Sherdan bit his lip as he sat in his car. Despite the driver breaking the speed limit it didn’t seem fast enough. Horrible images of what might be happening to Anya flashed through his head. He had to stop her being tortured. No matter why she was there he just couldn’t let it go on any longer. He had never felt so sure of anything.
As soon as the car had stopped Sherdan rushed into the main compound. He didn’t stop to speak to security but ran straight by them and through the door. Anya’s cell had been deliberately placed near the heart of the building, almost as secure as the command room.
Less than five minutes later he arrived at the right room. Four of his security team were outside. They stopped their heated argument when they saw Sherdan approach. He instantly recognised the guard who had been about to rape her and relief washed over him.
“Let me in to see her,” he snapped before he had even reached them. Only one guard responded and rushed to unlock the door for him. Anya cowered in the far corner. She was reasonably calm but tear tracks could plainly be seen on her grimy face.
“Get me a chair and turn off the camera feed into here,” Sherdan commanded. He was obeyed without question. Anya gulped, obviously expecting more of the same.
The second they were alone together he sat down. He couldn’t look at her. She was so close to him and so helpless. He felt like a monster but his pride wouldn’t let her see his remorse.
“Hello Anya Price,” he said, when he had managed to get his emotions under control. She looked shocked at the mention of his name but she didn’t speak or move from her position in the corner. He couldn’t blame her.
“How do you know about my prophecy?” he asked, admitting it existed for the first time. She didn’t respond at first. After a few minutes she stopped hugging herself quite so tightly. She cleared her throat and winced. Sherdan waited, not wanting to frighten her further.
“I dreamt of you in a big mahogany panelled room; one wall was filled with books. The opposite had a large fireplace built of Bath stone. You got up and went to the bookshelf third from the right. You took what I think was the sixth book from the left, on the fourth shelf from the bottom.” She closed her eyes as she said it.
Sherdan looked amazed. She had described his study and the location of the right book in perfect detail.
“In the book was a prophecy you were given and after that was a list. Your name is first on that list.”
Sherdan nodded but remained silent. She didn’t offer him any more information and to his surprise she was no longer praying.
“You won’t speak of the prophecy or anything related to it to anyone else in my program. Is that clear?” He looked at her properly for the first time since being in the room. She nodded. He got up and went over to her, keeping his eyes fixed on her face.
Anya drew back at his approach but slowed his movements and held out his hands to show her he meant no harm. Despite being reasonably close it still took him some minutes to move closer.
When he reached her he undid all the manacles and helped her put on his coat. She tried to stand but her feet wouldn’t support her.
Without hesitation he lifted her, cradling her body against him. She arranged his coat to keep herself covered and he walked with her to the door.
Neither of them spoke or even looked at each other as Sherdan knocked on the door to the cell. They were both let out to the open mouths of all four guards. Shock soon turned to anger on Jack’s face. Sherdan felt Anya cling tighter to him as he walked past the men who had tortured her for almost three days.
He retraced his entire journey right back to his waiting car where he placed her gently on the back seat and strapped her in. Still, neither of them said anything.
Anya’s eyes were closed before he had walked around to the other side of the car. He knew she would sleep for a while now her ordeal was over. He watched her sleep until they reached his house and then carried her inside. She didn’t stir as he took her to the bedroom beside his and she remained asleep the entire time the doctor examined her. Sherdan then locked her into her room.
Feeling peaceful for the first time since news of Anya had reached him, he went to his study to await breakfast. The monitor that had displayed her cell had been changed to show her new room where he watched her sleep in comfort.
The doctor had hopes that she would recover over time with no serious scarring or permanent injury. There would always be marks around her toes, ankles, and wrists but it would be minimal and fade over time. It would hardly be noticeable after a year or so.
Psychologically there was no way to say for sure how long it would take her to recover, if she would ever completely do so. The doctor hadn’t said the last part but Sherdan didn’t need him to. The only relief to the overwhelming guilt he felt was what he had managed to prevent.
Sherdan still couldn’t decide if she had told him the truth but no one else knew the exact location of the prophecy. Some higher power had to be at work.
