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If not for him...
“Get started,” I heard them say as they pushed me past the industrial sized door. I tumbled to the concrete floor in a heap. Hunger and exhaustion worked through my veins and poisoned me, making it nearly impossible for me to stand, not that I tried. I looked up in time to see the door screech close and a pair of controlling; blue eyes disappear from behind them. I didn’t even bother to try and stop them this time for fear of being hurt.
My orange jumpsuit reflected what little light there was shining in through a small window in the vast room. I looked around and saw that the room was fairly empty, except for buckets of what looked like tools that lay discarded in a corner. A craftsman’s table stood squarely in the middle of the dark room with a small table lamp on the edge. I shakily got to my feet and to the best of my ability, held my head high and sauntered over to the table. I knew that they would be watching me.
I reached the table and saw that the lamp was not alone. Blueprints littered the table showing every angle and perspective that would be necessary for whoever was creating its masterpiece to finish it with perfection. A small white tube sat on the end of the table like a stone pillar in a dark museum. I stopped at the sight of it. It just wasn’t possible.
“Get to work!” I jumped at the crackling sound of the loudspeaker. I looked wildly around, my chocolate brown eyes wide with terror until I realized that no one was there in the room with me. “NOW!” bellowed the voice, screeching harshly in my ears that were so used to silence.
I gulped down my fears, turning on the greying lamp. It flickered to life with a pitiful squeal, clinging to life as it sputtered on and off until it steadied with a low hum.
I took in what I had to work with; some graphing pencils, motors, bulbs, and everything that you would need to make whatever that blueprint was asking of me. I tied back my grubby, black hair into the best ponytail that I could manage with my cropped hair cut. I put on my cracked and dingy glasses, fear wiggling in my belly.
Reaching down for the all too familiar blueprints, I hesitated.
Why was I doing this? I asked myself. I’m not even supposed to be here! It was all because of that boy! I had heard his cries and I couldn’t ignore them. I ran down the dark, dingy alleyway, my heels clicking in my echoing memory. I stopped and looked around from where I thought I had heard the hollow pleas and found him lying there in pool of his own blood, leaning against a grimy dumpster.
A mugging, was my first thought as I looked around for anyone in sight, but I quickly discarded that idea as I looked at the boy. He was dressed in rags and dried filth crusted most of his body. The smell wafting off of him was rancid and I had to cover my nose with my denim jacket to keep from retching. The smell of death engulfed my nostrils, making it hard for me to breathe. He had to be homeless.
A knife protruded from his abdomen and blood pooled around the wound. I gasped in horror and searched around for anyone to help. A looming silence hung over the alleyway. I knew what I had to do... I secured the knife and pulled, shuddering at the sound of his strangled moan. I screamed for help as I applied pressure to his wound to try and stop the bleeding. No one came.
To my surprise, the boy pulled me close with a shockingly strong grip. His face was tiresome and deep set wrinkles underlined his brow. I almost jumped away when I looked into his eyes. They were so young and showed life and promise that his face betrayed. He looked about eighteen. Too young to be dying. I screwed up my face, trying not to jerk away at the smell of him. I could see that he struggled to make out the words that he wanted to say, his eyes pleading with me to listen.
I am going to hear this boy’s last words, the realization crashed over me, blackening my vision for the briefest of moments before the scene returned in full force.
“P-p-please,” he stuttered, a trickle of blood coming from his mouth. His lips were cracked and drained of color, “t-take this.”
He held out his grimy hand and clutched within it was a slender plastic tube. It was big enough to fit several rolls of paper in its two foot long hull. It shined like a beacon in the alleyway, compared to the dullness around it. The tube seemed so out of place in the dark, damp passage.
I carefully grabbed the tube with both of my hands as the boy let go.
“Guard i-it with y-your life,” he said as a spasm racked his body. I pressed down harder on his wound and frantically screamed for someone, anyone to help. I looked at the boy once again; his eyes, lifeless, leaving them a shell of what they were once before. The boy was dead.
What was I supposed to do? The boy’s dead! Should I go to the police? Will I be blamed? Will they even believe me?
I looked down at the boy again and screamed in horror. The boy’s skin had become paler and where my fingers touched his flesh, it had suddenly become coarse and clammy. I jerked my hands away and stared at the handprint embedded in his now grey skin. The look on the boy’s face stayed frozen in stone. A light breeze picked up around the still frame and suddenly, he was gone. A few pieces of what looked like ashes lay right where his body was outlined.
I sat there, dumbfounded, not comprehending what had just happened. My hands shook violently as I tried to rub off the pieces of bloody ash. I started at the sound of footsteps approaching the alley, my heart skipping a beat.
Someone came! I jumped to my feet, my hands shaking, covered in bloody soot, and ran towards the noise. I stumbled out of the alleyway and abruptly into the arms of a man. I looked up with relief at the sight of someone, but my happiness faded to horror.
The man grinned widely down at me with a menacing smile.
“Hallo,” he said with a heavy, British accent, but I didn’t notice because I was staring into to his eyes. His eyes were that of cold copper, not human, and they were as dark as the endless night. I quickly shoved the tube inside my jacket pocket and hid it beneath my blouse. Something about what that boy said had gotten to me. That strange, strange boy who was no longer alive. Who no longer had a body. I had to protect that tube.
A scream built up in my throat but was paralyzed at the sight of a blond woman dressed all in black, stepping out from behind the man.
“Amelia Rose,” the woman’s silky voice washed over me. I slowly nodded and with that I felt cold metal wrap around my wrists, “You are under arrest for the murder of Neal Brown.”
