The isle: Chapter Ten (warning, contains horror scenes, R16)
I decided immediately it wasn’t her. It couldn’t have been her. Could it? No. Her cheekbones were too sharp, her eyes too dull. Her hair was limp and her knuckles stuck out of her clenched fists like fleshless bones, resting on her heavily pregnant belly. Her skin was as pale as a bright overcast sky, and dark circles rimmed her fearful, apologetic eyes. Cassie had bright blonde hair; her eyes were full of light. She was curvy, and cute. Her skin was tan. The girl in front of me now was not the Cassie I knew, but as I stared at her I could see the ghost of the carefree child I grew up with.
“Cassie?” I whispered, frozen still while tying up my robe.
“Yeah.” She said simply. I could see it now. See her. That was enough. I ran to her, and hugged her carefully. I had so many questions.
“What happened?” I asked,
“It’s a long story. Can we talk about it over a cup of tea? Nice place by the way.” She said, looking around. Her anxiety seemed to be ebbing away. “Hey, guys. Long time no see, huh. Sorry that was a really cliché thing to say.” She laughed feebly.
It was only then that I felt the tears slipping down my face. “I thought you were gone.” I whispered, kneeling in front of her. Sam, the doctor who’d wheeled her into our ward had left without me noticing. “God I missed you so much.” She grasped my hand in both of hers; it felt like holding a bundle of bones. “You’re so thin… “ I said. I could hear the familiar sound of cups being placed on the bench, and the kettle boiling.
“ I’ve been pretty sick…” She began. “When they took me away they operated on me and gave me this experimental drug they’ve been designing. It makes you extremely fertile and-“
“I know, I’ve been given the drug too.” I said, cutting her off. “But, how did you get pregnant?” I asked, fear seeping into my voice.
“There are a few guards who have gone rouge.” I said, her eyes becoming dull again. “’Guess they’re all hyped up controlling everyone, and invading this country. I suppose they think they can do whatever they want. Which I guess they can.”
I couldn’t believe it. Wouldn’t believe it. “They- they didn’t…”
“They raped me, yeah.” She said simply, seemingly untroubled by it.
“Are you fucking serious?”
“Sorry to interrupt guys, the tea is ready.” Tyler called, hesitantly.
I got up off my knees and offered to help Cassie out of her wheelchair, but she made no effort to stand.
“This isn’t just for show,” She smiled a tiny smile.
I stood there for a moment, feeling really sympathetic. Without another word, I moved behind her and wheeled her over to the dining table, as Tyler and the others where putting out the cups of tea. I climbed inside the booth, so I was sitting beside Cassie, and the others piled in. I was the first to speak.
“How often?” I asked quietly.
“Every other day.” She said, her voice starting to shake. She was holding her cup of tea, looking into it as if she’d lost something in there. “They kept calling me ‘naughty girl’, and ‘bad girl’, because I tried to stop them taking you. They isolated me, put me into a room by myself. It was hell in there. It got to the point where I would almost welcome human interaction, no matter how brutal it was…” We were all shocked into silence, and no one wanted to interrupt her. “I started to get really sick, the more pregnant I got. I don’t know if it’s to do with the drug, or the horrible environment I was in. I stopped being able to eat without vomiting, and soon I lost the desire to eat at all. Sam, the doctor started seeing me, and he did everything he could to get me out of there. Eventually he had to convince the people in charge to move me. He told them I would be best to be put with my friends, that it would help my health and help the baby. And here I am.” She said. “So what have I missed?”
For a moment I couldn’t speak. “Well, since they gave me the drug, I’m pregnant as well. Hugh was taken yesterday for his surgery. All these guys have had their kidneys taken out, so have I. That’s what they did when they took me. They also took samples from all our organs to test stuff on. Since they found out I was pregnant, they moved us in here.” I said, pausing to take a sip of my tea. “Oh, it’s so good to have you back.” Agreements echoed all around the table.
“Sam actually gave me these,” She said, pulling a sheet of pills out from between her thigh and the side of the wheelchair. “To help my appetite. Being with you guys… It makes me feel a lot safer. In isolation I felt so alone and helpless. I had no will to live. But this… This is different.”
“We’re glad,” Stephen said, smiling.
Cassie popped a pill and swallowed it with a gulp of tea. For a while we sat around the table and talked, going over everything. It turned out Cassie, of course, had only been pregnant for a few weeks. Although she was already quite far along in her pregnancy because of the drugs, she seemed bigger just because of her frail, emaciated body, and her belly was rather bloated and swollen due to her unhealthy state. It was apparently having an odd effect on the baby. I was extremely worried about the safety of her and the child. I made a silent vow then to look after her and do everything I could to get her through this. Thinking about how large her baby bump was even now, I looked down at my own stomach and was shocked. Only a week ago my waist had been tiny, now I looked at least three months gone, and a visible baby bump was showing.
