|The Wrong World
Author: janeeceputric-niles PM
Scarlet Pattin lives in a world that should not exist; a world where no one gets sick. When her father is suddenly diagnosed with cancer, Scarlet finds that she is alone against the wrong world. Or is she? "They came in, took him away from me. His bloodline is dirty, diseased and to be disposed of. Lucky for me I'm at the end of that line."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 7 - Words: 27,965 - Reviews: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-06-13 - Published: 02-27-13 - id: 3104629
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Maybe I should have closed the door in Fredrick's face when he admitted his betrayal to the enemy's side. Maybe I should've just sat back and dealt with whatever The Head had planned for me back at Susan and Jackson's house. And maybe now I should turn on my heel, run out of this place and risk drowning again. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. Then I'd stop going crazy, stop doing anything.
I am not sure if I hear her right when she tells me where I am. I figure it must be a joke, that the cave walls around me will drop and a swarm of guards wearing The Head logo on their chest, will swoop in and carry me to my death. I wait for it to happen, mentally praying for the fate of my favourite brothers.
She purses her lips, conflicted, and not sure how to continue with her story. She hasn't started yet, hasn't began rambling on about something I probably don't care much about. But I can feel the impending line of Once Upon A Time strongly in the small space.
Raeleigh continues at a fast pace with all the clothing in the bin, keeping her hands busy as she figures out a way to begin.
Eventually she tells me that these caves are located underwater, and were once filled with the ocean water. Founded by Kara's grandfather, who was a desert researcher and also a rebel of his own kind. He'd travel with troops of guards to keep him safe, as he'd carry on with his job. One time he fell down an indistinct hole, hidden under the vast plains of sand. Landed in a deep hole of water, almost drowned as well. The walls were too wet and slippery for him to haul himself up, and his echoed cries only bounced off the walls of the slim tube, no way to escape the hole. He dove under the water, swimming until he luckily found another tube much like the first one, with a little pocket of air at the top. This continued until he found one that emptied into a large stream. Feeding the ocean's leftovers to a smaller body of water. He'd kept the place in mind. He'd always been a curious man.
She says Kara's grandfather, Walker Fitt, sensed the slightest bit of tension within the supposedly stable environment within The Head, and immediately bailed. But not before doing some thorough research. Illegally that is. He found the lovely files explaining the components of Project Termination: The New World.
Raeleigh tells the story as if she had been there herself. Every detail seems so surreal, so vivid. I was able to create a realistic image in my mind, falling in love with the man's passion for something that tried to kill him. She says every time a newcomer is welcomed into The West, the same story is told by Kara. It's happened so many times since Raeleigh's arrival, she's memorized it without the awareness of doing so.
I have to ask how they'd saved me in time, how they knew the spot and what I looked like and all those miraculous details. Apparently they've been on edge lately, ever since my excellent sculpting skills went to work and built the uprising. Everyone's been on the lookout for signs of infiltration, or simply people who share the same idea as they do, here in The West. Once they saw my flailing, near death figure suffering in the deep blue, they decided to pull me in. Once they discovered who I was, they immediately knew they had to keep me here, no questions asked. Including Rae's opinion on a new bunk buddy.
She smiles genuinely, telling me she has chores to do in the North corners and I should join her. I know it's just an action of politeness. She has no real intention to hang out with me, to take care of me. I attempt to send the same grin in response, thanking her but not accepting the invitation. Just as I predicted she doesn't push me any further, simply hugs the basket to her waist, throwing me one last grin before leaving the room. The smile is not a fervent one, something she has forced upon herself to be polite. Reading differently now, more of a 'touch anything of mine and I'll kill you' rather than the previous friendly signal.
I pull the covers up to my chin, a dense draft blowing in. Shivering quietly, I draw my hand up to clutch the pendants around my neck. A silent alarm of panic goes off in my head. My heart speeds up rapidly, threatening to push through the layers of my chest.
Fredrick. Is he okay? Have they moved? What if Susan finds them in the same situation, tricking them into their humble abode, only to contact The Head again? Those beasts must be everywhere. Surely my luck isn't that bad that they'd only be around me! But I know Fredrick is smarter than I am, he'd never do anything that could put his brother in more danger than he already is. I need to help them but I'll never find them now, I have no idea how I got to where I am, back tracking would be a nightmare.
I take a deep breath, palm pushed heavily against my chest, trying to slow the beating of my over excited organ. I pull my knees into my throbbing chest, huddled in the fetal position. Sweat puddles by my head, rushing swiftly off the surface of my forehead and soaking my hairline.
