The crimson red colour cleared and everything zoomed better into focus. I wasn’t on a chair and the person I saw before I blanked out wasn’t here. My eyes fixed on the ceiling above me. It wasn’t glass. The ivory design reflected off, to the point it was sort of twinkling. Little white shapes started dancing around it and I found myself following along. Watching them disappear and reappear, before I lost count how many times it happened.
The mattress underneath was soft, curving to accommodate my body shape and the smell of bleach and antiseptic burned the inside of my nostrils.
I was in a different room. This wasn’t the same white walls I was adjusted too. There wasn’t any bulky machine constantly next to me, reading my vitals.
No, none of that. Looking to my left, I saw an array of beds, to my right exactly the same thing. All clean and unused, with pearly white pillow but ivory tinted sheets.
I looked down to my wrist, only too see a needle resting in there attached with a long tube, I followed it to an IV stand. The drip of electrolytes draining into my body.
Flashbacks of what happened overtook me. Something went wrong in the trail. My memories were skewed. I had a nosebleed. Isaiah was there, in front of me. I spaced out.
And now I guess I was here, it wasn’t my isolated room, it wasn’t the Box. So I guess it had to be the infirmary.
A door opened and then closed. A pair of footsteps echoed through the serene space, breaking any chance of me thinking through what happened and why.
Before I could figure out who it was, a hand gently took mine. And instantly I found myself face to face with Isaiah. He was near but safely keeping his distance. “Are you okay? Alexis, do you remember what happened?”
The other man dressed in white overall, proceeding to shine a bright light in my eyes, disorienting me even further. But as soon as the light appeared it was snuffed out as I heard a loud clatter on the ground.
“Back off, she doesn’t need that right now. Give us some space and come back later.” Adjusting my sight to what I perceive to be a doctor, she flashed Isaiah a dirty glare before respecting his command and leaving both of us to our company.
“Alexis.” My focus shifted from the retreating back of the doctor to Isaiah. Worry amongst other things clouded his eyes, making them darker than they usual were. A frown wore heavy on his lips and his eyebrows scrunched up, creasing his subtle features. “Are you all right? Do you know what happened?”
“I remember.” My throat felt dry, to the point it came out as a whisper, stopping any audible speech, but I carried on trying my hardest to be louder. I had to tell Isaiah what I saw, that couldn’t have possibly happened. ” What I only remember was my going into Phoenix, then there was this particular memory that was impossible, that it couldn’t have happened. When I was in the water, back on the beach, drowning I heard Elijah’s screams but that wasn’t how it happened, right? You were there when I heard him scream, I was in your arms, safe, on dry land. Nevertheless I still remember swimming to him, trying to help him. But my efforts came short, this bright light and then this sound that was a mixture of screaming and screeching all in one was so intense that I guess I pulled myself out of it, alone. That when I heard beeping, saw the glass walls and saw you. That’s it, that’s all I can remember.”
Even though my speech was slurred, I could tell he was latching onto my every word, absorbing all I had to say, nodding his head at every sentence. “There was a malfunction in Phoenix. It was dangerous to be even in close proximity to it and you were inside it. It could be possible, it altered your memories, since you recall it slightly differently. Your heart rate was rapidly dropping that’s when I forced them to pull you out, sons of bitches thought you should stay for even longer. Well they got what they wanted.”
“Got what they wanted? What do you mean?”
His eyebrows scrunched even deeper as I could tell he was fighting against his rage. “They got what they were looking for. The key is your dad. Something about you and your dad that links you together.”
What did my dead father had to do with this, for all I knew he was normal; lived a normal life, had a normal job and a normal family. So what was so special about him that he could save the world? “My father, what about my father?”
“That’s the thing, they’re not completely sure about that yet. The only reason they kept you in for as long as they did was because of that, according to their lousy excuse they were extremely close. Alexis, they’re saying you need to go again.” Cautiously, he watched me, anticipating my reaction. At this point I was exhausted and I wanted this all to be over.
“Again? You should have let them keep me in longer, Isaiah. Why did you think it was a good idea to stop them?”
“Because, you were dying Alexis!”
“I would have pulled through.” I knew that was completely untrue, but the thought of going through that again, made me physically unwell.
“What, you would have pulled through from a failed heart? Don’t be stupid, Alexis.”
He saved my life, that I knew and was grateful for it. However, if they did acquire what they needed and I died in the process at this point it didn’t sound like a bad deal. But I did promise to survive for Isaiah, for us. The memory was hazy, but it was there. “Isaiah, don’t you get it? Now I have to go through that again and again before they find what they need and who knows how long that will take. A week. A month. You know it’s killing me slowly and I know I’m dying slowly. It should have been quick. But I know, I made a vow to you to keep alive and here’s me keeping to that.” Silence ensued us, I found myself reaching up aching to touch his skin, his face, him. With trembling hands I made a contact with his cheek, gently I rubbed it the best way my hands allowed me. “Thank you, Isaiah.”
The very moment took out more in me that I thought I had, my hands quickly dropped, my forehead coated with moisture. “How long was I out?”
