Chapter 15: The Newcomer
I woke up with a start in a pretty decent bed. I began to stretch out myself. I was a little sore but it was WAY better than what I felt ….
"What was up with that dream?" I said. That had to be the wackiest and scariest dream I ever had. Was that little girl really me? Was I that miserable on the inside?
As I sat up in my bed, my elbow banged against the table next to me. A piece of paper fell to the floor. My back screamed as I bent to pick up the paper.
It was a note.
Sorry I couldn't be there when you woke up. Had some business to take care of. Hope you feel better than hours before. (Man, what a mission. Right? Smiley face) If I'm not mistaken, there are some extra clothes picked out for you. A nurse will come to get you when you're needed.
See you later!
I placed the letter down. At least that answered one of my many questions. It seems that I'm in a hospital. I looked under the covers. Duh! Hospital gown! But the question is, where exactly?
I painstakingly got out of bed and stumbled to find the shower. My whole body was in pain. God! If I ever met that man again, I was going to give him a good taste of my wrath.
A white door on the right hand corner of the room. I was lucky enough for it to be the bathroom. Just before I entered the room, I saw a pile of clothes laid neatly on a chair next to the bed.
"Oh my god! Are you kidding me?!" I moaned and made another two trips across the room.
It seemed nice to get a hot modern shower for once in a long time. It has been so long that I almost forgot how to switch it on. I spent an half an hour just letting the water run down my body. I happily forgot everything I've been through so far. For once in a long time, I felt relaxed. I later had to force myself to get out of the shower before someone came knocking on my door, "Hey! Save some water for the fishes!"
A lady in a traditional maid's outfit was waiting in the room when I stepped out of the bathroom. Surprised, I jumped backwards and slipped on the wet floor.
"Oh I am so sorry." She said in a polish accent. "I didn't mean to scare you!"
"But you did." I mumbled, rubbing my aching butt. "Ever heard of knocking?"
"I did but you were in the shower."
"My apologies, madam." The maid bowed deeply.
I thanked my lucky stars that I clothes on or this would have been awkward.
"No problem." I said to her and went to my bed.
"I hope you found the clothes to your liking?" She said, still standing in the same spot.
"Yeah. " I was wearing skinny jeans and a sparkling loose tee. I was even given complementing Converse shoes. "Surprisingly, this is actually the style back in my…" I couldn't find the words.
"Primary Earth?" she excitedly finished for me.
"Never mind!" The polish woman took the towel from my hands. "I will inform Mr. Dimo that you are ready."
She left before I ask her anything. Dang, I could have found out where I was. Well, I guess I had to figure that out for myself.
I debated on whether to stay or to leave. If I leave, I could explore the place. Still, Ben and the nurse basically told me to stay till someone came to get me. Then again, when do I ever listen to people?
Knock Knock! A knuckle rapped on the door. Then a head popped through the crack.
"Hey Callie!" Ben's face had a welcoming smile on it. "How are you feeling?" He asked as he stepped inside.
"Better. At least you know how to knock." Ben gave a puzzled expression.
"Never mind. " I told him.
He was still wearing in the same outfit that he had on the last time I saw him. The only difference was that he had a few Band- Aids on his face and neck, and his robe looks more gothic. Or was it because he was not standing in the dark?
I asked him, "How about you? You have a lot of cuts on your face."
He placed his hand on one on his cheek. "Could be better. Still have some bruises, but I'll live."
I sighed, not wanting to think about the mission. "So, what now?" I asked instead.
Ben's grin came back. "Now all of your questions will be answered." There was anticipation in his voice.
"It's about time!" I said in a snobby manner, jokingly.
Ben laughed. "You look nice today." he complimented.
I glimpsed down. "Yeah, what is up with that? How do you guys know about the latest style back in my… uh… Primary Earth?"
Ben glanced at a huge device on his wrist. "We should go but I'll tell you on the way." His hand politely gestured out the open door.
I nodded and stepped out of my room into a pure white hallway. It almost looked like a stereotypical emergency hospital hallway. I was looking left when Ben quickly steered to the right. He was walking at a fast pace. Were we in a hurry?
"Hey!" I called and raced after him.
