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Imaginary Fiend Chapter 1: Betrayed

July 12, 2016

Disclaimer:  The plot, setting, and all related original characters, places, terms, and names therein © Michael Robertson May 31 2016

 

Author’s notes:  Sorry for the delay, I’ve had things to deal with.  I haven’t been able to write at all lately.  I’ve had this drafted for a while, but couldn’t find the time to finish editing.  Hopefully things will progress a little more smoothly in future.

 

Chapter I – Betrayed

 

XX

 

 

The man stumbled haphazardly down the dimly lit corridor.  It was difficult to see.  The main lights were off, and most of the doors were locked.  The facility was scarcely populated this late.  There were guards posted and a few doctors on hand, but most of the personnel were at home, with their families.

Ollie winced at the thought, barely holding back a sob.  They were gone.  His wife, his child, even Rose.  They were all gone, taken away from him, by that bastard.

He’d lost everything!

His hands were clenched into fists so tight his fingertips were threatening to tear open the soft flesh of his palms.

Let them, what did it matter?

The man’s dazed, swollen eyes peeked out from under his messy bangs.  His glasses were askew.  Clothes were ruffled, and face unshaven.  He was drunk, but who the hell cared?  Why should he bother to present himself?  What did it matter now?  He hadn’t shown himself at his workstation for almost a week.  He was sick of torturing these unfortunate, forsaken souls.  He wouldn’t do it anymore, he couldn’t.  He was through.

Not that it made a difference of course.  They’d just give the job to somebody else.

Ollie couldn’t even leave the facility.  He was as much a prisoner as any of the subjects.  Should he try to break out, they would shoot him on sight.  The guards, they were everywhere.  If he tried to leave, he was dead.  If he approached Rose, he was dead.  If he moved against Rexl, he was dead.  Whatever he did, he was dead.

But so what?

Fuck it, he was just waiting to die at this point, so why postpone the inevitable?  Why not get it over with?  And if he took that sadistic son of a bitch with him, all the better…

 

Eight Years Later

 

Ollie Poer sat at the desk in his office, resting his bespectacled face in his hands.

“Damn…” he cursed.

“Daddy?” asked the girl sitting beside him.

Ollie turned to her, taking her in.  Short, unkempt, auburn hair sat upon her head, messy bangs framing her face.  He’d offered to tidy the muddle for her, keep the hair out of her blue eyes, but the young girl insisted she liked it the way it was.

 

The man let out a grunt as he took another kick to the gut.  The man holding him from behind had restricted his movements perfectly, not that the man would have stood a chance in his intoxicated state, outnumbered by these guards as he was.  Hell, even sober, his weedy body was no match for them.

“Don’t kill him,” the bastard ordered.  “In there, let the trash rot.”  Rexl entered a code into a nearby wall-mounted console, opening the door to one of the cells.

The guard dragged Ollie to the door and tossed him inside, leaving him in a heap on the floor.

“Because you’re my brother,” Rexl spoke, standing over him, “I’m going to give you one more chance.  Think it over while you get sober.  For god’s sake, clean yourself up and fall in line, and we can pretend this unfortunate incident never happened.  Otherwise, I really will leave you in here to rot.”

The door closed, leaving the younger brother in darkness.

 

Ollie lay on his back.  He’d crawled his way from the door and into the centre of the room.  There was a bed.  He managed to pull his stiff, sore body up and relaxed onto the mattress.  It was hardly comfortable, but still better than the floor.  He’d been alone in the dark room for what seemed like hours.  At least, he’d thought he was alone.

Rexl had taken everything from him.  His family, his future, his freedom, even the death he so desired.  What was worse; his only daughter was now at the sick bastard’s mercy.  Would she be made to suffer because of this?  Would he take this foiled rebellion out on her?

The man’s eyes closed so tightly that it hurt.  Teeth grinding, he felt the warmth leak from between his eyelids.  What was the use in trying to hold back the tears now?  “Dammit…”

“Don’t be sad, Daddy.”

Ollie bolted upright.  “Who… who’s there?”  In the darkness, he could just see her.  “Maybelle?  Is that… is that you?”  Slowly, she crawled closer to him.  She climbed onto the bed, sitting beside him, peering up at him, uncomfortably close, with wide, innocent eyes.  No, this was not Ollie’s little girl.  Her short hair stuck out at odd ends, her brown eyes almost looked red in the dim room.  Brown eyes… no, this one’s eyes were always blue.  What was going on?

“Don’t worry about her.  It’s okay.”

“What?”

“She may be gone, but she didn’t suffer.  She didn’t feel any pain.”

Ollie swallowed, feeling as though he had gravel in his throat.  “What do you mean?”

“When she died.”

Ollie froze, staring into her eyes.  He couldn’t breathe.  This girl… what did she know?

“When who died?”

The girl gave a tiny giggle.  “Why, your wife, of course.  She’s at peace, you don’t have to worry about her.”

The girl continued to beam up at him, staring with those welcoming eyes.  She was cute, he had to admit that, but that eerie grin… and what was she saying?  Ollie began to feel anxious.  It trickled down his back, coming to rest in his stomach; a cold, sickly feeling.  All the same, there was something about this girl.  Just by looking into her eyes, he felt he could trust her.  He wanted to trust her.  He needed her comfort, her support.  Her voice, and those eyes.  He was entirely captivated by this strange, little girl.  But it was impossible.  How could she know these things?  Who had told her?

“How… how do you know all this?  Who told you?”

“Nobody.”  The girl’s smile faltered.  She looked downcast for a moment before she spoke.  “Nobody comes to see me anymore.  I’ve had nobody to talk to, until you came.  Nobody told me, I just know.  I can feel it.  They didn’t make her suffer.”

“You just know?”  The girl nodded.  “What else do you know?”

“I know that you’re sad.  You’re grieving for your lost family.  He took them away from you.  He killed them, but if you don’t pull yourself together, he’ll kill you too.  You can’t give up, you’re the only hope any of us have, and if you don’t play his game, he’ll take you away from us.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have to move on.  You have a new family now, and you have to look after us.”

“You mean…”

“Me, and big sister too.”

“Big sister?”

The girl nodded once more, inching closer, dropping her voice.  “The one you call Rose.”

“Rose…  No, she doesn’t want me anymore.”

The girl rested her head against the man’s chest.  “She made a mistake.  She needs you, we all do.  Some of us just don’t know it yet.”

“I…”  The man looked away.  “Maybelle…”

“You can’t help her now, no one can.  But don’t worry, she’s okay.  He won’t kill her.  If she’s gone, he won’t have anything to control you with.”

“But she’s still been taken from me.  Even if you’re right, and I hope you are, but… it feels as though she’s already dead.”  Maybelle… the day she was born was among the happiest of Ollie’s life.  His family was the best thing that had ever happened to him.  He knew he didn’t deserve them, either of them.

He didn’t appreciate them enough, hell, he took them for granted.  He hadn’t meant to, but his career had taken the front seat in his life. It just kind of happened.  He’d just wanted to get things in order, get everything ready.  He had plans.  Their future would be set, it would be golden.  But now…

Now they had no future.  Now they had nothing.  “Now… I have nothing.”  If he could go back and do it again… things would be different.

“You just want a second chance, huh?”

This girl understood perfectly.  It was as though she could tell what he was thinking.  “I’d give anything to see them again, to apologise.  I just… I wish things could have been different.”

