Author's note: I wrote this for Science class- we had the option of taking our topic and turning it into a... Show full author's note »
PreparationsJuly 18, 2:45 PM- Oregon, Town of Grace
“W-what?” I ask, stuttering. I can’t say anymore, and I slam the truck door behind me. I drop to my knees on the wet, ashy gravel. This… this can’t be. I trail my fingers along in the sooty dust, and a single tear traces its way down my cold face. Instead of snow, which we can get sometimes in the summer, ash and little orange and red embers rain down from the sky. The day is cold, and dark, and everything I see before me is blackened, ruined, and irreparably gone. It’s gone.
The gates leading to the city are falling off their hinges, and the wall that surrounds the city is almost gone, only a few bricks scattering the expanse of the burned ground. All the buildings are burned to the ground, and nothing is left but some black, gnarled trees, and discarded wood, upturned cars, and fallen street lights. Nothing stands. Nothing moves. Jake and Arrow run up behind me, and fall to the ground next to me. Cassie exits the car quietly, and comes up behind me and puts a warm hand on my shoulder. Jake breaks down his tough guy façade then, and starts crying. Arrow keeps looking around and yelling “Why?” at the sky. It hurts like nothing had ever before, but somehow I think it’s worse for Arrow and Jake. Jake is only fourteen and his first mission was one filled with sorrow and death. And Arrow… there isn’t a single person left alive in this place, from what I can tell. He had a wife and a dog named Finnick, and there’s no doubt they are dead or captured now. And then it hits.
“Mom?” I whisper. “Dad?” I cry harder. I cry every tear that I’ve been holding in since that failed raid, and it’s a lot, the salty water pushing to break the dam I set up there, and it breaks, tears streaming in thick, cold rivulets down my face, mixing with the ash. Cassie says nothing still, but from her facial expression, I can tell that she feels sorrowful for us.
We all stand up, and set our shoulders straight. I wipe the tears away, and make a vow to myself that I won’t cry again. I will remain silent, stoic, unmoved. I’ve cried far too much already. If I don’t show strength for my remaining men, how are they supposed to expect to do the same?
And then I hear a single shot fired. I see a blur of movement, and I hear Arrow cry out, a strangled moan I don’t think I will ever forget. I spin around. A single circle of blood blossoms around his heart, spreading, his shirt starting to soak red. He falls to the ground, and moves no more.
“Arrow!” Jake screams, and then another shot rings out, a shrill piercing note. Jake looks down at his own shirt. He says nothing as he looks at me in shock. His own black shirt hides the red, but we both know the blood is there. He crumbles, and lies on the ashy ground, now glassy eyes towards the sky, his jaw slack. He isn’t breathing.
Arrow! Jake! I scream in my head, No! Cassie opens her mouth to scream, but I clamp my hand there before she can. We run towards the car, and I fumble to unlock it. We scramble in, and I start the car. I motion for Cassie to duck her head down, and slam on the gas. We drive through the gates into the city and past Jake and Arrow’s bodies. I spot a man, my age, running towards us with a speed that blurred, it was so fast. He shot at the car, but its exterior was built of iron enforced steel, and the windows are bullet proof. He couldn’t breach the car, and so he ran faster to come up in front of us. He stopped in front of us suddenly, expecting us to yield and stop, but I’m not that easily stopped. I press harder on the gas pedal, and he is so shocked that we don’t that he doesn’t move. Guess superior strength and speed doesn’t guarantee superior intellect.
I hear a sickening crunch as I run him over.
I stop the car, and I get out slowly exit the car, assault rifle in hand. I peer around the back of the car at the Doppelganger. He lays there broken and lifeless on the gravel, his legs twisted at an unnatural angle. My stomach lurches at the sight, but I manage to keep everything down. Cassie, though, isn’t as strong willed. She takes one look at the mangled corpse, runs over to a ruined bush and empties her belly onto the dead branches. Threat eliminated, I run back to my men’s bodies. I drop to my knees once more, and cradle my head in my hands. True to my vow, tears don’t fall, but they threaten to, pushing hard against my closed eyelids. Cassie walks up behind me and puts her hand on my shoulder again. Then I hear a sharp barking noise, and I’m on my feet in an instant, immediately wary and ready to kill anything in my path.
A dog, covered in soot, dirt and blood, walks up to me, favoring his left paw. It’s Finnick. Arrow’s dog. He yips at me and motions with his furry head to follow him. I do, and we walk along into the city until we come to in front of Arrow’s old house. He walks through the space where the door once was, and leads me to the bathroom. I step through, and gasp.
“Help… me.” Arrow’s wife croaks. She’s caught under a fallen beam of wood, trapped from the waist down. I rush over to her, and struggle to lift the heavy wood off of her. She squirms out from under it, and sighs in brutal relief when she’s free. I help her up, slowly, and she leans on me as I lead her out of the house. We exit, and Cassie runs up to me, a quizzical expression written clearly on her face.
“This… this is Arrow’s wife and dog, Finnick, Cassie,” I say quietly. She puts her hand to her mouth and starts crying anew.
“What’s going on?” Arrow’s wife interrupts, “Where is Arrow?” I put my hand over hers, and get ready to tell the woman who loved Arrow most that her husband died not ten minutes ago, less than a mile from where she lay trapped, unable to help him.
July 20- Thane’s Journal
It was unbelievably hard, telling her. How do you tell someone that their spouse is dead, and it’s your fault? How do you deal with the shock, the initial denial, and then finally showing her the one thing she never wanted to see- her husband’s lifeless body?
We sent her off to Canada, where close to the border I know there’s another camp, completely Resistance.
