Less Than Perfect

          The sun was shining, the birds were singing, everything was normal. It was just me, a scrawny brunette girl, facing the world alone. It was very warm, like it usually was here, wherever here was. To be honest, I didn’t really know where I was. My life had been a rollercoaster. Abandoned by my parents, that I can’t seem to remember, left to die at an old, abandoned farm house. My parents failed their mission of killing me without murder. Surely my parents were just crazy.  In the society I remember, there was nothing even close to dumping your child to die. The world I remember was peaceful and loving, and that is the way I will always remember it. I made the resources around the house work, and managed to survive. At thirteen years old, I’d say I did a good job. My house was large, two stories tall, with a lot of square footage. The people who abandoned it left a whole library of books for me, and it was like they were keeping me in mind while stocking it. Every book I’ve read from it, I’ve enjoyed. I’ve read so many books from that library, it’s hard to keep track. The house was pretty beat-up, the red paint flaking off the sides, and the brown-black shingles were falling off the roof, but I didn’t care. It was mine.
          I thought the day they arrived was normal, and it was going to play out just like every other day. I collected the eggs from the field because the chickens I caught were free ranged, I collected water from the thin, small stream that was about a mile up the long, abandoned desert type setting, made breakfast, tended to the fields, which were here when I arrived about four years ago, collected the berries from the bushes behind the house, fed and watered the chickens, then crawled up on the dirty wood floor, facing upwards towards the hole in the roof. Usually, I patched the holes, but for some reason, I decided to leave this one. Every night, I would stare at the stars through it, and it somehow made me feel connected to humanity, despite being, completely, entirely, alone. For some reason, the day they arrived didn’t feel different, until it was.
***
          I was out in the field collecting berries when I heard a large crash. I thought it was another ‘quake, because they seemed to be common around this time of year, but boy was I wrong. What in tarnation?! I only realized that their ship landed when I heard it open. Then it became clear it wasn’t another ‘quake. I ran around the house, and found an extremely large, round vessel that was almost directly in front of my house. What the heck is this? It was circular, and was a metallic purple, but seemed almost dirty. Maybe it collected space dirt. Before I had time to examine the craft, a side panel pushed open, and I, out of instinct, darted into the house, from an opened window. I lept through the window, and felt as the wood from the lip grazed my thigh, making it feel as though I was running through a thorn bush, every thorn digging into my skin. I settled at the base of the window from inside, and sat in silence as a large figure descended from the strange craft. As that thing moved, I noticed it wasn’t human. Not at all. It was very large, with the color being splashes of dark red and purple, with four arms and three legs. The arm type limbs were very long, and looked as though they could stretch at least two yards in every direction, with six finger like appendages attached to each arm. It’s legs were very long and wide, giving it a predator type appearance. It’s face had three eyes, that looked like they were glazed black. Maybe it’s eyes reflected it’s soul. It also had a mouth, or what seemed to be a mouth. No ears, but instead, two small holes on the sides of it’s head. It didn’t have a nose either, so I assumed it couldn’t smell. The body was very thick and short, almost like a dwarf’s build, despite the long appendages. It slowly approached the house’s front step, with several others following behind, each one looking the same as the first. As I saw that it was not turning around, I made a run for the stairs, tracing my way out of the empty room, and quickly ran up the rotting stairs that were directly outside of the fallen door frame. I heard the doorknob twist. Did they know how to use the door knob? This was encouragement for me to put my running skills to the test. I was only about halfway up the stairs when I heard them struggling with the knob, so I darted as fast as I could make my scrawny legs move up the stairs. It was obvious they didn’t know how to turn the knob, because I made it to the top of the stairs before they were in. Without looking back, I ran down the long hallway to the left of the stairs, and jumped into the bathroom at the end of the hall, passing seven fragile doors on my way. This bathroom was the only room in the house that had a working lock, with food and a bucket of water in it. It was my overflow room, where I kept my extra food, so I knew I would be set for at least a couple days. Crash! I assumed this noise were those things breaking down the front door, but I didn’t step outside to check. Without hesitation, I quietly closed the door, locked it, and placed an old stool in front of it. This bathroom was going to be my new safe haven. Surely, I would be here for days.
          As I sat next to the door with my ear pressed against the door, I heard them renovate downstairs. They didn’t even bother to look upstairs to see what was there. How dare they move my house around! I was infuriated, but there was nothing I could do. They weren’t very intelligent. Although they were big and intimidating, they were stupid. At least I would have known to check the whole house. Duh. Throughout, what felt like, a few hours, I was filled with a disgusting feeling of terror. It was like the feeling you get when you know something bad will happen, and you’re stuck waiting for it to come. Like when you’re stuck, waiting in silence, knowing that death is coming, and not being able to do anything about it. Stuck. I felt stuck. As the day drew into night, I watched as the sun went down through the small, round window, that was the only source of light in this dark, claustrophobic room. I was just lying there on the dark, dirty floor, with my head propped up on my arm, positioned towards the dusty window. I watched the colors of the setting sun dance on the glass, which gave me some peace in a mind full or terror. Eventually, once the moon started to rise, I heard something, maybe talking, downstairs.