I begin to lament their absence. Yearning for the familiar twist of their accented tongue, pleasing to my once virgin ears. Reaching for the waves of his honey hair, and normally tepid, yet ice blue eyes. Something I don't quite understand, but am thankful for. These things happen, my conscience reassures me, mentally patting my shaking shoulders, people die, that's the sacrifice we make. I shake my head in response. No one should die, not for me. I'm a hazard to everyone around me. Danger follows my careless, clumsily composed path.
I force myself to get out of bed. Pathetically reaching for the door, ready to leave, and take all the pain I've inflicted on everyone with me. And then do what? The thought of suicide dances through my mind. I almost bite my tongue off in anguish. Follow in my mother's footsteps? Who so carelessly abandoned me in my time of need? Wouldn't I be doing the same to all these people? Or would my death just mean the end of something that never should've happened in the first place? Too many questions, not enough answers.
The door swings open and I jump back in response, eyes wide with fright. I waste no time trying to see who it is. I don't know anyone besides my roommate, and this is not Raeleigh. I find my way back to the bed, sitting down slowly. The person enters, beaming a friendly smile my way. Short waves of peroxide hair, a shoulder length messy cut. Her eyes wrinkle at the corners, blinking a dark green back. Evergreen. I watch her as she enters the room, still smiling. She looks around as though searching for something, but clearly she is only here for me.
"Scarlet," she has a smooth voice, sweet and soothing. Its mother-like, the kind of voice that'd put a baby to sleep. "I'm Kara." My memory stirs in response to this name, pulling images out of its filing cabinet, weaving through stills of my recent past.
Raeleigh said she makes all the shots, the authoritative figure of this underwater resistance. This comes as a shock. She looks far too young to be the controller of such a thing. Not quite sagging like the rest, her skin tight and held in place. The only wrinkles come when she smiles, the skin at the creases of her eyes scrunching up like a fan.
"Nice to meet you." She dips her head, a wordless way to show her appreciation to my tone.
"Sorry, my welcome is a bit late. But we've got lots to do here." I feel my shoulders shake. "We're on your side. No more running," the smile wavers for a second, almost fading, then the corners turn up again, a grin brighter than before. "for now, of course. I won't make promises I can't keep." Promise. The word has no meaning to me, no one has to make promises because there's never a doubt they 'll fail to perform the task they've proposed to do.
"So what is your purpose?" I ask less timidly. Slowly coming out of my shell, preparing to stretch.
"To exist," she says matter-of-factly, folding her arms behind her back. "we all have a mutual dream."
"Kill Kaufman." I mutter, under my breath. Kara chuckles in response, a light airy giggle. The soprano ring has no connection to an authoritative leader. But something more of a little girl, sweet and comforting, taking the bitterness away from my last statement.
"And more importantly, save the people. But success only comes before work in the dictionary." I draw my eyebrows up in confusion, trying to decode the deep dialogue. She laughs again, a short burst this time. "Vidal Sassoon, it's a quote. Paraphrased." It takes me a while to soak it up; a short passage said by the long dead, writer. "But we don't have time for literature lessons right now. We've got things to do."
I try to push Fredrick and Griffin to the back of my mind. I
try to relinquish the final vision I have of the lost boys, the image unbidden
and refusing to go away. It leaves an acrid taste in my mouth, seemingly a penance
for which I have no reparation. I almost wish for the end of my life, then
become contrite, remembering my situation and finally being hit by a frigid wall of
guilt. The dull ache of longing is still there, pulsing in the back, drawing my attention much more than I want it to.
I follow Kara through the wide cave halls, all lined with titanium. Snaking its way throughout the entire length of the place, like the veins on a leaf, branching off in every direction. Too many paths too choose from, too many ways to get lost. A real labyrinth. I make a mental note to never wander far at night, I'd never find my way back without an experienced guide.
We eventually reach the end of one of the halls, a high arch of the hallway allowing entrance to a large chamber. The ceiling in this room extends much higher than the roof of the hallways. As I analyze the room's composition, astonished, my eyes finally land on the ceiling of this grand space. It's clear. Completely transparent. I fight the immediate reflex of turning around, to sprint for the exit. But no one else seems to be scared by the fact that the ocean is directly above this clear shield. Animals twisting and floating above, a wide range of shapes and sizes. A modern dance of colours and textures mindlessly drifting along, paying little to no attention to our existence. I stay beside Kara's confident figure, resisting the urge to crouch down, ready to flee if the roof does not hold up. She waves hello to several people, but I do not look at their faces. Most of the responses are from females but a few base tones chime in, happily greeting their master. She steps up in front of a line, grabbing a tray and hand motioning for me to sit at a nearby table. I do so mechanically, staring straight down at nothing. The tray is placed in front of my face and I look up at her expectantly.
"Eat," she smiles again. "you'll need your energy. Lots of chores to be done." Before I have a chance to ask her exactly what chores I'll be doing, she turns around and walks away, more important things to deal with besides anxious, teenage criminals.
