I’ve been isolated for a couple of hours which stretched into days. Doctors came, prodding me with needles and an array of different medical treatment which I still didn’t think I needed, but despite my extensive protests they chose not to hear a word I said. They were more unmoving that the soldiers, still I couldn’t help but think that sympathy would be an admirable trait in doctors. But it all made sense now, it came clearer into perspective, this time right now I didn’t have a choice in matters concerning me.
The food itself was as plain as the room, standard staple and carbohydrate based diet, repeatedly day after day until not only my will to stay here was dissolving but my appetite too.
Waiting was the worst part and I found myself doing it a lot. Waiting for some different type of food, waiting to do what I’ve been brought here to do and waiting for Isaiah. I seemed to be doing that particular more. In all the time I was trapped here, he didn’t occur to visit once. Nor Zee, Adrian maybe had a plausible excuse but the rest of them didn’t. But in all honesty I only wanted Isaiah. My most vulnerable, exposed time and he was nowhere to be seen.
Familiarity of the door unlocking stirred me awake, my eyes remained fixed on the same white ceiling above me. I knew what they wanted, at this time at midday its be a doctor, checking up on my vitals. And checking up on me, asking the same boring questions that held no weight or emotion at all. “This time, please no small talk. Just do what you have to and go.” I was rude but it was deliberate, the only way to assert yourself with them is if you held you foot down or because you’re young they wouldn’t take you seriously.
The deep voice chuckled, instantly I prayed it was Isaiah but I knew that wasn’t close to how he laughed. “Sorry, but it’s in my job description to talk to you, no matter how brief. I don’t want to be the idiot that losses his job on his first day back.”
Immediately I got up, eager to see who it was, it was refreshing seeing new faces especially since I was becoming so set on the same emotionless expressions.
The doctor had short, buzz cut blonde hair, nearing onto platinum, his dark eyes clashed beautifully with his extremely pale skin. His stethoscope was snaked around his neck and when he smiled it was warm, inviting. Not cold and distant.
“Your first day back?”
“Yes, I fell ill for a couple of months. But I’m back on track.” Reaching the short distance to me at my bed, his eyes began scanning the machinery checking for any visible faults or errors. Seeing none his eyes trained back to me.
“Do you mind me asking what you were sick with?”
His lips pulled up in a grin, he shook his head. “Not at all. It was cancer, stage two. Nations helped me get back on track, they saved me actually. And I made it.”
He gave me the answer that I guess I was expecting and I thought it would be respectful not to push on. “How are you feeling today, Miss Reign. No dizziness, sickness, lost of knowing your surroundings?”
“No. None.” There was only one thing, one person I wanted to be focusing on and it wasn’t me.
Gently he took my wrist, holding it upright with his first two fingers. And he just held it there, occasionally glancing at his watch.
“Sorry, doctor. But why is this all necessary? I’m perfectly fine.”
“I agree.” He nodded before carefully dropping my wrist back onto my lap. “To be completely honest with you I think you’re fine. But Nations want you here a little bit longer, until they start running tests.”
I could tell this was a tactical distraction. He was trying to keep me talking so I wouldn’t focus on what he was doing. He pulled out a syringe, I braced myself, I was getting slowly used to the hourly blood samples they extracted from me. It was evident they were looking for something but I was unsure, what that something was. Replacing the syringe with a mini torch he proceeding shining it directly into my retinas. Satisfied with what he was looking for, he returned all his equipment into a small satchel bag he was carrying.
“Can you at least give me an idea of what I will endure in these tests.” Everyone I asked that walked in, always seemed to beat around to bush, they were also reluctant to say anymore. Agents I knew had a level of restriction on information conceding me, but the people handling my case, the doctors had to at least know something. Anything. I hated being left in the dark, in the unknown.
