I opened the door and slipped out, making my way down the metal hall. I felt dizzy. There was no way I was actually doing this, was there? I'd grown up here, this was all I knew. This was a good, safe place.
But wasn't that what they wanted us to think? That's what they told us. Hadn't I once heard someone say, tell a child something enough times and it becomes an unquestioned truth. And I'd never thought they would lock someone up. They might not like some of us, but they were always fair…
I slipped into a shadow as a guard on patrol walked past. For some reason I didn't have any trouble finding my way out. I hurried to my room, throwing my shirt on the ground like I usually did so they wouldn't get suspicious, then jumped into the bed, pulling the covers over my head. The room checks would be coming around any second now…
Right on cue, my door opened and someone stepped in. I took a deep, slow breath, praying they thought I was asleep. A second later they stepped out, closing the door behind them.
At that moment I did something I've never done before. I got out of bed and pulled my shirt back on, walking to the door. I grabbed the handle. It wouldn't budge. They locked us in at night! How had I never known?
But then, how would I ever get to read Deplle's notes? I lay in my bed on top of the soft blanket and thought. Deplle, Deplle…I closed my eyes and pictured the breakfast room, seeing him push his glasses up his nose as he sipped his coffee. At breakfast, then, I would find his notes.
Morning seemed to take forever to arrive. When the supervisor opened my door saying, "Breakfast in 10 minutes," I waited until they closed the door, then jumped up and changed my clothes. They may not pay attention to me, but they might notice if I was wearing the same crumpled shirt as yesterday.
I counted to 10 then opened the door and slipped out. I could hear the supervisor making rounds down the hall the other way. I walked casually toward the cafeteria, moving through the trickle of people going the same way. How could I get to the offices without being noticed? I decided I would pretend I had forgetten something when we pass the office halls and then I could sneak in.
It almost didn't work. There was a guard leaning on the wall, lazily watching us. Were there really that many guards around that I'd never noticed? I looked over and saw Sub.45, one of the most boastful, hotheaded fire Elementals I'd ever met. You could read how emotional a fire Elemental was by the size of his burn and Sub.45 had one of the largest.
I smiled. The scientists might have no interest in me, but the guys were another story. See, I might not be as beautiful as a wind Elemental, but few are. I'm not full of myself, but I take some pride in my appearance. And I happened to know that Sub.45 liked me.
I glided over to him, smiling. I was so glad I had watched the weekly competition yesterday. The weekly competition was something that the kids did just for fun and bragging rights. In it, competitors use their Element to fight, but just to get knocked out of the ring. Admittedly, I was just there for Sub.17, but he didn't have to know that.
I flipped my long, chestnut hair over my shoulder and said, "Hey, Sub.45"
He looked down at me, surprised. I wasn't short, but compared to every fire or earth Elemental, I was. He didn't seem sure what to say, so I continued, "I saw you in the competition yesterday. You were really good.
He stuck out his chest, enjoying the attention. He said, "Well, I am the strongest in our level."
I nodded, "Everyone agrees. Well, except Sub.51."
He frowned. Sub.51 was an earth Elemental that had been 45's rival for years. They were always neck in neck, equally strong, equally stupid. I continued, seeing that I had him where I wanted him, "Yeah, he was saying that he could've beat you with his eyes closed yesterday. Said he could beat you anytime, anywhere."
At that moment, Sub.51 walked out of his room. I couldn't have asked for more perfect timing. Sub.45 pushed him from behind, saying, "What's this I hear about you saying you could beat me?"
Sub.51 turned, confused, and said, "I haven't said that. But I could!"
And they started fighting. I slipped backward through the crowd and the Subjects gathered. The guard ran into the crowd, trying to pry them apart.
I ran down the hall to the offices, glancing at the nameplates I passed. There were a few I recognized, but most were names I'd never heard of. Gahler, Lawe, Davis, Blais, Barron. There, Deplle. I stepped toward the door, grabbing the handle.
I horrible thought dawned on me. What if the door was locked? How would I get the key? I tried to turn the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Damn. then I remembered the time Sub.22 had somehow gotten a few movies from Outside. She had been punished for a week for that, but I still had them under my mattress. Every once and while I pulled one out and watched it when I knew no one was watching.
And in one, someone picked a lock. She'd used a hair pin…I pulled out the bobby pin that kept the bangs out of my eyes. One of the nicer scientists had given me it. I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I knelt beside the door and stuck it inside like I'd seen, moving it around.
