At first there was nothing, nothing at all. No more pain. No emotion, nothing. Just darkness and sense of consciousness. It was so peaceful. It was blissful. Even thinking was nothing as there was really nothing to think about. Just silence and darkness. Blank, empty and void. Not a sound to hear. Nothing penetrated the darkness. Some might think that this would be boring, but to have that you need emotion. I have no desire to leave this place. Is it a place or maybe more of a state of mind? No, not mine. Soul. I do suppose you need emotion for desire. To desire. It sounds like an emotion. Raw and pure pulling at the heart, leading the mind astray. I wonder if I ever had desired. I cannot remember. Memory is useless here. After all, there is nothing. Just Darkness.
Then my world shattered. Rather literally I think. Excruciating and searing pain. It burned through my mind. It shattered the peacefulness. It had been so wonderful not to feel. I was ripped from the darkness into blinding sheer white light. It burned my eyes and I tried to close them, but something kept them open. I felt a hiss escape my throat. I did not hear it. I only felt it. It was abstract and confusing, but I did not get to dwell on it. Pain. Tearing through my body like an earthquake. It clicked, then I have a body and that body feels. My fingers tingled as they clenched the cloth sheets beneath me. Pain. I wished for it stop the pain and the light. All I wanted was to crawl back into the darkness where it was safe but was it safe. Was anything truly safe? Pain. At this moment I could not believe such a thing. I clenched my teeth against a scream that threatened to tear me in half.
Tears streamed from my burning eyes. I wished to close them. With the pain fading, I could feel the cold steel pressed against my eyelids. A voice boomed. Loud and piercing it pounded against my ears and reverberated through my very skull. This time, I could not stop it. A scream ripped from my throat scraping against my raw insides. This time, I did hear it and it to assaulted my ears like a battering ram.
“Milinda” The voice quacked a crossed my mind. It was a heavy and deep voice. Thick with an accent I could not place. “Milinda” Again, it quaked through my world. “Focus you are going to be okay.” It came from my left and I searched the blinding light but couldn’t see anything or anyone. “Milinda, can you hear?” It boomed again like a gunshot. This time, I understood the name. Milinda. Is that me? My name? I can’t remember. If was my name it no longer fits. Not after the darkness. With effort, I open my mouth to answer, but I can’t form words. Just garbled sounds that stumble over my dry tongue. “I’ll take that as a yes.” The voice booms excitedly as a drumbeat. “Sleep now, my dear, I promise when you wake things will be better.” Then I feel something pricks my skin and a cold burning sensation pumps through my veins. It doesn’t take long for my eyes to grow heavy with sleep and I can’t find the strength to fight it.
When I wake the steel is no longer forcing my eyes open. I’m hesitant to open them afraid of what I might see. I know that I’m not back in the darkness. I can feel the solid steel beneath me cold and uncomfortable. Somewhere in the room, I can hear the rhythmic tap and whirl of machines. Slowly, as to let my eyes adjust to the lighting. I peer around the room. Gray walls of concrete and steel loom all around. Two large glass windows stare at me from across the room. Various medical equipment and computers are strewn throughout the room. I attempt to sit up and the room spins for just a second. Throwing a hand out to steady myself, I knock something to the floor. Where it clatters loudly against the plastic tiles.
“Oh, Milinda you’re awake good, very good.” There’s that voice. I hadn’t noticed anyone in the room and I scan it again looking for the source. I find nothing. Where had the voice come from? I sit up better trying to get a better look at the room. I still don’t see anyone but not far from a computer monitor blinks a warning.
Subject: Cryo02–2756J Status: Unresponsive
Next to the computer a bed similar to mine sits covered with a white sheet. It looks as if there is a body beneath that sheet. I swallow. Before I can think too much about it, I stand up. My legs are shaky beneath as if they struggle to hold my weight. Taking awkward, careful steps I make my way to the other bed. I’m almost there when my legs buckle and I crash into the table. Several instruments crash to the floor. A door, I hadn’t noticed before, swishes open, spilling white surgical light into the room. With another swish, it closes behind a man. An older gentleman with an amused smile on this face. He’s tall or at least he would be if he was hunched over.
