It was now 6 weeks since my talk with Baird, in this time I had become accustom to life in the facility, my first meeting with the Karasu had been a nerve-wracking one to say the least if not only for their appearance. The Karasu were truly fearsome looking beings, still humanoid in appearance the Karasu were large black winged creatures with clawed feet and hands, their faces also had a rather beak like mouth, but what was probably truly frightening about the Karasu was their cold black eyes. The Karasu's eyes were black from corner to corner; though they reflected the light so that they had a sort of shine to them they could only be described as polished obsidian. But my worries seemed unfounded, the old Karasu contrary to his appearance seemed to be a kind man, though we did not speak he patted me on the head when he came to deliver my meal.
The meals left little to the imagination; they consisted of 3 pastes of different colours placed separately on a plate. On their own each paste had a rather foul taste, but when mixed together we found that they became something palatable.
It had taken me about a week to finally be able to move my body without any pain or losing my strength from the effort and I was now able to walk around the cell quite comfortably. As Baird had pointed out there really was little possibility to escape and I had come to accept what he said about escaping being an unachievable dream, but I still found myself wondering every now and then what the outside might actually be like. Other than the walkways outside the cells the only views of the outside world we had was that of the ever changing skies. Today the clouds were drawing in and growing blacker as the day went on, it was obviously a storm and from the looks of things it was going to be a big one.
"Seems that it's going to be a bad night tonight." Baird stated from above me, he had obviously been thinking the same as me. I would often talk to Baird, but with the lack of new things happening around us we had found the most interesting topic was the weather as it was probably the only thing that ever changed.
"I think it's going to happen tonight." I replied looking at the clouds once more, as they grew darker the light in the room also grew dimmer. "There could be lightening tonight." As I said this a loud thunder filled the room followed by a blinding flash of purple light and the sounds of heavy rainfall hitting hard against the glass roof.
The storm continued late into the night, in some of the other cells I could see people hiding under their covers and others that would jump with fright every time they heard the thunder. The storm had also brought a cold dampness to the air and I held my arms as I shivered whilst my body tried to keep itself warm. A colourless piece of cloth which hung from our shoulders like a long shirt was the only clothing we had, the short sleeves offered no protection for our arms and many had taken to covering themselves with the thin cover from the beds to insulate themselves if only a little. "Hey Val, are you alright?" Baird asked his voice was shaking a little due to the cold now; Abner had long since gone to bed having decided that it was probably best to sleep so they didn't feel as cold and the others were too preoccupied with keeping warm than talking.
"Yeah I'm fine, it's just a bit cold." I rubbed my arms once more and looked up just in time to see yet another flash of purple light coming from the clouds.
"Strange colour isn't it." I don't know how, but Baird always seemed to know what I was thinking about even though we couldn't see each other, maybe he was just good at guessing or maybe he just happened to think in a similar way to how I did, well it didn't really matter. "Yeah, I wonder what it is which makes it look like that."
"It's the first time I've ever seen it that colour." It seemed Baird hadn't heard me, either that or he had intended to talk to himself all along. Baird had been around longer than anyone other than Abner so knew a lot about the facility and of events that I had not been there to witness. I had heard of thunderstorms in the past which had happened while he had been here when he told me stories of his time before my arrival, but none of the stories had ever suggested the storms to be on such a big scale.
"Are storms always like this? I mean, this violent?" I thought it better to ask what was on my mind as it would give us something to talk about.
"I've never seen one this fierce before." Baird replied quickly. Many hours passed without a word and the storm showed little sign of leaving. It was probably around midnight when it happened, just as I was about to go to sleep a loud crash was heard and the room was filled with a blinding purple light, the reinforced glass wall shook in its fittings then suddenly without warning it shattered just as the light disappeared. At first I couldn't believe what had happened and I sat in shock against the back wall of the cell, it had definitely been a bolt of the purple lightning and as my eyesight returned I could see that all the glass panels in the corridor had also smashed, the air was filled with a smell of burning and smoke was rising from below, the building was on fire. Panicked I ran out of the cell being careful not to cut my feet on the thick shards of glass which now littered the floor, around me I could see that many of the other cells had caught fire, their occupants disintegrated by the immense heat of the lightning. I stopped and stared at the burning cells unable to move, the horror of knowing that the people in them had been people I was talking too only a hours before. "Val, what are you doing? We have to leave now. Hurry!" I jumped and suddenly coming back into the present I turned to see a boy with scruffy looking blonde hair which showed he had been lying down until only a few minutes before. "Who are you?" I asked, I didn't remember anyone who looked like this before so he was probably someone on my side of the hall, yet how did he know what I looked like?
"Never mind that, let's get out of here first." Before I could reply he grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind him running quickly. As we reached the end of the walkway two more figures appeared also running in the same direction ahead, it was relieving to know that there were other survivors. "Quick, out the door!" The boy shouted pulling the door open with his spare hand. After the door was a corridor which lead onto a reception in a large entry hallway. "Outside, hurry." The boy was shouting to the two in front of us who seemed to have stopped to wait for us, as we drew closer their features were easier to make out in the smoke; it was Vix and Abner both looking out of breath and covered in black soot. As we caught up they began to run with us and we burst out of the front doors of the facility and continued running into the woodland beyond the gates.
