Chapter Two: Voice
Eyes… they were always there, burning his skin. Branding him a…something. They'd been there, forever the same, different feet, different sounds, different colours, heights, smells, but the eyes were the same.
"Yeah, I'll get him up." he groaned, staying where he was as a pair of humans came nearer. He could smell them, smell the boredom and the irritation.
And then, something different.
"Damn, damn, damn." he blinked wearily, raising himself to his knees before the burning started. "He can't be here- shit!" there was a thump and he inched himself back from the glass, his skin prickling. Something- a thin hand- pressed itself to the other side, but there was no tapping. He crouched, tasting copper in his mouth. Wrinkling his nose, he tried to spit it out, but it was still there. "Dammit!" The voice. Suddenly he wanted to drop through the floor, to hide even more than ever. "Ow." Carefully he moved closer, a strange sound working in his ears, loud enough to overcome the hum of the generator.
He slipped closer to the thonking, swearing being; a thousand miles stretching over the metre between them.
What was it? That sound? The creature- human/person- turned, and he was lost in violet.
Her combat boots were too heavy.
Ice slid down her back, an ache rolling between her ears.
They were large, glowing from-? She took a step closer, tripping over a sudden drop- stairs- and the eyes skittered away, vanishing every moment or so. What- cool glass slid smoothly beneath her fingers, the hum from earlier rising in volume, almost to a wail. The green eyes turned to her again, moving back and forth behind the glass- a wall, she realized.
"A ghost?" she breathed, pressing both hands to the glass- how- wh- nothing more than a large shadow-
"Up!" the glass rattled, a generator buzzing to life, lights nearest the door flickering, struggling to turn on.
Shit! Sam glanced around. Shit, shit, shit, where was she? An auditorium? The shape of whatever was behind the wall moved stiffly but quickly away from her. "Whelp!" the glass rattled again and she scrambled further down the narrow corridor, grabbing the backs of benches to keep herself steady. She had to hide, but there was no where- she gave herself a mental smack.
"Up!" the humming leapt to a shriek as the creature inside brushed against the glass and jerked back, shuddering while pair of men in white suits laughed. Sam ducked behind a row of plush seats- it was hard to call the huge cushioned seats benches- the bottom of her stomach vanishing. The ghost limped further into the shadows lining the enclosure, away from the rattling, away from the light. Well, if the light zapped her, she'd be pretty quick to get away from it too! It stopped on the far side of the pen, the furthest point from the light and the men. Sam squinted as the dark skinned guard hissed something into an earpiece. "Right." he pushed a button on a panel near the door and the rest of the lights flashed on, blinding her for a second. Eyes burning, she squeezed them shut, flattening herself to the carpeted floor. What the hell- she peered between the benches, watching as the men moved away from the case.
"Let's move. It's awake and the new replacements are in place."
"Affirmative, the shield works." they nodded sagely at one another before heading back to the door, shutting the heavy metal panels behind them with an echoing bang. Sam sighed, turning as she stood. "How do I get myself into these things. Sorry, whatever you- oh my god!" Her eyes fell on the enclosure and she stopped.
It was a human.
Well, it appeared to be human.
A man, probably not much older than her, slumped in the middle of an enormous glass room, eyes shut, skin a deep grey-white, his sides barely trembling. Sam ran down the short flight of steps to the walkway separating the glass room from the rows of seats, pausing with her hands on the glass.
"Hey." He was thin- so very thin- she could tell that, even under the black hazmat suit he wore, emblazed with some sort of symbol. Across the pen he shifted, rolling over to look at her with from under ratty white bangs, eyes dull, grey, looking too old for what would've been a handsome face.
What had been a handsome face.
"Are you alright?" Sam stood, not taking the hand the floating boy offered her. "You aren't hurt, are you, Sam?" She frowned, backing up, her eyes never leaving the tanned face, the shaggy white hair.
"How do you know my name?" she growled, hands searching for a weapon. He was probably working with the ringmaster- she was pretty sure he'd come from that direction. He landed softly, reaching for her.
"Get away!" she kicked him and he hopped back into the air. What the hell was he? "Get away you freaking monster!" she snarled, trying to dodge around him but he blocked her way, his eyes, wide and pleading, boring into her face, searching.
"Sam please, you've got to listen to me!" he begged, landing again, his hands on her shoulders.
"No!" she wrenched away as a ball of green energy exploded above their heads and a swarm of green chains whipped down from above. "Sam!" He jumped at her.
The ground was hard; caked with mud, empty chip bags and glass, and he was heavy, damp with sweat and green blood from where he'd intercepted one of the ghost woman's minions.
"Sam, you have to listen to me!" the boy whispered, pressing her closer to the ground. "List-" his voice cracked as one of the chains caught him across the back, but she covered her ears. "You have to remember!" She twisted, trying to free herself from his grasp, but his arms were stronger than her, and he didn't flinch when she tried to kick him. Around them, the chains pounded, link after glowing link into the ground, but she didn't care. She had to get free! "Come on!" suddenly, they were airborne, hurtling between the chains that twisted and lashed, trying to wrap around them.
"Put me down!" she hit him, again and again, but it wasn't working.
"Do you want Freakshow to catch you?" he snapped, wheezing, pausing momentarily above a roof garden.
"Oof!" he grunted, struggling to regain his balance and free his arm from the chain.
"Let me go!" she hit the flash on the camera, yelping as she fell into one of the huge potted trees.
"There she is!" the ringmaster appeared, held aloft by Lydia. Sam grinned, running across the garden to the fire escape, the flash of green explosions lighting her way as the boy yelled something about regretting something to the ringmaster- Freakshow- or whatever his name was. The rungs of the fire escape rang beneath her combat boots, tolling as a blue flash lit the roof and all else was silent.
On the side walk she paused, looking between the camera and the roof top, shifting from foot to foot, taking a step back towards the building. Was he alright? She had to go check- that explosion- she turned and jogged down the street, away, away, away. It wasn't any of her business.
Freakshow and his circus were gone before she could get the pictures published.
"I-" Sam knelt next to the glass wall. "Do you have a name?" the man didn't move, didn't come over, merely watched her, his eyes flicking over her face with no sign of recognition. Sam shook her head, straitening her shoulders as they slumped. How long had he been there? Locked up? "I- uh- I'm Sam. Look, I'm going to get you out of here. They can't lock you up!" she blurted. He turned his head away, light glinting off the collar binding his neck and the shackles on his bony wrists. "Hey! I'm trying to help!" He didn't look at her, but he struggled for a moment, finally pulling himself up so he was crouching, his sunken eyes squeezed shut, like he was in pain. Her heart tore as he inched closer, the collar around his neck sparking green with each miniscule step. He stopped a few feet away, dropping back to his knees, arms shaking, hands white knuckled. "Whoa!" Sam pressed closer to the glass, glancing at the door. "It's alright! Take it easy!" Sweat dripping from his face, he raised his eyes to her and clenched his teeth, lurching up again to stagger the last few feet towards her, the collar spitting green flames until he fell, barely a foot from the glass, gasping, writhing, the flames flickering over his body. She banged her hands on the glass as he twisted, clawing the floor, his fingers trailing green across the tiles.
"Danny!" the name fell from her lips before she knew what it was.
His eyes flew open, landing on her face.
And he screamed.