No one’s POV
Gloria hung her head, wringing her hands as Cherry Blossom sighed.
There had been complaints. Gloria’s visits to Nathan’s old project had not gone unnoticed. The room had been entered several times according to records, and often the appointed scientist would enter the room and find Gloria on the floor talking to the subject.
Gloria was Cherry’s charge, and while the higher up was willing to dismiss her behavior as adolescence, it was still up to Cherry to establish some more discipline.
“You know you can’t go interfering with projects that you are no longer a part of. So why do you?” Cherry asked.
“I wasn’t interfering with the project, I just went to talk with Sala-”
“Oh you’re telling me you made friends with the girl? You’re making friends with subjects now?”
Gloria swallowed and shook her head. “No. Of course not-”
“Of course not! If you want friends, be friends with Doctor Svenson, or Alliade the janitor, I don’t mind. But most certainly not subjects or elements of a project. Apart from the mere fact that you’re imposing yourself on things that no longer involve you, you’re putting yourself at risk. Reds are not people you can befriend. Do you understand?”
Gloria nodded quickly.
Cherry didn’t feel she’d convinced her.
“I’m going to have someone check the hallway tapes to make sure you don’t go again. As well I’m going to give you more projects, since clearly you have too much time on your hands. Don’t even think about shapeshifting to slip by the cameras. That will only force me to add magic sensors that will detect your specific magical presence. That’s equipment we could put elsewhere and that will just make me extremely unhappy.”
“I wish you actually meant that. I don’t enjoy having to micromanage you.” Cherry said. “Well go on, I’ll send you your new projects soon.”
Nikolas gripped his head as his entire body ached and pulsated.
“There doesn’t seem to be any residual magic from the tattoo you got, but…there’s something that doesn’t correlate so we’re going to keep you a little longer okay?” The man said, a fake smile in his voice. Without even turning to look at the teen, he left the room.
Niko’s only been here for a day and he’s already at his wit’s end.
They drugged him, dragged him out, and he’d wake up attached to the wall just before they used a machine on him. A device that sent intense and painful pulsating waves across his entire body. Waves that pushed him across the wall with physical force and ones that forcefully dug into his skin with magic.
After an hour or so, they knocked him out again and he’d wake up in the cell, exhausted and aching.
And he knew, he knew what he was going through right now was minimal. He’d heard them talking enough to know this was a standard kind of test. He could barely come to imagine the things everyone else in this building was going through.
He carefully laid down on the box forcing himself to try and think, despite the aching. How does he get out of this?
Whatever happens he can’t stay here. Like Ashlynn said, there has to be a way out. No system is perfect.
To Niko’s mild surprise the scientist came in again. The event seemed a little strange to him, but maybe the man had just forgotten some papers. Either way Niko’s eyes were closed and he could care less. Just as long as the man wasn’t here to knock him out again.
A few moments passed before the scientist spoke. “Hey!”
Frowning Niko turned to look at him.
The man looked weird and expectant, but Nikolas really didn’t have the energy to indulge him, so he simply stared.
The man shook his head. “So you were bluffing. You can’t actually spot me from miles away.”
That got Niko’s interest.
“You know your comment struck a blow on my confidence.” The man mumbled.
Nikolas sat up. “…You! What the fuck is your name anyway?”
“Gloria.” She said as her disguise fell off.
Her idea of a good time was not checking in on the sometimes intimidating red head, but going to see Salandra had suddenly gotten too risky. She had gotten the idea to shapeshift as the scientist and slip into Sal’s room, even though Cherry had insisted she didn’t. Gloria wasn’t worried however. It was a matter of getting caught, and as long as she checked the man’s schedule she’d be fine.
However…just as she was about to enter the room, she remembered the artifact implanted in the doorway that would strip her disguise off. There weren’t any cameras in the rooms unless someone was recording something so she didn’t mind not having her disguise inside, but the cameras would have spotted her in the doorway.
