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Strange Things Happen
Day One: October 3, 2012 10:45 PM
I’m not insane.
Baine Yaxley sat in his new room, his knees pulled up to his chest with his arms crossed on top.
I’m not insane. They’re the crazy ones.
The room—no, it was more like a cell—was small with a bed in one corner, where he was currently sitting. A small desk next to it held bits of paper, a few pens, and a few sets of the psych ward’s uniform. He’d refused to wear it until they’d forced him into it.
How could they put me in here?
Blue eyes blazed with anger under bushy, reddish-brown eyebrows, half-hidden by thick, messy hair to match. Moonlight filtered through the small window that was too high for anyone to reach. His all-white clothes were prominent in the dark along with his pale face.
It wasn’t my fault it happened. I didn’t do anything. I swear I didn’t.
Something that sounded like a wolf howled in the distance. Baine closed his eyes.
I’ll find a way out. They’ll see they were wrong.
He pulled off his glasses and curled up under the thin, gray blanket, somehow feeling colder than he did without it.
Day Two: October 4, 2012 5:15 AM
Baine was jerked from an almost peaceful sleep by a loud bell, not unlike a school bell, ringing through the room. His door opened and slammed against the white-washed wall. With a groan, he pulled himself out of bed, clumsily grabbing for his glasses on the desk and ramming them onto his face. He shuffled into the herd of the other ‘inmates’, as he’d decided to call them. He ended up in the cafeteria line with a tall girl who looked about the same age as he was, 19, but sort of carried herself in a way that made her seem older. She was pale, paler than him, like she hadn’t gotten much sun or sleep in a few days. Her ice-colored eyes had dark shadows under them. The girl seemed to have a permanent scowl, like it was tattooed onto her face. She wore the same white clothes as everyone else, but unlike most of the others, who wore white slip-on shoes, she was barefoot. A dingy, tan (or maybe it had once been white), short-brimmed hat lay on top of her short black hair, which fell in her face and covered her ears. She caught him looking at her and paused while reaching for a gray-green tray and he averted his gaze.
Raising a thin eyebrow, she continued what she was doing, made her way through the line, filling the paper plate on her tray with what he assumed were scrambled eggs, and sat down at a round table by the window, alone. Once he’d gotten his food, Baine pretended to look at a few of the other tables that were scattered around the room before going to sit across from the girl.
She looked up at him for the briefest second before staring at the food on her tray.
“Well?” she said. Her voice wasn’t high- or low-pitched, but somewhere at a happy medium. It was, he noticed, very sarcastic sounding at the moment. “Can I help you, Kid?”
Baine frowned at her. “I can’t say hello?”
Baine picked up his fork. “So, what’re you here for?”
“What’re you here for?” she asked, not looking up at him.
“I asked you first,” he snapped, putting his fork down with a little too much force. Control your temper, he thought. She’s just trying to mess with you.
“I asked you second, Snippy,” she countered, finally meeting his gaze.
Baine sighed. “My parents decided bipolar meant crazy. Especially when this kid on our street went missing.”
“Oh? Good for you. You may be one of the normal ones then.”
“Normal?” he scoffed.
“Tch. Hey, you could’ve killed someone.”
Baine gulped and looked around. Come to think of it, a few of them did look a bit murderous…
“Okay,” he said, clearing his throat when his voice cracked. “Okay, your turn. Why are you here?”
“Schizophrenia,” she answered bluntly. “And I get these blackouts pretty often.”
“Don’t they make a pill for that?” Baine asked. She shrugged.
“My mom couldn’t afford it. Anyway, she thought it was a little weird that I was talking to my older brother.”
He looked confused. “Why’s that weird?”
“My brother’s dead.”
He didn’t press the matter any further, apart from, “I’m sorry.”
She just shrugged again. “Things happen. People come and go. People call you crazy then send you here to go through shock therapy…” her voice trailed off and she stopped pushing her food around.
“Sh-shock therapy?” Baine asked, trying to keep his voice steady. “Sounds painful.”
“Hurts like Hell…be careful about your anger issues, they might put you through it too.” She said vaguely, rubbing at a non-existent spot of dirt on the too-clean table. Then she met his gaze. “Just thought I’d warn you, Kid.”
“Hey, quit calling me ‘Kid’, Schizo!” said Baine, feeling his temper flare and starting to stand up. A muscle twitched under her left eye and she did the same.
“Watch your mouth there, Timmy Two-face!” she retorted.
“Why don’t you go have a talk with Brother Dearest?” Baine snapped back, sarcasm dripping from every word.
Something snapped inside her and her hand shot across the table, latching onto the fabric of his shirt. Her left hand pulled back to nail him in the face when one of the nurses from across the room shouted, “NO FIGHTING!”
She glared daggers at him before she took a deep breath and let him go, sitting back down. Baine stayed where he was for a second, one foot on the floor, the other on the table bench, hands half-raised in defense, and stared down at the girl. She not only seemed far too strong for her build—she may have been tall, but she was built thin and petite—it looked like anyone could easily snap her in half, but he could’ve sworn he heard a low, feral growl coming from somewhere deep within her chest, and, just for that tiniest second, her pupils had become black slits in pools of ice.
“You gonna sit down? I won’t bite…if we’re done with the nicknames.”
Her voice brought him back to earth and he scrambled back to his seat.
“If we’re going to stop with the nicknames, we may as well introduce ourselves. I’m Baine Yaxley,” he said, reaching a hand across the table. She regarded him for a second, her head cocked to the right, before finally cracking a grin and shaking his hand. He took notice right away that any time she did flash a smile it was a sarcastic and almost condescending one.
“Alice Collins. All right, Baine. You wanna know my secret?”
October 4, 2012 5:35 AM
Baine leaned forward slightly, waiting for an answer. Alice smiled. “Show me I can trust you first.”
Baine seemed to deflate a little and Alice’s already wide grin broadened.
“You’ll wanna make friends here. Just in case,” she held out a hand. “Truce?”
He smiled. “Truce.”
The two of them continued having a fairly normal conversation. A man in his early 20s with shaggy, black hair and blue-gray eyes sat next to Alice. She glanced at him quickly, taking in his appearance—tousled hair, pale face, calm expression,—before returning her attention to Baine’s story about his sisters.
“Both of them moved out already. The older one, Christa, got married when I was about 13. She has a little five-year-old named Todd. I swear, he’s one of the most adorable kids you’ll ever see,” he laughed and the smile started to fade from his face. “She used to say he looked just like me…They probably won’t tell him he has a crazy uncle—.”
“You’re not crazy,” Alice cut in. “I think I’m talking to a dead guy. You’re just constantly on your man-period.”
Baine snorted and, having made the mistake of taking a drink at that moment, dribbled orange juice down his front. Alice laughed at him and the man beside her did the same, patting a hand on her shoulder and saying, “Smooth friend you got there, Al.”
Alice nodded to him out of habit. She knew he wasn’t really there. She knew Baine couldn’t see him. Axel Collins had been dead for ten years.
“So, what about you?” Baine asked. He stole her napkins to mop up the table. “What’s your family like?”
“Well, my dad died when I was two and I lived with my mom ‘til I was 15. That’s about when she checked me in here. She wasn’t exactly mother of the year. After Dad died, she started drinking, and when I was five she started beating us. My brother, Axel, was about 14 when he decided to get my sister and me out of the house. We were about nine. My mom caught him trying to take the car keys and,” her hands balled into fists on the table. The invisible Axel put a hand on her shoulder, rubbing her back comfortingly.
“It’s okay. Keep going,” he said. Alice took a deep breath and continued.
“She kicked him out. He completely disappeared after a few days. A month later, police found his body in a gutter.”
“I’m sorry,” Baine said again. “That must’ve been rough.”
“Yeah. But I kept seeing him walking around the house. My sister, Roxanne, we were best friends and shared everything, but…she couldn’t see him and she didn’t like to talk about it. Eventually, my mom figured I was hallucinating and, well, you get the rest.”
Baine nodded silently. He opened his mouth to respond when someone tapped on his shoulder. He turned and a fist connected painfully with his face, knocking his glasses across the table.
