[Here’s a very rough, completely unedited sneak peek at the first chapter from the final installment of the Dark and Bright Series. Enjoy!]
CHAPTER ONE: EMBER
My brain floats, gives me strange visions. That must be why the boy…no, man…in front of me is blurry and distorted. His voice is muted, as if he’s trying to communicate from a long distance under water. I only catch one word.
I know that’s my name. Actually, my full name is December Aurora Eagleheart Garrison Silva. My mother went a little overboard.
I know that I’m eighteen and my birthday is in July.
I know my parents are Lorenzo and Ellen Silva.
I know a lot of things…things that weren’t there before, floating in my brain. My head feels like someone stuffed every library book and half the Internet into it. It isn’t painful, just…full.
I’m also learning new things. How to break things. Hurt them. Kill them. I’m strangely OK with that even though I know I’m supposed to cringe or be grossed out. Deep inside, I realize it’s wrong, but I can’t bring myself to care about that.
The boy-man is calling my name again. My brain shuts down.
“It’s time for another round of the new serum.”
“Should I strap her down? Last time we did this, she had a seizure.”
Leather pinches my skin, waking me up the rest of the way. My eyes open to see my now familiar surroundings.
The laboratory. It’s like something from a horror movie, with gleaming, terrifying instruments on silver trays and jars of things that don’t look human but don’t look completely animal either.
Flynn. My tormentor. My enemy. My teacher. He’s very good at killing things, except he uses his hands. Sometimes, his teeth. Not the shiny medical instruments.
“Not feeling talkative?” He pulls the straps tighter. It hurts, so I hurt him back. “Fuck! Knock her out, Einstein! She fucking zapped me!” That’s what he calls that particular ability…zapping. I don’t even have to touch him to hurt him. Just one thought. One wish. It’s beautiful when you stop to think about it. Flynn is teaching me how to use it on small animals like the pets I used to have.
I don’t care. Really.
The doctor must give me something, because my brain starts floating again. The boy-man returns. I want to not care about him either, but seeing him makes my chest hurt. I don’t like seeing him, yet when he’s gone, my chest hurts even more. Why I’m in pain is a mystery. It’s one of the few things I don’t know.
The serum is warm in my veins. My heart pumps, delivering it to the rest of my body. This has been done so many times that I don’t worry, even though sometimes the serum makes me thrash or drool or scream.
“How much more?”
“This should do it. Dr. Vincent wants another round of tests, but he’s confident she’s ready for field trials.”
“Domestic or overseas?”
“The General wants her tested overseas, but Dr. Vincent doesn’t want to risk losing her if she’s not fully operational. So, domestic first.”
Flynn snorts. “That must’ve chapped the General’s hide.”
I hear a smile in the other man’s voice. “Like you have no idea. But science wins every argument around here.” I feel a hand rub my arm, almost in a fatherly way. “We can’t waste precious resources on useless war games just because some jarhead with a Napoleon complex has an itch to scratch.”
I’m losing track of time. Truthfully, it doesn’t exist for me. There are no clocks or windows, nothing personal, just blank laboratory walls. I don’t go outside, never see the sun or moon. I eat tasteless food that has the sole purpose of nourishing me, not satisfying tastebuds or cravings. I wear plain white pajamas and socks.
The sensory deprivation and the serum take away my desire to escape. Robs me of my love for my family. Steals my personality. Inch by inch, I’m turning into a blank slate, which is probably their goal. Who ‘they’ are is the biggest mystery, but the more they pump me full of drugs, the less I care.
“Rise and shine, babe.” Flynn slaps my thigh. I try to zap him, but I’ve got nothing. No juice. He knows it and smiles. “Oh, if looks could kill. You’re on fire! I bet you’re a wildcat in the sack.”
Flynn talks to me like this all the time. He never touches me, so the slap should’ve tipped me off that he’s safe. I must be high as a kite. That’s the only way to dull my abilities. He rarely risks touching me, even with the barrier of clothing, though the look in his eyes says he wishes it was different.
Frankly, I want him to touch me, not because I crave his hands on me, but because I’d kill him. My ‘zap’ is lethal when skin-to-skin touch is involved. Without my defense mechanism, my vulnerability claws at me, takes my breath away. Being defenseless around Flynn is dangerous. It’s another thing I don’t want to care about, so I focus on my breathing, on what will happen when the drugs wear off…what I’ll do the second I get the chance to touch him at full strength.
Some part of me says that if I’m scared, ‘they’ haven’t taken all of my emotion. If I want to kill Flynn, I must feel something. Wanting to kill someone must be hate, right? If I kill without emotion, that makes me a psychopath. I don’t want to be one, but I suspect I am.
“C’mon. Up and at ’em.” Flynn pulls me into a sitting position. My muscles protest with stiffness and pain. I can’t hold myself up. “Man, you’re whacked out. I need to tell Dr. Charles to lower your dosage.”
I hate showing weakness in front of my tormentor, yet a groan escapes me. “Wh-where are you t-taking me?” I don’t recognize my voice. It’s almost gone, nothing more than a whisper, a puff of air.
“They think it’s time to put you in a cell. Thought I’d give you a thrill and put you in your boyfriend’s old spot.” Flynn laughs. I have no idea what’s so funny. I don’t have a boyfriend.
The blurry, distorted image of the boy-man floats to the surface of my foggy brain.
No, he’s not mine. I don’t have anyone. No one is looking for me. No one wants me. No one loves me like that. Not even my parents. I’m a ghost. A memory. To them and to myself.
Copyright P.M. Hernandez and PM Hernandez Publishing