Cassie noticed my reaction and said, “So who’s the daddy?” She said smiling, looking around the table.
“Hugh, actually.” Elation and excitement bloomed inside me like a small explosion. I didn’t realize how happy I was to be having a child with him, no matter how soon it was. “Guess we should get married then.” I joked, but I also tingled all over at the idea, like a small electric shock was running through me. Tyler noticed the reaction, and smiled at me, kindly.
“Fuck I want banana-flavoured milk. Oh my god.” I said suddenly, temporarily forgetting where I was.
“Sounds like you’ve got yourself a pregnancy craving.” Tyler said.
“Oh that reminds me, do you guys have any peanut butter? I’ve been craving that stuff like mad.” Cassie said.
And with that, we spent quite some time in the kitchen, after I’d gone upstairs to get dressed, seeing as I was still in my bathrobe. Then we made smoothies while Cassie raided the peanut butter. I made banana smoothies, and decided I was probably going to be addicted to them for the rest of my life. After that we went up to the rec room to play pool and some table tennis before making an early dinner, fried noodles and vegetables with chicken. Cassie ate hers with peanut butter. We decided to request some food on the intercom, and we made a shopping list, which someone collected about 30 minutes later. The list included lots of meat, more fresh fruit, more chocolate and Oreo’s, ingredients for baking, cereals, frozen berries, organic juice, and copious amounts of banana flavoured milk and peanut butter. After that, Cassie and I decided to take some time alone in the garden, and as I stepped, wheeling her chair, out into a beautiful rosy glow, as the sun was starting to set. It was the first time I’d been out in the garden since our arrival here, surprisingly. It was much larger than the garden in our other ward, with a larger pond that could rightly be considered a small lake. Here you couldn’t see a fence either, but we knew it would be somewhere past the increasingly dense stretch of trees. There was an outdoor bed too, which was surprising. It was a medium sized structure, and octagonal in shape. In the centre sat an octagonal shaped, cover-less bed. I helped Cassie out of her wheelchair and we settled ourselves in the middle of it. We talked for a long time about everything, from our lives before the invasion, all the plans we used to have for the future, to our current situation and our pregnancies. As we talked, the pink hue dissolved into red and orange glow. After settling down, Cassie seemed to crumble a little. Now that we were alone she let down some guard and I saw how bad she really was. She looked totally miserable and desperate… Hopeless.
“How bad was it?” I asked quietly.
She was silent, apparently struggling to find words. “Oh, Nic. It was horrible. You haven’t seen anything, you have no idea what’s going on in here.” She paused, and took a deep, shuddering breath. “The night after my surgery I was put in a room with ten others. There was a girl that had died in that room a few days earlier, the others said she’d given birth to like four babies.”
“Quintuplets.” I added unsonciously.
“Yeah, she was one of the first human trials for this fertility and pregnancy drug thing. The thing was she was only 13…” Cassie paused. “So she didn’t survive the bith. She’d been horribly sick during the pregnancy and had a premature birth, the babies weren’t fully grown I think. Something happened and she went into labour, and died after giving birth to the second baby. They had to preform a c-section to get the other two out. One of the babies was already dead and two others were really deformed. I don’t know what was wrong with them exactly but apparently it was because of her rough pregnancy and her age and stuff. So only one baby was healthy. Her boyfriend, the father, used to stay in the room with the others but when he heard about the horrible birth he went crazy. Their doctor had come in and told them what happened and left again. A few hours later a couple of guards came in to clear out the girls stuff and the boyfriend killed one of them, and injured the other. All the other people in the room were completely shocked. The boy escaped and came back half an hour later and told everyone what he had seen.” Cassie was talking freely now, her eyes distant as if she were watching the whole thing on a movie screen. “He knew where the birthing room was and he went there. He found the girl, alone in the room, just lying on a steel table, dead. She was cut open and there was blood everywhere, they’d just left her there, Nic. Like a plate of unwanted food. I can’t believe it. The boy was distraught, of course, and started trying to wake her up, like she was just taking a nap or something. Then he heard crying, and opened another door leading out of the birthing room to find where all the babies were. The room stretched on for ages, apparently, and was separated with panes of glass into smaller rooms. On one side of the room he’d walked into were a bunch of babies lying in cots, three newborns lay in the nearest one, two were deformed. He stood there, crooning at them and crying and playing with them.” Cassie had tears in her eyes, and I noticed that I did too. “Then he heard some people come into one of the other adjacent rooms, and he had to duck behind the cribs to avoid being seen through the glass walls. After they left again he got up and saw the bodies on the other side of the room. There were about 5 or 6 dead babies lying on a steel table, one of them his. He knew what they were going to do to the babies; find out what went wrong with them. He didn’t want his child being cut open, of course, so took the dead child and ran back to the room. I don’t know how he didn’t get spotted, but he didn’t. When he got back he told everyone what he saw, and he’d hardly finished when the door burst open and he was shot. He was dragged out of the room still holding the dead baby. I wasn’t there to see it but I can’t imagine… It must have been heartbreaking. The boy was only 14. Him and the girl who died had only had sex because the guards made them. It’s so sad. I got there a couple of days later and the others told me what had happened. Not long after that we were all split up and put in separate rooms. Sam told me that the people running this place had learned their lesson, that they had to treat us properly or the babies would die and so would the girls. They didn’t want any more incidents like that so they changed how things worked around here. But because I was still being punished they decided to keep me separate anyway.”
