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It’s not particularly easy to live when there’s barely anything left to live for. You wouldn’t know what that meant if you weren’t someone like me. Someone without a past and no memories of what they were before. I did not choose my path in life, unlike everyone else. It was merely something I was forced to do. Once I die, I was supposed to have no regrets, no feelings, no sense of living-or half living, or I should say. My real name is 001, and I am an artificial human created as a result of a failed experiment. At least, that’s what I was told.
“Brio, pass me the wrench, would ya?”
“Sure thing,” I said with a smile. I twirled the wrench around my index finger and tossed it to my sister, Aleksandria. The light from outside the garage reflected off of her clear protective googles, obscuring her brown eyes.
“Thanks,” she managed to say with a fountain pen held in between her teeth.
Aleksandria was not my biological sister. I had no biological parents, either. After the Great Apocalypse, I was apparently found near-death on the steps to the Fuhrer’s mansion. Thankfully Aleksandria managed to Reawaken me on accident, or else I wouldn’t be here.
“All done,” Aleksandria murmured, smiling almost ear to ear. Her face and hands were tainted with dirt from the government cars she has fixed today, but she was still glowing. The bicycle she was working on was finished. You might think building a simple bicycle wasn’t a great achievement, however traveling in a recently rebuilt country was not exactly a simple feat either. Citizens in our town grabbed anything they could find among the dirt roads, alleyways, and uninhibited houses. It was most likely aluminum, scrap metal, and screws. We build constantly here, as this was the town most affected by the Great Apocalypse. Our town’s expertise was engineering and building, as well.
“It looks fantastic!” My mouth gaped in awe. The bicycle looked completely brand new, and it still had plenty of room for future modifications.
“Thanks,” she said modestly. “You can have it, Brio. I’m sure it’ll come in handy someday.”
“Me? Have that?” I glitched up when I was faced with certain situations. “N-no w-way!” My face grew red with tinges of anger and confusion.
“I insist,” she contradicted. “I have no use for it.” Aleksandria smiled and cocked her head to the side a bit. Before I had the chance to deny her statement, she spoke again.
“Brio, take it,” she said solemnly. Her face was serious this time. She walked out with a small smile and opened the door leading into our small house.
“Come back inside soon Brio,” she said. The door slammed shut. I sat there in wonder, trying to figure out why she was behaving this way. Why? Why is she being this nice to me? I soon came to the conclusion that I was just being paranoid and should’ve forgotten about it sooner.
The next morning Aleksandria was dead.
I awoke from a restless night of sleep that day. I got up, got dressed, and went to go find her so we could start working on the new batch of cars. As I was brushing my hair, I noticed that she should’ve called me for breakfast by now so I presumed that she overslept. I checked in her room but it was empty and the bed was made already. Then I hypothesized that she could be already at work because it might be a busy day today so I checked the garage.
“Sandria? Where are you?” I was getting slightly worried but not too much. I looked around and pulled the garage door open to let light in. I gasped at the sight. I saw her with a knife through her chest. She was smiling. Small drips of blood were on the bike, more specifically on a screw near the pedals. I started to hear voices not from outside, but from my own head.
“Wait, let me put the finishing touches on,” a weak voice sputtered. Aleksandria!
“Can’t you die already, you pathetic excuse for an engineer?” It was a man’s voice. Listening closely to my inner thoughts, I heard a cough and a small whimper.
“Tell Brio what…happened…” the voice silenced completely.
Am I having hallucinations? I’m being glitched up again. I was utterly confused and sad for days, weeks on end, incapable of crying due to being an “artificial human”.
Her corpse was disposed of on the day she died by the government, though. As much as I swore at them and yelled, they didn’t tell me anything, let alone her murderer.
The next morning three weeks later, I woke up to the sounds of drilling, bulldozers, and jackhammers. That was something I was used to everyday, however the cacophony of machinery could not hide the screams of civilians nearby. My heart rate quickened and I glanced outside. The small window was shrouded by dust and smoke.
Before I was fully awake and coordinated, I dressed up in my normal clothes (usually jean shorts and a gray long-sleeve). I pulled my leather boots on and laced them all the way up. I heard the shattering of glass, and then realized that the sound was the windows being broken open by explosions happening close to here. I shuddered at the thought and ran to the garage as fast as I could. I immediately opened the door and turned the bright lights on. I managed to salvage the bicycle and some of Aleksandria’s notebooks before the lights flickered out. The machines reached the power lines. I braced myself for the horror that was taking place outside of my own home.
