Taken by flYegurl

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Horror, Tragedy
Published:2010-11-07 13:43:19
Updated:2010-11-29 17:28:18
Packaged:2021-04-22 01:18:08
Summary:Erasers they can handle. Flyboys? No problem. But a psychotic kidnapper? Iggy has been kidnapped, and when they find him, he's been tortured until losing all grips on reality. Driven insane. How can they help him, when he's beyond all helping? ON PERMANENT HIATUS.

Table of Contents

1. Grocery Shopping can be Dangerous
2. A Frightened Mom
3. Always Smiling
4. Can't Open the Door
5. Call 911
6. Finding Iggy
7. Straightjacket

1. Grocery Shopping can be Dangerous

Disclaimer: I own not Maximum Ride.

The flock had planned the trip for weeks. Months. It was all set out; when they would leave, what they would take, where they would go, how long they would stay. It was going to be the most amazing vacation ever.

A week-long stay in the Grand Canyon. That was where they were going. It was supposed to be the most gorgeous place in the United States… at least that's what the flock thought. Lot's of open sky for flying, lots of open land to spot enemies. Pretty nifty.

And they didn't even have to pay for air fare.

So, the day it was time to leave, the flock was set. Food and essential supplies were wrapped and stuffed into their packs. Everything was ready. Everything was going perfectly according to plan.

That is, until Iggy woke up with the flu.

"Ugh! This is awful!" Max complained, waving her arms around and pacing Iggy's room. Iggy was lying in his bed with a skeptical expression on his face. "How long have we planned this trip? This is the only time we could find to go! We won't have a chance like this for ages! What are we going to do now?"

Iggy raised his eyebrow and tapped his chin in mock-thought. "Hmm, I don't know. Go without me, maybe?"

Max discarded this suggestion without so much as a second thought. "No way. We're not leaving you behind. That's not fair."

Huffing, Iggy rolled his blind eyes and crossed his arms. "Max, it's less fair for the rest of the flock. We were all so psyched for this, right? I'm not going to make you miss it on my account."

"But! But! But what if you're attacked? What if Erasers come? What will you do then?" Max inquired, trying to find away around leaving one of her flock behind.

"Come on, Max. You know I'm more than capable of taking care of some Erasers. Besides, weren't they all terminated by the School? There's no threat anymore. The government wiped out Itex. Right now we're safe, and stuff. Besides, I'll be staying with your mom, and Ella. I'll be perfectly fine."

Max wasn't ready to accept this. She searched her mind frantically for every possible way the School could randomly appear… but really, she knew it was practically implausible. The School was destroyed, Itex was taken out, and Iggy, even sick, was more than capable of taking care of himself. The only reason he wasn't coming in the first place was that the flock was almost never sick, so if one of them got sick, they had to rest to get better fast. As Nudge had said, "It's only the evil germs that can take down a bird-kid. And the evil germs are the dangerous ones."

It was sort of a foolish, stupid sentence; at the time she remarked this, Nudge was only eight, and Fang had caught a cold after falling through the ice on a frozen lake. But the term had stuck, and it was used to refer to any illness a member of the happy family of mutant bird-kids caught.

Finally, Max was finished pacing.

"If we leave, we have to leave, like, now," she said, a note in her voice that told Iggy that, if he asked her to stay, she would, and the flock as well. But he wasn't about to be the one to wreck their first break in months. He wasn't like that.

"That's fine. I'll be okay. It may be a particularly nasty strain of the flu, but I'll be right as rain in no time." Iggy answered her with his trademark grin and a happy note in his voice, just to convince her.

Max shook her head and massaged her temples. "Wow, Iggs. If you're saying stuff like 'right as rain' then I know you must be sick."

Iggy chuckled again and waved his arm at her. "Go on, Maximum. The kids are waiting for you. And Fang. I bet you two can't wait to get to the nice, secluded Grand Canyon for prime 'bonding' time." He puckered his lips and made kissing sounds.

Laughing, Max tossed a pillow lightly at the blind boy. "Whatever. Okay, Iggy, we're going. We'll miss you. And I'll leave Total as your guide-dog…"

Max rushed out of the room, as Iggy answered the guide-dog comment with a "Now that's no fair! I'm sick here! Why do I get stuck with the stupid mutt?"

"Not very grateful, is he?" Total remarked, trotting past Max's feet as she blew down the stairs to the other four members of her waiting flock.

"Nope, not at all. You should go teach him some manners," Max answered, stifling a giggle.

"Bye, Max!" Ella called as the flock-minus-one rushed out the door and spread their wings.

"Bye, Ella!" Max answered, smiling up at the sky.

"Take care, honey!" Dr. Martinez shouted from beside her youngest daughter.

"Sure thing, mom!"

Then they flew away. Each had the nagging worry of leaving a member of their family behind eating at the corner of their mind… but still. He would be in good hands. Nothing bad was going to happen.

"Aw, come on!" Iggy begged, but Dr. Martinez steadfastly shook her head no. She wasn't about to let her ward out of his room until she was absolutely sure his flu had passed.

"No. You're still ill. You have to stay in bed and rest."

"But it's been a day! You know we heal fast! And I'm so sick of waiting around! I have to get out!"

"Iggy, it's just shopping. I can drive down there and be back in two hours. You don't need to get up."

Iggy crossed his arms and pouted, scowling. "I'm better! My temperature is down! I don't even feel sick anymore! Beside, I'm already stuck here while the rest of the flock is off on vacation. Might as well have some fun."

Dr. Martinez pondered Iggy's argument, peering at him cautiously. It was true. His temperature was back to normal. The flush in his cheeks had gone down somewhat. His eyes were no longer glassy. And he hadn't thrown up for twelve hours. He was pretty much better.

"We all get better within, like, a day or two anyway. I've probably got the virus or whatever out of my system by now. I'm fine."

Frowning, Dr. Martinez asked a question. "If Max knew you were going to be better in a day or two, why'd she leave you behind? Why not just delay the trip until you were better?"

Iggy stuck his tongue out and rolled his eyes. "Oh, you know Max. Has to stick to the schedule. It was either go or not go for her. She's so stubborn."

Dr. Martinez cracked a grin, then finally relented. "Okay, Iggy. You can go shopping for me. As long as you bring Total."

Sighing, Iggy agreed.

And that was why he was flying through the mountains to the city, bearing shopping bags and a quite obnoxious talking dog.

"You know, I'm very glad you thought to bring me. After all, Max assigned me as your guide-dog. I'm supposed to guide you."

"Yeah, yeah. Shut it, Total. Now, where's the city at?"

Total sighed and grumbled. "Due east, 'bout half a mile."

"Gee, thanks. Tell me when I should touch down."

They flew on in silence; Iggy was enjoying the feeling of flight, Total was brooding. Within five minutes, though, Total had spoke up, pointing out the edge of the small city. Iggy swooped down level with the canopy of the forest, then landed amongst the trees.

"There," he said, setting Total down and holding tight to his leash. "Now take me to the grocery store. Dr. Martinez told me the grocery list, so I know what I need… and I have money and stuff. She even said I could stop by that chef store and buy some cooking supplies."

"Whoopdy-doo for you. Thanks for sharing that information," Total huffed, beginning to trot off, leading Iggy out of the shade of the woods and onto the sidewalk of Main Street.

"Yeah, yeah," Iggy answered, the hand not holding onto the leash in his pocket. "How close are we to the store?"

"It's just a block," Total answered. They were now speaking quietly, at a volume only mutants could hear. That way, civilians wouldn't think there was a talking dog walking down the street (talking dog? Ha!). Or that Iggy was crazy and talking to himself.

"Didn't Dr. Martinez take you shopping with her a few times?" Iggy asked, and Total answered with an agreeing yip.

"Yeah. We bought flowers and party stuff for Ella's birthday." Then he glanced sideways slyly at Iggy. "That Ella… quite a pretty girl, no?"

"You sound like a perverted old man," Iggy replied nonchalantly, waving his hand. Total huffed indignantly. "Anyway, I wouldn't know for the life of me. Blind, remember?"

"Whatever. I would have guessed you'd have picked up on the signals she's been launching your way."

Iggy shrugged thoughtfully. "I don't know. I've always sort of had a thing for Nudge. But she's too young. Or, at least that's what Max would say. She'd totally freak. Even I responded to Ella's 'signals'."

"Yeah, I guess so. Here's the store."

"Right then," Iggy acknowledged, turning to walk through the automatic doors.

He didn't attract much attention; he was totally prepared. Black sunglasses covered his eyes, and Total had his 'SEEING-EYE DOG' vest on. They looked totally normal… except for the whole, you know, blind-guy alone in a store thing. However, not many people stared.

"Okay," Iggy started thoughtfully. "Where's the aisle with all the bread?"

"Here," Total said, leading him over. "So, you have a thing for Nudge? Since when? It's not very obvious."

"Hmm," Iggy started, walking over the tiles, running his hands along the food items until he came to the right type of bread. "Well, it started when I was ten. You know, I'd never actually seen myself before. No mirrors in the School. And then I was blind, so I never got to see my reflection after we'd escaped. Where's the fruit place?"

Iggy paused for a moment as Total guided him over, then grabbed a bag of assorted apples and oranges and a bunch of bananas.

"Anyway, yeah. So I was ten. And I used to stare at the mirror in the bathroom, because I guess I sort of hoped if I stared long enough, then I'd be able to see myself. You know?"

Total was quiet; he'd never heard this side of Iggy before. He sort of looked up to Iggy. He was the strong one, more outspoken than Fang, but more quiet than Max; the fastest flier besides Max, and she just had her turbo-boost. He was fun to be around. Total was closest to him besides Angel. When one is a guide-dog to another, they sort of develop a bond.

"Well, Nudge walks in on me staring in the general direction of the mirror. And she totally understands what I'm trying to do." Iggy smiled at the memory. "And she tells me that I look beautiful."

Total sniffed slightly, then leading Iggy to the meat and produce aisle to pick up some steak and hamburger meat.

"You know, that's sort of a girl-thing. But it was the first time anyone had ever told me what I looked like. It made me really happy."

Staring, Total nearly walked into a shelf of salsa, but managed to dodge.

"That's cool. You should tell her how you feel."

"Maybe I will. When they all come home."

They finished the shopping with little event, and Iggy paid with Dr. Martinez's credit card.

"Do you need assistance, sir?" the check-out lady asked, staring inquiringly at Iggy's sunglasses.

