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Of Illnesses And Antidotes - Chapter Four

by KayLou1609


"Don't cry, Naomi. Don't cry. Brave warriors don't cry. True warriors never cry."

My eyes snap open. Dark. Everything is dark. An inky blackness shrouds the room, concealing the thirty-eight sleeping figures swathed in the warmth of their own bunks. Silence penetrates the air, draining the room of its life, replacing it with an eerie atmosphere that chills me to the bone. I pull the duvet an inch further over my face.

Rolling onto my side, I bring my clenched hand in front of my face. Uncurling my fingers, I search my palm with my other hand, seeking out what it possesses. But there's nothing. Frowning, I close my eyes and take a moment to think. When I reopen my eyes, my hand snakes out from under the duvet and slips into the crate beneath my bunk. My fingers sift through a pile of crumpled prescriptions and crushed medicine bags, until finally, they find it. Something cold. Something smooth. Something precious.

Clasping it tightly, I withdraw my hand and press the item against my chest, reuniting my body with the sense of something familiar yet all too abnormal. Focusing my vision on where it should be, my eyes eventually adjust to the darkness. They instantly recognise it. A small smile breaks out onto my lips. Carefully, I unclasp the latch and gently push the two frames apart. In the thick of the night, where you're as blind as the blue skies after the sun has dipped below the horizon, I can still see them. Their photographs are alive. Her brown curls bounce off her shoulders, still as soft as her deep hazel eyes, each glance blessed with kindness and joy. His beaming grin brightens the day, lifting the aching pain off anyone's shoulders. The mingling of their voices oozes with compassion, their gentle words as light as air itself. To anybody else, they are just two strangers. To me, they're my strangers.

"What'cha got there?"

My finger slams down on the pendant, snapping it shut before it's smuggled away out of sight. Glancing upwards, I just about make out the hazy image of Renee's head leaning over the side of her bunk.

"Nothing."

"As if! You and I both know you're lying."

I sigh. "It was just my prescription from earlier. My dosage has increased."

"Sure." Sarcasm drips from Renee's voice like a leaky tap, but she lets it go all the same. "Anyway, why are you awake?"

"Couldn't sleep." I pause. "Why are you awake?"

"Couldn't sleep."

We both chuckle lightly. My smile grows wider.

"Well, I'm going to try and get some sleep. You should get some rest too, Naomi. You've had quite a day." Her voice is thick with sleep, a yawn escaping from her lips whilst finishing her sentence.

"I'll try but I doubt I'll be able to drift off."

"Mmm." Renee's muffled response is shortly followed by the sound of light breathing as she slips into a slumber.

Smiling to myself, I open up my palm and steal one final glance at the locket. Pressing it against my lips, I tuck it safely out of sight beneath the rubbish in my crate then cocoon myself in the duvet, burying myself in the thick layers of padding. I close my eyes. Within seconds, the darkness of the room clouds my mind and I drown into a deep sleep.

***

"You gonna eat that or what?"

The spoon in my hand falls from grasp, vanishing into the bowl of gruel. I sigh. "Probably not now. You want it?" I glance up to see Val frowning at me. "Ever tried smiling, Val?" Her frown grows.

"Ever tried to actually eat something?"

"I would but I'm not hungry."

My stomach grumbles.

Val raises an eyebrow. "Looking forward to your meeting?"

"Oh yeah, definitely. Why wouldn’t I be? Why else would I not want to meet with the chief doctor of the Sanctuary? It's not as if barely anyone's called to meet him, is it?"

"You nervous?"

"Well..." I consider lying then catch Val's eye. "Yeah, I'm nervous."

A flicker of a smile plays at her lips. "You'll be fine. You're the toughest person I know. You'll be in there one minute, out the next. There's nothing to worry about. Now eat your gruel. You need your energy."

I smirk. "On one condition."

"What?"

"You smile."

Val scowls. "Seriously?"

I raise an eyebrow. "I'm waiting."

Val mutters something under her breath then her lips curl into a sarcastic simper. "Is that alright?"

“A little wider.”

Narrowing her eyes, she huffs and stretches out her smile. “Better?” she says, through gritted teeth.

