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Rose Tinted, Page 2

Shannen Crane Camp

  Jonah silently weaved through the busy streets expertly and Brynn began to wonder if that was just the way he moved. Back in the Seaside library, she had been amazed at how confidently he passed through the dusty shelves of books. He always seemed to know where he was going.

  After several blocks they came to a large building that Brynn guessed was a hotel, though it was difficult to tell since the sign simply read Respite.

  “It’s so weird that all of the buildings here have names,” Brynn commented as they walked through the nearly empty lobby towards a long hallway. “How are you supposed to know this is a hotel if it doesn’t say Hotel on the building?” she asked Jonah.

  He simply shrugged at her question before opening the door to a very large hotel room that looked more like a home. It had two large beds, a couch, a wall screen, a small kitchen and bathroom; pretty much anything you’d need in a home.

  “Fancy,” Brynn said, whistling at their lavish surroundings.

  “How can you check into a hotel?” Ty asked him, ignoring the extravagant room. “Aren’t you worried the Workers will come after you when they see your name and ID number pop up in the system?”

  “I really think you guys are overreacting about the whole Worker thing,” Jonah said in a devil-may-care way, though he quickly explained himself at the incredulous looks he got. “I mean, I know they’re horrible and tried to murder us, but I honestly don’t think they’re after us. If they were we’d already be dead. I have no doubt in my mind.”

  Jonah’s confidence was contagious, but even he couldn’t convince Brynn that they were safe.

  “What if we’re just really good at staying off the grid?” Brynn suggested, almost sheepishly because even as she said it, she realized how childish it sounded.

  “I don’t think we should go around announcing where we are by any means. But I don’t think they’re going to suddenly appear and kill us at any moment.”

  “Why wouldn’t they?” Ty asked. “Don’t you think they’re worried about us exposing them?”

  “If you hadn’t weaseled your way into our little adventure and Brynn came back to Seaside a week later telling you everything that had happened would you believe her?” Jonah asked. “Honestly.” He added at Ty’s indignant expression.

  Ty glanced over at Brynn, studying her face and looking guilty. “Probably not,” he admitted finally.

  “Definitely not,” Brynn emphasized with a laugh.

  “Exactly. I don’t think they’re too worried about us exposing them. Who would believe us?” Jonah said with a smirk.

  The boy from the library was nothing if not confident. Even with the biggest secret known to man resting on his shoulders, he still found time to laugh at the people who had created an entire world. His assured nature was irreverent, and Brynn loved it.

  “So, what? They’re just letting us go after all of that?” Ty asked skeptically.

  “No they’ll definitely kill us if they get the chance. I’m just saying I don’t think they’re obsessively watching the city computers waiting for us to show up. We should still be careful, we just shouldn’t lose too much sleep over it,” he said. “But on that note, I reserved the hotel under Bennett’s ID number,” Jonah finished with a grin.

  “Oh she’ll love that,” Brynn said, already imagining Bennett getting flustered over the fact that Jonah remembered her ID number.

  “Where have you guys been staying if you’re not in hotels?” Jonah asked, seeming very interested in this little detail of Brynn and Ty’s adventure.

  “Various places,” Ty responded, not sounding as if he wanted to elaborate as he rubbed the green powdery hair color out of his eyebrows.

  “Some café storage rooms and hotel basements,” Brynn clarified. “It’s been pretty classy.”

  “And you’ve been getting the interesting costumes… where?”

  “It helps having friends in Seaside so willing to put together crazy ensembles,” Brynn said with a smirk that matched Jonah’s, finding that she was smiling for the first time in weeks.

  Even with the constant threat of Eris and the other hundreds of Workers around the city looming over them, Brynn felt better about the whole situation now that Jonah was with them. His unbound knowledge put her at ease.