"No, thanks," Iggy answered mildly. "I'm fine."

He took the bags of groceries and Total led him back out of the store.

"Hey, take me to a bench. I wanna sit for a minute," Iggy told Total, and Total trotted them both down the street and sat on a bench in front of a shadowed alley. Iggy sat heavily, sighing and setting the plastic bags beside him on the bench. He leaned back and closed his eyes under his glasses, relaxing.

"What's up?" Total asked, wondering why Iggy was so tired. Bird-kids, as Max often said, had 'mucho de stamina'.

"Bleh," Iggy answered. "Maybe I wasn't as better as I thought. I think my flu came back."

"Oh no," Total answered, suddenly anxious. He had been there while Iggy hacked-up vomit into the toilet, sweating like a pig, face as pale as paper. "You should probably go home. Unless you want to call Dr. Martinez. She could probably drive down to pick you up in thirty minutes."

"Nah," Iggy protested, lazily waving his hand. "I'm fine. I'll just rest for a little, then I'll be set to go."

Total grumbled to himself, shaking his head in disapproval. "This is what you get for going out to the city before you were absolutely better. You're supposed to treat viruses carefully. I don't even think you're supposed to exert yourselves for, like, a couple days after getting better. You freaking went flying!"

"Whatever." Then he suddenly cocked his head. "Hey, did you hear that?"

"Hear what?" Total asked, not paying much attention to the sounds around them. Besides, they were near the edge of the forest, so there were no people anywhere near. "Maybe it was a rat."

"Yeah, a rat." Iggy paused again, then frowned. He turned his head around to face the alley. "There is was again. Are you sure you didn't hear it?"

"No. Just leave it. Rest so we can fly home."

"I'm going to go check it out."

"Fine, then," Total called after him, jumping up to Iggy's empty space on the bench and looking after him. "Just don't get bitten by the rat."

"Yeah." Iggy walked cautiously into the alley. "This is an alley, isn't it?"

"Sure is. Rats love alleys."

Iggy stuck his tongue out and walked in further. "I can't hear it anymore. Maybe it was a rat."

"Just like I said, so let's…"

Suddenly, a large, dark man darted from behind a doorway that Total hadn't seen before; it had been cloaked in shadow.

"Iggy!" Total called, leaping over the back of the bench and rushing towards his mutant bird-kid companion, but the man had already swung a heavy metal baseball bat at the back of his head. Iggy swung around, but the blow had made him become dizzy; he stumbled, and then the bat collided with his head again, and he slumped to the ground, all consciousness slipping away.

Total growled and lunged at the man, but the man responded merely by swinging the bat at the small black dog. Total was knocked out of the air and against the wall, unconscious as well.

And the tall dark man bent to lift the unconscious Iggy from the cold ground to drag him back into the shadowed doorway and into an abandoned garage, where his van was waiting to drive them both far, far away.

2. A Frightened Mom

Total blinked at the sky, wondering what he was doing there. His back was cold, pressed against a hard brick wall. He felt filthy concrete under him, and heard the sounds of distant cars.

His head ached to blazes, and his whole body felt worn and tired.

And then he remembered.

Total struggled to stand, but a wave of dizziness swept over him, and he stumbled against the wall, breathing heavily.

"Iggy," he moaned, looking frantically about the alley. "Iggy?"

But he was gone.

"Oh no, oh no," Total panicked, still searching as if somehow, Iggy would suddenly appear. "Oh no."

Iggy had been kidnapped. Iggy had been kidnapped.

That was a strange term to fit his head around. A mutant bird-kid had just been… kidnapped. It hadn't been an Eraser. It hadn't been a Flyboy. It hadn't been a scientist. Just a dirty man who had knocked him out and… and kidnapped him.

"I have to tell Dr. Martinez," Total groaned, managing to stumble out of the alley and make his way past the abandoned groceries and into the forest. "I have to tell her."

"They've been gone for a while," Dr. Martinez worriedly admitted, staring out the window at the sky.

"Yeah, but Iggy can take care of himself," Ella said, waving her hand around and eating a cookie.

Valencia continued to peer at the sky. It was growing dark, and she had sent Iggy and Total out early that morning.

"It's been a long time. They should be home by now…"

Ella finally listened to her mom and consented to look at the sky. And she noticed just how long it had been.

"But," she started, frowning and turning to the clock. "Oh, gosh. It's been hours! He wouldn't be gone so long…"

"I'm worried," Dr. Martinez stated, nervously clutching at her necklace. "What if he's in trouble?"

Ella tried to comfort her. "Don't worry, mom. He's probably going to knock on that door any second and walk in with that stupid grin plastered across his face…"

Suddenly, the two of them heard a furious tapping at the front door. Ella jumped up and rushed to open it, smiling furiously.

"See? He's back! Look, he's…"

But when she opened the door, she only found a very tired, very scared Total, limping on the doorstep. She squealed and bent hurriedly to lift him up and pull him inside.

"Total!" Valencia Martinez exclaimed. "What's wrong? Where's Iggy?"

Total gasped in a tired breath; he had apparently walked all that way up through the mountains from the city to the house.

"We were shopping… Iggy heard something from the alley… went in to look… a tall man, hit him in the head twice with a bat, then knocked me out… and they were both gone when I woke up," Total gasped, always able to form a speech, even when winded and frightened.

Dr. Martinez and Ella exchanged nervous looks.

"Was it an Eraser? A scientist? Is the School or Itex back in business?" Dr. Martinez asked frantically. Total shook his furry little head.

"No. Just a man."

Dr. Martinez and Ella exchanged a look, then they both rushed out the door and to their car, Ella still carrying Total.

"Where are we going?" Total asked doubtfully as Ella climbed into the front seat and Dr. Martinez started the car.

"To the police station," Valencia answered in a monotone. "Iggy has been kidnapped. We have to tell the police."

The car started quickly and they began to drive quickly down the road. The road was actually basically a very, very long driveway; one that wound through mountains and forest before finally adjoining to the road in the city in the valley. It normally took thirty minutes to drive all the way there, but when Dr. Martinez was nervous, she drove quickly; it only took them fifteen.

"Okay, Total, explain to me exactly what happened," Valencia Martinez ordered him as she drove.

"Well, we were shopping. We got all the groceries and everything. And then Iggy wanted to sit down, so I led him to a bench near the edge of the forest. It was in front of an alley."

"Wait, why did he want to sit down?" Ella asked quickly, and Total sniffled, rubbing his injured head ruefully with a front paw.

"He said he wasn't as 'better as he'd thought'. He felt sick."

"Oh, no!" Dr. Martinez exclaimed, shaking her head. Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears of worry for the boy she considered her un-biological son. "I never should have let him go!"

"That's true," Total agreed, "But it can't be helped now. Anyway, we were sitting, and he said he'd heard something from in the alley. I said it was probably a rat. But he went to check it out. And then…" Total broke of in a whimper as he found the source of his pain; a dark bruise just behind his left ear. He patted it nervously. "And then a tall man comes out of the shadow. He had this long metal baseball bat. He swung it and hit Iggy in the back of the head with it, then hit him a second time in the side of the head. It knocked Iggy out. I had charged the man the second he hit Iggy, but he hit me with the bat as well. I got knocked out too. And when I woke up, both of them were gone."

"Can you describe to me what this man looked like?" Valencia inquired, continuing to speed down the driveway to the city. It was coming into view about a half-mile ahead. The police station was on the furthest edge of the city as possible. She muttered a curse.

"Well," Total began, pausing thoughtfully. "He was very tall. You know, Iggy's really tall, but I think he was even taller. And he was really wide, not like Iggy, because you know, he's so skinny. He had really broad shoulders, and lots of muscle, like he worked out a lot. His head was big, but his face was small. His eyes were sort of beady and close together, and I think they were blue. His nose was really hooked. He had blond hair… but it could have been ginger, he was in the shadow. And he was white, and he was in shadow so he could have been pale, but if not he was either dirty or tanned. And," Total added as somewhat of an afterthought, "he had really small feet."

They were passing through the city, now, on the way to the police station.

"Okay," Valencia acknowledged, going over the information in her head. "Got it. I'm going to have to be the witness, because we can't have a talking dog bare witness. Okay," she said again, and the car pulled up in front of the police station. "Let's go in."

The odd trio rushed hurriedly up the steps and through the double doors. Right inside they raced up to the desk and started clamoring simultaneously.

"Hold on," the woman at the desk stopped them, holding up a hand. "Please, let your mother speak."

Dr. Martinez took a deep breath and began.

"My… son has been kidnapped. It happened around eleven-thirty this morning. My name is Valencia Martinez."

The woman took out a note-pad and started to write. "Eleven-thirty a.m., Valencia Martinez… and your son's name?"

"Iggy. Iggy… Martinez."

"Okay. Please take this," the lady told her, tearing off the piece of paper and handing it to her, "To that office over there." She pointed to a small office to their right. "Since it hasn't been much time, it is very possible that your son is simply a runaway. This case isn't imposing."


Then, a man in a police uniform walked into the building from behind them.

"Good evening, June. May I ask you what these people are here for?"

"To file a missing person. She claims that her son was just kidnapped," the woman said. "I told her to visit the runaway's office because this case was not necessarily…"

The man waved his hand, looking at Valencia, Ella and Total with an odd expression.

"No. They can come with me. I'll handle this."

The woman answered him, looking slightly confused and taken aback. "Um, okay, sir."

Dr. Martinez followed the man, with Ella following and continuing to carry Total, down the hallways and into a rather large office. A desk in the middle of the room bore a plaque with the name Police Chief Sam Garner etched in the brass. He moved in, took off his hat, and mussed his sandy hair with a rough hand. He sat heavily in his chair and turned to the two women, gesturing for them to sit in the two chairs in from of the desk.

"Please, sit, and tell me of your case."

Dr. Martinez sat nervously, glancing around. But she was happy, nonetheless, for her case to be taken by none less than the chief of police.

"Well, my son went to buy the groceries. Before coming home, he stopped to rest on a bench near the edge of the forest. There was an alley behind him, and he heard some noise, so went to investigate. There a man hit him twice in the head with a metal baseball bat until he was unconscious."

"And… you witnessed this?"

"Um…" Dr. Martinez didn't know how she could convince this man of the severity of the case. If she claimed that she was, indeed, the witness as she had planned, then she would have to explain why she just watched her son be taken. But she couldn't just say that Total, her talking dog, was the witness instead.