“I don’t know anything about it,” His eyes wavered from mine and his previous happy persona cracked, it was evident he knew more than he was letting on. I could feel my stare burning into his, pleading with only my eyes. I felt like I had a right to know what was bound to happen to me. Eventually after a few seconds clearly deliberating if he should cave in. He did exactly that. An audible sigh escaped his lips, before resuming, he crouched down to my level hidden away from the window and strategically in all the blind spots of both intruding cameras. ” I’m not really supposed to share this information. But the tests you will have to endure are as stressful as they are excruciating. I’ve seen it happen before and other victims die from it. Even though I greatly owe my life to Nations, I find some of their methods, quite.” He paused. “I find them quite barbaric. But right now they’re aimlessly searching for something, anything. They do know you’re the key but they don’t know what ties you to saving our planet. That’s the extent I know of.”
I guess it was always in the back of my mind that I was going to die, that it would be how I always ended especially young too. But never once did I expect them to be so unsure of what they were doing. If they didn’t know what could save the planet, was I being a fool risking my life for them? If I died before them finding what was the actual connection, did I just condemn the death billions of lives down with me?
“I’m sure you’ll survive.” He interjected quickly.” You need to survive. They wouldn’t jeopardise or play with your life like that, with knowing how valuable you are. The trials goes in stages, it increases in intensity each time. They almost always pull you out if your heart rate drops rapidly.”
That didn’t make me feel any better. “Almost always?”
“Well.” He raked a hand through his low cut hair. “Sometimes, they’re not quick enough. By then it’s beyond our control to do anything. Subsequently we end up losing that person.”
“I’m taking this has happened before?”
I knew I wouldn’t like the answer but nevertheless I carried on, if it was regarding my life and wellbeing I had the right to hear all the gruesome details.
He nodded. “Unfortunately, yes.”
“These tests, how do they work?”
“They strap you up to this piece of machinery called the Phoenix. You relive through every aspect of your life, all your memories from the start of your life to currently. I’ve been told everything going by in a flash but for you all the memories weigh down on you and the pressure from the machine, that’s what causes the pain. The technicians will be analysing everything in your brain, monitoring your brain waves seeing if they’re an abnormalities or spike in a certain memories and then focus on that.”
“If they can’t find it in one session?”
He stopped, softly clasping my hand in his, maintain eye contact with me. “Then they will try, over and over again until something in you clicks. I should warn you that every session is draining, mentally, physically and emotionally. You won’t want to eat, you skin will feel like it’s constantly scalding amongst other things, you just won’t start looking like yourself, or acting like yourself. It’d be like a completely different person.” I knew he was telling me out of good faith and he was finding it extremely difficult crossing that line from professionalism to empathy.
It was clear he was a good person and an even better doctor. “But I could come to terms with it, right? Whatever my outcome, if I get to recover the world back to how it normally was. In the end, we won. I won.”
“There’s a fine line between becoming a martyr and suicide. Be careful which one you fall into. Personally, I think that a life shouldn’t be taken especially such a vibrant, bright one like yours. It’s such a waste. The human race has always pushed through, why not now?”
I could tell he was trying to convince me against my decision. But I’ve come to terms with what I wanted and what I had to sacrifice. Recently I’ve found someone I could wholly say I loved and undoubtedly I’d have to leave him behind. “But one life doesn’t even begin to equate to billions. Doctor, I also have people that I need to protect, my friends, my family. Isaiah and my little brother Evan. They deserve a better world to live in.”
“Maybe so, but I wish there was another way.”
And honestly, so did I. “Me too.” I stopped, despite knowing my chances I had to make sure I heard it straight from his mouth. “Doctor, on a medical level, what are the chances that I’ll live and survive? I need you to be honest with me.”
“Honestly?” He grimaced. “You’re strong, but it’s still slim to none.” That sealed my faith, I knew I wasn’t going to make it and he knew I wasn’t going to make it. So in reality it was time to finishing stressing and do what I guess I was born to do. “I’ve heard all about the infamous Isaiah, tell me more about him.”
