Imaginary Fiend: Bloood Rose
Chapter VI: The Escape Part III: Megan
Megan hugged the man, then backed away, the sweet smile never leaving her. “See you on the other side, Daddy.” She then turned and made her way into the forest.
The dense plant life stopped either side of her, leaving just enough room for a narrow dirt path, like a road. The path stretched on, out of sight.
The road ahead would be long, dark, claustrophobic. Megan switched on her flashlight. Her eyes lit up as they followed the beam, as it lit the darkness before her.
Megan’s eyes traversed the long, skinny road, making the journey before her feet.
The path she walked on was more like a corridor than a road. She looked up, trying to make out the tops of the trees, but they seemed to stretch on forever. Try as she might, she couldn’t see the sky.
This forest wasn’t a forest at all, it was a dungeon. They’d been walking hallways all night, and this was no different. This forest was just another room in the facility.
They thought they were out, but it felt as though she were still inside.
Megan pressed on. It felt as though she’d been walking forever.
The girl came to a halt as she saw something in the distance. A distant figure. Was that Ollie? It looked like him, but why was he here? Weren’t they supposed to meet outside the forest?
Could it be a trap? Perhaps it wasn’t him after all.
Megan shut off her light and cautiously approached, keeping an eye on the humanoid figure. He hadn’t noticed her.
The figure wasn’t moving, he seemed to be just standing there. Was he keeping guard, or had he gotten lost?
The figure seemed to grow more familiar, the closer she got. It looked just like him. It was him, it had to be, Megan was sure of it. It was definitely Ollie, but what was he doing here?
Ollie had said he’d take the most winding path. Had it been too winding? Had he gotten lost? Did he take a wrong turn?
Perhaps the paths weren’t so different after all. Maybe they all converged here, in the forest’s centre. Maybe they could all leave together after all. That wouldn’t be so bad, so long as there wouldn’t be anyone waiting for them on the other side, at the end of the line.
She had gotten so close, but the figure didn’t seem to notice. He hadn’t seen her.
Megan stood directly behind him, but he remained lost in thought, as if in a daze. Was he alright?
Suddenly, the figure spoke, calling her name. It was him, the figure had his voice. It was Ollie. It was!
“Daddy?” she voiced. The man stiffened at her call, as if woken from a dream. He turned to face her.
It was difficult to see his expression in the darkness, but she could feel the bewilderment within; It poured out of him like a fragrance. He was a heater in a cold room, and his emotions radiated out to warm her.
She basked in his feelings, his emotions, his confusion.
This was most definitely Ollie, and he hadn’t expected to see her here.
The man didn’t speak, he didn’t approach or move to touch her. It seemed as though he wasn’t sure if she were truly there. He didn’t trust that she was Megan.
She could understand that. After all, she hadn’t been sure if this man were really Ollie. It didn’t seem possible that they could have met in the middle of this labyrinth.
Ollie’s plan had been meticulous, but he clearly hadn’t foreseen something like this. How could he have? It didn’t seem possible.
Something was wrong.
He looked at her as though she were a stranger. She gazed up into the doctor’s eyes as though her sincerity alone would put his suspicions to rest and his mind at ease.
She looked beyond his eyes, into his mind.
Is that really you?
Ollie hadn’t voiced the question, it echoed within the bounds of his mind. He thought… he didn’t trust that she was really there. How could she be, Ollie had sent her on a different path.
But shouldn’t he know? That path had led her here, before him. Didn’t Ollie know the layout of this forest-like labyrinth?
He thought she might be some kind of hallucination, created by the forest to trap him.
It could do that?
In his mind, Ollie had asked whether she were really there, if it were really her.
His eyes narrowed, accusatory. “Don’t do that,” he chastised, his tone lacking the warmth she craved.
The girl’s eyes widened, looking up at him as though he had just struck her. “Do what?” she asked, her wide eyes staring up at him, brow furrowed in confusion, trying to understand. Why was Ollie mad at her? What had she done?
“You’ve never directly probed my mind before.” The man looked down at her, examining her, probing her with his eyes. She wasn’t used to this kind of scrutiny. Not from him.
She didn’t like it.
“You’ve never been this direct before,” he continued, “responding to my questions without even giving me a chance to ask them.”
