Chapter 2: Change
“Ugh, what the hell happened?” I asked when consciousness came back to me. My head hurt like hell.
“I assume the same thing that happened to us. You were kidnapped.” a strange voice answered my question.
I tried to bolt upright, but a sharp pain in my head and a strong hand on my shoulder forced me back down.
“You have a nasty wound on your head, lay still.” the voice said again.
I thought back to what happened and groaned once more. “ How long was I out?” I asked the voice.
“About a day. You know, people usually ask where we are first.” he said, and I heard amazement.
“That was my second question.” I said with a slight smile.
I managed to open my eyes and look at the face above me. It was a young man with black hair, brown eyes, and glasses. He seemed very intelligent. He was thin and covered in dirt. His white button-up shirt was torn and filthy. His eyes were sinking into his head.
“Name’s Frank. What about you?” he asked as he gave me a cup of water. I denied the kind offer and sat up slowly.
“I’m Miree. Keep the water, you guys seem to need it more than I.” I told him as I looked around me.
I seemed to be in a cell with 4 others. Three men and another woman. The cell was covered in sand and reeked to high heavens.
“So, where are we?” I asked when I finally found the strength to stand. Frank held onto my arm to help steady me.
“From what we’ve been able to gather, we are somewhere in the forest.” he said and pointed his chin to the only window in the cell.
“How long have you guys been here? You are all starving.” I said with horror as I looked at the emaciated faces of my cellmates. The woman gave me a weak smile and walked toward me.
“So will you, in a day or two. Name’s Alexa.” She said and held out her hand. I took it with a smile.
“I’m Sam.” a man with blonde hair and Forrest green eyes introduced himself.
He seemed to be the angry type, but at that moment he just seemed hungry and cranky. I couldn’t blame him. I then turned to the third man.
“I am Adwin.” he spoke with a thick African accent.
His dark skin was flawless and his brown eyes were strong with resolve and experience. This man is in the military. I thought to myself as I looked at his strong body. He wasn’t built very large or tall, but you could still see his strength; and his hunger.
“Why are we all here anyway?” I asked once I had met everyone.
“They are trying to force our bodies to evolve.” Adwin said as I looked around again.
Our cells were made of three walls of a strange steel bar, it seemed stronger than normal steel and I could see prisoners in a cell across the hallway from us. They looked as bad as the guys in my cell, if not worse.
I was still contemplating our current situation when the sound of footsteps echoed down the hall. In moments Frank, Adwin, and Sam had hidden me and Alexa behind them, trying to hide us from whoever was walking toward us. I heard someone open our cell door and began talking. I recognized his voice right away and the hair on my arms and neck rose at the sound. It was the man who had kidnapped me.
“I see our little warrior is already awake. I can’t wait to see her in the tank.” he said with a sneer in his voice.
“She is still injured, if you start now the chances of her survival fall drastically.”
Frank pleaded to the man’s logic. “She is a fighter, she will survive.” he said as he shoved Frank out of the way.
He landed with his shoulder against the wall with a thud. I ran to him to make sure he was alright, but I had just reached him when a strong hand yanked at my shoulder and forced me against the back wall. It was my kidnapper, looking at me with a hungry sneer.
My instincts kicked in as I faced him and kicked him where it mattered. He gave a painful cry and fell on one knee. I was about to run back to Frank when he grabbed my wrist and tossed me back against the wall, this time, with my back to him. The concrete of the wall dug into my cheek.
“Your fighting just makes me want you more.” he said with a pained voice.
I was stuck. I was about to try and buck him off of me when another voice stopped me. It was a strong and stern voice, but I felt something sad coming from the owner.
“Sebastian, what the hell are you doing? She’s a test subject, not your next bed warmer.” the voice said coolly, and the man holding me stilled.
“I found her. By rights, she is mine” he told the voice stubbornly.
I heard a strange metallic ringing sound and silence fell in the cell. “ Move away.” the voice ordered with an Authority that made me nervous.
After a moment the man moved away from me and I sank to the floor, my nerves shot. A strong and oddly gentle hand grabbed me under my arm and helped me up.
“I apologize for his behavior.” the new voice said, and I turned to finally look at his face. I had to blink a few times.
The man was only a few centimeters taller than me with eyes that held specks of green, gray, brown, blue, and a black ring on the outside of his irises. It was beautiful, but what struck me was the sadness behind it. He looked at me with regret.
“I see you’re buttering up the subjects again Andrew. Don’t bother, they are all just cannon fodder anyway.” the man named Sebastian snarled as he stormed out of our cell.
Andrew’s red-brown hair fell messily around his eyes and jostled when he turned to watch Sebastian leave. After a moment’s silence, I heard him sigh but to my surprise, no one reacted. They just stood their ground and silently watched the scene before them.
“I’m afraid you will have to come with me.” he said as he guided me out of the cell, his hand still firmly placed on my arm.
Probably making sure I don’t run. I thought to myself as he dragged me along. I tried to stop, but he was so much stronger than me that it was impossible.
I was being dragged down the hall, through a door into a place that looked like a lab of sorts. There were big tanks with a greenish liquid on the one side and row after row of workstations and computers on the other.
Equipment was scattered throughout the entire lab. People in white coats were everywhere, some were sitting at work stations, others were standing around them, some were even standing in front of the tanks. I squinted at a tank and realized there was someone inside it.
I stopped in my tracks with horror, but my arm was yanked and forced back into motion, and I was dragged into a room off to the side of the lab. It looked like an examination room. The man named Andrew led me to the bed that was in the corner and tossed something my way.
I was too slow to catch it, and it landed on my head instead. “ Put that on, a doctor will come to examine you shortly.” he said and turned his back to me.
I was very confused. “ Huh?” I blurted without thinking.
He simply sighed and looked at me again. “ You need to strip and put that on.” he explained again.
This time I understood. “ No way.” I told him stubbornly.
He turned his head my way with a surprised expression. In a moment he walked toward me and stopped with his face close to mine.
