Aris and Billy’s heads shot up to see Margret holding a syringe full of blue liquid. She had the cure. The two were going to try and get it, but they noticed she held the light remote and controls to the cages in her other hand. Aris stood face to face with her mother.
She shook her head. “I don’t understand. We seemed so happy.”
Margret gave a motherly smile. “We were sweetie, but our work was far too important. We could not get distracted by emotion. Not when such great things could be achieved here.”
“You turned me into a monster.”
“I made you strong.”
Aris huffed. “Yeah, you did.”
While Aris stood against her mother, Billy tried to figure what to do when all Hell broke loose. The place went dark; the only light coming from inside the cages. He knew any second those switches would be flipped, and lights would go out. Five of the monsters she created would come to life. Billy spotted a gas nozzle on a lab table and slowly inched towards it. Billy did not waste any time, he flipped the gas on just a little, and pointed the nozzle towards the cages. He snatched a striker off the table and held it by his side so Margret would not notice; he needed to wait for the right time.
Everyone began to change into the same monster as Aris. They all ran at the cage doors, growling, trying to get out. Aris changed as well, though she was calmer than the ones in the cages. Her silver eyes landed on her mother, who was smart enough to stand under the only light in the room. She planned the whole thing out, this was her end game.
Over the growling there were screams of agony coming from one of the cages. Billy’s eyes jumped to the cage furthest away. Simon. From what Billy could make out in the dark he was hunched over holding himself; he looked like he was in a lot of pain.
Margret smirked first at Aris knowing if she tried to attack, she would lose her primal side. “Ah, yes Simon had difficulties with the serum. It seems we overestimated what his body could handle, and now it’s rejecting it.”
Billy stared in horror at the scene before him helpless to stop what was happening. Margret, however, was ready to end it all. She pushed the button that opened the cages. Billy had to protect himself. He knocked over a beaker of yellow liquid in front of the gas, hoping it was flammable, and let the striker spark. Flames erupted out from the table. Aris backed away from it, but the flames did not seem to give off enough light to change her back.
The little girl and two other subjects growled at each other trying to stay away from the fire. Aris stared at her mother ready to pounce, and Simon reeled in his cage. Billy had to think of something, and quick. The fire was spreading; too late to do anything about that. Margret held the only cure left as a taunt, but Billy knew that was their last hope. He ducked down and crawled around the table where the fire had started. He then ran behind Margret and shoved her straight towards two of the subjects that came out of the cages.
As Billy shoved Margret, he grabbed the cure in her hand and latched his other hand onto Aris’. He dragged her into the light before she could do anything. She took a deep breath and her eyes turned back to normal. They both watched as the little girl and man and other woman from the cages tore Aris’ mother apart. Aris wanted to look away, but she could not bring herself to stop watching.
“Aris we need to get out of here!”
“I-I can’t it’s too dark.”
Billy looked at the cure in his hands. “You need to take this.”
“We don’t even know if it works.” Aris stared at the blue liquid inside the syringe.
“You don’t really have a choice; if we don’t get out of here we die!”
Aris looked around. “What about the others?”
“We don’t have time, this is the only cure we know about, you have to take it.”
Aris watched as the fire and the others grew more violent. Her eyes landed on Simon, still clenching himself in his cage. He looked like he was in so much pain. He would die in the dark. Aris shoved Billy’s hand back towards him.
“Give it to Simon.”
“What?” Billy stared into Aris’ eyes.
“He needs it. I don’t.” Aris was not sure if she wanted it at all.
“But this is the only cure. If you don’t take it you could be stuck like this forever.”
“We don’t know for sure, besides look at him, he needs this. Give it to him.” She tried not to listen to the sounds of the others tearing her mother into shreds.
Billy held back tears. “What will you do?”
“But you’re dangerous.” Billy did not want to see his best friend become a monster permanently.