  Brynn pulled her blue wig off, letting her long black hair fan out across her shoulders as she fell backwards onto the soft bed, grateful for the luxury of a real room, which she had sorely missed over the past two weeks. Jonah sat next to her, gingerly placing one of his long fingers over the angry red scar on his cheek and instantly drawing Brynn’s attention to it. The blemish didn’t mar his beautiful face at all. Instead it made it seem more interesting where others would only look damaged.

  “How did you escape?” Brynn asked as she brought her hand up to Jonah’s cheek lightly, feeling where the red skin raised up into a welt.

  It was a mark of what she had unwittingly gotten him into and she wondered if it would ever heal completely. It seemed that with their advanced medicine, a small cut would be easy to get rid of, even living off the grid. Even Brynn’s broken arm had healed quickly with smuggled pills.

  “They wouldn’t have just let you go unless they really thought you were dead.” Ty shuddered with some unspoken memory of their short time in A1, wordlessly asking Jonah to explain his mysterious escape from the place that had affected each of them so differently.

  As Brynn and Ty sat raptly at attention, waiting with bated breath for an explanation of Jonah’s impossible feat, Brynn wondered if they had ever really left A1, or if their journey inside would leave them mentally trapped there forever.

  Chapter 2: Escape

  “When I first got into the elevator in A1 and the door closed behind me, I knew we were in trouble,” Jonah began, getting the faraway look in his eyes that he often did while deeply contemplating something. “There were so many floors to choose from and there was no way we’d all be able to read your mind, Brynn, as much as you may think we can.” At this statement he smirked. “So, I just tried to think of what you would choose and went with that.

  “Turns out, the third floor of the third test was actually a really bad choice because there were Workers everywhere. I mean literally everywhere.” Jonah shook his head at the memory, almost looking like it was amusing to him that he had such bad luck.

  “Did they notice you right away?” Brynn asked, her eyes wide as she listened to his story in horror and recalling how unnaturally empty the hallways were on her floor.

  “Well, the elevator doors opened. I saw all of the Workers. I tried to push the button on the door to close it again without being noticed, and right as the door started to close, this paper white hand grabbed the edge and forced it back open. It was honestly terrifying. I can’t believe how strong this woman was,” Jonah said.

  “What did she look like?” Brynn asked, not having any doubt in her mind that the Angel he spoke of was Eris.

  “She had this weird white skin, purple eyes, and short blonde hair. Well… sort of blonde. It almost looked white actually,” he responded.

  “It was her,” Brynn whispered assuredly.

  The short amount of time she’d spent with the Angel from her nightmares was enough to instill a deep and crippling fear of the woman. Her dreams had always suggested that Eris was dangerous, but until Brynn met her in person, she hadn’t realized that the woman was a deranged sociopath.

  Jonah didn’t ask any questions about who Brynn was referring to. He and Ty were well aware of Brynn’s constant nightmares about the woman who tortured her for information she didn’t have. Instead he continued on with his story.

  “She ripped open the metal elevator door with one hand. Just ripped right through it like it was a piece of paper,” Jonah said with a shudder. “Then she pulled me out into the control room and asked where you were Brynn.”

  This caught Brynn off guard. She hadn’t expected Eris to automatically know she was in the facility just by seeing Jonah. This only adde
d to Brynn’s suspicions that Eris had been monitoring Brynn long before she showed up at A1’s front door.

  “Did you tell her where Brynn was?” Ty asked, always ready to suspect the worst in Jonah.

  “Yeah, Ty. I just said, ‘Oh she’s on the third floor with this other boy. How about you go kill them instead of me’,” Jonah remarked sarcastically. “No I didn’t tell her anything. I said I had no idea what she was talking about and that I had gotten lost.”

  “I bet she saw right through that,” Brynn said.

  “Oh, she did.”

  “Honestly I think she knew who you were long before you got to the facility,” Brynn explained. Jonah looked carefully concerned for a moment, trying to read Brynn’s meaning in her face. “I think they were monitoring me for a while, so they knew what we were up to the whole time,” she elaborated.

