I let out a gasp.
"We're getting him out of these things."
I'm butt naked and drenched in water. The water vessel I was in comes crashing down. I look over to my right. One is laying on the floor. She is knocked out. She isn't moving. I wonder if she's dead. I realize I'm being lifted off the floor by a familiar face.
My voice is quivering. It is weak like I haven't spoken in a million years. I turn to my right to realize that there are more people in the room as well. Stoney, Billy and Richie are there. Aaron is at the door. I hear fighting outside. I wonder what the fuck is going on.
"Are you OK?" he asks me.
Right next to him is Sevyn. She crosses her arms worried as they look down at me. God knows how long I've been in this room. God knows how long I've been in that water. My skin is so soft. It's like baby's water skin or something. I smell fresh and clean.
"You stopped it?" I ask Syx, "You came for me."
"I'll always come for you," Syx tells me, "But...I can't take all the credit."
Syx turns and points to the others. I'm expecting Stoney, Sevyn and Billy to help out. What I don't expect is Richie to be in the room as well. I don't expect the fact that he came all this way to help.
"I was able to convince Richie and the others to finally help us," Stoney tells me, "We stormed the institution..."
Stoney looks me up and down. He's doing that because I'm naked.
"Here..." Syx says ripping off the shirt that he has on. It's a clean white shirt. It's clear that he's been given it since he's been here. He puts the shirt on me and doesn't bother to put underwear or anything else on. Luckily the shirt is long enough to at least cover my genitals. Syx scoops me up in his hands. I can't help but to lean in at that moment and hug him.
The emotion is getting high.
"We don't have a lot of time...the clones are trying to fight their way in to finish cloning Jurnee. They are going to want to finish the process," Sevyn explains.
She's right. I hear more fighting outside of the door. At the door I realize that Aaron, Joey, Josephine, Maria and Helen are outside fighting with the clones. I think I see arrows going back and forth from the door.
"We need to make a run for it," Syx suggests.
"For what?" I ask.
Sevyn crosses her arms, "Valentine is here. He won't come towards the Institution until the fighting stops. We have to bring you to him."
"What about everyone else?" I ask.
Everyone looks at one another. There is this darkness that falls over the group.
"He's not going to take anyone else," Sevyn responds to me, "You know that. If we even get close to that helicopter he's going to have his people shoot us."
"How do we get past the clones."
"Someone needs to distract them..." Sevyn says.
"I'll do it," Syx says.
Stoney argues at that moment, "You go. Maybe you can convince your father to let everyone else on there."
"He's not going to be convinced."
"There's a chance."
"I'll distract them. I'm the fastest," Syx says.
"My best friend needs you," Stoney says, "I'm not going to let him leave you."
"What?" I ask.
Stoney gives me a hard look.
"I told you that I'll do anything to protect you," Stoney explains to me, "I told you back then that I was going to make up for what I did. Remember? I was going to make sure that you felt loved. Well you feel that now. You feel loved. I'm not going to let you lose that."
I'm struggling. I know whoever distracts the clones probably won't stand a chance. They'll probably kill that person to get at me. They'll probably rip that person in half.
Stoney ignores my whining. He looks at the door. He stares at it for a long time. I've never seen him so serious before. I've never seen him so mature. It's crazy that it takes something like this to have someone really grow and become who they are. The fact that he is willing to sacrifice himself for me right now blows my fucking mind.
"Take care of him," Stoney tells Syx.
"I will..." Syx replies.
I scream out for Stoney. I scream as loud as I can. It doesn't matter. It doesn't work.
Stoney jets out of the room. Tears are filling up my eyes. My bones still feel weak probably from the amount of drugs that One gave me before she left. I look over at the others at that moment. There is a sense of sadness in everyone.
It doesn't last too long though. It's Syx who keeps pushing forward.
"We have to get going. We don't have much time."
