Chapter 39: Elena
My body heaves and quakes, trembling from the latest wave of vomiting into the closest bucket-like object. Thomas warned me that it would be much worse for me due to the obscure nature of this child that rests in my belly.
I lean against the wall of the bathroom stall. My body feels sticky and clammy from sweat. The grossness of my hair gnaws at the squared away nature I’m used to carrying myself in.
My head pounds like a forge hammer in hot steel, sparks of red flashing across my eyes with each closing and opening of my eyelids.
My eyes are tired, my brain equally exhausted. My body yearns for sleep. I look down at my stomach, which is now showing the small indication of the baby’s presence within it. My mind thinks the essence of a thought that asks myself if it’s really worth it.
A bolt of lightning through my head sends another wave of pain as I lurch forward and press my hands into my ears, waiting for the throbbing to subside. Along with it, comes all manner of images that are barely discernable.
I hear the bathroom door open. Footsteps follow the creaking of the door soon after. His figure shades the light shining on me. I don’t look at him as he turns to face me. He takes a step closer, kneeling down beside me.
“Are you okay?” He asks timidly, a tone if worry in his voice I’ve never heard before.
“I…I feel like I’m falling apart. It’s like my whole body is being drained of everything that it’s made of,”
“It’s time we go see Thomas. This is getting out of hand,” Ethan says, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I feel a rage act through me, shoving Ethan into the opposite wall of the stall, cracking it under his weight. He stares at me, stupefaction on his face.
“I don’t want to go to him. He’ll hurt him…” I say, wrapping my arms around my stomach.
“Elena…listen to yourself. It’s Thomas. You know he wouldn’t do anything to hurt the baby,”
I lock my eyes with his. Ethan backs out of the stall slowly, staring back with fear adorning his expression.
I stand up slowly, hanging my head. He crawls back further as I step outside the stall.
“You…wouldn’t want anything to happen to our child…would you, Ethan?” I say, creeping closer, shambling my feet.
I see his body freeze, A look of terror in his eyes that is exclusive to seeing my actions. A sinister smile creeps across my lips.
I feel a…presence polluting my mind. It makes my body act when my thoughts scream for it to stop. It’s like watching myself through a television of my own eyes. A compelling to say the darkest of phrases is nigh unbearable in my head.
Ethan stretches out a hand, his fingers trembling.
“Elena…stop. I know you can hear me. I know what’s going through you right now. I know your mind is in there, screaming to have control back. Come back to me,”
I step closer, bending down, weaving my fingers between his. A relieved smile starts to form on his lips. I grip his hand hard, digging my nails into the top of his it. He winces. I quickly twist, wrenching his wrist to one side, a snappy pop indicating a dislocation. He cries out in pain, drawing his hand into his chest to guard it from me.
“I needed to show you…what happens to people who want to hurt our child,”
Ethan retreats until his back presses against the wall. His boots squeak across the ground as he attempts to shift himself back further.
I slowly step to his side, bending down to his level. I place a finger under his chin, I see the desperation in his eyes.
“Don’t you want our child to be safe? Don’t you want it to be pure?” I say, my voice not my own.
I snatch him by the throat, cutting his words short.
“Don’t. Lie. To. Me.” I say to him, pressing my mouth against his ear.
I squeeze harder, feeling a wetness on my fingers as my nails draw blood. He struggles to suck in what small amounts of air he can. A part of me inside cries out to stop myself.
But slowly…I feel a creeping sense of enjoyment out of making him suffer. A need to have vengeance for some unknown crime worms through my brain. His eyes begin to roll back as he loses consciousness.
I smile wide watching him.
“What the fuck is going on here?” Damien says from across the room.
I jump into a standing position, facing Damien.
“Nothing at all. I just had to teach Ethan a lesson,” I answer him, beginning to walk in his direction.
He tilts his head, looking passed me.
“Yeah? What lesson would that be?”
“What happens when you try to hurt my beloved,” I say, running my hands on my stomach.
I stop a few feet in front of Damien, smiling deviously again. He studies me calmly, glancing his eyes up and down.
“You look like shit, Elena. Think you should probably see the doc,”
I clench my fists, my whole body trembling. I grind my teeth. The same rage boils over in me.
“I already said it. I don’t. Want. To see him!” I exclaim as I lunge at Damien.
He easily snatches me by my shirt, holding me at arm’s length. I wildly throw my hands around, attempting to strike him, feeling more creature than person.