We searched the rest of the town- there were no survivors other than her, and I never found my parents bodies.
We’re driving to New York - we’re about five hours away now. We’ve been on the road almost three days, and we haven’t come across any Doppelgangers or Scientist yet. Over the entire trip, Cassie and I have said maybe ten words to each other. I think she’s in shock, after seeing what her people do to innocents. I’m not sure she knew what exactly the Scientists were capable of.
It’s her turn to drive, so I’d thought I’d fill in my journal to pass the time.
Now, more than ever, I want Dr. Shelt dead.
Am I wrong, for wanting that? That I want to see more death than I already have? Why do I want to add to the suffering that people all over the world has felt as a result of the Clone Epidemic? Am I sick? Is there something wrong with me to want that?
Or is it justified, by the amount of pain and suffering he has inflicted over the years? By all the horrible things that he has done, does he deserve the death sentence? I, of course, and I’m sure countless other people, agree that he should- but who are we to decide who lives and who dies? We aren’t God- why do we have the right to act like we are- that we know best?
I don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself about this lately, and I can’t seem to find the answer… Maybe it isn’t right, maybe it isn’t good, and maybe it makes me evil- but, despite my internal struggle for these answers, I will end Shelt. And soon. I just want this to be over already.
I want to live in peace, and to not have to worry about the war, or whether or nor I’m on a hit list that week.
But I don’t know if that day will ever come, truthfully.
July 20, 11:57 PM-New York Labs
“You ready for this?” I ask Cassie softly. She nods, her face determined. We are hidden, in the shadows of a deserted alley. None can see us- and that’s just the way we need it, if we’re going to survive. In front of us are colossal buildings, shiny and chrome, built to withstand anything. They have high technology and complicated, twisted routes to get to the places that we need to get to.
“I’ve actually gotten lost in there, funny thing, but if you have a master key, you can get in anywhere, and it has a code on it that shows you the way. Like a built in GPS, almost.” she had remarked with a small smile. She told me that after ten o’clock, everybody was required to leave, so Shelt could have an hour or with his own personal experimentations before he had to leave. She said that each door had a lock, impossible to pick, impossible to break. But that wasn’t necessary, if you had a key. She said there weren’t any video cameras, just two Doppelgangers at the entrance. The Scientists had a smug belief that the Doppelgangers would always come out on top, so they didn’t feel the need for any extra protection. Little did they know that I defeated one in under ten minutes. They really should put less faith in them… us Resistance peoples are made of stronger stuff than we seem.
Cassie reaches into her pocket, smiling wickedly. She pulls out a small silver key, its underside impossibly complicated in its ridges. It has a small button on top, chrome and smooth. She hands it to me, and it feels cold to the touch.
“And I just so happen to have stolen one of the two in existence.” she says, incredibly smug. I let out a big breath, and then I ask the question that I’ve been scared to ask ever since I met her.
“Why… Cassie you need to give me a straight answer right now,” I say quietly, not looking at her.
“Yeah, sure, I will.” she says, confused.
“Why- why are you helping me? I kidnapped you, interrogated you for information, and nearly got you killed at least three times. Why did you steal a key, and… just- I think that I can trust you- but… I’m looking at the possibility of us going in there, and me being immediately ambushed, and having it turn out to have you being a traitor the entire time. Because, honest to God, if the roles were switched, that’s what I would do. I would never help the enemy. How do I know that this isn’t what this is? How do I know that you are actually trying to help me?” I admit, looking down at my feet. Cassie lifts my chin with her fingers, and looks into my eyes, hers an unreadable sea of blue.
“I was never on their side, Thane. I grew up Resistance, and I came to New York to be a doctor- the medical kind. Then I was forced into becoming a Scientist- but the entire time, I was plotting my escape. I stole this key during the raid, because it was finally my chance to get out of my situation- and I figured someone was going to need to go to New York, after all. I’m not a traitor, Thane. Just- just trust me okay? I would never do that. I mean, even if I did, I would betraying my own family. Have you heard of the Infiltrators?” she asks. I shake my head. I’ve never heard of them. “Well, to shorten things up a bit- the Infiltrators are a group of specially trained Resistance officers specially used near the Labs here. I lived in Connecticut, and that’s where the base is. My father, Sergeant Dylan Arcadia, is the leader of the Infiltrators. Why would I betray you? You are another branch of the Resistance. I would never do that to a fellow Resistor. I was inducted into the service when I was sixteen. I only got a year of it before I went to New York. The Scientists need to be eliminated, and so do all of the clones- except for Jasper, of course. Jasper is good, I can tell. If you can proof his innocence, we can rescue Jasper, kill Shelt, destroy the lab, and go back to Connecticut. My father will take you in if you show that Jasper is not evil.”
I rub my hands together nervously. I don’t say anything, and then Cassie frowns.
“Why? What’s wrong? Besides the obvious reasons, of course. Tonight is going to be a good night. It will mark history! Why aren’t you excited?” she says, confused and frustrated at the same time.
“Cassie…” I say. “You don’t know, then? About what I am?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Cassie… I’m not human. I thought you knew. I’m-” I break off.
“You’re what?” she says, her voice growing louder.
“I’m a clone.” I whisper. She looks at me, and then bursts out laughing. I motion for her to quiet down frantically. She falls on the round, almost crying from laughing to hard. After a second or two, she quiets, and stands back up. She wipes her eyes.
“That’s not the very best joke to make, you idiot. Funny, but totally not appropriate. Stop joking around, okay? We gotta get in there now.”
“But- I’m not joking-” I trail off. She rolls her eyes. I don’t say anything further. Maybe… maybe it’s best if she believes that I’m not a clone. I shake my head, and follow her into the building.