“They’d have forgiven you, you know.  For whatever it’s worth.”

“I’m not sure I deserve their forgiveness.  Because of me…”

“They don’t think that.  They didn’t hold any resentment, they loved you.”

“You think so?”

The girl embraced him, curling into his body.  “I know what it’s like to be alone.  To be neglected.  To be unloved.  It’s horrible, I hate it.  Your wife, your child, they had no idea what it’s like.  They were lucky.  Their Daddy was a kind one… I wish mine were like that… like you.  They knew that you loved them, in your own way.  Nothing can replace them in your heart… but if it helps at all… you can be my daddy.”

Ollie almost choked on that suggestion.  “What?!”

“You said you’d do anything for a second chance.  I know it’s not the same, but you need a reason to keep going, don’t you?  Someone to look after?”  Ollie had to admit it.  It was true, or at least, it felt right.  “And I need someone to care for me, to love me… to protect me.”

“What about Rexl—your real father?”

“He doesn’t want me, he never did.”  The girl sat up, peering into Ollie’s eyes.  “He already gave me to you, didn’t he?”

There was no point in lying.  Somehow, the girl already knew the truth.  “Yes.”

“Deep down, we both want the same thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Family.”

“I see.”  Ollie raised a hand to the girl’s head, gently pulling her into a hug.

“I can be what you want… what you need, but you have to do the same for me.

The girl was right.  Deep down, he knew it.  He did need her.  He needed someone to care for, someone to live for.  She would be his reason to keep going, and he would do everything in his power to keep her from harm.  “I’ll do whatever it takes.  I won’t fail again, I promise you.  I’ll protect you.  I’ll keep you safe, from everything.

The girl curled into the man’s body, nuzzling in beside him as she drifted closer to sleep.  As her eyes closed, her lip curled into a smile.  “I know you will,” she replied in her sweet, innocent voice.

“Goodnight Daddy.  I love you.”

The man held her tightly to his chest.  He couldn’t help himself.  Eyes closed, welled with fresh tears once more.  They were the words he would never hear from her, never speak to her.  Maybelle, and his precious wife who had given her life to protect their daughter, because he hadn’t been there to do it.  He wasn’t there.  He was never there, and now they were gone.  Neither of them would utter those words to him again, and it was entirely his fault.  He had failed them.

“It’s okay if you want to cry Daddy, I won’t tell anyone.”

Ollie hugged the girl as tightly as he dared.  The tears flowed freely.  This girl wasn’t his.  Not really, but she was the closest he was ever likely to get.  She was the closest thing he now had to a daughter, the only family he had.  It was the same for her.

He felt her return the hug, briefly squeezing him, before relinquishing herself to the sound slumber that hovered above her.  “I love you, Daddy,” she drawled, drowsiness dripping from her sleepy tone.

Ollie felt her tiny body relax into him. Despite himself, despite his loss, despite everything, he uttered the words.  He couldn’t help it.  They just came out.

“I love you too.”

 

X

 

It had taken a while, but eventually Ollie had been granted permission to take the girl out of her cell.  She still had to return for the experiments, and she slept alone in that cold, dark dungeon, but at least Ollie was permitted to clothe her and keep her with him.  She needed that.  She needed somebody to look out for her, to care for her, and God knew her real father wasn’t going to do it.  It was far from ideal, but at least she hadn’t been forced to whittle away her life, her sanity in solitary confinement.  Far less could be said about Ollie’s biological daughter.  And the same went for his first charge.  He wondered how Rose was doing under that mad sadist’s care.  He hadn’t seen her in years.  Had she ever been let out of that room?  Had she even been out of her restraints?

Ollie wondered if she’d even remember him.  She’d only been five when he’d placed her in this hell, under his brother’s orders.

Ollie’s teeth grit, his fists clenched, his entire body tensed and shook at the thought.  She was a couple of years older than the girl staring up at him from the second chair he’d had brought into his office.

Damn, Rose must have been twelve, even thirteen by now.  How much had she changed?  Was she even human at this point, or had the scientists evolved her?  Had they succeeded in turning her into something else?  Would she be as psychologically grounded as she would have been under his care?

Ollie doubted it.  How long did that bitch take to break the poor child in?  Was her mind broken completely?  Was she still in there, or was her body just an empty husk, an empty shell?  Without him to stop them, the scientists would certainly have their way.  Had their experiments killed her yet, or had they just left her brain-dead?

“Shit…” how could he have let this go on?  He’d always intended to help her; secretly, if he had to.  Yet to this day, he’d done nothing.

For eight years, he’d done nothing.  He was too afraid, too cautious, too concerned about the safety of his own child, but he couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.  Not anymore.  Not with the information on which he was currently sitting.

He hadn’t forgotten about Rose, not entirely.  He’d been checking into her background, finding out where she’d come from, who she was, why she’d been abandoned, how his brother had known just where and when to send Ollie to retrieve her.

The answers all added up.  They all made sense, though he wished to god that they didn’t.  Ollie had prayed and hoped beyond hope that his theory was wrong, that the scenario in his head stemmed from the kind of perverted fancies he was rumoured to harbour.

Unfortunately, as was so often the case, the truth was more sobering, more horrifying, more disturbing than anything the younger Poer brother could have dreamed up.

He’d tracked down Project Rose’s mother, met her family, and she’d confirmed his suspicions, his fears.  All of them.

In the end, Ollie supposed he shouldn’t be so shocked.  Why had it come as such a surprise?  It all made so much sense now.  All his talk of legacy, placing the child of his second marriage in Ollie’s care, rather than one of the more radical scientists who would likely yield better results.  She was to be his backup in case something went wrong, his second chance.  After all, why should it faze Rexl to use his second child as Project Rose’s understudy, when the leading role was being played by his first?

Of course, Rexl still waved Ollie’s daughter over him as a threat, should he act on any of his suspicions, but from what he’d seen of her condition… it wasn’t as though she had much more to lose.

Hypermania, depression, psychosis, violent mood swings, and heightened appetites of all kinds…and that wasn’t the worst of it.  His bastard brother hadn’t bothered to tell him of course, Ollie had had to discover it for himself.

His daughter, his own flesh and blood, had been on suicide watch.  Nobody could tell him when or how, but during one of the teen’s low moments, she’d begun to self-harm.  Hell, she’d gone further than that.  Intentional or not, the girl had almost died.

That unfortunate child was out of his reach, sad as it was to admit.  He could do nothing to help her, at least for the moment, but he could help Rose.  He could take her home, put her back with her family, where she’d be safe.

Eight years ago, Rose had begged him to release her, to sneak her out, to turn a blind eye and let her escape.  Perhaps now he could actually help her.  Maybe he could break her out, and with his help, she might actually get somewhere.  She might actually find her way home, reunited with her mother at long last, where she belonged, where she always should have been.

Ollie could only hope that it wasn’t too late.

“Daddy?” the girl asked once again, patiently and gently waking him from his reverie.  “You were thinking about her again, weren’t you?”

“Who?”

“Big Sis, of course.  Why don’t you just go and talk to her?”

“I don’t think she wants to see me… or maybe I’m just too afraid to go and see her.”

“Sis isn’t scary, I’ll show you.”  Ollie could only beam down at her uncompromising optimism.  How had such a beautiful flower managed to bloom in this concrete junkyard of a prison?”

