They Walk Among Us
The screams coming from the building where Gideon had taken Raven were like nothing I’d ever heard before, and as much as I wanted to go and make sure he was okay, I did what he asked of me.
I walked up and down the aisle way, talking to the prisoners. I explained who I was, and what I was doing there. I told them they’d be getting out soon, but I didn’t have any keys to open the cell doors yet. As I passed by one of the cells, the woman in it waved at me to stop.
“I’m sorry this happened to you,” I said as I stepped a little closer to her door, but not too close. I didn’t want to frighten her.
She shrugged, the weary motion of a person who’d gotten used to the terrible things life handed her. “Not your fault. What happened to the Opalite they dragged out of here?”
There was real concern in her voice, and it surprised me. I hadn’t thought she would have any thought for anyone beside herself.
“Do you hear that screaming?”
She nodded. “It doesn’t sound like it normally does. There’s a lot of fear in those screams.”
“Yes, there is, but I can tell you they aren’t coming from the Opalite who talked to you.” I tapped the side of my head. “We’re connected, and I think I’d know if he was hurt.”
Scrabbling sounds came from another cell, and a young man appeared out of the shadows. There didn’t seem to be one square inch on him that wasn’t bruised or cut. I clenched my hands as a wave of anger swept over me.
::Why do you think I killed Gideon instead of keeping him alive?::
Raven’s thoughts plunged into my head.
::I understand. Where are you?::
::I’m taking care of some things at the main building. I’m sending Tyler over with the key. He swears he’ll be good. He’s scared shitless, so that’s always good. Plus he knows what happened to Gideon could easily happen to him.::
Something in the tone of Raven’s voice told me I probably didn’t want to know what had happened to Gideon.
The young man cleared his throat, and the sound coming from his throat as he tried to talk caused me to cringe.
“Is he okay?”
“Yes, he is. Don’t worry. We’re going to get you out of here.”
“I want to go home,” the young man managed to whisper.
“Why don’t you talk to me using your thoughts? It would be easier on your throat.” I crouched outside his cell.
The young man shook his head. “I can’t. I’m not old enough yet to do that. As we evolve, we lose the ability to talk aloud. The Opalite who was in here is far more evolved than I am.”
I filed the tidbit away in my mind as one more thing I needed to talk to Raven about.
“Are you Anson? This might sound like a stupid question, but where do you hurt? Are there any places that hurt worse than others?”
All of my medical training and compassionate emotions wanted me in the cell, examining the young man closer.
Anson nodded. “Yes. I’m very sore and there might be some broken bones, but the Opalite healed me a little. I’m not bleeding inside anymore.”
I should have known Raven would help Anson as best he could until I could look him over.
The door shoved open, and banged off the stone wall as Tyler stumbled in. The people in the cells cried or hissed as he practically ran to me. He held out a piece of paper, which I took from his trembling hand.
“Don’t let that monster hurt me, Zach. He tore Gideon’s heart out of his chest. Literally reached in and tore it out without struggling or anything. It was like he liquefied Gideon’s body to be able to do it.” Tyler clung to me.
I tried to shake him off. “Let go of me, Tyler. As long as you do what he says, and don’t hurt any one else, you’ll be fine. Raven is reasonable.”
“Reasonable? You call what he did to Gideon reasonable?” Tyler shouted.
“Tyler, you have seen what Gideon did to all these people, right? I’m sure there are many he actually killed. I’m pretty sure Gideon got off light, considering how much Raven could have tortured him for what he’s done.” I yanked my arm from Tyler’s grip and went to the control panel next to the main door. “You might want to either leave or stay close to me. I’m not sure how these guys will react, being free and being able to get a hold of you.”
::I’m sending someone for Tyler. I need to talk to him some more.::
As Raven’s thought arrived, so did two large men. I studied them, and something in their eyes told me they weren’t human. More Opalites, and I was starting to realize there were far more of the aliens on our planet than we’d ever thought.
“We’re here to take this one back to the Szef.”
I frowned. “What does that mean?”
“Oh okay. Yes, please take him to the Szef. Don’t hurt him or we’ll both be angry.”
The bigger of the two Opalites met my gaze with a calm expression. “We know our orders, sir, and we are only to escort this one back to the main building where the Szef is.”
Tyler squeaked as they stood on each side of him. He looked at me with a pleading glance. I shook my head.
“They aren’t going to hurt you, so just go with them. Raven isn’t going to hurt you either, as long as you cooperate.”
“Zach, what’s going on here?”
Tyler’s heartfelt plea caused me to pause in the middle of punching the code to open the cell doors. I thought about everything that had happened up to that point, and I chuckled.
“What’s going on here is humans have completely under-estimated Opalites from the very beginning.”