Project 918

March 23, 2017
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"Sir, what we've created... they're monsters. We tried to exterminate them, but we created them to be the unbeatable weapon. Our serums don't do a thing. As far as we know, they can't be killed.” A deeper voice now spoke, “Well, that's one of the things we wanted, what else worked? Soldiers like these could change everything in the war. That's why they were created in the first place.” “Sir, you're not going to continue with this project, are you? You can't possibly after what you've just seen want to…” “Doctor, just tell me what worked.” With hesitation, the doctor answered, “Well, they're incredibly strong, they're indestructible, of course, they still look like children, like you wanted, and they are incapable from love. The rest of the emotions remain because, like you said, ‘emotions are what drive people.’” “Okay. Well… that's not all bad. We just have to figure it how to control them.” “They can't be released into society as we had planned. Their own families that loved them only a few weeks ago will run from them now. They can't go back."
"I know," said the man in nearly a whisper. "We've put the entire city at risk. It's because of us. The people are supposed to trust us... Now look just what we've created." Guilt and a trace of fear filled the voice that reverberated throughout the dark hallway.

"What are we to do?"

"Lock them up. They can't ever escape. Build a dungeon somewhere far away where they will never get out of. We have to bury this."
Running feet echoed through the hall followed by a female voice. It was kind, but obviously anxious. "Sir, please, we can't just throw them away to starve. They're spectacular children most of the time! You'd never suspect anything of them on a normal day. Please," the woman pleaded.

"A normal day, spectacular? You mean they're spectacular if they've killed and eaten a human being in the last 30 days?!" A cold silence fell between the government official and the woman.

She broke it, "Sir, we can figure something out. We can't just murder 12 children all under the age of 12. Please."
Almost 4 years later

Alyce slowly walked down the hallway, looking at the pictures, reminiscing about great memories... and not so good ones. When she reached the end of the hall, Alyce looked down at the dark patch of sheet rock that had been gnawed at by needle sharp teethe that never grew dull. This was one of the not so good memories.

They had tunneled through the wall to get free. 7 people died that day, 7 innocent people. Alyce didn't fill the hole in because it reminds the government what happens when they don't fulfill their side of the deal. Alyce was the caretaker, caring for them, loving them, and keeping them inside. All Mr. Johnson had to do was supply one person a month. Just one. They usually brought a criminal, someone on the run, a terrorist, a drug lord, the leader of a big gang. People who wouldn't be missed. The only problem was, the missing persons cases were piling up. 47 since they went to live with Alyce. Plus 19 doctors and scientists from when they were first created, and the 7 from 2 years ago, plus the 12 children themselves. That's 85 dead. 85 missing. Since it all started.

It wasn't right. Alyce knew that. She'd known it from the beginning. Since the first person was brought to her door. She'll never forget the moment she looked the man in the eye, a man with tattoos and piercings from head to toe and a corrupted smile, but in his eyes, she saw fear. With fear always comes humility. She looked him in the eye and knew he'd be dead in minutes.

At the same time, however, Alyce also thought it was wrong for the government to have created these children. They ruined 12 children's lives, ended them. It was also wrong to kill the children and make them pay for something that wasn't their fault. So what Alyce figured was that killing one criminal a month, though it was still wrong, it was less wrong, wasn't it?

Alyce loved the children, truly. In her eyes, they were great children, well behaved and kind for the most part. Jace was the oldest at 16, then Cinder, she was 2 months younger. Luke came next at 15, followed by Oliver and Evelynne, who were both 14. Rylee was 13, Kade, 12, and Olivia was 11. Clark was 10, Christine was 9, and Quintin and Jenny were youngest at age 8. She loved each of them. It upset Alyce a great deal that because the government had taken away their ability to love so they would be better soldiers, they would never be able to love her in return. Alyce opened the door to the boys' room.

"Rise and shine boys! It's late! I allowed you to sleep in!"

Jace, the oldest boy at nearly 16 quickly got out of bed and stretched.
"What time is it, Alyce?" He asked in a groggy voice.

"Nearly 8:30, dear. All of you get ready and I'll wake the girls and go make some breakfast," Alyce said to Jace and 5 younger boys that stirred behind him.

