I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

7- Prey

I realized that he was speaking in French. My language. His accent warbled the words slightly, but it was better than his English. I switched to my first language gladly. 

"I am not one of you." 

His expression was inscrutable. "That's what I'm hoping for." 

How cryptic. Well, whatever, I'd find my answer soon enough. Now I needed to know what he did with the file and flash drive. 

"Can they understand right now?" 

I didn't need to specify who was 'they.' I don't know why I didn't want them to know that he had the file when I was going to be stuck here indefinitely and it didn't make a difference whether they told the Commander and Everard ended up in trouble. 

"No." 

Great. "Where's the file?" 

He tilted his head to the side as if my question humored him. If my hands weren't numb, I'd punch him. In the eye. Or his nose, it was too straight anyway. 

"Why would I tell you?" 

"Why not?" 

"Give me a reason to trust you, and I will." 

I raised my brow. "I don't want your trust, I want to know where you have the file." 

He scoffed and I glared at him. What part of this was funny? He stood up and walked away. 

"Well, you're getting neither." 

I sighed. At least they weren't making me one of them, yet. They probably would when they realized that the scars on my back were just that. Scars. From a pervert. Not missing wings. 

I turned to the sister doctors. At least I assumed that they were doctors. 

"Did you disagree with him because you didn't think I had wings?" 

She shook her head. "No, because if you do, it's going to hurt like hell." 

"When?" 

"In a few hours." 

At least I'd get a long time to brace myself for it. Maybe I'd fall asleep and stay unconscious through it all. Or best yet, whatever Everard was assuming was wrong and I'd be completely fine. Somehow, I doubted that. 

I watched them return everything they had pulled out before and come back with ten syringes. Ten of the same thing. Even I knew that was too much. One after the other, they stuck them in my arm and emptied them. All ten of them. 

Then they left. I didn't know how long I stayed there, staring at the wall in front of me. The clock read six thirty. Was it really just a day ago that I was in the airport, on my way here? When my life was perfect? Eventually, I drifted off into a fitful sleep. 

*******

I awoke with my back on fire. The pain was everywhere, stretching from the spots beneath my shoulder blades to my shoulders and arms, then lower to my legs. 

I remembered when I was five and I fell from a three story building. I had landed on my side, and banged my head on the floor. By all accounts, I should've had a concussion. I remembered being in pain, but the pain itself I forgot. That's the thing about pain, you forget it after a while. Every time you get a blaring headache, it always hurts during the pain and vomiting and pounding skull. Sometimes you'd be willing to give your most prized possession for the pain to go away. But when you get better, you forget. I wondered if I'd ever forget this.

Right now, I was in torture, with pain so acute I wanted someone to end me. It only got worse. I was no longer numb everywhere, but moving didn't help. If anything, I wanted to be numb right now. 

It was as if the bones in my back were breaking and mending over and over, and the agony traveled all the way to my skull, the pressure building behind my eyes and sending prin picks of white hot pain everywhere. And then the skin in my back began to tear. This I knew wasn't an illusion from the pain, because something wet dripped down my back and soaked the sheets. Black spots danced in my vision, but the reprieve of passing out never came. 

The tearing stretched, the pain growing more and more as I felt the bones in my back shift, making way for something that pierced my skin and continued to stretch. I clawed at the sheets, blinking rapidly to clear the blur away. My throat hurt from screaming so much. I wanted pain meds. A lot of them. Why the hell didn't they give them to me? 

I stumbled off the bed, falling to the floor, but the pain from that was nothing compared to what was happening to my back. From the level of how much I was screaming I was probably going to lose my voice for a week. I looked around the dimly lit room through blurry eyes, for what, I didn't know. But I knew the pain was messing my brain when the shadows moved. They pulsed and writhed as if they were living things. God, I was hallucinating. 

There had to be something in the cabinets for the pain. It was impossible to think, to move. To do anything but wait for the pain to cease. But I wasn't patient, and the painkillers could be right there, a few feet away from me. I crawled towards it, trying not to vomit. I didn't know for how long I crawled, shuddering from the pain and screaming until my voice gave out as the wings on my back continued to grow, stretching and filling, stretching and filling. 

When I got close enough, I pulled open the handles, barely making it out with my blurry vision. Inside there were rows of bottles and bottles. At least I thought they were bottles, it was hard to tell. I picked one up, hands shaking so hard I dropped it. It fell to the floor and broke. I tried again. And again. I was a shaking, shuddering, whimpering sack of limbs that couldn't even hold a bottle. I still broke them anyway. 

Eventually, my wings stopped growing, and the sharp lessened slightly to throb. It was strange, having new limbs that I could feel. They were heavy too, a weight dragging me down. The skin that was moments or hours ago tearing was sore now and at the slightest movement I cried out. I hated this. I hated it so much. 

I thought that I heard the door bang open. It was hard to hear anything over the pounding in my ears. Hands gripped my shoulders and pulled me away from the mess and broken glass. The movement pulled at my wings and the now tender skin of my back. I blinked and looked up. And blinked again. It didn't help my vision. I saw blurred features and sandy brown hair. Great. It was Everard. Where the hell was he before? His mouth was moving, but I couldn't hear him over the ringing in my ears. I tried glaring at him. That only made me feel nauseous. 

Why? I tried to say. My throat wasn't working. He stood up and moved away. When he came back, he pressed something cold and smooth to my mouth and tilted my head back. I drank whatever was in it greedily until there was no more. I think it was water. At least it tasted like it and helped a lot. My vision cleared and I was finally able to swallow without convulsing. This time I managed to glare at him just fine, and ignored his sleep mussed hair and the fact that his shirt was inside-out. 

"Do you people not know what pain medications are?" I rasped. 

"They mess up with the regrowth process." 

Of course they did. "Well I was one of you to begin with, but I don't expect a welcome back party." 

If I was going to have the wings, where were the scales along my spine and cheekbones? When I found out that I did in fact have wings, I was kind of looking forward to the shimmery scales. 

He shook his head. "You're not one of us." He nodded to my wings. "Look at them." 

I looked down at my wings, wincing when the movement hurt. But the stab of pain was forgotten when I got a good look at them. They were covered in feathers.