There was a click and I grabbed the door, turning the knob quickly. Could it really be that easy? I put the pin back in my hair and stepped in the office. It was nice, with a giant bookcase that covered one of the walls. It was packed with notebooks, and they also covered the desk in the center of the room. There was a computer screen on the corner of the desk.
I hurried around the desk, looking at the computer screen. I'd seen these in some of the labs, but I had no idea how to work one. I flipped open the notebook on the desk and glanced at the date. It was a few days ago. I glanced at the title. Sub.84.
Each of the Subjects had a their own entry? I flipped through it until I saw one titled Subject A. I read:
Subject A continues to develop her ability to converse with animals, despite the medications we've been giving her. All of our medications have been designed to control Elemental powers, not the ability to understand animals. We are still trying to figure out what Cohryn did when altering the DNA in the girl.
We've been trying to understand his genius. He is the only one of us that can create an Elemental without having the physical features that match others of the same Element. It doesn't seem to be possible, what he can do. But then he began to get bored.
Cohyrn's experimental creations are both unlike any of the others. We are lucky that Barquet was here to control him. All attempts to copy his designs have failed, resulting in death of the subject. Deaths have increased recently. As always, only the stronger children survive.
I have tried to find a genetic match for Subject A or—
My heard jerked up as I heard a sound down the hall. I grabbed the notebook, shoving it up my shirt and running to the door. There wasn't time to find a way to lock it, so I pulled my sleeve over my hand and turned the knob. He'd know someone had unlocked the door but he wouldn't be able to brush the door for fingerprints.
I ran the other way down the hall than the sound, glancing behind myself. One of the scientists unlocked their door and stepped inside, oblivious. I hurried back to the main hall before any others could see me. The guard and all of the Elementals were gone, so there was no problem walking back to my room. I slipped the notebook under my mattress beside the movies.
I turned and sat on my bed, trying to get my heart to slow down. Everything he was saying was true. What else had been going on that I hadn't known about? And who was this Cohryn?
I swallowed and stood. As much as I wanted to stay and read more, it was almost time for morning meds and they would most definitely notice if I missed that. I wondered if the boy was getting his needle.
I made a mental note to ask his name. He might be in the 100s if he was locked up like that, but either way, I needed something to call him other than, "the boy." And you never know, there might be something in the notebook about him.
I glanced up, seeing the video camera. It made me nervous for a minute until I remembered that there were none in the bedrooms, or down the office hallway. At least, none that I'd seen. Maybe I'd ask the boy about it when I reported in tonight.
When had I accepted the idea that I would report in? I had no choice really, I would be killed for going in there, but it was more than that. I wanted to escape, to know what it was like Outside, to be free. Even if it did endanger my life.
I stood in line to the medication desk, the little wrinkled nurse passing out little paper cups with your meds in it. You were then to take it and open your mouth to show her you'd swallowed. I had always wondered about that, but if there were more Subjects like the boy who wanted to escape, that explained it.
When I got to the front of the line, I tipped the cup up, quickly hiding the two pills under my tongue, then lazily showed her, trying to stop my heart from jumping out of my chest. She waved me through and as soon as no one was looking I spit them out, trying to get the awful taste from my mouth.
I turned as Subject 19 ran over. She wasn't always Sub.19, but the last had been neutralized, so she took his place. I smiled at the small water Elemental. She was the only one that I really trusted.
She pushed her black hair over her should, revealing more of her perfect ebony skin. Only water Elementals had the genetics for the darker skin. She exclaimed, "Is it true that you went into the restricted area? Sub. 17 and Sub.60 said they watched you go."
I glanced around before nodding. She punched my shoulder, "What if they found you! That would kill me."
I stood taller, "They said I couldn't do it. So I had to."
She rolled her eyes, "Of course. Sub.A, hothead of the facility. You'd take a bottle of pills if someone said it would kill you."
I laughed a little. It was probably true. She said, "The List is posted. Let's go see who has to report to a lab and who has to go to class."
I nodded, even though I knew I would go to class again. They wanted Elementals here, not Animal-speakers. They had no tests to run on me. So everyday I went to classes, learning history, math and science, just like Outside. We walked over to where it was posted and read:
-Everyone not posted must report to the classroom
-Subjects 83, 27, 31, 35
-Subjects 56, 112, 91, 24
-Subjects 90, 14, 16, 103
Everyone was giving me looks. I hadn't understood why until now. I was to report to a lab, and more than that, by myself. That was unheard of. I looked down at Sub.19. She was looking up at me, worry written across her face. I stood a little taller. "It's fine," I said, "Maybe one of the guards wants to ask on of the watch dogs something."