“A few days, they had to put in an IV.” He pointed towards the stand holding the pouch of liquid.
“When is my next session?” He stared at me like I was still out of touch with reality. “I just want to get this over and done with Isaiah.”
“Yeah to the point to your death. For now, you need to rest.”
“I’ve had plenty of rest, I’ve slept for days, I’m fine.” Deciding to attempt to show him, I began disturbing my weight equally on both arms, propping myself up. Unfortunately the little effort I made wasn’t enough, my arms gave way, collapsing underneath me.
“Yeah, I think I’ll let the medical professionals be the judge of that. Rest.” He started adjusting my pillow, to make my head and whole body at a much more comfortable position, which I was trying to accomplish, but fell short of.
He didn’t raise his voice, scream or shout but I found myself relaxing at his voice, obeying his command and melting back into the bed.
I didn’t want to sleep, I couldn’t even if I tried but it didn’t help that my body felt as though thousands of bricks were buried on top of me. I had a small sample of it, so I knew exactly what the feeling would be like. But this one was a lot worst.
“Mrs Velt requested your council, Alexis. She’s holding a meeting with agents and she wants you to be there.”
“Me? But, I’m not an agent. Why would she request for me? If she needed to see me so much why didn’t she just see me herself?”
“It’s of delicate issues. She’s banding together her skilled agents to know what to do about our threat, the OA. She’s needs your presence because you’re the one they’re after. Also you had to give detailed accounts of what happened to Veronica, Jordon and Elijah.”
“Why me?” The thought of having to go through what happened to Elijah especially and in front of people, I just didn’t know if I had it in me.
“I guess she wants to hear it from you, your side of the story that doesn’t come from an agent.”
“Will you be there?”
He nodded. “Yes. Me, Zee and Adrian.”
That meant that I had to talk about what happened to Jordon in front of her, I haven’t seen her in months and I didn’t know if she was entirely ready to move on. I didn’t want to be the reason her heart breaks again. “I can’t say it in front of her, in front of Zee. Is it a must that I need to do it? How will she even react seeing me after all this time?”
“If you want I can speak for you, if Mrs Velt tries to object, then I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do. And Alexis, it’s Zee from what I know, she’ll be thrilled to see you. ”
Isaiah was always thinking about me, that alone was an admirable trait. He was never selfish and always wanted the best for me. He was brave, courageous, loyal. I needed to be brave. If anything, brave. “No, there’s no need. I’ll do it. If it has to come from something, I don’t think Zee could bear all that pain again, Adrian wasn’t with us for long and Mrs Velt would never let you speak on my behalf. So it falls onto me.” In the few months, she watched mine and Isaiah’s relationship so closely that it was hard to get plenty of moments alone despite him always being there. I could tell, she disapproved of what we shared, but chose against being so vocal about it, at least now. Because if Isaiah leaves, so do I. And she was aware of this.
“If you’re sure?”
I nodded. “I’m sure.”
We fell into another gentle silence, the quaint beeping of the monitor machine next to me that I hadn’t even noticed until now, that was how insignificant it was compared to just us two, relishing in each other’s company. His hand warm on mine.
“Alexis, I need to tell you something.” His features seemed more relaxed and from what I could gather, it would be new of joy not sorrow. We both knew, I had enough to carry already. “I’m leaving. I’m leaving the Nations. When they find whatever they’re looking for, I’m taking you and we’re heading somewhere far from here. Just the two of us. Just me and you.”
Truthfully, I knew I was doing a terrible job of hiding the surprise from my face. Quickly he seemed to catch on, frowning at my reaction. “Or do you not want to? I thought you felt the same way about me, as I feel about you.”
“Of course I do, Isaiah. It’s just, Zee warned me that this was bound to happen, she also told me what you’d have to give up, all that training, all that hard work.”
“What and you don’t think I’d give that up in a heart beat to be with you? You’re the one I want. Not power, not rank, not Nations. You.”
“And what if they come after us? What if they decide some girl isn’t going to take away one of their best agents?” He knew what I was doing, making such mediocre excuses to try and deter him from what he wanted. Never in my mind, would I pass on the opportunity to be with Isaiah, but I was also nervous of that very same fact and a piece of me didn’t want him to drop everything he worked so hard for. Considering if I survived, how would we survive? Where would we go? How will there be a permanent roof over our heads? Despite Isaiah wealth and connections, how long would it be before that wealth dries out. And I didn’t want to rely on so called connections forever. If we were going to do this, we would have to be independent and go completely in. There undoubtedly had to be a space for Evan, there’s no possible way that I’m letting him grow up with Eaton alone.
His frown only deepened. “You’re making up a lot of excuses. Do you not want everything I have to offer you? Everything I want to give you?”
“It’s not that easy and you know it’s not. I don’t want you to give up your ranking for me and I can’t leave my brother. There’s so much variables in this you haven’t even though of-”
His hands made his way to both my cheeks, rubbing them softly. “We’ll make it work. They’ll be room for Evan. Anything you want. Just, trust me Alexis.” His head lightly fell on my own and I could feel his breath fanning my face.
