Cougar paced up and down. Shadow lazily followed his movements. I absently picked at the grass. We were yet again facing the city. We all supposed that it was our scientist’s doing that we were stuck in this setting. They thought that we were still dreaming of destroying cities and feeling the pleasurable blood-lust.
“Can’t we send her back? She does nothing,” Cougar’s tail lashed. Shadow sighed.
“When we get to the institute we’ll need her to fight,” he explained for the millionth time. Cougar bared his teeth, and then let out a sigh.
“I’m sorry guys, it’s just that I haven’t hunted since the night we realized our brain-wash. I’m getting hungry. You may not like it Shadow,” Cougar sat back down with us, “but I still need to hunt or I’ll go mad and sorta, err, well…” He shifted.
“What is it?” I asked. Even Shadow leaned forward.
“It’s like…like a mix between a werewolf and a vampire. I need to eat something raw or I turn into a full cougar. Fur and all.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry,” I wheezed, “but I just love the way you described it. Sorry, sorry.” I fought to control myself, but when Cougar joined in and Shadow’s mouth quirked I couldn’t.
When our laughter subsided, I clutched my stomach that had become sore. “Do you think we should get back to the waking world now? It’s bound to be morning by now.” I asked. Shadow nodded, and suddenly disappeared. Cougar stared at the spot he had been at, and then turned to me.
“You know what
? I’m really glad we aren’t related,” he told me. I recoiled. Crystal
“What?” I exclaimed. He smiled, but then disappeared. As soon as he was gone, rough winds tossed open my wings forcibly. I struggled to remain on the ground, but the wind threw me up into the sky. Below me was the city.
I closed my eye. No, this is part of the brain-washing. This isn’t what you want to do! But there was an explosion of energy from me, and the city shook. The neatness of the buildings was destroyed. I couldn’t help the happiness bubbling inside of me that nothing was in its right place.
Without my mind in my own control, my arms raised and spun in a circle in front of me. The rubble from the city rose and followed the path I traced. It spun around, like a hurricane on steroids. Vainly I wished Shadow or Cougar would awaken me at anytime now. Make it stop! I silently asked no one.
Abrupt as it started, the chaos stopped. My arms were still making circles, but nothing flew anymore spare me. I want to get down! I cried within my mind, struggling to get a hold of myself. The thing controlling me seemed to fight back, making it hard for me to bring in my wings. But slowly and shakily I forced them back onto my back. The ground rose to meet me, welcoming me back.
I collapsed onto the ground, panting and wings shivering. I heard something rustle. My brain seized control of my body, sending me backward. My feathers ruffled in fear and defense.
A huge wolf slid out of the sparse shrubbery. It curled its lip up at me. Yellow fangs glinted into the sunset. Coarse silver-red fur rippled as the wolf tensed. Its tail swished in the air.
It opened its jaws…
! Why are you still sleeping?” Crystal
My eyes snapped open. Above me, Shadow had his hands on his knees. I muttered a sorry and sat up. Cougar wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but Elocin was standing to my left in her usual dark manor. I returned her stare and stood up.
“Is Cougar hunting?” I asked, not bothering to use the usual secrecy of our dreams around Elocin. She knitted her brows.
“How did you know that if you were sleeping this entire time?” Her voice sounded strange, and I was hit with the fact that it was the first time that I have ever heard her speak. I looked at Shadow.
“Yes, no?” I inquired, asking him if I should tell her or not. He nodded.
“It’s like this,” I started, launching to an explanation. As I continued, Elocin seemed to be getting more and more irked.
“So all this time, you guys have meetings in your mind…without me?” It sounded like she was jealous. Which was an odd concept for me…and then my brain did a little math.
Elocin was jealous of me. I could spend alone time with Shadow and Cougar. Thus, either she was jealous of me having that time with Shadow, or Cougar. For both options, I recoiled. As if she could track my thoughts, Elocin glared at me.
At that moment, Cougar returned. Trotting gracefully, he smiled at me. I recalled the time when he attacked for being an ‘E’ experiment. He seemed so different now. More…likable.
“Okay, let’s head out,” Shadow turned northward. Automatically, Elocin followed him closely like a dog to its master. Cougar fell in step with me.
“How did you sleep last night,” he asked lightly.
“Great, only I got a cryptic message,” I replied in the same tone, so that neither Shadow nor Elocin would suspect me, “maybe you can help me. It said something like, ‘I’m glad we aren’t family’, or something like that.”
Shadow cast us an alarmed glance. Cougar only purred slightly.
“Hmm, no, I don’t see an explanation for that one,” he lied smoothly. I scowled. He saw me, and then hissed under his breath. “Later, Crystal.” I composed my features and gave the slightest of nods.
“Okay, what about another one, ‘sunset and city do we speak, near the shadows doth we behold?’” I hoped that Shadow would understand this one. I mainly meant this to say that we’ll speak about this in our dream tonight. Shadow let out a breath, and I took that as a yes. Cougar frowned.
“Er, not really,” he turned away from me, picking up his pace so that he was jogging to the head of our small group. Shadow dropped back moments later.
“Now don’t I feel special,” I growled softly. His mouth quirked. “Oops,” I whispered, “I think I made you smile.”
“Oh, stop it,” Shadow rolled his eyes and dropped his voice, “What were you talking about back there?”
“That we’ll discuss this tonight,” I murmured. Just then I spotted something in the distance. It looked old, dusty, and under the grime I could see that there was white. It was very large, and had windows.
And Spark lay inside.
