Hi, sorry about the long, long lag between this chapter and the one before. I had a few exams. But that's not an excuse. An author must update on time. I'll try to for the next chapter. -pzadcat
Cynthia threw her pen down and stretched her arms out. Who knew math could be so tiring? She glanced around the room and saw that the others were still writing. Cynthia slumped down in her seat. It was three in the afternoon, and she'd just completed her math test, even though there was still almost an hour to go. Here in the orphanage, children had lessons but they were called activities. Apparently it still wasn't proper education, but Cynthia thought that subjects like English and Math were "proper" enough. The caretakers kept saying "real education" started after you've had your fifteenth birthday.
Cynthia yawned and put her head in her arms. Jasmine, who was sitting next to her, glanced at Cynthia. The look she gave her obviously said, "You're done already?" Cynthia shrugged and turned her head so she was staring at the hard wooden surface of the table. Everyone knew she was a natural at math, though she absolutely hated it. She sat up again, feeling restless, and looked over her test paper once more. Not finding any mistakes she recognized, Cynthia finally decided that she could spend this hour doing something other than sitting in the musty room while the others worked on their test. Cynthia stood up and walked over to the caretaker overlooking the exam and handed her paper in. Then she gathered up her stuff and left.
Cynthia entered her room and plopped her things and herself down on her bed. She took out a pencil and crossed off another day on her calendar, like a countdown. Today was December 27. Two more days till the day she was dreading. Then she lay back down and put her arms behind her head and thought about the year so far. It had started with the year group changing the age tags on their room doors on September 1. Strangely, year groups included all kids in that year from September first to the next year August 30. Cynthia had wondered what about the kids born on August 31, but apparently there hadn't been one…yet. Cynthia thought about what they'd been told on September first this year.
"Be reminded that this year is the year all of you are turning fifteen. If your year mates leave this group over the year, don't panic and go about your normal lives," the caretaker had said. So far, two boys had already left the group. Even though Cynthia was warned of what was going to happen, it was still a big shock when the first boy, Fabian, had suddenly disappeared. Cynthia had been good friends with Fabian and it scared her greatly when he just disappeared to nowhere, or at least she had no idea where. Her watch buzzed slightly and Cynthia jerked back to reality. She glanced at it and was surprised how fast time had passed when she was lost in her thoughts. The test should have ended and Cynthia glanced out her room to see Adam pass by her. His light blue eyes darted around like they always did but this time it somehow seemed much more urgent. Then Sarah raced up the stairs and her eyes were wide with…confusion, and…shock? Cynthia noticed Christina walking up too, but she was somehow not like herself. Christina excused herself from her friends politely and went straight to her room and shut the door quietly. Usually she would slam it shut. And when did Christina become a polite and timid girl? Cynthia frowned. Something seemed off. She hurried over to Jasmine.
"Hey," Jasmine said with a smile that looked pretty forced to Cynthia. Being her friend so long, Cynthia recognized that Jasmine was trying to keep her normally bubbly and happy mood.
"What's wrong, Jaz?" Cynthia asked immediately.
"I can tell its not 'nothing'."
"It's got nothing to do with me," Jasmine sighed. "I'll tell you later." Cynthia shrugged at her response and they detached themselves from the others and Jasmine pulled Cynthia into a nearby bathroom.
"What are we doing here?" Cynthia asked, confused.
Jasmine looked at her. "I thought I was going to tell you what happened? And I need to wash my hands, my pen leaked." She held up her hands which looked pretty black. Cynthia leaned on the old bathroom sink and waited for Jasmine to speak. Jasmine kept her eyes down and she didn't say anything until she dried her hands and turned to Cynthia.
"Something happened to Christina."
Cynthia frowned. "Christina?"
"Yeah. And I don't know what happened. It just did," Jasmine said. Her eyebrows creased. "We were just finishing the exam…and…Christina just suddenly screamed and starting jerking around in her seat."
Cynthia gave Jasmine a "what the hell are you talking about" look.
Jasmine chewed on her lip for a second, thinking how to explain. "Like, her arm just starting jumping around on it's own. At least it seemed like it. I don't even know if I'm dreaming. But by the way everyone was acting, I don't think so." Jasmine paused for a second. Then she leaned forward and pinched Cynthia's nose.
"You seem real enough," Jasmine said thoughtfully.
"I am!" Cynthia said, flustered. "What did the caretakers do?"
Jasmine thought. "I…I don't know."
"I fell asleep the moment they realized what was going on. Didn't sleep well yesterday," Jasmine shrugged. "When I woke up Christina was still there and nothing had happened…the time didn't even pass a bit. Probably just a dream."
"But…so you fell asleep before then," Cynthia said, trying to figure out what had happened.
"…No. What?" Jasmine looked completely dumbfounded and Cynthia felt pretty much the same way.
"Whatever." Jasmine shrugged and Cynthia nodded.
"Christina's g-g-gone," sobbed Sarah.
"Yeah, I know," said Cynthia. It felt weird, without Christina insulting her. It seemed a bit too free. Yesterday had been Christina's birthday. And now she was gone. Poof. Disappeared completely. Her room was stripped of everything, even her bed had vanished. Cynthia sat down and ate her breakfast, thinking about the learning halls. Then she went to her classes/activities. It was a long day.
Cynthia went back to her room. I wonder what it will be like in the forbidden floor. That is, if I ever get to go there. She got out her toiletries bag and slipped out of her room. She looked around and headed toward the girls bathroom. She pushed back her long locks of black hair, but now she could see what Jasmine was talking about. If you stood still and looked long enough, her hair did seem to become a very dark but pleasant shade of blue. Just like mom, she thought. She only had one memory of her mother. Cynthia rubbed her eyes. Everyone said that she had huge dark blue eyes with long lashes.