I glance down at the tray, not intending to make eye contact with anyone around me. A yellow-white, rubbery substance, steaming. Letting off a not particularly appetizing smell, and leaking a foggy fluid onto the plate. A slice of something that appears to be bread, messily made and appearing to be painfully dry. Fresh cut strawberries on the side, and a thick ivory, liquid- like puddle in a small bowl. I spoon it into my mouth, for some reason it looks the most edible-besides the strawberries, best for last- a sweet yet tart taste exploding in my mouth. It's delicious. What is this magnificent invention?
"It's yogurt." The saint that answers my question is Raeleigh. She flicks her head to my spoon, the yummy yogurt dripping back into the bowl. I lower my hand, cheeks flushing. She sits down, two figures stepping out from behind her and taking the seats on either side. I watch them, a young boy with bright blue flames of hair. Untamed and drawn out as if he had just woken up. I knew that hair style well and admired it on boys, he must be from the East.
The sight of a normal hairstyle makes my lips curl up into a smile. His friend has almost no hair, but what little remains stands up in small spikes, shining a dark purple in the light. Their eyes both twinkle a shade of gray, green rings around the irises.
"This is Seb and Mark." Rae points her head in their directions as she speaks, the blue headed cutie first. They both smile, their teeth almost blindingly white. "They're new. Just came in last week. I've been telling them, don't get too used to those teeth or that hair colour, they'll both be gone before you know it." She says it casually, trying to make conversation. Seb's head wavers slowly from left to right, smiling, humored.
"Its Sebast actually," he cuts in, a voice like home. Nothing out of the ordinary, and the name sends a sickening jolt to my stomach. Reminding me of my previous, normal life full of normal names. "and he's Marka." Marka raises his hand quickly, eager to shovel into the rubbery stuff, before hesitantly pushing it into his mouth. I look back down at my food, feeling the same way.
"You'll get used to it," Raeleigh says, "everyone does." Seb and Mark grunt in great understanding, as if to say 'unfortunately'.
"So you're Scarlet, right? Quite a show you've put on! But that's why we came here." Seb seems to get excited, his eyes lighting up, clearly enthused. I cock my head, misinformed about the overuse of this word, 'uprising'.
"I thought Rae said you came in a week ago." I ask, confused. An uprising? I'd only left 2 days ago, 3 at the most. Right? I can't remember. There weren't exactly newscasts or calendars on my journey through the desert.
"That's right. And you'd been in action before that! It's been a week and almost 2 days since you've escaped. 'Murderous and a hazard to all. Do not approach on sight.'" He quotes his memory, humor biting into every word. I don't laugh.
Normally the bad guys make up a story about the protagonist to get everyone against them. Only this story isn't made up. I did murder several people, and I am a hazard. I have created the loathe in their hearts, the repulsion in their malevolent words and their hunger for revenge. Emotions that pair with words that shouldn't even exist among people in our time.
The loss of time makes me sick, churning nervousness in my stomach. I try to grip on to reality, settling with the edge of the table.
"I know that feeling." Marka expresses, reading the look on my face with ease. He unwraps something from his wrist and reaches across the table with his long arms, searching for mine. He pulls my right limb forward, fastening the gadget around my wrist. Its quite large and feels foreign to my former naked arm. I look down to see the formation of 4 numbers, 2 dots, parallel each other, in the middle. 12:11. "Time is valuable down here. Clocks are of shortage recently, there'll be more soon. For now, you can have that." He smiles thoughtfully, then looks back to his sad looking bread.
"Thank you so much." I say breathlessly, running my fingers over the precious device. They all stand in unison.
"Where're you stationed for today?" I stare, perplexed. "Here." Raeleigh waves me forward. I slide from the chair, bringing the half full tray with me. Only the yogurt bowl is empty, and maybe a few strawberries. I travel behind the trio, approaching the closest corner to the arch. Placed off to the left side of the enormous room. "Pattin, right?" Before I can answer Raeleigh scans on, fingers trailing under names, searching for the P's. "Ah, here." She stops, running the width of the page under the section with labels, numbers and locations I don't understand. "12 o'clock pm, until dismissal. Conference room." Her eyebrows rise, the boys behind me wincing before retreating. "You're already late. I'll walk you there though, I have defense tactics, its nearby." We draw away from the intimidating lists. I drop my tray off with a stack of others before exiting the hall and taking a sharp right.
We walk down a series of long dark hallways, each carrying less light than the one before it. I feel as though we're going deeper down into the caves, the ground must be gradually descending, never dramatically sweeping down because my legs stroll forward with ease, despite my usual clumsiness.