We take the back way out of the building. Whatever Stoney is doing must be keeping the clones busy. We run out of the Institution. There is a clear path that is cleared of greenery. Syx is carrying me the entire time but I look back hoping the whole while to see Stoney running up behind us. I don't see Stoney.
"This way!" Sevyn tells us, "Valentine's helicopter is up here."
Aaron and Josephine lead the way. I can almost hear some sort of helicopter in the distance. It's right over a slight elevated path. We are climbing up the hill right now and making our way to the top. I look back.
Please Stoney...please make it...
I'm praying to anyone that would listen right now. I don't want to lose my best friend. I don't want anything to happen to him. I don't see him. I don't see him at all.
I see the clones instead!
When I squint I notice that they are chasing someone.
They're chasing him. They are going to get him. I want to get of Syx's hands. I want to go help Stoney but it's impossible! He holds me down. I watch an arrow go through Stoney's shoulder. He struggles to keep running. Tears are breaking out of my eyes. I can't just sit here and watch Stoney die.
"We keep moving," Syx says.
He's looking down at me. He's telling me that we have no choice but to keep moving.
Stoney is shot again. He's hardly managing to get up the hill and follow us. The clones are catching up to Stoney but they are catching up to us too. We won't make it. I just know it. A part of me doesn't want to make it though. Not without Stoney at least. What's the point of surviving if all of us can't get off of this island? What's the point of making it up the hill?
"They're going to kill him."
"We're here..." Syx tells me.
"PUT YOUR HANDS UP!" someone says on the microphone.
I turn and notice where we are. It's a clear field that I haven't seen before. It is on top of a hill. It is perfect for the landing of a helicopter. Sure enough a military style helicopter is sitting up on that hill. There are men next to this helicopter. They have guns. These aren't the fake useless guns that the clones had. These guns were real. I can tell. The men seem like some sort of mercenaries. They scream for us to stop when we get up the hill.
Stoney runs right up to me. I can see the clones notice that it is too late. They gather around him. Stoney is bleeding heavily but luckily Helen and Josephine manage to run over to him to him and help him.
He's made it...
"Put your hands up," the voice on the microphone says again.
We follow the lead of the man on the microphone. Syx drops me to the ground. My legs are too weak to stand on but I still manage to put my arms up. I just allow my arms to just stay there and l look over at the helicopter.
The clones drop their weapons. They are no match for bullets.
As soon as we all surrender the mercenaries walk over and check our group as well as the clones for additional weapons. They tell us to line up in a single line on the top of the hill. I shake my head realizing that we are side by side next to the clones that just tried to kill us. I'm sitting on the green next to Stoney. He's bleeding and struggling to stop the blood. He doesn't have much time I don't think. The arrow has pierced him and the mercenaries didn't give the girls enough time to even check the wound out.
In a matter of seconds, I watch as Io Valentine walks out of the helicopter. He's the man that I remembered meeting only a few times in my life. He is cold and unfriendly. He doesn't really smile when he walks out of the helicopter. He comes out and doesn't have any sort of emotion at all. He isn't happy to see anyone. He isn't shocked about the fact that we were attacking each other. He's just cold...he's completely cold.
I'm not sure why Sevyn breaks out into tears when she sees him. Billy starts reaching out to hug her but the mercenaries scream at him not to move a muscle. I feel kind of bad for her. This was the man that sent her away the moment she got sick.
Then I notice Syx's face. He had pure hatred in his eyes. I couldn't imagine how it felt to him be rejected like this.
"Dad..." Five says with this smile.
"Don't call me that," is his main response, "You know I'm not your father. You stole my wife's children and I'm here to get them back. I didn't come for you."
The words are stark and precise. I didn't come for you. That's it.
Five shakes her head. She doesn't even argue. Here is a girl that has argued her entire life but right now she has nothing to argue about. She has nothing to say. She just shakes her head. For the first time I feel bad for her. For the first time I feel bad for all of the clones. They are sick and twisted but they have been made this way. They've been made this way by his fucking mad scientist.
