Chapter 7: Release

Chapter 7: Release

A Chapter by Janeece

Fredrick is back. Scarlet begins to realize that this is only the beginning.


I'd read in a book once that it's a feeling you get when you've been away from your mother for day. And even though you know she'll end up annoying you less in than 15 minutes after you've reunited with her, you can't help the stirring in your gut, the smile stretching across your face so wide it hurts. I couldn't understand that feeling exactly, but the author used such descriptive words, I had a pretty good idea. I'd never known the emotion of being annoyed, or missing my mother because as it should be, I had always been happy, despite those pockets of times where I felt out of place.

                The feeling is stronger than that though. Deeper. And the feeling isn't only in my stomach; it's in my lungs, tripping my usual steady pattern of breathing. It's in my legs and arms and torso, keeping me frozen in place after that long sprint. But most of all it's in my heart, beating uncontrollably but also weighing me down. Keeping me grounded in this place so painfully far away from him.

                  No, it's not love, whatever that feels like, I'm sure this isn't it. It’s the feeling of security when I'm with him, the sense of a bond, friendship. Something I've never had much experience with, and something I'll have to work on. The presence of his face seems to mitigate my recent meeting. Seems to erase any signs of pain or discomfort. All that exists now is him.

                  I watch Fredrick as he stands. Blood smeared across his shirt, body limp and unable to move on it's own. He uses two people as a human crutch, staggering forward, like a helpless drunk. He drops to the floor in exhaustion. I lunge forward to catch him, but obviously I don't. I'm nearly 20 feet away. I clumsily get to my wobbly stance, vacillate feet not sure whether to run or walk. I finally reach his body, collapsing beside it. 

                 "Hey Red, why're you tired? You're not the one who almost died." His voice is rough and dry, almost a whisper. He laughs after, a harsh cough. I wince. "It's that bad? I bet maybe I sound like Darth Vader or something." I don't understand the reference, but I chuckle along with him anyways.

            The two supporters return to his aid, helping him up. "Well I should go drink some water and...shower. I stink don't I?" My head shakes. "You're too nice. I'll catcha later Red, alright?" He says that word again. Red. A new nickname? I quickly become fond of it, waving my hand. I smile after him as they stumble out.

              The crowd seems to disperse, people continuing their daily activities after the exciting interruption. I twiddle my thumbs and skit off to the side of the room, hugging the wall, trying to float back down to reality.

               "Was that your boyfriend?" The voice makes me jump about a foot in the air, my heart restarting itself. "Whoops, sorry." I turn to see Raeleigh, only she's not looking at me, her eyes are off somewhere else. And I know that tone was too excited to be coming from her mouth.

                My eyes wander to the figure beside her, smiling widely, hands folded behind her back. She's rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, smile nauseatingly wide. Her little amber eyes are lit up with happiness as she turns to fiddle with her hair. It's long and black, tight ringlets pulled back and falling down her back in a neat braid.

              "Who are you..." I don't mean to say the words out loud, and once I do, I regret the impolite question.

                "Adelaide." She smiles again, exposing little chicklet teeth. The front two are missing, a high ridge of nothing but gums. The sight makes me giggle to myself. She notices where my humor stems from and clamps her mouth shut, frowning self-consciously. "They'll grow in eventually, right Rae?" She looks up to her friend, who is still staring off at something else, paying no attention to our little meet and greet.

                 "Wha?" She looks down to Adelaide, completely dumbfounded and uninterested at anything she has just said. Adelaide rolls her eyes and looks back to me.

                "Where are you stationed to be?" The little girl eagerly leans in to hear as though it's top secret.

             "I guess I should head back to the conference room..." Adelaide smiles again, showing lots more gum. She grabs my hand and drags me off down the hall, leaving Raeleigh who is still staring.

               "I'll help you find your way." I stop myself from protesting, though I'm sure I can remember the way.

               It's silent for a while and I look down, worried. Has she bitten off her own tongue?

