I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

20-Promises and Sides

Dedicated to SaraBJon for her wonderful support! 

That night, I had a mission for myself. Not escaping, I wasn't foolish enough to do that when getting caught would mean Everard would probably keep me under lock and key and my chances of escaping would be zero. Instead, I took the elevator to the medical floor. It was late enough that the sisters shouldn't be there, but I hoped it wasn't too late. 

When I arrived, the rooms were dark, except for one. So it wasn't too late at night after all. I stepped closer, and hesitated before knocking. Was this a bad idea? Would I only make a scene and not be of any help at all? 

I decided it was better than nothing and knocked on the door. 

"Now you want to come, Michael?!" 

Michael again. He didn't pronounce it like Myke-al, the way I was used to, but as Mika-eel. 

I turned the knob and stepped inside, offering a small smile.

Inside, the room resembled a hospital room, white walls, one twin size bed in the center, two small bedside tables on either side of it, with a machine reading his vitals and another dripping liquid into his veins. The tables were crammed with books, and the one person in the room, the boy from the other day, was under the covers, a book in his hand and glasses on his nose. The glasses made his eyes seem larger, way larger. I assumed they were reading glasses since he wasn't wearing them the last time I saw him. He barely looked like he was nine and he already wore reading glasses? For the hundredth time, I wondered exactly what they were doing to him and why. He interrupted my thoughts when he spoke. 

"Oh, you're not Michael, you're that lady they've been experimenting on too. What did they do to make your wings like that? Actually, you don't have to tell me, that was rude of me to ask. I think it's really cool anyway. Is that the only thing they changed about you? What about the scales on your face? What happened to tho-" 

"Woah, one question at a time." I laughed and went to stand at the foot of the bed.

I had thought that it would be awkward coming here, and that he would see it as weird, but his curiosity eased my nervousness. 

He settled with, "Can I touch your wings?" 

I walked over to him, and stretched out my right wing, letting him touch the tips. He stroked them, rapt, and a look of curiosity was on his face. He started raising the feathers, looking under them. 

"How did they do that?" he breathed. "It's so cool and they're so soft." His eyes were like to saucers. "Wow." 

I laughed again and tucked my wing back in. "I don't know how it was done." 

I wanted to ask him what they were doing to him. What he knew, why he couldn't see his brother. More than that though, I had come to see whether it was a good idea to bring him along when we were escaping. 

"How old are you?" I asked instead. 

He grinned, a few crooked teeth flashing. "I'll be twelve in twenty four months from next week." 

I was really starting to like this kid. My grin faded when he took off his glasses and I was struck again by how sickly he looked. Large, sunken eyes in a gaunt face, collarbones sticking out, and skin a sickly pallor. The tube fitted in his arm seemed alien, even menacing, and his skin was so pale that I could see where the metal ended in his skin. His own smile faded when he tracked my gaze. 

"Why are they keeping you here?" 

"They said they're trying to make me stronger," he whispered, his eyes welled up with tears. "But they hurt me. I miss Michael. He used to be so much fun." 

He started blinking rapidly, and my heart broke for him. He was just a child, not even ten yet and they made him into a lab experiment. I did the one thing I could think of and wrapped my arms around him. He sobbed in my shirt for a while and I awkwardly rubbed his back, wondering what to say. It was going to be alright? We both knew that wasn't true. 

He pulled back and rubbed his eyes. "Sorry about ruining your shirt," he mumbled. 

"It's not ruined," I assured him. 

"Are you my friend now? Can you please be my friend and come often? It gets so lonely." 

I nodded, wordlessly, my throat tight. 

"I think Michael would like you." 

I hoped so, because I had the feeling that he worshipped his older brother. I realized that I still didn't know his name and asked him. 

"Easton," he replied. "I don't like it, people never pronounce it right, and it's not even that hard. It also makes my initials E.E and that's boring. What's yours?" 

"Cerise." 

He struggled to pronounce it and it took awhile for him to get it. Eventually I told him it was fine if he pronounced it the English way instead. 

After that, I got the feeling that he didn't want me to leave just yet, and that he didn't want to be alone. So I stayed, and he told me about his favorite books, bombarded me with questions, and taught me how to play a game. We played until he fell asleep. He was slumped in an awkward angle, his face on the paper we were playing on and his body folded in itself like a marionette. Tentatively, I reached over and pushed him back against the bed into a comfortable position and pulled the covers to his chin. I couldn't shake the feeling that I saw him from before, something that had been bothering me since I saw him that day after the blood tests. Eventually, I shrugged the thought off, promising that I wouldn't leave here without him. 

*******

By the time I made it back to the room, it was twelve at night, and I didn't bother turning on the lights or taking off my shoes. I collapsed on the bed, and grunted. I did not land on the soft, plush bed. For a moment, I thought that I landed on the floor, but the floor definitely didn't have a chest and arms that wrapped around me. I took a breath, and that scent that only belonged to one person filled my senses. It wasn't Daniel's scent. 

"What are you doing here?" I hissed at Everard, trying to get off him, but his arms were like bands of steel, keeping me firmly in place. 

"It is my bed," he replied humorously. 

He had a point. Damn him. "Okay then, why are you here?" 

"Because I'm tired and this is way more comfortable than the couch."

For a split second, I wanted to ask, the bed or me being on top of him? But that was something I would've asked before. Before I found out he was all lies and secrets. 

"I'm serious." 

"So am I, sweetheart."

"Everard."

He sighed. "I like the way you say my name."

"Answer the question."

"Well, I can't leave you alone now at night can I? The last time I did that you tried to run away."

"Not run away. Be free."

"Same thing, sweetheart." he replied, rolling over so we were both on our sides. 

I pushed and surprisingly, he let go. I inched as far away from him as I could which wasn't much since he was in the middle of the bed and his size only left an inch or two of space between us. And I was nearly falling off the bed. I didn't care and rolled the other way, even when it hurt my wings. I pulled off my shoes and socks before throwing them across the room, hard, and imagined that it was Everard I was throwing shoes at instead of the wall. When he chuckled, I knew that he could read my thoughts clearly. 

Good, I thought before succumbing to sleep.