Ollie made his way down the hallway, hand in hand with the brunette as he allowed her to drag him alongside her.  Truth be told, it hadn’t taken much convincing, Megan Poer tended to have a talent for twisting Ollie’s arm.  She could generally get whatever she wanted out of him.  Thankfully, the things she wanted weren’t generally too far out of reach.

Tiny trinkets, small comforts, simple clothes to cover and warm her body, and to be beside him of course.  Those were her only desires, aside from the yearning to help anyone she perceived to be in trouble, anyone she suspected to have a problem, or to be suffering.  And she was pretty good at sniffing them out.  Ollie had never known anyone so empathetic.

So naturally, Megan had wanted to help unburden Ollie of his worries about Rose.  She knew just what he was thinking, just like always.  She could read him like a book.

Megan just wanted to help.  She was so innocent, but she was also naïve.  Ollie didn’t want to disappoint her, so he went along with it.  He would accompany her to visit Rose as she so often did.  It was one of the small freedoms he’d won for her, one of his small victories.  He would see Rose.  He would try to talk to her, but after all this time, how would it go?

Would she recognise him?  Would she want to see him?  Would it really go as smoothly as Megan seemed to assume, or was it simply blind hope?  No, it was doomed.  It wouldn’t be as easy as the girl thought, it couldn’t.  At least, Ollie didn’t think so. The man had his doubts.

Still… he had to start somewhere, and he supposed it was worth a shot.  Things were so bad right now, there was nothing he could do that would really hurt matters.  Things were so low that they could only go up, or so he thought.

Ollie wondered whether that was a good or a bad thing.

They passed a window, and the man froze stiff at what he saw.

Not noticing, Megan continued on, until her grasp of his hand caused her to come to an abrupt halt as well, as though she were walking an uncooperative dog who had just found the perfect driveway in which to do his business.

The girl looked back at him, impatience flashing upon her placid face as she waited for him to re-join her.  She tugged at his hand, but he seemed not to notice.

Megan moved closer to him and tried to look through the window to see what was so fascinating, but she was too short to see anything.  “What’s wrong,” she asked him, looking up with large, inquisitive, eyes.  “Something going on in there?”

Ollie looked down at her.  Grasping her by the shoulders, he gently guided her to the side, pushing her away.

“I’m sorry Megan, wait here for me.  I need to take care of something.”

“But I—”

Ollie shook his head.  I need to help her.”

“It’s Maybelle, isn’t it?”

Ollie’s eyes widened.  “How did you guess that?”

“I didn’t guess, it was obvious.  Don’t move the rocks.  You won’t like what you uncover.”

“I have to do this.  Stay out here.”

“But…”

“I mean it,” Ollie told her sternly.  “Whatever happens, stay out here.  I have to do this.  I have to help her.”

“You can’t.”

“I have to try.”

With that, the man turned his back on the girl and proceeded into the chamber.

“But…” the girl whimpered, her eyebrows bunching as he walked away from her, out of her sight, leaving her behind.  Wide eyes showed her evident feelings of hurt, of betrayal, and of abandonment.  She shook her head as her eyes shut tight.  “You were supposed to be my daddy now.”

 

Alone in the corridor, the man felt his body tense as his resolve hardened.  His fists clenched, his teeth ground, his eyes hardened, his face formed a frown.

What he had seen from the window, what he was seeing now.  The girl didn’t appear to be in any danger.  She wasn’t being threatened or forced against her will.  In fact, she rather appeared to be enjoying herself… but that just made it all the worse.  This couldn’t continue.

The girl was nude, her back to him, kneeling on the concrete floor in front of that trash, that… he looked like a guard.  He was a security guard, he was here to protect everyone’s wellbeing, and yet he was condoning… no, he was participating.  He was involved in… in this!  And people gave Ollie strange looks, all the while they were abusing the girls in their care.  Some of these specimens weren’t even human anymore, they’d become feral, non-sentient, but the guards didn’t care. For better or worse, they didn’t discriminate.  It made no difference.  They would resort to taking advantage of one who was practically an animal?  And what about Rexl?  Where was he in all of this?  Did he know this was going on?  Did he allow it?  Did he… No.  Ollie’s face paled.  It hardly seemed possible.  Not even Rexl would go that far.  He couldn’t possibly have condoned this, let alone be behind it… could he?

It didn’t matter.  There she was, his own daughter, his own flesh and blood.  Ollie’s eyes were fixated on her.  Her petite frame, her pale skin, the golden hair cascading down her back in ringlets.

The guard had his back to the wall.  His eyes were closed, a smug look plastered upon his face.  His ape-like hands were at the back of the girl’s head, guiding it as it bobbed backward and forward, forcing himself inside her, into her mouth.

All the while, the girl mewed, her arms around the guard’s waist, hands grasping at his behind, through the fabric of his trousers.

It was a sickening sight to behold.  Ollie didn’t want to look.  Part of him just wanted to turn away, go back the way he’d come, but how could he?  She was right there, before him, exploited, abused; and the worst part was, she didn’t even realize it.  Judging from appearances, she actually seemed to be enjoying the treatment.  From the sight of her enthusiastic movements, she seemed to be Just as into this as the guard that was abusing her.  Didn’t she even know she was being raped?

Ollie grit his teeth.  Dammit, the girl was only fourteen.  She shouldn’t have been in this position, she should have been at school, or in town, or out with her friends; not in this dungeon, being used like some toy to pleasure the security staff.

Had things really degraded this far in the last eight years?  Was their organisation truly this depraved?  And Ollie hadn’t even noticed.  He’d been oblivious, too busy wallowing in his own misery with his eyes shut tight for so long that he’d allowed this travesty to unfold.

There was no way this could continue.  No way in hell.

As Ollie approached, he noticed the two of them picking up their pace.  The man tightened his grip on the girl’s head.  His open palms became closed.  He grabbed bunches, fistfuls of her golden hair, grasping it tightly, pulling, tugging at the roots, at the base of her head.  Ollie could hear her as she swallowed him, as she gagged on his length, as he pushed past the entrance of her throat.

The man was fast, violent, merciless.  He pounded her face with no regard, bringing her lips flush as she crashed against him again and again.  He was forcing himself down her throat, making her take him all the way, and she was in turn swallowing him like a sword, all the way to the hilt.

As their movements increased in speed and desperation, so too did Ollie’s.  He broke into a run.  He had to reach them, he had to stop… this.

But it was too late.

The soldier pulled her roughly by the hair, bringing her face down to engulf him one last time.  He was buried within the blonde’s mouth, she had swallowed as much of him as was physically possible, yet his hips jerked forward as though trying to delve even deeper.

The girl gagged and choked on him, trying desperately to pull back.  The man let go of her hair and placed both hands at the back of her head, holding her firmly in place.

He leaned back with his shoulders against the wall, hips continuing to jerk forward as he emptied himself into her, pouring his seed straight down her throat, into her stomach.  The girl had no choice but to swallow all that he had to give.

Finally, once he was done, he released his hold on the girl and she pulled away.  The guard’s sizable length exited the girl’s throat, bringing with it thick strings of fluid; saliva, and possibly something else, something worse.  Ollie had to wince at the unpleasant sight.

The girl coughed and spluttered, trying desperately to regain her breath, taking in massive gulps of air.

