When Aris saw the lab she understood why Billy had said that. The whole place had beakers, vials, and all sorts of weird lab equipment spread around. So much cluttered the basement, Aris had no idea where to start. Billy went over to a silver refrigerator by a sink and cabinets, and opened it up.
She went over to Billy and looked in the fridge. Random liquids filled the shelves, but what caught her eye were a few vials filled with a glowing green liquid. She remembered Billy telling her about the night he saw her parents come into her room; that was what they were holding.
“So that’s it?” Aris looked at Billy.
“Looks like it.”
“Oh my God, they really did this didn’t they?” Aris stared at the glowing green fluid.
“I’m sorry, but maybe there’s an antidote somewhere?”
“Maybe. Could be any one of these, or none.” Aris looked around and noticed two filing cabinets. “Let’s start looking for something.”
Billy nodded and headed over to one of the filing cabinets, while Aris went to the one next to it. They opened them up and began searching through them. Aris tried looking for anything about darkness, or anything that might tip them off as to what had been going on with her. She was scared to look too close as to what her parents were up to. The more she saw, the harder it became to believe anything about them was good. There were files that read “Bird Gene Splice”, “Retinal Tolerance: Test 3, “Re-sequencing of Feline DNA”, and other weird titles.
“What the?” Billy had a file in his hand.
Aris stopped shuffling through her files. “What, did you find it?”
Billy stared at the file like he was not sure what to say. “Do you know someone named Haiza?”
“What? No, why?” Aris was confused.
“Haiza Walker, born 1991, died 1999. Subject could not withstand the de-growth serum, and after stopping doses, expired from severe mental depletion.” Billy looked up at Aris, who had still not grasped who this person was. “Aris, I-I think you had a sister.”
Aris’ eyes widened. “No, I don’t have…I never had, it’s wrong. She has to be someone else.” Aris grabbed the file from Billy’s hand. “Let me see that.”
As Aris looked through the file, the words sunk in deeper. She had a sister, one she did not remember. She would have been two when Haiza died, so she would not have remembered. Apparently her parents had experimented on Haiza more than Aris. They gave her a serum that made her grow rapidly, and when Aris was born they used her DNA to try and reduce the growth, but it reacted wrong to the growth serum they were already using. The mice test subjects did not have a problem with it, but humans were not ready for that kind of testing yet.
“How could they do this?” Tears flooded Aris’ eyes. “They killed my sister, and still decided to do God knows what to me.”
Billy was not sure what to say. Aris’ parents were horrible people, and now he was sure that they were planning the worst out of this whole thing.
“We need to keep looking.” Aris sat the file down and wiped the tears from underneath her eyes.
After a moment of staring at Aris, Billy turned away and continued looking for an antidote. He knew Aris was trying to push the truth out of her mind, but was struggling. They continued to search until, out of nowhere, the lights went out. Aris gasped, which triggered Billy to take the flashlight out of his pocket. He shined it at Aris to see her hunched over breathing heavy and covered in sweat; her eyes glowing silver.
“Aris, just keep calm okay.” His hand shook a little.
She looked up at the lights. “This isn’t right. There’s a generator down here, the lights shouldn’t go out.” She sniffed the air. “They’re here.”
Billy took a step back. “Who?”
“My parents.” Aris scowled and made a run for the stairs.
“Aris wait!” Billy ran up after her.
When they got upstairs darkness engulfed the room. Night had fallen, but Billy could see the street lights illuminate from outside. Someone shut off all the electricity. Aris walked into the living room sniffing around when Billy felt a hard tug on the flashlight. He turned around only to be shoved by Aris’ mother. He fell to the ground and scooted away from Aris, who glared at her mother with silver eyes. Billy got up and headed for the door, but Aris’ father was there to block it.
“What is this?” Billy was not sure what to do.
“You know too much now Billy. Should have kept your nose out of our daughter’s business.” Margret smiled, but kept the flashlight and her eyes on Aris.
“So what, you lock me in here with the lights off and let Aris do your dirty work?”
“That sounds about right. Though you mustn’t take it personally Billy, I always liked you.” Robert smirked, and Billy moved away from him.
“I won’t do it, I won’t hurt him.” Aris tried to fight the darkness creeping inside her.
Her mother almost looked sympathetic. “Oh sweetie, you won’t have a choice.”
“You mean like Haiza didn’t get a choice?” Tears welled up again in Aris’ eyes.
