- Unravel Me
“You,” I tell him, and I can hardly spit the words out. “You think you’re any better than The Reestablishment if you’re just using us—experimenting on us to further your cause—”
“MS. FERRARS!” Castle bellows. His eyes are flashing bright, too bright, and I realize everyone in this underground tunnel is now staring at us. His fingers are in fists at his sides and his jaw is unmistakably set and I feel Kenji’s hand on my back before I realize the earth is vibrating under my feet. The glass walls are beginning to tremble and Castle is planted right in the middle of everything, rigid, raw with anger and indignation and I remember that he has an impossibly advanced level of psychokinesis.
I remember that he can move things with his mind.
He lifts his right hand, palm splayed outward, and the glass panel not a few feet away begins to shake, shudder, and I realize I’m not even breathing.
“You do not want to upset me.” Castle’s voice is far too calm for his eyes. “If you have a problem with my methods, I would gladly invite you to state your claims in a rational manner. I will not tolerate you speaking to me in such a fashion. My concerns for the future of our world may be more than you can fathom, but you should not fault me for your own ignorance!” He drops his right hand and the glass buckles back just in time.
“My ignorance?” I’m breathing hard again. “You think because I don’t understand why you would subject anyone to—to this—” I wave a hand around the room. “You think that means I’m ignorant—?”
“Hey, Juliette, it’s okay—,” Kenji starts.
“Take her away,” Castle says. “Take her back to her training quarters.” He shoots an unhappy look at Kenji. “And you and I—we will discuss this later. What were you thinking, bringing her here? She’s not ready to see this—she can hardly even handle herself right now—”
I can’t handle this. I can’t hear anything but the sounds of machines beeping, screeching in my head, can’t see anything but Adam’s limp form lying on a thin mattress. I can’t stop imagining what he must’ve been going through, what he had to endure just to understand what he might be and I realize it’s all my fault.
It’s my fault he’s here, it’s my fault he’s in danger, it’s my fault Warner wants to kill him and Castle wants to test him and if it weren’t for me he’d still be living with James in a home that hasn’t been destroyed; he’d be safe and comfortable and free from the chaos I’ve introduced to his life.
I brought him here. If he’d never touched me none of this would’ve happened. He’d be healthy and strong and he wouldn’t be suffering, wouldn’t be hiding, wouldn’t be trapped 50 feet underground. He wouldn’t be spending his days strapped to a gurney.
It’s my fault it’s my fault it’s my fault it’s all my fault it’s all my fault
It’s like I’ve been stuffed full of twigs and all I have to do is bend and my entire body will break. All the guilt, the anger, the frustration, the pent-up aggression inside of me has found an outlet and now it can’t be controlled. Energy is coursing through me with a vigor I’ve never felt before and I’m not even thinking but I have to do something I have to touch something and I’m curling my fingers and bending my knees and pulling back my arm and
The earth fissures under my fingers and the reverberations surge through my being, ricocheting through my bones until my skull is spinning and my heart is a pendulum slamming into my rib cage. My eyesight fades in and out of focus and I have to blink a hundred times to clear it only to see a crack creaking under my feet, a thin line splintering the ground. Everything around me is suddenly off-balance. The stone is groaning under our weight and the glass walls are rattling and the machines are shifting out of place and the water is sloshing against its container and the people—
The people are frozen in terror and horror and the fear in their expressions rips me apart.
I fall backward, cradling my right fist to my chest and try to remind myself I am not a monster, I do not have to be a monster, I do not want to hurt people I do not want to hurt people I do not want to hurt people
and it’s not working.
Because it’s all a lie.
Because this was me, trying to help.
I look around.
At the ground.
At what I’ve done.
And I understand, for the first time, that I have the power to destroy everything.
Castle is limp.
His jaw is unhinged. His arms are slack at his sides, his eyes wide with worry and wonder and a sliver of intimidation and though he moves his lips he can’t seem to make a sound.
I feel like now might be a good time to jump off a cliff.
Kenji touches my arm and I turn to face him only to realize I’m petrified. I’m always waiting for him and Adam and Castle to realize that being kind to me is a mistake, that it’ll end badly, that I’m not worth it, that I’m nothing more than a tool, a weapon, a closet murderer.
But he takes my right fist in his hand so gently. Takes care not to touch my skin as he slips off the now-tattered leather glove and sucks in his breath at the sight of my knuckles. The skin is torn and blood is everywhere and I can’t move my fingers.
I realize I am in agony.