Was that the issue? It had never been a problem before. This was how she’d always been. Why was he only making a big deal out of it now?
“Yes I have. When you first came for me, remember? You were grieving for your family. I told you that they didn’t suffer.”
“Don’t do that again.”
“What?” The girl stared at him, wide eyes looking up at him like those of a scolded puppy. What was this all of a sudden? Ever since they’d had their run in with Maybelle, something between them had changed.
“Stay out of my head. I don’t want you invading my thoughts anymore.”
Megan was taken aback. Why was he distancing himself from her?
Ollie held her in a half embrace, placing his arm around her shoulders. “You don’t understand anything about privacy, do you?” he asked her.
“We’re closer than words.” Megan nuzzled her face into the man’s shirt, speaking softly. “Why do we need privacy? Why do you want to build walls between us?”
Ollie sighed. The girl looked him in the eye, seeing his disappointment; in what she had said, in what she had done, in her.
Megan heard the thoughts as they rushed through Ollie’s mind. Kayla’s cruel voice echoed in her ears.
“Maybe this is madness, but at least here the madness is contained. You would unleash it upon the world.”
Was Ollie regretting his decision? Was Kayla right about her? Was it right for her to remain in this prison?
Ollie wouldn’t leave her behind… would he? Maybe he believed that Megan was a psychopath, just like Kayla had said.
No, the despicably cruel woman couldn’t be right. She couldn’t. Ollie hadn’t listened to her. He was on their side, Megan’s side.
But then why was he reflecting on her warning? Kayla was the enemy. She wanted to keep the girls imprisoned, to torture them. Ollie had defied her, he had… they had fought each other, and Ollie had beaten her.
She was no longer… she couldn’t prevent their escape anymore; at least, Megan had thought so.
She stepped away from Ollie; the ghost of Kayla’s words wouldn’t stop her, would they?
Megan’s power was just something that came naturally to her, she didn’t think there was anything wrong with using it; she never did anything bad, she just had better hearing than most. Ollie couldn’t punish her just for having acute senses, it wasn’t fair.
Megan didn’t have to try to use her power, it just happened, it came naturally. It was a part of her, she didn’t know if she could turn it off, but if Ollie didn’t want her to use it anymore, she had to try.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong, I was helping. I just wanted to help you with your plan!”
The man reached for her, ruffling her hair with a gentle hand. Megan’s eyes closed, her body relaxing into his touch, as it always did.
“I know,” he consoled her.” Look… we’ll talk about this later. For now, just do as I say.”
Megan sighed, contented. Ollie was right, this could wait. He wasn’t mad at her; for now, that was all the girl cared about. For now, that was enough… until Ollie’s next words caught her off guard, breaking her calm.
“Why did you follow me? Why didn’t you just take the path I laid out for you?” The girl looked up at him. Was he joking? He seemed serious. Megan hadn’t followed him, she’d done as she was told. Megan was a good girl. She did what she was told. She always did as she was told, no matter what.
“I did follow the path you gave me. I did!”
“I went straight, just like you told me, then I wound up here and found you.”
“It can’t be. This isn’t right. It wasn’t supposed to go like this.”
What was wrong? Why had Megan and Ollie run into each other? If they were here, then where was Rose?
Ollie was correct. Something was going on. Something about this wasn’t right.
Something had gone seriously wrong, but what was it?
“This forest is moving,” Ollie said, answering her unasked question. Perhaps Megan didn’t need her power after all. Even without it, she and Ollie seemed to be on the same wavelength.
But what he had said, she didn’t understand. “How can it do that?” She voiced her question. She didn’t trust him to read her mind a second time.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but it must be. It’s the only explanation, I had it all mapped out. My plan was meticulous; if we each stuck to our own paths, we should have reached the end, but somehow the two of us met in the middle. Some point between now and the moment I mapped out the forest, something changed. This forest is a maze, but the maze has shifted, the paths are different.”
A silence had washed over them. Megan looked up into Ollie’s eyes; they were clouded over, lost in thought, not seeing her.
Megan’s thoughts went once more to the frozen redhead, the frost-covered flower. What had happened to Rose?
The two of them had arrived here in the middle, would Rose do the same. Was she alright? Had she gotten lost too, or was she still on track?