  “I think you’re right. I can’t imagine after seeing that place that they had no idea what we were doing. That probably didn’t help my case when I decided to lie to their psychopathic leader.

  “She didn’t even ask me any more questions. She just brought me into this white room that looked like a hospital and strapped me to a metal table. At first I thought she’d leave me there, but then her little minions came into the room with these surgical knives on a tray.

  “I guess by that point I was still hoping she was about to leave the room at any minute and forget all about me.”

  “But she didn’t?” Brynn guessed.

  “She used the knives as a way to get me to talk. She said she’d start between my fingers, because it seemed like a waste to mark my face.”

  Jonah involuntarily brought his hand up to the scar on his cheekbone once more.

  It was obvious to Brynn that she hadn’t stopped with his hands.

  “She eventually got frustrated with the fact that I wouldn’t say anything and she lashed out. I’m guessing she was trying to hit me, but instead she sort of clawed me and her fingernail cut my cheek open.”

  “Is that where that scar came from?” Brynn asked, her eyes locked on the red shiny skin on his face.

  “I swear she’s got to have some sort of poison or something in her nails. This is the only cut I got in that place that won’t heal properly. I stole some medicine from them before I escaped, figuring that if you guys were still alive, then you’d probably need it,” he said with a shrug. “It worked perfectly fine on the cuts she made with the knives. The only one it won’t seem to heal all the way is the wound from her nail.”

  “So we’ll just add that to the list of creepy things this woman is capable of,” Ty said in a resigned sort of way.

  “Consider it done,” Brynn responded. “So what happened after that? Why didn’t she kill you?”

  “Thanks for sounding so disappointed about my escape,” Jonah joked, showing his true colors for a brief moment before he turned serious again to continue explaining.

  “I think she would have killed me, but right after she scratched my face, her and all of the other Workers just froze, as if they could hear some alarm I couldn’t hear.”

  “Like a dog whistle,” Ty added helpfully.

  “Exactly,” Jonah agreed. “Then the woman turned to the other Workers and told them to deal with me. She said it was time for her to go have some fun.”

  At this statement Jonah turned to look at Brynn, assuming that the ‘fun’ Eris had left for, was torturing Brynn. Brynn simply moved her gaze to the ground, trying not to remember that particular encounter with Eris.

  “What did the other Workers do to you?” Ty asked, trying to shift the attention away from Brynn.

  “Killed me,” Jonah said nonchalantly, as if he were saying they had offered him a plate of cookies. “I don’t think the other Workers are as psychotic as that woman--.”

  “Eris,” Brynn corrected.

  “Yes, Eris,” Jonah agreed. “I think they just do what they’re told but they don’t have the same relish for killing people that she does, so they tried to make quick work of me. They injected some sort of warm liquid into my veins and dumped me in this dark, cold room really far under the facility.”

  “Did the walls look like they were made out of stone?” Ty asked, obviously remembering some detail from their own escape that Brynn couldn’t recall because of the effects of the drug Eris had given her.

  “Yeah, they did.”

  “Is that how you got out? Did you find a tunnel there?” Ty pressed.

  “There were a bunch of tunnels there, so I just hoped my good luck would stay with me, and I just picked the one closest to me,” Jonah explained. “But I didn’t go through the tunnel right away. Whatever they had injected into me messed me up way too much so I took one of those pills with the Nano particles in them, hoping they would target the poison in my system and get rid of it.”

  “I’m guessing it worked?” Brynn asked.

  “Must have,” Jonah said with a raise of his eyebrows and a grin. “It took a while for the world to stop spinning and for my body to stop burning, but once that acid left my veins I was pretty good. The stupid pill just knocked me out for a few hours.”

  “Maybe that’s why they assumed you were dead,” Brynn suggested. “They gave you a lethal injection then left you in a tunnel where you didn’t move for hours. Sounds about right to me.”

  “I just have all the luck, don’t I? Once I woke up it was like the facility was empty. It was weird. I thought about taking the tunnel wherever it might go, but I wasn’t going to leave that bizarre place without any answers so I got right back on the elevator and rode it to the records room.”