"No, sir, I was," Ella suddenly spoke up. Valencia threw her daughter a questioning glance, but Ella just looked determined.

"Okay, miss. Could you describe the kidnapper?" The police chief turned to Ella.

"He was tall, with blond-ish hair. Very strong. Blue eyes. Uh, small feet..?"

Sam Garner nodded, appearing very focused, and turned to a file cabinet next to his desk. He fished around until he pulled out a manila folder, and from the folder procured a large, glossy photograph.

"Was this the man?" he asked, showing it to Ella. Total stiffened in Ella's arms and stretched to, apparently, lick her ear; however, he actually whispered the tiniest of words to the girl. Yes.

"Um, yes," Ella stated, staring at the picture.

It was of a man, over six feet tall; broad shoulders, heavy-set, with uncomfortably large biceps. He was walking hurriedly down a street with his hands in his pockets. His face, turned to look at the camera, seemed frightening; small blue eyes that looked sunken, a large, hooked nose, a thin mouth. His hair was a ginger that most likely became blond during the summer; very light, the red coloring hardly noticeable.

Sam Garner sighed and leaned back in his chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

"I feared this was the case."

"Um, sir, who is this man?" Dr. Martinez asked. "Why do you already have a photograph of him?"

"This," Sam Garner began, setting the photo down on his desk, "is a serial kidnapper named Henry Terry. He has previously kidnapped five other adolescent/pubescent boys. He has not yet been caught, due to the fact that each kidnapping has occurred in different towns miles away from each other. Because of this, he is not yet well known in towns other than those from which he has taken a boy."

"But why? Five boys? How could he not have been caught yet?" Valencia asked hurriedly.

"Well, we have never caught him. Usually, the way we find the boys is that he actually sends the police station in the general area the address at which he is keeping the boys. And since he appears to choose towns at random, no city is ever prepared. He is not yet even a wanted criminal." The man grimaced. "Although, due to his methods, I strongly believe he should be."

Ella's eyes widened nervously, and Total whimpered. Dr. Martinez frowned.

"His… his methods..?"

"May I have a description of your son?" Sam Garner suddenly spoke up, looking towards Valencia. Dr. Martinez nodded.

"He is tall for his age… I believe he recently hit six foot, two inches. He is very thin. Very pale. He has strawberry-blond hair, and blue eyes. He's… blind."

Sam Garner suddenly looked extremely sympathetic.

"I am so sorry, Ms. Martinez," he comforted. Then he turned back to his file. "I have actually been researching Henry Terry for some time, ever since a boy from my hometown was taken. This man kidnaps only boys in their late adolescents, early pubescent… boys who are tall, pale, and blonds with blue eyes. I believe this is due to the fact that this description matches that of his own son, who ran away from home at age fifteen." He shuffled again through the papers, staring at each individually. "His wife passed away a year later. His neighbors stated that afterwards, he had begun to act quite oddly… then one day, he disappeared from his town. Since then, he has kidnapped a boy once every three months."

"So… these boys… you said they were found again, correct?" Dr. Martinez spoke up, interrupting him.

"Yes," Sam Garner agreed. "However…"

Dr. Martinez was beginning to get quite nervous. "How... however..?"

Sam Garner looked back up into Valencia Martinez's eyes, a sad glint in his own. "All five of them were traumatically abused and tortured. And all five reside in mental hospitals and institutions."

3. Always Smiling

When Iggy woke up, his head hurt. Horribly.

He moaned, his eyelashes fluttering, lids opening partway; underneath them, his eyes were still rolled back in his head.

Iggy's lips parted slightly as he struggled to form coherent words, but he seemed to have lost all control over his motor functions. He could barely even move his fingers, and couldn't even move his arms to examine the two lumps on his head which were most possibly bleeding.

Finally, Iggy managed to move a little; only to discover that his arms were bound behind his back with chain, to some sort of tall metal pole. He sighed and inwardly cursed; great, just great. So now he was trapped somewhere, and Max and the others weren't even coming back from vacation for a week. Just his luck.

Then, Iggy heard a noise; a sort of shuffling sound, coming from just ahead of him. He frowned, trying to concentrate.

It was the same sound he had heard from the alley, just before…

And then it all came flooding back. Going to investigate the mysterious noise. Then the tall man, hitting him twice in the head with the bat… and poor Total… he wondered worriedly if Total had been terribly injured.

"Um, if you'll excuse me, do you think you could possibly inform me as to where I am and who you are?" Iggy spoke up to the shuffling noise, and it stopped suddenly. Then he heard muttering.

"Won't even be quiet… talking out of turn… just keeps talking out of turn…"

"Uh, hello? I'm waiting. Come on, don't leave me hanging. Blind guy here. I need to be told this stuff." Iggy waited curiously for the answer; this man, judging by the nearly nonsensical murmuring, appeared to be… well, crazy.

There was a paused, frozen silence, and then the man answered. Well, talked again, anyway.

"Think he'd know his place by now… think he'd know his place… after all that… I beat some sense into him, I did… and now he doesn't even know his place…"

"Uh, what the heck are you talking about?"

But the man didn't answer, just approached Iggy with a limping gait. Iggy was growing vaguely worried; after all, not just any man can kidnap a mutant bird-kid. This guy must be either really strong, or completely and totally insane. Either way, he could be dangerous. And a blind boy stuck in who-knows-where with his arms chained behind his back isn't much help in defending himself. Tough luck.

"Maybe this will teach him to watch his mouth," the man spoke up, and suddenly he was bending over Iggy, and all Iggy could picture was an Eraser baring down on him with outstretched claws…

Iggy kicked out with his long legs, and managed to hit the man squarely in his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. The man stumbled backwards, choking slightly on the air, suddenly lacking the proper amount of oxygen. Taking a couple of breaths, the man spoke again.

"Think you can just run away like that, and you can stay away from me? I said I'd catch you, I said I did, and now I have, and now you're all mine…" there was a maniacal laugh, and Iggy began to grow nervous.

"I think you've got the wrong guy," Iggy said cautiously, laughing nervously. "I've never met you before in my life. Let's just be a little rational here and look at the facts…"

The man suddenly lunged forward, and Iggy had no choice but to kick out again. Except this time, instead of his foot colliding with the man's stomach, it was impaled by a sharp object; a knife. The silver blade sliced right through the sole of Iggy's shoe and up through his foot, coming out all the way through the top of his sneaker, now stained red with his blood. Iggy let out a scream of pain, trying to yank his foot back; the knife was pulled out of the man's hand and came with him.

Iggy's face was scrunched in pain now, and he was trying hard not to cry. Blood now fully soaked his sock and the inside of his shoe was sloshy with the red stuff; it trickled out the freshly cut hole through the rubber sole and dripped onto the filthy concrete floor of wherever Iggy was being kept.

"Didn't think you could just run away… you're staying with me now, never running out on us again… worried your mother half to death…"

Iggy, his arms incapacitated, had no way to nurse his severely injured foot. He let out a small mini-scream as he felt another wave of the biting pain, then turned his gaze up to his captor.

"You're… crazy… I've never heard you before in my life… I don't have any parents…"


The man shouted furiously, and then suddenly his hand reached out and grabbed the handle of the silver knife lodged in Iggy's foot, tugging it out furiously. Iggy let out another scream, and fresh blood flowed out of the wound. There was a pause as the man appeared to look at the blood puddle slowly forming under Iggy's shoe, and then he pulled off Iggy's sneaker and blood-soaked sock; a moment later, he had retreated for a few precious moments, leaving Iggy with his confusion and pain.

But a minute later, he was back, muttering again.

"Now see what you've done, you're not supposed to do that… that's not good… no hurting, not unless I say so…"

He approached Iggy, but Iggy wasn't about to let him touch him again; he scowled through his pain and launched out with his feet again, just barely missing his captor.

"Silence. You don't want to get hurt…"

Then the sound of something heavy being lifted, and suddenly the same metal baseball bat as before collided once again with his head. As Iggy slowly, reluctantly drifted off into unconsciousness, he felt bandages begin to be wrapped around his foot by rough hands.


Iggy didn't know how much time it took for him to wake up; all he knew is that, once he did, it was as if waking from a drugged sleep. And then he felt what was recognizable a tiny sting in the crook of his forearm; obviously the spot where he had been injected with something akin to dope.

Moaning, Iggy shook his head; and then, not only the horrible pain in his injured foot, but a new, slicing pain met his senses. He suddenly noticed the rub of bandages against his skin, and the fact that his shirt had been cut away. And under that rub of bandages, was the unmistakable biting agony of cuts, so many different cuts and slices…

"Augh!" Iggy exclaimed, unable to hold his silence. There were cuts completely covering his chest and arms. He felt them open and close like tiny mouths every time he moved just the slightest inch, every time he breathed, every time he let a single, smallest sound exit his mouth…

He felt incredibly dizzy, and suddenly thought that perhaps that drugged sleep he had been in was so, so much preferable to pain like this…

"See? Didn't I tell him, he shouldn't have run away, not from me… run away from his house, from his own family… we were supposed to be perfect… a happy, smiling family… always smiling…" he let out a laugh, but Iggy couldn't even respond with one of his witty remarks, not this time, not with all this pain he was in.

So instead, Iggy settled for leaning his head against the wall in a careful way so as not to jar his numerous injuries any more than he had to. Then Iggy lay there, just wishing that he could drift to sleep. And he almost did, too.

"No sleeping, not unless I say," the crazy man snapped, and a harsh blow was felt smashing into Iggy's mouth. It was a rough, hard object that had been used to hit him; the corner of said object. And Iggy supposed that said object was a brick, because it most certainly felt as hard as stone.

Immediately, blood welled from his newly split lip, and Iggy wretched, struggling not to choke on it. He felt a couple small, pebble-like objects swimming in his mouth amidst the blood, and felt sick as he spit them out. He used his tongue to sense the damage done to his jaw – three missing teeth.

Spitting out more blood lest he choked, Iggy suddenly felt very, very afraid. He was stuck here with an injured foot, cuts all over his torso nearly incapacitating him, his arms bound behind his back, and a man who seemed quite unafraid to do any harm to him. And he was utterly alone.

And there was a familiar, empty feeling in his stomach as well; Iggy was hungry.

"Please," Iggy choked desperately to the man. "Please, just let me go…"

"Ha!" the man laughed. It was a horrible, lifeless sound. "He thinks I'll just let him go! Never again, never again, I'll never let him go again, not after he ran away… you're never running again, you hear?"