The look in Aris’ eyes told Billy all he needed to know. She liked what she had become. Aris was lost to the monster, and now she embraced it. Billy grabbed Aris into a hug and she held on tight.
“Be careful okay.”
Aris let her tears fall. “You too, now go.”
Billy nodded and ran over to Simon; he knelt down next to him. Simon screamed in pain. Billy was afraid to touch him, but he had to get him the cure.
“Simon, try to stay still okay? This should help you.” Billy gripped Simon’s arm and stabbed the needle into him.
Billy looked over at Aris. She stepped out of the light and let the darkness rush over her. The fire did not give off enough light to stop any of the creatures. She looked at the little girl and two adults that were tearing apart her mother, she knew the more people like her outside of the lab would be too dangerous, it was not even safe for her to leave, but her instincts told her to save herself, so she did. Aris ran out of the lab leaving everyone behind.
When Billy looked back down he noticed that Simon was not screaming anymore. He was out of breath, but his eyes were open and brown, not silver. The cure worked. Something exploded on the other side of the room, and Billy took that as he cue to get out of there. He hauled Simon to his feet and helped him walk. Billy looked back at the three others in the room. They also knew it was time to leave.
Billy held Simon’s arm over his shoulders. “I hope you can run.”
Simon gripped Billy’s shoulder and pushed him forward. They ran as fast as they could. If they stopped, the three behind them would catch up. Billy hoped that Aris got out of the building in time. On the other hand if she stuck around, Aris would corner them and they would never escape. Billy had the advantage of halfway knowing his way around the lab, but he knew that if the creatures chasing them were anything like Aris, they had a good sense of smell, and would be able to follow them. As they ran they heard another explosion and the building shook. The boys lost their footing a little but did not fall down. Billy was too scared to look behind him, so he shoved Simon a little and ran harder.
They ran up the stairs and could hear the pattering echo of footsteps behind them. Billy thought for sure the three creatures would catch up to them, but he still had to try. Billy swung open the door to the ground level, and took off towards the exit. A rumble sounded throughout the building. The place was going down. The glass door was almost at arms reach when the little girl leapt onto Billy making him and Simon fall.
Simon could now see the girl he had been hearing since he was thrown in the cage. Her long blonde strands were tangled and fuzzed. Her silver eyes reflected from the moonlight shining in. Simon knew those growls she made, and he knew how wild she was. The girl scratched at Billy’s back as he struggled to get her off of him. Barely a thought crossed Simon’s mind as he sprang up and grabbed the girl by her arms. He had her in a lock, and tried to contain her as she kicked and screamed.
“Billy you need to get up!”
Billy pushed himself off the ground hissing in pain. He looked around for the other creature, but did not see him. The building shook again and this time part of the floor by the elevator collapsed. Simon saw this and decided what needed to be done. He carried the screaming girl towards the hole, he had to do it or else she would kill a lot of people. Billy watched with wide eyes as Simon threw the girl off of him and into the fresh hole in the ground. He ran back over to Billy, hauled the boy up, and headed for the door. Simon tried to process what he had just done. The two ran as far as they could before a bigger explosion sounded. The whole building would crumble soon. Billy led Simon, out the exit and down a hill at the side of the lab. Out of breath and in pain, they stopped when the reached the bottom and collapsed onto the ground.
Billy looked over at Simon who was staring out into space. He put his arm around Simon’s shoulder. “You had to do that man. She would have done more damage outside of there than in. I would have done the same thing.”
Simon nodded and rested his head back onto the grass. “What are we going to do now?”
“I don’t know.” Billy shook his head. “Even if we destroyed this place, that doesn’t mean it’s over. A lot of people worked there, and I’m guessing Aris’ parents weren’t the only ones that knew what was going on.”
“Yeah, they aren’t the ones that picked me up, or that did all the experiments.”