“If you don’t do it yourself, I will have to do it for you. Better me than the doctor, trust me. I am trying to help.” he whispered to me with pleading eyes.
I found myself nearly drowning in his eyes. They were honest and pleading. My gut sprang into action for the first time since I arrived.
Trust him. He will help you survive. It told me; I chose to listen. I gave him a resolved nod. He seemed surprised for a moment and then walked a short distance away and turned his back to me once more.
“You’re not going to leave ?” I asked nervously. “And let you escape? No way. Get dressed.” he ordered without turning around.
I changed as quickly as I could while his back was turned to me. I turned my back to him for good measure.
“The doctor is coming, just bear with it.” he said quickly before standing aside. As if he knew I had finished dressing.
A man came through the door with a white lab coat, I wondered if he was the doctor Andrew spoke about.
“I see you have already had her dressed. Is she fit?” the doctor asked Andrew.
What the hell? I asked myself when I listened to their conversation.
“There was no need to check. She is fit enough to fight Sebastian off on her own. She kicked him hard enough that he won’t be entertaining women for a while.” he said with a smug smile.
I had to try not to giggle and felt rather proud of myself. The doctor’s eyes grew wide, and he snapped his face over to me. He stormed to me and grabbed my chin in his hand. Forcing me to look up at him. He was a middle-aged man with graying black hair, gray eyes, and glasses. His eyes were cold and calculating. An emotionless scientist.
“She does seem very willful. You said she actually kicked Sebastian?” he said with fascination and even amusement.
“That was an hour ago, when he took her the other night she managed to cut his arm with a pocket knife while apparently thrashing around like a slippery eel out of the water. I’m told it was a worthwhile sight.” Andrew explained further.
So I did manage to cut him, good. At least I did some damage. I thought proudly to myself. The doctor was still looking at me, but after hearing Andrew’s explanation his eyes narrowed.
“So she really is a fighter. We will have to keep an eye on her then.” he said and finally let me go.
“We will start with the basics and do a workup.” he said and poked his head out of the door.
While he seemed to be talking with someone on the other side of the door, Andrew walked me to the bed and made me lie down. He put restraints on my wrists and ankles.
“Is this really necessary?” I asked him quietly. His face now a mask of indifference.
“It will arouse suspicion if I don’t.” he whispered back.
For a moment I saw the hurt in his eyes, but it was gone in an instant.
What happened to this man? I wondered as the door opened and nurses and equipment were brought next to my bed. They drew blood and did a basic examination of me. The nurses left after bringing a strange syringe to the doctor. He stood in silence, writing something on a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard.
“She is in excellent health and as fit as you suggested Andrew. We will begin immediately.” he said as he put the clipboard down on the cart that was next to my bed.
Anxiety rose in me when I saw the doctor picking up the syringe. I tried to break free from the restraints but was unable to escape. I felt the sharp prick of the needle and a burning sensation. Then everything went black.
I opened my eyes when I felt a strange sensation over my body. I looked around and found myself looking through the glass of a tank and a green liquid. I jerked when I realized where I was.
I was in one of the tanks I saw when I walked into the lab. I looked to my side, wondering if there was anyone besides me. I was a little relieved to see I wasn’t alone, but the person looked horrible. He was impossibly thin. He had an oxygen mask on and was breathing irregularly.
At the same moment, I heard a monitor beeping a warning and the man began thrashing around. I watched in horror as the surrounding liquid seemed to begin boiling. People in coats began running around and one punched a big button on the side of the tank. Something opened at the bottom of the tank and the liquid drained out.
There seemed to be a grid covering the hole, the still thrashing man slumped onto the grate and a panel in the glass slid open. I didn’t even realize there was a panel, but soon they had him out of the tank, placed in chains, and dragged off.
Horror and dread filled my being. Is that what’s waiting for me? I began looking for a way to escape. I banged on the glass, even tried to kick it. Nothing worked.
“Hey, quiet down in there.” a stern female scientist banged on the outside of my tank. Another scientist came and joined her.
“We should give her another sedative.” the older man suggested.
I was wondering how they were going to give me this sedative when the oxygen in my mask began smelling odd. I immediately began to panic. They were pumping some sort of gas with the oxygen and my vision became blurry. I felt exhaustion take hold, and I blacked out again.
I woke up back in the cell. It took me a while to wake up completely, but once I did, I noticed that I felt a little different. I was also hungry.
“You’re finally awake.” it was Adwin.
“Am I? I feel very far from awake.” I told him sleepily.
He only gave me a sigh as a reply. “ How long was I out this time.” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know or not.
“They were busy with you for over two days. You were probably fully sedated during that time.” Frank had moved to sit next to me on the floor.
I felt weak and dazed. “Two days huh? No wonder I feel like crap.” I mumbled unhappily.
Alexa giggled and handed me a roll of bread. I ate it hungrily, but I was still starving. I wished for more than just bread, but I felt horrible about it. A terrible thought hit me then.
“Please tell me I didn’t just eat your food?” I asked her with horror in my heart. She gave me a kind smile and shook her head.
“This was meant for you, we saved it for when you woke up.” she told me, still smiling.
I gave her a tight hug. “Thank you so much.” I told her and then looked at everyone else, letting them know I was thanking them too.
I took a close look at Sam for the first time since I woke up. Something was wrong. I got up slowly and walked over to him where he was sitting in the farthest corner of our cell.
His face was pale, and he was covered in sweat. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that his body was trembling. I reached out to touch his arm, but he slapped my hand away and a shock went through me as if he electrocuted me.
“Stay away from me.” he warned hoarsely, but instead of listening I threw my arms around him and tried to reach his heart.
I have always been able to feel the emotions of others, it helped me to better understand and interact with others. Even though I was never good at talking to people. Finally, his emotions reached me. He was terrified, not just because of how he was feeling, but because he was afraid of hurting me and our other cellmates.
“It’s alright, you won’t hurt us.” I whispered to him when he tried to force me away. I only drew him closer.
“Get away.” he whispered desperately, but it was too late.
