“Damn it” I whispered, my hands shaking in fear and anger.
My fingers clenched and I almost tore up the letter, but a single sentence stopped me; he’s just hanging around in his cell.
An image popped into my mind of J chained on a wall, limp and bleeding, but alive. He wouldn’t give in to them that much I knew of the boy I had gotten to know.
I relaxed down onto the bed – my mind swirling with the possibilities – but a resolution came quickly to mind, though I tried to dismiss it, it was the only one available to me.
I have to go get him.
I sighed deeply – there must be something severely wrong with me for me to go always go jumping into suicidal missions like this. But a single thought comforted me;
I’ll be the girl I was before. The girl that took the first cabin knowing if Haven came she’d be the first casualty, the girl that went in after her best friend, and the girl that volunteered to go back again.
I sat up quickly, storing the letters under my pillow, knowing someone would find it when they came to collect me for dinner that night. Another thought entered my mind and I sighed deeply, rubbing my temple and exiting the cabin, making my way towards where I had seen Grant leading Selene. I knocked on the door, there was a few moments of silence before Grant answered, his shirt was turned inside out and I had a feeling if I cared to look inside I would find Selene.
Grant raised his eyebrow, crossing his arms and leaning on the door frame casually blocking my eye line into the cabin.
“Hey boss, what’s up?” He asked with a glint of humour in his eyes.
“I need a favour. Care to step out?” I asked carefully, my eyes locking on his, letting him know that what I was telling him was a secret.
Grant stepped away from the door, letting it close softly behind him; he looked side to side before heading around to the left side of his cabin before stopping, looking at me expectantly.
“You were saying?” He asked his voice lowered to barely a whisper.
“I’m leaving tonight. I want you to lead, don’t do anything until I come back…” The sentence hung in the air and I felt like we both heard the ‘if’ afterwards.
“Where are you going?” Grant asked with a steely glare and I shook my head – if he knew he could come after me, if he didn’t – well, it was better for the both of us.
“Just get the underground shelter ready for if…” I couldn’t say the words but Grant nodded.
“I only have one request.” He said solemnly, and I tried to hide my shocked expression.
“Oh? What’s that?” I asked the slight smile playing at the corner of his lips gave away the fact that he was playing with me.
“Just don’t die.” Grant smiled, pulling me into a brief hug before letting me go and shooing me away. “And you have to tell Kaysee.”
Grant shivered lightly, as though the idea of having to tell my best friend that I was going back to Haven scared him half to death. I had to giggle at him, walking past the front of the cabin towards the third cabin in a row. I took a deep breath before knocking, hoping that she wouldn’t be there, that I wouldn’t have to tell her.
Kaysee opened the door with a frustrated look on her face, but once she saw me she smiled, before her face paled as she read the look on my face.
“No” She spoke pre-emptively and I blushed.
This woman knew me better than almost anyone else – she was my best friend, but if I was prepared to let her go to Haven for me way back when, she had to be willing to do the same for me now. It was a matter of principle.
“Kaysee, J is in trouble. I’m going tonight. Grant’s in charge.” I said with conviction, proving to her that there was no way to stop this – I was determined.
Kaysee crossed her arms and frowned, lines appearing between her brows as she tried to figure out the best way to stop me.
“Don’t make me get grant to lock you down in the shed” I teased, and her eyebrows shot up and a smile threatened to break out across her lips.
Kaysee held up a finger and disappeared into her cabin, leaving the door wide open. Just as I was beginning to wonder where she had disappeared to she returned wielding a black plaited wrist band. She made a motion and I gave her my right wrist, waiting until I felt the heaviness of the bracelet fall on my wrist.
I looked at Kaysee and she frowned, slipping a finger in the prominent gap between the band and my wrist.
“When I made this, it fit you perfectly.” She whispered and I shrugged.
“You gave it back to me the night before I left for Haven, told me I’d have to come back and give it to you.” Kaysee smiled, though there was a hint of sadness in her eyes.
Kaysee never suggested that I come back and return the bracelet to her – it was mine to keep now. Kaysee hugged me briefly before turning away and shutting the cabin door quietly. Neither of us could bare saying goodbye in any real, proper way, we both just had to pray that I would come back triumphant.
I walked back to the shed, opening it easily since the kids had left it unlocked after storing the four wheelers. The current plan was to ride most of the way there, and then…
Well, I didn’t really have a plan for after that – but it mostly included surviving until I knew what was going on with J, and then taking him and me out of there. I grabbed one of the keys hanging nearby, starting the engine and climbing onto the seat.
I flew out of the shed, pushing the bike to its absolute limits, the dying grass of Haven in the distance and the setting sun to my side. I stopped after a few more minutes – the sun had disappeared behind the horizon and I didn’t feel safe turning on my lights this close to Havens boundaries.
I clambered off the vehicle and walked a few steps before sitting down unceremoniously, staring into the distance – hope blooming in my chest.
