Blinding white light. That’s what’s sneaking through my eyelids at the moment. I squint my eyes open, adjusting to the brightness above me. Finally being able to focus once more, I realize it’s a little lamp, just too bright and... hot.
My eyes roll to my side, just enough to hit the view of Edward snoring at the end of the bed, sleeping on a chair with his head popped up on my right leg.
“Edward.” I whisper while slightly shaking the leg under his head.
He opens his eyes soon after and straightens in his seat. Looking at me, he flashes a smile of utter relief.
“Good Morning, Ms. Stuck-in-nothingness.” He mocks before giving me his sarcastic smirk.
There you go, Edward and his mockery are inseparable even in our situation.
Rolling my eyes, I sit up straight on my bed, “Not funny,” I point out with the same tone of silly mockery, “Anyways, what happened when I was unconscious?”
“I have no idea how you didn’t freak out or ask where you are, instead you actually are conscious of the fact that you lost your consciousness. What are you, a robot?”
Again, his comments and their dripping sarcasm. Sighing, I look at him blankly.
“Well, I guess it comes from experience. It’s rather annoying than unusual.” I reply him honestly.
“Fainting almost all the time. Getting shot, getting stabbed, getting stuck; they all just make me lose my consciousness. Is that even normal?”
This time, he’s the one rolling his eyes. Looking at me with his eyebrows creased, “Yes, Zoey, this is normal, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with how strong or weak you are. Getting shot or stabbed, this has to happen because of rapid loss of blood, and you already know about the Void thing. I know it’s annoying, but let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again. Why are we talking about this anyway?”
I take a breath. He’s right, about everything, but that doesn’t change how annoying it is, totally frustrating. I’ve never fainted before, in my normal life, yet, this is the third time now.
“Well, you started it, but... thanks,” I pause smiling at him, “Back to our topic. What happened while I was away?”
He shrugs, “Nothing happened while you were away. While you were in your long phase of unconsciousness,” he pauses and looks up as if bringing his thoughts in the right place, “pretty much did.” He adds.
“And? What happened? Just say it already!” I reply back impatiently.
He throws his hand up in surrender. “Take it easy, I’m telling you. You can say, I can’t fly anymore and neither can Peter control water.” He says before grinning widely.
“So you both got injected? Lost your powers? Was it successful?” Questions came rushing out of my mouth before I even know it. I never could’ve believed this would work, although I really did want it to.
“Not only both of us, all others. And yes, it was successful; the serum wasn’t rejected by anybody’s system after the injection. Plus, no one has Pancer anymore, good hell of a riddance.”
“All of them?” I ask, not bothering to hide my surprise. Could it really be what I thought of? Am I the only one who’s troubled? Am I the only... error? I take a breath waiting for his answer.
“Every single one of them.” He assures, giving me a light grin.
“Stop smiling,” I say creasing my eyebrows, “That just means I’m the only one who’s still infected.” I conclude, already feeling disappointed, well, and guilty for feeling that way – feeling bad that I am the only one. How selfish have I gotten! But it’s not like I am not happy for them either. I decide to push all of these feelings away for now, I don’t see their importance at the moment.
“Yeah, and what’s wrong with that? What do you mean by infected?”
“Everything is wrong with that! I need to get this dirty blood out of me, completely. I hate the fact that it runs in my body since I was born, it’s ridiculous!” I let out, taking quick breaths after finally admitting it.
He gets up and moves his chair closer to me before sitting down again and reaching for my hand. He squeezes it, then turns his gaze back to me.
“You will, Zoey, you can get it out right now. Why all the fury?”
I take in a deep breath after realizing he obviously doesn’t know what Roxy told me at the library. I will be the only one rejecting it, the only one it won’t work on, the only one destined to remain poisoned. Why? Well, I don’t think I need to answer that, it’s crystal clear.
Because, I’m an error...
“It’s not what you think, Edward, it’s a lot more complicated.” I murmur softly.
“What do you mean?”