Electricity bolts were higher than he could take, so Spark let out a scream. His hair stood on end, something that had never happened before. He spasmed, falling to the floor with a harsh thunk. He was still pulsing when the director signaled for the experiment to stop.
“That’ll do,” he growled, beckoning the guards to come over. “Go in and see what he does. AF27 and ME345, you go on ahead.” Spark had been in this place long enough to know the ‘AF’ stood for animal fusion, and ‘ME’ stood for muscle enhancement. He feebly watched as a gruesome pair slid onto his chamber.
The one he guessed to be AF27 looked like a reptile combination. Fangs sprang from his mouth, black and deadly. Instead of human eyes, scale-lidded slits withheld a dangerous red glint. Long, twisting claws clicked together as AF27 smiled at Spark evilly. ME345 was very well built. Behind his thin grey shirt, tan muscles rippled powerfully, ready to strike, and possibly kill.
Spark tensed. These experiments were not like the ones at the Refuge. They would kill gladly. And why wouldn’t they? They were made to kill, made to be part of experiments. It was all they knew.
He drew up the electricity he had just been ejected with, just like they wanted him to. Spark let it flow over him just as ME345 threw a wide punch at him. There was a crunch of bones and Spark’s nose broke, but some of the electricity that Spark generated flowed onto his fist. ME345 screamed, and dropped like a dead weight.
Electrical wasn’t the only shock there. AF27 looked surprised, and then very angry.
“That was going too far,” he growled in a low tone, red slits becoming even smaller. Spark whimpered, drawing back as far as the small room would allow. AF27 hissed at him. His black fangs were as dark as the deadly plants Chef warned everyone at the Refuge not to eat.
Chef…memories of the Refuge slid by each other, each one reminding Spark that he might never see any one of those experiments again. Suddenly, the thought of
sprang into Spark’s mind. His heart wrenched painfully. Crystal
AF27 screeched, aiming a clawed hand to Spark’s ribs. Spark yelled, and jumped to one side. His quick instincts spared him his life, but AF27 managed to nick his side. A small red cut swelled. Enraged, Spark whirled to kick AF27, but abruptly he lost consciousness.
Lights swam before his eyes. Blurry figures slurred across his vision. Spark tired to pull words from what they were jabbering, but the speech was so garbled that Spark had trouble making sense of it.
“He…stupeed…don at-ak te expeeremnts…till need tem…”
“N’mi falt. Deed yoo see wt hapen to Emme-tree-for-fiv?”
Spark frowned, struggling to piece together the words. He slowly began to clarify the words.
“Still! That was stupid! Get it into your thick skulls that we still need these creatures to understand them…got it?” a woman snarled. A reptilian man bared his fangs, hissing.
“Yes, Miss.” The snake-man glared at Spark, before turning away. The woman sniffed, and then barked at the small attendant near her.
“You! Is the experiment stable?”
“Y-yes, Miss,” squeaked the poor man. I groaned, followed by me sitting up. The woman spun around, a scowl clear on her hawk-like face.
“Take it back to the holding room.”
Spark fizzed feebly. His electric-yellow hair cackled like it always did. A sense of dread overcame him as scientists thrust a needle into his arm to sedate him back into nothingness….
Elocin glared at me once I settled myself onto the dry ground for the night. I couldn’t help but bare my teeth back at her. All day she’d been making it clear (if not in words) that she didn’t like me or my ability to communicate with Shadow and Cougar. Next to me, Shadow sighed in relief. We worked hard today, racing as hard as we could to the institute, but we didn’t get close.
“See the stars?” Shadow asked, folding his arms behind his head. I rolled on my back, shifting to make my wings more comfortable. I ended up having to turn slightly to one side, so I slightly faced Shadow and the sky above us.
“Yeah, they’re really shining tonight.” I commented. Cougar’s snores entered the scene, but that didn’t interrupt this moment between Shadow and I.
“There’s Orion,” Shadow pointed to an area in the sky. I squinted, but I couldn’t see what he was pointing at. When Shadow realized that I wasn’t gasping with excitement, he turned to face me. “Can’t you see him?”
“Who?” I asked. Shadow inched closer so that his pointing arm was right by my head.
“See the line of three stars? That’s his belt. Those two stars above it are his arms; the two below are his legs…”
The sudden image of a mighty man shone in the night sky. His belt stood out greatly, and his arms waved mightily. This time I did gasp.
“I see him!” I grinned. Shadow let him arm drop between us. He was so close that we were almost touching. I turned my head to look at him. He did the same, and smiled.
A strange sort of emotion welled inside of me, but the only thing I could do was stare deep into the ice blue of his eyes. He stared right back. Quickly I rolled away, my cheeks burning.
“Good night, see you in dream-land,” I whispered. A rustle told me that Shadow was getting into a comfortable position. But I was wrong.
Suddenly, his face was right in front of mine. Stifling a shriek, I barely controlled the urge to leap to my feet. Silently, Shadow raised a hand, and almost hesitantly, stoked my flaming cheek. My eyes stretched wide.
“Yo, Shadow, it’s your turn to take night watch.” Elocin called her voice tense.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” he called back before dropping his voice to say to me, “I’ll join you soon, okay?”
I mutely nodded, and Shadow did something quite unexpected. Leaning quickly toward me, he planted a small kiss on my forehead. He smiled at me again. As swiftly as he had appeared, Shadow sprung to his feet and took the place of Elocin. She was shaking slightly in the dim starlight. Confused, I fell into a fitful sleep.
“Finally! I’ve been waiting forever for you guys – hey where’s Shadow?” Cougar pounced at me in the dream. I flapped my great wings hard, rising above his head.