I don’t know how I got here, living under water, but i know I want to explore above the water.
“What else is out there?” I asked my parents when I was younger.
“Nothing. Everything is down here.” They would always reply.
But if that’s true, then why are we the only people who lie down here? Not even animals are under water with us. My parents never talked about it, but I knew that they have been to earth before, they just did not want to tell me, knowing I would get curious and want to leave to explore whats above us. I knew they were lying to me, but never really cared and wanted to pursue my thoughts until I got older.
Before Thomas was born, when his parents were still living on earth, their neighbors figured out that they had gills on their bodies and that they were not humans. His parents decided to escape and start a new life under water before their neighbors exposed them to the world.
That’s when it really hit me: my teenage years. Being a teenager, one would want to go out and have fun with their friends, but me, I had no friends. My friends were literally my parents. Everyday I would wake up, clean the house, and cook dinner. My parents didn’t have jobs. They just sat outside the house all day and read books. They left me in the house all day everyday to think about how I was going to get to the top of the surface. And so, I began to think of a master plan.
Knowing that my parents know where I’m at, every single second of the day, I need to come up with an elaborate plan that would trick my parents into thinking that I was doing what I normally do while I make my way up to the surface to discover what is up there. I knew this plan would take time, so I started as soon as possible. First I took a few pieces of paper from my dads office to map out my ideas on how I’m going to get to the top of the surface. I figured that I would need to come up with a plan to get my parents to stay in the house for a good ten minutes while I make my way up to the surface. I knew this wouldn’t be easy and I had no help but I was confident that I could accomplish discovering what is up there.
I knew that this would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. My parents basically lived outside. From the crack of dawn, until it was time to eat dinner and go to bed while I stay in doing the work they don’t want to do. So there it was, I then figured out that the only time I could make my way to the surface was when they were sleep. I needed to also plan out how long I planned on being up there? Maybe just before my parents wake up, then I can come back down I thought to myself. What if I get caught? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck inside a house. The night drifted on as I started to second guess my plans on going above the surface. It all started to turn into a bad idea in my head. But I couldn’t go much longer without knowing what is up there. Without knowing there could be a better life for me above the surface. More opportunities for me that my parents never took advantage of maybe. I have to do this. Theres no backing out now, I have to do this for my self. I repeated these words in my head everyday day and night until I was ready to leave home for the first time.
Today is the day. The day I’m gonna go explore outside of home. I figured that I would leave about 2 hours after I knew that my parents were actually sleep, like sound asleep and nothing could wake them up. I chose to leave out my window, I had tested it out earlier: if it made a lot of noise when I opened it and it made a little, but not enough to wake my parents out of their sleep. My supplies bag was light, but there was so much more that I wanted to bring with me. Even though I don’t get out much, I found ways over the years to keep sane. There aren’t any opportunities here, and so there is no reason for me to stay. Yet, I don’t know the world outside of these waters. But if I am ever going to do something with my life, I have to try.
Slowly, I raised my bedroom window. The rust from the window left a slight residue on my hands. Quickly, I wiped it on my shirt and kept pushing upward. Peeking my head out of the window, I could see the top of the water. A beautiful full moon guided my trail, as I swam as fast as my body would allow. The thrill of the water rushing across my body was so oddly familiar, and I have missed it greatly. The moonlight was perfect enough to keep me on the path to the top. Suddenly, I sensed something along my path. From the looks of it, a great white shark was headed near me. My mother once warned me of their relentlessness, so I immediately panicked. There was no turning back now, but I was its prey. Gripping my back sack close to me, I tried to shoot up to the top of the water. It was the only sure way to throw off the shark.
My timing was too slow for the shark, and it inched closer to me the more I panicked. I wish I could just disappear that very moment. Forget getting to shore, I just don’t want to die. If it bites me, I will be the next full course meal. I felt its nose graze on my foot.
What is this place called? It’s nothing that I expected it to be. What is this stuff that ‘Im breathing? As I catch my breath for the first time I’m distorted. I stubble over into the sand thats all around me. I look up and see big buildings, bright flashing lights and loud people. Well I guess there people. They resemble my parents a little, but they’re using their feet to get around. Underwater, we get around by swimming. I thought to myself.. I wonder if these things know how to swim. I hesitantly move a little bit forward, not sure where I was going but I was trying to get used to how people get around out here. I see a long wood made elevated surface that people are walking along. They often stop at these house looking things but with things inside of it such as clothes and shoes that everyone could see. So I decided I should go over there and see. As I start to move, I feel this sharp pain in my foot. I had stepped on something sharp in the sand. I stop and try to make out what it was. It was dark outside still so I decided to pull out my flashlight and point it on the bottom of my foot to see what it is. It appeared to be some type of shell. It took me a while to get this thing out of my foot, and when did a read watery substance was leaking from it. I was in so much pain, I feel into the sand and held my foot for a while. I started to get tired so I thought I would just go back home, I knew that I could come back another time to discover this place even more in depth. Drifting off into sleep, I woke up and it was bright outside. My heart raced as I thought about how much trouble i would get in when I returned home. But then, I saw someone. A woman running along the beach. She was running towards me, and I knew she was looking at me, but not looking in a normal way.
It appears as though she was running towards me, and every second that she got closer, I knew she was coming to say something to me. I tried to avoid her and act like everything was ok. But I still had a pain in my foot. She stopped me to figure out if I was ok and did I need any help. I was startled. I didn’t know what to say. I never had a conversation with anyone other than my parents.
“Hello, are you ok?” She said again.
I replied with a “yes”, but it seems that somehow she knew I was lying. She seemed to be so concerned with me, that I let my guard down and told her that I had something stuck in my foot and could not get it out. I told her that I was in so much pain and could barely walk. She took me in as if I was her own child. She pulled out a kit full of band aids and alcohol to treat my foot.
“Where are you from? You live around here?” She had asked.
“I’m from out of town, I was just visiting a few friends.”
Knowing I have never had a friend in my life. I had told her I didn’t know where they lived nor did I know how to get in contact with them.
“So how are you going to get back home?” She replied in a concerned tone.
“My parents are coming to get me in a couple of days I think.”
“You could stay with me, well you could stay in my garage if you want to. I wouldn’t want you sleeping out here on the beach.”
“Thanks, but I know my friends are looking for me and I think it would be best if I stay here.”
“Ok. I hope your foot gets better.”
I thanked her for all of her help as she started her run back up the beach. Is everybody up here as nice as she is I thought to myself. Maybe I should take her generosity, at this point I think that I really need it considering I have no idea what I’m doing up here. Maybe she could show me around. Basically she could give me a tour of this foreign place. She had not run that far away so I decided to call her back, but I didn’t even catch her name. I managed to get her to turn around by yelling “hey.”
She turned around in shock, stood there for a couple seconds then made her way back to me. I think staying in your garage would be a good idea I told her. I do not have anywhere to stay now that I think about it. She looked at me and smiled. I’d be glad to have you stay with me until your parents come to pick you up.
“Want to go grab something to eat?”
I shook my head yes, not knowing what the food up here was like. Underwater, we ate fish that were swimming in the surrounding area. We go to that long thing made of wood were all of those house looking things were.
“Lets go into this store, I really love this shirt.”
I followed right behind her, scared of what was going to happen next. But I discovered what these house looking things were. They were called stores. I was looked at strange by everyone in the store, like I was an alien or something. I knew that I didn’t fit in, so I tried to act like they were. I began to look around the store, pick things up, then put them back down. Thats what everyone else was doing. We leave this store and go to another. But this one was way different.
They didn’t have clothes in this store, they had what appeared to be things that people up here eat. Surprisingly they had what appeared to be fish. It was kind of brown and crunchy but it still tasted like it. She had got a salad, which back at home was seaweed. Up here, she told me that it was called lettuce, which was a vegetable and that it was good for their bodies. So I decided to try some. After we ate, we made our way to her home. It was kind of a long ways to go, but my excitement overcame me feeling tired.
I know that I should go back home, but I’m torn. We arrive at her home. This feeling of excitement, but scared at the same time, we walk through her door. She shows me around her house, then shows me where I’ll be staying for the next couple of days. I figured I would only stay for the night but a feeling came over me. I was torn between staying here to figuring out more and going back home, knowing my parents were worried sick about me. Wasn’t this the point of me leaving home? To experience what else is out there? I’m starting to feel like maybe I wasn’t ready to leave the nest. A couple more years at home with my parents wouldn’t hurt me. Then I thought, when I return home, I’ll probably be in so much trouble, I’ll be there for a long long time. She came to check on me only one time that night. But I knew inside that she was becoming a friend. My first friend and I must admit, it felt great to have someone that cares about you; other than my parents. I never had to make such a hard decision in my life before. I knew that I would eventually go back under water, but whether or not it would be anytime soon was what stuck in my head back and forth for the entire night. I only got about 2 to 3 hours of sleep, waking up to the sound of her walking down the steps and opening the garage door. “Good morning” she said enthusiastically as I slowly opened my eyes. I yawed and told her Good morning back.
“Want to go for a run with me this morning, get some exercise?” What the heck is a run I questioned in my head. That thing she was doing yesterday when I first met her maybe? Whatever it was, I decided to go along with her. Why not learn more new things.
Unaware, His gills seeped into his skin overnight and that meant that he couldn’t go back into the water. His gills had suddenly disappeared from being up above the surface of water for a long time. I got up, got dressed and waited for her to come back to tell me she was ready to go for this “run”. Remember, try to fit in with everyone else. Do not stand out too much I told myself. I don’t want anyone to notice anything weird about me. She came down stairs with this strange attire I had never seen. Maybe I was the one who was dressed strange for this. I didn’t have to proper clothes so I guess this will just have to make do I said to myself.
“Are you ready?”
“Ready as I can ever be” I said. She opens up the garage door and the bright light from the sun blinds me. I’m not used to this type of sun. of course I can see it from under water, but the impact it had up here was a million times different.
“We’re going to run to the beach and back ok?”
“Ok.” I replied.
Little did I know that was about a mile, which I was not capable of doing, I barely knew how to walk and now I have to run, great. We started our run and she wasted no time getting there. She was so far ahead of me I would lose her once a crowd of people appeared. I could see the long thing that was built with wood. I knew we were close to where I entered this place, she was closer than I though.
We reached the beach. Now we started running on the sand. Excused from running, I decided to swim in the ocean at the beach while she continues her run. Little did she know i was trying to go back under water with my parents, but when I hit the water, I could no longer breathe under it. Did I come adapted to breathe up here now? I started to suffocate, and once again she came to my rescue.
“What happened! Are you ok? Why would you ever get into the water if you do not know how to swim?”
“What?” That you can just magically breathe underwater without holding your breath or something?” She said in a tone of voice I have never heard from her before. She sounded really upset with me. I think I should tell her what I really am, where I really come from and why I’m here. I could risk getting into more trouble than I imaged, what if she thought I was crazy and reported me to the police? I have so many reasons why I shouldn’t tell her about the real me, but I also have one good reason why I should. She’s my friend. My only friend. Listen, I’m not what you think I am, or what you portray me to be. I come from under the sea. That’s where I live. I came up here to discover something new. I was tired of being stuck in the house everyday and wanted to really just find myself and mature. This adventure didn’t turn out the way I thought. I thought that I would be back home by now and had got enough experience that if I wanted to, I could come up here again. But now its like, I don’t even want to leave. I’ve learned so not only much about this place, but about myself and what it’s like to have a friend. I can even prove it to you. Still, she doesn’t say a word. He lifts up his shirt to prove to her that he can breathe under water. When he lifts up his shirt, he expects her to see gills, but it was the complete opposite.
She sees that he doesn’t have gills. Theres nothing but skin in place of where his gills should be. He looks like a liar to her, but he begs her to stay, because he can’t explain what happened. I need your help more than ever he pleads to her. Can you trust me? I’m telling you the truth. My home is underwater I made everything up. I was not staying with my friends and got lost. I came up here to discover new things. I wanted to experience something new. My parents never let me outside. We’re the only people who live down there. I never had any friends, ever. Please don’t leave me. How will I return home? “You're crazy!” She screamed at me
“Are you insane?”
“No I am not! I’m telling you truth, why can’t you just believe me?”
“How am I supposed to believe you?”
“But I thought we were friends. Aren’t friends supposed to trust each other?”
“I mean we are, but this is just crazy. How am I supposed to believe that you’re really from under water?”
“Because you just have to believe me. That’s what friends do.”
“Im sorry, I just can’t.. nice to meet you.”
“Please, you have to help me find my parents.”
“Louis! Get downstairs. Breakfast is ready!” said my mom.
As I was rubbing my eyes trying to find the courage to get out of bed, I couldn’t help but want to stay asleep. To keep my mom quiet, I found the strength to flip over, push the covers ff, and trudge downstairs to the kitchen.
“Eat breakfast and get ready for school.”
I nodded my head in a reply and ate my cereal. Another damn day at school. I powered back up the stairs, put on a white tee shirt, brushed my teeth, and walked out the front door.
“And please .. do NOT be home after dark,” said my mom; giving me that stern look she does every morning after she says this statement; in hopes that I don’t forget.
I don’t blame her though. You see, living in Huttson; which is right outside of Pennsylvania, wasn’t the safest place in the world. It definitely was the cheapest. The population was quite big and that’s because owning any home around here was under $30,000. Things have changed since the early 2000’s. It was 2050 and they all said life would get better as the world continued to evolve, as technology advanced, and blah blah blah. But no one was safe and no where was paradise.
In Huttson, it washighly recommended by every parent, teacher, priest, mayor, and even news reporters that you were supposed to be in your house before dark. Because if not, you just might be in trouble.
There was a group of members; no one knew their names, faces, or where they’re from. So, we gave them a name ourselves - the Hunters. There were six of them. They just simply showed up and attacked. And it happened every night after dark. Some people simply couldn’t help but be home after dark. Families worked late jobs, kids left parties. It was all up to chance whether or not you would make it home safely. When your mom used to warn you about the scary monsters under your bed; that’s what this was like.
So far my mother and I haven’t encountered interactions with the hunters and we don’t plan on it. I hung out with my friends for two hours after school, then I’d go straight home. And since it was just my mom and I, her shift at the local hospital ended at 5 o’clock. However, it was tough on the weekends. It was hard for my mom and I to make night plans because we were simply too scared to take the chance of trying to go home after dark - we were all we got.
The aftermath of these incidents wasn’t what Huttson was afraid of. It was just the actual experience. Because in Huttson, the aftermath of someone getting hurt, the wounds, the scrapes, the damage, didn’t concern us. Each house in Huttson was supplied with a first aid kit.
No, not the kind on television or the one that your school nurse pulls out of her drawer when you scraped your knee. In the kit was a spray bottled called “Mend-On”. The spray heals all wounds or illnesses, like the ones you go to your school nurse for. Or, the ones that you were faced with when you're faced with the Hunters after dark.
The spray contained cells that mend on to the person’s wound to redevelop the skin that damaged. The cells were from healthy skin from those who get paid to donate some of their skin cells. There was a big laboratory in Huttson that used the skin cells that were donated to produce even more cells, to create the spray.
Now you can see why the population was so big here and why it stays that way. No one dies. We all live pretty plain, simple lives. Which was why we were afraid with being faced with the adrenaline of dying from the Hunters; even though we knew we were covered.
I finally got to school and met Liza at her locker. She was the only one at Huttson High School who has been face to face with the Hunters. I’ll never forget the story: It was my 14th birthday and we had a party dinner at my house. Her parents were both working so they couldn’t pick her up. And she only lived around the corner. So she borrowed my bike and went home. It was 8:30 at night. No one was outside which made her even more scared. As she was pedaling, she turned her back to see if anyone was behind her. She was cleared. As soon as she turned her head, the Hunters jumped out and attacked her. They broke the bike and broke her arm. This was before Mend-On came to Huttson.
I forgot to mention - Huttson doesn’t have any hospitalization since Mend-On was produced. As I told you before, my mom worked at the local hospital; in other words - she was working there to pack up her things and find a new job since all of the hospitals were closing in a few weeks. Its been a debate for a year now whether or not hospitals should still be running. They just made it official that the money can be put to use for other things.
The only downside to this was that my mom losing her job. Besides that, Mend-On was the best! We all love living here even though it can be scary. Unfortunately, Mend-On can’t fix damages that were created before its time. So, Liza has had a broken arm for 3 years now. It was casted up and was good for no use. I couldn’t do anything but feel guilty for letting her go home that night.
The day went by pretty fast, thankfully. It was raining outside so I rushed home. I wanted to invite Liza over but my mom has always been on the fence about her coming over since she broke her arm. She doesn’t want her having to go home late at night again.
My mom wasn’t home yet, which always worried me because sometimes I’d have thoughts that she won’t make it home; if the hospital extends her shift for too long. So, I did my homework and too a nap to distress myself from the bittersweet reality I live everyday being in Huttson.
“Louis, I’m home. TV dinners will be ready for super soon.”
We sat at the dinner table and told each other how our days were. Things were pretty quiet in our house. I admire my mom a lot. She plays all the roles I need to have in my life and she does it very well. I think my mom feels the same way about me too. We depend on each other for almost everything.
“Mom, I have a question... What if we run out of Mend-on? And one of us gets attacked by the Hunters? Then what?”
“Oh God, Louis. Don’t say such a silly thing. That will never happen.”
My mom went on a rant for the next three minutes about how I have to stop being pessimistic. But I couldn’t help it. Sometimes you have to think that way, in order to prepare for the worst. My biggest fear was being faced with death and knowing that there was nothing I could do to stop it. But my mom was right; that’s just non-sense.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since my mom decided to catch an attitude during her rant, I went straight to my room after dinner and texted Liza.
“Wyd?” I asked.
“Bio HW. Hbu?”
“Laying down. I miss you,” I said. Fuck it, I clicked send.
“I miss you too bestie!”
Oh God.. “Bestie”? It was times like these where I tried to figure out what exactly my feelings were for Liza. I knew I liked her; it was obvious. But everyday, she hit me with the “bestie” title and I shut down. I guess I’d let that dream go. It was clear she didn’t like me. After that text message I was too irritated to reply. I went right to sleep.
I woke up in an irritated mood from what happened last night. I don’t know why it got to me every time; its as if I wasn’t expecting her to not respond like that - I should’ve already been prepared for the disappointment.
It was another day; so I went through the same process of my routine. I flipped over from my bed, pushed the covers off, and went downstairs for breakfast. Luckily, I beat my mom to the kitchen, so she didn’t have to yell up the stairs forcing me to come down.
“I found a new job!” said my mom.
“Where at?” I responded immediately.
“An animal shelter. I start tomorrow night!” said my mom.
“Tomorrow night?” I said, extremely confused.
“Yeah that’s the thing ... the shift I have is after dark. But they said they really need me and the pay is great.”
“No mom, I won’t allow it. Has what’s happened to Liza not mean anything to you?!
Doesn’t that scare you?!” I couldn’t even finish my cereal; I was too disturbed.
“Yes it scares me but we need the money Louis. I already set up a cab transaction. The driver will be at the front door of the shelter at 10 p.m when I’m off of work; and will drive me straight home. Everything is going to be great!” insisted my mom.
I stomped upstairs and got dressed for school; having to rush because I was too focused on what I just encountered. After getting dressed, I left out through the front door without saying a word.
I saw Liza in the hallway when I got to school but I pretended like I didn’t. Surprisingly, she came up to me first.
