Lucid

~The Sequel to 'Little British Girl~
- Decide which side your on -
Three and a half month after Luci kidnapped her birth father, Xander Moore, Elia and her friends are on the run. Both north and south are engulfed in complete and utter chaos, and the resistance and the rebellium are gaining power through an alliance. Both sides want them out of the way, and they have nowhere to be, nowhere where they belong. The four friends must choose a side, the alliance, or the government, a decision that will forever haunt them all.
Nothing is certain, nothing is safe, nothing is lucid.

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33. Chapter 33

The sun has risen too early this morning. It feels like only seconds ago that I last shut my eyes at let the darkness take me, leaving me to the mercy of my nightmares…

...and they were not merciful.

My night was filled with visions. Visions of Max’s lifeless body decaying slowly on the grass, left there to feed the bugs and birds. Visions of Elda’s blank face as she pulled the trigger, seeing nothing in front of her but a target to try and hit. Visions of Luci stood beside her, doing nothing to stop her, doing nothing to save him, doing nothing...nothing at all.

But at least those were just visions, tortured memories haunting me as I slept- nothing more, nothing less. Now I face the real challenge. Reality. The sun has risen all too early, and now I have to live today- the day, the day after he died.

I reach into my pyjama pocket, pulling out the small disc he gave to be, the signal gammer. I don’t need it anymore, they extracted the tracking device the moment I got here, but for some reason I still kept it, unable to desert it by chucking it in a bin or leaving it on a shelf. I raise it up to the window, using it to block out the sun, staring at the new golden border outlining it, like diamond dust floating around. Then, I let it slip out of my hand, escaping my hold and falling to the ground. My heart seems to sink with it, somehow aching even more than the rest of me does, and that is saying something. On top of this incredible emotional heartache and loss, my entire body feels as though I have returned from the dead. Covered in bruises and tiny painful cuts, I can’t move half an inch without wincing. A part of me just wants to lie here forever, not moving not eating not drinking, counting down the minutes until my heart finally fails. But that part, that tiny, whiney, powerful part of me is silenced by the memories I have in my mind. Every time I so much as consider it I see Max, his kind dark eyes, his caring face...and I know, I know that if he were here beside me, he would drag me out of bed by my ankles and tell me to get myself together, not leaving me alone until I did. Max Hills wouldn’t have wanted me to give up, he would have wanted me to use the pain- to use it to be stronger.

I try to ignore the sun, I try to lean over onto my back and go back to sleep...but I can’t. I don’t think the sun has ever blazed more adamantly, more obviously, or more irritatingly. I cannot sleep through this day no matter how much I want to. It’s time to get up, it’s time to be strong.

I swing my legs out over the edge of the bed, wincing in pain as I do, all my bruises crying out at the sudden movement. I slowly bend my spine, leaning over to grab my crutches, biting down on my lip as I do so, my back groaning at the movement. I push my arms through and get a hold of the handles before finally getting up and out of bed, having to dig my nails into the handles to stop myself from crying out in pain. I shake it all off, straightening my back so I stand tall and firm. I make my way towards the door of my room, but before I go I glance in the mirror, trying to make my face seem less broken, so that when I leave here and people see me, they’ll look beyond the black eye and cut cheek and see a strong woman, a strong woman who is going to survive this. I tighten my lips and try to abolish the heartbroken look in my eye, doing the best I can to seem strong. Taking a deep breath, I open the door and step outside, making my way gradually towards the main office.

I’m all too aware of the looks people give me as I walk, recognising me as the half and half girl who caused so much trouble one year ago, and as the girl who just watched one of her closest friends get shot in the head. I try to ignore them, keeping my head down as I move, focusing on my breathing instead. I hobble onwards, my heart getting heavier with each second that passes, as if I’m ashamed for some reason. The journey across to the main office feels as though it takes an entire year, but eventually I arrive there, fumbling around as I try to keep my balance as I struggle to get ahold of the doorknob.

“Here, let me get that for you.” A female voice calls from behind me, stepping forward to open the door. I recognise her chestnut brown eyes and tired expression automatically.

“Robin?” I check, my mind racing back to the day I spent in the head resistance base for the South, where she set up a video link so I could talk to Daniel and Annabeth and Luci...and Max.

“Good memory.” She nods at me, slightly impressed. “Most people forget about us little people in a heartbeat.”

