Thirteen

What happens when everything you love changes for the worst?

Danielle Miles wants to be normal. She wants to feel normal.
And yet she can never be normal because of her secret; the one thing she despises about herself most of all.
But what happens when she if forced to use her secret to help others who are just like her?
Who are... different.

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3. Thirteen: Chapter Two

The first thing I felt was the splitting headache. It was like someone was trying to pry my head open with their bare hands. Sharp waves of electricity forced its way into my system and my muscles spasmed as it shot through my veins. Freezing cold encased itself around my wrists and ankles and my skin was pinched by clips, pulling at the flesh.

      "You're awake" A cold, emotionless voice stated, their voice static as if coming through a speaker. I strained to open my eyes as pain sizzled through my body but I managed to keep them open long enough to gape in horror at what was happening.

      What I was able to make out a circular metal contraption which had me lifted a few inches off the floor. Metal braces were the source of the cold as they attached themselves to the machine and held me in an uncomfortable position, a kind of mid-air star jump that pulled at my muscles. The room I was in was small and dark and smelled faintly of blood and grime, bringing up bile in my throat as I imagined what could have died in here. Opposite me the room was cut in half by a huge sheet of glass and behind it was the worse looking human being I had ever seen.

      He was tall, much taller than the other men in the room behind the glass, and stood at his full posture, trying to intimidate me with the authority he clearly possessed over the others, with a pristine white lab coat that hung on his well-toned body. His face was angular and had an ugly scar from his right eye across his nose and which ended at his cheek. Wild black hair overpowered his head as if someone had intended on making him look like Albert Einstein and cruel blood-red eyes glared at me, burning with hate and slight desperation. The other men in the room looked like scientists of some sort, making notes on clipboards and murmuring to each other as they stared at me in disbelief.

      "Did you sleep well?" He smirked when he spoke to me, treating me as if I were inferior to him.

      "Where am I?" My voice was weak and hoarse and left a slight burning sensation in my throat. A thicker wave of electricity sparked through my body and it spasmed every single muscle throughout my being. It disappeared as quickly as it had come and left my body smoking and sticky with sweat. My hair stuck to my face and my breath came out in broken gasps. The thought of my skin cooking because of the shock left an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.

      "You, my dear, are in the Nova Research Facility on Mystical Creatures," He spoke to me as if I were stupid; as if I should've known where I was. "My name is Doctor Cerulean," Confusion must have coloured my feature's for he heaved an exasperated sigh, pulling a hand over his face. "You should know that we have dedicated out lives to researching the mystical world and all of its qualities! By any mean necessary"

      "Then-" I coughed as the scratching feeling took over my throat again. " Then why am I here?"

      "Don't play dumb with me! I know, we all know, what you are!" Doctor Cerulean snapped.

      "What?" I croaked. Behind Doctor Cerulean the other scientists started swapping their notes and whispering nervously to each other. One tapped the doctor's shoulder, murmuring quickly into his ear. The door to their room swung open to make way for a much older man who made the scientists look even more anxious as he walked into the room as if he owned the place.

      He fashioned fuzzy pure white hair that exploded underneath his business hat and a large white beard which covered his wrinkled face and which made him look slightly like an evil Santa Clause, ultimately ruining my childhood. His small black eyes managed to send shivers down my spine as he stared at me as if I were some sort of disgusting being. He wasn't as well built as Doctor Cerulean and he was slightly shorter than him, but he still held the power to frighten the other scientists into a state of distress. He wore a smart suit and walked with a slight limp, which is why he held the gold-topped cane in his wrinkly hand.

      "I'm very busy, Cerulean!" Was the first thing he barked. "Why did you call me down here?" He turned his agitated attention to me and pointed a long accusing finger at me. "Is this it, then?"

      "I am not an it" I murmured under my breath.

      "Silence!" He screamed through the glass, obviously not used to people back chatting him. He slammed his hand down on a button and a sharp jolt of voltage jumped through my bloodstream. "Don't answer back!" Once he saw the smoke rising from my body and how I was somehow able to keep my eyes glued to his, his face softened and he crossed his arms. "Now that we understand one another why don't you tell us what you are, seeing as these idiots cannot figure that out themselves"

      "What do you mean? I'm human" I replied, my voice shaking slightly. He shook his head.