Ollie was too late.  The guard had already finished.  He zipped up his pants as he turned his attention to the psychiatrist, clearly only just now noticing him.

“Hey buddy,” he said, “Wait your turn.  This one’s occupied.”

Ollie narrowed his eyes, scowling at the man.  “I’m not your buddy.”  Wait his turn?  This one?  Occupied?  He spoke as though the girl were a toilet, a public convenience.  This guy couldn’t be serious.  Ollie was here to stop this depravity, not join in.

At that moment, she turned to him as well.  Ollie’s eyes widened as they locked onto hers, he could hardly believe what he was seeing.  “Maybelle…”

She was a complete mess.  Tears still streamed from her sapphire eyes.  Her mouth was open, still gasping for breath, yet seemed to bear the ghost of a satisfied smile.  Why was she grinning?  Her mouth and nose were a mess of fluids, both her own, and that of the perverted guard.  But beyond all that, it was her, there was no mistaking it.

She had grown up and changed so much.  Her body had blossomed.  She’d matured early for her age.  She should only have been fourteen, but her body appeared to be older, in her late teens.  Golden tresses framed her face, coiling down either side, down to her chin.

The girl was the spitting image of her mother.  Ollie offered her the handkerchief from his pocket so she could clean herself up.

 He turned back to the guard.  “What the hell is going on here?  What do you think you were doing?!”

“Would you believe playing golf?” the guard asked.

Ollie was not amused.

“Aw, c’mon buddy, what the fuck does it look like we were doing?”

There it was again.  Ollie was not this man’s buddy, nor did he ever wish to be.  “I know what you were doing, I want to know why.”

“Why?  Why not?”

“Because she’s underage?  Because she’s a…” it pained the man to say it, “specimen?  Because you’re supposed to be her guard?  There are too many reasons.  Too many to list.  You should be providing security, not taking liberties.  For fuck’s sake, you’re supposed to be guarding her, not…”

“Fucking her?”

Ollie’s eyes narrowed in distaste.  “Yeah.  That.”

“C’mon, look into those alluring blue eyes.  Look at that tight body, that soft skin, those golden waves, that cute button nose.  Are you telling me you could turn her down?  Besides,” the man smirked, “She’s fucking begging for it.”

Ollie grit his teeth, hand balling into a fist.  He’d heard enough.  He lunged for the man, but the girl caught his eye.  He froze.

“Dr Poer!” the girl called out to him after wiping the muck off her face.  “How come you never come to see me?  Don’t you like me?”  Her voice was so sweet.  The girl was adorable.  Why did this wickedness have to befall her?  All the same, Ollie felt a pang in his heart at the way the girl had addressed him.  “Well, have you finally come for me?  Doctor?”  The girl stared into his eyes.  “Or would you prefer that I call you Daddy?”

Ollie froze stiff.  She did remember, she recognised him, but… there was something about the way she’d said that.  Something… wrong.  She stared up at him with those big, blue eyes. “What’s the matter, Daddy?  Are you angry at me for fooling around with these soldiers?  I’m sorry.”  The girl approached him, a pout on her lips.  All the while, Ollie found that he couldn’t move, he couldn’t look away, or… maybe he just didn’t want to.  He was locked on, unable to break eye contact.  “Don’t be mad Daddy, I’ll make it up to you.  I’ll make it all better.”

She was so close.  She pressed her body against him, staring up into his eyes, unblinking.  Her palms came to rest upon his chest.  They were so alike, it was uncanny.  She had a perfect resemblance.  She was just like… even their mannerisms were identical.  She was the woman’s clone as much as she was her daughter.  The girl spoke in a low murmur, almost a whisper, but Ollie heard her perfectly.  She captivated his every sense.  “You miss her, don’t you?”

The woman’s image flashed before his eyes.  He’d spent so long trying to forget, putting her to rest, moving on; but now she suddenly came flooding back to him.  Ollie nodded his head.

His wife.  This girl looked so much like her, he had to remind himself that he was a widower, that he wasn’t back with her right now… but, did he?  Did he really have to drag himself back to reality, back to that that cold, cruel, clinical sanity so soon?  Couldn’t he just pretend?  Just for a little while?

“It’s okay Daddy,” the girl murmured.  “Go ahead, I don’t mind, so long as it makes you happy.  I just want to make you feel good.  We can do whatever you want.  Just pretend I’m her.  Do anything you like to me.”  Slowly, the girl’s hand drifted down Ollie’s body.  Down his chest, his stomach, all the way down to his crotch.  “Anything,” she repeated.

She unfastened his fly and slipped her hand inside, feeling him through his underwear.  She grasped him lightly in the palm of her hand.  She massaged him, stroked him.  The man simply stared at the girl, unable to move, unable to speak, unable to stop her, unable to break eye contact.  She smiled up at him, eyes full of adoration. Gazing upon her, she looked so innocent, yet he quickly felt himself beginning to harden at her touch.

She pulled the engorged appendage through the opening in his trousers, freeing it from its limiting constraints, still holding it firmly, yet delicately in the palm of her hand.  Her touch was so gentle, so warm, so soft.  She brought her head closer to his enlarged manhood.  He felt her hot, steamy breath against his sensitive skin.  Slowly, she licked him, running the tip of her tongue along his length.  Her moistened lips parted to take in the head while she slowly began to stroke the length.  Her tongue danced upon him while her eyes remained locked onto his.

This was wrong.  As much as he may have wanted her back, as much as this girl may have resembled her, she was not his late wife… she was his daughter.  This was wrong on so many levels, but… He couldn’t bring himself to stop her.  He was trapped inside his own body.  He was powerless, her prisoner, captivated by her, a prisoner of her eyes, a slave to her touch.  What if he just let her continue?  Just let it happen?  Perhaps… perhaps some small part of him actually wanted this.

Did he?  Did he want this?  Did he want her to continue?  He should be stopping her, he knew, but…  Couldn’t he just enjoy the moment?  Ignore the truth?  Pretend that the girl wasn’t his child?  They were so alike, he wouldn’t even need to close his eyes.  She looked just like her, was so much like her.

Wait… what?  No!  What was he thinking?  What was he doing?  It couldn’t be!  He wasn’t, but…

Would it really be so bad?  It was just this once, nobody had to know, and she was the one who had started it.  She wanted him, it was written in her eyes, those exquisite, fascinating eyes.

Finally, Maybelle pulled away.  She’d only been teasing him after all.  “Well, Daddy?” she asked, “Does my tongue feel good?  Should I use my mouth, or do you want all of me?  Should I bend over for you?  Do you want me up against the wall, or would you rather hold your little girl in your arms while you destroy her tight little body?  You can use me however you like.  Just say the word, Daddy.  Do you want me?  Or not?  I need to hear it.  I want you to say it out loud.”  She looked up at him, a look of perverse longing in her eyes, an obscene smirk upon her lips.  “Admit it.  Get it off your chest, and and I’ll let you blow it all over mine.”  As the girl went on, her taunts became faster, louder, more forceful, more direct; all the while the look in her eyes grew and her smirk widened.”  Tell me that you want me.  Admit that you want to take your little girl’s body and fuck her little brains out.  Just say the word, and I’ll be yours.  All yours, and yours only, to do with as you wish, whatever you wish, whenever you want me, nothing off-limits, no matter how depraved.