I blink and stars explode and a new torture rages through my limbs in such a hurry I can no longer speak.
d i s a p p e a r s
My mouth tastes like death.
I manage to pry my eyes open and immediately feel the wrath of hell ripping through my right arm. My hand has been bandaged in so many layers of gauze it’s rendered my 5 fingers immobile and I find I’m grateful for it. I’m so exhausted I don’t have the energy to cry.
Try to look around but my neck is too stiff.
Fingers brush my shoulder and I discover myself wanting to exhale. I blink again. Once more. A girl’s face blurs in and out of focus. I turn my head to get a better view and blink blink blink some more.
“How’re you feeling?” she whispers.
“I’m okay,” I say to the blur, but I think I’m lying. “Who are you?”
“It’s me,” she says. Even without seeing her clearly I can hear the kindness in her voice. “Sonya.”
Sara is probably here, too. I must be in the medical wing.
“What happened?” I ask. “How long have I been out?”
She doesn’t answer and I wonder if she didn’t hear me.
“Sonya?” I try to meet her eyes. “How long have I been sleeping?”
“You’ve been really sick,” she says. “Your body needed time—”
“How long?” My voice drops to a whisper.
I sit straight up and know I’m going to be sick.
Luckily, Sonya’s had the foresight to anticipate my needs. A bucket appears just in time for me to empty the meager contents of my stomach into it and then I’m dry-heaving into what is not my suit but some kind of hospital gown and someone is wiping a hot, damp cloth across my face.
Sonya and Sara are hovering over me, the hot cloths in their hands, wiping down my bare limbs, making soothing sounds and telling me I’m going to be fine, I just need to rest, I’m finally awake long enough to eat something, I shouldn’t be worried because there’s nothing to worry about and they’re going to take care of me.
But then I look more closely.
I notice their hands, so carefully sheathed in latex gloves; I notice the IV stuck in my arm; I notice the urgent but cautious way they approach me and then I realize the problem.
The healers can’t touch me.
They’ve never had to deal with a problem like me before.
Injuries are always treated by the healers. They can set broken bones and repair bullet wounds and revive collapsed lungs and mend even the worst kinds of cuts—I know this because Adam had to be carried into Omega Point on a stretcher when we arrived. He’d suffered at the hands of Warner and his men after we escaped the military base and I thought his body would be scarred forever. But he’s perfect. Brand-new. It took all of 1 day to put him back together; it was like magic.
But there are no magic medicines for me.
Sonya and Sara explain that I must’ve suffered some kind of immense shock. They say my body overloaded on its own abilities and it’s a miracle I even managed to survive. They also think my body has been passed out long enough to have repaired most of the psychological damage, though I’m not so sure that’s true. I think it’d take quite a lot to fix that sort of thing. I’ve been psychologically damaged for a very long time. But at least the physical pain has settled. It’s little more than a steady throbbing that I’m able to ignore for short periods of time.
I remember something.
“Before,” I tell them. “In Warner’s torture rooms, and then with Adam and the steel door—I never—this never happened—I never injured myself—”
“Castle told us about that,” Sonya tells me. “But breaking through one door or one wall is very different from trying to split the earth in two.” She attempts a smile. “We’re pretty sure this can’t even compare to what you did before. This was a lot stronger—we all felt it when it happened. We actually thought explosives had gone off. The tunnels,” she says. “They almost collapsed in on themselves.”
“No.” My stomach turns to stone.
“It’s okay,” Sara tries to reassure me. “You pulled back just in time.”
I can’t catch my breath.
“You couldn’t have known—,” Sonya starts.
“I almost killed—I almost killed all of you—”
Sonya shakes her head. “You have an amazing amount of power. It’s not your fault. You didn’t know what you were capable of.”
“I could’ve killed you. I could’ve killed Adam—I could’ve—” My head whips around. “Is he here? Is Adam here?”
The girls stare at me. Stare at each other.
I hear a throat clear and I jerk toward the sound.
Kenji steps out of the corner. He waves a half wave, offers me a crooked smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Sorry,” he says to me, “but we had to keep him out of here.”
“Why?” I ask, but I’m afraid to know the answer.
Kenji pushes his hair out of his eyes. Considers my question. “Well. Where should I begin?” He counts off on his fingers. “After he found out what happened, he tried to kill me, he went ballistic on Castle, he refused to leave the medical wing, and then he wou—”
“Please.” I stop him. I squeeze my eyes shut. “Never mind. Don’t. I can’t.”