Lincoln Lee woke up when the effect of PCP slowly started to fade and the pain rushed back into his nerves.
The heart pulse measure beeped couple times, now faster than before.
He opened his eyes, blinked them languidly and fell asleep again.
Pulse went back, and long pauses between beeps continued.
Once again Lincoln woke up, still feeling confused and sleepy, but this time stayed awake.
He didn't felt anything. He had no idea which way he face, where his limbs were and which direction ground or sky was. Nothing. Only his eyes had sense, sweet sense, making them feel like they existed.
There were no a single thought.
He blinked couple more times.
Dark, white, dark, white. He stayed at white. He looked straight forward, unable to picture that white thing. Lincoln moved his eyes to the left, then right, up and down. The white - no, it was slightly pink, some parts where white - moved with them, getting closer on him on his sides and away in front of him. That thing surrounded Lee.
He was... was in some kind of plastic tube.
Lincoln weren't thinking about absolutely anything before he could figure out that. Now his awareness returned into his head, but so slowly, so painfully slowly.
Okay, now you know something. You know you can see. Now move your head.
Lee couldn't. He didn't felt anything, no single muscles around the neck or shoulder.
He tried to remember. How you move your body? He didn't knew, couldn't remember.
The beeping on the other side - left, left is left - started to accelerate. Lee turned his eyes on its direction, but couldn't see, couldn't turn his head.
His mouth was so dry, he felt how warm air went across his face and turned cold as he breathed in and out. There was something on his face, Lee could see it. Gas mask? That it was.
He moved his tongue, mouth was completely dry and he didn't tasted anything. Air went inside and out.
Right as Lincoln breathed in, his chest and belly carefully raised. It felt so awful. It was like his skin were ripped of stretched and wrung, randomly placed back to its place and dried and wrinkled and it felt so tight and old and awful.
It was so horrible, but it made him scared and breath faster and make it worse and more pain.
He wanted to cry and scream and yell but he couldn't make a sound he was there trapped no escape he can't move oh God.
It took so, so long before Lincoln was wake and aware enough to remember how to flex his muscles and move them. First he bend his neck forward, the idea kept nagging inside his head, he had to see he had to move he had to see he couldn't stand before seeing something. Skin behind neck felt as awful as his raising chest, tight and uncomfortable and Lee already thought it was going to rip apart.
His head felt so heavy. He moved onto sides, sure all the time that now something fill snap and his the cervical vertebrae will break and vein snap.
But that didn't happen - but the pain never ended - and now he saw around him. The vision was fuzzy, he didn't had his glasses. Lee narrowed his eyes to view better.
The room was large, dark and musty, atmosphere full of thoughts and feels. Some of walls on one side were covered with plastic sheets, splattered with thin, long red spots and stripes, falling down towards the floor. It was dusty, wooden and there were rough cracks and holes here and there, you would have had your feet full of sharp sticks if not wearing shoes. Only old, shaggy carpet covered small area next to the table. Even the carpet had its red spots and transparent, dry and shapeless climbs, half eaten by rats.
He didn't knew what it was, but his body knew. It knew and just like that Lincoln felt like about to throw up. But his stomach was completely empty and he couldn't but gag quietly.
This wasn't hospital, it wasn't his own room, this place was...
It reminded him the same kind lab Walter had. Only that this one was way more dilapidated and smaller. And the eeriness was floating over the place.
Lee was confused, without any clue what was going on or why he was here, and his mind was working so sluggishly and all the thoughts were blurry.
I have to get out of here.
As he tried to move his arm up, just an inch, skin stretched, just a bit, and the inner defense system yelled NO DON'T MOVE.
In that very moment his whole arm fell on fire.
Horrible flames and hundreds and hundreds needles went through his left arm and shoulder and all way on the finger tips and it hurt and God it hurts make it stop.
Lincoln hadn't been moved for ages, every single cell and organ and been chained into shackles of pain and whenever they changed their position, the shackles called their master Mr. Pain and this gave his welcome-gift to cells.
The man cried, he couldn't, please let me go what is going on.
Every second for Lee was an hour for real world. Whatever he did, blinked his eyes, it took ages, he was like in the slowed movie, when the world outside the chamber was working normally.
The door creaked, it was far, far away, Lee couldn't see where it was but there was a life somewhere.
The man stepped into the room, shoes clopping on the floor. As he walked around the room, he apparently stepped on one of those glimpses, judging from the swearing and small dance to rub the stain away. Lincoln tried to turn his head to see the comer.
- Seems you're finally awake, he said, sounding somewhat familiar. It was bit different than the one Lincoln thought he knew, but couldn't figure out, what was it or why. The man, for Lee it was just a dark shadow, who just flashed past him and vanished again. He never saw man's face clearly, barely even noticing he was there. Couldn't even clear out that man's speak, it was just low-pitched and fuzzy.
- Dunno should I even be sorry for the rough treatment, but gotta admit you really deserved it, he spoke again and tapped his temple. - White cops, you know what kind those people are, doing as they please and blame the civilians.
Lee had no idea what the man was talking about and assumed this had just mistaken him to someone else. He tried to say something, interrupt, but his throat was way too dry and he managed only to hiss.
- Of course not saying that you would have done so, but I really believe you have. All the same, all the same.
The shadow came out next to him, leaning against the cover, looking like some mystical power would have kept him in the air above Lincoln. He stood there for long enough, smirking widely and hideous grin, to be seen by Lee, now he could clear out that man's face and it shocked him.
Short, bit messy gray-brown hair, pale blue eyes, smooth skin, features of young man, it was like looking into a mirror.
- Let's just say, that this shall be thank you from all that you made me go through, I already thought this transform-thingie would had been much easier than before, the shape-shifter added and hit the glass.
Lincoln's heart raced, the monitor beeping rapidly, and the look-alike checked it quickly. - What, wasn't it nice to see yourself from the other view? Or are you just happy to see me?
Shape-shifter guffawed and repeated the bang against the glass and walked to other side the room, next to the table full of test tubes and chemicals and all kind equipment. - Well, I'm not enjoying about this kind of look either, much worse than I used to be.
He grip a small bottle full of blue matter, it was liquid and spun along the bottle as he jiggled it middle of his fingers. - Buuut you know, man gotta to something for his bread, we all know that that's how world rolls.
Glass hype chinked as he picked it up and stung it into the bottle, blue liquid draining in.
- Sure I wasn't really looking for work like this, it was the Biggboss David Robert Jones who got me into this thing.
Small sting crossed Lee’s insides, and there were showing a short straight line in the monitor for a while. The man grinned and started to squirm like a slimy eel.
- It seems that you’ve heard the name, he whined teasingly. - That guy though sure said he’d been dealing with some of your people a lot, that dickheads of FBI fixed his mug into brand new look. Poor wretch, to get the face ripped of like that. Gotta admit that it was really close that I didn’t introduced my lunch for him when saw him for first time.
Thin pipe was stick into Lee's arm, other head attached to the salt water bag, but other man removed it and stung the hype into it instead. The blue matter flowed into Lee's arm, split up inside the veins and went along the circulation.
- So anyway, the thing is, that you, whatever you name was 5 seconds ago, will stay here, just in case that something goes wrong.
The shape-shifter had already dressed the blue-gray on himself, in was right size, obviously it used to be Lincoln's. Now he started to work with his tie, probably not quite sure how to knot it.
- And I, the errand boy, will do, as the Biggboss Jones said. And he said, that I'll go to the FBI-fuckers place, and don't even try to guess how long I've been observing that place, you have no idea, infiltrate in and damn how the hell this thing is supposed to even look classy?
He plucked the tie straight and ruffled the coat. - And get some files, including the info what you guys know about his plans and such, dunno then what he will do with those things but what would this kind errand boy know anything?
It had been already over a month since the Bridge was closed by Peter Bishop, it was a meant to prevent the possible collapse of the universes and make sure DRJ wouldn't go through anymore. FBI on this Side had no any kind knowledge, had their work succeed, they couldn't simply know, since they of course didn't hadn't ways to receive the messages from the other universe. But it's been a month already, it had seemed that it had worked. But no-one fully knew.
- Woah, you sure have terrible eyesight, the shape-shifter said as trying Lincoln's glasses. - gives me a headache right away.
Lincoln's vision got now even worse, the room was getting gloomy, there was odd, cold rope around him, that kept nudging him away from the place, into darkness. He didn't have strength to struggle, didn't knew what to do or was he going to die and got dragged away.
- Time to get some shit done. - See ya later, FBI-fucker.
Time glided so painfully languidly inside Lincoln's mind. Not because of he was laying in his chamber inactive, alone, unable to move and in half coma, half wake, but because he had completely lost his sense of time. Everything outside of his prison traveled so fat around him, whilst himself being all steady. Every breath, blink of eye and even the slihtest move felt like taking several minutes, sometimes even hours.
Slowly the sensation returned into body, but it wasn't revealing, wonderful feeling, but the skin still felt way too thigh and like dressed wrong way. The pain wasn't as bad as it used to be, as long as Lincoln didn't tried to move. PCP attenuated the pain, but at the same time it erased the strength for the moving.
PCP kept Lee in sleep for long times. The shape-shifter - he told his name was Matthew Anderson, this may had been a sadist and out of his mind, but felt uncomfortable and anxiety if he couldn't be a friend with Lee - woke Lee every now and then for DNA re-storing every time when the shape-shift were about to go off.
The length of effect decreased a bit always after every DNA storing. In the first days Matthew managed to stay as Lee for several days without waking him up and blood gathering. Now weeks - for Lee they felt like years - later Matthew had to renew himself - cast his skin, as this used to say - within a couple days, sometimes even once a day. If there were way too much time between these sections, the re-back progress went all way back to begin. Once Lincoln saw Matthew while this was waking up him, how his skin of face had turned back to transparent and the cell connections loosen up, making the soft tissue hang and more soften. Shape-shifter's eyes and hair color and length had returned to his own, but the main features were Lincoln's.
Lincoln never saw a dreams, and floating alone in the darkness felt more like years than days. Helplessness and the misery engraved his mind, and he couldn't cry or scream, and thus were forced to languish in loneliness in the weightlessness.
Still, there was a bright, hope-giving side in difference of shape-shifter.
Matthew always gathered blood from Lincoln, sometimes also jellylike tissue from surface of the body, and put him back to the coma after changed back to stable shape.
Although Matthew's embracing the DNA didn't caused an instant rejection and cell connections losing in his victims, Lee's defense system fought and the body got weaker from current stage. Since losing the host would be really undesirable thing for the infiltrated shape-shifter, the effect must had been neutralize, or Lee's body would shut off, like the last victims in cases from the past.
After having his routine gatherings, Matthew took a medical injection, filled it with thick, blue liquid and stung it into Lee's veins. This compound was the antidote for making sure, that Lincoln's immune system could handle the strange stage inside his body, cause by being attacked by shape-shifter.
He never forgot to take his medics.
Fortune gives and takes.
Lincoln woke up all of the sudden, all by himself, languidly but perfectly on his full consciousness. Breathing and rising chest hurt more than normally, but not much. The man kept turning his head and scanned the room. The head moved from side to other smoothly, without forever-taking ache and writhing.
The room was empty, there was only sound of the clock ticking and humming of the generator.
He still could smell the scent of PCP, it was sill gushing out of the gas mask into his lungs. Lincoln had woke up this way in the chamber before, but only for a while until fainting again.
For second Lee could remember, how his muscles worked, and sent electric impulse into left arm. The whole palm nudged up. He sent another and third, finally the bigger and more powerful one.
The arm swung on the length of the whole forearm. Lincoln waited, that the piercing pain would strike again its flames.
It never came, Lee waited, nothing ever happened.
Now he tried to roll his shoulder. It was more difficult, forcing Lee to repeat useless movement many times, again and again. The muscles stayed locked onto shoulders, not having any idea to move into way or other.
He tried again, yelled in his mind, and the left shoulder jumped snappy. Lincoln kept repeating this for a while, round and up, trying to attach along the before learned bone of forearm movement, rolling the fingers and wrist.
The tissues prickled, when tiny ants were biting small pieces off from the limb. The man turned his head once again to see the clock. It had been passed half an hour instead of five minutes since last check.
Moreover, it was late. Lincoln's - now Matthew's - work shift had ended already hours ago. This could come back soon to the laboratory, where ever this place was. Or maybe not at all.
The worry filled Lee. For this whole time he had succeed only to lift his arm, but he was already dead tired and it hurt.
