Squares and pentagons. Normally, people would wake up to the sound of their alarms, birds chirping on the branch of a nearby tree or by the sunlight sneaking beneath the blinds of their windows, but the first thing I saw, well recognized after a few seconds, were black squares and pentagons on a white ceiling. I tilt my head to the side, rolling my eyes all over the place trying to figure out where am I. A wall sized window, a chair, a couch, I think I came here before, I just can’t remember when, I can’t remember anything. I stop searching when I see her on the couch, covered by a blanket with a white cloth wrapped around her shoulder. That’s when realization hits me.
I remember everything now, every single detail. Filled with worry, I get up from my bed intending to pace towards her, but I couldn’t. I collapse instead from the sudden blood rush in my brain. I sit on the edge of the bed for a while before slowly standing up again. I head towards her and take a seat on the cold ceramic by the side of the couch.
“Roxy.” I whisper.
No respond, not just a slight movement. Even more anxious now, I mutter out louder shaking her swiftly, “Roxy.”
She startles, opens her eyes but then furrows her eyebrows. A smile spreads on her face when she realizes who shook her. I smile back at her warmly.
“How are you feeling?” I inquire.
“Not good but it doesn’t matter.”
I frown at this. “How come?” I exclaim.
“The bullet is poisoned, I won’t live longer than a mere hour, I know it, I can feel it.”
My eyes widen, “What? How did you know it’s poisoned?” I ask trying to process what she uttered.
“You know it the moment it hits you. Your body vibrates then gets paralyzed, and the next thing you know, you have 12 more hours of your life before BAM! You’re gone.” She explains chuckling after a pause.
“What’s funny? I never knew death is hilarious.” I state in perplexity.
“Never mind. Now, listen to me, we don’t, I mean I don’t have much time left. Jonathan is planning on killing you the moment you land on Polin-.”
“Killing me? But why?” I inquire cutting her off.
She nods, “We dealt with this before, I remember. I’m warning you, Polina explodes 90 minutes after you reach the other end of the gate.”
“What can I do then? I can’t let them die!”
“I know you won’t, I believe in you. Just be careful and better yet, quick once you’re there. Get everyone here before time’s up. In your absence, Earth will be a reflection of hell.”
“Why would it be? The guys are here, I can depend on them.”
“We’re back at the same point. He can turn on complete control on them using the chip. I know they will resist, and the more they do, the less time they have in their life.”
I gasp. I can’t lose the guys too, I’ve lost enough already. I have to go.
“Is that all?”
“N-.” But she couldn’t complete it, her head tilted to the side and I sat there speechless staring at her unconscious self.
I hug her cold body and whisper, “I won’t fail you, Roxy, I promise.”
I feel the heat of a tear on my cheek. I try to stop the others from flowing but I couldn’t, they come running like a flood wetting her shirt. Her life ended here, trying to reveal truths I once sought, answers of questions that trapped me in my thoughts, and so did my hope vanish to find any goodness in that beast. If he could do this to her, then how can I trust him with everyone else?
I startle raising my head up quickly when the door is pushed open. I clench my fists when I see him.
“It’s time. Get ready.” He demands gruffly.
“How dare you?” I utter gritting my teeth.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, and you know I don’t like repeating my words. Let’s. Go. The serum is ready.”
I know I should, I have to, but I won’t just agree that easily.
“Or? What will you do? Poison me, punch me? Do it then, but I guess you aren’t brave enough. Coward.” I snap at him stubbornly.
He grits his teeth, then smirks mischievously as if a devastating idea crossed his thoughts. I fight the urge to gulp in fear and stay as still as I can be.
“I think you know the answer to that.” He replies coldly giving a glance at Roxy.
“Stop talking in codes. SPITT IT OUT PROPERLY!” I demand in anger, not really tolerating his mystery right now.
He rolls his eyes and takes a step forward. Looking directly into my eyes, “You’ll lose your friends too. Choose now; you or them?” he hisses.
I visibly gulp, clenching and unclenching my fists. I stand still throwing him an equal death glare, and without giving it a second thought, I take a breath before letting the words out.
“I’ll go.” I state.