The man's tone had risen until he was nearly yelling; his words hurried and slurred, an urgent, desperate tone in his voice. But Iggy didn't care. He just wanted to get out of this horrible place, to get back home.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Iggy tried to protest. "I never ran away from you. I've never met you before. I just want to go home."

The man bent slowly down to Iggy's level, and Iggy could feel eyes staring into his own blind ones. Horrid, rank air was breathed onto his face, stinging his injured lip.

"You are home. You're home. You're here with your family, your happy, smiling family…"

There was a pause, as if the air itself had frozen, and Iggy was scared of what was about to happen…

"Why aren't you smiling? Smile. Smile. SMILE."

Rough hands reached out to grab at the corners of Iggy's mouth and pull; Iggy let out a pained gasp as the touch jerked both his injured mouth and the cuts on his torso.

But the gasp just made the crazy man tug harder, as if he hoped the forced smile would somehow stick, and Iggy would be permanently in that position.

To get him to stop, Iggy tried to smile – but he couldn't, he simply couldn't. There was too much fear, too much anticipation, too much pain that he couldn't force his face into that happy expression.

"Smile, damn you! We're a happy family! Smile! Happy, smiling family! If we're smiling, you won't run away, and your mother can get better…"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I can't, I can't," Iggy choked through the man's fingers, blood trickling out of his mouth and down his chin, dripping onto the bandages around his chest.

"Then I'll make you… I'll make you, and then we'll all be happy and smiling…"

The man's fingers were suddenly gone, and Iggy feared what was going to happen next. He didn't like this one bit.

Suddenly, the large amount of blood he had recently swallowed involuntarily reacted with his stomach, and leaning over as far as he could with his arms bound, he retched and threw up.

Bile and blood rose into his mouth and poured onto the ground; luckily, Iggy had managed not to puke on himself. But still. He was now alone, frightened, in pain, and had a totally empty stomach to boot. He wasn't going to last through much more. He figured he'd either black out from the pain or the hunger, or the crazy man would simply kill him.

And then footsteps appeared back in the room, and Iggy flinched away from the source; nonetheless, the man continued forward, until he was back in front of Iggy. He didn't even avoid the pool of Iggy's sick, his heavy shoes stepping right in it.

"Open up," the man said, and Iggy, once more, felt his rough hands on his face, wrenching his mouth open. Iggy didn't care anymore; he opened as wide as he could. Maybe it would appease the man, and he would just leave him alone.

But just as suddenly as this naïve, hopeful thought had occurred, there was the coldness of a blade at the corner of his mouth, and Iggy let out a scream as the knife sliced from the side of his mouth through his cheek in a curving, upward motion. Blood gushed down the side of Iggy's face and into his mouth; he choked on the red stuff.

But it wasn't over, as the crazy man took the knife and proceeded to do the same painful thing to the other side of Iggy's mouth.

Finally, Iggy allowed himself to cry – or rather, his body forced itself too. Tears streamed down his cheeks to enter the new gashes on his face, causing them to sting and perhaps be even more painful than before, mingling with the blood.

The crazy man had, indeed, forced Iggy to smile. In the sickest of ways. Screams and sobs exited through Iggy's mouth, which remained open, and, due to the injuries was now much, much wider than it should have been.

"There, much better now." The man's voice was barely audible over Iggy's screams and sobs. "Now we're smiling. Such a happy, smiling family…"

Then he frowned and gazed intently with his insane, flickering eyes at the blood continuing to flow unceasingly down Iggy's mutilated face. Too much blood.

"There's blood… it needs to stop… I'll be right back, son, be right back… it's okay, you'll be fine… just keep smiling…"

Before he left, the man procured a small, rectangular box from inside a large pocket in the coat he wore and pulled from it a blue syringe containing a gross-looking liquid.

Henry Terry walked around to where Iggy's arms were bound and reached down to stab the needle deep into the crook of Iggy's elbow. He slowly pressed down on the edge of the syringe until all of the drug was in Iggy's bloodstream, and unhurriedly pulled it out. Iggy didn't even notice the needle, too focused instead on his pain and his blood.

But in a matter of moments, his sobs had lessened, his screams had stopped, and Iggy noticed the drowsy feeling coming over him; he knew he had been drugged and was about to go to sleep. Thank you, he muttered silently in his head as he finally slipped into welcomed unconsciousness.

While Iggy was sleeping, his captor swiftly walked out of the room with his constant limping gait. He had to stop the blood so his son could get better. Then they'd all be a smiling, happy family again.

In the room outside of Iggy's cell, there was nothing much. An old, rotting table that housed all of his items. His knives. His drugs. And the needle and wire.

The wire was thin, and quite malleable, more like string than anything. It was woven from metal fibers that allowed it to work well in the stitching process.

Henry Terry took the large needle and the wire in hand and loped back in to the room and to his 'son', whom he immediately attended.

Iggy's chest was slowly rising and falling as he breathed. Blood was still gushing from his mouth. Blood was also beginning to stain his bandages from the numerous cuts on his torso; they would have to be changed soon.

The man threaded the needle with the wire, and once it was ready, sank it into Iggy's bottom lip.

Iggy twitched, and blood continued to flow from the mutilation. But the man just continued to stitch the wounds back together with wide, uneven, yet thorough stitches. It certainly helped to stop the bleeding. But the wire would cause problems in the end; it would, most likely, inevitably cause infection. Plus, if Iggy's skin healed around the wire, that would certainly pose future problems.

But Iggy was alone, and for all anyone knew, he was going to remain alone for a long time yet. What happened to him didn't matter, because the only person who would see it was the afflicter.

So Iggy slept, and his insane captor retrieved water and a dirty towel to wipe the blood from his face. And it would stay that way for a while yet.

"Now he's smiling, always smiling," Henry Terry murmured as he nursed his 'son'. "Smiling. Happy family." Then he frowned. "But he can still run away. I have to make sure he can't. I have to make sure he can't open the door, can't turn the knob…"

4. Can't Open the Door

Valencia Martinez had sent Ella and Total outside the office to wait while she talked to Sam Garner. And talk to him she did – about everything he knew about Henry Terry, the insane serial kidnapper.

"From what I have picked up from reading the interviews of his previous victims, Terry somehow believed them to be his runaway son. Each of the boys matches the general description of his son, when the son was fifteen."

"So," Dr. Martinez began, "These kidnapped boys have said this in interviews?"

Sam smoothed his hair back from his forehead and sighed. "No. The boys, actually, had been tortured into insanity, and only speak sentences that make little sense. I drew that conclusion because each have spoken of 'not being able to run away again'."

Dr. Martinez's eyes had widened when Sam Garner, once again, mentioned the torture.

"Um, Mr. Garner, how were these boys tortured..?"

Sam turned his eyes to the woman with an apologetic expression. Then he spoke with sympathy.

"Each of the boys' tortures were identical. I have the medical documents right here if you would like to examine them. You are a doctor, correct?"

Dr. Martinez hurriedly took the papers the man handed her. "Veterinarian."

"Good. You'll understand the medical terms. And… I'm sorry."

"For what?" Valencia glanced up inquisitorially from the papers.

Sam Garner gulped.

"For your loss."

Dr. Martinez frowned.

"I didn't lose my son."

After all, Avian-human hybrids were stronger than most. They had more endurance. Iggy would be able to fight through this.

But after she finished reading the medical documents, she wasn't so sure. And when she drove Ella and Total home, her hands were shaking with fear and worry.

Oh, Max, come home soon. Iggy needs you.


The next day, Valencia Martinez had driven back down to the police station to Sam Garner. She had been asked by him to bring by a photo of Iggy, with which they could make 'missing' posters. Now, these posters were hanging all over walls in their city as well as the surrounding seven cities. It was a wonderful thing; such a wide-spread search for her son.

But Valencia had trouble keeping up her spirits. After all, knowing what she did about the tortures Iggy could be going through at that very moment wasn't a terribly good emotional uplift.

Luckily, the search was actually spreading even wider. Sam Garner had contacted the state police force and even the governor about the case of Henry Terry. Due to the amount of boys that had been kidnapped and the severity of Terry's cruelty, he was now a wanted criminal statewide.

This, too, should have cheered up Valencia Martinez. But Valencia was convinced that she wouldn't be able to smile even the littlest bit until Max and the rest of the flock returned. After all, they would be able to track Iggy down and rescue him.

But they wouldn't be back for six more days yet, and in just that little time, Iggy could be so far past help that he would never recover.

After that day in which the posters had been printed, Dr. Martinez went down to the station every day. She was always with Sam Garner, helping him investigate the case. She wasn't one to linger out of the way while someone she loved was in trouble.

Sam Garner was not actually supposed to let her investigate with him – after all, she wasn't a member of the police force – but she was a great help in filing papers and researching. And he was sympathetic towards her plight. And, he had to admit it; he liked her company.

But Dr. Martinez had no time to pay attention to the subtle signals he was sending her way. She was too focused on paying attention to finding her son.

But the second day of Iggy's disappearance had passed with no news.

And the third day.

And the fourth day.

And the fifth day had soon arrived, and still, nothing new had happened.

And the only good thing Valencia had to look forward to was the fact that her daughter would be returning in three days. And then she would be able to find her son. Iggy.



Iggy was hungry. Iggy was hungry and in pain.

He hadn't known how long it had been since the last time he was awake. He just remembered the waking up. And the pain.

His face hurt.

It was his mouth. Yes, mostly him mouth. And his mouth felt a lot different than it used to feel. But he didn't know why; he couldn't really remember much that had happened before.

But there were cuts on his body. All over him. And his foot hurt. Really bad. And his mouth, of course.

Iggy focused, trying to concentrate on where he was, how he had got there, but most of it was a blank.

Wait. He was… where? And why was he here? And when had he got there? How?

And where had he come from?

After much concentration, finally, memories began to surface. Being hit in the head while heading back towards Dr. Martinez's. Waking up in this dismal room, trapped. Being hurt. The knife.

Oh, gosh. His face. His face was changed.

A smile. Always smiling.

Iggy began to panic, breathing hurriedly, hyperventilating. What had happened to his face? Did he look different now? Was it permanent?

What if the flock couldn't recognize him?

Iggy moved his tongue around in his mouth, feeling the raw, bloody slices through the inside of his cheeks. He could feel metal there. It poked at his tongue, and at his gums.

