It’s hard to think back on what happened. Every time I think about it my hands get warm and sticky, my knees rattle as if there was an earthquake inside them, and my head pounds painfully. Each beat of my heart sends pain rushing through my veins. My eyes are hot, but the moisture coming from them is as cool as a summer pool. The moisture moves down my cheek, rolling over my cheekbone. As it gets lower on my face, it begins moving at a quicker pace. It reaches my chin and leaps into the air. The moisture lands on the metal table with a splat.
“Anthony” I hear the man in front of me say. “Anthony, you need to tell us what happened.” The man is an officer of some sort. He doesn’t seem any different from the others who have spoke to me. I look up at him and for the first time, I notice his uniform is different. Rather than the usual sky blue uniform with a navy blue tie, this man wears a white button down shirt with a black tie. I look up at the man’s eyes. They are a clear blue, like the ocean tides rushing back and forth on the sand. His hair is a dull white. Like snow that has begun to melt.
“Anthony, can you hear me?” he asks me. I look down at the cuffs on my hands. They are locked in place, fastened with a silver chain looped through a ring on the table. “Officer Jackson,” I hear the man mumble “uncuff Mr. Riggs please.”
“But sir…” the officer began to protest
“You heard what I said Officer. Don’t make me repeat myself.” barks the man with snowy hair. Officer Jackson quickly walks over to me and places his key inside the hole on the cuffs. He turns the key with a click and the cuffs fall off my hands, clanking on the metal table. I leave my hands in the same position they were, still looking down.
“Anthony, I’m not here to hurt you. I just need you to tell me what happened that night.” he looks to his right and pulls up a brown leather case and places it on the table. He turns it towards me and unlatches it slowly. He pulls it open and it creaks with sounds of old age. I move my eyes inside the case.
“Have you seen this before?” he asks me. I pick up my hand and place it on the soft object inside the case. As if it weighs a thousand pounds, I pull it out, my hand trembling. I move my fingers along it’s soft cloth and button eyes. I open my mouth to speak, but my voice is raspy and crackling.
“I have.” I force myself to say
“Where have you seen it Mr. Riggs?” he asks me with a gentle voice
“In my home. That night, and all the nights before.” this strange creature I hold in my hands, is perhaps the ugliest monkey I have ever seen. It is a brownish grey color, with bright red lips and black button eyes.
“We found this at the scene. With her. Do you remember anything from that night? Anything at all?” my head begins to pound again. My heart races inside my chest. My hands fill with moisture. Everything around me turns black. I hear the muffled sound of the man’s voice, but I cannot make out what he is saying.
I wake up after what felt like hours of darkness, and I see I am in a different room now. I look in front of me and see a large monitor taking up the entire wall with a blank screen. I try to move but my hands are locked inside steel clasps attached to my chair. I feel a sharp pain in my head, but it’s different from the pain I felt before. I hear a door open, and the soft sound of shoes hitting the floor at a slow pace. The man with the snowy hair appears between me and the monitor.
“Anthony. We’re not sure what happened. You went insane.” the man says softly
“I...I didn’t mean to-” I begin
“I know you didn’t.” he says with a slight grin “I am not afraid of you, however, my colleagues are. This is the reason you are restrained right now.” he turns around to face the monitor. He pulls a remote out of his pocket and clicks the red button. The screen lights up and on it, it shows a man. This man is in a white collared shirt and black slacks. His hair is snowy, identical to the man in front of me. Both the man in front of me and the man on the screen turn to face me at the exact same time. They have the same face.
“W-what is this?” I ask with a shaky voice
“This, is our greatest piece of technology. With that cerebral screening helmet on your head, we can see anything you see now, as well as anything you have seen.” the man on the monitor continues to move exactly as the man in front of me.
“We didn’t want to use this on you, but you’ve left us no choice.” he moves to stand beside me. He leans over with his lips beside my ear.
“Don’t worry,” he whispers “this will only hurt...a lot.” he presses a button on the helmet and pain rushes throughout my body. I feel as if my entire body will explode into a million pieces. My head is hot. It is as if someone placed burning coals inside my brain. Suddenly, all the pain stops. It leaves as quickly as it came.
