IoM: Before the Kalends_Endé 3

…Speaking of Human…

):::( Geo’crys Sam’ses Kai’oi ’’po’’ AHT-KWAB ):::( is three days old. He can’t speak, he won’t eat, and even worse, he looks human. His hair is black and wavy and his eyes are brown with flecks of red and green. His skin is a human peach-flesh tone. His AHT-KWAB markings are on his back, like branded scars. To human eyes he looks like he was cruelly branded, but he was born that way. Eka saw it for herself. Her vision cleared when they pulled Geocrys out of her torn-open abdomen. She saw his backside first: bum, scar-like markings, and all.

Eka still looks human. Tayla and other gene engineers are observing and testing her around the clock, trying to discover why Eka isn’t Zonian outwardly anymore. Now her eternal organs are shifting. They are not changing into human organs, but evolving into a hybrid form of Zonian and Human, like that of her son.

Geocrys is human on the outside, but mostly Zonian on the inside. His blood is purple like any other Zonian. The gene engineers are uncertain whether or not he will age normally. They suspect he will due to his gestation period inside of Eka. If her body could have handled it, he would have stayed in her for 24 months, but the odds of Eka’s survival were slim.

Alikah has forbidden Eka from linking with the colony. She has a block band around her head and she’s fine with it. Eka looks human, so she might as well act it. Her ceremony to unite with Samses has been put on hold, until she can look the part of a Zonian hul’dah, to match her Zonian gey’foi.

Eka tried to link with Geocrys before the block band was put on her. His mind is an impenetrable fortress, like a human mind. The only way Eka connects with him is through his emotions. She can feel when he’s frustrated, tired, sad, joyful, and angry. With the block band on she can’t feel his emotions, but his facial expressions are so human that she can read how he feels. She knows the face when he’s hungry, but he won’t eat anything that they give her for him.

The sun is setting and Eka is holding a sleeping Geocrys in her arms. Earlier this morning he was in the Tri’oi’ta (medical bay). He wouldn’t eat there, so they released him back to his mother. She has tried all afternoon to get him to eat any type of food within the host, but he shakes his head and moans at all of it.

Physically, all findings indicate that he’s healthy, but if he doesn’t eat soon his health will turn for the worse.

On top of everything going on with the baby, Eka doesn’t know where her sister is or if she’s still alive. She also misses Brad, and she feels like an outcast among her Zonian community.

Her door rolls open and Tayla enters.

“We have figured why you can’t phase back to Zonian. It is strictly psychosomatic. You feel and think you’re human, therefore your body is imitating how you mentally feel. There’s simply no other explanation.”

“Why is he human-like?”

“Because of you,” Tayla says.

She explains that Eka psychosomatically willed Geocrys to come out human. Because the Zonians merged Amalli genes into their genetic code eight decades ago, Geocrys’ shape shifting DNA followed the orders of Eka’s psychosomatic, human-like body. Tayla theorizes Geocrys will look Zonian when Eka phases back herself.

Eka knows Tayla is lying, but she doesn’t understand why. 

“Now that we know the problem, we can tell Alikah and see how he wants to deal with this matter.”

Alikah is the reason why Tayla is lying. Telling Alikah the truth would probably get her banished forever, but Eka has the right to know.

“I don’t believe you,” Eka says.

Alikah enters with an arch of guards around him. No one is speaking, but Eka knows her father and Tayla are communicating by link. Alikah cautiously walks up to Eka. The closer he gets, the more restless Geocrys becomes. Alikah crouches to meet Eka at eye level in her reclining chair. Her father hasn’t knelt to her level like this since she was a child. He picks Geocrys up and he begins to cry. An unarmed guard rushes to Alikah’s side and takes Geocrys from him. The guard walks over to Tayla and hands Geocrys to her.

Alikah presses the gah’ul rock pendant in the middle of the block band. The block band dissolves into purple mist and the pendant falls into Eka’s lap. Alikah takes Eka’s head in his hands. He closes his deep, forest green eyes and instantly Eka’s mind is flooded with centuries of past Alikah memories. She can’t process them all at once. Her body begins to tremor and the blood flow in her head pulses to the rhythm of her heart. Alikah begins to tremble and he strains to keep his crouching position. Eka passes out, and Alikah takes a deep breath as he releases her head. Two guards race to his side and try to help him to his feet, but he refuses them. He collapses back on his rear but breaks the fall with his arms. He’s out of breath. His skin is a pale pastel yellow instead of its normally vibrant sunflower yellow. He sits forward and folds his legs into his hand clasped arms. He takes another deep breath and then exhales slowly. He supports himself with his arms on the floor as he stands to his feet. Then he gently lifts his upper body.

