Not So Human - Chapter 28
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
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Chapter 28: Set in a little glen of sorts in the middle of an overall treeless field, they’d been battling long enough to break a sweat. He was glistening. She felt drenched.
It was obvious who had the upper hand.
Despite the fresh air around her, Sabrina could barely breathe with his scent assaulting her. Her cheek was pressed painfully into a broken stone wall, her legs were locked in place by his legs, and he had rendered her hands useless by twisting them behind her back. Even her wings were smashed between their two bodies.
He was fighting hard to keep her in place, his breath harsh in her ears from the struggle. But the bottom line was that he was still winning.
Sabrina slumped against the hard barrier as much as his proximity would let her slump, praying that he bought the act. She knew it was her only chance to break free when she was growing more exhausted with every second from her fruitless exertions.
“That’s a good girl,” Mr. Smiley told her, easing back just a little. He let go of one of her wrists, his hand brushing against her wings on the way to his side.
It was to grab handcuffs. Sabrina didn’t know how she knew that, but she recognized it all the same.
She took the opening, small though it was, and butted the back of her head into his. It hurt her, but his yowl of surprise indicated that it hurt him worse.
Yet there was no time to wince, much less celebrate. She brought her right heel up to scrape it from his knee down to his foot, which she stomped on as hard as she could.
It didn’t feel nearly hard enough, like one of those nightmares where she couldn’t move properly. So it was almost surprising when he yelped at the contact, then yelled again when she brought her elbow into the side of his face.
Sabrina desperately looked around the sunken area for the knife she remembered losing earlier in the fight, and saw its glittering handle only a few yards away. It was a distance she could cover if she didn’t waste another second.
Sprinting forward, she dropped into a crouch to grab for the hilt. Behind her, Mr. Smiley had recovered and was moving forward at an alarming pace. But she stood back up in time to whip the blade at his throat.
The metal pressing against his skin stopped him short, though she could see his thoughts written all over his tense frame.
Playing a dangerous second ahead of him, she pushed the steel into his neck hard enough for a small line of blood to appear. “Don’t even think about it.”
A familiar, murderous rage washed over her nervous system. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to kill him so badly. It would be so easy – so worthwhile – to flick her wrist and slash him open to drain away his worthless existence.
Sabrina knew he’d never change. Ever. That certainty overrode any merciful tendencies she might otherwise have had, pushing far past the horror she still felt from snapping Martin’s arm. She didn’t feel any hesitation at the thought of inflicting that kind of damage again. Whatever the consequences, they couldn’t be worse than the intense paranoia she would have to live with if he didn’t die.
Still panting for breath, Sabrina let her rage fill her. Considering everything he’d put her through, it wasn’t difficult to give in. And she’d very nearly talked herself into a killing decision when she heard someone call out behind her.
She hesitated. Turning around meant she would have to drop her guard with Mr. Smiley, which she wasn’t prepared to do unless he was good and dead. Not only would it be over-the-top dangerous, but she might end up losing her nerve and let him live.
Yet his nasty smirk was slipping back over his face, a very good indication that she no longer had a choice in the matter.
The voice resounded around her for the second time. “Faerie! Let him go.”
Her stomach dropped with a certainty that she was going to have to do as he said. She already understood the speaker had some leverage over her she couldn’t resist. His tone made that clear.
Even knowing that, her heart still dropped when she did turn her head. Looking up the hill, she saw Dallas kneeling on the ground above her, restrained by four men.
Four against one. The first human pressed down on his right shoulder and another on his left. A third stood behind him to restrain his wings and a fourth held a gun to Dallas’ forehead.
Sabrina let out a strangled cry and took a step toward him like she could somehow do something to help. That’s when Mr. Smiley grabbed her again, twisting her wrist until the knife fell from her fingers.
“Get down on your knees,” he snapped.
In that moment, that wasn’t the worst possibility. She obeyed slowly, locking eyes with Dallas, hers pleading for a forgiveness she knew she didn’t deserve.
He just smiled sadly and shook his head, his own message just as clear as hers: She shouldn’t be blaming herself.
Sabrina was positive he was wrong.
Behind her, Mr. Smiley pulled out something that jangled metallically. She felt the cold steel of handcuffs on her skin just seconds later. It seemed like something was encircling her windpipe as well.
“Any last words for your little boyfriend?” He asked spitefully, his hand heavy on her shoulder.
“Please don’t do this,” she begged, her voice cracking. “Please, please don’t do this.”
“You have thirty more seconds, Princess,” he directed. “If you have anything to say to him, you’d better say it now.”
She could tell he wasn’t joking. “Dallas, I’m so sorry.” She all but shouted the words at him, determined that he catch every one of them no matter how pointless they were. “I’m so, so sorry. I never wanted this to happen.”