“Careful now, Milinda you don’t want to do too much too soon.” The voice. I stare at him and he continues. “You’re likely to hurt yourself.” I open my mouth to answer, but my throat is still dry and raw. I can only make intelligible sounds before it feels like I’m choking on my own tongue. Hard coughs rip through my lungs almost knocking me to the ground. I grasp at the sheet and it pulls away slightly revealing a face. I recognize this face and it’s like I’m sucked from reality. I’m back in the cold river the water taking away my breaths as they struggle to pull in air. She, Jenny, has already disappeared beneath the surface. I close my eyes against the memories. I can still hear the cackling laughter of those boys as if they’re in the room with me. “Here Milinda” Something cold is pressed against my lips and my eyes shoot open, “Drink.” The old man holds a glass of water and drinks from it gratefully. “Slow down or you’ll be sick.” Reluctantly, I stop drinking, and this time when I speak I have no trouble. “They murdered her.” My voice sounds small and raspy.
“My dear, they have murdered many women.” This time, when he speaks I’m not startled. “Including you and my own daughter.” I’m puzzled by this, obviously they had not murdered me. I’m alive. I can feel my heart laboring against my chest. Every breaths I take is as bittersweet as always. “Not dead.” I feel kind of stupid pointing out something so obvious. He turns and fusses with what appears to be a full-length mirror. Pulling it up in front of me. I can’t help a gasp at what I see. My face and even my body are the same but what catches my attention first is my hair. It’s no longer dark brown but pure white.
“No, Milinda you are no longer dead.” He says this not bothering to hide the triumph in his voice. “Unfortunately, there seems to be no way for the hair remain its former color through the process.” I don’t really take in what he’s saying. Rather, I stare at my reflection and the longer I do the more that I notice off. The skin on one of my forearms is darker than it should be and instead of two blue eyes one is now brown. Brown eyes. Mind races, what has he done? I spare a glance at Jenny and my stomach curls. She’s missing her right eye. He butchered her. Why? How could he? Anger burn within me and I want to scream. He looks so smug. Without thinking I lounge at his hands in front of me ill intentions curled in the joints. Before I reach him my muscles seize up. Then I drop to the ground in pain that lasts only a brief second.
“Milinda, I’m sorry but I have read Frankenstein. So in the effort of precaution, I added a fail safe.” In his hand, he holds a small remote. Anger still burns through me but now it’s like ice cold. Frost spreads from where my hands are planted on the floor. “Very good, Milinda, you’re already learning.” I stand on newly shaky legs. Milinda is dead. Those cruel boys and this madman killed her. I’m not Milinda not anymore. “Why?” It feels like there’s ice in my voice holding it steady. Holding me steady.
“They murdered her. My daughter and I want revenge.” He walks to a nearby computer and sets down the failsafe remote. He types commands into the computer. “You must understand that I tried to help her as I helped you but I failed her.” Steps away from the computer and ushers me forward. On the screen, a video of girl plays. Even with the distorted picture it’s easy to tell that something’s wrong. Her movements are twitchy and broken. Then he appears on the far side of the room. She turns and jerks her way towards him. He raises an arm and I barely register the gun before he shoots her. I’m vaguely aware that I’m between him and the remote. My world reels with the idea that this poor girl had to live through being murdered twice.
“Do you see now? I need you to get my revenge. I do this for her and now you can get your revenge as well.” I understand the need for revenge. For justice. For this girl, for Jenny and for me but there is more than one monster in this story. He’s so close to me that I feel him breathing now. My movements are quick and fluid this time and this time, I do not fail. My fingers wrap around his throat and I’m surprised at how easily I lift him from the ground. I can see in his eyes that he’s realized his mistake. His skin is already turning blue beneath my grip and he shudders as the life leaves him. I let him drop to the ground. For just a moment I feel sick at what I’ve done. Then I see the video replay him shooting his own daughter and I have no more remorse. “Don’t worry I will get justice.” I tell him. I will get my justice but it will not be at the behest of some man.