By Morgan Hannah
Phillip has seized the upper portion of my right arm and pulled me from out of the lab, past the lobby, past the doctors’ offices, and past the hallway that leads to the staff housing. Jack was silent, as if caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He just stared at me, then Phillip, and back and forth like that. He didn’t even finish his sentence. I can’t tell if Jack was even concerned for me or not. We stop at the main entrance, Phillip fumbles with something in his lab coat pocket; I can’t see what it is until he brings it out in front of him. It’s his fob key. Phillip unlocks the door and the sun outside penetrates my eyes and warms my skin through my sweater. This is the first time I’ve left the damn lab since being sealed in however long ago. My heart is leaping inside my chest with anticipation and I take a deep breath of the fresh air. It fills my lungs like a sweet juice. I try to focus on my surroundings, but all I can see are acres of flat land covered in gravel and in the far distance, there is a wooden fence that separates the gravelly terrain from what looks like an old warehouse. Just this giant, cubic forest-green building, hulking by itself, causing a shadow on the ground around it.
Phillip pulls me forward, ripping at my arm. I wince. Quickly, I glance behind me to see the exterior of the lab, but it’s just this low, long grey building with no windows and a heavy door with no knob. Not very distinguishable. You wouldn’t know that it’s a lab from the outside. My foot drags across the ground, forcing me to look forward in time to fumble, but Phillip’s grip on my arm rescues me. I want to ask where we’re going, but I can’t seem to form any words, my tongue has gone mute. I can’t believe I’m outside! I look at Phillip, his face is drawn into a frown, the sun is lighting up his eyes, turning them a lighter shade of blue than his usual ocean. Even his hair looks nicer in the sunlight. I open my mouth, then close it. I find myself slipping into the passenger side of a Chevy Avalanche. The door slams closed behind me, and I nurse my arm, now moist from Phillip’s perspiring strong grip. The flesh is temporarily stained red. I watch as Phillip walks around the front of the truck, his lab coat flowing behind him. He opens the door and slides in. I blink. He puts the key into the ignition, turns it, and the engine gives a healthy roar. The radio starts spewing loud music…something I wouldn’t expect to hear Phillip listen to, but then again, I hate when people think they know and don’t know the type of music I listen to, so I won’t stereotype him. He cranks the knob down, then changes his mind and hits the off button. He rolls down his widow and puts the truck into reverse. I can tell he’s agitated. Phillip reaches over and rests a hand on the back of my seat, looking behind, he backs up out of a parking spot that has been made by other vehicles parked around his truck. Are these other staff vehicles? Ohh, if I can find a set of keys somewhere, I can use one of these vehicles to escape! Phillip has no idea what kind of advantage he’s giving me here…I can watch where we go and memorize the path for future use, that is, assuming I do come back from where we’re heading.
“Where are we going?” My voice sounds tight, like I’m angry, but I don’t feel angry. We ride along in silence for a moment more, the warehouse growing larger then smaller as we pass it at an alarming speed. I clear my voice to remind Phillip that I asked a question. He just exhales a deep breath, his eyes flicking over to me. Then Phillip looks at me through the rear-view mirror. Is it just me, or does he look sad? Or is that the look of worry? I decide to play the conspirator card. “Hey, you can talk to me…what’s up?” I try forcing my voice to sound soothing. I’m not sure if it’s working or not. Phillip drives on in silence some more, his shoulders drop from their tense position, and then he stops the truck, leaving it to idle. He spins to look at me face to face, one of his eyebrows is arched higher than the other, questioningly.
“Where did that come from? You sound like my mother…” Those words sound odd coming from Phillip and we both seem to know it.
“I’m just. Come on, you think that was weird? Ever since I’ve been here, you’ve locked me up like a piece of gold, or something. And now we’re driving somewhere? Out of the blue? Dammit, Phillip, where are we going!?” I exhale and my body grows stiff…did I forget who I was talking to? Sometimes I can surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth. I sounded so confident and maybe even bold.
“Nowhere.” Phillip says, his face dropping in defeat, or embarrassment. I look at him as if to ask what do you mean? “We’re going nowhere. I just. I needed to. I mean, I wanted to get you out of there. And the entire lab just felt too small. Sometimes it does….” Phillip trails off, and suddenly I understand. Not his decision to race out of there like we were being chased by a hoard of zombies, but rather, what’s happening. Phillip is jealous! Whoa! This just doesn’t happen to me. People don’t get jealous over me. I can feel the corners of my mouth twitching upward.
“Nooo, that’s not it. The lab doesn’t feel too small…” I say before I can stop myself. Phillip looks at me for a moment, and then he smiles weakly.