''Ben Parks. My, my, my.'' officer Gregory says, grinning, while shaking his head. ''What would your father think? What would he, the President, think if he found out about your 'escapades' with the rebels? Hm?'' he peers, leaning forward, hands gripping the back of the metal chair he made me sit in. I pull back when his warm, tobacco-scented breath blows in my face, filling my lungs with the foul, intoxicating smell. He glares into my eyes, studying my face and then throws his head back, laughing wildly. ''What a world we live in, boy!'' he shakes his head, lowering his gaze back to mine. ''What a world.'' he echoes, voice – and expression – suddenly becoming deadly, menacing.
''You, the son of the President, with the rebels!'' he exclaims, throwing his arms around. ''What are you doing, boy?'' He snarls, glowering at me. ''What were you thinking?'' I flinch at his words, heart pumping madly, chest rising in quicker, shorter motions. ''Stupid, stupid, boy!'' he shouts.
The three words echo in the small, dark, grey room we sit in. ''Foolish.'' he spits.
I close my eyes, drop my head, pulling my chained wrists away from each other, shivering at the touch of the cold metal on my skin. I meet his gaze, suddenly fierce. ''What do you want from me?''
He folds his arms over his chest and watches me closely, intently, for a moment. ''I want to know,'' he starts, voice breaking the silence. ''why you did it. Join, befriend, the rebels?'' he moves his weight from one leg to the other, arms still crossed, eyes still stuck on me. I clench my jaw, suddenly aware of cameras in this room – cellar. Suddenly aware that this is an interrogation. An interrogation that's being recorded.
''Nothing?'' he peers, chuckling to himself. He seems as if he's in hysterics, as if he's both disappointed and amused with this situation. With me.
''I-'' I start, my voice is raspy because of my dry throat. ''How do you know? About-''
''I am an officer, boy. There's a whole bunch of undercover ones, too. How else would we possibly keep everyone under control? How else would we possibly do what we do?''
''Do what you do? As in murder, kidnap and harm people?'' I say.
He swallows, looking unimpressed. ''Stupid boy.''
I gesture to my chained wrists and dare to ask, ''So, what are you going to do? With me, I mean.'' He considers this for a moment, grinning the entire time. He rubs his chin and shrugs. ''Well, you will be punished. You're father will be made aware of what you're doing. What you've done.''
''Sounds like a plan,'' I say quietly, sarcastically.
He glares at me, staring into my eyes with his cold ones. ''But,'' he says, walking towards me. ''I have a use for you, just before I expose what you've been up to.''
I frown, and glance around the room nervously.
He continues, ''My plan is to use you to arrest the rebels. To find them all, and then, well-'' he scoffs. ''execute you all.''
My heart sinks and I feel the color leave my face. He notices this and claps his large, bony hands together. ''You don't have a choice, boy-''
''What's that?'' he growls, looking bothered.
''Ben. My name's Ben.'' I say.
He stalks forward until he stands right in front of my chair. He bends down a bit and then punches me in the face. The blow causes me to nearly fall with my chair, but I don't. Instead, I drop my head at an angle and spit on the ground. I wince at a sharp pain that vibrates through my mouth, the side of my face, and eye the blood in the pool of saliva on the tiles. I take a deep breath and meet his gaze. His eyes are glowing. The corners of his mouth turned upwards, with an evil and toothy smile. My jaw tightens, chest feeling constricted. He paces around the cell, hands rubbing his chin and stops by my side, standing silently. I give him a side glance and ask quietly. ''What's your plan, then?''
He turns his head and gives me a wicked grin, eyes brows raised. ''Glad you asked, Ben.''
I narrow my eyes, as worry begins to prickle through me.
''You seemed to have been close to a rebel in particular, correct?'' he murmurs.
I quickly look up, suddenly aware. Suddenly, apprehensive. I swallow, ''Don't, please, don't bring-''
I falter, drop my head, and squeeze my eyes shut.
''I'll take that as a yes, then.'' He mumbles. ''Your friendship with Elizabeth will not be taken lightly. We'll be taking it to our advantage, of course.''
''Please,'' I plead quietly, lifting my gaze once more. ''Please don't involve her.'' I shake my head. ''Don't hurt her.''