          “This place will do.” said one. It’s voice was deep, and sounded almost like a robot, but not quite. It was almost human like, but with something staticky. How were they speaking English? Maybe they had been observing earth for some time, particularly this region, and picked up on the language?
          “We will have to make some, improvises, to make this work. We can’t continue with our research in this mess.” This voice was different. It was much lighter than the other, and sounded as though it floated on the air, and almost brought joy to my ears. Yet, it was still deep, but not too deep.
          “Bring in the experiments.”
          I heard large footsteps travel out of the house, and they creaked on the floor with every step. Boom! Something heavy was, what sounded like, thrown onto the ground. This made me wince, and forced my hand from out from under my head, which made me lift my head on my neck’s strength. Two seconds later, I listened as the thing stepped onto the front porch, but it’s steps were much, much heavier. What was it carrying? It’s steps sounded of struggle, but there were no verbal confirmations of this. It stepped into the house, continued down the hallway, then turned right into the selected room. I brought myself to prop my head back onto my arm, and gave my strained neck a break. You’d think after years of hard work I would have learned to deal with neck pains. I quickly heard a rough crash as the thing dropped the, almost metal sounding, container. It opened the container, as I heard the tough latches come loose, and the house quickly filled with the foul smell of death. I only knew what the smell was because when I was first got here, I found dead, rotten chickens, which smelled the exact same way. It wreaked of death, rotten food, and trash. It was disgusting.
          Was there really something dead in my house? Whatever it was, I knew I didn’t want it in my house.
          “Where should we put these?” I heard one say.
          “Throw them somewhere, fast,” Said another, there was a presence of anger in it’s voice, which was weirdly easy to recognize due to their voices sounding naturally aggressive, “We’ve got things to discuss.”
          There was quick movement downstairs. The sound of metal scraping my wood floors made me think of sudden panic, because the thought that they would bring it upstairs started to haunt me. The terrible, ear-wenching sound made it past the staircase, and I was quickly relieved. I took a long, silent breath of relief, but was then haunted, once again, by the overwhelming fear of them. Why was I so scared? They would never find me. They were too stupid. At least, I thought they were. I didn't actually know.
          “53610, get over here!” This was the same, angry voice as before. So they did have names! Why numbers? Why would they name each other with numbers? Quickly, I also thought, why would they speak English, when there is no need to? Did they not have a native language?
          The assumed “53610” quickly shuffled across the floor. It was a good thing these floors and walls were so thin. I was be able to track every movement they made.
          “Coming!” It’s voice was filled with fear, and a little bit of agitation. Were there higher officials in their order? Were some more powerful than others? They must have had some sort of government. It was strange to think about this. Usually, when I read books about aliens, they were fictional characters, without order, just chaos. That statement didn’t seem to hold true.
          For the next hour, they seemed like they held a meeting of some sorts, although it was very hushed, so I wasn’t able to make out exactly what they were saying. It was actually almost relaxing, knowing that I was safe for at least a little bit of time. I took advantage of this opportunity, closed my eyes, lied on my stomach, arms wrapped under my head for some cushion, and went to sleep.
***
          It was hell. No, not just a close resemblance. This was actual hell. The flames, the fire, and the aliens. There were no but’s about it. I was running, but my feet weren’t moving. The alien things were making their way closer, but I couldn’t move. I was stuck. They were right behind me, the sweat dripping from my forehead, and the back of my neck was very, very moist. I felt one of their fingers press against my back. Screaming. Fear. A sudden rush of panic and a rush of adrenaline surged through my veins, making my heart pump fast.
         I was, luckily, pulled from my nightmare with the harsh sound of screaming. It wasn’t a pleasant scream either, like the one where you are happily surprised, more like the one you hear when someone is about to die. How could I let myself scream like that? They would surely know that someone was up here now! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! This should have warned me that one of those things was coming up the stairs, but for some reason, I never put it together. If only I were less stupid. If only I would have listened to that little voice in my head telling me to be careful. If only.