I placed the books in the basket and walked the bike towards the door, kicking it open. I never learned how to ride a bike before. “Nice time to learn,” I said quite sarcastically. I remembered Aleksandria riding her old bicycle and tried to reenact the scene. The neighborhood was very large, and it would take me around three minutes to reach the forest. Right leg, left leg, I thought, with my legs trembling above the pedals. Even though I kept my eyes on the forest, the scene unfolding couldn’t be missed. Dozens of heavy machines smashed through our whole town, tearing up houses and setting fire to them. Grenades were thrown inside the empty ones. Civilians were taken and hoarded into large buses stopping by each neighborhood. My house was almost next on their list. I heard wails of people and children crying, and I tried to maintain my composure.
“You there, on the bike!” An officer in a familiar white uniform called out to me. Many other of these people were here as well, controlling the machines and bringing those people to the buses. I quickened my already fast pace and rode the bike nearly into the forest when my right leg jammed. I wasn’t fast enough for the men to not see me disappear. I fell sideways and my right leg still was immovable. I limped behind a tree branch.
“I saw her go into here!” I heard one of the men say. “ Long blond hair and a gray shirt, you couldn’t miss her.” I heard footsteps making their way through the fallen leaves, and I tried not to breathe too loud. My leg is still stuck!
I felt a sting on my left cheek. It was the men’s bayonet. They found me.
“You’re quite lucky we found you too,” one of the men said. He had brown short hair and a scar running diagonally across his face. I ran my finger across my cheek and saw that he had drawn blood. I licked it off and tasted it in curiosity. Metallic, almost.
“How am I lucky?” I yelled. I managed to get my right leg to move and I stood up. “I’m not going to be held prisoner without a fight, you disgusting military dogs!” I ran farther into the forest without the extra weight, the bike with the books. I would have a better chance of getting killed with those around anyway.
“Ah, you see, we aren’t as dumb as you think, foolish girl,” the man said. “You’re a feisty one. Maybe the Fuhrer will have plans for you. He wants independent ones, right? You might be a candidate. Let’s go.” He held my arms behind my back and handcuffed them. They guided me to the location of the machines. I struggled and resisted but it was not enough for him to release his grip on me. I was going to be placed in a special car with nine others.
“Where will the others go?!” I yelled loudly. I was truly worried about them.
“If everything goes as planned, they’ll be in gas chambers in about two hours,” the brown haired officer said with a smile. I tried desperately to bite his shoulder but it was no use.
The other people along with me looked upset as well. I met three of them that day, well, technically two. I met Dawn, a spunky black haired sixteen year old, and Forte, a ten year old with dark brown hair. The third, Alphonse, was my friend before. He had blond hair and light brown eyes.
“Brio!” Alphonse seemed ecstatic when he recognized my face. We exchanged stories, and I learned that he had just come back from traveling with his brother Ed. The other candidates weren’t very nice, and I could tell that they had no interest in making friends.
“Does anyone know why exactly we’re all here right now?” I was very anxious to know.
“I heard that we’re the select 10 that have the potential to be the Fuhrer’s secretary or something,” Dawn said loudly.
“What?!” All of us were in shock. I saw Alphonse’s eyes fill with tears.
“I appreciate the info Dawn,” I said. “I don’t really know what’s going on right now.” The rest of the car ride was filled with aimless conversation. After, we agreed to say our goodbyes to the people we once knew. I didn’t have the privilege to do such a thing, however instead I peered out of the vehicle’s window. I saw more rubble and gray buildings blown up into pieces. As we approached the mansion, I grew more and more devastated of what lie ahead.
The car skidded to a halt and the driver stepped out. He slid the door open and pulled us out by the metal cuffs around our wrists. We walked single file into the den of the mansion. I tried to stay especially close to Alphonse, as I’ve known him for a while after I was Reawakened. He looked down at the floor, almost defeated. I wish I could’ve done something to help him cheer up.
We walked down stone steps into a dark tunnel lined with train tracks that aren’t used. They lead to a doorway, the guard said. Lamps lit the pathway. We were forced to sit on the tracks until we were called into the office. People before me never came back out. I suddenly heard someone fidgeting with the handcuffs, and saw that it was Forte trying to suffocate himself. I gasped in horror and almost spoke.
“Silence or you will die now,” an officer said. I immediately looked towards the floor in desperation. I put my head on Alphonse’s shoulder. As the population of people started to dwindle, I saw that it would be our turn in a matter of minutes.