I'd never had much experience with children, never had to watch anyone else's child or anything of that nature. Everyone I'd been around grew up with me, always being my age. So as I was a child, everyone around me was as well. And then my age progressed. I was only exposed to others born in the same year. The thought of seeing a child in its purest, most vulnerable form causes my memory to stir in interest. I have never even seen a newborn baby!

             My brain seems to wail in objection, weaving through the long reel of film that is my memory. Gentle fingers of remembering touch down on a square of the roll where it has been blacked out. An attempt to recount events that don't exist to me. I do not remember my presence, and I have no urge to pursue the reasons as to why. Counter acting my mental defense, the film is clipped and thrown at my path of vision. I am suddenly emerged in it. Feeling what I had been feeling, seeing all the same.

                 It was a day when the sun decided to be blistering hot, naked rays beating down on anyone, everywhere they went. In my section of The North, at least.

                The sun had been baking my skin, the heat soaking into my hair and allowing it to lightly burn my back. I was playing with Skye outside, his parents not called us inside just yet. We fell on our backs to the artificial sod, the little game we had been playing was far too taxing under the influence of the torrid heat. We spoke bluntly about our lives, our parents, what we planned to do after the Teachings. At age 12, there was so much going on, but still so much ahead of us.

                I offered to go inside and grab us filters of water as he picked at a blade of grass. Too eager to relieve myself with the cool fluid, I tripped on the titanium step, hit my mouth off the solid corner of it and did some unknown damage. At first I just stood back up and got ready to continue with my task. Then Skye called out too me, something about blood, that was enough to stop my feet from moving any further. My hand drifted up to my mouth to feel the sticky substance, and then up to my eyes to examine it's appearance. It was blood alright, and I could feel it flooding behind my teeth and under my tongue. I spit it out onto the grass, unaware of how disgusting that probably looked to Skye. He settled me onto the ledge between the stair and his house. He then rushed inside to tell someone. I looked down at the puddle to my side, a small, white structure in the crimson mess. A piece of my tooth. I panicked immediately; worrying my tongue at each tooth to determine which one had cracked. Once I found it, I cried out in pain, the sensitivity too much to handle.

            Skye's father seemed to materialize out of thin air, lifting my shaking, limp form and rushing me out to the car. I sat motionless the whole car ride, scared of what my mother would think. Would she see the tooth, think I was the most revolting child alive, and simply disown me? From what The Teachings had taught us about appearance, the possibility of that happening seemed very high.

               We flew through the doors at the Help center, my body held in the same position as before, in Skye's father's arms. Skye trailed behind, his face cold as stone, pale as paper.

              My mother arrived moments later I had been lifted up onto a bed, cushioned with a thin mattress and an expensive looking pillow. A helper that specialized in teeth construction walked in, a trainee at his side. After they had me rinse my mouth out with a banana-flavored liquid that took all the sensitivity and pain away, he placed his tools inside and began to poke around. Measuring the exact size of the new tooth I'd need--I hadn't known the procedure was that effortless-- and then telling me that I could return in about 10 minutes to get it inserted.

     My mother and I said our goodbyes to Skye and his father, promising to inform him of the results as soon as we arrived home. She told me she wanted to show me something, leading the way down a long hallway that smelled funny.

            We walked past another set of doors, mother smiling at other familiar helpers around the center while I was sure to keep my mouth shut, embarrassed of my corrupted tooth, much like Adelaide. We came to a wide clear titanium wall, rows and rows of little beds placed inside. I got on my tippy toes, trying to see what was inside of these heavenly resting places.

                A door near to us swung open and a helper sauntered out, a blanket wrapped gift in her arms. She acknowledged my curiosity and diverted her course towards us, recognizing my mother as well. I watched with nosy eyes, peaking into the folds of baby blue material. A little pink nose twitched uncomfortably, as little eyelids pealed open to reveal big, gray eyes. The little rosebud lips parted, as the baby yawned after being awakened from a lovely nap.

              I couldn't take my eyes off of the beautiful creature even after the helper walked away. I saw my mother play with the little baby's fingers, coo-ing and babbling to the little boy.