So in a split second decision, she’d headed for the room right next door.
“Hey Gloria.” He said, leaning against the window in a suspiciously friendly manner. “How would you feel about helping me out of this place?”
“What?” Gloria asked with a laugh. “What makes you think I’d help you? I barely even know you.”
“That’s not true! We went to school together, we had math class together.”
“Oh was it math? I thought it was chemistry.” Gloria frowned.
“We both went to that experiment. We’re past the level of acquaintances.”
“You know I work here right? This is my home. Why would I help you? I’d just get in trouble – serious trouble.”
“Right, you’re right. What do you want in return?”
“What could you possibly give me that warrants an escape?”
“Well I’m a witch for one. I do know people.” He shrugged. “What do you want from life? Are you actually happy running around catching people so they can be tortured?”
“Oh, I suppose you could tell me more about Salandra.”
Nikolas stared blankly for a few seconds. “You do realize I’m a witch right?”
“I don’t understand what you’re getting at. What does that bring to the table?”
He rolled his eyes. “Good point.”
“You were friends with her weren’t you? You two were always seen together.”
Nikolas eyed her suspiciously. “This is her talking right? What are you, her eyes and ears? What, is she expecting me to forgive her on the account of whatever friendship we used to have?”
“Cause that’s really fucked up you know and I have no interest in being a pin cushion for her amusement.”
“Actually she doesn’t even want me to mention your name.” Gloria cut in.
“Oh she’s angry because of the message I gave you huh.” He said after a pause.
“You mean that REALLY rude message? No I didn’t tell her that. She just doesn’t want to talk to you – or well about you. It must be something else you did.”
“Something I did? She blew up my house!” He shouted, making Gloria back away.
“Right this seems like a sensitive subject for you.”
“Wait, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to shout at you.” He rapidly attempted to remediate.
“But you did.”
“I’m sorry. Did you actually mean it?” He asked. “About helping me?”
“Well…I’d consider it.”
“Just for some information on her?” He confirmed again, incredulously.
“I want to understand her better.”
There had to be a catch. There had to be something. It felt like too good of a deal. “Do you have a crush on her?”
“No.” Gloria said, then took a few moments to actually consider it. “Yeah, no.”
“There’s no shame in it, basically all the guys at school did.”
“Does that include you? This is a lover’s quarrel isn’t it? I can feel it now.” Gloria grinned as if she were talking about her favorite tv show.
“Is that what she told you?”
“Stop it, I told you she won’t talk about you.” Gloria sighed. “God what was I thinking, you don’t know anything. You’re probably going to make things up just so I help you.”
“No no wait, I’ll stop beating around the bush. If that’s all you want, it’s a simple task.”
“Ok good. Make it quick but detailed, I don’t have a lot of time. And don’t talk about the explosion I’ve heard that way too much lately.” She said, sitting down on the floor.
“Alright…anything in particular?” Nikolas asked.
“What happened to her? I remember she was a really sweet girl.”
“Her mom died.” Gloria raised her eyebrows at his short reply. “Well I…that might not be all of it. I don’t understand myself how we got here. But if there was anything that could be the starting point, it’d be her mom in the hospital. Sal went on a quest to get money to help her mom. Took on a hundred jobs and then signed up for that skeevy as hell experiment because they were offering a grand. I followed to check on her and with good reason, the Hans are fucked up. Her mom died the day after. I tried to be there for her, because this was obviously tearing her up, but…” Niko ruffled his own hair, bothered by the old emotions that were being brought back up.
“But what? That’s hardly enough for me to put my neck out on the line for you.”
“But I had my own shit happen, and I didn’t have the time or the opportunity to help her. I guess she spiraled, because the next time I saw her – once both our shits had calmed down – she was,” He gestured. “Trying to force herself on me as if that was the ultimate solution. She told me she loved me, that she’d always loved me, but…that’s not what that was. She wasn’t even there.”
