Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 14)

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My hysterical laughter filled the air, but there was no amusement behind it. “Don’t worry? I’ve been taken to an unfamiliar location against my will, and I’ve just realized that my dead girlfriend may have used me!” I snarled.

“Perhaps we should wait until the doctor arrives. Maybe it’ll give him time to calm down. Back away, Genevieve. There’s no need to cause him further injury. I have no doubt he’ll put up a struggle,” Not-Exactly-Lila said through a scowl.

So, younger Ms. Cold-Smile has a name.

Genevieve directed her pout at me as she said, “No fun.” We stared at each other as that pout turned into a mischievous grin. “I promise to be good. I’ll wear gloves during the inspection.” She approached me with more caution, extending her arms like she expected a hug. With each step she took forward, I took one backward. It felt like a dance that siblings would perform while opposed in a tickle war. “It’s just a quick examination of your crevices. When you bend over, it’ll only take a minute. I won’t hurt you, Caleb,” she purred.

“There will be no need for that!”

I followed the source of the voice to see an older man, possibly in his sixties, stepping out of a dark blue van. As he got closer, I saw that his face was plagued with scars. The most prominent being the ring-shaped seemingly burnt flesh near the corner of his left eye. When he reached me, he held out a hand. I mustered the strength to give him a firm shake. As he stepped back, he looked over my body. Pointing to my legs, he said, “That’ll have to come off, son. You can’t wear that during the x-ray.” I nodded in agreement. At that, the doctor motioned for me to follow him.

I took in the sight of where we were heading. I hadn’t noticed this building before. It looked like a large, tan block, void of any windows from what I could see.

He kept the door open for me. I thanked him as I entered. The sound of the door shutting echoed through the room. “Ah, I’m getting old,” the doctor chuckled. “I rarely remember to turn on the lights before letting go of that bloody door.” A few clicks later, the place was lit. It looked like an emptied warehouse. “This way. We must keep moving…” I brought my attention back to him. His mouth was open, an unspoken word hanging from his tongue was awaiting my help in its discovery.

Then, it dawned on me. “Caleb. My name’s Caleb.”

He shot me a friendly smile, eyes crinkling at the corners, emphasizing his scar. “Right. Well, right this way.”

He led me to a small room near the back. At the center was something resembling the patient’s bed in a family physician’s office. At least, I think that’s what they’re called. Above it was some sort of machinery. Was this supposed to be the x-ray?

My apprehension must’ve been slathered across my face, because the doctor said, “It may not be one of those state-of-the-art machines you’re used to seeing, but it works. Now, your jeans, son.”

The words crawled out of my mouth before I could stop them. “You don’t look like a doctor.”

He froze mid-stride, and turned around to look me in the eyes. “I’ll have you know, I am a certified doctor. Looks can be deceiving, boy. You already know that, don’t you? That woman out there may look just like your Lila. However, she isn’t. She is, in fact, far deadlier than you can imagine. You get in her way, and she won’t give you the chance of a last dying breath. Now, pants off.” As he continued his way to the control panel, I witnessed him injecting a clear, colorless liquid into his arm.

I swallowed. Once again, my throat felt as if an invisible force was rubbing sandpaper on its walls. Lila, what the hell did you get into? The sense of betrayal began to creep its way up again, but I pushed it away. I couldn’t keep allowing my emotions to control my actions.

I obeyed his orders and laid down.

PART 15

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 11)

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The sight of it snapped me out of the trance I was starting to fall into. “Not exactly.” What did she mean by that? Lila hadn’t mentioned siblings.

Not-Exactly-Lila reached into the car and unlocked the door. Just then, another figure appeared. Standing next to her was a younger version of Ms. Cold Smile. Except, her smile was warmer, flirtatious even. She couldn’t be older than 18 or 19. “Get ready, kid,” Not-Exactly-Lila said to her. The girl winked at me as she made her way to Mr. Mercedes’ side of the car. I turned back to Not-Exactly-Lila, just as she nodded to someone in the distance.

The sound of mumbling whipped my attention to my right. Mr. Mercedes was stirring in his seat, the pain in his movements obvious. His eyes opened slightly, but looked like they were rolling back. Panic started to rise within me. Before I could say something, the car lurched back into an upright position, the sound of groaning metal making my head throb.

Not-Exactly-Lila calmly walked to Mr. Mercedes and said, “Looks like you’re still conscious. Shame.” She bent down, and as she straightened her spine, I saw a shard of glass in her hand. “You could’ve gone more peacefully.” Without wasting another second, she jammed it in his neck. Mr. Mercedes’ body spazzed as blood gushed from his throat. My breath quickened as the contents of my stomach threatened to make a messy introduction of its incomplete marriage with bile.

With eyes widened in fear, I trembled as the girl approached me. She flashed a quick, reassuring smile. Confused, I looked on with furrowed brow. I watched as she tore the door open, and cut me free from the seatbelt. “Can you move your neck?” she inquired. Before I could try, she gently held my neck and slowly moved it side to side. “You’re a lucky guy, Caleb.”

“I believe this is as lucky as he’ll get,” said Not-Exactly-Lila, her voice void of emotion. She reached into a pocket and took out a piece of black fabric. “I’m going to blindfold you.” A rush of energy flowed through me, allowing me to shift away from her. I winced in pain at the sudden movement.

“Why?” I asked. “You don’t want to see where we’re going. That way, you’ll have plausible deniability should someone question you,” she answered. She gave me an impatient glare as she held up the blindfold. I stayed put, not wanting to relive the pain I had felt when I moved before. As if she could read my thoughts, she redirected her eyes to the girl. I followed her gaze to see the girl step forward. She held out her hands to help me out of the car, and I hesitantly let her. Not-Exactly-Lila got behind me, and securely tied the surprisingly soft blindfold in place.

After a minute of standing in complete darkness, the girl guided me to their vehicle. I felt the soft interior of the car as I sat. The warmth of another person’s body hovered over mine for a second until I heard the click of the seatbelt.

“Have you left all personal effects in your hotel room?” Not-Exactly-Lila asked.

I swallowed, my throat feeling suddenly dry. “Yes.”

“Good. Give him some water,” she commanded┬áthe girl.

“If you’re not Lila, who are you?”

“Open up,” the girl’s polite voice rang. I did as I was told. Small amounts of water flowed into my mouth in intervals. “Good?” I nodded in response.

“Are you going to answer me? By not exactly, did you mean that you lied to me about your identity all this time? If so, did you not trust me?” I pushed, trying to keep the hurt from being evident in my voice.

Minutes passed until Not-Exactly-Lila gave an answer. “I’m a duplicate. I was created in a lab. No further questions until you are given permission. Understand?”

I felt a sensation akin to whiplash from being hit with her answer, but managed to say, “Yes.”

The rest of the ride to this mysterious destination was silent, save for my ragged breaths. When the purr of the engine ceased, I knew we were here.

PART 12

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