The safety briefing, required by the facility, lasted longer than Amanda Waller had the patience for. Useless instructions were followed by various precautions. Do not touch or share personal information with the subject. Do not, under any circumstances, hand anything to the subject. Pleading from the subject is an act of resistance. If the subject attempts or threatens to advance, gunmen will shoot without hesitation. Subject 040199 is dangerous, unstable, and lethal.
Amanda listened, against her will, to the same instructions countless times. She was circulated between seven staff members that informed her about the same things the previous one had. The personnel assured her that their cautious behavior had a purpose. They tried to convince Amanda that the briefing was indeed not a waste of time as she had "politely" referred to it. Their apologizes for the inconvenience did not help the situation either. Waller continued to ignore their scripted speeches. The staff's concern for the agent was pointless because they fell on deaf ears.
To Amanda's relief, the safety briefing ended an hour after her arrival. The staff escorted her into a private sector where she was to wait for further instruction. She had been informed that Anita Bloom, head of the department, was solving a few issues, and that she would arrive momentarily.
For the moment, Amanda sat and focused her attention on the informational packet she had received upon arrival. The folder she held in her hand was thick and well organized. The inmate's number was written on the small label instead of her legal name: Eleanor Darling.
According to her file, Eleanor, commonly referred to as Lennie, was a bright, young lady. She graduated from High School at the age of fourteen. At fifteen, she began her university life in Pennsylvania. Hoping to become a surgeon, she invested her talents in medical programs. She had managed to accomplish many of her goals, despite her young age. Her family was proud of her, especially her father.
Eleanor Darling had worked hard towards her dream of becoming a doctor; her end goal was to save as many lives as possible. The only problem was, instead of becoming a doctor, she had become a patient. Eleanor had committed a crime to save her father's life, or at least that's what she claimed in the trial. Her sentence was death.
Once the government found out about her gifts, Eleanor was provided the opportunity to skip out on the electric chair, and rot in a facility. They threw her into a cell to live the rest of her miserable days as a lab rat. Headlines stated that she had died for her crimes. No one asked questions. No one knew that she was suffering.
Anita Bloom, the head of the department, entered the room. She appeared to be a polished professional with her hair slicked back into a ponytail and a white doctor coat draped over her black dress. A pair of glasses sat on the bridge of her nose, showing off her hazel eyes. On her lips was a fake smile, one that Amanda could not stand. Bloom stretched out her hand for the agent to shake, but Amanda made no action to complete the gesture. Anita retracted her hand awkwardly.
"Thank you for joining us, Ms. Waller. I am your escort, Anita Bloom," she spoke her name proudly with her nose in the air. "I can assure you that our facility will exceed your expectations."
"I do not like waiting."
The doctor's smile never managed to fall despite Waller's obvious display of rudeness. "I apologize for the inconvenience. I really do, Ms Waller, but our subject -" She stopped herself and thought of a good word to describe Eleanor's behavior. "She was difficult today. I can assure you that my team has regained control and she will not be a problem during your visit."
This is going to be a long evaluation, Anita thought while gritting her teeth together in annoyance. She really did not know how much rudeness she could take from Waller before replying in a similar fashion or worse, snapping. She pivoted on her heel, and moved towards the exit. She motioned for the agent to follow.
"If you will follow me, I will escort you to our subject 040199."
Bloom scanned her identification badge on the card reader, and Waller rose from her seat to follow the director's lead. "I hope that my colleagues have discussed all the necessary precautions regarding 040199. She can be quite problematic at times," Doctor Bloom stated.
A loud buzzing noise came from the card reader, and Waller's reply was never heard. Thick, metal doors opened outwards to reveal a narrow hallway. The hall was so small that a wheelchair would not be able to roll through. The two ladies entered, Doctor Bloom in front and Waller behind.
"I must say that she had been a benefit to various studies," she continued in order to drown out the silence. "I will deal with her attitude and occasional revolts as long as she continues to produce results. This girl has a gift."
Amanda did not appreciate Anita's chatty tendencies. She prefered the silence more than the blabbering of the facility's director. She was glad when they came to a halt after winding down the hallway. Bloom, once again, placed her badge on the scanner to open the new set of doors.
The buzzing from the door cut off their one way conversation. The entrance opened outward to reveal a busy work environment. It was dazzled with lights and medical tools. There were various noises including beeps, voices, and tiny alarms. The room was set up like a laboratory. There were desk arranged for the doctors to record information. Touch screen monitors were above each work space and hung on the wall. The room had a large glass window which divided it in half. Inside the glass was the subject's experimental enclosure.