I grin. "Much better."

Liberating my spoon from the swamp of watery gruel, I down it in minutes despite the rancid taste, then get ready for my meeting. A few minutes before nine, I head out of the dormitory and follow the corridor to the main hall, the note clasped tightly in my fist. There, I join the back of the queue for the reception and wait to be seen to. It's not long before I'm at the front. Sitting comfortably on a plush swivel chair is a tall, thin girl with an explosion of copper brown curls. Her attentive dark eyes skim the words on a clipboard she clutches. I instantly recognise her.

"Morning, Carrie."

The girl glances up and her lips break out into a grin. "Good morning, Naomi. How are you?"

"I'm good, thanks. Yourself?"

"Fit as a fiddle." Carrie nods at the note in my hand. "What'cha got there?"

I slide the note across the desk. "I've got a meeting with the chief doctor at nine."

Carrie raises an eyebrow. Her eyes fill with concern. "You've got a meeting with Dr Sullivan?"

"Should I be worried?"

"Of course not. Meeting the chief doctor is totally normal."

"Really?"

"No. You should be terrified. I've only ever heard of one person who's met Dr Sullivan in private and I don't think that went down well."

"Thanks for the encouragement."

Carrie smiles weakly at me. "I'll fetch your escort."

Hopping off her chair, she disappears out of sight and a moment later, low voices can be heard. Subsequently, Carrie reappears, followed by another person. A boy. He's slightly taller than Carrie with a more athletic build, hints of his muscular arms visible through his jumpsuit. A mop of dishevelled coffee-coloured hair flops over the top of his rounded face, faintly tinged with a pasty wax that has failed to mould his hair into a clean sweep. Two sharp hazel eyes pierce their attention straight on me. I drop my gaze almost instantly.

"Naomi, this is Kit. He'll escort you to your meeting."

I glance up coyly. He looks straight at me, his lips curving into a warm smile. "Ready steady?"

Before I get the chance to reply, Kit vanishes again then reappears moments later through the side door. Gesturing away from the queue, we head towards Dr Sullivan's office.

"So." Kit glances to me, a smile on his face. "What sorta trouble you been causing?"

"What makes you think I'm in trouble?"

"It's not every day you take someone to meet with Dr Sullivan. And besides, you look the sort."

"Pardon?" I turn around to face Kit, staring at him incredulously. "I look like what?"

Kit grins at me. "See. Right there. You definitely have it. Oh, and put this on."

He hands me a surgical mask then swerves around me and continues walking, leaving me stood there like a dummy. It takes me a moment or two to stop gawking into the space where he was stood and catch up with him.

"I definitely have what?" I demand, pulling the mask over my head. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Kit chuckles. "You're really showing it now." He pushes open one of the double doors opposite the corridor that leads to the dormitories and gestures for me to enter. Heading through, I wait for him to join me before trying for an answer.

"Just...just what are you...ugh I'm so confused." I look up to Kit helplessly.

He grins. "Trying to cover up your guilt?" He teases.

I elbow him in the ribs. He lets out a yelp of pain. "Serves you right for pissing me off."

"Hey, I was only remarking on your amazing personality." Sarcasm is threaded throughout his words.

I glower at him. "Like what?"

"Like what?"

"What were you remarking on?"

"Only the fact that you look the sort to cause trouble." My face must've been a picture of horror as Kit's grin grows, which is seemingly impossible, seeing as how it also stretches from ear to ear.

"Cheeky bugger." I punch his shoulder somewhat playfully but harder than he'd thought I'd hit. "I don't look anything like the troublesome sort."

"Ah, but that's what you think." Kit points to my eyes. "You have it right there. That mischievous twinkle all troublemakers have." I open my mouth to protest but Kit carries on. "And your tone of voice is very defensive, suggesting that you're trying to cover up your guilt. You also appear to be pretending that you're not guilty of being mischievous when you obviously are-" He breaks off and grins. "Need I go on?"

"Good question." I narrow my eyes, glaring frostily at him. “Would you like to die of strangulation or suffocation?

“Aren’t they the same thing?”

“That…that doesn’t matter. Stop changing the subject.”

