I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

11-Flying Lesson

The next week passed by in a blur, which was something I wasn't expecting. Other than running in the morning and breaking my muscles in the afternoon, I spent the week trying to invent something that would help me escape. After the third day, I had run out of supplies and books, and told Everard as much. He brought me new things without a complaint. I wondered what else he would've brough if I'd asked. By the time the week was over, I could actually lift my wings off the floor, it still required effort, but not as much as before. In the inventing department, I wasn't progressing much. And right now, I was getting impatient. 

I tapped my foot on the floor, impatiently waiting. I was in the gym room, waiting for Everard to show up. Today was the last day of the week, and I hoped that he also meant flying when he said he wanted to know what else I could do. 

"Finally," I muttered when the door opened. 

Except it wasn't Everard who came in. It was the person who I had in a choke hold a week ago. He grinned at me, dimples flashing, and I glared at him. 

"What are you doing here?" I snapped. 

"Sorry to disappoint, but Everard can't come today, so I'm his replacement." 

I grumbled something under my breath. 

"Don't worry," he continued. "I'm a better teacher than him, and today, you'll finally get to fly." 

At that I perked up, but then I thought about how different my wings were then there's and that it was broad daylight outside. 

"Won't people see my wings if we fly out in the open?" 

His smile turned broader. "Don't worry about that." 

I followed him out of the room and to the elevator, he pressed the button for the first floor, and like last time, there was no awful music playing. Unlike Everard, he didn't stay quiet. 

"So, carrots, I never got your name." 

I glared at him for the name calling. My hair was not orange. Far from it. 

"That's because I never gave it to you." 

"I'm Daniel by the way. Now you can call me something other than handsome in your head when you're thinking about me." 

"You wouldn't like what I call you in my head. And it's far from handsome." 

"I'm sure I'll change your mind, eventually," he answered, and pinned me with a stare, his bright green eyes intense. 

I couldn't help it, I flushed and he grinned. The fact that he seemed enticed by what he saw as well didn't help. 

"You have beautiful eyes," he murmured. 

I almost laughed. My eyes were brown, a simple, plain brown that were often mistaken for black. They didn't have specks of gold or light brown in them, there wasn't anything special about them. 

"Your attempt at flattery isn't going to get you anywhere." 

"It wasn't flattery, I was simply stating a fact."

My face colored even more and I moved my attention to the elevator doors. 

"Name's Cerise by the way." 

He laughed. "Does it have anything to do with your hair?" 

So he knew what it meant. I used to always ask papa that question, if he named me cherry in french because of my red hair. Cherry red hair. 

I shrugged in response, and stepped out of the elevator when it finally stopped and the doors opened. I thought that we were going to go to the roof to fly. Curious, I followed him down the halls. 

"Is this where all the soldiers stay?" I asked him. 

He shook his head and let out a small laugh. "Do you really think all five hundred soldiers assigned for the capital live here? There are rooms on the second and third floor for the few who do, the rest is training rooms and offices. Mostly. If you want a tour all you have to do is ask." 

I really wanted a tour, or a map of all the exits and positions of the security cameras. I didn't tell him that though. 

"I thought I wasn't allowed a tour." 

He raised a brow. "You don't strike me as the person to not do something because you're not allowed." 

He was right, I wasn't that type of person. Usually. Twice so far I had tried to see the place at night, but each time Everard caught me before I even left the elevator. I was still wondering how he did it. I definitely didn't have a tracker on me, since I checked-everywhere, and there were no security cameras on the floor or in the elevator. 

"You're right, I'm not, but my attempts and seeing the place have failed. Both times." 

He grinned. "I can help with that." 

Before I could answer, he stopped in front of two doors and opened them. I stared at the large vertical wind tunnel inside. So that's how I was going to learn to fly inside the building. I walked past him and inside. The wind tunnel was huge, at least twenty feet wide and forty feet tall. Daniel smirked at my expression and went to the place where all the controls were, pushing one switch up. Instantly the thing whirred to life, the sound of air whooshing filled the room. 

"They use this to learn to fly?" I had to shout over the noise for him to hear me and moved to where he was standing. 

"To train not to learn to fly," he corrected. "Half of us learn how to fly before we learn how to walk." 

"You should see what this baby can do," he continued on. "The wind speed can go up to almost two hundred kilometers per second. And it can recreate the effects of a storm." 

God, I hoped that wasn't what he was going to make it do now. 

"Great, so what do I do?" 

He pointed to the ladder attached to the glass tunnel. "Climb that up to the landing, then open the doors, seal them shut behind you and jump." 

"That's it?" 

He nodded. "It's like skydiving, the wind blowing up will keep you steady, and then you start flying and I'll turn it off." 

Nothing on my body position when I was flying? Did I keep my arms tucked in? What about my legs? 

"Aren't I supposed to wear some kind of suit, and a helmet?" 

"Now where's the fun in that?" 

"But-" 

He shushed me and steered me to the metal rungs of the ladder. "You'll do fine." 

"I think you're a horrible teacher," I grumbled. 

I grabbed the rungs of the ladder anyway and started climbing up. When I reached the landing I did as he told me, opened the sealed door, and stepped inside. The sound was infinitely louder here, to the point that it was almost deafening. If I did something wrong, there was no way I'd be able to hear any instructions from Daniel. 

I peeked below, the wind blasting in my face and whipping my hair. It was a long drop down. I took a breath, it was now or never. I imagined that I was doing one of my heists, the ones where I jumped from rooftops, except this time I didn't have a rope tied to my waist. I let out the breath and jumped. 

