Isolated: Chapter One

October 6, 2010
Chapter One

Awakening was difficult.

I remember feeling very, very tired. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been able to sleep in a long time; it was more like I couldn’t wake up for the first time. I was floating in the middle of nothing. It kept trying to suck me deeper, keep me away from the outside world. But there was a light - a source of life energy – that appeared, and I was immediately drawn toward it. It always seemed to be just out of my reach; I would take a step forward, and it would dance further away. It almost seemed like life wanted to reach me, too, but the nothing was holding us both back. Finally, somehow, I surfaced.

As I entered my new body, the smell of various chemicals and strange, bubbling substances filled my alien nose. I heard the constant ticking of a clock and an in-and-out whooshing of some machine – or was it my own breathing? I tested my movement by twitching a finger. My nail scratched against the surface of whatever I was laying on. I opened my mouth and abruptly shut it again because the metallic taste in the air was so electrically overwhelming. Finally I opened my eyes. A blinding white light was all I could see at first, but soon it cleared and I was staring at a blank white tile ceiling. A few black dots danced at the edges of my vision.

A sharp intake of breath startled me. My eyes immediately darted to the corner of the room where it came from. A short Asian man in a white lab coat sat in a chair in the far corner of the room. His eyes were wild with fear and… success maybe? We stared at each other for ten absolutely silent seconds. I don’t think either of us were breathing.

Then he moved. It was just a twitch of his hand in a movement to rise, but I panicked. I was much faster than him. I moved with a panther-like grace and there was only a blur of motion and color before I was across the room to him. I felt like I had left my body and was watching myself from afar as I killed him. I did not feel my artificial hand strike him, or my fingernails slice his skin like scissors through paper. I heard him scream, but it sounded distant, like it would if we were underwater. When I reentered my body, I found the scientist lying motionless on the floor with his blood staining my clean white hands. I backed away slowly and turned to run. I could not open the door. I felt like a fly trapped between a window and a screen, not enough of a sane mind to find a way out, only thrash around and hope that by accident I would find a hole.

I dashed to the window and threw it open in hopes of an escape. I was immediately dizzied by the extreme height. Cars looked like small black specks and people were imperceptible. I knew that a human could never survive the fall…but I wasn’t human. I jumped.

The sound of wind rushing past my ears was deafening. My eyes barely registered the blur of passing windows. I closed my eyes and just let myself fall.

“One… two… three…” I counted the seconds aloud as I fell. I got to eight.

The impact didn’t even faze me. A couple people glanced at me, but most were too afraid to get involved with things that could get them in trouble. I brushed a little bit of concrete off my shoulder and wondered where to begin living.

I wandered down the streets of New York, lost, without a purpose. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. A monotonous buzz could be heard far above. I looked up. Hundreds, if not thousands of cars whizzed above the buildings at an unbelievable speed. They were crisscrossed in a pattern like streets, but there was no land to drive on. The streets below were crowded, sure, but not nearly as congested as the invisible streets above. Now the only people who walked these streets were the ones who got left behind when the world got pushed into the future. The roads were cracked and dirty from years of misuse. Extremely tall buildings lined the streets.

I sighed. Humans always wanted what they couldn’t have. They looked at the ocean and wanted it, so they built boats. They looked at mountains and wanted them, so they built machines to tear them apart. Now they look toward the sky and design cars that tear mercilessly through it like sharks through water. What next?

I leaned against one of the buildings. My fingernail accidentally ripped a piece of paper that was halfheartedly attached to the wall. One half stayed with the brick faithfully, but the other fluttered to the ground. I picked it up. The top read “Saint Trinian’s Private School”. Underneath the heading, it told all the various features of the school. It was for grades nine through twelve, what was known as “high school”. Then I realized what I needed to do.
I needed to enroll in school.

