Walking to the back of the lab, I didn’t care that nobody gave me a first glance, let alone a second – in fact, I was grateful for it; I didn’t want anybody to see me cry. Upon reaching the back of the large room, I held onto the metal bars that supported the tower, on which sat was my little hiding place. Swinging up through the bars, I reached the top.
I sat down with my back against the wall. I cried silently, just letting the tears fall and doing nothing to stop them.
“You know,” said a voice beside me, making me jump in surprise, “there’s no shame in letting others see your tears.”
It was Rider. I turned my face to him slightly. “What would you know about it?”
“I lost both my sisters,” he said calmly, though I could see traces of pain in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry.” I realised that losing both of your sisters was ultimately worse than losing someone you weren’t technically related to.
“It’s okay. It was seven years ago, when I was ten. So, tell me about yourself,” he said quietly, smiling gently at me.
“There honestly isn’t much to tell.”
“There’s always something to tell. We even have things to say about those who have shuffled off this mortal coil, have we not?”
I smiled. “Well, I like to read Shakespeare.”
“’How I may bear me here: my prime request, which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder, if you be maid or no?’” he quoted.
“’No wonder, sir, but certainly a maid’,” I responded.
“You like The Tempest?” he asked.
I nodded. “It’s one of my favourites.”
“I quite like Macbeth.”
“Are you going to tell me about you?” I asked curiously.
“I do believe you haven’t quite finished,” he smiled.
“Okay. Um, I’m an archer, mainly. I spend a lot of my time up here, usually being stared at by the new scientists.”
“And why should they not stare at pretty girls?” he asked, making me blush.
“They don’t stare at me because I’m pretty, which I most certainly am not. They stare at me because I’m a freak, a mutant.”
“A very pretty one though.” I gave him a look and he just smiled. “I digress. Do you not like being what you are?”
“I do, but it’s not that. I just don’t like the way they look at me.”
“They’re afraid of you, yes? They hate simply being in the same room as you? They’re just scared of you. All my life I have been subjugated by people who are merely scared. Humans have an uncanny knack at surviving – they’re like cockroaches – but they don’t realise it and despise the thought that they might be one day bested.”
I paused for a moment. “Are you really seventeen?”
“You don’t sound like it.”
“Hitler didn’t sound like a tyrant; Vance doesn’t sound like a murderer.” He thought for a moment. “Not quite the similarities I was hoping for, but the first things that come to mind.”