I gather up everything I knew, and throw it at him, all of it with no exception, including the last thing Roxy told me before dying, although he and Peter overheard us that day.
Feeling finally relieved to take it all off my shoulders, I keep my eyes glued at him waiting for any reaction.
Not changing his perplexed expression, he speaks up, “This is insane! What will you do?” he asks shaking his head.
“I don’t know,” I say leaning back in my bed, “I have no idea.”
“So, you’re telling me that we’re not vaccinated, but instead, being spied on by implanted chips in our brains?”
“Yes, you got that right.” I assure him, nodding lightly.
“Unbelievable!” he exclaims, crossing his arms over his chest.
He says nothing after that, and we stay in uncomfortable silence.
I glance around the room. White tiles, white sheets, white cupboards, white walls, white, white, everything is white, colourless. But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised; that’s the second time I wake up in this colourless room.
“You know, all our parents died, except for Jo’s mother.”
I look back at him, surprised at the sudden news and confused at how casually he’s bringing it up, but then I see the sadness in his eyes and understand it all. I can see him hiding how he feels by trying to sound too casual and calm about it.
“What do you mean by this? How did it happen?” I inquire not really getting how their parents might have died. I undoubtedly know about mine, but theirs too? Could it have been a coincidence? I don’t think so.
He sighs, taking in a breath before speaking again, “Pancer. It spread out rapidly, killing most of our nation, and sadly they were amongst them. I can’t believe how all of a sudden it reached almost everyone! I still can’t get it through my mind.”
By the second he finished his sentence, the door snaps open, startling both of us. Jonathan steps in, with another Xoliner dressed in a white coat walking behind him.
“I’m glad you’re not deceived by how natural it may seem. Interesting.” He states coldly throwing glances at the both of us.
And then, as if something clicked in my brain out of no where, I realize it all, with its differently bitter taste.
Staring at him with fury, “You did that, didn’t you?” I spit at him.
He laughs, but I could sense no humour in his laughter. “Didn’t I say it’s interesting? The way you think is phenomenal, but irritating.” He ends his sentence with a smirk.
Edward finally snaps out of his confusion. “Why would you do that? Are you insane? For heaven’s sake, they could never have harmed you!”
He rubs his eyes and leans on the wall. “Oh Edward! I’m touched. Well, listen there kid, I don’t care about you or your stupid relatives or race. All I care about is getting what I want, no matter what it costs,” he retorts “even if it’s the lives of your worthless people.” He adds pointing a finger straight at Edward’s chest.
“You surely have lost it. Your hunger for power blinded you so much so, that you’ll end up your life, by your very own bloody hands.” I mutter out behind gritted teeth.
“Then let it be. It’s either you or us on this planet. You have today to flee away somewhere else, even if it means going to Mars.”
“We aren’t leaving, and guess what? You can’t force us.” I retort stubbornly.
“24 hours, Zoey, 24 hours.” He mutters, losing his patience. Glancing over at the other one who came in with him, “Rodrick, get your job done with her, then let her leave.” He adds before walking out and slamming the door shut.
The man called Rodrick, gives us an apologetic look, then takes a seat by my side.
“What job?” I ask him, not really sure if he would answer me.
“Darling, it’s nothing. He just wants to make sure whether you can accept the serum or reject it.”
“Can you what?”
“Can I accept it? Can I get healed?”
“Can she get that blood out or kill its cells?” Edwards slips into the conversation, desperately trying as I am, to prove Roxy wrong.
Dr. Rodrick – assuming from his white coat- just shakes his head.
“I tried it, and instead of your system getting healed, I got a jolt piercing through my arm. It doesn’t work on you. But let me tell you a secret.”
“What is it?” I inquire suddenly feeling a rush of curiosity.
“I got the chip out of your brain, through a surgery. He doesn’t know about it, so don’t let him sense it.” He whispers flashing out a sincere smile.
Edward and I, exchange a look of disbelief.
