Rose Tinted, Page 3Shannen Crane Camp
“The catch that will get us killed. I’m assuming this is a Worker transport train meaning we’ll be riding with a bunch of super strong psychopaths who want us dead? So again, this is a plan that will probably result in Brynn dying.”
“Actually I think you guys are more likely to be killed,” Brynn corrected distantly, trying to go through everything in her mind and decide exactly how much she was willing to risk after her terrifying encounter in A1. “Eris wants me alive so she can torture me for information. So I’ll be fine,” she finished dryly.
“See? She’s fine,” Jonah told Ty with a grin.
“And how exactly do we sneak onto a train loaded with Workers who all probably have our faces memorized?” Ty asked.
“That’s where Amber and Bennett come in,” he answered, turning to face Brynn to gauge her feelings on the subject. “We can have them make our clothes and do our makeup so that we look like Workers. You said they’re pretty good with that kind of thing right?”
“I think they can do it,” Brynn agreed, thinking back to the boy she’d met in the club who wore purple contacts.
Suddenly this plan didn’t seem so outlandish. It was actually doable.
“So once we get over to Panurgic do we just start telling everyone their planet is actually one of three continents about to be destroyed and see who decides to help us?” Ty asked, sounding resigned to the fact that this plan was actually happening whether he went with them or not.
“That’s the brilliant part,” Jonah said. “Remember that I’m brilliant Brynn? Or has it been too long?” he added with a wink in her direction, instantly reminding Brynn of just why she loved being around Jonah so much.
“No, I definitely remember that you’re brilliant,” she said, causing Ty to make an irritated sound as he sat on the bed next to her, still trying to rub the green powdery dye from his blonde hair.
“Don’t worry Ty, you’ll learn soon enough of my brilliance,” Jonah assured him seriously. “A1 has a list of people in Panurgic who have been causing trouble. They’re like rebels trying to start an uprising.”
“So is this like a hit list?” Brynn asked, wondering if she would be on that list for Halcyon if it existed.
“It’s a hit list for them and a grocery list for us. They basically made a list of every person we need to contact in Panurgic,” Jonah finished, sounding almost giddy with the idea.
Though the thought that the Workers were keeping lists of troublemakers was less than comforting, Brynn had to admit that it worked in their favor.
“Does the list give you any idea of where we can find these people?” she asked, becoming more and more excited with the prospect of being able to take down A1 before they destroyed her continent.
“They’re all over the place but the biggest concentration of people is in The Moor which, conveniently enough, is pretty much right next to the train’s final destination from Halcyon to Panurgic.”
“Let me see!” Brynn exclaimed, presenting her upturned palms to Jonah so that he could deposit the list there.
“So here’s the problem,” he began hesitantly, lowering Brynn’s hands for her. “I took a picture of the list with my tablet and my tablet is now useless after that Worker smashed it against the wall.”
This declaration brought back Brynn’s recollection of the fuzzy message Jonah had sent them after escaping from A1 and she couldn’t believe she had forgotten to ask about the most troubling part of his escape.
“When did that happen?” she asked. “Was it when you were in the facility?”
“I wish,” Jonah replied. “I escaped through the tunnels under A1 in one of those small transport cars. Escaping was actually no problem, which seems a little backwards. Staying away from the Workers once I was out of the facility was the hard part. It seemed like they were patrolling every street in Central Wildwood for at least a week after we escaped.
“As soon as I felt I had gotten away, I went into a dark alley to record that message for you guys. As I was finishing up my instructions this Worker walks over to me and hits the tablet out of my hands and into the brick wall, completely destroying it.”
“I bet I can fix it,” Ty remarked in a way that would seem cocky if it were anyone but Ty saying it.
Jonah ignored his statement and continued.
“It was two male Workers. They were both dressed in white and looked like they had come straight from A1. They asked me who I was sending a message to and why I had blood all over my face. I’m assuming that I was pretty unrecognizable from the boy they had tortured in the facility all covered in crimson liquid,” Jonah said, smirking sideways despite the grim implications of what he was saying. “It made a perfect face mask.”
“What did you tell them?” Brynn asked, sitting up to meet Jonah’s icy blue eyes.
“I told them the injuries were from a climbing accident. I could see them exchanging glances like they didn’t believe me. After all, the Workers aren’t idiots, but by that time my blood streaked clothing was amassing quite the crowd from the people of Central Wildwood. Obviously the Workers couldn’t just say, ‘Come with us to our secret facility so we can kill you off in private’, so they insisted that I go to the hospital with them.
“I knew they were just trying to take me back to A1 so I grabbed my tablet and made a big deal about saying I could walk to the hospital on my own. I made a point of staying in sight of the crowd of people so they couldn’t take me away. The second I rounded a corner out of their sight, I took off,” he said.
“Could you really outrun them? They’re so fast,” Brynn said in disbelief, remembering her own encounter with the impossibly fast Eris.
“I knew I couldn’t outrun them for long, so I climbed up a rain gutter onto the roof of one of the cafés and made my way back to a hotel. I could see them running down alleys below me. They were barely trying to hide the fact that they were looking for someone. Their desperation scared me enough to get out of Central Wildwood right away so I left you guys a note and got out of there on the next train,” Jonah finished.