Alyce went to the room across the hall and stepped inside. "Good morning beautiful girls! You are burning daylight while you stay in your bed! We have great things to do today!" The girls got up almost immediately and began to get their clothes together and while some brushed their hair, others moved to the bathroom to shower. Alyce smiled kindly and went to make breakfast.

Within 30 minutes, all the children were seated at the table, freshly showered and ready for the day. Breakfast began and the children ate politely. “So what do you have planned for us today, Alyce?” Asked Cinder, the oldest girl. She was only 2 months younger than Jace.

“Well,” Alyce began, “I thought we could do some painting and then go out back and finish our treehouse.”

“Do you really think we'll finish it today?” Excitement poured from little Jenny’s body. She was 8, the youngest of the children. She was only 4 when she was taken for the experiment, only 4.

“I think, perhaps we can, if we all work together,” Alyce said sweetly. More excitement flooded the table of children eager to finish their treehouse.

The children finished eating, painted very quickly and went to the backyard to begin their work. Before long, all 12 of the children and their caretaker were sitting in a circle in their new tree house.

“The End,” Alyce said as she finished the story she had been telling the children.

“Alyce, why didn't the monster eat the girl? He ate so many soldiers that came to defeat him, why not her?” Asked 11 year old Olivia. Her bright eyes glimmered with curiosity and interest.

“Well, I don't know, Livvy, maybe because the monster changed, maybe he didn't want to hurt anyone anymore. Or maybe he saw something in Savannah that made him change his mind about her, something like hope or love or maybe genuine kindness. What do you think, Sweetheart?”

Olivia thought about this a moment. “I think it was a bit of all three. Maybe the monster saw something in Savannah that made him change.”

Alyce smiled but before she could respond, Jace spoke up, “Alyce, how do you love?” Silence filled the air of the new treehouse. The children were confused and slightly shocked by his question, so he elaborated. “You say you love us, you say Savannah had love, but you never tell us what that is exactly, or how we get it. Do you have to be special or something? Is it something you were injected with like us and strength or intelligence? Did Savannah have scientists give her love?”

Alyce wasn't sure how to answer this, but she tried her best. “No, Savannah wasn't injected with love. It's um… it's something that is inside someone. Love is an emotion you feel for another person. It is wanting what's best for them, no matter what. It's putting their needs above your own. It's being able to know that they are imperfect, and being able to look past their flaws. It's an action, and a feeling. No scientist in the world can make a person have love, they can only take it away.”

A small voice spoke softly, “ I love you, Alice,” said Christine, the third youngest. No one spoke for a moment in the treehouse and all anyone did was think and smell the sawdust. Alyce didn’t know what to say. Obviously, the children couldn’t love, that had been taken from them years ago. Were they regaining it? Were the effects of the experiment wearing off? Alyce didn’t know, but she could hope.

“I love you too, Alyce,” Quinton said quietly, nodding his head.
Later that night, Alyce studied the ceiling from her bed below, thinking about what happened that day. She was still in complete shock. She wondered if there was a possibility that the children did love her and weren’t simply saying the words. Perhaps it is because feeding is in only two days, and they are simply suffering from side effects of not feeding for nearly a month. Yes, probably it. Alyce thought to herself. No I’ll go back to normal after feeding day. But I was couldn’t help but think and hope that it wouldn’t go back to normal that maybe the children did love her. Because that meant maybe they could have a chance and society. I was fell sleep that night with hope for the future.

The next morning was bright, beautiful early some light beams throughout his window. It’s going to be a beautiful day, I was thought. Guilt and sadness reverberated through her as she got up and ready for the day. She hated liking the children up when it was so beautiful outside. However, she had no choice. She didn’t need any pre-feeding fits, causing any damage or putting anyone in the way of harm.

When Alex woke the kids up, they were all upset and they realized they had to be locked up today. But they didn’t argue that a breakfast in an usual silence that morning. I was found it quite the cure, but just allowed the science to carry-on. You don’t want to make them angry. After breakfast, the children gloomily packed their bags for their three day stay downstairs in the basement beneath the house.

“The next three days will be over in a jiffy, you’ll see,” Alice said as she walked down the cold, cement steps to the dungeon. Which reach the bottom she pushed The numbers 2718 into the keypad in the door clicked. She pushed hard to get the two foot thick door open.