             Where has this little excerpt of my life come from? Something I've made up to relate to my situation? No, that can't be right. It had been too vivid, too real. Not a blurry haze as though I'd painted the picture with my imagination. But as though I were there again, experiencing it. A memory just as clear as that of my first anxiety attack. So where had it been hiding?

              "You never answered my question you know." I look down to her.

              "What was that?"

                "Is he your boyfriend? The boy with the yellow hair?" I glance to her beside me, and then realize my gaze is not low enough. The top of her head is below my shoulder. She strains to look up at me, exposing her innocent eyes.

            "Fredrick? No, he's not. He's just a friend." I force a reassuring smile her way, trying to diminish her curiosity. She drops her eyes from mine, playing with her braid again.         

               "What about the sick boy he came in with?" A tight pang of sickness hits me in the stomach, I jerk forward, turning to brace myself on the wall. Griffin.

              "Where is he now?" I almost yell, staring at her fiercely. I don't mean to frighten her, but it's clear I do. She blanches at my insolent tone, dropping her braid.

               "Resting," I turn fast to see Kara striding towards us. "don't worry Scarlet. Both boys are resting. We have Pat working his magic on Griffin's leg." I try to swallow my concern and steady my breathing. "I imagine you're tired, too. But we do have some unfinished business to discuss. Adelaide," she looks down at the little girl, a gaze of authority. "what should you be doing right now?" She bites her lip innocently before muttering something about laundry and then scurrying away. Kara laughs to herself, shaking her head and walking ahead. I scuttle up to her right side, following closely behind.

                We enter the room to the low murmur of deep conversation, no doubt about the recent arrival of the 2, almost dead sons of Chaddor. I wonder what this must mean to them. Another piece of the puzzle present, allowing them to activate a well thought out plan? Maybe just more drama to make this place a little more tolerable? I wonder just how much longer it'll be before I get sick of it, too.

             Some take note of Kara's return, hushing their neighbors. This continues in a chain reaction around the table until everyone is attentive.

              "So where were we?" She walks as she speaks then takes her place in the large chair, John at her side.

             "Taking down The Head." I project, sitting down in an empty seat. Kara smiles approvingly.

             "Yes, Scarlet. That was our plan." My eyebrows furrow with her use of the past tense. "But we have come up with something much cleaner." She nods towards someone sitting at one of the little gadget desks. His fingers fly around on the flat table pressing buttons and entering codes and touching the monitor until Kara makes a sound of contentment.

     The screen turns to show its pictures off to the room. It is a large machine that pops up on the monitor, a 3D visual of something that ceases to exist just yet. The camera swerves in and out of the machine, showing the insides, how it works, and the pieces needed for it to be created. My eyes follow down the sides until I see what it is titled: Time Transporter. "A time machine?" I ask, staring at the large image.

              "We understand the concept seems quite silly but Rov here," she motions to the male manning the tech station, "used to work for The Head, he says they're working on something exactly the same. It'll be done in a week or two." A babble of chatter begins to build up in the room, some voices sound happy about it, the same amount have a negative tone to their voice, defensive even. "We know the risks, but at this point its a risk we're willing to take."

              "And what exactly do you plan on doing?" I inquire, a slight edge to my voice.

                "Stopping the person who started it all. Richard Pattin." My head shakes instantly before I really understand, breath caught in a bubble in my throat.

              "N-no, H-head Kaufman-"

              "Is in on it too, I know, we know. But your grandfather started the experiments alongside Chaddor. If we stop him, we stop all of this."

              "But that could change more than just this, that could change everything." There are several nods of agreement around the table, people watching me with interest. "Can't we just stop Head Kaufman now?"

                "I'm afraid we don't have nearly enough men for that, Scarlet. We've got to nip this in the butt, right from underneath. Kaufman has strength in numbers, but we have the technology." I know that if I listen to anymore of this it could turn nasty, on my part. My temper--that shouldn't even exist--has been out of hand lately, and I don't know how to deal with it.

               My anger slowly turns into a blizzad of white noise. I can't focus on anything but it. So I get up from the table, despite Kara's continuing words. Striding towards my exit, I decide to cut her off.

