Hotter Than Fire

**Darkest Minds Fanfiction**
Tamarin is twelve years old when his little sister Chamberly is taken away by soldiers in black. Several inexplicable things happen that day, including explosions and unexplained fires. Six years later, now 16, Tam begins to understand everything that's happened. He discovers his identity as a red. Attempting to survive, he searches for Chamberly- joining up with some interesting allies along the way.


19. Chamberly


    It’s nearly an hour before Chamberly stirs. She blinks, her turquoise eyes looking up at me with a fractured light. I see a dim glimmer in them, but it doesn’t look like recognition. More like… more like fear.

    My poor sister… what have they done to you?

    “Chamberly,” I whisper. She blinks at me, and I keep going. “Chamberly, don’t you remember me? It’s me, Tam. Your brother.”

    Her eyes are blank. My heart feels like it’s cracking into thousands of delicate little pieces. Never, in my worst nightmares, had I imagined this would happen. She doesn’t recognize me. She looks at me, and there is no familiarity in her eyes.

    “Please, Chamberly,” I whisper. “Our last day together. Remember? We walked to school. It was after you were sick, and I got you that little red hat.” I reach around. To my surprise, I feel it pressing against my shirt pocket. I haven’t let it leave my side for six years. Now, with trembling fingers, I take it out. As gently as I can, I place it on Chamberly’s head.

    She reaches up and touches it lightly, with an animal like curiosity. She pulls it off her head, and stares at it. Then slowly, very slowly, she puts it back on.

    “Please Chamberly,” I beg her. “Please, it’s me. I’m here. I’m right here. We’re together again. I can protect you. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. No one is going to hurt you. I promise. No one will ever be able to hurt you again.”

    The corners of my eyes sting with suppressed tears. I’ve stayed strong for so long, but now I can feel myself breaking down. She doesn’t know who I am. She looks at me, and there is no recognition in her eyes. Death would be kinder than this.

    The first tears slip down my face, cold and wet. They splash against Chamberly, who makes no move to wipe them away. She just stares at me with those blank, broken eyes.

    “Chamberly, it’s me,” I whisper weakly. “It’s Tam.”

    Her lips move, slowly spelling out my name. She moves slowly, reaching up and touching one of the tears as it runs down my face. It slides onto her finger, and down her hand. Slowly, she flicks it away, and brushes another. Her expression barely changes, but I think I catch a hint of a smile at her lips.

    I can hear her voice speaking to me in my head. Don’t cry, Tammy. It’s okay. But it’s just my imagination. Her lips do not move. She does not make a single sound.

    Slowly I reach out and take her in my arms, holding her close to my chest. Any composure I had is gone. I begin to sob openly, holding her close and crying like I did the day she was taken away. They have stolen my sister from me. They have stolen her mind, and now she cannot speak, cannot remember, can barely move. Little more than an animal. Even as I hold her, she sits there, still and unmoving. She cannot respond. And so I stay there, and hold my sister close, feeling like the world is ending.


    I feel a hand on my shoulder. I hadn’t even realized that the car had stopped. I look over, and see Kia there. She looks at Chamberly wordlessly, her eyes full of sorrow. Then, gently, she speaks.

    “I’ve seen this before.” She rubs my shoulder gently. “They did this to yellows at my camp. That’s what she is, right?”

    I nod wordlessly.

    Kia sighs. “It’s how they’re… trained, I guess. Not to speak. Not to do anything that they aren’t told. Just to obey. Silent, and mindless. More like animals than like people. Yellows are powerful and dangerous, and so… they do this to them. Sometimes they experiment on them, surgeries with their brains and stuff, and it sometimes leaves them… well… scarred, I guess.”

    Scarred. Permanent trauma. I will kill whoever did this to my sister. I will burn them slowly until they tell me how it can be fixed. And if it can’t be fixed, I’ll walk away and leave them to die.

    “Is there any way to get her back?” I ask hopelessly.

    “I don’t know,” she admits. “Maybe with time she’ll come back. She’s been pretty traumatized. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

    Wait and see. My sister is practically in a coma. She’s weak, and completely unresponsive to anything I do or say, and all we can do is wait and see. I want to scream at the world for playing this cruel joke on me, but what would be the point? There’s nothing I can do to change this. My sister is hurt. She’s been traumatized to the point of unresponsiveness. And there’s nothing I can do to help her. It breaks my heart into a million twisted fragments. And here Kia is, being gentle and reassuring and doing her best to help me. It’s almost more than I can take. It’s definitely more than I deserve.

    I force myself to focus on something coherent- something relevant to what’s happening right now. I can’t dwell on what’s happened to Chamberly, or it will crush me. So I look at Kia, and do my best to change the topic. “Why are we stopped?”

    I can tell by the look in her eyes that she knows what I’m doing, but she doesn’t protest. “Amaranth found a small store. Abandoned. We can raid it for food. She thought maybe you… could use something to take your mind off. And besides, we need food. We have limited supplies. You can come get some with me.”

    My immediate thought is that I do not want to leave Chamberly alone. What if she comes to her senses and wonders where I am? But Kia is right. I need a distraction. So I nod glumly, and step out of the car.

    Amaranth is waiting. “Still no change?” she says softly.

    I shake my head, my eyes half closed with misery and heartbreak. “Just… keep an eye on her.” My voice is shaky. “Make sure… make sure that if she… comes back she knows that she’s safe, and that I’ll be back soon. Just… stay with her until I’m back. It won’t be long.”

    Amaranth nods, and sits at the edge of the car, next to Chamberly. My sister looks up at Amaranth with the same blank, uncomprehending expression that she looked at me with. Seeing that, I nearly begin to sob, but Kia takes my hand and leads me away from the car.

    “Come on,” she whispers. “She’ll still be there when we get back.”

    Still there. Like she is now. Unresponsive. Silent. But I just nod, and follow Kia.

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