Waller approached the glass to see the notorious girl that had brought her halfway across the country. Eleanor Darling had been labeled as a god, the devil, and a demon, yet all Waller saw was a child. She was disappointed in the lack of horns, hellish fire, and metal pitchfork.
She was a small, teenage girl who appeared to be one hundred pounds wet. Her curly hair was away from her face and secured in two braids that came to her shoulders. Tubes, wires, and needles were inserted into various parts of her body, recording and monitoring her every move.
"Please allow me to remind you, Ms. Waller, do not touch the glass," the director said.
Amanda was quick to snap at the woman. "I've heard the briefing."
Without warning, a scream erupted from the subject. Eleanor Darling laid bound to an upright metal bed with her hands, neck, and feet bound by steel straps. Her eyes were closed in a grimace and her skin was a clammy pale. Every few seconds, her voice had a raw ring of pain and she would shout in pain. The sound was both appalling and disturbing. Moments later, she went quiet and her breathing lingered in the form of a pant.
"Excuse me?" Amanda questioned.
Another yell came from the teenage victim. Bloom waited for the girl to settle down before explaining her previous statement. "She's screaming because of the electrical shocks. We are testing out a new punishment. We apply thirty second shocks to her temples, and give her a ten second break in between."
"How long do you do this?"
"For as long as we need to," Anita shrugged. "Sometimes it's for thirty minutes, other times we do it until she stops convulsing. It's remarkable actually. She is currently experiencing a voltage similar to the electric chair. Today," she paused and looked up at the monitor, "she had managed to last thirty-seven minutes without dying."
So, it was true. This girl did have a gift.
Bloom pressed a green, intercom button displayed on the command desk. When the buzz sounded, she began to speak. "Please prepare subject 040199 for conversation. Her visitor has arrived."
When finished with her announcement, Bloom once again spun on her heel and turned towards Agent Waller. That fake smile had returned and she gestured for Amanda to follow her. "If you would, our subject will be waiting."
With the amount of funding given to this facility, Waller had expected more. She was not impressed with their interrogation room which was nothing more than a concrete pen. There was one way in and one way out; a door handle was not on the inside and a badge scanner was in the top corner in case of an emergency. The only available light was a naked bulb that hung from the low ceiling. To top it off, the room had an odd aroma. It smelled as though the floors had been cleaned with dirty water instead of disinfectant.
The room was small, stuffy, and barely able to host two human beings.
Subject 040199, Eleanor Darling, was present when Waller arrived. She sat at a table which had two chairs. One of the chairs was significantly more sophisticated than the other. Eleanor's chair had bolts, latches, and binds to ensure Amanda's safety and her restriction. Amanda's chair, on the other hand, was a metal fold out that would be used at a child's piano recital.
The guards were gracious enough to provide the two with space, but not privacy. Two stood outside the room, staring in through a peephole. The others monitored their conversation using surveillance.
"My name is Amanda Waller," the agent introduced, "I've come to speak with you."
Eleanor, who currently had her forehead plastered to the table, did not respond or move. Amanda sighed in annoyance. This was not her first rodeo, and she knew that if she wanted a reaction, she needed to start providing an incentive for the girl. She retrieved folders from her bag and lined them up on the table. She opened each on the reveal classified information.
"I know about your abilities. Before Superman, no one would have believed me if I told them about your gifts." Amanda noticed that the word gift caused Eleanor to shift in her seat. She was uncomfortable with the conversation, that was easy to see. "Three men dead, Ms. Darling. No murder weapon, but a whole lot of blood. You didn't even touch them. Some call you the Grim Reaper."
The last sentenced seemed to get the reaction Amanda was waiting for. Her head shot up and she looked into the agent's eyes. Her face expressed the guilt and regret that burdened her heart. Eleanor was biting her lip and sniffling, all in an attempt to fight back the tears.
Amanda noticed something odd about the girl. Four bruises were on her face. Two on her forehead and two on her temples. She assumed that the electrical shock pads were the reason for the discoloration. The skin underneath seemed to be burnt and wilted. Dark circles laid beneath her eyes. They were the same color as her irises, black.
For someone who was only seventeen, Eleanor looked close to death; aged well beyond her years. By the ashiness of her skin and the peeling of her lips, she looked more like a corpse than a teenager.
"I didn't want to do it!" She cried. Her hands flexed against the binds and she thrashed in her seat. "He made me do it!" She kept repeating herself, as if she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying convenience Amanda.