Until Hitchin had given him the prophecy he had never believed in anything spiritual. People existed because the planet supported life. Slowly he had seen parts of the prophecy come true but there was no mention of this girl in it. He had no idea where she featured, but he would keep her locked where he wanted her until he could find out.
When Sherdan’s breakfast arrived he informed his maid that the spare room was occupied and locked to only be accessed by himself. He also informed her that there would be two for each meal and he would take his guests meals to them. If the maid was puzzled by any of this she didn’t show it.
As soon as he had eaten he went to see his security guards. Nathan and Matthew had already knocked off, leaving him with the guards on the morning shift; Ed and Julie. They nodded acknowledgement of him.
“I’m going to be spending the rest of the day in the room with Miss Price. I want to continue questioning her when she wakes,” he lied. He really wanted to make sure she didn’t wake alone in a strange place. “Please have any messages passed to me there but don’t let anyone disturb me unless it’s urgent.”
“Yes sir. Very good.”
“I shall have my laptop with me, so emails will be the best way to contact me,” Sherdan added as he walked away.
Wasting no more time, he fetched his laptop from his study along with its power supply and walked up the two flights of stairs to the top floor. There were only two bedrooms on this floor, his and the one now occupied by Anya. Both had en-suite bathrooms and were separated by the hallway.
He quietly turned the key in the lock and went into her room. She was still fast asleep and he watched her peaceful breathing, mesmerised. Only her matted, bloody hair and the purple bruise on one eye gave any indication that her life wasn’t perfect.
Sherdan sat down on the arm chair facing her bed and propped his computer on his knees. Until now he had been distracted from his duties but he needed to return to them. There would be applications to go through and more plans to be made as well as an update on Hitchin’s next test batch. With any luck he would already be seeing some good results.
When Sherdan had finished replying to all the important emails he checked the central database of all the applicants so far. For each person applying Sherdan had people running a family, criminal and government employment check. The information was then uploaded along with their CV and application form for him to look over.
There were already over a hundred people in the database. He smiled. This was much higher than he expected and could potentially mean there were many more people who had sent CV’s. They wouldn’t be uploaded for him to see until the other checks were done. With only two people working on it they must have put every waking hour into the task since his interview.
Sherdan started with the applications from older people with less family. They would be easier to convince to take the drug and would be missed less if things didn’t go according to plan.
Several hours later Sherdan had approved twenty-two of the applicants and authorized them to be invited for a two week trial period at the University. There were another sixty-five possibles that Sherdan stuck on a waiting list in a rough priority order.
The remaining fifteen were being rejected although none of them would be informed of that. They would be told the same as the sixty-five on the waiting list. They would all be asked to wait until a place was available.
Of the fifteen rejected, two were above sixty and probably wouldn’t survive the drug treatment. Three were foreign and hardly spoke English. One had been a political activist for communism during their university years; someone who believed in equality wasn’t what Sherdan wanted.
Five had worked for the government in some capacity and could never be trusted in the next few stages of the organisations development. The final four had too much criminal activity and would look bad if reporters snooped at his accepted lists. Bad press now wouldn’t be useful. If things changed they would be bumped up to the waiting list.
Before Sherdan could start anything else his maid knocked at the door. She had brought lunch up. He thanked her but didn’t let her see inside the room. Anya stirred at the noise but didn’t wake up. She continued to sleep all afternoon missing both lunch and dinner. The only time Sherdan left her side was to visit the bathroom.
Hitchin had no news to report yet so Sherdan continued processing applications while he waited. Not long before the doctor was due to check up on her Anya finally opened her eyes. She immediately focused on Sherdan and tried to sit up.
The movement attracted his attention and he rushed over as she winced in pain. She didn’t try to move again.
“Thank you,” she said slowly. It looked like it hurt to talk. He sat on the edge of the bed but got up again when she pulled away, creasing her face up with pain again.
“Don’t keep moving. You need to lay still,” Sherdan implored, “I’m not going to hurt you.” He put his hands up to show his actions would match up with his words as he sat down again. Her eyes never left him and they were tinted with fear.