I clenched the paper in my fist and entered the address provided into my internal GPS system. I wasn’t quite sure how to go to school, but I decided to just check this place out and see if I could try to enroll. It would certainly help me fit in. I was the right age. People would wonder why I wasn’t at school. Plus, the schoolwork wouldn’t be a problem; I knew most everything. The only problem was I would have to work with humans…and I couldn’t let them know I wasn’t one of them.

My walk to the school was lonely. People were cold and unfriendly. They did no more than glance at me before scurrying off to wherever like rats in a cellar. The buildings stood ominously over me like they were judging me, judging me because I wasn’t human, judging me because I didn’t belong there. The smog and congesting pollution from the hover cars above cascaded down over the rotting city almost like a foul-smelling blanket. I passed a billboard advertising Coca-Cola. The paper was peeling and the colors were draining so the ad was gray, matching the rest of the city.

Along the way, I started to get a headache. I paid no mind to it at first, but soon it started to increase its pain, as if it were attempting to get me to notice it. I did. It started on the sides of my head, just above my ears, and behind my eyes, but it grew and intensified until my entire head was throbbing. A particularly painful throb sent me kneeling to the ground in its mercilessness. I winced in pain and crawled into a dark alley and settled myself in beside a Dumpster. I closed my eyes to try to block out the pain but something totally unexpected happened. Pictures and words started to flash beneath my eyelids. They were pictures of everything – happy pictures, sad pictures, angry pictures, calm pictures, pictures of love, pictures of hate, pictures of friendship and pictures of enmity, pictures of politics and pictures of war, pictures of religion and pictures of peace, and suddenly I knew. I knew everything. I had only been living an hour and suddenly, I just knew.

I was now filled with a confidence that I could live. I rose, dazed yet certain that I was doing the right thing. What had just happened to me? What were those pictures? My mind immediately supplied me with the answer. My creator, the scientist, had programmed my internal computer to inform me of everything currently known to man. Now I knew I could survive. I had knowledge.

I shakily rose to my feet and continued down the road. I soon arrived at a series of tall, church-like buildings surrounded by an elaborate iron fence. The buildings were composed of mainly gray stone bricks and granite, which was rare because it was running out. Marble was already gone because it had all been used up in buildings that had long since been destroyed or worn down by weather. Only the richest people still had some marble.

I entered the black, gothic gate of the iron picket fence. I was a little unsettled by the fact that there were no students scurrying to their classes or teachers doing what teachers do. The grounds of the school were completely deserted. I was confused at first, until I realized that it was the middle of August and school probably hadn’t started this year yet. I followed the path up to the main building, a tall, ominous thing with a huge clock centered above the large wooden front doors.

As I entered the building, I was amazed at the detail carved into every surface, and the effort put into making this place special. The ceilings were high and elegant. All the dark gray stone caused a seemingly cold atmosphere, but there was a temperature modifier on the wall, making the building warm and almost cozy, if it wasn’t so cavernous. The temperature modifier seemed out of place with its modern technology. Posters hung on the wall, written in FlashTech marker so that the letters changed color every five seconds. They said things like “Autumn Ball, October 16”, “Sign up for yearbook now, in room 406!” and “Interested in playing soccer? Join today! See Coach Rudolf for more information”. I still couldn’t see any people.

I spotted some windowed doors, which looked like the entrance to some sort of front office. I paused outside the door. My Heat chip, which sensed heat and movement nearby, told me that there was someone in there. I wasn’t sure if I should knock or just enter, so I did both.

There was a lady in her sixties sitting behind a large wooden desk. She wore her hair in a beehive-like style, which had come back in style from the 1950’s, about forty years ago. I checked my internal knowledge. It had gone out of style again thirty years ago. I could smell her hairspray from across the room. The woman peered at me from behind small, mousy glasses.

“Can I help you?” she asked. I thought it seemed like a strange question.

“Uh, yes…do you know how I can enroll for school here?” I thought of a lie. Lying is a funny thing, the way it comes to us almost naturally. “My family just moved here, and this seems like a much esteemed academy. My parents would be very proud if I could get into a place like this.”