“It’s not your fault, Sabrina,” he told her, his voice wavering not in conviction but with fear. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for this.”
That was the last thing the powers at play allowed them to say to each other. At the sound of the gunshot, she jolted back to the present.
“Oh my word!” She gasped, breathing hard. “They’re going to kill Dallas!”
Deanda looked panicked at the sudden outburst, but Sabrina couldn’t take the time to explain. All she knew was that she had to warn Dallas, and she dashed off the bed for that purpose.
“What are you talking about?” Deanda clambered to her feet too.
Sabrina didn’t pause at the door, startling Michael and Richard outside with the force she used to open it. She didn’t pause to apologize though, taking off down the hall. Her friend kept up directly to her right, while both bodyguards trailed just behind.
“I had another snapshot of the future or something.” It sounded ridiculous the second it came out of her mouth, but she knew she wasn’t crazy. She’d already seen one flash-forward come true, so she wasn’t going to mess with the second.
“What do you mean?” Deanda was trying to sound calm and mature, but it was fairly obvious she was at least slightly rattled.
Sabrina didn’t glance at her, not bothering to choose her words carefully. What her response lacked in actual explanation, it more than made up for in intensity. “I mean that I got a wide-screen, front-seat view of what’s going to happen.”
“Like what you said happened before? With Alex?”
Still trembling from the aftereffects of what she’d seen, Sabrina nodded. “You have Alistair’s cell, right? Call him and tell him to meet us in the library. And tell him to bring Dallas.”
“Who are you calling?” Alistair appeared around the next corner with Lauren.
A perfectly healthy Dallas was behind them, reaching forward to ruffle the younger girl’s hair. She squealed and slapped his hand away, glaring at him in a distinctly familial way.
That was Sabrina’s first clue they might be siblings.
It wasn’t a thought she dwelt on. She was much more interested in seeing that Dallas stayed safe and sound.
All the same, it was Deanda who broached the topic at hand. “Sabrina thinks Dallas might be in danger.”
The subject in question stopped annoying Lauren and turned to Sabrina. “What?”
Taking a fortifying breath, she looked him straight in the face. “I saw something. In my head. You can think I’m crazy, but I still need to tell you.”
He regarded her, puzzlement and concern warring for dominance on his face. There wasn’t any judgment there that she could see, though that could change after she explained herself.
She took another breath. “It was like I skipped into the future, where the HPAC had a gun to your head.”
“So you had a dream?” It was Alistair who responded first.
She shook her head. “No. I didn’t fall asleep. And something like this happened before when I was at the HPAC plant.” She shuddered at the too-recent memory. “That time, what I saw came true.”
“What was it?” Dallas asked.
Sabrina didn’t particularly want to retell it, but she had to make him believe her now that she’d begun. She went for it, carefully avoiding anyone’s gaze while she did.
“I was strapped to an operating table.” Another breath that was deeper than usual. “They tried examining my eyes but I started crying, which didn’t make the doctor there very happy. He and Mr. Smiley started arguing and, all of a sudden, it was like I was in a completely different scene. Same setting, just different characters. I don’t know how to quite explain it. All I can say is that Alex was next to me, holding my hand. And then I was back to the present. Five minutes later though, reality played out almost exactly how I saw.”
It sounded lame and confusing even to her.
“Well.” Alistair somehow managed to look supportive and doubtful at the same time. “That doesn’t necessarily prove anything one way or another.”
Sabrina shook her head. “It’s hard to explain, but I swear you need to take me seriously right now.”
Dallas didn’t look very happy, but she couldn’t tell if it was because of his potential impending death or because she’d mentioned Alex. It seemed ridiculous to think it might be the latter, but he’d already made it clear how much he didn’t like her ex.
“I’ve never heard of anyone being able to see into the future,” her nephew persisted. “But I’m thinking you’re right about not dismissing this so quickly. I’ll give Da a ring.”
Sabrina understood that they weren’t dismissing what she’d said altogether. Yet she still felt their doubts. They were probably wondering whether she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, because they all looked some shade of sympathetic. Except for Lauren, that was.
“What if she’s right?” She asked, her face tight with worry. “What if you’re going to die?”
Dallas gave her a cocky grin. “Like they could kill me that easily.”
Clearly upset, the glare Lauren gave him was intense. “Don’t be condescending.” Turning back to Sabrina, she directed the same intense stare minus the hostility and times the desperation. “Did you see him die?”
“No.” Sabrina didn’t bother trying to instill confidence into the word. “He was on his knees on the ground and there was a guy on either side of him, one behind him restraining his wings and a fourth with a gun. But I didn’t see it fired.”
She had heard it; she just hadn’t seen it.
“See,” Dallas said reassuringly. “So even if that does happen, I’m sure I could take them on.”
“I told you not to patronize me.” Lauren shot him a look that was a lot more poignant than anything else. “Mum’s already gone, and Da is, well, Da. And I don’t want you to die.”
