Adeline was awakened by the sound of the birds outside, singing the mourning chorus. She remembered slowly changing back to a human, and dragging herself up the stairs as the sun had begun to rise. She groaned, turning over in her bed, not wanting to get up. She did, however. Adeline couldn’t remember who’s life she had ended the night before. That worried her. How long was it going to be before she didn’t even care to find out? At the very least, here, she could go out and ask somebody else. She shuddered as she got dressed, trying to clear her mind of the thought.
She stepped out in the sunlight. The clouds from the previous night had drifted away, leaving the air warm and moist. Adeline took a deep breath, and started walking toward the village square. She would find out who she had killed, mourn with the others, and then return to her daily routine. There was nothing to worry about, nothing that she needed to do. She clenched her fists. What if they voted for her again? What if she was going to be killed? Kira had sacrificed herself so that Adeline could live. Adeline could not deny that, and she could not say anything that would make up to her for that. A lump rose in her throat. Adeline had buried Kira the previous day. Something told her that was not a fair exchange between the two of them, but Adeline could not think of anything that would repay her debt. She hadn’t really spoken to Kira.
Adeline sighed, walking into the village square, pulling herself up straighter, trying to look like far less of a wreck than she actually was. She felt like she succeeded, as she went over to join Emlyn, who was also standing, fairly awkwardly, to one side.
“About last night…” He started, not meeting her eyes.
Adeline shrugged. “It’s fine. I didn’t leave for any other reason than that I had become fed up of communicating like that.” She tried to smile. “It’s easier talking like this, right?”
He smiled back nervously, but didn’t say anything.
Somebody spoke up within the small crowd before they could say anything else. “There are ten of us here now. Who’s missing?” Everybody looked around in response to this, scanning faces, trying to figure out who wasn’t here.
An image came to Adeline’s mind- she could see the battered corpse of somebody. Their face was shrouded in darkness. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to uncover the darkness that had been on that person’s face. Who was it? Who had she killed?
“Mason isn’t here.” Somebody called out.
The image cleared. She could see it now. She could see Mason’s dead face lying in a pool of his own blood. Adeline shuddered, digging her nails into her palms. So that was who she had killed.
The crowd separated quickly after that, everybody returning to their daily activities. Adeline suck around for a little bit, caught up in her own thoughts. When she looked back up, nearly everybody was gone. She took a deep breath, turning around and going for another walk. She didn’t feel like returning back to her house for now. She needed time to clear her head, to get whatever she was thinking back on track. She wasn’t sure what she could do like this, her mind was a mess.
Ivor Gilbert stood at the far end of the room, looking over his team. They were all busy, clicking away at computers, staring at monitors intently. His gaze was cold, his eyes hard. His arms were crossed across his chest, and he stood straight and firm. His face was sincere, his tone solemn. He knew what his work included, and he did not let himself enjoy it. He looked at his wrist- at the watch on his wrist, and spoke. “What progress has there been in Subject 4791?”
The tapping of keys and the clicking of mice stopped. Everybody looked up. Nolene Durborow stood up near the back. “Subject 4791. Adeline Marsden. The Werewolf in Project 0354. Adeline Marsden is currently aware of her situation. She became aware via ‘nightmares’ as she called them, and then it was confirmed to her by the Seer, Keelan Greer, who inquired about her role on Night 4. The two appear to be friends. Since then Subject 4791 has showed various signs of conflict. She seems to have met with the Wolf Cub last night, as well. She has not tried to kill anybody that she hasn’t been forced to kill.” Nolene sat down.
Ivor nodded his head slowly. “Is that all?”
“Yes, Sir.” Nolene replied from where she sat, looking up again.
“Alright.” He took a deep breath, looking around again. “What is the Village Status?”
Somebody else stood up. “None of the Subjects have attempted to escape since their discovery of the force field. Many of them have taken to hunting and trapping the various animals of the surrounding woods, to make up for the lack of fresh meat. They have all been calm, and have not reacted with much hostility toward their current situation, very much unlike the previous Project.” The man sat down.
