Missy sat in the far corner of the cafeteria right next to the emergency exit. She nibbled on a Twinkie that was probably older than its shelf life. It was an off-putting brown color and the taste wasn’t quite right.
But it had been sealed in its original packaging. So, she figured it had to be okay. At any rate, it was food and she was no princess.
She opened the book she had taken from the library. It was a little known Stephen King book called “Here On Gilligan’s Isle” – a horror take on Gilligan’s Island. Gilligan deliberately crashed the boat and incinerated the wreckage so there would be no escape for his unwitting captives. He would make sure of it. Every plan they came up with he set to wreck and ruin. Until at last the Skipper and Mary Ann declared that they had had enough. They grabbed their pitchforks made out of coconut shells.
“This is for the Professor.” said Mary Ann.
“And for Ginger too.” said Skipper.
They charged to Gilligan’s evil coconut lair and—
She startled and looked up.
Raven was there.
Missy reluctantly set the book down. “Why are you awake?”
He shook his head. “Bad dream, miss. May I sit with you?”
“Are you okay sitting by the window?”
He raised his gaze to the window and looked at it like he wasn’t sure what he was looking at.
“I like sitting here. It’s quiet and I can escape easy if I have to.”
He sat down across from her – with the window to his back. “Why did you leave, miss?”
“You were sleeping and I was tired of waiting for you to wake up and I decided to get something to eat because I was hungry and I—”
“I mean, before. Why did you leave? Did I do something wrong?”
She closed her book and tried to smooth out the cover’s curled up edges. “You touched my leg.”
“Did I? I don’t remember doing so. Did I…”
“That’s all you did, but it got me remembering something and it scared me and you scared me and I had to run. I had to go back. I didn’t want to resist anymore. I just wanted to run back to Antioch.”
“He’s The Institute’s grand poo-bah leader or whatever. He has white hair and I don’t know what color his eyes are. He always wears these mirrored sunglasses. Maybe he doesn’t have any eyes. Maybe he’s blind? Anyway, he’s the one who did all of the…”
Quick images flashed before her eyes.
Her face reflected in his mirrored eyes.
The needle coming down, steadily down. Again and again and again.
The paper sheet on the exam table.
Blood trailing out of an open wound. Blood that became fire.
Flames bursting out of her skin, becoming her skin.
A creature of fire.
Raven’s pupils widened.
She didn’t know.
She couldn’t tell.
She was fire.