Kit chuckles. "My, you're not one for taking a joke."

"You're the one who can't crack a joke."

"And I suppose you can?"

"Better than you can, for sure."

"Is that a challenge I hear?" Kit raises an eyebrow.

A smirk spreads across my face. "You're on." I hold out my hand. "First one to make the other one laugh wins."

"Deal." Kit stops and shakes my hand.

Glancing up, my eyes are drawn to a doctor heading towards us. He carries a large cardboard box, concealing the majority of his face. He stops a few metres in front of us and withdraws a small card from his pocket. Swiping it against a keypad on the wall, he pushes himself into a pair of plain double doors and they swing wide open, allowing him access into the room. Just before the doors slam shut, I catch sight of several rows of shelving, stacked with trays of glass tubes, bottles and various oddly-sized containers as well as paper packages and plastic pots. Seconds later the doors close on their own and the room vanishes from my sight.

“What’s through there?” I point to the doors.

“That’s where the store all the medicine,” Kit explains. “Every single different type. It’s pretty impressive.”

“Have you been in there?”

“Nope.” Kit smiles then heads onwards, further away from the mysterious room. As I walk past it, I stare at it for as long as I can, hoping, praying, the doors will open again. They don’t, and I’m forced to carry on to my meeting.

A few moments later, Kit halts in his tracks. Turning around, he gestures towards a sandy-coloured door, a silver plaque tacked firmly to it, the words Dr Sullivan - Chief Director etched into the metal. I glance at it then glance back to him. He smiles at me. His hand reaches out and tugs at my surgical mask, pulling it over my lips.

"I'll be here when you're finished," he whispers. "Good luck, though, I doubt you'll need it."

I smile and watch him disappear down the corridor. Turning back to face the door, I take a deep breath and rap on the door twice. Moments later, it swings open to reveal a large, broad-shouldered man towering over me, cloaked in a perfectly clean white coat. His jet black hair is smoothed into a neat wave, without a strand out of place and his lips are pressed into a tight line. His dark brown eyes regard me closely.

"Child zero-six-four-three-three-zero." His voice is tainted with a peculiar accent, one that sounds strangely familiar yet I can't place where I've heard it before. He steps to the side, revealing the entrance to his office. "Why don't you come in?"


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275 Reviews


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Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:24 pm
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rosette wrote a review...



Ooooh, creeepy...
This Dr. Sullivan does not sound like a good guy. And AHA! I have another nugget of information into the hows and whys of this story: the doctor referred to her as Child 064330. Strange? Definitely. But man, I love it!

First Section
I'm wondering about that little flashback of thought Naomi had, that began this chapter. I liked how it kind of gave some background to her, though - some depth. And that picture, too. She had a very different life before all of this. Was it her mother, maybe - her father? - that said the italicized words? Yet they're strangers to her, you say, so... hmmm... Either way, they are still obviously precious to her. But why is it such a huge secret from the other girls? Do they not have any treasures from their past life?


"I'll try but I doubt I'll be able to drift off."

"Mmm." Renee's muffled response is shortly followed by the sound of light breathing as she slips into a slumber.

Smiling to myself, I open up my palm and steal one final glance at the locket. Pressing it against my lips, I tuck it safely out of sight beneath the rubbish in my crate then cocoon myself in the duvet, burying myself in the thick layers of padding. I close my eyes. Within seconds, the darkness of the room clouds my mind and I drown into a deep sleep.

I found it a little amusing how she said she doubted she'd be able to drift off, yet hardly a minute later she's drowning in a deep sleep. Any tips on here on how I can get to sleep quicker? xP
Renee, as well. I wasn't sure if that was sarcasm when she said she couldn't sleep, or if she genuinely meant that. Because she fell asleep awfully quick for not being able to sleep, too.

Second Section
Now Kit is interesting.
So far, the dormitory seems to be only housing girls, with an occasional male doctor. Kit was a bit of a surprise. But that only makes me wonder more: why aren't there male patients? And how has Naomi never seen Kit before, if she's been here for basically her whole life, it seems? He's not new, because he's apparently escorted other people to the chief doctor. Exactly who is this guy?
*gasp*
Wait. Is he a bad guy, too???

