I grip the leather handles of the chair, trying not to cry out as the needle is slid into the soft skin under my ear, releasing a painful ache that makes me clench my teeth.
Originally, I had attacked Collin with everything I had once we were left alone and he could carry out his evil deed, inserting a devise into my body that would give me pain waves and literally make me say what they want me too.
I’m not totally sure of everything, but from what I’ve gathered, the devise can manipulate the tongue, form words that aren’t my own and make me suffer if I try to say anything otherwise.
I really did think Collin had switched sides. Why should he be alive when the rest of us, the rebels, are mostly dead? You’d think Margaret had figured it out about now, but really, she isn’t the smartest kid in the block. Still, I had to be sure.
“What are you doing?” he moaned when I kicked his kneecap before slamming my knee upwards into his stomach, making him collapse to the ground. “Eliza, stop it.”
“How could you!” I shoved him over when he tried to stand again. “Really, Collin, how could you!”
“Shut up,” he cowered when I raised my hand to belt him on the hand. “They could be listening in.”
“I don’t think that hardly matters since, if you’ve switched sides, you’re practically immune.”
“What? I haven’t switched sides! I’m still on the rebels!”
“Than where were you?” glaring, I had prodded him in the chest and backed him into the cold metal table he had told me to lay down on only moments ago. “We all died!”
“I was where I was old to be! Here with them! I’m the last one left watching, Eliza. I followed what Amelia told me to do.”
Funny. She had forgotten to mention that to us.
“Besides,” he had gone on. “If you’re alive along with Liliana, Amelia and Alice, odds are there’s more hidden away somewhere. They were just smart enough not to get themselves caught.”
Now, with the needle being pulled out of my skin, I take deep breaths to remain calm as I basically feel the metal devise drifting through my blood to hum around my vocal chords.
I sucked at anatomy class, but I guess when you have a speaking devise messing with your mouth, you suddenly remember where everything lies.
“Finished,” Collin swipes my tender skin with a cold tissue that numbs the pain almost instantly. “Just... refrain from talking.”
He goes to move away, but I reach out to grab his arm, pulling him to me.
“What do I do?” I ask, nearly choking when the speaking devise buzzes and makes my tongue vibrate. “How do I get out of this?”
He glances over to the tent flap where Margaret and her soldiers had departed before leaning in, resting his mouth near my ear.
“You do exactly what they tell you to do and trust that I have a plan for this. I may be working for them, but I’m not on their side. Just wait for me to come get you, but please, whatever you do, do exactly what they ask of you or this whole thing could fall apart.”
With a surprising peck on the check and a reassuring squeeze of the hand, he walks out the tent with a whirl of his lab coat.
Leaving me more confused than ever.
“The rebels were wrong.”
I slam my hand over my mouth, trying to stop my mouth moving, but I forget. I have no control.
Margaret watches me delighted from her chair, speaking into the little microphone Collin said would control the devise.
“You know, it would be a lot easier to just go with it.”
She makes me say the words for her and I sneer, putting as much hate and anger into my eyes as I can muster.
Blinding pain shoots up my spine and I scream, curling in on myself as, thanks to the scream, there’s another flash of pain.
“Stay quiet, Sweetie.”
Straightening, I shove my hair behind my ears again and take deep breaths as I sit down at the desk, trying to stay calm.
“The rebels were wrong. I think I speak for all of us, dead and alive, when I say that.”
I feel my blood boil again at the words coming from my traitorous mouth and try not to cry. When I cry, I make little noises and while I’m not completely sure, that might just get me zapped from the inside out again.
Well played, Margaret. Well played.
She laughs into the microphone and my lips part to mimic the awful sound that reminds me of an old man choking. Somehow, it sounds nicer on her.
“I think we’re all set,” she declares through my mouth and I quickly stop myself from breathing a sigh of relief. Thank God for that. “Don’t move. I’ll send a soldier in to keep a watch of you.”
She flits out the tent flap and I’m again left alone to flop heavily into my chair, rubbing my forehead for the back of my hand.
I wonder where Liliana, Alice and Amelia are. Surely, if they were caught, I would know by now. It’s not something Margaret would be able to keep to herself. Even though I’d like to think otherwise, I know they’re probably planning something to get me out. It’s a suicide mission, but I’ve never seen a group of more loyal females.
I swear, if they risk themselves for me, I’ll kill them all. Not literally, but verbally at least.
I look up sharply, spinning my chair around to see the red haired soldier I gave the chocolate cake to what seems only minutes ago. In reality, according to the small clock on the desk, it’s been hours. I can tell from the light streaming in through the tent’s cracks that the sun’s already beginning to set.
Pointing at my mouth, I shake my head and he grimaces.
“Right. Sorry. I forgot.”
I shake my head. It’s okay.
He takes a seat on the grassy ground and begins to pick at the grass, brow screwed up in thought until he looks up with a half smile.
“It might be hours before they finish setting up the cameras and light and I don’t know about you, but I get bored easy. Watch this.”
He pulls a pen from the pocket of his forest green shirt and I watch as he flicks grass out of the way so he can write in the dirt.
I crack a smile. It’s not that amazing, but something about his childlike grin makes me feel happy, even considering the circumstances. Taking a leap of faith, I slide out of the chair so I’m seated on the ground in front of him.
