By Amarachi Okpunobi
The ground was wet underneath my knees as I collapsed. The soil stained my jeans and smelled of the fresh rain that had fallen the previous morning. I let my gloved hands fall to the earth, stroke it. The last fading rays of gold sunlight filtered through the sky as the sun sank behind the horizon. Soft green tips of grass were beginning to poke through the ground, soon to be an expansive field. My lungs labored and puffed while my heart pounded in my ears. The windchill blurred my vision.
I stayed on my knees, hands shaking in the soil. I grasped it firmly. It was cold. Wet. The clay clung to my fingers, smooth. I held to each of those simple facts tightly.
This was real.
Behind me, the Sanctuary’s lights began to flicker on. The white glow fell on my back, bringing me into plain sight. They would see me. They just had to look out of a window.
They would find me.
I couldn’t breathe. Running was useless. How stupid was I, to think they would spare me?
I was not innocent.
My shoulders drooped under an unseen pressure as I stood. Slowly, I reached my feet. Loose clumps of dirt fell from my hands and knees. The sheer terror of my fate was my only motivation. Each step I took, each breath I heaved, it had nothing to do with my will to live. What awaited me was far worse than death.
I staggered through the field, toward the forest on the other side. My pistol pressed against my side in my waistband. It seemed to burn through my skin.
I reached the trees, footsteps already prominent behind me. Shouts and broken flashlight beams filtered through the branches around me. I almost puked, my stomach already filled with something sour. I felt nothing as I turned around, holding the pistol tightly in my hand.
Dark silhouettes lined the edge of the forest, a bright floodlight set up somewhere behind them. The shine of their own guns was plainly obvious as a select few made their way closer. I knew they wouldn’t kill me. They were against killing. The guns would only sedate me.
A figure in the middle slowly came into better view. Face stern, silver eyes bright, Detective Heron watched me. Her hair half undone and matted to her face, she looked like she’d taken a stroll through Hell. Her hand was already positioned over her gun. It seemed there would be no time to negotiate.
No. I pressed the barrel of my gun to my temple, hand shaking. No. “You won’t take me alive,” I hissed.
Heron’s mouth twitched. Maybe it was a smile.
A flash of light and something was embedded in my arm.
I faded into darkness.
A bright light. A cold sweat prickled across my forehead.
My conscious came back with the numb chill spreading through my body. My eyes and mouth felt dry, like I’d left them open for days. I squinted into the light set up in front of me, and found that my wrists were chained to the back of my chair.
“Clara Elizabeth Adams, former doctor at the Sanctuary…” The voice trailed off, letting the words hang in the air. “You know why you’re here.”
Yes, yes I did. I couldn’t breathe. We all knew what was going to happen to me. “I…” My voice broke. I coughed. “I was your source. I gave you the Sanctuary’s location.”
Silence. The air was too thick to breathe.
“Please,” I cried. “Please, have mercy.”
“This is a mercy, Clara Adams.”
My hands were released from my chair and hastily placed on the arm rests. In response, steel bars held them in place.
A faceless doctor rolled up my shirtsleeves, inserting various IVs. One in my wrist, another in my arm. My eyelids felt too heavy. I struggled to keep them open. My heart pounded out of my chest.
The world around me began to soften and dull, muffled by the cushion of whatever drugs they were giving me.
“Now, remember, Doctor Adams,” someone said. “Everything you will be told is a lie.
Everything you will think you know, is a lie. Remember that, Doctor Adams.”
I closed my eyes.
When I opened them again, I was somewhere else. The air was crisp, the walls white. The scent of chemicals stained the air. Soft, gloved hands prodded at my bare arm. Someone whispered reassurances as they readied a medical needle.
I recognized that voice. I knew that voice.
I’d worked in Human Trials. The death toll had been highest there.
“It will only hurt a little. You’ll be okay, I promise.”
I glanced up. The doctor… she was me.
The needle was carefully inserted into my arm. It wasn’t the first time. I knew that much. Like so many others, my arms were covered in the telltale veins, blue and purple, raised and blemished. I cringed. Fire filled my arm.
The doctor- me- smiled.
Every single one of my victims. I had to live through every single one of their tortures, their pains.
It was time to pay for my crimes.
Nothing you will see is real….
I closed my eyes