“Hey, what’s your problem?” he shouted, standing up and pulling his arm back to return the punch. He almost hit the assailant when Alice stood too and pulled on his arm, trying to make him sit back down. It wasn’t working well. Baine realized he was starting to go into one of his episodes when Alice got a better hold on both of his arms, pinning them to his sides. A large man with a buzz-cut and stubbly chin smiled down at him. He was flanked by two other men who looked identical to him.
“We just wanted to give the new guy his initiation,” the man said, cracking his knuckles.
“Leave him alone, Gabriel,” Alice said, finally pulling Baine away from Gabriel and stepping between them. Gabriel just shrugged.
“Your problem if you wanna scar that pretty face of yours.”
Alice closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as Gabriel launched his thick-fingered fist into her gut.
“Hey!” she heard Baine shout from somewhere on her right. One of the men pulled him away and stood in his path while the other two continued to beat Alice to the ground.
“She’s taking it for you,” the second man said. “Don’t get in the way.”
“Back off, Baine!” she shouted from behind the second man, through a split lip. “I’ll be okay!”
Gabriel punched her in the face, near her left eye, and she hit the ground hard. Baine was trying to get past the third man while the second one lifted Alice’s thin frame by the front of her shirt.
“Let her go!” Baine yelled. “What’s wrong with you? She’s half your size!”
Alice just let her head roll onto her shoulder, a small groan escaping her lips. She knew Baine wouldn’t be able to do anything. The nurses would only turn a blind eye. They always did when this gang was around. He tried to get around the man in front of him, only getting glimpses of the fight in front of him. Finally, he saw an opening right as one of the men pushed her up against the pillar next to them while Gabriel pulled a small pocket knife out of his pocket. Baine tried even harder to get past the man.
“Don’t! I’ll take it instead! Just stop!”
Alice turned her head to look at Baine with half-focused eyes and a surprised expression. What was he thinking? The second man finally let Baine pass, a horrible grin on his face. The third let go of Alice’s shirt and she slid down against the pillar to the ground, still staring at Baine. However, to both their surprise, Gabriel just smiled and put the knife away.
“You’ve got balls, kid,” he said. He waved his hand and the other two men followed him away, the last one kicking Alice in the side as he went, knocking the air out of her, and she curled into a ball against the pillar.
“You—idiot—,” she almost wheezed. “They would’ve—killed you.”
Baine gave her an odd look. “No offense, but I think I’d be a little tougher than you. You look like a twig. I thought they were gonna break you in half!”
She coughed and spat a small amount of blood onto the linoleum floor. Baine knelt down in front of her and straightened her hat, pushing a bit of straggly hair out of her bruised and bloodied face.
“I’m tougher than you think,” she said. Her thin fingers latched around his wrist. “They won’t let you go again. Count yourself lucky while they leave you alone.”
Alice coughed again, covering her mouth and her hand came away red—a stark contrast that made her skin look even paler. Baine’s eyebrows furrowed over his eyes. He still wasn’t wearing his glasses.
“Are you okay? How bad did they get you?”
“Just a few broken ribs. Possibly some internal bleeding. I’ll be fine.”
Baine pulled her to her feet, hearing his knees pop and supporting her with both hands. “Are you kidding me? You look like hell!”
She pulled away from him, stumbling back toward the table. “Look, just be glad I was there to take your place, okay? This isn’t the place for a guy like you to play hero.”
“Like you can talk!”
Alice scoffed and tossed him his glasses. He made a mad grab for them in the air, missed, and they clattered to the floor. By the time he’d bent over and put them back on, Alice was leaning heavily against the pillar again, holding her chest and seemed to be having difficulty breathing. Now that his vision was no longer blurred, she looked even worse.
She slid down to the floor again.
She waved him off, breathing heavily. “I’ll be—fine. I’m a quick healer…just let me—be—for a minute…”
He knelt down by her again, obviously confused about what to do, and she let out a few more racking coughs. After a few minutes, he just sat down on the cold floor, knees pulled up to his chest.
“Thanks,” he said, fixing his eyes on a spot near her foot. It was a little painful just to look at her… He couldn’t help but wonder why she even helped him in the first place. They barely knew each other.
“You’re welcome,” she stopped coughing and started to relax a little. “Don’t count on it all the time, though. I won’t fight all your battles. Just the ones I know you won’t win.”
“Nice to know you have faith in me,” he said sarcastically, looking up at her. He cracked a smile when she let out a small laugh.
“Your nose is bleeding,” he continued. Alice pulled her sleeve over her hand and dabbed at her nose with it, staining the white fabric red. She sighed, closing her eyes and letting her head fall back against the pillar.
“And your glasses are cracked.”
Baine blinked, feeling stupid for not noticing the large crack in the right lens sooner. Alice grinned with a hollow laugh.
“Well, you earned my trust faster than I expected. You wanna see something weird?”
He nodded, curiosity sparkling in his eyes. She reached up with her left hand and slowly pulled the hat off revealing small, black wolf ears poking out of her thick hair. Baine scoffed.
“That’s funny, Alice. Really smart. What is it, a headband or something?”
He reached out, grabbed one and gave a small tug. She flinched, the ears flattening against her head, and he let go.
“Yeah, they’re attached,” she snapped. “Please don’t try to pull them off.”
Baine froze with his hand still in the air next to her head. “Th-they’re real?”
“Yeah.” As if to prove her statement they twitched back up.
“What the hell?”
She put the hat back on before explaining. “Things happen at this hospital. Bad things. They experiment on the patients. Turn us into monsters. I came here when I was fifteen. That was the perfect time for the—well, I guess you could call it a transformation—to start. Y’know. Mid-teens: still developing. I’m sort of their favorite because it's worked best on me. At least, they’ve gotten the farthest with me. And those giants that tried to maul you? They started a gang about three years back. That was about when they were started. I don’t remember what they’re being changed into, but I think troll isn’t too much of a swing in the dark.”
“Uh-huh. I’m a werewolf, um…” She pointed at a table next to them where a group of people were sitting just outside the faint rays of sunlight from the window. “I’m pretty sure they’re vampires.” One of them, a black-haired man of about 20, glared at her with reddish-brown eyes and she waved back at him with a grin, wiggling her fingers. “There’s a bunch of others that I never bothered to learn.”
“Is anyone here…Y’know…human?” Baine asked slowly, trying to process this new information, a little shocked at how nonchalantly she was explaining it. Almost like they were discussing the weather.
“That probably won’t last long though.”
Baine blanched, not saying anything. “What will they, uh, turn me into?”
She shrugged. “No one knows until it happens. You could be anything: Vampire, werewolf, troll, zombie, ghoul, phantom…succubus…” she said the last one a bit quieter.
“Succubus?” Baine raised his eyebrows. She nodded.
“There’s a few of those around here… word to the wise: knock before you open a door.”
There was a small pause before, “I lied a little bit.”
“You’re not the only human. I forgot about the doctors and nurses.” Upon seeing the almost horrified look on Baine’s face, she quickly added, “There’s still two or three more. But like I said, that won’t last long.”
“I can get you out of here. Before anything happens.”
“Then why haven’t you left?”
Alice crossed her legs and looked down at her hands in her lap. “I can’t.”
She pulled down the collar of her shirt to show a thin, black, dog collar. A small red light blinked a little left of the center.
“Everyone has one. Well, everyone but the humans.”
“What’s it for?”
“It’s sort of a shock collar. It keeps the monsters under control.”
“Have you tried to take it off? It doesn’t look like there’s a lock or anything.”
“Oh yes there is.” She held out her left hand, palm up and wiggled her fingers again to draw his attention. He took it to keep it steady and saw that her fingerprints had been burned off.
“What the hell happened?” he asked, tilting her hand to see a larger burn on her palm.
“Shock collar remember? It sends an electric current through your body if you try to take it off or escape. It’s enough volts to kill any human, but a monster can just barely stand it.”
“I take it you’ve tried.”
“Oh yeah. It’s not pretty.”
The bell rang again and Alice jumped a little.
“Four years, you think I’d be used to that,” she muttered under her breath. She pulled a napkin from her pocket along with a small pen and wrote a number on it. “This is my room. Come by tonight and I’ll answer any more questions you have.”
“They don’t lock the doors?” Baine asked skeptically.
“Nope. They figure no one will try to escape with the collars. They trust us enough not to kill each other, and for the most part, we’re too tired at the end of the day to really do anything anyway.”