But if, just if, he just could get out of here...
Lincoln took long blow and tried again to bend his limb upward. The arm felt awfully heavy, there was need extra-strength all way from the abs, and tensing them sent large, rusty crowbar alongside the spine into middle-body. He swallowed his puffing and bended the hand towards and gas mask.
Unused joint snapped loudly and slight sting wave all way through neck and finger tips. Lee sighed the breath out of his lungs and took another. The elbow bended narrowly into 90 degrees, and it wasn't planning to move in way or other from that position. It had got stuck, and too forceful motion would open it, but would feel pretty much like ripping off.
Angrily to move Lee tried to unloose the still by jerking it, vainly, frustrated and winded.
Deep, long sigh flow out of Lincoln. It had been passed fifteen minutes once again. The man was laying steady on his spot, arms still rigid and pointing up. Now we needed a moment for thinking, no giving up.
The fingers were already barely touching the cover of the chamber. It wasn't locked, Lee knew that. Matthew kept opening it only while taking some blood, and there was no way that half-paralyzed weak, almost lifeless body would be able to lift it.
New effort, slash of the pain from the nerve to another, palm pressing again the class cover. Push, it was useless and weak, so as the strength as Lee's fading consciousness they were dried almost full out. Such small thing as bending a one single arm made him exhausted and breathless.
The muscles fell into flames, they were tortured like before, with needle sea and the joint was squeezing under the pressure, caused by pushing the cover. Lincoln continued puffing and grit his teeth, lifted his head up to get more force and pushed pushed pushed...
Hinges squeaked muted whilst the cover was cracking.
The door of the laboratory creaked open and pair of the eyes peeked in.
Lee startled and lost up his hold, making the cover fell and banging back to close.
Matthew said something, Lincoln didn't get clear, runaway, something like that, you son of bitch won't run away from me, took long strides towards Lincoln, snatched the familiar, way too well-known blue glass bottle and medical hype and stung it through the thin, plastic cover. The hype got filled with thick liquid, no more, no more that awful stuff, please no, Lee begged and opened his mouth and lifted his extended arm to scream, but it took eternity and the man already stroke that awful spike inside him.
His voice got stuck on the roof of the throat, thick, blue liquid flowed inside his circulation would soon drag him into deep empty darkness. Lincoln swung his arm, the hype broke from the middle and that horrible person dropped the glass hype onto floor, fragmenting it into hundreds of tiny sharp pieces.
Matthew swung backward from the amazement, but Lee made it to grab his shirt and tie, fingers digging into fabric and skin while the consciousness fading away.
Lee squeezed and pulled the other man closer, trying to scream and grin his face into wrath. His vision got darker second by second but he didn’t let go, squeezed harder under the pain and anger.
You bastard you you won’t do this to me I’ll pull you with me you motherfucker will come with me into deep darkne
The host was one big chatterer, talking mostly about himself. He could keep tell things about him - by himself, there was no really making Lee as chat buddy - even for long sessions, often during the blood gathering, sometimes even while the guest was still in coma. But Lincoln could hear, as mute and unclear mumble, but he did hear.
Matthew used to be low-paid, single office worker. When becoming of full aged, he had diagnosed as having slight mental disorder and paranoia against the other people. But those bribed, selfish social workers know nothing about anything, just kept sticking the dusty pills down the throat against the will and took all the money, claiming it was necessary. He was kept in storage jobs, far away from human contact that he saw as threat, to avoid causing any mischief for others. While working in storage, Matt felt much safer, free and trustful. Every time coming back to office or walking middle of the human crown in the streets, he believed adamant that everyone others were observing and against him with murderous look, betrayers, they all were.
The biggest stroke of luck hit a few months ago, in those times when you could see FBI people everywhere and the world was much more stable and it had been ages since seeing those weird ruptures of universe for last time.
- I had export to deliver to the other side of the city, when one of those ruptures decided to appear right next to the road and made the whole world go inside out. Think about it, month after another and not a single one of that kind of case for long time, and that damn black hole decided to suck in exactly my dear vehicle in itself. The laws of physics really are from deep there.
Matthew smirked and giggled for “black hole” joke, how hilarious. He started to swing tips of fingers in front of his face, the muscles were coming out like when you have chewed skin after nails and some long slivers peel off.
The re-back of transforming took a long amount of time, there was no a hurry in sake of God, there was still time for even longer chat.
- Well not that it had been that bad, sure I startled like hell and drove the truck into ditch. Didn’t got much of time to count the fleas when it started to suck me in. Had to struggle for some time and lift the limb couple times in front of other one until got out of the vacuum. Took the export, it had salmon in it, I swear I could smell it even before stepping into the van that it was some damn champ, but at least I made it, just having some bruises and falling onto dog crap.
The pause between the beats of the heart-monitoring device became longer, and Matthew hit the transparent cover of the chamber, waking Lee again from falling asleep.
- And that wasn’t even end of that hodgepodge, no, to make this story sound more like written by third-grader, we need a couple more backups.
Right after the rupture got fixed by itself, in those times I thought that those were just unlucky coincidences and they would end by themselves, well-look-at-dat I happened to meet the Bigboss himself, the Arseface of turkey, mister Jones.
That little smug had opened that hole right there by the roadside with some odd gadget, I never knew anything about those not then nor in these days, even I’ve kept those things in my storage ever since of that meeting.
Try to guess what that son of bitch did when saw me, laying on the ground, scared as hell? Hmm? Shot me god damn it! Right to the rib, just like that, at least 65 feet away! So I was crouching there on the ground, back all round from the pain and shock, when the Arseface walked there next to me and asked for a favor. Gotta say, that guy got some balls! First is about to shoot the guts out and then, without any kind apologize, ask for an errand boy!
He promised that if I would infiltrate into FBI files, he would safe my life, he hit the liver but it hurt like hell that I didn’t really cared a F, and even make me a better version of human, downright a superman! In the next moment we already were standing there in some strange lab inside the water tube - that by the way sounded like some kind porn site, I wonder if there would be one already - in the same kind stage where you’re laying right now, and here stands the result! Maybe I didn’t became just like a over-man, but at least somewhat better that what I used to be, I mean human bod is just so damn weak and breaks easily.
It just happened that the infiltrate took for so long, since I had no idea how to deal with the DNA shape-shifting thing, and the most of the victims I used to stay alive just died there. Finally I though managed to catch the idea, and learned all the tricks.
Still feeling bit vex for losing my own face in that rush, but have to say that this sure was one of the best things every happened in my entire life. If I hadn’t ever went to deliver that salmon into some millionaire’s dinner table, who knows where filthy pub I would be sitting right now. Or rotting in the crap-ditch.
And you wouldn’t lay there ass molded, sharing more luck for the world. Lucky dogs both fuckers.
While being unconscious, under sleep without dreams, Lincoln thought a lot.
He was thinking about his former, deceased partner, Robert Danzig.
This had became a victim of shape-shifter and died in police service, whilst Lee getting left behind during the chase. While living in the Other Side he had still felt guilty about death of his partner, and could still remember the face of Robert’s wife when lee was forced to tell her what had happened. Only some while after moving into this Side he had started to move on and forgive himself.
And now he would get killed by shape-shifter, just like Robert did.
He was thinking about his life on the each side of the Bridge.
It took so long before Lincoln got some sleep at nights. There had been a few peaceful nights, but even those ended after return of Peter Bishop from his own timeline. Only after moving onto this Side Lee had more slept nights than kept late hours or being awake around the full-day. He wasn’t sure was it because of new environment - the worse air quality made his head foggier - or what, but the days had got clearly better. In general, Lee felt himself happier and like being drunken.
He was thinking about conversation with agent Farnsworth.
He was thinking about Olivia. Both of them.
Most of the time Lincoln was spending the darkness was exactly thinking about his time, spent with Olivias.
Lee had felt his mind more relaxed and safe with them, - not just because Olivia had strong mind. Alternate, blond one was much more serious and introverted, strict leader and also very stubborn. So was this Side’s, red haired one, but he was noticeable much more cheerful and good-humored. The eyes were full of happiness, not caring about the setbacks, and even only the look from her filled Lee with similar glory.
Just a thought about that one person kept Lincoln sane in that horrible darkness.
Loud bang against the glass cover startled Lincoln out of his sleep. The heart skipped a beat and there was drawn straight line on the monitor and the shrill sound broke the regular beeping.
- Now we did it, goldie-boy! Matthew had once again that ancient stupid grin across his face, revealing the teeth all way from gums. - We got in!
It took his own time for Lincoln to return fully back to the reality from his deep dream to understand, what that geezer was talking about. At the moment of awaking first thing appearing on his mind was Lee’s ” fight or run “- part of him, rational side came lagging behind.
The other one was jumping around the room, rubbing his hands and head under the excitation. He had threw the glasses on the table and with messy, un-combed hair he looked just like Captain Lee. Same excitement, same unrest personality.
But this wasn’t same man, he was different, there were no any doubt about it, Lincoln could sense it.
- It may took such damn long while, but I managed to get in! Matthew’s face were shining from the great feeling of success. - Mister Jones will get overjoyed, even get down on his knees and kiss my dick, I bet sure he will! Oh holy mother of Jesus…
Lee’s chest started to feel heavy. Thus he was forced to take deeper breath, lungs ripping apart from sudden expanding on its full size after weeks.
This was bad thing, bad bad thing sure it was.
Matthew continued smirking and marched out of the room, wolfing and laughing together, soon coming back with scotch bottle and glass in his hands.
- Let’s celebrate that and open the cap, for now we have burned enough our asses off and spanked the back on itch. Now let’s joy this revolution in this damn pub. He lifted his index finger while pouring the liquor like for pointing something mystical force on the corner of the room.
Fingers had turned transparent again all way on the knuckles, bones and joints were clearly showing, almost shining. The shape-shifter noticed this and lifted the hand in front of his face, swinging fingers on his regular way, eyes wide open. Once again he grin widely until corners of mouth were touching the ears and gulped down another glass of clear liquid. The face distorted and the man roared loudly.
- Naah, let that wait for later. The guts will dance polka tomorrow anyway, it’s better to suffer at the same time than ruin the good night by ripping pieces from the mug into soup.
Fortune takes and gives.
Matthew poured another glass for himself and kept laughing like a mad man - which he though sure was - as loudly as he had with the last one. - The mug will turn same broiler-pap as with the boss, rats will have some chow on the table today.
The arm was about to be glass-like all way to the elbows, also the natural pink color of the face was getting more pale and losing, full-pumped veins shining bright-red.
Lincoln was still languishing in his prison, full of self-pity and worry. He woke up for listening the Matthew’s slurred mumbling, when this mention the name of Astrid.
- The chick started to thank about some coffee-thing, dunno what you two have screwed around together, but said sumthing that she’d managed to create solution to make it betta. Kept asking if I would like to drink it with her sometimes again. I didn’t even knew what darn “coffee” she was talk’ ‘bout, was trying to get laid or sumthing, so I said that maybe some other time, let’s drink all way, the bottoms up and such, and she just started to smile like a mad man.
Look who’s talking, Lincoln was thinking and rolled his eyes. The muscles of head made a protest, very clearly they did.
Another long gulp of happy-drink and the chat without the opposite one continued, fan-fared with loud burp.
- Just fine and pretty looking chick, such shame they put her on man’s works, but dear Lord those eyes! Was staring on walls like some kind schizo, I swear I saw it looking at different directions! Whatcha think, do you think she may have had maybe too much of self-fun as a kiddo? Again a loud giggle. - That’s what granny kept saying when I was kid, keep your hands crossed so you’ll see who you’re praying.
The pity filled Lee’s heart. Agent Farnsworth was smart woman, even smarter than he ever was, but she felled on bullshit of that asshole. And the same asshole dared to make fun of her like some dirty whore.
- Then there’s that red hair, was her name Olivia or what? Or Ella?
There was a twitch inside Lincoln. He even turned his head, in his eye there was shining desperation and worry. And the wrath was the strongest.
- Not any old dish-cloths either was she, maybe small melons though, won’t shut up kids with those, but nice behind.
Man placed that bottle from his hands on the table and started to grope air, with lewd grin on his face. - I would do, dunno about that is she really would open her thighs only for small tap on the shoulders. Say you, does the drapes fit with the carpet, since you guys are living under the same roof?
Matthew knocked his palm on the cover ( small piece of tissue stuck on the glass ) and continued grinning.
