((Sorry, I got reeeeally bored tonight and just kept writing… x.x ))
Caden went into a room, and Caleb picked one of the remaining as his own. He was mentally, and emotionally, exhausted. He hoped the girl would be okay on her own, because he wasn’t sure what he would do if that were not the case. Bidding Heather goodnight with a grin and good humor, he half-waved, and then shut the door.
Caleb paused after shutting it, still facing the door and rubbing at his face with hands that shook. His hands dropped to his sides, and he leaned his forehead against the door, feeling the cool metal warming from his skin. There was no more cell, but he was still a prisoner. And now he was alone. Abel was back in the room with the rest of the prisoners; Sabriyya was with him, and so was everyone else. Even the three others who had been pulled aside with him had their own rooms. There was no one left for him to impress, to remain calm and collected for. It was a relief. It was also terrifying.
Being alone was something he hadn’t really counted on. And without having any distractions in the form of other people, there was nothing to keep his thoughts at bay.
He sighed. Abel may have blamed himself, but Caleb knew the real score. When Rachel had canceled, Caleb knew he should have just skipped the trip this year. He knew it. If he hadn’t gotten it into his head to ask Abel about a survivalist expedition in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened.
My fault. My fault. In some corner of his mind he found humor in the fact that he was sounding like his friend. The rest of him was just frightened. I’m the oldest, he told himself, a mantra left over from growing up with his sister, I’m responsible.
Fear turned to anger, and he drove his fist as hard as he could into the wall next to the door. It hurt. He knew in the back of his mind that he was lucky nothing had popped, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to care. The anger melted as quickly as it had arrived, and Caleb turned and sagged against the wall. This was all just… too much. He had no idea how to deal with all of this. No one should know how to deal with all of this. He was a 34-year-old man, and this place had him reduced to a frightened child.
It made him sick to realize just how unhinged he really felt. How detached from reality. This whole place was so detached from reality that it was difficult to wrap his mind around. His life was over, and he was supposed to just accept it like it was no big deal. It was easy enough to pretend back in the cage; it was easy when there was an audience. But as appealing as the thought might be, he couldn’t keep lying to himself here.
He was scared shitless.
As far as he knew, he would die in this place. His friend would die in this place (I’m the oldest, I’m responsible). All these people… most of them little more than children. At least one of them was a child. They’d all be killed, disappear, covered up in the pursuit of… what, exactly? Some sort of military test? Government experiments? What was the point of all this?
What had they done to him? Was he even human anymore? He was a freak. Something that looked human but wasn’t. Even if he made it out of this place, he’d never be able to go home. If the government really had something to do with this whole thing, Caleb had no doubt that they knew who he was. The fact that the doctor and guards called him by name made that abundantly clear. And if they knew him, they’d know his family. Would they be safe if he went home? What about Abel’s family? Ruth and Jerry?
I’m the oldest, I’m responsible.
Caleb would never see his family again. No more Mom, Dad, Rachel. No more Lisa. No Jackson. They’d all wonder, sure, but it wasn’t terribly uncommon for hikers to go missing, especially in a place like the Bridger. An accident. A tragedy. And that would be it, they’d move on. Suddenly, the goodbyes he’d given on his way out on this trip seemed completely and utterly inadequate.
My god. My god. But he didn’t believe in God, he reminded himself with a mental giggle that edged on hysteria. Not really.
He was hyperventilating. His eyes hurt. He squeezed them shut, trying to catch his breath. His hand hurt. He couldn’t concentrate. He couldn’t stop shaking. He knew there was something he was forgetting, something he should be doing, but he couldn’t quite bring it to the front of his mind.
Leaning there against the wall, Caleb prayed for the first time in years. And when he opened his eyes and looked at the sparsely-furnished bedroom in front of him, a wave of embarrassment mixed with anger flowed over him. The mirror. He’d forgotten the goddamn mirror. And, of course, the camera up in the corner. How the heck had he managed that?
They’re still watching me. While that thought made him sick to his stomach with equal parts chagrin and trepidation, it was also calming, something to latch on to. If he couldn’t keep calm for himself, if he needed an audience--and how healthy was that?--…well, now he had one. A moment of weakness, that was all; they wouldn’t see it again. He couldn’t let them see just how freaked out he really was. It was survival in this context, not just concern for the feelings of his cellmates.
Out of habit, as when he would get upset back home, Caleb began his normal stretching routine in preparation of a workout. He wanted to go for a run. Running always helped, the exertion and ache of tired muscles helped him focus, ignore whatever was bothering him, or at least let him work through his aggressions. But there was no place to run, here. Just a small room with a tiny bed.
Next best thing, he thought as he dropped to his knees and got into a plank position. Pushups. One... Two… Three… When his shoulders ached and his arms were ready to give out, he switched to sit-ups. Maybe if he did enough, he would be as physically exhausted as he was mentally and emotionally. Maybe then he’d be certain he could sleep.
((Bah. Freakin’ angst. Hopefully now it’s out of his system.
As far as day four… Caleb’s done for the day. He’ll probably end up falling asleep on the floor. And for PCs, I’m pretty much up for whatever. I rather like having a tiny group, so I’d say maybe one or two at most, but that’s up to you guys.))