“Wheee!” The innocent-sounding, exuberant cry of a child filled the hospital hallway as a wheeled office chair spun and slid its way down the corridor. Its rider, mop of unruly blond hair flying wildly, gave another cheer of excitement that morphed to a groan as the chair inevitably slid to a stop.
The corridor was far from empty. Patients, doctors, nurses, and more were lined up along both walls. They stood rigid, and although it was incredibly late, past midnight even, none of them cautioned the boy to be quiet. They could no more reprimand him than they could move away from the positions that he had ordered each of them into. The boy had demanded silence, and so silence was what he received.
Once the chair had come to a complete stop, Ammon hopped off and spun back the way he had come. His eyes roved over the assortment of brand new friends that he’d gathered, while the boy chewed his lip thoughtfully. “New game, new game, new game… something fun…”
As he was trying to come up with a new way to pass the time while waiting for his newest little project to be finished, Ammon’s thoughts wandered back toward the subject that had occupied them for so long.
Felicity. Flick. His sister. She was supposed to be nice to him. She was supposed to be a good person. So why was she so mean? Why was she so rude and obnoxious to him, him, her little brother? It was wrong. People were supposed to be nice to him. Especially his own family. Mother was nice to him. Father was… well, Father was Father. He was different. He was the disciplinarian.
Maybe Felicity had gone too long without someone like Father. Maybe she needed to be disciplined.
Because she was rude! And mean. She obviously cared more about a couple random girls than him. She liked those girls more than she liked her own brother! What kind of terrible, awful person was she?
And who were those girls anyway? Some rude bimbo that she shared a room with, who had threatened to do horrifying things to Ammon until he made her wash her own mouth out with soap. Right, the headmistress’s daughter. That witch was rude too, interrupting when he was trying to have a talk with his sister.
He should’ve taught her a lesson by making the bimbo cut herself open. Or cut her own eyes out. That would’ve been fun.
And that other girl, the one he tried to make drown herself to lure stupid rude Felicity away, the Asian one. Who was she? From the way his sister had reacted, she knew the girl. And knew her well enough to be upset.
Father had told him that people like Felicity would try to stop other people from dying. The idea had seemed… strange to him at the time, and he’d almost expected Father to be wrong for once. Even as he sent the girl running toward the ocean, some part of him had expected Felicity to abandon her and continue chasing him.
Honestly, he was kind of upset that she hadn’t. Wasn’t he, her own flesh and blood brother, more important than some stupid little girl? They weren’t even roommates. They weren’t even on the same team or anything. He knew who Felicity’s teammates were, and that Asian girl wasn’t one of them.
Maybe he’d ask the girl himself if he saw her again. And maybe he’d just find some other way of entertaining himself with her.
Entertaining… oh right, he was trying to think of a new game. Aloud, he muttered, “I need something fun. Something fun with the chair. That chair’s really fun. But I don’t know any other new… ooooh.” Turning back to look at the chair in question, Ammon smiled slowly.
Abruptly, he turned back the other way, pivoting on his heel before striding past all the people. He was looking for the right person, dancing his hand along as he went while calling in a sing-song voice, “Eenie, meenie, miney, no, nope, moooo, no, not you, not you, moe!” Stopping short, the boy kept his hand where it was, pointing toward a small boy. The boy was even younger than Ammon, and he wore a hospital gown with dancing monkeys on it.
“Hi!” Ammon stopped in front of the boy, giving him a wide smile. “What’s your name? How old are you? My name is Ammon, you should answer my questions.”
The little boy stood completely still, just as he had been ordered to. But his eyes betrayed his terror. “U-umm, m-my name is Evan. I’m s-six. Almost seven.”
“Neat!” Ammon announced before stepping back. “If you’re related to Evan right here, take one step forward, okay?”
Peering up and down the rows of people, at first he thought there was no response. Then he remembered, there were people behind him too! Laughing at himself, Ammon turned that way. Sure enough, a teenage girl, about the same age as Felicity, was standing out of line.
“Hi, what’s your name? You should answer my question.”
Tears were leaking from the girl’s eyes. “P-P-Paige. M-my name is Paige.”
“Hiya, Paige.” Ammon waved. “You’re related to Evan?” When the girl nodded, he clapped a couple times. “Okay! Evan, go stand by Paige. We need another contestant!”
Again, Ammon went down the line until he’d found another child. This one was a girl. According to her when he asked, she was five years old, and her name was Ricki. Annoyingly, he couldn’t find an older brother for the girl, which would’ve been perfect. Instead, he found the girl’s grandfather, an old man named Donald.
It would have to do.
“Okay, Ricki and Donald stand over there by Paige and Evan. Don’t move. Everybody wait here!” With that instruction, Ammon dashed off down the corridor to get the rest of what he needed for this game.
He was back a couple minutes later, wheeling a second chair down the hall ahead of him. On the seat, there was a couple thick rolls of duct tape that he’d snagged from the janitor’s closet. So helpful, duct tape.
“Mmmkay, Ricki, you sit right here on this one,” he ordered before pointing to the first chair. “And Evan, you sit right there on that one.” Once they were seated, he held up both rolls of duct tape. “Paige, you tape your brother to the chair. Donald, you get to tape your granddaughter. Both of you make sure it’s nice and tight so they can’t get out!”
While they were busy with that, Ammon whistled to himself off-key while strolling down the hall. Halfway there, he started to skip. Skipping was fun, and darn it, he was going to have fun!
At the end of the hall, he reached the elevator doors. Rather than push the button, Ammon braced his fingers inside the doors and began to pry them apart. It wasn’t that hard, and soon the doors were open. Leaning in, he looked up first, and found the bottom of elevator itself very close, only one floor away. Then he looked down, toward the bottom of the shaft a good six floors away. Giving a low, impressed whistle, the boy straightened up once more and returned to the spot down the hall where the two children had been tightly bound to their chairs.