Lee didn’t needed PCP for passing out. He faded into darkness by himself.
Lincoln was staying in the darkness for long, long times, wailing silently. He didn’t woke up - he didn’t wanted - when the clatter started. Lee sure heard it, though mute and foggy, as like muddy, low cursing. Matthew had woke up for his morning-hangover, grumpy and puffing, still with stagger steps across the room, gut dancing polka.
Lee didn’t woke up for hearing the chinking of the medic-bottle - the sound was familiar, so painfully familiar, Lee’s heart stung every time the glass bottles chinked, he had conditioned to it like Pavlov’s dog - against each other. It shall be your daily DNA-gathering, sir.
The alcohol - especially strong one - had sped up the re-back, and Matthew had almost completely returned back to his similar form as he had their first dates with Lincoln. Far advanced progress had reached at eating the upper-body all way to the bones. The skin was soft again and somewhere between fixed and liquid form. Entirely rotten. We rotten, as Lincoln had used to call it.
Small pieces were draining and peeled off the body as it swung quickly, rotten-clots falling across the carpet for breakfast for the rats and cockroaches. For all the unstable situation, Matthew looked already somewhat himself, short red hair, same jaw, same nose. But those eyes, so sweet but so cold and empty.
His eyes inside the head of the monster.
Lee didn’t woke up.
- Nononono not now no! man started to roar and swung Lee’s world but kicking the prison. - Fuck no, I was so close, god damn it! The shape-shifter flung the cover of the chamber open and tucked the Lee’s head up by pulling his hair. Matthew ripped the gas-mask off and threw it onto other man’s belly. Same old well-known good evening sir you’re felling today please take some cake while visiting here lighting stroke burned all the from the head to the chest. The pain was about to pull him out of the darkness back to awake, right on the fringe, but Lee grapped whatever he could and trashed himself out of the light.
He didn’t wanted and didn’t woke up.
Matthew squeezed Lee’s jawline to open it and same old, salty and rotten taste filled his mouth once again. The moist jut worked its way into deep pharynx, squirming its way down.
The breathing stopped, and Lee’s body took the wheel, making him to gag air and try to catch the breath. Useless, useless, all pointless.
Lincoln didn’t woke up or struggled, nor cared. He couldn’t stop it any way, and stayed in the darkness, wailing.
Hour or couple later Matthew were sitting on the floor, leaning against the chamber, still puffing and sweating like a small pig. The body had returned back to the stable stage, perfect and with no mistakes in it. The shape-shifter swallowed hard once and with staggering movements stood up on his legs. Small white dots were dancing on his view before disappearing.
- Son of bitch, he mumbled and rubbed his head - in passing to mention, that he hadn't noticed to pace Lee’s glasses on, although they would've fallen since the ears were missing - the hangover had turned multiplex and the headache weren't showing any signs to be stopped. - You little bloody fucker, you really just had to mess with me for the very last time, damnit. But guess what, you didn't made it, hahaa, I messed back and here I stand.
The man slapped Lee forcefully on the cheek, almost blowing up it into shingles.
Lee didn't woke up.
The glass-bottle chinked again right next to his ear. Here come the hype, open your veins here comes the air-plain...
- Bloody FBI-fucker, planning to burn up my nice work, after working for weeks and all laying on the ground burned to ashes, Matthew crumbled as filling up the medic-hype. The blue, thick liquid rolled inside it, soon in veins.
- But you're not gonna fuck up with me so easily, guess again.
Yeah right, Lee was thinking. Just leave it and give already the air-plain spike.
- 'Coz guess what happens now, huh? I'm gonna leave and finish the work, go and do what the Arseface Jones said while I was laying in the dog crap after been shot, and you, you're gonna stay here and rotten here. Whatcha gonna say for that, FBI-fucker?
Deep sting perforated Lee's arm, and the blue liquid streamed slowly into him.
Matthew never forgot his medics. Not a single time.
Lincoln sighed inside his mind and slowly kept breathing in the twee smelling PCP into his lungs. Full, full the sleepy dust.
The shape-shifter mumbled and swore by himself for long time, now those FBI-fuckers will see, I'll show them and the Arseface will kneel but his voice was getting to attenuate and blacker all the time while Lee was sailing to the darkness.
The door slammed somewhere in far distance, somewhere in another world, and Lincoln fell asleep once again into his dreamless sleep.
The monitor beeped, taking long pauses, at its old place, on the left, on the side of eye with worse vision. Smoothly, not given a single straight line. The generator and air conditioner were humming their good old chore, keeping obediently on their work tasks, thus making sure they wouldn't be replaced with some other, new machines.
Beep, hurrururr, beep.
Calmly, crawling Lincoln opened his eyes again. Really sluggishly, for the time taking minutes. His consciousness and thoughts were beating as choked somewhere in far distance, on the bottom of well. He didn't understand anything, just a high pitched beeping and humming. Beep, hurrurrur, beep, hururrurr, beep.
The air breathed out streamed back to the Lee's face from the plastic of the mask, it tickled, tickled so damn badly.
Lincoln blinked his eyes, twice, rolled them, they hurt a bit, but he could see the room and scanned it over.
The consciousness and thoughts were getting closer, now hitting the walls of his head.
The sense and lighting stroke forcefully and hard. Quickly Lee turned his head to the left, mistaking the direction to the right and saw a clock. It was ticking, time passed much faster than before, like in the sped up film. It's was 4.37 pm.
Alone, that's what he understood first. I'm alone, that man what was his name was it Michael that man left me alone and hasn't come back yet.
Rest of the thought-stream came back in its own time, looking for their place and fixed the mind what it used to be. But this all took so long, so, so painfully long.
Lincoln's finger twitched. He didn't tried to move it, but felt and realized it had just moved. Lee closed his eyes and took a deep sigh.
The blood streamed in the veins and the biggest ones of them were beating and pumping up the muscles full of red liquid of life.
For the long time laying man was listening the beeping and humming, breathing in and out, smelling the sense of twee PCP, tasted it and was listening the sounds. Lee could remember the last time he woke up like this, all of the sudden in the silence. And those several other times. They all were all same kind, all the waking up ended as fast to falling asleep as they started.
Every single of them reminded him about that horrible situation, that hole of hell, where he had fallen into. The body shivered from cold and tickled, and every time any muscle twitch Mr. Pain greeted them and gave his small gift.
Every waking up was the same, he could only survive from it as falling asleep again and going back to the darkness.
He remember - it came suddenly, Lee had been thinking about it often, especially in last days, but he didn't expected it and even scared the thought - Olivia. And Robert, and Astrid.
But Olivia on the top of everything.
Her smile, shiny hair, so friendly eyes ( pleh, all this unnecessary drama, someone in next reality was thinking ), full of happiness and excitement. Her harden face, when this had stand in the funeral while Captain Lee was taken to the grave. Brighten face, and Lincoln told he had planned to move to this Side with her.
The eyes blew open, and the monitor started to beat fast with thin pauses, covering the clock ticking and the humming of the conditioner. Heart hit the chest and it was burning - but he woke up and was thinking clearly, more than in week, in years.
Lee went quickly through every muscle, every nerve, vein and bone in his mind - they all were still there. The brains sent knew small impulses into them, the command to move, let's get out of here. Most of them vanished and passed out before reaching their goal, and the rest, that reached, got stuck to the wall, all the unused muscles got stuck the eternal froze. Tiny needles were stabbing the nerves over and over again, all over the body.
The air burst out of lungs as large profusion, causing Lee making a loud gasp. Useless, useless. The head turned once again to the direction of the clock - it had been three quarters since last check.
Useless, Lee was thinking quietly. You didn't made it last time either, you pissed off that Michel and no it was somebody Matt you made him mad and you were about to lose your life.
The small voice whispered in the back of the skull, from the same old darkness. The voice was almost mute, un-noticeable.
But last time you run out of time, last time you didn't got time, now you have now you can make it.
I can't move my limb don't work if I'll move I'll die the pain comes back it will rip me my mind will break, Lee cried.
The thought came out of nowhere, making him shut up and the heart beat and breathing stop for a second. For that short time Lee felt a huge amount of pleasure in his chest, realizing.
The blue thick liquid stops the rotting, it becomes diluted the PCP and you will wake up and can move.
Lincoln started, almost without breathing, into the emptiness, jiggling and rolling the idea he got, making sure the every corner and was looking for the mistakes. He tried to argue the idea down, opened his mouth to say something but closed right after realizing there were no mistakes.
It gets dilute but won't vanish and still affects but you're awake and you can run away you have time so get up and leave.
Lee remembered how he had managed to lift his arm last time, almost right near to his gasmask, before the limb locked up and the shape-shifter returned and the spike. He had managed to move his fingers and palm by the time and by trying several times. But it's had been so long ever since, the muscles and nerves had forgot the movement for sure. The hesitating stung Lee's chest, and he took a deep breathe.
He sent a new, stronger command. Nothing happened, and the desperation, frustration was the only feeling in that moment. Just a bit later, the whole palm even bended upward.
The joint snapped loudly and burned up the flame-ocean all way to the elbow. It felt like Lee had ripped of his wrist and the hand, squeezed his jaws together and placed the palm down.
Long inhales, now we need a break for ideas.
No, no breaks, the gas is still there and you'll fall asleep again if you won't remove the mask right away.
Stronger command takes longer time, he realized. The blue compound impairs the speed of the impulses and the metabolism of cells along slowing down the destroying of cells.
The burning got weaker, slowly but enough to handle. This time Lee focused his strength to the shoulder and biceps muscles, getting ready to roll it and face the pain look I made sure will would have a chair right next to my heart please sit down.
It took long before the limb raised above the rest of the body shaking and unsteady. Acid wave went across, reaching to the chest, forcing the man to surrender and place the arm back down. Not caring about all this, but Lincoln continued biting the tooth and slide the arm towards his face - just like he did in last time.
The memory of the painful snap and locking joint tapped Lee's mind, thump thump, but he had stop make the streaming of PCP. Even if he would focus to open the chamber and could even make it, the gas could faint him again, for hours, until Matt-something would return.
The elbow bended, bended again into 90 degrees, without making the sound. But when Lee sighed from the relief, it did. There was a stroke of the lighting and moved in the same way as hitting the right nerve from the elbow to the corner of table, affecting all way to the tip of middle finger.
New gasp, wave of the desperation. But the joint didn't locked up, but swung to the full bend. Stunned about what just happened, Lee blinked his eyes and place the hand above the mask. The tips of the finger felt - they really felt, felt something more than just a pain after eternity - the pipe covered with the plastic, where the air moved in and out.
The finger were touching, rubbing it - it was so magnefitic to feel touch again - and kept moving on over the mouth-part to his skin. It felt cold and wet, soft and disgusting.
The hand slithered behind the hair - he saw a blink, he thought he saw, a piece of skin rip of from the face, stuck to his fingertips - and tried to find the rubber band that kept the mask around the head.
Fingers combed wet, greasy hair-swabs, the elbow bumped on the cover of the chamber, and the tips something abnormal compared to his occipital. They dig underneath it, around and started to pull it away over the head.
The mask nudged and sprung away around the face. Lee took a deep, long breath, and in that moment he smelled himself in the first time.
The smell was gross, so acid and rotten. It was same kind compared to Dr. Bishop's lab, but now Lincoln was its source and could smell it perfectly and without the fence. At the same inhale he started to gag forcefully, the middle body convulsing and the head bouncing up and down.
The PCP got dilute. Lincoln inhaled the lungs full of disgusting smelling, musty air and gag it out, but it replaced the one, filled with PCP and force-fed and woke Lincoln up away from the lethargy.
Insides of the chest burned and hurt, every gag-reflex convulsed the bottom of stomach and turned it upside down. There were no chance to get used to the smell, he could sense it every long time after getting out away from the chamber, but managed to stop himself gagging. Every inch hurt, he felt - not pain, but a real touch - hot bottom of the chamber; Lee had made it to lift his upper body whilst the convulsion. and the skin had gotten away from the chains of the unable to move after all these weeks.
Finally after the paroxysm ended, his heart beat like crazy, but he felt himself dead tired again.
It was 7.03 pm, even he had fought with the chains only for ten minutes.
Lincoln coughed once, yellow-ish gastric fluid flung to the glass from the deep trachea. He stared it for a minute, acid slime didn't started to slide down and drip onto his neck. Once again Lee raised his arm, right against the glass. Sluggishly, pressing bit by bit harder, taking the power from the biceps - you already made it by lifting that big ass gun - from the shoulder and burning chest.