Billy looked around. “Right now I just want to get as far away as possible from this place.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
The two boys helped each other up and limped away towards Aris’ parent’s car, hoping that they could at least make it out before getting noticed by anyone who may have watched the scene at hand. Once they got in the car Billy decided he might as well go back to the motel room to rest and figure out their next move. The car ride was silent.
When they got to the motel, Billy and Simon went into the room and both instantly sat on the bed. They were exhausted and worried. Billy could not sit still though, and got up to check out the scratches on his back. He walked over to the sink and took off his shirt. Simon could see the angry scratches up and down his back, bleeding through the bandages already there. He got up to help him clean the wounds.
“Where do you think Aris went?” Simon got a wet cloth and wiped away the blood.
Billy rested his hands on the counter. “I don’t know. She just isn’t her anymore. I’m not sure where she’ll go.”
Simon leaned on the counter. “So what do we do now?”
Billy looked up and let out a big breath. “Now, we get some sleep, tomorrow…I guess we go home.”
“And say what?” Simon was not so sure about just going back home.
“I don’t know yet.”
Each boy chose a bed, and fell asleep almost as soon as they hit their pillows. Billy left the light on; he was not ready to have it off just yet, not with all that had happened. He was sure Simon would have a permanent fear of the dark as well, so he thought it best to just leave it on.
Loud ringing invaded Billy and Simon’s ears the next morning, and Billy realized it was the phone. Still groggy from his long night, he reached over and picked it up.
“Time for check out.” The voice on the other line did not seem friendly.
“What? Oh, right. Yeah we’ll be out soon.” Billy hung up and wiped the sleep from his eyes.
Neither boy felt like they got any rest, but they did not have enough money to get another night there. They both got up and waited for the other to finish washing their face before heading out. Billy dropped the key off at the office, receiving a very curious look from the man behind the desk. He probably should have sent Simon in. He was less disheveled and did not have very much blood on him, but at this point Billy did not care anymore.
There was some money in the glove box of Aris’ parent’s car, so Billy got gas and a little bit of food for him and Simon. It was about an hour drive home, and the longer Billy sat the more uncomfortable he got. The scratches were really sore, and no matter which way he moved, they just seemed to irritate them. Simon fell back asleep, so Billy drove in silence trying not to think about anything but the road. That was easier said then done.
The events of the last few weeks kept replaying in his mind. His best friends’ parents turned out to be mad scientists who injected a super serum into their, what turned out to be, second daughter, causing her to go insane in the dark and attempt to kill things, including himself on several occasions. The same insane girl killed her own father, and others without caring at all. And on top of all that she ran off into the wild after he and his other friend who got kidnapped and experimented on blew up an entire laboratory with people inside. Thinking about all that made Billy’s head spin. None of it sounded real, more like a bad sci-fi movie, but it was real, and he and Simon were the only ones who escaped. Aris escaped too, but not in the way any of them had wanted.
When Billy entered his neighborhood he decided to park the car back at Aris’ house, even though no was left to claim it. He knew leaving it would be easier to explain than driving it home. He would have to figure out the details soon, but at the moment this was the best idea he had.
“Simon, wake up. We’re here.” Billy nudged Simon in the shoulder.
“Hmm?” Simon cracked his eyes open and Billy could tell for just a second he forgot what was going on. “Aris’ house?”
Billy shrugged. “Yeah, figured we’d walk to mine, don’t feel like explaining a stolen car to my parents.”
“What are we going to tell them?”
“Not sure exactly yet.”
Billy left the car keys in the seat and got out, followed by Simon. He glanced at the living room window of Aris’ house, knowing her dead father was still inside. He could not bring himself to go anywhere near the front door.
“You think she came back?” Simon had no idea what was on the other side of that wall.
“No, she’s long gone by now.”
The two walked to Billy’s house. It was the middle of the afternoon, and most people were at work, so the two were able to get there unnoticed. Once they got to the house the two went around to the back door because it stayed unlocked. Both of Billy’s parents were working, which was great because he would not have to explain why he looked like he had been dragged through a lion’s den.