His lips turn into a cunning curve but leaves without saying a word.
I turn on my heel and shriek.
“What was going on here?” Edward asks, and I could sense the irritability in his voice.
I open my mouth to speak, but Peter interrupts.
“Don’t even bother answering,” he says making Edward give him a furious look, “we’re leaving this place. You can’t trust him.” He finishes.
“We’re on a deal, and regarding this, it’s time for me to get the rest of the Poliners here, now.”
“What do you mean?” Edward’s eyebrows furrow.
“You simply won’t go, I can’t let you risk your life for a stupid deal.” Peter utters firmly.
I blink in disbelief. “What? How did you know that?”
“I overheard your conversation with Roxy.” He replies without missing a beat.
“And you, Edward, do you know too?” I question, turning my gaze to him, watching him nod tersely.
I throw my hands up in frustration, “Then, why do act, worse yet, ask me what’s going on?” I scold.
Edward’s expression changes. His eyes fill up with anger, and his jawline moves from the way he’s clenching his teeth. I know what’s coming on the way, I know what it means, and I sure do know I won’t like it.
“You agree to step into death without even telling us, leaving us behind, land on a planet soon turning into havoc, and you’re expecting us to pat you on the back, pushing you encouragingly into your end. What on earth were you thinking! Have you gone mad? At least let us do it instead of you, that if it has to be done.”
“It has to, and no, I won’t let you go instead, because 1) Jonathan wants me to go, so you stay alive, 2) I don’t want to lose you, I already lost two of the dearest people to my soul, because of me.”
“It’s not your fa-.”
“It is or it isn’t, that doesn’t matter now. I promise you, I’ll be careful, I’ll come back.” I retort cutting Peter off.
“Alive, Zoey, come back alive.” Edward begs.
“I will.” I reassure both of them.
“Zoey Anderson, follow us.” A hoarse voice orders behind me.
We turn our gazes to the speaker, dressed all in black and grey, one of the guards, he is. Behind him, are a couple more along with three robots. Why is the call so formal? It’s not like I’m an armed prisoner called for an execution. I pull the guys into a tight group hug before nodding to the guards and following them.
“Take care!” Peter calls out.
I raise a thumbs up in the air for him while heading forward between the three sturdy muscular beasts and the three floating robots.
Soon, we all take a turn, disappearing at the corner, hidden from the guys’ view. I listen to the rustle of the leaves branching in through a broken window, the loud footsteps, my fast heartbeats, I pay attention to each and every thing, activating all my senses at once, feeling the cold breeze as it hits my palms, the tension in the air, the worry, all of it. Drifting my eyes around the dark metal corridors, I spot a fallen dead leaf and stop to get it. Holding it between my fingers, I run up to catch them as they move down the stairs on my left. I trace the glossy surface, the veins, the midrib, looking at the beautiful shining dark shade of green in my hand. I take a breath, relieved by the little beautiful things. I smile as I slide through the door of the lab of the Xoliners HQ. It might be the last time I get this feeling of joy, relief, excitement, confidence and a bit of fear, all combined at the very exact second, why won’t I at least enjoy such little crumps of pleasure?
“Here’s the gate.” Jonathan states interrupting my thoughts, pointing at the activated stargate standing vertically before him with the destination digit already dialled.
I stare at the large rings surrounding the superconductive material, naqahdah. On the inner ring, I recognize the unique glyph from the rest of the set, representing the planet I grew up in and loved, Polina.
“Good luck.” He says after a pause, giving me a backpack. Not trusting him, I unzip it open, shuffling through the contents. A bottle of water and a piece of paper, I see. I take the paper out and read it.
Take care of her in your own way.
Who is he referring to? I glance up at him raising an eyebrow. He shrugs and I cut the paper in little pieces, scattering them on the floor. I’m safer now. He looks at me angrily but I ignore it. Taking out my gun from my boot, I place it in the bag, zip it and swing around my shoulders.
“Now I’m ready.” I say smirking.
I’ll be careful, guys, I won’t fail you, neither you Roxy...
I take a deep breath and hop into the repulsive material, feeling its force pushing me forward.