I felt static around us and for a moment I felt as if I were hit by lightning. Before I realized what had happened, I was on the other side of the cell; sliding down the wall onto the floor. Everything hurt.
I could still feel the electricity spark over my skin and was momentarily paralyzed.
“Miree!” I heard shouting over my head, but I wasn’t paying attention, I needed to get back to Sam.
He was terrified. I had a strange feeling that I needed to be close to him if only to serve as a focus point. I fought the paralysis and crawled over to him. Someone tried to touch me, but the residual electricity only shocked them.
“Miree! Are you insane?” someone shouted when I finally reached him. He was curled into a ball, electricity flashing around him.
I finally got my arms around his neck again, but it was slow-going. I could hear him breathing hard, and it sounded as if he was crying.
“Please stay away.” he could only whisper now.
“No. Just focus on me. Don’t worry about anything else. No matter what happens now, focus on me.” I whispered back.
“MIREE! His transition has started, get away from him!” someone shouted behind me, but I paid them no attention.
“Why?” he asked timidly, electricity coursing through me. I felt as if I’d explode and burn, but I kept that a secret.
“Because you need it.” I whispered back, forcing my voice to be as steady as I could make it.
Even as I felt the electricity leave burning streaks on my back, arms and shoulders. His electricity intensified, and I felt his fear increase along with it.
“You will be fine, just hold on.” I whispered to him and I felt his arms detach from his legs and drew me close.
Suddenly I was torn from his arms and thrown into someone else’s. Only then did I hear the huge commotion around us. People rushed into the cell and plunged a syringe into Sam’s neck. Our eyes were locked, and I watched the light behind them fade.
“You will be fine.” I mouthed to him as he fell into unconsciousness.
I forced myself to stay awake and watch as handcuffs were put around his wrists and dragged out. My skin burned more than I have ever experienced before, but for some reason, I didn’t mind.
“Are you insane? Were you trying to kill yourself?” Andrew’s voice raged behind me,
it was his arms that I was thrown into.
I turned a little to look at him, his expression was pained and ragged. I looked down at his clothes, stained a little with blood.
“Whose blood is that?” I asked without thinking.
My brain felt fried. He gave me a surprised look and then sighed, after which he scooped me up in his arms. The movement hurt and his arm against my back burned my skin. I winced in pain but forced my scream down.
He walked down the same corridor as the time before. However, instead of going to the lab, he turned at a corner I didn’t know was there. I was starting to feel a little sleepy but didn’t want to sleep again.
“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep. You may not wake up if you do.” he was talking quietly, my body gently swaying with the rhythm of his steps.
“You make it sound so easy.” I whispered sleepily.
I was only half-aware of the rhythm of steps increasing and a voice desperately trying to keep me awake. I felt a slight impact and the sound of a door bursting open. Someone was shouting about an emergency.
I wonder what happened? Will the person be alright?
“Stay awake Miree.” I heard a voice near my ear. It sounded hoarse and desperate. I let the surrounding warmth seep into my body.
“What in the hell happened? How is she even alive?!” someone shouted over my head, and I was being jostled far more than before.
The movement began making me feel sick. “Hey, be gentle. She looks like she might throw up.” a voice said somewhere in front.
I noticed that someone finally put me down, but wouldn’t lay me on my back. I was in a sitting position with someone holding me by my shoulders.
“Bloody hell. I’m amazed she’s still awake. You say she was electrocuted when a test subject began his transition? It’s weird; it charred and electrified her skin, but it didn’t actually enter her body with enough juice to kill her. If it had, she would have looked a lot like the burnt toast I had for breakfast this morning. I can heal her, but it will take time.” I only half-listened to the conversation but felt a strange sensation on my back.
I felt my skin pull, almost like feeling scabs being pulled off. It made my wounds itch a little. I have no clue how long I sat like that, but eventually, they let me lie down.
“She will be fine now, let her sleep.” a voice said and seemed to leave.
“Have you found the lab yet?” Aaron asked me for the hundredth time.
“You’re the detective, you tell me?” I shot back, annoyed and frustrated.
It’s been nearly five days since the chef disappeared. We have scoured most of the forest but still haven’t found so much as a speck of dirt to point us in the right direction. Time was running out for her, as well as the others that have been taken. We have questioned everyone at the café. The chef’s friends, The only two she has, had told us the same thing. They had no clue where she could be and believed that she had no enemies.
“You’re the paramedic, you should know every inch of your territory.” Aaron bit back, clearly as annoyed as I was.
I gave no reply, just continued staring at the map on my desk. “We have gone over every damn inch of this stupid forest. I chose it because it was easy to hide in, I can’t believe I’m now trying to find a building here.” I mumbled in frustration.
There was silence for a while until Aaron finally spoke. “You know, I wonder where they get their power from.” he asked more to himself than to me, but it gave me a brilliant idea.
“Aaron! You’re brilliant!” I told him as rushed out of the room.
Once outside I went looking for the one person who knew everyone else at the camp. I knew he was the one person to ask if you were looking for someone.
“Hey Markus, you have a moment?” I asked the giant dwarf sitting around a campfire with a group of others.
He looked like a typical dwarf you see in video games, except he was a giant in every sense of the word. His job as one of the few blacksmiths around has left him far stronger and muscular than anyone has a right to be. He had thick red hair and a beard.
They seemed to be having dinner. “Of course captain, what can I do for you?” he asked with a big mug in his hands.
I looked toward the mug and then gave him a disapproving look. He saw my expression but only laughed.
“Do you know anyone in this camp that can track the flow of electricity?” I asked hurriedly, excited by the idea forming in my head.
“Sure, any electric wielder will be able to pick up the flow of electricity. There are four in the camp right now.” he answered between large gulps of whatever booze was in his mug.
“Gather them all, I want to see them in my office within an hour.” I told him and walked away. A game plan beginning to take shape.
This time I only slept a few hours and woke up in a hospital bed. Andrew stood next to my bed as if guarding me, but his expression was dark and murderous. He was facing me when I opened my eyes and for a moment I thought he really would kill me.