“Oh. Well, then, see you ton—.”
She ran off, ducking away from one of the nurses before disappearing into the hallway.
Baine stared after her.
“That was weird.”
October 4, 2012 7:30 PM
Baine sat in the chair by his desk, doodling with a pen and piece of paper he’d found in the drawer. The bell he’d heard to announce breakfast sounded again and, like before, his door slammed against the wall inside the room. He pulled himself from his chair with a tired sigh and stretched before straightening his glasses and merging with the crowd.
As soon as he had his food, Baine made his way across the room to sit at the table he sat at before. After a few seconds, he started looking around for Alice, not spotting her at all.
“Where is she?” he mumbled quietly to himself.
Baine jumped at the sudden, quiet voice by his ear and hit his knee on the table before turning his upper body around to see Alice behind him, an exhausted grin that seemed to somehow still hold the same amount of sarcasm on her face. She sat down across from him and he took in her appearance. The shadows under her eyes seemed almost a deep purple, like a bruise, her already messy hair was frizzy and stuck up in a few places from underneath her hat, the faint smell of electricity came from her direction and her left hand shook slightly as she lifted her fork, the right clenching and unclenching at odd intervals.
“Are you okay?” he asked, rubbing his sore knee that he knew would bruise later. “You seem a little…” he searched for the right word, “…off.”
Alice let out a humorless laugh before answering tensely, “I’d like to see you come out of a three hour shock therapy session skipping and singing show tunes.”
“Oh. So that’s why you ran at breakfast?”
She nodded. “I used to be able to get out of them, but I guess they figured out all my hiding places.”
The two of them lapsed into a brief silence before Baine asked, “I was wondering, why do I have to meet you tonight? Why can’t I ask questions now?”
Alice lightly fingered the collar around her neck. “It’s best if the nurses don’t think we’re talking about rebellion.”
“Right. Figures they’d have a remote.”
“Mm-hmm. Now, make sure you don’t come until 12:30.”
“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain. So, you know how werewolves are supposed to change on the full moon?”
Baine nodded. “Yeah.”
“Well, I do, but every phase of the moon, a new—I guess you could say wolfish—trait shows up. Like the ears. Tonight, the moon changes again to the half-moon and something else will show up. I don’t really know why, but it only takes effect at midnight. It’s a slow and painful process during which, I become extremely dangerous because I will lash out at anything near me. See, I get the mindset of the werewolf state every time one of these happens, until finally, on the full moon, I turn full out werewolf and…” she trailed off.
“They lock me in a room with anyone whose body rejected the changes. Their reasoning is that the people are dying anyway. Why not speed up the process?…but…”
“But,” he pressed. Her fists were clenched so tight that her knuckles had turned white.
“It’s horrible. I don’t remember much of it the next morning, just that I did it. I know I didn’t make it quick though. I know that they suffered more than if we’d just let them be because every morning after the full moon, I wake up covered, head to toe, in blood.”
Baine lapsed into silence once more as she continued, her voice shaking with fury at what she had done.
“It’s everywhere: under my nails, in my teeth, it mats my hair into clumps…they’re constantly having to get me more uniforms because they can’t get the blood stains out. They won’t let me near the room I’m put in because if I saw what I had done while I was a wolf, I would find any measure necessary to stop myself from doing it again. The worst part…the worst part is I’m not forced to do it. While I’m a wolf, I do it of my own free will. I think that’s the part that makes me a monster. I don’t think it has anything to do with turning into a giant wolf once a month. It’s the fact that once I do, I lose control and will kill anything in my path…no remorse until I’m human again…”
Baine just stared at her. Finally he found his voice.
She looked a little surprised.
“It’s a touchy subject. I shouldn’t have asked about it. Sorry.”
“Oh…well, it would’ve come up anyway, so you have nothing to be sorry about. I mean, they’re dead, right? Nothing I can do about it.”
“Hmm,” he muttered, unable to think of anything else to say.
“Anyway, it should be safe enough by 12:30. I just may be a little pissy.”
“I’m used to it,” he laughed. “Don’t worry; we can be angry freaks together.”
Alice laughed. It was, as he was a little surprised to hear, the most genuine laugh he’d heard from her.
“That sounds like a bad gang name. We should get jackets and t-shirts with ‘The Angry Freaks’ printed on the backs.”
“Completely exclusive. Just the two of us, right?” Baine laughed, stringing the joke along.
The two of them laughed a little more before it died down and they were quiet again. A few minutes later the bell rang and they filed out, Alice jogging ahead.
“Don’t forget, 12:30,” Alice called over her shoulder. “No sooner. I don’t care if you’re late, but don’t be early.”
Baine shook his head with a grin.
Maybe this place won’t be so bad after all, he thought.
Day Three: October 5, 2012, 12:15 AM
He knew he wasn’t supposed to leave until around 12:30…but he had no clock. He just had to hope that it was almost time when he left, making his way quietly down the hall. It smelled strongly of various chemicals and cleaners.
They could just use this stuff on the monsters instead of the shock collars, he thought to himself with a grimace. It’d knock ‘em right out…
Baine looked down at the paper in his hand, squinting, trying to see through the darkness and a cracked lens.
“1…06…4…2,” he read quietly. He tried to match the numbers on the paper to the ones on the doors, reading the last two digits as he went. “…23, 24, 25…”
Suddenly he heard a sound pierce the air. Screaming. Horrible, agonized screaming. Baine froze where he was and before he knew it, he was running.
He’d gotten only a few feet when a man about a year older than him stepped out of his room, his pale face, with a small amount of black stubble around his chin, shining under dark hair.
“Ah! I’m so sick of that stupid werewolf!” he roared as the screams morphed into howls and back. Fangs flashed in his mouth as he groaned loudly, rubbing his temples. Baine registered the fact that the man had a very thin British accent. Getting a better look at his face showed that it was the same one who’d glared at Alice earlier that morning. Like Alice, he wore the same black shock collar. The man finally noticed Baine and sneered at him.
“Hmph. You were making friends with her earlier. Why don’t you go and calm her down?”
Baine looked at him like he was insane.
“Because I’m human and she’ll kill me?” he suggested. The vampire looked down at him condescendingly.
“You humans are all useless if you ask me. I’ll do it, if you’re so scared.”
He stalked off down the hallway and Baine followed close behind. The vampire opened Alice’s door and Baine saw that she was writhing on the bed, tearing the sheets off the mattress. There was a loud, unpleasant sounding crack and her feet started to elongate so that her heels resembled a dog’s backwards knee and she screamed again, showing that her canines had lengthened past her bottom lip. Her ears were flattened against her head as the vampire entered the room. He placed one hand on either of her arms and held her down. It looked like he was doing it gently, but he couldn’t have been holding her that tightly if he were being gentle. Alice thrashed in his grip, almost breaking free, but then the vampire was on top of her, sitting on her to keep her down with his knees on either side of her hips. He held her arms by her head and leaned down so that he was close enough to feel her frantic, hot breath on his face.
“Are you going to be quiet, or do we have to do this the hard way?”
She tried to rip one of her arms from his grip, setting him slightly off balance before he caught himself.
“I thought so,” he muttered sadly. “Just remember, you’re making me do this.”
He closed the distance between their faces, catching her mouth with his and she froze, her fists opening in surprise and her legs slowly settling back on the bed. Her eyes opened wide and even from his position by the door, Baine could see that they were once again slits of black on a wide expanse of blue. They slowly started to change back to normal as she realized what was happening and she started to struggle again, this time trying harder to get out from under him. The vampire let her go and got off of her in a flash, disappearing and reappearing in the doorway.
“Say what you will about werewolves,” he said, a cocky grin on his pale face. “They’re great kissers.”
Alice sprang out of the bed, rage evident on her face as she wiped furiously at her mouth.
“Come near me again and I’ll wipe that smirk off your face myself!” she growled, taking a step forward. She was slightly off balance, only able to walk on her toes. As soon as the vampire was gone, Alice’s head snapped around to Baine. “And you! I told you not to be here until 12:30!”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Baine held up his hands in surrender. “I don’t have a clock! How was I supposed to know what time it was! And why are you so pissed at me anyway? I’m not the one that ki—”
“SHUT UP!” she roared. Her voice lowered to a deadly hiss as she got closer to him. “If you tell anyone I will personally track you down and kill you whether you’re a monster by then or not.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Baine, shrinking back into his corner. She turned around and wiped at her mouth again.