I had to give myself some credit, I didn't curl into a ball and plummet to my death. I had managed to get into a starfish position, face down, the wind strong enough that my eyes stung. I spread out my wings, stretching them to their full width and flapped them once. I moved higher infinitesimally. I flapped then again, stronger and I soared higher. Laughing, I let out a whoop of joy. I hadn't realized how exhilarating this would be. Looking over to Daniel, I saw him flash a thumb up and then made a slashing gesture at his throat. I hoped he meant that he was turning the machine off, and not attempting to kill me. 

A few seconds later, it turned off abruptly. I was expecting him to gradually turn it off giving me enough time to adjust. He did the opposite and my heart lurched in my chest when I was suddenly falling. Frantically, I started flapping my wings, trying to push myself up. But without the wind, I was out of control, spiralling in the tunnel and nearing the glass walls. I tried to rear back and push higher. The opposite happened, I fell down further and slammed into the glass wall headfirst, hard enough that I saw stars then the vents below, coming closer and closer, or rather I was coming closer to them, was the last thing I saw before I blacked out. 

******

I was seriously thinking about maiming Daniel, with a stake or a butcher knife. With great effort, I peeled my eyes open and blinked until the light wasn't blinding. My head throbbed from where it banged the glass. Tentatively, I lifted a hand and softly pressed the spot. I grimaced, yep, there was a bump. 

"How are you feeling? God, please don't do that again, you scared me." 

I turned to see Daniel sitting on the floor beside me. I sighed, we were still in the same room with the wind tunnel. I hoped that didn't mean that I had to try again. 

"How long was I out?" I mumbled. 

"Ten minutes. I think, with that kind of hit, you should've been out longer." 

Well, healing faster was something papa had added to the list of weird, freaky powers. I wondered what else I could heal from, then decided I didn't want to find out. 

"What happened?" 

"I barely had time to turn the thing back on so you didn't fall to the ground. I think you were right, I'm a bad teacher." 

"I'm always right." 

He grinned, then sobered up. "No, seriously, how are you feeling?" 

I sat up, noticing that the pain in my head was significantly less. "I'm fine, really." 

I stood up and looked back to the wind tunnel. Any hesitation I had earlier of trying again faded away. 

"Let's do it again," I told him. 

He laughed and stood up. "Wow, you're determined. I have to give you that." 

"You have way more than that to give me." 

He quirked a brow. "What are you suggesting, Cerise?" 

I flushed and stepped back. "That's not what I meant and you know it." 

He grinned, green eyes dancing with mirth but didn't say anything else. I walked back to the ladder, eager to try again. 

"First, your form was wrong, you need to keep your legs together and body straight until you get used to flying. Second, if you're horizontal, then you can't stay in place, which is what you were trying to do earlier." 

"You didn't think of telling me this before?" 

He winced and rubbed the back of his neck. "Now that you mention it, there are hundreds of things I'm remembering that you should probably know." 

"Great," I mumbled. My enthusiasm was slowly dwindling away. 

Before I could blink, he scooped me in his arms, avoiding my wings and shot up. I let out a yelp and wrapped my arms around his neck. Before I could ask him what he was doing, he landed softly on the platform. I looked down and wondered what was the point of the ladder if they probably just flew up all the time. 

"You can let go of me now, though I'm perfectly fine if you don't want to, I've been told at times that I'm irresistible." 

I rolled my eyes and let go, easing my feet onto the floor. "What's wrong with the ladder?" 

"My way was faster. You'll see, once you learn how to fly, you'll want to do nothing else." 

I didn't doubt that and turned my attention back to the wind tunnel. "So is your second attempt at teaching me going to be that you show me first?" 

He pushed open the doors and closed them after I stepped inside. "Yes." 

Stretching out his yellow- green wings, he grinned. I stared at the breadth of his wings, and was shocked at how huge they were. 

"Wow. What's your wingspan?" 

He grinned. "Eighteen feet," he answered proudly. "You're going to find it that Drakhenae men are very competitive and sensitive when it comes to wingspans." 

I rolled my eyes. "Men are always sensitive and competitive when it comes to body parts." 

His grin turned feral. "I promise you that I have nothing to worry about in that department." 

I groaned. "TMI, I really didn't need to know that and weren't you about to teach me how to fly?" 

"Sorry to stop you from getting a chance to admire me while I fly." 

Before I could snap a retort, he lifted off the floor, beating his wings. The sudden gust of wind ruffled my hair, pulling the last strands from my braid. I didn't care and watched, mesmerized as he flew around the tunnel, powerful wings beating. I wanted to be able to do that. 

"Pay attention, Cerise," he called. 

He started going through the positions, showing me how it was all in the wings. When he went through three positions, he did them all over again, and then made me repeat everything he said. 

"You're a quick study," he said, landing with a soft thud beside me, and then quizzing me. "What's the key to switching positions and going faster?" 

"Rotating your wings slightly, depending on what you want to do." I answered immediately. 

He nodded. "And banking left or right?" 

"Tipping one wing down or the other and leaning in that direction." 

"Great, now show me how you rotate your wings." 

It wasn't exactly 'rotating' but more like tilting slightly, tilt them backward and I would get higher and my body would move from horizontal to vertical, tilt them forward and the opposite would happen. I did as he told me, pleased that I got the rotating part right on the first try. Then again, I still wasn't flying, just moving my wings. 

"Jump," he said finally. "But don't expect to get all the positions in a day." 

I stretched out my wings as far as they would go and took in a deep breath. I was going to get it right, and I would fly.