“If you’re going to kill me anyway, would it be alright if I ate something first?” I asked sleepily and his eyes flashed angrily.
I saw a thundercloud over his head flashing dangerously. It seemed to shoot lightning at me.
“You can dissolve the thundercloud, I’ve already had my share of lightning bolts.” I told him jokingly, but instead of laughing, he got angrier.
He stormed to my side, grabbed me by the shoulders, and shook me furiously.
“I am going to kill you one day. You drive me up a wall!!! Are you mentally ill? Or do you love seeing how much damage you can take before it kills you?” he shouted at me as he continued shaking.
If he wasn’t so furious, I might have giggled at him. I sobered up when images of Sam flashed before me.
“How’s Sam doing?” I asked worriedly.
Andrew stopped shaking me and looked at me in astonishment. For a moment he kept staring at me. Rage, wonder, and surprise took turns on his face. Suddenly he burst out in laughter, this time it was my turn to be confused.
“You really are one hell of a woman!” he said between laughs.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked curiously.
He sobered up a little, but amusement still danced in his eyes. “It’s meant to be a compliment, you nearly died; but instead of turning into a useless wreck you worry about someone else.” he answered as I tried to get up.
My back felt stiff, but it was no longer hurting. “Thank you for the compliment, how is Sam?” I asked again after I thanked him.
His expression became sad as he gave me a forced smile.
“He’s still alive. The transition is fully underway, it will take about three to four days. Until then, we don’t know what side he will fall to.” he explained as he sat down in a chair near my bed.
His explanation confused me, so I looked at him with question marks on my face.
“What do you mean, “What side he will fall to”?” I asked, voicing my confusion.
He only gave a sad sigh before his expression became something that reminded me of a teacher.
“The goal of the experiments is to create an enhanced human. Over the last few years, two basic types have emerged. The one they are trying to create are the rogue, their eyes reflect red. When the transition begins they often lose their hearts and become nothing more than puppets. Sometimes, when they revel in the power and madness they don’t lose their hearts, but become corrupted and evil. Both categories of rogue are easy to control and make excellent soldiers. Then there is the second type, the one they are trying to avoid. They are called Oclai. Hundreds of years ago they were born as mutated beings, but they eventually disappeared. When a person overcomes the madness that threatens them during the transition, they remain who they are. Their eyes reflect blue. We call them Oclai, even if they aren’t born one, because their eyes and manner are the same.”
I was quiet after his explanation, trying to understand what he meant. However, before I could ask any questions he got up and tossed me some clothes.
“Put that on, I need to take you back to your cell” he ordered and turned around. I only gave a heavy sigh and did as ordered.
The others were ecstatic to see me and crowded around the moment Andrew left. They wanted to know every detail of what happened after I was carried away. They said that Andrew looked white as snow and seemed terrified of losing me. I told them they were being silly, that he cared about all of us and wanted to save us somehow. They seemed skeptical.
“I know he’s far nicer to us than some other guards, but not by much.” Alexa told me with suspicion in her eyes.
“He’s a good guy, I promise.” I told her earnestly.
She simply looked at me and nodded her head slightly. The rest of the days passed hungrily, and I found myself thinking of Jared. I had been through so much since my kidnapping I haven’t thought much of him. I hoped he was looking for me and wished I could somehow help him find me, but I had no idea where I was. Only that I was in the middle of an unknown forest.
I remembered the day he told me I was his future wife and that he would look for me if I ever went missing. I was desperately hoping he meant what he said. I found myself looking for a way out of here, afraid that he would not want me if I went through the transition and became something else.
I was pondering one scenario after another, using this to pass the time.
It seemed like months had passed quietly this way, one piece of bread every second or third day. We didn’t see or hear anything from Sam since he was taken away.
We spent our days wondering what could have happened to him, telling stories. I was placed in the tank a few more times, but nothing odd had happened. One day I heard our cell door open. It was Sebastian and a strange, tall man. I ignored Sebastian and focused on the stranger.
He creeped me out. What freaked me out the most about him was his eyes. They were glowing red, not just an average red; blood-red. It made my stomach do strange and unpleasant things. His gaze was also creepy. He looked at us as if we were nothing more than pieces of meat. I could almost imagine him thinking about the best method to cook us.
Sebastian however, was leering at me as always. His gaze simply made me angry. I wondered if there was any way to hurt him more than I did last time, but he had grown wise in the time between his visits. He stayed away from me and let the red-eyed creepy dude take my arm and lead me to the lab. I was made to follow the same procedure as the first time, but for some reason, they didn’t sedate me. I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous at this slight change.
The tank felt as claustrophobic and icky as the first time, I fought with the handlers about the mask on my face, as I always did. I kept pulling it off until they bound my hands behind my back and taped the mask to my face. It had become a habit by now.
The liquid still made me feel uncomfortable and the mask was making me panic. I watched as one scientist stopped in front of me, leave and be replaced by another.
Each looking more frustrated and confused than the other. What the hell is their problem? I thought as I became annoyed at their annoyance. For once, I was wearing some kind of green medical pajama cotton pants and shirt. I saw two scientists standing over a monitor closest to my tank. I couldn’t see exactly what was on the screen, I’m sure even if I did I wouldn’t have been able to understand their scientific babble.
“Are you sure about this?” I heard the older of the two ask excitedly.
He seemed cold and calculating but had a greedy glint in his eyes. He had been staring at me since I was put in here. His gaze instilled a cold fury in my heart every time I saw him. I could never understand why.
“I’m sure sir, I’ve tested and retested. She already has the gene in place. All we need to do is activate it.” the young scientist said with certainty in his voice.
“Have you already administered the injection?” the older man asked impatiently.
The younger man only nodded, but even from my side of the tank, I could see that he was a little annoyed at the question. The younger man had brown hair and gray eyes, the older man had gray hair and green eyes. The older man turned and walked toward me, stopping in front of my tank.
