Prologue

I was running as fast as I could. Brush slapped my ankles and thorns poked into my foot as I swerved through the trees. I had to get away from them- before they caught me. If I was caught I would be their lab rat.

I finally got to a small clearing and stopped. I waited for the sound of footsteps, the slap- slap- slap of the helicopters. All I could hear was the sound of my labored breathing and the soft rustle of wind through the trees. I looked down at my body only to find that my hospital gown was slashed to bits. Pieces of bloody skin showed through and my hair was covered in leaves, pine needles, and acorns.

I slipped to the ground and rubbed my face. I was thirsty. I stopped and heard the distant sound of a river. I got back up and began the walk to the sandy banks of the half mile wide river. When I finally got there, I waited in the brush, making sure that there wasn't anyone to see me.

My attention was caught by a small pink flower. I didn't know the name of the flower. I'd never particularly cared to know for such trivial things until I'd realized how short life could be. I softly pressed my hand to the wax-like flower. I smiled softly then twirled my fingers around the yellow stamen that sprouted from the middle of the dark pink center of the petals.

I smiled and ran my finger down the stems, softly caressing the leaves. It was so beautiful, it seemed fake. Maybe that was what real life is like. I wouldn't know anymore. Five years in the labs and life doesn't seem real.

I stood and walkedo the water, leaning over to see my face. It was smudged with dirt, probably from when I'd sat down. I looked absolutely horrible. If I could clean myself, I could be passed off more as a citizen than a runaway from the government. I grimaced slightly and quietly untied my hospital gown. I cleaned it in the crystal clear water and then hung it over a tree before slipping into the cool lake water.

It was warm and the water seemed to caress my body. I just stood there, basking in the sunlight. The pebbles underneath my feet were soft and everything felt absolutely luxurious. I smiled into the sunlight and closed my eyes, letting the warmth feel me.

Soft footsteps slipped through the trees, I could hear them. I could also hear the helicopter flying closer and closer. My eyes flew open and I turned to see a group of dark blue suited men, guards of the labs, here to get me. They stood on the beach, large guns in their hands. I gasped and turned towards the other side, my eyes resting on a similar group of men.

"No..." I whispered and tried to swim away. They followed. I then tried to run as fast as possible toward the smaller of the two groups. I slipped to the right and started to run. There was a loud swish and then a sharp pain spread through the back of my head. I felt the warm trickle of blood running down through my hair. Then my vision was enveloped in black.


When I woke up, everything was a bright white. One of the fluorescent lights of the labs. I groaned and sat up, the world slowing as it came into focus. I was alone in a small room. There was a bed, a sink, a toilet, and a counter. It's what I imagined jail to be like, although sterile and white.

The door opened and a doctor came in- a dark-skinned, black haired, petite woman with the lab coat and blue scrubs that all the doctors wore. "Hello, Melinda, I'm here to ask how you're feeling."

I watched her quietly, not trusting her. She was one of them. Nobody could ever trust them. She doesn't really care about me. I took a deep breath as the silence stretched then growled, "What did you do to me?"

She seemed reluctant to answer but soon said, "You've been part of an experiment to test some little things. It's for the betterment of humanity, Melinda." Her voice was soft and silky. She looked quickly at a clipboard on her lap, "This says you prefer to be callled Lindi." I didn't answer. "So, how do you feel, Lindi?"

"Don't call me that." I growled softly and turned away.

She sighed and left. I curled up on the bed then curiously wondered, what did they do to me? I pulled my clothes off and went to a tiny mirror strapped to the back of the door. All over my body I was covered in what seemed to be tattoos.

On my neck, there was a name that seemed to be written in blood-like letters. One word was the most obvious- Nathaniel. A small sob escaped my throat as I raised my hand and softly touched the mirror, my fingers reaching to touch anything that could remind me of him.

Skin.