“You okay? You never responded to my text last night,” said Liza.
“Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Haha, good. Alright, I’m going to first period. I’ll see you later; maybe you can come over after school.”
“Yeah, I gotchu.”
Man, she’s so beautiful. And she asked me to come over! She never did that. Could this mean something? Ha, I’m funny as shit to think something of it. Just two “besties” hanging out after school .. Great.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I could barely concentrate throughout the entire day at school. I felt like there was so much on my mind and sometimes I thought: what if I didn’t live in Huttson? Would I be live a better life? I used to think Huttson was great; that we were all happy and untouchable - nothing could hurt us; especially because of Mend-On. All these great people to meet, no one can go broke - we were all living at reasonable costs, and we can basically live forever. I was very wrong.
I rather live in a normal town and live a normal life. Here, we were given unlimited power to live because of Mend-On but what good was it when I have had to totally limit my life and organize what I do, so I don’t have to be faced with the damn Hunters.
But it was okay .. Just like my mom says. Everything was going to be okay. I hoped.
I decided to go over Liza’s house. I met her on the front steps of school once the bell rang.
“Ready?” she said.
“Yeah, we taking your car?”
“Yeah, I don’t mind driving. And I’ll drive you home too.”
She never said that before either. I’ve known Liza for too long and we’ve always been close. But she’s never done things to go out of her way and be super friendly. Maybe I was just over thinking things because of last night.
I haven’t been over Liza’s house since the incident. We just thought it was too risky ever since she got severely hurt.
We got out the car and went in her house. No one was home.
“Let’s go to my room,” she said.
“Okay,” I said.
What the fuck? In all my life of being friends with Liza she has never asked me to go to her bedroom. I wasn’t sure if I should be excited or confused. Would this have been the time to kiss her or just straight out tell her how I felt?
We walked upstairs and she put a movie in the DVR. Every time we hung out, we’d watch “She’s The Man”, starring Amanda Bynes.
We laid on her bed and watch the movie. I sat down and laid back first; completely shocked that she decided to lay down right next to me, with her arm on my leg.
“Okay Louis.. Try not to panic. Calm down before she feels your heart beating fast; you fucking freak,” I repeatedly told myself in my head.
The room was silent.
“Can I tell you something?” said Liza. I was kind of happy she was the first one to speak.
“I don’t think you feel the same way, but I like you. I always did. That’s why I brought you here,” she said, looking down at the floor.
“What the fuck, so what’s up with all the “bestie” shit?”
“It was just my way of covering up my feelings. Everyone sees us as best friends and that’s how I thought you saw us - just as best friends,” she said without hesitation.
“Liza, I’ve liked you since day 1. That’s why I didn’t reply back to your text last night. I was too mad - I thought I was in the friend zone.”
“Haha, not at all.” She smiled, coming towards me with a kiss.
I stayed later than I should have at Liza’s house. It was already 8:00 at night and I had 5 missed calls from my mom.
“Sorry, I got caught up at Liza’s house. I’m coming home now. She is giving me a ride - don’t worry. I’ll be home in 10.” I sent her a text message.
Liza and I both fell asleep after holding her in my arms and watching the movie. I tried waking her up.
“Liza! Wake up! Its past dark!”
“Oh shit. Okay, let’s go. I’m not letting you walk home.”
We walked downstairs and ran to the car, locked the doors, and buckled our seat belts. We looked left and right before pulling out of the drive to make sure we were clear of the Hunters.
We hurried up and drove to my house. The good thing about driving to my house was that the Hunters don’t carry weapons. All of their defense and violence was with their bare hands. So, there was no way they could get through to us if we were in the car.
We pulled up to my driveway; looking left and right again. I saw a black blur down the street but I wasn’t sure what I was looking that.
“Is that who I think it is?” My hands were shaking.
“Louis, its the Hunters. Get out the car now! Hurry!”
“No, I’m not leaving you alone here.”
This was the first time I was faced with the Hunters; and the second time for Liza.
“What’s it like?” I said.
“What’s what like?”
“Being faced with the Hunters,” I replied.
“When you see actors in scary movies running away from the killer.. and you think wow, it looks so convincing. I was the actor; but I wasn’t acting. You feel everything happening right in front of you but it goes by too quick for you to stop it. You just use that adrenaline you have from being so scared, and you experience it. You don’t know when it is coming and you don’t know when it is going to end.”
As I took in that message, I looked over in the rearview mirror and saw the Hunters approach us. We tried hiding by slumping and scrunching up in the car as much as possible, hoping they didn’t see us. My palms were sweaty, my heart was beating, and I was panting. I looked over at Liza and she was calm and content.
I heard the Hunters inching towards the car trying to look through the windows. Luckily, they don’t stick around for long - they didn’t notice us.
We waited another five minutes before we decided to lift our heads in safety.
“Shit, that was scary.”
“Yeah I know, I wasn’t tryna break my other arm,” said Liza, while chuckling.
“Haha, stop that. But you right. Okay, I’m gonna leave now,” I said
“Be safe Liza.”
“You too Louis.”
I ran out the car, opened the door, shut it behind me, and locked it.
It was such a weird night. I checked on my mom, but she was already fast asleep. Even though I was sleeping for three hours at Liza’s, I jumped into bed and went o sleep immediately. Too much has happened in one night; I needed the rest.
I woke up. Same shit, different day. I first went to my mom’s room to check up on her.
“Mom, you okay? I’m so sorry I came home late last night. Did you get home from work alrigh?”
‘Yes, I was fine. Coming home to find out my son isn’t home!”
“I know, I’m sorry. I feel like I should tell you - I saw the Hunters last night. Don’t worry; I’m fine. I was in the car, hiding with Liza. They peeked in the car, but didn’t see us.”
“Louis! That’s the kind of shit I’m talking about! You see what happens when you try to come home late?!” She got out of bed and left the room.
I followed her downstairs to the kitchen.
“I know mom! I’m sorry! It won’t happen again.”
She didn’t reply so I went upstairs to get ready for school.
I met up with Liza and we entered school holding hands. It was nice. I kissed her goodbye as we departed to go to our classes.
It was 3rd period, so I met Liza in the library for lunch.
“My mom was mad at me last night; I think it was because she was scared. But she’s okay.”
“So what are you-” I started talking as I got interrupted by the loud speaker.
“Attention! Students and teachers! There is an important announcement! The Government has just announced on international news that Huttson is currently experiencing an economic crisis! They are unsure of how this is going to play out. All they know is that all around the world prices for housings have been raised, and stocks are dropping. Some of us might be losing jobs. You will be notified when school will proceed. There is going to be a rapid dismissal immediately after this announcement. Associates from the governments are going door to door in all neighborhoods of Huttson as we speak to collect your Mend-On kits. The city might sell the invention to other town, so we can have money for all of the people. More information about this will be announced on the news tonight. Please get home safely to your families and do not leave the house! Beware of the Hunters!”
“Holy shit, I gotta go home. My mom can’t go home after her shift that late at night without Mend-On! What if the Hunters get her?!” I said as my voice was getting louder and louder.
“Louis, everything is going to be okay. You just have to keep calm. We will work this out. Let’s just get home.”
I get in the house and it was silent. I’m assuming my mom heard about the announcement. I think everyone in Huttson was being informed about it.
I sent her a text to check up on her then started working on my homework; hoping I could concentrate. The door bell rang.
I walked downstairs and opened up the door. Two men in suits stood before me.
“Can I help you guys?”
“We are from the Mend-On agency; here to collect your kit.” They both said, in deep voices; gesturing their badges towards me.
I lead them to the cabinet in the kitchen and handed it to him.
“Do you think we will ever get Mend-On back in our homes?”
“That is undecided, kid. Have a good day.” They shook my hands and walked out the front door.
I went back upstairs, jumped into my bed, and stared at my phone.
I rub my eyes and flip over on my bed. Fuck, I fell asleep. I check my phone for a response from my mom... nothing. My eyes were drawn to the corner of my home screen on my laptop. What the fuck! It was 7:30 at night. I looked out the window. It was dark. I jumped to my phone and called my mother.
Okay, Liza told me to stay calm. Fuck that. I texted Liza to make sure she was okay.
“You good? Is your family home?”
“Yeah we’re good. Is your mom home?” replied Liza.
“No, and I’m worried. I’ll text you when she gets here.” I clicked send.
I go downstairs, pacing back and forth, staring at the front door - waiting patiently for it to open.
I decided to cook a TV dinner to stall time.
It was 10:30 at night. My mom fuckin’ drawlin’. Fuck it. I put on a jacket and went outside to walk towards the animal shelter. She should have been home. As I was walking, I kept calling her phone.
Still no answer. I’ve been worried; but now I was past worried.
I start picking up my pace.
“Mom!” shouting out to the neighborhood.
“Anne! Where are you?! Its Louis! Answer me!” I kept shouting.
I started running out of breath, so I slowed down. As I was walking, tears fell down my eyes. Was my mom being faced with death right now?
I got to the animal shelter and banged on the door.
“Hello! Is anyone there?! Someone help me! Where is Anne?!” I kept shouting.
No one was answering. I turned back around and started heading towards home.
As I was walking, almost arriving at my house, I saw the same blob and blur of blackness that I saw last night when I saw the Hunters. Could that be them?
I hid in a bush. Oh shit, there was a woman being attacked. I paniced all over again. Fuck, what do I do?
As I got closer and closer to the scene, my entire life flashed before me.
Its my mother.
“Get off of her!” I’m running towards them at full speed.
This time it was only three of them.
All this adrenaline and power poured out of me; it was completely unexpected. I punched one, kicked another to the ground, and stomped on the other. Long enough to make them all unconscious.
I ran towards the pavement where my mother was lying.
“Mom! Say something! Wake up!” I kept tugging on her, crying.
“Louis. I’m so sorry,” she said softly.
Blood was rushing out of her head.
“Mom! I’m calling the hospital!”
“Louis... there’s no point. Its over. I should have listened to you,” said my mom with her last breath, barely keeping her eyes open.
My mother was faced with death and she lost. Nothing could save her. No doctor, no Mend-On kit, no God could rewind this night and stop what just happened.
I froze and sat there for the rest of my night. I had no physical or mental strength to get up. I was now on my own for the rest of my life; no family to live with.
I knew this day would come but I didn’t know it was going to be so soon. I knew that one day this bittersweet town would have been in trouble. That time was tonight.
As I tried to stand up, I turned my head and right in front of me were all six of the hunters, alive and standing.
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is difficult sometimes, ya know? It’s like, one minute you're doing everything right then, BAM, you get hit with something outta nowhere, fucking nowhere I tell ya. I guess it all started way back when, if I can even remember what happened correctly. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another, it’s one of those things I just don’t get. Anyway, my name is Jack. I’m from Rome originally, but I moved to the states to find “The American Dream” or the cracked up version of it anyway in college in California.
Everything went well there I suppose, I graduated within the top 10 in my class with a double master’s in Philosophy & Clinical Psychology. I study the mind in order to understand my own. For the longest I’ve been on all types of medication. Mood elevators, Bipolar medication, you name it, I’ve been on it. My parents didn’t know any better but to trust whatever doctors said. I’ve been taking those medications all my life. I can’t even function throughout my day to day life without them...but man 280 bucks a month on medication is a lot more the I can afford to blow on pills. Anyway thats not the story I’m here to tell...like I said; my memory isn’t the most reliable.
Living on medication your entire life isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you have skin like mine that looks like a cracking mask. It’s always been hard for me to wake up and look in the mirror. My face filled with craters, dead skin, and pimples the size of tennis balls. This in turn leads to one crappy love life and not many friends. Niko, Hayden and Laura, they get me through anything and everything. They have since our days at the University of Southern California. Best friends for life, Niko and Hayden follow by the book, helping my self esteem and my overall demeanor.
But Laura, oh man sometimes I don’t know how I conceal the words,
“I LOVE YOU AND WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN WITH YOU”.
I’ve had a crush on her since Intro to Psych, freshman year. I could never tell her, every time Niko talks me into almost getting there I chicken out...and end up going home and drowning out my failed attempt in whiskey and meds that I should have taken a week ago. But, there was that one time, that one particular time, that thing that made me the way I am. That light at the end of the road. Even though I can’t reach it.
I guess it all started downhill when I started really paying attention to bills and how much my meds and drinking binges were stacking up. It really wasn’t pretty. But it got worse...one day I came home to see all my shit out on the sidewalk. So I elected to have a chat with my good old landlord, Martin.
“What the hell Martin ? You said I had another week before I got kicked out ? This is bull man” I said using most of the base in my voice.
“I said that last week ya donche, This ain’t the time to be getting all touchy feely, you knew the money was due. So pay up or scram”
After that I started picking up my stuff, because there was no way in hell I had the money to pay him back, I didn't even have the money to front him to make it look like I would pay up. I had just gone into another drinking fit last night after trying to talk to Laura again.
All I could really think to do was to call Niko, so I did. He was at work so of course he didn't answer. Just like every other time it was actually important and not about a girl, well Laura of course. I tried Hayden’s cell but all I got was dead air...so with nothing to do and nowhere to go I just headed downtown. I remember distinctly how the air changed as I got further and further south. The air was thick with the steam curling out of the sewers and the smell of the fermenting trash getting heated up from the exhaust of the many cars parked around. It smelled sweet like cheap Chinese food and booze, but dank at the same time. Almost like mildew and sex. Honestly it was a crap neighborhood.
After walking far enough and I found a pawn shop, which was actually helpful to me. I still had the stuff I could carry from my apartment with me so I decided to sell most of it. It was all useless to me anyway without a place to live. I made about $200 within an hour which was just about enough to get somewhere to stay. After that I just crossed the street and strolled into a cheap run down looking bar/motel. Convent enough right?
I head in with my money in hand, and slide right into a stool at the bar. I order a Whiskey Sour and wait. Once my drink was handed to me by a less than attractive bartender I downed it. Then another...then another. After I lost count of the number of drinks I had and how much money I had left I felt it. The inevitable effect of drinking in general but especially alcohol. I really had to pee.
Once I got to the bathroom I stood there doing my thing just kinda staring at the wall and I noticed that there was something written on it. It was an address and phone number next to a weird science looking symbol. All that info was boxed in then a sharpied on arrow pointing to another box, with the word “Nirvana” written in it. I took a blurry picture with my phone and figured I’d check it out once I sobered up again. Maybe there was a way to get enough money out of it to get my old place back, or even a new place. Hell I might even be able to turn my life around just enough to get up the balls to talk to Laura for real and not just in my dreams.
I woke up to the sound of yelling and throwing as the bartender kicked me out. So I went to go wandering around until I found the building that I had the address to this science project. I went to the front desk and asked how could I get it in on doing this project for some dough. The front desk lady told me to take a seat until they called for people. So I sat around Doing just that...waiting. I had been sitting around for about an hour when I was finally told to go to the back room where I would talk to someone about the information I knew, what I could do to help them and of course in turn, what they could do to help me back.
I was told that “Project Nirvana” was a case study conducted by a nearby college. In all honesty it was about getting funding or some other B.S for their science department, I zoned out half way, but I came back right at the good parts. They would be administering a type of virus/inoculation hybrid drug into me once every other week and monitoring my progress or lack there of. So basically, I got a free place to stay, free meals, money handed to me, and a miracle drug that would make me ‘better’. I was so down it I didn't even care to listen to the rest. I signed the release and the waiver, handed over my belongings and got checked into the building’s living quarters; were I would be living for the next year.
It didn’t take long until I got in the building. After I filled out the paperwork on the spot they handed me a room key and told me the address. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it wasn’t too crap either. Beggars can’t be choosers right? As I settled in I noticed there were two beds instead of one. My first thought was back to my days living in a college dorm, and all the trouble my roommate caused me. In any case, I was told that was to keep us socially active while living there, since we couldn’t get cell phone reception in the rooms and the internet was slow as all hell to boot. But not knowing who’s gonna be rooming with you is kinda scary. The thought of knowing they’re going to see you at your best, worst and ugliest is weird. But low and behold who came clutching their black plastic bag through the door with that red hair and sleeve tattoo I could never forget. It was my old college roommate, Jet.
Jet was... I guess what you would think of when you hear “College Party Boy”. Jet was everything in those, coming home super late after the latest frat party and banging back-up quarterback’s girlfriend because he was too scared to attempt the starter’s girl and turning in everything late to every professor. I honestly don’t know how the kid made it through four years at college, or how he even got in the first place since he was the classic kid who the dean hates in every 80’s sitcom. We didn’t really talk after college, since he was going to become the next neil armstrong in biking and take the world by storm...but I don’t think shooting up in the middle of the night really helped him get that far in his pursuit.
“This block 47 A right kiddo? He said to me as he blew a ring of smoke that hit me right in the middle of my face,
“Yeah, your bed’s right over there. I moved all my shit on the other one, it’s down the hall if ya need me,” I said.
“Thanks. Hey wait….. I know you from somewhere don’t I Kid? I swear, were you on the back of a milk carton?” He said, as I saw curiosity from his face for the first time in, well ever.
“Nah dude, last time somebody said that to me was way back in was 2017 when I was a college sophomore or some shit at SC in dorm……”
“Hmmm, wait a sec…. Hold on, holy shit what’s up man? I haven’t seen you since the party days back at college” He said as another blast of cigar smoke hit my face.
We had a little chat about catching up and what we did after college, the usual shit like that. Turns out, a slacker can hold down a steady job at rite-aid and keep an apartment. That is until is your girlfriend throws all your shit out of the window when you have long “meetings” with your boss almost every week. I mean, it’s Jet I didn’t really expect much more.
Everything was pretty smooth for the first couple weeks. You know, treatments, monitoring, physical workups, social activities, diet changes, everything I was told to be expecting. Things only started to get weird after about a month or so. I noticed that most of the other ‘subjects’ that were in my dorm block had either left or been removed from the study as the nurses so politely put it. Why they were removed we were never told, but I also noticed that I saw Jet less and less, and when I actually did get to see him for a little bit he was different. I mean, he was always an asshole, but especially so then. He was always moving really sluggish, and really short with everyone he came into contact with.
Then things just got progressively weirder. The side effects of whatever they were pumping into me started to hit. I got really lethargic and lost all the want and need to eat. I started developing blackouts/fainting spells because of my lethargy combined with insomnia, and time skips to top it all off. Apparently whatever hormone supplements were in the drug cocktails were warping my brains neurological receptors, making my brain freak out and in the eventuality deforming it.
Now I still had full function of my brain and body although I still had the skips and no more than three hours of sleep a night.
“Have you been having any body,muscle, or joint pain as of late?” Asked a looming nurse dressed in a pale pink scrub set, as though a peppy color would distract me from the fact that I had made a mistake coming here. I would look at medication without being reminded of the flowers I had not seen in the new coming spring season in the past 4 months I had stayed in this hell hole. Getting god knows what put into my body; because I thought it was an easy paycheck.
“No not really, still can’t sleep though...can’t you give me anything for that?” I said, That is really all I could say. Thats all I ever said, ‘no can’t sleep’, ‘no can’t sleep’. But this time I needed to say more, I needed to hear what my barely sober self had not bothered to pay attention to not even a year before.