The cover was heavy, maybe more than last time - it's locked that Matt locked it up and I'll stay stuck here. Lee couldn't remember had Matt-something locked the chamber at the morning after giving the last spike, pushed more and hear the squeak. He was sure that it came from the over-used joints of the hand, felt the nice air flow and realized the cover was finally open. Only a bit, but it was open.
Once again he took a breath, pushed the air against the wall of the lungs and tensed himself for another push.
The pressure in the eyes raised, inventing the white stars for the great dance, and the shoulder squeaked. The cover moved, lifted
He's coming someone-Matt comes and gives the air-plain spike
arched and fell under its own weight down - full open.
Exhausted limb fell down, hearing the squelch slap against the wet, rotten belly. Lincoln gasped, trying to catch his breath and the cold went over the skin. Gross smell of rotten vanished sluggishly into cleaner and colder room-air mixed up and got more dilute, still, filled the room all over with itself.
Lincoln closed his eyes and stringed his face - for weeks, for years - for smile. The teeth were showing and he licked his lips. He started - wanted - to laugh, but his lungs were burning and the throat felt dry and shaggy, the voice wheezing when it came out.
The belly started to twitch, the abs training themselves for the next mission - now there was only left to get out of here.
Lee tensed all his nerves ready for the sit up, twitched and rolled his upper body. Only this alone stung so bloody much, only the arm and neck were used to move after ages.
The same old ritual before using the plan, stare to the emptiness...
... and take off.
The start push begin from the abs and blew up first, like the brand new, sharp saw would be tearing off them. Next the sides rip of, with the skin and the muscles. In the end the back, spine snapped and squeaked, banged and gave a protest about this what was happening. Lee screamed the whole time, heard the cry of every cell and beg to stop this.
He took some more support and strength by grabbing the sides of the chamber and pulled himself up, right to the sitting position. The whole body - expect the legs, lee thought they were missing, cut off - was swimming the sulfuric acid, he didn't heard it but he was screaming and crying all he could.
The weight went onto the lower back and pelvis, and he waited them to crash under his weight. He tried to cry, but couldn't, only whine. Only now he could see his own body clearly, before only to peek at the transparent skin.
It was same kind as the shape-shifter had ROTTEN TO THE CORE and was stinking. Lee tried to scream again, now from the horror, but the air got stuck to the throat and just fizzled.
The blood stopped its journey to the head from the other end, and the white light filled the room. Lee started to feel dizzy and sick, standing up upper body waved side to side. Also he felt himself so tired and the pain was beating again if I fall asleep the pain will end...
Lincoln blinked his eyes open and bit his lower lips, it didn't really felt anything compared to other pain around the rest of the body, but warm and salty taste of the blood woke him up enough for a moment.
The darkness is coming back, I have to go I must
Lee moved his legs, staring from the toes. But none of them did react, and he grabbed to his right tight and lifted it up and threw over the edge. The sense finally came back to the whole body, Mr. Pain didn't forgot any single cell with his gifts.
The leg hang flabby over the glass edge, and Lee grabbed to other one too. The darkness was about to return, he licked the bloody stain from his lip and threw the left limb next to its partner.
Lincoln's lower limbs and upper part were now free, finally escaped from their prison. There was left to drag the pelvis and ass over the edge. He pressed the palms against the bottom and lifted his body. It was heavier than the cover, and Lee started to whine from the pain once again.
Slowly, for the long time the rest of the body followed the legs, forced to scamper and twitch to get over the side. Lee stretched his legs, reached out the toes towards the floor and slightly touched it. The weight went down onto all of toes, small push and both bottoms of feet thud to the floor, still shaking. The was a sound of same splash as before, and from the corner of eyes the man could see, how there was a large layer of rot it's rotten skin stuck to the bed.
The legs were unsteady and shaky, like the ones the toddler, who had just learned to walk, had. Carefully Lee placed the whole weight and stood up on the straight back, peacefully letting go from his previous prison.
All of the sudden the eyes lost their vision and all the sound disappeared, only the strong beat of the heart was humming inside Lee's skull. There was a choke in the throat and the room started to spin around.
Tiny calf muscles, just a tiny bit, had a cramp and whole limb slip and threw rest of the body onto floor.
Lee flew through the air and landed on his back. When hitting the ground, the other foot bended behind the rest of the body and the joint of the pelvis snapped. Same happened to wrist of the left hand. There was a sound of splash as the noodle-like body smashed to the ground and the head banged against it, making the stars appear.
Lee didn't lost his consciousness, but felt the new pain in his limbs.
The darkness slide upon the room, and Lincoln's world faded away, the consciousness vanishing. The exhaust and the pain dragged him away, everything felt so heavy and sleepy.
No no I must get out of here I must
Once again, he fell into deep well of darkness.
He woke up again, when tried to throw up his guts out. He still left wonky and like being in the dream, waking up from the lethargy. Lee couldn't fully open his eyes or even himself completely wake, but the small voice somewhere far away kept nagging and told him to move.
PCP affects even its weaker, it tweeted somewhere.
The room was still spinning, even Lee was still laying on the ground. As his consciousness came back, so did the pain, not fully, but it was there and was moving forward. Lincoln lifted his head, squinted his eyes, the vision was still blurry.
The clock ticked somewhere, he was searching it with his hearing, but couldn't find it, he was laying looking at wrong direction.
For how long he had been black out? For 5 minutes. A quarter? The full hours? Days?
The sunshine was still peeking out from the between of the louvres and boards nailed to the window, it had to be some day left. A few hour at the most, perhaps. Hopefully less.
The dizziness was losing off a bit, and the sense was coming back, but only to the specific limit.
Must wake up, must get out.
On the table opposite him was placed lots of bottles, chemicals, maybe medicines, Lee could remember. The turned his head until noticed the edge of the table right behind his head, next to himself.
Blundering, shaking Lincoln rolled on his belly, the leg and wrist left under twitched and reminded they were still there.
Helpless man sobbed, swallowed and stretched the limb away under him into right position. In them the pain was the worst, it was fresh and strong, suffer of the rest of the body was weaker but raised with every movement.
Lincoln pulled the working hand under himself and pushed his upper body up, bended the un-wounded knee and placed all the support on them, like to purpose - in this case the table. He was still dizzy as hell, and as the bloodstream wasn't so strong anymore, the room turned gloomy again. Lee licked his lip again, the bit mark had already healed in dry mouth, and grabbed the edge of the table.
He was again out of the breath, and PCP was still inside his brains and about to drag him with it.
Medic, medic, Lincoln repeated. There's got to be something here.
Intermittent gasp burst out of Lee's lungs as this stood up, still being weak and losing his balance. He was close about to lose his consciousness again and leaned against the table. The furniture moved a little and several glass bottles and test pipes fell over and scattered on the floor, fragmenting in tiny pieces around it.
There's got to be something.
The palms slide across the table middle of different compounds, throwing every now and them some of them on the floor. Randomly Lee caught what he could, raised it in front of his eyes and read the small texts, that told what was in that bottle, and threw away. His mind was shutting off, and Lincoln couldn't understand, which one of the bottles were healing and which were deadly.
He grabbed onto one, repeated the ritual and read ARSENIC.
The name sounded familiar, Lee had heard it before, it sounded familiar, but he couldn't figure out, why.
Arsenic is ... arsenic ... arsenic is good.
White powder scattered on the floor and some of it on the other compounds as Lincoln opened the cover. The mouth opened under its own weight and the hand took the powder-bottle on its level.
Arsenic is good... arsenic is ...
He slide near his opened mouth.
The bottle fragmented as Lee lost his hold and the deadly white powder scattered all over the table.
Arsenic is bad, arsenic kills, it's bad.
There was a small bottle laying on the table, and Lee could see last three letters of its etiquette AND.
The finger grabbed around it, did the old movement and he read the text.
From the corner of eye the man could see his old enemy, the medic hype and rushed towards it, pushing the moving object away. The hype rolled off the table and clopped on the floor. Lee lost his balance and banged on his belly, sharp tiny glass pieces digging into soft flesh. But he didn't noticed new spikes, not even the thin blood stream on his waist and took the hype. There was a long crack on its side, but it was still whole.
On the floor, middle of the glass sea Lincoln stuck the glass hype through the plastic cover of the ANDRENALINE-bottle and sucked it full of golden liquid, not blue, no more blue.
The hype filled on its half way and the half empty bottle dropped on the floor, but didn't break apart. Without checking did the hype worked or the amount Lee stung it deep inside his shoulder muscles, the whole spike from its whole length and sprayed the compound inside himself.
As the liquid had disappeared into vein Lee let go - so from the hype as from this world - and passed out.
The adrenaline run into heart and turned it on full power. The beating of the large veins on Lee's neck and on stomach could be seen through the transparent cover tissue, the breathing sped up for the puffing and Lincoln could feel the thick, warm blood streaming inside him.
Giant light, a flash, the stroke of energy filled his head and pulled him up to his feet. The time got slower, all the weakness and powerlessness disappeared from the body and was buried into that darkness, where had been laying for several weeks. All the pain vanished, he could hear the beeping and the humming along his own heart beat again.
Lincoln jumped up in the second to his straight back, gasped and stayed on his spot, legs still shaking, now from the panic-hormone.
Eyes wide open the man scanned the room, went through the every thought in his mind, past and the things that were about to happen and what he now should start to look for and what to do.
The mind works like a radar, even though Lee didn't knew what he was looking for, his brains knew.
The door, phone, the shape-shifter Olivia tell Olivia about the shape-shifter.
With wumbling, unsteady step Lincoln leaped across the room, the bottoms of the feet splashing and thick skin-glimpses getting stuck to the floor. Just a few leap, and Lee smashed against the closed door.
The lock was only half locked, like not caring about it, and the door flew open. Lee banged on the floor on his mug through the air, this time not twitching anything - at least he didn't noticed anything, the adrenaline covered the pain. Without thinking about the thing more enough he bounced back to stand and looked at the empty hallway.
The room was rougher than the lab, the wooden walls were cracking and pointed to each directions. Even in this room, the windows were covered with boards, and the dust danced in the air, under the slightest peek of light.
He had to squint in the gloomy light and could barely see the gray box on the line of the ceiling, the out coming shiny object, and on its side was painted some kind pattern and text.
EXIT. The sign hadn't been lighten on for ages, Lee guessed and stepped toward the door below it. There was standing a rack next to it, where was hanging a long coat, reaching to the knees. The memory flashed quickly, it was the same when they met first time, it was shape-shifter's, he had taken Lee's clothes when he left.
He ripped of the jacket from the hook, falling the thin rack after him and tugged the coat around himself ( later after all this he imagined, how the escape-situation would have ended, if the police would have arrested him from running naked on the streets ). The buttoned cloth covered the half of the thighs, long enough for moving outside.
Lee grip with both hands the door handle and turned it down.
The handle slide smoothly down, and the out-door stayed closed. In panic he started to repeat this move, stepped back and kicked the door, as taught in the university. While lifting the leg for another kick, the doorknob flashed below the handle. Lee twitched it, and turned the handle again.
The streetlight exploded and made the one living in the darkness became blind, causing the horrible, hangover-like migraine and headache. It took for long time, before it and the whole vision filling white fabric disappeared, but before that Lincoln had staggered middle of the road. After getting his vision back, he heard the screaming off the wheels and by the instinct used his arms as a shield.
The car stopped a few feet away from him, and pissed off driver honked the hooter couple times. Lee swung his left hand and forgot the man, hastily turning his head side to side, searching.
Black payphone box was lighten on the other side of the street, about a block away, and he sprung to run towards it. There was a marathon long distance, somewhere was a sound of screaming woman ( or just another braking, maybe he was just a second ago about to get run over by car again ) but Lee didn't cared, he run, flew under the adrenaline sting.
He pulled the door open and rushed inside the box. Lincoln crabbed the phone and already placed it next to his ear and was about to key in Olivia's number of earphone, when remembered that he of course didn't got any money, that was all so obvious. With free hand he hit the glass-wall, and checked the sign above the phone.
" We accept your Show Me!-card. "
Lincoln stuck his hand into pocket of the coat, the heart skipped the beat when he noticed it was empty. He tried the other one and felt nasty spike under his nail and pulled out the plastic card.
I wonder if it's already against the laws of universes to have this many lucky kick at the same night, he thought as not really caring and looked at the picture of the owner of the card.