Eka opens her eyes. Her brown human irises are gone; her eyes are Zonian blood red. Her human skin phases away, restoring itself  to her original  Zonian ash-black skin. Her human hair sheds and is replaced by her long, leafy, blood red hair. Eka covers her face with her hands. She’s in shock! How long will it last? Who cares! She’s Zonian again and she has her father to thank for that.

Eka surge links to her father, (:: Bai’ tai Al-igh’ka ::).

Her father bows to Eka as he surge links back, (:: Toh’voi ‘’ Al-igh’ka ::).      

He made her Alikah. Eka rules as the head of the colony now.

The entire colony surge links to Eka, :(:][:): Ei’ca Al-igh’ka ‘’ Ohk Oi’oph’toh :: Tri’gun’da De’oi’she =:= AHT-KWAB ‘’ Boi’coi’voi’ mah’ stahs ‘’ Ei’ca Al-igh’ka:(:][:):

They all approve of and welcome her. She can sense every Zonian within the host. She links with the whole colony to bless them for honoring her, assuring them that she will not let them down. She unlinks with the colony, except for Tayla, her father, and Samses. 

She summons Samses to her chamber. 

…The Secret…

Zoi’Kai is the home planet of the Zonians, which they left centuries ago. The Zenty are from Zoi’Kai as well, and the Zenty are the greatest enemy of Eka’s people. The Zenty leave a path of destruction wherever they go. Eka is amazed how organisms the size of the top nub of her finger are the deadliest monsters in her galaxy.  They are possibly the deadliest in the whole universe. 

The Zenty aren’t like the Zonians. They can survive on any planet with any element based life form. The Zonians have to manipulate their genes to adapt to whatever atmosphere they live in.  Thanks to the Amalli of planet Traosity, the Zonians have to manipulate their genes less now. Amalli genes allow Zonians to shift into the life forms of foreign planets as well as survive within the atmosphere of any planet where life exists.

Now, however, the Amalli genes, which were the greatest strength of the Zonians, are turning into their greatest weakness. Each new generation of Zonians adapting to the Earth’s atmosphere are becoming more human and less Zonian. The Amalli genes can’t be extracted from anyone, because without the Amalli genes, any Zonian will die within seconds on Earth.

Tayla’s Tri’oi’ta is filled with ill women. They all experience the same symptoms. Pulsing migraines, pulsating sharp pain from the brainstem to the lower lumbar, weak legs, and constant agony. These are the exact symptoms Eka had when she arrived home and throughout her child bearing. Tayla’s only current solution is sedating the ill women, like she sedated Eka for thirteen months.

Tayla theorizes the women are ill because shape-shifting is straining their bodies, as they are enduring what Tayla calls biogenetic succession. Like ecological succession, where the environments of any planet naturally change over a period of time, the bodies of Zonian women are genetically changing their makeup in a gradual, but painful process. Tayla suspects men will soon be affected by biogenetic succession also. Women are experiencing biogenetic succession first, because their bodies are preparing for mating and breeding. She isn’t certain if older generations of Zonians will experience this biogenetic succession, but she knows Eka’s generation will. The next generation of Zonians will be born as hybrids. They won’t need genetic engineering like Eka’s generation and the generations before hers.

Samses finally arrives. He’s quick to relieve Tayla by taking Geocrys in his arms. Samses wants to know what’s going on. Eka forgot that now that she’s Alikah, she can link with anyone. However, out of reverence for the Alikah, others can only surge link with her. (Once she’s united with Samses, he’ll be the only Zonian, beside her children, to link with her.) She doesn’t fully understand yet, but she thinks while she is linked to them and in tune with their every thought, they are still not linked with her unless she allows them. Eventually Eka will learn how to be a proper Alikah.

She commanded Samses to go undercover and extract her sister from the field. Eka can sense Samses doesn’t want to go, but he can’t refuse her command. He places Geocrys in Eka’s hands and leaves to prepare for his mission.

Eka unlinks with the three of them so they can carry out their duties in peace. Eka knows why Geocrys looks the way he does. Partly because of the biogenetic succession Eka experienced while she carried him, but also because Samses isn’t his father. 

Geocrys fell asleep in Eka’s arms. She lets him rest in her sleeping pod, green goo and all, and leaves him in her chamber. She sets out to visit with Omo, Tayla’s gey’foi, and the oldest Zonian elder.