She nodded slowly and I gave her a pat on the back as I walked toward to lab. They expected the subjects to report to the lab ASAP. Laboratory D wasn't far from the medications desk. I pushed open the door, looking curiously inside. The scientist looked up from the microscope and friendlily called, "Ah, Subject A, come in, come in. Don't look so nervous now, have a seat."
He sat across from me, putting his elbows on the table, smiling. I fidgeted, playing with my fingernails. I had a nervous habit of gently pulling my thumbnail. He looked down at my hands and I put them behind my back.
He looked back up at my eyes, and said quietly, "There's no need to be nervous. We just decided that it's time the facility become a little more diverse. We need to explore more than just Elements. And you, my dear, and much more than just an Element."
I bit my lip so I didn't blurt out that they had always treated me like less than the Elements. He leaned back, pulling a pen and notebook out of nowhere and said, "Alright, tell me, how does it feel when your eyes get the silt pupils?"
I blinked at him. My pupils..? He gave me a surprised look, "You don't know? Well of course you don't, there's not way you could see your eyes when your talking to an animal, there are barely any mirrors around this god forsaken place. Well, that has to be fixed. Come with me."
He turned and walked across the lab without glancing back. I hurried to follow and he pulled out a snake then led me to a mirror on the wall. He set the cage down in front of the mirror and gestured toward it.
I sat on the little stool so I could see myself in the mirror and the snake. I glanced down at it and said quietly, "Hello."
You wouldn't believe how awkward it is to start a conversation with a snake as a scientist watches. The snake lifted it's head lazily, flickering it's tongue at me and I heard it's voice in my head, It's you. The human with beast eyes.
All the animals said that to me, but I just now understood. When I spoke to the snake or heard the snake speak, my dark blue eyes turned silted like a feline. I looked back at the snake, "You've heard of me?"
We've met, child. I your was first conversation. I remember you told me that. You'd be suprised what snakes remember.
I thought back. He was right, I remembered admiring the pattern on his scales. I reached into the cage, stroking a finger along his scales. He looked up at me, If you did that to any other snake, it would bite you.
I suddenly realized what I had been doing and pulled my finger back, muttering, "Sorry."
He hissed at me, Don't stop.
I smiled a little at I gently ran my finger from his head down his spine, following the scales, but when I ran my finger back toward his head, he said, Not that way. It's actually very uncomfortable, it rubbing fur the wrong way.
I muttered another apology and asked the snake, "would you like to come out for a minute?"
The snake looked at me and I saw longing in it's eyes. The poor beast hadn't been out of this cage for years I was sure. I put my hand out and he slithered toward it, wrapping his body around my wrist then up my arm.
He made it up my shoulder I pulled him out of the cage, turning my body. He curled around the back of my neck and over my left shoulder. I smiled as I looked down at him, feeling his enjoyment at being out of that tiny cage.
It was then that I remembered the scientist. I looked up sheepishly at him. He was watching me, rather fascinated. He said, "No one has been able to move that snake without being bitten for sometime. Interesting."
He reached toward it, but before he could get within a foot of it, the snake poised to strike, threatening. The scientist moved his head back, writing something on the notepad.
He looked back up and I said, "Should I put him back, Dr…"
"Dr. Koski. And no, not if you don't wish to. He seems happier to me, don't you think?"
I nodded, stroking the snake's scales thoughtfully. The scientist said, "So I assume you don't feel anything, then, if you didn't know. And did you know that you don't make a sound when your talking to the snake, you just sit there with your mouth open, moving your tongue slightly?"
I blinked at him. I made sound when I spoke, didn't I? He said, "I assume not then."
I nodded, still not saying anything and he said, "I'd like to be your friend, Subject A. In fact, I'd like to have a name I could call you. Would you like a name?"
I gaped at him. None of us had names, it was against the rules. It would make you better than the other Subjects to have a name. I nodded a little and as he was about to speak, a female voice filled the room, "That's quite enough of that, Koski. There are no names for the Subjects. That's the point."
I turned to see another scientist walk in, a beautiful woman that looked like she should be a model more than a scientist. As she walked over, Dr. Koski said, "Ah, yes, Dr. Barquet"—my mind jumped to the notes I had read this morning—"So good to see you."
Author's Note: Thanks for reading everyone. It's kinda fun to write this story, but I'll probably scrap it if I don't get any reveiws, so if you like it, review!