The man had thick, up-pulled curly red hair, blue eyes and pale face, covered with freckles. His face features looked like he had been living in the hole digged into ground during the plague-years.
You know what they say about the red-hairs, Lee smirked, placed the card into scanner and keyed in the number.
Five tuuting, she won't answer, she's dead, three toot, a snap. - Dunhamn Olivia.
Lincoln was about to burst into tears.
- Olivia, it's me, he sounded brittle, and had to cry into his fist for a second before continuing.
- Pardon? Could you repeat?
- LINCOLN, OLIVIA YOU GOT TO HELP ME! Lee shouted as hard as he could.
- Lincoln? What's wrong? I thought you said you had just a hangover?
That little son of bitch, Lee fumed and bang the wall.
- Liv, was I there just some time ago? Are you okay?
There was a short pause. - Y-yeah, I just saw you a minute ago... What's going on, where are you? She was clearly worried and confused, and Lee was relieved that she was at least okay. But didn't knew how long.
- Listen carefully. That person there is not me. It's a shape-shifter, do you understand? Of course she would understand, Lee knew that, but who knows what that bastard had done and told to her.
- ... w-what wait now do you ...?
- Liv, he's not me, he's shape-shifter. I was kidnaped by him and the changed to me, and is there to get some files and information from FBI.
Another pause, this time much longer. - Wait wait now I don't really understand...
- Listen to me, Olivia, you are in danger and ... Lincoln stopped for a second, he felt dizzy again and his vision could up for ten seconds. Fuck, not now, not yet. The effect of adrenaline couldn't wear off yet, it had been just a five or ten minutes, not yet it couldn't be possible.
- Listen! You have to stop him, he's dangerous and he's in unstable stage right now, you must ---
Before he could finish the sentence, his leg let down and Lee smashed to the glass wall and rebounded to the ground. He lost his grip from the phone, eyes rolled over and having slight cramps, seeing nothing but black.
Olivia tried to call his name, but Lee was already out of reach, struggling to hold on this world.
The lights of the locker-room were flickering every now and then - the cliche of the horror movies, Olivia was thinking - and the metallic hinges of the locker was creaking muted whilst the door opening. Inside it were taped middle of the notes and other papers photos, including friends, Olivia's mother and golder retriever, places she had visited and one, that she had been watching at for weeks months ago.
Olivia removed the photo and stared it for long, head bowed down and leaning against the next locker. In the photo were two widely smiling character next to each others, male-character covered with serpentine, on the temple of the female were hanging almost falling black fedora-hat. Both of them were standing inclined compared to the background, like just about to fall over.
The lamp flicked again couple times, distorting the man's face into dead grin, red serpentine streaming down the cheek as a blood. A painful sting acrossed Olivia's chest, at the same time tighten the throat. She swung the thing out of her head when the lights came back and attached the photo back to the door, next to the sleeping dog.
The worry and doubt were ripped her mind apart.
Was the call worth of trusting? Olivia had uncertainly thought first the caller really was agent Lee, his voice was same, similar to Captain. She had felt in past weeks, like she had been talking with completely stranger, but now, after hearing Lee, it was like she had met him first time in years.
Were there trusting just to the feeling and sensing?
She squeezed her hand to fist, lifted her look and started to walk. Olivia rounded the hall across for once, checking the every corner and the side-room. All she could find was a cleaner, and Olivia told him to leave while keying in Charlie's number and concected it to her earphone.
While hiding behind the nearby wall corner she were listening the old-fashioned tooting. It didn't too many time to repeat, the answer came almost right after the first beep.
- What's up? Charlie responded with his cheerful and decomposed voice.
She didn't say anything yet, sighing from pleasant. At least Charlie was okay, that tune told everything, as Olivia had knew him for long enough.
- Charlie, have you seen ... agent Lee today? She had, at morning right after coming for work. Lee looked awful in that time, said that it was just a hangover. And she took it.
- Yeah he's actually right here with me, there was an answer. Wanna talk with him or something?
Heart skipped a beat. - Charlie, are you okay? Her was cracking, and added right after the first sentence, to make sure he wouldn't reveal anything. - if so, say ... say just something. I don't know, make up something.
There was a long silence. Olivia already thought they had been caught, the shape-shifter knew that she knew and was trying to tell about it to Charlie.
- No Liv, I ain't gonna kiss him, stop "shipping" us together.
She could hear a two men laughing awkwardly, and gave a long, revealed sigh. Thank God.
- Char, we have to talk. Alone, don't take anyone else with you, and make sure no-one's following you. Got it? Let's meet at locker rooms.
- That's just wrong, if you won't stop that, I'll cut the call.
- What is it? Charlie's voice had turned lower and more serious, he leaned forward and purckered up his eyebrows.
- Make sure there's nobody outside and lock the door and come here, Olivia told him, squaeking out from her dark corner.
Charlie hesitated for while, looking at the other person with that strange look. After that he though took a few steps outside the room and leer the hallway's both sides, it was empty almost for full length, walked back and locked the door. He was about to say something whilst walking towards Olivia, but this managed to interrupt him first.
- Just a while ago, I had a phonecall, she looked strict while talking. - From agent Lee.
The other one didn't really seemed having anykind reaction. - If you mean the one from the other Side, I've been with him for the whole day and I haven't noticed him calling anyone today. And Captain Lee again ---
- Of course I'm not meaning our Lee, Olivia puffed and took couple back-and-forth step on her spot. - But... the caller told it was him. And Lincoln, the one who'se here, is a shape-shifter.
This time Charlie's eyes blew open a bit and looked surprised. - A shape-shifter? he made sure he had heard correct, getting the answer as small nod. - Are you sure?
- I don't know, but... Why somebody stranger would call and claim himself as someone and the one we know being as a shape-shifter? The answer appeared into Olivia's head middle of the last word: maybe to making us to turn against ourselves and for infiltrating. She though threw the thought away by swinging her hand and head. - It doesn't matter
- Do you know, is Lincoln - the one, that called you - okay? Where is he now?
- I don't knew that either, he shut up all of the sudden middle of the call and didn't managed to tell and I already was planning to ask Astrid to track the call and send someone there and... Olivia had graped with the whole strenght on her forehead-hair and were wondering around short line from the side to other as nervous.
Charlie pulled the hand away and graped her shoulders.
- Calm down, Liv. Let's now think this all trough and then let's decide, what we're gonna do next, okay? The man lowered his head on the eye-level with the woman and looked into her eyes for long.
This seemed to calm down Olivia, making her to stop the movements and looking up again.
- Okay, she responded. - Let's assume, that now we really have a shape-shifter as pretending to be Lee.
The thought seemed somewhat as making sense, thinking about it afterwards. Lincoln - the shape-shifter - had already been kept more distance and liveless for weeks. Olivia thought it was because of the home-sick. Lincoln had also been more reserved, were acting in unusual way and seemed forgot things. This had complained about the backpains a single time netiher, but Liv had put that on the medication.
Before so social Lee - although he really was the one beginning the conversation - was now more secluded and avoided the human-contact.
Once while talking with Astrid Lee was like living in the other world and had mocked her badly, things that you couldn't even imagine Lincoln saying aloud. For weeks he had also spent the nights somewhere, almost never coming back to the apartement unless he came with the same drive with Olivia.
- I'll go fix couple things, Lincoln always answered when she asked where this was going. - I'll come back for the dinner, he always said, never doing so though. Worried Liv and once followed him, but this had noticed her and started to yell at her, even lifted his hand like for a slap.
Olivia had felt same as a student seeing the correct answer after counting difficult task in the math exam; all the signs and doubts were clearly ther, able to see them, she almost saw the answer but let it be. Just after seeing the answer everything seemed so clear and made sense, it was all so self-evident.
How blind she could have been.
- We better tell about this to Colonel Broyels, Charlie had crossed his hands. - Do you think we need backups?
The other one woke up back to the present and turned back to the self-confident looking and got her battle-will back.
- Call him and gather the forces, Olivia responded and rounded Charlie, walking to the door. - I'll go and find Lincoln. Where was the last time you saw him?
- Um, we were having a conversation at the Center, but you're not gonna go there all by yourself, Charlie's voice was shivering from the doubt, but this was ready to stop Olivia.
- No, I know, what he will try next, and you will get the backups.
The disgruntled and conflicting mix of feeling were shining on the face of the man.
- Why always one or two hero has to fight all be themselves against the inevitable death? he sighed.
- Because in other way it would be against the law of epicness of the movie, besides, the script-writer is out of the ideas?
- If we can break the universes, why not fourth walls too? Now go.
Was the shape-shifter-Lee - Olivia had named him at the style of Dr. Bishop as Flee, since this sure was such parasite - been in the Center, when Charlie saw him last time, he wasn't there anymore. Oliv peeked carefully, fingers of the left hand petting the .35-caliper, from the beginning of the hallway and scanned the floor. The place was full of other agents and parts of the forces - you could get them from here, Charlie - but the himself Flee wasn't around.
Middle of the hall Astrid were working next to the her large table, still focusing to last task given to her, find the suspected shape-shifter.
That baster solved you right in front of you and you couldn't suspect anything, Olivia was thinking and took long, still tensed step towards Astrid.
- Agent Fransworth, she lifted up her voice a bit to get other ones attention. The woman lifted her look away from the screens of the security cameras and turned it to Olivia, giving the military greetings. - Have you seen agent Lee?
- Agent Lee was here with agent Francis and left about 17,5 minutes agim Franswroth responded in the regular way, staring into emptiness and keeping her other hand up, finger napping against the thumb.
- Do you know where did he go?
Agent was quiet, waving to the side to other. - No.
- Could you go trough the securitycams of the Federal Building and look for him? Old memory, when he and Captain Lee were locking the agent one into cleaningroom, crossed Olivia's mind.
Fransworth nodded and swung her hand across the table to move last files, scenes of the city aside, keyed up the screen with her both hand and speared the camerascreens from the whole building around it. She was viewing every single of them in amazing speed and pointed one view. The man in very former coat walking in the hallway, back headed to the camera and appeared in another one so that his face were showing.
- Agent Lee is located in the 5th flor, Astrid mentioned and looked Olivia again. - At the sector 8C.
- What's in there?
The answer came with no any kind timepause. - There are kept the greatest Top Secret-files, that haven't been moved onto central system because of their ratings.
He was trying to infiltrate into files of FBI and dig up its information and send them to David Robert Jones, Lincoln has said before ending of the call.
- Does he had access there? Olivia's voice got lower, startling Astrid.
- He had got a special accesspermission to the filematerial and places they are kept in yesterday at the 18.13 o'clock Eastern Time ( god's sake how thorough you really have to be, Olivia grunted in her mind but kept that all inside her ).
The beating of the heart were banging next to the Olivia's ears. - Astrid, could you do a favour for me?
Agent Franswroth was surprised from the sudden familiarity, but nodded.
- Could you possibly open me an access to that place? Or maybe the permission?
- Having the permission will take average 6 and half day, if you would beg it now. And getting the access will take about 32,19 minutes, but...
Olivia interrupted her by springing up to the running. - Do that in half! In the halfway to the elevator he made a short-stop and jog back, removing her earphone.
- One more thing, Olivia said that in hurry and threw the devise for the Astrid, whose eyes were wide open from confusion. - Could you be able to track the last call?
Fransworth were just about to answering, when Dunhamn left again and yelled her; - Don't tell the numbers, just let it go!
Agent gave a laugh muted, amused for the ancient used sitat. I wonder in whose the rise of hops was the idea to add that kind of sentance into chest of the brand clothing? Sounded just like junk meant for children.
While stepping towards the empty hallway, the handgun pointing Olivia kept his sight tightly pointed at the metaldoor in the end. There was flickering next to it a fingerprint sensor and a keyboard for a password and Show Me!-card. Usually being off red light was now twinkling, meaning the access being open some while ago.
The agent strode, still ready for possible attack towards the door, checked once behind herself to make sure she was alone and put her gun down. She watched the touchscreen for while, raised steady and and pressed the whole palm against the sensor, swallowing her tense.
The sensor sensed the touch and scanned the hand down to a smallest wrinkle of the finger print and searched the same kind from its memory. A text appeared under the palm, saying ACCESS DENIED.
The wave of frustration went over Olivia, and she was about to hit the wall with a fist. In the end she ended up focusing the anger to nudging the ear lobe and connected the call into Center.
- Astrid! Olivia hissed angrily and kept leering every direction.