Iggy knew what the man had done before he had drugged him. Sliced his mouth into a permanent smile. But what had he done after that? His face hurt a whole lot. He could have hit him. Or, you know, the man could have skinned his face. Always a possibility.

Iggy felt his head growing light, his thoughts turning fuzzy, and realized how heavily he had actually been panicking. He didn't want to fall unconscious.

Iggy quickly tried to slow his breathing. He took deep, slow breaths and felt his mind begin to clear. And he smiled.

But he still wondered just how long he had been out. He could feel several more, different pricks on his upper arms were the syringe had obviously been inserted multiple times. For all he knew, he had been out for days.

And then, Iggy realized one very important thing; the crazy man was in this room, directly in front of him, not two feet away, breathing harshly.

See, this is what he got whenever he panicked. People sneaking up on him. None of the rest of them had to deal with that.

"Son, don't worry, I'm right here… you're not going to go anywhere… you'll stay here with me, with your happy family… we're all smiling now, see? Always smiling…"

Iggy felt like answering with one of his smart-Alec responses. No, I can't see it, I'm blind, remember? But the man had obviously not understood this the first time, as he still thought that Iggy was his son. And there wasn't any way Iggy could dissuade this thought, seeing as, Iggy being without his shirt on, the crazy man had already seen his wings and still not been convinced.

"Can I leave? Please, just let me go, I want to go home…"

Iggy didn't even care if the man hit him again. He was already in so much pain; he doubted he'd be able to feel any more. Of course, when someone judges those kinds of things, they're always wrong.

"You're not leaving. You're staying here, with me, with your family… I'll keep you here… you can't open the door, never again…"

The exertion on Iggy's stitches when he had talked has caused the wound to start to bleed again, but Iggy's mouth was dry as it trickled down his chin.

"Please," Iggy repeated, not even noticing. "Please…"

And then the man had walked around behind him, and unchained one of his arms. Iggy was too weak and surprised to react, though, and his arm was immediately pulled to the side and set on something. It felt like a slab of concrete, and Iggy winced as his arm was roughly forced flat onto it.

And then he knew exactly what this man was planning, and tried his very hardest to escape, but he couldn't, no matter how hard he tried. Because he was weak, and still trapped, and still in pain. He could hardly even move.

Henry Terry took a thick piece of rope and tied it so tight around Iggy's upper-arm; Iggy thought his whole arm would fall of. A tourniquet.

A moment later, the familiar cold tingle of a blade was felt against the skin just a couple inches below his elbow. Before the knife had even made a cut, Iggy screamed; he was terrified, and couldn't even bare the anticipation…

And then the knife did make a cut, and Iggy knew that he'd never be whole again.

The pain was absolutely unbearable – it overrode all his other senses, leaving even the burning agony in his face behind in the dust. He could feel the sharp blade sinking through his fat and muscle and tendons, could hear as the bones splintered and cracked, could smell the instant rush of blood out of the horrible wound.

There's a certain difference in a person when they lose the ability to see. That person, then, has little other way to get around besides feelings their surroundings. And this causes them to be in desperate need of their hands. Take them away, and they're rendered totally incapacitated.

So when Henry Terry had finished cutting off the lower part of his arm, Iggy knew that he would never be able to do so much. Never again. No more building bombs for him. No more holding hands or putting his fingers through a belt loop to get around. No more telling the flock apart by the feel of their skin or feathers. No more living life relatively normally.

Tears once gain rushed down Iggy's face as Henry Terry moved around to free his other arm and lay it out on another slab of concrete, tied the second tourniquet, put the blade of the knife against his skin below his elbow, and make the first cut.

Iggy thought the whole situation might possibly have been less painful if the man had just cut of his hands in one, clean swipe, like with an ax. But no. This knife was too small. He could feel the pressure as the man put all of his weight on his hands, struggling to cut through the bone. The man worked the knife back and forth in an effort to saw through Iggy's flesh. And Iggy felt his head growing light at the amount of his blood that was being lost despite the tourniquets. And he though, maybe if he died there, it wouldn't be so bad.

"See? If you can't open the door, you can't run away. Now everything will be perfect." Henry Terry continued to mutter softly as Iggy slipped in and out of consciousness. And then, Iggy's mind drifted. Iggy thought, he only needed one more thing to happen for his sanity to slip.

And he was still terribly hungry.


A day later, Iggy was lying against the metal pole, his chin stained with the blood from his mouth, the cuts on his torso having reopened and bled during his plight. His arms were bandaged, the tourniquets remaining just below his shoulder so that he didn't lose too much blood. One foot was still encased in his sneaker, the other bare and wrapped in filthy bandages. And Henry Terry was standing over him with a meal. The first meal Iggy would have had in almost a week.

"Wake up, son," Terry muttered. "Wake up."

Henry Terry bent and slapped at Iggy's cheek. Some of Iggy's blood came off on his hand, and Iggy's eyes snapped open. He was shuddering. He had just been enjoying his drugged sleep.

"I got food for you. Are you hungry? Are you hungry, son? Do you want to eat? Here's you food. Eat your food."

Iggy's empty stomach growled; for the past few days it had been feeling like it had started to digest itself. His eyes had grown wide at the mention of food, and his mouth began to water, even with his dehydration. He leaned forward as far as he could with the chains binding him now wrapped around his chest and opened his mouth, just enough for Henry Terry to bring the 'food' he had brought to his mouth.

Iggy's pupils dilated the second his teeth closed around the meat, and he instantly knew what he was being fed, and it disgusted him beyond anything else. He felt his stomach toss and he spat it out, feeling sick.

"That's the only food you'll be getting, son. Eat it, or you'll have nothing."

And then was the internal battle raging inside Iggy; food, finally, after days of malnutrition, or to eat what he was being offered. His head raged in turmoil, and he felt he wouldn't even be able to eat the meat for his disgust.

But, quite suddenly, his decision was made for him as his sanity snapped.

And he opened his mouth again and was fed by his 'dad'.

5. Call 911

Max sighed happily as she soared over the mountains. The flock was back on their way to Dr. Martinez's house, and they were nearly there.

The vacation had been an absolute blast. Being able to relax after so long was such a relief. Midnight flights under a sky sprinkled with thousands of stars, waking early to witness the gorgeous sunrise… the river flowing through the canyon, the view, the weather. Absolutely wonderful.

Of course, there had been a damper on the joy due to the significant lack of Iggy. Nothing could be quite so fun without everyone's favorite sarcastic pyro. But nonetheless, the vacation had been quite enjoyable, and the flock was better off for it.

"How far until we get there?" Gazzy asked, spinning upside-down and glancing at Max. Max rolled her eyes and grinned.

"See that line of mountains up ahead, Gasser?" she asked, gesturing with her pointer finger. Gazzy nodded. "Well, mom's house is just behind it. We'll be there in a few minutes."

It certainly was lucky, because Angel was just about ready to fall out of the sky due to her exhaustion. A nonstop flight from the Grand Canyon all the way back home really took it out of you.

Plus, everyone couldn't wait to see Ella and Dr. Martinez again. And, of course, Iggy and Total.

As soon as Max could vaguely see the house, tucked amidst the trees in-between the mountains, she swerved and swooped downward until her wings were just slightly skimming the forest canopy. And finally, oh, finally, they were home.

"Yay!" Nudge cheered as they touched down in the driveway. Max noticed that her mom's car was gone. "We're home! We're home! Iggy, come get your presents!"

Having felt bad about leaving Iggy behind while they went on vacation, each flock member had picked up a nifty object from the Grand Canyon to give to him upon arrival back home. And they all knew just how much their Iggy loved presents.

So that's why Max could sense something was wrong when he didn't immediately come barreling out the front door.

The flock stepped up the door and Max reached for the knob, turning it and opening it.

"Hello?" she called into the hallway. There was silence for a moment, and then Ella came rushing down the stairs.

"Max!" Ella cheered, running straight into her half-sister's arms. "Oh gosh, Max, hurry! Go down to the city, mom's there, she's at the police station, you can talk to her there…"

Max exchanged an anxious look with Fang.

"Ella, slow down! Talk to mom about what? Why is she at the police station? Can we talk to Iggy first?"

Ella squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.

"Mom can tell you everything. Just take Fang down there and talk to mom."

Max frowned.

"Is Iggy down there with her?"

Ella shook her head.

"No, but it's… it's about him. Total's there, though."

"Okay," Max agreed after a strangled pause. "Nudge, go ahead and make Gaz and Ange an early dinner. Fang and I will go talk to mom. Ella, go ahead and fill those three in on what's going on. Okay?"

"Okay," Nudge answered cheerfully, skipping into the kitchen, all prepared to make scrambled eggs and sandwiches – that girl only knew how to make a couple of things.

Max turned right around with Fang at her side and stumbled out the front door, spread her wings, and took a running leap into the air.

As soon as the two of them had covered a half a mile, they started talking.

"What do you think is up?" Max asked Fang, staring ahead at the city that was coming into view. It took a lot less time to fly down than to drive.

"I don't know. Ella said it was about Iggy."

Max's mind drifted to Iggy's bomb-fancy.

"Wait… you don't think he was arrested, do you?" she asked, a touch of humor in her voice. Fang chuckled.

"I wouldn't put it past him."

When they were close to the city border, the two mutant bird-kids touched down and began to walk the rest of the way to the police station. After all, they couldn't just fly all the way and touch down in the middle of the town. It would probably freak people out. Give some old lady a heart attack.

Max and Fang weren't too worried about what was going on until they reached about halfway through town and came to the city library. That library had a large brick wall upon which was tacked all the local news.

And there was a large poster there, hanging every ten feet or so. A poster with a blown up picture of Iggy on it. A poster that read 'MISSING BOY'.

The instant Max caught a glimpse of this poster, she froze in her tracks, her eyes widening, reading the words.

When Fang noticed her stop, he drifted back to see what she was looking at. And when he saw the poster he, too, was frozen in place. That is, until their senses woke up, and each of them turned and began to sprint across the town to the police station.

Max and Fang dodged civilians and passersby with relative ease. They crossed streets in about two steps and swerved around cars and bikes until they reached the police station in record time. The two of them crashed through the front doors and rushed up to the front desk, breathing harshly.

"Good day, may I help you?" the woman at the desk asked, and Max had just opened her mouth to answer when her mom appeared from a room across the hall.

"Max, Fang, please come here."

