Friday, January 28, 2011

Chapter 34 The Walk

The older man introduces himself as Yosef whole we wait for a replacement for him. “You’re in luck. We don’t usually stand outside, and we rarely let anyone get close enough to talk to us.”

He looks up at me through his brows like one my teachers used to when homework wasn't done on time. I know we've gotten lucky. It could have been very ugly for all of us. I glance at Alex and feel guilty for endangering his mission. Of the two of us, he's the one with the more noble cause. I'm just here to traipse around Henri's very private past.

When the replacement comes, Yosef has Alex walk in first and me in second. He grabs an electric lantern like the ones that Henri had in his apartment and then walks behind us. With the bright light aimed forward, it partially blinds us and shields him. In one hand, he holds a small gun having given the larger gun to his replacement.

We walk down the hall that way, Alex and I faced with dark in front of us. The hall has some dirt tracked in from outside but other than that it looks clean and well used. We reach a point where the hall splits, and Yosef directs us to take the first turn.

We walk together quietly for a while with the only sounds coming from our shoes against the hard concrete floors. "Neither of you are from around here," Yosef says from behind me.

It seems an odd time for chit chat, but I don't fight it. Still, I don't feel comfortable enough to give him more information than he really needs. "Not exactly."

Yosef grunts. "You're Neutral."

It seems strange at first that he knows that, but I realize that I probably stick out around here with my clothes and my glasses and even the way I talk. A lot of the people who worked in this lab were Neutrals themselves and, with Yosef's age, it's very possible he could have been Neutral himself once.

I see Alex ever so slightly turn towards me before forcing himself to look forward.

"Yes, I was."

"Turn right up here," Yosef says gruffly. "Banished then. It happens. How did you get this far? They don't usually."

I don't know what to tell him. Somehow it doesn't seem wise to say that I got a personal escort from Henri and his second in command, but I don't know what else to say.

Alex quietly speaks up. "She is mine."

My stomach pulls up against my lungs a that. I'm thankful for his stepping in, but I'm not sure what to think or how I feel about being claimed like that.

Yosef actually laughs. "Right. I get that sense, though something seems different about you two. That's the only way you got in. Will you at least tell me why you're down here in the Hornet's Nest? Not the wisest place to take a vacation."

I look over at Alex and don't bother turning towards Yosef. I won't see anything other than a flashlight in my face anyway. The Hornet's Nest sounds like something between a joke and complete seriousness and it doesn't sound pleasant. "The what?"

Alex does glance at me with a face that's difficult to read. "It is the name of the Southlands. Outside."

Yosef laughs again. "You didn't know that? When I heard it, I about died laughing. It's true. Rile them up and watch out. No one wants to mess with them. Not even when they're out. Mess with one and you get a swarm." He directs us again down a few more halls and through a couple of mostly bare rooms before he speaks again. "So. It seems unlikely that you traveled here together. You didn't tell her about the Hornet's Nest? I'd imagine you would have if you'd been making your way in. The only people who don't use that name are already inside."

Yosef says it carefully, but it seems that he's already made his conclusion. It would be impossible for me to deny since he is right. I've never heard anyone in the Southlands call themselves that. It's a slightly derogatory name, a joke and a warning. I swallow. We have accidentally managed to give ourselves away.

Alex is tight lipped, but I see him glance at me as if to carefully keep an eye out for me. Yosef grunts again at our non-response. The tension fills the air between us. It seems the sort of thing the two of them are used to because neither of them break. I'm the one who breaks.

"Okay, look, still not going to shoot me right?" I keep walking, but pause enough to try and look back and almost get blinded by the light he holds. We come to another fork in the hall, but Yosef doesn't tell us which way to go so Alex stops and turns slowly towards me. "I'm heading out of the Southlands to help him find his daughter."

Yosef doesn't say anything, but he doesn't shoot us. Uncomfortable silences have only been bumps in the road compared to this. It's still hard to see his face, but he doesn't sound happy. "Go right."

A hand reaches out for me, and Alex gently pushes me ahead of him while keeping one hand on my shoulder.

Yosef grunts again. "You knew this shit and still asked in. Got us involved."

"I'm sorry," I say. "I didn't really know. I doubt they're even looking for me."

Yosef curses softly, the word hardly reaches past Alex to get to my ears. "It don't matter. We're involved now."