"Who told you about Primary Earth?" he asked when I had finally caught up with him.
"The maid who came in."
"No reason. Just curious, that's all. Anyway, to answer your first question, the head secretary, Ms. Bullings, loves the newest fashions of every world. When she took one look at you, she insisted that you wear…" he pointed at my clothes. "that."
"Oh." I gasped. Ben took a sharp left.
"Does she do that to everyone she meets?" I asked.
Ben thought for a moment. "Sort of. It was mainly just you. Actually, this was the first time she picked out outfits for newcomers in a long time." He emphasized the on "long time" part.
"Why me? What's so special about me?"
"Because you're essential Callie! Can't you see that?" Ben's expression had more concern in it than it did a moment ago. What was up with that? I decided not to press the issue further.
We passed a group of people with lab coats. They were talking when one of them glanced at me and motioned to the others. They all began to whisper quietly and urgently. I turned away.
"So, what am I essential for?"
"You'll find out." Ben said.
We passed by more people. Some of them just ignored us or had their faces buried in a file, too busy to notice. On the other hand, most of them stared, particularly at me. I gave a big sigh. This can't be good.
Ben stopped abruptly, making me bump into him. "We're here." He said.
We were standing in front of iron double doors with two guards on each side. The guards looked like they meant business with their three foot guns and SWAT appearance. They were heavy built and their navy blue caps just amplified their menace.
Although they weren't the first guards I saw this far. I saw a couple more as Ben and I were walking here. They were standing guard in front of various doors like here but this door had twice more. Meaning, whatever was behind those doors, it was seriously important.
I glanced around me. With the all white hallways, the complicated- looking machines we passed by occasionally, the preoccupied people in lab coats, and the security guards with big guns, this place resembled more to a top secret lab than a hospital.
"Hey Ben!" one guard greeted in a full American accent. He raised a black gloved hand. "What's up, son?"
"Hey, John." Ben replied cheerfully. They both did a quick handshake. He shrugged. "Nothing much."
"Who's your friend?" another accused. He had a stereotypical Italian mobster accent, as if he was taken from the streets of New Jersey. The other three began to snicker loudly.
Ben turned to me. "Who? Callie? No, she from Earth Prime. Ewan wants to see her."
The guards' eyes light up when they hear the name "Ewan." They glanced at each other, somewhat impressed.
John leaned closer to me. "Earth Prime, Wizard Clarence, Special access? You are one important girl, Callie."
"So they me." I mumbled taking a glance at Ben.
John stared down at me for a long time. His face was deadly stern and I was almost afraid he was going to attack me. Forget about the gun, one hit and I will be spending the next five minutes counting the number of stars that would be dancing around my head. I could feel his eyes piercing down on me from even though his cap hid them. I knew he was eyeing me in order to tell why I was so important and among other unknown things so I just stared right back at him.
"Give a rest, will you?" said the farthest one. This one seemed like the oldest one with hints of gray hair mixed with his brown hair. He also had a heavy Irish accent. "You are scaring the poor lass."
John leaned backwards and laughed. "Sorry, kid." He rubbed my hair. "Got carried away."
I patted my hair quickly back into its place. What was I, a little boy?
"Can we pass?" I insisted. I was beginning to get tired of this.
"Sure you can!" the Irish man said. He turned and revealed a metal panel jutting out of the wall. Above that was a screen and an eye laser.
"Is that an eye and fingerprint recognition system?" I asked out loud.
The Italian guard whistled. "Wow! You've only been here for a day and already know our security system! Smart, assertive, and hot." He winked at Ben. "You picked a keeper, Ben!"
"What?" both Ben and I exclaimed unanimously.
"She's just a friend." Ben said, completely embarrassed.
"Not really a friend either! We just met hours ago!" I added.
The guards rolled their eyes and nodded.
"Yeah. Yeah. Whatever floats ya' boat." said the Italian. "Yo, John! Let these "kids" through!"
John walked to security device. He leaning into the screen and placed a hand on the plate below, keeping his right eye wide open.
The system had a soothing lady's voice. "John W'las." It said. "Security guard." An holographic ID of John appeared with other information. "Access granted. You may proceed." The doors slowly opened.