I felt uncomfortable and began trembling. Emotions and memories began flashing in my mind. The last days before I was taken, waking up in the cell, being assaulted by that piece of cow poop Sebastian, Sam’s transition. With every memory, I saw the cold fury grew, as did the trembling.
Soon I felt every part of my body begin to shake, but all I saw now was the beady-eyed old scientist scrutinizing me as if I were nothing more than a lab rat. My insides began trembling. I felt something deep inside my being to shake as well as if trying to shake itself free.
My vision narrowed until I saw was the old man looking in on me. He had his hands in his coat pocket and seemed relaxed and thoughtful. Our eyes locked and for a moment I thought I would finally break free and grab his throat. I saw the young man walk up to him with a clipboard and wide eyes. The old man looked first at the paper on the board than at the younger man in astonishment.
“It wasn’t supposed to activate so soon, I expected a day, not an hour.” he said as he looked at me with narrow eyes.
His cold calculating stare ticked me off, and I wished I could set his hair on fire. For some reason, his eyes grew large, and he took a step back from my tank. Only then did I notice my tank getting colder, but somehow I didn’t mind the cold. I focused on the scientist in front of me, willing him to go up in smoke.
Of course, he remained perfectly intact; but his surprise turned to fear. This confused me until I noticed the glass I was looking through had frosted over. I watched in astonishment as the frost crept over my tank, the icky green liquid solidifying around me.
As I watched the liquid freeze, I heard an alarm next to me go off. People ran around in panic and the young scientist pressed the red button outside my tank. The green liquid slushed out from below me, but I didn’t fall to the ground as I expected. Instead, I remained in the same position, stuck in the frozen liquid.
The panel in the glass refused to open, and I heard people screaming on the other side, but I could no longer see them through the frost. It had already spread over the entire tank and judging by the sounds of slips and falls, had covered a good portion of the floor.
I tried to remain calm, but every atom in my body felt as though they were shaking themselves apart. It was unbearably uncomfortable and bolts of pain shot up and down my arms and legs. I heard something bash against the glass at my feet. It cracked and then broke. I couldn’t see who it was, but I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my leg.
My muscles began relaxing against my will and I felt the hard ice around me begin to melt and fall down the drain. This made me angrier and the ice refroze almost immediately. Sounds of breaking glass and gushing water began reaching my ears, but I couldn’t see through the glass.
I felt the second jab in my leg and someone began breaking the glass around me with increased momentum. My muscles became paralyzed and the last of the slush around me fell down the drain. I didn’t feel the grid beneath me as I expected but did feel iron clamping down on my wrists.
The shackles froze immediately. Once I was out of the tank I was surprised to find more than half the lab was frozen over, the breaking glass I heard was the tanks next to mine. It looked as if they had burst. I saw my breath hang in the air in front of me as people slipped and slid on the ice. People were shouting and sparks flew around.
Someone tried touching my arm, but they drew back instantly and screamed in pain. I looked on in horror as the poor man’s hand began freezing. Terror and discomfort took turns in my mind. I felt the floor beneath me grow even colder and looked down. A new layer of ice began coating the floor around my feet. When I took a step back, the floor froze again.
I tried to run away, but with every step I took and every surface I touched froze instantly. The door flew open, and I saw Sebastian and Andrew standing in the doorway. Expressions of confusion, surprise, horror, and astonishment made turns on their faces. The handlers had lost control of me when they lost their footing. When I looked at Andrew I rushed to him for help. He was about to wrap his hands around my shoulders when Sebastian stopped him.
“Don’t touch her. Look.” he said as he motioned to the scientist with the frozen hand.
“She’s even more dangerous than the electric dude.” he said again.
This time Andrew looked at him in annoyance. “What gives you that idea?” he shot at Sebastian.
He replied with annoyance as he gestured to my legs.
“Take a look you idiot. They injected her twice with the same sedatives as they give to all the others, yet here she is; wide awake and scared to death.” he looked at me as if I had sprouted mushrooms on my head.
Andrew looked between us with bewilderment and shock. “How is that possible.” he asked as he looked around at the damage I had caused.
His eyes grew bigger, and he lost the color in his face. I turned to look at what they were staring at and the sheer scale of the damage blew my mind.
“It wasn’t. Until now.” Sebastian answered quietly.
The ice still seemed to be spreading. It was climbing up the wall beside me and the ceiling. People were trying to escape the lab and get to their injured colleagues.
“It’s freezing in here, how is she not shaking?” I turned to Andrew, who was hugging his arms and shivering slightly.
I realized then that I didn’t feel cold. “Restrain her!” a scientist yelled at Sebastian and Andrew.
I looked toward the voice and felt a sharp impact across my head. Everything disappeared before my eyes, but I heard the sound of ice cracking and falling right before my head hit the ground.
I woke up a short while after with a skull-splitting headache. For that matter, I ached everywhere. I tried to lift my head and screamed in agony. I could feel every cell in my body implode and reform, only for the next one to do the same. I could hear my own pumping heart and flowing blood.
I could hear my lungs fill with air. Despite this, my ears howled and burned right along with the rest of my body. I realized then that the floor beneath my cheeks was freezing. I opened my eyes and saw far too much. The first thing I saw was ice covering every inch of the surfaces in the dark cell, but then I saw past the ice at the wall underneath.
I could see every nook and cranny, every grain of dust, and every pore in the concrete. A moment later I watched as the wall slowly became a porous concrete and give way altogether. I saw into the cell on the other side of the wall. Someone was lying motionless on the floor. I recognized the blond hair and focused on him.
It was Sam, quietly laying on his side. Once I focused on him completely I heard his heart beating. It was strong yet erratic. I was happy he was still alive but worried. It seemed like months since we last saw him, I wondered if his transition was complete.
A scraping sound brought my attention to my door. I tried to move my head to look past the door, but the bout of vertigo hit me so hard I immediately lost what little I had in my stomach. I heard the door open and light stabbed my eyes. I yelled as they burned. Something wiped over my mouth, it left a soft trail of fire in its wake.