For a moment there was only silence. He could hardly look at her. The look of pain in her eyes bothered him.
“Can I see the prophecy now please?” she asked. Sherdan started. Of all the questions he had expected that hadn’t been it.
“No, you cannot and never will be allowed to. You need to rest.”
“I am here for only one reason: to read that prophecy,” Her eyes blazed. She was angry at him. “As soon as I am well enough to move I shall continue searching for it.”
“No you will not. You may have been upgraded to more comfortable accommodation but you are still my prisoner, and, until I have the answers I wish for from you, you will remain that way,” he hissed. Inwardly he protested, this wasn’t how he had wanted their conversation to progress. He’d wanted gratitude and polite conversation. He’d wanted some idea of where she fit into his future, not hostility and threats.
Most importantly he hadn’t expected to be surprised. No one was unpredictable to him, that’s how he had managed to get so far in life and meticulously plan for everything he wanted.
Thankfully the doctor arrived. Either because she remembered her promise or because she was too tired to argue Anya didn’t mention the prophecy. Sherdan sat back down in his chair and allowed the doctor access to her.
James was pleased she was awake and discussed all her differing ailments with her at length. He made her wiggle all her fingers and checked her wrists for permanent damage since she could now tell him what hurt and felt numb. He then did the same with her feet.
Anya expressed concern about her nails growing back but it was too early to tell for sure. She then waved off his attention to her face. Very little damage had been done in that regard.
When the doctor tried to pull back the covers to examine the rest of her body Anya stopped him. Her gaze was on Sherdan who had sat and watched the entire process so far.
“Sir, I think Miss Price would like some privacy. Would you mind stepping outside?” Before James had finished speaking Sherdan had got up and walked over to the window, putting his back to them both. James shrugged at Anya who reluctantly let him pull the covers back.
“She’s going to need a change of clothes,” the doctor called out as he checked over the bruises on Anya’s torso and thighs. Sherdan didn’t respond.
“I think there might be a fractured rib, it’s hard to tell. You’re covered in bruises from the last three days. I should know for sure in a day or two.”
He helped her roll over so he could see her back. It wasn’t as bad as her front. Her bonds had prevented many blows reaching her central back. It was a blessing. Her spine was mostly untouched as were her kidneys. Both would have been badly damaged by the blows that had landed elsewhere.
The doctor rolled her back and covered her back up again. She smiled and thanked him as Sherdan retook his seat at the end of the bed.
“One last thing, I’ve brought some pain killers with me. They should help you rest.” He stretched his hand towards the briefcase he had left by the door. It opened on it’s own and a small packet of pills flew out of it and into his hand. She gasped in shock. He smiled but continued as if nothing had happened.
“Take one of these every four hours or just before you sleep if you can cope without them the rest of the time.”
“Doctor…” Sherdan growled.
Anya didn’t get a chance to say anything else as both men suddenly left the room. Sherdan was furious at James.
“She didn’t know about the drug and it’s abilities,” he snapped at the doctor. James’ face went white. “Leave us and come back tomorrow evening.” Sherdan didn’t wait for a response but went back into Anya’s room and slammed the door behind him. She looked frightened. He stared at her and paused, losing himself in the depths of emotion in her big brown eyes.
“You weren’t meant to see that,” he tried to say casually. She visibly relaxed.
“I suppose there’s no point me asking what exactly that was?”
“Would you like to know?”
“I’d like to see the prophecy but I would like to know what that was too, if it’s something you will share.” Sherdan nodded.
“Nine years ago Dr John Hitchin and I stumbled upon an enzyme which had a marvellous affect on the human brain. It encourages it to map new neurological pathways, resulting in a new completely unique ability in each person who takes it.”
“Why has there not been any news of this?”
“It is the best kept secret of this facility. No one who has taken it is allowed to leave the area and until I disclose it, the world will never know about it,” Anya frowned. “That now includes you. You will not be allowed to leave here.”
“No, not ever. Now, I have work to do and you need rest. I shall see you in the morning. All the windows and doors will be locked and even if you did manage to break out in your state, there are patrols and guards enough to bring you back. Goodnight Miss Price.”
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