Margret faltered a bit. “I see you found your sister’s file.”
“So it’s true? You killed her.”
“She was a failed experiment, but you won’t be, you will change history.” There was a crazy look in her eye.
“It doesn’t matter what you think, right now you have a job to take care of.” She pointed the flashlight at herself. “Robert.” She motioned at her husband.
Robert lunged at Billy and grabbed him around the arms. He struggled, but Robert only needed to put him in Aris’ path. The girl was trying to overcome the feeling that was growing inside her. That monster was coming out, and she could not help but let it. Her skin began to bubble, and her senses were getting stronger. The craving came, and she wanted to feed it. Her mind was still on her parent’s betrayal, but Billy had her line of sight.
Robert kept a hold on Billy until he could see that Aris was fixed on him. Billy saw silver eyes staring at him, and he remembered the night he discovered Aris’ problem. He felt the same terror he did then. He talked her out of eating him before, so maybe he could again.
“Aris, you don’t want to hurt me.” He put his hands up and took small steps backwards.
She fought the urge. Deep down Aris did not want to hurt her best friend, and Margret saw this. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a small dose of the serum. She went behind Aris and plunged the needle into her neck, injecting the serum into her. Aris growled, but the stuff was quick to take effect. She tried shaking it off to regain control while Margret backed away, still shining the light on herself.
Billy stared wide eyes. “Come on Aris, listen to me! You do not want to hurt me, please, let’s just find a light.”
Aris stopped shaking and set her eyes on Billy. She growled again and dived towards him. Her sharp nails sliced across his chest causing him to fall to the ground. He put his hand on his shredded t-shirt and felt warm blood oozing out. He started to crawl away, but Aris jumped on him. Billy squeezed his eyes shut and held out his right arm for protection, only to feel searing pain a moment later. He opened his eyes to see Aris’ teeth sunk deep into the skin, if he did not do something fast she could bite through it.
“No!” Billy grabbed Aris’ arm as it came down to claw him again. He used all his strength to kick her off of him. She fell to the side, but that gave Billy just enough time to jump up and push Margret away, grabbing the flashlight in her hand. He shined it at Aris. He backed himself up against the wall so Margret or Robert could not surprise him from behind again. His hand was shaking so bad he could barely keep the light on Aris.
Aris stopped when the light landed on her, but Billy could tell it would not be enough to turn her back to normal. He hoped it would be enough to talk her out of killing him.
“Aris listen to me.” His breaths were shallow. “Don’t do this. Your parents betrayed you, they did this to you! If you kill me, they win. They’ll take you back to their lab and experiment more on you. They don’t care about you.”
“Do not listen to him Aris. Billy needs disposed of. We are the only ones that care about you. We need you sweetie.” Margret hoped that would sway Aris to attack Billy again, but instead the plan backfired.
Aris’ attention switched over to Margret. She growled at her mother and began to walk towards her.
“Robert.” Margret did not take her eyes off of her daughter.
This time Robert decided to grab Aris, but he underestimated her strength. Billy was skinny and frail looking, but in reality was not as weak as he appeared. Robert figured if Billy could throw Aris off of him, he would be able to hold her and throw her at Billy. Instead though, Aris flipped around and clawed her father in the face, causing his glasses to fly off and smash into the wall. Once she drew blood, there was no turning back.
Aris began to claw and bite at her father, ripping him to shreds. Billy watched in horror at the scene unfolding in front of him. He slid down to the ground, looking into the flashlight, he did not want to see what Aris was doing. Margret however took this opportunity hide down in the basement, there were some things she knew she would need to control Aris. She cared for her husband, but there was nothing she could do for him now.
Robert’s screams filled the room as Aris continued to rip her father away. The screams died down and Billy could hear a gurgling sound, and then only the sound of Aris chewing on his flesh. After the initial shock of it all, Billy knew he needed to do something. He pushed himself up off the floor, wincing, and tip toed over to the door. He knew there was an electric box outside. Aris was too concerned with her father to notice Billy slip out the front door. He ran around the side of the house to the breaker. It was already open from Aris’ parents turning the lights off before. He pushed the main switch up, and the lights came back on. Billy walked back to the front of the house and opened the door, dreading going inside. He knew Aris would freak out at the scene she had just caused. Inside on the floor Aris sat next her father, staring with huge eyes.
“A-Aris?” Billy took a few steps in the house.
“What did I do?” Her face and hands were covered in blood, there was so much blood.
“We need to get out of here.”