          It hit the top of the stairs, and headed down the hall, checking every room. I listened as it kicked in the doors, stepped inside for a brief minute, then stomped out. This was when I started to worry. God, how could I be so careless? I got up, out of my sleeping position, and crawled as quietly as possible towards the small window. I got to my feet, and reached for the window, making sure not to make any noise. I could hear it getting closer. It was only a few doors away. I started pushing at the window, and tried to get it to open. Of all the things in this house, why did this window have to be the one thing to stay together? It was obvious that the window was not going to open, so I started to look for things around the small bathroom to break it with. At this point, there was no need to stay quiet. If I didn’t escape, they would find me, and most likely kill me. There was no point to be secret anymore. The noise kept getting closer. It was only one door away. I’m dead. They are going to find me and kill me. I kept scanning and re-scanning the room, and finally spotted an old shower pipe that seemed to have broken off. As I launched for the broken, metal pipe, that had clearly broken off from rust, I heard the thing attempt to kick the door, but struggled. I gripped the pipe with all my might, as adrenaline and fear burst through my veins. It felt like there was fear dripping through my pores, and oozing out of my ears. The door was finally beaten down, and the creature stepped in, it’s three eyes tracing the floor and meeting my gaze. Before it had time to open it’s mouth and call for help, or say that it found me, I swung the pipe with every little cell of energy in my body, hit it on it’s head, and made it collapse to the floor. I jumped over it’s unconscious body, darted out the door, and spun left, sprinting down the hallway, towards the stairs. Once I passed the stairs, I continued forward, pushing through the never ending hallway that laid to the right of it. They didn’t know this place as well as I did. I actually had a chance of survival. Nearing the end of the hallway, I took a sharp left, and than another right, and ran into the first door to the right. This was one of the many bedrooms in this large house. In it was a bed that was pressed against a wall to the right, with an old, rotting dresser to the left. Towards the far side of the large, ancient room was a closet. I knew that would be a good hiding spot, so I approached the selected hideaway. Every step echoed in the empty space, making me worry. Were they good at hearing? I opened the large closet, and stepped inside. Quickly, I closed the door, turning the large closet pitch black. My hands were shaking heavily, which just proved that my fear was not just mental, but physical. How long would it be until I had to see those nasty creatures again? I never want to see another one of those disgusting creatures ever again.
          “What happened 74901?” This was the “leader” speaking. I could tell by the way it spoke with such aggression. It’s voice was so loud I was able to hear it from all the way in that closet. Although, I think pressing my ear against the wall might have helped. I couldn't help myself. If I was going to die, I might as well be informed.
          I listened as “74901” explained what happened. This one’s voice was also rough and coarse, but was less angry than the other’s.
          “Put this house on lockdown! We don’t know what would happen if that being got out!” It was furious now. It’s voice was even louder than before. Why were they so worried? I wouldn’t have been able to do anything if I got out. Didn’t they realize I was alone? That I was excluded from society? I hadn’t seen another person for years. What was I going to do? If I thought getting out was going to be easy, I was terribly wrong. Now they were after me. Now, they knew I was here, somewhere, in this large, never ending maze of a house. I knew they weren’t going to stop searching for me. Not until they found me. I heard them as they searched the far side of the house, which meant I had at least a few hours left, maybe even more.
          I was able to hear them as they destroyed the house from wall to wall. It filled me with even more fear than before, knowing that they wouldn't stop until they found me, yet, there was still hope in me that I would find a way. Hope. That’s almost a weird word. How could someone be hopeful when they know death is coming? I guess it’s just the same that life is just a beautiful lie of hope, even in the darkest hours. It’s our human side that makes us feel hope.
          The noise of destructiveness made it’s way closer as time went on, and I was just sitting in a closet, my legs crossed, elbows resting on my thighs with my head lifted on my hands. Fear was still a very prominent emotion, but I was almost getting used to it. How could I let myself get used to fear? What was wrong with me? There was constant bickering between those nasty creatures, and the one that I got away from, 74901, was put on outside duty. It was in charge of making sure I didn’t escape outside. From what I heard of the conversation, they didn’t trust it to guard anything, so they sent two others with it. It was surprising how much I could hear from all the way in that closet, even with my head against the door, I was still in awe that I could hear everything.
          The aliens didn’t rest at all throughout the night. It was constant searching and destroying. Were they naturally destructive, or did they just want to make me fear for my life? Either one was a viable answer. Eventually, I grew tired of resting with my legs crossed, so I uncrossed my legs, and turned onto my back, letting my head rest on the floor. My hair was most likely collecting dirt from the dingy wood floor, but I didn’t care. Who cares about appearance when you’re going to die? They really didn't care about destroying the house, because I heard them breaking down closet doors over and over again. They probably didn’t want to take the time to learn how to open them. They were slowly approaching my room, my closet. They would get closer every time they checked a room. Closer to finding me.