“Right…” I trail off, unsure of how I was supposed to reply to her statement. “Is Zacharia around? Last night he told me he wanted to see me this morning.”

“He’s busy at the moment,” Robin sighs, walking over to a small desk and unloading a bag full of files onto it, “It’s his turn to see the medics, and I wouldn’t expect that to be over anytime soon, let’s just say Luci and Elda weren’t exactly kind…” I shut my eyes suddenly, flinching at the memory of my own time there being held prisoner, suddenly able to feel Xander’s blood around my ankles again.

“Sorry.” She apologises quickly, “I didn’t mean to upset you, I know it couldn’t have been easy for you there.” Her eyes are sympathetic and she gives me the closest thing to a smile that I assume she can manage, so that her face almost looks as though it is grimacing, still, it’s the thought that counts.

“It’s alright.” I assure her, “I’ll just, um, take a seat and wait for him.” I look around for a spare chair, but the small office is practically empty except for two desks, a whiteboard, and a miniscule filing cabinet.

“Are you sure?” Robin asks, “Have you had breakfast yet? All we have is porridge but if you add a few drops of maple syrup to it then it’s really not too bad and-”

“Sorry, Robin, but- but I’m not exactly hungry right now.” I tell her, my voice breaking at the end as I swallow back my tears.

“Oh right, of course...well, how about you sit at Zacharia’s desk? He won’t mind.” She suggests, her tone again turning apologetic and her face holding the same smiling-grimace expression as just a few minutes before. I nod, forcing myself to smile before I make my way over and sit down, glad to be able to rest my leg again.

My eyes wander around the room, tiredly examining the dusty files and stained carpet. It’s clear that this base has seen better days, no wonder it was demoted to emergency situations. I gaze down at the desk in front of me, my eyes automatically attracted to the file to my left, dated from a couple of months ago, entitled ‘Luci Reeds’. I look up, glad to see that Robin is too preoccupied with her filing to pay attention to what I’m doing. I look down again and slowly pick up the file, placing it back down in front of me.

Enquiry Code: 3700LGR#1

Name of person(s) under enquiry: Luci Reeds

Reason for enquiry: Investigation into the personal life of agent Luci Reeds in an effort to learn more about possible current intentions.

Results of enquiry:

It was discovered that Ms Reeds full name was Lucinda Genevieve Reeds, and that she was originally born in the Southern zone before she moved to the North after she discovered that Xander F Moore was her birth father. Whether or not Ms Reeds wanted to kill her father at this point is unknown to us.

Ms Reeds was quick to impress when she was recruited into the resistance five years ago, and was only moved away from head office (to Yuma, Arizona) because she asked to be (for reasons still unknown). Prior to the date in question she was mostly compliant and exhibited no concerning behaviours. All small rebellions were blamed on her mentor Annabeth Garcia Jackson, who has a reputation inside the resistance for playing by her own rules. Ms Reeds and Ms Jackson shared a close relationship and were friends, but investigations into Ms Jackson prove that she was not assisting Ms Reeds in her plans and was oblivious to her true intentions.

I turn the page, noticing more and more enquiries into Luci. Some, like this, about her personal life, others about her mother's affair with Xander, past missions, and possible current hideout locations. There’s even one about me, and how she hacked the system to make it seem as though I was Xander’s biological daughter. I start reading it, then stop, knowing that no good will come out of it, and that I’ll only upset myself further. I tidy up the small stack of enquiries, staring down again at 3700LGR#1, sighing. Lucinda Genevieve Reeds, it’s a very stereotypically southern name, I can see why she had to shorten it and cut out the middle. I suddenly feel a great well of sadness build up inside me, almost as if I pity her, my heart sinking, my eyes tired. Despite everything Luci’s done, all the killing at the carnage...there’s still a part of me that sees a victim behind those eyes, a teenage girl hurt badly by her father’s actions.

“Enjoying a bit of light reading?” I jolt at the sound of Zacharia’s voice behind me.