“You know that’s all I want. You’re all I want. So yes, let’s do it.”
His eyes shot open, peering into mine, gleaming. “Really?”
We were caught up in everything involving each other than we didn’t realise the rapid beeping emerging from Isaiah watch. Abruptly, he pulled away, glancing down to his wrist watch and back up to me. “It’s time.”
Isaiah held the door open leading to a connected room the infirmary. They thought it would be best that I moved somewhere closer to the meeting room considering it was immensely difficult to move, much more than before.
But with his help and time on our hand we walked into a room, darkly lit with a large circular table with plush leather chair surrounding it, but they weren’t empty. Faces found mine and eyes connected to me. Some familiar. Some unfamiliar. The kind doctor was there, Mrs Velt, Zee and Adrian.
Both their gazes snapped up to mine, then travelled down throughout my body, absorbing everything. How much I depended on Isaiah to walk, amongst other things to stood out, most effectively my drastic weight loss. On many occasions I was offered a wheelchair for easier access, on many occasions I declined despite needing it, I just knew that my condition wasn’t all too serious to that extent.
Adrian looked back and forth towards me and Isaiah and realisation struck, that Isaiah knew all this time where I was and what was going on and he didn’t look happy. Zee, however, her eyes bore into mine, confused was the least of her expressions.
Zee stood up, crossing the distance from her seat to me quicker than I hoped. “Where were you, Alexis? I’ve been worried sick, I tried calling home several times, but the line was disconnected.” That in itself was strange, if anything Eaton was good at was staying on the phone, still maybe he’s chosen to take responsible and save the little money they had. Despite everything, I found myself still missing home. Evan especially.
She took me into a soft hug, completely aware of the fact that I was in a delicate condition which I knew she was burning to ask me about.
Eyeing me up and down, she pulled fully aware. Immediately I collapsed back into Isaiah for support, I was hoping the very action wouldn’t draw her attention and worry but it seemed to be even more concentrated than before. “Alexis, what happened? You need to tell me what happened.”
My eyes flickered towards Mrs Velt but she gave me nothing, her face holding a neutral expression, it was clear that she didn’t seem to care what I told her. “It’s the trials,, Zee. These are the side effects of it.” Referring to my body, so understood the message every part of it, everyone in the room seemed to stilled wanting to know more.
Her eyes turned cold, the normal warm, sweet chocolate melted. “They used Phoenix, didn’t they.” Again, it came out more of a statement than a question.
“How did you know?”
“How couldn’t I know, look at what it’s done to you. Classic Phoenix side effects. They know it’s dangerous.” Her head whipped to Mrs Velt, fury brewing in her eyes. “You did this to her? Did you do this to my friend!” Increasingly her calm demeanour shattered and the Zee I didn’t recognize was slowly coming out. “You go on about morals, let us grow up with what your version of good morals were and yet you don’t practice what you teach, to let her get to this stage is barbaric. ” Scoffing, she laughed bitterly. “You’re a joke. This whole organisation is a joke.”
Mrs Velt looked moderately bothered by Zee’s outburst, as if she was used to seeing her agents snap. “No-one coerced her to carry on, she chose to out of her own accord, Miss Alexander. Now if you’d do your best to refrain shouting and take your seat.” With an opened hand, she gestured towards Zee’s empty chair.
Maybe if I was the one that appealed to her, it’d be enough to calm her down. “Zee, as much as I hate to side with her. She’s right, I chose this, willingly and like she said un-coerced. It was my choice.”
“Don’t you dare support her Alexis, you’re better than that. Have you honestly taken a look at yourself; it looks as though you haven’t eaten in months, you can barely walk. She’s manipulating you to do her bidding, what’s best for her. Believe it or not, she doesn’t care about you or the planet. There must be millions of other ways to save us, why this? Why exactly this that brings so much suffering to one person.” Her eyes focused onto Isaiah, turning a shade darker. “And you. Why did you not inform me of this? Don’t you think that I deserved to know what was happening with my friend?” Her accusatory tone was sharp, precise but I also knew she was also hurt by Isaiah’s betrayal.
Soon, all the standing and arguing was making me lose grip of myself and light-headiness began to overtake me. “I need to sit down.” Forcing myself to remain upright, Isaiah quickly got the message, setting me gently onto the nearest empty space.
“Take a good look at her Isaiah, because that is also your doing.”
“Zee, I know you’re upset. But that is enough.”
“What? You don’t like the truth, or you just can’t accept it? Which one?”
“Zee.” His tone warning. This was bound to break out into a fight that I didn’t feel capable to pick sides.
“Isaiah. Look at her and tell me what they’re doing is right. They’re killing her!”
“Enough!” That single command was enough to silence Zee, for as long as I’ve seen them together, Isaiah has never lost his temper with her. That only gave more strength to the idea that her accusations were true. But, she wasn’t looking beyond his reason to lay docile. Me.
“Isaiah. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember.” Adrian proceeding getting up, his fist clenching and relaxing. The same repeated action. “The fact that you couldn’t trust this to me, hurts slightly but it’s understandable. But to let another of your friend suffer. That I just can’t stand for.”