Half way there
I thought to myself, but this is where my plan became sketchy and dependant on the fact that weren’t going to kill me. I sighed, wishing I had brought a spare shirt to use as a pillow, but I figured for one night I may as well rough it.
I lay onto the ground, I expected it to be fairly soft, but the ground was hard with lack of rain, but it was surprisingly comfortable. My mind wondered over what I was going to do the next day, but I knew I couldn’t focus on that – if I did I would have nightmares. Instead I forced myself to remember the one thing that had been evading my memory for so long; my mother.
A woman with a deep purple shawl pulled tight around her shoulders stood at the window – looking out at the garden below. Her slightly greying hair was pulled into a severe bun in the middle of her head. She was humming the lullaby under her breath and it made me smile.
I came to stand beside her, touching her shoulder lightly. Her eyes flickered towards me and a smile touched her lips, though I could tell she was sad.
“My little Lillyanna, not so little anymore” She said, and I nodded slowly – I had grown a fair amount since I was a young girl.
My mother reached for me, placing a tender hand on my cheek and I closed my eyes, it felt so real and it hurt me to remember this was just a dream.
“When you where a little girl, you came up to me with your favourite doll in tow – somehow it had been broken after catching on a sharp branch on one of the trees outside. You were so upset, crying your eyes out you begged me to fix it, but I said no. You were about to start balling your eyes out, but I said that you had to learn how to fix it yourself.”
My mother smiled she so consumed by the memory I could almost see it myself – a little girl with her hair in a pony tail crying because her mum wouldn’t fix her doll that was almost as old as she was herself.
“I got out the needle and thread and taught you how to sew. It took you all day, but you came up to me, and though the stitching wasn’t perfect you were proud and I was proud of you.”
My mother turned to me beaming that – I’m so proud of you smile that I had only gotten a few times in my life. She shook her head, seemingly to dispel the memory from her mind’s eye. She turned to face me, her eyes compelling me to remember her words – to commit them to my memory.
”I guess the moral of the story is that you’ve always loved fixing things from that moment. You never realised some things can’t be fixed”
The words swam in my ears as the sun touched my face, waking me. I stretched, making a strange noise in the back of my throat as my body creaked and cracked. I stood up stretching high before trying to touch my toes and failing obviously.
I looked towards the dead grass, which seems closer this morning than it did the night before, but it was possible I was beginning to image things. I tucked the keys to the four wheeler into the hidden safe near the handlebars and then stuffed my hands in my pockets.
I took a few steps forward, and the sound of feet hitting the pavement assaulted my ears. I sunk to the ground, hoping that they were trained to bring anyone into Haven instead of killing them on the spot.
The dogs approached warily – barking at one another before coming to stop in a circle around me. I tried to ascertain what they wanted from me, but considering they where animals, it wasn’t as though they could talk. A few seconds went by and the dogs started backing away – disappearing one by one starting from behind me and ending with what I assumed to be the alpha, which stayed until a black SUV rolled up before disappearing to wherever they disappeared to.
A young gentleman stepped out of the car, his eyes assessing me quickly widening as he came to recognised who I was, though his expression became confused – as though he didn’t understand why I had chosen to come.
“Get in.” The man nodded with his head towards the car and I rose to my feet slowly, stuffing my hands in my pockets, before removing them and placing them behind my back.
I slipped into the back seat, and after a moment communicating through what I assumed to be an ear piece the man got into the driver’s seat, turning the key and beginning the journey back to Haven. I wasn’t sure why they bothered with the car, because it took us longer to get back to the initiation area of Haven that it would have if I had finished walking the rest of the way.
Is this what happened when I first came here?
I wondered briefly trying to force my brain to remember. There was a brief flash of this same driver giving me the same surprised look when he saw me.
“What are you doing here girl?” The driver asked – the same way he asked me when I came the first time.
I stared at the back of his head - as though I expected him to know why I was there. After all, all the higher ups that retained their names had to know almost everything that had to do with Haven.
“What’s your name?” I asked quietly, and the man’s eyes flickered to mine through the rear view mirror.
“I’m Sean, you?” He asked, though I don’t think he was really expecting an answer.
“I’m Lillyanna, Lilly for short.” I smiled at him, and he smiled back, before making his face that unreadable mask again.
I stared out the window, though there wasn’t much to see.
“What will happen?” I asked earnestly – wondering if I had asked this question before, if others before me had asked the same question before forgetting everything about themselves.
Sean looked at me, as though he wasn’t entirely sure how to answer me without upsetting me.
“I don’t know” Was all he would say but the look in his eyes said he did know, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
I settled against the seat, closing my eyes for a moment – or at least it felt like a moment. Sooner rather than later I was being shaken awake by Sean, a grim look on his face. We were in Haven and I wondered briefly how we got here – but all I remembered was falling asleep. I frowned and he smiled sheepishly.
“Don’t think too hard about it, we have to keep our entrance a secret” He said and I nodded sleepily – hoping that the memory wipe would be completed soon and I could head to bed before getting the rest of my plan underway.
