d tried keeping myself in shape, keeping my stamina and reflexes up to par, but there’s only so much you can do in a bedroom; running laps on unstable ground was pretty much impossible, and I couldn’t exactly train with anybody. I settled for breaking apart the wooden coffee table, whittling the legs into stakes with a pair of rusty scissors I found in a bathroom drawer. Using the same pair of scissors, I scored circles into the wall, making a makeshift target. I spent hours in front of that target, throwing stakes into it from all angles of the room until nothing was a challenge anymore. My latest achievement of bulls-eyeing it while jumping on the bed had lost its novelty weeks ago.
Even with my attempts to stay active and alert, I could feel it.
I was wasting away.
My face felt thinner, my cheekbones cutting below my skin. My collarbone stood out more sharply than it ever had. I was tired all the time.
I started to avoid my reflection, knowing I’d see nothing but a corpse.
The Alpha had said that I deserved to rot away in a cell, and that is what was happening.
The first snowfall of the year came, blanketing everything outside in a thick layer of white. Memories flitted throughout my head, showcasing days spent playing in the snow with my brothers. I longed to be outside now.
I lasted forty-three days before I snapped.
Sometime in the night, my room had been raided. I’m a very light sleeper, so it’s a miracle I didn’t wake up at all - even though werewolves move nearly as silently as vampires, I should have heard the door creaking open and the rustle of objects being moved.
When I woke the next morning, my stakes were gone. So was the pair of scissors.
That did it.
I screamed. I threw things. I sobbed uncontrollably. I grieved over the life I’d thrown away. I pounded excessively on the door, demanding to be let out. I was ignored, of course. I kicked a hole into the bathroom door after that.
Then, for my grand finale, I broke the mirror.
There was a horrible crunching noise on impact - whether it was from the mirror or my knuckles was unclear. Honestly, at the time, both seemed to be mimicking the other. Cracks sprang out in lightning-like patterns at the point of contact. Cracks also ripped across my knuckles. Mirror shards rained down onto the counter and floor, and my blood went down with it, spattering the white counter with bright droplets of red. My mirror broke. So did three of my knuckles.
I didn’t care about the pain. I relished in it. After forty-two days of solitude, it felt good to finally feel something.
I used the mirror shards for target practice. I hid them when I was done.
It’s been four days since I last ate.
Day forty-four of imprisonment dawned annoyingly bright and early. My hand screeched with pain, and the gashes on my knuckles had scabbed over. Dried blood dotted the sheets where my hand had rested. Yesterday, one of the humans had zoned in on my broken, bloody hand, her eyes widening. I half-hoped she’d say something, to grace my ears with something other than the distant buzz of outside noises. But, other than a sharp intake of breath, she stayed silent.
I spent the first hour of the day staring at the empty bookshelf, wondering if I’d be able to somehow pry it apart. I spent an equal amount of time gazing at one armchair while I sat in the other, pondering on whether or not I should use a mirror shard to rip it open and pull out the stuffing, for no other reason than because I’m bored, frustrated, and need something to kill, even if it’s an inanimate object.
The door opening announced the arrival of a breakfast I wouldn’t eat. I’d lost my appetite days ago. The thought of eating anything made me sick.
Has anybody ever noticed how wonderful the human voice can sound?
I glanced at the doorway, wondering if one of the human slaves had decided to take pity on me and strike up a conversation.
This was no human, though.
I recognized him instantly, despite only seeing him twice before. It was the boy, the one who warned me about the Alpha’s proximity the night my carefully crafted life had been blown to smithereens. The one who had coincidentally been in the same subway car as me not an hour later.
He looked more or less the same - wild, curly red hair that spun out in every direction, an abundance of freckles that covered every inch of his face, and the steady, light brown eyes. His posture was more relaxed than it had been, but that might be because I’m not waving a silver dagger at him.
In his hands, he held a tray holding two plates of food, two glasses of water, and a couple of books were tucked under his arm.
I stared at him, mesmerized that there was an actual being here that would defy everybody to talk to me.
However, upon stepping into the room and closing the door with his shoulder, his eyes zeroed in on my hand. His eyes widened.
