The grasslands were really queer and she didn’t know where to begin. She ran for her son. Beside her, Deoni ran too, for her daughter.
Earlier this morning, she could feel Deoni and herself transported but she didn’t know where. They both had been confined in a little metallic prison container. Not long before she heard the airplane’s turbines start rolling, their container had been detached.
Whether it was on purpose to kill them or by accident, they thoroughly felt like they had been inside a washing machine. The impact of the crash must’ve been too much, waking up she felt sore and extremely sweaty. The surface of the metallic box was boiling. It hurt to even touch it and she had guessed early on that her shoulder would be left with a burn mark.
Shoving as hard as she could to wake up Deoni without hurting her, they had tried their best to kick open the box to no avail.
After what probably felt like hours, a huge flash had thrown them back and caused the walls of the container to cripple.
The machine was actually meant to kill them. It looked like the Iron Man gone rogue.
And since then, they had been running in this deserted land. Almost an hour after their release from the stinky metal walls, they had come in front of an electric fence. Walking around the fence, they tried their best to run to safety.
But the machine chasing them did not rest. It did not eat. It did not stop. It could also go invisible.
Finally after running for what felt like miles and miles of long yellow grass and fences, they spotted a safe house.
The square shaped building with grey walls was hardly welcoming. If anything, one could describe it as a more business related place. The business of assassinations.
They had escaped.
Reaching the huge concrete gates, the guards eyed them suspiciously. They bent down, hands on their knees, breathing fast and hard. Their faces were blackened with smoke and dust and both looked nothing like the special agents they had trained for.
But they had escaped.
And they didn’t have any identification proof after vanishing for almost a month. A gruesome month of being experimented on like slaves.
Luckily, a man ran towards them with an ID card in hand. He shouted for the gates to open.
She didn’t really know what happened after that. They must’ve been carried inside and cleaned up or something but the next thing she knew was waking up in the same bunker bed she had for the past ten years.
The door opened as Deoni peeked inside, good and clean and her son pushed past her sister only to run up and give a tight hug.
She sighed in relief, wishing everyday could be as blissful as this one. Her son was safe. He was unhurt and as she saw him run up, her heart burst with pride, love, happiness, undaunted joy and all the good thing in this world. She hugged him back, kissing his head.
‘I’m so glad you’re up,’ Deoni said, coming inside, followed by her daughter.
This is what she wanted. Everyone to be okay but this is not what Deoni’s eyes said.
‘What is it?’
‘The Colonel wants to see you as soon as you’re up,’ she replied softly. She nodded. Getting up was just as difficult as she’d thought, all the aches and pains coming back to haunt her.
She pulled into the set of clothes which were lying on the chair beside her and told the children to be good and stay in the room, waiting for her to return.
Walking in the corridor, in the huge hall, she could see the floor below her. The people and their funny games but today was different, there was tension in the air. Suddenly, she saw a flash of someone she thought she knew.
Looking around wildly, she spotted him. Her analyst, Alfie. Two guards escorted him with his hands cuffed behind his back. She shouted for them to wait. She had to ask him something. She shouted for them to stop. Running down the stairs leading to the floor below, she kicked one of the guards to stop, shouting and asking what his crimes were. Shouting to know why and where he was being taken.
The other guard tried to attack but an inch from her face, he stopped.
The Colonel was here.
‘Nyara, stop,’ he said firmly, ‘report to my office now.’
She looked back at faithful Alfie but he only looked down. Around her, everyone had haulted their work. Such things don’t happen here everyday. This was going to be a big time gossip in this methodical place.
She shrugged the guard off her and followed the Colonel.
Closing the office door behind her, she turned around and stood straight, waiting for some reaction. She got none. One stone faced, short cropped white haired man in front of her. She wondered whether he could be called off for his beard-art?
‘Why is my analyst, Alfie, being cuffed?’ she asked him, straight and bold.
He sat down with a sigh, his fingers crossed in front of him, ‘He’s to be taken to the psychiatric ward for hallucinating ghosts and delusions.’
No. He’s being declared unfit. He’s going to be transported back and brain washed.
He used to live two rooms away from her ever since they were brought here as teens. Being almost five years older to her, he helped her with the schooling they had provided here and with her first firing practice.
They couldn’t transport him back.
And hallucinating ghosts? She had always had a bad feeling about this place. It was one of the main reasons she only slept after two thirty in the night.
It first began with just pinching once or twice but since the past year it had only escalated. One of the main reasons why she had chosen to go for the mission in the first place.
‘I need to talk to him.’
She walked up to his desk almost banging her palms on the wood, ‘Sir, one audience before he’s out of here. Please.’
He glared at her, his fiery eyes not even letting her blink. Finally he forced out an ‘Alright, five minutes.’
The guards brought Alfie to the small well lit room with a single steel table. He was wearing whites, shackled to the table with his ankles and wrists.
‘Delusions, Hallucinations, really?’ she asked him.
He eyed her from the corner of his eyes.
‘You saw them too?’
At this comment his eyes widened.
Stammering, he answered, ‘I felt them.’
Then he started shouting, hammering the table, shouting that they should evacuate and someone needs to believe him.
She believed him. Because she felt them too. Someone watching. Someone always present in the rooms with no cameras.
The guards came to take him, one of them putting an arm around her to take her away too.
‘What did you see?’ she shouted at him, ‘What should I do?’
He kept fighting the guards. He kept fighting before he saw someone pull an injection out. He silenced before they could plunge the needle into his upper arm.
He could control his behavior. She wanted to tell them these aren’t hallucinations.
‘Nyara, it’s all in your head,’ he said before the guard stuck the needle in anyways.
It’s all in your head. It’s all in your head. It’s all in your head.
His words wouldn’t leave her as she walked back to her room.
It’s all in your head.
She heard Deoni’s scream. Her legs picked up their pace, racing down the corridor and barging he door of her sister’s room, which was adjacent to hers, open.
Deoni held her neck with both hands, massaging. Had someone tried to throttle her? Her daughter lay on one corner of the floor.
At the sound of the door opening, Deoni looked up with fear in her eyes.
No. Deoni and her daughter were fine but…
She rushed to her own room. Opening the door, she saw an invisible figure squeezing her son’s neck.
Her legs and brains refused to work as she almost started crying at the scene.
There was powder on her dressing table. She needed to see this figure. She shouted incoherently, grabbing the powder bottle and raining the powder, trying to locate the figure. Her elbow hit something solid.
The machine was here.
The machine was in the safe house.
Grabbing onto whatever part she could, she tried to fight and pull it away from her son. Her precious little boy. Tears stained his eyes as he tried to kick wildly.
‘Stop! Stop!’ she shouted, pulling at his arms and shoving the metal with all she could.
‘Alright,’ she heard the hiss of his voice for the first time and before she knew it his claws were on her neck and her son was thrown on the floor.
Her son was okay.
For now, if only she could…
She kicked and punched the machine’s face. It didn’t budge. In fact, it picked her up and shoved her on the railing of the bunker.
She kicked and punched till she felt herself being sucked inside.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw the faint powder outline of the machine. The room’s doors opened to masked soldiers. Her son was taken out.
He was safe.
She could leave it to them.
It’s all in her head.
She felt herself being sucked and there was nothing she could do about it.
It’s all in her head anyways.