The Nite-Hood: Freedom and it's Costs

Fire. Wind. Ice. Lightning. Earth.
Together they are invincible...
Together they are whole...
But what happens when one limb is torn away?

I was flying freely through the cotton candy clouds, grabbing a handful then stuffing the pink fluff into my mouth, smiling as it quickly dissolved into grains of sugar. I was about to grab another patch when a huge arm came racing down and slapped my hand away. I ignored it, content on getting my cotton candy before it faded since it was already getting lighter.

But the hand came again, this time also shouting my name. Agitated, I tried to fly around it, and believe it or not, I began crying when the cloud fluttered away. You know, it’s only once in a lifetime you actually live in your dreams. And I’ve never had cotton candy.

 

Suddenly, something slimy and cold trickled down my neck. Gasping, I jumped up, and everything faded: the beautiful sky and the cotton candy cloud, into the dark stinky chamber. I sighed heavily. I was back to life. My horrible life.

But it was still dark, and I could hear the soft snores coming from Berry and Sugar. Then who had awakened me?

“Alex! Get up,” Someone urgently whispered behind me. I knew that voice.

Grinning broadly, I turned around and wrapped my arms around Mary. She was the only light in this dark dungeon. She was the only thing that held hope while everyone and everything else seemed hopeless and doomed. They locked us up and abused us. She would sneak in with food and take us outside to walk around for a while and teach us. She was like our mom and the only reason I hadn’t killed myself. But more on that later.

“Mary! What are you doing here?” I giggled, drunk from delight to see her.

But her face appeared sullen and worried in the dim light escaping through the locked shutters. “Alex, get up and wake everyone up. You have to go.”

I blinked, confused. “Go where? Why?” Of course I knew what she meant but I just needed to make sure. You know, kinda live the moment.

Mary looked behind her shoulder as she unbuckled the shackles clamped around my ankle, as if afraid the Sabers would pop in any second, then stared pleadingly back at me, her brown eyes slightly watering. Or maybe I was just imagining it. “Look, don’t ask questions. Just wake up the other girls and grab what you need and meet me outside the room.” And like that, she vanished into the shadows.

Alright, I lived the moment, now time for the action.

From all the years I spent growing up with Mary, I learnt to trust her and to act quickly. Jumping to my feet, the shackles dropping to the floor, making a quiet tingling sound, I ran to Hanna, the closest one to me. I bent and began undoing her handcuffs. Just as I plucked the key out, she was already up and waking towards Sugar and little Janie.That’s my girl, I thought proudly. Hanna was always the quiet, mysterious one, always alert like a cat, and we practically read each others minds. She never questioned me, just silently obeyed, even though she was only 16, a year younger than me.

I tiptoed to Berry who lay sprawled on the cold floor, her legs outstretched. After throwing the chains away from her bony leg, I immediately began shaking her vigorously. That probably sounds like a harsh thing to do to a 10 year old, but man, Berry could sleep through a plane crash.

I shook her again, hissing her name, trying to make her wake up. But it was no hope. Suddenly, a hand touched my shoulder, and I jumped, despite myself. Hanna’s large green eyes motioned for me to move. I got up and noticed Janie was leaning against the wall clutching her dress. Sugar was standing in the corner, a large bag around her shoulder, vigilant and ready. Jeez, for twins, Sugar and Berry sure are opposites.

I walked up to Janie and ruffled her blonde curls. She looked up at me and smiled.

“What’s happening, Alex?” She asked, her small 7 year old squeaky voice echoing across the walls, her face starch white as if she saw a ghost. But that’s how she always was. Very white. My little blonde snow-white.

I knew that question was coming. “Um, Mary wants us outside. I think we’re leaving.”

Janie’s blue eyes lit up, which made my heart melt. She was such a sweet little girl, and yet she’s been through so much. I’ll never forgive the people here at the Institute, even if they came bowing and kissing my feet.

But we were leaving. Just like that. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I could see Sugar doing the same.

Several minutes later, Hanna returned, like a dark shadow, with Berry clumsily shuffling behind her.

“Alex?” Berry called out, her voice deep and scratchy from sleep. Her thick afro was pointing out in several directions which reminded me to grab a comb.

“Yes, sweetie?”

“If this is a joke, I’m going to kill you.”

I coughed. “It’s not me who you’ll kill, but Mary. So shut up and be grateful we bothered taking you with us,”

Berry rolled her eyes. She knew I couldn’t live without her. That was my weakness. When the five of us were together, I felt the strength of Godzilla. But when someone was missing, it felt as if a limb was torn out of my body.

Suddenly Mary stuck her head through the doorway and smiled at us.

“Now follow me,” She whispered, motioning with her hand to keep silent. We complied, Hanna walking first with Sugar and Berry at tow then me and Janie last.

We walked down three corridors before reaching to the very back of the five story building. Three Sabers were out cold on the floor. I raised my eyebrows at Mary and she winked at me. There was a baseball bat next to one of them. Ouch.

“Now, I’d better get back before my boss gets suspicious,” Mary said quickly, making us stand in a line so she could look at us on last time: Me, with my long curly red hair and my pale skin and dark eyes, Hanna, with her short boy-styled black hair and tanned skin, Sugar and Berry with their dark bony faces and thick brown afros, and finally, Janie, with her blonde hair and blue eyes. A single tear slithered down her high cheekbone. She grabbed my hand and stared deep into my eyes with such intensity I felt like I was about to burst out crying too. But I never cried in front of my little family. Well technically, they’re not my family, but I like to think so.

“Alex, promise me you’ll do your best to take care of yourself and everyone,” She whispered, her voice quivering.

I nodded, biting my bottom lip nervously. “But what are we supposed to do?! Where are we…”

Mary gently closed my lips with her finger. “You can’t stay here. They’re planning to sell you all to a… place where they want to use you in some way to do something very bad, and then kill you. I have to stay here, to get enough information and proof. You need to go to Arizona in…”

She never got to finish her sentence. Apparently, one of the Sabers had woken up and set the alarms off. I stared at Mary in terror.

“Go!” Mary yelled, letting go of my hand. “Follow your heart, Alex! It will always guide you!” Then she blew us kisses and disappeared back into the hallway, yelling to the Sabers that she saw us leave through the front door. My Mary.

I looked at Hanna and she looked back at me over the blaring red of the alarms. We nodded at each other. We had to do this. Mary risked her life for this. We can’t let her down.

I grabbed Janie’s hand and together the five of us ran down the last corridor. A large door came into view and Hanna bravely pushed it open and all of us scrambled out…

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