      "Tell us the truth," Doctor Cerulean piped up. "We're not stupid; you can't hide forever"

      "I'm not hiding anything! I'm human" My energy was finally returning and I tried to move my wrists in the braces to see if they were loose or not. They weren't budging; I'd have to find another way out soon or I'd be cooked alive. Doctor Cerulean sighed and made a signal to one of the scientists.

      "I'm afraid that if you don't tell us, you friend here..." He motioned to the side and the room behind the glass to the right of me lit up. Naida was there being held in a machine like mine, except her's seemed to be shocking her constantly. The speaker in her room suddenly turned on and my ears were filled with the sound of her screaming for dear life as her body shook with how much voltage was being pumped into her system. "Cut it off; maybe she'll talk now" Doctor Cerulean motioned with his hand and Naida's head fell forward, her breathing rapid and sweat pouring down her face.

      "Naida!" I shrieked. She trembled from the obvious pain and tried to lift her head. Her half-closed eye appeared behind her frizzing hair and a tear fell from her blue eye. My eyes filled with tears of guilt as her head dropped again. I then noticed the faint blue-ish tint her skin held and recognized the signs straight away.

      "Help her" My voice took on a darker edge. I turned back to Doctor Cerulean and screwed my hands into fists, my body shaking from the anger I felt now. He was hurting her just to get something out of me. He had crossed the line.

      He raised his eyebrow and a faint smile played across his lips. "Why?" My eyes narrowed and tears fell from the corners and rolled down my hot cheeks. I glanced at Naida again and she had somehow managed to raise her head slightly and stare at me with those piercing eyes full of confusion and guilt. She nodded weakly.

      "If you don't help her now her lungs will fill up with too much oxygen from being too weak, expand, then explode. Her... remains will cover everything in that room and those remains have millions of her cells implanted in them. They will grow into even more of... of her kind so even if she allow Naida to die you will have more of her to deal with than just one. And they grow very quickly" I replied calmly enough but my words were still tinged with hate towards that bastard.

      Doctor Cerulean stared questioningly at me for a second before saying, "What do we do?"

      "Just get her some water" I growled through gritted teeth. His eyes narrowed at me and watched as another two tears fell down my face.

      He licked his lips and turned on a scientist. "Get Subject Twelve some water now" The scientist rushed away, fearing his life because of how annoyed Doctor Cerulean looked, and quickly came running into Naida's room to give her a drink from a tall glass of not very nice looking water. He allowed her to take a long gulp and her skin regained a more human colour. But I knew what could help her a lot faster than just water.

      "Take her bracelet off" I instructed. Naida's eyes widened and I mouthed the word 'sorry' before he slipped off her blue and white beaded bracelet. Her skin seemed to turn itself over to a light green and Naida let out a sigh of relief as the pain seemed to reduce. Her hair blurred, grew longer and fuller and faded into a deep blue then settled around her shoulders. The tips of her ears shot upwards slightly, growing pointed and pushing her hair back. Black tribal tattoos crawled along her skin and settled into their correct places along her arms.

      She glanced up at me and nodded, but tears still brimmed in the corners of her eyes. I knew from the look she gave me that she was conflicted; I had just shown them what she was but I had done something to help her keep on living. I turned my head from her; unable to look at her any longer before I burst into tears. I felt like I betrayed her; I felt like I had let her down.

      "How did you know that was going to happen?" Doctor Cerulean snarled, clearly unhappy at what had happened.

      "I'm surprised you didn't know. And you call yourself a researcher" My voice cracked slightly, the guilt of having to reveal Naida's secret to a bunch of scientists who specialize in torturing mystical creatures overflowing into every feature of my being. I couldn't even look at her I was that scared of what she was thinking of me now.

      But it had to be done. She could of died with that bracelet stopping her abilities, which also included her being able to heal in record time. She couldn't die just because we were in a place where they take notes on mystical creatures like they were aliens.

      Doctor Cerulean's eyes narrowed and a growl escaped his throat. He turned to the weird Santa Clause man, who had been stood observing everything with a slight smug expression on his face, and whined, "Sir, we have to do something! She's being awkward on purpose and wasting out time" He swung a hand accusingly at me and glared at me as if I were ruining his life just by being alive, which I probably was.

