Chapter 72 - Arrival
Kale sat in a familiar dark space, his body jolting with the bumps of the road. He wasn’t allowed to sit in the passenger seats with the others due to his health condition. Kale had thought that perhaps they had already been exposed as they spent some time around him, but maybe they hadn’t. Even when he was let out of the room to use the bathroom, they didn’t use chains anymore as they had the first time, but they kept a distance from him.
Zair’s scared cries carried through the back of the van as Kale held him close, protecting him from flying all over the place. The shakiness of the road felt the same as the time he was picked up and saved, however the sense of dread Kale felt wasn’t as intense as the first time he was in here, he knew he was going to be safe this time. Everyone had been so kind to him for the past month.
How far away was this place that they were taking him? After about fifteen minutes, he felt the already bumpy road below him abruptly turn hilly and jagged. His body was violently thrown from side to side as he still held Zair.
Another sharp bounce came and threw him into the corner as he bashed his head against something sharp. He screamed. But, the van continued to move forward.
A few minutes after that, the vehicle stopped and the backdoor opened.
Oren gasped, “I’m so sorry we treated you like that! Are you alright?! Fern go fetch me a towel from the front seat, let’s wipe the blood from his face.”
Fern nodded and took for the front.
“It’s okay… I know you guys need to be careful around me,” Kale said, trying to be strong as his head burned.
“Looks painful, kid.” Arlo stood before the door. “But, it looks like it’s nothing too serious.”
Iven stood beside Oren and looked off into the distance, showing no interest in what was going on.
After Fern came back with the towel, Oren dumped some water from a water bottle on it and cleaned Kale’s forehead.
“That cut still looks painful, but this is as good as it’s going to get I suppose,” Oren said.
In front of Kale was a forest, he frantically searched all around him and before he could make out anything more, Iven blindfolded him.
“Sorry Kale, this is a top secret facility, we can’t have anyone get an idea on how to get here, or know what’s placed around this forest,” Oren said as he held out a rope, instructing Kale to hold onto it and follow.
Kale was already used to holding onto rope, as Iven seemed to be a bit jittery around him. Whenever Iven took him from his room, he instructed him to hold onto the end to keep distance. Maybe Iven was the only one who hadn’t been in contact with the chemical yet.
“Really? You have to blindfold him just so we can go there?” Arlo said, his voice coming from behind Kale.
Iven made an annoyed grunt, and Fern made an audible noise as if thinking, but then a hiss came from Kale’s other hand, holding Zair.
“You haven’t been in here yet, have you Arlo? You’ll know why we can’t have others just come in without obstructing their vision,” Oren said. “To be honest, I was even debating making you wear one as well, hahah.”
After several minutes of walking and hearing the constant subtle rustle of plants, everyone stopped moving and Kale heard the sound of a door opening.
“Welcome Sir!” an unfamiliar stern voice shouted.
They made formal introductions to one another and then ushered Kale and the others inside, where they immediately took off his blindfold.
A spotless white hallway sprawled out with doors every few meters, numbers posted above them. Colorful pictures were plastered around the walls, as if drawn by children.
“Which room is this boy going to?” another voice asked.
“Give him a bigger space than the others,” Oren said. “And let him take the cat in with him.”
“You’re letting him keep a pet? But, why?” The man looked shocked.
“Just do it.”
“Yessir!” one of the guards brought out a cage. “It’s only until we reach your room, then we’ll let him out.”
Kale placed Zair in the cage and wiggled his fingers through the open spaces, letting him know he would be okay.
“Now you be a cooperative boy Kale. Me and the others have matters to attend to in the employee room.” Oren and the rest of his crew walked down a separate hallway after Arlo handed over Zair’s cage to one of the guards.
Three guards walked Kale down the hall, and made a right turn. This hall looked exactly the same as the previous one, only the numbers on the doors and drawings plastered about were different. He was led all the way to the end of the hall and the man opened door 532.
“Okay this is your new place,” the leading guard said.
Kale’s eyes drooped down and looked at Zair in the cage beside him. Zair meowed at him, and Kale stepped into the warm beige room.
Two guards followed in, one placing the cage on the ground and another checking the condition of the room. The first guard jangled with the keys and unlocked the cage. As soon as the inspection was over, the guards left the room and locked the door. However, by their movements, they seemed a bit frightened by him.
Why were they so afraid of him? Kale wondered. He was just a small boy, trapped. At least in this room, it was much more well maintained than that shoddy basement. A bed awaited him, with fresh, warm blankets even! He couldn’t believe it. And beside the bed, on a dresser was a working tv, and snacks! Were these guys really so bad?
Kale jumped atop the bed after grabbing a handful of cookies and snuggled under the covers. Zair hopped on the bed as well, seeming to enjoy the change of pace.
His body immediately relaxed, It was as if his previous bed was made up of a wooden mattress and an itchy straw blanket compared to this.
He started to doze off to the sound of silent bliss. No creaky floorboards overhead. No sounds of screeching mice through the walls. No smell of moldy muck. If he were to be stuck in one place, this would be the ideal situation. They must have truly cared for him.
Where were the other kids he was promised to meet? Were they all in their separate rooms too?