"In you two go!" said John.
"Thanks!" Ben said, walking in with me.
"Nice meeting you!" I hollered to them.
"You too Callie!" John said, waving.
"Hey Ben!" the Italian man stepped in front of the opening. "Got your ID?"
Ben smiled and raised a plastic card. "Always do! See ya'!"
The other three guards waved goodbye as the doors closed as slowly as it opened.
We approached another set of double doors with the same system on the right wall. These doors looked newer, though.
"They were interesting." I said to Ben after he got his hand and eye scanned.
"Sorry 'bout that. They are always bugging me about getting a girlfriend."
"Why don't you?"
Ben shrugged. The doors opened a bit quicker than the last ones. "I don't know. I never had the time.
I was halfway through the doors when I saw them closing in fast from the corners of my eyes. Ben yanked me through.
"What the heck!" I stared in shocked when the doors closed with a bang. "They almost crushed me!"
Ben looked at me apologetically. "Sorry. Should have warned you. Those were new doors that are supposed to prevent people from coming in from behind. The first doors are going to be replaced next week." He patted my back. "Don't worry though. The next ones are regular."
Ben was right. The last sets of doors were normal besides the number pad on them.
When we stepping through the final secured doors, we were instantly greeted by a young man who came to our left.
"Ben, my man! What's cookin'?" He wore polo shirt, black pants, and had a good tan and shortly spiked hair. This one was different from the other people I had encountered. I could guess from his tan, figure, and pearly white smile that he was the ideal Abercrombie and Fitch type. He gave Ben a tight bear hug.
Ben let go of him. "Nothing much. Just came back from a mission."
The guy nodded. "I heard about that. Nice save, dude!" He finally took notice of me. "Who's the chick?"
Chick? What was I, a California blonde?
Ben introduced us. "Jeff, this is Callie. Callie, this is Jeff."
I smiled and shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, Jeff."
I immediately regretted offering the gesture because my hand became toothpaste to his grip. I winced at his strong grip. Either he works out a lot or has a lot of energy. Judging by his medium frame, I was guessing the latter.
"So you're the Callie Pellegrino? I'm one of the mission analysts here at Cavendish HQ. I analyze all the missions and yours" he looked at Ben. "was a lucky one. You're lucky you got out of there with only minimal damages."
I smiled uncertainly. "Yeah…. Can I have my hand back?" Jeff slowly looked down. Ben giggled in the background. I shot him a look. He was so not enjoying this!
"Sorry." Jeff said, letting go of my crushed fingers.
"It's alright. Really." I replied. My finger felt like pins and needles as the circulation came back to them.
Jeff glanced quickly at his wristwatch. "Well, I better be heading off now. Ben, see me later." Jeff rushed passed us with an embarrassed face.
"Wait, Jeff!" Ben called after him. "Where's Dimo?"
The surfer pointed ahead of us at glass doors. "Down in Control Center." A few moments later, I heard a set of elevator doors closed with a DING!
The Control Center certainly lived up to its name. One look at the row upon row of modules and desks ran down the steps of a room shaped like a mega amphitheatre. (If you don't know what that is, try imagining an enormous college classroom.)
The place was especially busy like a control center too. Some were in lab coats, others similar polo shirt and dress pant attire as Jeff had. They were reading stacks of papers, staring at their computer monitors, talking to each other, and just moving. The scene reminded me of the headquarters in the movie "Get Smart."
The most amazing part of the whole room was the front of the room. There sat a huge screen, like the one you see in the NASA control center in movies. However, this one had many other mini screens protruding out of it in holograms. Maps, images, charts, and all sorts of numbers and words played across them. A big chunk of the population was standing in front of it with special metallic black glasses on, taking notes.
"Wow!" I spluttered. I could barely get the words out of my mouth because I was so awestruck.
"There he is!" Ben exclaimed. He'd been searching for someone in the crowds towards the big screen up in the front. He pointed out and motioned me to follow him down the steps.
Ben must be popular among the girls here because a considerable amount of girls approached him while we made our way to the front. He received everything from hugs, candies, to even kisses. I rolled my eyes. Who would have known that he was such a player?