Each of them turned immediately and ran up to Dr. Martinez, staring at her, as if somehow the information she was carrying would just melt into their minds and they would know exactly what was going on. But they didn't.

"Come in," said a voice from inside the office, and they turned their heads to see Sam Garner standing by his desk. Total was sitting on a chair in front of it.

"Mom, what's going on? What happened to Iggy? We saw the posters… when..?"

Valencia shushed her daughter's onrush of questions.

"Honey, this is very important. You must listen. Don't interrupt. You understand?"

Max and Fang both nodded silently, gazing at her with wide eyes. Dr. Martinez sighed and moved to sit down.

"The day after you guys left, I sent Iggy down to get some groceries because he claimed he was 'better'. But on the way back he was kidnapped by a man named Henry Terry. This man is dangerous, violent, cruel, and insane. We don't know where he is. But you need to find Iggy."

Max's eyes grew even wider as she listened, and Fang's heart beat faster and faster with each passing second.

"We know that Terry took Iggy out of the city, but we don't know where. You need to hurry to find him, because…" Valencia's voice broke, and it terrified Max even more, "Because Iggy is in terrible danger. Total can take you to the place where it happened." Dr. Martinez uttered the last part in a low whisper.

Total jumped out of his chair and darted towards Fang, leaping into his arms and licking his face. He didn't say anything, because Sam Garner was still there, watching the incident with a confused expression.

"Um, Valencia, do you think it a good idea to let these kids look for your son? They're a little young…"

"It's fine," Dr. Martinez answered shortly. Then she turned her gaze to Max and looked her directly in the eyes, holding up a picture of Henry Terry. "Max. This is Henry Terry, the man who kidnapped Iggy. When you find them, Iggy might be seriously injured. He probably will be. And he might be… different. The second you find them, you need to call an ambulance. You hear me? And incapacitate Henry Terry so that he can be arrested. This is important. Understand?"

Max nodded, and then without further ado, she and Fang turned right around and rushed out of the police station.

They ran without stopping until Total led them to the alley in which he had been knocked out.

"The man came out from over there and hit Iggy in the head with a baseball bat. There, see?"

Total gestured with his paw to a darkened nook in the wall, and Fang and Max walked over to see that it was a doorway. The door was shut, but upon closer inspection, not locked.

Inside the building, the door led to a quite large garage of some sort. Skids marked up the concrete flooring, and there was a distinct smell of both Iggy and blood in the cavernous room.

"They left through there," Fang said, pointing towards a garage door, now closed. Max and him silently darted to it and lifted it, just enough for each of them to walk through.

Beyond this garage door was a small street that swerved through the forest until reaching the highway.

"Let's hit the road," Max said, and the two of them hit the air, their wings flapping harshly, following the lingering, week-old scent of Iggy and the leaking car he had been carted away in.


The two oldest flock members had flown for hours, but they weren't about to stop. Total, too, was wide awake, staring down at the cities and mountains they were passing.

By the way they had figured it, the insane kidnapper probably wouldn't have gone more than fifty miles. So they were flying around the fifty-mile radius, trying to catch Iggy's scent, the scent of the car that he had been taken away in, or maybe even the light scent of that man; Henry Terry.

Luckily, it had gotten dark pretty fast, and the clouds were low that evening, so Max and Fang could hover low above the cities to search.

But it had been hours, and they still hadn't caught any sight of them.

"Fang," Max finally spoke up, her voice cracking from the lack of use in the passing time. "Let's touch down and look around the city. Maybe Henry Terry will be… I dunno. Walking around."

And that was the first idea either of them had come up with, so they decided to try it out.

And it was a quite amazing stroke of luck when, within thirty minutes of their landing in town, they spot a man who looked remarkably like Henry Terry. Same color hair, same tall frame, same heavy build… and abnormally small feet. And when his face was turned their way, it was his face.

Fang and Max immediately began to follow him. They trailed a block behind him as he loped all over the city, crossing streets and sidewalks, appearing to have no destination in mind. They didn't talk, just walked; they were both too tense with anticipation.

Max was wondering what the man had done to Iggy. She had heard of kidnappings before… torture, rape, abuse. Her mom had said that Iggy would be injured, might be… different. But she didn't give them any details. Iggy could have just been beat up, or something. Besides, they were mutant bird-kids; whatever that man had dished out, Iggy must have been able to handle.

But Max and Fang, no matter how mature they acted, were still just kids. And maybe they had grown up in the School, but they had no idea what real honest-to-goodness torture was. Not the lasting, scarring kind.

Henry Terry continued to stumble weakly, crossing different places several times, doubling-back, sometimes even walking in circles for a time. But finally, finally, he walked back into a darker part of town and into an alley.

Fang and Max walked in a few minutes after him. The alley was bare, except for a dumpster and a couple trashcans. And a metal door on the side of one of the abandoned buildings.

Max got out her cell-phone, and Fang opened the door as she dialed 9-1-1.

The two walked into the room beyond.

"911, what's your emergency?" a voice answered.

The room they entered was utterly empty; decaying beams stretching across the ceiling, dust piling on the floor. But on the opposite wall was a door; a door that was ajar. And light was filtering through the open crack.

"Me and my brother have found the, uh, hideout of kidnapper Henry Terry. He has a boy hostage. We need a police car and ambulance. Please, hurry!"

Max said this all in a hurried whisper, and Fang was making his way towards the door, creeping silently, almost like a shadow.

"I am sending a police car and ambulance right away. Please tell me what your location is."

"Fang," Max hissed through her teeth, and he turned his head. "Where are we?"

Fang shrugged, looking confused.

"457 West Union," Total whispered from his arms. Fang seemed to just realize he was still holding the dog and set him down softly to the floor.

"457 West Union," Max whispered into the phone.

"Please stay where you are and don't take any drastic measures. The police are coming, just wait an –"

Max hung up. She wasn't about to sit still.

"Fang," she whispered again. He was right at the door, his hand against the wood. "I'll take out Terry. Find Iggy. Okay?"

Fang nodded silently, and then pushed open the door. They both rushed through.

6. Finding Iggy

Max raced through the door and straight into the other room. It was dark, dingy, concrete, moldy, and containing little else than a metal table on which sat an arrangement of assorted objects… and Henry Terry himself.

"Hey. Henry Terry, right?" Max spoke, standing stiffly and staring straight at the man.

Fang had darted directly into the shadows after Max had made her grand entrance, and was now cautiously making his way towards the only other door in the room. The door was directly behind Terry, and ajar.

"What are you doing here? You shouldn't be here. This is just for my family. My son is in there… don't touch him…" Henry reached his arm out to the table in front of him and lifted a heavy knife in his meaty hand. He brandished it stiffly, but Max was way too prepared for him. With one swift movement, she launched herself over the table and kicked the weapon out of his hands, giving the man a couple swift kicks to the chest.

"Hey… Fang… how… much… should… I… hurt… him?" Max grunted, punctuating each word with a blow to the man's body.

Fang finally reached the door, having dashed for it as soon as Max began attacking Henry Terry. He flung it open and stared at the insides. The stench that wafted out was vile; blood mixed with filth mixed with decay mixed with rot mixed with human excrements. And inside was Iggy.

"Kill him."

Fang said this with a face stony and cold. Max faltered when she heard the frost in his words.


"Kill him. Painfully."

That was all Fang uttered before he gently, softly closed the door behind him and was left alone in the room with his friend.

Iggy was a mess. His eyes were sunken and both were encircled with purple bruises. His nose looked like it may have been broken. His hair was tangled and really greasy, and a couple parts were stained with blood – most likely from the head wounds he received when he had been hit over the head with the bat. His entire torso was wrapped in bandages, and his arms were bound behind his back so that Fang couldn't see what damage had been done to them. Iggy's pants were stained with blood and other things; judging by the smell in the room, Henry Terry hadn't allowed Iggy a toilet. One of Iggy's shoes was on and looked relatively fine, while the other was gone and nowhere to be seen. In it's place were wrapped and bloody bandages.

But the worse was his mouth. Because his mouth had been cut, his cheeks slit, into… into what could be a gruesome smile. It reminded Fang in the sickest of ways of the Joker. Fang could see the metal wire that had been used as stitching; it was sloppy and sticking out at parts. Iggy's mouth was raw, red, and crusted with blood.

Iggy hadn't moved when Fang stepped into the room; it looked like he was drugged or something. So Fang stepped forward.

That's when he noticed something that seemed rather out of place. In the center of the room, about four feet in front of Iggy, was a chef platter with a metal lid.

Fang walked forward slowly and bent to remove the lid. And the second he did, the stench hit him. Of rotting flesh and decay. Flies swarmed from the contents to flit about Fang's head, and he looked at the meat that was on the platter.

It sickened him, and filled his whole being with dread and apprehension. Two hands, connected to their dismembered forearms. Each of them looked as if they had been removed days ago, and each had been partially eaten. One was missing all the fingers, the other chunks of flesh so that white – and quickly yellowing – bone showed through.

But what sickened Fang most was that the limbs were quickly recognizable as Iggy's.

Looking up, Fang wildly ran around behind where Iggy was bound to make sure it was true. And what met him was the gruesome sight of Iggy's arms ending just below the elbow, still bleeding, wrapped with bandages.

Frantically, Fang reached out and tried to remove the chains binding Iggy to the metal pole. Unfortunately, they had been locked. However, what was keeping his arms behind his back was a cord of rope, which Fang was easily able to untie and remove.

When Iggy's arms fell from behind his back to his sides, he was woken from his drugged sleep. His eyes snapped open, and he let out a small noise from the back of his throat.

"Iggy?" Fang asked hurriedly, moving back around in front of his friend and kneeling by his side. He was afraid to touch Iggy, though, lest he hurt him even more.

Iggy's blind eyes stared into Fang's for an uncounted length of time, and Fang stared back in fear and regret. And then he heard sirens.

Fang wouldn't leave Iggy's side even as the police cars and ambulance had stopped, what sounded like, outside the building.

"Iggy? Are you…" but he couldn't finish it. He couldn't ask 'are you okay' when it was so clear, so obvious that he wasn't.

"Fang," Max's voice suddenly came and the door opened behind him. "I found a key. Terry had it. The police are here, they have a stretcher. Is Iggy okay?"

But she took a couple steps forward and saw Iggy's rotting hands on the platter, and her breath hitched in her chest. She moved forward quickly to look at him.