“Look, I was really out of it when you guys explained exactly you would be doing to me, so would you mind telling me again, reiterating if you will, what it is you are doing?” I said
She never answered me herself. Instead she tore a piece of paper off her little notepad and scribbled down some numbers on it. They looked random to me, like she was just pacifying me or telling a child a story to pass the time...like I was really just a number on a page, an appointment, a paycheck. After she left and I went back to my room in the dorm I took my time to go call the set of numbers I was handed. It rang for a while then eventually a machine picked up. But it wasn't really a machine, just a human recording.
“The purpose of ‘Project Nirvana’ is to figure out the correct cocktail of drugs to create a super soldier or highly advanced human. This may consist of warping the pain receptors in the brain, physically augmenting the body’s form or general makeup, or even hormonal supplements. In short the task is to dehumanize humans. This project will go on for a year, at which time the facilities will be sanitized and removed.”
Still not understanding the full picture I went back to my room and flopped on the bed. After about ten minutes I noticed I was laying on something, paper, small, pointy...mail. I opened one after another little spam mail envelopes, then I got to the last letter, addressed from Hayden. He was telling me to take it easy, brush my teeth and take my meds, which I hadn’t been doing since about exactly the night I was thrown out of my apartment, but I figured it didn't matter and he was just trying to mother me like the friend he was supposed to be.
About 3 months after that I was really tired of the poking and the prodding, the questions and monitoring. I just wanted it to get out of that place, so I packed my stuff and headed for the door one night. I got about halfway out the door when security got there and tried to take me back to my room.
I was kicking and fighting, until I felt this calm wash over me. I really didn't need to work as hard as I was, I could kick ass without even breaking a sweat. I punched one guard, then another. Once they stopped coming at me the only one left standing was the administrator that checked you in and out. She was slouched against the wall and wouldn’t look at me. So I picked up my bag and walked away.
I walked through town, and it was completely empty. Probably because it was pouring rain and freezing out. A late autumn rain. I walked until I reached Laura’s apartment. Then I walked all the way up the stairs until I got to the landing in front of her door. I had just been through hell, getting all types of random shit put in my body and basically being held prisoner for almost a year. I was above having butterflies for my best girl friend.
Eventually I got up the courage to knock on the door and wait for her to come answer. As soon as she did I knew something was wrong. Her face twisted up into a play dough mound of terrified and disgusted and her eyes looked frozen in place. Then came the scream...and it all happened as soon as she caught a glimpse of me, or what’s left of me.
It’s 2048 and the earth has just begun it’s slow demise. The sectors of North America are each experiencing painful attacks; carbon fog roams the streets of Bruhan, only Lemons will grow in Gemack, the sun glares too brightly in Sict, constant earthquakes create thunderous sounds of things falling it Horen and the sulfur burns noses in Gruch. People all over are in constant pain while scientists desperately toil over what they can do to fix it. Finally the find solutions to each of the problems, although they fear for the discomfort it may cause.
“In the new proclamation,” the man with the tie started strongly, firmly; but he tightens his tie with shaking hands and continues, “In the new proclamation there are some rules, rules that must be followed.” The crowd falls silent. They’re standing in neat rows. Children of the age of 5 stand clean and proper behind a sign with a big blue 5 on the left side of the stage. Farther to the right are sequential numbers that went all the way up to 20. Then behind those neat rows were more signs “21-30,” “31-40” and so on up to “81-90”. As the numbers went on the people in the rows got taller, and then paler, and then more shriveled.
“Ahem,” The man tightens his tie again, “These rules, are quite different than the rules we live by today. They are stricter. Safer.” His eyes harden, his confidence returns, “I know many of you have been hearing rumors about us leaving the earth, but No!” He slams his pale fist on the wooden podium in front of him, “We have found a way to keep you safe here.”
The captive audience murmurs and whispers. Energy flies through them. The man with the tie stands still, waiting. The crowd notices, and stops, in sections. The 5 year olds continue making noise until everyone else has stopped. “Ahem,” he clears his throat again, “The formal statement:” ‘formal’ straightens peoples backs and focuses their eyes. “The world has begun it’s fight against mankind, releasing toxins into our air and food. Scientists have been working hard to stop the pain caused by these toxins so that we may continue our lives as naturally as possible. The solution they have found is to remove the sense that is causing pain to our people.”
Energy surges through the crowd. The neat lines loosen and turn into globs. Sweat, nerves and power course through the man’s veins and he slams his hand again. The stress hits him that second, putting tears behind his eyes that he quickly blinks away. He resorts to the only thing he knows, “I WILL HAVE ORDER.” He screams and a vein pops out of his forehead. The crowd freezes. Two women in the 21-30 section have stiff arms against each other’s shoulders. A woman from the 31-40 section has already pushed her way through to section 7 and is clinging tightly to a child. The majority of children from sections 10 and under are merging themselves into the teenage lines, searching desperately for older siblings. The small group of men and women standing in sections 71-80 and 81+ are clearly deep in conversation, a man and a woman holding withered hands. Only one person did not move in the mayhem, a boy in section 17 stands military straight, staring at the man with the tie. Then slowly, as if molasses had spread over the crowd with an invisible knife, they turn their heads, taking steps to reform lines. They aren’t straight or clean. Everyone who used to stand with hands at sides, now stand comfortably with arms crossed or hands on their hips. Everyone, except the boy in section 17, whose arms still hang firmly at his sides.
“Better.” The voice was firm, “But not good enough!” With shocking speed the crowd mimics boy 17. Hands at sides, feet together, back straight, “Now, that’s what I like to see.” The man smiles. The kind of smile that is normally described as evil or sadistic. But this man, with the tie and the power, is happy. They’re listening because they have to, because he is holding their lives in his hands. “Good cooperation, let’s continue.
“The statement reads, ‘Although it would be ideal for the people to retain their abilities, this solution is the best protection we can offer our people,’” In the crowd hands grip behind backs, showing the whiteness of knuckles. Bodies rock forward, pushing weight into toes. “No!” Both hands slam down leaving prints of sweat on the wood, “The senses will be limited,” The man stares straight at the crowd, speaking slowly without regard to the script, “Each sector of the country will now have. Only. Four. Senses. This will vary based on location because, as you all know, attacks have varied.” His lips push upwards, exposing his teeth and spreading warmth down his body.
“You can’t even do that!” Boy 17 screams. He’s wearing faded jeans that fit loosely around his hips, a plain white t-shirt, and canvas sneakers that seem to be more holes than fabric. His face is jeering but his posture stays straight. He appears secure with this expression. It’s clear that he’s the kind of person who enjoys a good joke, especially at someone else’s expense.
The man points, the smile falling from his face, “Would you care to be our example?” He points to the boy and then to the ground next to him. The boy just stares at him “Oh, I get it,” The man says, his fat belly leaning forward onto the podium, “You’re scared.” The boys eyes narrow, the left side of his mouth twitching up.
The boy steps out of line and his faded jeans carry him forward, avoiding the stairs and jumping onto the stage.
“What’s your name, boy?” The man with the tie asks.
“Is that actually important to you?” The boy’s voice is surprisingly soft. He feels as though there’s a rock at the bottom of his stomach but he keeps his expression and body calm. His mind floods with the sensations of his life. The plush silk of his dog’s fur against his cheeks. The bright reds and blues of his 8th birthday party. Sarah’s face, the olive skin with almost black hair. Her smell, soft flowers mixed with lavender. The pungent plastic of his sister’s dolls when they were little. The sirens that bled down his street last week. The whispered word, “You look really handsome,” his mom’s voice transforming into Sarah’s through his dreams. Mac and Cheese. Garlic Bread. Sarah’s mouth.
The man laughs a full belly laugh, bringing Boy 17 back to the present, “You enjoy pushing buttons don’t you?”
The boy doesn’t respond.
“Well then, let’s show these people what’s going to happen! Boy, where do you live?”
“Bruhan” He speaks casually.
“Ah,” The man with the tie clicks his tongue and begins to circle the boy, “You, my dear boy, will lose your sense of touch.”
A gasp rushes through the crowd, but the boy doesn’t even flinch. A woman rubs harshly at her eyes. She is slim the way he is, with a similar nose and curly brown hair. She stands in section 41-50, sneakingly holding the hand of the tall man in front of her. Boy 17’s parents. He just turns his head slowly to the left, staring at the man with the tie, “How?” The word comes out slowly, loudly and the gasp dies away. The tall man squeezes his wife’s hand, a silent statement of it will be okay.
“You underestimate today’s technology.” The man with the tie’s voice sounds like a whisper on the speaker loud but soft, threatening but obvious, “In the olden days there was a disease called Hypothyroid. We found a way to cause this through a special little cream. It’s going to work like this. You’ll give me your arm and I’ll put this special white stuff all over. It may burn a little, but you’re a big boy,” The man taps Boy 17 under the chin, “You’re not afraid. Then I’ll send you away, unless you want to get undressed on stage of course, you’ll finish getting covered and as soon as your skin absorbs all the cream, you won’t be able to feel a thing.”
The majority of the crowd is frozen with shock. The smaller children have collapsed into balls on the ground, some holding their hair or their eyes with tiny fists. The adults rock back and forth, knowledgeable on the consequences of speaking out. The elders clasp hands, the strongest rebellion they can muster. Boy 17 tugs his t-shirt with forefinger and thumb, cooling his chest and stomach, “I never said you couldn’t, I just asked how, now I know.” His voice comes out clean no cracks, no shakes.
The man with the tie can see fear in his audience. He sees the rational thinking that they possess, his brain attempts at logic and fails. “You won’t ever have to feel the pain of Earth’s smoke,” the man tries to soften his voice but Boy 17 wonders what pain? “Victoria, can you bring up the first box?” he calls to the left and wipes the back of his hand on his wide forehand.
A woman in a deep purple pencil skirt steps on the stage. She has dark chestnut hair that falls in intricate braids to her elbows and carries a small metal box. She carries it to the podium and places it on top. She refuses to look the man with the tie in the eye. On the top of the box is the word “Bruhan” written in thick black ink.
The boys hands are shaking as the man steps toward the box. He slides a heavy palm against Victoria’s waist and she sidesteps to the left. He wiggles his fingers above the box, ignoring Victoria’s rejection. “Ready?” the whisper again. The boy nods, quickly. The man grabs the box and nearly shoves it open on the hinge, “Come here,” he beckons the boy closer while the woman steps farther away, all the way off the stage and down the steps, darting back behind the guards.
The boy turns toward the man, takes a few steps and stops, he looks at his shoes, “Can I do one thing first?” His voice cracks, quickly losing its softness for a twinge of fear and a pulse of anger.
“Want your last touch to be something special?” It’s mock concern.
The book looks up, his eyes heavy and dark. His voice strengthens, “Yes.”
“Well, do tell us what that is.”
“My dog’s fur,” the boy hardens his face, “It’s not a request, it’s a demand,” and hops off the stage, clapping his hands and calling, “Roger! Roger!” He hops down between the sections 20 and 21-30.They spread away from him, some with looks of shock on their face and others with looks of pride and reverence.
A large dog with thick white fur comes bounding down the aisle, “There you are,” the boy grips at his chest and buries his face in the dogs back. 3 men push between the lines, disregarding all things. The man on the far left has a bushy black moustache with shorter bristles covering his chubby cheeks. The man in the middle has a thin face but large muscles. The man on the left has slightly smaller muscles and a very clean face.
“Well isn’t this just the sweetest?” The man with the tie grabs the back of the boy’s neck and drags him back onto the stage. The dog whines and the crowd tenses. The man in the middle of the three men in black scoops the dog over his shoulder and the walk single file back to their spot surrounding the circle. The boy just lets it happen. Half walking, half pulling, the man and boy ends up back at the podium with the open box in front of them.
“I’m ready.” The boy closes his eyes and whispers while the man grabs at plastic gloves and plunges his hand into the small box.
“Hold out your arm,” the boy did as he was told and the man grabs his wrist and spreads a silvery pink cream against his hairline. The boy tries to flinch away and gnaws at his lips.
“That hurts,” he breathes.
At the same instant a girl in section 17 cries, “He’s still a kid!” She has olive skin with heavy dark brown hair waving over her left shoulder. Boy 17’s eyes widen and he sways. “This isn’t okay.” The same three men are walking towards her, Boy 17’s knees hit the wood of the stage.
“Sarah,” he whispers, “Don’t.” The three men stand to her side, the one with the moustache touches her arm softly. Boy 17 bends in half, a ball on the stage. The children of the audience scream and the adults begin to talk to each other. A teary-eyed Sarah is being led away from the audience. She seems quiet, not up for a fight, only the people around her saw the way that moustache man looked at her. The way his hand held her wrist, angry and passionate. They saw the fear that hit her face, they saw the defeat.
“Everybody, quiet!” The man in the tie called, “We’re not done yet. The girl will be fine. She was merely experiencing hallucinations because of the earth attacks.” The man in the tie has officially decided to try and soothe the crowd, this is getting too intense, they will see his power later. He crouches next to the boy, “I promise she will be okay, but you must be strong. He holds a hand out to Boy 17, who stands up without taking it. “I think we need some positive energy here. This meeting is about happy news, let us cheer for, you never told me your name.”
“Alex.” Alex’s eyes bend down toward his holey shoes, defeat spreads across his shoulders and lips, red bags already forming under his eyes.
“Let us cheer for Alex!” Children try to wipe their tears. Teens and adults clap respectfully. The elders frown, still holding each other’s hands. The man in the tie smiles broadly, raising his, and Alex’s hand above their heads. Then he turns his head, “Are you ready Alex?”
Alex closes his eyes, breathes deep and inwardly cringes at the squish of the man’s hand against his, “I’m ready.” It’s barely a whisper and he only manages it for Sarah. The man covers Alex’s arms in the burning cold pink cream. He wipes it around his neck. Alex’s mind flicks to the idea of strangling, Please he closes his eyes, please kill me if Sarah is not okay. He thinks for a moment it’s happening when the burning pierces through his skin, but he keeps breathing.
The man scoops one last section of cream from the box with his right hand. Using his left he spreads it across Alex’s forehead. Alex lifts his eyes, holding some kind of connection with this man. The cream is placed along his hairline, jaw bone and nose, “You have to stop crying,” The man says it quietly but harshly, not into the microphone, “Your tears will stop it from working.” Alex just stares at him. The man takes the edge of his shirt and pushes at Alex’s cheeks. The touch isn’t rough which frustrates Alex, he hadn’t even realized he was crying. The cream is spread across his cheeks but this time he doesn’t feel the burn.
“It’s time for you to go, there’s more skin to cover that we don’t want to see here.” The man with the tie puts his hand on the small of Alex’s back and leads him off stage. Alex can feel the pressure and realizes that this may be the last time that happens. He looks down at his arms, swaying against his sleeves and realizes he doesn’t feel anything. “People of Bruhan, follow Alex.” Alex stumbles down the three stairs into the arms of Victoria, she smiles at him but still, he feels nothing.
Men in full black walk down the aisles from the back carrying tall wooden signs. Each sign has a word. Bruhan. Gruch. Gemack. Sict. Horen. The crowd flounders for their family, desperate to go through this pain with the people they love.
The children cry quietly, unsure of what’s going on. They’re carried to proper sectors by parents or older siblings walking with a nervous confidence. A few try to run but the men covered in black tighten around the crowd, standing so close that their shoulders touch. People of all ages plead with the guards, begging them for escape. The guards only looked ahead, pretending as hard as they can that they can’t hear. People shake violently, they know what’s going on. The man’s words on the stage did nothing to help. The elders walk calmly through the crowd, touching the shoulders of people crouched on the ground. They held hands and elbows, they hugged and wiped tears, whispering words of confidence to the children it will be okay. Then leading them to where they belonged.
The man with the tie looms behind the podium. The noise of the crowd increases and nervous faced citizens step up to the men holding the signs who pointed them to tables now set up in front of the stage. These faces, connected to shaking bodies found their way to the tables and slowly, slowly, lost one sense. Often the one they revered the most. A young girl with a passion for singing becomes deaf. An up-and-coming chef loses his taste. One artist loses her sight while another loses her touch.
Women holding children push to the middle. Trying desperately to save their children who cling with small fists to the cloth on their mother’s breast. A father steps into the circle, grabbing his wife’s shoulders and kissing her. “It’s okay,” he whispers, “They’re only taking our taste. We’ll be safer.” He doesn’t believe it but he knows that now is not the right time for a fight.
Alex was led to a small room behind the stage. Victoria followed him inside, closing the door and turning to a counter-top. “You’ll have to take off all of your clothes,” her voice was soft and afraid.
Alex made no movement to take off his clothes, instead saying, “What happens to you?”
“What do you mean?” She whispers.
“What happens to you?” He repeated himself, his words void of emotion, “You’re in the government. Are they doing this to you too?” Alex can see her hands tense against the countertop. He’s hitting a nerve but he doesn’t care.
“I have to go.” She moves her hands to the doorknob, “I’ll be right back.”
“You can’t leave. Then they’ll definitely do something to you.” Alex could sense bitterness within him but he was unable to understand it, “They won’t if you do what you’re told, will they?”
“They already have.” Her soft voice deepened and her muscles clenched inward.
Victoria turns around, tears sitting on the cushion of her eyelashes, she sticks her tongue out, showing the raw skin that it is made of. “It hurts,” she said. Alex feels no sympathy.
In the end no one was saved. In the end, everyone had four senses. In the end, everything was different.
That wasn’t all the change North America faced that day. Fences were constructed. Fences that you couldn’t see in Sict. That you couldn’t feel in Bruhan. Couldn’t smell in Gruch. Couldn’t taste in Gemack. And couldn’t hear in Horen.The world changed and it hurt. The people hurt. But years passed and things got better. People who were alive that tragic day struggled to recover. The government tried to maintain peace by providing counseling and support. They gained fighters for their reign and people soon began to think of it as natural. Years later the earth stopped producing it’s harmful substances and so the government changed the rules. Losing a sense became a right of passage when you turn 5. A right of passage, the way it was for Alex.
Once upon a time, there were aliens who abducted the earth where humans lived. One night a team was on a road trip because they had important games to play. If they win they would have the opportunity to play in the basketball league championship game. As the team arrived at the hotel in New York coming from New Jersey they were getting off the bus, and suddenly they had heard strange noises.
“Yo! do you guys see that light over there?”, said Matt.
The team looked up and saw a green light beaming down onto earth. Matt was the best player on team and he was also the captain. As they begin to walk in the hotel, the light just disappeared out of the blue and they were all was confused. “Where would it have gone?” Some of his teammates questioned. As they players settled in the rooms they started to unpacked and discuss what the light was coming down onto earth. After unpacking and talking then had went to sleep, and got ready for the next morning. At the crack of dawn, everyone was awakened to the television in the hotel. There was breaking news that aliens were coming to earth to take over our planet.
“Matt, are you okay this morning? We have a important game today and we have to get our heads in the game”, said Alex.
Alex is Matt’s closest friend and who also was a captain of the basketball team.
“I am okay I am just worried about what's going to happen and why aliens trying to come to earth. I’m thinking that the green light we had saw while getting off the bus was from the aliens.”
As the boys sat in silence in the locker room thinking about the aliens the coach walked in.
“Now boys lets stop worrying about this so called aliens and lets go win us some basketball”, coach said.
The boys begin to get ready for the game as they ran out onto the floor not worrying about the aliens. The game begin with their opponent coming out aggressive and with a lot of energy. Matt and his team just could not focus and they were playing poorly with the result of no energy. The game had finished with the other team beating Matt’s team. As the game had finished, the team went to go sit in the locker room when they were suddenly hit with bad news. News that had has reported to the whole basketball sports nation. The coach had found out the bad news and he decided immediately to tell his players and all the staff on his team. The coach walked in the room with a sad face.
