1. Crap

GWYNN

Of all the ways I’d thought I could die, suffocating to death had never crossed my mind.

     Hot, thick air rushed up my nose and into my lungs sending me into a violent fit of coughing. My hands quickly reached up for my throat as I sat up in my bed gasping for air. My eyes shot open and a dense, gray fog of smoke burned into my vision. Squeezing my eyes shut, I fought back the sting of tears as I desperately squirmed, trying to find any angle with the slightest hint of breathable air.

      I rolled too hard in one direction and ended up falling to the floor with a hard thud. Soreness raced down my arms and neck as I pushed myself up into a sitting position. My forehead throbbed and my brain spun, a wave of nausea fell through me.

      My coughing slowed as the thinner air from down here soothed my lungs. I hadn’t noticed my hearing had gone out until the brassy screech of the fire alarm fades in.

      Luckily, thanks to me, my family had a plan for what to do in case of a house fire. Originally, I had fourteen perfect steps to ensure all of our safety. But now, in the moment of true life or death, I decided to settle for the top five.

      Step one, evaluate the environment and danger level. Two, alert the others of the situation. Step three, manage to get out of the house safely. Four, call for help. And five, if all goes well, remember your parents owe you a car for doubting you.

      First, step one. I drew a steady breath and slowly reopened my eyes hoping this time I would be able to see well enough to make my way out of my room.

     Peering through the dense smoke, my eyes scanned across my surroundings. My heart stopped as my eyes settled on the unfamiliar shapes and my body froze as realization set in.

This is not my room.

My breathing quickened as I took in the space around me.

     The room was square with seven metal beds placed in rows, identical to the one I fell from. Each bed held an overhead ring light and a little side cart lined with numerous needles and pills. The hard, cold tiles of the floor were white, as were all of the walls, furniture, and equipment.

       On the other side of the room were built-in shelves and cabinets all full of neatly placed glass bottles, tubes, and equipment each protected in a single glass case.

        Where am I? How did I get here? My eyes darted back and forward from the “bed” I was just laid on and the different needles lined across the table. With trembling fingers, I reached up and rubbed the skin of my mouth. There was swelling and blood, but I couldn’t feel any pain.

What happened to me?

      The siren seemed to grow my anxiety as bile thoughts filled my mind and a scream ripped it way through my chest. I had been kidnapped.

      Bringing my knees to my chest I hunched over, wrapping my arms around myself and squeezed my elbows. Tears ran heavily down my cheeks as an uneasy pit formed itself in my stomach.

     Not caring about the smoke, or the fire, I tucked my head into my chest and sobbed into myself. I wanted to scream again and again. I wanted to run and search for my parents or find help, but I couldn’t bring myself to move.

”Hey, hey it’s okay, I’m gonna help get you out of here” a voice said.

I nearly jump to my feet, my heart pounding even harder than before if that’s even possible.

     The outline of a guy stood in the door frame. He was pretty tall and dressed in all black, making it difficult to see his face in all the smoke. I moved back quickly, not being able to see if he carried any weapons or read his expression.

     He took slow steps toward me, holding his arms out as if he were calming a wild animal, “Calm down, I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m just trying to help. It’s not safe here, we have to leave.”

     “Get away from me.” I said, practically backwards crawling as his stride quickened. The room was small and I knew there was really nowhere for me to go.

      Reaching over, I rolled a side table cart over to me holding it in front of myself as he approached me. “Stay away!” I screamed, flaring my legs out and sending the cart crashing into him.

    Narrowing his eyes, he reached down and pushed the cart gently to the side. His closeness and the dim glow of the ring lights gave me an opportunity to see him.

    He seemed to be around my age. There were highlights in his deep brown hair and it fell messily in waves stopping just below his ears. With one hand he reached up and pulled it back from his forehead exposing his full face. Sighing, he paused and knelt down on one knee, staring at me with his dark eyes, his expression softening just a bit.

     I stared back not really knowing what to do. I felt uneasy as he watched me. Maybe I could try to catch him off guard. He’d tossed aside my only means of self defense leaving me with just myself.

Maybe slap him and make a run for it?

    Just as I was about to make my move, I noticed something. The more I stared into his eyes, the more they seemed to be turning….blue?

     Breaking up our little staring contest, he blinked at me and then frowned. Suddenly, he strode over and grabbed under my arms lifting me up. Before I could react, a wave of peace and calmness drifted through me, suffocating my body. Fear and panic became an afterthought as my shaking eased to a stop, and my heartbeat steadied.

I let out a deep breath and my muscles relaxed.

With a small smirk the boy held me up,”Can you walk?” he asked.

      When I didn’t answer he turned and crouched over on the ground, still holding my arms. He pulled me up onto his back and wrapped my legs around his waist. Once he was sure I was secure he made his way to the door.

      The source of the fire alarm must’ve been out here because the siren grew so loud it was hard to hear myself think. A red light flicked on and off illuminating the smoke to a misty red haze. The smoke was thicker out here and we both struggled to keep our breath.