"The keys are to unlock his chains. Do it," Fang said. Max silently moved around and inserted a silver key into the lock keeping Iggy bound tight, and the chains fell away. But Iggy remained where he was, simply staring in Fang's direction. He didn't even flinch, didn't move, didn't react. Just stared. And he couldn't even see.

"Iggy!" Max said. There was heard a gasp from the room behind them, and footsteps as people rushed to the unconscious body of Henry Terry. Then someone appeared in the doorway.

"Here!" a strong voice called, and Fang turned slightly to see a police-man waving over a couple of people bearing stretchers. They walked in, took in the stench, saw the severed arms, and noticed the horribly mutilated Iggy, and rushed forwards instantly. One of them spoke into their walkie-talkie about a bunch of medical mumbo-jumbo that should be ready in the ambulance.

The stretcher-bearers moved quickly, setting the stretcher down and moving Max and Fang aside. The two of them didn't struggle; they were too shocked to see Iggy in such a state.

But only when the men had begun to move Iggy did he finally react. His eyes widened and he shook his head, trying to stay where he was.

"No… no… NO! I can't run away! I can't! If I run away he's going to hurt me! Don't… I don't want to be hurt anymore… please…"

"Please do not resist, sir, this is for your own good. Sir, please, we are trying to help you…"

"NO! I'm happy here! Look, see? I'm smiling! I'm smiling, don't…" Then, quite suddenly, Iggy jerked his face to the side and stared at a point on the wall far away from anyone else. "What are you looking at? There's nothing to see! Stop looking at me! Shut up!"

"Sire, please refrain yourself…" But Iggy paid no heed to the men's advice, and so they had little alternative but to take out a little syringe and insert it into the flesh on Iggy's neck.

As the men slowly pushed the liquid into Iggy's system, the drugs began to relax him, and he quite calmly drifted into a sort of meditative state, not reacting when the two stretcher-bearers loaded him onto the stretcher and bound him tight so that he was unable to move.

"You are… family?" one of the men asked as Fang and Max followed behind them, their eyes trained on Iggy.

"Yes. He's our brother. Please, we have to stay with him!"

"Very well. Come into the ambulance. You can ride with him to the hospital. The drugs should wear off in a few minutes; he'll be able to talk then…"

But the unspoken knowledge was that Iggy… had indeed been changed. And that little bout of insanity in the concrete room had probably been just the tip of the gruesome iceberg.

Once inside the ambulance, doctors began to work right away, stripping Iggy of the soiled bandages and cleaning him.

So, right away, they noticed the wings.

The nurses stared at Iggy for quite a few long moments, until Fang brought them back to the present with a few well-chosen swear words and some threats to their family if 'they didn't get back to freaking helping him from freaking dying'.

So, naturally, after a small discussion on the matter, both Max and Fang had donated a few ounces of blood, and Iggy was now cleanly bandaged, had new tourniquets, and was stocked with plenty of fresh blood and plasma emptying into him through an IV.

And as they all careened down the road to a small hospital that was twenty minutes away, Iggy finally came to from the light drugs and said something.

"Where'd my family go?"

Fang and Max were instantly at his side. The nurses turned and looked at them for a second, then set back to working with all their medical equipment.

"What, Iggy? What was that?" Max asked softly, reaching out to brush his hair out of his sightless eyes, her fingers quivering as they passed above his mutilated mouth.

"I had one once. But I think I lost them. But I don't know where I had them last…"

Iggy trailed off, his voice sounding doubtful. He turned to Max.

"Do you know where I left them? My family was a good one. You can't just replace good ones. You can't buy them again. I shouldn't have lost them…"

Max's bottom lip quivered as she answered.

"You didn't lose them, silly. I'm right here. Me and Fang. We're right here. We're your family."

Iggy let out a despairing laugh, his voice cracking. The nurses had cleaned the blood from his face, but the sloppy stitching was still there, and when Iggy had talked, his wound began to bleed again.

"Don't be a stupid. My family was bigger than that… and… and… and they…"

But a second later, he had again reverted to staring at the ceiling at something he couldn't see and frowning. Max looked up, but nothing was there. Just spotless white.

"What's wrong?"

"Tell them to stop staring at me. Tell them there's nothing to look at. Tell them that." Iggy then reverted to talking directly to the imaginary thing. "You hear that? Stop staring at me! Stop staring! Shut UP!"

He began to struggle violently at his bonds, but Max and Fang went to hold them down, their hearts heavy. They knew their brother had been put through horrible torture. But they didn't want him to be so different. They wanted their Iggy back, whole and undamaged. But, staring at his drastically changed face and severed arms, that would never again be an option.

The ambulance arrived at the hospital in record time, and Max and Fang were sent to wait in a large room full of chairs, vending machines, and magazines to wait while Iggy was taken in to surgery.

"We should call mom," Max said quietly, staring at the door through which Iggy had been brought.

A moment later, her cell-phone was out, and the other line was ringing. It took only a few seconds before the phone was answered.

"Yes? Max? Max, what's happened?"

Max shook slightly with relief at the sound of her mother's voice, and Fang moved forward to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, looking into her eyes with his own frightened ones.

"Mom, it's me… we found Iggy, and Henry Terry, and I think Terry is in custody, and Iggy's here, at the hospital…" I quickly gave her the name of the town and the hospital we were at.

"Okay, you both stay right there. I'm driving over. We'll have Iggy moved back to town when he's in stable condition."

"Okay, mom," Max answered, her voice suddenly raspy as her tongue became dry, and she heard a soft click as her mother hung up. A beeping began to echo in her ears, so she hung up as well and put her cell-phone in her pocket.

It took Dr. Martinez two hours to drive down to the city. During that time, Fang and Max had each been asked to come in to donate a couple more ounces of mutant blood. Iggy had finally been properly patched up and was out of surgery, but his condition was not yet totally stable and Max and Fang hadn't been allowed to see him yet.

Valencia entered the hospital at four in the morning, her eyes shadowed with worry and lack of sleep, an anxious look on her face.

"Max!" she called the moment she saw her and Fang. "Fang!"

And Max ran forward to her mother, throwing her arms around her, burying her face in her chest and began to sob. Dr. Martinez tried to soothe her daughter, softly rubbing her back and murmuring words into her ear. And after a minute, Fang had stepped forward too, and, just as Max, wrapped his arms around the two women, buried his face in Valencia's shoulder, and began to cry as well.

So, of course, seeing both her daughter and the boy she had become to know as the master of emotional-constraint cry, Valencia Martinez had to cry as well.

And so they all stood there for an uncountable length of time and cried.


The morning saw each of them, asleep, sitting next to each other in the hard chairs of the waiting room, Fang's and Max's head each on one of Dr. Martinez's shoulder. A nurse then came forward and asked to speak to her, so Valencia stood, trying carefully not to wake either of her children, and followed her into a hall and a small office. A doctor there was waiting for her.

"Iggy Martinez is your son, correct?" the woman asked her.

"Yes. Un-biologically, yes," Valencia answered.

The doctor fished through some papers she had on her desk.

"And you have written here you would like to have him transported back to your hometown when he is stable?"

Dr. Martinez nodded, and the doctor nodded as well.

"Well, we are happy to inform you that your son is in stable medical condition. We are ready to transport him via ambulance whenever you desire. However, you and your other children will be unable to ride with us. You may follow behind in your car. This is fine by you?"

Dr. Martinez nodded furiously.

"Oh yes, thank you, doctor. I would like to leave as soon as possible."

"Then the ambulance will be ready in forty minutes. Feel free to get ready. We will depart at eight."

Valencia went back into the waiting room to shake her children awake.

"Whussat?" Fang muttered quietly, sitting straight and rubbing at his eyes. "Iggy?"

Max's eyelids fluttered, and she whispered a string of nonsensical words.

"The doctors are preparing an ambulance to transport Iggy back home. We'll be following in our car. Why don't you two get some food in those vending machines, and then we can wait a little?"

It turns out it wasn't much of a wait. Max and Fang bought practically one of each item in that machine, and it took them all of thirty minutes to finish chowing. Finally, a receptionist informed them that the ambulance was prepped, and would be departing shortly.

And so they were on the road ten minutes later, trailing behind the ambulance carrying their Iggy. Max and Fang remained attentive at all times, watching the road for any signs of anything; Erasers, other mutants, evil scientists, etcetera. But nothing terrible jumped out in all of the two hours it took to ride back.

"Max, Fang, you two fly back up to the house. Tell Ella and Nudge and the rest that Iggy is… alright. Stay up there. I will call you as soon as they allow visitors. Okay?"

"Okay," Max answered, because both of them were too tired to defy her mother's orders.

So they found a secluded area and took off into the sky, soaring directly to their house, and landing in the front yard.

Almost immediately each of the kids rushed out with worried looks on their faces.

"Max! Fang! Is Iggy okay? He's going to be okay, right?"

"Yeah! Nothing bad happened to him, right?"

"He's going to be okay?"

"You found him! I'm so happy! Is he fine?"

Max and Fang stared at each of the eager faces. Ella and Nudge seemed nervous and eager at the same time, like it was all some sort of exciting adventure and everything was alright now that the 'prince' was rescued. Total looked like he was just numbly awaiting the decree. Gazzy seemed scared, and Angel looked beyond sad; she had already read their memories, and knew of the damage.

And Max was silent. For once, it was Fang who spoke, and he couldn't bare the looks on their faces, and so decided to be blunt.

"Iggy looks like the Joker, he has cuts everywhere, his foot was stabbed, his hands were cut off and he was forced to eat them, and he's gone insane. Happy?"

Then he stalked off into the house and up to his room. Max followed after a pause. And the two of them left the little kids out there to stand in shocked silence, and then begin to sob harshly.

7. Straightjacket

Dr. Martinez sat in the lobby of the hospital for a long time, waiting for someone to come out and tell her that her son was ready for visitors. But it wasn't going to happen soon, and she knew it.

Valencia sighed and stared straight ahead at the wall in front of her. She had been given the medical report from the previous hospital, and it pained her. Her son had been tortured, abused, and mutilated beyond repair. He would never again build bombs or pick locks (not one of his most law-abiding habits, but still); he would never again cook dinner for the family.

Thinking back, Valencia remembered the fireworks Iggy had created using only a few simple ingredients. Small fireworks, it was true, but fireworks nonetheless, that soared into the sky then exploded in a burst of colors. Dr. Martinez had loved Iggy's fireworks.