…Omo’s Prophecy…

She visits with (:: Oh’moi =:= AHT-AHL’ES’TAHT ‘’ Zek-igh’tah’’,,oi’oi ::) or as humans would say, “Omo of the Alastat Clan, roughly 557 years old.” He is sitting in his reclining chair, reading archives from the host database. He welcomes the new Alikah in when he senses her. Alikahs aren’t all powerful. Each of them, especially a young one such as Eka, has to answer to an elder. Omo is the elder Alikah Eka answers to.

He is happy to see her, pleased that the former Alikah, Armeus, took his advice and made Eka his successor no matter what. The fate of the Zonians is brighter for the choice.

Omo comes from a long line of oracles, seers or prophets, whichever human word suits them best. The Alastat Clan is rumored to be descendants of divinity. That is why they have visions of the future. Zonians wonder why the Alastat Clan isn’t the royal bloodline like the Kwab Clan is.

“Because we are not as strong as Kwab,” Omo says in human tongue.

Eka doesn’t understand why he’s using tongue to communicate with Eka and not links.

“Trust me. How are you adjusting to your new role?”

“Fine.”

Omo smiles. He has orangish yellow skin with blotches of red-orange, very much like the fuzzy skin of a peach. His eyes and hair are pure white. His hair is long and loopy. When he stands up, it’s probably down to his lower back. Omo’s clan markings are on his face. His glistening, white markings remind Eka of tree roots. There is no pattern or symmetry in them.

“Yes, I knew Geocrys would be gifted. And no, you won’t die and neither will the others,” Omo says. “Have a seat.”

The flooring behind Eka pools into a green liquid, out of which rises a simple chair. It becomes solid, and Eka sits.

A panel of visuals serve as a window between Eka and Omo. She’s curious as to what he’s looking at. She knows whatever it is belongs to the host database, because the host is linking with Alikah Eka, and telling her the archives are being searched. Out of respect for Omo, Eka doesn’t ask the host for specific details.

“It’s your lineage, so I can show you why Kwab is greater than Alastat.”

Eka doesn’t want to learn about her lineage right now. She isn’t sure what she wants. She’s not quite sure why she’s here.

“You will see Brad again.” Omo says.

Omo knows about Brad?

“Your destiny is intertwined with his. Destiny can change directions but it can’t change components.”

So Eka is destined to remain Alikah, she’s destined to unite with Samses, and she’s destined to die on Earth?

“Yes, maybe, and maybe… Are you foolish Alikah?”

“What do you mean Omo?”

“If Samses leaves he will die with your sister. Geocrys can’t be without a father.”

“My sister will die on her mission?”

Omo sighs as the visuals turn into mist and fade away. “I don’t know. I can only prophesy over those within the host. Samses, on his current path, will end as I told you. His fate is your choice Alikah. Will Samses live or will he die?”

Eka could care less about Samses. But Geocrys means everything to her now. Chloe would be crushed if Sam died. An Alikah does need a gey’foi, it is only proper. Eka sends a surge link, ordering Samses not to go.

“Wise choice Alikah… Hmm… I see a future as great as Alikah Ekmya for you. You will be the mother of nations on the new Zoi’Kai. Your mother would be proud of you. :<<: Ende Oi’ohp’toh :>>: or as the humans would say, fear not, hope is never lost,” Omo says.

“That’s interesting,” Omo comments, softly sighing.

“What?”

“Can’t you sense her? Your sister is home.”

…Emya is Back with Gifts…

:(:][:): Ei’mi’ah Hoi’moi’toh :(:][:):, the colony surge links to Emya. Eka links to her sister and summons her to Omo’s chamber. Emya appears, still in human form as the big-busted redhead known as Mya. Eka’s chair rotates to face Emya. She smells; she spent weeks un-bathed and her clothes are raggedy, ripped and torn in various places.

Emya bows to Eka as she says, “Hello Alikah.”

Eka finds it weird that her sister has to respect her now. Emya is 67 years older than her. That’s why Eka came to see Omo! She wants to know why she is destined to be Alikah and not Emya.

Omo laughs.

“What is it Omo?” Eka asks.

“You’ll see… in time.” He says.

“Wait til you see what I brought you,” Emya says. “It’s waiting for you in the Gun’de’ca (prisoner bay) anytime you want to see it,” Emya says with her hands on her hips.

“What is it?”

“Please Alikah; don’t allow me to ruin the surprise.”