My mind reeled. This wasn’t happening, this just wasn’t happening! I stumbled as she pulled me along the walkway to a strange black van. This isn’t normal, I thought.
“Who are you?” I asked as the door slammed in my face and the man and woman got into the car. The engine roared to life and the car jolted as it took off at high speed, heading towards the highway. “I want to see your badges. This is all a mistake! I tried to help him! I just found him lying there, dying. Who do you work for? Answer me!” I felt the tube in my pocket and tightened my hold on it with my tied hands. The woman stiffened and turned around to face me. I looked at her and held my head up defiantly.
“Give it here!” was all she said. I felt a shiver run down my spine. How did she know?
“Give what?” I asked, masking my surprise and fear with a controlled voice.
“The tube. Give it here.” She pushed her hand towards me and motioned for me to hand it to her. I looked around, hoping for an escape route, but we were already on the highway and I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it out the window. The woman knew that she had me and I reluctantly handed over the thin, plastic tube. The women smiled in triumph and suddenly brought out what looked like a tranquilizer gun, aimed directly at me. Before I could even register my surprise, the gun went off and everything faded to black.
I woke up in a small, empty room. The walls were made of stone and the floor of concrete. I found myself in an orange jumpsuit that looked like it had never been washed and it reeked of the last person who had worn it. One small window stood ten feet above me and that was how I measured the days. I did not eat. I did not sleep. Twelve days passed before they came to get me.
I don’t know who they are or how they knew, but as I looked down at the blue prints before me, my years of training kicked in. I had been a freelance engineer with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and had an excellent reputation in hacking. None of that mattered now.
Two hours passed, five, ten. Sweat poured down my face but I sighed with relief at the sight of my finished creation. I don’t even know how it was possible, with these… ingenious blueprints; I had created some sort of device that produced a low, humming sound that could stun anyone or anything close enough.
I held the slender cylinder up to the light. It wasn’t very pretty, with all the unkempt wires hanging out, but it would suffice. I jumped and almost dropped the grey cylinder as the industrial door swung open. There stood the copper eyed man, however, now he was dressed in a brown, pinstripe suit and navy blue trench coat that reached down to his red, high top shoes.
He ambled over to the table and pulled up a chair that I hadn’t noticed before. I clutched the cylinder to my chest as if it were my baby. He placed his feet on top of the table with surprising elegance, nodding his head towards my chair and I hesitantly sat down.
“Now Amelia, is it?” I gave a curt nod, my eyes narrowing, “That device that you have created is called a Sonic-Dromee. It creates a low sound frequency that paralyzes anyone within fifteen hundred feet of it besides the user.” I said nothing and sat there quietly, staring at the strange man as he piled on the words a mile a minute.
“Well, obviously you know that because you created it, but here is the catch. You weren’t supposed to be able to create it. Those blueprints have steps missing. No one before you has been able to successfully produce a Sonic-Dromee.” Stunned, I stiffened but relaxed, covering my shock with a false, unbelieving snort. The man continued. “As you worked, your brain automatically fixed and filled in the gaps to make this Dromee work. My name is Logan Commer and I want you to work for us.”
I couldn’t hide my surprise. I almost fell off my chair in shock but steadied myself at the last moment. I struggled to control my racing thoughts, but one question popped out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“Who are you, really?” I asked quietly, speaking for the first time in weeks.
“We are none of your concern,” he said, looking down at his watch. Commer quickly stood and I watched him walk over to the door. He rapped his knuckles on the metal door and it opened with a screech.
He turned to me, grinning and said, “When you are ready, tell them to call me. I have things to take care of… We will appreciate your cooperation.” Just as he was about to walk out of the room, I yelled for him to stop. He turned to me, his eyes expectant.
“I just have one more question for you,” I said, standing as strength returned to my limbs. I clutched the sonic blaster in my hands like a life line.
“Anything,” said Commer with a smile. I shivered and prepared myself.
“You said,” I began, my muscles tightening with the anticipation. “That this ‘Sonic-Dromee’ can stun anyone up to fifteen hundred feet?” and with that I saw his face contort to fright as I pressed the blue button at the top of the grey cylinder. He crumpled to the ground, his silent scream etched on his face. I could hear the guards in the hall, collapsing, but I could hear nothing. I was numb, immune. I dropped the cylinder and ran for the door. I jumped over Commer and raced down the stone corridor. A sliver of light came into view and I put on speed, the glow becoming bigger as my feet slapped on the concrete floor.
“Stop her!” I heard Commer yell from behind, but I had already passed through the last door and was free. I could feel the grass beneath my feet as I ran into the darkness, the moonlight illuminating my face. I took gulps of fresh air and slowed, relishing the moon above.
My happiness turned to sorrow as I felt a small pressure on my back. I stumbled and fell to the ground, my vision blurring. The world tilted, a small pool of red accumulated in the grass besides me, and then blackened. There was nothing. I was dead.
Commer walked over to the dead body of Amelia Rose. Her black hair was let loose from the ponytail. It framed her face, making her look like a sleeping goddess.
A blond woman walked up to Commer with a gun in her hand and placed an arm around his waist.
“Too bad,” she tisked, looking down at Amelia. “We could have used her.” The woman gave him a kiss on the cheek and walked back to the institute. Commer felt a pang of sadness, staring down at the woman before him. She could’ve been The One. He bent down, gently closing her eyes.
He looked at her face one last time and turned back to the institute. The search would continue…