One by one, the children file through the doorway. “Why does it have to be three days? Why not just to?” Asked Clark. I was side, “Clark, sweetheart, we’ve been over this. You know I have to do it this way. Mr. Johnson thinks it’s unsafe to have you out the day before or after the feeding. He's convinced it puts others at risk. You know I hate it. It’s the worst part of what I do. However, I love you guys very much, each one of you, including Bears losing any of you. That’s what will happen if you guys get out again. And I can’t have that.”

The children stood silently by their beds for a moment while they watched Alice put food and water jugs on the table near the door. “Alyce?” Asked Evelynne quietly. Alyce turned around so she could see her. “Yes Evelynne?” She replied kindly. “I love you.” After of like Evelynne, 11 more sweet voice is repeated the words. Alyce’s heart nearly began to glow.

“I love you too, children, so very much. I'll see you in a while, dears,” Alyce said just before she heaved the steel door shut.

The next day started with a job for Alyce. She’d had a terrible dream about the kids being taken from her. It wasn’t the first time Alyce had the stream. It was the same every time just as awful just as terrifying. In just minutes however, Alyce was up and making her way to the basement to visit the kids and make sure they were well. Because of Mr. Johnson’s rules, Alyce knew she couldn’t open the door. She could, however, open the small hatch.

The children were sitting in a circle on the cold cement ground and they all looked up together when Alyce’s face appeared through the hatch.

“Good morning, my dears! How did you all sleep?” The children looked concerned and perhaps even upset. “What's the problem?” Alyce asked. Jace stood up and said courageously, “Alyce, we've been up all night discussing and we've made a decision together. We are not going to kill anyone else. We don't want to take anymore lives. The only thing we don't know for sure is why we are just realizing now how wrong it is to take another’s life.” Disregarding the rules completely, Alyce unlocked the door and entered. “Sit down, Jace,” She said as she sat down herself. “Listen, I think you all have been redeveloping love and therefore, your humanity. I don't know what it means, exactly, but you're becoming more human. You're wanting to do what's right, instead of what you're told to. Less soldierlike, and more child like.” “Well… that's good, isn't it, Alyce?” Asked Kade urgently. “Well… I believe so… I'm not positive about anything yet, but I don't think love is a bad thing, do you?” Kade laughed lightly, “No.”

A couple hours later, Alyce heard a knock at the door. When she opened it, three people stepped through the door quickly. “’Ello, Alyce. ‘Ow are you doin today?” The large man with the thick Australian accent said loudly. “I'm doing fine, thank you. How about you, Stan?” “Oh I'm alright, thanks!” Alyce turned to the woman who had come into her home. “You must be new?” She asked kindly. Before she could respond, Stan spoke through his bushy mustache, just as loud as before, “This ‘ere’s Janice! She been workin’ only a few weeks! Don't know why they put ‘er on this project. Just for kicks I imagine!” His voice boomed through the house. Finally, Alyce turned to the person in the middle. This was how they were always brought in; hands cuffed with their heads under big, black hoods.

Alyce hated this. She hated that Stan delivered a human to be torn to shreds in minutes like he was delivering a package from Amazon. It was wrong. Alyce liked Stan. He was a kind man, just working for the wrong people. Alyce thought government was disgusting. They told people that they were trustworthy, kind, intelligent. They said they could change the world for the better. They said they would never do anything to deliberately hurt their people. The government was full of liars. All they did was lie and cheat and kill. It was revolting to Alyce, really.