He drew her close, and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, holding on for his dear life.
“I’ll be careful,” he promised. “And we’re safe here. They don’t have the technology to see this place.”
Alistair had his phone up to his ear, his already impeccable posture straightening further when he began speaking into it. “Hey Da. Where are you now?”
Sabrina nervously brushed a lock of hair out of her face. She didn’t even pretend not to listen in.
“Sabrina thinks she saw into the future,” Alistair tried to explain. He glanced at her and then away again.
She kept her attention right where it had been.
“Yeah. She said she saw Dallas get captured. Ever heard of anyone being able to do that? See into the future, I mean?” He nodded for nobody’s benefit but his own. “No. Neither have I.”
Her spirits sank a bit more and her frustration rose. She couldn’t tell for sure, of course, but it didn’t seem like the conversation was going her way when she so desperately needed it to. For Dallas’ sake.
“Yeah, sure. No problem,” Alistair was saying to his father. “I’ll tell her.”
Sabrina felt her stomach spasm, not at the possibility that Kenneth was upset with her. There was no reason for him to be as far as she knew, and her brother didn’t seem unreasonable. Overprotective, yes. Irrational, no. So while there was a small nagging fear somewhere inside that she might have incurred his wrath, it was almost completely drowned out by the worry that she might be in store for a psychiatric evaluation.
From an outsider’s perspective, she was certain she seemed in desperate need of one.
Alistair hung up the phone, then looked first from his best friend to his aunt. “Da wants to see you both. He’s in the library.”
Dallas nodded like he wasn’t worried at all. For all of one brief moment, when he inadvertently turned toward her, she thought she saw a flash of fear in his eyes. But he covered it up right away. Giving Lauren’s hand one last squeeze, he gestured at Sabrina to proceed.
She waited until after they were out of hearing range to say anything, not wanting to upset his younger sibling any more than she obviously had.
“I’m sorry if I freaked you out.” The comment was so simplistic, it was ridiculous; but she wasn’t sure what else to say. “I just didn’t think it was right not to tell you.”
Sabrina the wordsmith, she thought with a whole lot of sarcasm. A great orator, she quite obviously was not. Though it seemed as if she had a better knack for words than Dallas, since he wasn’t saying anything at all.
“And I didn’t know that Lauren was your sister,” she continued. “I wouldn’t have said anything in front of her if I had known.”
“It was an honest mistake.”
But now that they were alone, he didn’t look nearly as dismissive about the details she’d disclosed. Since he’d chosen to respond to her last statement alone and in the tone he had, she could put two and two together.
He was more worried about her message than he’d let on. It was a natural reaction. Even healthy. Yet it was Lauren’s wellbeing he was putting first. Which was both incredibly sweet and sad at the same time.
The library door was open when they reached it, but Dallas pulled it out a little further to let Sabrina through first. She stepped in, looking back in an insecure fit of foolishness to make sure he had followed. It gave her another glimpse at what was really going on behind his brown eyes. And he covered up that vulnerability just as fast as he had the last time.
She didn’t take the dishonesty personally. Not when he was walking into a meeting with his king and father figure.
“Sabrina. Dallas.” Situated on one of the bright green couches, Kenneth nodded at the sofa across from him. “Have a seat.”
She managed not to falter despite the disconcerting solemnity in the air. Taking the spot straight across from her brother, she crossed her left leg over her right and folded her hands in her lap. Her perfect posture was more of a defense mechanism than anything else, and a lame one at that.
Dallas chose the spot one cushion away from her.
“Thanks for coming,” Kenneth began. “I think it’s best to settle this particular matter as quickly as possible, considering the potential danger. We’re just waiting for Geoffrey.”
Knowing that the head of Intelligence was going to be joining them didn’t make Sabrina feel any better. She was sure he was a champion of justice and could be trusted with her life, but that didn’t mean he didn’t make her exceedingly nervous. She couldn’t help but watch her Ps and Qs around him. And since she made those sounds with an American accent, she felt even more uncomfortably mindful of everything she said.
When he did walk through the door, Geoffrey gave her a cordial nod and Dallas a slightly smaller show of acknowledgement. For Kenneth, he reserved a greater inclination of his head that was marked by deep respect. Despite all the roiling emotions inside of her, Sabrina felt a stab of pride at the gesture. That was, after all, her brother commanding such esteem.
“I appreciate you rearranging your schedule on such short notice,” Kenneth began while Geoffrey sat down diagonal to Sabrina.
She played with her fingers. Not so much that anyone would notice; just enough to ease a miniscule amount of tension.
“Sabrina.” In speaking her name, Kenneth brought everyone’s attention directly to her. “Why don’t you tell us everything you saw. Be as detailed as you can.”
