The sounds of heels knocking against the tiled floor echoed even into the small room from the outer hall. John woke up. He was leaning up against the counter in the room of the patient’s ward when he drifted off to sleep. But the sound had woken him. Looking at the still sleeping figure in the bed, he sighed.
“He’s too weak.” Barely audible words that slipped out in his passing thought, but they were heard still.
“Yes. He’s weak, and his weakness is a sign that he’s just a waste of resources.”
John glanced at the woman who just came in. She wore nice black capris and a long black tunic that ended to her thigh. The tunic was embroidered in gold and ruby-colored thread. Her hair was braided back like a ponytail, but entwined and woven in a way John had never seen. Her skin was dark and smooth, like caramel, and her eyes gleamed of a golden hue.
“And you are? Oh, wait. Let me guess. I don’t need to know.”
John was tired, and a little annoyed. When he was like that, he had a knack for running his mouth, regardless of the status of the other person. He knew it would get him in trouble one days, but John was a man who lived in the moment, and just worked for the future. That was his lifestyle. And he had no plans to change it.
The woman turned her head slightly to him but did not respond. Her gaze shifted back to the boy who slept quietly on the bed. She walked over and brushed the few strands of hair from his face. She seemed to stand there for a while, leering at his young face.
“The Twelfth Executor has repeatedly cursed the son of the Eleventh Executor for this… ‘gift’ of his. Do you want to know what he said?”
John raised an eyebrow. “I don’t, but I have a feeling you would tell me anyway.”
The woman laughed. It wasn’t a loud laugh, merely more than a chuckle, and yet, John felt his heart melt a bit. This woman is dangerous too. He thought.
John did not have relationships. He was a loner, who, regardless of his history and overworked schedule, would sleep around often and visit brothels when he could. But he only did so because he could not form any emotional attachments to women whilst retaining his desire for the pleasure they could bring. To him, women were like foreign pieces of art you saw in a passing window. They were pretty; you could steal a glance, or sneak in at night to cop a feel, but the piece itself would be unable to take your heart. That was until that laugh. For the first time in years, a woman had moved him. It was only a tiny bit, but it was enough. The same feeling he had when his sister was still around before that feeling became drowned in misery and heartache. A feeling that went with her when she left; and now? A piece had edged its way back to the surface of all that pain, and taken a good long breath.
… John did not like that feeling.
“Are you planning to say something, or are you just going to lean there lusting after a child?” John snapped. He saw no lustful look from her, but he had used that single touch to fabricate something to snipe at her with.
The woman frowned.
“This boy’s upbringing, his… history. Do you know it?”
“How can I know such a thing? It was the El-”
The woman waved him off. “I know who brought him in. I just alluded to it, didn’t I? I’m referring to the questions you asked him when he woke up.”
“He hasn’t woken up,” John stated. His tone was bland, and it sounded as if he was beginning to get annoyed.
The woman’s frown deepened.
“The Twelfth Executor. I heard you met him the other day.” John’s face changed, and his heart shuddered. So he was an executor? And I spoke to him like that? Damn my luck. But he didn’t let it show too deeply as to how much that shook him. All he said was, “what about it?”
“If you met him then you know what he’s like. So it comes as no surprise to you that he’s very disappointed in how this boy turned out. After all, he does not look favorably on failure.”
“The procedure worked. I can’t help it if the boy didn’t turn out strong enough. And besides, he was just the first of this phasing. This procedure was completely unlike the ones for the other specimens and considering that the results could only be counted as a success. From there, we can tweak the parameters, including who is given access to applying as a specimen as we move forward. And for that, I can’t have boys with no histories.”
“Boys?” The woman laughed again. This laugh was louder and much crisper. “You called the others specimens, but when it comes to this one, you say ‘boy’? What’s going on doctor? Not going soft on us, are we?”
“Of course not. He is a boy, isn’t he?”
The woman narrowed her eyes at John, and that small elated feeling John had in his heart when he heard her laugh was squashed to nothing in an instant. He felt his whole body go cold. He knew where the woman was getting at. Although he never met her, he was sure she did her research on him. He was known for always distancing himself from those who became a part of his experiment, treating them as if they were not cognizant living creatures.
But after a short moment, the woman smiled. “That’s good then. We can’t have you having feelings now, now can we? There’s so much work to do. And so little time.” And with that said, the woman straightened herself and walked out, but before she stepped past the frame of the door, she stopped; and without looking his way, she said, “If the boy wakes, find out his history. He may be some orphan, but we must know everything.”
And she walked out.
“Yeah,” John whispered to himself. “Know everything in case he becomes a threat. Then you’ll just kill him and the rest of his family… Probably just kill his family now to ensure no one goes looking.”