Cynthia brushed her teeth, took a shower and got into her pajamas. She noticed that no one else came to shower or anything. She shrugged and went back to her room.
December 28…Cynthia shivered. Tomorrow, December 29…Cynthia's birthday…
"AH!" Cynthia bolted up in her bed, beads of sweat on her forehead. It was the same dream. She was dragged in the forbidden floor and watched a black-haired girl die in a flash of light. Then she'd see the light again and hear the high-pitched scream of agony. Only this time she was sure it had spilled out of her own mouth.
Cynthia looked around. It was dark in her room. She flicked the lights on and peered at the clock on her wall. 6 o'clock am. It was really early. She changed and creaked the door open. It was dark as well. Maybe even darker. Cynthia crept downstairs and stared at the forbidden floor. Somehow she had a feeling Christina was in there somewhere. Maybe I'll go see where she is, thought Cynthia. She took off her boots and held them in one hand and tiptoed across the corridor in her socks. No one came rushing like last time. She moved forward and listened. Moved forward and listened again. And again and again and again. She repeated this until she was in complete darkness.
Cynthia put her boots on the floor and slipped them on. Then she stood there and stared into the darkness. So this is what it feels like to be blind, she thought. Cynthia moved forward an inch. She stretched out her hand and felt the air before her. Nothing was there. She moved forward. She kept her hand stretched out in front of her and kept on walking forward. Cynthia closed her eyes since they were no use. She moved forward for about 30 more seconds and opened her eyes. She blinked. Was she imagining it, or is there really a beam of light in one of the corridors she could now see branching off? She looked behind her. It was complete darkness. Cynthia looked toward the light and ran at it. She stopped in the corridor. There were 4 rooms. On each of the boards above the rooms, there was a number. 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. She stared at them. Then she crept to the room with 10-12 on it and peered through the keyhole. It was sort of a bedroom. There were 2 desks, 1 bookshelf, and a few chairs around a fire blazing fiercely in the grate. On the other side of the room, there were 2 cots. And there was a girl with green eyes and shoulder-length blonde hair. The girl was giving off some sort of light that making her seem to glow and she seemed even godly. Cynthia stared at her. She thought she knew her. The girl sighed and the sound was just too "godly" that Cynthia just stared and forgot how to move. There was something weird about the girl. The girl was bent over a huge book with drawings of weird creatures and symbols. Cynthia started to feel a chill and she turned and ran back into the darkness. Cynthia ran straight into the darkness and charged back into the staircase. Then she flew up that and zipped to her room. Weird things happening today, thought Cynthia. She was aware that she had the same thought a few days ago.
Cynthia checked the clock again. It was finally time for the waking calls to start hurting her ears. About time, she thought, I've been waiting for so long. Cynthia threw her door open and walked downstairs to the first floor, where all the activities took place. She stopped suddenly, remembering the day. December 29. Cynthia's heart immediately jumped to her throat and she was suddenly overwhelmed by fear of the unknown that was surely going to happen to her. Her breathing quickened and Cynthia stood frozen to the spot, her hand still outstretched from when she was going to knock on the door. Cynthia took a deep breath and after a while managed to get her heart and breathing rate under control from her sudden fear which had triggered an adrenaline rush. Cynthia lowered her arm. What the heck, she thought.
She was about to knock on the door when her arm jerked suddenly by itself. She dropped her book. Cynthia stopped and glanced at it. She checked her schedule and looked over her shoulder. She had the feeling something was following her after she woke up. Something's wrong, she thought. This is getting weird. Cynthia headed straight down to her philosophy for children class. Her foot suddenly went all numb and she tumbled onto her back. She lay there for a few minutes and then was slightly reassured, stood back up shakily. She wasn't hungry and her stomach felt like she was drinking acid. It hurt a lot. Cynthia doubled over and gasped. Now her entire body felt like it was being drained. Cynthia fell on the ground again and shivered, losing whatever strength she had in the first place. She started panting, her body heaving for air. What…what's going on? Cynthia tried to move her arms and legs. She couldn't stay here in the middle of the corridor! She lifted one arm and lifted her head shakily. She uttered a cry of pain. Her arms felt like they were acid. Cynthia was instantly overwhelmed by pain and darkness.
"I forgot…I'm really sorry…please…"
"SHUT UP YOU FREAK!"
"DIDN'T I GIVE YOU A LIST OF THESE BIRTHDAYS?!"
"I DID! AND YOU HAVE MESSED UP! AGAIN! ON THIS GIRL AND THAT CHRISTINA GIRL!"
"I'm…I know, just…I'm really…I only forg—!"
"SHUT UP! YOU ARE FIRE—!"
"Be quiet you two!"
Cynthia opened her eyes. She was lying on a soft cotton bed. She turned her head shakily and looked at her surroundings.
"Where…am I?" Cynthia's voice was a whisper. A croak would be more accurate. Then she winced, because the acid was entirely covering her throat. She tried to take a breath but the acid was cutting off her air supply.
"Stay still. You'll be fine."
Cynthia looked into the eyes of the caretaker who was dressed as a nurse. I can't breathe! The caretaker/nurse just looked away. Cynthia started panicking. ! She couldn't breathe. Cynthia clawed at her throat, and she held her hands away she saw that she had clawed so hard she had drawn blood. She was only faintly aware of the sting of the cut. Then the acid started dribbling down her throat, into her stomach and lungs. Cynthia's eyes widened as she struggled for air, fighting to get a breath. The acid burned inside her, eating away at her. And Cynthia's eyes focused on a point somewhere above in the room. They lost the light of life.
I know you must be thinking, what the hell? It'll clear up soon. -pzadcat