There were no response, Olivia tried to catch the connection again and continued the calling. - The access is denied, open it! There were a silence. She pulled her ear lobe and kept hissing frustrated.
Walking back and forth nervously Olivia tried to come up with a better plan. Sure she could stay here and wait, that Flee would come back, but could manage to send his information for David Robert Jones before that. She could call Charlie with his backups here ( what the hell took so long anyway? ), break the door and bring someone with access with him. Maybe agent Fransworth, but Astrid hadn't answered the call and Olivia wasn't sure, had something bad happened to her.
Olivia turned back to the door, red light had stop flicking. Agent took two long leap and placed the palm again on the screen.
The sensor scanned the finger prints once again, the loading bar rolled on the upper corner and instead of red light there was now green. Text ACCESS ACCEPTED appeared on the place of previous one and the door clicked when the lock opened.
Metallic door slided on the side in front of still stunned Olivia, rumbling loudly at the same time. Behind it was showing and view of large-ish room, big lockers and cabinets constructing several canals and a maze. The lighting was frail, the dust was dancing under the small lamps hanging from the ceiling, and the alphabet letters were hardly showing when looked from far away.
As en echo soundwave of opening door was still moving on the air for a second or two before disappearing. Olivia lifted slowly her gun up, and carefully, watching after her steps, sneaking into the hall. The heels of the leather shoes were clopping quietly on the tiled floor, but Olivia excluded them from her cognition zone, focusing as in the routine, senses open into the environment outside herself. She even slowed down the breathing, so the whoosh wouldn't forestall her to hearing a single sound.
Automatically the door slided close after Olivia being a few feet away from it, bumping loudly when locked and lighting up again the red, flicking light. The agent startled and quickly turned around, the gun still pointing forward.
The thought, that Flee had somehow managed to sneak behind Olivia and out of the hall, filled her mind of a second, holding the advantage. The sense - or maybe just the willpower to believe that thing really were better - answered back, claiming that the distance between her and the door was way too short, she would have noticed it anyway.
She turned back forward and kept going. Olivia stepped into the maze, peeked attentively behind the corners and the single lockers. There were no any kind sound among the clop of the shoes, making the agent confirmed that the shape-shifter had made it, gather all it needed and get out of the building.
Like for an argument there was a sound of slap behind her from far away. Like by the instinct, she turned around before the echo vanished, the hallway was empty.
- Sshhhit, something swore, hissed through the teeth, and there was a glimpse between the next by cabinet, when the dark shadow stooped down to lift fallen file and started to run.
- Hey! Olivia shouted and run after him.
Whilst scampering between the lockers their both feet clapped on the ground
Unfortunately, the chase never takes forever, the end will come after all and someone has to lose. The end of the hall was right ahead and they both noticed it. Although there was a huge distance between them, Olivia still had a vantage on her side; to getting back to the door and run our, the shape-shifter had to step to the straight hallway between two cabinet, where Olivia would had a perfect, clear view contact and chance to shoot right away when Flee was trying to run over it.
The dark shadow stopped right before this, behind the corner of the lockers. The agent couldn't see his face clearly, but the gasping swearing sound like what she had been listening last pasting weeks. The voice of the caller before was same, but it was much more scared, tearful.
The suspect stood on his spot, hesitating, twitching every now and then like being ready to continue his runaway but retracting it right away. Olivia raised her weapon for the both hands and changed the jobbing to sneaking, wobbling side to side.
Where the hell Charlie is?
Almost, for the habit, she was about to shout at first, for what organization, FBI, she was working for, but realized that it was probably the most self-evident thing in the whole case in that moment and place. - Drop your weapons and put you han ---
Middle of the sentence Flee sprung across end of the hallway, with two long leap.
the movement was somewhat surprise for Olivia, and she wasn't ready to react right away. The alert for the defense tough reacted before her, causing her to pull the trigger.
The cry of pain flew in the hall - it sounded just like Lincoln, I shot him oh god I shot the heart sank - the character stumbled right in the next step, flight through the air about a few feet out of the vision and the light body banged surprisingly forcefully against the floor.
Olivia laid down her gun on the level of pelvis and again slowly walked towards the whining muscle-mass on the ground. When being a couple feet away she saw on the ground intermittent, somewhat messy blood-drain and looked at its source.
The man laid on the floor, back on Olivia's way, leaning on his elbows and the other knee. While gasping for the breath the head hanged down and the free foot was outstretched backwards. The gray-blue sleeve of the pants was ripped off, skin and mucles covered on the blood were peeping out.
She had hit the leg, right between the calf and air. The bullet had likely drilled out after hit through the tissue, creating the nice-looking tear on the muscles. The blood was still gushing out, not much but blood stains easily and made even the smallest amount to look like small puddle.
Flees gasped in his pains, raised his head to look at Olivia, revealing the tearful, burning eyes. They were full of wrath, cold, but they were Lee's eyes and Olivia could see him - his Lincoln and theirs - and her heart sank when she had to see them.
The long, horribly wide grin stretched on that creature's face, and it burst into laugh. It was still strictly under the trigger, but kept chattering like a madman, breezing and intermittent laughing.
Olivia stared at the creature all eyes, intently. She saw a man in front of her, who she had knew ever since the collage, her best friend, the one she had been with all way from the start to the very end, laughing at her, teeth grimacing, in the puddle of blood in front of her gun.
But she knew it wasn't Lincoln.
It was a monster, a demon.
The thing started to cough strongly, still giggling, snotted a giant bugerglimb out of its roof of throat and continued.
- So close, Flee mumbled, still smiling. - So fucking close, I got those damn files and you FBI-fuckers mess up it all, that's what you did god damnit. He raised his sight, staring at the female agent under his eyebrows.
- Won't the Arseface kneel anymore, heheh, won't kneel. While repeating the same mantra the monster rolled slowly, smirking from the pain and sat up, wounded leg still unstretched forward and arms leaning behind him.
Olivia took a step forward and squeezed her gun harder. Bit more power into the trigger, and Flee's brains would paint the floor of the hall. This stopped the repeating and now focused completely to stare at her, without any word, still smirking.
There they were, staring at each others, the hunter and the pile of remnants of carrion. The place was all silent, not even the sound of air conditioner was hearing, but Olivia thought she heard the echo of madly laugh, cold stings crossing on the back. But she didn't stirred, still staying sepulchral.
- Do it, the carrion broke the silence. - Shoot me.
The coldness of thousands snowstrom went across Olivia's whole body, all way from the fingertips to the every core of the cells.
For that short moment he was hearing, seeing in front of her that corpse being her dear co-worker, in his full innocent and friendliness.
Lincoln with soul of monster, the real Lincoln screaming for help, crying alone.
She felt the desperation choking her throat, making her fall on her knees and hug her wounded, dearest friend and cry with him.
She tighten up her grip on the weapon, squeezing so hard that the knuckles turned with, hands shaking.
It's not Lincoln and you know it it's not Lee it's as monster shoot it
- SHOOT ME YOU BIATCH! Lincoln it's not Lincoln roared and Olivia pulled the trigger.
The gun went off and the bang stayed there as an echo for long time.
The bullet flew right next to the shape-shifter, just an inch away from where it had teared off the whole temple. The pieces of skin and some of blood splashed, when the bullet ripped Flee's left ear off and drilled somewhere onto floor.
You stupid idiot he was right in front of you he was on his knees and you didn't shot
It's Lincoln I just couldn't it's
It wasn't Lincoln and you didn't sho
The thought broke and Olivia returned back to the reality non-Lincoln swooping towards her and swinging his fist. She managed to notice this and was just about to evade, but the impact was fast and digged into bones of her face, crashing the cheekbone and swung Olivia's whole upper body around. The other eye black out and she pulled trigger again, not even thinking about aiming, and the mouth of the gun pointed upward somewhere in far distance and the bullet flew as told to.
Surprised Olivia staggered couple step back and held her cheek with free hand, just managing to feel the pain of the broken bone and realize what had happened, when he new impact hit, first on the other side of face, the on the lower belly. The woman banged on the ground on her stomach, managed to take a couple last breath before she was pulled by hair, the swollen faces pointing forward and got a kick on her nose. Nasty crunsh echoed in the skull when the hard cartilage broke inwards and the blood splashed out of a lump, in the past known as a nose. One front tooth fell out of the mouth and Olivia's face were now full of red liquid.
The headache was awful and Olivia didn't had time enough to think fast and clearly. She tried to flick something with her arm, something that she read as a human, was looking for her gun shoot that bastard but the weapon had dropped from her grip long time ago and she hadn't time to look for it. Olivie tried to twitch back to her legs, full of andrenaline and confusion and willpower.
Quickly, still stumbling the agent stood up, leaning forward, long red hair sticking to the bloody skin in front to eyes and fist reached out.
She managed to see a very last of grin before the last impact.
It hit into fist and broke shape-shifter's index and middle finger instead of jaw, but made dizzy feeling Olivia to flew backward and crashing onto floor again. It wasn't the punch that made her lost her consciousness, but the hard impact on the occipital black her world out.
For her, just for a short moment, for the outside world for hours before waking up again in the blood puddle.
Although Olivia was already out of the game, the shape-shifter kicked her on the side once more, wiped the blood strain away from his cheek and smirked.
- Motherfucking bitch FBI-fucker, Matthew grunted, picked up the pile of files and paper from the ground and limped away.
The bleeding was about to stop slowly, not completely there no any fear for blood loss. Whilst Matthew hopping with one leg and pulling the stinging, wounded limb after him the shotwound hadn't managed to heal perfectly, and that less amount that drained out of the leg, got stained on the sleeve. The pain wasn't now the worst possible he had experienced, not even the shot by David Robert Jone next to the liver was the worst, when stopped to think about it, Matthew didn't even noticed the pain.
He had now more important thing on his mind.
How the hell that whore-fucker knew? Still in the morning this had smiled had so nicely, tough switching to worry-looking after seeing Matthew's - Lincoln's, jesus how dumb that guy could look - peaky, like survived from the plague face. The bitch had even touched his cheek, and Matt scared already that the tissue hadn't fully stable and the skin would got stuck on her palm.
- Just drank too much yesterday, the shape-shifter said when asked. - Had a damn bad hangover at the morning, it was close to not get up out of the bed. It was all true, and he was really regretting the drinking. Not just only for worse hangover than usually, and that was nothing compared to the rottening. It made the hangover multiple time worse, he felt himself dirty, disgusting.
He had just got to the last straight on his mission, everything was already so close to the ending, and all that hard work, all those looks of people, living inside someone else's body, as some goofy looking office-jerk, all those rotten days, all that pain and discast.
Only because he just got bit too excited with the happydrink.
No, no it wasn't his fault.
It was that rotten-jerk Lincoln.
Matthew didn't knew how, but it was all that son of bitch fault, that little FBi-fucker had made him to sip some happydrink and almost destroy his own work.
And once again that son of bitch was behind all of this.
Somehow that bastard had managed to sneak out and sang out for that redhair everything, somehow, he had to die there and rotten there but somehow he survived and was again trying to destroy his work.
The shot calf pricked, and Matthew threw himself next to the wall to get some support. He had almost made it to the end of the file-floor, stand a couple ten feet away from the elevators. The shape-shifter overlooked his shoulder, to look at the hall he had just came from.
Matthew had locked the door behind him, and it was still closed, red light flickering. That bitch was probably still laying on the floor, cheek and nose inside out and counted stars.
The shape-shifter continued the limping away from it, stayed to wait the elevator and threw himself in it when the doors opened. He stayed to sit on the floor opposite the door and had to stretch to reach out to the button.
He followed how the numbers showing the floor were sliding on the upper screen down from the fifth. The view turned back to the leg, where small drop of liquid of life were dripping out and stained the cheap carpet. The file and paper scattered under the hands as a messy pile.
It's enough as long I'll just get out of here, then it will be all over, the Arseface will likey.
But what if that son of bitch is there, waiting for him?
If Lincoln had somehow managed to move the knowledge forward, why this wouldn't just as well get out of the lab, he sure had done it once before, and drag himself here to stop him and finish his sabotage.
No, that just couldn't be possible, not in any way. Before leaving the lab, Matthew have pumped that motherfucker full of sleepy-gas, and that fucker couldn't have done it.
It didn't have guts for such, for sure.
At the second floor the bell ringed, and the elevator stopped. The heart jumped into Matt's throat, and this fumbled the gun from the ground, for nothing, he idiot had forgot and left it with that bitch.
