Creamy ice cream filled my mouth. A silky ribbon of chocolate, intertwined with smooth caramel laced through the vanilla. It should have tasted sweet and cold; it was bitter. I looked up. Sunlight streaked through the window, cascading into Allie’s bright blue eyes. Her face was scrunched up with laughter as a spoon filled with strawberry ice cream stuck out of her mouth. According to her, our differences were aside; we were friends. I bit my lip. A single word resonated through my brain, friends.
Smoke billowed through the room. Flames snaked through the dormitories. The heat was rising. I yanked the covers off my bed and willed my sore muscles to escape. I took one shaky step, then crumpled to the floor, unable to move a muscle. Alex appeared in front of me, his curly blonde hair bouncing over his head. Fire and an inkling of fear reflected from his grey eyes.
“Take my hand. We gotta get out of here. The scientists want the ones on the list.” Smoke filled my nostrils, addling my brain.
“The list?” I asked weakly.
“You know, the useful ones they plucked from the Keep. They’ve got plans for us, and I don’t like it,” he murmured. I reached up and grabbed his hand. Suddenly, we were outside the burning building. My lungs shakily inhaled the cool night air.
“I thought you weren’t coming back for me,” I whispered. A smile crept across Alex’s face.
“We don’t leave friends behind.”
“Allie!” I exclaimed. She licked her spoon, which had my ice cream on it, and a mischievous sparkle twinkled from her eyes.“You were, like, zoning out, and your ice cream was screaming for attention.” I started laughing and grabbed a spoonful of her strawberry.
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” we both shouted, oblivious to the other ice cream parlor patrons’ incredulous stares.
Too bad a creepy little voice inside my head just had to ask, “What else have you screamed for?”
Out of my peripheral vision, a blue light flashed. Oh how I had missed that color in this world of blacks and whites, silver and gold. I bit my lip. The little blue light, that small spark of color shouldn’t be welcomed.
The needle plunged into my skin. The force itself almost caused me to give a gasp.
Suddenly, my vision flared white. A cold chill ran up my body. The tingling feeling of spiders, I felt my body cease its breathing. My eyes dilated and spun, searching the bleak room of white for an escape route. Convulsions ran through my body. It began shaking and banging against the restraints. Nothing could stop it. My mind was disconnected from my actions. Finally, I realized what it was, the horror of meeting fear unmasked. Something had been building inside of me. That was when it escaped, a blood curling scream.
My eyes flared open. Cold wood met my cheeks. Tons of other teens, of all different shapes and sizes, sat behind desks, staring blankly at a screen. Drool ran from one guy’s mouth.
A screeching, scraping noise filled my ears. Metal against metal, grinding against each other. I bolted upward, fully awake, though knocking against my desk.
Everyone in my immediate area turned and stared at me. I felt my face turn red as I glanced up at the screen. Some moldy old dude was talking about the French Revolution and its execution methods. I exhaled slowly, letting a shaky breath out.
A crumpled wad of paper landed on my desk. As discretely as possible, I unfolded it.
Dude? What just happened? You were like asleep, then insanely hyper/weirded out! It was just a guillotine on the vid!!
As I yanked at my beanie, I turned in my seat. Allie’s eyes met mine. I shook my head and mouthed, “Tell you later.”
A figure stepped out from behind the stairwell, silhouetted by the moonlight. Adrenaline rushed through my veins. I instantly tensed up. The light flipped on.
“Rhys,” he said in a near whisper. Instantly, I relaxed, drinking in the figure that made me feel so safe. Yes, he had coke-bottle glasses and a nerdy posture; but he was like a father to me. “What were you doing out this late? I thought we had a deal.” I bit my lip and sighed.
“I was just at Allie’s,” I mumbled. He pursed his lips.
“You can’t do that anymore,” he bluntly stated. “It’s not safe.” My eyebrows knitted.
“Safe? After all I’ve been through, you think that walking from my next-door-neighbor’s house isn’t safe? And if you’re thinking of that run in with The Smasher, I could have handled it!” I basically shouted. “Finally, I get to live a normal life; but according to you it isn’t safe!” He ran his fingers thorough what hair was on his head and pushed up his glasses. He pulled a chair from the kitchen table.
“You should sit down.” A foreboding feeling settled in my stomach as I slowly lowered myself into the chair.
“Dilyn and Alex were both caught.” My eyes widened as I grasped the chair.
“What!” I shouted. Fear’s icy fingers wrapped itself around my heart. They couldn’t be. For one second, I swear the world stopped turning.
“They still have Dilyn.” I blinked.
My heart sunk as I asked, “What about Alex?” Silence permeated the room. My heart raced. “What about Alex?” I asked again. He bit his lip and fumbled with his shirt.
Finally, he said, “Rhys, I’m sorry—” I cut him off as horror hit me straight in the face.
“They killed him,” I said in a near whisper. “They killed him didn’t they?” He nodded his head slowly.
“They said that he was too dangerous to be kept alive, being a phaser and all,” he murmured. “I’m sorry, Rhys.”
Alex, strong, brave, and loyal, was gone. No more of his crazy hair or silent gray glares. My best friend was dead because he was different and that scared some people. A gaping hole opened up in my heart. Wordlessly, I rose from my chair and headed towards the door.