"I don't care what you've done or not done, Ms. Darling." Amanda searched through her files as she spoke. "I don't care what you want to do. All I care about is what you can do, and what you are going to do for me."
A document was placed face down on the table, ready to be turned over if the girl did not cooperate. "I'm assembling a team," she began, "one that I think can do some real good in this world."
The word no escaped the girl's mouth before Amanda could even finish. She knew where this was going; others had asked her to do the same exact thing. Eleanor steadily shook her head and whispered no under her breath.
"I know that you wanted to help people, Ms. Darling. That's why you were studying medicine. You wanted to cure the incurable, help the blind see. With this project, you can save millions of lives."
The mention of her past life seemed to pain her. Eleanor hung her head low. Her body began to shake, her foot began to tap. All body language indicators that she was nervous, scared, and uncomfortable. "Ms. Waller, what exactly are you asking me to do?"
"Follow orders," she replied, "and be a team player."
Once again, fear consumed Eleanor. Her stomach lurched and her heart began to ache. The tapping of her foot became louder and the shaking of her body more prevalent. "You need me to kill people, don't you?" she gasped out. "Listen, miss. I-I can't. You don't know what it feels like to take another human's life."
"I've done it plenty of times," Amanda confessed with a stern face.
"No," Eleanor retorted through her teeth. "Not the way I have. I can feel it, you know. Every time I take a life, I can feel the breath leave their lungs. I may not feel the pain, but I experience it with them. I understand how their throat burns when I cut off their air supply. I can feel the burn of their heart. The want...that desire to survive, to live! You see, Ms. Waller, you will never take a human's life like I have."
Amanda had suspected that Eleanor's values would get in the way of her accepting the offer. She was only seventeen and had been in the government's possession for nearly a year. The facility's trials had made her mentally unstable and she was not about to trust just anyone. Handling her was difficult. That was the reason why Amanda had personally come. Getting people to do things that they didn't want to do in order to save what was important to them was her specialty.
She turned over the documents that were on the table. There were three pictures on the paper: a family, a woman, and a criminal.
The first one was a family photo of the Darling family. Eleanor remembered the moment the picture was taken. It had been Christmas morning, and her father had returned from business in New York. Her mother had set the camera on a timer as the family of three huddled around the decorated tree. It had been one of the only pictures Eleanor had of her father. Despite him being a family man, he often refused to take photos. Especially photos with his family.
The second picture was of her mother, Pauline Darling. The image was blurry and dark but Eleanor could still identify the woman as her mother. Pauline was leaving what appeared to be a club. She had sunshades on, even though it was night. She was striding to a car with a tall, buff man following her.
The final photo was a mug shot; her father's mugshot. He stood with the black and white sign stating Gotham City Prison. He had a head injury, with blood running down his face. Eleanor stared at the third picture the longest.
Her lips quivered as she mumbled, "My father's in jail?" Her statement had been more of a question for herself than for the woman that sat in front of her.
What happened when they took me?
"I know where your parents are, Ms. Darling. I can take you to them as long as you agree to cooperate and work for me."
That was when Eleanor realized that Amanda Waller was nothing but bad news. She had been told a similar promise nearly two years ago. That was the reason that she had been locked up in this hell hole. If this woman before her, this government agent or whatever, thought that she was going to swindle her, then she had another thing coming.
Eleanor gripped the sides of the chair, and expression of rage on her face. "Before you think to attack me," - Amanda quickly spat out - "there are cameras! They will come and put you back in that cell to rot, and you will never see me again. Your opportunity and I will be thrown out the window. If you follow my orders, you can leave with me tonight. No more trials, experiments, or dying."
"My mother and father-"
"Are in my custody, and will remain in my custody until your mission is complete. After that, you can see them."
Any sane person would accept Amanda's offer over being locked in a filthy cell and experimented on, but something was stopping the word yes from escaping Eleanor's lips. Adrenaline flooded her system as she weighed the options. Stay in this facility and allow doctors to scramble her brain like an egg or become a murderer to leave. She had admit, the second option was quite selfish but she was an only child. She had grown up to be selfish.
Eleanor made eye contact with the woman and spoke, "Consider your offer accepted."
Hello! Thank you so much for reading. I never finish any fanfiction, normally because of writers block or lost in interest, so I decided to write this one because I love the characters of the Suicide Squad even though the movie did not meet all my expectations. While there may be a few chances of romance in this story, it will not be the main focus. So, hopefully you enjoyed the first chapter and will be coming back for more!
Question of the week: What do you think the numbers in Eleanor's subject (040199) stand for?