He was trying to get me to reminisce my past, all those memories I’d shared with him, to pull me further away from the truth and the clear reality being I was going to die. Quickly or slowly, it all depended on my will to live. Deeply, it hurt me as I didn’t know how Isaiah would take it, or what his reaction would be. All negative, probably. Yet still I found myself smiling, I knew I’d never admit to Isaiah the complete set of thoughts that I felt towards him. But to the doctor, it was definite he wasn’t loose-lipped and it’s not like I had long to go, regardless. “He’s perfect. Absolutely perfect, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as perfect like he is. Isaiah has a way of exalting my mood without even realising. And it could all come crumbling down if he deems it so, not that he ever intentionally does of course. But, gosh, I finally find someone so suited to me, so fitted to me and now I was going to have all of that ripped away from me. Still, I guess I’d never reveal this to him. I just don’t have the bravery to do it.”
“If he was here right now, would you tell him? Build up the courage?”
He left me contemplating for a while, weighing out my options. But in the end I nodded, Isaiah deserved to know how much I care about him, in spite of the fact that our time together may be limited. At this point I didn’t care if they were listening or watching, I nodded. “One hundred percent.”
“Well, you can tell him yourself.” His eyes fluttered behind me as I followed his line of direction, I was left face to face with Elijah, an overwhelming amount of regret build up in his face, cramping his features. It left me wondering exactly how much did he hear?
We didn’t utter a word, just remained looking at each other.
“I’ll give you two some privacy. Alexis,” In my peripheral vision I could see his body turning fully to mine yet I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes off Isaiah to fully concentrate on him. “Your vitals look good. And we’ve deliberated you’re ready. They’ll call you soon, any moment from now. Just don’t fall asleep, we need you fully alert. And Alexis, good luck. I’ll be in there with you.” With that he took his abrupt leaving, gently closing the door shut.
It must have escaped my mind when Isaiah even came in. What these agents were capable of doing, shocked me.
Again we remained staring at each other. Secretly I was hoping he didn’t yet know the outcome and what I had to do, it would break me seeing him broken.
“I should have known they’d pull something like this. I should have protected you, Alexis. It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry.” Quickly, he began closing the distance between us before he knelt down in front of me, wrapping his arms around my waist, even though he was in similar level to me he still had to crane his neck downwards, burying his face in the crook of my neck. His heart was racing to the point I could hear every beat of it. “I’m so sorry, if I knew what they were planning-”
It wasn’t fair he was putting himself in this position, I couldn’t live with myself if I let him think that my death was on him. “It’s okay Isaiah, I knew this was going to happen. I knew this was what I had to sacrifice and I’m fine with it. I just hope that you are too. And you don’t put any of the blame onto yourself-”
“I should have known, Alexis. And I failed. Majorly. And now my punishment will be losing the only one dearest to me. How do you think I can live with that?”
Truthfully, I didn’t know but if he could do it, so could I. “I don’t know Isaiah, but I do know that you’ll find a way. They’ll be many more girls after me and maybe this time you can go to the Bahamas, have the family you want, grow old together all in a better world. That’s what I’m willing to give for you.”
“But I don’t want you to sacrifice anything to me. I want you to be by my side in all those things you mentioned, nobody will every by able to replace you.”
“Isaiah, you’ll move on find a new love. Live a new life, preferably far away from this one and you’ll be happy. It’s part of the natural process, it’s part of moving on. It may seem hard at first but it gets easier.”
Hastily he took my chin in his hands. “I don’t think you know my level of love I have for you, how deep it is. I care for you, more than you care for me.” Before I could protest, he silenced me with a quick kiss of the lips. “It’s true, but it’s understandable. I’ve known you longer than you’ve known me. And if you think with the way I feel about you Alexis, that another girl is going to come along and make me feel that way. You’re deeply mistaken.”
“Isaiah.” Tentatively, I rested a hand on his cheek, feeling his smooth subtle skin with a shadow of rubble growing, the amount of heat coming off him made me feel alive again, it made me feel better about my situation. “It’s not only you I need to think about, what about Evan. My mother. My father’s legacy. What about all those people you said I could help. Where will I leave them?”