“I have some pretty bad news. Its been happening around the league for a while now”, coach said.
The team sat in silence with worried faces as the coach started talking again.
“The news is that different players, along with the teams have been taking drugs to improve their skills while playing during a game. The league does not know where the drug is coming from, but they are now banning it from the basketball league. Different players and teams who have been found taking this drug now are facing serious consequences. Come to find out, the team that we just lost to took part in using these drugs”, coach said.
The team sat in disappointment shaking their heads with sad faces.
“How can this drug affect you on the court and affect you later in life?”, Matt said.
“The drug can change the way you play during a game, but the drug can also affect you later in life. It can also make you sick and you can die from this drug. This drug comes in a round bottle and the tablets are orange. I don’t want anyone taking this drug or you will face some serious consequences from the league, and will be kicked off the team.”
“Yes we understand coach”, said the team.
Days went by and the team have been preparing to face more intense games to determine whether or not they would make it into the final round. Matt has not been acting the same lately and Alex noticed during the team's morning workouts. Alex walked over to Matt.
“Matt lately I have notice you're not acting like the usual you. I don’t know if you're still worried about the aliens who came to earth, or the drug situation that's been going on”, said Alex.
“Ok honestly, I have been thinking about both, but these couple days I have really been focusing on this drug thing. I think we should find out who has them so we can take them and win this championship!”
“Are you crazy, did you not hear what coach was saying? What if we get caught then what, we would not being playing ball know more.”
Matt sat there looking confused on what to do or what to say next.
“You take that drug if you want, but I am not facing any consequences with you when or if you get caught”, Alex said.
“You don’t have to, but I know it will help us get the championship and win it.”
The night before the game, the team had went out to dinner and celebrated before their important game. Matt had dismissed himself from the table and went outside to take a walk to think about everything. As he began walking, he heard that same noise from the first night they had arrived to New York, and the glowing green light from the sky again. He began looking around scared.
“Who is there?”, Matt said.
Matt was looking up at the light as the aliens started coming down one by one.
“We are the aliens and we came to give the humans our drugs”, said the aliens.
Matt begin thinking about what he said to Alex and if he should take the drug.
“Why are you guys doing this? What’s the purpose of you guys giving us this drug?”
“We are not here to hurt you guys, we were told that the drug was to help you and that humans would need it.”
The alien handed Matt the drugs that was in a round bottle, with a tiny cap and a bunch of words around the bottle. Matt had opened the bottle and had seen over a hundred orange tablets. As he sat there and looked worrying about what should he do the light came back with the weird sounds out the sky. The aliens had then started going back into the light as he still sat there staring at the bottle fill out tablets. The team was coming out from the dinner place checking out if Matt was okay he hid the medicine behind his back. Matt and Alex had made eye contact as he was hiding the bottle behind his back. Matt and Alex did not exchange any words but Alex knew what Matt was up to. They had then went back to the hotel to get ready for game to determine if they would their season without discussing anything about what he was hiding. As the team got ready for the game Alex walked over to Matt and Matt tried to avoid him as the made eye contact.
“Can we talk about the decisions you're about make before this game start?”Alex said.
“I don’t know what your talking about I am making a right decision”, Matt said.
“I know you have them drugs, where did you either get them from?”
“Okay I do but I am having second thoughts on if I should take it. And do you remember that we had seen that glowing light out the sky and heard weird noises.”
“Well that was coming from the aliens who had abducted the earth and they came back last night well we was at dinner. The aliens had then told me they're the ones with the drugs and their not coming to earth to hurt, but they want to give us drugs.”
“So the aliens have the drugs. I knew you were up to something last night and why you wanted to hide it.”
“I didn’t want to get in trouble because I had them, but I don’t know what to do let me just think about what my decision going to be.”
“Well I believe you would make the right decision I will see you on the floor warming up.”
Alex headed out the locker room leaving Matt alone. Matt begin getting dress and tried hard not thinking about the pills the aliens had gave him. After he stop getting dress he started running out the locker room as he tripped over the chair and with his bag falling out the chair. As the bag fell off the chair the pills then fell out the bag, and he heard the movement of the tablets inside the round bottle. He paused as he looked at the round bottle roll up next to his leg. The bottle had stopped at his leg and he picked it up staring at it. He was looking around the room as he opened the bottle top seeing if anyone was coming. Matt was turning the bottle upside down to take out some tablets as he came across a section on the bottle that said, “only take 2 tablets every 6 hours.” He knew this was an important game so he decided to take 4 so he could have the best game in his career. As he heard the horn he knew the game was getting ready to start so he decided to put the lid back on and put it back on the bag. Matt started running out as the coach noticed he was there on the floor.
“Where is Matt the game is started in any minute?”, coach said.
“I don’t know last time I talked to him he was in the locker room. Nevermind there he is coach”, said Alex.
As Matt was running up, “Where have you been boy?”
“I was in the back just getting ready”, said Matt.
“Are you okay? Why are you sweating so much?”
“I am okay I just have pre game nerves, but I am ready to win this game.”
“Well go out there and win this game as a team and make me proud.”
As the game started Matt came out with a different amount of energy then he have in all the previous game. He was more focus on the game and had nothing on his mind like other games. He was leading the team to victory but taking over every moment of the game. Matt and his team went into the locker room at halftime leading the other team by 13 points. When the team was sitting in the locker room Alex walked over to Matt with a curious face on how his game just change out of no where.
“Matt I know you didn’t do what I think you did”, Alex said.
“Alex calm down I just took one tablet and I feel perfectly fine, I will be okay don’t worry.”
“That’s not the point you heard what coach said, you might feel fine right now, but it would affect you later on.”
“I am going to be okay, but you have to promise you don’t say anything about this.”
Alex walked the away furious at Matt decision on taking the tablets after he promised he won’t say anything to anyone. As the team was running out the locker ready to finish the game strong Matt stay behind. Matt decided to take another 2 tablets without 6 hours even passing. As Matt was putting the tablets in his mouth one his teammate left his warm up shirt behind and seen him taking the medicine. Matt didn’t see his teammate looking at him as he teammate was hiding the door where the coach office was. After taking the medicine Matt ran back on the floor ready to warm up with the team. One of his teammates decided to stay behind to see what Matt was taking before he had ran out the locker room. He picked up the medicine opening the lid and seeing the little orange tablets. As he sat there and stare at the orange tablets he thought about what the coach said to the team about the medicine and what the description of the medicine was. He slowly put the lid on without taking any tablets and put the medicine in his locker hiding it from Matt. As he walked back on the court to the bench he said no words to the team on Matt taking the medicine that was banned from the basketball league. As he sat on the bench he watched Matt take over the game at another level ending the game with a career with 30 points. After the teams win they have advanced to the last round to go win the championship. The team was showering and getting dressed after a hard game with a very loud locker room on Matt’s career performance. As the locker room was emptying out because everyone was leaving Matt was still behind getting dressed. As he empty his bag to put all his things together he noticed the medicine was missing. He began to search the whole locker room tearing the place apart. He decided to go back to the hotel knowing he couldn’t find the medicine and there was nothing he could do about it. He sat up all night thinking about where could that medicine go and if Alex had something to do with it. The next morning arrived as the team had to get ready Matt was quiet the whole time. Alex walked over to Matt.
“Why do you look different?”, Alex said.
“I feel the same, but I have to ask you something”,
“What is it?”
“Have you seen the medicine I have been taking?”
“No I haven’t seen it and you need to find it for the coach puts his hands on it. If the coach see the medicine all hell will break loose in that locker room.”
Matt walked away from Alex as the coach blew the whistle letting team know practice is starting. Matt wasn’t the same as before he was moving a lot slower from previous games with and without taking the medicine. He stopped practice early because he told the coach he was feeling light headed and like he was about to pass out. Alex walked over to Matt as he laid down on the bench.
“What’s wrong Matt?”
“I am feeling weird and not feeling good.”
Alex walked Matt to the locker room to get his things so he could go back to the hotel to go to sleep. Well the team was heading out the locker room after a hard practice the coach had stayed behind to work on plays for the team. As he was straightening up the lockers in the locker he opened up a locker and came across the medicine. He grab the bottle and decided to open it as he heard the sounds of the tablets moving around in the bottle. He had an upset face as seen orange tablets all around inside the bottle. He wasn’t sure who medicine it was and who was taking it so he can only find out one way. As the team got ready for the championship game the coach called a meeting for the team because of what he had found. The team walked in the locker confused on what was going on and why they had a team meeting. The team sat around as the coach stood up looking at every player in their eyes not even knowing noticing that Matt was missing from the locker room.
“Do anyone know why I called this team meeting before practice?”, coach said.
“No”, the team said.
“Well someone on this team have been sneaking around taking the medicine that the league banned.”
All the players on the team look around the room confused and what was going on even Alex and the one teammate that knew who have been taking the drugs. As the players looked at each other it was quiet and no one had anything to say. The coach then pulled out the medicine and was holding it up so the whole locker room eyes were focus on what was in the coach hands. Alex then took his eyes off the bottle of medicine and noticed that Matt was not in the room.
“How about since no one wants to speak up about who medicine this is everyone would take a test. The test would determine who is really is telling the truth and who is lying about taking these drugs in my locker room. Practice is off, everyone is dismissed and everyone would be taking the test tomorrow in the morning. Whoever have been taking the drugs would face serious consequences”, coach said.
Everyone walked out the room quiet with nothing to say on taking the test. Alex had went straight to Matt finding him in the bed not feeling good. Alex say next to him while Matt laid in bed.
“I have some really bad new I should share with you”, Alex said.
“What is it?”
“Coach found the drugs in one of the lockers and we had a team meeting.”
“Oh Gosh, I am going to get in serious trouble. Did anyone who was taking the drug?”
“No that’s the problem he don’t know who took the drug because the room was so quiet, and no one was talking. He decided to give us a drug test tomorrow as a team and everyone has to be there.”
“I’m going to get caught and have to face the consequences. Did he even notice I wasn’t at the meeting.”
“No you should be okay, you only took 1 right?”
“No I took way more then 1 and I took more than what the bottle had told me to take. I think from me taking so much I am becoming sick.”
“Well either way you're going to take that test tomorrow sick or not.”
“I will be there now I have to get some rest for tomorrow.”
“Well either way you're going to take that test tomorrow sick or not.”
“Okay I will now let me get some rest for tomorrow.”
“Alright I will see you tomorrow in the locker room.”
Alex had left the room and Matt tried to get some sleep. He couldn’t because he was so nervous about the coach finding out about the drug he has been taking. Matt was stressing about so much that he finally close his eyes and feel asleep with a lot on his mind. As the morning arrived Matt was still feeling sick walking into the locker with all eyes on him. The whole team was waiting for him so everyone would take the test at the same time. The test was for each player on the team to take a urine drug test to determine who have been taking the drug. The room was very quiet as each player went one by one to take a urine test in the locker room bathroom. As Matt turn was coming up to go take the urine test he whispered over to Alex.
“I am coming up what should I do. I don’t want to take test, but I think I should just tell coach that I am the one who have been taking the medicine. I think I should tell him where I have got all the medicine and why I took it too.”
“Honestly that’s no good just don’t say anything. You might even pass the test you never what’s going to happen, so for right now just take the test and pray.”
The coach came in the locker room.
“Matt your up next”, coach said.
Matt begin walking towards the bathroom very slowing as everyone was quietly watching as he took each step. Matt sat on the toilet after locking the bathroom door so no one could come in. As he felt in his pants pocket it was a hand full of tablets in his pocket. He pulled them out his pocket looking at the tablets very hard knowing that these pills was the reason he have take this test. He knew that he was the only one on the team taking the test so he didn’t want to face the consequences. As the team sat in the locker room waiting he was in the bathroom sitting there taking one tablet slowly after another. The team didn’t know what was going on as they sat there quietly waiting for Matt to come out the bathroom. After a couple of long minutes the coach came in the locker room curious looking for Matt. The coached walked over to Alex.
“Umm Alex where is Matt?”,coach said.
“Coach I don’t know he never came back from taking his test from the bathroom.”
The coach walked away very furious because Matt was still in the bathroom. He walked to the bathroom door very slowly.
“Matt, Matt, Matt.”
There was no reply from Matt as he began touching on bathroom door turning the knob slowly and finding out it was locked. He was knocking on the door and Matt was not replying so the coach ran back out to the locker to the team.
“Boys come here quick its important”, coach said.
The boy began running quickly following behind the coach. They knew it was something serious because the coach looked very scared as he came in the locker. Alex was walking behind the team and coach praying it had nothing to do with Matt.
“Matt is in there the door is lock and he will not answer”, coach said.
The coach went in his office and grab the master keys to unlock the door. He came back with the team surrounding the door all crying. He didn’t know what was going on as he walked closer he seen Alex laying next to Matt holding him up off the floor.
“Coach he is dead”, Alex said.
Alex had heavy tears coming down his eyes holding on to Matt. The coach put his head down slowly in his hands as he started to cry. The coach heard someone say, “coach” as his head was down. The coach slowly picked up his head as he seen Alex holding Matt hand out. Matt was holding the orange pills in one hand and the other hand was around his chest as he laid there.
For the third time this week I woke up to the sound of her voice calling my name from downstairs. “Kame!” she yelled. I hated when she didn’t let me sleep in. We had only been living with each other for a few months now and since then my life has been pure hell. Everyday I have to wake up and take care of her like shes a damn baby. I tell myself I can’t live like this, then again I can’t leave her alone, especially not since the accident… nothing has been the same.
“Be down in a second sweetheart.” Kame replied slowly getting out of bed, making his way toward the bathroom. I splashed some cold water on my face and looked at myself in the mirror. My face was pale and there were blue bags under my eyes. I took my time getting ready hoping Kate wouldn’t scream my name again. I made my way down the stairs, one foot then the next, trying to keep the old wooden steps from creaking incase she had fallen asleep. Oh how I hope she is asleep. Turning the corner from the kitchen into the living room, I heard her sneeze and from there I knew what I was in for today. I turned back around and trecked back into the kitchen. I grabbed the meds I knew she needed today along with glass of water. Ever since the accident Kate had to take over 20 pills a day and even with all of that she still lived in pain. She can’t remember what happened that day only 6 months ago but at night she dreams about it. She wakes up in terror. Sweat pours down her beautiful face and her blue eyes turn red.
We can no longer sleep in the same bed. She mistakes me to be someone that hurt her and she tries to hurt me. Though, during the day things are easier. I can talk to her and laugh with her which reminds me that she is still the same Kate I married 2 years ago. Our honeymoon was the best! We went to Thailand and rode elephants everyday. We slept with families in their mud huts and we even saw what the tsunami did to the families and communities in that surrounding area. We played with the children and talked about how the day we adopt would be the best day of our life. We planned to have our own children first and after they grow up a little bit we would adopt.
I checked the fridge for who would be coming to see Kate today, luckily there was nobody on the schedule. I was so bad at being in charge of all of this but who else was going to do it? After she took her medication and I helped her shower we decided to go out to a late lunch. Taking her out was the hardest by far. Just getting her into the car was a struggle in itself and making it in the restaurant was a miracle each and every time. Not only were both of her arms broken but so was her pelvis, not to mention the cuts and the bruises which would lead to scars that covered most of her cold body. The waitress came and took our order, and she could tell something was awkward between me and my wife. She then asked in my wife was okay and what had happened to her. I was the only one who truly knew what happened well other than her of course. We decided we would just tell people Kate got into a very bad car accident.
After lunch we went straight home and I made sure Kate was comfortable watching Say Yes To The Dress and I decided to try and take a nap. Ever since the accident it was hard for me to fall asleep, of course this time was no different. I closed my eyes and everything from the accident just replayed over and over again in my head. The image I saw most was the green alien that picked her up from our daily walk around our new neighborhood. It had three big, nasty looking eyes and a huge mouth. It was like nothing I have even seen before. It came alone and just sweeped Kate right off of her feet. “Stop thinking about this!” I told myself right before I got up to check on Kate again.
She was asleep so I turned on Sports Center. As I watched the highlights I missed every second of every moment I spent on the ice. Ever since Kate’s accident, I haven’t been able to play at all. I had to tell the team and all my coaches Kate and I were in a car accident. They believed it and sometimes would come visit me. When they came to visit I would put on a fake boot and would wince in pain every time I got the opportunity. I missed playing more than anything. I missed getting checked by my opponent and the way I felt when I scored a goal in a tight game. If there was one thing I could do for the rest of my life it would be to play hockey. I know when I come back they are going to put me back to the semi-pro team in Philadelphia and that is really the last place I want to be. Kate moaned and mumbled “Turn this off Kame, you are only making it harder on yourself, remember that.” I got up, pressed the power button and chuckled. I can’t believe I actually listened to her.
After dinner I cleaned up Kate’s wounds and gave her the meds she needed to take at night. We watched a movie and ate some ice cream. When she started dozing off, I put a blanket over her and made my way upstairs. I laid in “our” bed and looked around “our” room. None of this felt like “ours” anymore. It was either hers or mine. This wasn’t the time to contemplate on our relationship so I closed my eyes and tried falling asleep.
I felt myself falling asleep until I heard Kate’s voice in my head. She was screaming. “KAME help me! I need you, help me!” She didn’t realize we were both helpless. There was nothing I could do. The little green thing had already had her in a death grip. There was no way in hell he was letting go. He dragged her by her hair at incredible speeds but her screams sounded so close. She kept telling me she needed help and I tried to follow behind them but there was no way in hell I was going to reach them. She was gone. That fast the love of my life was gone. Right before my eyes.
That night I couldn’t sleep, I sat on the couch with my feet up and tried to focus on things that didn’t have anything to do with Kate. I watched the Penguins play and tried to eat my favorite kind of ice cream but I couldn’t. I felt sick to my stomach. I asked myself if she was ever going to come back. I asked where she was. I asked if there was something I could have done. I asked so many things that I didn’t have the answer to. I don’t remember much more from that night considering I drank quite a bit.
I woke up the next morning expecting Kate to already have coffee made and my clean clothes laid out on the bed. I contemplated on what I should do next? I could go to the police but they would never believe what happened. I could get some of my teammates to come look for her with me but I can’t let them all find out how bad things really are. I finally decided I had to go about finding her on my own.
I made my way to the spot this all happened the previous night. There was nothing in my sight which made me nervous. I already wasn’t sure what to do and this made me want to give up even more. I paced up and down the street and tried to ignore all the stares that were aimed in my direction. I made my way closer to the store at the corner. As I approached it, I felt a strong gust of wind hit me and I stumbled backwards. I looked up and suddenly everything was black and I was somewhere I had never seen before. I heard a voice but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I tried to focus in here and the voices became a little clearer.
“Well hello there sir.” said Gus, the alien.
“Hello…” relied Kame, his voice uneasy.
“It’s nice to see you finally came to look for your wife. We are taking very very good care of her, as I’m sure you would too. She is waiting to see you.” said Gus.
“So are you going to tell me where she is, or should I find her on my own?” replied Kame.
“Oh, no. I will gladly show you where she is, just follow me.”