Dr. Valentine looks past them and looks over at me. His eyes settle on me. He doesn't even see Stoney who I've crawled next too. We are the only ones not standing. My legs are too weak to walk and Stoney is bleeding out.
"He needs medical attention," I state.
"That's not my problem," Dr. Valentine replies, "Jurnee and Jolie...please board the plane. I'm taking the two of you home."
He's serious. He's dead serious. Eight happily walks forward at that moment. She doesn't even hesitate. The other clones seem to be desperate to keep her a secret. I'm just shocked. I'm just confused.
"Are you joking?" Richie says.
"Richie don't," I try to warn him.
Richie ignores me however, "We're humans. He can't just fucking leave us here. You going to just LEAVE us here? Jurnee and Jolie aren't the only ones who crashed on this fucking island. My parents are looking for me too. MY parents are worried too."
Richie is crying. A couple of the others are as well. Josephine and Maria have joined in. There's a sadness that fills them. This man is cold. He's careless. He doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything. I've never seen anything like it.
I'm in shock watching this but it's Syx who puts it into words.
"He could care less," Syx explains to everyone just in case we are confused, "When I was cloned I thought I was his son. My entire life I thought I was his son. I had all the memories his son had. The only way that I even felt like I was different was when my hair started to turn gray. I thought I was his son but I should have known. He never loved me. I wasn't anything else than a failed experiment..."
"YOU are a failed experiment. I'm human," Richie spits back at Syx as though arguing that he should have a better right to board the plane.
"Everything will be OK---"Five says.
I'm not sure why Five is saying this. Maybe the clones did have a plan with Eight. I look over at Eight. Maybe honestly she was going to come back for them. Maybe not. I didn't know. I guess that was our only hope right now. Looking at Dr. Valentine I knew that there was no way he was going to let his secret out. He wasn't going to risk so many people leaving his phantom island.
"Richie stop being a dick..." Billy tells him.
Richie ignores this as well, "Billy I looked at it your way. I swear I tried to help out. But JOLIE is a motherfucking clone. Didn't you say they call her Eight? Why the fuck should she be allowed to leave?"
There's a pause.
What a fucking idiot?
Dr. Valentine looks over at the clones at that moment, "She's one of you..."
I don't think Dr. Valentine was aware the clones knew how to work his equipment. Maybe he didn't think he designed them to be that smart. Regardless I think things are about to take a turn for the worse.
Eight is the first to panic. She makes a run for her weapons. The other clones attempt to charge at the mercenaries. Five herself charges for Valentine. I watch in shock as she gets her hands around Valentine's neck. She starts to choke the life out of him. It's clear that now that their plan is out they have no other option but to try to get on that helicopter by force.
Syx starts forward. I think he's going to try to help them. I grab his leg. It was useless. It was useless for him to put himself in harm's way.
The clones didn't stand a chance.
GUNSHOTS RING OUT!
There is a cloud of smoke and there is a sharp gasp. One of the human girls scream. Sevyn hides out behind Billy. They have killed the other clones. They didn't stand a chance like I thought. Luckily I stopped Syx or else he would have been dead right with the other clones.
Valentine pushes Five's corpse off of him as though she is some filthy vermin. He doesn't even seem to be phased by the attack.
The only thing he says is, "What a waste."
"You're a fucking monster," Sevyn says.
Tears are rolling down her eyes. I think she is upset. Even though she turned against the other clones I think she still had a connection to them. Looking at Syx, I think he had a connection to them too. They were wrong but they were human. I look over at Eight's body. She was flawed but she had the memories of my sister. She had the look of my sister. In so many ways this girl was my sister. The fact that she is lying there in a pool of blood sickens me.
Sevyn was right.
This man was a monster.
"Jurnee. It's time to go," the Doctor says.
Richie falls to his knees. He's completely quiet right now. He's completely stunned. I think a part of him knows that the Doctor is dead serious about this now when he killed the clones. There would be no rushing that helicopter. There would be no convincing him of anything.
