Braxton stumbled across the floor and felt his guide fade. A new sense of space overwhelmed Braxton under his hood. A snipping sound and his wrists flew apart. The scent of iron filtered through the bag. A rattle and whine of a metal cart moved across the room. Why does this feel like a teacher about to show a movie in class? A fresh pain flared in Braxton’s shoulders as he tried to relax.
“Remove my Protege’s hood,” Cass Lawrence said.
Braxton’s shoulder pain disappeared as he recognized the voice. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as he prepared to run. Two people approached Braxton. One removed the hood, and the other held him at gunpoint. I’m not his Protege. Braxton glared at the man’s face on the TV screen. A red light glowed on a small camera on top of the TV.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Cass said. “We are around friends. My Protege, when will you step into your destiny?”
“I’ll never be one of your apprentices.”
The walls waved as if a breeze blew through the room. The walls aren’t solid. What are they? Braxton squinted past the screen and saw the plastic sheets hanging a foot from the wall splattered with a dark fluid. Blood. The person with the gun gestured with it for Braxton to keep talking.
“No, no, he can remain silent if he wants to. One day he will recognize his potential.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Aren’t you more concerned about how I’m doing this?”
“No, I want to know why. I learned a long time ago that your resources are untraceable.”
“See, he’s already learning. An Artist doesn’t need to know how they will create, but why they create. For your information, Braxton, I thought Benjamin deserved a true artist experience. Bradley Brown was a disgrace and dismissed from his apprenticeship a month before he abducted and tortured those Employees at the Plasma Center.”
“But why now?” Braxton asked. “Why would you tell me exactly where to come?”
“Because.” Cass leaned back against his cell wall. “I needed to see if I could see the same spark in your eyes I saw twenty years ago. Also, I think Benjamin would be a substantial addition to our apprenticeship.”
Braxton didn’t know how to respond. From what Benjamin’s therapist told Braxton, the same one who Braxton still visited every week, Ben almost completely recovered from the previous year’s events. Though no one could completely recover from a traumatic experience like that.
“Braxton, Brax,” Cass said, “Don’t think too hard about it. Enjoy the experience. You may remember that you liked my art. Don’t worry, one day you will get to see my art first hand again.”
“They will never let you out of there for what you did,” Braxton said.
Cass laughed and shut off the video feed, but his voice bled through one more time.
“Apprentices, please take the exemplary officer to the Exhibit.”