I followed Gus and observed everything we walked passed. My stomach was so uneasy but I knew it was all going to be worth it since I would soon see Kate. My nerves were only getting worse as we kept walking. I saw tons of people including children. They didn’t seem in their right state of mind either. They were just walking back and forth in a little clear space. They were alone and nothing was in their space. They didn’t even seem to see us walk passed. The rest of the area was dark and I looked down to tons of stories of the same thing I saw up here. We were walking on a little path with no railings. Someone slide on the right of me and I almost fell off the edge.
Finally, in the distance I saw Kate. She looked sick. She was pale and her hair was tied up tightly. She looked at me and we made eye contact and when I tried to smile at her and blow her a kiss she looked away in disgust. I asked myself if this was really Kate? Or had they done something to her that made her not remember me?
“What did you do to her?” Kame asked Gus
“Nothing, what makes you ask that? replied Gus
“She won’t even look at me in the eye.”
“I’m not sure what to tell you young man. We did nothing to harm Kate. We took a little blood and added another type to see how she would react. She seemed to have taken the reaction well, we also gave her some of the food we usually eat so she wouldn’t be hungry,” said Gus
“So why does she look so skinny and sick?” asked Kame
I was beginning to get angry. I knew Gus was lying to me and for Kate to get better I needed to know what he had done to her. I continued to ask him but he repeated the same things. At this point Kate was crouched over on the floor with her head between her knees. I walked over towards her until Gus and one of his little alien friends grabbed me by my shoulder and pulled me backwards. I hit the ground with a hard thump and Kate looked up startled by what had just went down. My anger reached the point where I could no longer contain it. I grabbed Gus and his friend and threw them off the side of the path. I watched them fall until their tiny bodies faded away.
That was my moment. I ran into the room Kate was in and picked her up as carefully and gently and I could. She was shaking and crying. At this point I wasn’t sure if she knew who I was but that didn’t really matter. I used every ounce of energy I had in me to run as fast as I could back the way we came from. I looked over my shoulder and I saw Gusx10 running after us. I tried running faster but they were picking up ground pretty quick. My shoelace became looser but I couldn’t stop and in that exact moment I fell. Kate flew out of my arms and off the ledge of the path. She hit the ground with a crash. I kept running as fast as possible until I reached her. She was back at the store I had first gotten taken from.
“Kate, love, are you okay?” Kame asked.
She wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t want to move her but I had to. Her head was bleeding a little bit and I laughed to myself… “I wonder which kind of blood this is?”
We made our way to the hospital and when we got there they took her away from me right away.
“Hello sir, we are going to have to take your wife for a good examination, we will be back to update you on how everything is going,” said the nurse, trying to make Kame feel as comfortable about everything as possible.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” replied Kame with tears filling up his pale blue eyes.
Sitting in the emergency room waiting area I had time to think. The most important thing on my mind was Kate and whether or not she was okay but I also thought about the aliens and I hoped they would never come back to bother us again. I remember seeing all the kids and adults there and it hit me that this isn’t some freak accident that will never happen again. It is something real that is taking over. This could happen again and we must do something to stop it. As I began to come up with something in my mind, the nurse came back.”
“How is she?” I asked the nurse eagerly.
“Right now she isn’t doing well. She has a slight concussion and needed 20 stitches in her head. She also has a broken femur and her pelvis is shattered. Other than that she is suffering from internal bleeding which we now have under control. She will need emergency surgery on her leg and pelvis in a little while but she would like to see you first.”
“Yes! That would be great. I would love to see her.”
“No problem, just follow me. She is still pretty out of it which I am sure you expect.”
I walked in the room and saw Kate laying in the bed. She looked better than before. She smiled at me and I could tell she remembered who I was. I walked over to her and grabbed her hand and kissed her forehead. I checked to make sure she wasn’t intubated before I sparked up a conversation. She wasn’t, so I began.
“Kate?” I asked.
“Yes baby? I’m okay now. I really am. The pain is under control and I’m just so happy to see you here. Are you okay?”
“This is not about me. Really. I’m just glad you're feeling better. Do you remember what happened?”
“Not really, I remember being taken and then after that everything is a blur until right now.”
I woke up. Sweat was pouring down my face. My sheets were on the floor and everything was all over the room. I ran down the stairs to check on Kate. She woke up startled by how I was acting. She didn’t say anything because she knew what it was about. I felt dizzy and turned around to leave the room. I made my way back upstairs and laid on the floor of the bathroom. I couldn’t move. My body just wouldn’t allow me. This is something I tried to tell myself over and over again. I couldn’t be with Kate after all of this. It wasn’t fair to either of us. I just no longer felt the same way.
I forced myself to get up. The walk from the bathroom to “our” room felt like eternity. I packed my stuff up, everything I knew I was going to need and I left Kate our wedding ring and a note on the bed. The note didn’t say much other than I just needed time alone and I would come back if it was right. I told her I was going to the store and I left. I needed to think of somewhere to go. I walked passed the store where all of this initially went down. After thinking about all of that again I made my way to the police station. It was time to confess everything I just witnessed.
They sat me down in a room and told me to wait for someone to come so they could listen to my story. I sat and waited for what seemed like forever. I reviewed what I was going to say in my head until the detective finally walked in.
“Hello sir, how are you this morning?” the cop asked shaking my hand sternly.
“I’m holding up, and you?” Kame replied.
“Good, so what happened?”
That is when I told the cops everything that happened. They didn’t believe my story and told me I was crazy. They set me up with a psychologist and told me that I might had a mental illness which is leading me to make these things up in my head and dream about them as if they were happening in real life. I went back home and Kate and I talked through everything.
“Welcome to our universe. A place where personality determines your destiny. A place where violence is not an issue because we have split our people into four different planets based on their personality, meaning no one will disagree and no one’s ideas will clash. A place where all thoughts and words are recorded through internal diaries/journals. Welcome to our four planetas; welcome to our universe. There are a few things you must know before you take the journey to our universe. Reginas and Rex is the planet for the proper and superiors. Feroces is the planet for the fierce and almighty. Mitis is a planet for the quiet and gentle. Ignotus is for the mysterious and unknown; the ones who don’t quite fit into any other planeta.” says an electronic voice far in the distance.
Aria rubs her eyes to make sure she’s not dreaming.
“What’s going on?”
“You have been chosen to look over Adrea and Silas, who have just turned eighteen,” replies the voice.
“Why? What is so special about being eighteen.”
“In our universe, eighteen is a very special year. It’s when the children become adults and they can finally be placed into the planeta they belong in.”
“When do I get to go back home,” asks Aria. She wipes a tear from her eye.
“Don’t cry darling. This is a chance to learn about your universe’s past. You will leave when you have your answers.”
“I AM IN THE PAST? What year is this?”
“It’s the year 3004. You’ve dreamt about the past, I’ve seen it, and now you’re here. You’re here because you are a curious one. You will be back by morning. Time goes a lot faster here. All you have to do is listen and you will hear the thoughts of Adrea and Silas.” The electronic voice shut off.
Aria sits and listens closely.
I wake up to a pounding on my door. Today is the day. There’s a sort of tingling in my fingertips and a churning in my stomach. Are the other 18 year-olds feeling as nervous as I am today? I’m about to chose my future. I may wake up 3000 light years away tomorrow morning. I may wake up and find myself in the exact same bed I’ve slept in for the past eighteen years. In the same 20-story brick building that I’ve lived in for eighteen years. What will I do if I have to spend the rest of my life in this hell hole? I’ve spent so much time locked up in this building that I swear I know where every single outlet and every sneak exit is. I’m bored, tired and so ready to find myself. I can feel it in my bones that my life is about to change.
I’ve never felt a sense of inclusion or belonging. While my roommates take three hours to get ready it takes me less than 10 minutes. They come out wearing short dresses that squeezes every inch of skin on their body into one straight figure. They wear so much make up that it makes me cringe. I can tell some of them don’t feel comfortable, but they’d do anything to fit in. It’s quite sad.
I don’t care. They look at me funny when I walk into the mess hall. They giggle when I trip and fall flat on my face in poise class. But I don’t care. I know that in a few days I will never see these people again.
But then I think again… Did any of the last eighteen years of my life matter? Instead of getting ready for the most important day of my life, I’m laying in bed writing in my diary. I should go. I should look nice today. I want to make a good first impression.
Hopefully I’ll be in a new bed tomorrow night. One that isn’t quite as big and fluffy because it makes me feel lost.
It’s Monday morning. But not just any Monday. It’s the Monday where I get to move out. I woke up three hours ago, even though I don’t have to be ready for another two. This is not like me at all. I usually am awaken by the yelling outside my door telling me I’m the only one still sleeping. I never get a warm shower because I’m too late and all the warm water has been used up, but today was different. The water was so warm that the steam fogged up every inch of the mirror. I stepped out of the shower and wrote the lyrics to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble across the front of the mirror. I sang “It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good” all the way back to my room. I got a few glares and grunts from those who were still half asleep but I didn’t care. It was a good day and I was feeling hella good.
The longer I wait here, the more anxious I’m getting. I wonder how many Feroces are eighteen this year. How many will be joining me at the Annual Planeta Induction? Where will I be placed? Will I be Rex, the superiors? Will I be Mitis, the gentle? Will I be Ignotus, the unknown? I know I won’t be staying in Feroces. I haven’t proven myself tough enough. I’d cry before every shooting class as a kid. I was not afraid of getting hit by the sword, but of holding such a dangerous weapon. I really hope I’m Rex. They take fencing and archery classes instead, which is much more my style. I would be at the top of the chain. I once heard they live closest to the sun because they are the most worthy. I’ve also heard they drink wine and eat grapes every night. They live like royalty.
My biggest fear is being sent to ignotus. No one hears anything about that planet. It’s the farthest away from the sun, meaning it must be cold year round. Cold and dark. Very few get sent to Ignotus, so I bet it’s lonely.
It’s cold and dark here. Where am I?
This is the last place I want to be.
I’m trying to remember what happened in the past twenty four hours. I woke up yesterday as usual, in Regina. But this morning I am in Ignotus. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. The breeze here is a little stronger and a little colder but I actually don’t mind it. It’s refreshing.
Oh! The Annual Planeta Induction. Let me tell you all about it. All the Reginas lined up in the Aqua Ballroom. We were each assigned a number and slowly but surely they got to 2948230. My number was called. My heart was pounding so fast in my chest that I swore I’d faint before I could get to the Induction Room.
An old, grumpy-looking man stood in the doorway. He handed me a sheet of paper and told me to go inside. I went inside and sat at the only desk in the room. It was situated right in the middle, nothing else surrounding it. I flipped the paper over to make sure nothing was on it. I was very confused as to what I was suppose to be doing. Then all of a sudden a voice came out of no where. A voice I’d heard before. I think it was the voice I’d been hearing in dreams the past few nights. The voice told me to take the paper and look at it very closely. I put it down on the desk and all of a sudden little pictures started to appear on the page. At first they were very faint and I thought I was just hallucinating but slowly the pictures became clearer and clearer.
After telling the voice what I’d seen in the pictures, I was sent to a new room. This room was completely empty except for a single door. I opened the door and behind the door was the spaceship that would take me to my new planeta. My new life. My heart was beating faster now than it had when my number. If that’s even possible. I stepped inside. No one had told me what my results were. I didn’t know where I was going. All I knew is that I wasn’t a Regina anymore.
My whole life I thought I’d be a Mitis, but something felt different today. I don’t know exactly what it was, but there was something in my stomach, not butterflies, but drums. Not just a tap, tap either, more like a boom, boom. I sat so quietly in that space ship that I could hear every organ in my body working. The pounding of my heart, the wheezing of my lungs, the ticking in my brain. I could hear it all over my silence. This is why I belong in Mitis. I am quiet and reserved. I like being this way. I really don’t mind it most of the time.
I think the system made a mistake. I woke up in Ignotus this morning. Ignotus was not even an option for me. Or so I’d hoped. I’m praying that a spaceship will come to Ignotus and rescue me. An officer from the Induction committee will step out and tell me they’ve made a mistake. He is going to tell me I don’t belong in this eerie place. But of course, it doesn’t happen.
So I’m part of Ignotus. This is my new home and my new life. All the new inductees are gathered to learn the ways of this planeta. The first thing we are told is that everyone will stay here until Visiting Day. Visiting Day is the day we get to use the planeta’s spaceships and go to the other planeta’s to visit the friends we’ve left behind. I wonder where all of my friend’s are. I bet Brutus is in Rex. He was always a very proper and poised kind of guy. Claud on the other hand, will definitely stay in Feroces. He belongs no where else but with the strong and fearless.
They told us we’re here because we’re unique but I think it’s bullshit.
The first thing I learned about the Ignotus life is that each member was placed here for a unique reason. Supposedly, it’s the reason we never hear anything about this planeta. We are put here because we possessed something greater. Something better than the confinements we tried to hard to fit ourselves into. Maybe it’s the reason why I’ve never quite felt that I belonged and why even on the morning of I had absolutely no clue of where I’d be placed.
I think I’m going to like it here. It’s quite refreshing. There are so many different faces and personalities. I wonder if I’ll ever get to know all of these people. I think there are about 2500 new Ignotus. Some look excited to be here but some look so confused and frustrated. I would’ve been happy anywhere, as long as I didn’t stay with the Reginas.
My eye catches the eye of a boy, who looks especially angry. But his anger is a soft and tender kind, not stiff and resilient. I can tell that deep down he isn’t the tough looking guy who puts on an exterior because that’s what he was taught. I’ve never even seen this guy before but the way he looks back at me makes me all tingly on the inside.
I don’t know who she was, or where she came from but she was beautiful. Not in the way I’d ever seen before. Her skin glowed in the light, her hair dark hair flowing in the wind, and her eyes… Oh her eyes. They were this deep blue, like the depths of the ocean. She wore a velvet dress that hugged her body in the most pleasant way possible. I wanted to go closer. To say something. Or even just to take in the beauty. But something was holding me back. This wasn’t like me at all. Back in Feroces, I could go up to any girl and I swear I had the best game, but today I couldn’t do it.
Next thing I knew she was walking over to me.
“Hi,” she said in the most delicate voice I’d ever heard, “I’m Adrea.”
I stumbled to find words. I didn’t know what was happened. This never happened to me.
I know I shouldn’t have but I giggled. I giggled at his uneasiness. But not because I was making fun of him, but because it was adorable. He shifted his weight from side to side and I could tell he was searching for words he said a thousand times before.
Finally he replied, “Hey, I’m Silas. It’s very nice to meet you.”
We’d been paired together for daily assignments, which meant we were going to spend a lot of time together. I was grateful I’d been paired up with someone who seemed to be just as awkward as I am. Our first assignment of the day was to gather our belongings and choose a room. I chose my room and Silas chose the room right across from mine.
His excuse being, “We need to be close together, since we are assignment buddies.”
I giggled again because who else says that kind of stuff? I was falling head over heels for this boy and I didn’t even know him yet.
I think this may be the first girl I’ve been shy around. I hate it, but I also kind of like it. Her laugh is so delicate and sugary. Every time I see her, I feel a little taller, a little more aware of life. It must have been an angel sent from above that paired us together on that very first day.
Our next assignment is to create a piece of artwork. I am in no way an artist, but they think because we’re “unique” we must all be creative. I hope they aren’t expecting much because this is not going to go well.
I knock on Adrea’s door and ask if she’s ready for the daily assignment.
I hear a faint knock on the door and fly out of bed. I must’ve slept right through my alarm this morning.
“I’ll be out in a sec,” I call in a sort of panic.
“Oh. Take your time,” he hesitates.
It’s been three months. We’ve settled in pretty nicely. Each of the new Ignotus pairs have gotten a new daily assignment everyday. This will be the last time until they give us permanent jobs. The point of these daily assignments was to find what we excel in. Being an ignotus means your talents are hidden deep within you and they have not yet been discovered. Some pairs have discovered their talents. Some are still searching. Silas and I would be part of the latter group.
This is the last chance. If we aren’t fit for today’s assignment we will be set for re-evaluation, which would mean another ride in the spaceship and another three months of adjustment to a new planeta. I don’t know if I could do it.
Adrea walks out of the room and we head into the art studio. The room smells funny and I already don’t feel like I belong. We walk over to the man who is silently spinning his clay pot. He tells us to chose anything in the studio and start working.
I walk over to box of paints and paint brushes. Anyone could tell that neither Adrea nor I knew a single thing about art. We had an hour to create a masterpiece. But how were we suppose to do that with no experience whatsoever.
I tell Adrea we should split up and each try until we find something that works. So I pick up the paints and brushes from the bin and walk over to an aisle. Adrea finds some new clay and sits down next to the man at one of the potter’s wheels.
I try painting a tree, then myself, then the view from the window. But each attempt fails miserably.
I tried everything. I made a pot. I made a vase. Nothing is coming out the way the man’s pottery had. We have 15 minutes left and the clock is ticking faster and louder as the seconds went by. I’m panicking. We are about to fail our last challenge. I wass finally settling and now we’ll have to pack our bags and leave.
5 minutes left. I throw out all the old pieces of clay and took a new batch. This will be my last try. I gather my things and now 4 minutes to go.
3 minutes and 59 seconds. That’s all the time we have left. I rip off the picture I was drawing of the landscape and I just stand there. I watch Adrea as she rushes around trying to put something together. In 2 minutes and 15 seconds the judge will come by to see our art. I stare at Adrea’s delicate body, her silky hair and I know I can’t lose her to another planeta. I close my eyes, her image implanted in my mind, and I just start to paint.
We are down to 60 seconds and the timer starts counting out loud. It drives me nuts. I throw the pottery and walk over to Silas. As I get closer I can see the details of his painting. It’s amazing. It’s… of me. I was astonished. The clock keeps counting down. 5… 4… 3… I want to shake his shoulders and tell him to hurry up. 2… But he’s so into it. 1… BEEP. Time’s up.
BEEP. I jump at the sound of the timer. Time was up, but my painting was is finished. The judge walks over to my painting. He praises it but tells us it would not do. We are going to be shipped back to be re-evaluated.
I hear a faint cry and turned around. Adrea is on the floor, palms pressed hard against her face. She cries so quietly, I almost don’t realize she’s there. I walk over and kneel by her side. I know exactly how she’s feeling. I’m feeling the same exact way. But I have to keep it together. I don’t want to show her weakness. I gently push her hair back behind her ears and kiss her cheek.
“It’ll all work out okay,” He whispered in my ear.
And I want nothing more but to believe the sweet words coming out of his mouth, but I can’t do it. He gave me his hand and helped me up. We walk back to the rooms and pack our bags. This is it.
I look at the red and gray uniform I’ve worn for the past three months and start crying even harder. I have made friends here. I feel at home for the first time in my life. I have a sense of belonging and now it is all being torn away.
We sit in silence on the spaceship. I take Adrea’s hand and interlace my fingers into hers. I tell her we are going to get through this together and that no matter what we will go together. We will not let each other go. If I’m not mistaken I catch her smile, just a small one, but I’m sure it was there.
I must’ve fallen asleep on the spaceship because I woke up in the re-evaluation room. All I can think about was being separated from Silas. We are going to end up together. We have to.
All I have to focus on was Adrea. We will end up together. I don’t think I can live without her. I have gotten so used to waking up every morning, knocking on her door, and going down to the creation room and completing our daily assignment together.
I am in Mitis.
I am back in Ignotus when I wake up.
Aria rubs her eyes and she’s back in her bed. She jumps up and runs into the kitchen.
“What year is this?” she asks her mother, who is making coffee.
“It’s 4820… Honey, is everything okay?” her mom replies.