                "I think it's time for me to be dismissed." I don't wait for an answer as I leave the room.

 It was hard finding my way back to my room but once I did, I plopped myself down on the bed, rolled over with the covers tightly around me and went to sleep.

               I expected there to be some kind of punishment for my actions. Maybe locked up with no food for a couple weeks or sentenced to death for disrespecting the queen bee (sounds bad enough). Whatever it could've been, if they had been plotting my death or starving me, they never followed through. No one came barging into my room to yell at me, or to point a lethal weapon in my face. In fact, no one came back for a long time. Not even Raeleigh.  

              My dreams were twisted by the undeniable image of the time machine. Well, more of a nightmare. At first I'm walking down the halls, everyone seems to know who I am (well, of course they do) but I know everyone here as well. I wave hello, a bright grin on my face, something oddly out of place given my recent circumstances.

    I stop in the kitchen, serve myself a huge helping of yogurt and down it far too quickly for it to last, as I continue on my journey to somewhere unknown. A deep rumble, much like that of the beast in the desert, sounds behind me and I wheel far fast, dropping the bowl from my grip. The substance splashes at my feet, hitting my shins and dirtying my shoes.

             I look up at the monster expecting to see the same emerald eyes and golden hair, instead I see a machine. The time machine. A section of it contorted into some kind of a monstrous face, growling at me.

    I turn to run, but not fast enough. I know my legs can go faster than this, so why aren't they! It's like I'm running through water, trying to get somewhere but feeling like I'm going nowhere. This continues for some time, I throw a glance over my shoulder to see the machine on all fours, bounding towards me with sharp, metal teeth.

   I cry out in fear and wind my arms faster, trying to push through the air, swim through the halls. Then suddenly I am. I look back again to see the machine rusting unrealistically too soon as it sinks to the ground. I swim ahead, searching desperately for a source of oxygen. The feeling of drowning creeps up on me again, the pain excruciating.

                I awake with a start. Raeleigh enters the room, knocking things over and cursing under her breath. The room is dark seeing as the lights only go on during the day, proving it must be night. I hear her remove some clothing and then noisily climb into bed.

              "Scarlet? Are you awake?" I open my eyes and turn over, watching her in the darkness. "Is that a yes?"

                "It is now." There's a moment of silence before I hear her stir amidst the blankets.

                 "There's this boy..." The overused phrase stretches a smile across my face as I oppose the feeling to laugh. This reminds me of many books I've read about teenage love. I’ve got lots of experience through literature means. But real life experience? It is easily a number in the negatives. I listen to her ramble about this guy I've never seen before. I get a blurry image in my head. Dark brown hair and 'dreamy' blue eyes paired with many other adjectives that make me nauseous. "...and today, he asked me to walk with him to the games room! Isn't that great, Scar?" I know the newfound kindness has surfaced simply because she needs someone to gloat to and get excited with. Sadly, I'm not a suitable candidate. "What's wrong? Why are you sad! I could never be sad at a time like this..." She continues on and on, like a broken record. Repeating so many things about him, I find myself developing a little crush on this mystery boy. "Oh gosh! I didn't even tell you his name! It's Chris. There aren't many other girls my age down here, besides you of course, but you're with that Fredrick guy and-" My head snaps up at the sound of his name.

    "I'm what?" I emphasize, sitting up. I picture Raeleigh's copper skin flushing as she sits still in silence. "We're just friends." I hear her clear her throat and prepare to lie down, pulling her hair into a ponytail. "Do you know where he is?" Her hands pause in the air for a moment, then she sighs deeply and finishes her task.

                "He won't leave Pat's room, he's like glued to his brother's side." The news doesn't surprise me. Fredrick was always protective, especially when it came to his brother who was recently held captive in a research lab. I wonder if she knows that. "They're saying things aren't looking good for his leg. Pat doesn't have the right stuff to get rid of the infection or something." My heart sinks and there's a sharp pain that darts through.

   "W-where are they?" My newly acquired stutter kicks in, my sweat glands swelling.

             "Pat's health room...why?" She watches me, skepticism seeping into her hesitant tone.

