Author's Note: So finally a serious chapter has been posted! This is the first in a series of very important flashbacks that become instrumental in the plot. However, i'm going to be away at a remote place for the next month so nothing more is going to be written or posted for sometime. But now that exams are over and I'm on summer break I'll have plenty of time to write! And please enjoy and leave a review~
Chapter Five: Reflections
My first memory isn't really a memory. It's more of a vague feeling, maybe even a dream. Either way, it still haunts me. I couldn't have been very old, maybe less than a year, which is why I think it may not be a real memory. All I can see is bright light, streaked with vertical and horizontal lines, those of a cage I presume. I can't move. I'm restrained by something, like a tightly wound blanket. There's pain, but also numbness. I can't really tell, even after all these years. I think there was intense agony and the torment was ripping me apart, but to such an underdeveloped mind it was more like a terrible numbness. Then I remember trying to yell. For what I don't know, but I did. And when I cried out deafly into the bright unknown beyond my dark cage there was an ear piercing response. It was like I went form being deaf to suddenly being in a room full of shrieking ghouls. All I heard was that terrible shrieking, and it caused even more pain. In that instant when the noise hit my ears all I could do was try to curl up and escape. And that's all I can remember.
My second memory was my first steps. I must have been at least two by that time. My world was made up of a nursery, which now that I think about looked more like a kennel, and a sea of nameless faces. All part wolf, and part human. I remember we were all trying to stand and walk. Trying to imitate the towering scientists, nurses, and their assistants.
One day I managed to get onto my feet. I managed to balance myself for a few moments before falling forward onto my hands and knees. I don't know why I didn't immediately get back up. Something just kept me there. I shifted my legs and found myself standing on all fours; I must have looked like a disfigured dog in that position. Then I took a single step forwards. I don't have the slightest idea why. I nearly fell over a few times, but I quickly figured out how to balance and found myself trotting along, and picking up speed.
After just a few minutes I discovered the joy of running. I couldn't help but explore this newfound freedom of movement by leaping and dashing around; scaring and knocking over the other kids, barking and yelping with pure happiness. Running was such a thrill for someone who had only ever crawled. But it also felt right, like I was meant to do it. It was a natural feeling and it gave me such a sensation of pure joy, that I'd never had experienced before, and wouldn't experience again for years.
In that moment I was free. I was lighter than air. I was a wild thing. I was all of these wonderful feelings, until in mid leap across the floor I felt an object collide with my right side, tossing me over onto the floor. When I looked up an old nurse with a grim expression stood before me; she glared down with cold, unfeeling eyes and that was enough to make me whimper, and shrink before her presence.
"Bad!" she growled, "You are to walk like human being! Not an animal!" She shook a clipboard, which she had just you used to swat me, and threatened, "If I catch you doing that ever again, there will be serious consequences. Do I make myself clear?" I nodded, terrified. "Good." She affirmed, and then raising her voice again, "And same goes for the rest of you!" All the others shrank down before her in fear. They learned well from my mistake, overriding that same primal urge and learning to walk like the humans. Even after she had gone, I stayed on my side, still taking in the good feelings. I even smiled just a bit. It was the first and one of the only times I felt right.
Surprisingly, this short moment in my life is probably the only reason I survived. No matter what they did to me I had that one fragment of happiness. And that fragment kept me alive, and others too. I can't even count the number of times people would ask me to repeat it and tell them how it felt to be free and happy. None of them could ever remember what it felt like to be happy.
The days of my life in that place have all blended together, but I do remember the gist of it. After we turned five they moved us to another place. It was a small collection of rooms along with one long hallway. In that hallway there were chain link fence doors behind which five or six of us would live in, like dogs at a pound. In the daytime we would be in a grey room, adjacent to the pound, where they would sit us at desks and teach us like regular children. They taught us how to speak properly, do math and stuff like that. But never reading or writing. They knew what power that kind of knowledge had and made sure to keep it away from us. We stayed in that small group of rooms until we were ten.
Then we were moved to a different compound where we spent another year learning. This time, though, it was mostly physical. Sure we got exercise in the last place, but now they were training us. Overall I spent about six months learning about weapons and fighting techniques and went through extended basic training. The other six months were spent learning strategies and studying battles and famous wars and the people that fought them. They did a good job of censoring the ideas behind those wars. I could tell you all of the battle tragedies used during the American Revolution, but I had no idea why it was even fought.
After all that, we moved yet again, this time to our final home. Outside the main compound they had us line up facing a tall, barbed wire fence with a dense forest just beyond it. This was the first time we had seen so many scientists, or even people in general. We only knew a few cold men in uniform who barked at us in the classroom or during training exercises, and there were the barely remembered scientists from our younger days in the nursery.
There was a swarm of them, all in white coats. Some had glasses, others were bald or had slicked-back hair; some were thin and pale, while others resembled blimps, a few even looked sympathetic, but most appeared harsh and unloving; one way or another they all seemed strangely alike. They all chattered nervously until one of them stood up straight and spoke to us. We all immediately perked our ears up and listened anxiously. He was middle aged and nervous looking with partially grey hair that he kept wiping his hand over as he prepared to speak, it almost appeared like he was nervous about us, but in our minds that seemed impossible.
"Today you will be moved into the main compound," he stated robotically "The rules are simple, you will be tested both medically, and physically, each for one week then after two weeks of testing you will receive a week of rest." He paused, gaining more confidence as he spoke. "In order to keep track of you, we will be handing out identification tags. Your number will decide your testing schedule." When he had finished he gestured to two scientists besides him. They stepped forward and started handing out dog tags working their way down the line. At each one of us, the taller balding one would pause and finger through a large folder before stating a number. Then the shorter, thinner one would pull out a dog tag and hand it to one of us. The numbers seemed to go in random order, "22, 86, 10, 45, 39, 5…" And so on. When the pair stopped in front of me, the taller one called "15" and the other handed me a tag. It was new and shiny; and had all my personal information on it, even though I couldn't read it.
Exp. Odysseus Type. A pos
No. 15 DOB. 9.29.89
I had no idea what all the numbers and letters meant. I just knew that I was now number fifteen. I turned the tag over and was startled by what I saw. Reflected in the tiny polished surface was a gloomy, thin face that was certainly not human, but not entirely animal. It had faded fur, and a white oval around one its eyes, which looked forlorn and confused. It took me a moment to realize it was me. I had never seen my reflection before, and had never even given a thought what I looked like. It seemed in a few short moments I became a person, with a face and a name, if you would even call it that. But one thing bothered me as I slipped on the necklace and listened to more instructions: why did my eyes look so sad? I discreetly turned my head to look down the row of my comrades; they all had that same look in their eyes. I found it strange I hadn't noticed that before, and still wondered why. But part of me knew the answer even before the tests started. We were all their experiments, and I was just experiment number fifteen of a hundred and fifty in the Odysseus Division. ~