John leaned against the wall for a long while. He looked at the boy resting underneath those fluffy white sheets on the steel panel bed and sighed. “Of all the people that man had to run into, he had to find you?”
And John left the room.
After what seemed like a long moment, Braen opened his eyes. He glared at the door where he heard the last footsteps of a man leave minutes before.
He’s finally gone.
Seeing that no one was around, Braen slowly got up. He heard the conversation from before. When the woman leaned over, he was so nervous that he was spotted, that he nearly crapped all over himself. She clearly thought I was awake. But what did they mean by procedure.
It was then that he brought his head up, that a dizziness took hold, and he felt sick.
Pain suddenly hit him everywhere. It shocked him and was even worse around his obliques.
“Ju-” Braen shut his mouth. His throat was ripped and soar. What happened to me?
He touched his neck and then winced as his head was flooded with a sudden rush of pain. He rammed his fist into his leg over and over, trying to bear through it… and then it stopped.
What was that?
Opening his eyes, the room suddenly didn’t look like the room he just took a glance at. Everything seemed more… enhanced. Tiny whispers of white threads seemed to drift off the objects in the room. The counters, the chairs, the cabinets; everything.
Braen reached out, but just before his hand grazed a strand, he stopped and looked at the appendage before him. It seemed to glow a white light. It was light a thing of light and only light.
And then an image flashed. The arm turned into an endless black metal, flickering in between the image of light and the image of black metal. Braen winced.
And as the white strands around him drifted, it touched his arm.
Suddenly Braen’s body seized. It was like thunder boomed within him. A shock riddled and ripped through his flesh and he began to thrash.
He knocked the nearby lamp and knickknacks on the bedside table. The light iron chair at his bedside was knocked over.
The noise brought a commotion.
Nurses ran down the hallway and into the room.
To Braen, he couldn’t see any faces, only the blurry warping image as more and more people ran in. They were wearing white, but Braen could gleam no more. And then, darkness took hold of him once more.
When Braen woke up again, he was alone.
There were no nurses, no doctors.
He tried to get up, but this time but as he moved his hand, it jerked back down.
He looked, and he found there were restraints on it. But he felt nothing on his other side. In fact, he felt it was too light. Something he didn’t notice when he awoke the first time.
The room seemed back to normal. There were no white strands, no enhancement. It was just him, the steel chair, and the bedside table. Except the lamp was missing.
“Must have broken when it fell,” he mumbled.
And subconsciously, Braen cleared his throat. He had tried reaching for it, but his hand jerked back down. “I can talk? And there’s no pain.” In fact, there was no pain anywhere else on his body. Did I imagine some of it?
Braen tried to stand up. Only his arm was tied down, and not his legs. He wanted to feel the ground beneath him and collect some of himself. To ground his chaotic mind, but when he did, his legs gave way, and he dropped right back on the bed, gasping. “I feel so weak.”
“Of course you do.” A harsh voice echoed through the room.
Braen looked over, and standing there was a squat woman. She had a silver plate embedded on her neck, braided down blonde hair, and a fresh white coat over her white skirt and tunic.
“Who are you?”
“I’m your doctor.” The woman said as she raised her hand to touch the plate. It appeared as if she could not talk unless she was touching it.
“I’ve been assigned to your case. Now lay back down.”
Braen laid back. His stomach squirmed. Doctor? Since when do they let my kind in a hospital? But of course, Braen did not voice his questions. In fact, his face was expressionless. He knew what these people were like. Should they know he was poor, with no money, or that he had no family with money, he would be at best, kicked out. Worse, he had even heard of some being enslaved in order to pay off their debts.
Braen had no desire of being enslaved.
Braen looked towards the stump of his arm. A sudden pain was reflected in his face, although he felt none physically. But the loss was heart-wrenching. “It really is gone.”
“You need to rest. I have a few questions to ask you.”
“Shouldn’t you answer mine first? As in how I got here, and who exactly you are? You tell me you are a doctor, but you never even say your name.”
The doctor frowned. It was slight, but it quickly disappeared as if it were never there.
“It is not my place to tell you. You will be informed in due time. The man who brought you here has already been notified of your awakening, and is on his way.”
Man? Could it be him? Now that Braen began to get his thoughts in order, he felt it was most likely him. The man who saved. He could barely remember the silver-blue hair and the truck, but he had not forgotten. And some sort of bond swelled within him. Who would have thought the Aristocracy could be so nice?
And at that thought, Braen froze. No. I cannot trust them. He saved me, but why? There has to be a reason. There always is. And it’s always a selfish one.
The doctor took the chair beside his bed.
Braen knew the doctor was going to ask him questions. What do I tell her? If I tell her nothing, what will they do? Damn it, he cursed in his thoughts. Just what was he going to do.
“Now then, shall we begin?”