Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
Where… am I….?
Darkness covers my vision, but as much as I try to open my eyes, I can't. My eyelids feel numb. I can't feel anything.
The sound of my heart drowns out my hearing, steady and muffled, slow, too slow.
I drift back into consciousness at muffled sounds. "…the intruder should be… yes, I know, but… just a boy… Huh? … 'who he is'? What do you…" A pause, then another voice starts, this one higher and fading in and out with my heartbeat. "I'm telling you… he's different… we can use him…"
Use… who? Something about this…
doesn't seem right.
The voices move away, their footsteps fading.
A strange tingling feeling spreads through my body, pins and needles jolting every nerve, ending at my eyes. Sparks fly through their backs, and pain floods and pulses through my head, at once sharp and dull.
My mouth twists into a grimace and I immediately regret it as the taste of iron fills my mouth, accompanied by a stinging burn in my lips. The footsteps slow to a stop, and I can make out an outline of a hand through the tears in my eyes.
A loud click sounds, followed immediately by a hard tapping sound, then an ear-splitting beep! I crack open my eyes, gritting my teeth against the blinding whiteness that surrounds me. A figure leans above me, silhouetted by the harsh white light above and blurred by my tears.
Who is he? For an impossible moment, I see Kyre's face, but then it falls away.
I sense a hand coming closer, fingers smudged together by my teary eyes. It hovers over my face for a second, then comes closer. A thumb carefully brushes my tears away, and the face above comes into focus.
The boy above has sharp, narrow features, with a straight, angular nose and high cheekbones. His head is almost shaved on one side, a thin layer of blond barely visible. But on the other side, his hair hangs long and somewhere between straight and wavy, falling over his left ear and parts of his face. A healing gash peeks out from under his hair, a slash of pink that stands out against his skin.
He slips his hands under my head and shoulders and tugs me into a seated position. I’m in a tank filled with a thick, glowing substance, and once my arms are free of it, the feeling starts coming back to them in faster, more painful spurts of pins and needles. I pull them to my chest, curling my back over them, like that’ll make the prickling sensation disappear.
The boy still doesn’t say anything, he just takes my right hand into his and inspects it, then places it on my knee and gets up. He’s back a moment later with wipes, a solvent of sorts, and bandages. His own hands are bony and scrawny, but gentle as they cradle mine.
The solvent is in a vial with glass so thick it looks like the green liquid is floating inside. He dips a cloth in it and carefully wipes it over the back of my hand. The solvent is cool, and quickly feels like it's freezing my hand through, but still feels better than the empty numbness from earlier.
He seems focused on meticulously wrapping the bandage around my hand, so I take a moment to really observe him.
An oversized, worn shirt hangs over his thin body, and his cheekbones, jaw, and collarbones seem just a little too pronounced, like he isn’t getting enough to eat. He has a lanyard around his neck, the shiny plastic ID card hanging from it seeming ridiculously out of place. Despite his smaller stature―he can’t be much taller than me―something about him makes him seem older, perhaps eighteen or so. On his right hand, a silver band encircles his index finger.
He must have noticed me studying him because he looks up and meets my eyes.
“All done for now. Don’t use your hand for the next two weeks, and you should be fine.” His voice is low, soft almost to the point of whispering. “And Ashe, please don’t tell anyone I was here.”
How do you know my name? I try to say, but my throat feels as though a hard rock is lodged inside it. Swallowing hard, I find my voice again, then something entirely different comes out. “Why? You didn’t do much―”
His hand is on my mouth. Heat radiates off of him, making me realize just how cold this room is. He shakes his head and closes his eyes for a second, looking like he’s having an internal fight. Without moving his hand, he speaks again, this time much quieter. I have to strain to hear him even though we’re sitting so close.
“I’m not supposed to be here. I’ll try to find you again soon, but you absolutely cannot tell anyone I was here unless you want us both to be erased.”
I nod, and he takes his hand off. “What’s your name?” I whisper.
He leans over and breathes it into my ear. “Callan.”
And then, he’s gone.
Fuck, it hurts like hell.
I curl into myself, try to get away from the dizzying, throbbing pain that's racking my nose and head. Stinging tears push out of my eyelids, and I can't even wipe them off. My nose feels stuffed up and just wrong, and my head is filled with fog.
A click sounds as someone closes the door behind them, footsteps getting louder as they come closer. A hand jerks my face up, sending another wave of pain through my nose.
Kat's face peers at me, expressionless and hard.
"You," I rasp, hating the pathetic weakness in my voice. "What did you do to her?"
"Your girlfriend? She's gone."
My face must have betrayed what I'm thinking, because Kat smiles, saying the words with obvious pleasure.
"Imprisoned. Considered to be dead. To be erased soon."
My breath halts. My thoughts freeze over, hanging onto one word. No. No, no, no. Nononononono...
Her fingers gently brush through my hair, and then I feel a sharp sting just under my ear.
"Rest well, dear. You'll be next, I'm sure."
Darkness closes around my vision again, this time soft and welcoming, not at all like the angry spots from earlier. The last thing I see before it takes over is Kat's back as she leaves the room.
I hate her so much.