Also, I have exciting news! I got a tumblr! Woooo! If you like Avengers, Sherlock, Doctor Who etc then you should follow me :P Here's a clicky link.
But, yeah. Here's the second chapter of Arwyn :D Enjoy! It's quite long, so brace yourselves!
Arwyn - 2.
“She has two hearts!”
“Two hearts! TWO!”
Mr. Bowler sighed and tipped his hat over his head. “I know. You’ve said.”
“And one kidney! She only had one kidney! That’s not normal!”
“Please stop talking. My brain is about to implode.”
Jeremy shut his mouth and sat on his hands. His body was jittery with nervous energy, and it had been for the last couple of hours, ever since he had seen that X-Ray. Two hearts! The image was burned into his mind, flashing whenever he blinked. The girl had looked normal on the outside, but on the inside, her body was different. Two hearts, one kidney and a stomach that floated in her back. That girl wasn’t normal. Not in any sense of the word.
“Well, seeing as we’ve got that out the way, what else do you want to know about it? The girl, I mean.”
Jeremy glanced up at the sound of Mr. Bowler’s deep voice. He was wearing a wide-brimmed black hat that was tipped over his eyes, hiding his forehead. His hair was ruffled by the huge pair of earphones that sat on his head. Jeremy was wearing a pair too. They were meant to block out the noise of the helicopter, but they didn’t. The whirring burned through Jeremy’s skull, pounding his fragile mind, but he didn’t really care. Two hearts! “What is she? If she’s not human then...”
“Alien, we think. She was discovered two years ago buried under a pile of rubble. They fished her out, took an X-Ray and sent her to a facility,” Mr. Bowler answered. He sounded posh, but not overly so. Instead, he sounded dangerous. He had the voice Jeremy would run a mile to avoid.
“Right. Why are we- I mean - MI5 going to her for help?”
Mr. Bowler cocked his hat forward, and slumped down in his seat. “You really didn’t get the briefing, did you?”
“She’s special. Some people have called her a freak of nature and others have taken to calling her the rouge superhero. She’s got powers.”
“W-what kind of powers?”
“Invincibility, for one. And the other...well, you see when you get there.”
Jeremy’s eyes widened. Invincible? No. He swallowed the retort that was rising in his throat and instead settled on a question. “How is she invincible? That’s impossible.”
“I know. But those two hearts you keep going on about? They can survive independently of each other. You have to stop both the hearts to kill her, and trust me, it is not easy. Her skin is embedded with tiny carbon structures with the same network arrangement of diamond. It makes it near impossible to pierce her skin. The diamond also acts as...well, it’s her second party trick.” Mr. Bowler leaned backwards again, and pressing a button on his headphones, spoke again. “Hey, Arthur, when are we landing?”
The pilot’s voice crackled through Jeremy’s ears. “About five minutes, Sir. We are approaching the forest now.”
Mr. Bowler took his finger off the headphone and straightened up. He cracked his back and padded a lump on his belt. His gun. Jeremy knew it was for protection, but he couldn’t help but feel his stomach churn and writhe every time he saw it. It reminded him of Leanne draped across the bed, with the blood pouring thick and fast from her mouth. Tears pricked in his eyes and he swallowed a sob.
"Is there anything else you want to know?”
Jeremy glanced up and felt his stomach bounce as they descended. He swallowed some bile and looked up at Mr. Bowler. “Why is she in the forest?”
Mr. Bowler paused. “I lied earlier. She has three party tricks, not two. Let’s just say that she is more at home in the forest than in the city. Again, you’ll understand when you see her.”
The helicopter swooped towards the ground and Jeremy lurched forward. He felt sick. It was like being on a plane but worse - in planes the seatbelts aren’t so tight you can’t breathe. In planes, you could relax. And in planes, you always knew what was at the end of the journey.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Holmhead. You get used to it.”
Jeremy tried to straighten up as the helicopter took another dive. “You were sick too?” he wheezed. His lungs pressed against his heart, and his ribcage burned.
“Yeah. Hold on. That’s us going down.”