“What’s through there?” I point to the doors.

“That’s where the store all the medicine,” Kit explains. “Every single different type. It’s pretty impressive.”

Hm. Was she forbidden to come this way before? Like, she doesn't even know what's in there! And this corridor with that room is so open and free to wander down. Is her life simply too busy to go exploring?

My, oh my, oh my, so many secrets!
I agree with Kit that Naomi does seem the troublesome type. She does appear pretty defensive when talking to him, and totally guilty of something. I'm wondering if her snooping/eavesdropping has to do with her meeting with the chief doctor. Considering no one ever meets with him, this is quite suspicious...

Thanks for keeping up with this novel, KayLou!
I wish you a fantastic day,
~rosette




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Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:48 pm
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zaminami wrote a review...



Hi KayLou! Welcome to YWS! My name is Kara, and I am here for a (hopefully) quick review!

The first thing that caught my eye was how long it was. So hopefully you didn't have many grammatical errors, you know? Otherwise this review will be very long, haha.

So yeah.

Also, give me your soul.

With that aside -

STOP! Grammar time!



Jeez, you have good grammar. A few nitpicks and stuff, and I'll send you on your way.

"Don't cry, Naomi. Don't cry. Brave warriors don't cry. True warriors never cry."


Just a nitpick here, but usually authors don't use quotations when representing thoughts. The italics are awesome, but the quotations don't belong there.

But there's nothing


Another nitpick here, but "but" isn't usually used as a beginning word of a sentence.

"I'll try but I doubt I'll be able to drift off."


There needs to be a comma after "try."

"Just...just what are you...ugh I'm so confused."


After three periods there should be a space, and after "ugh" there should be a comma.

"Trying to cover up your guilt?" He teases.


Even if there's an exclamation mark or a question mark, if the subject is a pronoun in the tag sentence after a piece of dialogue it always has to be lowercase.

As I walk past it, I stare at it for as long as I can, hoping, praying, the doors will open again.


Another nitpick, but instead of a comma after "hoping" put a dash and instead of a comma after "praying" put a dash. I think that that would flow better.

Turning around, he gestures towards a sandy-coloured door, a silver plaque tacked firmly to it, the words Dr Sullivan - Chief Director etched into the metal.


I would put quotation marks around "Dr Sullivan - Chief Director" as well as put a period in front of "Dr" (It might be different in England than in America... in America we put a period) and this is also a comma splice. Instead of a comma after "it" I would put a period and make "the words Dr Sullivan - Chief Director etched into the metal." I would also add an "is" in that sentence - "the words Dr Sullivan - Chief Director is etched into the metal."

Suggestions:



duvet


I knew what a duvet was, but I have a big vocabulary. Ordinary readers might not know what a duvet is, so I would change this to quilt.

What the hell are you talking about?"


I didn't see a warning when I looked at the top of the page. At least put a 14+ warning with very mild swearing.

"Child zero-six-four-three-three-zero."


In most stories, instead of listing the numbers out worded they would do something like this: "Child 0-6-4-3-3-0" or "Child 064330" instead of spelling out the words for the numbers.

Confusing things:



Renee's muffled response is shortly followed by the sound of light breathing as she slips into a slumber.


If Renee couldn't sleep, how come she's able to sleep so easily after?

Within seconds, the darkness of the room clouds my mind and I drown into a deep sleep.


Same here. How was the MC able to sleep after not being able to sleep earlier? Also, it takes 20 minutes to fall fully to sleep, according to study. Not a few seconds.

you're as blind as the blue skies


This simile confused me. Usually, "blind as a bat" is the way to go.

Random comments and fangirling:



Kit


Is this a reference to Star Wars?

He carries a large cardboard box, concealing the majority of his face.


I'm getting Villianous vibes here...

Overall:



This was very advanced, and I didn't have difficulty reading it even though I didn't read the other chapters. Good job. This is obviously a very dark plot, and I look forward to reading more. One favor: can you tag me when the next chapter comes out? Thanks!

Give me your soul--

Kara





Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.
— J.K. Rowling