“Elena. I’m sorry for this. But…” He says before punching me, putting my lights out.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve emphasized this already…but this is unlike anything I’ve seen before,” Thomas’s voice rings in my ears as I come to.
It sends an immediate panic through my psyche as I awake fully and begin to struggle.
“Let me out of this. L-let me out!” I plead, fighting against my restraints.
I feel Ethan’s warm touch on my hand “Its going to be alright, Elena. Thomas is going to make you better,”
I look up at him, his eyes welled with tears. His wrist is wrapped and stabilized from the violence I inflicted on it. I stare into his eyes, remorse becoming the primary emotion in my mind if only for a moment before the need to escape returns and I begin thrash around.
Thomas suddenly snatches me by my shoulders “Look at me!” he commands.
My actions cease. I suddenly feel far away, watching myself speak and act through my own eyes again.
“I see you. Whatever the hell you are. And you’re right to be afraid of me. Because I’m going to make sure you’re eradicated from these people once and for all,”
an unsettling cackle leaves my lips before I stop and glare at him.
“I’ve met doctors like you before. And while you may accomplish your goal…I’ll make sure by the end of this that you join me here,” I say before laughing once more.
Thomas snatches my jaw between his fingers and thumb.
“Let her go!” Ethan yells, Damien holding him back.
“Shut up, Blake! I’m working!” Thomas yells back, my face still in his grip.
He turns back to me “I don’t care what you are. Or where you’re from. I don’t care what supernatural entity you were born of. I’m not afraid of you. My god is science. And thus far, it’s beaten you. And it’s going to continue to do so. Get used to the inevitability of your extermination. It’s coming soon,” He releases me with a shove and moves to a small tray sitting on one of the examination tables.
I squeeze my eyes shut tightly, attempting to fight against the thing invading my nervous system. Up until now my thoughts and actions have been a moving picture as I watch in horror.
Every so often I get a few moments of reprieve before it takes over again. The feeling is like claws slowly shoving their way through flesh and skull into my brain. It infects every synapse of my brain, painting it black except for the parts that it wants to access.
As I open my eyes, I see Thomas standing over me, needle in hand. My heart begins to pound as it draws closer to my skin.
I writhe around attempting to avoid it. Thomas places a hand on my face, forcing me to look away from him, holding my head and neck still.
“I’m going to put you to sleep now. It’ll be over when you wake up, Elena,” He says as I feel the sting of the needle.
I begin to lose consciousness. My sight blurs and fades until finally the darkness overtakes me, pulling me in to slumber.
I find myself once again in my mind. Darkness surrounds me. I wonder if this is what Ethan felt like. Trapped inside his own head. Watching himself do things that he was helpless to control.
I sit on the floor, legs huddled into my chest, rocking back and forth. I feel the wetness of tears in my eyes but they refuse to flow down my cheeks.
This place is lonely. Inside my head.
“Why can’t you just let us go,” my voice echoes through the chambers of my mind.
“Because you’re special, silly,”
I look up. A little girl is standing some ten feet away from me.
she giggles “Ethan must have told you a bit about me,” she playfully steps a bit closer “I don’t think he’s quite convinced I’m not that little girl. I’m just using her little body for now,”
“Until I’m found, of course. Then I can have my real body back,”
“What are you?” the little girl squints her eyes at me, giving a curious smile. “You’re different than the rest. I don’t know how. But I think I’ll give you a little peek,”
The little girl’s visage gives way to the body of a tall, beautiful woman. Her hair is black with skin grey like ash. Her lips are blackened naturally, not by any type of lipstick. Her eyes glimmer a bright silver as if some unique gemstone were used to create them. She smiles at me, a set of fangs for each row of teeth stands out.
“Didn’t quite expect this, did you?” she says playfully.
I struggle on to my feet. I scan my eyes up and down. She wears no clothes, revealing a body of perfection. The same ashen flesh covers the rest of her, seeming as if it is almost pulled taught against the her defined muscles. This woman is the example of one would think someone in peak shape should be…yet at the same time…she seems as if she is a walking corpse.
“Do you find me attractive?” She says suddenly, breaking my studying of her.
She runs a hand up her stomach, her fingers rising and falling as they pass over her toned abdominals “I found you to be a good reference when thinking of this body,” she explains, her hand stopping on her breast, fingers playing with her nipple that’s painted the same darkened tone as her lips.
I step back slightly “How were you able to see my body?” I question, covering my chest regardless of the clothes I’m wearing.