      "I'm not being awkward. You're the one who said he was a researcher; I'm just repeating what you said," A deep red blush exploded onto his face. It seemed I had struck a nerve. Good. He had wanted Naida to suffer so I was going to make him suffer the only way I knew how. By being a mouthy little bitch. "And now you're whining about me to mommy, who seems to not give a rats ass about you whatsoever" His face became even redder as his anger bubbled over the edge. In a fit of rage, he cranked up a dial and I felt the braces sizzle against my skin. Grinning evilly, he reached for a button and I shut my eyes, not wanting his stupid face to be the last thing I saw. He didn't care now if I died.

      Oh well. At least I lived my life to the fullest. It had to come to an end sooner or later. I always knew this.

      "Stop Cerulean!" A voice bellowed and everything went silent. I opened one eye and saw the older man had hold of Doctor Cerulean's wrists, obviously hurting him, and pushed him away from the button. "You will not kill her. She has spirit, I'll give her that, even if she is using it wrong but you will not be blinded by anger into killing a valuable test subject," The way he spoke, with authority that had probably taken years to master, made me feel inferior and small which looked to be the same situation for everyone in the room with him. I was kind of glad I was in a separate room to him. "Get her into the proper uniform and have her meet the others"

      Then he just walked out, mumbling to himself. I plucked up the courage to look over at Naida and saw she was just as confused as me; her eyebrows furrowed and mouth slightly open in awe. Doctor Cerulean stared after him with murder in his eyes and then turned on me.

      "You're lucky he was here to save you. And you're lucky he told me not to kill you otherwise you would have been dead long ago," I gulped and averted my eyes to the floor, knowing I had pushed him too far. The speaker screeched off and I heard the sound of mechanics. Suddenly, Doctor Cerulean jerked my chin up and stared into my eyes, his red like a burning fire of anger and rage. "Don't think I haven't figured you out. I know what you are," He pulled my face closer, so close I could feel his breath on my skin. "You're a monster. And you always will be," He released his grip and waved me away. "Get both of them out of my sight"

      Two scientist came rushing in, eager to please Doctor Cerulean, and unhooked me from the machine. I was immediately put into heavy shackles on a long chain and started getting dragged by one scientist away from the doctor, who was stood staring at the floor, lost in his own thoughts.

      In the hallway we were met by another scientist who was pulling Naida on her own chain but I couldn't look at her face now we were close enough to talk properly; I just kept my eyes glued to the floor. I didn't want to see this place; I didn't want to see anyone of anything and I certainly didn't want to talk to anyone here. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. I had a feeling I wouldn't get out of here on my own... but I had to at least try, right? I mean, what's the worst they could do to me if I failed? They couldn't kill me; that was now against the rules.

      I opened my eyes reluctantly to assess where we were. The corridor was long and wide and was painted in plain industrial colours. It smelt faintly of disinfectant, the old stains of blood covered the walls and it held a certain air about it that made my skin crawl. This time was as good as any to try and escape. The corridor was getting narrower with every step we took deeper into hell and I wasn't sure I'd get another chance like this again. But... should I risk the scientists and Doctor Cerulean learning my secret?

      If you're going to do something, do it now, A voice whispered in my head. It wasn't my own and took me completely by surprise that I slid to a halt and the scientist dragging me had to tug on the chain to get me to move again. I listened further to see if there was going to be more but nothing came. Had I imagined it?

      "Stop talking to yourself" One of the idiots barked in my direction. I gritted my teeth and couldn't help but growl in frustration towards him.

      Are you going to try something or not? The voice was clearer now, as if they weren't in my head and in the hallway with us, but it didn't look as if they were anywhere around. I raised an eyebrow and thought back: I am going to try. Don't rush me!

      I breathed deeply and stopped, putting all my strength into not moving. The scientist tried to pull me again but I was able to keep myself glued to the floor and continue taking deep breaths of the stale air. He stared me in the eye and tugged on the chain harder.

      "What's wrong with your breathing?" He snapped. He felt my forehead and pulled back instantly.

      "What?" The other scientist asked. I flexed my fingers and closed my eyes. I took in another long breath and cracked my neck.

      "She's burning up. Write that down" The scientist strained my chin upwards with what felt like a pencil and I snapped my eyes open. He dropped the pencil and backed away quickly, staring at me with disbelief as I felt my body slowly grow and change.