More than feeling the pressure, she nodded nervously. And try as she did to include everything she could, it took a mere few minutes to recount the flash-forward.
Geoffrey nonetheless scribbled down notes while she spoke, looking up from his legal pad every line or so to regard her sternly. Sabrina told herself that meant nothing coming from someone who always looked strict.
“Then Dallas told me it wasn’t my fault, and I heard a shot,” she finished with a whole lot of awkwardness. “So what do you think? Should we be concerned?”
It was a dumb question, she realized, though not until after the words came out of her mouth. Either she was diagnosable or Dallas was in trouble, both of which gave very good cause for concern.
The vast majority of her actually wanted to be insane, since that would mean Dallas’ life wasn’t in jeopardy. Then again, the selfish part of her wanted to be right. She knew what she’d seen and, when it came down to it, she didn’t think she was just experiencing traumatic effects from her captivity. There was strong evidence to indicate she was in full possession of her right mind; and she preferred being considered intelligent and strong, not emotionally and mentally tainted.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before.” Geoffrey flourished his pen one last time before giving her his full attention. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I’ve been told you had a similar experience while you were with the HPAC.”
Kenneth cast her a reassuring smile.
“How about before then?” Geoffrey pressed.
“Never.” Sabrina shook her head. “I know that makes me less than a convincing witness.”
Sure enough, his frown deepened.
Sabrina, however, wasn’t finished. “But I know what I saw. It was vivid and graphic and tangible, and it felt as real as it does sitting here talking to you right now.”
She didn’t look away when she went on. “Now, I’ll admit I didn’t flat-out see Dallas die; but do you really want to take that risk?”
It was a perfect note to end on, and she didn’t feel guilty about hitting it. It was completely valid and wholly sensible.
Dallas raised his hand. “Personally, I think she makes a very good point.”
Sabrina could tell he intended it to be comical, but she still recognized it for what it was. It made her wish she could wrap her arms around him and tell him that she wouldn’t let anything happen.
While she knew she wasn’t strong enough or smart enough or fast enough to make that guarantee, she felt like the intensity of her desire and resolve had to count for something. Logic told her otherwise, but that didn’t lessen the emotion.
Geoffrey, meanwhile, had his attention on her and her alone. She could all but see his brain working, so she wasn’t altogether surprised when he took a mere minute to reach at least a temporary conclusion about what to do with her challenge.
“Could you describe your surroundings once again?” He asked.
Sabrina closed her eyes, partially from frustration but mainly to recall additional details. It took the space of several breaths to bring everything into focus inside her memory, but when she did, she could make out a row of trees somewhat off in the distance. It was a clearing surrounded by sloping hills that didn’t look American in any way she could identify. Judging by the landscape alone, she assumed she hadn’t left the United Kingdom.
There were no buildings anywhere, but she did realize that there were several cars up above where she stood. One of them, a small, shiny black number, had a nasty dent in its driver-side panel.
It and two similar vehicles were the only signs of civilization on an otherwise deserted road. Though that didn’t make any sense, since she knew she remembered being shoved up against a wall.
“This is what I saw,” Sabrina stated with as much confidence as she could, willing her wings not to quiver and partially succeeding. Her hands trembled too, but she could hold them in her lap at least. “We were in some kind of sunken area in the middle of a larger field. But it wasn’t flat terrain. It wasn’t hilly per se where I stood, but it wasn’t Midwest-flat either.”
She knew instantly that she was going about the description all wrong. There was no way they’d know what “Midwest-flat” meant. So she tried again.
“Let’s just say that the ground right beneath me was pretty level. There was at least one wall but no actual buildings, and I’m pretty sure it was somewhere in the U.K. I don’t know if it was Scotland, but it definitely wasn’t back home.”
Dallas was the first one to throw out a theory. “It could have been a Roman ruin.”
Sabrina considered that. “It would have to be a really ruined ruin.”
“We’ve got lots of those,” Kenneth pointed out. “So that might very well have been what you saw. Were there any distinctive markers?”
She couldn’t think of anything else. She’d already racked her memory to the point where she had to wonder whether she was beginning to make things up. Yet she found herself wishing they’d press her for more details still when Geoffrey pushed on to questions about her captivity.
She felt herself shrink into the couch with each answer she gave.
No, they hadn’t done any invasive surgeries on her.
Yes, she’d been awake whenever she was around them. She thought.
Yes, that was right, she’d never been put under. That she knew of. Except for the car ride to the facility. And however long it took for her to come around afterward.
No, she wasn’t on any medication.
No, they hadn’t given her any medication. That she could recall.
By the time they were done, Sabrina was ready to shut herself up in her bedroom again. Despite the relatively early hour, she called it a day. Hiding under her covers might make her something of a coward, but she thought if she faced much more unpleasantness of any variety, she might very well start begging for the psychological evaluation she’d been dreading before.
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