“Wow. Lina sure wasn’t exaggerating,” he set the tray down on the arm of the chair I was contemplating ripping apart. “That looks bad. What the hell did you do?”
My gaze drifted down to my hand, which was looking a bit misshapen. “I punched a mirror yesterday,” my voice was just above a whisper, dead after not using it for nearly a month-and-a-half. “Who’s Lina?”
“One of the humans who were in here yesterday,” the boy said, hooking his feet over the other arm. “She was quite concerned. She wanted to help you, but she’s terrified of the Alpha. So she told Rebecca.”
Rebecca? The Alpha’s sister? Why would she -
“I’m Simon, by the way,” he said. “I’m not sure if you remember me, but - ”
“I remember you,” I interrupted. “Why would the girl - I mean, Lina - go to Rebecca? Isn’t she rather... close to the Alpha?”
He laughed, the sound music to my ears. Honestly, any sound that didn’t come out of my mouth was a miracle. “Rebecca? She’s nothing like the Alpha, if that’s what you’re wondering. She cares. When she found out from Lina the state you’re in, she yelled at the Alpha for hours. He eventually gave in and told her to take care of it. Honestly, though, I think he just wanted her to stop talking and go away,” he leaned towards me, as if about to tell a secret. “So... why’d you punch the mirror?”
I gestured to the room, as if that explained everything.
He nodded sympathetically. “I’m surprised you haven’t tried to escape yet,” he said. “I heard about how quickly you got out of that prison cell.”
It was my turn to laugh, though it was humorless. “The prison cell was nothing. I was guarded by an amateur who got pissed off way too easily. This place has plexiglass windows, an invincible door, and two guards who I think might be deaf.”
Simon glanced toward the door. “And what about when the door opens. Don’t you get food delivered twice a day?”
“By humans. I’d never put a human at risk like that,” I shuddered at the thought. Even if I did beat up a helpless human to escape, the wrath they’d face from the Alpha wasn’t worth it. Before anything, I’m a Hunter. I defend and protect humans from supernatural threats. Werewolves don’t understand.
But he was nodding along, picking up one of the plates, offering it to me. “Sandwich?”
I eyed it, wondering if my stomach would be able to tolerate food. It looked appetizing enough. “For breakfast?”
“It’s the only thing I know how to make,” he grinned sheepishly. “Cooking is not one of my many talents.”
“You made this?”
He shrugged. “I prefer to make my own food,” he took a sip of water, balancing the plate carefully on his left palm. “Rebecca made the bacon and eggs. Trust me, she’s a much better chef than I am.”
I decided, right then and there, that I liked this boy. I took the plate from him, muttering my thanks. The smell of bacon wafted up to my nose, and my stomach growled for the first time in five days. Picking up a piece, I set it into my mouth, the flavor seeping over my tongue. I moaned. I’d forgotten how good food was.
Simon was watching me carefully. I swallowed, raising an eyebrow. “What?”
“Nothing, I just...” he bit his lip. “I was wondering... why did you become a Hunter so young? Aren’t they usually older, more experienced?”
I took a slow sip of water before I responded, choosing my answer carefully. “Circumstances,” I said. “My dad was murdered right in front of me, the day of the Takeover, by a werewolf,” I remember the wolf who did it, too.
His eyes were oddly compelling, the most beautiful shade of green...
A wolf, larger than any I’ve ever seen, flew out of the shadows and landed on Dad.
I caught a glimpse of what looked like a deep, painful wound on its chest, just over its heart.
“Anyways, that’s when it started,” I shook the memory away. “But I didn’t become a Hunter until a few years later, after the rest of my family died.”
I hesitated. Apart from Opal, I’d never told anyone the story behind my descent into being the revenge-driven, supernatural-hunting monster I became. But there was something about this boy that seemed trustworthy.
Maybe it’s because he reminded me of Thomas.
Taking a deep breath, I started talking.
“Well, it began on a late summer day, the night before everything I knew was ripped away and torn to shreds. I had just gotten back from frisbee practice...”
And once I began, I didn’t stop.