I could barely breathe, caged like a wild panther. I was an experiment. A lab rat. A slave. The smell I woke up to was a mixture of dead rats and alcohol, a stench I got used to. There was a flickering light outside right outside the prison-like room, our only savior from being engulfed by the darkness. Once or twice in a month, for half an hour, they would let us out one by one to be cleansed and get a taste of what freedom felt, though it never last. It all depends on whether the experiments we get tested on were successful. They would let us out once a day for bathroom break. Always supervised, having no way to escape. No beds, just blankets for each one of us. Most of us died from sickness and the lost will to survive.
I knew there was no way of getting out, I could only wish for my death to come sooner. I was the only one that came to the operation room twice in a week, sometimes more. I have gotten used to the pain but that doesn't mean it did not scar me. Soon, they started taking us by two, only one would come back. We would try to talk to the one who does return but the only answer we ever get was silence. It was as if they had been brainwashed. All of them followed the same routine; the next day or two, they would go ballistic and would start screaming. Hollis, who was the only one I have ever considered a friend, was usually the victim. It was puzzling to me and the rest of the kids why she was the only one that ever got attacked. They would start scratching her and pulling her hair down until her delicate face meets the cemented floor. It would puzzle the rest of us where they get their immense energy from. They acted as a wild dog. We tried to help but they would always end up being stronger than us. We couldn't do anything but scream for help; rattling the bars that confined us. We were scared for each other. But most of all, we were scared for ourselves. It was ironic; shrieking for help from those who originally brought us endless pain.
Three men would come and dragged them away. One girl in particular was screaming violently, trying to slip away from their grip; her expression showed rage and anger. But her eyes, her eyes were completely full of sorrow. It was as if she was trapped in the body she no longer possessed. We would go back to our spots, traumatized by what happened, crying ourselves to sleep. I did not know how I would gotten there or why they chose me. I stopped pitying myself, it was not helping anyone. It did not help me. It did not do any good.
Soon enough, there was only me and Hollis. We would sleep close to each other, trying to fight away the coldness that seeped through the bars. Holding hands to remind us that we still had each other. But it was not long enough until another man came and dragged Hollis away from me. I tried to fight back, screaming Hollis' name.
"Don't forget me!" was her last words to me. The man closed the bars and I was all alone. I kept screaming her name.
My heart beat as fast as it could that day. I prayed countless of times to any higher being who would dare listen to my plea. I needed to get out. I needed freedom. A freedom that would last. I was not ready to die yet; and if heavens allow maybe I could even save Hollis.
I knew my time came when the same man entered. I tried to break free but he was obviously stronger. He hit me once, cursed at me. I knew that I would be facing death once I came to the lab room that reeked of blood. I was already crying, my eyes burning. I knew deep inside that it was not my time. It couldn't be.
"Ah Adeline, I have been saving you for last. No need for tears, child" the man who usually performed the experiments said. "I will get rid of the petty feelings for you."
I whimpered. I couldn't stop shaking. I watched him place his hands on my head and soon enough, I felt my body shutting down. My thoughts were disappearing. My tears were drying up.
"Hold on, child," he said sternly. "Hold on to your life. I want it!"
I looked around the room, looking to see if anybody would help me. But they all stood there, watching me suffer. An immense feeling of hate came rushing in. My blood starting boiling. I was slowly losing control of myself.
"That is it," he whispered. Anger started building up. I felt a rush of power going through my body, something I couldn't explain. It was a tingling feeling, a new sense of power I was not accustomed to. But suddenly, I felt that power draining, as if he's taking it away from me. His lips curled into a smile and the room started swaying back and forth.
Then the door slammed open and I saw a quick lightning bolt striking the man who got a hold of me. My body plunged into the ground and saw his body collapsing, his face turned white as a ghost, I knew he was dead. I heard the other men screaming, their lifeless body hitting the ground. An old man, with a stern expression bent down and looked at me, staring at directly at my eyes; as if he was deciding whether I was the one he was looking for. As he touched my forehead, a sudden of relief came.
"You're safe now." I slowly closed my eyes, the gods have heard me. They've heard me.
I woke up in a completely different room, scented with unusual fragrance but a familiar scent. It was bright. My body was still sore, I couldn't move. The door opened and the man who saved me came inside.
He was holding a bouquet and placed them on a vase. I watched him fix the flowers. I watched his expressions.
"Your mother," he looked at me. He grabbed the nearest chair and pulled it near the bed. He grabbed a picture frame and gave it to me.
I started tearing up. She was so beautiful. This is my mother?
"She is my daughter," he voice breaking up.
"Where is she?" I asked. He kept his head low and started weeping. Tears appeared and flowed out of my eyes.
Thoughts ran quickly through my brain, I couldn't follow. All my life, all that I could think of was how to survive. I never had the time to actually think of who my parents were. I guess I did, once probably when I still pitied myself.
"You're home now, that is all that matters."
I nodded. I was home. I was safe. And I was breathing.