Ollie had said it, the paths had changed. His plan had been compromised. If Rexl or someone at the facility did have the ability to change the layout of the labyrinthine forest, then maybe this was all part of their counterplan; and if so, Ollie had fallen right into it.
This was a trap!
Rexl wanted them separated. In that case, splitting up was the worst thing they could have done. She understood Ollie’s concerns, but maybe they should have stuck together after all.
They were both here, and Rose was elsewhere, on her own.
Rose was alone, as always.
Had Ollie chosen the correct path for her? Was there even a correct path? Did it matter? Maybe all paths led to a dead end, or maybe someone was watching them even now and controlling the forest.
Was the lonely redhead on her way outside, or was she heading into a trap?
Maybe her path would loop around and lead her right back to the facility. If so, it seemed that the older girl was a higher priority. So what about them? Did Rexl not care if Megan and Ollie escaped, or were they intended to wander the forest for the rest of their limited days?
Perhaps they would die in here, perhaps that was to be their punishment, the consequence of their insolence.
What a morbid thought that was, Megan could only assume that the director cared more about Rose than he did her and Ollie; she didn’t know whether to be saddened or relieved at that. After all, the man had been her father, not that he’d ever acted like it.
Still… as long as she was with Ollie—
The girl’s thought was cut off before it had fully formed. Her eyes snapped open, staring with futility at the direction of that sound. That voice, she recognised it.
She knew that voice. She felt the bubble well up in her stomach. Was it anxiety, or hope?
Perhaps things would work out after all. Perhaps they would all be together.
Had Megan’s pessimistic thoughts been for nothing? She should stay positive. Whatever that commotion was, there was one thing for certain: Her only friend was in the middle of it. Megan knew where she was, now they had to help her.
Megan looked to Ollie, and he matched her gaze. They looked into each other’s eyes and each saw the other’s thoughts. Megan didn’t need her power, they both cried her name in unison, their thoughts intertwined.
Ollie took off in the direction of the noise, grasping Megan’s hand in his, pulling her along behind him.
“Let’s go!” he called out. Megan nodded her agreement.
The girl struggled to keep up, but she did her best. Rose was in trouble, she needed their help; but at least they knew where she was. At least they would all be together again. They were a family, they had to stick together.
It wasn’t long before they found her, not that Rose was difficult to spot, even in the darkness of the forest. She was running toward them, yelling, screaming. She was scared.
Something was after her, but what? Try as she might, Megan couldn’t see a thing. “What happened to her,” she asked, looking to Ollie. He didn’t answer. Had he heard her question?
Perhaps he was thinking. Megan looked back to the frantic redhead, she was hysterical. Had she seen something, or someone? Worse, perhaps someone had seen her. She looked as though she were being chased. If that were the case, things didn’t look good.
What should they do? Megan turned to Ollie. “Should we hide?” she pressed. It was more of a suggestion than a question, but she phrased it all the same. It was up to Ollie.
“You go on ahead,” he told her. “I’ll stay and help Rose.”
Megan hadn’t expected that.
They had just found each other, they had just gotten back together. Why did they have to split up again?
Megan didn’t like it. She didn’t want to be alone. Why did she have to?
Ollie had made up his mind, though. This was his plan, after all, and he insisted on splitting up. “But… why?” The girl looked up, her eyes imploring the older man. Why couldn’t she stay with him? Why was he sending her away?
“You already know the answer to that, don’t you? You’ve been reading my mind all this time, right?” The breath caught in Megan’s throat.
Ollie was still mad at her.
He was wrong. She wasn’t reading his mind. She wouldn’t do that anymore, not if Ollie didn’t want her to. Why didn’t he trust her? If only he could read her mind too, then he’d see. Then he would know that she was a good girl, a good girl.
She’d thought they were on the same wavelength, but Ollie didn’t trust her.
Ever since then, ever since Maybelle.
Ollie was mad at her.
Megan looked up at him, on the verge of tears. She could feel the sting in her eyes, but she wouldn’t let them form. She wouldn’t cry, she had to be strong.
She wasn’t reading his mind. She wouldn’t, but she had to make him understand.
“You told me not to do that anymore…” he had to believe her. He had to know she would do anything he asked. She was a good girl.
