February 11, 2013 by Vee Villarreal
They were turned out into the yard for exercise and it was a rare opportunity to really stretch their legs. Kai and his younger brother had shared a cell now for nearly six years; an unfathomably long time in their short lives. In that time they hadn’t seen any other member of their family in the camp beside their older brother, and they hadn’t seen him since the morning he was taken to a new cell. The memory of his mother’s face- her voice as she would sing him to sleep- the warm comfort of her arms, had been so clear the first few months after their capture, but had slowly began to fade.
The bruises on his arms and legs where the white coats had injected some foul, quicksilver fluid into him over the course of several months had faded from blackish-purple to sickening bile yellow. Luckily the pain, which was severe immediately after each session, was much more fleeting. The morning after there was always a peculiar ache in his muscles, sometimes it felt so deep that he thought his bones themselves were twisting and contorting with each movement. Despite the discomfort he and Kopi were always expected to go through with training each day, and their instructors were often indifferent to their maladies.
He had to admit that he felt oddly powerful; his body was leaner and more muscular than the other boys in his training group. He was taller too, though still an inch or so shorter than his little brother. They both appeared at least three or four years older than they were and it set them apart even in this strange environment of super powered beings. Their differences from the general population that should have brought the prisoners all together, fell away quickly and it was the lesser variances that tended to isolate and separate them from each other, making it that much easier for the guards and white coats to keep them all subdued.
Kopi was quietly pacing near the fence line looking like a caged tiger. The yard was relatively silent, just the dull hum of bodies slinking about; their footfall sluggish and clumsy from the sedatives that the white coats were so fond of using on them. A sudden loud shuffle of weight and raised voices caught Kai’s attention.
On the other side of the tall fence, pinned between the building and the yard the brothers were in, a crowd of older boys were encircling two prisoners. Kai glanced back at his brother before walking forward to get a closer look, Kopi followed closely behind. One of the prisoners seemed familiar; his voice straight out of a dream. A larger prisoner, muscled and ferocious was cajoling him as the crowd hollered out encouragement. Kai’s fingers gripped the metal links of the fence as he drew closer to see the scuffle. The larger prisoner pushed the other, causing him to fall to the ground. The victim’s face was contorted in pain and flushed red with rage. As he turned upward a shock of recognition struck Kai with enough force to knock the wind out of him. The brutish mutant swept forward, fisting his strangler-mitts into the front of the fallen boy’s blouse and pulling him effortlessly to his feet. The smaller boy didn’t flinch or cower, but rather braced his hands against the larger Mutant’s forearms and fought to get free of his grasp.
Kai struggled to breathe again, to make sense of the situation and to somehow help this prisoner. His voice rang out over the cries of the crowd and fell on his brother’s ears. The boy turned, his attention pulled from the bully for a precious moment, just before a goliath fist struck his jaw with a jarring blow. The beast released his grip and the boy was propelled back by the force of the strike. His head struck the dirt with a sickening crack and as the dust settled Kai saw a crimson pool flowing out from the boy’s skull.
“Danny!” Kai’s lungs burned from screaming between ragged breaths. His older brother laid motionless, color draining from his face, and all he could think of was to get to him. The other Mutant was hovering over Danny’s body as the crowd pulled away. Kai was several feet above the yard, climbing hand over foot up the fence, before a guard pulled him free, the metal chain link shaking from their efforts. The guards worked quickly to break up the unrest with batons and balled fists. Before Kai was pulled back to the depths of the prison he tried to memorize the details of the attacker’s face; from his sharp jaw to the bump that interrupted the bridge of his nose, down to his dark and uncaring eyes. This was a face he would never forget; the face of the man who killed his brother.