Aris looked up and saw the blood all over her best friend. “I hurt you.”
“It’s okay.” Though in all honesty, Billy’s adrenaline was running down, and the intense pain began to set in. “We really need to leave.”
Aris nodded. “Where?”
“Doesn’t matter, are the car keys in your dad’s pocket?” Billy kept pressure on his chest.
“Mom’s still here?” She looked out the window to see the car in the driveway.
Billy glanced at the basement door. “More reasons to leave.”
Aris stared at her bloody mess of a father, he was really gone. She turned away and slipped her hand in his pocket until she felt the car keys. “Let’s go.”
The two walked fast to the car outside. Aris got in the driver seat and barely let Billy shut his door before peeling out of the driveway. She sped out of Roseland Village, and took off down the road. Billy leaned against the window, and by the way he turned on the overhead light with deep struggle, Aris knew he needed help.
“Hospital?” She clenched the steering wheel tight.
“No, too risky. I have a feeling your mom isn’t going to give you up so easily. Just keep driving out of town. We’ll go to a drugstore. Get something to patch this up, and then go from there.” Billy’s breath was stressed.
“Go covered in blood?”
Billy hadn’t thought of that. “Oh right…the-the park, they have bathrooms, no one will see you. Clean up there.”
Aris nodded. “It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be alright.”
She drove until she found West View Park; the bathrooms sat towards the back, which was good because she did not want anyone to see her. Aris pulled the car behind the bathroom and turned it off, but kept the headlights on.
She turned to Billy. “Stay here.”
“Take this.” Billy held out the flashlight.
Aris took it and got out of the car, she walked up to the bathroom, and pulled on the woman’s door, but it was locked, she then tried the men’s but it was locked too. “Crap.”
She walked around to the side shining the flashlight at the wall, there was a rectangular window about a foot above her head. She sighed, wiped her hands on her pants in case any blood still remained on them, and grabbed the trashcan next to the bathroom. She flipped it, climbed on top of it, and pushed the window open. There was not a graceful way to get through the window, especially since the window attached on the top of the wall and swung up. Aris fell right onto the bathroom floor. She dropped the flashlight, but it stayed on. She flipped on the bathroom light and went to the sink fast to wash up. She sat the flashlight on the edge of the sink and turned the water on.
As Aris washed away the blood, she could not help but think about whose blood it was. Her father was dead, and she killed him. That was all that ran through her mind. How could she do this? Then again, he betrayed her, so it was not as if things would ever be like they were before. Her thoughts went back to the actual kill, like the lion on its prey. Just thinking about it began to make her skin tingle.
“No!” Aris snapped herself out of her blood lust and finished rinsing her face and hands.
She took a step back to look at herself in the dirtied mirror. Her skin was clean, but her clothes were a different story. Her orange shirt was the worst, the collar and top of the shirt was covered in obvious blood, but her pants were okay. Aris remembered she had left a sweatshirt in the backseat of the car. Leaving the lights on, Aris unlocked the bathroom door and ran back out to the car. She opened the car door and grabbed her grey sweatshirt from off the floor; she slipped it over her head and jumped back in the driver seat taking off out of Glenbrook.
The car was silent until Billy spoke in a low voice. “You think I’ll change…into, whatever this is?”
Aris had not thought about that, she scratched and bit Billy, and if they were living by werewolf and zombie rules, Billy would indeed become like her. “I don’t know, it was a serum not an infection, so…I don’t know.”
“Well at least you won’t be alone in this anymore.”
“If it happens to you, we’ll figure it out. Mom and Dad kept injecting me with that stuff, so maybe it wears off after time.” She hoped so anyway.
“Yeah…” Billy shut his eyes.
The moment they crossed the city boarder, Aris stopped at the first Walgreens she saw. She left Billy and went inside to get supplies to take care of his wounds. Walking quick down each aisle, Aris grabbed paper towel, gauze, peroxide, pain medicine, and batteries for the flashlight, just in case. When she got up to the register, she was happy to find she still had her wallet in her pocket, because up to that point she had not thought about that. The young cashier gave her a funny look that made Aris want to jump across the counter and rip out her throat, but she just stared as the woman who scanned her stuff and told her the total. After paying she grabbed her bag and went back out to Billy.
“We need somewhere to take care of all this.” Aris pulled out of the drug store and started driving down the road.
“What about a motel or something, we could hide out there and decide what we’re going to do.”
Aris nodded. “Yeah, good idea.”
