Freedom to Die

Dawn broke over New York. The sun rose over the buildings completely ignoring man's efforts at touching the sky; it sent brilliant rays over a few lucky buildings turning them into pillars of liquid fire, dazzling their shadowy counterparts. Not that many people on the streets would realise this for some time, thirty floors up it's a different story.

It really was beautiful.

I perched on the rail of a building holding my twelve foot wings open, sunning them. Yep that's right wings, I'm Hawk and to put it bluntly I'm a Freaky Mutant Bird Kid. Personally I prefer Human Avian Hybrid but I had to Wiki that so you can call me whatever you want apart from Feather Head; I'll take offence to that. I was born in a lab, raised in a cage, experimented on and tut-tutted at by guys in white coats every time I made a feeble attempt to escape. Throws childhood problems into a new light doesn't it?

Anyway a month ago some kids led by the legendary 'Maximum Ride' broke into the lab and set us all free. That's right, us, all fifty locked inside Kanine Kampers which aren't designed to hold humans or apparently dogs, and now we're hiding out from, well just about everyone. Kids crossed with animal D.N.A. stick out in a crowd. Apart from me, if I tucked my wings in I just looked like some regular, if tall, kid, which is why I'm mainly used for fetching and carrying for the others.

"We should have gone with Max." I muttered to myself, a habit I'd picked up recently. No talking in the cages, if you did you got a monster bawling at you. I stood up, balancing deftly on the slim bar and jumped forwards tumbling into open space. A slight flick of my wings stopped me spinning and angled me straight down, gathering speed all the way. I fought my wings which were straining to lift me to horizontal and kept plummeting. My subconscious took one look at the rapidly approaching asphalt, doubled my heart rate, breathing, and handed in its resignation with a note saying.

'Nice knowing ya.'

The twentieth story flashed by, I angled my wings back increasing my speed. I felt a strange detachment, probably the blood not reaching my head. The G-force was rippling my face as I rapidly accelerated towards terminal velocity; it's called that for a reason by the way.

Fifteenth story. The roaring wind faded to a gentle throbbing in my ears as the adrenalin laden blood raced though my body. Guess I'm just an adrenalin junky.

Tenth story. I sighed as the G-force stopped, I briefly considered a few flaps to go faster but that would mean I would do my pancake impression.

Eighth story. I pulled up, levelling out at the fifth story and coasted on the good hundred and twenty miles an hour I'd built up in my fall, rocketing through the near empty streets of dawning New York. I swooped down on an eager hotdog salesman trying and failing to catch the six a.m. rush. I snagged a hotdog when his back was turned, a flap and a quick left which sent his funny umbrella spinning, and brought me back up to the level of late sleepers, and out of sight.

The busier streets forced me back up to the roof tops, flying is fun but having your picture on the internet is not. Seriously I'm on the internet, take a look sometime, I'm The Hawk of New York, that's from the same people who believe they'll meet Spiderman if they look hard enough, and they'll find Bigfoot, someday.

So, wondering where I'm going yet? Maybe a den of evil, or perhaps a super secret mutant hideout? Wrong. I'd just come from the super secret hideout. Okay, warehouse, and dens of evil are not all they're cracked up to be, or rather they are. I was currently escaping my role as grocery boy and visiting one of my favourite haunts, the local library. A month out of a cage and I'm already an internet addict. What can I say, I like computers, and they like me.

I alighted on a building next to the library, and folded my wings in tight to my body. It wasn't the central library, I'm not really allowed to use the computers in there since I signed in as Hawk HJ9314, apparently surname doesn't mean serial number. Don't look at me like that; I had been a cage until three days before. Actually this is the third library, using the internet for a solid week generally gets you directed to an internet café, and the door. This library is my personal favourite as the entire roof is one glass pane so no more claustrophobia and the librarian always forgets how long you have been there.

I descended to street level via a fire escape rather than gliding, which would have been my preference but everyone has a camera phone these days. So the two slack jawed kids watching me walk calmly down the fire escape were a better option than yet more photos of me. They stayed silent while I was descending until I reached their level, or close to it, I'm nearing six foot and they weren't, not by a long way even though they were probably older. Rooms without windows do not make good calendars so I can't tell you how old I am.

"What you doing up there?" said kid one a perplexed look on his face; that might have been a permanent fixture.

"Lost my front door key." I replied with a perfectly straight face as if this explained everything. That's the secret to lying, confidence. I learnt that from a guy in a white coat as he said, 'now this wont hurt a bit.'

I walked off and was out of the alley before kid two realised.

"Hey, this is an office block." But I was long gone, our group slogan, that is the freed experiments, or just The Freed is, 'Kids don't belong in cages'. I revised that most kids don't belong in cages, the ones with an IQ lower than that hotdog I'd just stolen probably do. So what if I'm cocky, I blame the cockerel in my D.N.A.

Did I mention the library looks cool? The main room, the one with the glass ceiling is circular; the outer wall's lined with books and six corridors of shelves radiate from a central circle to the wall. From above it looks just like a giant wheel, trust me on this I know. In the very centre there are twelve computers on a circular desk. I signed in at the sleepy looking librarian's desk, 'Harry Johnson' I'm glad that's not my real name it's about as exciting as paint.

I grabbed a computer, not that I needed to hurry, no one goes to a library at six thirty. Only fools and people who hadn't gone to bed that night were up at this time in the morning. I logged on, checked my email not that I know anyone who I would want to contact, but I was taking an online self-defence course, which I was printing off and taking to the other kids.

Next, learning time. Today's subject biology. Your teacher the ever present internet. Specialist subject genetics. After half an hour wrestling with a webpage and a dictionary I took a break before continuing on my quest to get my picture off the internet. I leaned back in my chair and cast my eyes over the other computer users who had filed in during the last five minutes. Strange that it was so busy this early in the morning; strange that they were all adults; strange that they all could have qualified for a lead role in any movie you wanted.

