Chapter 6

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 Claire's house was not a safe place. She'd never been attacked by him there before, but after what just happened in The Tower, the library felt like her only sanctuary. When she was younger and not comfortable in either her mother's house or her father's, the library was her saving grace. It was the one place she could often find peace without the warring of her parents or the ridicule of her peers. She would find a corner that no one was interested in, curl up with a good book, and escape her hellish existence for as long as she was able. The library took her to magnificent worlds of fantasy and freedom, everywhere from Middle Earth to Hogwarts to the world of His Dark Materials, and more. Anywhere but here. Anywhere but Beechwood. Anywhere but this prison.

What was it like to truly be human? What was it like to be free? What was it like to have a body that functioned like everyone else's, or a body that was considered in the least bit pleasing to the eye? Everyone in Beechwood lived in some degree of fear and degradation, but no one knew what it was like to be her. 

"I get it, you think your pain is worse than everyone else's," Claire's father once spat at her during an argument. Claire was not naive. She knew that everyone trapped in Beechwood lived with fear and pain every single day, and she also knew that both of her parents were also prisoners, deceived by the scientists, never allowed to return to their lives or the real world again. Yet, before they made conscious choices that put them in this position, they had the privilege of a childhoods of freedom, and at least more acceptance than Claire herself had ever experienced. She didn't believe that her pain was worse than everyone else's, but she did believe that no one could identify with her pain because no one else in Beechwood had ever walked in her shoes.

Mythology had always been one of Claire's emotional escapes, reading about ancient civilizations and mystical beliefs. The tailored education that the subjects of Beechwood received in science and psychology made it impossible for Claire to believe in actual magic, but she did understand the power and potential that the mind had to command the body. She suspected that a great deal of ancient magic was simply self-hypnosis, or mass-hypnosis in cases of entire civilizations. There were many ecological phenomenon's that occurred during these ancient times that had not yet been explained by their limited knowledge of science, so that was another explanation as to why they believed in magic.

And yet, Claire wished more than anything that magic was real, or at the very least, that she could control and command either herself, or others, in the way that some people in these ancient texts supposedly could.

The library, the comfort of history, and the abilities that humans seemed to once have been capable of was a logical place for Claire to flee after being violated, once again, in The Tower. He had never followed her here before, and usually, there was no true guarantee of privacy as anyone could come and go from this great building as they pleased. Tonight was different. She had ran (as much as she could, as she was overweight and not in shape) from The Tower straight to the library the moment that he had left the room. Claire moved with quickened footsteps down the isles. She thought she would feel safe here, as she had countless other times, but not tonight. Tonight, the pungent smell of him remained, not only on her contaminated skin, but in the air around her. He knew! He knew where Claire's hiding place was, and he had followed her! Was he going to hurt her again? No - he couldn't, could he? Not here! It was too risky! Others could be about, and there were cameras... but no amount of rationalization could calm the fireworks of terror flooding through her nervous system. Her entire body began to tremble, she was the mouse and he was the snake, slithering closer, the air thickening, his stink invading her nostrils so that it was impossible for her to breathe without smelling him. She quickened her pace. Her hefty body responded with an immediately increased heart rate. She had to breathe louder just to pull enough air into her lungs. Damn the people who could run light on their feet and not experience their bodies weighing them down!

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