               "Nothing just-"

              "There's no point in trying to get there," she cuts in sharply. "there's hall guides everywhere, and you were supposed to use the bathroom before curfew, so you can't use that excuse." I can feel her dark brown eyes burning in the black, analyzing my every move, as I glance down at the watch around my slender wrist. 11:57. Almost 2 hours too late.

"Why do you care?"

"I don't," she snaps harshly, trying to reassure the both of us, “I just don't want a bunch of guides in here poking around when I'm tired." I have no intention to respond, I just slither down into the bed, and back into my sleeping position, my arm under my head I mutter a gruff goodnight. Rae brightly says it back, the bitter sound of sarcasm creeping into her voice.

I wait for the usual heavy snoring to take over the silent space. That's when I know she's really asleep. I don't dare remove the blankets too quickly, sliding out from underneath and landing on the floor in a squat. I stay there as she tosses and turns in her sleep, gliding my shoes on.

"..such an annoying little..." She mutters in a daze. Her voice is thick and dry with sleep. No doubt she's having a lovely dream about cutting my head off or something satisfyingly gory like that. I creep towards the door in a huddle reaching up for the handle and-

She suddenly sits up. My hand drops as I fold my legs into my body as tight as I can in my crouch, trying to be invisible, hoping my faint outline won't show. I hear her body fall back to the bed and she continues snoring.

 I push the door open quickly, slipping outside. It quietly clicks shut behind me. I press random buttons on my watch until it flashes, a little light pouring out of the small hole in the front. I had seen the label on the raised stud during the day. I didn’t think it’d come in handy anytime soon.

 The light barely reaches the ground in front of me, but allows me to choose pathways if I get close enough to the curve of the hallway. But which way to go? I have no idea where Pat's room is.

"Hey!" I hear an enthusiastic whisper behind me, causing me to bounce back in surprise, almost knocking into them. I wheel to see a bright light shining directly into my darkness adapted eyes. I drop my head in discomfort and take a step away. "Sorry." A halfhearted mumble followed by the light dimming. I turn back to see Seb smiling crookedly at me. "You shouldn't be out here you know." I nod in understanding, ready to find the way back to my room. "Where you off to anyway?" I look up in surprise at his interest, not sure whether to lie or tell the truth.

"I'm looking for Pat's room. I've got this terrible paper cut that just won't stop burning and I can't sleep." I decide to go with a half lie. I am looking for Pat's room, just for a different reason. He laughs, waving me forward.

"I know what that's like, everything is so hazardous here, I've never had to be so careful in my life." I grumble an annoyed 'tell me about it' and follow him down a narrow hallway. "Where are you from anyways? The North?"

"Yeah, how'd you-"

"It's your hair," he says, envious. "it's been so vibrant for so long, it must be natural. I know in The North they aren't too fond of dying their hair because they don't need too. Lucky you." He says, running his fingers through his dyed blue hair.

"What colour is yours naturally?" He smiles at my conversation driven question, leading me forward. We make small talk about our past lives until we arrive at another high arch, forming a doorway. There's a titanium door on it, much like the one guarding Rae's room.

"Here we are." He says kindly, gesturing forward. "I'll hang around here until you're done, most of the 'men' are away on a raid, so it's basically us 'kids' guarding the halls." He creates air quotes over the debatable words. "Kids. I know right? I'll be 17 in a few weeks." He rolls his eyes and moves a long, thin object. That's when I notice the gun in his hand. He sees me eying it. "Don't worry, it’s just for precaution." I nod slowly, swallowing my concern and reaching for the handle. Seb smiles and walks away, whistling a simple tune. I push the door open and prepare myself for the horror within. 

© 2013 Janeece

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Added on March 17, 2013
Last Updated on March 17, 2013
Tags: dystopian, love, romance, sickness, cancer, anxiety, adventure, action, murder, suspense




my name is janeece, i'm 17. i live in canada and i hate how cold it is. i can't wait to get out of here. my passions include writing, musical theatre and fashion. message me, i'm super nice! more..

Prologue: Secrecy Prologue: Secrecy

A Chapter by Janeece