And his cooking! Oh, his cooking! Ten times better than any gourmet chef could ever do! Pancakes were his breakfast specialty; fluffy and light and so, so good. The kids often could eat them even without syrup, due to the fact that he added sugar to the mix. Valencia would often grab a couple in the mornings to snack on, on the way down to her office.

But he was skilled in a variety of other foods as well. He could make the best chicken-noodle soup, which he would whip up whenever Ella was down with a cold. It would really help her fight the illness, too… she never stayed sick for very long since Iggy started making the soup for her.

And his dinners! He could make steak and hamburgers, chicken and fish, and all in ways that attracted even Ella's picky palate. Valencia knew she would kill – or at least injure – for a helping of Iggy's adored hamburger and French-fries.

And the lock-picking wasn't too bad, either. Well, Valencia had to admit it was annoying when he would pick the lock to Max's room and sneak in to steal stuff… but once when they drove out of town to a big mall, Dr. Martinez had accidentally left her keys in the car. The only reason they hadn't had to have been towed was because Iggy had his lock-picks handy.

But no more.


Valencia hadn't even realized she'd fallen asleep until she was woken up by a nurse.

"Um… ma'am? Ms. Martinez?"

Dr. Martinez's eyes snapped open and she jumped, startled, her purse falling off her lap.

"Oh! Sorry, excuse me, ma'am," the nurse stuttered, bending to retrieve the purse, handing it back.

"Ah, that's okay. Um, yes? What is it?"

The nurse nodded her head to her and began to speak in nervous breaths.

"Ms. Martinez, the doctors say your son can be visited now, but it might not be wise due to his mental condition…"

Valencia stood hurriedly, and was slightly surprised to find she was a few inches taller than the nurse, and rather intimidating the poor thing.

"I need to see him. Please take me to him."

"Um, yes ma'am, right this way…"

The nurse – whose nametag read 'Catherine' – turned and lead Dr. Martinez out of the lobby, through several long, depressing halls, and through a slightly open door into an office.

A tall woman with dark hair pulled back into a tight ponytail turned around to greet her.

"How do you do, Dr. Martinez. I believe you are a well-known veterinarian down at the clinic, yes?"

Dr. Martinez nodded to the woman.

"Yes, but I have taken some time off after…" her face fell, and the woman looked sympathetic.

"Well, Dr. Martinez. My name is Jennifer Markowitz. I am a doctor at this hospital, and head of the psychiatric ward. I specialize in helping patients with multiple personalities, manic-depressive disorder, and psychopaths. I am happy to inform you that I am the top psychiatrist anyone could have assigned to your son's case."

Dr. Martinez smiled faintly, reaching out to shake Jennifer's hand.

"Thank you, Dr. Markowitz. I'm very happy."

Jennifer nodded, then reached back to her desk to retrieve a file of papers.

"Right then. The police chief, Sam Garner, has obliged me by sending in these files on the psychopath Henry Terry. I have read them over, as well as your son's medical files. We haven't been able to thoroughly study your son, but we believe it may help if you interacted with him a bit. Would that be okay?"

"Of course," Dr. Martinez answered immediately, eager to see Iggy.

"Right then. The room in which Iggy Martinez is being held has a two-way mirror over one wall. We will be able to observe your interactions with him, as well as his responses. Catherine?"

"Yes, Dr. Markowitz?" the nurse answered.

"Dr. Martinez, Catherine is my intern. She is currently majoring in psychology, and wishes to achieve a M.D. in this profession. Catherine, please lead Dr. Martinez to Iggy Martinez's room."

"Yes, Dr. Markowitz."

Valencia followed the young girl back into the hallway and down to almost the very end of the building, then through a door into a small room. Through a large glass window covering the opposite wall, Valencia could see her son.

"Why is he wearing a straightjacket?" she asked furiously, moving forward and pressing her hands against the wall.

The room Iggy was in was a sort of off-white, with a hospital bed in the center and walls that were padded. Iggy was in a straightjacket, sitting in a far corner of the room and looking at nothing in particular.

"Ma'am, we had no other alternative. After recovery and his move into this room, he repeatedly tried… to eat his arms."

Valencia winced, and looked again at her son. The metal stitching in his mouth had been carefully removed, his mouth cleaned, dressed, and disinfected, and new stitching sewn carefully in place. This stitching was with the kinds of thin, clear thread that dissolved as the wound healed. The cuts over his chest had been cleaned and disinfected also, as well as the horrible stab wound in his foot, and all had been stitched and freshly bandaged. His arms, too, had been taken care of, although they were now obscured by the straightjacket he was wearing.

"Ma'am, please go on in. Dr. Markowitz will be here in a moment. We need to study the reactions of your son."

"Yes," Dr. Martinez nodded. "Okay."

Catherine opened a door for her into Iggy's room, and Valencia walked carefully inside.

The moment her foot touched the floor, Iggy's head snapped up and his eyes focused in her direction. His face stretched into a maniacal grin that looked horrible with his mutilated mouth.

"Iggy," Valencia started, moving forward carefully. Any sudden movements could frighten him. "Iggy, it's me. It's Dr. Martinez. Max's mom. Your flock is waiting for you back up at the house, with Ella, and Total. They really want to see you, Iggy."

Iggy cocked his head, still smiling. Valencia could see where some of his teeth were missing, leaving angry red spaces in his gums.

Dr. Martinez held out her arms imploringly, though she knew Iggy wouldn't be able to see them.

"Please, Iggy. Come back to us."

"Where'd my dad go?"

Valencia froze, drawing her hands back to her chest. Did Iggy really think that man had been his father?

"Iggy, that wasn't your dad. He's not your dad."

"He hurt me a lot."

"Yes, I know," Valencia continued, trying to reach some fragment of the boy that was still Iggy. "But he's not going to hurt you ever again. I promise."

Iggy's smile grew broader, until Dr. Martinez was afraid his stitches might burst. Then he asked a question.

"There's a gun pointed at your head. Do you pull the trigger?"

Valencia stared at the boy in incredulity. What was he saying?

"I… I don't know, Iggy, I…"

He continued to smile.

"Pull the trigger. Watch the blood fly everywhere. So red… so warm…"

Then he started giggling madly, and Valencia became frightened. Was this what her son had become?

"Iggy, stop. You don't know what you're saying. Do you remember what you used to be? Please, go back to that. Iggy, go back to that…"

"Iggy who? There's no Iggy here. Iggy's dead." More insane laughing. "He died a long time ago. Put the gun to his head, pulled the trigger… watched the blood fly everywhere…"

Iggy continued to laugh, and giggle, his grin staying wide and frightening. Then, quite suddenly, blood burst through the bandages on his chest and began to seep through, dripping down onto his lap. His expression changed in an instant to confusion.

"Max..?" And his eyes were normal. Sane. Iggy.

The door behind Valencia banged open, and Catherine rushed through.

"He's burst his stitches!" she gasped, placing her hand against his throat and feeling for his pulse. Iggy frowned at her and bared his teeth. That sudden moment of sanity was gone.

"Put him on the gurney. Fix his stitches. Try it first with him conscious. If that doesn't work…"

Catherine nodded and struggled to lift Iggy onto his feet – Valencia winced as he put all his weight onto his injured foot, but he didn't seem to notice a thing – and Catherine led him to the bed in the center of the room, sitting him on it, and rushing back into the small room for a medical kit. When she rushed back to Iggy, she threw a fleeting glance to Dr. Martinez.

"Ma'am! I need you to please retreat into the office with Dr. Markowitz. I need room here."

Valencia turned and ran back into the small room where she found Jennifer Markowitz looking on at the situation with a pondering expression.

Catherine first carefully undid the straightjacket confining his arms and removed it, revealing for Dr. Martinez to see the gruesome dismemberment. She winced and bile rose in her throat at the sight of Iggy's arms ending just after his elbows. It was awful.

"What are you doing?" Iggy asked, that horrible smile back.

"Fixing your wound. Please hold still."

Catherine then unwrapped the bandages from around Iggy's torso – Valencia noticed he was desperately thin – and revealed the wound with the stitches that had burst. It was just under his breast.

The woman then lifted a long, thin needle form her medical kit and threaded it with stitching.

Iggy turned his head towards the wall.

"Shut it. She's just 'fixing my wound'," he told… nothing. Nothing at all.

Then, the needle pierced his skin.

"SHUT UP!" Iggy shouted, kicking the ground, hard, so that the table rolled back and away from Catherine. "DON'T TOUCH ME!"

Catherine stood there, shocked, the needle still clutched in her fingers. She threw a glance to the one-way mirror, as if asking Jennifer for advice. Dr. Markowitz leaned forward to a small microphone, and pressed a button to speak into it.

"Go ahead and sedate him," she said, a sigh in her voice. Iggy was dripping blood all over the ground, breathing heavily, his expression crazed, and there was that terrifying grin again…

"Why didn't you want to sedate him?" Valencia asked Dr. Markowitz, while keeping her eyes trained on her son. Jennifer sighed and rubbed her temples.

"Henry Terry had been using sedatives to keep your son asleep while he was held in captivity. His body became addicted. We are trying to get him off the drugs, but that just won't work if we have to sedate him every time we try to help him. He's been doing this when we try to change his bandages, too…"

Catherine had crept forward, brandishing a needle, and finally inserted it into Iggy's neck with a sympathetic expression. Within moments, Iggy had slumped, asleep, onto the gurney.

Valencia put her hand nervously to her chest as she watched as Catherine gently stitched Iggy's wound back up and wrapped clean, fresh bandages around his torso. Then she moved to the ones around his foot and changed those as well.

"Your son is troubled. He obviously has posttraumatic stress disorder, and maybe dementia." Her eyes flicked to Dr. Martinez and softened. "Do not worry. We will try as best we can."

Catherine had moved to Iggy's arms, and as she began to unwrap the bandages to change as well, Valencia had to turn away.

Then she looked back at Jennifer.

"Do you think my kids could see him?"

Dr. Markowitz looked alarmed for a moment, then a look of dawning understanding.

"These wouldn't be the kids that rescued your son in the first place? And incapacitated Henry Terry?"

"They would be."

The two doctors both turned back to look at Iggy. His arms were now freshly bandaged, and Catherine was putting the straightjacket back in place.

"Okay. They are like this one, correct?"

Dr. Martinez turned to Jennifer in confusion, raising an eyebrow.

"Like Iggy..?"

"They have wings?"

"Ah. Yes. Yes, they have wings."