The helicopter suddenly stopped in the air, and Jeremy saw the pilot pull a lever from the corner of his eye. The helicopter started lowering itself down. Emerald trees bowed out of the way as the blades pushed them back, and birds erupted into the air, squawking and cheeping as they flew for their lives. Jeremy peered through the door and almost sighed with relief. The ground was blissfully close - he could smell the wet soil, see the white tails of rabbits as they scurried into the distance. The helicopter touched ground, and after the initial juddering halt, the world stopped rocking and Jeremy felt stable again.
Jeremy pulled the headphones from his ears and stooped low to get out the door. He hopped down from the helicopter, leaving his briefcase in the back, and landed with a dull thud on the wet earth. He breathed in the fresh air. It had been so long since he smelled the world. London was dirty, dusty and the air squeezed the life out of your lungs, building the bricks of death with the black tar that clogged your airways. The air out here was so fresh, so clean. You could smell the grass, the dew drops, the honey, the soft scent of a flower blossoming into life.
Jeremy heard Mr. Bowler step out from the helicopter, his footsteps muffled by the still turning blades. Mr. Bowler clapped Jeremy on the back and he grinned. “You get used to the helicopter. Trust me.” He stepped forward and looked upwards into the trees. His hat had been pushed back, and his eyes scanned the canopy. He was looking for something.
Finally, he turned around and shook his head. “She’s moved further away. Can’t have been far though. From now on, stay as quiet as possible. We don’t want to spook her. Understood?”
“Good. Now, follow me.” Mr. Bowler started walking forward, stepping over the small branches and dry leaves that littered the forest floor. Jeremy copied him, and within a minute they were out of sight from the helicopter. Two minutes, and Mr. Bowler stuck his hand up. Jeremy stopped behind him and Mr. Bowler scanned the canopy again. His eyes were focused on the high branches of the mud coloured trees. He smiled and looked at Jeremy. “Look at that tree.” His voice was barely a whisper. “Just above the fourth branch. Do you see it?”
Jeremy looked at the tree in front of him, and his eyes slid up the trunk, settling where Mr. Bowler had told him to look. The green leaves on the branch quivered and Jeremy narrowed his eyes. Nothing. It was just a branch, an ordinary branch, framed by green leaves and patches of blue sky. It was just a branch.
“Sir, I don’t see anythi-”
The words caught in Jeremy’s throat. The leaves were twitching. Not so unusual, but the sky behind them, the little patches of azure that split the space between them, was also twitching. The whole background was moving, and Jeremy noticed a regular pattern in the movement. Up. Down. Up. Down. His eyes widened.
“Is that her?”
Mr. Bowler laughed and clapped a hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. “Her second party trick is invisibility.
Remember those diamonds I was telling you about? They reflect the light back off her skin and, effectively, make her a chameleon. It’s a pretty good survival technique.”
Mr. Bowler took his hand off of Jeremy’s shoulder and stepped forward. He tilted his head towards the tree and cupped his hand around his mouth. “Hello? We can see you.”
No answer. Just the serene silence, broken by the chirping of birds and rustling in the undergrowth.
“Prisoner 3452, may I remind you of a contract you signed one year and a half ago? You have to come with us. Now.”
The branch twitched again and a human shape became more pronounced. It was definitely the girl - Jeremy could see the arch of her thighs, the rounded back of her skull pressing against the bark.
It was all over in a matter of seconds. The girl swung down from the trees, her hands curving round the branches and her back arched as she leaped towards the ground. She landed in a forward roll and suddenly her hand was round Jeremy’s neck. The sharp point of a crude blade touched his Adam’s apple and sweat started to bead on his forehead.
The girl jerked Jeremy backwards and growled, “Who are you?”
Mr. Bowler had taken out his gun. It was pointed at the girl’s head, but Jeremy knew he couldn’t shoot. One tug to the side, and it wouldn’t be her brains splashed on the forest floor. It would be his.
“I’m am agent sent by the MI5 to pick you up and remind you of your contract.”
Prisoner 3452 tightened her grip on the blade. “It’s you, isn’t it? Mr. Bowl or something stupid like that? You’ve got some guts coming to see me. Well, you didn’t actually think I’d obey the contract, did you? You freed me! You let me go.”
“On the condition that you came back when we needed you. And trust me - we need you.”