The door slided open, the shape-shifter groped tightly to the railing as an instict, and there was just about to step in workers in their thoughts. One woman screamed after seeing the man laying in the box and the leg and carpet full of blood. The others behind her startled the screaming and stepped back, now even they were looking in.
- Are you okay? someone from the crowd asked. Matthew answered with a puff and and rolled his eyes, that was now a damn self-evident, tugged himself up and stumbled towards them. The crowd evasived without a telling, still as stunned and worried looking and stared each others.
The shape-shifter, thought to be as Lee trotted, spiky beat in the calf wasn't anymore so bad, looking for the stairway. There was not point to stay here, middle of stupid people, or else they'll start ask questions and take care of him and he wouldn't get out of here before next plague-years.
There was a Center in the second floor, got to be careful now. Who know if there would be more that one chick after him, carefully and caution to the exit. Matthew rubbed his head, he remember seeing the EXIT-sign somewhere here - unless if it was the one in the lab? - but not, which way it was.
Every time the other person passed by him, the wounded infiltrator tried to cover the wound of his limb ( he had already forgot the missing ear ) by pulling the leg behind hi, it was obvious how clearly the blood was showing. He walked quickly away before no-one had time to say anything of stop him.
While wandering nervously Matthew just couldn't remember, where the hell in this damn labyrinth everything was, even tough he had been working there.
Matthew could have easily to walk after it, unless he had just seen the door leading to the stairway from the corner of his eye.
For the fuck's sake, he grunted and hogged towards it.
While wobbeling towards the gates of freedom Matthew could hear a hostile roar. - Freeze! the was a command in three different tuned, making the startled shape-shifter to take a couple backup steps.
On the right side of him he could see about thirty feet away three - he could have dealed with one, but three... - fully dressed on the clothing of riot police and armed man, aiming him with some nasty looking assault rifles. Put the big boys on the duty, now there was a reason to be flattered.
- Drop your weapons and lay down to the ground! Same old mantra. One from the trio spoke into his earphone while the other two were still keeping him under the target.
- We found him, from the B-sector of the second floor, we'll waiting for the more orders. ... Alright, sir, over. Now this guys joined too with other ones.
At first appeared the polices, patrolling in the same floor, after that the rest, as large groups, some of them even gathered in front of the exit. Still, none of them tried to catch Matthew or didn't even come to next to him, all of them were staying at the a couple ten feet away from him. He didn't even had a gun, what those cowards were scaring of, that he would blow up?
From somewhere behind the crowd scampered the main boss himself, the scar-face, was he's name Charlie or something? The sir looked just like there had been stuck a thick crowbar up to his ass, sideways perhaps. He walked through the forces to be in the front, of course wanting to be the great leader, who had guts to get in front of his subordinates and face the bad guy.
- The wolfhound makes the puppies fight and watches on the side, the shape-shifter cracked and nudged back. There were no a single twitch on Charlie's face, it was all serious.
- Where's agent Dunhamn? the tune was strict and low, this man was certainly more interested about his bitch's ass than about Matthew.
He smirked widely, it was so awful and made Lee's face look like rushed.
- You don't have to worry anymore about that little bit--- !!!
The gunshot filled the room, and Matthew rolled around a fourth. Not from the hit, but surprise. The bullet teared the fabric of the shoulder into pieces and blood flew along the neck.
The man stumbled a short length before falling on the ground. He started to scream from the pain again, now much harder than last time.
The riot policed dropped their weapons and stared at each other, stunned. None of them had opened the fire, the bullet came behind the target, hitting him between the shoulder blade and stopped on the bone.
The shape-shifter moaned still on the ground, from the amazement and pain. Behind him, behind the corner, were quiet clops of steps. Everyone, Charlie at the head, reached out to see the shooter.
It was a small woman, holding the smokey pistol in both of her hands. Black, curly hair were pulled back, revealing the emotionless faces.
- He was so rude, agent Fransworth said with her quiet voice.
The foggy lights of the cars and streetlights were flickering and gleaming past him, dark characters were passing by and some of them gathered around the body ans kept whispering each others. Lee tried to reach out his arm towards the shadows, beg for help, only managing to puff muted and twitch on his place.
The sound were fading away in the beat of the heart, everything were getting darken and more shadows were appearing. Lincoln tried desperately kick his mind back to the wake, small punch brought the clearness back, but soon vanished away, twice harder.
Lincoln were hovering between these two reality, always getting farther from the lights, like a piece of wood in the waves, like a impulse.
There was a loud sound of siren somewhere in far, far away, it was getting closer, Lee couldn't possibly remember what that sound meant, small voice whispered it meaning danger you must run away, but he couldn't. Everything felt so cold and he couldn't move and the darkness ate him.
Just before falling asleep Lincoln could see a red-blue-lights arriving and how the shadows turned in front of him, sudden feeling of weightlessness and a sting in his wrist. He even could feel, how warm liquid streamed from the sting-spot inside him, to the vein and muscles, into heart and lungs, up up way to the head and filled the whole body with heath.
He fell asleep, forgot everything, and let go without struggling.
Lincoln couldn't remember, when he started to see a dream. In the regular way, didn't even knew, how did it started, let alone realizing he was in one.
Still, in some level he could sense it, small voice that had told him move forward, whispered it, always appearing out somewhere behind the house corner or sung as a bird in the tree. But Lee ignored it all, drowned the voice under his own thoughts and children's laugh and forgot it.
This place was his universe, everything was familiar and safe. There were nowhere any kind place isolated with Amber, air was fresh ( or fresh compared to the polluted Side ), somewhere was smelling a coffee.
The neighborhood was clean, the growth flashy green, the weather was perfectly warm and sunny, few clouds flying around as large groups on the blue sky. Gang of playing children were running after them and kept riddling, what they looked like that one is a crocodile no isn't clearly a ship what which one? The old granny's, who always baked some raisinbuns and let the children eat the dough, small mop-dog Blackie started to bark for the children and jumped against the fence.
Lincoln were standing next to the giant, old oak, watching the neighborhood, small boxes and sniffed the air. It smelled sweet, the wind moved to the rub the young leaves of the oak against each others and the sunshine peeked between them. The stronger wind swung the leaves and one acorn fell on Lincoln's head.
The sky is falling the sky is falling, Chick Little tweeted and run around his legs.
No it won't fall, Lee replied. Not in this world, in this world it will stay tightly stuck.
Chicken Little hid in the pant-sleeve and climbed up along the leg, peeked out under the belt and jumped into pocket, holding the acorn in its peak.
Man knocked the tree trunk with knuckle of his index inger and started to walk towards the houses. The closer he got the little boxes, the happier he felt. The children turned on his way and smiled excited.
- Uncle-Lee! small girl piped and left the Blackie to bark with itself, running towards him and the long dress fluttering. The another child joined with the welcome-run and scampered behind. About same aged as the girl, dressed on a blue shorts, boy stumbled on the pavement and fell forward.
Lee squat down and speared his arms to pull the girl on his lap and hugged her. The other one, stood up again jumped on Lee's shoulder and hugged the head on his turn.
The child-duo fell Lincoln on his back on the grass and the whole group started to laugh as a chore. The fallen short-boy jumped better way on the pile where he fit, small blood stain dirting Lincoln's cheek.
- Lincoln! Mommy is making pancakes, come the our place to eat them with us! the girl cheered and pulled his sleeve. The boy crawled away and did as his sister. Lincoln scrambled up, still having a wide smile on his face.
The children pulled him from the sleeves and pushed from the back into their homeyard on the gate. They let go and giggled while running into house. The shoes clopped in the house, sound echoing even outside the place, and Lee could see from the open window, how children trotted inside the house and laughed and screamed.
- Dad, daaad! he yelled, Lee still standing in front of the gate.
Robert-daddy isn't home daddy is dead and left the kids alone, Chicken Little tweeted from the pocket. Daddy is dead and you let him die.
Lincoln sticked his hand into the pocket, locked the chick inside the fist, puled it out and opened again under his eyes. Chicken Little had turned into familiar, round jewel where was in the middle a maze, and it still kept tweeting Robert-daddy isn't here anymore daddy is dead.
- I'm not in a sleep and Robert isn't dead, Lincoln whispered back. - Robert lives in this world and is inside eating with kids. The jewel didn't shut up, the fist closed again around it. Lee threw it on the other side the street from the Blackie for snack, walked into the house and forgot the whole thing after stepping over the Welcome-carpet.
Inside the house smelled the pancakes roasted in the butter and strawberry jam. Everything was so clean and tidy, the kitchen was bright and the table was decked full of plates, cutlery and in middle was huge pile of pancakes.
The housewife turned around next to the fryingpan after hearing the clopping of the shoes and smiled so perfect and flawless mother hen smile after noticing Lincoln. Jules had dressed into pink apron and his hair were pulled up as a ponytail with violet ribbon. She looked same as in the eldest child's 5-year-old birthday, where Lee and came to visit since Robert had invented him and brought a big Eeyore plushie as a gift.
- How nice is to see you after so long time! Jules chimed and rushed to hug Lee. She speared her arms over his neck and gave a kiss on Lee's cheek ( it was friendly smooch, " I'm happily married to and i love more than anything else " - kiss ) and opened her apron whilst walking next to the table. - Come, sit down and have something eat, there's enough for everyone. Jules threw the apron on the back of her own chair and tugged another one under the table for Lee, middle of already wolfing down children.
- I-I don't shall dare, Lincoln's voice were shaking and he was clearly ashamed and blushing.
- Of course you dare, there are not made for a decoration, please, have some, Jules kept arguing and walked ( she had always been such perpetual motion machine, hardly seen as sitting down ) again into the hallway. Lee looked at the dinnertable, the young-one's mouth corners were full of jam stains, he were in the doubt for a second and sit down on his spot.
The girl in the red dress afforded to give Lee his pancake amount and tried to lift two at the same same time with unsteadiness grip.
Lincoln couldn't just do more than smile, everything was so great.
- Robert! Jules yelled at the roof of the stairs. - The dinner is ready!
Robert is dead, Chicken Little tweeted somewhere out of Blackie's stomach, it's voice had turned so cold and wheezing and Lee could hear it.
The floor of upstairs als with the beat of step and Lincoln's back shivered. He thought that the room changed to gloomy, the darkness comes, the darkness is coming.
Now the stairs stared to creak, the cold permeated all way to insides, the darkness crawled on the walls as a mole, filling and scrabbling the room and throttled Lee's throat.
It's Robert oh God his face are cover in blood his skin oh God and transparent. The breath wheezed and he was rotten to the core.
- Hey Lincoln! Robert cheered and waved his arm for the greeting.
The room was bright and cheery and full of happiness. Robert was alive and the face was shining in the sunshine, smile was beautiful and flawless like with his wife and he wasn't dead.
Lincoln started at the other man eyes wide open, mouth bit open and started, how Robert walked into the kitchen ( thank God he had remember to put some pants on ) gave a kiss on his wife's cheek and sit down opposite Lincoln. The children were smiling happily, petted their father's hand and kept wolfing down the pancakes.
- How nice from you to come to visit here without invent, Robert said cheerfully and slammed Lee's back with his palm so that he had to cough for while from the surprise. - What's wrong, why you're so pale?
Lee noticed he was still staring at his old partner, and if he hadn't pulled himself together, Lincoln swore he had rushed over the table, no caring about getting dirty on the jam and hugged Robert filled with the relieve and missing. But he didn't, just squeezed the tablecloth and smiled.
- It doesn't matter, it's great to see you too, Lee explained and forgot it all. - I've been missing you too so much.
Robert and Jules looked at each others as confused. - Oh please, it's not that long time since we saw you last time, Jules remarked. - just about a week, when Robert were still in the sick leave.
- It felt much longer, like a years, Lee spoke back. He still hadn't even touched the pancakes, and the boy tried to snatch an extra strawberry from his plate with a fork.
Both of them were quiet, until Jules burst into small laugh and giggled into her fist and looked at the men teasingly. Robert responded on this with upbraid look, but lost his pokerface too and joined in.
- All kind of things you keep imagine, Well, now let's eat.
Lee didn't noticed before he was even hungry, but now the bottom of his stomach felt dry and empty well. He looked at the couple and children for a while, smiled and filled with light and bit a whole pieces at once from his pancake. The jam tasted like bacon and pancakes were like spinach and grass.
Walter passed by the open window and greeted the family by waving his hand. All responded by exclaiming back like they had knew the old man for their whole life.