          A few hours passed, and I was still in the same position, lying on my back with my head on the floor. Nothing had really come up in my mind. I didn’t want to think about anything. Not about the aliens that invaded my house. Not about the fact that I was going to die. Nothing. This was as peaceful as my mind was going to get. It was time. They knocked down the door to the bedroom, and I listened as they approached the bed. Their footsteps sounded like thunder. Thunder. That meant that lightning was near. Lightning that was going to strike me. They recklessly threw the disgusting mattress upside down, and approached the dresser. Every move they made sent shots of fear and terror through my veins. With every step, it was like being injected with fear, something that I couldn’t stop. After they carelessly destroyed the old, fragile dresser, they started moving towards the closet. This was it. It was time for me to face them. As much as I didn’t want to in this moment, it had to happen. Why was I not scared? I never understood why I was more scared of the aliens than death. In this moment, I think I would have prefered death over seeing those creatures. They punched in the closet door, and there they were, staring at me with disgust, like I was some kind of diseased animal
          I knew they would have found me eventually, I just didn't expect them to find me so soon. They looked at me, and then regained their poise, and snatched my arms. I was still in my previous position, because I was too exhausted to move. I knew what was coming next. They started pulling me out of the closest, letting my legs drag on the floor. They weren’t being gentle. I could feel it as they pulled my arm, and every tug sent pain through my shoulders. Why was this so painful? They proceeded to drag me across the floor, towards the stairs. As I looked at the two that were pulling me, and the two that were behind me, they were all identical. There was nothing different about them. Fear was present in my mind, but not like before. It wasn’t as powerful. I was more curious. Once we hit the stairs, they continued to drag me down the rotting steps, completely careless of hurting me. The foul smell of death appeared again. It was nasty, and made me sick to my stomach. It smelled like curdled milk, moldy cheese, and rotten vegetables all rolled up into one, foul, gut-wrenching smell. Would I have to see their “research”? Now fear started to become present. Despite the fact that I would surely die, I was more concerned about dying in a disgusting environment. We hit the bottom of the stairs, and they started moving towards a large room. Something was off about this room though. Even from a distance, there was noticeable stains on the floor and walls. They continued to move me forward, fear still rushing through my head, when we hit the entrance of the room. Oh Lord! The walls and floors were drenched in blood, and there were human limbs everywhere. Tears started filling my eyes, as the thought of these people being killed was almost unbearable. All of the limbs were blue and green, and a little swollen. Did the aliens know enough to kill them before they did this to them? The thought of being alive for this made me sick. I was filled with fear and disgust at the same time. There was a table type structure in the center of the death room and, what looked like, tools around it. They began to pull me towards the table, and my head was surrounded by blood. Human blood. My hair was completely engulfed in the cold, thick liquid. As they were moving me, some splashed onto my face, and made me freeze with fear. The powerful emotion took over my body, and made me tremble. The two that were following behind me picked up my legs. They proceeded to lift me onto the table, and put straps over my chest and legs. Most likely so I couldn’t move. Fear surged through my veins, as tears were still present in my eyes. If I was going to die, there was something I needed to say. I had to. I needed to know.
          “Why? Why are you doing this? Why do you have to kill people?” My voice was trembling. I couldn’t contain the tears that started coming as I spoke this. Why did it break my heart so much? I felt as each tear streamed down my face. One tear for each person murdered. One tear for every person who was longing for them to be home; for them to be safe. One tear for everyone who was worried about them.
          The aliens were stunned. They were in shock that I had the nerve to speak. There was hushed whispering between them, so silent that I couldn't hear what they were saying. One stepped closer to me, and the sound of it’s footsteps was light, not the usual thundering noise.
          “We need to. It’s the only way we can survive. Without this research, we cannot learn how to morph into this society. We need to learn how to become human.” It’s voice was hushed, but still deep. It was so gentle though, almost as if it was trying to justify killing these people.
          “You will never be able to be human. You are too disgusting. You are too soulless.” Now it made sense. These weren’t aliens at all. These were demons. These were my demons. These were the things that made me fear at night when I was all alone. These were my demons taking me to my hell. This what I feared. This is what kept me up at night. I always wanted to believe that society was perfect. That my parents were just outcasts; strangers to a perfect world with no evil. I almost needed the world to be perfect. It was the one thing that kept me sane. Remembering the world as a perfect place made me hope that one day I would get out. It made me think that one day my parents would come back, begging for forgiveness because the perfect society made them see the wrong in what they did. I needed a perfect society because belonging in a perfect society meant that I was good enough. It meant that my parents made a mistake. It meant that them thinking I wasn’t good enough was a mistake. I feared death. I feared death because death did not belong in a perfect society. Fear did not belong in a perfect society. None of this belonged in the perfect society I had always dreamed of, and anything less than perfect made me fear. It scared me. This was my hell.






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