“Next,” the officer said and the word echoed in the tunnel. I could barely stand up, and my legs were still trembling.
“We don’t have all day, girl. Hurry up,” he said slightly casually. I walked down the tunnel and faced a metal door. I kicked it as hard as I could, as I was still furious. An officer opened up the door and my heart was nearly beating out of my chest.
The Fuhrer, a moderately handsome man looking about 30 or so, was seated at a wooden desk with his elbows resting on the surface.
“Welcome,” he said, trying too hard to sound inviting. I scowled and sat at the seat in front of him, trying to look confident.
“Shouldn’t you be cowering in fear at the very sight of me? Shouldn’t you be in tears, begging for mercy? I don’t understand your motives,” the Fuhrer said. He was in the usual military getup, and had striking black hair with dark blue eyes.
“I wish,” I said.
“What’s that? Speak louder, girl.” He looked slightly irritated.
“I said I wish I could cry!” I yelled. “And my name is Brio!” His eyes widened a little. He placed his hand under my right jawbone to expose my tag. My real name.
“Zero-zero-one,” how he said it made me shiver. “Immortality is the epitome of perfection,” he said with a wide smile. How did he know?
“Don’t touch me!” I was furious again and I was about to rip him apart limb from limb if I had the chance.
“Kill the rest,” he said to the guard waiting in front of the door. “I found her.”
“No!” I was yelling with all of the strength that I had left. “Not Alphonse!”
“Wait,” the Fuhrer told the officer. “Save the blond one for me.”
“What do you mean ‘for you’?” I was on the verge of breaking the handcuffs and killing him myself.
“Don’t worry,” he murmured. “Every Fuhrer needs an assistant. Besides, I’m sparing his life so you’ll go along with this. Resist and he dies.” I kept my lips pursed as they brought in Alphonse. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, now red with embarrassment.
“You, Zero-zero-one, will become Fuhrer once I die today. Alphonse will be your main assistant. Say anything more and I’ll kill you both. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” we said quietly. The Fuhrer smiled again.
“Hughes, take them to the office and brief them on The War. I’ll die here with the others,” the Fuhrer said. They exchanged salutes.
We were brought back up to ground level. I heard various explosions as we left. Hughes led us down a marble tile hallway into the Fuhrer’s-I mean My Office. Me? The Fuhrer? This has to be a joke.
“You two stay put. I’ll be back soon with your new uniforms,” Hughes said, emotionless. Once he left, we seized the opportunity to converse again.
“Alphonse! I am so sorry for dragging you into this,” I cried. “I was trying to protect you from death. I’m sorry…” I looked downwards in despair.
“It’s fine,” he said. “I’d rather be here than dead.” Suddenly the door burst open and Hughes was holding our outfits. Mine was a white fluffy dress with gray ribbons. Alphonse’s was a white military suit.
“I’ll show you to your rooms then,” Hughes said. First he took me, silently, to my room. It was a lavish suite with a bathroom and lounge. A sword was mounted to the wall.
“Tomorrow you must follow all instructions. No going against our plans or he will be killed, Your Excellency.” I scoffed.
“Goodnight Hughes,” I said with a laugh. He closed the door abruptly and I was left alone. I picked up the sword and walked to the balcony. It was about sunset. In boredom and sorrow, I took the blade and shredded off my hair into a short bob-like hairstyle. Since this was a spur of the moment thing, it turned out asymmetrical. I let my hair fall down onto the road below.
One Year Later
Alphonse and I were both eighteen. We looked quite the same actually. I wear hats now and my eyes are blue from the pills we have to take. Alphonse has weird shapes and symbols tattooed onto both of his arms.
A light rain poured down, showering us from the mansion’s balcony. The War would start in six months and they were preparing us with their plans to take control of the entire continent Alphonse and I couldn’t let this happen.
“Alphonse, when will all of this end?” I tugged lightly on his shirtsleeve like a lost child.
“I don’t exactly know but we’re going to stop this somehow. We have to.”
“But our wedding-“
“Don’t worry about that,” he said softly. “I’ll take my own life so nobody will be to blame except myself. You’ll get to have full power remember?”
“I don’t want full power! I can’t let you do that. I’ll put the blame on me for not stopping you instead,” I said. “I’m the one that deserves to die, not you, Alphonse.”
“But you can’t die,” he said with a halfhearted smile.
I started to cry.
To be continued.