He came to this island to get the children of his wife and that was it. Everyone else was expendable. Everyone else was thrown away.
"Jurnee you should go," Stoney says, crying out in pain, "I'll be OK..."
"You're bleeding out," I state.
"We can heal him," Sevyn tells me.
Billy nods at that moment almost as though joining in with the others, "They're right. Jurnee...everything will be OK. Leave this place. Leave this place for us. Leave this place for your mother..."
I'm so confused. Valentine puts his hand out. I swear I don't think this man understands that I'm disgusted with him. I don't think it clicks through his head. That is the thing about people who don't have emotion. Sure they may not understand love but they don't understand other kinds of emotion as well. This man really didn't understand that I thought he was some perverted fuck. The mad scientist is offering me his hand as though I should be grateful. He's acting as though me leaving my friends on this island is a good thing.
I wish I had the strength to finish what Five did. I wish I had the strength to run over to him and put my hands around his neck.
My legs are far too weak though.
"Can I have a minute with him?" Syx asks.
"No," Valentine says.
"I'm going to take a minute with him you piece of shit. If you have a problem with that just go ahead and shoot me right now," Syx tells him.
I'm kind of scared when Syx tempts Valentine in the way he does. A part of me thinks Valentine is going to order his men to do it. Luckily that doesn't happen. Syx picks me up and pulls me away from the others. We are out of earshot, but the mercenaries keep their eyes on me Maybe they think Syx is going to try to hurt me or something. I have no idea.
I know what Syx is going to say before he even says it.
"I'm not leaving with him," I state.
"Yes you will," he tells me.
"Syx...you don't understand. I'm in love with you. I don't plan on living my life without you," I respond to him, "Why do you keep pushing me away from you?"
Syx takes a deep breath. His exhale is hard and long. He leans in and kisses me. His lips are soft. The emotion is there. Valentine sees it but I don't care what the fuck Valentine sees. I guess he is realizing that his perfect specimen had a flaw after all.
I hold Syx close. Our hearts beat next to each other. There is a love here that transcends everything else I've ever experienced.
"I'll always be with you," Syx explains to me, "I'll never leave you. Never for too long. You trust me?"
"Then take this."
He hands me something. It's wrapped up in a piece of cloth.
"What is it?"
"A flower. It very rare. It reminds me of you. I picked it a while ago. Against all odds it still looks like it's alive. Isn't that beautiful. A flower that takes so long to die. Just like my love for you."
This shit hurts. The flower was beautiful. Golden, purple stripes are on its pedals.
"Man I don't want a trinket of your fucking love. I want your fucking love. It may not be so bad. You know? Living on this island? We made it work so far," I explain.
"Your mother needs you. She can't be with this madman," he explains "Not alone. You deserve better than this island too. You deserve to live life the way that you want it. I'll do anything to make sure that happens."
"I don't want to leave you."
I know I'm sounding immature, but this was the hardest thing I've ever done. We'd been through so much on this island. We endured a plane crash. We endured distrust. We've fought our enemies together. I thought he was trying to kill me. We explored this island. We explored ourselves. Walking away from all of this wasn't something that I was just willing to do.
"When I became a clone I didn't remember anything. I thought I was that person. When I found out I was a clone I thought I wasn't human. You made me feel human again. I'm not going to forget that. Don't think I ever will. Right now though...I need you to trust me. I need you to know that this is the right decision. I need you to know that this is the only decision. This isn't goodbye."
Tears are rolling down my eyes.
I can't believe this is happening.
He leans in again and gives me a kiss. This time Syx's kiss is longer. It's harder. I don't want it to end but I don't have a choice. The mercenaries come over and they rip me out of Syx's hands. They carry me to the plane before I have a chance to even say goodbye to the rest of my friends.
I watch from the helicopter as we take off leaving the Phantom Island. I wave slowly, tears rolling down my eyes. I wave goodbye to Stoney, Billy, Sevyn and the others.
I wave goodbye to Syx.
But he just stands there. I remember his words.
This isn't goodbye.