“I thought they had killed you,” Brynn said, her voice haunted as she rested her head on Jonah’s shoulder.
“I was worried you might get that impression,” he admitted sheepishly. “I just didn’t have many options for getting in touch with you guys.”
“You’re safe now. That’s what really matters,” she said. “Why don’t you give Ty your tablet to see if he can fix it?”
“If,” Ty repeated with a roll of his eyes.
“Let me rephrase. Why don’t you give Ty your tablet so that he can fix it for you with his endless supply of technological knowledge and we can get that list? Better?”
“Much,” Ty said with a smile, green powder staining his cheeks from his attempt to remove the color from his hair.
Jonah reluctantly handed his damaged tablet over to Ty, who looked like he had just gotten the best present he could ever receive; the gift of broken technology that needed fixing by him. He wasted no time as he took the hard black case off of the tablet and began fiddling with wires that were a foreign language to Brynn.
“So, what about that third continent?” Brynn asked, not able to recall the name of it.
“Arcadian?” Jonah offered, to which Brynn nodded. “I don’t really think they’ll be of much use to us. From what I could tell, their whole continent is one giant food source. All they have are fields with agricultural crops growing and pastures with animals grazing. I get the feeling Arcadian is where most of our food comes from.”
“It’s amazing to me that there are two other continents on this planet whose sole purpose is to make food and raw materials for us,” Brynn said with a shake of her head. “I’ve never felt so spoiled in my life.”
“We’re not supposed to realize we’re spoiled,” Ty mumbled from his position beside Brynn where he sat bent over Jonah’s tablet with a determined look in his eye, his quick and intelligent fingers flying over di
fferent panels within the inner workings of the hard drive. “We’re supposed to think it’s normal not to work.”
“We’re not supposed to be curious,” Brynn whispered, needing to say what she didn’t want Ty to know.
She hadn’t found a way to bring up everything she had learned within A1 to Ty. Her main concern being the fact that Eris had somehow found a way to suppress curiosity in people.
The part that was the most troubling, however, was the fact that Brynn and Jonah were overly curious while Ty seemed content to live a life of compliant happiness, just like Eris wanted him to. She couldn’t quite figure out the link that made her and Jonah so different but she did know that Ty’s lack of curiosity was a troubling detail she needed to work out.
As she pondered on this thought, a sharp pain shot through Brynn’s head, sending her off of the bed and to her knees on the floor. She clasped one hand over her forehead and closed her eyes until the pain suddenly subsided and she was able to see once more.
“Brynn, are you okay?” Jonah asked, worry lining his voice.
“Another headache?” Ty asked, already knowing the answer.
Brynn nodded but didn’t speak, still feeling a few residual throbs from her sudden attack.
“Another?” Jonah asked, not quite following.
“Brynn’s been having headaches ever since we left A1,” Ty explained, helping Brynn off of the floor and back onto the bed, always keeping a wary eye on her.
“It’s nothing,” she assured them even as she tried not to wince at one of the aftershocks of her pain.
“It’s something Brynn,” Ty insisted. “She gets them a few times a day along with dizzy spells and blurred vision. That’s not a coincidence.”
“And it’s been happening ever since you escaped from A1?” Jonah asked, trying to be calculating about the situation.
“Ever since Eris injected me with that medicine,” Brynn answered, rubbing her head as the pain finally subsided. “You don’t think it was poison do you?”
“I don’t think poisoning you will benefit her much,” Jonah said. “I think you might just have some lasting effects from the stress and trauma of everything that happened.”
“I think it’s more than that,” Ty said quietly behind them. “Not that anyone in this room cares about their own well-being.”
“We’ll keep an eye on when they happen to see if it’s a situational thing. Just keep us up to date,” Jonah concluded, shooting Ty an annoyed look for his comment. “In the meantime, Brynn why don’t you contact Bennett and Amber and have them come meet us here so we can discuss Worker disguises, Ty you keep doing what you do best, and I’ll get to researching the eastern coast to find the best route out of the city to our little escape tunnel.”
“Ty, how does that sound to you?” Brynn asked, wanting to know if Ty was completely on board or just a prisoner held in the group against his will.
“Sounds like a much better plan than sit here and wait to be terminated,” he answered.
Chapter 4: Backtrack
Something was off about the state Brynn found herself in as she slowly opened her eyes in the stark white room. Ever since her excursion into A1, her nightmares featuring Eris had become blurry and unstable, almost as if Rachel’s memories were crumbling around her.
The first troubling fact that offered her little relief during her one-sided conversations with the psychologically unstable Worker, was that she had become self-aware within her nightmares. Though she took comfort in the fact that Eris couldn’t actually kill her within the dream state, she still had no control over her body or voice and was forced to witness whatever memory she was pulling from her subconscious with no way to run or wake herself up.
The second troubling fact in this particular case, was the fact that Brynn was not strapped to a table, drugged, or confined in a small glass cylinder like she normally was. Though most people would find this calming, Brynn only became suspicious of her surroundings.