“What is it?” Baine asked, hoping this was a sign that she was calming down.
“Bastard bit my lip.” She dabbed at it again.
Alice flopped back onto the torn, most likely ruined sheets and waved a hand at the chair next to the bed. “So, what do you want to know?”
“Who was he?” Baine asked, taking the chair. Alice rolled her eyes.
“Rory Danner. He thinks he owns pretty much every girl here. He’s arrogant, narcissistic, and a sexist little—”
“I’m not hearing a reason for him to be a mental hospital.”
“That’s the thing. He’s been here almost longer than I have and I haven’t noticed anything. Actually, I was starting to wonder if this place doesn’t just pick people up off the street sometimes. Did you notice his accent? I think that maybe he was on vacation, alone or with his family or whatever, and they kidnapped him or something. Either way, he’s still an asshole.”
“I just wonder why he was glaring at you earlier,” said Baine. Alice looked at him, one eyebrow raised as if daring him to continue. So he did. “I mean, he seemed pretty into that ki—” Alice shot him a glare. “—I mean, you-know-what. That’s not how you calm down someone you hate.”
Alice sighed. “If you have to know, he did try asking me out.”
Baine snorted. “Really?”
She nodded. “Back when I was human, he liked me. At least, that’s what he told me. It wasn’t until they started the tests on me that he said anything. I turned him down though. I mean, what are we gonna do in a place like this? He’s been mad about it ever since.”
“I guess he still likes you then. He looked like he was enjoying himself.”
“He looks like that all the time,” Alice snapped.
“Sure,” said Baine skeptically.
Her eyebrow twitched and she looked away with a huff.
“Well, what else do you want to know,” she asked gruffly, not meeting his eyes. He could’ve sworn he saw the start of a blush across her pale face.
“Okay, for one thing, why are you the only werewolf?”
She paused. “Actually, that’s a good question. I never thought about it. I guess they just didn’t want to deal with more than one.”
“But there’s more than one vampire. They’re just as dangerous, aren’t they?”
“Vampires are smaller,” she said with a grin.
Baine shrugged. “Fair point, you got me there. Any more advice about what I should watch out for?”
Alice looked like she was thinking again. “Hmm…you met Rory the vampire, earlier, there was the Barmun Triplets and, like I said, I think they’re trolls. I told you about some of the others and you should be okay if you just stick close to me. Well, there’s this one guy, his name is Jude. They turned him into a demon. I’ll point him out to you sometime. Whenever you’re around him, though, don’t say anything about what he is. He hates what he’s become. Y’know. Religion and all...”
Baine’s mouth formed an ‘o’ in understanding and he looked over his shoulder, awkwardly clearing his throat. Alice looked like she wanted to say something but kept it to herself.
“What was Axel like?”
“Hmm?” Alice sort of hummed a response, surprised by the question.
“Your brother. What was he like?”
“Oh,” her eyes seemed to glaze over briefly. “Well, he was nice, he was a people person, and he used to laugh at all our jokes. Even the bad ones.”
Baine smile at the last comment. “Wow. That was a beautiful story that didn’t tell me anything. What was he really like?”
Alice grinned, sighing in defeat. “Axel was probably the best older brother someone could ask for. He always looked out for us. Usually, when my mom got drunk and started beating us, I’d have to shield Roxanne…believe it or not, she’s even smaller than me…sometimes, it would be too much for me too…I remember one time where Axel stepped in front of me, making Mom stop…that was all I could remember before I blacked out…He was pretty much my role model. I wouldn’t know how to defend myself or escape or hide without him teaching me everything he knew. He’s the only one who really stood by me when I had one of my black outs. Everyone else was scared of me…the worst part was, I couldn’t even remember what I did. Even Roxanne started to shy away from me…” Her eyes glazed over again. “He looked like my dad…I mean, I don’t remember what my dad really looked like, but from what I’ve seen in pictures…”
“He sounds like a great guy,” said Baine, giving her what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
She looked up at him, snapping out of her daze. “Yeah…yeah he was. You should be getting back to bed. It’s late.”
Baine’s eyes stung slightly, begging to be shut, and he realized just how tired he was.
“Okay…I’ll see you in the morning then?”
“Of course,” she mumbled, stretching as a sarcastic grin crossed her face. “Where else am I gonna go?”
Day Nineteen: October 25, 2012, 5:30 AM
Baine could feel a routine starting to appear. He’d wake up, meet Alice at breakfast, have a bit of a free hour where he could roam around the building, sit in his room for a little bit, occasionally taking a small nap, then he’d meet Alice for dinner, have a few more hours to himself, and then go to bed and repeat it all over again. Every now and then he’d even talk to Rory. Baine found that, after a while, Rory wasn’t really as bad as Alice had described him. He was definitely a narcissist, but soon Rory was almost as much of a friend as Alice.
That morning was after the night of a new moon. Alice looked completely human, a silver ring in the form of a small band on the top of each ear. Rory joined them for breakfast and Alice sort of growled at him.
“What do you want?” she asked, sending an icy glare in his direction. Rory just half-raised his hands in surrender.
“I merely wanted to wish you a happy birthday, my friend,” he said with a grin. “Twenty today, aren’t you?”
“You never told me when your birthday was. I would’ve said something!” said Baine, a small smirk of his own spreading across his face. “Well happy birthday then!”
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like we’re going to have a party or anything…”
Rory crossed his arms over his chest.
“Hmph. Buzz kill,” he muttered darkly. “It’s even a Saturday!”
“Since when do weekends matter here?” Alice asked.
“It matters because half the doctors leave. They leave the less important ones in charge. There are just enough of them to make sure we don’t kill each other.”
“My point,” Rory started, leaning forward and lowering his voice so that only Alice and Baine could hear him, “is that there has to be at least one exit unguarded.”
Baine looked hopeful but Alice scoffed.
“I don’t know if you forgot Rory, but these fun little collars won’t let us get anywhere,” she said, pulling slightly on her own. Tiny, blue sparks shot out from it and she jerked her fingers away, gasping slightly at the small burn on her fingertips.
“Well, I’ve thought of that,” Rory continued, the crooked, confident grin never leaving his pale face. “I know where we can find their manuals—”
“—the collars have manuals?” Baine asked skeptically, raising a bushy eyebrow.
“—everything has a manual,” Rory scoffed, waving a hand dismissively. “Now, if we can get a hold of these, we can disable the collars and get out of here.”
“And how do you propose we do that?” asked Alice.
“The next time they run the tests on me, I want you,” his deep-red eyes flicked to Alice, “to sneak into the next room. If I remember correctly, there should be a desk on the far side of the room. See if it’s in there.”
“And if it’s not?”
“Baine, at the same time, I want you to check the room across from Alice. They should be identical. One of them has it.”
“How do you know that?” Baine asked, calculating how dangerous Rory’s plan would be. Alice seemed to be doing the same. He could practically see the wheels turning in her head.
“Let’s just say, they need to learn that we like to eavesdrop.”
“Okay, say we do rewire the collars. Where are we going to go? They’ll be looking for us as soon as they realize we’re gone.”
“So we’ll hide out for a while,” Rory responded calmly. He had clearly put a lot of thought into it. Baine watched as he countered every one of Alice’s protests.
“They’ll send search parties.”
“We’ll really hide out. I know the perfect place.”
“Where would we find food, if we’re so well hidden?”
“Fast food. We’ll take turns.”
“Where would we get the money?”
“Oh, please. You think I don’t know you can hotwire an ATM?”
“What if one of us gets hurt? We can’t exactly go to a hospital.”
“My father was a doctor. He had me go to work with him quite a lot before I ended up here.”
“All right, fine. We’ll go through with your plan. What was your escape route?”
Rory was now sitting on one of his feet, with his arms crossed on the table, trying to look as casual as possible while staying only close enough for them to hear him.
“Straight to the point. I like that,” he said, winking at Alice. She only scowled at him and he continued. “You remember that elevator on the third floor?”
Baine was lost now, but Alice nodded.
“It’s been out of order since I got here,” she said. “What about it?”