She clenched her fist. “And once this is over, I’ll go back to that place, won’t I? That glass cage.” She glanced down at Jeremy and said, “They had me in Area 51 at the start. Do you know that? It’s a cool place, mister. You should see what they have. It’s not just aliens, it’s mons-”
The girl glowered and looked back at Mr. Bowler. She jerked her elbow into Jeremy’s ribs and he gasped with pain. “And who’s this?”
“The therapist. He was sent to help you re-adjust to civilian life, get you good press and make you feel better. He has nothing to do with this.”
“On the contrary, he has everything to do with this. You see,” she jerked backwards again, and Jeremy stumbled over his own feet, “he’s keeping me alive. You can’t shoot while I’ve got him, can you?”
Mr. Bowler paused and a frown appeared over his features. “Let Mr. Holmhead go. Leave him be.”
Jeremy could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He had to do something. Now. He threw his eyes upwards and looked at the girl. “He can’t kill you anyway. You’re invincible, remember?”
She growled. “So?”
"Well, he can’t shoot you anyway - the bullet would bounce off. Holding me here is pointless. And besides, if you let me go, I won’t be able to turn you around. I won’t be able to expose your weak spot, would I?”
The girl’s face paled and she shifted. “You’re bluffing,” she said. Her voice was hard and firm, but there were tiny tremors running through it, tiny quivers of fear running through her alien system.
Jeremy shook his head. He was getting into the swing of this. “I’m not. Mr. Bowler told me your weak spot. And trust me, you kill me and you won’t be getting out of here alive. There are ten, twenty guards around the perimeter. Your weak spot will be exposed, no matter which way you turn. Give it up. It’s over.”
The knife slid down from Jeremy’s throat and the girl stepped backwards. Jeremy slumped to the ground and clutched at his throat. There was no blood, not mark of any sort. Just the pain, the electrifying sizzling of his overactive nerve endings. He had never felt so alive in his life.
Jeremy heard the knife drop to the ground. He craned his neck backwards and looked at Prisoner 3452. She was tall, with matted brown hair and dull brown eyes. She was wearing a simple white t-shirt and a pair of muddy green combats. She was barefoot, and there was a long scratch down the right side of her face. Jeremy’s heart panged in his chest. She looked a bit like Leanne - his daughter.
No. What was he kidding? She looked nothing like Leanne - she had blond hair and fair skin. This girl had brown hair and freckled skin. They were miles apart, and yet, when Jeremy looked at her, all he could feel was the pangs of grief hitting his chest.
“It’s the arms. They’re longer than they should be.”
Jeremy blinked. “What?”
“You were staring at me. Most people look at the arms. They’re longer than they should be - my arms outstretched should be my height, but they’re not. They’re longer by about an inch. Happy now?”
Mr. Bowler suddenly spoke. “It’s her third party trick. A little bit of a monkey you are, ain't you?”
The girl glanced at Mr. Bowler, her arms folded across her chest. “So...what’s the deal?”
“We need you in for a mission. It’ll take three days, tops. After that you can leave.”
She growled. “You promise? No cells, no syringes, no captivity?”
“Yeah, sure, I promise. Now, we need to go.”
“Before you take me away, can I get my stuff? My copy of the contract is up there. And my clothes.” Her voice was harsh and hostile, and every word she spoke dripped with hatred.
Mr. Bowler paused and then lowered his gun. “Fine. But be quick. And remember - try and run, and you’ll have twenty bullets aimed straight for your back.”
Prisoner 3452 nodded, and in a second she was off, sprinting for the tree. She pushed up off the ground and wrapped her hands round the bark. And then, with the agility of a lemur, she scrambled upwards. Her long arms brushed the emerald leaves and when she reached the branches, she leapt on one of them, and started swinging. She was leaping through the air, bouncing from branch to branch, her feet curving round the boughs and her fingers sliding over the knobs and niches in the bark.
Jeremy watched her, open mouthed. “She’s a monkey.”
Mr. Bowler smiled as the girl reached her branch. “Pretty much. They reckon her race evolved in the same way we did, except their brains evolved faster. Hence she has a normal mind, but primitive body. It makes her seem wilder than she actually is. Hey, eh, do you actually know her weak spot?”
Jeremy glanced at Mr. Bowler. “No. I was bluffing. And what was the contract she signed?”