“Try not to sneak into Xoliners thoughts at the moment, so you don’t have to act, he won’t buy it.” He adds.
“Okay, okay, but why did you do that? Sure, I’m grateful to you, but why?”
“I wanted to help.” He answers as he straightens in his seat.
“Again, why?” I question him, still not satisfied by his short answer.
He takes a deep breath before finally saying it, “Roxy is my daughter. I think you can figure out the rest.”
And I did, I do know now why did he help me. That’s what a father would do to those who killed his daughter. Revenge, it is, and supporting the enemy seems to be a really good choice.
“It’s not what you’re thinking though.” He points out, breaking the silence, as if he read my mind, “She talked about you, three days before she passes away. She knew her life was in danger, and told me to complete her task if she co-couldn’t.” His voice cracks while saying the last word.
I wipe the tear off my cheek, though not remembering when it fell. I wish I could repay her, she’s truly a good person, the rare majestic kind of good. The good that helps you without knowing you, the good that stands for you, not because they might have liked you, but because you’re on the right side, fighting for the truth.
“And what was that task?” I ask, more to divert the topic of her death away than actually getting to know it all.
“It’s more of a mission than a task,” he pauses, “Jonathan has planted over a thousand bombs in different locations all over the globe. It w-.”
“What! When and how did he do this?” I exclaim cutting him off. Does this Jonathan ever give up on brutal murdering!
“72 days before the attack. He sent some spies, robots who looked exactly like humans, in almost every corner of this planet, and got the bombs implanted and controlled in the Base.”
What on earth is the Base?
“The Base? What is the Base?” Edward asks, as if mirroring my thoughts.
“Yes, the Base, most commonly known to be the Control Room by everyone here.”
The Control Room. The place where Roxy worked at. But, there’s something important that’s yet left to be known.
“What’s the countdown?” I ask him.
He glances at his watch then back at us, “Last time I checked, 48 hours were left, but now, I think you have 45 hours to go. I’m not accurate about it though, but it’s according to my watch.”
45 hours! One of the most devastating explosions ever to take place on Earth, is getting launched in less than 2 days; I can not believe this!
Dr. Rodrick clears his throat bringing back our attention to the conversation, “Your mission is to sneak into the Base, cut the wire of the main bomb, reprogram the process to make it reverse and stop it. I got you the access password to the Control Room.” He stops, handing me a small crumpled piece of paper from the pocket of his coat.
I grab it and hold it open between my fingers to read it.
I stare back at him, then at Edward, just to see his eyes fixated on the password.
“You must do it today, Zoey, time’s already running out. I believe you can do it.”
“Where is the Control Room?” Edward asks before I could respond.
“Do you know where Jonathan’s office is?” he asks and I give him a nod.
“Great then, below the rug in front of his door, knock with your palm closed in a fist three times, waiting for three seconds after each knock. The white tile rotates and gets replaced by a key board. Insert the passcode and it slides in, revealing a set of stairs leading downward. Get inside and slide the tile back, then head onto your mission.”
I absently nod to him, taking all the instructions in.
“Okay, I’ll do it.” I finally respond, taking the blanket off me and standing up next to Edward.
“What, are you leaving now?” Edward questions, sincerely surprised.
“Yes, get up, we don’t have time.”
He stands up, pulling the chair away, ready to leave.
“Remember, you can have one of your friends to help you shut it off.” Dr. Rodrick states.
“I’m taking Jimmy.” I reply not missing a beat.
“I would’ve picked him, too.” Edward mumbles.
Ignoring the comment, “Thank you, Dr. Rodrick, for everything you’ve done.” I tell him, flashing out a smile.
He smiles back, and I head out of the room with Edward following behind.
“I need you all, I can’t do this alone.” I whisper over my shoulder.
“Sure, but first, we need a plan. Now.” He whispers back.
“Then let’s get started.” I utter, pacing faster through the corridors.
He’s taking his revenge already. An error or not, I’m stopping him.