When they got inside, Billy led the way upstairs to the bathroom. “You can shower if you want. I’ll give you some clothes.”
“Thanks.” Simon waited for Billy to go get the clothes and a towel.
While Simon was in the shower, Billy went into his room and flopped on the bed. He winced, forgetting about his back. The question now was what were they going to say? He could tell the truth, but everyone would think he was crazy, he would have to go back to Aris’ and get evidence. He could also lie, make up something convincing, and live with it. He was not sure yet. Billy did not move until Simon came back in. He pushed himself off the bed and headed for a shower of his own.
The water felt amazing. Billy did not know he could feel so grimy, but as he watched the blood and dirt wash its way down the drain it felt like a weight lifted off of him. The whole debacle did not end how he hoped, but he had a feeling they could not just begin to forget what happened. After Billy got out of the shower, he went back to his room to see Simon watching the news. A woman reporter in a red blazer, stood in front of the lab, or at least the smoky remains of it. Billy sat down next to Simon, who turned up the volume.
“I’m standing in front of the remains of LifeTech Labs, a research company that exploded early this morning. Experts say that it looks like a gas leak was the cause, and the owners of LifeTech are assured that this incident was in fact an accident. No workers occupied the facility at the time. While no one was injured, the loss of the lab has brought devastation on its workers and the years of research they had inside. This is Tia Martinez reporting for DTV news.”
The boys stared agape at the television. Did she really just report that the explosion was an accident, and no one was inside at the time? She did not mention the four bodies inside, the obvious and on purpose gas leak, or the stolen Ferrari parked outside. Either everyone involved in the aftermath was dumber than a bunch of bricks, or the whole thing got covered up. The latter seemed more likely, though the boys partly wished it was just the stupidity of those involved.
“So the whole thing’s getting covered up?” Simon looked at Billy whose eyes were still glued to the TV.
“Looks like it.”
“So where does that leave us?” Simon was worried.
Billy shrugged. “I don’t know.”
They sat in their thoughts for a while before Billy realized how hungry he was. They had eaten a little, but neither had a proper meal in a long time. Billy looked over at Simon. “Come on.”
Simon followed Billy downstairs to the kitchen where he searched for something to eat. He got stuff out to make ham sandwiches. He got chips and sodas out, handing a drink to Simon. It felt good to do something normal. It seemed like forever since he just sat down to do something routine.
“I think I should go back home.” Simon stared at his half eaten ham sandwich.
Billy nodded. “You sure?”
“Yeah, I never thought I would miss my family, but I do.” He laughed a bit.
“What are you gonna say?”
Simon shrugged. “I think for now at least, I’ll just stick with running away, but down the road, maybe…maybe I’ll try and tell them.”
“Yeah, that’d probably be best. I’ll walk you back when we finish eating.” Billy took a drink of his soda.
“Thanks for everything.”
Billy gave him a half smile, and they two finished their food before heading back to Simon’s. He lived further away, but it was not too treacherous of a walk. The shower helped Billy, but he still moved slower than the other. As they exited the neighborhood and headed towards Simon’s house, both boys noticed a car following them. At first they thought they were just acting paranoid, but when they got close to Simon’s house and the car was still behind them. They knew it had to be the people covering up what happened at the lab.
“What do we do?” Simon’s eyes were wide; he did not want to get taken again.
“Just…keep walking.” Billy looked at the car, only one man was inside driving. “When you got taken, was there more than one person?”
“Yeah, there were at least two guys plus someone driving a van I think.”
Billy nodded. “I think they’re just watching, want to make sure we don’t say anything. They probably don’t have the resources right now get rid of us, at least I hope not, but they probably will if we do anything to give them reason.”
“So keep our mouths shut and we’ll be okay?” Simon was not sure if it was as easy as it sounded.
Billy looked at the car again. “Seems like the best course of action.”
When they got to Simon’s house they stopped in front of it and so did the car. Simon looked at it.