“Oh NO! No, everything is not okay. Silas and Adrea aren’t together anymore. It’s all wrong. The system messed up.”
That night as Aria is sound asleep, the voice comes back.
“Aria, Silas and Adrea’s fate will forever be a mystery. However, we do know that the universe is now one because the system failed. All personalities are meant to live together, to fight, to love, to conquer, and to disagree. We should not be isolated from the rest of the world. This is why your universe is now one. There is a myth that says the planetas came together as one because Silas and Adrea’s love was so strong, it pulled them back together.”
For my capstone I wanted to have a project that was reflective of my interests in engineering. The goal, to create a arm will add 100 lbs lifting capacity to the user. I did this by using a system of pulleys and springs to create a mechanical advantage. By doing this project I now have deeper understanding of some aspects of physics and about different materials and what I can and cannot do with them. In the end , I created a arm that works.
From this site we learned the properties of something we call an Air muscle which is something we came across in another search. Air muscles contract and expand and can be used for to pull 400 times their own weight depending on their size. Many of them even work when wet. Another name for them are acutators.
Chewee. "Pneumatic Muscles." Instructables. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.instructables.com/id/Pneumatic-Muscles/>.
Pneumatic Muscles are another kind of air muscles they can be used for even more things because they can come in different shapes. They can be used in pulleys and also work when wet and even under small amounts of damage
Mikey. "Air Muscles: Make an Artificial Muscle Robot Controller." Instructables. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.instructables.com/id/Air-Muscles-Make-an-Artificial-Muscle-Robot-Contr/>.
This is a instructable for a complex system of air muscles that are all controlled through a system of circuit board. The muscles can be monitored using the circuits and also operated the same way. We mostly wanted to observe a complex system from this link even though we don't plan to make a circuit board in our own.
Krasnow, Ben. "Tutorial: How to build an air muscle and use it in a force-feedback joystick." YouTube. YouTube, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkaVsoEd6Vo>.
This is another application of air muscles which is what we are really set on using at this point. In this video someone made a very simple air muscle in a joystick and how the system can be measured and used in a plane or helicopter
Daerdan , Frank, and Dirk Lefeber . "Pneumatic artificial muscles: Actuators for Robotics and Automation ." Publications of Brussels University Department of Mechanical Enginering. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2014. <http://lucy.vub.ac.be/publications/Daerden_Lefeber_EJMEE.pdf>.
This is a publication of a document about the effects of a pneumatic muscle and how the displacement of the muscle works.
"Air Muscle." Air Muscle. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.efunda.com/sponsors/inventables/AirMuscle/AirMuscle_Intro.cfm#PageTop>.
Air muscles mirror what human muscles do. Air muscles, similar to actual muscles can only pull when air is pushed into them and aren't really meant for pushing. Another muscle or alternative needs to be used to create a force in the opposite direction.
"High power military robotic Exoskeleton." YouTube. YouTube, 26 Nov. 2007. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkCcoenLW4>.
This video is a purposefully made leak of military tech that utilizes hydraulic pumps and pneumatic muscles in an entire suit that can move cargo a lot more efficiently then people ny themselves.
Channel, Intel. "Student-designed Upper-body Exoskeleton Provides Augmented Strength." YouTube. YouTube, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D184ntU5XFw>.
This was done by students at UPenn, and this is a more complex version of what we hope to accomplish in our own exo-skeletal mechanical advantage. This arm is lightweight and can give the user an addition 40 pounds of force that they are able to carry.
"Titan Arm." Titan Arm. University of Pennsylvania, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://titanarm.com>.
This is the website from the video above that shows discussions with the studentsand more examples of the way the arm can be used. The arm itself, is something that doesn't wrap around the arm like some other designs we have observed.
"Arm and Hand." Mars Science Laboratory:. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/rover/arm/>.
The robotic arm used on a rover has the same three joints as that of a human arm and can move almost just as much. It isn't an exoskeleton in anyway but it was useful for seeing how inanimate objects can mimicking humans.
Hard eyes glared up at him from behind an oaken counter. He paid no mind to them or their owner as he swung his legs over the rusty stool and dropped into its seat. His boots clicked down onto the bronze pole that served as a footrest. Jackson reached up and took his broad hat from his head, setting it down on the stool to his right.
“Gimme an ale. Somethin’ strong and dark. And a hunk of bread if you would be so kind,” he said. The barkeep continued to shine the glass in her hands for a moment before setting it down.
She was a pretty maid, couldn’t have been more than ten and seven with auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders. The soft flicker of a fire burning in the corner of the room brought out the green in her fierce eyes. She grabbed a tankard from the bottom shelf behind her and unstoppered the great wooden barrel that hung over the edge of the bar. A thick, dark mead flowed from the hole where the cork had been and drained into the glass below. The lass ripped some bread off of a hard white loaf behind the counter and set it on a tray with the ale beside. She slid it down towards him with a scrape and tapped the bar twice with her fingers.
“That’ll be two coppers for the ale, one for the bread, and another ten if’n you’ll be wantin’ a room,” she said with a cold stare. Jack took three coins from the purse at his belt and slid them to her over the countertop. He wouldn’t be needing a room tonight. Not if everything went as it should. He took a swig from his tankard and looked around the room, sweeping over the chairs scattered across the room and huddled around the hearth. The dusty men occupying them stared back with hard defiance. All except one. Do I know him? The man stared shiftily down at his boots as he drank from a rusty tin mug. He looked to be about twenty years of age with oily black hair hanging down to cover his bulbous nose and hideous twisted lips covered in scars.
It was not the most pristine of establishments. In fact, it was just about as dusty and forlorn as any of the saloons Jackson Blake had visited in his day. But if catching outlaws was a religion, this rusty bar was his Shangri-La. That’s Long Bill Waters, sure as day. I’ve never seen a bandit so ugly. Looks like he's got five or six friends in tow.
Jackson finished his drink with a few slow gulps and slid it down the counter to rest in the barkeep’s hand. The men around the fire were talking in hushed voices now, glancing occasionally in his direction. A few of them looked nervous, fidgeting as if they were waiting for something urgent. Jackson didn’t like that any more than he did the silver-grey six shooters that hung from each and every belt in the circle.
He casually reached down to his hip and felt reassuring cold steel beneath his grip. He was ready for whatever they might bring. This was not his first rodeo.
One of the men stood slowly and sauntered over to the bar, his boots clicking on the hardwood floor as he walked. He sat down next to Jackson’s hat and ordered a whiskey, straight. He cast a fleeting glance over in Jack’s direction, lingering just a second too long on the pistols by his side. They’re looking for trouble, but so am I.
“You been to Fort Griffin ‘bout this time last year? I’m lookin’ for a friend of mine. Might be you can help me find ‘im,” Jackson spoke up. The man fidgeted his gaze over to meet Jackson’s.
“Can’t say that I have. As to yer friend, I would need name or a face.” Jack reached into his pocket and set a crumpled piece of brown paper on the bar.
“Just so happens I have both. You seen this man before?” Jackson noticed the man’s neck tense as he unfolded the paper and stared at the face looking back at him.
“Son of a bitch…” The man’s hand shot down to the pistol at his side, but too late. Jackson’s own six-shooter was already in his hand and leveled at the outlaw’s chest. POP! POP! The first round caught him in the shoulder as he tried to rise. The second slammed into his chest right over his heart. He let out a soft gasp as his head hit the floor. The barkeep screamed out of shock and dropped the glass she was shining, glass shattered over the floorboards.
Around the fire the men were jumping out of their seats, drawing guns and kicking chairs out of the way. Bill Waters fired the first shot as soon as his finger found the trigger. The bullet whizzed past Jack’s head and buried itself into the shelf behind the bar. The barkeep fled the room through the back door as Jackson vaulted over the counter to take her place. Dozens of bullets screamed into the thick wood around the bounty hunter’s head as he huddled beneath the bar. The sound of their exit was so thunderous he had to grit his teeth to keep from crying out. I need to shoot my way out of here. Wait for an opening, stay alert.
By then three of the five that stood around the hearth had run out of ammunition and stopped to reload, kneeling on the hardwood floor. Jack took notice and drew his second gun from his belt. One, two, three. He jumped up, guns barking. A bullet struck through one bandit’s throat at the navel, sparking a fountain of red that sprayed in every direction. Another grazed the shoulder of the man next to him and knocked him from his feet, where Jackson finished him off. But for every shot the bounty hunter got off, his remaining targets sent three singing back through the air.
Jackson recoiled from a round that buried itself in the wood next to his arm on the bar and another ten that whistled past his head. He ducked back behind the counter. The outlaws continued to fire while he shoved six rounds into their chamber’s and caught his breath, protected by the thick wooden counter. This’ll never work. Those that are left won’t fall for that again. Jack unstoppered a bottle of gin that rested on the shelf behind him and took a long swig.
Suddenly the gunfire ceased and a cold silence filled the room. Smoke from both sides of the bar floated up to the rafters. “Bounty hunter!” a deep, gruff voice called out. “We’ll give you a choice now. Lay down your weapons and come on out here and we’ll spare the girl. Keep firing and my next bullet goes through her skull.” The girl. Dammit, how did they get to her? This’ll cost me.
He raised his hands over the edge of the counter and slowly rose to his feet. “I’m comin’ out.” Four bandits and one bartender stood in a semicircle around a scene of demolition. Blood pooled under a pile of what had once been chairs but had been reduced to firewood by the scrambling gunmen. The girl was unharmed as of yet but they had her surrounded, steel bared.
Long Bill flicked the barrel of his pistol over in Jack’s direction. “Walk.” He pointed to a spot on the floor in front of him. Jack climbed over the bar and walked slowly over, both palms raised. “You put up a hell of a fight, hunter. But we canyon boys have seen a fight or two in our days, and we’re not so easily incapacitated as it were.”
Jack looked over to the girl standing in the midst of their group. She caught his gaze and held it for a brief moment. He saw a flicker in her eye in that second, a look that frightened him. “Just you wait,” her eyes said. “Wait and see.” Jackson felt a knot twist in his belly. Ah, shit. She’s gonna try something.
Bill Waters took a step forward and raised his gun to level with the bounty hunter’s teeth. “Now, seeing as that you have surrendered, we will be doing whatsoever we like with your life and gold.” Jack swallowed back the nervous tension that had reached the back of his throat. He felt suddenly cold, then hot, as chills swept over his body. How am I gonna get out of this? The outlaw turned back and nodded his head at the barkeep girl behind him. “And hers.”
“You promised,” Jack scrambled to his feet in protest and advanced on Bill’s posse.
“Whoa, there cowboy. Back on up now,” Bill cocked the hammer of his pistol. “Now what we promised and what we intend to deliver are not one and the same. Being as we are humble thieves and murderers ourselves, we do not place too much emphasis on keeping promises. We’re bandits, you should know that. Are you ready to die now, boy?” Behind his shoulder, the girl inched forward. Jack looked down at her hands, which were removing something black and slick from the folds of her gown, he thought it to be a knife.
Jack cocked back his head and spit full in the outlaw’s face. “Well I guess that answers that,” one of the posse offered.
Bill raised his pistol again and made Jackson return to his knees. Jack closed his eyes. If you’re gonna do something, girl, do it quick. He looked back up and stared Bill dead in the face, defiant. Long Bill laughed, “I’ve never had much of a pension for allowing last words and the like, but…”
Suddenly the girl’s hands snaked out and Jack could see the object entwined within. If only for a fleeting glance, he could make out silvery circles raised over a a slick black surface. The length of the small flat rectangle was strewn with lines running from beginning to end. Small bright lights shone from one end, flashing on and off.
“What in the hell…” One of the posse began. But the room was suddenly filled with a shrill, high-pitched whine which seemed to echo off of the rafters and fill Jack’s head, his eyes, his chest. He sank to his knees and clasped his hands over his ears. The lights were shining violently now, throbbing red. Only the girl remained standing, seemingly unaffected by the sounds or the lights. The outlaws lay flat on the floor, rolling around and covering their ears. How the hell is she doing this?
Suddenly the lights and the sounds ceased. An eerie silence replaced them, and the light from the fire dimmed. Jack started to rise before… SCREEEECH! What looked like tiny lightning bolts flew from the end of the black device and shot out in every direction. Jackson was lifted off of his feet and thrown into the far wall, crashing violently against the wooden panels. A chair exploded onto the floor next to him and an empty tankard slammed into the small of his back.
He lay there on the floor for what could have been thirty seconds or an hour before he rolled painfully onto his side. He tried to open his eyes, but found that smoke filled the air thick and black. Off to his right someone was coughing as if they meant to die, so, Jackson crawled in that direction, bumping into rubble and burning chairs as he went. By the time he reached the source of the noise, he managed to open one eye and could see the room burning and collapsing around him. Three bodies lay atop one another underneath a fallen roof beam. Another had made it as far as the front door before he had died of burns, gunshots, or some combination of the two by the look of him. Jack crawled over to where he had dropped his six-shooters and gripped them tightly in his hands. He would do well to keep them around.
The coughing was coming from Long Bill Waters. He had fallen in the confusion of the blast, getting trapped by cascading debris, and lay with a pistol in his hand underneath the collapsed beam. Thick red blood clung to the skin of his chest, and flowed grisly from his mouth and left ear. Jackson kicked the pistol away and bent down over the man. “Your days of murder and rape are over, but not entirely by my hand. I’m sorry.” He raised his gun and put a bullet through the man’s brain. The blood spattered up into Jack’s face, and he wiped it from his brow.
Just then the rubble by the door shifted and a pair of dusty hands clawed its way out of the pile. Another one’s still alive. Jack looked back over his shoulder to see if he could find the last of the bandits, but when he looked back the pile was moved and the hand was gone. Shit, how did he move so fast? Through the smoke-blackened window he caught a glimpse of auburn hair fleeing towards the stables. Shit, how did she move so fast? He clambered over Bill’s body and went out of the door.
He limped slightly as he ran. The blast had slammed his leg into the wall with bone-shattering force, but he was hard to break, and recovered quickly. A crescent moon lit his way around the back of the burning saloon and into the barn doors.
She was saddling up a mottled brown palfrey when he caught up, her fingers working deftly over the old leather straps. Either she didn’t notice his footsteps crossing the stable threshold and creeping up behind her, or she did not mean to finish what she had started. Jack, however, was not given to such luxuries. “Where are you stealing off to with that horse? I have some questions that require answers.” Jackson cocked back his pistol to help make his point.
She turned and stared him down. “I’m done here. There’s work elsewhere for me. For you, too, it would seem.”
“So you’re a hunter.” Jack couldn’t believe his own ignorance. Of course she was. He lowered his gun, but didn’t put it away. “You know you didn’t finish Long Bill off. The credit’s mine.”
“I figured as much after I heard that shot. Thing is, I was headed out of the door when that building collapsed.” She turned back and resumed working on the saddle. The young mare whinnied. “Got trapped beneath a falling beam and couldn’t see much on account of the smoke—”
“How did you do that. I’ve never seen something so powerful.” Her silence told him more than her words could have. “Well you’re a fool if you think I’ll let you walk out of here. Not after that.”
She faced him and laughed quietly. Her eyes sparkled green in the moonlight shining through the open doors. “Good thing I’m not walking.”
And suddenly a pistol was in her hand and she was hurling bullets his way. Jack felt a force strong as a train rip into his stomach and knock him off his feet. A blinding pain rose up to his head and he screamed in agony. She swung up onto the saddle and kicked the horse twice in the ribs, galloping out of the barn. Jack realized he still had gun in one hand, and squeezed two rounds from the barrel. The first flew through the night sky past her head and off into the desert. The second slammed into her leg above the thigh and drew a dark stream of blood that shone in the blue moonlight. But she held onto the saddle with a yelp of pain and rode off towards the distant hills.
Jackson rolled to his side and pushed himself up to sit. The pain was nauseating, and he turned to retch in the straw on the floor. Taking leave of his senses, he drew in a sharp breath that sent a new wave of pain rolling over his stomach. He struggled to his feet and found a saddle on the wall. I can’t let this go unpunished. She won’t get away. He hobbled over to a lean grey horse in the corner of the stable and threw the saddle up. He groaned his way through the straps and up onto the mount. In the distant moonlight he could see the dust from her trail rising into the night sky. Warm blood slicked down the side of his shirt and fell onto the ground in large drops; his head swam. He kicked the horse in its side and rode off after her.
At first the trail was easy to find. But as the soft sand turned to clay and rock, her trail all but disappeared. The only distinguishing path left was the rare drop of blood that fell from her leg and shone deep purple against the brown and red ground. She went to the hills, and he followed.
Jack caught her on a red sandstone butte three hundred feet above the desert floor. His horse made it only three fourths of the way up the trail before it became too steep and rocky to navigate. He continued on foot, passing a mottled brown palfrey along the way. The top of the butte was covered in green moss that proved a soft foothold; his boots dug into the soft ground. She was sitting on a twisted log facing away from him, the ground before covered in a pool of slick red. His own blood still seeped from the wound in his stomach, but he gritted his teeth and pushed forwards.
“End of the road, I fear. This is as far as it goes.” Jackson called out as he advanced on her seat. “That was a helluva shot back there. You almost did me in, but you’ll find I’m a bit harder to kill.” She stared ahead, ignoring his words. She still had a small pistol, but it lay on the ground in front of her.
Jack reached the log and hobbled around its side, using one hand for support on the rough, dry surface, and the other to nest the six shooter glinting in the moonlight. “You see, the truth is that I like a good fight, under the right circumstances. I like it almost as much the reward when I win. But you meant to take that reward from me. I’ve been tracking Long Bill Waters for longer than you’ve been playing this game.” Jack reached the front of the log and aimed his pistol at her head. “The game’s over.” She stared off into the distance, her hands resting on the dry wood to her sides. Talk about dignity in defeat. “Are you hearing this? I said it’s over.”
She made no move or sound. Jackson moved to her front and saw his error. She sat slumped over, the light gone from her emerald eyes. Her head drooped down into her navel. She’s gone. Jack breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t much like executions. He holstered his pistol. It should be just about morning now. He turned towards the coming light. But if he was looking for a sunrise, he didn’t find it.
Hard eyes glared up at him from behind a shiny six shooter. He stared back. His mouth gaped open in shock. “You’re wrong, hunter. The game’s just begun.”
“How did you…” but Jackson stopped himself before he started. Of course. He had seen it before, at the saloon. “You’ll pay for this.”
“You’ll have to catch me first.” She squeezed the trigger. POP! A brief flame burst from the barrel sending a hard bullet screaming through the air and through Jackson Blake’s left eye. Darkness crept up to cover the world.
— - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - — - —
Jack Masterson awoke in a cold, blue room with white sheets pulled up over his chest. His eyes felt heavy with disuse and his arms were leaden weights sinking into the firm springs of the mattress. It was daytime, the yellow beams of light streamed through the windows and thin curtains. He blinked to adjust his vision and pressed a small blue button to his side to raise himself into a seated position. “Game Master!” he croaked, his voice cracking and sharp to ears.
Electrical nodes attached to different spots around his chest, legs, and arms. The control cap sat heavily on his head, and he reached up feebly to pry it off. The wires that covered his body took slightly less effort to pull off, but even that proved to strain his fingers and wrists. He was reaching for the last pair on his legs when the game master came running in on two stubby legs, dressed head to toe in regulation blue.
“Masterson? What happened, you were first in the rankings since last week!” The man sputtered. He gave him a quizzical stare. Jack glared back and swallowed to clear his throat.