“Well, what’s it going to be?  Yes, or—“

“No!” cried a distant voice.  “Don’t do it!  Get away from her!”

Ollie looked away, turning toward the source of that familiar voice.  He recognised her.  Wide blue eyes filled with concern.  Short, scruffy, auburn hair framing her face.  He looked to Maybelle, who was no longer focused on him.  She was scowling angrily at the distraction.  He turned back to the girl running hurriedly toward them, then back to Maybelle, and to her hand that was still wrapped delicately around his eager erection.

Just… what the fuck had he been thinking?  What was he doing?  He was the girl’s father.  He was supposed to protect her, not take advantage of her!  He was no better than that guard from before.  In fact… he was worse.

The man felt an urge to drop to his knees and empty the contents of his stomach all over the floor.  He was sick, he was depraved, he was disgusting.  He pushed the girl away from him and tucked away the evidence of his horrid perversion, catching Maybelle’s wide eyes as she tumbled backward, slamming into the wall behind her.

He winced at what he’d done.  Ollie hadn’t meant to use so much force.  He didn’t want to hurt her.  The girl looked back at him with sad, dejected eyes.  How… how could he have done this to her?

“Don’t look into her eyes,” the brunette beside him said angrily.  “She’s messing with your head.”

“Megan…”  The girl was openly glaring at Maybelle with such hostility.  What was going on?

“I mean it, Daddy.  She’s not the innocent little girl you remember.  She’s changed.  She’s not your daughter anymore.  I am.”

Maybelle narrowed her eyes at the interloper, before offering Ollie the saddest look he’d ever seen her muster.  She looked so dejected, so betrayed.

“Daddy, don’t you want me anymore?  Aren’t I good enough for you? Aren’t I pretty enough?  What’s wrong, do you not like blondes…” her eyes briefly darted over to Megan, her voice taking on a cool edge, “or am I too old for you now?”

“Stop!” Ollie pleaded, “just… stop.”  He raised his hands to his temples.  “I don’t even know what the fuck’s going on anymore.  Hell, for all I know, maybe they’re right about me.  Maybe I am some sick, deviant pervert like they say.

“Daddy,” Megan called to him, “don’t listen to her.  She’s manipulating you.  She’s putting thoughts in your head and twisting them like knives.  It’s what she does now, it’s how she passes the time.  It’s how she gets her kicks.  She’s twisted, evil.  Let’s just go, Daddy.  Leave her here, alone.  It’s like I told you, you can’t help her.  There’s nothing we can do for her.  There’s nothing anyone can do.” Ollie simply stared ahead, straight into the eyes of his daughter.  No, it couldn’t be.  There was no way.  It wasn’t true.

“Daddy,” Megan pleaded, tugging at his arm.

“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” Maybelle echoed, her eyes narrowing, glaring at them both.  Her voice, her tone, it was so cold, so cruel.  Nothing like before.  “Is that all you can say?  You’re not even his real daughter, I am!”

The girl ran straight toward them, tackling Megan to the ground, her hands enclosing around the brunette’s throat.  “What makes you so special anyway?!” Maybelle demanded, choking the life out of the other girl.  “You’re weak, pathetic, you can’t fight me off, you can’t even defend yourself.  Everything will be better when you’re dead!”  The blonde’s face twisted into a horrendous grin.  This girl… she wasn’t the daughter Ollie remembered, she was psychotic.  “Once you’re gone, Daddy will have to love me!  He won’t have a choice, there won’t be anyone else, no one but me!”

Ollie could only stand by, staring horror-struck at the scene that was unfolding before him.  The blonde was tightening her hold on Megan’s throat, asphyxiating her, grinning all the while…

She was smiling.

This wasn’t the alluring smile she’d shown to him earlier, no.  It was a mad grin, filled with malicious intent.  Her cold, deranged eyes told that she was committed to carrying out her insane purpose.  She truthfully intended to murder her fellow victim.  They had so much in common, yet… how had it come to this?

Maybelle’s face was contorted into a sickening mask.  She perspired a vicious glee as her hands, so gentle only moments ago, now busied themselves with strangling Megan.  She fully intended to kill her own cousin, the kind, innocent girl who could for all intents and purposes, be considered her little sister.

While Maybelle’s face knotted with sadistic pleasure, Megan’s exuded dread, terror, horror.  She was fearing for her life.  Her eyes locked onto Ollie.  Wide, afraid, pleading.  They were tearing up, watering.  Her mouth was open, sucking up air in the hopes of survival, but she couldn’t swallow a single gulp.  Her arms reached for him, pleading for him, begging him to save her, to protect her, to fulfil the promise he’d made to her all those years ago.

Ollie shook his head.  He couldn’t just sit by and do nothing.  He couldn’t just stand there and watch as one girl slowly and painfully murdered the other.

He stepped forward. Grasping Maybelle by the arms, he lifted her, prying her from her intended victim, and holding her up before him.

As Megan lay on the ground, crying, gasping for air, and trying desperately to calm her racing heart; Maybelle thrashed about in Ollie’s hold, trying to break free.  Yelling, screaming, kicking her arms and legs.

“Why?!” she cried.  “Why did you choose her?  She’s not your daughter, I am!  Why does she get to wear clothes?  Why does she get to leave her room?  Why does she get to follow you around, and call you Daddy, and be with you; when I have to stay here in this dark, cold cell, all day, every day, all on my own?  It’s not fair!  Why do you keep her so close?  Why do you love her so much and not me?!  You’ve never even visited me.  Not even once!  What did I ever do to disappoint you?  What did I do to make you stop loving me?  What did I do?!”

Ollie turned the girl around, staring into her eyes. Gone was the face of the killer that had been there only moments before.  This was the heart-wrenching visage of a miserable little girl.  Her eyes were shut tight, face streaming with tears.  The girls were both crying.  They had so much in common.  So much…

“What did I do wrong?” the girl murmured.  Ollie hugged the blonde to him, cradling her tenderly in his arms.  “Nothing…” he whispered, trying his best to console and assure her.  “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have let this happen.  I’m so sorry.  It’s all my fault, not yours.  You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Then why?” she asked between sobs.  “Why Daddy, why?  Why do you hate me?!”

Ollie froze solid.  Those words… the girl’s hysterical accusation pierced his flesh, stabbed him, killed him.  Maybelle’s words may as well have been a knife plunging into his back.

How could he respond to that?  The cry, the claim, the allegation; they broke his heart.  He could deny it all he wanted, he could blame his situation, blame his brother, use every excuse in the book, but ultimately, he was the one at fault.  He had allowed this to unfurl.  He had allowed all of it.  He had been so concerned for Maybelle’s safety and wellbeing, so afraid of what Rexl might do to her, that he’d stayed away, let his brother do as he wished, and sacrificed the very thing for which he’d stood, the very thing he’d meant to protect.

Suddenly, the girl let loose a blood curdling scream.  Shocked, terrified, Ollie couldn’t keep hold of her.  He dropped the girl and she fell to her knees.

She was hunched over on the ground, hands grasping at her head, pulling at her hair.  It was like… an experiment.  Was this a side effect of the formula they’d been using to drug her?

The girl cried, and screamed, and begged.

“Stop!” she pleaded.  “It hurts! It hurts!  Please, Daddy, make it stop!”

She was in agony.

Ollie winced, barely able to watch the poor girl bear this torment.