“You can’t leave,” he said. “They’re hunting for you now. You’re the prize, the top priority on the list.” A smirk flashed across my face.
“Yeah, tell me about it,” I said sarcastically.
“Go to bed.”
“You know I don’t need to.”
“Both of us have risked our lives, scientific standing, and our jobs to protect you.” I sighed, releasing my hand from the doorknob.
“Fine. I’ll be in my room.” And with that, I stomped up the stairs and banged my door shut.
As I laid on my bed, I stared up at the ceiling. How many nights had Alex, Dilyn, and I stared up at the stars from the roof of the dorms? How many nights had we stared in absolute horror at the blank ceiling of the labs? Alex was gone. My head knew it, but it didn’t want to agree to that. My eyes fluttered over to the pictures next to my bed.
Alex’s blonde curls bounced in the breeze and his gray eyes for once flashed with serenity. Dilyn’s long, brown hair fluttered through the air, whacking me in the face. Her blue eyes reflected the colors of the ocean that we all stood ankle deep in. A broad smile had placed itself on my face; and as I looked at the picture, I realized that it had captured one of the first times I had been truly happy.
My eyes strayed to the photo next to it. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the greenery. Leaves upon leaves of the oak tree framed the rickety old tree house at the top. Allie and my heads’ poked out, smiling down to the earth. It had just been taken a few days before, after the craziness of The Smasher had blown over. When I looked at the picture, I noticed something. My expression was the same in both pictures, happy.
But everything had changed. I wasn’t safe anymore. One of us was dead, and the rest would probably soon be. Normalcy wasn’t an option. Neither was running. Not anymore. Pent up anger from the night bubbled up inside of me. A cold chill washed over my body, then suddenly, I felt nothing.
My hands began glowing brightly. Electricity crackled at my fingertips. I felt my anger rush through my arms; a huge stream of electricity streamed out the open window and hit the Lewis’s roof. Horrified, I willed my body to stop the voltage pulse. My heart gave a little skip as I noticed that another gaping hole now existed in their roof.
I glanced back at my desk, which surrounded by stacks of diagrams and formulas. A large metal box filled with vials of chemicals took up half of the desk. A little bottle labeled “raw blue phosphorous” poked out ever so slightly. I sighed.
"Last night I was working with an ingredient I invented, raw blue phosphorous, when the loud bang happened because it was over exposed to oxygen," I explained.
"So that thunder and demolition of my room was due to blue phosphorous?" Allie asked
Half-truth’s only work so much. There was so much I couldn't say, even though I wanted to so much. I glanced back at the mess I just made, then bit my lip. I couldn’t tell them. It would only hurt them, just like it had hurt me. I flopped back onto the bed, glared at the ceiling, and closed my eyes.
Energy continually drained from my body. My lungs gasped for breath as my heart raced like a wild rabbit. The metal restraints bit into my limbs; but at that point, it was hard to care. My muscles ached. As I shifted ever so slightly, the needles in my wrists burned like fire. My vision clouded, then finally blacked out. As I phased in and out of consciousness, my ears picked up phrases of the surrounding conversations.
“He’s just a boy,” murmured one of the scientists.
“This is unheard of!” exclaimed another.
“He’s already produced enough energy to power New York City.”
“This is the answer to all our problems.”
“It’s only a matter of time.”
I shivered, then convulsed once more. Blue electricity sparked through my hands and raced up the wires that were connected to me through needles. A small sigh escaped from my lips as I slumped down once more, nearly wishing for death to release me from that torture.
Electricity ran up through the needles and into the wires. Metal bound me, punctured me, and was slowly killing me. Energy flew out of my body like water running down a stream. Black and white dots began appearing in my vision. The graphs near the two scientists showed a map of the United States. At least half of it was being powered by me. I struggled to take in a single breath. The needles burrowed deeper into my body. More energy left me. I could barely move now.
“Please,” I begged. “Stop. It’s hurting me.” One of the scientists laughed, then left to get more coffee. My vision blacked out, and I was sure that it was for good.
Warm hands ran their fingers through my hair. Each needle was slowly removed from my body with blood oozing from each place. The metal straps were removed from my limbs. I struggled to take a breath.
“Stop,” ordered a voice. A scientist. I started struggling. I heard a sigh.
“Rhys, please stop. We need you to stop.” It was Dilyn. Or was it? The scientists had tricked me plenty of times before. My heart began pounding rapidly.
Alex’s voice broke the silence. “They’re helping us. Stop and take a chance. If you think this is a trap, it’s not like there’s anything worse.”
My eyes fluttered open. Alex’s words from six months ago still rang in my ears. “It’s not like there’s anything worse,” he had said. But he was wrong. He was dead, dead and gone. I bit my lip. And Dilyn would be to if I didn’t act soon.
Just as the sun broke across the horizon, I silently rolled out of bed and stuffed a few items into a backpack. As I slipped out of the side door, I looked back. They had been like parents to me, but they couldn’t be involved. I glanced at the Lewis’s house, smoldering from one of my lightning tirades. Would Allie understand? Would she trust me if I ever made it back? Could I even tell her what happened? Or would it always and forever be just me against the world?