He throws his head back, laughing. ''You should've thought twice about betraying your father, then. About joining the rebels. About befriending them.'' He meets my gaze, slowly lowering his head and growls. ''You have to pay the price.''
''I do. Yes. But-''
''You all do.''
''So then-'' I start, suddenly feeling rushed.
''But you, in particular.'' He interrupts. ''I'm sure seeing something happen to her would harm you more than any torture could ever, no?''
It all suddenly falls into place, and I feel out of breath as the pieces form the puzzle, the bigger picture. ''You wouldn't,'' I whisper, voice cracking.
''Oh, but I would. And I will.'' He smiles. ''You need to be punished.''
I open my mouth.
''And they need to see that they can't trust everyone.'' he growls. ''They need to see the monster that lives within your blood, boy. The monster that rushes in your DNA. The monster that others call your father.''
I look away, feeling shame. Guilt. Rage.
I can almost see myself smashing his forehead against the metallic table that sits in the middle of this room.
I can almost imagine the pleasure I'd feel in chaining all these monsters up. But yet, at the same time, I feel sick to my stomach at the fact that I could think such things. That I could want such things, or think I'm possible of doing such actions.
Maybe he's right.
Maybe I am a monster.
Maybe there really is a monster within myself. In my genes. Blood. DNA.
My face feels hot and I curse under my breath at myself for letting his words get to me. For letting him get to me like this.
I swallow and then fixate my eyes on him. I glare straight into his eyes, and spit, ''You don't know me.''
He raises his eye brows, looking impressed. ''You found your words.''
''Do what you want to me, say what you want to me. I don't care any more.''
His brows furrow.
''I don't care about this skeleton I have. This mind, either. I don't care for myself. I guess-'' I mutter. ''I guess living with my father, with his ways and with the shame in being his son - for eighteen years – did that to me.''
''People would kill to be in your position, selfish thing.'' He scoffs, seemingly disgusted.
I shake my head, smiling. ''Well, whoever thinks that is foolish. Living my life is torture in itself.''
''Mighty brave to say,'' he remarks, sarcastically.
I ignore him, ''I don't care about what you have planned for me. I don't care what you do to me, physically, emotionally – mentally. Just-'' my voice quietens, and I force myself to speak louder. ''Don't hurt her. Don't make me hurt her, betray her. I can't live with the idea of her being disappointed in me. In wishing she hadn't known me.''
He considers this, lips pressed together.
''Please.'' I lean forward as I say this, and my chained arms cause me to jerk backwards.
He turns, done with being quiet and grips my jaw in his right hand. His hand is cold and I clench my jaw. He tightens his grip and almost contorts my face upwards, forcing me to stare into his eyes. He leans forward and murmurs. ''I have one job.'' he forces his thumb into my jaw, the pressure starts a dull, yet constant, pain. My nose twitches, I am not willing to show weakness to this man.
I will not show weakness in front of the devil. In front of my father, or Officer Gregory.
''One job.'' he repeats, stressing the words. ''And that is to keep order. To follow my orders and to make sure that others do. To protect and serve the President, your-''
''My father.'' I spit, interrupting him.
He gives me a smug expression and mumbles, ''What's the deal with you, boy?''
I attempt to pull my face back from his grip, but he continues tightening it, digging his fingers in my skin, pressing on the bone. ''Complaining about a lavish lifestyle.''
''Lavish?'' I echo.
''That is what I said.''
I laugh, ''It's isn't lavish. Mine isn't, at least.''
''You have money and servants! God, you have the best security and constant attention. You're your father's heir. You will be the President. You'll own the land. Country.''
''I'll own the people.''
''I don't want that!'' I yell. ''The power. The money. I don't want those things. I don't want the evil that my father carries,''
''It's a bit late for that.''
''I don't want to be like him. I don't want to be his-'' my voice shakes. ''I don't want to be his son. I don't want to live this life.''
''I frankly don't care. I don't see a point in these speeches you're giving me.'' he remarks, he pulls on my face more, and my arms are now stretched, still stuck behind the back of the chair. ''You will do as I ask. As my plan demands. Right?''
I hesitate, avoiding his gaze.
His other hand fumbles in his back pocket, and he pulls out a knife. He presses it against my neck. ''Right?''
