In A Past Life

The water lapped between my chin and neck, each little wave colliding to the beat of my heart. The panic rose with each one. I tried to swallow it down but couldn’t.

Even though I knew it was useless, I still attempted to move my arms. They didn’t move. Sikitsha had unfortunately made the special chains too well.

“Begin Test #134.” Sikitsha's voice boomed from the speakers.

My jaw twitched as I settled my face into a mask. No way would I panic and scream like I had in his previous experiments. I wouldn’t give the insane man anymore satisfaction.

The water rose. And rose. And rose. It was now just below my nose. I swallowed hard, breathed deep, held it, and closed my eyes.

I felt the water creep up my face until it completely covered my head.

The water rose higher. I could feel the pressure pressing onto my body more and more. Minutes ticked by. How many, I didn’t know. It could have been five minutes, ten, or even thirty. I didn’t want to know.

More time crept by. My lungs finally started to burn. I resisted the urge to breathe. More minutes went by. I couldn’t stop myself. I instinctively opened my mouth and choked. I could feel myself drowning as I lost consciousness.


I bolted upright. Gasping, choking, I leapt out of bed. I stood in my room, shaking, bending over while trying to regulate my breathing. I was failing miserably.

I slammed a fist into the bedpost. It splintered into wooden shards, the entire frame creaking as it fractured. I glared at my fist. Great. On top of a nightmare, I had to replace my bed, again. Thanks to the stupid serum and Sikitisha.

My door opened, a light flooding in. I immediately tensed and almost attacked before realizing who it was. I drooped, the fight instantly going out of me.

Li looked at me sympathetically, exhaustion lining her face. My friend glanced at the destroyed bedpost, but didn’t comment. She turned. “I’m going to get the hot chocolate ready,” she tossed over her shoulder. “Grab a blanket and pillow.”

I sighed but did as she said. Li was a great, supportive friend. But, she was also an overprotective mother hen and bossy older sister rolled into one. But I was glad that I had someone I could count on. I was closer to Li than to my own family.

I grabbed my favorite blanket and the pillow off my bed. I exited my bedroom in time to see Alyx and Corbin exiting theirs, Corbin pausing to shut his door while Alyx left his open. Li stood in the small kitchen that was a part of the apartments we all shared. She waved a spoon at Alyx. “Alyx,” she said, “finish this. I’m going to get my own blanket.”

Li strode through her door, which happened to be the closest to the kitchenette. Once she reappeared, she plopped down in the center of the living area. I joined her as Alyx handed each of us a cup of cocoa, before seating himself.

They all looked so exhausted. Guilt started to worm its way through my gut, but I pushed it down. “Don’t feel guilty, Lance,” Corbin quietly said. I eyed him, a tad annoyed for how easily Corbin could read me. He was my friend of course, but still.

“Definitely don’t,” Li added firmly.

“We all have nightmares,” Alyx said quietly.

I didn’t look at any of them. Not because I was trying to avoid the truth. I had had my share of waking one of them up from a nightmare too. No, because I didn’t want to see the haunted look in their eyes. The exact same one that I was sure lurked in my own gaze.

Although I hadn’t really looked in a mirror since my friends had rescued me eight months ago. I hadn’t wanted to see the scars. The reminders.

My hands tightened around my mug. This time, though, instead of shattering it, my hands simply stretched around it. I stared at my hands. I didn’t want this. I knew none of us did. But our new abilities were something we had all had to deal with and integrate into our lives. Because no matter how much any of us wished for it, we couldn’t go back to the way we’d previously lived.

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