Chapter 11, Part 2
Mariah covered her face with her blankets when the lights popped on at 7 am. This is going to get really old. They were too bright to even think about going back to sleep and her breath was already heating up the space under the blanket. She tossed it back with a groan and sat up. The bland walls of the cell were already too familiar for her taste. On the life decisions scale, accidentally getting captured by a psycho ranks really low.
She stumbled over to the corner with the toilet, punched the button and watched the walls slide down around her. She hurriedly changed, remembering Mason’s warning about the ten minute wall timer. Doctor Sanderson had come through and some new clothes were delivered to her cell just before lights out yesterday. Her old clothes had been washed and included in the pile. She pressed the button again and the walls slid back up into the ceiling.
She tossed her pajamas on the bed and went over to the window. Mason was leaning against the opposite wall, thin screen in hand, chatting with Kyle.
“He went oh-for-four last night,” Mason said.
“Well whole team didn’t do so hot. Jackson pitched a complete game. They got two hits all night.”
“Dropped the whole series, didn’t they?”
“Yeah, heading to Chicago next. Cubs are coming in with a seven game winning streak.”
Mariah slid up onto the table, propping her feet on the chair. She only half-listened. Sports weren’t really her thing. She just hoped Mason had some interesting information about breakfast on the screen.
Once they finished discussing box scores, Mason turned to check on her. She gave a wave.
“Breakfast?” she asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” he chuckled, crossing over to unlock her cell door.
“I get to go out?” Food had been delivered the day before.
“You both do,” Mason replied, seeming sort of pleased about it.
“Hi,” Mariah offered another small wave when Kyle joined them in the hall. It was one thing talking to him across the hall when they were safely apart from one another, and quite another to be standing right next to him. He still scared her. Cassie’s stories about the chases were still uncomfortably present in her memory. He seemed to sense her discomfort and headed down the hall.
Mason accompanied them to a small room just off the main dining area. The tables and chairs were plastic, and Mariah noticed a lack of anything metal in the room. A cook set down a tray with two bowl of oatmeal garnished with dried fruit and left without another word. Mariah and Kyle sat down and she pulled a bowl toward her.
“Is this prison food? Are they trying to starve me?” she poked it with the plastic spoon.
“Don’t like it?” Mason asked, a hint of a laugh in his voice.
“I’ve never liked oatmeal,” Mariah admitted.
“Eat up. You’ve got a long day ahead of you.”
“Of what?” Mariah asked, concerned about more than the oatmeal.
“Training,” Kyle said in a flat voice. He was halfway done with his breakfast already.
“For what?” Her question went unanswered but she noticed neither of the men looked happy about it.
She choked down most of the oatmeal before following the others out of the room to the second floor. Their destination was a larger room on the other side of the floor from the labs. Punching bags hung in one corner, weights lined an entire wall, and a large section of the floor was covered by a mat.
“Locker room’s over there.” Kyle pointed to the far corner. “You have some clothes in there.”
It didn’t appear she had much of a choice. In the locker room, she found knee length pants, a t-shirt, and athletic shoes. Freshly attired, she went back out. No one else had come it beside them. Mason sat on a bench by the door. Kyle had also changed into gym clothes and was waiting for her.
“Um…are you training me?” she asked.
“Yeah.” He seemed less than pleased.
“The lab rats have established that adrenaline will trigger a “power”. That’s what we’re here for.” He darted a glance over her shoulder. “And you have enemies out there. You need to learn how to defend yourself.”
He clearly wanted to say more, but didn’t.
“Well,” Mariah cleared her throat. “I hope you’re ready to work with the most un-athletic person ever.”
“Great.” She heard him mutter.
Over the next two hours, she learned how to punch a bag, lift the lightest weights, and some basic self-defense moves. Finally she flopped down on the mats and refused to move.
“Are we done?” she asked the ceiling.
“Not yet,” Mason said. “Lab wants to see you.”
Mariah sat up with a groan. Her arms felt like limp noodles as she reached to brush hair from her sweaty forehead. Kyle handed her a water bottle and she chugged half of it. Kyle apparently was also wanted at the lab.
Dr. Sanderson gave Mariah a light pat on her sweaty shoulder when they arrived.
“I hope you didn’t work too hard, dear. We want you to get on the treadmill today,” she said.
“What?” Mariah squeaked. She’d run – back downstairs to her bed. That was the extent of her running. Sanderson and another lab technician took her behind a screen where they placed electrodes over her chest and side, allowing her to wear a loose tanktop over them.
Next, she climbed on a treadmill. Kyle was not exempt from the same exercise. He was on a treadmill a few feet away. Sanderson came to stand by her, holding a slim screen.
“Now, those a wireless electrodes and they send the information right here,” she tapped the screen. “I’m going to start the treadmill at a walking pace for now to get a good baseline.”
It took a few seconds for Mariah to get used to the sensation of walking on a moving belt.
“What are you looking for?” she asked.
“How stress affects your body. It will give us a whole new set of data. Okay, I’ll speed it up now. Try and run for at least five minutes.”
Mariah barely made it five minutes, panting like a beached whale as the belt slowed to a stop.
“This will be a regular occurrence, dear.” Sanderson promptly shattered her hopes otherwise. She led Mariah over to an exam table and started an assessment.
Kyle was still running as the technician began to increase the speed and the incline of the running surface. Mariah watched in something akin to horror as she realized they’d do that to her one day. Kyle’s eyes began to glow an unnatural shade of orange. That seemed to be some sort of cue as the technician hastily slowed the treadmill down. Mariah loosed the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. Cassie had described that glow and it didn’t sound like anything good ever followed it.