“Hi, guys!” Waving a hand cheerfully, Ammon fondly ruffled both of their hair before stepping behind them. Positioning the chairs carefully, he grabbed the tape and walked about ten feet away before using it to make a line across the floor.
Satisfied, he popped to his feet and smiled happily. “Okay! Here’s the game. My name is Ammon. Paige, you hold the back of Evan’s chair. And Donald, you hold Ricki’s chair. On the count of three, both of you run forward and shove the chairs as hard as you can, right at the open elevator down there as soon as you reach the tape. You have to push them as hard as you can, and you have to try to be accurate. No fair trying to miss.
“So you push the chairs as hard as you can, and we’ll see who wins!”
Everyone involved was sobbing by that point, and even most of the people who weren’t involved. The latter part was pretty annoying. They were obviously drama queens. Why did they care what was going on? He’d asked if anyone else was related to the kids, and no one had spoken up. If they weren’t family, why were they crying?
Shaking that off, Ammon stepped out of the way. “Okay, on the count of three. One… two… three!”
Sobs, loud, annoying, distracting sobs, filled the air as grandfather and older sister raced forward before shoving their respective relatives down the corridor once they reached the taped off line. The children taped to the chairs shrieked as their chairs went rolling straight toward the open doors of the elevator shaft.
Both came up short. Evan’s chair rolled to a stop about three feet from the edge, while little Ricki’s was only about six inches from tipping over into the shaft.
“Oooh, so close! You almost won, Grandpa Donald!” Ammon gave an encouraging smile to the traumatized man. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get it this time.”
“Th-th-this time?” Paige stammered, eyes going even wider somehow. She looked like an owl, and Ammon giggled a little.
“Yup! You didn’t think I’d only give you one shot, did you? Here, let’s try it again.”
So, he wheeled the crying, pleading, sobbing children back to where they had been and had the two relatives try once more. He ordered them again to try as hard as they could to shove the chairs far enough to fall into the shaft, then stood out of the way to watch eagerly.
It was so close! Both chairs went right down the corridor, rolling perfectly right up to the very edge. Then they got too close and bumped into each other, rebounding in opposite directions to bump into the wall on either side of the open shaft.
“Darn!” Shaking his head lamentingly, the boy strolled that way. “Okay Paige, Grandpa Donald, both of you should come this way. I want you to see something.”
He walked right to the elevator shaft and waited for the girl and the old man to reach him. Then Ammon pointed down the shaft. “See? This is what you’re aiming for. Think about it, if the chairs reach here, they’ll bounce right off that wall right there and tumble aaaaaaaaaaaaall the way down to the bottom. Won’t that be fun?! Look. Look closer, darn it. It’ll be funny!”
Annoyed that neither of the two seemed to be having nearly as much fun as he was, Ammon opened his mouth to tell them to try again. But before he could, another voice spoke up.
“Ah, Mr. Ammon, sir?” A doctor stood there behind them, shifting from foot to foot nervously.
Pivoting that way, Ammon’s eyes lit up. “Oh! Doctor Sang! You finished it?”
The man stood stiffly, holding a computer print-out. “Yes, we have the results. We tested the hair you gave us against the blood sample that you had Nurse Kingston draw from you.”
“Aaaand?” Ammon prompted. “My name is Ammon. Tell me, tell me, tell me.” He was impatient. It had already taken longer than he’d expected, just to find out that Koren girl’s name (which he’d managed by ‘chatting’ with one of the Heretics that he’d found out on a mission), and then working out where her family lived (they’d moved recently, which made things even more complicated). Then he’d had to sneak into their new house while the parents were gone and searched for the boxes of the girl’s stuff until he found the bathroom supplies. But he’d managed to get a used brush that still had some hair left in it.
The uncomfortable man gave a short nod. “It’s all in the report. But yes, you were correct. The tests were conclusive. You are related to the person the hair sample was obtained from. Your DNA was twelve point five percent similar, , indicating a relationship similar to first cousins, great-grandchildren, half-niece or nephew, and… and so on. In this case, the connected relative would be your mother, because you share DNA on your X chromosome. If you shared no DNA on your X chromosome, the parent that you both shared DNA with would be your father.”
Ammon considered that, head tilted thoughtfully. So. His guess was right. He and the girl back at the camp were related. Judging from what the doctor guy said, she was probably his… what was it, half-niece? Yeah, whichever. This… Koren was related to him as well. And this relative he hadn’t been ordered to stay away from. Mostly because he hadn’t actually told his father about her, hadn’t mentioned that there had been another person he couldn’t affect. Which… if he found out, Father would be furious about. But in the meantime, it meant that this one he could play with… any… time… he wanted.
Which meant… he needed to think. He had to leave this place and take his time on this. Couldn’t screw it up again.
“Sorry guys,” Ammon announced. “We don’t have time to finish our game.”
Both Paige and Grandpa Donald slumped a little, expressions of relief crossing their faces.
“Buuuut,” he put in then, a mischievous smile crossing his young face. “If we can’t finish the game, that means you aren’t winners. And you know what you are if you aren’t winners?”
Their mouths opened, but Ammon wasn’t interested in hearing their guesses. Reaching out, he planted one hand against each of their chests before giving a solid shove. Both the old man and the teen girl reeled backwards, cries escaping their mouths before they went plummeting down the elevator shaft.
“Losers,” Ammon finished. “It makes you losers.”
Peering out into the shaft itself, he tilted his head while looking at the still, broken figures below.
“See? I knew it’d be funny.”