Eka excuses herself from Omo’s chambers and Emya, still in human form, leads her to the gift Emya claims to have captured. Eka hasn’t been to the Gun’de’ca before. She isn’t even enjoying the trip down, so she can hardly imagine she’ll enjoy the actual Gun’de’ca. 

First Emya led Eka to the ::(Ftu-igh’gai’dai’soi’ftu’ah):: (travel bay). The floor they stood on became mushy like mud, and vines emerged, wrapping Eka and Emya into snug cocoons. Then, like free falling from a cliff into rushing water, Eka and Emya dropped down hundreds of miles below the ground. Once the vines unraveled to set the ladies free, they absorbed back  into the walls of the host. Emya led the way down a dark tunnel. They walked quite a while and Eka grew tired. She expected her sister to say, “You’re such a Lush” or “You lazy human wannabe,” but Emya said nothing.

Instead, her sister asks, “Are you ready Alikah?”

Eka says yes.

A light burst on and shined over a human, bound to a chair by thorny vines. The human was biting down on the vines wrapped around his face. Blood pooled down his chin. The crown of thorns on his head made blood ooze down around it. The human was wearing a gray shirt and pants, an outfit spritized with his blood. 

How is this human a gift?

“Take a closer look at him Alikah.”

The human has black wavy hair, pale skin, and he wears black garments on his feet (shoes). He isn’t a human from their area. Where did he come from?

“The dome Alikah, but please, take a closer look.”

Eka notices she can’t sense how the human is feeling. She’s grateful, considering the human must be in unimaginable pain, but she should be able to feel how he feels. The human looks directly into Eka’s eyes from afar. She can understand he’s afraid and in agony. Wait, his blues eyes look exactly like Brad’s. This human looks like Brad, but he can’t be him if he’s from the dome.

“Permission to gloat Alikah?” Emya ask.

Eka grants it.

“Thank you Alikah! This is what I went for! Some real intel and not some crap about human drones. That’s Brad Leigh 1-02-01 and he’s a perfect genetic replica of your Jak,” Emya exclaims. She quickly realizes her indecency about calling Brad a Jak and corrects herself. “An exact replica of the Brad you know.”

She further explains that all the humans, in every dome city across the globe, are genetic replicas. They are created from the human DNA collected by the machines. When the humans finish growing, they are made into bionic super-humans. Their limbs are replaced with mechanical ones and devices are implanted in their brains. Bionics are either laborers, soldiers, or dome security guards. The human replicas are closely watched until they grow up, but bionics don’t look out for them. Instead they are watched by a select group of human replicas that are brainwashed to think they are survivors of doomsday. 

“In fact, all the replicas recall the day we arrived differently. Their world wasn’t in a state of chaos to them. Life was normal, according to how human life was three decades ago.”

What do machines want with human replicas? Wouldn’t they just make more machines?

“I don’t understand either Alikah. And look at this one.”

Another light flashes on. It shines over another human twenty feet away from fake Brad. Eka can barely make out whether the human is male or female. It is mummified in thorny vines. Only a dark space, where the eyes are, is open. Eka wonders  why that human is bound so inhumanely.

“That’s Sophia James 923-01-01, a very popular name apparently.”

The first number represents the number of people known by that human name; for example, there are 923 human replicas with the same name but different DNA. The second number represents which batch of replicas the human was made from, and the third number represents the order in which the human was replicated.

“I think, Alikah, we should perform memory extractions.”

“Then they won’t know who they are.”

Aren’t you curious to know what they have been brainwashed to believe?”

Eka grants permission.

Both the humans are reeled into darkness. The lights fade out. Eka can hear the vines of the host thrash around, unraveling and re-raveling as it absorbs them into its inner workings. It is transporting the humans to the Tri’oi’ta for memory extraction.

:)(: Paart Three

…Brad Leigh 1-02-01…

Brad barely remembers the day the sky turned purple and his life morphed into a new reality. On that day, bombs poisoned the environment all over the planet. Beings from another world came for a visit. Earth entered a realm of chaos; for humanity, it was the beginning of the end.

Five-year-old Brad Leigh was playing in his kindergarten class. It was free time and he was a big scary monster out to destroy a city made of blocks. He kicked the tallest building. It came tumbling down. He kicked and he kicked, causing blocks to fall and fly in every direction. One flew so far it collided with a little girl’s forehead. This little girl was Chloe.