Ivor scratched his chin. The subjects this time around had been far more easy to maintain. None of them seemed to want to inspire rebellion in the midst. None of them seemed to suspect the current werewolf, either. One of them had even sacrificed themselves of the werewolf. He waved a hand casually, signaling them all to get back to work, stepping down from the stage, and walking out of the room.
Adeline, casting her gaze up at the sky. The morning’s orange hues had nearly faded completely from the sky. There were only a few clouds still floating around, orange-tinged. She could see a large body of grey cloud beyond the hills, as well. That meant it was going to rain, and from the look of it, they were coming this way. Adeline supposed that rain was due about now. After all, they were in a country well-known for rain, and, if she counted her months right, they were in one of the rainiest seasons.
She walked up to her gate, undoing the latch and walking through her garden. She had grown to loath the scent of the flowers. It was far too strong, far too irritating. She went up to her door, unlocking it and walking inside. She took a deep breath of the clean, fresh air inside. She looked around for a few moments, before retrieving her book from the table, and sitting down in her chair, starting to read.
There was a knock at the door. Adeline looked up, frowning. She slowly put her book down, and walked toward the door, looking through the hole. Emlyn stood awkwardly on her front step, looking to one side. She opened it, tilting her head. “Hello, Emlyn.” She said. “What brings you here?”
He looked toward her, again trying to avoid eye contact. “Uh, Adeline. I want to tell you something.”
“What do you want to tell me?” She asked, confused.
He glanced around. “Could we go inside, please?” She blinked at him for a few moments, before stepping out of the way.
“Of course, come in.” He walked in slowly, dragging his feet behind him. She shut the door after he had come in, turning back toward him, rubbing her hands together. Her fingers were cold again. “So… what is it?”
Emlyn frowned, looking around slowly. “Not yet. I need to… check around first.” He started looking around her living room, taking books out carefully from shelves.
Adeline stared at him as he systematically cleared one shelf at a time of her book case, returning one as he started on the other. “What on Earth are you doing?”
He glanced up at her, before looking back toward what he was doing. “I’m checking.”
“You’ll see.” He muttered. Adeline didn’t ask anything else after that.
It didn’t take long for him to pull something up in success. He held it to the light. “There we go.” He said, standing up and walking back toward Adeline. He showed her what he held- a small, black camera, with a little microphone attached.
“Why is there a camera in my house?” Adeline said, alarmed. Who had been watching her? Did that person know she wasn’t a werewolf? The only two other people who had been in her house were Keelan and Emlyn. Unless somebody had come in during the night, or when she was out in the woods… Had the people she’d gone to look for seen her house? Had they entered? Panic started to rise within her, in the space of only a few seconds.
“I’ll explain once we’ve found them all.” He put the camera on the table. He’d cut the wire that held it into place before. “Look around anywhere in this room that could have a camera. Only then will I tell you what I have to say- when we’re certain we’re not being watched.”
Adeline stared at him for a few more moments, before she started to move around, joining his search for the cameras.
By the time they had found all the cameras, Adeline’s front room was a bit of a mess. She stood up from where she knelt, stretching. “Alright. That’s everywhere, that’s all the cameras.” She looked back toward Emlyn. “What now? You were going to tell me why there’s a camera in my house? In my front room?” She felt the panic start to rise up within her again. Searching for the cameras had calmed her down considerably, but now the thought was beginning to return to her.
Emlyn glanced around once more, before taking a deep breath. “Alright. The cameras were put there by the people who run the facility. They’re… they’re called ‘Mythology’, which… is kinda fitting considering what they do.”
Adeline frowned. “Why do you know this? How did you find out? Why aren’t you saying this to everybody?”
He shifted his feet nervously. “Because right now, you’re the only one I feel like I can trust. Everybody else will just think I’m saying this to save my own skin- they’ll think I’m the werewolf. Besides, I think… you’re the only person who has a better chance of surviving. There isn’t any way of telling for sure whether somebody else would know.” He took a deep breath. “If you get out of here, you must promise me to spread the word of what’s happened here, alright? Gather some people, form a resistance… anything.” He looked up, meeting her gaze for the first time since he came here. “Alright. Mythology. I found out the name while I was at the Facility. I… got lost, and heard something they probably didn’t want me to hear. You see, they find every single myth ever, and they document it. Every single legend, every myth, every creature from nightmares or dreams, exists.”
