Tuesday, October 18, 2318
The days grow shorter but feel a thousand times longer. I lay in my room counting the hours, minutes, seconds wondering how long it will take for Tybal to return, if he would return. After he left me in my room, I haven’t seen Aaron since. I worry a little for him, also. Does his absence mean Tybal is coming back? Does it mean something different? Even Grifkin has kept away.
I am learning more, the tests are finished, but I feel like everything I do is being tested, examined, graded. Maybe that’s just me. A small dark man in a white jacket, “Professor”, he tells me to call him, has been instructing me. He allows me to focus on science, biology. I find it completely fascinating. Much I already know, some is new. I grab onto the newness pleased to have understanding in something when there are so many places I lack information.
“Professor,” I ask, “Why are there no animals any longer? Why are there no birds?”
“In some places animals still live, but those are laboratories and the like. We are trying to clone them but it’s just not working, something in them isn’t right. But we have their codes on file, one day we will have them again.” Something bright flashed through his eyes as he looked at me.
“Do you think there will ever be wild animals again? Ones that roam freely?”
“Only if the Earth is able to sustain them. The ground is too polluted for even weeds to grow. The animals need something to eat, either plants or each other. It’s hard to say if it will happen.” I thought about my yellow flower like a star burning in the emptiness of the universe as it sat alone in the dirt. I opened my mouth to tell him but he cut me off with a gentle whisper, “The dandelion you found was bait, Faylinn. I thought you would have figured that out by now.”
I didn’t know what to say so I said nothing. Have I been that stupid all along? Taking things for face value without looking into the depths? Yes, I’ve been naive. I wished Tybal was here to talk to. Then I realized that he had known, he had set that trap for me. Was it to give me motivation to escape? Was it to spur me in the right direction? Now I questioned my request to have him return. Aaron had been more open with me, but he had been scared.
Is there anyone for me to trust?
Yes, there was. Myself.
After lessons, I was summoned to the Library yet again. And when the door opened I lost my breath. Tybal sat in the oversized chair, pulling himself to his feet when he met my eyes. In only a few weeks he had changed so much. His face was drawn tight, darkness shadowed sky blue eyes, like a storm threatning well weather. He was thinner and when he moved toward me I noticed he limped slightly. What had they done to him? Why had they done it?
He drew me to him, enclosing me in his arms and the questions and doubt I had melted away. For a moment I was at peace. A moment that ended at a rough clearing of the throat. My attention was drawn to the desk and the tall, thin man standing behind it.
“It’s alright.” Tybal’s hot breath gently brushed my ear, chilling me. The man gestured for us to sit. I was apprehentious and felt tension strum through me. I tried to recall the peace I felt only a minute ago but it was a lifetime away now.
“Hello, Faylinn.” He said as he sat. “I am Lordain.” His tallness intimidated me a little but his plain face held a smile that reached into his brown eyes. It reminded me of another meeting in this same room though the feel of it was markedly different.
“Where is Grifkin?”
“We no longer required his services. I think you will find many things much changed.” He had a voice like silk, cool and smooth but I didn’t detect the hidden layer beneath, the darker one I felt under Grifkin’s words. “We apologize for removing Tybal. We didn’t understand.”
“Who is “we”?” I asked suspiciously, narrowing my eyes at him.
“We are a collection of scientist, researchers, doctors. Our order was formed many centuries ago when it was realized that the Government wouldn’t heed our warnings. We are the force behind the Carbon Monoxide Inhibitor tanks, the food cakes, the waste to water centers, the list goes on and on. Though we have worked secretly, preserving what we can along the way, all the while developing a…cure, if you will, to reestablish the life of the Earth and ensure this horrendous neglect doesn’t occur again.”
“I still don’t understand where I fit into all this.”
“You will, my child, soon. I promise.” White teeth peeked out from between his smiling lips. “There are no more guards at your door, nor will you be required to be escorted. I want to apologize for Grifkin’s stricter ways. It is not our intent to cow you into submission;, we want to work with you. Cooperation between us can’t be forced with secrecy and detainment and fear. We understand you favor Tybal. It is our desire to see you happy here. The Atrium has been opened for you to visit any time as well as the Library. If there is anything else you require you need just ask.”
“Will you test me again?”
“No. That is over and frankly, Grifkin was a little too enthusiastic. He has been reassigned. I would ask, though, that you still study with Professor Haem, he is delighted to teach you whatever you wish to know. If it is alright with you, we have another room available for you to stay in. I think you will feel more comfortable there.”
“I…suppose.” Truth be told I was floored over these changes, so abrupt they came. A little voice in my mind whispered to me that Tybal had told the truth; I was important to these people, these scientists. A weight lifted off my shoulders with the news of Grifkin’s departure.
“What of Aaron? Where is he?” His words were so dire, they rang in my ears and my stomach filled with dread.
“If you would like him here as well, perhaps something can be arranged. But I assure you he has been taken safely home.” His voice held an air of finality. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I didn’t know what his home was or where it was. He could be happy there, though he was adamant he didn’t want to return to wherever they had him before. Was it his home? Or had he been taken from there to somewhere else and that was the place he didn’t want to return to? Could I even trust what Lordain told me? My head swam with indecision. If I asked for them to bring Aaron here would he be happier, safer? Or would I be forcing him to leave his family? I just wasn’t sure so again I said nothing.
“Grifkin said that things were moving up, that it didn’t matter if I was ready. What was he talking about?” A button started blinking, a red flash on the desktop that captured Lordain’s attention. He muttered something and quickly shooed us from the room. The hall was dark and empty. We didn’t meet anyone on our way back to my room. At some point Tybal’s hand wrapped around mine. I felt the warmth from it penetrate my hand and move up my arm until it permeated my entire being. I had missed him so much.I could feel the thump of his heart, the soft movment of his breath, the small electrifying jolt of his cells until it seemed we were two halves of one being, joined through the simple threading of fingers. I had worried every moment he was gone and even though I was concerned over his appearance, the dreadful feelings melted away with each step, released through happy tears that quietly streamed down my face. I felt my heart beat speed up to match his.
When we reached the door he tried to disentangle his fingers but I held fast pulling him into the darkness. The door closed behind us as his lips closed on mine.