I stopped breathing. A freezing chill ran up my spine and exploded in my brain like a mega ice cream headache, a little voice in my mind started screaming for me to get out of there. Every one of them turned in unison from their blank screens and grinned showing far too big, pointed teeth.


If you've never met one, lucky you. Half human, half wolf and all monster, they are basically what you get when you pick the most violent bits and throw them into a blender. Worse they a quite capable of pulling in all the fur, the fangs and ragged claws and looking like normal people, albeit with impossibly good looks and voices of angels. The lab used to use them as guards, enforcers and executioners. The way they enforced order was to morph into wolf-men and yell through the bars that if we made a sound or even thought about escaping they would eat us, and you believed them. Not that stopped me, and I've got the scars to prove it. Now that I think about it there weren't any guards the day we escaped. Strange what you think of when facing imminent death.

I jumped up, harder than it looks when you're leaning back, wheeled and ran straight into something about as yielding as a tree trunk. I looked up into the hate filled eyes of an Eraser who could easily win any heavy-weight competition but would then be disqualified for excessive violence. He took advantage of my brain desperately trying to catch up with events to fully morph, snapping his overstuffed muzzle together for effect.

"Hello freak." He growled, his breath smelling disturbingly like rotten meat, though I wasn't exactly expecting minty freshness.

"Orders from above," he continued. "You're not needed anymore."

"We were needed before?" I asked confused, nice to see I've got my priorities straight.

'You should be running by now Hawk!' I yelled at myself. The Eraser cuffed me round the head and sent me sprawling. My brain caught up with a very useful, 'how did he find me?' and then 'God, the others.' Nice work brain. I did a quick 360; six Erasers guarding the exits, eleven more at the desk and two behind the big bad wolf over there, all starting to look furry and all armed. I couldn't fly, they would shoot me without a second thought or possibly first, besides I needed a run up. I couldn't fight, they were at lest three times my weight and strength and I was way, way out numbered. Well I always thought I was going to go down facing insurmountable odds. Actually screw that, I didn't think I was going to go down at all.

I went through that in the first second I was on the ground, 'okay mind I admit it sometimes your useful.' Then I was up in a rush pulling a pistol from Wolfie's holster and firing three shots into the air, like on cop shows. Unlike cop shows, the Erasers, instead of putting their hands up and acting very shocked, all pulled out their own guns and trained them on me.


"Great plan freak," said Wolfie with a sneer. Up above, I could hear something crackling. "For that little display we'll have to come up with something special for you and your mutant buddi…"

Something shattered above our heads, all the Erasers looked up. I didn't, I dropped to the floor and rolled under a desk covering my head with my arms. Which was good as that was exactly when the glass from the broken ceiling hit. Foot wide chunks of glass exploded as they crashed onto the floor, sending razor sharp shards flying past like demented wasps cutting into my forearms, jeans and my Fly Free T-shirt. But mercifully sparing my head. After a few moments the crashing stopped, replaced by a gentle tinkle as the glass settled. Finally silence, broken only by the occasional falling chunk from the remains of the ceiling and the whimper of shell shocked Erasers.

I stood up, just avoiding hitting my head on the desk. Now that would have been embarrassing, and surveyed the scene. Naturally there was glass everywhere forming a knife edged carpet; foot long needles of crystal quivered in the wooden floor and there was a fine film of bright blood coating the floor. Not mine however. The Erasers were down for the count; you don't take a face full of glass and stay standing. I turned and had to stifle a scream, as I saw an Eraser lying next to his arm. Someone did scream, or more accurately howled. I spun seeing another Eraser trying to lift his hand which had been nailed to the floor by a spear of glass. I fought the urge to retch reminding myself that they probably deserved it. A couple of the less wounded started stirring; they probably wouldn't see it like that, best not to be there when they woke.

I opened my wings and shook myself too get rid of any shards. I hopped onto the desk wincing as the glass crunched under my feet, then leapt onto a monitor with the intention of jumping onto the shelves, but the monitor snapped ruining my jump. I slammed into the bookcase grabbing the top with the tip of my fingers. I rolled my eyes, I was barely a foot from the ground, and this time I was really glad no one saw me.

I hoisted myself up. Well, tried to; someone with either too long nails or claws grabbed my foot. I tuned slowly to see Wolfie holding on to my ankle, a murderous glint in his eye.

"You'll pay for this freak," he growled, looking worse for wear. Much worse, an inch of glass stuck out of his closed left eye which oozed disturbingly, I bet that smarted, not to mention the head wound staining his shirt red and clouding his other eye.

"Maybe later," I shot back, desperately gripping the shelf to stop him pulling me back down. "I'll pencil you in some day." He snarled and I lashed out with my free foot hoping to catch him on the temple. I missed and caught the shard of glass instead hammering it deep into his eye socket. He screamed, staggering away from me and letting go of my ankle. I heaved myself onto the shelves narrowly avoiding opening a vein on yet another jagged chunk of glass and started running, flapping my wings to get airborne.

"I'll get you for this mutant!" Wolfie hollered looking in completely in the wrong direction.

"Okay then, be seeing you Glass Eye," I shot back cheerfully. "I doubt you will though." He screamed again and scrabbled for his gun, which I had. I'd forgotten about that, the other Erasers were standing up and glaring at me circling above them; they dusted off their sparkly coating and started reaching for their guns.

"And… that's my cue." I said to myself, pumping my wings harder and accelerating out of the hole in the ceiling. I hoped the glass hadn't hurt anyone, well besides from the Erasers of course. They looked cooler all shiny anyway.