We were almost at our destination when I saw a huge globe floating in the air about 4 feet high. A few more men in lab coats were writing in their clipboards. A familiar name caught my eye.
"Hey Ben!" I tapped his shoulder. "Does that the map say Jurassic Park on it-"
"Dimo!" Ben stopped beside a large man who wore the same gothic black robe as Ben. He was partly bald, with dark brown hair on either side of his head. He was studying a map on one of the mini screens with the special glasses. As he was thinking, he tapped his fingers on the side of his faced while his arms were crossed across his chest. He was so drawn into his thoughts that he paid no attention to Ben. It scared me of how much he reminded me of Mr. Bogerson.
"So you are back." Dimo finally said, continuing to watch the map. He had a monotone voice that matched his face expression. It was pale and blank; seemed to match his personality.
Ben's smile faded away quickly. "Yes sir." He said.
"Last time I checked, you came back a while ago." Dimo's face stayed the same but you can tell he was agitated.
"I had to get medical attention."
Dimo turned to Ben at "medical attention." He lifted his glasses from his eyes and scanned Ben from top to bottom. His eyes were the same color as his hair and mustache. They only made him look more evil and intimidating as Nicholi. My heart stopped for a beat when I saw them land on me.
"Catherine Pellegrino." Dimo extended his hand. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person." I took his hand and shook it. Like Jeff, Dimo crushed my hand like crackers. I tried to keep my face straight. What was up with men and strong handshakes?!
"Dimo is the head of operations here in HQ." Ben piped up.
Dimo glared at him. "Couldn't I have told her that?" Ben looked away apologetically.
"OH MY LORD? ! IS IT JUDGEMENT DAY ALREADY? I SEE AN ANGEL IN OUR MIDST!" Everyone spun around to right to see a lady in high heels click-clack her way over to us.
Ben elbowed me. "That would be Ms. Bullings." he muttered.
"I may look old," Ms. Bullings said with a manicured hand on her hip. "but I have the hearing of a deer. I don't think I like that tone of voice young man."
Ms. Bullings seemed to be in her mid-thirties but acted like she was in her mid-forties. She wore clothes too tight for her body and had wild curly red hair flowing down her shoulders. The worst part of her outfit is the tight green shirt that showed a little too much cleavage. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that this was the same lady who picked out my awesome wardrobe.
The weird woman turned to me. "You look absolutely amazing! Darling, you could be Selena Gomez's twin! When I first took one look at your adorable little face…" she reached out and pinched my cheeks. "I knew that this outfit would be the perfect one for you!"
Was this lady some distant relative of Sharon or something because she practically did the same to me at the Ancestral Extravaganza?
Dimo opened his mouth to speak but no words would come out. He did appear to be annoyed, embarrassed, and unsure of what to do.
"Uhh…. Ms. Bullings?" Dimo started.
Ms. Bullings smiled sweetly at the head of operations. "Yes Dimo, sweetheart?"
Dimo cleared his throat loudly. "Why are you here?" He tried his hardest to make the sentence come out as nice as possible but it still sounded sassy.
"I just wanted to see the girl." She said quietly.
"Well, you can see her later can't you?" he said. Still sassy.
Ms. Bulling's face went pink. Anger or sadness? No matter what it was, the change of emotion made Dimo reconsider is question.
He attempted to smile. "Why don't you go and find new outfits for Catherine?"
"Callie." I corrected.
"Callie?" He corrected.
Her face lit up like Christmas lights. "Yes! Don't worry my dear." she placed a hand on my shoulder. "while you're with Mr. Grumpy here, I'll make sure you have the best clothes. You'll be the hottest girl of the whole block!"
"Don't you have paperwork?" Ben asked Ms. Bullings.
She waved away the idea of responsibility. "Work. Smurk. I can always do that later. I have more important things to do!" With that, she hurried away, muttering something about skinny jeans.
Ben shook his head. "Some secretary! Seriously Dimo. I don't understand why you pick her-" Dimo gave him the evil eye. "But what do I know? I'm just a kid!" He focused his attention to a spot somewhere else.