Stan snapped Alyce from her trance. “Um… Alyce? Please sign,” He said. “Of course,” she said, reaching for the clip board. “Who do we have here?” She asked as she gestured toward the obvious male in between Janice and Stan. For the first time, Janice spoke. “Douglass Evergreen. Huge drug dealer.” She had a very stern, business-like voice that caught Alyce off guard. “People go crazy for his stuff, but they say he's never even tried it himself.” Stan’s tremendous laugh echoed in Alyce’s head. “Not even once, I guess, right?!” He thought that was pretty hilarious. Alyce laughed fakely. In a couple minutes, Stan and Janice were headed back to their car. Leaving Alyce with Douglass and the key to his cuffs.
As soon as they were out of the driveway, Alyce yanked the hood off of Douglass’s head. It revealed a young face, he was probably around 20. His dark brown hair had obvious natural curl, but it was cut short enough that all Alyce saw were gentle waves. His eyes, like his hair, were dark brown. After taking off the hood, Alyce noticed that he wasn't very tall, perhaps 5 foot 9. “I know you're going to kill me, so can you just do it?” The kid asked quietly. Alyce noticed a kind of desperate plea that hid behind the façade that Douglass had up. He was terrified, yet desperately wanted the silent and infallible refuge of death. “Douglass, what happened to you? How'd you wind up here?” A cool smirk creeped across his face. “Lady, I'm the most famous drug dealer in Cali. That's how I got here.” Again, Alyce saw through Douglass’s act. “Douglass, I want to be honest with you, but I won't be until you're honest with me. Cut the crap. I don't think you're a bad kid, so how'd you end up selling drugs? Besides, what kind of badass dealer isn't hooked to his own product?” Douglass looked down to his red Vans. “One who watched his mom’s heartbeat slow and stop because of substance abuse.” The desperate and broken sound returned to his voice.
Douglass carried on, fighting back tears. “Originally, I started dealing because we needed the money, and she wasn't working, then she got sick and…” he trailed of for a moment. Alyce suspected it was so he wouldn't break down. Douglass cleared his throat and went on, “She got sick and my little sister needed to be in school, my mom needed a doctor… I had no choice. It was a fast way to make bank.” “Okay” Alyce interrupted Douglass. She didn't need anymore. She knew the kid didn't deserve to die, even if he wanted to. “Douglass,” Alyce said softly while the boy dried his eyes. “I have one more question. You wanted me to kill you quickly. Usually people with family beg for their freedom, yet you seem almost eager to leave your little sister. Why?” Douglass look to the ground and then back Alice. “Because, I wouldn’t be leaving her.” Alyce didn't understand. “Johanna killed her self two weeks after Mom died. I wouldn’t be leaving anyone, ma’am, I’d be returning to them.” Now Alyce was the one biting her lip, fighting back tears. “Come with me,” Alyce said she grabbed the boy's shoulder and led him to the basement. He didn’t know what awaited him there. He had no idea.
After explaining everything to him, I was didn’t think Douglass was scared anymore. She hoped he wasn’t. Douglas was laughing and joking with the children in their underground dungeon. Suddenly, Alyce hurt and knock at the door, and the room fell silent. “I’m sure it’s fine. Maybe Stan forgot to tell me something. I’ll be back in a moment.”
Alyce reached the door and pulled it open. “Mr. Johnson? I wasn’t expecting to see you today, what brings you here?” Alyce said, standing in the doorway, she didn’t want to let the man in. She knew if Johnson went downstairs and found Douglass alive, he would know something was up. Alyce just wanted to know why he was here. Obviously, Johnson wasn’t going to answer the why question, so she stalled. “How have you been?” “Oh I’ve been just grand,” he said with a sick grin. “Are the children downstairs? Have they finished their feeding?” At this point, Alice was practically screaming internally but she had to do something. Speaking intentionally louder than usual, in hopes that somehow the children would hear her, she said, “Yes, Mr. Johnson, the children are downstairs but because they just got their meal half an hour ago, they may not be quite finished. And believe me it’s not a pretty sight. Please, come into the kitchen for a few cookies and a glass of milk and will go downstairs in a bit, hmm?” Mr. Johnson seemedto buy it and he followed Alyce to the kitchen.
While he got settled in a chair at the counter, Alyce got the cookie jar and jug of milk. Her hands shook but she tried desperately to calm them. “These are amazing,” Johnson said while chewing Alyce’s chocolate chip cookie. She knew that. She didn’t want to be cocky, but Alyce knew her cookies were easily the best in the state. After some small talk Mr. Johnson asked, “Alyce, why are you stalling?” The question caught her by surprise but Alyce was good at lying. Quickly, she said, “I’m not stalling I just don’t want you to have to see something you don’t want to.” Alyce’s heart raced and she prayed he’d except the lie. He didn’t. Mr. Johnson quickly moved to the secret door and down the stairs. Alyce raced after him, but it was too late, he’d gotten to the door and slid open the hatch.
