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     His legs were aching, screaming at him to stop and rest, but he couldn’t, not if he want to live. He had to keep going, to run as fast as his legs would take him, to escape this forest and into safety.

     In the background, older men could be heard barking orders at each other, running through the bushes. They scattered, in hopes of catching the boy, the one who somehow slipped under their watchful eye.

     “Come back here! You can’t escape us, let alone your fate!” shouted one of the men, his deep voice magnified.

     “You may run, but in the end, you WILL return to us!” screamed another.

     The boy kept running. He knew all they spouted were lies, sweet words to soothe his ears and seduce him back to their grasps. All they ever spoke were in masked lies. They would continuously promise him a better life, that he’d become a sort of deity, bathed in riches and glory. He was never interested in those, however. All he wanted was a peaceful life, to have friends like himself, to be free from the constant experiments performed upon him.

     With every injection, with every test, you are a step closer to becoming a god! You will be hailed as the new leader who will guide us to the better world. This is your fate!

     Every day, he heard the same few words. Fate will guide you, you must accept this, etc. Everything was the same. Nothing they had boasted about matters anymore. Not since he had escaped their hands.

     Soon enough, the boy spotted a house in the distance. It was old, likely abandoned, but it was better than nothing. He ran in and barricaded the doors and windows with what he could find: old chairs, dusty tables, planks of wood, whatever. This would buy him some time to further his getaway. The house was rather big, now that he stopped for a brief moment to observe. Light cascaded through the thin veils, revealing the disturbed dust floating. It was in this moment that the older men burst through the front doors, grabbing and constraining the young boy. Pinned to the ground, the young one struggled against the strength of many, eventually giving up.

     “You foolish boy. You shall pay for your disobedience,” a man spat.

     One man grabbed the boy’s head, shoving him to the wood flooring. Others grabbed his arms and legs, rendering any attempt to escape useless. “W-what are you doing?!” the boy yelled.

     His eyes widened in fear as another man unwrapped tape and sealed the boy’s mouth shut. All that could be heard from him were muted screams.

     The same man rose and took out an axe from behind him. “We of SEELE agreed that you were best fit to become our next exalted king. However, with your recent cases of rebellion, we have come to realize our error with that decision. Already, you have proven yourself to be too immature to lead us. You have abandoned us, and seen too much of the disgraced outside. Should you be the true leader as the sacred texts say, resurrect and come forth to purify and forgive us with your light. Otherwise, perish.”

     Suddenly, hot white pain flashed at the boy’s neck and soon spread throughout his body. Tears that had previously formed in his eyes poured down his face. The men around him blurred and dissipated. The room was filled with red and white, lines convoluting and separating.

     And then, there was nothing.