Taking the pen, I scrawl in the dirt,
The boy smiles widely.
“See? We can entertain ourselves.”
He tries to grab the pen out of my hand, but I shake my head and, after clearing more grass, write,
“What’s your name?”
“Edith,” he responds immediately. “It’s a God awful guy’s name, but you can call me Ed.”
I snort without thinking and clutch my head as the speaking devise zaps, making my body convulse.
“Oh God, I’m sorry,” Edith grips my shoulder in his hand and I jerk away at his touch.
Just because I’m talking to him doesn’t mean we’re best pals.
“Don’t touch,” I write ferociously in the dirt and he nods quickly with a swallow.
I shake my head and rub out our previous messages before writing again,
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-four,” he shrugs. “I don’t look it, but that’s me. How old are you?”
“Eighteen. Nearly nineteen.”
“Well Eliza,” he rocks backwards, green eyes on mine. “I hope you live for many more years.”
Me, too, Edith.
I’m drifting off to sleep as Edith hums under his breath when I’m jolted awake by a wave of soldiers that come in, guns in their hands.
“Up you get,” Edith says quietly, offering his hand to help me up.
I take it quickly, letting him ease me to my feet before they all surround me, a few jabbing their guns into my back and sides. I’m not totally surprised when I feel the cold metal of handcuffs dig into my wrists.
“Out you go.”
I march along with them, back out into the open where darkness surrounds me. Edith was right. It didn’t seem it, but a few hours must have passed while we talked and took naps. It must be about seven or eight.
There are bonfires that surround the outside of the square, sending flames flickering up towards the sky and providing warmth for those on the inside. There are tiki torches too, lighting up the stage where I’m led immediately.
Since the steps aren’t that wide, Edith volunteers to be the one to lead me up and I can’t help but smile at him gratefully. Sure he’s responsible for the death of my people, but he’s nice. I just hope he’s only acted on orders.
I never really understood the sheer scale of the square until now as I look out at the sea of soldiers who chatter amongst themselves, oblivious to the goings on.
Edith directs me to the centre of the stage where Margaret stands, shuffling papers around with a frown. She looks up at the sound of our footsteps and her frown deepens.
“Get rid of her handcuffs would you, Edith? She’s meant to look like she’s switched sides.”
In your dreams, cow.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Edith nods obediently and I fix my eyes on the night sky as he jiggles at the lock until, with a snap, the handcuffs disappear.
I can’t help but give Margaret a sly grin as I rub my wrists. The weight of the small gun between my breasts is more reassuring than ever. I just have to wait for the opportune moment.
You know, whenever I thought about how I would die, I just imagined it would be in my sleep. One minute I’m breathing and dreaming and the next minute, nothing. I always imagined death would be peaceful. Now though, as I take in the hundreds of soldiers with guns in their hands, I know that my death will be far from peaceful.
I just wish I could ask Edith to shoot my through the heart or head as soon as I turn on Margaret. That should be quick; at least, I hope so.
If I’m destined to die painfully, at least it will be a patriotic death.
Calmly, I stand in between Margaret and Edith, rocking backwards and forwards on my heels as I try to remain calm. I’m not sure how long my speech will be, but I plan on making it as easy and simple as possible. The sooner I’m done, the sooner I can kill the cow. The sooner the cow dies, the sooner the world will be a little brighter.
It keeps me motivated.
There’s a loud crackle and than I jerk backwards, bring my hands up to shield my eyes as what seems to be millions of lights turn on, aiming for me.
“Ow,” I moan and than scream, jerking backwards as the soundbox flashes its torturous flare.
Crumbling to the ground as the second wave makes me seize up; I practically bite my tongue off waiting for the pain to stop.
“I think its power needs to be turned down,” Edith shouts at Margaret, kneeling down besides me. “She might have a seizure if this keeps up.”
“All she has to do is shut up. It’s not that difficult.”
Holding my breath, I roll away from Edith so I can shakily stand to my feet on my own. What can I say? I do my best to be a strong and independent woman.
Even so, I have to stumble around a little to stay on my feet. My body quivers all over.
“This is sick,” Edith mutters under his breath as, even though I try to back away, he grips onto my arm to keep me upright. “This is torture.”
I wonder what he would say if I told him about the first time I had all this happen. The rape... the screwdrivers... the electrocution... He’s surprisingly innocent for a soldier. Even though I feel glee rising at the thought of crushing his innocence, I know I wouldn’t dare.
Just because my innocence is gone doesn’t mean I have to rob his. See? That’s what makes me the better person.
I jerk backwards at my own words and whirl around to face Margaret who stands at the podium, microphone in hand. I have to glare through the light made by the spotlights, but she’s not that hard to make out.
Suit nice and crisp, hair orderly and make-up perfectly done, she looks like a world leader.
Just an awful one.
“Take your positions. You’re going live in five...”
As she countdowns, Edith quickly helps me back to the centre of the stage where I try to pull myself together.
Chin high, back straight.
Take a deep breath through the nose…
Knowing now that whatever comes out of my mouth will be on loudspeaker, I open my mouth and speak Margaret’s words.