Contamination | Invasion Survivor Book One | Chapter Fifteen
AJ couldn't take the boredom any longer. He would even chat with Francis to break the vicious circle of nothingness. It didn't help that anywhere he turned, there were only desperately sick kids with neither the inclination nor the ability to talk. The sight depressed him.
He felt so powerless to help them.
Suddenly, a commotion caught his attention and he wondered what was going on.
That question was answered a couple of minutes later when another bunch of kids entered.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” AJ mumbled. The place was already overcrowded. Couldn't they place kids somewhere else as well? Give them more comfort, if nothing else.
He’d started to get up to give his bed to someone else with a greater need when it happened.
A girl entered and from the moment he spotted her, he couldn't stop staring.
She was freaking glowing like she was her own personal sun.
“Seedling.” Francis was excited. “Take her now. You need her.”
The urge to spring into action and take the girl like she was some kind of an offering to his King Kong was overwhelming.
He remembered he’d had the same urge with Paige but could resist it.
Yeah, but that was Paige, someone he was crushing on.
This girl meant nothing to him.
Francis, stop that.
AJ rebelled, realizing with sudden clarity that the bastard was messing with his head.
“Don't fight me, AJ, take the girl and claim your place among us,” Francis urged.
AJ gritted his teeth, fighting the temptation with all the energy at his disposal.
Like hell I will, he shouted internally and covered himself with the blanket, then pulled a pillow over his head.
It didn't help, unfortunately. He could still hear Francis loud and clear.
Of course you can. He is in your head, asshole!
“Take her now. You need her.”
He could definitely still feel her.
Oh, for hell's sake!
AJ practically leaped out of bed and almost ran in the opposite direction, away from the girl. Not really sure of his end plan, knowing he would run out of space in a moment, he grinned when a solution presented itself.
He ran into the bathroom and locked the door.
“AJ, obey me and claim your place. You are the Host...”
Francis droned on and on, so AJ started singing.
The urge lessened but AJ didn't stop.
I know nobody knows...
Where it comes and where it goes...
I know it's everybody sin...
You got to lose to know how to win...
He gave himself a pep talk when he felt he’d regained his equilibrium. Okay, AJ, don't be a coward now.
Francis eventually stopped pestering him, and when he was able to think for himself once more, there was no problem facing the world again—or a very depressing room full of sick children.
Finally stepping out of the bathroom, he looked left and right but he couldn't see the Seedling anymore and sighed with relief.
I am the rock, he reminded himself, returning to his bed.
Francis told him he didn't have to sleep anymore and maybe that was true, but it still felt nice to lie down and stretch after cowering in the bathroom for God only knew how long.
Okay, so maybe there was a learning curve while dealing with Francis.
Two steps forward, one step back.
He was still very pleased with himself because he didn't give in.
He must have spaced out for a moment because when he focused once again, AJ could see a small group of kids talking to a girl who looked a little older. He could only see her profile, but that was enough.
“Paige?” he said, mostly to himself, and pushed up to a sitting position.
What is she doing here? AJ wondered but was still glad to see her.
And holy fuck, she was glowing now as well.
He stood up to go greet her, but as he moved closer, he realized it wasn’t her but rather someone who resembled her.
Does she have a twin sister?
“Nooo!” Francis screamed so loudly inside his head that AJ stopped in his tracks.
“Don't go near her,” he warned urgently.
Why the hell not? AJ retorted. Normally, he would shrug it off, but since Francis wanted to forbid him...
The temptation was too great to resist it.
“AJ, don't. If you want to live, hide, now.”
What? You are making no sense. That's just a girl, and she's glowing like a Seedling.
“Exactly. She is a Space Cadet and one of the best, at that.”
What does that mean?
“She is the worst thing for our kind.”
Mine or yours? AJ hedged, trying to rattle Francis even more, but the voice wasn't impressed.
“Don't let her see you. Hide—now!” Francis almost sounded pleading.
I don't know. I think it would be rude not to say hi.
“She will kill you.”
That confused AJ. Why would she do that when he hadn’t done anything wrong in his entire life?
“It doesn't matter. You are the Host, and because of that, her enemy.”
I don't buy it. With Francis, rebellion seemed like AJ’s go-to reaction.
He walked with purpose this time but somehow lost control over his left leg.
He almost tripped and hit the bed, startling the kid who was lying on it.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, standing slowly.
“Hide, you fool.”
No, I think you're messing with me, like always.
His head started to tingle, and the urge to flee rose up within him.
That won’t work, and you know it, AJ shouted silently.
The tingling intensified and for a second, he went completely blind. Before he could start to panic, all kinds of images were basically downloaded into his brain. That was the only way he could define the sudden data-dump that his mind struggled to manage.
Images appeared of the badass girl who looked a lot like Paige fighting, and in every scene, he was shown her killing someone—really bloody, sometimes brutally.
AJ suddenly had problems swallowing.
He still thought Francis was delusional but, on the other hand, wasn't willing to test that on his own neck.
Fine, I'll give in, he grumbled.
In an instant, everything that Francis had done to him up to that point vanished.
“Hurry, before she sees you.”
Back to the toilet. Yippee.
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