Terror and heartbreak stabbed Alyce when she saw it. Blood covered nearly all of the white room. It was horrendous. They killed him. Douglass. They hadn’t been changing like Alyce had thought. He was a good man. Alyce knew he didn’t deserve what they had done. Now, his blood drenched the room. There was so much of it, Alyce wondered if the children had drained him of it before shredding the man. No trace of the body was found. It was gone. Bones and all. Everything was devoured. Alyce's heart felt as though it had hit the floor with a slap. She didn’t know if she could forgive them for this. Alyce knew they couldn’t control it, but… Douglass… And now the children just sat there. Dark red covered most of their lips. And specs of blood scattered some of the faces Alyce thought she knew and loved. She didn’t know anything now. Except that Douglass was gone and that he didn’t deserve to be slaughtered.
To Alyce's surprise, Johnson turned toward her with a grin on his face. Why the hell was he smiling? These children had just brutally shredded an innocent man! “Great, they’ve eaten. They’re at their strongest. Alyce, come upstairs, I have someone I want you to meet.” With a broken heart, Alyce closed the hatch and followed Mr. Johnson upstairs.
In the kitchen stood six people, three boys and three girls. They looked to be about 18. Alyce looked at Mr. Johnson who grinned brightly. “Meet Project 918, Second generation. They’re the exact same as the children downstairs, but they can be controlled. They follow my every command.” Alyce's jaw nearly hit the floor. “You made more? 85… 86 lives wasn’t enough for you?! You had to steal some more? You’re a sick man! And I want you out of my house and out of my life!” The idiotic smile remained on Mr. Johnson’s face. “All in good time, dear. Oh, and you can up that number because if you add the six people here, plus the 57 doctors and scientists it took to perfect these guys… Your number is a lot bigger than 86.” “You’re disgusting,” Alyce said through her teeth. “Alyce, I know you’re disgusted by me, but you won’t be alive for very much longer, so it doesn’t matter anyways. I need a way to test these experiments. What better way to do that then setting them on the failed attempt? And because you are a witness, and I’d rather not have any of those, I'm setting them on you as well.” Alyce could barely move. It was as if her joints were frozen in place. “Goodbye, Alyce.” Mr. Johnson laughed while he walked down the hall and left the house, leaving the six monsters standing before her.
Finally, her joints kicked in to gear and Alyce launched her self down the stairs into the dungeon, closing the door behind her. She hoped that would at least buy her some time. When Alyce look down, she realize she was standing in a puddle of Douglass's blood, and became incredibly nauseous. “Alyce, it’s paint,” Said a voice from behind her. She whirled around and found the voice belonged to Jace. “Hmm?” She said, fearing that if she opened her mouth, vomit would shoot out. “It’s just paint, I promise. We heard Mr. Johnson and wanted to make it look normal.” Alyce came back a little. “Where is Douglass?” “Here,” the muffled voice said, as Douglass tried to crawl from beneath one of the beds. Finally, he got out and stood up, fully intact. Alyce let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness. But now we have a bigger problem on our hands,” Alyce said to the group. “Upstairs, there are six more kids, just like you guys. Except, they are more controlled, more like dogs. And Mr. Johnson has just ordered them to kill us all.”
The room stood still until little Quentin chimed in, “I thought I smelled something strange!” Alyce half smiled. “What are we going to do, Alyce?” Jace asked urgently. Alyce didn’t know. There was no way out of the dungeon besides up the stairs, and down here, they didn’t have much to work with. “I’m not sure…” She said quietly. Disappointment and fear filled the children’s faces. “There’s only six of them but they might be stronger and stronger. Nevertheless, we have the numbers. We probably don’t have long until the bus to the door, so will have to think quickly. Does anyone have an idea?” Only silence was heard in the dungeon while no one came up with a plan. Finally, Douglass spoke, “Guys, I know I’m the new guy here and everything, but I’ve noticed something since being with you. You all care for each other deeply. So many different kids from different backgrounds, and yet, you love each other like family. Now those lunatic robots up there might have a reason to fight, but it’s because this Johnson guy told them to. You guys, however, have something stronger. You guys have a “who” to fight for. I don’t think we have to come up with some master plan to beat them. There are only six. Just… Remember who you’re fighting for and why you're doing it for them. One last thing, and Alyce, I apologize in advance for this one. Kids, fight like hell!” A cheer went up in the dungeon from 12 kids and the caretaker who all felt like they could accomplish anything the world could throw at them. They were empowered by the love they had for each other. Today, they would not fail.