“You wanna hide out here for a while?”
Billy shook his head. “It’d be easier for you to explain running away if I’m not here, besides if I disappear you can tell everyone the truth. I’ll call you when I get back to my house, but stay here. I think it’ll be okay.”
Simon nodded. “Okay, be careful.”
“You too.” Billy turned and walked back towards his house with his hands in his pockets. He looked up at the car as he walked, and gave the man a small nod. He hoped the driver got the message that they would not say anything.
It must have worked, because the man drove forward and did not turn around. Billy worried more people would pop out of the shadows and grab him, but no one did. That seemed to be a warning. Billy knew if the past few weeks were anything to go by, he should heed it. On the way back to his house, Billy took a detour to Aris’. Since no one was tailing him now, he figured he should grab some sort of evidence just in case the time came that he needed to tell. But when Billy approached Aris’ house, one thing stood out like a sore thumb. The car was gone, and a “For Sale” sign had gotten placed in the yard.
Billy could not believe his eyes. He walked up to the house as fast as his sore body would let him, and tried the door. Locked. He went to the window and cupped his hands around his eyes so he could see inside. It was completely empty, no body, no furniture, no blood. The place looked almost brand new. For a moment Billy thought maybe he had gone insane and imagined the entire nightmare. That, however, could not have been possible. What was possible was that whoever covered up the lab, covered this up too. Now the only evidence out there to back up anything that had happened was Aris, and she was long gone by now. Shocked, Billy rushed home and called Simon.
“You make it?” Simon’s voice was low, which meant someone in his family was probably near by.
“Yeah, the guy drove off when I started back home, but…”
“What?” Simon could tell something was wrong.
“Aris’ house, it’s empty, someone came and cleared the whole thing out and fast. I was going to grab evidence just in case, but it’s all gone.”
“So now even if we wanted to tell…”
“Everyone would just think we’re bonkers, and my guess is we’d conveniently disappear.”
Simon sighed. “So that’s it then, we just go on like nothing happened?”
“Yeah, I guess we do.”
There was nothing else to say, so the two hung up. Billy sat on the couch in his living room trying to figure out how he would act normal from now on. He was about to see if normal was possible when the front door opened and his mother walked in. Now was the time for a true testament of his new found lying abilities.
Billy got up from the couch, careful not to show he was hurt. “Mom.”
“Billy! Why didn’t you call me again? I’ve been worried sick!” She hugged him tight and Billy fought the urge to wince.
“Sorry, it’s been a long day.”
Billy’s mom held him by the shoulders and looked at him. “You don’t look well, what’s the matter?”
Would she believe him if he told, or would he be putting everyone at risk for even trying? He knew the answer to that. “Umm…Aris, she’s gone. Her parents got transferred to another research lab and they had to leave right away, really sudden. I didn’t call because I wanted to spend time with her, we couldn’t believe she had to leave so soon.”
“Oh Billy I’m sorry, well you can still keep in touch.”
Billy’s eyes watered a bit. “No, they uh, they got transferred to Africa, some top secret weird research thing. Who knows how long they’ll be there, but I don’t think I’m going to hear from her anytime soon.”
“Oh sweetie, I’m sorry, I know how close you two were, she was like a daughter. I wish she could have said goodbye at least.” She hugged him again. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No, I think I’m just going to go upstairs and lay down for a bit.”
Billy’s mom gave a sympathetic smile. “Okay.”
Billy went upstairs and flopped down on his bed. His adrenaline was drained, and all worries about getting kidnapped or killed were gone for the moment. Now his brain began to process everything that had happened and he broke down. Billy was never really one to cry, he could not remember the last time he did, but now it seemed like the flood gates had opened and the tears dumped out on his pillow. In such a short span of time his entire life got flipped over. He lost his best friend, his only friend really, and people were dead. He almost died. So much had happened in the last few weeks, and now there was only one person who he could talk to about it all.