Cloak Girl leads me through the doorway and into a new, more modern-looking room. It is almost completely white, and I have to shield my eyes from the bright glow.
Once my eyes have sufficiently adjusted, I take in all the details. The floor is tiled in a neoteric hospital style; an operating table and several machines stand in the middle of the room, glaring at me with an ominous air. The entire place radiates rancor and malice. I shudder with foreboding as Cloak Girl propels me deeper into it.
I don’t know what to make of this whole thing -- Cloak Girl, Sara, Chris, the doorway... and Asian Girl. Her presence is like an malignant, pernicious influence, hovering over me for every moment I spend in this inimical place.
And what about Leo? If he’d managed to piss off Asian Girl somehow... Well, things might not go well for him. And seeing as it was way too easy for him to get on one’s nerves, I was definitely worried.
Cloak Girl snaps me out of my musings when she points at the operating table, beckoning me over to it. “Lie down here. We’re going to run some... ah... tests.” she says with a wicked grin.
I shake my head adamantly. “No. No way!”
She replies, “Yes, way,” and grabs my arm, intending to drag me over to it.
“You can’t make me!” I slap her hand, but her grip is too strong.
“Yeah, I can,” she says.
I cry out in pain, “Stop, I don’t want to!”
“You see this?” Cloak Girl holds up her fingers in the shape of an O. “This is the amount of craps I give.”
“Constipated, huh?” I mutter under my breath as she finally succeeds in strapping me down to the operating table, despite my struggling.
“What was that?” she snaps angrily.
I don’t respond. Getting on her nerves is entertaining.
Suffice it to say that I have no idea what Leo sees in Debbie.
She’s so irritating that I almost forget the reason why I’m even still putting up with her. Leo’s request and my opportunity to change my ways are the only things keeping my hands away from her throat.
As I fight with Debbie to get her onto the operating table, I find myself thinking about Leo again. Part of me wants to leave her here and let her die slowly of starvation and dehydration. But I know that I can’t hurt her, because I can’t afford to ruin my chances with Leo -- no matter how minuscule -- any further.
With the pretense of preparing her for an MRI, I duck behind the monstrous machine and pull her, along with the table, with me. Just in case Christy is watching. Then, I lean over the table to whisper in her ear, as softly as my vocal cords allow.
“Listen, Debbie. I’m going to pretend the MRI is running and leave the lab. Within five minutes of my departure, Leo and four other kids are going to bust into here. When that happens, you have to be prepared. Get off the operating table and run through the doorway; I’ll make sure it doesn’t disappear. When you go through, picture the room where you met my mistress, Christy Qian.
“The doorway will open three meters to the left of her. When you come out, improvise a way to incapacitate her. Use the element of surprise. I’ll be there; I’ll help you after that. Got it?”
I watch Debbie carefully. I know that she’s quite intelligent, so she will probably be able to remember my instructions with ease, but does she have the skill to carry them out?
It’s too late for second thoughts, I chide myself.
Debbie nods. “Got it.”
I can’t bear the look of hope she gives me when I mention Leo’s name, so I get up and turn around to leave. But, just before I walk out of earshot, I hear a whisper behind me.
The Asian girl seriously needs to take psychosis medication.
After the cloaked person takes Debbie away, she faces me with a sneer curling her mouth. When we make eye contact, I get the feeling that something inside her is completely broken. Unhinged. Gone off the deep end.
My knees tremble, threatening to buckle from fear. I force my voice to work.
“Who the heck are you, where am I, and what do you want with me?”
“Let’s start with the first question, shall we?” the girl says with a smile. “Who am I?”
“Don’t ask me,” I say with a scowl.
“That was a rhetorical question!”
“Whatever.” I roll my eyes, trying to give the impression that I’m not intimidated in the least.
I can tell that it’s not working.
She spreads her hands. “I am the beginning and the end. I have saved you from a terrible fate, to deliver you to a fate even worse. You will know me as Christy Qian, but I cannot be contained by a simple name. I am everything and nothing.”
Her hands burst into dazzling light, like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I gasp.
Smirking at my reaction, she continues, “And as for where you are...”
She points at a wall to her right, and it ripples into a clear pane of glass-like material, showing me the world outside.
There is nothing there, nothing other than a murky, aphotic sea and a starless sky. No moon, no clouds, no nothing.
I stare out at it, shocked, wondering if this is it, if this is what the world has become. If this is what Christy has created out of my home.
As I watch, she speaks again.
“You are at the edge of the earth.”