Wings

{Shortlisted for the Sony Young Movellist of the Year 2013! - DUE TO BE EDITED}

Firstly, it was just the prisoners that were used.

Then it became orphans, and even some of the elderly.

Now it is everyone in a society where people are struggling to find work.

Money is offered to anyone willing to volunteer themselves or their children to take part in scientific trials run by the organisation called Calox.

Except no one ever gets the money.

No one is ever seen again once they've volunteered for the trials.

---- Copyright © 2014 Danielle Paige. All rights reserved.

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15. Chapter 14

 

There was a deathly silence that followed Sara’s words. It hadn’t occurred from fear or shock, but was instead comprised of their shared anticipation. In truth, they all wanted to leave Calox, but not give up on everything that they had worked so hard on. They all felt a similar hatred for Justice and an undying urge to take back the past that had been stolen from them.
   Erika’s face was fresh with excitement, “When do we go?”
   Sara paused, unsure of how to answer her question. Fleeing was exactly what they were all hoping for – as soon as possible – but her mind had wandered to the other hybrids who knew nothing of fidèle. She didn’t wish to leave them behind, unaware of their constant manipulation. Sara had rarely cared for so many but justified the feeling with the unity that she had experienced amongst other hybrids.
   “We can’t just leave the others,” Callum said gently.
   Devin was as cold as ice with his retort: “They’ll slow us down. There’s a higher risk of being caught if we try to sneak everyone out of here.”
   Sara caught Devin’s eye, secretly glad that he had been the one to counter Callum’s argument. She hadn’t wanted to seem undecided in front of the others; especially not now she was under pressure to take charge once again. Her mind was filled with useless ideas and impossible escape routes. She needed a plan, and as the twins’ desperate eyes turned on her, one hit her.
   “Devin, do you think you could duplicate this?” Sara asked suddenly.
   He seemed confused for a moment, but nodded.
   “Good,” Sara said, “I need you to do so, and then we’ll scatter them all around the base. After that, if anyone chooses to leave, they can make their own way out because we’ll already be gone.”
   Callum and Devin both nodded which was a sign that her decision had been accepted by both of them. A wave of pride sank through Sara for a moment before Devin sprang into action, snatching the letter with his left hand and running from the cabin. They watched him go, each hoping for him to be back quickly so that they could leave.

*

Devin got back into the building, slipping past the guards with a bizarre, feline stealth. He seemed to become one with the shadows around him and prowl around the corners. Even his senses were heightened, almost to the extent of being able to hear the rustling of the carpet fibres under his feet. It was unnerving to be so in touch with the animal inside him but there was also a rush of power that seemed to surge through his body like an electrical current. Reaching the computer room he’d used before was almost too easy.
   He slid the door open, peeking through the crack in the door for any sign of guards, and only when completely sure the room was empty, he stepped inside. Everything was the same as before, illuminated only by the flickering computer screen and the dull spotlight on the ceiling. Devin made his way over to the printer and lifted up the top half to reveal a sleek glass screen, lightly scattered with dust. He wiped it away with his sleeve and then pressed the letter against the glass, smoothing as many of the creases out of the paper as he could.
   “Okay,” he said quietly, “I think thirty copies will be enough.”
   The printer creaked and groaned as Devin entered the settings, almost as if complaining about the work he was giving the machine. Despite the protests, it began to churn out replicas of the letter wedged in between the two halves of the printer. They appeared one by one, on brilliant white sheets, in a small grey drawer at the bottom.
   “Bingo,” Devin smiled at how close he was to exposing Calox.
   He reached down, scooping the last copy into his arms and pushed the tray back into the printer. Taking a deep breath, he stuck his head out of the doorway and glanced down the corridors. Yet again, there was no one on patrol and he escaped undetected, with thirty copies of the letter wedged up his shirt.