The children’s joy and laughter was interrupted by a loud crash at the door. Another one. A third. Alyce listened, frozen. She flinched at every boom. She knew they’d get in. They have been ordered to. She was grateful for what Douglass… Douglass! He wasn’t a superhuman! He would be killed in a second. “Douglass!” She said as she moved closer to him. “We have to get you out of here! You won’t last 10 seconds when they get in. “” Douglass didn’t move. “No. I’m not leaving! You guys are the first people I've felt at home around. You guys have given me hope and that's something I haven’t had in a long time. So no. I’m not going anywhere.” “Douglass, sweetheart, you always be welcome in my house. You are a part of us now. But you have to live first,” Alyce said Douglass looked down to the ground, and then back up at her. “Alyce, if I die today fighting for you guys, for something I believe in, I will die with pride and joy in my heart.” Tears welled in Alyce's eyes as she smiled at the boy. “Well, then, Douglass,” she said as she got closer to him. She was so close, she nearly whispered, “Fight like hell.” A smile creeped across Douglass’s face.
Abruptly, with one last crash, the steel door broke open. One by one, six people stepped through the door way with smirks on their faces. “Hey kids,” said the boy in the middle. His hair was dark and he had a vibrant blue eyes, almost like they were contacts. “We're here to kill you,” He said proudly. Alyce watched as Jace stepped forward, shoulders squared and determination in his eyes and said, “Come get us.”
In a blur, battle broke out all around Alyce. Everywhere she looked, there were two of her kids on one of the second-generation monsters. Blows that should’ve shattered humans only stunned these people. Fists and kicks flew through the air. When she saw Douglass, Alyce snapped out of her trance. He wielded a metal leg from one of the beds. She bent down and got another one. Alyce set her eyes on the closest second generation and moved to her. She used all of the strength in her and swung the 3 foot metal bar at the ribs of the teen. She didn’t want to hurt her, but Alyce wasn’t going to let her touch her kids. The girl Alyce swung the pole at was distracted by Evelyn and Clark who worked her over with punches and kicks. The girl however, fought back hard. Showing no mercy for even the 10-year-old boy that only reached her abdomen. Alyce swung and the girl's ribs, hoping that the Seconds would just tire themselves out.
So fast Alyce could barely react, a hand swung at her and made contact with her face.
Alyce’s had snapped backwards upon impact. Incredibly intense pain covered her nose and in between her eyes. Her vision went black and she fell hard on to the tile below her. The pain continued to shoot through Alyce’s face. A warm liquid fell onto her upper lip followed by the copper flavor in her mouth. When Alyce finally regained some vision, she saw blood dripping onto the white tile. Alyce also noticed pain in her mouth underneath the revolting taste of her blood. She moved a finger to her mouth and feel a hole in her tongue. Her finger left her mouth drenched in blood. Alyce rapidly grew sick and gagged. This resulted only in more blood flowing from her mouth onto the white tile.
Alyce looked up and in the gaps between the black holes in her eyesight, she saw the fight carry-on. Blood fell from noses and dripped down from cuts. They had to keep fighting. Even little Jenny, fought with everything she had. Alyce fought just to stand up. She reached down and grabbed the metal pole. She went back to beating on the girl, but this time, Alyce ducked the punch.
Alyce looked over to Jace who is fighting the boy with the black hair. For half a second, his eyes met Alice’s and she knew what he wanted. She threw the post over to him. He caught it and with incredible force, plunged it into the boys ribs. The pole went clean through him and out his back. Jace yanked the blood drenched pole from the boy and looked at him. The boy looked down at his wound but continued to fight. Alyce couldn’t believe that he was still going. It was incredible. Alyce moved out of the fight because she was now unarmed. After a few more punches, Jace plunged his own hand into the hole the bar had created. When he removed it, his fingers were curled around the boy’s heart. I was the stomach dropped. Her eyes burned in her heart leaped. She didn’t want to see that. Now she'd never unsee it. Dark liquid covered Jace’s arm almost to his elbow. The Second’s eyes went lifeless as he toppled to the ground.