Ollie sighed. “Look, I don’t know how this is going to turn out. I want to make sure at least one of us escapes. I can’t leave Rose, but I don’t want to put you in danger. You have to get out of the forest. Whatever happens, promise me you won’t get caught.
“Okay, Daddy. I promise.” She stepped toward the psychiatrist and put her arms around him, holding him in a tight hug. She turned her attention to Rose, just in time to see her fall.
The redhead had been running toward them, away from something… Megan didn’t know. Rose was hysterical, desperate. She wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. Her foot must have caught on something. She tripped, she fell, she landed flat on her face.
Megan flinched, as though empathy could cause her to feel the other’s pain.
Rose just lay there for a moment. She didn’t move to get up, probably catching her breath, Megan assumed. The older girl must have been exhausted. How far had she run? Her lungs were probably burning, her muscles probably ached. Her face was pressed to the ground. She was breathing the dirt.
It must have been horrible. Megan could imagine, she could almost smell it, taste it; the ground that Rose was still lying on.
“Go!” Ollie ordered, snapping Megan out of her thoughts with a start.
Jumping at the harsh sound of his voice, Megan looked to him through wide eyes. “Right,” she conceded. “I’ll wait for you outside. I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you too.”
Megan hugged the man once more, squeezing him as tightly as she dared before turning and continuing on the path he had set for her.
She took off in a run and made some distance before deciding to leave the dirt path to hide in amongst the bushes. If someone was after Rose, she didn’t want to risk being seen or followed.
From her newfound hiding place, Megan looked back at the scene she had just left in time to watch it play out without her.
As if following her example, Ollie took off in a run, only in the opposite direction, toward the vulnerable Rose.
The redhead lifted her head, only just noticing him. She tried to stand, only to lose her footing and fall back to the ground.
Something was wrong. Was Rose naturally this clumsy, or was something affecting her coordination?
Time seemed to stand still. Ollie was running full speed ahead to help Rose, but he seemed to be moving at a crawl. The scene before her was like a recording on tape played in slow motion. Ollie’s attempt to help Rose proved futile.
Before he even got close, the girl was yanked out of his reach, like a fish caught on a line.
Megan could only stare in horror at the impossibility before her. Whatever Rose had tripped on, it was alive, and it was a predator.
She was being dragged, quickly and without mercy.
Megan didn’t know what was pulling her, but whatever it was, it moved faster than Ollie.
The hidden girl resisted the urge to cry out as Rose was dragged away, out of her sight. Ollie chased after her, and soon Megan was left alone in the darkness.
The brunette was frozen. The forest had gotten so cold, but her body couldn’t even manage the will to shiver.
She was all alone. Those other two were gone. Megan could only hope that Ollie would be able to save the redhead before it was too late, before whatever monster that had ahold of her managed to reel her in.
She heard Rose’s screams in the distance, but as the moments slowly passed, even they disappeared, and in the end, the young brunette was left with nothing.
Megan was on her own. Again.
Her body released its self-imposed paralysis and the girl fell to her knees, tears stinging her eyes. She quietly whimpered. She didn’t like this.
Maybe they should never have come here. Maybe they should have stayed back in the facility, where it was safe, in the secure safety of their prison.
Megan hated it.
The isolation. The loneliness. The darkness.
Even the commotion of Rose’s futile struggling, as she was dragged away against her will, had gone. In it’s place, Megan found an intolerable, deathly silence that mixed with the darkness of the forest to crush her.
Megan’s hand searched the ground around her for the flashlight she had dropped, turning it on; she couldn’t stay here any longer. Ollie had wanted her to get out. He wanted her to be safe, to be free. She would do her best.
Megan was alone.
Megan made her way through the dark forest, flashlight in hand. It seemed that the further away she got from those two, the quieter her surroundings were.
She pressed ever onward, just like he had told her; just like she had promised. She kept moving forward, but her thoughts reached back. She couldn’t help her mind from wandering in the wrong direction.
The younger girl couldn’t help but worry about her senior, her older sister.
They would be all right, she knew they would. All she had to worry about was getting herself out of here. She had to make sure she didn’t get caught. If Rexl’s men found her, it would make things harder for the other two. She couldn’t get caught, she couldn’t be a burden on Ollie and Rose, she didn’t want them to have to come after her.