"Abner, it's great to see you're alright." The boy said resting his hands on Abner's shoulders as he gasped for breath. "I seriously thought that we were the only ones left at one point." As he finished talking he collapsed onto his backside and rest his back against the tree.
"It's good to see you two are alright too." Abner replied copying the boy on another tree. "I just grabbed Vixen and ran, I shouted for others to follow but we didn't find anyone else." Vix was sat huddled in a corner rocking as she recovered her breath, tears were streaming down her cheeks, I found myself wanting to comfort her but couldn't, in truth I wanted to cry myself but I couldn't, right now I was still in shock and had to keep telling myself this wasn't a dream. It had all happened so fast that it all felt unreal. As I began to calm I found my eyes falling on the boy who rescued me. "Thanks for saving me." I bowed my head to him and looked over to Abner, "Do you think there are other survivors?"
"I don't know." Abner replied quickly a dark look spreading across his face. "But, I'd like to think so."
"Yeah, I'm certain others must have survived." The boy rubbed his head and his face showed all too clearly his uncertainty in what he had just said.
"Baird, don't say things like that with such an unlucky face." Abner said feigning a smile. "Others will have survived, once we've caught our breath lets go find them." I looked at Baird and jumped, because his voice had not been its usual calm self to which I had become accustom I hadn't been able to tell that this boy was the Baird to whom I'd spoken with more than anyone else since I woke up.
"Something wrong Vix?" Baird said looking up at me once more.
"Sorry, I was just a bit surprised. I didn't realize you were Baird until just now." My face turned red with embarrassment as I spoke, all thought of what had just happened had been pushed from my head momentarily by the surprise of finding out that it had been Baird who had saved me. Now that I thought about it Baird had known what I looked like when I first met him, and it was also true that I was the only one who had white fur as Vix had so often pointed out to me, so it wasn't really that surprising that he would know it was me.
"Ah, sorry about that." Baird replied smiling weakly, "I would have told you earlier, but I was in a hurry to get us out of there." He was obviously remembering what he had said to me before and probably thought that when he had told me to run he might have come across a bit rude from the apologetic look on his face.
"Oh, it's ok. Now I know you're alright too." I said with a forced smile as my head was filled once more with the reality of the situation we were now in. As the flames raged on we did not see anyone else escaping, the more time that passed the more we could feel our hopes fading. If anyone else had truly escaped, then they did not come out from the front gate. We finally gave up when the Karasu, finally aware of the fire, came running up the path with hoses.
"We better get moving." Abner whispered from behind me, with the Karasu now rushing to the scene, if we didn't move now we would soon be caught, after finally escaping, we all agreed that we didn't want to go back. Silently we made our way back into the woods behind us making sure that even though we didn't know where we were going, we were at least walking in the opposite direction of the facility.
As we moved further into the woods the trees grew thicker and the branches high above us meshed together to create a sort of umbrella which sheltered us from the still raging storm up above. At long last we stopped at the base of an old tree whose roots opened like caves beneath it allowing us all to sit inside for shelter.
"Do you think anyone else survived?" Vix asked from the back corner, she had stopped crying by now but her face was still filled with worry and disbelief.
"We can't be certain." Abner replied, his face was also worried but also showed he was determined to keep calm, "I don't know about the others, but for now it is probably best to think about our own survival first. We're in a world which none of us have ever seen before, we don't know what other creatures live here or even what is safe to eat. Until we can take care of ourselves we can't go searching for others." It was a harsh truth, but we all agreed, even Vix nodded in agreement at this fact.
"Good." Abner said putting his hand to his temples and rubbing them to suppress a headache caused by his own anguish. "Now, I think its best that we all get some sleep, at least until the storm is ended."
"I agree, but I think it's best we have someone stand watch, we never know what could be out there." Of all of us Baird seemed probably the most relaxed in this situation, or maybe it was just because he didn't know how to express himself at the moment, but he seemed so calm it almost made me jealous. "I'll take the first watch, you guys get some sleep."
Abner nodded, "Ok, well wake me up in a few hours and we'll switch shifts." After the rota was decided between the two of them we all lay down to sleep while Baird sat at the front of us staring out into the trees for any signs of danger.
It had probably been an hour since we all drifted off when I woke once more sweating heavily, in my dreams I had been running in a room full of fire, no matter where I ran the fire didn't get any thinner; around me I could hear the screams of those trapped in the fire, but no matter which way I ran I couldn't get any closer. I sat up and wiped the sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. Looking at the others they also seemed to be having disturbed dreams, it wasn't really surprising with what had just happened, and I wouldn't be surprised if we had nightmares like this for weeks to come.
"Can't sleep?" Baird was sat at the mouth of the hole staring up between the branches in the canopy seemingly lost in thought. "I guess that's only to be expected, even awake images still flood back to me reminding me of what happened. It's not something we can forget so easily or something that I think we should forget."
I walked over and sat beside him, joining him in his gaze towards the heavens without seeing anything, lost in the images within my mind.
"Do you think we'll be alright?" I took a moment to brush the hair on my shoulder as I spoke as if hoping that keeping my hands busy would take my mind off things. "I mean, as Abner said, we really don't know anything about the outside world."
"We have to." I turned my gaze back to Baird who was still sat there with one of his arms rested upon the knee of his leg which was stood upon the root on which he was sitting. "It's our duty to survive, or else the others deaths will have no meaning. We have to live to remember them, as long as we remember them, at least a part of them will still remain in this world."