“I think we can get it working again.”
“How’s an elevator gonna help us?” Baine asked, thoroughly confused now.
“That elevator,” Rory started, turning his gaze to Baine, “is the only way down to the basement. The basement has an old tunnel that leads straight outside.”
“Why would there just happen to be a tunnel in the basement?” Baine asked suspiciously.
“They had to have some way to get the bodies out,” replied Rory. Baine blanched and sat back a little on the bench.
“Oh. Wait, why don’t they use it anymore?”
“Because,” Alice began, her expression darkening as she directed her eyes to the table, “once I’m done with them, there isn’t much left to bury. They usually just chuck what’s left into an incinerator.”
“Which would explain why that hallway smells so bad,” Baine added. Alice nodded and went on, directing her question to Rory.
“But they still use it occasionally. I don’t really know how they get down there, but there’s bound to be someone. Will we be able to get out that way?”
“Well,” Rory leaned back and put his hands behind his head, “as long as we choose a time when they aren’t using it I think we’ll be fine.” He sat up again, his voice turning into a low grumble. “But let’s get these collars taken care of first, eh? One step at a time.”
* * * *
Two more weeks passed in which Baine started to feel he was beating his head against the wall. Sometimes he wished he were, seeing as it would break the monotony. Finally, on the morning of November 8, 2012, Rory slid into his seat at their table (Alice had decided to accept him into their group—it was his plan after all). He looked flustered—Rory never looked flustered—and had a wide grin plastered across his face.
“I’ve just overheard!” he said, giggling slightly. “They’re gonna run tests on me today!”
“I’ve never heard someone so happy to be tested on,” said Alice, shaking her head sadly, as if she thought Rory had gone over the deep end. Then again, it would be a little less surprising, considering their current home.
“Now’s our chance though!” he whispered ecstatically. “All you have to do is follow behind the doctors when they take me in, and then sneak into the rooms I told you about. It’ll work, trust me!”
“You’d better be right,” Alice growled.
Not ten minutes later, she and Baine were walking calmly behind Rory, hoping they didn’t look like they were up to something. When they neared the testing room, Alice gave Baine and almost imperceptible nod and turned down a corner so that she was out of sight in another corridor. Baine followed her example on the other side of the main hall. Rory was led into the room and the two of them continued down the hall to the next doors.
“Ready?” Alice called over to him, one hand on the handle of the door in the left hall. Baine nodded from his door in the right and the two of them slipped quietly into the rooms. Both were dark, almost pitch black.
Alice’s eyes adjusted quickly and she started her search. Her long, pale fingers scattered papers across a desk, searched through drawers, and even felt their way behind a few file cabinets.
“Dammit!” she hissed, slamming her hand against the file cabinet she was looking in. Alice froze for a few seconds, realizing her mistake. When nobody came running, she let out the breath she’d been holding and ran her hands through her already messy hair. She let out a groan followed closely by, “I really hope Baine found it.”
Baine did have better luck. In fact, the very book he was looking for was sitting in the middle of a desk. The room was completely dark, lit only by a single lamp on the desk that sat over the open book.
“This is too easy,” he mumbled to himself. “It’s a trap right?”
He tentatively inched toward the desk, picked up a pencil and poked the book, flinching backward as if it would spring off of the desk and bite him. Nothing happened. Baine used his hands this time and picked the book up off the desk, closing it to see the cover.
“Definitely too easy,” he confirmed. Voices drifted toward him from the hall and his back stiffened.
“Shit,” he hissed, looking for a place to hide. He saw two file cabinets forming a right angle with the wall. There was a gap between them and said wall and he jumped into it, suddenly glad for his thin frame.
Baine had no sooner hid himself than two of the doctors entered the room. One was holding a clipboard and scribbling something down as the other one spoke. Baine just tuned them out, waiting, hoping they’d leave soon. He gripped the book in his hands, the pages of the paperback manual making an odd sound as they rubbed together. Upon hearing this, he held his breath and hoped that the sound went unnoticed under the doctor’s voice. The two gathered a few papers and a case with syringes full of…well, Baine didn’t want to know. Finally they left and Baine visibly relaxed, slumping against the wall.
After one last check that no one was in the room, he pulled himself from his hiding place and left the room, shoving the relatively thin book up his shirt. Baine crossed his arms over the awkward bulge so that it was less noticeable and, as soon as he was past the cafeteria, jogged back to his room and stashed it under his sad excuse for a mattress. He turned back around and shouted, jumping backward onto the bed as Alice appeared as if from nowhere in the doorway.
“Did you get it?” she asked, ignoring his reaction. She sounded slightly out of breath.
“Have some faith in me, Wolfie,” Baine scoffed, straightening his glasses. He got back to his feet and pointed at the bed he’d previously been occupying. “Hid it under my mattress. When Rory gets out I figured we’d just meet in here.”
“Good work there, Beanpole,” she said with a smile, clapping him on the shoulder. “I’ll be sure to find Rory when he gets out. Just make sure that stays hidden. In the meantime,” she looked over her shoulder and the sound of approaching footsteps could be heard echoing off of the walls, “I seem to have an appointment with Old Doctor Electric today, so if you’ll excuse me…”
And with that, she slipped out of his room again, the sound of her bare feet hitting the tile fading away. Seconds later, three nurses stopped at his open door.
“Did you see which way Alice Collins went?” one of them asked. She was most definitely out of breath while one of the others clutched a stitch in her side; the third was attempting to fix the bits of hair that had come out of their pins.
“Sorry, no,” he lied with a shrug. The nurses all seemed to groan at once before continuing their chase. Baine couldn’t help but let out the laugh he’d been stifling since he’d gotten the manual tucked under his shirt. It started out as one of relief, morphing into one of humor. Then it faded as a thought returned from the back of his mind.
It was way too easy…
* * * *
November 9, 2012 12:42 AM
Rory flipped through the manual. Baine was sitting on his bed, head propped up on his hands, and dozing quickly. Alice had shifted positions a few times over the course of the past two hours. First she’d sat on the bed next to Baine until fifteen minutes later when she moved to stand behind Rory, reading over his shoulder and tapping her fingers on the back of his chair. After another ten minutes, she’d taken to pacing in front of the door, biting her thumb nail. This action lasted longer than the others; she kept it up for over half an hour before finally sitting on Baine’s desk, tapping her foot on the thin air.
“If I didn’t know any better,” Rory started, not looking up from his book, “I’d say you were a lost puppy, waiting for its master to return home.”
Alice made a face at him and stopped tapping her foot.
“Sorry. I’m impatient. Besides, we’ve been sitting in silence for two hours watching you read that little book. Have you found anything useful yet?”
“Not quite,” was his only reply before the three of them lapsed into silence. Soon, Baine had fallen sideways onto his bed and begun to snore lightly. Even Alice had moved to the floor and was dozing against the side of the desk.
The cry snapped the other two out of their daze and they looked up at Rory who had one finger marking his spot on the page.
“Here we go. This is exactly what I need.”
“What is it?” Baine asked stupidly, still attempting to pull himself back to reality. “Oh. Oh! Right!”
Alice stood up and moved to look over Rory’s shoulder again.
“Let me see,” she said. He shut the book with a snap, keeping his finger on the page, and pulled it away.
“Let me work, will you?” he snapped mockingly. He opened the book again, out of Alice’s line of sight, and moved around her to get to the desk.
“What are you looking for?” Alice asked impatiently, trying to see around him.
“Give me a moment!”
Finally he turned back around, a triumphant grin on his face and in his raised hand…
“A pencil?” Baine asked. “Why a pencil?”
“Because,” Rory set down the book and pulled the pink eraser out of its metal casing. “Watch.”
He pushed the eraser into his collar, just behind the blinking red light and, with a tiny, almost unnoticeable snap, the collar immediately loosened around his neck and he pulled it off.
“The lock is behind the light. It’s the weakest spot of electricity, but it would still do some damage. So, the only way to counter it,” he held up the small, now slightly charred, eraser stub, “is with rubber!”
Alice still looked unimpressed.
“That’s brilliant, Sherlock, now help me get mine off.”
Rory did as he was told and soon his and Alice’s collars were on Baine’s desk next to the eraser-less pencil.
