35 - Transformation

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//here on is being edited.//

I wake up and find myself enclosed by four blazing red walls. The smell of roses travels smoothly into my nose as I come to and take in the familiar space. I glance around, concentrating on the overwhelming amount of flowers outlining the perimeter of my room. Roses. Poinsettias. Poppies. They overtake my thought process and practically yank me out of bed with the desire to be sniffed. I sit up, but a noise keeps me from standing.

My door opens with a high-pitched ding and in strolls Brink appearing fresher than he ever has. He doesn't come off so rigid now, but instead floats in relaxed. His eyes are vibrant and there's something about his movements that belts out enthusiasm with a megaphone. Brink progresses toward me with a smirk, silently transmitting our secret of last night to me. "Hello beautiful," he greets in a muted voice that's more unperturbed than I've ever heard it.

I can't help but blush at his compliment. My cheeks involuntarily heat up as a smile spreads out on my lips. "Hi."

He reaches my side and something in his eyes switches. They seem to turn business-as-usual. "How are you doing this morning?" Brink wonders, a lessened devious smile still lingering in his expression that propels me to lean into him. I miss his body next to mine. His hands on my skin. I go for a kiss, but he instantly denies me. Suddenly our restrictions resurface in my head, blocking me like a prison wall. I can feel the shock of rejection but can't blame him. He's being careful. I guess we're back to pretending our relationship doesn't exist.

"Get ready and meet the rest of us in the Center, okay?" He speaks as if none of it hurts him. The rules don't bother him. He doesn't even mention it.

I nod slowly and he rotates around so quickly he can't even see my frown. He leaves without a formal goodbye, and I stare blankly after him with a sense of longing. I gawk at the door, flustered, but let it pass.

On another note, how does he expect me to get ready? It's not like I have to dress, slap on makeup, and tame my hair. I wear this suit every day and have no access to a mirror. As I attempt to process his instructions, I set my feet on the tile and stand.

My body snaps straight. Then, the burning sensation comes; it's a weird feeling that simultaneously ignites along the insides of both of my forearms. Did I sleep on them funny and cause them to be numb and prickly? No. This is nothing like I've ever felt. It's a scorching fire spreading up to my wrists. The acidic blaze courses treacherously through my veins, just below my suit fabric. Below my skin. Unreachable.

Frantic, my eyes flash to my limbs and notice their extreme quivering. Every part of me shakes as if I've plunged into glacial water. A sound works its way up my throat and a scream escapes. The fire burns. My hands claw at my suit covering my arms, desperate to get to the source. I pull and tear at the fabric, but it doesn't give; it does nothing but stretch and snap back. That's when I recall the hidden buttons on my suit Brink revealed to me last night.

Hyperventilation begins. I can't— I can't—breathe. The pressure. The stinging. I need this off now. I shriek again and fall to my knees, gripping my forearms. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

I fumble for the buttons and click all of them over and over and over again until I sense the suit's release. Tears stream down my cheeks and stick to my skin. "BRINK!" I screech, and press my face against the chilly marble floor. I feel the strain in my vocal chords, but I can't help but shout until I receive some sort of aid. Someone who can fix me. Anyone. "BRINK!" I choke on his name and curl tighter into myself after the suit has completely removed itself from my body. My back arches and contorts in ways it never has before. I lift my arms to analyze them with hazy vision, blurred by tears. "Someone help me," I whimper inaudibly. Raised up on my skin are inflamed crimson streaks lining my arms like fingernail scratches that went too deep. There's poison in my veins.

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