I have a Movella called 'Bright Eyes', and this was an attempt to re-write that and make it longer. It, ah, didn't exactly succeed. ;D
River Kretzchy stroked one long fingered, elegant hand down her hair. It was red- almost orange, like a fire freshly lit. She flinched as it brushed her waist, her eyes hardening. It was too long. The ends were almost six years old. A small choked laugh escaped her throat- six years. She been here for six years.
So it had been six years since she’d been imprisoned. Six years of being monitored like some lab rat. She glanced down at the sink she was leaning on, and realised her knuckles were white. She didn’t make any effort to release her grip.
With a single thought, the nail scissors resting above the cabinet floated down to her. She watched them glint in the light, and stroked her hair one last time.
Snip. River snorted. Why not be radical? It’d been years since she’d been able to assert her natural creativity. Why not go a little…wild? Snip. Another long chunk dropped to the floor, lying there like solidified fire. She wondered what Ishmael would think. Snip. Done. River ruffled her hand over her head, a feeling of lightness flooding through her heart. Man. I look good. She smirked at her reflection in the mirror. Yellow eyes winked at her, set off by her new, spiky hair. Sure, she was only twelve- but she was more mature of mind than anyone else her age. Her life had commanded it.
A creak came from the main room of her cell. Well- it wasn’t really a cell. It was quite nice, considering- but seeing as she was one of the most important, and most powerful residents of the Asylum, that was only to be expected. ishmael’s quarters weren’t half as nice. She padded out, toes sinking into the soft carpet, and felt a wash of rakish joy come over her at Nurse Wetford’s scandalised expression. She held out her hands, one wrist thrown over the other.
‘Stick me in the chains then gov.’
Nurse Wetford pulled a face at her, not bothering to come back with a snarky remark. He’d long since given up trying to match River’s quick tongue. He clapped a pair of high-tech manacles around her arms, then grabbed a hold of her shoulders from behind and frog-marched her out into the corridor.
River let their marching pace lull her into silence. She’d walked down this corridor so many times that she could navigate it with all her senses shut off. River frowned. Maybe not all of them. There was one that she couldn’t live without. One that made her who she was.
‘Oi. You. Stop daydreaming.’ Nurse Wetford poked her in the side with his taser. River tipped her head back and glared at him.
‘That is not the way to speak to a lady.’
Nurse Wetford’s pimpled face twisted like one of Munch’s demons. ‘Proper ladies don’t have the seventh sense.’
River humphed. ‘I cold be a sir then.’
‘That’s not very nice.’
‘Neither are you.’
‘Ouch.’ River tapped a fist against her heart, sniffing. ‘That hurt. I thought you and I were friends?’
Nurse Wetford snorted. ‘Yeah right. I don’t fall for that no more.’
Nurse Wetford stopped suddenly, without giving River a chance to reply. They had arrived outside a cringe worthily- cliche door, covered with blue lights and ominous little pictures of stickmen being electrocuted. River tapped one of them as the door slid open. ‘Cruelty to cartoons.’
Nurse Wetford simply grunted and shoved her through it, into the cold white light of the lab. River straightened with as much grace as she could, and brushed some invisible lint off her sleeve. ‘Really. I can walk myself, thank you.’
The slam of the door was her only reply.
River waited. And waited. Then-
‘Please lie on the bed.’
River’s face lit up. ‘I knew it’d be you! You missed me, didn’t you computer?’
The cold, mechanic voice didn’t change. ’Please lie on the bed.’
River pursed her lips in a fond expression. ‘Now really. I think you’d better ask me out to dinner first, at least. Although I can understand why you’d be so eager to get me lying down.’
‘Please lie on the bed.’
‘Oh, alright.’ River threw herself down dramatically on the bed, one arm over her face. ‘I thought you loved me!’
‘Please lie still.’
River sighed and positioned her body so that the scanners could function properly. ‘I thought today was the day, you know. I thought I’d broken through your cold hard shell of mechanical indifference.’
‘Loading scan at 46 percent.’
River gasped. ‘Forty six! That’s…no, there’s no possible witty comeback for that that I can think of off the top of my head. In time maybe.’ River took a deep breath. ‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away! Now it looks as though-‘
‘Loading scan at 79 percent.’
‘Rude! I was singing!’
‘Scan complete. You may exit the monitration area.’
‘That’s not a word. Six years later, and I’m still telling you that’s not a word. Even Mr. Oxford D says it’s not a word.’
‘You may exit the monitration area.’
‘Obviously keen to be rid of me today! Oh my- have you found someone else? Oh, I couldn’t bear it! Oh, the agony-‘
‘You may exit the monitration area.’
River sighed dramatically and heaved herself off the cold metal bed. Nurse Wetford was waiting for her, manacles at the ready. She sighed again and tried to toss her hair, then remembered that there wasn’t much left to toss. Nurse Wetford clapped the manacles to her wrists, and together they began their frog-march down the hall. River was silent until she could bear it no longer.