She raised her carefully placed eyebrows until they met with the bangs of her stiff brown hair. “Yes, the registration forms are over there. She nodded toward a thick pile of papers at the corner of her desk. They looked boring and formal. I didn’t know how humans could read that small of text. I picked up a packet of five or six pages and sat down on an uncomfortable leather couch to fill them out.

I was stumped on the first question: “Name: _______”. Should I put Aya? Should I put my technical name, Prototype 1321? But what about the last name? I finally jotted down “Aya Miyusaki”, because Miyusaki was the last name of my creator. Shouldn’t I share a last name with the person who created me?

I filled out general things, like my age (I didn’t put “seventy-two minutes”, I put “17”), my birthday (today’s date, seventeen years ago), and checked “no” under health problems. I tried to lie as little as possible; that made my half-truths more believable. There was a mini-exam for the last three pages to determine my skills. It was unbelievably easy. I finished filling out all six pages in less than five minutes.

The woman’s eyebrows rose again when I told her I was done. She seemed to do that a lot. I set the paper in a basket with about a million (not literally) other registration forms. The woman told me it would be a seven day wait before my abilities would be determined and I would receive a letter in the mail. I had put my address as the scientist’s lab, so I would have to go back there, as much as I didn’t want to. I was sure I would get accepted, but I needed to retrieve the letter anyway. For now, I needed to determine where I would be living in the meantime.

I was surprised that my Heat chip didn’t pick up the human on the other side of the door before I opened it and ran smack into him. It didn’t hurt me, but it knocked the teenage boy I ran into to the ground. I helped him up and apologized.

He had shaggy brown hair and large dark eyes. His face was frozen in shock as he took my hand. He immediately let go and gravity claimed him again.

“Jeez!” he said. “Your hand is freezing! What did you do, dip it in a bucket of ice?”

No, I thought, I simply have no body heat. I didn’t say it out loud. I put my sleeve over my hand and pulled him up again. He looked at me curiously. He studied my face, focusing on my eyes. “Hey…” he said. “I’m Andrew. What was your name again? Sorry, I don’t remember.”

“I didn’t say my name. Are you all right?” I replied brusquely. When he nodded slowly, I abruptly turned to leave.

“Hey, wait! Where are you going?” he asked, chasing after me like a love struck puppy dog. “And you still didn’t say your name.”

“Home,” I replied indifferently. It was a lie. I had no idea where I was going, because I didn’t have anywhere to go. I continued walking, across the grass and outside of the gate. “Don’t you have business to take care of here? You just walked in the door when I exited the Secretarial Office.”

He looked flustered. “Well…yes, I was going to register for school, but…some things are more important.” He winked. He was trying to be charming, but he was failing. Miserably.

I stopped suddenly and turned to face him. He wasn’t paying attention and slammed into me, almost falling over again. One thing that would make a lasting impression on me about Andrew was that he was incredibly clumsy.
I was curious about his intentions and thoughts, so I looked at him and my Intuition chip started running. I sensed that he was feeling lonely. He felt lost in this place and felt like he needed to make an impression on the world. So, he wanted someone to talk to. I could deal with that.

I was honest with him. “I don’t see how someone like you could get into a school like this. If I were you, I wouldn’t even try to register. You might be too disappointed.” I smiled. It wasn’t a friendly smile.

He opened his mouth, and then shut it again. His eyes fell from mine and he studied his shoes. “You’re probably right,” he said. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m in way over my head here.”

“Alright, so, if you don’t need me anymore, I’ll be going. Goodbye, Andrew. Maybe you could register somewhere else.” I turned around again and started walking down the street. I listened for his footsteps to see if he was following. I heard nothing.

“Hey!” he called after me. “You know, if you think I’m the type of person that gives up easily, then you have another thing coming. I’ll see you at school!”

I continued, unfazed. I had a feeling he wasn’t just talking about not giving up on Saint Trinian’s. I knew that once school started, I would not be ignored by this clumsy little human boy.

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