“I think we have a hacker.”
By: Symone McCollum
It was a warm summer day in Funnyton village. The sun set perfectly on top of the hill while the cool breeze blew to ease everyone’s mind of how hot it was earlier in the day. The birds flew in the sky as though they were chasing each other. The stray cats were roaming the streets trying to find a place to stay cool. The kids were playing hopscotch in the street and the parents were home reading books. This suburban area was always peaceful, full of perfect people, and quiet. Little did the people of Funnyton village know that their lives were going to change quicker than they could imagine.
My family was perfect. There’s me, Anna, my mom Sally, my father Steve, my two little brothers Jake and Jaaz, and our dog Kenny. My father is a successful surgeon and everyone in town always goes to him when they feel bad about the way they looked. My mother is a house mom and takes care of my baby brother Jaaz. My mother and father have been married for 25 years. My mom had me when she was 19 and my father was 21. They often tell me that they fell in love the moment they laid eyes on each other.
“I can still remember how your mother looked the first time I saw her. She was wearing a pink shirt, half off her shoulder, half not. She had on these blue high jeans with these gold shoes. Her hair was in a brown curly fro. Her hair was blowing in the wind. When she noticed me, she kept trying to fix her hair after every breeze of wind. I thought it was cute. Man, your mother was gorgeous.” My mother raised her eyebrows as she walked into the room.
“Was?” my mother asked.
“Honey, you were and still are,” he said as he gave her a big sloppy kiss. Yuck! I walked away and went into my room.
I laid down on my bed, plopped my white earphones in and put on my favorite Beyonce song. Suddenly, I heard a big bang outside of my window. It sounded like thee tree outside banged into my window. I got up and went to open the door and crawled out onto my patio. I looked around and nothing was there. Thump! I looked around again and saw nothing. I plopped my earphones back in my ear and was walking back into my room. As I grabbed the handle I felt a hand grab me from behind. I tried to scream but it’s hand was over my mouth. I turned around to see who it was, and it was my boyfriend Mike.
“Jesus Mike you scared the crap out of me,” I yelled. I smacked him on the side of his face playfully and he laughed.
“I just wanted to surprise you.”
“Well congrats. How’d you get up here?”
“I climbed the tree,” he laughed. “I know you’re in trouble but I wanted to see you. Glad I got you not to scream before your parents heard us. Can I come in?”
Mike and I walked into my room and he started kissing on my cheek. I’m still a virgin and Mike knows I’m not ready for anything but he tries to test me anyway. Sometimes I like it, but sometimes I just want to talk to him without any of the extra stuff.
“Knock it off Mike. You know how I feel about that.”
“I’m sorry Annie. You know I don’t mean it like that.”
“It’s fine,” I said as I was pulling my shirt back up. “What did you come here for?”
“Well... sit down.”
I didn’t know what he wanted to say to me but I kind of didn’t want to know either because I knew whatever he wanted to tell me wasn’t good. Mike can usually settle for FaceTime calls when I was in trouble, but since he wanted to be face to face meant a lot.
“Whelp, what is it?” I asked calmly while plopping on my bed.
“You know those things you can’t control? Like the weather or when your mom tells you no?”
I raised my eyebrows. “Um, yeah. There’s a lot of things we can’t control like how you’re preparing me for this speech but won’t get to the point. What’s going on Mike?”
“Remember when we first met? Up at riverside park. You were walking your dog and noticed me staring at you on the bench? You kept trying to push your hair behind your ear but it was too thick so it just kept sliding?” Mike asked me. He started smiling, so I couldn’t help but to smile back.
“Yes. And Kenny kept barking at you so you got really scared and wouldn’t come up to me.” I laughed. I had to gather myself before my parents came upstairs to figure out why I was laughing so hard.
“I wasn’t scared Annie, that dog is just crazy?” He said while laughing.
“Yeah right. So what is the point of your story?”
“I just want you to know that I love you, no matter what. I will never leave your side okay? And I need you to promise to never leave mine. Promise me, right now Annie.” He looked down at me and his face was serious. His light face now showed cheeks that were red and his eyes now resembled eyes of hurt.
“Did you cheat on me Mike?”
“Dammit Annie! No. Just promise me.”
“I love you Mike. I will never leave your side no matter what. I promise.” I kissed his cheek. “Now, tell me what’s going on?”
“You know how I’ve been in and out of the hospital for months now. And they’ve been doing tests with my heart but yesterday they finally told me that I had a cardiac tumor. You know what that is right?”
I blacked out. This couldn’t be real. No, it can’t be. This had to be a joke. I felt my face go hot not because I was angry, but because I was shocked. My entire world was crashing down before my eyes. The love of my life could be dying! What could I do? What do I say? No...here they come. The water works.
“Babe, stop crying. It’s going to be alright.” He caressed my hand. He kissed my forehead and I decided that I had to get my shit together. If he was strong, I needed to be too.
“What are you going to do? Like what’s the next step? Is everything going to be okay? What did your mom say? What’s going to happen to you?” I started crying again.
“Annie, I am going to be okay. I promise. My mom is fine, she is dealing with it like we all are. But, that’s not all that I had to tell you. I met with this other doctor after I found out the news and he told me something different than my regular doctor.”
“What was it?”
He rubbed his chin. His face turned red and he turned away from me.
“The second doctor, James, told me that there was only one option. He told me that...”
He stopped. I held his hand and told him that everything will be okay. His face was full of tears before I knew it. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I could easily be selfish in that moment and cry too but it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about his mother or his family, it was about him. His life was on the line. I didn’t want to push him anymore, so I just laid his head on my chest and let him get it out. He’d let me know when he was ready to.
After he left, I sat on my bed looking up at my ceiling. My ceiling was painted with yellow stars from when I was a child. These were the stars I looked up to when something bad happened in my life. Like when my parents were talking about divorce, my dog died, and when my cat ran away. When I looked at these stars I kept thinking about Mike. I kept thinking of ways I could help, but realized there were none. Maybe I could give him my heart...but then I wouldn’t be alive. I just didn’t know what to do, but I promised to be there for him through whatever, and I’m keeping that promise.
Later that night, I kept calling Mike but he wasn’t answering his phone. My hands were starting to shake. A broke out in a sweat a few times while trying to take a nap and get my mind off of him. Suddenly I got a text in the middle of the night that said “open up.” I ran to my bedroom door as quick as I could to make sure everyone in the house was asleep. I heard my father snoring louder than anything else and knew it was safe to let him in. I tiptoed down the steps and went to the front door. I opened up and he was standing there. His hair looked like he placed acid on certain places because they were going bald. His eyes were red and puffy and his lips were dry. I hugged him.
“Come in,” I said.
He placed his bookbag down at my feet and hugged me. He kissed me on the forehead. His lips felt soft but rough. I held his left hand and with his right hand he picked up his bag and followed me into the house. We sat down on the loveseat and he laid down on my lap. I wanted to ask him why he didn’t answer me earlier, but I wasn’t going to say anything until he brought it up first. He kept rubbed my arm. His hands were soft and moist. I knew it helped him cope, so I let him rub away as I caressed his ear. After about ten minutes of silence and rubbing, he finally sat up and looked me in the eyes. His eyes looked like he was in pain. I tried to look away but I couldn’t. I wanted to know what he was going to say.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I went to go see the first doctor this morning and the second one in the afternoon. I’m just now getting back in town. Neither of them had any good news for me man. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” His face turned red. He put his face into his hands and left it there. I held his thumb in hopes that he would continue his story.
“The first doctor said I have a week to live. We caught the tumor too late in and it was no pills or anything they could do to prevent it. The only option we have besides me just dying is to have a heart transplant.”
“What’s wrong with getting the surgery?” I asked.
“It cost one million dollars Annie. I don’t have that kind of money. My mom doesn’t have that kind of money. No one can have that much money in a week man.” His eyes started to water but I wiped them before anything fell.
“What did the other doctor say?”
“Annie, what I tell you, you can not tell anyone. Can you promise me that?” he held my hand.
I knew something was up, but nothing could be worse than trying to deal with his death if I lost him. If the doctor had any news that could save him, I was game.
“Well, I went to the second doctor and I went into there scared of my mind. Annie, I’m afraid to die. It’s too soon for me to die. So, when I went to him he told me the same thing as the other doctor but he offered me one more option. He said that I can have someone else’s heart but I would have to get it on my own and the machine. The machine costs $10,000 but he said I didn’t have to buy it if I knew what he meant.”
I didn’t know what to say. “Do you mean...steal someone’s heart?”
He looked at me and grabbed my hand. “Uh, yes Annie.”
I brought my hand back from him. My face got hot. My hands started to shake. I started to get up but he grabbed my arm.
“So who’s heart can you get?”
“That’s the thing. And you can not tell anybody! But... I took Joey’s.”
My heart stopped. Joey was Mike’s little brother. He was only seven. Before I could even talk I started crying. I tried to get up and run away from him. He was no longer the boy I knew and loved. He was a monster! I know he’s sick and needs help, but how could he end his little brother’s life?
“So where is Joey?” I asked while tears poured from my eyes.
“I hid him in the basement. Mom thinks he ran away... I feel terrible Annie I really do but there was no other choice. He was right there.” He started crying. “And you promised to help me out and be there for me. Remember? Remember Annie? I need you right now. I need you to get that machine for me. Please Annie there is no other option. Do you want me to die? DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE?” He started yelling. As he yelled, tears poured down from his hazel eyes. I wanted to hold him, but I couldn’t bring myself to. He was a monster.
“You are a monster Mike. You killed your little brother! Anyone you could’ve chosen and you killed him! What is wrong with you!? You’re a monster. I hate you and get out of my house!” I pulled him by his shirt off the couch and tried to push him towards the door. He didn’t put up a fight. He let me. I started slapping his chest crying in frustration. How could he do that to his little brother. And imagine what he could do to me!
“I’m sorry Annie. I’m sorry. But you promised to help me. You have to help me.” He grabbed my arm to stop the blows. He put his hand on my chin and lifted my head up to look him in the eyes. When I looked at him I saw a little boy afraid of what was about to happen. There was a weakness in his eyes I couldn’t help but to feel for. I pulled my head away and asked him what he wanted from me.
“I need you to get the machine for me. The place is right up the street. They only have one security guard so it’ll be easy to sneak in. I can’t go because I’m becoming weak. I will get caught. Once I get this machine I’ll be alright Annie. Please. All I have to do is put the circular machine on my brother’s heart. It’ll suck his heart into it and hold it in place. Then, I place it on my heart and it sucks my heart out, shoots it on the ground and puts his heart in the place of mine. The doctor said it’s painless. Please.”
He kissed my forehead and held my hand. I couldn’t look him in the eyes though. Now I was stuck. Should I save my boyfriend’s life? Should I report him for killing a child? Would he betray me? Would the machine accidentally take my heart instead? I didn’t know what to do.
“If you do it, it has to be tonight Annie.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t Mike. Please, leave.” I took my hand away from his and opened up the door for him. He bent his head down and turned around. Then, he faced me, kissed me on the forehead and turned back towards the door.
“I never meant to hurt anyone Annie. I love you.” He walked out and I closed the door behind him.
As I laid down in my bed, I started crying. I wanted to know what could’ve happened if I would’ve gotten the machine for him. I would’ve saved his life, but I would’ve been committing and condoning a crime. I loved him, but because I loved him I needed to let him go. I didn’t want to apart of that. I kept thinking about him until my eyes closed. When I woke up the next morning, my mom was sitting at my bed side.
“Mom? What’s going on?” I stretched out across my bed and rubbed my eyes. She sat there with a blank face. Her eyes were red as if she was up all night. Her face was pale.
“Something happened with Mike. Get dressed I’ll meet you downstairs.”
Although I was done with Mike in my mind, I wasn’t done in my heart. I brushed my teeth as quickly as I could, threw on a top and some shorts and ran out my door downstairs. I grabbed my mom’s arm to get her attention because she wasn’t facing me, but she didn’t turn around.
“Mom? Hello? What’s going on! Look at me!”
When she turned around I jumped. Her eyes were now black. Her nose was missing and her mouth had green snake like features coming out of a hole. Her skin was purple and when she opened up to say something to me, it came out as a dry moan. Within seconds, she fell out on the couch. Her eyes closed, she lay there still. I ran around the house to find everyone else. I found my father in the kitchen, laid out across the table. His face was turned towards the wall. When I titlted his head towards me, his eyes were opened but he wasn’t moving. He looked exactly how my mom did, but the snake things in his mouth were still moving. I left his head dangling over the table and ran to find my little brothers in their rooms. They were still in bed sleeping. As I turned around to run and find help, Mike was standing behind me. He looked like my parents, but stronger and taller.
“Mike... what is going on? Did you do this to my mom and dad?”
He started walking closer towards me. “Yes. You hurt me Annie. I had to hurt everyone around you. Your brothers are next, then you.” He kept walking towards me.
“Before you kill us, how did this happen?” I asked, backing away slowly.
“Joey had a a good heart, but I grabbed the wrong machine. The one I took was nuclear and instead of leaving Joey’s heart as it was, it leaked nuclear acid on it that formed me into this monster. If you would’ve gotten the machine for me none of this would’ve happened. I just needed you for one thing Annie. How could you hurt me?” He kept walking towards me while his snake like features were snapping towards me... ready to bite.
Without hesitation, I took the baby’s stroller in the room, swung it at Mike and he fell back. I grabbed the boys and we ran downstairs. Mike wasn’t too far behind us.
“Come back here!” He shouted.
We kept running. I pushed the boys out of the way as Mike kept chasing me. I ran into the kitchen and saw my father had a knife in his hand. I snatched it and kept my body turned away from Mike. When I felt him on me I turned around and put the knife into his stomach. I twisted it and as his soul was escaping his monster features disappeared and his regular face was showing. When I realized it was Mike and not a monster. As he fell to the ground, I ran.
I grabbed my brothers and we ran out the door and up the street. We didn’t stop running. I didn’t know where we were going. I just had to get out of there. As we were running away the only thing I could hear in my ear was Mike’s voice saying, “Annie...why couldn’t you help me? I thought you loved me?”
After 30 years of fighting, he finally was able to rest. It was over. The 8 Space Rings blew up, one after the other. Watching that these weapons of destruction go down was the best thing that Humanity could feast their eyes on. Soldiers cheering, the women and children crying of joy and happiness. They were finally free... Free... free. It kept boggling his mind, as he walked towards the exosuit remover. It was his time to remove his battle armor and discontinue his life of fighting. He thought it was over...
Echo was a boy that didn’t develop correctly. He was short and weak compared to the other boys in the orphanage. His story same as the others, parents died, no one would take him, orphanage. He was picked on because he was the smallest child of the orphanage. The orphanage reeked of mold and dirty clothes. The attendants would ignore the fights, brushing it off with “Boys will be boys” or “they’re just playing.” One day the boys were picking on Echo and he had enough of it.
“Hey tiny, what’s the matter?” One of the boys said, pushing Echo
“No...Nothing.” Echo replied, submitting to the push and fell.
“Why don’t you ever stand up for yourself? Oh I forgot, cause you’re a small shit!” The boy said, as others laughed circling around. Echo stood up
“I..try. But you guys are too big.” Echo looked up at the boy
“You don’t do anything small fry, that’s why we are better than you. You’re parents died because you don’t stand up for yourself, you don’t do anything right. They DIDN’T WANT YOU AND COULDN’T LIVE WITH YOU!” the boy scolded Echo. Echo clenched his fist.
“Don’t say that, that’s not true, they loved me. I think they did.” Echo grabbed his pencil.
The boys surrounded Echo and began to taunt him about his parents not wanting him. As they continued Echo ran and tackled the biggest boy and stabbed him repeatedly with the pencil straight into his throat. The blood drenched the boy’s shirt and bed, and Echo was covered with his blood. The others watched in disgust and shock. The boy who was stabbed, bled to death. People walked in.
“We will take that one.” a soldier said, pointing at Echo
“But he’s the smallest and... OH MY GOD!” the attendant finally looked at the dead boy.
“We are going to take him for killing this boy.” the soldier said with a straight look.
They left the room as the attendants quickly went to the boy.
“You know why we are here for you right?” the soldier spoke, looking at Echo
“Was it because I killed the boy...” Echo softly spoke, looking to the ground.
“Your parents wanted us to recruit you into the Military if they ever were to die. You are going to be put through school full time with private tutors helping you in every way.” The soldier said, getting into the car.
“But what for? I am only 7. I don’t know anything about war.” Echo replied
“But you killed the boy, did you not?” The Soldier questioned.
Echo said nothing and was being taken to a military school on planet Gohma. Put through school till he graduated college. He went through tactical plans, studying the enemy, fighting tactics from CQC (Close Quarters Combat) to Long Distant Fighting. He study how things on most ships should work. His final test was to put him through the injections. He was 20 years old and he was going through the injections as the syringes slowly pierced his skin. The steroids going throughout his body, his body reacts to the steroids, taking affect on his cells, the nanomachines going into his bloodstream regulated the way different proteins reacted to his muscles. More oxygen flowing through his blood to strengthen his entire body. He left the table where they injected him. He was different, Echo felt as if he was ready for anything.
“What happened.. How did I become like this?” Echo asked.
“It’s a prototype of an enhancer that we wanted to use to create perfect soldiers. We will monitor your behavior while you're in the field. “ The Doctors said.
Echo walked over to a commissioning station and as he was walking, he seen a suit made of some type of metal. It was in pieces.
“Is that going on me?” Echo wondered.
The suit was green, it had black veins lining throughout the entire body. He walked up to the suit and wondered.
“Are you ready?” one scientists asked.
“I am...” Echo blankly replied.
He stepped onto the platform where he put his arms into holders on the 11 and 1 o’clock sections of the commissioning station. The robotics arms moved in sync putting on both his right and left sides. The pieces fitting perfectly to his body were drilled shut together. There was an open spine section that they place a central nerve robotic spine which drilled into his spine and wrapped around it. This connected every thought he had to the suit. He was one with the suit. He got off the platform and turned towards the helmet. He grabbed the helmet and looked into the visor.
“This is the last time you will see light with your real eyes. Are you willing to give that up?” said a scientists.
“What is the point to asking such a question if I’ve already gone this far?” replied Echo.
He put on the helmet and it tightened around his head, fitting firmly. There was an open slot in the nape of the suit, where they inserted a chip that held a human-artificial intelligence core.
“What is that? Echo asked.
“This is the first ever human cell generated artificial intelligence. Responsive, Efficient, Adaptive, Cunning, Human. REACH.” The scientist said, with a smile on his face. Echo grinned.
Echo took the chip and inserted it into his head. The entire suit made a noise and moved. Echo had full control over the suit. It was time.
15 Years after Echo has been commissioned...
“Sir! We are taking heavy fire! Please come when you can!” Marine said over the radio.
“Spartan, I need you to get out there and bring our boys back to the LZ point! ASAP” commanded the Lieutenant
Echo went forth with the mission that he was assigned. Being that this is just another rescue mission that he was use too.