  “This is exactly why I think you and Brynn aren’t good for each other. She would have done the exact same thing and I’d have to be the rational one saying, ‘let’s not do that. The Angel will try to kill us’,” Ty said with a deep, long-suffering sigh.

  “That’s why we keep you around, Ty,” Jonah said with a smirk, “To make sure we stay grounded.”

  “Thanks for that,” he replied sarcastically.

  “Well we definitely don’t keep you around for your sense of adventure,” Brynn joked, trying to lighten the mood Jonah’s terrifying story was casting.

  “Anyway,” Jonah interjected, obviously excited about the next part of his story. “When I got to the records room I learned some pretty interesting stuff that I think you guys might want in on.”

  “Our planet is actually one of three continents,” Brynn said automatically.

  “We’re actually just a test to find the perfect society and Halcyon is one button push away from termination because they’ve learned all they can from us,” Ty added in an equally dry voice.

  “You guys really know how to steal a person’s thunder,” Jonah remarked grumpily. “Well, if you’re so smart do you know how we stop our imminent death?”

  At this, both Brynn and Ty were silent, instantly causing Jonah to smile triumphantly at them.

  “That’s what I thought.”

  “What is it?” Brynn pressed.

  “Don’t let me tell you. You guys both know everything already don’t you?”

  “Just tell us,” Ty said, quickly losing interest in Jonah’s game.

  “Panurgic,” he said simply.

  “I told you!” Brynn practically shouted at Ty. “Didn’t I say we had to get to Panurgic because they could help us figure everything out?”

  “Yeah, you said that and the other crazy person in this room agrees with you. Doesn’t it tell you something that the one unanimously elected sane person here doesn’t think that’s a good idea?”

  “Doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea,” Brynn answered stubbornly. “It’s our only idea.”

  “Well it’s not technically our only idea. The other idea is we do nothing and either the Workers find us and kill us or we wait for Halcyon to be wiped out,” Jonah said sarcastically. “So there’s always another option.”

  “You two are impossible to deal with sometimes,” Ty responded with a shake of h
is head. “Fine. Go ahead and make some crazy plan and I’ll follow along like an idiot on an ‘adventure’ that will probably get me killed.”

  “You don’t have to come you know,” Jonah pointed out.

  “Don’t sound so eager, Jonah. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

  “So how do we get to Panurgic?” Brynn interjected loudly, trying to stop the boys from getting too far into their testosterone fuelled standoff.

  It took Jonah a minute to realize that Brynn had spoken and he reluctantly turned his harried gaze from Ty.

  “The same way we get anywhere Brynn: Trains.”

  Chapter 3: Underground

  No one could have guessed the conversation one simple word could spark until Jonah uttered the exact word to spark it: Trains. The idea of trying to get back on a train frightened Brynn more than she wanted to admit, though she was sure this time they wouldn’t be leaping from the speeding vehicle. She had managed the train ride from Central Wildwood to Eastern Metropolis with only a few mild panic attacks, though being locked in the small bathroom smashed between Ty and the train wall hadn’t helped her claustrophobia any.

  “So what, are we just going to hop onto a train that rides across the ocean?” Ty asked skeptically.

  “Always so cynical,” Jonah replied calmly, looking like a cat who had caught a mouse; hiding his satisfied smile. “There happens to be a transport train that goes under the ocean from one continent to the other.”

  “You’re kidding,” Brynn said in awe. “It goes under the water? Is that even possible?”

  “Apparently,” Jonah answered with a shrug.

  “And how exactly did you figure this out?” Ty asked him, still never losing the doubt in his voice.

  “In the records room,” he answered triumphantly. “The tunnel starts right on the outskirts of Eastern Metropolis so all we have to do is sneak on the train.”

  “And there it is,” Ty said, raising his hands into the air in exasperation and letting them fall back onto his legs with a slap.