“Well, that’s done, but what are we going to do now?” Alice asked rubbing the spot on her neck. “I mean, more than likely, they’ll notice we aren’t wearing the collars anymore.”
It seemed as if this was the one thought that hadn’t occurred to Rory.
“You’re right…well, you can sort of hide your neck with your hair…I suppose I’ll just have to pull my shirt up and hope for the best.”
Alice rolled her eyes. “Of course. How hard could it be?”
November 10, 2012 5:55 PM
“What?” Baine asked. He was sitting in the courtyard of the hospital. It was used for recreational purposes and was surrounded on all sides by the massive building. Alice came outside, scanned the crowd for them and sat beside Baine. Rory waited until she arrived before continuing.
“We’re getting out tonight. It’s Saturday, so the tunnel shouldn’t be in use. If we’re careful we can get down there.”
“What about rewiring the elevator?” asked Alice. “That’s not exactly something you do in one night. We have to find rope to fix the pulleys and—”
“I looked over it. All that was wrong was that a few wires were cut in the panels. Rewiring that will only take about ten minutes.”
“Let me guess: that’s my job?” asked Alice.
“Of course!” Rory replied cheerily.
“Where did you learn to rewire an elevator?” Baine asked, his eyebrows furrowing
“My brother wasn’t exactly student of the year, but he made up for it in his ability to manipulate anything with a wire. He taught me what he knew. I don’t know why, and I don’t think he did either, but I’m glad it’s paying off now.”
Baine started to laugh as a nurse came out of the doors and began to stride purposefully toward them.
“Alice Collins,” she said once she was within earshot. “You have a visitor.”
Alice now looked thoroughly confused.
“I have a visitor?”
The nurse just seemed to look impatient.
“Yes,” she said slowly, as if she were explaining something to a small child, “you have a visitor.”
“That never happens,” said Alice, exchanging a look with the two boys. Rory just shrugged.
“I guess I’ll see you later then,” Alice went on, standing up uncertainly. The whole way down the hall her mind wandered, wondering who, after four long years, would want to see her…she didn’t really have any friends…maybe it was Roxanne?
“Um, who is my visitor?” she asked.
“Your mother,” the nurse replied stiffly. Any glimmer of hope that had spawned at the thought of seeing her sister again suddenly extinguished.
They finally reached the end of the hall to stand outside what Alice assumed was the visitors’ room.
“There will be cameras recording the conversation and doctors posted at the door and window just in case.”
Alice didn’t miss the emphasis on the last few words. Then again, Amanda Collins and her daughter never really got along well…it was probably for the best. Taking a deep breath, Alice entered the room.
She sat down on the other side of the table, crossing her arms across her chest and one leg over the other.
“Why are you here?” she asked. Her mother didn’t respond at first, instead choosing to pick at one of her nails.
“Roxanne says hello,” Amanda finally said without looking up.
“Is that all?” Alice asked skeptically. Amanda shut her eyes.
“I wanted to tell you what really happened to Axel.”
Alice’s eyebrows furrowed together as her expression immediately darkened.
“I know what happened to Axel. He was killed because you kicked him out.”
“No, Alice, that’s not the whole story.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you remember the blackouts you used to have?”
Alice’s face never changed, keeping her mother’s steady gaze.
“I remember enough.”
“We never told you, but you were a regular little demon child when it happened. I’d walk into your room to find that you’d decapitated all of your dolls, using a marker to make them look bloody.”
Alice looked a little surprised by this. She looked down at the table.
“What does this have to do with Axel?”
“As you got older, you became more violent during the blackouts. I would get notes from the principal saying that you’d almost strangled a kid with the rope in gym class, or stabbed someone’s hand with a knife in biology. Why do you think you could never make friends? Nobody wanted to hang around you. They were all scared of you. All of them. Even Roxanne.”
Alice’s eyes flicked up, traces of rage flashing in them.
“That’s not true. Roxanne was never really afraid of me.”
“Oh yes she was. Don’t you remember the look on her face whenever you said you were talking to Axel? She thought you’d finally lost it. I always knew there was something wrong with you. I should’ve had you sent away sooner.”
“What are you talking about?” Alice was starting to raise her voice, coming out of her relaxed position.
“When Axel left, you followed him. You wouldn’t let him out of your sight. He would call every now and then, and he’d always say you never left his side. Then there was that day. You had just turned ten. I got a phone call and expected it to be Axel. Instead, I got the voice of a little girl. You sounded so happy. You said, ‘I did it Mommy!’ I asked you what you did. You just kept repeating that you did it and then I got a text. It was a picture.”
“You sent it from Axel’s phone. It was a picture of him lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood.”
“And there you were, standing next to him with a knife in your little hands.”
“You were covered in his blood too. You had the most evil-looking grin on your face—”
“I SAID SHUT UP!”
Alice was on her feet now, slamming her hands down on the table, the sound mingling with the crashing of the metal chair hitting the linoleum floor. She heard the knob on the door shift as if someone’s hand was on it, ready to turn it. Alice stared at her mother, a horrified expression on her face. Her thin shoulders heaved as she panted.
“Y-you’re lying. I know you are! You’ve never felt the need to tell me the truth before! You’re just trying to mess with me! I would never have—never have killed…” she couldn’t finish her sentence and sat back down, head hanging. Alice took a deep breath, not totally trusting her voice.
“If…If I killed Axel,” her voice shook uncontrollably. Why would her mother tell her this now? Her head was reeling. “If that’s true, why did you keep me at home for five more years before deciding I was dangerous?”
“Oh, how the hell should I know, Alice? I was drunk half the time, and the rest of the time I wasn’t home.”
Alice didn’t say anything else. After all, how could she? There wasn’t much to say…
“It’s been four years since I’ve had word from you, Alice,” her mother started. What was that tone in her voice? Sadness? Sympathy? No…it was closer to pity. “I thought I should at least tell you what happened to your brother.”
Amanda stood up, her chair squeaking loudly on the floor. Alice stayed where she was; hands balled into fists on the table, head hanging making her hair hide her near-blank expression. She sat like that for a few minutes even after her mother left the room. Eventually one of the nurses was forced to pull her up out of the chair and lead her back to her room.
Alice only lay on her bed, the sheets pulled over her head as she faced the wall. Thoughts ran through her head almost too fast for her to interpret. Only one seemed to always slow down enough to become clear.
Did I really kill Axel?
Alice didn’t acknowledge the voice at first, choosing to ignore it instead. It called again, more forcefully this time.
She rolled over slightly and pulled the sheet down past her eyes, just enough to see who was talking.
“Axel!” she shouted, sitting up and flinging the sheet off of herself.
Axel was sitting in the chair by her desk, a grim expression on his usually cheerful face.
“Why’d you do it, Al?” he asked somberly.
He stood up and moved to the foot of her bed.
“How could you, Al? I thought we were best friends.”
There was something different about him now. For the first time in a while, Alice felt a twinge of fear.
Axel pulled his leg up so that he was half-kneeling on the bed, coming closer to her. Alice crawled backwards on the bed until she hit the wall.
“You killed me, Alice.”
His appearance started to morph in front of her. His hair became matted with blood that ran down his face. More blood stained his shirt, coming from a hole in his chest. Soon, Axel’s clothes became tattered and he was reaching out a pale, bloody hand towards Alice.
“I have to return the favor…”
His hand drifted toward her throat and Alice suddenly felt herself become paralyzed. All she could do was stare at his hand as the long fingers wrapped themselves around her thin neck. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe.
“Y-you’re not real,” she choked out.
“I’m more real than you think,” he growled in return. Alice instinctively reached for his hand to pull it away and instead of her own going through it, she latched on.
“I’m sorry, Al. That’s just how life works. Actions have consequences.”
Alice could see black spots forming in her vision.
“I—I don’t want to die!”
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than Axel disappeared, just as suddenly as he’d come. Alice felt the pressure on her windpipe vanish and started to relax. The full realization of what happened finally seemed to catch up with her and she pulled her lanky form closer, curling into a ball and wrapping the blanket around her once more.
November 10, 2012 8:00 PM
Rory stretched as he walked down the hall, strategically placing his arms to hide the fact he wasn’t wearing his collar. Baine followed close behind him. Alice hadn’t come back after seeing her visitor. The two of them had decided to go look for her.