She drove through the city until she found the worst looking part of town, and stopped at the first motel she saw. It was the kind that charged by the hour, so she hoped that would be best and no questions would be asked. She left Billy in the car and went inside. The inside looked disgusting. The walls were yellowing and cracked, the floor dirty, and the decorative tree in the corner had not been touched in what seemed like years. There was glass separating the motel clerk from any future guest.
“I need a room for the night.” Aris shoved money through the hole in the glass.
The clerk counted it and handed her a key. “Room eighteen.” He glanced to his left indicating which side of the motel it was on.
Aris took the key and went back to the car. She drove it in front of room eighteen and parked there. No one was around, to her relief, so she and Billy were able to get inside the room without being noticed. Billy slung his good arm over Aris’ shoulder and collapsed on the bed inside. Aris dumped out the Walgreens sack on the floral comforter and started to open the bandages.
“Grab a towel.” Billy motioned towards the bathroom.
Aris ran over to the bathroom and switched on the light. It flickered a couple of times before coming on. The tile was cracking and falling off the walls, and the sink was rusting out. She grabbed one of the towels that sat on the counter and ran back over to Billy, who had his shirt off to survey the damage to his flesh. The scratches on his chest were deep, and the bite mark on his arm looked bad as well.
“Billy…I’m so sorry.” She handed him the towel.
Billy shook his head. “You couldn’t help it. Besides, it’ll be alright.” He opened the peroxide and poured the clear liquid on the scratches. He hissed in pain, and Aris could see the wound foam up and sizzle. Billy held the towel to his chest and waited a moment before wiping all the blood off.
Aris handed him the gauze and unwound one of the bandages. As Billy held the gauze, Aris wrapped the bandages around his chest until it was almost gone, and then used the remaining length to tie it together. They moved on to his arm and did the same thing, though the peroxide fizzed more on the wound and Billy’s eyes began to water from the pain. Aris thought he was pale before, but looking at him now he looked as white as paper. Once his arm was wrapped, the two calmed down a little.
“It’s not the best, but it’ll do for now.” Aris tried not to think about the blood.
“Thanks.” Billy sat back on the bed.
The two sat in silence for a while, but they were both thinking the same thing.
“So what do we do now?” Aris looked out the window.
Billy sighed and looked up at the yellow stained ceiling. “We should probably stay here tonight. We both could use the sleep, and beyond that I don’t think I can critically think right now.”
Aris knew Billy was right. They needed sleep, but she wanted to do something. She felt like she had to, but they would be safe there for the night at least, so Aris agreed. Billy fell asleep as soon as he shut his eyes, but Aris had trouble. All she could think about were the horrible things she had done, but the more she thought about it, the less guilty she felt. She was not sure anymore which had more control, the monster or her. At some point in her thoughts, Aris drifted to sleep.
A few hours later, she woke up and did not feel tired anymore. The sun was just peeking through the window and Aris was happy that the urges she felt would go away for the day. She got up and went to the bathroom wondering what they were going to do. Her mother was probably looking for her; she would not want to lose her test subject, but Aris hoped she would not find them at the motel.
Billy was still asleep, and Aris knew he would be hungry soon, so she went outside to the vending machine and got a couple things. She also decided to go back up to the office and book the room for one more night to give them time to figure things out. She had to admit she was still full from the night before. When she walked back in, she sat on a torn blue chair in the room and tried to figure out their next move. They couldn’t stay in that motel forever.
Aris was taken out of her thoughts when Billy woke up. He winced a little, forgetting about the wounds she caused him, but he sat up okay.
“How you feeling?” Aris stared at Billy.
“Sore, but I’ll be fine.” He nodded towards the food on the dresser. “That for me?”
“Yeah.” Aris threw him a bag of chips and a bottle of water.
Aris got up and looked out the window again. “I think I figured out what to do.”
Billy shoved a potato chip in his mouth. “Yeah, what’s that?”
“We have to go to the lab.” She fiddled with the keys she still had in her pocket.
Billy almost choked on his chip. “Are you nuts? Your mom is probably there.”
“Maybe, but she might have already looked. If we wait until tonight when the lab is closed, maybe we can find a cure, or something to help.”
Billy watched Aris, but she continued to look out the window. “Aris, are you sure about this?”
She turned away from the window. “What other choice do we have?”
Aris was right. They were running out of options and Billy had a feeling they would end up at the lab at some point, he just wished they were better prepared for it.