We arrive at another room with a dusty door at the end. The room is rather large, but it's clearly not used often. What remains in the room is covered in dust. Bits and pieces of things lay about having been cannibalized probably for trading or repairs. The door at the end is the only thing in perfect shape though still covered in dust. It's thick and metal plated, but the metal hasn't begun to rust.

"I'm sure you understand why I don't take you to the others."

I nod. Alex doesn't have his hand on my shoulder anymore, but he still stands very near in front of me, between me and Yosef.

"You wanted to see the lab." Yoself gestures towards the dark room with the thick metal door. "There you go. The place where the Revolution started."

I glance at the room then up at Alex. He doesn't look happy at all. When it's clear that I'm not bothered enough by this, Alex explains. "He is going to lock us in."

I turn back towards the room. It's dark. Pitch black. And that's where he's going to lock us up. When I turn back to Yosef, he must take some pity on me because he tosses me a small hand-sized object that has a button on top. I press it and get a small stream of light.

"You want me to trust you? Now you'll have to trust me that I'll open the door tomorrow."

Next Chapter -->


  1. Well, they were lucky enough to even get in, so... I guess getting locked up isn't the worst thing that could have happened to them? If he doesn't end up coming back, I don't doubt that Alex could break them out anyway, or maybe someone else will. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    Meanwhile... Alex and Paula alone in the dark for a night? ;)

    (I know, completely aside from the point, but still :P)

  2. Wonderful chapter, as always amazing

  3. Well, that was brave of Paula. I guess time will tell whether it was also foolish.

    Amazing chapter as always, very atmospheric.

  4. Hey I just want to leave another comment.
    Yosef is quite mysterious. I wonder what he means by you got us involved.

  5. It will be interesting to finally almost see what's behind the door. I mean really, how much can one see with that little button light. I don't doubt that Yosef will come back for them in the morning, or someone else of the compound. I just don't see them letting people know who or how many of them are in the lab. Although the lab rats are now "involved" I can't really see too much happening if the wildlanders rarely go around there, or even leave their tribes much based off of what Yosef had been saying anyway.

  6. You and your cliffhangers! LOL!

    "You want me to trust you? Now you'll have to trust me that I'll open the door tomorrow."

    Oh, wow. I was not expecting that! I guess Alex and Paula don't really have much choice but to trust him. They're stuck in there now. :\

    I do think Yosef will come back for them though. I don't know if he'd want to leave them alone for long, even locked up.

    I'm really looking forward to the next chapter! I want to know the details of exactly what Yosef is so concerned about.

  7. Oh, creepy! She wanted to see the lab, not be locked in it overnight! But I guess it isn't unreasonable for him to request this--it was pretty unreasonable for Paula to expect them to break their rules and not make her pay in some way.

    I wonder what she'll find in there. I think Alex's presence will help keep her from being too afraid. Very exciting!

  8. I'm guessing Yosef doesn't buy the 'nobody is looking for me' line. That's the only thing that makes any sense, the only reason he would worry about being involved. I kind of doubt people are going to stream out of the back room demanding to be allowed to help find the missing daughter.

    Being locked up in a pitch black creepy old laboratory is a nightmare. If he wasn't going to come back for them, he could have led them right back outside again, although, if someone is looking for Paula, that might have been more dangerous than keeping them inside.

    I love the detail about the flashlight!

    Alex is on his toes, isn't he? Grabbed the right response and did it with no hesitation...I still love him.

  9. Van, I'm sure given enough time, the two of them might find a way out. It's happened before that we know of.

    But in the meantime, I'm sure there are indeed worse fates than being stuck in the dark with Alex, lol!

    Bria b, thank you very much! Yosef is quite mysterious. I'm glad you picked up on that line. Perhaps he wasn't exactly expecting Paula to be sneaking out of the Southlands. Oops!

    Rad, ha, no doubt we find out.

    Thanks Rad!

    Migy, well we'll see next week. I have an idea, but it hasn't been written yet. Oops!

    Yeah, if anyone's looking for Paula I doubt the first thing they'll think of are the lab rats, especially since the golden rule is to not touch anything from the Southlands.

    Carla, lol! Sorry! Normally I'm not a fan of cliff hangers, but this story line just has too many parts. Pretty much everything is going to be a cliffhanger from here on out I'm sure, lol.

    It probably isn't a wise idea to leave these two inside for long, even if they are trapped. True.

    Rachel, true. Paula wasn't really thinking. It was rather unreasonable for her to walk up and ask in.

    I'm sure Alex's presence will at least make being locked in the dark worthwhile, lol.