By now it was dark but very warm, and the sky was cloudless. The rising moon was almost full and so it was really bright, the garden was bathed in silver light. Now that Cassie was talking she seemed lighter, a little less troubled. Her hand was placed over her heavily pregnant belly.
“What happened after that?” I asked.
“Well I told you most of it. Not much else happened apart from what you already know.”
“Ok,” I wasn’t really sure what else to say. I was still processing what she’d just told me.
“So, this is kinda funny, hey?” She said, looking up at me with that familiar smile on her face.
“Us both being pregnant. Imagine, a few years ago if someone told us we’d be pregnant by now…” She said, her voice bathed in wonder, caressing her belly.
“Yeah… Funny how thing’s have changed, hey?”
“It’s a little more than funny.”
“If you can call in funny-” I was interrupted by Stephen opening the door leading inside, I looked over at him, his face lit up by the warm light spilling out into the garden. He was squinting out into the darkness, and called out for us,
“Yeah?” I called back from the day bed.
“Oh there you are. Hugh’s back,” He grinned, and I climbed off the bed, helping Cassie back into her wheelchair. We went over to the door and Stephen held it open for us as we went inside. I couldn’t contain my excitement, but I had to see him for myself to believe it. Walking over the threshold, I saw him. He was sitting in a wheelchair by the kitchen, the others were fussing over him, asking him all sorts of questions. He was in the middle of showing the boys his stitches when he looked up and saw me. He looked really pale and weak, a contrast to the usual bright, strong capable 19 year old I had grown used to. His eyes ignited when he saw me, and he dropped his shirt back over his stomach, stretching out his arms like a child, a huge grin on his tired face. I ran to him, and hugged him as tightly as I could without hurting him. I was crying into his shoulder, and he was reassuring me softly.
“Are you ok?” I said, looking at him all over, as if I were expecting him to be missing an arm.
“I’m fine, just a kidney and a spleen. I’m just pretty sore and tired. Who’s the new girl-” he stopped short, tilting his head to the side as he stared at Cassie, who was still sitting in her wheelchair by the door. “Cassie?”
“The official.” Cassie said. “We match.” She added, indicating towards her wheelchair.
“Well, it’s good to have you back. I see Nic’s not the only pregnant one around here now.”
“Do you want to lie down over there?” I asked, poitning at the pit, “We can get you some tea or food, then we can catch up properly.”
“I really have to piss first.” Hugh said.
I wheeled him over to the bathroom and took him inside, I waited outside the door for him. As I waited, the main entrance slid open and a few guards walked in carrying boxes. I watched curiously, then something strange happen. One of the guards, who was stocky and arrogant looking, looked up and spotted Cassie. A look of revolution and confusion swamped his ugly face. Cassie, who was smiling beautifully at something Tyler said, looked across to see who’d walked in. As her eyes landed on the guard, her faced drained of all remaining colour, and her lip twitched as if she was trying to say something. The guard deposited the box with the other boxes which had just been placed on the floor, and followed the other guards out the door. As the door closed, I looked back at Cassie. She stood up suddenly, and Tyler immediately crossed the small place between them to catch her, although she hadn’t fallen.
“No!” She screamed, and she clutched her chest. With that, her eyes rolled back into her head and she crumbled. Tyler caught her just in time.
“Cassie!” I cried, running to her lifeless body. At the same moment Noah ran to the intercom and called for urgent help. Tyler lay her on the ground, calling her name.
“Is she breathing?”
“Guys?” Hugh called out from behind us, wheeling himself over. “What happened?”
“Some guards came in, one of them must have been one who raped Cassie and she fainted.” I said, as I searched for a pulse. I couldn’t find one. A second later doctors, including Sam, came hurrying through the door, wheeling a hospital bed. Together they loaded Cassie onto the bed, and immediately Sam was sitting on top of her, on the bed, preforming CPR. They asked us a few questions but just as quickly as they arrived, they were gone. Tyler and I were left on our knees by the kitchen, Stephen was standing with both hands over his nose and mouth. Hugh was half way between us and the bathroom. The last images I’d seen of Cassie kept running through my head.
Her being hurried out of the room, white as the sheets she lay on. Her eyes wide open, her breathless body lay dead.
Stay tuned for chapter 11!