If they had to save her, then they might risk getting caught themselves. They had to escape, they had to get out; if they failed, they wouldn’t get another chance, and considering what they’d done, what Ollie had done, things would be much worse for them.
Megan would probably be confined to her room, like Rose had been. Rose would have it worse than ever, and Ollie… after what he’d done… he’d gone against his brother, broken them all out, tried to escape, even killed—shot Kayla. The director would likely have him locked away in one of the white rooms. He’d keep him there, and Megan would never see him again. He’d be detained, imprisoned, tortured, maybe even executed.
Megan’s body halted at the thought.
No. That couldn’t happen, Megan wouldn’t allow it.
Her hand tightened on the flashlight. She held her breath, listening, watching, waiting.
She was alone. She pressed on.
The rest of Megan’s journey was thankfully uneventful. She’d have been alone with her thoughts if she hadn’t emptied her mind to keep up a state of readiness. She had to be prepared, in case anyone or anything happened to come after her. She kept an ear out. If anyone approached, she would hear them. Whatever had happened to Rose, Megan couldn’t let that happen to her.
She walked forward, following the narrow path. Shrubbery and branches brushed against her as she walked past. Megan took care not to trip or let anything touch her bare skin, taking extra care of where she placed her feet; If these trees were alive, they wouldn’t take her by surprise.
The beam of light stayed ahead of the young brunette. Megan clasped the flashlight tightly in her hand, using it to keep an eye on her surroundings. Before her, up ahead, either side of her, even below. She used the flashlight to keep an eye on her own feet.
She wouldn’t forget how Rose had lost her footing and tripped on a branch, that had looked painful; she didn’t want to experience it, but more than that, she didn’t want to experience what had happened immediately after; she didn’t want to be trapped or dragged back to the facility.
It must have been terrifying. Rose had been helpless, unable to defend herself or fight back; she couldn’t even stop the vines from dragging her halfway across the forest. Megan could only hope that Ollie had been able to stop them before it was too late.
The girl shook her head. She was losing focus. She had to concentrate. What good would it do to think about that? She couldn’t help Rose now, she just had to focus on getting herself out. What good would it do to worry about Ollie and Rose? What good would it do to worry about what could happen? She just had to ensure that it wouldn’t, she had to make sure it would never come to pass; she had to prevent that nightmare from coming true, by any means.
Megan took a deep breath, then pressed on.
She must have been close to the exit by now, there was light up ahead. All she had to do was walk toward that light.
Megan licked her lips; this was it, it was right there, she was almost out. She was finally, almost outside. The distant light shone like a beacon of hope, inviting her, enticing her.
It was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was. This forest was so dark and quiet, it really was just like an underground cave, only with grass and thick roots in place of a real cave’s rocky, uneven footing.
The path grew brighter with every step she took. Megan switched off her flashlight, she didn’t need it anymore. The luminous opening up ahead infected the forest’s oppressive darkness, filling it with colour. The area surrounding her was still eerily silent, but that light was a blessing. This forest really was like a cave.
Nearing the exit, even the air smelled fresher. It tasted sweet. The dark forest and the facility it harboured were finally behind her. The air grew lighter, sweeter, and fresher, the closer she drew to that heavenly light.
Megan picked up her pace, breaking into a run, a grin plastered endearingly upon her face.
This was it. She was finally out. She was finally free. For the first time in her life, she was going outside. She’d seen the sky, but only from within those prison walls.
The girl breathed heavily, her body’s lack of stamina becoming clear as she pushed it to do something she’d never experienced before.
Megan liked running.
It was just one more thing the girl had been deprived of. She’d had no cause to exercise, no cause to run or play. She’d never particularly minded, Ollie had provided all he could for her. It was only now she began to realise what it was she’d been missing out on all this time.
Megan couldn’t suppress the giggle that burst free, rising from her stomach. She was almost there. Just a few more steps.
The girl raised her arms as she approached the threshold, her fingertips brushing a low-hanging branch as she slipped through the narrow archway, leaves rustling behind her as she crossed the finish line.
Megan’s breakneck run gradually slowed to a halt; her girlish giggling subsided as she paused to catch her breath.
The brunette looked around; her large, blue eyes eager to take in the unfamiliar surroundings.