Adeline wasn’t so sure whether she should accept this. For all she knew, he could be joking. She straightened her back, and continued listening.
“They know this. They gather these myths, and they then look for whatever is in it. Whether it be a place, a creature, anything. They will find whatever it is, and then… they gather people. In their books, these people count as those who ‘won’t be missed’. They take them, and they put them in the facility. Then, in groups, they send them off to ‘test’ the reactions of whatever myth they found, they send off people to see how they would react. Then, of course, they record their results. I don’t know what they do with it afterwards.”
“Just what kind of thing did you stumble upon to find out this much background?! How do I know that you’re not just trying to… I don’t know… inspire me to do something stupid?”
Emlyn looked hurt. “I think it was a briefing, and… you don’t know. Look, if you’re the only one left, then feel free to look up on this yourself.” He paused for a moment, shuddering. “That is, of course, if they do as they say and let you go free, if they let you live.” He looked back toward her. “The worst that could happen is you find nothing and you’ve just used a little time separating the truth from my ‘dream’. If what I heard was correct, then you know who’s doing this.”
Adeline felt her stomach twist. She didn’t know whether she should believe him or not. After all, she’d come to this village thinking werewolves didn’t exist. Just how wrong had she been proven? She was a werewolf now, one of the very things she doubted existed. Was it really wrong to think that there could be more mythical creatures that existed? That the fairy tales from when they were young were all true? She didn’t know any more. Since she had come here, since she had discovered what the Facility- Mythology- had done, she had been confused. It felt like everything she had done had been in a dream. “I’ll… I’ll see what I can do, if I am the last one. If I’m not, though, if we both die… what then? Nobody will know about it.”
Emlyn shrugged. “I don’t know, if that happens. I suppose somebody else will find out, and somebody else will be able to spread the word.” He looked to the ground. “We’ll just have to take a chance, and… follow what could be right, even if it is chasing a sunset.”
“So, is that all?” Adeline asked.
“Well… that’s all I remember. You’ll have to do your own research to find out more, but… that’s all I know for now.”
“Hmm… So the cameras were here because they put them in here before we came? They’re basically monitoring everything we do?”
“Yeah. I found some in my house, as well. They’re everywhere. They’re in the streets, they’re in the forests, they’re in houses… I can only assume that they’re using what they learn of our reactions to things, how we deal with all of this, to form a report on werewolves, or something.”
Adeline sat down in her chair, leaning on one hand. “How come they’re just letting us go after all of this? I mean, we could just talk about all of it, couldn’t we? We could let the general public know about it all. Heck, how come the general public doesn’t know about this already?!”
“From what I could hear, Mythology is an official, secret organization. That’s why nobody is trying to stop them when they kidnap people. The government or whatever is just letting them do what they want. As for why they’re letting us go after all of this… I don’t know. It seems pretty stupid to me. Although, they could be lying to us. For all we know, they could be preparing some discreet way of killing us all before this is all over.” Emlyn sat down opposite her, and the two fell into silence. “God, I hope we managed to get rid of all the cameras. I mean, if they hadn’t… then I’d be dead today, wouldn’t I?” He let out a shaky laugh, trying to lighten the mood a little.
It didn’t work. “If they heard you, then they would hear me, as well. I’d be dead as well. What would happen then? Would they just end the game? If I die, then the villagers win, right?” She glanced outside, paranoid. “Would they really end it like that? Or would they make sure I won, so everybody died, and then kill me as well?”
Emlyn shrugged. Neither of them wanted to know exactly what would happen.
Emlyn left on a little while later, heading back to his own house to continue whatever tasks he had to complete. Adeline stayed put in her chair for a little while longer, mulling over what Emlyn had told her. The organization that was forcing them through this torture was known as Mythology. She scowled, leaning back and looking at her ceiling. What would she do if she escaped from here? Would she really do what Emlyn asked? Did she really believe it? She sighed, looking back to the table. She didn’t know yet. Adeline decided that she would wait until she knew for certain that she was going to escape. After all, there was no point getting worked up over something she didn’t even know was certainly going to happen.