Jace looked up at Alyce. She noticed his eyes, too, were lifeless. It was as if it had killed him right along with the Second that laid heartless before him. Alyce watched s single tear fall down 16 year old Jace’s cheek. Alyce's heart nearly split in two when she saw him in so much pain. The human heart rolled from Jace’s bloody fingers and fell to the floor. It hit the floor with the sound the Alyce wasn’t sure how to describe. It was something between a smack and a splash. Either way, drops of blood leapt into the air when the Second’s heart hit the ground.
Alyce knew Jace had killed people before, many times. She’d watched him mutilate bodies. This one, however, was different. This time, he was in control. With a hollow voice, Jace yelled to the others, “You have to rip out their hearts!” He tossed the dripping bedpost back to Alyce And turned to help the others. Alyce began to swing the metal pole again.
Minutes later there are only two Seconds left alive. Four lay under the children’s feet as they fought. For the first time, Alyce thought they could actually survive this. She was proud of her kids and kept fighting with them. Alyce looked over to the left as she brought the metal post down onto a Second’s shoulder. She saw Douglass fighting like it was his own family. She’s proud to know him. He was a good kid.
In what seemed like half a second, Douglass's fight changed. The Second generation boy he had been fighting tore the metal bed post from Douglass's grasp and jabbed it through his abdomen. Alyce stopped. She quickly moved to Douglass and set him lightly to the ground. She then tried to pull the 20-year-old kid away from the war that raged on behind them.
“Douglass.” Alyce said quietly as she looked at his face that had blood speckles on it. Douglass half smiled and said back to her, “You got hit in the face.” Alyce smiled “I did.” She knew it was just like him to be so concerned about her bloody nose while he laid on the ground with a hole in his stomach. She looked down. Douglass’s black shirt was darker and soaked around the world. “It’s gonna be OK. You’ll be OK. We can fix this.” Douglass's trembling hands found Alyce’s. “Let it be. I know I won’t survive this Alyce. I’ve heard those lies a few too many times.” Alyce's eyes now welled with tears. Through them she said, “But you have to. We’re going to be a family, remember?” Alyce's muscles now pulled with each sob. Without removing the half smile from his face, Douglass said, “I’d never forget that. You loved me when I thought no one could. You gave me hope when I thought for sure I was hopeless.” Alyce's tears fell down her cheeks. “We want you in our family, Douglass. You have to survive.” Tears now fell down the sides of Douglass's face and onto the ground, combining with the puddle of blood beneath him. “Alyce, I would be honored to be a part of this family. But…” Douglass coughed and sputtered blood. “I’ve already got one.” Douglass's breath now grew slow and heavy. “Let me go back to them. Please.” Alyce squeezed the boy’s hand and said, “Be free, Douglass.” Douglass turned away from Alyce and looked up. His face lit up and so quietly Alyce could barely hear, Douglass said, “Hey Mom.” “Go to her, Douglass.” More tears fell from Alyce’s eyes as she watched Douglass take his last breath and quietly slip away into the silent refuge she wished for when they first met. Silent comfort creeped into Alice is hard when she thought of the reunion he was not having.
Alyce wiped tears from her face and turned around. She noticed that the fight had stopped while she was by Douglass's side. Her 12 kids stood before her battered and bruised. Most of them had blood streaming down their faces. She looked at them all and said quietly, “He’s with his family now.”
3 Hours Later
Alyce stood still as she watched the house before her burn. She lived in it for so long. It held so many great memories. And some not so great ones. All the matter now was that it was gone. Nothing would remain. Except, of course, the treehouse in the back and the single grade beneath it. Douglass didn’t deserve to be burned. He was too good to be left in the dungeon with those monsters. She jumped in the van with all of her children and looked in the mirror at the burning house only once.

She then started the van and pulled out of the driveway. Alyce didn’t know where they were going. She didn’t know what they were going to do. But Alyce did know one thing. They were going forward. She knew that they can make it now. Together. That their love would keep them safe. So Alyce drove on, with love fueling her courage and determination, and in that moment, Alyce was fearless.

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