‘I won’t tell you unless you guess.’
Nurse Wetford didn’t change pace as he replied, ‘You’ve got terminal cancer.’
‘That wasn’t very nice.’
River sighed, and decided to let this slip in favour of her news. ‘But anyway, today is a wonderful day.’
‘Not really. You’re not dead.’
‘I get to see Ishmael!’
Nurse Wetford snickered. ‘The freak and the gay boy. Nice. There’s a joke in there somewhere.’
‘If there is, I’ve already made it. And we’re just friends. Besides, he’s twenty seven. He’s ancient.’
Nurse Wetford didn’t bother to answer, simply clicking off the manacles and shoving her into her room. River clung to the bars as he marched away. ‘Don’t forget to schedule that visit soon! And don’t forget to bring me books!’
River shook out her wrists and flopped back on her bed with a groan. God, life was boring. She let the bed bounce underneath her, singing quietly about limp limpets until it stopped. The room felt very still when it finally did. River sat up again, and surveyed the space around her. It really was quite nice- although it was pale in colour, it was a soft white, unlike the light in the scanning room. River shivered. She hated that room. Even though she enjoyed talking to the insentient computer, the room still held menace. No room in history that had a metal bed in it had ever been good.
River recalled her first time in there, as a tiny six year old. She’d tried to fight them with her seventh sense- telekineses- but the manacles had stopped her. River smirked. She’d gone so beyond manacles now. Nothing could stop her power. Not even the Asylum.
She noticed that the objects in the room were all floating, and quickly let them drop. She didn’t want anyone knowing just how much her seventh sense had developed. Not even the computer knew. According to the scientists, her ability was decreasing, but it wasn’t. They simply weren’t seeing accurate results.
River jumped as a pile of books slid through her door and landed with a thud on the floor. She grinned, and called out a thank you, before descending on them eagerly.
The Workings of the Human Brain. Well, they always had nice pictures. The Little Red Tractor goes for a Jaunt. Those were always useful if she ever wanted to set anything on fire. Mein Kampf. What a pretty doorstop it would make. The Art of Interrogation and Torture. She sighed. She had three copies of this particular book already, and had memorised them word for word. She suddenly wondered whether any other children were like her, but quashed that thought immediately. She’d get to meet another child one day- she was sure of it. River picked up the last book gingerly, stroking the cover and turning it on its side with great care, to read the spine. Harry Houdini and His Life and Secrets. River’s face cracked into a slow grin. Perfect. She stood up, carrying the books casually over to her bookshelf. The first ones she slid into plain sight, but the Harry Houdini one she dropped down the back. Not, of course, that she was planning to escape. Of course.
River turned to her door as nonchalantly as she could. ‘Yes, Wetford? Is my limo ready?’
The Nurse jangled the manacles. ‘Just come ‘ere.’
River pouted and dangled out her wrists for the chains, then began the long march down the corridor. Nurse Wetford was silent for the journey, only opening a door for her with a rough grunt. River ducked under his arm and emerged into a small, white room. It was brighter than hers, and had been beautifully decorated with small shards of coloured glass. She glanced around, and saw a few stray feathers on the floor. River sighed, and focused on them, causing them to float up off the floor and into a bin in the corner of the room. Somehow, they reminded her of toenail clippings.
‘River? That you?’ A tall, rakishly good-looking man glanced out from the bathroom, toothbrush in hand. River grinned at him, and flopped down on his bed.
‘Yo!’ She flipped him a wink. ‘My homie!’
The man- Ishmael- rolled his eyes, padding out from the bathroom. He considered sitting next to her, but didn’t. River couldn’t blame him. Seven-foot long wings did tend to hinder your seating arrangement a little. Instead, he, sat on a barstool, swivelling it round to face her.
‘Nurse Wetford didn’t look happy.’
‘Neither does Stalin in all his photos, but I don’t let it affect me.’
Ishmael snorted. ‘I’m serious River. We may have the seventh sense but they can still overpower us.’
River waggled her eyebrows. ‘Cough cough. Eh hem. Cough cough.’
‘Fine then. They can still overpower me. But wings aren’t much use in here anyways.’
Ishmael looked a little glum. His usually bright eyes were darker than usual, and his sandy blonde hair was messy. River frowned.
‘Honestly Ishmael. You look like you were dragged through a hedge backwards.’
Ishmael ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. ‘I feel like someone dragged me through a hedge backwards, put me in a washing machine, took me apart atom be atom, and then put me back together the wrong way.’
River cupped her chin in her hands. ‘Do I sense a counselling session?’
‘Damn it. Hang on.’ River wriggled until she was lying on her stomach facing Ishmael. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair again.
River pursed her lips. ‘The ugly one with red hair who called me a smartypants?’
‘He wasn’t ugly,’ Ishmael protested.
‘Yes he was. He had red hair. He’s ugly even if he’s not.’ River shifted again on the bed, as though it was waging a person war against her comfort. ‘Anyway. Do go on.’