The air goes from clear and tasteless to damp and musky. I keep sneezing distastefully, earning a short laugh from Raeleigh. "Don't worry. You get used to this too." I nod my head in response, gazing down at my shoes, lent to me by the angel at my side. My clothes I had been wearing in the desert were undoubtedly destroyed. I am wearing white, canvas tennis sneakers and black shorts with a washed out blue t-shirt. The neck is uncomfortably high and hangs off my chest, fitting like it would on a boy. "And that." She remarks, as though reading my mind. "Clothing is last priority down here. We all have our nice outfits from the past but we save those for special occasions." Special occasions? What special occasions could possibly exist down here?
I keep my questions to myself as we come to a large door, much like the one that was behind me when I first arrived here. The heavy wheel on it begins to turn and it opens slowly. I look to Rae who smiles encouragingly, nudging me forward.
There's a large table, running the length of majority of the room. It is dimly lit, with a few weak lights around the space. Vacated around the table are several chairs, maybe 7 or 8 and a larger one at the end farthest from me. Several circuit boards are placed in seemingly random places around the room, though it's clear everything is done in a specific way and under a well-respected order. Large monitors are mounted above these techy stations, all black with a large red circle in the middle. The ring is broken and interrupted by the presence of a large W.
People are sitting in the heavy-duty chairs, chatting in a monotone, not very deep in conversation, light topics.
"Ah, Scarlet." The alien voice says. Their words sound like a sigh of relief, as they emerge from the shadows in the dark corners of the room. Its not who I expect, no bleach blond waves or friendly green eyes.
This man has dark brown hair cascading in gentle waves to his shoulders. He looks about mid forties, chiseled and dressed in a sophisticated outfit- well quite sophisticated when compared to the rest of us. Black slacks and a navy blue button up. His stern brown eyes are hard and set on me. I stand by the door, uneasily rubbing my wrist, fingering a few small buttons on my new watch.
He comes close to me, placing his arm around my shoulder and directing me towards one of the empty chairs. I sit obediently and watch as he returns, finding his spot beside the important looking chair, where he slides in. A light on the ceiling in the center of the room flickers to life, showing me more details. The room is quite small but much larger than the room I'm sleeping in. The ceiling is higher than the ones in the halls as well, but not overwhelming like that of the ceiling in the eating hall.
"W-what am I doing here?" I stammer, trying to find my confidence.
"Is there somewhere else you'd rather be?" The man gestures around the room, laughing slightly. His colleagues begin to laugh as well, watching me as though I am a small child asking about reproduction.
He notices my facial expression of discomfort and clears his throat, silencing those around the table. "My name is Johnathon Reed. Kara is my wife." He can see the understanding in my eyes, preparing to proceed with his introduction. "We founded The West in 2116, soon after Chaddor Sentor told us of the incidents in the lab. We all worked together at The Head, before we knew what was really going on." I try to look intrigued when he talks, though the only time his words spark interest is when he says the familiar sounding last name. The one Griffin and Fredrick share. A name now put to the faceless words of their father, Chaddor.
"I just don't understand why you've waited for me to do all of this, if you've been here for so long." I express my true feelings, something I've been bottling up for a painful amount of time. And every curious word I release from my quivering lips is like a brick being removed from the sack on my shoulders.
"And you probably won't for a long time," John speaks slowly, as though I am mentally challenged. "if we randomly emerge from the shadows and fight against The Head with no obvious motive, people will not side with us. They'll assume we're simply a handful of lunatics, fighting for something that doesn't even exist. Sickness." He almost whispers the last word, not quite over it's presence like everyone else. The room stirs for a moment, people whispering to one another. Then, as if on timer, it all dies down and John gets ready to talk again. "Now, with you in the picture, they know it is possible. The Head's flaws will soon show and—" A stranger opens the door, breathing heavily and appearing to have just run a marathon. John freezes, the room still, everyone watching the frenzied individual. The look on John's faces flares up, heating the room, this better be important.
"It's the Sentor boys!" They exclaim, breathless. The last name sends a jolt of electricity surging through me, forcing me to rise from my chair faster than the rest. Elbowing past the message deliverer before blasting out the door. The food in my stomach gives me the energy I need to run. The action has never been so easy as I fly through the maze, the rubber on the sole of my shoes burning intensely. But still, not enough to stop me from reaching my goal.
The walls rush by as a blur. I don't know where I find the memory to figure out where I'm going, or even how I know where I should be going but somewhere in the back of my mind I hear whispered instructions, telling me where to turn and when to proceed.
I seem to be running for a hopeless amount of time. Eventually I round a corner to see the same place where I met Seb and Mark.
A large crowd is circled around an unseen attraction. There's a break in the thick ring and I see him. Blond mop, dirty and dull, hanging in his face. He lifts his head, and there's the trademark grin.