I forced myself to look up at the kind soul. It was Andrew. Our eyes met, and he seemed shocked for some reason, but the shock quickly turned into something that broke my heart. I found myself wondering what he saw as he looked down at me. He bent down and gently picked me up. To me, it was as if someone dumped hot coal into my body and I watched him wince.
Only then did I notice that I was yelling in his ear. He placed me gently on the ground again and another scream escaped my lips. I lay motionless as I watched him clean my cell. I found that if I remained perfectly still, it didn’t hurt as much. But there was a primal issue nagging at me, I was starving and thirsty.
“Are you alright?” he asked me.
I knew he was most likely whispering, but it sounded to me as if he were talking loudly.
“I’m starving and thirsty.” I forced out hoarsely.
He looked at me with a sense of great sadness. “Your body can’t handle food and liquid right now. I’m sorry. In a few days, I will see to it that you get food and water.” he whispered again.
He sat down on the floor beside me after he had cleaned my cell. I looked at the floor he had just cleaned and despite my pain, I felt embarrassed.
“Thank you.” I whispered to him.
He simply nodded and gave me a weak smile. We didn’t speak after that, and I began feeling strange. My intense vision began blurring and a new layer of ice began forming around me.
Andrew read the warning and left the room. I was grateful that he left when I realized what the strange feeling seemed to be. In my blurry vision, I saw another person standing in the corner. I squinted my eyes at the intruder and tried to scoot back when I realized who it was, but the pain this caused kept me rooted in place.
The intruder was me, but the eyes were mad and terrifying. This version of me oozed out madness. She never spoke out loud, but was loud in my head.
You look pathetic. Why not break out? I heard my voice mocking me. I ignored her. She did not appreciate this and rushed toward me with a crazy scream. I screamed in reply and tried to defend myself. Shards of ice escaped my hands and hit the wall on the other side.
I was exhausted and opted to take a nap, but I had horrible dreams and soon scared myself awake. This too became routine. I would wake up from horrible dreams with excruciating pain and horror. Once fully awake I would see Madness standing mulling around.
Sometimes she would scream in my ears, sometimes she just stood around. Other times she would amuse herself by brutalizing some imaginary victim. I was shocked that such brutality was hidden inside my mind, I was also a little disgusted. Eventually, the mocking stopped and the bargaining took its place.
If you join me, I will make you powerful. I will give you more power than you can ever imagine. It tempted one day. This made me incredibly angry, and I once again attacked. It simply laughed at me and disappeared.
I fell asleep once again. This time Madness showed up in my dreams. She tempted me once again, but this time lashed out at me as well. I ended up fighting Madness inside my dream.
I was surprised and grateful when I heard sounds of life coming from her cell. I felt horrible for her. Ordinarily, the sedatives and drugs would keep a subject down during their transition, but for some reason; the moment her transition began sedatives no longer worked. I still remembered her expression when she saw me burst into the frozen lab.
Shock, fear, and bewilderment. There was anger in her gaze as well. A look I had come to know well. I would still smile whenever I remembered the first time I saw her. She had a look of rage in her eyes as she kicked that piece of crap Sebastian in his privates. Despite his perverse inclinations, he had a good eye for people.
She had a strength we had never seen before, and it intrigued even me. She had begun screaming in pain now. The sound broke my heart. I had given her a tranquilizer right before I left her, but it didn’t take either. She quieted down for a moment after I adjusted my seat, but then I heard her move a little and throw up. I knew someone would have to clean it up eventually, and I knew she would be dangerous, especially if she was still awake. I decided that a familiar face would be safer for everyone.
I opened her cell door and the freezing air burned my face. Ice crystals were beginning to form on the ceiling and ice had covered the walls and floor. Miree lay beside a small puddle of liquid. It’s mostly water, since what little she had been given to eat had already been converted to energy for her remarkable transition.
Our eyes locked, hers had already begun to reflect; but to my surprise, they were neither red nor blue. Hers seemed to reflect white. It looked a little terrifying. It was her expression however, that broke my heart. She was so terrified but seemed very relieved to see me. She was in pain and very much awake.
Behind her pain, I saw her fighting spirit, something that resonated with me. Right now though, she looked desperate and afraid. I took a cloth and wiped her mouth, but I regretted it when I saw her wince in pain. I had to move her away from the puddle on the floor, so I gently lifted her in my arms.
She had lost most of her body weight and was now nothing more than skin and bones. I could see the transition burning away the last of her body fat. She screamed in pain as I lifted her and placed her on the ground a few feet away. She groaned for a while until she stopped moving. I cleaned up easily enough and once done decided to sit down with her for a little while.
“Are you alright?” I asked her, making sure my voice was barely a whisper. She looked at me for a moment before she spoke, she seemed exhausted.
“I’m starving and thirsty.” she admitted, her voice hoarse from screaming.
I looked at her sadly, remembering what happened the first time I ever gave a subject in transition any food and water. The unfortunate soul essentially suffocated on his vomit. He couldn’t digest the food, but was unconscious and thus suffocated. Even if Miree was awake now, it didn’t mean she would remain that way.
“Your body can’t handle food and liquid right now. I’m sorry. In a few days, I will see to it that you get food and water.”
I replied quietly.
She didn’t say anything as I decided to sit next to her, hoping the company made her feel better. She looked toward the floor I had just cleaned, and I saw her cheeks flush a little. It was amazing to watch.
“Thank you.” she whispered.
I didn’t know how to answer, so I just nodded. We remained quiet for a while, but a new sheet of ice suddenly began forming around her. She began squirming a little and the look in her eyes changed. It was a look I knew well, and it told me it was time to leave. I closed the door in time to avoid ice shards. She began yelling for a little while and then went quiet.
Worry and concern piled up every hour she was quiet. Two scientists came and checked in on her.
“How is the patient?” one asked. They were new and I didn’t recognize them.
“She’s alive, but just barely. She was awake until an hour or two ago.” I told them worriedly. They looked at each other but said nothing.
“When was the last sedative given?” one of them asked indifferently.