    SB, True. Yosef doesn't call them the Hornet's Nest for no reason. It's not often that someone can just walk away from the Southlands, especially a normal human girl, so he has right to be suspicious. Though he doesn't exactly know who she is yet either, and if Paula is smart, she'll be sure to keep that detail to herself!

    That's a good point. It probably wouldn't be any better if he'd let them stay outside where others might still come looking for her.

    Tricky situation either way for Yosef and his people!

    Oh yeah, Alex was very quick there, lol.

  10. Hmm, locked up in a room with Alex for the night eh? Just think of the potential shenanigans... I like shenanigans :D

  11. Finally! I get to comment and I was so sad when I caught up because there was no more to read!

    Paula's curiosity has led them to a precarious spot. I'm doubtful about Yosef and very nervous about what Alex and Paula may find. Whatever it is, they're going to have all night to deal with it.

    In the back of my mind, I'm thinking - Alex is in sooo much trouble. He took Paula, Henri's daughter, whom he was suppose to be protecting. Now they're in no-mans land with strangers - he has a lot to deal with. I mean even if they get out of the lab, grab his daughter and get back to the Southlands - he's got to know that he's cooked!

    I'm waiting on the edge of my seat to see what happens next.

  12. poida, lol, true. There are worse things. *whistles innocently*

    Velvet, wow! I can't believe you sat down and read everything from the beginning. That really does mean a lot to me.

    It is a precarious spot here, they will be there for the entire night with what ever it is too.

    Mayne Alex just won't take Paula back? If he's smart he won't, lol! 'Cause yeah, he's gotta be in some serious trouble.

    Thank you Velvet!

  13. Well, if he's not taking Paula back, then he had better learn how to make a boat and sail real fast. XD

  14. Alex: She's mine. *melt*

    I love that Yosef picked up on the vibe. The man is not stupid, he figured them out on a lot of levels fairly quickly.

    'Going to lock us is?' should that be 'in' instead of 'is'?

    And locked up in a dark room, that doesn't bode well, however, there are possibilities. Paula could crawl all over an outstretched Alex and lick every inch of his...tiger tattoo.

    You are unfolding this at just the right pace, tense. Mysterious, fascinating.

  15. I actually read this a few days ago but was slack in leaving a comment.

    That dark tunnel looks very omnious was my first thought, maybe a prelude to things to come?

    I'm actually a little surprised that they are being locked in for the night. It speaks of a lot of mistrust despite the so far, cordial behaviour from their 'captors'.

    The possibilities of the dark, Paula alone with a guy she is obviously attracted to ... what could go wrong?

  16. Migy, LOL! How do we know that Henri wouldn't breathe a sigh of relief to be kid of the kid he didn't even want?

    Drew, ha, I'm glad you liked that. I'll admit that sent a little chill down my back when I wrote it. Yeah Paula, secretly you know you like that he'd step up and claim you like that.

    Yosef certainly picked up on them being very different from the normal Person-pet relationship.

    Oops! Yes, that should be in. *goes to fix* Thank you.

    Heehee, true. She still has a good amount of time left with him of course...

    Oh thank you for that reassurance! This last part here could easily move too slow or too fast, so I'm thankful to hear you say that.

    Carnaxa, aw, thanks for coming back to comment! I'm glad you're still reading. I know you're busy, so if you don't leave a comment, it's okay, I understand.

    Are you surprised? I wasn't quite sure where this would go, but it only made sense once I started writing it. "Of course he'd be all cagey and cordial, and then lock them up," I said to myself when I got to this part. I bet Yosef has an interesting story!

    LOL! Thank you for your comment.

  17. Yosef is definitely an interesting character. I wonder if those who were left behind in the labs actually consider themselves Neutrals? Yosef doesn't seem to and I can understand that they wouldn't want to identify with those who abandoned/banished them.

    So banishments happen often enough for Yosef and his people to have heard of them even though those who are banished don't usually make it as far as the labs? Makes me curious to know what reasons the Neutrals use to get rid of their own and whether they ever trump up charges to get rid of the undesirables.

  18. Illandrya, that's a really really good question. Yosef would come from a different time, one when the labs were supported. So in one way at least, he's not in the same boat as Paula. But then again, in another way, he was abandoned in the sense that the Neutral's only closed up boarders and didn't try to retake the land.

    Uh huh, exactly. Another good question! They have Cheryl detained with a real reason, but that doesn't mean it always works that way...

    Thank you for stopping by! You've been missed!