Brynn’s nightmares had been haunting her ever since she was a little girl, but never once had she been sitting in a room of her own free will. Eris was nowhere in sight, though Brynn had no doubt the woman would appear within the room soon enough, revealing some new mechanism of torture or story about Rachel’s friends who Eris had destroyed.
Taking an uncharacteristic moment to take in her surroundings, Brynn couldn’t help but notice the lack of menace in the room. It looked almost as if she were sitting in a hotel room where the decorator had possessed a certain love for a white color pallet.
Floor to ceiling every wall, chair, and sheet was a stark shade of white that gave Brynn (or Rachel as the memory suggested) a dull headache. Had she had control over her own voice, Brynn would have groaned loudly at the fact that she was inevitably going to have another confrontation with Eris in her sleep in the too bright room.
The door to her room opened and the walls shifted for a moment, looking like a video on her wall screen that hadn’t loaded properly and was now skipping. This was an odd glitch in her nightmares that had become routine since leaving A1 and she had to wonder if Eris had somehow damaged her mind when she’d slammed Brynn against the wall of the facility.
“How are you doing, Rachel?” the woman asked as she sat in a chair opposite Brynn, stunning her with her lack of menace or sharp objects.
It was almost as if Eris, in her infinite perniciousness, was playing one last mind-game with Brynn by pretending she wasn’t two seconds away from killing her at any given moment, depending on her mood. Brynn half wondered if Rachel would actually speak in this memory since none of the normal rules of her nightmares seemed to be applying at the moment.
“Still in shock?” Eris asked, something in her voice almost sounding like sympathy.
If anything, it sounded more like a robot who had been trained to inflect sympathy but didn’t quite understand the heart behind it. Eris awkwardly reached out and placed a paper white hand on Brynn’s arm, then immediately withdrew it, as if the kind action physically pained her.
“I understand that you haven’t been talking to any of the scientists in my department,” Eris went on, keeping her terrifying purple eyes trained on Brynn’s.
She watched her like a hawk but didn’t let the cruel half smile that she usually wore show through.
“I appreciate that you feel very alone right now. What happened was a terrible accident and what we should take from all of this is how lucky you are that you weren’t in the room with your colleagues when the gas leak started,” Eris said, forgetting to act out a few physical cues that she was actually sorry.
“I think that the most important thing that you can do right now to honor their memory, is make sure we avoid any future accidents.” She waited for a moment, expecting Rachel to respond.
Had Brynn had control over the dream she would have gladly agreed, just to get herself as far away from Eris as she could. But as it stood, she was trapped in the ever silent body of the girl who wouldn’t speak no matter what the Angel did to her.
Eris narrowed her eyes in frustration for a moment, the façade of ‘caring coworker’ melting away for a moment.
“I apologize for breaking the news to you in such a… harsh way. The freezer was a bit much. But you have to understand that until we did our research, we couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t you who had deliberately caused the gas leak.”
Brynn braced herself for the wrath of Eris but was happily surprised to see the woman exercise great self-control by taking a deep breath, smiling, and continuing with her speech.
“Rachel, we know about your transmission,” she began, sounding like a parent admitting that they saw their daughter kissing a boy on their front doorstep, instead of a psychopath who knew she had sent a video revealing all of their secrets to an unknown location somewhere on the planet. “While I can respect the fact that you’ve… fallen off the wagon, shall we say? You have to understand that the millions of people who funded this little experiment may not agree wi
th you, and you owe it to them to let me know what else you did.”
Eris watched her for a moment, her frustration obviously growing with the silence that met each and every one of her questions. She opened her mouth as if to speak again but stopped short, instead opening a folder she held in her hands that Brynn hadn’t noticed before. Her purple eyes flew over the page for a moment before she snapped the folder closed once more.
“We’re willing to send you home, Rachel,” Eris stated simply.
At this one sentence, Brynn felt her stomach flip flop, though she couldn’t be sure if it was really her and her own residual homesickness seeping into her dream, or if this was actually a reaction on Rachel’s part.
“We’ll pardon what you did and get you home right away,” she repeated, carefully watching Rachel’s reaction. “Unless of course, you can’t go home for some reason.” Her eyes no longer held their false sympathy, she now looked much more like the Eris Brynn was used to; cunning, masochistic, and undeniably unnerving.
“Did you sabotage our way home Rachel?”
Once again, Brynn could feel the little flip flop in her stomach but the confines of her own nightmare forced her to remain silent. After a brief moment of silence, Eris stood from her chair and began walking back towards the door, turning to look back at Brynn once more before she left.
“I tried doing things your way like they suggested,” she said nonchalantly. “It didn’t work now did it?”
Brynn could feel her skin tingling as the walls shifted once more, leaving Eris as the only still spot in her vision.
“Be ready to change rooms tomorrow. From now on we’ll do things my way.”
Chapter 5: Suspicions
Jonah lounged on the bed in the hotel room frantically swiping his finger over the screen of his newly fixed tablet. Despite the fact that the tablet was practically broken in two, Ty managed to repair it in only two days, reigniting Jonah’s fervor for finding the cave where the Worker transport train was hidden. He poured over the pictures he had taken inside of A1, memorizing countless maps and instructions.