The boss shared his glare with the rest of the crowd who was watching the whole drama. "And what are YOU ALL staring at?!" he yelled. "Get the Cavendish Mirror ready! We have kept Ewan waiting too long!"
The workers jumped back into their jobs without another word.
"Sir!" someone at a big computer waved him to them.
"Excuse me." Dimo nodded to us and walked off.
Ben sucked in air. He did have an interesting boss.
I turned to Ben. "What kind of nickname is "wizard?" I mean, isn't that kind of dorky?"
Ben let out a laugh. "I wouldn't say that in front of him in a few minutes." Ben looked at me to tell me something else but only laughed harder.
"What is so funny?" I asked him before I had processed his first sentence. "Wait. Hold on! I am meeting him now?"
Ben nodded. "Yeah. Didn't I already tell you that?" he asked.
"No." I told him. "You just said, "All your questions will be answered. Blah, blah, blah, blah-"
"Well I'm glad you pay attention to what I say." Ben muttered.
"Ben!" Dimo yelled from the big computer. "Get her into the Mirror Room! We are ready to go!"
Ben nodded and took my arm. "Let's go." Once again, I had to follow Ben into the unknown.
"Is this another pointless greeting or does this actually have a meaning to-"
"Yes!" Ben walked faster, dragging me behind him. "Come on! We do not have a lot of time. The quicker we can get a hold of him, the longer we can talk to Ewan."
We stopped at a wall with an observation window built into it. The room on the other side was bare white. There was nothing on the walls; not even a speck. However, there was only one object in the entire room. It must be the mirror everyone was talking about. It was huge with wires connected to it as it stood in the center of the room. The strange part about the so called "mirror" was that the surface was pitch black. That couldn't be the reflection because the walls were white. I stared at it as Ben helped me into a jacket.
The jacket was pure white also. It looked light but I found it extremely heavy for a coat. The weight was more than a winter coat! You could even wear this in Antarctica and still be sweating.
"What's up with the jacket?" I asked Ben who was zipping my coat.
"We give these to new comers. It will protect you from any harmful magic or energy spikes."
He began to sooth the wrinkles down my arms. He looked back at me because I was silent. "Accidents in the past." he said in a matter-of- fact tone.
"It's great to know that you guys have the slightest clue of what you're doing." I said sarcastically.
Ben pretended to laugh. "Ha! So funny-"
He nodded to a group of bulky and armed guards behind him. These seemed to be more serious and dark than the last ones we met. I realized that they were standing on either side of another door. One of the started for the handle—
"Wait!" Another person shouted. What is up with everyone shouting and screaming? Was it is usually like this?
Ben looked at the person who called out to him. "What is it Nick?"
You would expect someone who is named "Nick" would at least be a jock or handsome; at least in my opinion. This "Nick" was nothing of the sort. In fact, he was on the opposite end of the scale. He was the comic geek: black square glasses, curly reddish hair, and a spotless lab coat with three different color pens in the chest pocket along with a crisp sharpened pencil. The nerd was holding a small blue box in his hand.
I recognized the box. "Are those contacts?"
Nick bobbed his head excitedly. "Yes! They are my newest invention, actually they are modifications off the ones in Torchwood but they have better features."
He opened the container and inside were not only contacts but transparent ear phones too. He delicately lifted one out. "This piece will record everything you say and acts like a blue tooth. The contacts will let us see what you see and we can also text you. But for now we will stick to the listening part." Nick gave me the devices and I wore them.
"Great!" Ben said. He pushed me towards the now open door. "Good luck!"
I yelped as I was shoved gently into the room. The coldness struck me by surprise.
"It's okay Callie. This is your first time so you might feel queasy."
I asked Ben, "First time for what-" but it was too late. He had already closed the door on me.
Beeps of an electronic keypad echoed the wintry room. Even thought the sound was supposed to give me a sense of security, it gave me a chilling sense of isolation. I knew that at least six guards were standing at the door, and if something were to happen, they would be in here in the matter of second. Nevertheless, I still felt like I was a hundreds of miles away. How much farther away from home could I feel?
I sucked in my breath. I came this far, so I wasn't about to leave just because I was scared. I was going to get my answers. No matter what it takes!