Explanations

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Last time I passed out, I woke up to the sound of the clock and a pen scratching against paper. Everything was peaceful then.

This time, it is all different.

I'm gasping for breath, sitting upright. Confusion engulfs me. Where in the world am I? Who are these people standing around me? Well, that little girl looks familiar. Last time I saw her, she was covered in mud, a doll in her hand. None of the people speak as my eyes scan them. There is Isaac, my partner. His eyes are wide, full of concern. Then, the giant and his Jack standing beside him. Then, there is Ollie, standing with her arms crossed, and then there's me.

Wait. No. That's not me.

That's my mom.

My dead mom.

"Are you okay, Muney?"

That comes from Isaac. I know, because his voice trembles a little.

"Don't call me that," I snap, rubbing my head.

"She's fine," he tells the others, sighing, "I was worried about you."

"It's perfectly normal to pass out when people hit you with heavy objects," I say, keeping the snap in my tone, "Stocks of guns or dead mothers."

Isaac looks hurt, standing up.

"Sorry, Isaac," I mutter, exhaling. He just shakes his head, walking away. "Hey, I'm sorry." Calling after him is no good, though; he's already gone. Belle chases after him, Zeus trailing behind.

"Don't take your anger out on him," a much calmer voice says, "He was the most worried out of all of us. Call it overreacting if you will, but it was rather sweet."

I follow the voice, right to my mother.

There's no holding my temper back now. No amount of willpower could stop my tongue.

"Who are you to tell me who I can and can't take my anger out on?"

She seems taken back. At that, the giant and Jackson both leave, giving us our privacy. Only Ollie remains, taking a seat on the floor beside me.

"Jay, I get why you're mad, but you have to let me explain," Mandy continues, kneeling onto the concrete. At the impact, she winces, rubbing her joints.

"I don't want your explanation," I continue, glaring at her, "You've been hiding out here for almost twenty years. You missed my entire life."

"And I regret it daily."

We are both silent, staring each other down. In the quiet, I feel the heat receding out of my cheeks. The pounding behind my eyes has gone down a little.

"You can talk," I mutter, picking at the bandage on my arm. It's brown with caked blood and dirt. Eventually, I will have to change it.

"After I got sick, Jacob took me back to his CDC office for examination. I was there for months, undergoing tests and experiments. I can't remember much, because time didn't seem to pass in the room I was in. There wasn't any windows or clocks," she says, referring to my father by his first name.

"They kept giving me this red liquid, and I wasn't getting any better. Eventually, I blacked out for good, and I have no idea how long I was out. When I woke back up, I was sitting outside the facility, covered in blood and grime. I was still sick, but I felt better than I had in a long time.

"It was cold outside, so I knew a few months had passed. There was snow on the ground. Strange thing was, there was no one around. The entire city of Knoxville was empty. I remember screaming and screaming for anyone, until I finally gave up and went back to the facility. I don't really know why, but there was a bed and food there.

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