She shut her eyes, and took a deep breath. She was going to get out of this alive, she reminded herself. She’d been shaken up since the day before, since she had been voted for. She suppressed a shiver. What was to stop them from hanging her again today? It would be easy to simply re-vote for her. What if that happened? She knew she wouldn’t be able to do anything if she was called up. Yesterday, her idea of fighting back had been washed down the drain. She hadn’t moved a muscle when the rope was tied around her neck. She raised a hand to the spot right beneath her jaw. She could remember the feel of the thick rope as it had been tightened around her neck. She could remember the feel of it, as it slid along her skin. Adeline shifted uncomfortably where she sat, trying to rid her memory of the feeling. She didn’t want that to happen again. She needed some way of escaping if she was going to be put to death once more.
Adeline stood up, stretching. She heard her shoulders crack, and she winced as they did so. Then, she looked back on her table. The cameras were still there, the little black things littering the surface. She glared at them for a few moments, before finding her bin and sweeping them into it. She straightened, and walked into her kitchen, getting herself a glass of water. She stood there, leaned against the kitchen sink, sipping at her water, thinking again. What was she to do? How would she deal with this? How would she find a way to solve her problem? She shut her eyes, breathing in the plain scent of water. She couldn’t help but smell the chemicals within it. They made her wrinkle her nose in repulsion. She could imagine how many different things had been poured into the water. She held the glass away from her, staring at it for a few moments, before putting it down on the counter. She looked at her hand, frowning. What was she now? She preferred the water from the stream to the water that had come from the tap- she preferred the liquid she had only just found, compared to the liquid she had grown up drinking. She stood there, completely still, her eyes shut. Once again, she had been reminded of how much of a change was taking place. She was reminded of how everything within her was changing constantly. She had been fine with this water only two days ago.
She walked away from her sink, lingering in the doorway to her living room, before turning around and walking out into her garden. Rain pounded the ground, soaking into the grass. Adeline didn’t care. She walked through it, walking toward her gate and opening it. She walked into the forest, following the path for a little while, before turning into the undergrowth. She took a deep breath, smelling the scent of damp leaves, taking in the smell of the forest at this time. It calmed her. It let her forget what she had learned today, it allowed her to live in her dream, to return to the times before she had come here. Adeline started running, leaping over fallen trees, tearing through the brambles as though they were nothing.
She kept running, streaking between trees in her quest to nowhere.
When she stopped, she didn’t know where she was. She frowned, looking around nervously. She had gone into her own world. She had released everything that had tied her down, she had let her feet take her wherever they wanted. Now she stood, her breathing barely quickened, trying to figure out just where she had been taken. She clenched her fists, turning this way and that. The trees were thick, and the leaves were even thicker. Was she lost? Adeline found herself baring her teeth as she looked around, and quickly stopped herself when she noticed. She knew that if she fell back on the new abilities she had gained, she could easily find her way back. If she didn’t, then it may take her a little longer, but Adeline was sure she could find her way back. She was torn. She didn’t know whether she should use what power she had gained as a werewolf, or fall back on the ways she had grown up using.
She remembered something that made her freeze where she was, that made her stop looking around so furiously. Her goal. She would learn to control her wolf side, she would learn to make it bend to her will. She shut her eyes, and took a deep breath.
Once again, she could smell everything. It was as though she were still a wolf, as though she still had paws, fur and a tail. She lifted her head slightly, moving her head from side to side to try and find out where the strongest smell of people was coming from. She found it. Adeline opened her eyes, staring into a particularly dark patch of the trees. Rain dripped in through the leaves, but that did not deter her. Adeline leaped forward, and started running through the trees, pushing herself harder and faster than she had done previously. She felt like a streak, running forward, running toward the village. After a few minutes, she came to an opening in the trees. Beneath her she could see the entire village. It wasn’t that big, actually. She could count roughly a hundred or so houses.
Adeline paused for a few moments, looking down at the scene, admiring the mist as the rain fell through the air, before she carried on going, crashing down the hill. It wasn’t graceful, and Adeline knew that. She was having far too much fun to care about whether it was graceful or not.