“I, er...it was just on your desk and- and well…”

“It’s fine,” Zacharia assures me, placing his hand gently on my shoulder, “All the really confidential stuff is kept under lock and key anyway.” I sigh in relief, on top of everything else today I really didn’t need a lecture in nosiness. “Robin, could you give us a minute?” He requests, his voice respectful but firm. She pauses, then nods, not saying anything as she reloads her bag and steps out of the office. Zacharia pulls over the chair from her desk and sits down beside me, I notice him wince slightly as he does so, placing one of his hands against his back. I don’t need to be psychic to tell that he’s badly hurt there, Robin was right, Luci and Elda weren’t gentle with him.

“Are you okay?” I check, “Your back doesn’t look too good.”

“Don’t worry about me, I’ve had worse.” He promises me, waving my comment off, “How about you? How are you holding up?” I stare down at the floor, unable to look him in the eye anymore as my grief and misery hits me once again, surged up by the most vague of questions. I swallow hard, taking a few deep breaths before finally thinking up an answer, my words like poison in my mouth.

“Honestly, every breathe seems to take three times as much effort as normal.” I grimace, putting my head in my hands, “Every time I shut my eyes I see him.” I feel Zacharia’s warm hand on my shoulder, gently urging me upwards again. “Have you told Beverley yet?” I change the topic. I see his face crumble, and I know the answer.

“I haven’t got around to it yet,” he confesses, ashamed, “I know it’s best coming from me but- but I just really don’t want to have to be the person who...who has to tell her.”

“She needs to know,” I sigh, “He was her son.”

“You wouldn’t have known if half of the time.” He jokes, managing a small laugh before his face falls once again, embarrassed by his inappropriate use of humour.

“That’s only going to make it worse,” I shake my head, staring up at the ceiling, my eyes beginning to brim with tears again, “She’ll blame herself for deserting him all those times.”

“Maybe I’ll phone Grace and get her to tell her,” Zacharia thinks out loud, “That way she can hear it from someone face-to-face. She shouldn’t have to hear that sort of news over the phone…”

“That sounds like a good idea.” I nod, trying to be more productive than emotive. A subtle silence seems to fall on us after that, both of us unsure of what to do or say next as we both begin to get lost among our thoughts and worries.

“Can I show you something?” Zacharia asks suddenly, his voice more life-like than before, getting to his feet.

“Sure.” I nod, glad for another distraction. Zacharia kneels down, pulling at a rug covering a large object until it eventually falls to the ground, revealing a stone slab.

My stone slab.

A piece of the wall from the stone cell I was kept inside, inscribed with countless names, a bullet hole covering up the ‘Ellie’.

Shocked, I stand up and walk over, kneeling down beside it, running my hand along the names, remembering writing them all like it was only yesterday. It was gruelling, my fingernails were completely worn down afterwards...but it was worth it.

“How did you get this?” I murmur, my voice barely a whisper.

“We stormed that facility months ago and found it. When I saw it I knew it had to have been you. I cut it out of the wall and brought it back here.” He explains, “Take a closer look, do you notice anything?” I lean in, examining the rock, running my fingers along the hollow dents, there seem to be more than I remember…

“I didn’t carve all of these names,” I realise, “Some have been added.”

“It’s become a bit of a ‘thing’ here,” Zacharia tells me, “People come and they carve names of their own, commemorating the suffering of others. Never with any tools, all they use is their fingernails...just like you.”

“It’s incredible.” I whisper, my breath taken away as I stare at all the scribings.

“It acts as a sort of reminder, reminding us all of why we fight, why we resist.” Zacharia sighs, running his hand along the top.

My smile fades as my fingers find the name, lingering around the lettering. I stare down at it, three simple, innocent letters, Max. And all of a sudden, I can’t hold it into me. Tears flow out of me like a flooding river, refusing to stop. And my hand stays there, as if it is stuck, pressed against the dents.

“Th-This is my...this is my fault,” I sob, “If I’d sp-spotted that t-tracking device s-sooner then…then…”

“This is in no way you’re fault.” Zacharia wraps his arms around me, his voice clean of all doubt. “Elda tricked you into going to that meet-up, Luci put that tracking device in your leg, Luci and Elda chose to use it to track us down, then Elda pulled the trigger. At no point could you have done anything to prevent any one of those things. This is not your fault.” His words do nothing to halt my cries as I sink deeper and deeper into my depression, drowning in my tears and my eyes stay glued to his name. My head falls onto his shoulder as my entire body falls limb.

Then why does it hurt like it is? I cry, his name seeming to be the only thing I can still see through my tears.

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