“She had two right before being dumped in the cell, that was about twelve hours ago. They didn’t work.” I told them in annoyance.
Their eyebrows rose at my tone of voice. “Give her another.” they ordered and my temper blew.
“Sedatives don’t work on her. Mind telling me why?” I asked angrily. They looked at me with strange expressions that seemed like confusion.
“We don’t know either.” they told me and walked away.
I knew then that something had to be done. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but wasn’t sure how to execute it. How did you contact the Oclai living in the forest? I couldn’t just leave, I didn’t know who to call. I was thinking this over when a brilliant idea hit me in the face.
This lab was surrounded by a power-dampening field. This made it impossible to be detected by any electronic equipment. If I could disable it, the Oclai would have an easier time finding it. Even if I couldn’t save Miree, and I hoped to all deities out there that I could, I could save future victims.
Her fighting spirit could either save her or hurt her. I thought of Sam and the others, they had bonded in their time together. They were a unique group of friends and I wanted to help. With this in mind, I checked in on Miree again. At first, it seemed as though she was motionless, but as I got closer I saw what looked like steam rising from her body. I rushed into her cell to check on her. To my horror, however, I discovered the steam wasn’t due to heat.
Her body was cold as ice, but when I checked for a pulse I found a strong yet erratic rhythm. I bolted when it started snowing in the cell. It was clear that Miree was something else; something dangerous. My resolve hardened as I walked down the engineering lab.
My battle with Madness raged on. Our surrounding was simply a swirling mass of pale and dull light. There was no floor or rooms; or anything else. Just the dull light. She blocked every move I tried to make and landed one hit after another. I berated myself again for not taking those self-defense classes. The only trick I had was throwing random ice shards.
I was starting to lose hope for victory. Why don’t you give in? You are powerless. Let me take over.
She kept at it, like a dog on a bone. I was exhausted and wished this madness would just end. What was the point of this anyway?
She gave a triumphant smirk when a voice reached me. It was so faint I barely heard it.
Hold on, sis. The voice belonged to someone I cherished greatly.
It was my best friend and soul sister. Someone who had changed and enriched my life. She had gone through hell to reach me all those years ago. I thought of her and all the times we had spent together. A warm light began blooming in my heart. I saw her standing beside a small group of people, my parents, my family, even David, and Jacob.
Jared stood along with them. Behind them stood every being that had ever touched my heart. I smiled at them gratefully, my heart now full of love. I knew then what I had to do to overcome Madness. I found her standing right where I left her when I returned to the previous scene, she was still smirking. As if no time had gone by.
I began walking up to Madness, her smirk gradually fading. She began attacking me with arrows made of ice, but this time I saw her next attack and dodged them easily. Turns out, she was as good a fighter as I was and just as easy to predict.
I stopped right in front of her. Confusion and anger began raging in her eyes. I simply smiled at her, no longer feeling overwhelmed.
“It’s alright Madness, you don’t have to be afraid.” I said as I took another step toward her. With the love still in my heart, I threw my arms around her in a tight embrace. She tried to fight me off, but I just hugged her tighter, letting her feel my love and compassion.
“I will not let you win. I will fight you if I must, but I have a feeling I don’t have to. Madness is mostly just an extreme form of fear. I will no longer be afraid.” I told her as she stopped thrashing around, her aggression dissipating
“You know I won’t ever go away. I will be here, waiting.” she told me with a voice that sounded almost sad.
“I know, I will just have to overcome you then as well.” I told her with confidence. She vanished in a flurry of snow. As she did, I felt power well up inside me. As well as something else. Anger and rage. It was cold and brutal. I was going to turn this place into a frozen pile of ash.
I had no clue how long I was out of action, but I awoke with a vengeance. My powers, now fuelled by blinding rage, exploded out of me. I felt the ice seep into the cracks and expand until the concrete could no longer handle the pressure. The resulting boom sent tremors throughout the entire compound.
Every surface within two feet of me froze instantly. For a moment I remembered Sam in the room next to mine, but when I looked through the debris with my new vision I couldn’t find him. I began walking out into what was left of the dark hallway. As I walked through the hallway, ice would seep into the wall and caused the walls to crumble.
The cell’s doors either burst open or crumbled into dust. I didn’t know who or what was on the other side of the doors, but right then I didn’t care. I had three objectives; find my friends and get them out, and destroy the lab. My third objective became clear when I saw him at the end of the hall.
Sebastian was pointing a gun at me. A shot fired through the air, but I stopped it with a wall of ice. Once he had emptied his gun into my wall, I made the wall crash right into him. I did this without moving a muscle. For the first time in my life, my mind felt sharper than ever.
He finally got up, rage distorting his face. I focused all my emotions squarely on him, so when I imagined lifting him with my mind he smashed into the ceiling. I held him there for a moment, astonished that it worked.
I found his confused grunts and growls very entertaining and decided to humiliate him. I froze him up against the ceiling. He would stay there, frozen on the ceiling until someone found him. I felt Madness laughing somewhere deep inside me, but I couldn’t understand why.
I was gloating over Sebastian when I heard an explosion in the distance. It rumbled throughout the compound, but it wasn’t me. There was a great deal of shouting all over the area and chaos reigned. I picked up bits and pieces of conversation throughout the compound.
It sounded as if people were trying to break in. I heard what sounded like giant boulders slamming into the walls outside. They were also rescuing people who were being evacuated. I turned my sight toward the sound and saw Andrew talking to a familiar person in the corridor near my old cell, but I couldn’t place him. I also saw my other cellmates, including Sam.
a small group of people seemed to be fighting a small distance away just outside the facility. They were using various abilities, but I couldn’t figure out who they were fighting. With my first and third objectives cleared, it was time to head to the lab.
I didn’t know which way to go, so I used my vision to look through the walls until I found it. Once I did, I simply marched right through the walls between me and the lab. I sent my ice into the walls, and they flew apart in seconds. Using this method, I reached the lab in no time.