      Shiny midnight black feathers started popping up on my arms in bunches. My clothes shifted to black and formed around my body, then swept up into a wide fantail and my feet disappeared and were replace by large scaly talons. My arms went flat then grew longer and bigger into wings which I slipped out of the braces and flapped quickly to get into the air. I screeched at him as I felt a beak forming on my face. I dive bombed towards the guy holding Naida's chains and clawed at him. He dropped the chains as if it had burnt him and jumped out of the way as I reached for the shackles and scratched at them. They broke with ease and I flew back into the air, just dodging the guy jumping to grab me. I looked down the hallway and a large metal door was slowly cutting the corridor in half. Whipping my head the other way, I saw another barrier doing the same; blocking our exits.

      Someone must of pulled an alarm or something. I began to panic and flew towards the closest door.

      "Dani!" Naida's muffled scream made me shudder to a halt and stall in the air to see her being held back by one scientist. This was my one chance to get out while I could but I couldn't leave her; we had come here together. I wasn't about to let her suffer because of me.

      I flew back towards her and clawed at the guy holding her, drawing blood from the deep scratches I'd caused on his face and freeing her from his arms. I felt myself slowly transforming back into a human; I couldn't hold my form forever. My feathers were slowly disappearing, making me lose altitude, and I bashed against the metal door. I tired to pull myself to my feet but something hard struck me from behind and large shadows ran across my vision like ghosts.

      "Not again" I groaned. Black and white speckles clouded my eyesight and my head became as heavy as ten ton bricks. I swayed slightly and grabbed my head, falling forward and whacking my head on the metal door as I fell. The blood rushed to my head and I slid to the floor, while the shadows and speckles became one and took over my vision, leaving me in the dark.

 

 

 

"Dani..." Someone's voice whispered in my ear, leading me out of the dark. They shook me gently and I moaned at the throbbing pain in my skull. "Dani, you have to get up now..."

      "Don't want to," I mumbled sleepily, my eyelids unable to lift from the sudden exhaustion that took over my body. They shoved me and I fell off an edge and hit a cold hard surface with a thud. I clutched my head and forced my eyes open to see Naida smiling down at me. "Why?"

      "You were taking up all the space and you wouldn't get up" She laid back down and knitted her fingers together behind her head.

      "There's another bed!" I argued, standing up slowly and testing myself by walking over to it. I sat down and jumped on the mattress, trying out the springs.

      "I wanted this one," She shrugged and turned onto her side, facing the wall. "Night" I stood up, throwing my hands up in despair and pulling them over my face.

      Then a sudden realization dawned on me. I looked through my fingers and saw Naida, her skin light green and her hair dark blue. The memory of what I'd done to her filled my mind until it made me lightheaded and I had to sit back down on the bed. I glanced up at her again but she was as still as ever.

      "Naida?" I asked, my voice quiet. She flinched but didn't turn around.

      "Yeah?" Her voice was steady but I could see she was having a hard time keeping it like that.

      "I'm sorry," I bit my lip and waited for her reaction. She didn't move. It made me worry and I started blabbering like an idiot. "I'm sorry I made you give up your secret when you clearly couldn't stop him from taking the bracelet off. I'm sorry I made you go through so much pain. I'm sorry we're in this mess. I'm sorry-"

      "Hey hey," She shot up when she heard me choking on my tears. She sat down next to me and wrapped her arms around me. "I'm not mad. It's not you're fault we're here and I'm certainly not taking your apology for revealing my secret. I knew I might not have made it this far without that bracelet having to come off and I'm grateful that you knew what to do in that situation"

      "You're not mad?" I whispered.

      "Why would I be mad at you for saving my life?" She pulled back and grinned widely. "And besides, you reveled your secret as well. At least we're both even now"

      I laughed at her logic but then thought of the situation. "What now?"

      "What do you mean?"

      "I mean what's going to happen now? What are they going to do to us now that they've found out what we are?"

      She thought she a while, contemplating the right answer to calm my nerves. But any answer she gave me I knew would be bad news. "I don't know," She sighed after a while. "I have no idea what's going to happen but whatever does happen we need to stick together, you and me, okay?"

      "Sure," I smiled. "Even if you are a bit of a weirdo"

      "Hey! I'm not the one who turned themselves into a crow and failed at flying properly," She laughed and I shoved her but soon went serious again. "Seriously though"

      "You're right. We need to stick together," I stuck out my hand. "Deal?"

      She shook her head and lifted up her pinky. "No you have to pinky promise; they're stronger than a deal" I chuckled at her childishness but still hooked my pinky with her.

      "Pinky promise"

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