6. The Ache

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                Sweat. Sore bones. The unshakeable sensation of morning but no sun—just light. Dim and unfeeling, the day started without warning. My eyes adjusted in their own time; meaning there was a lot of blinking involved.

            Nothing settled in with me yet. I didn’t remember anything right away. I just wanted to wake up and eat something. A groan erupted from somewhere deep in my chest as an excruciating pain blanketed my entire torso. I couldn’t remember how exactly I’d gotten in the way of an eighteen-wheeler, but obviously, I’d pulled it off.

            When I sat up, I felt a tremendous weight on my back. A startled breath rushed out of me at the sharp stab of pain that ripped up my back. I grabbed at my ribs. My hands touched cloth instead of skin, so immediately I was confused. The cloth was beige, light-weight, and taut across my torso. I looked over my shoulder; had they attached something to my back that made it so heavy? My jaw dropped and I’m pretty sure I screamed like a girl.

            Wings. They had to be wings. As made evident by the explosion of gray feathers behind me. A few had fallen out and were spread out around my bed. It wasn’t even a bed. It was a cot. Memories flooded my mind. I remembered curling and uncurling in blinding pain. I remembered trying to scream. I remembered being in a pretty room alone, and being brought something that mimicked food once, only to vomit it up twenty minutes later. To take my panicked attention off of the fact that I was now a class-A freak, I glanced around the room.

            It wasn’t very impressive. In fact, it was on the austere end of the opulence spectrum. Only two cots including my own occupied the room. The rest was empty: no wardrobe, no nightstand, no closet, no television. Light from the small window behind me made a couple of spots on the ground shimmer. A few more feathers dotted the floor, but not all of them were the same as the gray on my back. Others were jet black, shiny and slick.

            “You’re awake!”

            I jumped at the exclamation and groaned. More pain. My gaze found a boy about my age in the doorway. I took another mental note: there was no door to this bedroom. The boy himself wasn’t very impressive either, as far as angels were concerned; he looked kind of clumsy. But it was the only friendly face I’d seen since I’d been…taken. And that was enough to muster up a decent wave from my left arm.

            His voice was drowning in a quirky accent. It was the same that Gaius and Tane possessed. He was my height, too, which was a serious rarity. Maybe everyone here was short. His hair was black and straight, his eyes just as dark. He was skinny, toned, and goofy-looking. The one thing that took my breath away was the fact that he had wings. And they were not strapped down like mine were. His were jutting out at least three feet behind him. I had no idea how big they’d be if they were extended. My eyes traveled every feather and curve and shudder of those wings until he broke the silence again.

            “You’ve got a pair as well, if I’m not mistaken, friend.”

            I looked away as fast as I could, embarrassed.

            “I am named Fith,” the boy introduced, breaking out into a ridiculous grin. I don’t know how the whole smile fit on his face.

            “The fifth what?” I asked. I peered around his body to see where the four other angels were.

            “Fith is my name. I am not the fifth anything. I hear that you have no name yet.”

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