She stood alone in what appeared to be a field that stretched on forever. The expansive forest lay behind her, but there were patches of trees and bushes littered randomly about the tall grass. Off to the side, there was a shore. “Wonderful, I’ve never been to the beach,” the girl happily expressed as though she were the child of a humble father, travelling from home for the first time.
In actuality, that wasn’t too far from the truth.
The girl’s grin widened, exposing her pale, white teeth. She must’ve looked like the cat in that story Ollie had once read to her.
A gentle breeze brushed against the girl’s face. She closed her eyes and outstretched her arms, as though she wanted to hug the universe. The air was so light, so sweet. The feel of it on her skin was wondrous, even more so after her time in that forest.
“This feels so good,” Megan chuckled. Everything that she had been through, it was all over. Her life was about to begin, the feeling welled up inside her, she couldn’t contain it. Megan felt as though she were a balloon, blowing up with hot air. She might lift off from the ground and float up into the endless sky.
The laughter continued, growing stronger. It was all she could do, it was the only way she could express the emotions growing within her.
She was so happy.
Suddenly, everything went white.
The insides of Megan’s eyelids blazed brightly, blinding her.
The girl’s eyes snapped open, she couldn’t see anything. The silent flash of white overpowered her, robbing her of sight, sound, everything. Her body was stiff, she couldn’t move.
She couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, couldn’t feel, couldn’t move, couldn’t think. Her mouth opened in a silent scream, but nothing came, she couldn’t even cry out.
The moment seemed to stretch on forever.
She gradually became aware of the fact that she was in pain; her entire body was racked with it.
Deaf, dumb, and blind, the simple act of standing eventually became too much for her.
She didn’t know when she had hit the ground, she didn’t feel the impact, she barely even registered the sensation of falling.
Megan lay back, unable to do anything. The pain subsided and the world slowly returned, the pieces gradually fitting back into place, back to where they should be.
The white nothingness faded, and Megan was looking up at the sky.
She still couldn’t move, but she could see, and she could hear.
She looked out into the endless blue. It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever laid eyes on, but she didn’t have time to relish in its eternal splendour, she wasn’t alone.
A figure entered Megan’s field of vision, standing over her, a malicious sneer upon his face.
She didn’t know him.
She didn’t want to know him.
“Well, lookie what we have here,” he said.
“How sweet,” replied a second voice, standing behind her, out of sight. Was he the one who had attacked her?
Megan’s eyes began to well up. How had this happened? She’d been too careless. Ollie had warned her, she shouldn’t have let herself get so carried away.
“Don’t cry, little girl,” taunted the man standing over her. “We’re gonna take good care of you, I promise.”
That didn’t put Megan’s mind at ease at all. She closed her eyes and began to whimper as they filled with tears.
She didn’t want this.
Where was Ollie? Did he know that she needed him? Would he come for her? Would he save her from… these people, whoever they were?
“You sound so very cute when you’re crying,” said the man behind her.
“I liked it better when she was laughing,” replied the first
“Oh well,” the second said with a dismissive air to his voice. Megan felt his hands on her, something cold touched her neck. She froze, fear oozing like ice-cold sweat drops from her pores.
The girl winced as she felt it pierce her skin.
They were injecting her with something.
“If we can’t make you laugh….” Megan opened one eye, peeking through her eyelid to see the second man kneeling over her. He made her shiver. He had pale grey skin and a greasy mess of grey hair. His grin was vile and crooked. His parted lips revealed a broken smile. His teeth had a prominent gap in the front, and those that remained were stained, like rusted bars in an old iron fence. His foul breath wafted over her, sickening her almost as much as his touch.
The man’s cold, colourless eyes stared into her own, invading them, violating her sight with their presence. She couldn’t look away. When he spoke, his gravelly voice filled her with dread.
His drug was beginning to take effect, she could feel it, the world around her was spinning so fast she wanted to vomit. Only that man remained, his cruel eyes and vile grin drilled into the girl’s brain. She was unable to escape him.
It was so hard to stay awake. As Megan drifted slowly out of consciousness, his twisted face was the last thing she saw. His odious words were the last things she heard. They clung to her like a substance she couldn’t wipe off.
“Then we’ll just have to make you scream.”
For the first time in her life, Megan wished that she were alone.