She giggles “I was a part of our beloved Ethan, remember? It wasn’t hard to see through his eyes,” she says, tilting her head at me with a smile.
“You’re twisted!” I exclaim, turning away from her as my face grows got and I become self conscious.
I look up to find her directly in front of me again, this time, closer than an arm’s reach away.
“Now, now. No need to feel embarrassed. You should be proud of what you were given. Especially since I deigned it beautiful enough to be copied in a way for myself,” She comforts, lightly grabbing both of my arms.
Her touch sends a chill unlike any other down my spine. My body screams for me to get away from her. I shove her away, jumping backwards.
“Don’t touch me. I don’t want your filth to infect me,”
“My filth? Is that what you call it my dear Elena”
She begins to laugh hysterically at my comment before coming to a sudden stop.
“Then allow me to show you more,” she says, a seriousness now in her voice.
A young child fades into existence. A little boy that seems…familiar somehow.
“Beautiful, isn’t he?”
I feel a lump in my throat.
“That’s right. He’s yours,”
She kneels down, placing her hands on his shoulders, looking at me over his left one “He is going to do so much when he is older. Things that you could never possibly imagine. I know this boy already. I know his name. I know what his voice will sound like. I know what his smile looks like. I know that he will be smart. And stubborn like his father. I know he will be analytical and gentle like his mother. I know that I will love him more than any other I have chosen. And regardless of what you do now, I will always be with him,”
My face has already filled with the remnants of tears as they streaked passed my cheeks and drop from my chin to the ground. I feel fear for him. Loathing for her. A burning need to protect him rages inside of me.
she jumps to her feet “I’m wrong?”
“Yes. You want to claim him as your own,”
“I don’t want to. I already have,”
“You haven’t. That boy is my son. He grows in my belly. You know everything about him? Good. That way I can see the humiliation on your face when he proves you wrong you sack of flesh and bones. If my son is anything like me, he’ll know the kind of bitch you are and tell you to take a hike. Now get out of my head you wench. As a matter of fact, I think it’s time you get out of my child,”
Her face starts to twist into something dark and terrible. Her eyes turn black as night. Her fangs elongate, the rest of her teeth sharpening as well. Her body starts to deform into shapes that are impossible for the human form to create. She unleashes a banshee scream that tears through the mansion of my mind, causing me to fall to my knees on the floor.
The little boy’s image dissipates.
I hold my hands against my ears tightly as the walls of my psyche start to rumble. I close my eyes, opening them once again to the white light of the medical room.
The light is dim.
I shift my gaze to the side, observing that the rest of the room is dark. I sluggishly blink, attempting to shake the grogginess from my eyes.
The realization strikes me. I quickly lift my head and look at my stomach. I fumble with the blankets, pulling them down. The small bump still remains. But just above my belly button, slightly to the right, a small patch bandage lies.
I lay my head back down, a wave of relief washing over me. I can only assume that Thomas removed the infection.
I try to think back. Back to that moment in my mind. Every time I focus it feels like static and a blurry image coming to mind. I can only discern a blob of grey, nothing more. The whole event feels more like a fever dream than a memory. I decide to set it aside, taking in my surroundings again.
My ears finally pick up on Dante’s monitoring equipment beeping. I turn my head to look at him. I feel the grief pour into my face as I take his image in. He obliterated his body just to save her.
And I will never understand why.
Lauren is different now. That much is true. And I see her efforts to be a better human being. But…does that really supersede everything she’s done beforehand? The atrocities she unleashed upon people in the name of science and ambition. At the end of the day he chose to look passed all of it and see the fragile woman beneath.
A part of me is angry at her, I guess. Angry that she managed to suck him in to loving her. Knowing everything she did. While at the same time not even being able keep him alone from being affected by her experiments.
Maybe I am. Maybe a part of me thinks on what it would have been like if…no…no I’m being stupid.
I love Ethan. More than love him. I couldn’t imagine myself living without him. In the end, would I really have been better for Dante anyway?
I can’t say I’m much better than Lauren. Knowing myself I would have seduced him, slept with him, and then used him to accomplish my goal. This whole mess would’ve probably just accelerated at that point.
I love Dante. But not like that.
“You keep staring at me, girly…and you’re gonna burn a hole in the side of my head,”
my eyes widen and tear up. I sit up quickly, perhaps too quickly as a pang of pain radiates through my stomach.
“How…how did you know it was me?”