It's been a week since I've been back home. I'm sitting in this big house. I'm the sole heir to a fortune. My mother hasn't stopped showing me the most love since I came back home. She's such a sweet woman. She's devastated by Jolie being dead. The story was that our plane crashed in the middle of the ocean and I was the only one that survived. The news media was eating it up but of course Dr. Valentine wouldn't let me tell my story. He didn't want me to fuck it up. He had his public relations people draft up this detailed lie about how I survived the crash and how I was rescued.
"Oprah wants to have you on. Her people just reached out about telling your story," my mother is saying at the dinner table.
The table is so grand. It's so spaced out.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Dr. Valentine says.
My mother shakes her head at her husband, "Don't you think? You know. We should share Jurnee's journey. I think it's important to tell people's story. A lot of the parents need that closure. I think you need that closer, especially with Syx and Sevyn. You act so strong but I know you're in so much pain about losing them."
I look over at Valentine. He smiles tenderly at his wife.
Yeah. He was acting like he was pretty much devastated.
I force a smile, "I don't think I'm ready to tell that story yet mom. To me...it still feels like they are alive somewhere. I think we should just let those be the last memories that we have of them and remember them that way."
Dr. Valentine smiles at me, "What a nice attitude to have, Jurnee."
"Absolutely. We should toast to them. All of those people we lost..."
"Who said you're allowed to drink wine young man?" my mother asks.
Dr. Valentine interrupts, "C`mon now. Jurnee is a becoming a young man. What's a little wine hurt? I know it's not my place to say. I'm not his father, but I want to be. I'm starting to slowly accept that Syx is gone, you know. It's time Jurnee becomes a man. It's time I started making decisions for him. I want us to be a family. I want you to really look at me like your father. What do you think about that Jurnee?"
I smile, as hard as I can.
I don't forget though. I don't forget how he treated the other people who referred to him as their father.
"Good. It's settled. Go get some wine. It's in the kitchen under the wine shelf. We'll toast to those who are lost. We'll let them go once and for all. In private..."
I smile at the scientist warmly. I walk over to the kitchen. It's so weird being back home to civilization. It's the little things that matter. I'd probably never have wine again if I was back on that Phantom island. I'd never work a wine opener again. I'd probably never drink out of an actual cup again either. It's the little things.
I set the wine glasses up. I can't help but to think of Syx as I do it. I wonder how it would be like to be drinking wine with him in a place like this.
I pour the wine.
That's when I dig in my pocket. I reach for the thing that Syx gave me. It's wrapped up in some paper. He must have picked it when we were back on the island. It's the flower that Syx gave me.
The beautiful flower.
I look at my reflection in the goblet that I set up on the tray. A single tear runs down my face. This is for Syx.
A crunch the flower up. I put it on one of the goblets. I set the goblet to the side. I fill the wine up to the brim for Valentine. He's going to enjoy this.
I head back out.
I hand out the drinks. I hand one to my mother. I hand one to my new father.
"Let's have a toast father."
"Absolutely," he says, "To new beginnings."
"To new beginnings."
I watch as he drinks the special drink that I made for him.
See the thing is I looked up that flower that Syx gave me. It's one of the most poisonous plants in the worlds. It also exits the blood stream through your pores right after death. It's untraceable. The kind Dr. Valentine would be dead within an hour.
"This wine is pretty good," my mother says, "I wish Jolie was here to see her little brother growing up. Jesus Christ. You're becoming a man right under my eyes. Look at that strand you have. Look at that---why don't you? Is your hair turning gray?"
Valentine's eyes get a little wide, "Jurnee..."
It's too late though. It's far too late. Valentine was already turning purple. The poison was already taking effect. I remembered all of his memories. I was almost like him. I only discovered I wasn't him when I noticed the same thing my mother noticed.
One had actually finished the job. And I had just finished the job that Eight was supposed to do.
But I'd do something for Jurnee. I was going to get Jurnee's man.
"Actually the name is Nine."
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