Thirty-One - Ira

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I assumed that at least a day had passed since I saw Celestia - not that I missed the dissipating tension between us, but because of the crisis I overheard with Linkin, I was afraid that we were all put in isolation for the time being. No coordination, no psychic spying, no escape. Just radio silence. Constant brightness. No sleep at all. I realized I was starving, so I decided to cut moving off my bed from my routine too.

After overhearing Nita's conversation with Stuart, I hoped that Linkin had stayed away from harm. Sure, she had tough verbal comebacks to match, but it could have all been a front to cover up the fact that she had no idea what was going on in this place. At least she'd managed to find my warning note and had some sort of mental preparation.

I lay on my bed, gritting my teeth and drifting in and out of hungry delirium. It took me a few hours to realize that if I was going to make it out of this mess, I couldn't do it with a spinning head that was starting to remind me of the migraines I used to get from light. Slowly sliding off the bed, I steadied my balance before walking to where a plate of food sat in the corner of the room. Grimacing, I put a piece of pineapple in my mouth. The texture was slippery and the juice was sickly sweet to my acidic stomach. It took me several nibbles to finish the tiny piece of fruit, but my blood thanked me for the sugar eventually. I ate another piece before stopping, in case the food came with anything unwelcome.

I must have given in to sleep because the next thing I knew was hearing a voice that I hoped to never hear again.

"Two minutes," Doctor A said robotically. "Then you're gone."

I sat up in alarm, expecting gloved hands to kick away, but the only thing I saw was Stuart with the door slowly closing behind me. He looked like he'd been put through the mill twenty times. His doctor's coat was missing; he looked the most casual I'd ever seen in jeans and a hoodie over his shirt and a duffel bag across his shoulder. The only trace of the old Stuart left was his glasses.

"Two minutes until what?" I demanded between uneven breaths. I noticed that I was shivering in the air-conditioned room.

"Until I have to leave the island and pretend it never existed," Stuart said, still calm as always. "I told you Liana would fire me if she found out, so here we are. I'm here to say goodbye."

I couldn't believe how fine he was with it all. "Is that why you did it? Helped Linkin, helped me, just to get out of here? Couldn't you just have resigned?"

"No, Ira," Stuart said, taking a step towards me. I flinched. "Ira, please. Look on the inside. Do you really believe that?"

What hit me was a mix of shock, anger, and disappointment. Stuart looked at me as if I was supposed to find a deeper meaning. I did. I'd put a lot of thought in that warning, to make it memorable. How did he know? He couldn't possibly have seen the note. He couldn't possibly have told me what day it was so Linkin and I could have better luck getting out of here.

"I left your note there, hoping someone would see it-"

"It doesn't matter," I said bitterly. If I'd had enough water, my eyes would be stinging with tears right now. In less than a minute, Doctor A would take Stuart away and after he was out of the picture, I didn't know what she would do to me. "Fuck you, Stuart. You haven't helped. You just killed all of us. You're just as fucking terrible as the others."

"Ira," Stuart began but stepped back as I advanced on him. A flash of fear crossed his eyes. "Irina, I tried to help. I tried to help everyone-"

I socked him on the jaw. Not hard enough to break it, but enough for it to hurt like a bitch. "You didn't try hard enough."

The door opening caught me by surprise. The heavy metal almost swung right into Stuart's elbow, as he reached to touch the side of his face. Doctor A poked her head around the corner and I almost laughed at her expression, had my muscles not acted faster. I sprang forward, digging into my shorts pocket, and stabbed her on her left shoulder and close to her neck with the scalpel I stole from the island hospital. With renewed strength from adrenaline, I kicked her to the wall and left her there, bleeding and gasping. I dragged a horrified Stuart from the room and put the dripping scalpel to his throat. Doctor A's blood smudged against his skin.

"Ira," he whispered, trying to wriggle out of the way, but I pressed his body closer to the scalpel. "Don't do this."

"Linkin," I said. My grip trembled with my increasing pressure on the knife. I could just get Stuart to take me out of here before it was too late, but I couldn't bear the thought of what would happen to the others. "Where did they put Linkin?"

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