It had been unbearable when he’d had to witness Rose go through this, but his own child…

“Step away from the girl.”

Ollie turned around, glaring straight at the source of that cold voice, into the eyes of his brother.  “Rexl,” he growled.

“Okay, that’s enough,” the director ordered the scientist beside him.  The man in question touched the device in his hand and Maybelle’s symptoms died down.  She gradually ceased screaming, panting for breath.  She was exhausted, but it must have been such a relief compared to the pain she was in a second ago.  While she was dazed, several guards surrounded her, restraining her.  They bound her arms behind her back.  They locked her ankles together so she could barely walk.  They would only allow her tiny steps.  She wouldn’t be able to run, and more importantly, she wouldn’t be able to defend herself from whatever was to come next.

Ollie seethed.  “You!” he demanded, finger pointing square at the scientist.  Somehow, the man had developed a way to remotely disable the subject’s bodies, immobilise them, wrack them with pain as though they were being injected with one of the formulae… but why?  What was the point?  Without using the drug itself, they would experience the crippling side-effects, but there would be no benefit, no bodily enhancements, and there was no way to record the results.  This was no experiment, it was simply torture.

“Why would you create that?!”

“Whatever do you mean?” the scientist lazily drawled.”

“You’ve done something to her.  She was in agony only moments ago.”

“And I stopped it.”

“Which means you must have started it.  Am I wrong?”

“No, you catch on quite well.”

“So why?  What purpose does that serve?  You can control it remotely, turn it on and off, which means you must have implanted something inside her, something that induces the same pain from the first stages of the treatment, but there’s no reason for it!”

“No reason?  My ignorant friend, this pain is an incentive for her to play nice.  If the girl doesn’t want to endure this negative stimuli, she will do as she is told.  If she misbehaves, she will suffer.  If she doesn’t correct herself, she will die.”

“You son of a bitch.”

“Thank you, doctor.  You just saved my life, doctor,” the scientist mocked.

“Excuse me?”  Ollie was growing impatient with this… he found it difficult to call the scientist a man, it seemed like an insult to himself and all of humankind.

“The girl was turning violent, she was out of control.  You saw it yourself, didn’t you?”  Ollie bit his tongue.  He didn’t want to admit it, but the scientist wasn’t entirely wrong.  Maybelle had turned on them.

“Had I not acted, she would have easily killed that pet you like to parade around.”

Ollie grit his teeth.  Megan was no pet.

“And then she’d have turned on you.  I just saved your life, you should really be more grateful.”  The man sneered.  “You’re welcome, by the way.”

Ollie lost it.  His hand formed a fist, shooting in the scientist’s direction.  His arm acted without his guidance, without thought.  He punched the despicable man square in the face… or would have, had Rexl not intervened, catching the renegade arm before it made contact, and restraining it behind Ollie’s back.

Ollie turned to his brother, who said nothing, simply staring him in the eye. Ollie calmed himself, and Rexl let him go.  He turned his attention back to the scientist, glaring daggers.  “By the time you acted,” he spat, “I had already resolved the situation.  Maybelle was calming down!  There was no need—“

“Ollie!” Rexl interjected.  “Settle down.  None of us can honestly claim to know how this would have turned out.  You left the door open and unsecured.  On top of that, the girl was manipulating your thoughts.  That’s a fact, whether you believe it or not.  If she had escaped…”

Ollie shook his head.  The girl didn’t want to escape, she just wanted her family back.  She was… she was eliminating the competition.

God, what had they done to her to make her this way?  Maybelle had been so…

“The situation is handled,” Rexl continued.  “Let us all calm down.  Oliver, I need to have a word with you… in private.”

“I…” Ollie took a deep breath.  “Okay.”  The men all left the chamber, Ollie scooping Megan up into his arms as he fell in line and followed them out of the room.  Megan twisted in his embrace, gripping him tightly.  The poor child was traumatised.  She’d thrown herself into harm’s way to save him, to stop him from doing… God knows what.

“Daddy!” the blonde called out.  Ollie froze, turning around.  He looked to her.  Maybelle.  She was on the ground, surrounded by guards.  Her eyes gazed up at him, shifted to the brunette in his arms, then back to him, dejected.  She had lost.  Her own father had rejected her, chosen somebody else.  She’d just wanted somebody to look out for her, to take care of her.  It was no wonder she’d be envious of Megan.  “It was good to see you again.”  The man’s eyes widened.  He could barely think, let alone speak, but he managed to choke out a reply.

“Yeah… you too.”  He made to move off again, but hesitated.  “And I do love you, I never stopped.  I know I haven’t been good at saying it… showing it lately… ever, but… I just wanted you to know.”

“Bye-bye, Daddy.”

Ollie felt the melancholy as it consumed him, shrouded him, enveloped him like a thick, black cloak that was anything but warm.  He knew these might be his last words to the girl, his last chance.  “Goodbye, Maybelle.  You look just like her.  Your mother, I mean.  She was beautiful.  I always loved you both… I love you both.  I always have, and I always will, no matter what.  I’m sorry I haven’t been around all these years, sorry I couldn’t protect you from all this.  I couldn’t stop them.  I’m sorry… for everything.”

“Are you finished?” Rexl curtly asked, narrow eyes piercing his brother with their intense, intolerant impatience.  Ollie glared at him, but nodded his head, looking back to the girl.  Her eyes were shut tight.  She looked like… was she crying?  With her arms restrained behind her back, she couldn’t hide it, couldn’t wipe away the evidence.

Still, as Ollie turned to leave, he was certain he’d seen the girl smile.  Not just some sadistic smirk, or a garish grin or grimace, but an honest, genuine smile.  If this encounter had served to ease the girl’s mind, even a little, if it had offered her even the tiniest measure of closure or perspective… maybe it hadn’t been for nothing.  Ollie could only hope.  It was all he had to cling to.  It was all he could do.

 

X

Ollie made his way into the office.  As the door opened, he could hear the strings of classical music on the air.  It was a piece he recognised from long ago.  His brother’s favourite concerto, if he remembered correctly.  The doctor hadn’t heard it since his schooldays.

Rexl looked up as his younger brother entered the room.  “I’ve been waiting,” he said in a bored tone.

“It took a while to console Megan.”  Was it any wonder?  After what she’d seen, what she’d been through.  The girl had been face to face with the crazed blonde who had every intention to kill her and claim back her position as Ollie’s daughter; the position that Megan herself had stolen.

Maybelle’s voice screamed in her ears, blue eyes gouged out her own, pale hands clawed at her skin; slender, bony fingers throttled her throat.

The girl had always seemed so strong, so happy.  Despite her situation, she always carried a smile on her face.  She always burned a candle of empathy in her eyes.  She always spoke with concern for others in her voice.

Now though, the child was a whimpering mess.  Cowering, crying, begging for his comforting embrace.  Ollie knew that the others comically compared her to a puppy.  The analogy fit, the way she was always following him about, clinging to him, but never before had that cruel assessment been more appropriate.

Ollie couldn’t keep her with him like this, not in her current state, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave her.  She cried for him every time he put her down.  His only option was to stay with her in her room.  He sat beside her, comforting her until she eventually drifted off.  Once she was rested, he injected her with a sedative, ensuring her a deep, dreamless, undisturbed sleep.  She needed to rest.  She would be fine until he returned.

