Last fall, the YA Scavenger Hunt was a blast. I posted an exclusive bonus scene from CONTROL from Cy's perspective. A new, exclusive scene is arriving soon for the Spring Scavenger Hunt...but in the meantime, if you missed it, here is the bonus content from Cy's perspective. Enjoy!
The hundred needles pierce the skin of my neck with lightening speed. The metal tattoo machine hovers over my body, lying flat on the table. A hundred years ago, this design would have taken days to finish; in my room, it’s taken twenty excruciating minutes. I squeeze my eyes shut and grip the table edges, grinding my teeth. Every inked flame of hellfire, every scythe and screaming body, is driven into me. It hurts so goddamn much.
This is good.
“Cy. It’s time. Marka will be here any minute.” The voice of Hex, my foster brother, penetrates the room via the wall-com. I don’t have time for this.
“Not coming,” I growl. The tattoo machine quiets to a purr, its job complete. I push it away, sitting up to feel my tender, newly-marked skin. Half my body throbs with exquisite pain, but already the swelling is receding. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t heal so fast. I wipe the droplets of blood away with a towel.
“But I’ve got cookies.”
I grimace. “I said, no.” I can’t waste my time on meeting the pathetic new member of Carus House. I hear she has no trait, even though she’s Dr. Benten’s daughter. It’ll go something like this: She’ll judge us. Then she’ll freak out. Then she’ll judge us some more.
Yeah. Not going.
“Cy. It’s Vera.” She pauses, and the silent few seconds are menacing. “Don’t make me come up there.”
Hex may have four arms and two legs, but he’s sloppy and unfocused when it comes to everything, including fights. Vera, on the other hand, pulls no punches and is a dirty fighter. Not that we’ve fought, but I saw her and Hex go at it recently when he made fun of her striped yoga pants. Hex couldn’t walk straight for days after that one.
“Fine,” I groan. After tugging on an old t-shirt, I take the transport to the common room. Inside, Wilbert is primping, if you can call it that. He’s flattening the hair on top of his normal head with careful strokes of his fingertips.
“I want to make a good impression,” he says defensively, when he finds me staring with derision.
Should I tell him it’s a lost cause? He has an extra freaking head. But I don’t care. There’s only one thing I care about. The work. Already, the throbbing pain of the tattoo is fading and guilt settles into its absence.
I need to get back to the lab. I can’t wait until this show is over.
“They’ll be here any minute,” Vera says, sweeping into the room. Her green skin is lush and vibrant, even in this dim light. Hex quietly tiptoes in soon after. He stalks behind Vera and stretches out his four arms, until he resembles a mantis about to murder its katydid-like victim. Menacing, except for the one hand clutching a chocolate-macadamia nut cookie.
Vera calmly stares ahead, unflinching. “If you touch me, Hex, you’ll need tweezers to remove your nuts from your eye sockets.”
Hex freezes, and his smile disappears. He coughs, backs away, and stares innocently at the ceiling, all four hands hidden behind his back.
I give them a sidelong glance. Sometimes I desperately crave what they have, wishing I could immerse myself in that casual happiness, even when disguised as annoyance. But I don’t deserve it. I don’t belong in that world. They know it, and keep their distance. I give them both murderous looks, wishing for silence.
An alarm beeps from the door. Wilbert peers into the screen next to it. “They’re on their way up. Wow. The new girl is really scrawny.”
“I’ve got cookies,” Hex offers.
“Shut up!” Vera hisses.
We wait. Marka must be telling her about us. I’m the least shocking of the four of us, physically. A tiny clink by my feet tells me that one of my ear studs has fallen out. There are several left, including the large black one in my lip. I forgot—I pierced myself at least seven times this morning. Soon, my body will heal and push them all out, one by one, and it’ll just be me again. Which is another brand of torture.
The room becomes still with anticipation. The door beeps once again, then slides quickly open.
Marka stands there, her close-cropped hair framing a steady but apprehensive face. You can hardly see it, but she’s biting her lip. Next to her, a petite teen girl stands, frozen.
She’s cornered the market on frizzy brown hair. There are dark circles beneath large eyes, and pale lips puckered by anxiety. A heart-shaped face, with an irregular prettiness camouflaged by plainness. Behind the fear in her eyes lurks a sharp intelligence that makes me catch my breath. My pulse starts to race.
She looks just like Professor Weisberger, the holo professor I work with almost every day. A doppelgänger, except wearing untidy, oversized clothes and a thick layer of distrust.
She’s so familiar, but not. I want to gaze at her longer, want to hear her speak. But wanting these things? I hate it. I stare her down, daring her to be disgusted by us. Her cinnamon brown eyes travel over my neck, my face, my piercings. Against my will, my face flushes warmly, hopefully hidden beneath my tattoos. I frown even more, but feigning anger doesn’t calm my body down.
Soon, the girl’s eyes find Vera, and she actually stops breathing. Then they see Hex who crosses one pair of arms before waving with his second pair.
“Hi,” he says, all friendly-like.
Wilbert, hiding behind Hex, presses his cowlick down one more time before emerging at last. When the girl sees Wilbert, any color she had left in her face drains completely away.
“Here we go. Three, two, one...” Wilbert says.
On zero, the girl whirls around and bolts back through the door.