The Angel Experience
Disclaimer: I own Kat and Feng Chi, nothing else. The Itex in Seattle probably doesn't exist in the original book, but to be safe, it doesn't belong to me either. All original credit goes to James Patterson.
Chapter One: A Day in the Life
Kat sat on the cold metal floor of her cage, hugging her knees as she looked with open hostility at her surroundings. Her cage was on a cart being wheeled by one the scientists toward another lab. White walls, white floors, white-garbed figures…nothing but white as she glanced around. The only things that weren't white were the iron bars of her cage, the stainless steel cart, and herself. She glanced down at her dirty grey sweatpants and the matching torn t-shirt. Her long wavy ginger hair was disheveled and dirty, like the rest of her appearance. Her long tail swished the floor of the cage, pale orange with black stripes, the colors of a Bengal tiger. Her ears, the same color as her tail and hair, complete with stripes, poked out of her untidy locks, drooping slightly. Her amber cat-like eyes swept idly around, trying unsuccessfully to find some glimmer of difference. It felt the same as it had for the past fourteen years of her life. There was never anything new in this hole.
It wasn't easy being a human-tigris hybrid…
"Tā mėn shì huaì reń!" Kat spat out to a short Chinese scientist, who was busy dabbing antiseptic on the hybrids bleeding arm. His name was Feng Chi, the only scientist Kat could tolerate. In fact, she loved Feng Chi like a father; he had taught her everything she knew, including Mandarin Chinese and Latin. He listened patiently to Kat's ranting.
They are evil people, she had said, and she was right. They had been deliberately made things harder for her today, and she wasn't going to stay quiet about it. He could sympathize, but he could not empathize. "Nĭ hăo ma?" he asked her. How are you?
"Wŏ hén shèng qī!" she quietly shrieked. I am very angry.
"Don't worry," said Feng Chi, switching to English and trying to pacify her, "one day you will escape, and then you can see the City." The City. It was known simply as that to Kat. She knew the name, but The City sounded so much more realistic.
"I hate these scientists," she whispered. She stopped at that; some things were better left unsaid. Then she hopped off the counter and walked over to her cage. Feng Chi wasn't supposed to let her out of the cage, but he always did. Before she climbed back inside, she back Feng Chi a brief soft hug. "Xiè xie laŏshí, Wŏ aì nĭ." Thank you teacher, I love you.
Then she climbed into her cage, quietly shutting the door behind her. Then she curled up and slipped into blissful unconsciousness as the cart rolled off toward the kennels. She tried to get as much sleep as she could; she knew that tomorrow would only be worse.
Everything was silent in the small South Dakota hotel room. The pale morning light filtered through the stiff curtains onto a small table. The table had two occupants, sitting opposite each other. One was a tall strong boy, perhaps fourteen or fifteen; he had long dark hair and olive skin. He was dressed entirely in black and had a slightly smug expression on his face, his arms folded across his chest. The other was a girl, most likely the same age, with long sandy-blond hair and bright brown eyes. She was turning a card over and over in her hand, a nine of diamonds. She heaved an inward sigh and lifted her hand up slightly above the table, an expression of concentration on her attractive features. She brought the nine of diamonds down, almost resting on the pile of other cards. The last card of the castle.
Suddenly, the door to the hotel room banged open to reveal three children, aproximately ages eleven, eight and six. The first, an energetic African-American girl, then a slightly chubby blond boy and a small innocent-looking girl, her blond curls bouncing. They all carried bags of groceries, and they proceeded to set them on the counter. The card castle had blown over, and lay scattered on the floor. The girl threw down the nine of diamonds and glared at the boy opposite her. Just don't say it, the expression seemed to say. He sent her a smug look and simply said in hushed tones, "Looks like I win." The girl rolled her eyes and walked over to help pack the groceries into backpacks.
"Angel, what did you guys get?" she asked, addressing the small blond girl.
Angel bounced over to her, "we got lots of canned stuff, like ravioli and peaches and stuff; then we got granola bars, gatorade...just stuff that travels easy and is high in carbs and sugar." The tall sandy-haired girl nodded approvingly.
"Hey Max," said the young boy, addressing the girl, "where's Ig? I haven't seen him all morning." Max did a quick scan of the room, affirming that the tall strawberry-blond blind boy was nowhere to be found.
"He's probably still sleeping Gazzy; he took Angel's watch last night since she was so tired. Angel sweetie, can you go check on him?" She cast a quick look at the bouncing six-year-old.
"Sure thing, Max." and then she was skipping off to the bedroom.
"Guess what Max," rushed the African-American girl.
Max took a deep breath and prepared herself for another long-winded monologue. "Yeah, Nudge?"
Sure enough, Nudge did not disappoint. "'Kay, so we were in the bread isle, right? And then out of nowhere, this guy bumps into me and drops his zucchini. And he was all, 'Whoa, sorry about that kid,' and I bent down to grab it for him, but so did he, and he bumped into he again..."Max could tell that this was going to go on for a while, and temporarily tuned out, still trying to look like she was paying attention; she didn't want to hurt Nudge's feelings. She tried to concentrate on where they were going to go next. Any input, Voice? She thought, mentally addressing the unpredictable pressence in her head. As usual, it was nowhere to be found when she wanted it. She tuned back to the Nudge channel for the time being.
"...so it turns out that he didn't like zucchini either! How weird is that?" Max tried to put on a look of mild surprise for Nudge's benefit. Over the crinkling of the grocery bags, they could now hear noises from the bedroom. It sounded suspiciously as if someone was jumping on the bed in tune to Iggy's annoyed exclamations of "A'right, I'm up, I'm up already!"
Angel skipped back into the room, followed by a disgruntled and sleepy Iggy, who was running a hand through his hair and groaning. "Wha' time is it?" he asked, his voice slurred by lack of sleep.
"'Bout eight o'clock," answered the Gasman. "Hey Max," he asked casually, "where are we headed next?"
Before Max could open her mouth, Angel had sprung in with, "Oh, can we go to Washington? Please, please, please please, please?" Max looked at her in surprise. "Um, why Washington, Angel? Did the whitecoats say anything about it?" Angel had undergone testing a short while back, and to the credit of her telepathic powers, had overheard quite a bit from the scientists there.
"No," she replied all wide-eyed innocence. "But it'd still be nice to go there."
"Why," put in Fang, who was hiding in the corner of the room, partially obscured by shadows. "What's with the sudden interest in Washington?"
"We could go to Seattle," put in Nudge excitedly, "it's a big city, so we'd blend in. No one would notice our wings or anything."
"And it's right on the water, easy for an emergency getaway," added Gazzy in what he hoped was a persuasive voice.
"And we could get a lot of info there," said Angel. As much as the three of them were trying to hide it, it was obvious that they were ganging up on the others. They probably wanted to try the food and shopping and everything. Max sighed and looked at Fang. He shrugged; your call, leader.
Max debated her options. They could go wherever the voice told her to take them, blindly following the precence of annoyance...Or, they could go to Seattle; enjoy themselves for a while, rest up, and fuel for a while...
"Alright guys," she agreed. "Seattle it is."
Authors Note: As usual, reviews and suggestions are appreciated. I apologize if any of the tone marks are off, but I'm still learning Mandarin. Nothing accidental is intended.