“The experience has taken its toll on her,” Ollie explained.  “It was difficult just to calm her mind and lull her to sleep.  When she wakes… hopefully she’ll be able to put what happened back there behind her, like a bad dream.  I can only hope she feels better after she gets some rest.”

Rexl continued to stare through him, his icy gaze piercing the younger brother’s soul, infecting him with their winter’s frost.  “Did I ask?” was his cold reply.

Ollie couldn’t hide his anger at his brother’s response.  The girl was Rexl’s own daughter after all, he might have pawned her off, but she was still his.  The man just sat there, unfeeling.  He’d always been cold, but… how could he be so callous?  His own child was suffering.  She had been so close to death.  She was a trembling, sobbing wreck, yet Rexl couldn’t care less.  He didn’t give a shit.  He didn’t care what she’d been through.  He didn’t care how it had affected her.  Did he even care what happened to her in the end?

Of course he did.  He needed her alive, but only so he could use her.  Only as a backup canvas on which to paint his grotesque opus.  Only as a new body to transfer his sinful product.  Only as a restore point to which he could revert in case something should go wrong.  Only as a fresh page, an empty container; neglected and forsaken until the day should come that he needed her, until the day that he needed to start the project over, if that day ever came at all, and Ollie hoped like hell that it wouldn’t.

Yes, he needed his youngest daughter alive, but only in case something should happen to Rose.  He needed her body functional, but he couldn’t care less if her mind should crack from the fear, the despair, the suffering that flowed within this place like a virulent gas, a virulent disease.  It was an affliction that infected and affected them all, and it currently had its clammy tentacles wrapped tightly around Rexl’s youngest daughter, but the elder Poer brother didn’t have the time or courtesy to spare her even a passing glance.

He just didn’t care.

“You’re doing it again, brother.”

“What?” Ollie asked, snapping back to reality.

“You have something on your face.  You should wipe it off before I decide to take it as a threat.”

“Funny,” Ollie retorted.  “Why can’t you be this quick when it comes to the girls in your care?  Do you know what that guard was doing to Maybelle?”

“Maybelle is no longer your concern.”

Like hell.  “Just answer the question.  Are you aware of what she’s being subjected to?”

“Don’t insult me, brother.  I know everything that goes on within this facility.”

Ollie froze solid.  He’d been hoping… expecting Rexl to deny all knowledge.  “So you know all about the security staff?  How they’ve been exploiting her?”

“Exploiting?  Relieving is the word I would use.  That girl has developed an unusually high sex drive. On top of that, she’s surrounded day in and day out by healthy, young, virile men.  What do you expect me to do, lock her in a chastity belt?  That would be like leaving a dairy cow unmilked.  It wouldn’t benefit anyone.”

“Benefit?!” Ollie interjected, but Rexl raised his hand, gesturing him to silence, continuing as though the interruption had never happened.

“And that girl would suffer most of all.  You have to understand.  Maybelle enters into those entanglements willingly and of her own accord.  In fact, she’s usually the instigator. She’s blossoming into quite the attractive young lady, don’t you think?  I’m sure you must have noticed, so have the guards.  Considering the potent cocktail of them leering at her, and her In turn drooling over them, combined with her hypersexuality… this situation was inevitable.

“I suppose I could have put a stop to it, but the girl is in a sealed room, alone with a guard watching her every move twenty-four hours a day.  How would I enforce such a rule?  As disciplined as the security staff are, they are also very crude.  It wouldn’t take much convincing for them to give the girl what she’s desperately craving, especially with her flirting and making passes at them the way she does.  Even if I were to forbid her, Maybelle would likely ignore my command and offer herself to anyone she saw fit.  Why waste my precious time fighting an unwinnable crusade of abstinence when I can instead turn the situation to my advantage?”

“You… what?  What good could possibly come of this?”

“Think about it.  The girl is a seductress.  She desires the men around her, hungers for their sexual energy.  She feeds on their arousal, fuelling her own libido which in turn whets her appetite.  It’s a self-powering cycle that perpetually escalates until it comes to end in a magnificent, glorious climax.”

“You’ve turned my daughter into a succubus,” Ollie observed.

“I could bind the girl’s legs shut of course, but that would be cruel.  The girl’s lust would be unabated and never-ending, perpetually surrounded by the guards as she is.  That would benefit no one.  Contrarily, as vile as it may seem, the current situation makes everybody happy.  Maybelle has something to alleviate the boredom of her imprisonment, the guards are rewarded for their service, and in turn, everything continues running smoothly.”

“A reward?  That’s how you justify this?  That girl is not some toy for your staff to amuse themselves!”

“But it’s what she wants.  It keeps her content.”  She hadn’t seemed all that content to Ollie.  Not when she was crying in his arms.  “And it serves to keep the guards in line.  She keeps them happy.  Boosts morale.”

“You bastard,” Ollie hissed.  “You’re using her condition to your advantage, how the hell is that not exploitative?!  I’ve seen them.  Don’t forget that your morale boost is still my daughter, my little girl, and that guard… he had her face glued to his waist.”

“Indeed.  And I saw you with her in the exact same position.  Don’t think you can take the moral high ground here.”

“But that was…”  Ollie sighed.  What could he say?  “I have no excuse for that.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“You weren’t.”

“Yeah…”  The shameful memories of what had transpired in that room resurfaced in his mind.  He’d caught his underage daughter engaged sexually with a soldier.  He’d walked in on them, seen the entire debauched display.  Maybelle hadn’t been ashamed or embarrassed at his presence, on the contrary, she’d propositioned him too.  Her own father.  It would have been bad enough if she didn’t recognise him, but she knew.  She definitely knew.

Ollie hadn’t been able to stop her actions with the guard, he couldn’t even stop her when she turned her attentions to him.  If Megan hadn’t intervened… God, what would have happened… how far would the blonde have gone?”

“Now you know,” Rexl said.

“What…?”

“Maybelle.  She would resort to anything, even seducing and engaging in sexual intercourse with her own father.  I assume she would have allowed things to progress that far?”

“Yeah.  She said… she said she would… that I could do anything, go as far as I wished, so long as I submitted to her.  She wanted me to admit that I wanted her.  I was moments away from saying it, from giving in.”

Rexl grunted.  “I have no idea what she was planning.  Perhaps she was merely using you as a means of escape.  We can only hope there was no more to it than that.”

“I can’t believe it.  How could I have even considered…”

“You let her inside your head.”

“It was more than that… I’m her father, yet I was actually entertaining… I was even justifying it in my mind.  I almost… God, what the hell is wrong with me?  What was I thinking?”

“As I said, you weren’t thinking… or more accurately, the thoughts in your head were not your own.”

Ollie stared straight ahead, unblinking toward his brother.  “Not my own?”

“Just moments ago, you agreed that you’d let the girl get inside your head.”

“Well, yeah.”

“That was a mistake.”

“She’s my daughter, all that remains of my deceased wife… the wife that you took from me.  I couldn’t exactly help it.”

“Don’t change the subject,” Rexl dismissed, “and don’t misunderstand.  We’re not talking figuratively here.  When I say she was inside your head, I mean it literally.”