“You really think she just went back to her room?” Baine asked skeptically. Rory just shrugged.
“It’s a good place to start at the very least.”
“Well, yeah, but if she went to her room instead of finding us first…do you think she’s feeling okay?”
“I mean maybe something happened during the visit?”
They found themselves outside of Alice’s room and Rory knocked on the door.
“Alice, you all right in there?” he asked. There was a pause followed by a soft thump and the sound of shuffling feet. Alice opened the door slightly, looking through the crack. Rory blinked in surprise. What little of her he could see was wrapped in the blanket from her bed, her face only visible through a small opening.
“Are you okay?” Rory asked while Baine tried to see around him. Alice just sort of stared back for a second before shutting the door again with a snap.
“Um…” Baine wasn’t sure how to respond. “Is—is she okay?”
Rory knocked on the door again.
He gestured vaguely at Baine.
“Erm, stay—stay here for a second, I’ll be right back…”
And with that, he opened the door and stepped inside, closing it behind him. Baine was left standing rather awkwardly in the hallway.
Rory entered the room to find Alice curled up on her bed, the blanket wrapped around her and hiding her face.
“Alice?” he repeated. “Did something happen? Who was the visitor?”
Alice didn’t answer him, instead, burrowing deeper into her blanket. He sat down on the end of her bed.
“Alice, tell me,” he placed his hand on her knee. “What happened?”
Her eyes were even brighter from under her blanket as she looked at him.
“It was my mom,” she said finally.
“Oh, well, that’s good isn’t it? You haven’t seen her in years.”
“She wanted to tell me that I killed my brother during one of my blackouts.”
“Oh,” was all Rory could think to say. “I—I’m sorry…is that why you’re hiding from us?”
She began to nod, but then shook her head instead.
“It’s not the only reason…”
Rory pulled the blanket down from over her head and brushed some of her hair behind her ear.
“What happened?” he asked again. Alice looked away before answering.
“I saw Axel.”
She wrapped her arms tighter around her knees. “He tried to kill me. It was like he was a completely different person…I know he wasn’t real but…it felt…I could feel his hand around my throat and…and…”
Rory wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his chest. He fell backward and took her with him so that her head was over his heart. His legs dangled over the edge of the bed. The two of them lay like that, staring up at the ceiling in silence.
Suddenly Rory started laughing and Alice looked up at him, obviously confused. He could see her temper start to flare in her eyes.
“You think it’s funny?” she growled. Rory shook his head.
“No, but I know there’s something wrong with you now. Normally, you’d’ve thrown me across the room by now.”
She seemed even more confused than before.
“Well, you are lying by me on the bed, in my arms, at night…”
Alice blushed profusely and pushed away from him, getting up off the bed. Rory sat up, a cocky grin on his face.
“See? You’re fine. Now, come on. Baine’s waiting so we can get out of here—”
“I’m not going…”
“Rory, what if my brother shows up again?”
“He wasn’t real!”
She didn’t seem to be listening.
“Or, if I black out and attack one of you? O-or, when I turn into a werewolf, I might kill somebody…”
“Alice you’ve killed people already! Besides, Baine and I will make sure—”
“Make sure what? What can you do? Baine’s just human and I could easily take you down as a werewolf and—”
She turned to look at him again. Rory walked over to her and held her by the shoulders, making her look him in the eye.
“I know there are a lot of risks. I mean, I won’t even be able to leave wherever we’re staying. At least not during the day. I get not wanting to hurt anybody, but it’s going to happen. We’ll just do our best to make sure it doesn’t.”
Alice held his gaze, not saying anything.
“Okay?” he pressed. She closed her eyes and sighed.
* * * *
Baine sat against the wall, picking at a spot on his pants, and waited for Rory to come back out with Alice. Or, at the very least, figure out what was wrong with her. Finally, the door opened and Baine scrambled to his feet.
“Are we ready?” he asked. Rory nodded.
“We need to grab a couple of people first.”
Baine gave Rory a confused look.
Rory jabbed his thumb over his shoulder at Alice.
“Because Alice is paranoid.”
“I’ll explain later,” said Rory. He put one hand on Alice’s shoulder, the other on Baine’s, and steered them down the hall.
“Rory, where are we going?” Alice asked. Rory seemed determined not to give a direct answer.
“Fine! Fine! Don’t shout!” he said, letting go of their shoulders. Rory stepped away, turning to face them. “I know a few people that would be happy to go with us. Let me get them, and we can go.”
Alice scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. “Was that so hard?”
Rory shrugged. “A little.”
Before either of the other two could roll their eyes, Rory had disappeared into the room next to them.
“Rory?” Baine asked, reaching out to turn the knob. Alice’s hand shot out to stop him.
“I think one of his ‘friends’ might be in there. Let’s let him sort that out…”
Sure enough, five minutes later, Rory emerged followed by a girl with bleach-blonde hair and dark green eyes. She was a considerable amount shorter than Alice or Baine, but she still seemed to have an air of being better than everyone else.
“Melanie,” Rory held out a hand, “this is Alice and Baine. They’re going to be getting out with us—or, rather, you’re getting out with us.”
“Oh, are you that werewolf?” Melanie asked, looking condescendingly at Alice, who returned the look.
“Yep. And you are…?”
The two of them stared each other down for a few seconds before they looked up at Rory and said in synch,
“I don’t like her.”
Rory smiled, but it looked a little forced.
“You don’t have to. You just have to get along for the time being. Now, come on,” he started in the other direction, Baine following behind like a puppy, “I have somewhere else I need to be.”
He jogged silently ahead of them again, knocking lightly on a door.
“You in there?” he asked quietly. The door opened and a girl with very long, orange hair poked her head out.
“Oh, hi Rory!” she said brightly.
“Hullo, Holly,” said Rory vaguely, waving a hand. “Listen. We’re getting out of here.”
Holly’s face lit up with a wide grin and she walked out of the room, revealing large bat wings folded behind her.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yep. And I need your help. You see, my friend, Alice is a werewolf, and she’s paranoid that she’s gonna kill someone.”
“Rory—,” Alice started, pinching the bridge of her nose.
Rory ignored her and continued. “Anyway, you in?”
“Of course!” Holly yipped. She dashed down the hallway, her long hair flowing behind her and Rory jabbed his thumb over his shoulder.
“Er, Holly…we’re going that way…”
Without missing a beat, Holly turned on her heel and ran in the other direction. As they made their way back down the hallway, Alice noticed the numbers on the doors.
“Rory, do you really want to bring him?” she asked. “Do you think he’ll come?”
Rory placed a hand on Alice’s shoulder when they stopped. He gave her a reassuring smile.
“That’s where you come in.”
And with that, he pushed her into the room and pulled the door shut behind her.
“Dammit, Rory—!” Alice snapped, trying the door handle only to find it stuck.
“Who’s there?” came a voice from behind her. Alice sighed and turned around.
An African-American boy with poorly-shaven, dark hair was crouched in the corner, looking up at her with terrified, yellow eyes. His hands were folded in front of him, clutching a rosary. Small horns poked through the patches of hair that covered his head and a thin, forked tail snaked out from the back of his pants. He could only have been fourteen years old.
“A-Alice, right?” he asked. Alice put on a fake, consoling smile and knelt down beside him.
“That’s right,” she said kindly. “Listen, Jude. I wanted to tell you that we’re getting out of here. Escaping. We want you to come with us, okay?”
Jude sort of stared at her in disbelief for a second.
“L-leaving?” his voice shook with the question. “And—and y-you want me to c-come?”
Alice nodded. “Yeah. Do you want to?”
The look in Jude’s eyes changed slowly into that of slight wonder.
“Y-you really want me to come w-with you?”
Alice was starting to think Jude may have a stutter.
“Yes. But if you’re going to come, we need to leave now. Okay?”
Jude stood up and took Alice’s outstretched hand.
The two of them rejoined the group waiting in the hall.
“Happy now?” Rory asked. Alice sort of grunted in response and started down the hallway.
“Let’s get to that elevator, shall we?” she said over her shoulder. Ten minutes later, they were standing outside the old, roped off elevator. Alice was crouched down, pulling on various wires in the control panel while the others stood watch. All but Jude, at least. He was watching with wide, curious eyes as Alice pulled one wire out and replaced it with another. The hall was completely silent apart from the sound of Alice swearing lightly when the panel sparked every now and then.