- Bye bye Gene! the girl in the dress yelled. The cow, mortgaged to the reins mooed back and the duo continued their walk along the street.
Everyone were sitting next to the treats, laughing and chattering, their mouths were moving but there were no sound. Everything in the world were completely quiet, even Chicken Little, the humming of the wind weren't playing and there were no voice of laughing children.
Robert were just about to say something with his voiceless talk, when the silence were broke by a doorbell. Instead of regular sound of bell there were playing "Candyman", The girl jumped on the floor and run alssing to the frontdoor. The lock clicked and she greeted the visitor.
- Hello, is Lincoln here? the voice of the man was very familiar and warm.
- Uncle-Leee! the girl yelled and came back.
Lincoln wiped his mouth corners and stood up, stuck the last piece of pancake into his cheeks and left.
The sunshine made visitor's hair glow golden - no, they were red - the color beat between the blond and red. The woman were standing on the Welcome-carpet, hands on the each other in front of the pelvis, and Lee could already see her faces even from other side the hallway. Olivia looked at him calmly, waiting that he would come and talk with her.
- Olivia, Lee's voice cracked and he coughed to repeat the name.
- Lee, she whispered quietly, the voice was similar to breeze. - we want you back. Everyone are worried, and want to see you again.
Every word styng Lincoln's chest and it was so hard to breathe. He repeated again Olivia's name and stepped closer.
- I... I can't, he hesitated and stepped further and rubbed his wrists. - I have a good here, I can't come back, can't can't.
Olivia's face got gloomy and drooped down like for a cry. She lifted the other hand up, palm faced forward, and it's surface sag inward like being pressed against the glass. - Linc ---
The voice broke and she spoke the voiceless speak. Lincoln came closer, but the legs were clued on the groundd, they weren't moving anywhere and pulling hurt. The horror invanded Lee's mind and the room got darker once again, the mole off the darkness came back and the air smelled like rotten.
Lincoln tried to reach out forward, trying to lift his arm, but it was stuck and heavy and hurt and had changed just to a bones and was rotten. Massive burning pain cankered the whole body while Lee was trying to reach Olivia and move his arm, full of worms. It moved so slowly, everything hurt and he couldn't move.
Thin bones of tips of finger brushed Olivia's hand, it was smooth and cold and Lee tried to grab on it. Hard, transparent wall clopped against the bones and balked the touch. Lincoln whined after seeing Olivia's lats smile before the glass chattered in to pieces.
The shrapnel fell across the ground as large pieces and everything behind the glass vanished and changed into emptyness. The darkness surrounded everything and pulled Lee inside itself. All was gone and dead and he was rotten to the core, pieces of skin drained on his coat as wet and huge glimpses and Lincoln screamed.
Screamed, scream that all he could. He started to swing his arms and they slammed strongly against something. Lee opened his eyes and saw a lights, it was everywhere, yellow and white, he didn't knew was it real or just a dream, it felt different.
Lee turned his attention back to the up lifted hands, their wrists and finger were twisted into different positions and pointed different ways, they had hit something, was it glass he didn't knew.
The terror and the fear of just seen dream still kept milling about in Lee's mind and made him bang the glass and scream even harder. He didn't knew where he was and what was happening, Lee didn't even thought about it nor anything else. All he could hear in his head was a command to scream.
- Lincoln! there was a voice somewhere in far away and a dark character appeared next to him behind the glass. He couldn't see who it was, everything was so foggy and Lincoln tugged the hand in front of him as a shield it's that man it's him and he had come to give the spike again.
- Lee! It's alright, calm down! the character kept repeating and pressed its hand against the glass. The spike is coming here comes the air-plain spike. - It's alright!
There started to hear rumbling in the background and more character appeared, yelling to each others and holding something in their hands. The spike comes bye bye.
- No, wait! the first shadow yelled and beckon to the others. - Lincoln, it's me, Dunhamn!
Dunhamn, why did it sounded so familiar, something in Lee's mind tweeted but it drowned into screaming and scared whining.
One of the shadows was holding a small glass bottle in it hand and the hyde oh my God.
- No nonono please no! Lincoln kept shouting and banged the glass. Thin pipe went into his arm and the blue liquid light it's not blue it's light streamed inside it into his veins. Lee swung his arm and tried to rip the pipe away, and there were already the compound inside him and streamed into whole body in the beat of heart.
It made him weaker and suppressed the screaming. Everything faded away and got darker, Lee tried to grab the glass but sweaty hand slided slowly and squeaking down. The eyeslids felt so heavy and he felt tired so much.
- Please, no no nooo, Lincoln sobbed and turned his head to closest one character. It smiled gently and warmly for him.
It was Olivia and Lincoln knew she was real.
Lincoln pressed his hand on the glass, like for touching her palm, faded again away the sleep and cried.
For time for ever he could cry. He cried for happiness.
A water trickle drained along the chin and dropped on the shirt, dark wet stain drawing next to the collarbone. Half empty water glass moved to the table next to the bed and white tissue ( this time it really was a tissue, not ... human tissue ) wiped the trickle.
- I'm sorry, Olivia apologized and wiped gently Lincoln's jawline. Her nose was still swollen and nasty bruise went across the cheek, but Lee still thought she looked pretty.
- Don't be sorry, it wasn't your fault, he replied and smiled. - The sensation hasn't fully returned yet. It wasn't all true, Lincoln could feel really well the touch of the woman and it felt good after so long and painful time. Sure the nervous system hadn't perfectly reverted yet, neither was the rest of the body, the skin and muscles were still sticky and limbs hurt, but that was fixed with daily amount of morphine.
For all that even the slightest touch felt supernal.
Lincoln had been kept - at least what Olivia told him - in the coma for weeks after this had been found from the street. At the first time after his latest panic attack and nightmare he woke up ( he had been forced, Lee was told that he was just like a child woken up for the school he didn't wanted to ) from the sickbed, attacked to same kind machines as while he was a prisoner of the shape-shifter. He even though first that he was back to the lab and in half-asleep ripped the wires and the gasmask off. Just before standing up from the bed the nurse rushed into the room and laid the man back to sleeping position and attached the rigs back.
Even though Lee still couldn't see properly - compared to no wearing the glasses - the room was foggy but bright. There were placed sent corsages, couple balloons around the bed and he thought he saw Eeyore in the corner. Lee never knew he has been still popular or people would care about him so much - or then it was just that people still kept him as a substitute of Captain.
Now days he slept a half of the day, but it wasn't same as when he was a prisoner, this time Lee could see dreams and he didn't ever realized he was sleeping. Many times he woke up Olivia ( once it was Colonel Broyels and Lee was about to have a heart attack ) next to him, and as often could easily fell asleep in the end of the sentence.
- What happened to the shape-shifter? Lincoln once asked all of the sudden middle of dinner, he already could keep the food down in his stomach without throwing up.
Olivia surprised from the confusing question, still rolling the black plastic flower ( it sure was sent by Charlie ) and placed on the Lee's feet.
- Well, you won't guess who in the end chastened him, she answered with her old teasing tune.
Lincoln shrugged his shoulders. Every now and then he had to squint his eyes when he wasn't wearing his glasses, looking now more serious.
- Astrid, Olivia cracked and tried to cover her laugh with her fist. - Charlie said that she popped out of nowhere and shot that guy down on the shoulder. Very unexpected from her, isn't it?
Astrid sure was the very last person Lee could imagine doing such thing. Never mess up with the quietest one, he thought and burst to a loud laugh that the whole room echoed. His eyes got tearful and the head swung back. It hurt, but he didn't cared but kept laughing until had to start coughing at the same time.
The other on of the stayed at staring at him, confused, still smirking herself too. - Will you tell me too or keep the joke with yourself?
- I'll tell some other time, Lee answered, still giggling uncontrollably. - Please, go on.
- So anyway, yeah Charlie and others arrested him, and he was dragged into the interrogation. At least they got the files back and made sure he wouldn't cause any more problems for us. They didn't found any communication tool from him, that he could have sent the contents of those files to Jones.
- Sound pretty anti-climax, Lee joked and reached out to take the water glass again. His hand was trembling, so Olivia offered to do it to him.
- Well there's more, that's not the end, she replied and soldered the other one. Lee wrinkled up to show his disaffection to the unnecessary care taking, but couldn't keep it up, there was no chance to be serious for such silly situation. - He died.
Lee swallowed the wrong way a little and coughed the tickling water drip away. - What, he did? How?
- Pretty much as you told happening before; apparently his cells and immune system just wasn't strong enough, and passed out. You said before, that he did all those "DNA-gatherings" or something every now and then, right? Do you know the reason for that?
Man just shook his head, still handling the glass on his belly.
- The lab boys found out that he was different from the other shape-shifters we have met so far. It seems that he was just a prototype of the biological shape-shifters, better one but at the same time dependent to ordered DNA-renewal. That's why he did those things to you, he had to renew his DNA to stay as someone, in the stable stage, or otherwise the body would change back as it used to be and collapse.
- Why didn't they then just gave him something and let him die? Lincoln asked.
- Coz they found out this just after the autopsy. Middle of the interrogation that guy ---
- He was Matthew.
- --- Matthew just sit there, not saying a word, what now sometimes mocking us all and so on, but he never said anything.
He was narcissist and couldn't handle the loss, Lincoln wondered. He knew what was coming and waited the death.
- Well, at least those lab rats were really excited, and we got some more knowledge about the shape-shifters.
Lab rats. Lincoln remembered the rats in the laboratory, running across the floor and eating the glimpses, fighting over them.
The memory rolled the bottom of his stomach and he was about to throw up. This time there was something, and he winked his hand to sign to give the bucket next to the bed. Quickly Olivia snatched it and gave it, Lincoln gaging forcefully.
- S-s-sorry, he gabble embarrassed and spit rest of the vomit into bucket. Olivia offered him some tissues, and he wiped the last drop away from corner of his mouth.
- Don't mind, I like taking care of such helpless men as you are, Olivia added and smirked. Lincoln took his " What the f- "-face, it was meant to as a joke and they both just sat and laugh there.
- Just stay th- nonono don't do tha-
- Don't you now I got thi-
Lincoln was about to roll over as Olivia let go to open their front door of house, unless she hadn't caught him from the collar when his knees gave up. Lee had nagged the whole trip from the car to the porch that he really would be able to walk by himself, he was healed enough already, but Olivia insisted against this and forced the man lean against her and rugged him all the way.
The same nag continued as they finally get in the house, and got the man laying on the couch.
- Jeez, you're even worse than a little boy in its negative age, Olivia said and tumbled next to him, sweaty and the blood rushed into almost recovered bruises and made them shine as red.
- I thought I was already in one, Lincoln joked back and kicked his shoes off. He didn't felt yet like placing them on to shoe rack as he always did, no matter how tired he was, but now that line had been crossed. Besides, he technically was still a bed patient, sent back to home but not allowed to go to work for a week, also still having the treatment. He was already getting sick of just laying around, it's been already about a month since he was found and forced to done so all day long.
Olivia still kept gasping for a while, took off her jacket and just threw it onto opposite chair and stood up. - Wanna drink something?
Just make sure it's not blue anymore no blue. - Sure, thanks.
She smiled, the bruise on the cheek got bigger by this, and walked again to the kitchen, soon coming back with two cream soda drinks.
You can't be serious, Lee mumbled to the maid Fortune, that's just wrong. - Well this is irony.
- How's that? Liv asked and sat down to same spot as last time and passed the other drink to him.
Because of in that same night that made me life being hell, I was just about to bring just same kind cream drink to you. - It doesn't matter.
Woman giggled. - But I swear to you, if you're gonna throw that up without telling about it to me, I'm not the one who's gonna clean it up, that's for sure.
They both smiled again, like always together, and Olivia leaned against Lincoln.
- I was so worried about you, she muttered and rubbed her head against Lee's shoulder. - I scared that they wouldn't find you and you would just die there-
Lincoln felt, how the blood rushed into his face, making it hot and probably bright red. Still he tried to hide this, and placed his arm on Liv's shoulder, as for a shield or for hug.
- I was scared for you too, he said and they both looked into each other's eyes. - I was afraid that that horrible man would do something to you.
There they just sat, against each other, looking into their eyes, in the silence.
- Now you just made the woman hero sound like weak as a kitty, Olivia said and burst into laugh.
Lincoln couldn't help himself and joined in.
- Tomorrow, shall we break the whole 4th wall?
- We'll see that.