“Because I know what your eyes feel like,”
I shift myself off the bed with a wince, stumbling as I catch my footing. I shuffle my feet to Dante’s side.
“How are you feeling?” I ask him.
He looks at me with reddened eyes on account of the blood vessels that were ruptured “Feel like I got hit by a bag sledgehammers. Everything hurts,”
I shake my head at him, smiling somberly at the fact that he still remains the same even in his current condition.
“She’s safe…right?” He says, suddenly serious.
I feel the same grief seep back into my face.
“Yes…she’s safe,” I respond simply.
He stares into my eyes, a deep worry within him “You’re my best friend here, you know that…don’t you, Elena?”
His question catches me by surprise. I take a moment to collect my thoughts.
“I…was under the impression that Ethan…”
“Ethan is a good friend. And a great partner. But the things you and I saw here. Before he came. That’s a whole different thing. I think you understand that. Which is why you left me off your radar when you were doing your Raven thing,”
I look away, my face becoming warm.
“I’m not trying to rehash things. I’m just trying to tell you…you’re my best friend. And…I need to ask you to do something because of that,”
“Wh…what is it?”
“I’m not sure what’s going to be left of me once I come off this bed. But I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot less than there was before,”
“What are you trying to ask, Dante?”
“When the time comes for everyone to leave here…I’m going to be the weak link,”
“Don’t say that. We’re all going to get out of here,”
“Just listen to me, okay? I don’t need the feel good crap. Facts are facts. And the fact is, I’m going to slow you guys down. I need you to make sure that Lauren leaves this place with you,”
His words make the frustration boil over in me. I turn away, folding my arms, shaking my head.
“I see…it’s her you’re worried about.”
“I’m not saying that,”
“Then what are you saying?”
Dante’s face twists into a look of sheer frustration.
“Why do you hate her so much? After everything she’s done to try and help us?”
“Because I know she’s just trying to survive. The second she’s in a place where she feels safe, she’s going to turn on all of us. It’s who she is. People like her only know how to use others for their own gain,”
“You don’t know that, Elena,”
“Yes. I do,”
“Because I’ve been someone like her. And it’s exactly what I would do,”
I say with my voice raising higher than normal. My words echo through the room, leaving a stillness in the air as we both turn silent and stare in different directions.
Dante breaks the silence first “But…isn’t that the point?”
“What are you talking about?”
“We are all…terrible people, Elena. You know, I love flying. It gives me a joy nothing else in the universe can. But I can tell you, if I were still doing that right now…I don’t know who I would be. I watched my bombs fall on people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve seen women and children torn to shreds by my cannon for the sake of killing a single target that was hiding there. For the longest time I didn’t care. As long as I could put another tick mark on my fighter it didn’t matter. None of you are any different than me in that regard,”
I look away, tears starting to form as the truth of his words cut into me.
“Ethan and Damien were Fast Drop Troopers. They’re bred to eliminate with extreme prejudice and remove any obstacles without remorse. People stop being living things to them and become pieces on a game board. They were messed up long before either of them got here. We already know Lauren’s actions. Which brings me to you,”
“Stop. I don’t need you to tell me my sins,”
“You were a Raven Agent. You manipulated men, women, whoever you needed to in order to get what you were ordered to find. And you felt nothing while doing it,”
I ball my hands into fists, holding back my emotions.
“Please…just get to what you mean,”
“What I mean is this: this place is meant for people like us. I finally realized that. Whoever we were…wouldn’t have been changed without being here. It’s a purgatory that makes us look in a mirror and see the monster beneath. And beyond that, it makes us go to war with that monster. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order to win that war,”
“And you think being left behind is that sacrifice?”
“For Lauren to live? Yes,”
“How can you be so sure of that?”
“Because I know her. I know her better than anyone else. Better than she knows herself I feel sometimes,”
“No. No I can’t believe that. I don’t believe you, Dante. Why won’t you just stop with this. Stop!” I say as I finally lose my temper, shoving a tray cart across the room, the noise ringing off the walls.
I stand there, heaving breathes in and out, facing away from him.
“Elena…I’m not giving up. I never said that,”
“What are you saying then?” I ask him, looking over my shoulder.
“I just—I’m not going to be the reason anyone doesn’t make it out of here,”
I sigh deeply, thinking.
“Alright. I’ll do it. I don’t think I can ever see Lauren the way you want us to. But…for you…I’ll do as you ask,” “Thank you, Elena,”
“Don’t mention it,”
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