      We had entered a narrow hallway with multiple doors on each wall that looked to be made of some type of metal. The doors filled the walls from top to bottom, each holding a single rectangular window space in the top center.

     On the parts of the walls without holes there were red stains and scratches that peeled the lining away. Scattered across the floor were a bunch of broken glass and papers.

I prepared myself for another panic attack but the calmness never left.

So a stranger is carrying you through a burning building and you’re not the least bit worried?

       Without missing a step he carried me through the hallways turning left and right as if following an invisible map. I’m surprised he wasn’t lost.

“Anthony….Anthony are you there?” He stopped and pulled out a radio like device from his pocket.

“Yeah, I’m here. What’s wrong Jay?” he replied.

“I’m done with the fire but it’s spreading too quickly, you need to get out of the building.”

“I’m on my way out, I had to stop and get a girl.”

The way he said it makes me think he’d rather have left me to burn.

Ouch.

“No, you need to leave right now, this place is about to blow!”

“What?!” Anthony and I scream in unison.

     The forced calmness was suddenly replaced with my own fear. Anthony stuffed the device back in his pocket and gripped my legs.

“Hold on and do not let go, or else I’ll leave you behind,” he said sternly.

    I latched my arms around his neck and held on for dear life as he sprinted through the halls. Door after door he paced until finally he turned a corner and there was the exit.

      I could hear the building collapsing  behind us but was too afraid to look back. He burst through the doors and jumped down the flight of entrance stairs, sending me flying. I tumbled to the bottom, landing on the ground a few feet ahead.

“Cover your head!” he yelled. But I ignored him. He was still on the stairs, in range of the explosion.

      I didn’t see where he landed because as soon as his feet left the ground, the building exploded. A ring of fire rose to the sky and a cloud of dust blew through me forcing my head back onto the concrete.

      There was the throbbing again, accompanied by warm blood streaking down to my ears. I turned over to my stomach and placed my hands on the ground trying to keep steady. Droplets of blood fell to my fingers and I wiped them off on my pants. I made a move to stand up but a sharp pain in my shoulder had me back on the ground in an instant. I wailed in pain as the rest of my body quickly awakened from the adrenaline rush.

There was no sound and for a moment, I thought I was dead.

     Lifting only my head I looked around, but all I could make out was the blurry glare of the fire. I rested my head on the dirt and closed my eyes attempting to ease the dreadful throbbing.

     I tried to think of my parents. Us laughing at the dinner table about Dad’s newest attempt at making shepherds pie. I smiled, no matter how many times we tried to tell him, he swore this time it would taste right. My mom’s last words hugged me as the feeling in my body drained away.

      “Baby we love you, and you’re more special than you could ever imagine. You have the power to change the world, we just want you to know that everything we’ve done for you is because we see your potential.”

       My head drifted, my heartbeat slowed and for a moment time stood still, and I couldn’t feel a thing.

And then there was darkness.

*****

” She’s not waking up,” a male voice said.

“I don’t understand, she should be awake by now,” a frustrated female voice replies.

“You just have to give it time Anessa,” says another girl. “She’ll wake up when she’s ready.”

     “Seeeee I told you Nessie, you should’ve used Aloe Vera instead of Allium sativum. Now she’s gonna die,” a different male voice says, mockingly.

I could tell it was one of the boys from the lab, what was his name again….ahh I can’t remember.

“Do not, call me that! ” she snapped. “And if it’s so easy, how about you do it?”

     “Look, I could tell you anything you want and everything you need to save this girl, but I can’t make it for you.”

   “Exactly. You can’t. I can only grow so many of these stupid plants. If I have to live with these lame powers the least I can do is put them to good use,” she grumbled.

Wait….what? Did I hear that right? Powers? What does she mean by powers, like superhero powers? No Gywnn, that’s crazy. She’s crazy.

“Have you tried singing to them, I heard it helps,” the boy said, chuckling.

“Whatever,” said Anessa.”I’m going to go try again. There must be something I’ve missed.”

“Okay, Kenji and I will go check up on Anthony,” said the other girl.

I listened as they left the room closing the door slightly, their foot steps fading in the distance.

   Now’s my chance to escape. Escape what, or where exactly, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m not where I should be. My parents could be looking for me..or worse were in the explosion. I need to get back to them.

     Slowly I opened my eyes and began to sit up. I steadily rolled off the bed and placed my feet on the soft black rug. Well, my body definitely felt a lot better than it did last night, only this time it was heavy from sleep. Stretching out my arms and legs, I released a massive yawn, then started for the door.

“Going somewhere?” said a voice from behind me.

Crap.

I forgot about the first guy. He never left.

    I turned around slowly, shuffling back to the spot where I’d woken up. ” I..uhh…was just g-going-” I started but he cut me off.

“Relax, I’m just messing with you,” he smiled.

     Standing from the chair he sat in, he reached over to yank open the curtains then held out his hand. “Im Jullian.”

Reluctantly, I grabbed it and shook.

“Im Gwynn.”

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