“You did well Anthony.” the man said with a grin “Now, how about we find out exactly what happened that night. Shall we?” before I can say anything he presses another button on the remote and I see my home. I see my home before the disaster.
“This is what you saw that night beginning at 6:45 P.M. that night.” the man says beside me.
“Lucy!” I called, only it wasn’t the present me who said it.
“Lucy! Come down here now! Your dinner is getting cold!” I called again.
“I’m coming dad!” the soft, sweet voice of my daughter. She came running down the stairs, her long brown hair chasing behind her. She ran into me, and wrapped her arms around my waist. I moved my arms around her shoulders. Once we separated I placed my hand on her head and gently brushed her smooth brown hair out of her face. She looked up at me with her leaf green eyes and smiled. I smiled back at her. If only we knew this would be the last time we would be together.
“Are you ready for your birthday dinner my little princess?” Lucy had turned eight years old today and I promised I would attempt to make her a fairy’s meal for dinner. She told me a fairy’s dinner consisted of pink, sparkly chicken, blue potatoes, purple juice, and several bowls of assorted candy. So, not wanting to let my little girl down, I made everything she requested. I used pink food coloring to turn the chicken pink, and blue food coloring for the potatoes. I poured grape juice into our glasses, and placed different sorts of colorful candy in white bowls. We sat down at the table, preparing to eat our...meal, if you can call it that. As I began to cut open my chicken breast, there was a knock on the door. “Who could be here so late?” I thought.
“Lucy, I want you to go upstairs to your room. Close the door and lock it. Do not open it for anyone but me. Do you understand?”
“Yes daddy.” she said with a confused look on her face. She got up and ran upstairs. I waited until I heard her bedroom door close, then I looked out the window by the front door. I saw a woman with short blonde hair dressed in all black, and three men dressed the same way with her. I moved over to the door and opened in slowly.
“Hello? Can I help you?” I asked
“Hello. I am with the EIB, that’s the Enhanced Individuals Bureau. I’m sure you know what we’re here for.” the woman replied
“I’m not sure what you mean...nobody here is enhanced.” I said, shaking. Before I could say anything else, the man to her right moved forward and pushed me to the ground and ran inside my home. The other two followed closely behind him. The woman walked towards me.
“I really wish you wouldn’t lie to us, Mr. Riggs.” she said with a evil tone. “Find the girl,” she called “use whatever means necessary to bring her in.” I heard the men destroying my house, searching through every room.
“There’s a locked door up here ma’am!” one of the men called
“Break it down!” the woman called back
“No…” I mumbled “No no no…”
“What was that Mr. Riggs? Did you say something?” the woman asked me. My head began to pound. My heart began to beat faster and faster inside my chest. My hands became hot and moist. I began to scream in both pain and anger. My eyes swelled up with heat and I threw my hand out at the woman. However my hand never hit her. Something else did. Something beautiful yet frightening at the same time. It was fire. Fire flew out of my hand and devoured everything it touched. My home was on fire. The woman lay on the floor unconscious, her clothes burnt. I ran up the stairs of my home. I reached my daughter’s room and found the door laying on the floor. Lucy was clutching her favorite toy, her sock monkey. Both men were standing beside her. I threw flames at them, just as I did to the woman. The men slumped to the ground, scorched with flames. I ran over to Lucy...she was dead. One of the men shot her in the chest. I stood there. Shocked. I heard the sirens in the distance. I fell to my knees...for the first time that night, I felt cold. I sat there for a long time. I heard running footsteps throughout the house. Someone came up behind me and grabbed me. I turned to see the person’s face, and it was the man with snowy hair.
The monitor in front of me turns off and the man the man with snowy hair was in front of me again.
“Anthony,” he says “I want to apologize, for everything.” he says softly.
“Apologize? Why would you do that?” I question “I killed them...the woman, the men...I burnt down my own home. I’m a monster!” I yell.
“No, Anthony, you are not a monster. You were trying to save your daughter.” he moves closer to me “I don’t believe I ever formally introduced myself. My name is Richard Artson, Director of the Enhanced Individuals Rescue Department.” he inserts his key into a slot on the chair and my hands are freed from the clasps. He removes the helmet from my head and steps back a few feet.
“Follow me please.” he says with a smile.