Sparks Rise Page 33

I\m dropped into the watery earth like a bundle of dead limbs. I force my eyes open, searching, but my vision is splitting in too many ways.

’’Sam!’’ The sound of his voice tears at my heart. It\s ragged, lanced with the same desperation that\s pumping through me. ’’Sammy!’’ At first I think there are ten PSFs surrounding Lucas, but they seem to duplicate the longer I search for him.

I have to get him out of here. I have to save Lucas. He can\ die here. He can\ die for me.

He\s on the ground at their feet, his hands pressed against his skull as though they\ e the only things to keep it from splitting in two. I recognize one of the PSFs the woman who must have recognized him, shouted for him. She\s the one that put me in the cage. Who hit me over and over again in the Factory, in front of everyone. Cut my hair. Don\ act like I want it. There\s a White Noise device in her hands, pointing down toward Lucas, and of everything she\s done or said until now, nothing makes me hate her more.

’’Sam!’’ He is still calling for me, still fighting against the sound blistering his mind, even as they drag him away.

This can\ be it. This can\ be the last time I see him. Hear his voice. Not Lucas, please, God, not him.

I try to push myself up out of the mud. Water is collecting in the deep wells feet have left behind. I\m going to drown in an inch of water. I try to reach for him, but it\s too far, he\s too far away, and everything, every last hope burns out inside of me. Under the carriage of the truck, I can see the road we would have taken, the wild, open road ahead of us, I can see Lucas smiling as he takes my hand, and all of these things, all of these precious pieces of dreams become as insubstantial and cold as the air I\m trying to grasp in my palm.

SIX

LUCAS

THERE is no gunshot.

There are no hands around my throat.

There are restraints that cut deep into my wrists and ankles.

There is darkness. Sleep. Nightmares. Blood, hot blood, a pale face Sam.

There are four white walls where there once were electric fences and trees and cabins.

There are printouts of my parents\ old IDs, the names blacked out. Who are they? The answer becomes razor and agony.

There are the hands that throw me down, the hands that haul me up, the hands that strike strike-strike-strike

There are lights that never go out, voices that never stop, screaming obedience is the key, you are wrong, tell me you are wrong so we can fix you I try to slip away, wrap myself in layers of memories and stories and songs, but every time I try to go, the Trainer is there, and he cuts at each one with his blade. He drags me out. He digs into my skin. I feel electricity snapping between my teeth. Drills screech. It does not stop hurting until I stop trying. Until I can\ remember where I was going to begin with.

There is hunger

Thirst

Pain

The door opens, but it is not the man in black who comes in. It is a piece of bread. They show me photos, a smiling man, smiling woman, but I can\ remember their names and it hurts too bad to think. Another piece of bread. Yes, they are no one. A warm cup of water. You are no one.

I am a shadow. I am weak. They will fix me.

There is a girl with sunshine hair who turns my world to shreds. She burns my eyes, breaks my thoughts to pieces. There is a glow around her like the sky at noon, but it narrows, the image, it shrinks, and the pain eases its grip into numb nothing. It shrinks and shrinks again until it becomes a pinprick of light in the dark.

A spark that fades to nothing at all.

SEVEN

SAM

AFTER WEEKS of rain and darkness, he\s there at the edge of the Garden one morning.

Just...there.

The morning fog curls around his crimson vest as he stands as still as a statue, like he has always only ever been there. The color is gone from his skin, his face shaded by shadows and new scars. My memory of him alters sharply, a new snapshot to add to the box, another one I can\ touch in case one day it cuts too deep and takes me to a place I can\ recover from. Every part of me is shaking as I limp forward through the white fence.

I have been in the Infirmary for weeks, my fingers curled around the edge of a cliff I know we only fall over once, unwilling to let go. They knew the real punishment would be living. That\s the only reason I could think of why they gave the female nurse the medicine, even after they made the male one disappear. The harder I tried to give up, the tighter they strapped me down to this place. They fed me with tubes when I would not eat. They made me sleep. My leg will never be the same;they treated it, I\m sure, because they know it will hurt me the rest of my life. It will be a reminder of what happens when you try to run.

And this is what happens to boys who dream.

There\s a fist around my throat. I know I shouldn\ look, but I can\ help it, I have to see if it\s like before. Even with his mask on, I saw the soul beneath the stone.

He turns as I slow.

He looks at me. Through me. There is nothing, not even a flicker of life in his face. My knees buckle and I\m falling forward, stumbling through the gate into the black, soft dirt. The wind carries the last traces of mist away as Lucas turns back toward the camp spreading open in front of him. And I know.

He has gone to a place I cannot find him.

I cannot sing him home.


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