The damage I had caused earlier was still visible, but the tanks and most of the surfaces in the room were still frozen over. A lot of the damage had already been cleared, this made it seem as if the damage wasn’t all that bad. All the emotions that were felt here rushed into my mind and heart.
I could feel the fear and pain of every person who had been tortured here. It was so overwhelming that the only way to cope with it all was to translate it into one emotion. Pure rage. Shards of ice coated the room once more, stabbing at everything in sight. The last of the undamaged tanks now lay in pieces on the floor, the liquid in them now turned to solid ice. The equipment and computers blew up when my ice invaded them. I was about to bring down the ceiling when a voice called my name.
“Miree, is that you?” the voice triggered a memory of two men sitting on a couch in a restaurant with books lined on shelves behind them.
They seemed inhumanly handsome as the same voice asked me where the waiting staff was. The voice was the same and I turned toward the sound.
On the other side of the room, standing in the doorway of what seemed to be an office. I finally recognized him. He was the same man who had asked about the waiters.
What the hell is he doing here? He was talking to Andrew a little while back, does he work here too? I wondered as I broke off shards of ice with my mind.
His eyes grew wide when he noticed the incoming attack. I flung it his way, but a sudden fire bolt melted the flying shards and a good portion of the ice surrounding them.
“What’s taking so long?” another familiar voice asked.
This was the voice that said my laughter was beautiful. I wondered again why they were here.
“Aaron, I think that’s Miree.” the blond man told his friend in an astonished voice.
“What? You mean the chef that went missing? It’s been months.” the other voice said with disbelief.
“I know, but look at her. She seems really similar.” the blond man said again.
“Either way, she is dangerous.” the other one said as he prepared to attack me again.
Just as he was about to blast me with fire, a hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“Don’t attack. She’s one of us.” I noticed that the blond man was holding some sort of file in this freehand.
The man who had stopped the attack handed the file over to the black-haired man and began inching toward me, his hands in front of him with his fingers pointing upward and his open palms facing me. I let out my presence to intimidate him, but he only stopped for a moment.
Instead of backing down, he unleashed his presence. His was calming and gentle but made it clear that he meant business.
“What the hell are you doing?” the black-haired fire wielder hissed toward his friend.
“I’m trying to reason with her.” his friend replied.
“Are you nuts? Even if she is Miree, she has gone out of control.” the fire dude shot back, but his friend was not backing down. He kept his presence calm, but I could feel his compassion and determination.
“Look at her eyes. She is angry and overwhelmed, but underneath the glow her eyes are still reflecting blue. She is still one of us. It doesn’t matter who she is.” he replied with finality.
“At least let me handle her then, you have no real defense against ice.” the fire dude tried to reason with his friend, but he just kept his eyes on me.
“No, intimidation could set her off.” he spoke again with authority, signaling his friend that the conversation was over.
“My name is Johnathan. I’m here to help. I promise I won’t hurt you.” he said with a soothing and gentle voice as if talking to a terrified child.
A terrified child with a bomb strapped to his chest. “ I believe we’ve met before, at the restaurant where you work.” he said again, confirming my memories.
“You ordered tea.” I told him in a hoarse whisper. My voice sounded a little different, smoother somehow. His eyes widened with relief and surprise. He nodded enthusiastically.
“That’s right. It was incredible.” he replied.
I heard the other guy whisper in response. “It really is her.” he seemed astounded.
His blue eyes round with shock. “This is Aaron, he is a friend.” I turned my attention back to Jonathan.
His expression had changed. “I am so sorry we couldn’t save you on time, but I’m here now, and I want to help.” he said apologetically.
He was nearly in front of me now. I didn’t reply but intensified my presence. Snow began swirling around me, trying to keep him away. He didn’t stop.
“Don’t be afraid, you are safe now.” he said in a gentle voice, his hands still showing me his peaceful intentions.
I realized the irony of the situation when he stopped right in front of me and I tried taking a step back. He responded by throwing his arms around my shoulders. I wondered if Madness felt the same way when I hugged her. Feelings of fear and confusion filled my heart and I tried to get away. He simply tightened his embrace and whispered into my ear. It was the torrent of his emotions that finally calmed the rage in me, as well as the last words he whispered.
“I’m your friend, let me help you get back to your family and friends. They miss you.” their faces flashed before my eyes and the last of my rage and fight left my body.
I slumped into him, letting him hold me in his arms. They were warm and comforting in their strength. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt incredibly safe with this man. I heard him sigh in relief before he scooped me in his arms.
“Let’s get you out of here, you have a friend outside that’s worried about you.” he said with a smile as he carried me out of a hole in the far wall. The man named Aaron followed closely behind.
Even the late sunset hurt my eyes. This was the first I saw the sun in months and despite my hurting eyes, I forced myself to look at it. I was still in Jonathan’s arms, and he was holding on.
“She’s here.” Jonathan announced. I was confused and looked up at him.
“Your friend.” he said as he motioned ahead.
I turned the way he motioned, but before I could see exactly who it was, the person had nearly ripped me from Jonathan’s arms.
“Are you alright?” the person asked, and I knew then who it was.
“ Andrew?” I asked and he hugged me closer. “ I am so sorry I didn’t do this sooner.” his voice was filled with emotion and I hugged him back.
“You don’t have to apologize, you saved us all.” I told him happily, but the pain still filled his features.
“Not everyone.” he said quietly.
The air changed and a sick feeling settled into my stomach. “Who didn’t make it?” I asked, but Johnathan interrupted.
“You can talk later.” he said gently, but I glared at him.
“No, I need to know now.” I told him stubbornly.
He narrowed his eyes and arched his eyebrow, obviously not used to being defied. Andrew gave us a wry grin, but it wasn’t happy.
“Frank and Adwin’s transitions began shortly after yours did. Frank didn’t make it. Adwin has gone rogue.” Andrew said bluntly and I felt my heartbreak.
I covered my face with my hands, hoping to hide the hurt from the world. I felt myself being moved again, and I looked up to see myself back in Jonathan’s arms.
“Rest, you can talk later.” he said with authority.
I had no more fight left and simply nodded.