“Okay, done,” she said finally. “We should go in small groups—.”
“I’m going first,” Melanie cut her off, stepping into the elevator as soon as the doors were open. Alice, slightly annoyed at being interrupted, just moved out of the way. Holly and Jude joined Melanie in the elevator. The doors closed and dinged lightly to indicate that it was going down. It came back up and dinged again.
“Ready?” Baine asked. The other two nodded and they walked into the elevator. There were three buttons on the panel: up, down, and the emergency stop button. Rory jabbed at the down button and the rusty doors closed. Baine jumped when Alice and Rory grabbed the railing at the same time.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Do you hear that?” Rory asked.
Alice paused before answering, “Creaking…”
The sound grew louder and more apparent as the ride went on. Suddenly, everything went in slow motion. Baine heard a loud snap, followed by Alice’s audible gasp, and saw she and Rory exchange a horrified look before Alice dived at Baine, wrapping her arms around his shoulders just before the elevator seemed to collapse around them.
* * * *
Baine opened his eyes to see nothing but black and he wondered if he’d opened his eyes at all. Then something shifted and he realized that the black he was seeing was Alice’s hair in his face. She raised herself up, her arms on either side of his head.
“You okay?” she asked. Baine nodded and crawled out from underneath her.
“You’re bleeding,” he said, reaching forward to wipe at her forehead. Her eyes widened and she froze. He had a feeling that if she’d had the wolf ears, they would’ve twitched backwards.
“Rory,” she said, her eyes fixed on Baine. “Rory, stay where you are.”
Baine looked over her shoulder to see Rory staring at the two of them.
“Why is he staring at us?” Baine asked. He was suddenly aware of something wet, warm and sticky around his ear. “Alice, how hard did I hit my head?”
“You didn’t, it’s my blood,” she said, slowly turning to face Rory. His gaze turned to her as she moved in front of Baine. Rory’s head tilted to the side and his eyes began to glow. His fangs lengthened as his mouth opened.
“Rory?” Alice stood up slowly, holding out a hand. “Rory, can you hear me?”
“I can hear you just fine,” he said. There was something off about his voice, like his mind was a million miles away.
“Baine, when I tell you, run.”
“What?” Baine had been staring at Rory who was now running his tongue lightly along his fangs.
Alice lunged at Rory who began snapping at her. Baine scrambled to his feet and dashed down the tunnel. Rory threw Alice off of him and she flew into the air, sliding when she hit the floor.
“Rory!” Alice shouted, pushing herself to her feet again. “Rory, snap out of it! This is exactly what I was afraid of!”
Rory jumped into the air, landing next to her and pinned her to the wall, holding her under her chin so she was forced to look at him.
Damn, she thought. Why did it have to be the new moon?
Rory’s eyes were glowing so bright they seemed to be burning from under his dark hair. He smiled at her, moved in close and licked the trail of blood that was streaming down her cheek. He didn’t miss the small noise of disgust that she made. Rory’s smile grew even wider.
“What’s wrong Alice?” he asked. “You know you like it…”
Alice squirmed in his grip and he chuckled.
“You know, human beings are amazing things…” he used his free hand to stroke her cheek. Alice kicked herself internally for the shudder that ran down her spine. Rory ignored it and went on. “They’re so…fragile,” Rory threw her to the ground, face first, and stepped on her back, pulling on her left arm. “…so…easy to break—.”
There was a sick, horrible-sounding crack on the word ‘easy’ that mingled with Alice’s cry of pain. Again, Rory ignored her, dragging his nails up her arm and ripping through the sleeve.
“…and yet, far too stubborn to die…”
Rory grabbed her throat again and pulled her close to his face. Her left arm fell limp at her side.
“But you’re not really human, are you, my dear?”
Alice spat at him. He wiped it from his face with a laugh.
“No, you’re far more stubborn.”
Alice glared at him and his face seemed to morph in front of her. The stubbly beard on his chin disappeared; his hair grew shorter, his eyes turning blue. His clothes changed, becoming tattered and blood began to spread across his chest.
“But I’ll find a way to kill you, Al,” said Axel, now standing in Rory’s place. Alice’s eyes grew wide.
“Who’s Axel?” he asked, starting to sound deranged. Alice’s vision was starting to blur. Whether it was from the lack of air she was getting or the tears starting to prick at her eyes, she wasn’t sure.
“Axel, please!” Alice pleaded. “I’m sorry I killed you! I couldn’t help it! I-I had a black out! I couldn’t control it!”
“Say what you will,” Axel growled. “It won’t stop me. How should I kill you, hmm?”
Alice felt like a scared little kid again. Was this really happening?
“Should I keep strangling you? Should I stab you like you did me?”
His hand hovered over her chest. “I could rip your heart out and watch you bleed…”
“Axel…” she whimpered, closing her eyes. “Please…”
Both hands were around her neck now.
“Or maybe I should just snap your pretty little neck…”
Alice opened her eyes again. The last thing she saw before she blacked out was Axel morphing back into Rory who seemed to realize what he was doing. He let go of her and jumped backward as if she were on fire and she fell to the ground, unconscious before she even hit the concrete floor.
* * * *
Baine ran down the tunnel as fast as his legs would carry him. Holly, Melanie and Jude, who was pulling nervously at his tail, were waiting for him.
“What happened?” Melanie asked. Baine was bent over double, hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath.
“Rory—berserk,” he panted, hoping he at least go the message across. “Attacked Alice—told me to run—came to get help…”
Holly’s large brown eyes grew wide and without another word, she took off back down the tunnel, wings unfolding as she glided. Melanie followed after, leaving Baine alone with Jude. Jude’s eyes flicked between Baine and the other two flying down the tunnel and he took a couple steps backward, mumbling something that Baine didn’t quite catch.
Holly shot upward from out of the tunnel and dived down to where Rory had Alice pinned to the wall. He let go before she was close enough to do anything and Alice fell to the ground, unmoving.
“What did you do?” Holly practically shouted, folding her wings again and kneeling down next to Alice.
Rory looked almost horrified with himself.
“I-I didn’t—I couldn’t cont—th-there was blood and I—,” he stammered, taking a step back with each word. He tried again, “D-did I—? She’s not—? Is she?”
He didn’t seem to trust himself to get close to her. Holly felt Alice’s wrist for a pulse and sighed.
“She’s alive, Rory. But I think you dislocated her shoulder and you tore up her left arm pretty bad…isn’t she left handed?”
Rory swore under his breath and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Okay…okay…Just—just keep her away from me for a little bit.”
“Got it,” said Holly with a nod. She hooked her arm under Alice’s shoulders and lifted her into the air. Alice gave a small twitch at the contact to her shoulder, but otherwise showed no sign of stirring. Holly flew down the tunnel once more, meeting Baine and Jude. The two of them were startled at the sight of Alice’s tattered white sleeve, now turned a deep red color, but calmed down as Holly explained.
Soon Rory and Melanie caught up to them and together, the six of them fled into the night.
* * * *
“C’mon Al, say cheese!”
“No, Roxy! I don’t wanna take a picture! Hey, let me go! Roxy!”
Thirteen year old Alice was trying to get away from her sister who was holding a camera. Roxanne finally pulled her sister close and snapped a picture. Still holding Alice by her jacket sleeve, Roxanne pulled up the picture on the digital camera and laughed.
“What?” Alice asked. The two of them put their heads together to look at it. Roxanne was smiling, her right hand (unlike Alice, she was right-handed) was out of frame, and holding the camera while her other arm was holding Alice in a headlock. Alice was clearly trying to get away, her mouth open in a silent protest as she was dragged into the frame. Roxanne was happy to see her sister crack a smile at the picture. She’d seemed so sad lately…
“You girls ready?”
The two of them looked up at the sound of their uncle’s voice.
“We have to get going if we’re gonna make it by seven!”
Roxanne’s face broke into a wide grin. “Coming!”
Still holding Alice’s sleeve, she took off running, once again dragging her sister behind her.
“Come on, Alice!” Roxanne shouted. “Come on! Alice! Alice!”
“Alice! Hey! Alice! Wake up!”
Someone was shaking her.