Ishmael gave her a stern look. ‘Don’t interrupt then. As I was saying, remember how…’ Ishmael trailed off, looking uncomfortable. ‘Are you sure you’re-‘
‘For goodness sake Ishmael. I’ve been locked up in an asylum for six years. Don’t doubt my maturity.’
Ishmael nodded. ‘Right then. Remember how we were… together?’
‘Nope.’ River’s voice dripped with sarcasm. ‘I never noticed the two of you sneaking away with coy glances at each other, hoping I wouldn’t notice.’ She shuddered with distaste. ‘Really Ishmael. Out of all the men in the world, you had to fall for Mason. He was a red-head.’ River whispered the last word as though it held satanic properties. Ishmael rolled his eyes.
‘So are you.’
River’s tone was dismissive. ‘That’s a totally different thing. I’m a girl. Red hair suits me. And talking of hair,’ River ruffled her new short spikes with a grin. ‘What’cha think?’
Ishmael considered, head to one side. ‘You look like a blind man needed something to sharpen his teeth on, and decided to use your hair.’
River gasped, rolling on her side, an arm thrown dramatically over her face. ‘Oh, the betrayal. I thought you thought I was beautiful.’
‘I have no opinions on female beauty. Gay, remember?’
River assumed a starfish like pose on Ishmael’s bed. ‘Oh yes. That. Minor detail.’
Ishmael shook his head. ‘You’re not much of a counsellor. You’re not even listening to me.’
River sat up straighter with a sigh. ‘Fine then. Talk. You have,’ she glanced at her watch. ‘Five minutes until I have to go.’
Ishmael intertwined his hands. ‘Remember why we split up?’
River remembered. For all the things she had said against Mason Boulevard, he really had been quite nice. He had been a quiet soul, more interested in mathematics than romance, but had found a close kinship with Ishmael, which had then escalated into a relationship. She’d expected it to last forever- they hadn’t seemed to have any discordancies. Well, at least, not until he had attempted to use his power of re-incarnation on Ishmael. Of course, he’d faced the slight problem that Ishmael was very much alive, and had therefore tried to kill him by stabbing him with a fork. It hadn’t worked. The guards had simply tasered him and taken him away, never to be seen again. River had been trying to convince Ishmael for weeks afterwards that Mason hadn’t been quiet- he’d been crazy, but it hadn’t been working. River examined Ishmael’s face closely.
‘What are you going to say about him?’
Ishmael looked- if someone who’d been in an asylum for six years could be described like this- almost happy. Like he was content in his heart. ‘I think I’m over him. Finally.’
River cheered and gave Ishmael a round of applause. He rolled his eyes. ‘Oh, shut up. He was just a psychopath. Nothing much else.’
River stopped, but the grin remained on her face, right up until she’d been delivered back to her own room, where it slid from her face to be replaced be a look of great concentration. She had her own reasons for being glad that Ishmael was over Mason. Reasons he couldn’t even guess at.
River moved swiftly to her bookcase, pulling out the small, slim book she’d been given earlier that day, running her hands over it thoughtfully. She’d been in the Asylum for six years. She had no idea what the outside world was like- had people accepted mutants into society? Unlikely, but then again… River bit her lip. Ever since she’d been in this place, she’d thought of escape. Her telekinetic powers were strong now, and she had memorised escape routes. There had only been one problem. Ishmael.
She knew she couldn’t leave without the twenty-seven year old by her side, but had been put off suggesting an escape because of his lover. Then, of course, he’d been found out as a little Dr. Frankenstein, but that hadn’t stopped Ishmael from moping and being all glum and useless. Now? River let a smile creep onto her features. Now it was time for action.
With that, she opened the book, delving deep into Houdini’s secrets. Guards. How useful that they were illiterate, and didn’t know what a key that’d handed her.
‘Okay. Now, I know you’re probably about to explode, but please don’t. All that blood would take ages to clean up,’ said River, in what she hoped was a calming voice. Ishmael didn’t look particularly calmed. On the contrary, his skin had taken on a sort of greyish hue. River thought this suited him- the whole rugged ill spartan thing- but she would never say it. Besides, there were more pressing things at hand- namely, whether Ishmael would agree to her plan. They were in his room again, him leaning against the wall, despite her assurances that he may take the news better standing up, and she sitting on the edge of his bed, feet only just brushing the floor. Ishmael swallowed.
‘So… okay, correct me if I’m wrong. You found a book written by a dead escape artist,’ River nodded. ‘Which you now plan you use,’ another nod. ‘In your bid for freedom and the outside world, neither of which you’ve ever had any experience with or care about aside from the fact that you’re curious.’
River tilted her head to the side. ‘Don’t forget the fact that I want you to come with me.’
Ishmael threw his hands in the air, and began pacing. ‘Of course! Sorry! I forget you wanted me to accompany me on your death wish ‘escape!’’ He accompanied that last word with exaggerated speech marks made with his fingers. River jumped off his bed and grasped his forearms, an expression of earnestness on her face.