I didn’t believe you. And I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to scream at you. But I never got the chance. Because a second later, Drexl came in the room and pointed a gun at you from behind. He fired and a dart stabbed into your neck and you dropped to the floor. I looked up and a dart hit me next. Then everything went black.
I don’t know how long we were out, but we eventually woke up outside. Or what looked like outside. There were giant plants of different colors growing in neat rows all around us. I had never seen some of these plants before so I couldn’t even identify them. But there were ones with green leaves, others with purple leaves, and then there were daisies, lilies, and roses. And when I looked up, I saw the Sun gleaming through a glass roof.
“Welcome to my greenhouse,” Drexl said above us.
I scrambled to sit up, but quickly discovered that my hands were handcuffed behind my back. And my ankles were handcuffed too. You were sitting next to me handcuffed the same way and glaring ahead at Drexl.
Drexl faced us with a wide green that showed off teeth just as white as his skin. I noticed there was a bruise on his cheek that hadn’t been there before. “After the attack, the Sun affected everyone differently. Some had no reactions, some became beasts, and others were endowed with peculiar abilities.” He raised his hand and ran his thumb across his fingers. “I however, was rewarded with a curse. I can longer be exposed to sunlight.”
I looked up at the Sun above us.
“Something so beautiful,” Drexl went on. “Had become so dangerous.” He paced slowly back and forth in front of us as he went on. “So I had this greenhouse built so that I could enjoy the sight of the Sun without suffering from its danger.”
I lowered my head and started tuning him out. I didn’t care about what he was talking about. I didn’t care about these stupid plants. This stupid greenhouse. Or the stupid Sun. All I cared about was how you had lied to me my whole life.
“But that’s now why I brought you here,” Drexl said as he stopped pacing. “You’ve discovered that this indeed is not a colony, you scared my women, and you attacked me. I cannot allow you to leave.”
He pulled out a needle from behind his back and held it up for us to see. “I would kill you, but that would be a pitiful waste of resources. Instead, I’ve decided to put the medicinal powers of my green friends here to good use. This serum will render you completely submissive. You will belong to me. You will do my bidding. And there will be nothing you can do about it.”
I didn’t even have the strength to be afraid. I was still too angry at you. So none of that fully registered in my head.
“Do you have any last words?” Drexl asked.
“Yes,” you replied.
“Go on,” Drexl told you, waving you permission.
You turned to me, but I didn’t look at you. “Alex, I know you don’t like me right now.”
“I hate you!” I clarified.
“I know,” you said. “I lied to you. I hurt you. You have every right to be angry with me. And I want you to be angry at me.”
I stared straight ahead, huffing in silence.
“But what do we do when we’re angry?”
If I didn’t have the handcuffs on, I would have jumped up and kicked you in your crotch. Since now I knew why it hurt you so much.
“What do we do when we’re angry, Alex?”
I squinted my eyes and clenched my jaw. “We scream.”
“So scream at me.”
I snapped my head in your direction and opened my mouth to let out the loudest, deepest roar I could muster.
“No, Alex,” you stopped me and the look in your eyes cut straight into my soul. “Scream at me—like a girl.”
I stared back, mouth still open, and searched your face in confusion. And then it clicked. I cleared my throat, took a breath, then let out a scream that I hadn’t released since I was seven. The sound came out in one shrill, high-pitched note that shredded the air. Drexl covered his ears and staggered side to side. But I kept going, letting the note pierce everything around us and fill the greenhouse. And then, suddenly, the glass above us shattered and rained down on us in pieces. And when the sunlight hit Drexl, his skin shriveled up right before our eyes. He screamed, but it wasn’t anything like my scream or your scream. It was like a dying beast. And we watched his face shrink into a raisin and then he dropped to the ground.
And that was how we became the leaders of our colony. And it’s also how I started my journey. I hated you for a long time after that. But I realize now why you did what you did. And I’m grateful that in the end, you told me the truth. But what I’m most grateful for is that in time, we were able to build a world where it was safe to do things like a girl.