“What are you… Rexl, that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Not ordinarily, no… but the child we’re dealing with here is anything but ordinary.  You touched on it before.  We spliced that girl’s genetic code with succubus DNA while she was undergoing puberty.  Combine that with the psychic powers she developed as a result of the other experiments to which she’s been subjected, and the end result is an extraordinary being, a perfect enchantress.  Her potential for espionage, infiltration, and manipulation would be unmatched, if only she could be controlled.  We’ve created a monster, a manmade abomination with the potential to best any of the true monstrosities out there.  That is the entire point of this facility, or have you forgotten why we’re here, why we’re doing this?”

“Of course I haven’t.”  How could he?  The end goal was the only justification any of them had for inflicting such torture on these innocent children.  But… in doing so, they were taking the innocent and turning them into the grotesque, in essence, taking their innocence itself.  Rexl had said it himself.  Ollie’s daughter had been transformed, turned into a monster… “An abomination.”

“Indeed, it’s a shame.  That girl has the power to match wits against any of the great manipulators.  Even the descendants of House Bathory.  Maybe even the true daughters of Lilith.  We could use more like her, if the time ever comes, if the monsters of the night ever decide to turn on us.  Unfortunately, she’s just too dangerous and unpredictable.  We can’t control her.”  The man fell silent for a moment.Y  “our charge possesses a psychic ability of her own, does she not?”

“Psychic?”

“I didn’t expect her to progress much under your care, but before I handed her over to you, I recorded that she had the ability to read another’s thoughts.  Have you never noticed that she shows a high degree of empathy, that she can easily connect with anyone to whom she is speaking?”

“Empathy… yes.  Are you saying…?”

“That is a result of her treatment here.”

“That first night.  She came to me.  She seemed to know exactly what was troubling me.  She knew just the right things to say.  When I looked into her eyes… are you saying that she was using some kind of psychic power on me?”

“Of course.  She told you what you wanted to hear, to make you do what she wanted.  A textbook example of brainwashing.  I think it’s safe to say that she’s been manipulating you ever since.”

“Why are you telling me this?  Why now?”

“I’d expected you to have figured it out for yourself.  Maybelle has a similar power.  Of course, hers is much more potent.”

“So she was delving into my mind?  Exploiting my weaknesses, exposing my deepest wishes, my darkest desires.  Does that mean… deep down, I actually wanted her?  Am I truly the kind of person who would desire his own daughter?”

“You’re the psychiatrist here, not me.”

Ollie paced the room.  He didn’t know what to think.  How could he analyse another’s mind when he couldn’t see what demons lurked within the shadows of his own?  He didn’t even know himself anymore, and that scared him.  His hands clasped in front of his chest, a look of fret found its way to his face.  Just what the hell was going on?  Just who the hell was he?

“Settle down, Ollie.  You’re getting carried away.  I’ve already told you that I don’t believe you to be that kind of deviant.”

“But Maybelle pulled those thoughts out of me.  They must have come from somewhere.”

“She was able to find those thoughts in your mind, because she was the one who put them there.  Maybelle’s ability is different from Megan’s.  She doesn’t simply read and interpret a person’s thoughts, she creates them.  She projects her own thoughts into her target’s mind.  She is able to manipulate their thoughts, their feelings.  Think of it as an indirect form of mind control.”

“She was controlling my mind?”

“Think about it, Ollie.  We both know that you’re not the kind of person who would normally take advantage of any woman, let alone your own child; yet you came dangerously close to doing just that.  Obviously, something was affecting your judgement.

“Now you see what your daughter has become.  Now you see why she must forever remain locked up.  She is too dangerous to ever be let loose.  She would stop at nothing, stoop to any lengths to get what she wants.  In all honesty, I don’t see any way we would be able to stop her.”

“I… I agree.”  But still, she had to have turned out like this for a reason, and that reason was Rexl.  It was this facility, this accursed project of his that had done this to her.

“Your charge,” the older brother spoke.  “You’re worried about her?”

“I… I’m not sure.”  Ollie didn’t know what to think at this point.  The girl was always trailing behind him.  She was always on his mind, always able to twist his arm.  She could make him do anything she wanted. 

She could make him do anything she wanted.

He always gave in, always gave the girl her own way.  He was twisted around her little finger.

Ollie could never bring himself to deny her.  He’d always assumed it to stem from paternal affection, he’d come to think of her as his own daughter, after all, but… what if it turned out she had been controlling him all along?  What if none of it had been real?  If Maybelle was willing to make him do, make him want… that, who knew of what Megan was capable?

“You mentioned that she was troubled, restless?”

“Yeah.  She suffered a pretty traumatic experience, so she’s pretty shaken up by it.”  But did he really believe that now?  Could he believe anything she said anymore?  What if it was all an act?  What if everything was an illusion, a facade?  He couldn’t trust anything, anyone.  Least of all the girl that had taken the place of his daughter.

The more he thought about it, the more plausible it seemed.  After all, it had been her wish to be his child.  She was the one who had come to him.  She had won him over.  She had given him a reason to move on.  But why?

Ollie had never thought about it before.  It had never crossed his mind.  Was the affection he felt toward the girl genuine?  Was It his own?  Did it stem from his own heart, or was it just a product of Megan’s meddling, her psychic powers?

Almost everything Ollie had done over the past eight years had been for her, at her behest.  Could it be that his entire reason for continued existence had been crafted by the hands of another?  Was it just like everything else around here, the result of some cruel experiment?

Rexl spoke.  “It’s possible that Maybelle did something to the girl’s mind during their struggle.  We should take a look at her, assess the damage, try and reverse it.  This is also a unique opportunity for us.  To see the effects up close.  We need to study this.  We are responsible for giving Maybelle her unique power, but we don’t fully understand how it works.  If we can discover how she affects her targets mind, we may be able to create a countermeasure.  We may be able to reverse it, even defend against it.  This would be crucial information, should the girl ever break free and turn against us.  There are experiments we must run.  We need to borrow Megan from you.  You’ve done a good job at ensuring her wellbeing, but it’s time to return her.”

“Yeah… go ahead.”  Ollie turned away.  He barely heard what his brother was saying.  He couldn’t deal with this now.  The sorrow, the confusion, the deprecation, they all dripped from his skin like sweat.  The man lifted his glasses, resting them on his forehead and placed his face in his hand, massaging his temples with his thumb and ring finger.  It didn’t matter anymore, nothing did.  Everything had spiralled out of control, and there was nothing Ollie could do to stop it, so why bother trying?

Ollie turned from his brother and made for the door.  He didn’t even know what the hell was going on anymore.  It was time to give up.  He reached for the door, turning back to his brother, glancing upon him briefly, and averting his eyes.  “She’s all yours.”

 

XX

 

Okay, just a quick note.  I know this story’s moving pretty slow.  All these chapters were supposed to be contained in a two-chapter prologue, but it got too long.  I mean, This has all been from Ollie’s point of view, and he’s not even the main character.  So here’s the deal.  I’m thinking of splitting this story into two versions.  One that will keep the intended mystery/gothic vibe and stick more closely to Ruby and Dylan; and then I’ll rewrite a second version from other people’s points of view that doesn’t care so much about giving shit away, since you people will all have read the first version and know how it all ends, right?  Right?!  The second version means these past few chapters won’t have been a total waste, plus they’ll let me write things from the killer’s point of view and add backstory like this chapter without bogging down the main plot.  I may explain more in a stand-alone post later on.  Let me know what you all think.

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From → Imaginary Fiend

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