Her face wrinkled up; tears streamed down her face and cries of pain poured out of her mouth. Brad feared he’d be in trouble with his teacher. He quickly gathered the blocks and brushed them under the rug. Hoping he wouldn’t get caught, he grabbed his Tech-Book and pretended to be engaged in a story.

The teacher went to Chloe and tended to her needs. Streaming lights shimmered from the lens of the teacher’s left eye. This was protocol in any situation in which a child might be hurt. The scan revealed Chloe was not seriously injured. She only suffered from an external cut, made by the sharp corner of a block. Chloe pointed at the culprit so the teacher could carry out proper discipline.

The teacher made her way over to Brad. He seemed genuinely engaged in the story he was reading. The teacher kneeled to Brad’s level to get his attention.

“Brad, the other children say you were playing with blocks. Somehow, a block hit Chloe in the head. You were the only one playing with blocks. Did you accidentally hit Chloe in the head?”

Brad’s heart rate sped up. He didn’t know what to say. The teacher’s sensor detected an increased heart rate and elevated body temperature. She knew he was hiding something.

Brad nervously spat out the words faster than a speeding go-cart. His words fused together, sounding like gibberish but the teacher understood what he said.

 “I dunno Miss Latewood. I sat here the whole time reading Dr. Seuss. Sorry I dunno whatcha talkin’ ’bout Miss Latewood!” 

The teacher looked down at the Tech-Book. All she could see was the cover of a book about the protective superhero, the Redeemer with her human eyes. However, her sensors indicated the only uploaded story on it was Little Red Riding Hood

“Brad, you know lying is wrong. Is it not?”

“Yeah Miss Latewood,” he said, pressing his Tech-Book to his chest.

“If you go over to Chloe and apologize, you will go unpunished.”

Brad began to cry.

“It’s simple Brad, walk over and apologize and you’re forgiven.”

Huffing and puffing, pouting his lip he whimpered, “I-I-I…n-n-n-know Miss Latewood…I-I-I…j-just… f-feel…some-ting bad is…g-going t-t-to ha-happen…”

“Nothing bad will happen. Go apologize to Chloe.”

Brad placed his Tech-Book in his bag and then slowly rose to his feet. He wiped the tears from his eyes and rubbed his nose, trying to stop the sniffles. He took a deep breath and then walked over to Chloe. Standing face to face with her, he apologized.

 “I’m sorry Chloe for accident-al-ly hit-t-ting you in-n-n…the head…”

Kindly she answered, “Apology,” then angrily she yelled, “Not accepted!” 

As hard as she could, she stomped on his foot. “HOW DOES IT FEEL?” She screamed louder and angrier at Brad.

The teacher was on her way to correct the situation when she froze like a statue. The lights flickered on and off. The alarms went off, making the children cover their ears from the shrieking noise. Steel plated and lead-lined armored shields covered the windows and doors. Nothing was getting in or out. 

An extremely loud whistling noise crept closer and closer from above, and an explosion rattled through the children’s ears. The ground shook ferociously, causing the kids to collapse to the ground.

Brad looked over at the teacher; even in the midst of the quake she did not budge. She hadn’t even fallen to the ground. He saw her eyes flash from blue to deep red, to blue to red again. Then her eyes stalled to a gray-ish purple and that’s the way they remained until the shaking stopped. 

Time seemed to no longer exist to the bunch of five-year-olds. They grew hungry, thirsty, and scared. 

To them all had ended. A chill slithered through the air. The children snuggled close to anyone their grip latched onto. Ironically, Chloe clinched to Brad, wrapping her arms around him, needing his embrace. 

Shivering she whispered, “I’m scared.” 

Brad embraced Chloe and said the only thing he could. “Me too…” 

They rested their heads against each other and fell asleep.

Brad and Chloe woke up when their eyes started to burn. The smoke in the room made it hard to breathe. The children wailed in fear but their cries were cut short by deep, throaty coughs. Their minds became fuzzy, their vision bleary, and the pulse of their hearts thudded in their ears. Each mind slipped unconscious. 

BRAD WOKE UP encased in a gelatinous sack of green goop. He wanted to be afraid, every thought in his mind was enough to trigger fear, but yet it was impossible, he felt completely at peace. He saw two tall and bleary yellow figures with blue hair observing him from the outside. He didn’t know where he was and couldn’t explain it, but he felt different. Moments later his eyes grew heavy and he fell into a deep sleep.