“There’ll always be a different way, Alexis. We just have to be patient and find another way. You don’t need to risk your life for us, or for me. Please reconsider-”
Stopping him the only way I thought best, I drawled a deep kiss onto his lips, letting it lingering there for what could have been the very last time or one of the last times. I just wanted to feel all those riveting sensation I always felt when our lips connected and once again I was feeling them explode within me. I drew back, I guess I just didn’t want to be lost completely in him, I knew I wouldn’t have it in myself to push through. “Let it go, Isaiah. Let me go.”
Once again, the hissing of the door halted what ever he was planning to say next.
“We’re ready for you, Miss Reign.”
But we didn’t seem to pay any attention the person, instead we were caught up in each other. Peering into his memorizing blue eyes was the final push I needed.
“This is the furthest you go, Mr Patriot.” A solider stopped Isaiah from progressing any further as I was lead in a glass box.
“The furthest you go.” A hand pushed Isaiah away as he tried to advancing towards me. Hot flashes of fury was in his eyes, but before he could retaliate two soldiers appeared beside him, holding him down against his will, yet that still didn’t seem to stop him. Proceeding to throwing a connecting punch, he stopped midway whilst hearing my voice.
“Stop, Isaiah, please. I need you here with me.” Something in my voice must have triggered him because his eyes shot to mine and he lowered his face. Despite being entrapped in a glass box, the four dimensions seemed to be closing in on me. He still heard me.
“Listen to her advice, agent. Or you will be requested to leave.” Mrs Velt appeared, unannounced. Dressed in a pant suit and wearing that apologetic smile that I was beginning to despise. If she cared so much about me, why didn’t she tell me about this sooner.
From what I could tell a scientist in a white lab coat also entered the glass box, forcing me to sit down on the single glass chair in the empty space. I was fully aware that I was on full display right now; to Isaiah, to the doctor, to Mrs Velt and the countless number of different people I didn’t know. Mostly doctors, but it balanced out with scientists and a minority number of the rest.
“These wires, will track your breathing rate or heart rate. It will alert us if it gets too high or too low.” He shifted my dress, slightly exposing me, but right now I couldn’t find it in myself to care, he placed a set of wires on my chest, under my left breast and another on my left wrist. “Now this one, links us to our masterpiece of machinery, Phoenix.” A thick burgundy red wire with a large patch was attached to my left temple.
“Where is it, can I see it?”
He shook his head. “Its in an adjacent room, the magnitude and size wouldn’t have the ability to fit in this room.” That must have mean that this machine was mostly important. Given this room was twice the size of the ground floor, and with all the state of the art computers and super computer. How big was it?
“Now, we’ll track all your brain patterns through your memories. I suppose someone has clued you in what will happen.”
“Okay.” He began doing final checks after he was fully assured that everything was in the right place, his hand lingered on the door before he turned round to face me. “Good luck.” Normally I would have accepted, but I knew better than that. It was lacking the emotion it needed to sound genuine.
I didn’t reply and simply he left.
Whirring of the machines echoed throughout the room as bright lights in the box hailed down on me and I found myself squinting to gain a proper look at Isaiah.
“You know, our founders gave us the gift to choice to choose right from wrong.” It was Mrs Velt. “Nations choose right each and every time, we strive to fight for the greater good. Thank you, Alexis for representing what we aim for.”
In the distance I heard a faint click and was thrown into a trance. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t breathe.
Everything stilled for a second.
Before the feeling of completely coldness washed over me and then I felt like millions of voice were calling out my name, calling me towards them.
It almost felt I was falling into an endless abyss. Every inch I dropped another memory would plague me, some pleasant, most I’d tried so hard to forget.
The first time I opened my eyes.
My first birthday.
My second birthday.
My dad saving me from my school bullies.
My dad dying.
Eaton beating my mother.
Eaton beating me.
Evan’s first birthday.
My first encounter with Isaiah.
All these memories; the pain, the sorrow behind them but also the happiness, my happy moments that I’ve buried for so long accumulated into something I couldn’t bear to take. Into a pain I couldn’t bare to handle.
The physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain, I had to relive all my moments in a blink of an eye. All the good and all the bad.
I could feel my mouth open, even if it was faint I could hear screaming. My screaming. And the pain. And everything. I felt everything.