Port Moresby - Wallace’s story, ‘Project Infiltration’, won the Grades 11 -12 category for Best Language Usage Story in the Paradise College ANIS Writing Competition
DAY FIFTY-TWO BEGAN with fear; the type that kept me awake at night; the type that filled me with disconcerting uncertainty; the type that was present from the beginning.
It had been fifty-two days since my carefully orchestrated escapade and too long since my unfortunate kidnapping. I had seemed to have lost track of time.
My body constantly rejected the food or fluids I consumed, with water being an exception. This, I suspected, had been the side effect of whatever experimental drug they used on me.
A female's voice was stuck in my head: hold still Angus, this won't hurt. But she lied. It hurt when she stabbed my chest with the syringe, slowly injecting whatever substance it was into my bloodstream. I laid there idle, scared and vulnerable, forced to witness a moment engraved in my memory forever.
From that moment onwards I had planned my escape, anticipating the right moment to cease my chance and run without looking back. Soon enough, when the opportunity had been presented before me, I took it. I had been running and running for fifty-two days until finally I stopped. Someone had found me.
My hands froze in mid-air as I reached for the knob of my apartment door. The door was left ajar with a little of the light from the outside emitting through. My mind immediately retraced my steps from the time I left my apartment. I was quite certain that I had locked my door but the sight before me
contradicted that. I scanned the corridor suspiciously to see if anyone was looking before entering my apartment, making sure the sound of my footsteps or the door opening was faint and if not, inaudible.
Darkness is what greeted me as I entered. I purposely had left the lights off and instantly regretted doing so. Something in the air and the room didn't feel right. Both felt occupied by something else; by someone else.
"Hello Angus," boomed a deep voice somewhere in the darkness around me.
"Who are you?" I asked the darkness. The hairs on the back of my neck standing up as an all-to-familiar feeling climbed up.
"The time for introductions will come shortly,” replied the voice from a different corner of the room. "Right now you need to come with us."
His last words hang in the silence that followed after: you need to come with us. So it was evident he didn't come alone. Which meant that I was outnumbered.
"Who's us?" I questioned. Although I didn't expect a proper response.
"Like I said,’ the voice began,” introductions come later. Right now we're here to bring you to safety."
Just then I heard something click and zoom through the air directly at me. It hit me squarely in the neck and soon I couldn't feel the floor beneath me. I fell slowly into the darkness; a void I couldn’t see, nor feel. I fell into an abyss until I hit concrete. Then everything went dark and silent.
My eyes twitched as they opened, carefully adjusting to the lighting of the room. I'm in what seemed to be an interviewing room for suspects. My head ached so much as I try to recall why I'm here. Did they find me? Suddenly I remembered what had transpired in my apartment with the voice in the dark. He wasn't alone, he came with others. They came for me. But who were they?
I tried to stand up but realised both my hands and feet were handcuffed to the seat I was seated on. Upon realising this, I gazed around the room. Immediately my gaze lock with a bald headed man sitting at the end of the room. A patch covered his left eye. A smirk spread across his face and our gaze holds for some unsettling seconds.
"Who are you?" I asked. This time my tone was more demanding than when I previously asked the same question.
"My name is Nick Fury, founder of the Avengers. It's a pleasure meeting you." He held out his hand, expecting a shake. But before I could proceed, he withdrew. "I maybe shouldn't do that. Strange warned me of what you are."
A million questions raced through my mind that very instant. How did this person located my whereabouts? Obviously he knew I had powers. But how did they know I had powers? Who's Strange? Are these the same people that kidnapped me?
"What am I?" I asked. It seemed as if my question was directly more towards myself than him. A lot has happened recently and I wasn't even sure who I was anymore.
"Your name's Angus Walker”. He walked across the room towards me. In his hands were a couple of files labelled Project Skin Walker. "On the 11th of October last year, you went missing. According to my sources you were kidnapped by an extra-terrestrial organisation called Skrull and used as a lab rat for their latest experiment-"
"Project Skin Walker," I continued, "It's all coming back to me now."
Images and memories race back into my head almost vividly. The lab coat of the lady had the name Skrull embroidered on the front pocket. I think she was the person who designed the experiment. But if it was an extra-terrestrial organisation, did that mean they worked with aliens? Or were they themselves aliens?
"I know what you're thinking. How is it possible for an extra-terrestrial organisation to operate on earth? Well to tell you the truth, they've been doing it for years, right under our noses. They’ve formed alliances with certain syndicates and organisations. We have managed to locate a few but we still don’t know where their base of operations is. Everything we know are in these files." He slid the files across the table over to me.
"Take a look."
"I can't," I said.
"My hands are cuffed. Remember?"
"Oh right. Strange has to remove them. There's some sort of enchantment on it preventing you from Shape shifting. Have you realised that?"
Of course I have. That explained why my powers didn’t seemed to be working ever since I regained consciousness. Somehow the enchanted cuffs dampened my powers. But how? Was it magic?
"Strange!" Nick called out into the room. I looked around to see if someone entered while Nick had been speaking. But no one was in the room, except for us both.
Then to my amazement a fiery circular hole fabricated out of nowhere and a man with a bluish cape stepped through. His hair was neatly brushed and carefully placed and as soon as he saw me he smiled.
"Do you mind disarming the enchantments on the cuffs?" Nick asked.
"Sure thing boss," Strange replied before holding up a hand over the cuffs. With one smooth wave of his hand, the cuffs materialized into nothingness.
"You must be Angus. I'm Doctor Stephen Strange." Like Nick, he held out his hand for me to shake.
"You sure about that?" I eyed his hand and glanced back at mine.
"I am," he replied.
So I shook his hand and soon after my entire appearance morphed and mirrored the image of Strange who was in front of me. Both Nick and Strange had the look of amazement registered across both of their faces. But shortly after, I changed back.
"I still haven't figured out how to make it last longer, " I said. As soon as I said this I instantly regretted. How sure was I to trust these people? Who knows what they would do to me?
“In time,” Strange begins, “with proper training you should be able to gain full control of your powers.”
Now I was genuinely confused as to what was happening. What training were they referring to?
Nick held a hand up to stop Strange from continuing. “I haven't informed him of his recruitment yet.”
“I’m sorry what? Am I being recruited, and for what?” I asked. My tone begging for answers immediately.
“With someone with powers like yours, we could use you in our Avengers team to bring down the extra-terrestrial organisation,” Nick replied. “Given that you have powers similar to the Skrulls, which is also the name of the aliens that run the organisation, you fit in perfectly in our plan.”
“And,” continued Strange. “We need you to infiltrate Skrull. Be our eyes and ears from the inside.”
“What do you say, are you in?” Nick asked.
I looked up and faced them both directly. I’ve been running for fifty-two days. Maybe this was my chance to finally stop running and face what’s been chasing me. I could actually make a difference by changing and saving the lives of countless people who are abducted. The Skrulls have a reason for being on earth and whatever they have planned, I’m determined to stop it.
So, looking at them directly, I smiled and said, “I’m in.”
It was time to be a superhero.