The Leftovers - Chapter One, Part Two

January 9, 2010
Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, I tried to reconcile. “It was…I’m so…oh, God…”
?Silence echoed between us for several moments in the dark bathroom. I felt totally awful. It took a lot to faze Janet, but I could clearly see why she was so sad and angry.
?I decided I couldn’t take the quietness anymore, and I took out my gun and held it in my hand in front of her. “Isaac is out of bullets,” I whimpered.
?She peered at the firearm with a tiny bit more hope. “You shot at it?”
?“Countless times,” I lied. I was blushing, but I was sure she couldn’t tell.
?Janet took Isaac and looked into the barrel, adjusting her glasses a few times while doing so. “Well, I suppose as long as you tried, that makes it…not any better, but at least you didn’t just let it go.”
?I smirked to the best of my ability.
?My relative stared back and forth between my gun and me for the next few minutes, and then she slid Isaac into her back pocket. “Come with me.” She grabbed my wrist, flung me out of the tiled room, and the two of us quickly trotted down the stairs to her basement. This time, she turned on the light.
?I had been in her basement all too many times. This was her office, which contained all her innovations and experiments. This room was a representation of Janet and her life. The back wall was lined with a large titanium shelf and it held up all her equipment. Scraps, tools, and nuts and bolts littered the floor. Right after we descended the stairs, she brought me to the curtained-off corner of the basement.
?While the two of us stood in front of the thick curtain for a moment, I gawked at its straw-like texture. Laurent and I had always been free to play around with all the experiments in Janet’s basement, except whatever was behind this curtain. It was the forbidden fruit that, apparently, had something to do with our current situation.
?“Listen and watch,” my great-aunt instructed, as she always did when she demonstrated something. She pulled a cord that hung from the ceiling, which sent the curtain flying back into a groove in the wall.
?Before me was a glass tank filled with liquid. It was cylindrical, which I estimated as a diameter of three feet and a height of six and a half. The base, covered with a black coating, was bolted to the ground, and the top came to a foot and a half short of the ceiling. Inside was a human, or something that looked like a human at least, and they were covered from head to toe in a wetsuit, including over the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.
?“This is a boy I rescued nine years ago,” she explained as I gazed at the humanoid suspended in clear liquid. “He was unconscious and barely holding on at the time. I haven’t woken him up at all, and I’ve kept him in this tank to heal him of the gashes, burns, and broken bones. This subject hasn’t aged a day; he looked to be about 16 or so when I got him.”
?“Is he even alive?” I inquired, pressing my hand up against the glass.
?“Oh, yes, of course. Couldn’t be healthier, really. I actually adapted this liquid myself, along with Clarissa Hues - you know her - and it keeps him asleep. Those EKGs and whatnot on the wall right over here -” she pointed, but I didn’t look, “keep me updated on his body.”
?“Wow, Great-Aunt Janet, this is amazing!” I praised.
?She chuckled humbly. Then I could feel her walking a little bit behind me as I stared at the boy in the tank. I heard something like creaky hinges opening, and I stopped and came up to her. She stood in front of a metal chest that she supported the lid of.
?“He must have been a Leftover Hunter, like me, you, and your mother,” she commented, “Because just look at what I confiscated from him.”
?Inside the chest were myriad weapons: a sword in a sheath, a set of seven tiny daggers, two fully loaded pistols, and a neatly coiled chain. At the bottom of the chest was what I suspected he was wearing at the time Janet rescued him; a bloodstained white shirt sat folded at the top of the pile of garments. The top right corner of the shirt had a circular patch sewn on, with the words “Leftover Hunters’ Association” encircling a blue skull in the center.
?“He’s an official agent, by the looks of it,” Janet pointed out. I looked at the patch at the top right corner of her shirt, which was identical to the boy’s, and suddenly I felt empty. Sure, I had bagged my fair share of Leftovers, and the people at the local HQ knew me, but I wasn’t formally part of the LHA. Yet.
?I observed the entire arsenal closely. Each dagger was lethally sharp; the pistols were a powerful .5 caliber; the chain, skillfully used, could probably kill someone; and I found the sword to be razor-sharp and beautifully made once I removed it from the makeshift sheath.
?“Looking at these,” I concluded, “It must have been a long and brutal fight for him. I mean, I’d die for weapons like these. He must have been greatly outnumbered, or something.”
?Janet nodded. “I was the one who refilled the pistols, actually. They were empty when I found him. The chain was tangled and wrapped around him, and the daggers and sword were very dull. I restored them pretty well, I must say.”
?Peering back and forth between the amazing armament and the unconscious young man, I tried to ponder my great-aunt’s purpose in showing me this. It took a short while before I realized I was stumped, and I asked her.
?“You’ll -” she began to explain in her calm and low voice, but she was cut short when a deafening crash rumbled from upstairs. The ground beneath us shook violently. All the devices that laid atop the shelf on the back wall fell to the floor and broke. The lights flickered.
?“What in the world?!” I screamed.
Great-Aunt Janet ran like mad to the back of the basement where she ducked under a shelf. “Shield yourself, Rene! Now!”
Before I could even respond, I heard two loud, simultaneous cracks. One signaled the chest of weapons slamming shut. The other shattered the glass tank.
The fluid flooded out and the boy fell forward, landing on the tiny crystals of glass as all the wires popped out of him. He immediately slammed his palms down on the floor and held himself up in the push-up position. The subject looked back and forth with panic as he attempted to maintain balance in the trembling room.





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