The stain on the ceiling had a very distinct shape. Of all the rooms the researchers herded him into, his latest room was the first one with signs of its past. Sighing, Marlon closed his eyes. The bland red smears and splat inside the dent made him uneasy. They should have upset him for everything that would have caused someone to make them, but instead, he felt nothing. Whoever got stuck in the room before him must have had a reason for hitting the ceiling.
Maybe he killed a handler. Marlon opened his eyes and frowned. Is that what happened? Did they kill him?
Marlon rolled to his side, the question consuming him. According to their protocol, if a Bird was more of a risk than a necessary test subject, it was put down. There were the rare isolation cases, but majority were done away with once their disobedience outweighed their usefulness.
“Today’s a lucky day, Kestral. You’ve got a visitor.” One of the handlers sneered at him through the window then unlocked the door. “Mind your manners missy. I’d hate to have to teach you a lesson later.”
Confused at first, Marlon’s eyes narrowed. Nobody got visitors, especially ones that the handlers enjoyed taunting that much. The guy stepped aside, and his spot was replaced by a girl. She didn’t say anything to the handler, but she did have a look he recognized. There were Birds like him around the island, Birds that kept their mouth shut, heads down, and powers on for the scientists to continuously test. It was the formula for what little freedom Avia offered. Unlike others, his room had an actual mattress and sheets. Part of a wall was a wide pane of glass and they even allowed him to take things into the room, including others if they were on the approved list. Eyeing the girl, he had a feeling she wasn’t who the handlers thought she was.
“What do you want?” Marlon gave her the courtesy of sitting up before addressing her. She placed a finger to her lips and looked at the window then the small camera over the door. He followed her gaze only to feel more unease. It wasn’t a normal visit, and she wasn’t exactly alone. The camera’s red light blinked twice, and she turned her attention, and smile, on him. “No.”
“But you don’t know what I’m here for.” The mystery girl pouted. “And I went through the trouble to get the cameras turned off. “
Marlon glanced at the camera again. No Bird had that much sway, not on Avia. “You wasted your time. Whatever you and your accomplice are up to, it’s not my problem.” Laying back down, he faced the stained ceiling once more. “Leave before you get us both killed.”
“Wow, the favorites really are spineless.”
His eyes cut to her, but he bit back his comment. So long as he kept quiet, she’d leave.
“Marlon Duford, it has a nice ring to it. I wonder, do you remember your life before Avia? Were you spoiled then too, or did you have a backbone?”
“My name is Kestral.” Despite his irritation, his voice was calm. “And this visit is done.”
He felt her moving closer and he sighed. She and her silent partner were annoyingly persistent. “I guess you didn’t have manners either. I’m Adaline but these people call me Bluejay.” She dropped a folded piece of paper on his chest. “We’re sinking Avia. I don’t think you’re trustworthy but for some reason Ryker does. You have two weeks to get the things on that list to the drop site, and don’t worry. We’ll make sure your reputation won’t get tarnished. Nobody will see a thing.”
Despite himself, he was curious. Curious about her, about Ryker, and curious about their plan. “Find someone else.” He finally muttered. His gaze lifted to her as a silent dismissal, and for once she took it.
“You’ll help us. He’s sure of it.” She shrugged and started away but turned around at the doorway. “You might want to come by the cafeteria today.” She flashed a knowing smile then left. With her gone, so was the tension. The whole thing was insane. Avia was a state of the art facility built to withstand the various types and degrees of powers that littered the island in cages. Escape was impossible.
He looked down at the folded paper in his hands. Freedom was impossible….Wasn’t it?