“We let her into the wild after one year and a half of studying, on the condition that she came back when we needed her. No ifs, no buts.” He turned back to the girl, who was gathering up things in her arms. She looked at home in the trees. Her feet curved round the branch and every ounce of her being seemed primed to jump and catch her if she fell. Jeremy half expected her to grow a tail. “Prisoner 3452, you have three seconds...”
The girl looked behind her and snarled. “Give me a minute.” She tied something round her waist - a jumper probably - and then leaped from the tree. She swung down from branch to branch, leaping and catching with grace and elegance. She landed at the base of the tree and handed a small, brown rucksack to Mr.. Bowler, who was fiddling with his gun. “There. My stuff. Don’t touch any of it.” She threw a glance at Jeremy and then walked over the soft mesh of leaves to where she had been holding him. She reached down and picked up the knife. She slid it into her pocket and looking up, said, “Right. Where’s the transport?”
Mr. Bowler looked at her. “It’s over there.” His finger tickled the trigger of his gun and Jeremy widened his eyes. No. NO!
A gunshot ripped through the air, and a smattering of birds flew into the sky. The girl was clutching her stomach with both hands and Mr. Bowler was walking towards her. The tip of his gun was moist, and he was smiling. “Night.”
The girl’s eyes closed and she slumped to the ground. Her arms were draped across her hips and her mouth was parted. A dart was sticking out from her stomach.
“What the heck was that for?!”
Mr. Bowler paused and looked at Jeremy. “What was what for?” He knelt down beside the prisoner and cradled her in his arms. He hauled her upwards and threw her across his back.
Jeremy walked forward, his face red with shock and rage. “She wasn’t attacking! She was coming with us! Voluntarily! Why did you knock her out?!” For a second he forgot who this man was, forgot that this man was technically his superior. He forgot his nervousness and his fear and furrowing his brow, he glared at Mr. Bowler. “What was that for?!”
Mr. Bowler started walking away from him, walking back through the forest. His body sagged with the girl’s weight, but his face was as smooth and calm as ever. “Firstly, I’m surprised you’re not asking how I shot her. Her skin is meant to be impenetrable, yeah? Well, she has a weak spot. A circle of flesh just to the right of her belly-button is clear of carbon. It’s the only part of her body you can shot.”
“I don’t care,” shouted Jeremy, flicking a branch out of his way with a flick of his wrist. “You had no right to do that! She’s a girl, Sir. You didn’t have to shoot her!”
Mr. Bowler stopped, took a deep breath and then kept walking. “She’s not a girl. She’s an alien - a highly evolved form of monkey at best, and a primitive survival machine at worst. And secondly, I sedated her because she gets travel sick, ok? You were sick on the helicopter ride, weren’t you? She hasn’t even been on a car yet. Now, do me a favour, stop complaining, or I’ll get your whiny, moralistic butt kicked off this case. Understood?”
Jeremy hesitated, and then ducked his head. “Yes, Sir.”
“That’s better. Now, help me get her in helicopter. It should be round the corner.” Mr. Bowler pushed through a scrub, and they were back in the clearing. The helicopter sat, resplendent in black, and the blades started whirring. Mr. Bowler glanced at Jeremy. “Are you going to help me, or not?”
Jeremy sighed and grabbed the girl’s legs. He hauled her into the helicopter and left her on the floor. He hopped in himself and sat down on his seat. His throat was still sizzling form the knife, his head was still frothing from the oddity of it all, and his heart was still thumping because of the argument. He felt alive for the first time in months. Grief had struck his system down, wrecked his nerves, but now - now, he felt better. Rejuvenated. Reborn. Jeremy smiled for the first time in weeks, and reaching above him snapped his headphones onto his ears. He thought for a moment and then grabbed the spare pair, and put them on Prisoner 3452. Mr. Bowler stared at him. “She can’t hear anything. Why the hell would you do that?”
Jeremy shrugged. He enjoyed the annoyed look on Mr. Bowler’s face. He deserved it, the callous little man.
“I don’t want her to hurt her ears.”
Mr. Bowler narrowed his eyes and sat across from Jeremy in his seat. His put his headphones on and then, as the helicopter took a sickening lurch forward, he said, “Don’t get too attached to her, Mr. Holmhead. She’s an animal, she’s a superhero, and she’s rouge. She won’t care about you when you’re working with her. And trust me when I say - when all this is over, she won’t remember you either.”