“I think I get what you’re saying.”
“I rejected her and then next time I see her, she’s waltzing in my pa’s funeral and blowing everyone up.” He finished. He cast Gloria a side glance, mildly annoyed that she’d gotten him to spill all of this.
Along with that little feeling that maybe, it was his own fault in the end, what had happened. Maybe if he’d tried a little harder to be there for her…
But that was just a small feeling, in the end truth was, it was her goddamn decision to do that.
“She was going to blow up eventually anyway. The tattoo she got was unstable and she didn’t use its magic so it just got built up. It’s what happens to most of the people that we used to put back on the street before. Remember all those reports of teens causing fires or other drastic uncontrolled acts of magic?”
“I was told tattoos couldn’t affect someone like that.”
“Well it won’t force you to say things you wouldn’t, her actions are her own. But the blowing up part, that’s pretty normal if she doesn’t use her tattoo at all. You would know, it’s a bit like what your father’s known for.” Gloria said as he got up. “Ok I can’t actually break you out.”
Nikolas grimaced, seeming unsurprised.
“It’s too obvious if I just switch open the door! I don’t want to get caught, I already got a warning. But they have so many prisoners, they won’t miss you. Anyway, I can’t open the door, but I could get your rings through the food hatch. That’s about all I can do for you. Nothing else.”
“I’ll take it.” He said getting up as well. “This really doesn’t feel like a fair deal.” He hadn’t actually expected this to work. “If there’s anything else you want-”
“Sounds good, see you later.”
Nikolas stared after her, annoyed. It didn’t matter how fine she was with it, it still felt like he was getting a lot more out of this – like he was abusing of her. He was still barely believing she was willing to help him out for so little.
He couldn’t think of anyone else who would’ve accepted this kind of deal.
That or in actuality she’s getting more out of it and he just can’t see it.
1, 2 and 3 steps into the nether.
I’m falling, falling
I’m not falling
Oh I wish I remembered the rest of the lyrics. It’s all I have now, snippets of lyrics repeated in my rusty musty voice in an attempt to recreate the rhythm.
Always always always fucking BORED
There’s nothing to do
In this itty bitty sucky ass SPACE
A glorified lab rat left alone for HOURS WEEKS MONTHS on end
What am I supposed to do!?
It takes everything I have not to go INSANE
I held my sides flipping over at my own humor.
I’m going to have another birthday coming up in several months. Last year was amazing.
I giggled just remembering how a few well-placed words from various overheard conversations had gotten me a bloody fight right outside my cell.
Absolutely magical. Incredibly entertaining!
I don’t understand why they’re all so hesitant to talk personal to me now.
I wish she wasn’t as desperate for companionship as I am.
Even though I know that’s the only reason she even speaks to me.
Oh pardon, that and she was born retarded. Oh if she didn’t work for the Hans…we’d get along so much better. Sadly, that element is a real turn off.
I closed my eyes and relaxed into the floor.
Into the GRASS. Oh the sweet soft grass. I do remember it yes. I can feel it surrounding my entire body, I can smell it yes I can. I roll in it, feeling it glide across my skin.
I sit up, raising my face towards the sun. I can feel its heat, I can feel the wind in my hair, I can feel-
I shot to my feet, my daydream vanishing back to the small tight living space I’d been existing in for an eternity now.
“What a fucking plague.” I muttered.
Another reason to dislike Gloria.
I didn’t ask for more Niko.
Okay, no, I did, curiosity and boredom got the better of me. But I thought it was fake. Or that I was dreaming. Who CARES.
It’s real and I don’t want it.
I’m fucking scared of it.
Guilt guilt guilt pride shame
A reason to like Gloria. She’s so eager to feed me anything I want.
But not him. I don’t want him. He’s tainted already.
Why would I worsen it?
I let out a humorless chuckle. “Do you even listen to yourself think? Shameful nonsensical coward.” I muttered, slamming my head against the wall.