BRAD was ripped out of his sleep when he felt harsh, brisk air tingle on his skin. A soldier-like man was wrapping him in a blanket. Brad’s ears hummed. He couldn’t clearly hear anything. By Brad’s perception, the man’s lips moved in slow motion. He felt groggy and wanted to go back to sleep. 

Bright, red lights were flashing. Smoke and fire danced around them, wherever they were. There were other boys around Brad’s age getting wrapped in blankets with soldiers talking to each of them. Each boy was dripping with green goop like Brad. The floor felt like calla-lily petals, but everything was dark gray with patches of paisley green. The walls were made of vines and caverned rock. Brad tried to keep his eyes open, but weariness overcame him. He collapsed to the floor in another deep sleep.

A GENTLE, SOOTHING VOICE woke Brad up in a solid white room. A nurse in all white, as old as his father, looked down at Brad. She smiled and said, “You are finally up.”

“Where am I?” Brad asked, startled by the sound of his voice. He almost sounded like his much older brother Stan.

Brad cautiously sat up and examined his hands. They even looked like Stan’s big, manly hands. Brad demanded to see a mirror! The nurse brought him a blue handled, elongated, oval shaped mirror. Brad’s reflection was about 11 years older than he remembered.

The nurse explained to him that 11 years ago, there was an alien invasion and he was just rescued from the aliens. They were conducting inhumane experiments on him, but he no longer had to suffer. He was free from alien torture.

His parents walked in, Michael and Felicia Leigh, who came to take him home. They missed him and couldn’t wait to share their lives with him again.

THE NEW WORLD was different than Brad remembered. He had never lived in the city.  Now here he was, with his family, bubbled in by a crystal clear dome. At the center of the city was the highest skyscraper Brad had ever seen. The pointed tip appeared to touch the peak of the dome. They were surrounded by purple skies and a desolate wasteland. For one hour a day, there were no false blue skies or pretty green scenery to shield them from the cold, harsh reality. It was a reminder of the danger of war and the threat of aliens.

Brad lived in a two bedroom apartment with his parents. It had all white walls, white carpet, and white furniture. The plates, glasses, and eating utensils were clear with a light-weight, glass texture. There was one window in every room. They had various clothing styles, but every article of clothing was white.

Everyday had the same schedule. Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to class, exercise, play chess with classmates, go to class, eat lunch in the cafeteria, go for a walk, go to class, play Ultimate Frisbee, go to class, go home, do chores, eat dinner with the family, spend family time together, and then go to bed. Stan and Emmy would come over for dinner with their daughter, 4-year-old Leah. Brad likes Emmy. She’s been with Stan since as long as he can remember. She has beautiful, angelic brown eyes.

Brad lived this way for four months. He met Mya at lunch and within hours he was running away. He heard about a place where the humans were free to whatever they wanted. There were real trees, a real blue sky, and running water, like a river or a creek. He could lie on real, soft, plush grass. He would be able to smell fresh flowers in a meadow. He couldn’t explain it if anyone asked, but he naturally trusted Mya. He knew going with her that everything would be fine.

But that wasn’t true. Nearly outside the dome city, the guards found them and they were surrounded. They were caught and he didn’t know what happened to Mya, but he was locked in a windowless and doorless white 8 X 10 cell. He had a six foot white cot to sleep on and a hole, shaped like a rounded sink, to use for a toilet. He couldn’t even remember how he ended up in the cell. He had no recollection of getting cuffed and transported into the cell. He just remembered getting caught.

At first, he counted the days he was in there. When he got to what he guessed was 128 days, he stopped. Eventually he was rescued by Mya. She had someone with her, a beautiful girl he had never seen. She had black hair with tight curls, caramel skin, full doll lips, and hazel green eyes. He wanted to know her name, but they didn’t have time to talk.

The alarm sounded and red lights were flashing. Brad can’t remember how Mya got him out, but he does remember running after her. He ran for freedom. He didn’t care where they went. He just didn’t want to end up back in a cell or worse, dead.

Along the way, they caught up with Thatcher and Emma. Brad remembered them from a couple of his classes.

Then…

Then…

Brad can’t remember what happened next.

 …

Indescribable pain inflamed Brad’s body. Pain that goes beyond a scale of ten and into a level of hell. He’s somewhere dark, damp, and cold, like a cave. He regrets running away. He wants to go home. He would give anything to see his family again or to go back to his boring, day after day routine.

A bright, blinding light burst on, and Brad’s agonizing pain began to sting like salt was rubbed in an open wound. He screams from pain as it intensifies. If only Brad were at home.  


*Edited by Aly Fry

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