A plan that’s not really a plan.
I thought bitterly, but shook off the disturbing thought. I would think of something – I had to. After all J had done for me the least I could do was save his ass from hanging in a cell for the rest of his life.
Sean took my hand – though not in a comforting way, it was more of a security hold, as though he was afraid of what I might do if I wasn’t contained. He looked at me, a bemused expression on his face.
“This is the point where I’m meant to cuff you. But I used my last pair of handcuffs on you. Ironic isn’t it?” He asked, expecting no real answer, and I didn’t provide any.
That wasn’t by any means a remark on the irony; I was more focused on Eve who had chosen that exact moment to enter the room. She still wore heels too high to be practical, and her blonde hair had been styled into a neat bun at the top of her head. She wore a black skirt with grey strips and a plain black work shirt with the Haven logo embroidered on the left side over her heart.
“L, such a pleasant surprise” Eve almost purred and I raised a suspicious eyebrow. I was honestly done playing her little game.
“Yeah yeah, let’s get down to business shall we?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest and raising an eyebrow.
Eve looked a little shocked, before turning her face into a grin – one of those grins that revealed she knew something I didn’t – something important that I really should have access too but didn’t.
“J’s been such a pleasure to have” Eve said unceremoniously and I tightened my hand into a fist, not giving her the privilege of seeing me react.
Eve stopped before a room that had ‘Interrogation’ written in bold black lettering – as though that alone was meant to scare me. I rolled my eyes as Eve opened the door for me, leading me into a plain silver room with tinted black glass as one of the walls.
Eve pushed out one of the chairs, motioning for me to sit down. I took the chair, staring directly into the glass behind her, wondering who was watching us. Was it one of her bosses? Does she even have bosses?
Surely there would be someone above her; after all she was a glorified babysitter.
Eve took out a plain manila folder from under the desk; my name was written in her usual feminine scrawl along the tab. She opened it, revealing a picture of me when I was born, along with what I assumed to be a copy of my birth certificate. Eve flipped through to one of the last pages – including a photo of me from what looked like the last few weeks.
Eve left the folder open, allowing my eyes to scan the information – they had mostly general information about me and the rebels – they knew I was involved, but not that I was the leader, or that we had an underground shed where we could hide from any chemical they released into the air.
“Let’s start with the easy questions shall we?” Eve asked, flipping back to the beginning of the file and I sighed, this was going to be a long and complicated process considering I couldn’t remember half of what they probably knew.
“What is your first, middle and last name please?” Eve asked in a formal manner, and I wondered if there was someone behind the perplex glass writing notes on how I reacted.
“Lillyanna May Darnell” I said loudly and clearly and Eve nodded, her eyes scanning what I assumed to be a checklist of questions until she could place a tick.
“Your father’s name?” Eve asked, barely glancing in my direction.
So far these questions were easy, though I knew the harder ones were coming.
“Mother’s name?” She asked and I hesitated, earning myself a look of disapproval.
“I don’t know” I said hesitantly, and Eve pursed her lips.
A moment later she struck out, hitting me in the face with her left hand, and I felt like she had left the indent of her wedding ring on my cheek. My hand automatically went to my face and I opened and closed my jaw, the pain was already coming on fast and I could tell I was going to be bruised.
“Ashley Darnell?” I guessed and Eve gave me a look sighing deeply.
“Are you asking me or telling me Miss Darnell?” Eve asked and I shook my head slightly, I really didn’t know.
“I guess I’m telling you.”
Eve hit me again and I recoiled physically, cradling my face.
“Let’s try this again, and this time, be honest with me.”
“I am” I whispered, fearing the onslaught of another hit.
Eve tsked, putting a little cross next to what I assumed to be a question about my mother. There was a tap from the other side of the glass and Eve stood up rather quickly, taking my envelope with her – disappearing though the same door we had walked in through. Since I hadn’t been handcuffed to the chair or table, I took the moment to walk up to the glass, tapping it lightly, wondering if I would get a response – which I didn’t.
I shrugged, making my way back to the chair and folding my hands in my lap neatly. I expected Eve to re-enter, and she did a moment later, bringing another young woman with her. The other woman sat beside Eve, cocking her head to the side in a way that revealed she was assessing every move I made.
“Now begins the hard part of our little investigation.” Eve started and I raised my eyebrow.
“Oh and I thought the question about my mother was hard.” The glib sentence left my mouth before I could control it, and I shrunk back in fear, but no hit came, instead Eve acted as though I had never spoken, and honestly, that almost scared me more.
“Who are you to the rebels?” Eve asked and I shook my head.
‘I’m just a soldier like the rest.” I responded, the lie coming easy.
I had expected to come into the room and have to lie; I just didn’t understand the consequences for doing such. Eve struck out, injuring the other side of my face, and I recoiled.
“Come on, not my good side” I complained sarcastically and Eve simply pursed her lips.
“I’ll ask you again.”