*

Eva wandered along the corridors in a thoughtless haze. She could hear and see perfectly well but wasn’t taking in any of her surroundings. All she wanted was to get some fresh air before she typed up another repetitive progress report for the Leader. Her new boots were made of brown leather and squeaked slightly as she walked but she was able to ignore the sound; she had shut out everything but the rhythmic beating of her heart.
   The cold air had chilled the metal handle of the door but she did not flinch when he fingers brushed over it. Wordlessly, she forced the door open and watched her exhaled breath become a cloud in front of her face. She paid no mind to the rapidly descending temperatures, fully aware of it being early December, and that the chances of there being a snowfall were on the rise.
   It was getting dark outside as the nights became longer and longer, snatching away hours of the daytime. She glanced up at the sky, only to see tiny diamonds flickering through the thin streams of clouds that polluted the inky blackness. Her attention was stolen by a rustling noise and she was surprised to see one of the hybrid twins scurrying away from the main building. He looked nervous or excited, or a combination of the two, and was clutching a rectangle hidden by his t-shirt.
   Eva considered taking the radio from her belt and instructing the guards to investigate but her own curiosity was urging her to ignore the device so she could re-enter the building. She began to walk, only to rip her squeaking leather boots from her feet in anger. In her socks, she crept silently across the icy field into the building ahead, knowing that she was concealed from sight by the darkness.
   “Eva,” one of the guards greeted, “Why are you not wearing shoes?”
   She glanced around the reception, glad to see that the guard was alone. Now there was no way his suspicion could spread.
   “My boots hurt me terribly,” she said dramatically, “So I left them outside near the quad bikes. I expect a larger pair to be left in my room within the hour.”
   The guard nodded as he was eager to keep the woman happy. It was no secret that she was frighteningly cold hearted and would easily get him fired if he disobeyed her... or worse. Eva used his fear to her advantage and snapped her fingers, trying to appear impatient. The moment the guard had turned away, she darted out of the reception and into the corridor, desperate to find out what it was the boy had to hide.
   Before she knew it, she was stood outside of the computer room that she had been training Devin in. With a sigh, she knew that he had been onto the Calox Network without her knowledge, and needed to find out what information he had found. She dived onto the computer, typing her username and password into the boxes displayed absent-mindedly. After a few minutes, she had accessed the Network but it appeared not to have been accessed since Devin’s training that morning.
   She slammed her fist down on the table and left her seat, dashing over to the printer. That was when she noticed the tiny specks of dust that had been wiped from the copier and onto the desk. Cautiously, she opened the printer to reveal a sheet positioned face-down on the glass. She snatched the radio from her belt and pressed a button:
   “Leader, it’s me, Eva. I think we have an emergency.”

*

Devin, Callum, Sara, Erika, and Jay went in their separate directions with six copies of the letter each. They each tucked one letter under the door of every tenth cabin, knowing that the hybrids would do what teenagers did best: gossip. The word would spread and, by the morning, all of the hybrids would be aware of Calox’s dirty little secret. It was an icy night so they were trying to be as quick as possible without drawing any attention to themselves.
   That’s when the alarms sounded.
   The whole base was illuminated at once. The cry of the alarms rang out, waking all of the hybrids at once. Guards ran out from all directions as the shadows they lurked in were destroyed by the light, wielding tasers and bulky guns loaded with ammunition. Hybrids began to swarm out of their cabins, some holding the letters which they had read with startled expressions.
   Callum was the first to react, choosing to act like he was just another hybrid. He tried to appear as shocked as the others were, moulding into the ever-growing crowd with a sense of dread. He felt sick to the stomach, a foul taste materialising into his mouth. Devin was quick to join him, dragging Erika into the middle of the crowd.
   “Guys,” Sara muttered, appearing from nowhere, “Our part is done now, we’ve got to get out of here – and fast.”
   Jay was behind her, looking at his broken claws: “I’ve already damaged part of the fence; it’s not as strong as it looks.”
   “Then it’s decided,” said Sara bluntly, “We get to the perimeter and we leave.”
   They glanced around at the guards who were advancing slowly on the crowd that had formed. Many were scanning the faces clustered together, as if searching for something – someone – in particular. Devin’s heart skipped a beat as he realised that he must have been seen; it was his fault that their plan could fail.
   “Callum, it was me,” Devin whispered, “I left the letter in the photocopier!”
   Callum glared at him, “Then you better leave first before they notice you. Go on, move.”
   Devin admired his brother’s courage and dashed out of the crowd. He forced himself to use his power to stealthier, dropping to all fours and leaping like a cat would, landing neatly behind one of the cabins. He peered around the corner, glad to see that he was not being followed. Callum was rounding up the others in the crowd, forming a plan with Sara and explaining his brother’s disappearance to them.
   Devin crept towards the jagged hole cut into the fence. Jay had ruined his claws on the metal but had definitely helped them. After all, they couldn’t all fly like Sara. His first attempt to push through the fence was an unsuccessful one – the twisted metal tore at his skin and sliced his sleeves. At risk of spilling his blood, he tucked his legs tight against his chest and fell against the fence, glad to be able to roll into the world outside the compound.
   That was when he noticed the others running for the hole in the fence. The guards had noticed them too and were beginning to come after them, ready to fire their tasers. Devin scrambled for the hole, reaching through to grab Callum. He didn’t care whether or not the others were cut – he just wanted them safe. The rush of adrenaline had kicked in and he was working on nothing but pure instinct.
   “C’mon,” Devin cried as Callum made it through, “Quickly.”
   Sara was at the back of the group, her head lowered and wings outstretched. She took flight, narrowly avoiding the fired taser and hovered high above the fence – out of reach. Everyone’s attention was drawn to her as her wings sliced the air gracefully; suspending her in the night sky. From there, she looked somewhat lethal, staring down into the crowd with her eagle eyes.
   “Hybrids,” she called down, “Do you really want to be controlled?”
   And with that, she flew down onto the other side of the fence, dragging Jay and Erika through the hole. Then they took off, running as fast as they could, all too aware of the advancing guards. It was icy cold and the ground was solid but they didn’t complain. They’d betrayed Calox and were now as negatively viewed as Justice was to the Leader; if they were caught they would suffer the same fate as the machines had in training.
   Calox would destroy what they had created. 

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