I swallow, shut my eyes and murmur, ''Right.''
The plan is relatively simple. I carry a wire, taped to my chest, mainly put on me for the scenario that I hint to Elizabeth that we're being watched. That the Officers are on our tails.
Gregory made me plan with Elizabeth to meet in this alley near an abandoned building – at night. We were to discuss rebel plans, free the children that my father and his Officer's are holding in an asylum. These kids were being tested – psychologically. In order to see what causes the human mind to crack. What it takes for a person to lose their mind, to become something different from what they were born as. Someone completely different.
I'm meant to get her to discuss all these rebel plans with me – the Officers will hear everything, and then before she and I go our separate ways, they will come in and arrest us both. Once they have us, they will do whatever they can to get out the locations of all the rebel base-camps.
I feel sick, disgusting. Disgusted with myself and what I'm going to do. I feel nervous at the thought of Elizabeth's reaction when she discovers that it's my fault, that everything's because of me.
I have a choice: I can choose to do this. Risk her and every other rebel's life, or risk one; my own.
I barely have a life, might as well put it on the line, no?
I shudder as I remember my father teaching me to shoot, use a knife, at the age of ten.
I walk on the silent, abandoned pavement soberly. Staring at the ground the entire time, watching the orange light from the street lights as I do so. My hands are stuffed in my pockets, jacket's collar pulled up.
I try to act casually. I think I'm doing well at that.
I have a monster's blood running through me.
The guilt is eating me up, making my insides feel all prickly, uneasy.
I glance up quickly when I hear footsteps: Elizabeth.
When our gazes meet, her mouth becomes a sweet, genuine smile.
I smile back, and speed up my pace.
Almost as if everything's fine.
I can turn.
I can curse her, and run off.
I can leave her here; that would be better than getting her killed.
She'd be more likely to forgive me for that, than for getting her and her friends killed.
I think I'd forgive myself for doing that. But not for betraying her.
I suddenly stop moving, unsure of what to do. I want to tell her, scream the truth out. I want to spin in circles, and then drop to the ground and cry. I want to give up.
I can't do this.
From the darkness of the opposite side of the road, I catch a slight sound and I'm quickly brought back to reality.
''Ben?'' Elizabeth's voice rings in the air. She, too, has stopped walking.
I press my palms to my eyes, and take a deep breath.
''Ben?'' She repeats.
I pull my arms back and meet her gaze. Her warm brown eyes look nervous, worried. I force a smile, ''Sorry, just tired.''
She ducks her head and I continue walking up to her. As I approach her, the features of her face become easier to identify. I can see the light in her eyes, her expression as she watches me.
Her expression, so full of interest, affection.
I drop my gaze back to the ground. I can't face her.
I am part of my father.
I am part of a monster.
Yet, this doesn't feel easy.
I can't do this. I won't.
But I have to.
I frown when I remember my father telling me about his experiments on children. About the torment he'd put them through.
I struggle to breath as I recall the tests he'd do on me, when I was fifteen.
The torment he was putting me through, just like he did with his 'lab rats'.
The torment this doctor put me through as a teenager, as he tested me and watched my brain activity in different situations.
My legs feel weak as I realize that I'm just a test subject to my father. As I realize that my whole life's just been a test.
I drop to my knees when I realize that he will make me do things to the rebels.
He won't actually punish me.
No matter what I do, I will never be punished. He, and his Officers, will make me punish the rebels. Punish Elizabeth.
They'll make me hurt them, hurt her.
''Ben!'' Elizabeth exclaims as I start sobbing into my hands. The gravel digs into my knees, but I don't move. ''Hey, what's wrong?'' I hear her ask.
It follows up until the moment I lift my head from my hands and find that a group of Officers are holding Elizabeth by her arms. She's shrieking and kicking at them. I attempt to get to her, but I instead stumble as someone sternly grips me from behind, jerks me back and whispers in my ear, ''Stupid fool.''
I force myself to turn my face back, and meet Gregory's blue eyes. He pushes my head back forward. ''You had one job.'' he mutters.
I glance up and find Elizabeth's gaze already on me. She's frowning. ''Ben?''
''Elizabeth...'' I whisper.
And just like that, the light leaves her eyes as she looks into my eyes and she drops her head, shaking it.
I already lost her.