Twenty-Nine - Ira

105 19 20

It was safe to say that I disliked Linkin. Clueless, erratic and loud, she ruined my plan to escape, was probably yappy enough for the microphones in the room to pick up, and now she wanted me to risk my life to steal pen and paper for a goddamn map that she boasted of having in her head. It was too good to be true. The trust I'd placed in her that night when she quoted the note I'd left on the island had faded to almost nothing. For all I knew, Desmond could be using her to do a check of the underground, checking for moles to make himself look useful despite doing nothing all day. If that was true, then I'd just given away everything. I was fucked, and Jaysen was fucked. Celestia would be toast.

I paced around in my room alone. Doctor Nita had taken Celestia out to do water tests, but this morning Celestia looked at me less like I was a rotten fish on the tiled floor. Even though she had said nothing, I could feel that my sales pitch on getting out of the labs had at least piqued some of her interest.

The scalpel poked uncomfortably against my shorts pocket. I couldn't keep it safely in the room because it was routinely checked and cleaned, so the only way was to keep it hidden in my clothes, blade up so it wouldn't cut through the pocket. I'd practised retrieving it swiftly in bed with the blanket over me. If Linkin did one thing out of character, I could easily turn into the assassin she thought I was.

I wasn't going to get her pen and paper yet. If she wasn't one of their spies, then she was crazy for wanting to stay here. I couldn't let her ruin any more; out in the real world, I would still have a promising life ahead of me. I was not a lost cause off the island, but on the island my lifespan would probably be twenty-five tops. Just twenty-two if I tried something funny and was caught.

I stretched myself out on the ground and began my daily exercises. If Stuart was still as interested in Linkin as yesterday, then he'd come and find me soon. It was funny that Linkin thought that I was Stuart's friend, because I could almost believe it. He let himself into the cell just as he promised, asking if I was okay. I said that I was fine as I could be.

"How do you think Linkin is doing?" he asked, leaning against the wall. I caught a glimpse of his watch under his white sleeve. It looked like four-something, not that I knew if it was the morning or the afternoon.

"She's very confused, I think. She doesn't like anyone except you and Jaysen." I paused, pretending to think. It was clear that Stuart knew that something was amiss with all of us, but he kept playing the game. What for? I wondered. Was he waiting for one of us to slip up?

I didn't know that I'd be delivered my answer. The door buzzed open, startling both Stuart and me. Doctor Nita ran in, her cheeks red and she was panting. "Stuart, you have a minute?"

"Not really," he answered, his face suddenly looking alert. "Ira and I are just about to check on Linkin."

"This is about Linkin," Nita pressed. Her lips were drawn in a tight line. I noticed that her blonde hair was fraying at the ends.

"What about her?" There was urgency in Stuart's voice. "Is she okay?"

Instead of answering, Nita dragged Stuart out of the room and pulled the door shut. She started blabbering away the moment she closed the door, and I found that if I put my ear against it I could hear all about Linkin.

"... on watch just now, and she was talking to Jaysen about breaking out of the labs."

"Are you sure?" Stuart asked, almost inaudible through the door.

"Jaysen tried to get her to stop talking," Nita continued, "but not before she said she was able to remember the layout of the underground from that invasive touch she has. I didn't know what to do, so I alerted Liana Atteberry. She says she'll be on the next flight back."

"You what?" I mouthed the same question as Stuart.

"Not even solitary can keep this contained," Nita said, raising her voice. "Valentina Maione is the biggest risk we've ever had, and—"

"Don't tell me you don't know what Liana would do, Doctor Strand," Stuart said coldly. I let that sink in. All those people that Celestia told me had died in the infirmary when I'd refused to take tests. Doctor A let that happen under her watch, and probably under her command.

I waited anxiously for Celestia to come back, for the lights to switch off for the night. Neither happened. When a nurse bought in my meal in soft plasticware, he didn't even bat an eyelid at Celestia's absence. I set the tray to one side of the room, afraid that they had laced it with lethal poison instead of medication. Eventually, I ran out of things to do and ideas to think about, so I just lay like an empty shell on my bed with the covers over me. I looked up at the fluorescent tube on the ceiling for as long as I could, all the while keeping my hand on the scalpel in my pocket.

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