“Don’t you think you should take some caution when doing this SUICIDE JUMP!!!” Reach whimpered
Echo jumped out of the aircraft and dove straight down into Enemy territory. He landed atop an alien, where he shot it straight in the head. The others aliens looked back and began to shoot at him with their plasma weapons. Some semi-automatic and others rapid fire. Echo ducked for cover. Scouted for different routes and found the easiest way through. He threw a grenade and ran through. The battled lasted merely 30 minutes. Echo’s mastered a lot of his skills over the years and began to command his own fleets. War to him was becoming dull and the same. Years pasted as Echo was aging. He grew older, yet still vigilant. He was a soldier, that’s what the army expected of him. One day, Echo was called back to the HQ of United Nations of Space Control. As he arrived to the docks of the HQ, he looked around. Different variations of the Super Suit that he wears. He looked around it amazement and shock.
“I thought I was the only one.” thought Echo
“I can’t believe they made this many in this time, now everyone would have one.” Reach remarked.
Doctor Hastings walked up to Echo.
“Remember me?” Dr. Hastings asked
“Sure do doc, remember you and everything else like it was yesterday. How come there are so many now” Echo replied in awe. Dr. Hastings leads him into a lab room.
“Remember when we said we were going to monitor you after this research? So we did and the results were phenomenal! We wanted to continue research and we were granted by the government to make 1000 more soldiers following you.” Dr. Hastings said with excitement.
Echo walked over and notice they were heading towards a commissioning station. he was wondering
“Are they going to do something to me?” Echo thought.
“Echo, I have something to ask you. How would you like to finally rest. Like rest with no worries of war.” Dr. Hastings asked.
“That is something I haven’t heard in a while Doctor. I would love to, but I cannot stray away from my duties of being a soldier.” Echo replied
“You can finally live your life. Plus the armor that you wear is an old out of date model. It will deteriorate soon if you do not take it off. You are marked from head to toe with battle scars..”
“Something you cannot take away from me sir.” Echo interrupted. “But if you wish to decommission me, then I will let it be sir.” Echo said. Dr. Hastings readied the commissioning process.
As the robotic arms came down, there was an explosion.
“RED ALERT, RED ALERT, WE ARE UNDER ATTACK.” the loudspeaker repeated.
Echo and Hastings are heading towards the main control deck to figure out what’s happening.
“Doctor, please you need to get on the Autumn, it’s the only place where they won’t find you.” Echo said, Hastings following his orders.
The Aliens breached the blast doors leading to the commissioning area and began to destroy the machines. There was a small amount of the soldiers that were due for commissioning only had parts of their suits on and tried to fight against the aliens. The soldiers began to fall one by one. Until there were only the ones that had a full suit on. They fought to cover Echo and Dr. Hastings. They escaped.
The Autumn was a transportation ship designed to carry large supplies of different weaponry, vehicles, and soldiers to different sections of the galaxy. This was a perfect ship to escape during an attack because it had just enough fuel to use slip-space travel to get good distance from any problems. The Autumn slip-space traveled into a section where there were no planets around, just asteroids. It was empty as one could say. There was no life.
“How the hell could they find the HQ?!?” Hastings angrily said
“Sir, we didn’t know that they put trackers on our ships from our last encounter.” a soldier replied.
“There shouldn’t be a way that slipped from under our noses! You are soldiers and should be more attentive to these things!”
Hastings put a lot of thorough research into the commissioning of Spartan Soldiers, for it to just be gone. Not even the soldiers that were to be commissioned survived. It all had to be started from scratch.
“You still have me sir.” Echo said
“BUT YOU ARE JUST A PROTOTYPE!!!” Hastings shouted. “You weren’t even suppose to live during the injections. You were a mere guinea pig for military use. We didn’t NEED you, we used you because you killed a boy and there was nothing for you to even go to in life. If we were to let you be, you would’ve been in jail for murder. You are the broken one, the one that no one will ever think will live to see the light of day. You are nothing!” Hastings shouted to Echo.
Echo stood staring at Hastings while other soldiers stood around in silence. The silence was interrupted by a plasma beam. From the window air there was a hole in which space vacuumed. The blast shielding shut close to keep the vacuum from getting worst. In that collection of minutes, Hastings gripped his neck as blood spewed from the hole in his throat. He dropped to the floor looking at Echo. Echo took his pistol and shot the doctor directly in the head to put him out of his misery. The soldiers, in cover, questioned him at first, but understood.
“They followed us..” Echo said.
“RED ALERT! RED ALERT! ALL PERSONNEL EVACUATE VIA ESCAPE PODS” loudspeaker repeats. Echo and his squad began to move towards the escape pods.
“Sir, we have to get you off this shi... BOOM!”
An explosion from a plasma grenade blows a section of the ship where members of Echo’s squad were vaporized, body parts all over. Echo couldn’t believe what was going on, it was something he never went through often. The blast had his suit locked due to the electromagnetic pulses going rapidly throughout his body. The aliens walked towards his body speaking their language. He thought about what happened back at HQ, how he was going to finally be decommissioned. Finally be at peace, resting, possibly Die happy. What he thought about as the aliens were dragging him.
“Free.. Free... Free....” it repeated
In a burst of energy, he hit both the aliens that were holding him, took a gun, and shot the window leading to space. He took a deep breath and jumped. The vacuum sucked him out and he was left free falling from the Autumn. To conserve the oxygen in his suit, he froze it. Just before complete freezing, Reach directed him towards a nearby planet. The planet was his last vision before he was completely frozen..
“Echo! ECHOOO!!! WAKE UP!!” Reach distortedly said.
Echo woke up as his suit began to heat him up. He crashed landed on a shore.
“Where are we?” Echo said.
“Due to my calculations... hmm, that’s weird, it’s not giving me a set location” Reach responded.
“Doesn’t hurt to reach some high ground to get our bearings, let’s go towards that mountain.” Echo said, Reach calculating time.
“ETA 45 minutes. Sounds like a good idea.”
Echo began his journey. Neither the two knew what was on that planet or what the planet had in store. Echo crossed over chasms, through rivers, around cliff faces. Finally they arrived to the mid point up the mountain.
“Sir, are you getting..tired?” Reach asked
“I am beginning to feel a little fatigued.” Echo replied.
There was a low pitched noise that Echo spotted out, he began to walk towards the noise. Echo began to get tiresome and wished he could sleep, something he didn’t get much of. He collapses.
Waking up, he notices a strange figure at a distance, he reaches for his knife. The figure walks up to him as he tries to stab. It grabs his hand and disarms him. Echo gets up and tries to fight with the figure. It wasn’t human for sure. It was a metal being with a glowing light emitting from the heart region and other regions of it’s body. It glowed throughout the body. Echo tried to fight the being and lost. The metal being knocked him down and out. Echo blanked out.
“Free... Free... So close but it’s just too far, to be free...”
Echo opened up his eyes, he seen more of these metal beings. They were surrounding him.
“Why do you come here human?” one of the beings asked, Echo still in a daze
“Why do you trespass when we told you long before to never come back again. The civilization of before time do not wish to tamper with the corrupt beings that were born from our genetics. You are all are nothing to us. Be gone human.” said the leader.
“Who are you..” Echo whispered
“Who am I? The leader in which brought peace to this land from the uprise of the mutants we call you humans. I am known as the Oracle.” it answered.
It grabbed Echo by the throat and lifted him up, he began to scan the structure of Echo. Noticing that Echo’s physical structure has been tampered with he questioned,
“Who did this to you human?” The Oracle examined.
“It was a doctor, he is gone now..” Echo said gasping for air.
The Oracle brought Echo to a chamber. It was filled with weapons and scraps of metals.
“What is this place?” Echo questioned
“This is the Warrior’s Battle Room, we are here to battle.” said the Oracle.
Echo knew this was a test and the Oracle was dead set on seeing if this is his last battle to put him to rest. The Oracle raised his fists and so did Echo. They fought, Echo still tired, did not keep up with his opponent. Echo thought about what he was close too
“Free.. freedom.. rest...” he thought, as the Oracle punched him straight to the floor.
Echo was disorientated. He couldn’t fight anymore, but he got up every time he was knocked to the ground. There were others of the beings watching him, surrounding Echo and The Oracle in the room. They were watching his every move.
“Sir, you’re going to have to fight if you want to live. Please sir, give it your all.” Reach shouted.
“Alright, I’m going to finish this fight.” Echo said determined.
As the Oracle stood in front of Echo, he said
“Pathetic human, you cannot defeat your creator, tis impossible. I have the upper hand. You might as well let me finish you off where you stand.”
“No. Not today, not ever.” Echo replied, ripping off a part of his helmet.
Echo rushed the Oracle and began to hit him with a barrage of attacks. The Oracle surprised at his explosion of energy. The nano machines in Echo were living on their last line of breathe before they would shut down. Echo began to grapple the Oracle and started to rip off pieces of his body. Metal shrapnels went flying in the distance. The Oracle broke loose and punched Echo to the point his armor began to break and shatter. Echo’s body had openings. The armor that was meant to protect him and shield him finally broke, it need rest, just like him. Reach couldn’t connect to Echo’s thoughts. There was lag and Echo couldn’t take anymore.
“Have you enough boy?” The Oracle asked
“I still have enough for one more fight, this is it, give me all you got.” Echo replied, coughing blood.
“Is this where you find your peace? Fighting? You are the soldier they wanted you to be. You are the monument to all your sins. You are the one that brings and causes death to others. But in all this catastrophe, you find peace among it. Why?” The Oracle said.
“It’s because I was picked to do so.” Echo shouted, running towards the Oracle
“Foolish boy.” The Oracle thought, dodging, pierced his hand through Echo’s chest.
Echo coughed blood, gasped for air and had nothing to say. He smiled.
“Finally Free.. It’s over, finally over. Free.. Free... Free...” Echo thought.
Echo reached for the Oracle’s head and went limp. He was dead.
“Humanity is the root of trouble, they are the newborns of the universe. They do not know what is wrong nor what is right. They fight and fight till they grow themselves extinct. They will never find peace within themselves, ever. War is all they know, that is in the genetics. Emotions that have no meaning, aggression that has no purpose. Deaths for no reason. They wonder why they are hated by other beings.”
The Oracle stood over Echo’s body,
“You truly are a soldier, now you are at peace.” The Oracle remarked, reaching to close Echo’s eyes.
In 1946, one year after World War 2. After observing Earth for countless years, aliens have decided that humans are two destructive. This is due to the aliens promise to preserve planets and after seeing the destruction of the Atom bomb determine that the risk for allowing humanity to continue was too great. Using a device the aliens have that can determine the path that a species will follow. The aliens have seen more of the destructive wars that are fought by the humans as well as all of the damage on the environment that will be done in the future. The new war began on New Years day with the aliens demonstrating their technology by sending soldiers with protective suits that are powered by oxygen. This combined with their laser weapon technology quickly put battles in their favor. The aliens send their troops from an armada in ships that are in space right outside the gravitational of earth. In charge of all the ships is the mothership that is lead by the main groups of aliens in charged. In an effort to save humanity all nations teamed together to face off against the threat. However, humanity is losing this war, with the remnants of society that were able to make it to safety are now living in Antarctica in bases under the ice. Those that were not lucky enough to be rescued try to survive their extinction in the place they once called home. As a form of respect for their culture the aliens have captured some human in order to study and experiment them. However those who have manage to escape after experimentation have notice that they have become something beyond human. Humans who have special gifts caused by the experimentations. It’s with one of those humans that our story begins.
As I wake up to the bright light in front of my face I look around the room I’m in. Bright lights, symbols I can barely translate, and aliens who look really mad that I’m awake. The aliens are looking as they always do with their full gray skin with the large eyes and that’s it. An odd thing that I never understood with these aliens is that the same areas on the side of their heads that these aliens used the hear are the same things they speak out of. It’s really annoying because the sound isn’t focused to sound as one voice, so instead it sounds like two people talking at once. Really aggravating and impractical. Then here I am, laying down on this table tapped wearing my same baggy red shirt and old worn out coat. It’s not that I like wearing this old stuff it is just that no one makes clothes anymore in any areas except for the main civilian areas. So i’m stuck wearing the same clothes that I worn since the attacks began. Good thing I haven’t grown at all. Otherwise I would be in a lot of trouble.
“So is this the fourth or fifth time you guys have captured me? Cause I honestly stopped counting.” I say to the aliens in hopes I can get them to slip up.
Getting captured has been very aggravating for someone like me, Everytime I get captured the aliens bring me to the same kind of ship, and try to do the same tricks that they always do. They forget that I’m one of the test subjects that escaped during their experimenting. I notice now that my trick worked as the aliens look at me in an attempt to figure out who I am. This clears up two things to me, one, this alien does not know who I am which leads to two, he does not know of what I am capable of. So I begin using the curse these freaks gave me as I vibrate my molecules fast enough to break the holdings on me and before they know it, I’m already running to the exit out of here.
It takes over a minute for those idiots to figure out i’m gone and the alarm goes off, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The plan is always the same when I’m getting out of one of their bases, find the map thats always at the same spot right in the middle of the ship, find the flight deck, knock over everyone I run past just to freak them out. It’s been like this the last three or four times and I doubt it will be any different. The aliens hate changing any parts of anything they build or create. But yet their fine with changing people they don’t know, like humans, those hypocrites
Making it to the map I see all of their different symbols. Thankfully I’ve looked at this map enough times to know the symbol order for the flight deck. “ Let’s see flight deck, right there. All I have to get through is the test labs?” I must not be putting those symbols together correctly. What kind of idiots would put the area where you test prisoners right by the exit? Running now I see the exit in my sight and I realized that these aliens are those idiots.
Seems like there aren’t guards at the exit yet, which means I’ve broke my new track record. With the extra time, how about a look around the lab. Let’s see what words I can make out. I see this earpiece in a glass container and vibrate my hand through to grab it.
“Let’s see I can make out the first four letters as tran, so let’s hope that means translator. Suddenly I can make out the intruder alert that’s being shouted over the alarm.
“Sweet it’s a translator. If I was a character in a story that could only have the readers understand the aliens language by my understanding this would be super convenient.” Having decided that nothing else is of convenient value I head run to one of their ships and escape.
First things first, so I’m not followed I need to turn the cloaking on. That way I can just quietly cruise down to Earth. Just because I can move fast, doesn’t mean I like speeding my way everywhere. As I look down at Earth, and you know what’s interesting? Even when these aliens are on a mass extinction of a species, they still act as eco-friendly as possible. They plant trees, clean rivers, and other eco-friendly things. You wouldn’t be able to tell there was a war going on the planet if it wasn’t for the well….war part.
“Stupid war” I say to myself. I was starting my first year of college when the war began. I was on my way to my parents house for a New Years break only to find that everyone I knew was gone. I quickly was capture by the aliens and became “speedy,” the apparent name that was given to me by what’s left of any gossip in this world.
Snapping me from my thoughts is the super loud sound from the alien ships communicator, all of the ships get the transmission from the aliens mothership, even if one is missing in action. I guess they just assumed no one would ever be willing to steal their ships.
“Did anyone find the missing test subject?” says what I assume is some high commanding officer in the aliens army.
“No. He got on one of our ships and flew away.” “It’s best to assume that he has turned on cloaking and is on his way back to earth” Said an alien who I assume was in charge of the flagship that I had escaped from.
“Should we send scouts to find him?”
“No, it doesn’t matter if he escaped or not. That was the Fifth time we caught him” (I knew it was four or five times) “ We will find him again. Besides we need all the troops ready for the attack on their base in Alaska. The drills will be ready soon.”
Man, the aliens found the base in Alaska. The Alaskan base doesn’t have many civilians there. It’s mostly a military base. It’s where the army keeps it’s stockpile of weapons for the war against the aliens. I’ve heard the base is underground in the ice, which means that those drills are not going to be good. This would be the part where my conscience tells me to do the right thing for absolutely no reward. Well I guess it’s time to be the good guy so it time I speed towards earth.
This is why it sucks to be one of those alien test subjects. Sure I escaped certain death from the aliens, but all other humans are afraid of me. Which shouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t want to hurt any human, or make myself look worse than I already do. So I can’t run when they come to arrest me. Which is why i’m in this easily escapable prison in Canada. If I don’t tell the person in charge about the ongoing attack we’ll all be, well actually i’ll be fine. It’s all the people at this base and eventually the people at the antarctic base that will be in trouble. But according from the Knowledge I got from my parents before they were well killed was that if you don’t at least try to help those in danger, the grief will kill you later. So running out of here is unfortunately not yet an option. I notice the door far away open up and an old man started walking towards my cell. He had a scar across his face which was partly covered by the eye patch over his right eye. I assume he’s seen his share of battle and it cost him his eye. However if it’s from the last war or this one I guess I’ll never know.
“You should know by now that the alien’s escaped test subjects are seen as threats for humanity.” Says someone who i hope is the guy in charge.“ I assume by the the burn marks on your shoes that you must run a lot. Which means that you’re the one my army calls speedy.”
“ Yeah that’s me. Which means that you are aware that I can get through these bars very easily.” I say as I vibrate fast enough to walk through the bars.
“ Yeah I know which means you’re here for something and that‘s what i’m here to find out. I hope that you aren’t here to help the aliens which gives me enough reason to trust you.”
“ I guessing that ‘trust’ is why there are no armed guard in this cell with us. I have information thats super important and is a matter of life and death. At least for you and your army it’s a matter of life and death. “ I was recently captured again by the aliens and as I was escaping I found this translator, I say as I point at the earpiece attached to the right ear. “ As I was flying back to earth using a ship I stole from them I heard them talk about an attack on this very base. They said they are using some special drills they developed.”
The general had all the color drain from his face, but quickly regained composure. “ I was worried we would have an attack on this base. My scouts recently saw signs of another attack, but I had no idea that it would be this close. Do you have any full proof that they are going to be attacking here.”
The nerve of this guy. “What, you don’t believe me? But no the only thing that I have is what I heard over the radio.” The general turned away for a second to think to himself, but then quickly turned back around.
“ It’s not that I don’t believe you, but we have two problems. One, people hate test subjects like you. So the chance that they will believe you telling me all of this is close to zero percent. Especially if with claim that the device in your ear is a device that can translate what they are saying. The other problem is that we have no idea what the machines that they are using to drill through the ice look like. So it’s going to be hard for us to prepare for something that we don’t even know what it looks like.”
“So then what are you going to do? I told you what you needed to know so I’m outta here.”
“ We are going to need to find proof about the machines. I’m going to need your help to find them and I can guarantee they will be some form of a rewards.” Once he said that he peaked my interest. Nothing is better than doing good and getting a reward for doing it. However considering the only thing these military guys have our weapons. Not something that I need nor am I a fan of.
“ So what would this reward be. Not like money is necessary and considering I can move faster than any weapon you can shoot, I don’t need any weapons ether.”
“The reward would be a chance to start humanities faith in the test subjects like you. With your speed you should be able to find and steal the blueprints for the machines and give us the edge in the next battle. After my army learns to trust you and the other test subjects we will be able to team up and win this battle for humanity once and for all.”
You know if my conscience was bugging me before to help just people who might be kill. It’s increased by ten when the topic of the other escaped test subjects are brought up. So as much as I’m not gonna like doing this I’m gonna have to.
“ I’ll do it. But we have another problem. The blueprints are more than likely on the mothership, and it’s not like they’re just gonna let us fly up there.” The general look at me and laughed.
“ Well that will be the simplest part of this mission. Everyone that is captured by the aliens in this area are assumed to be for the military. Due to this they get taken to the mothership for a more advanced interrogation. So in other words the plan is for you to get captured. Which from my understanding you are very good at.”
This is not going to be fun.
Random fact, The projectiles that are fired from the aliens weapons move a lot faster than any of the bullets fired by any of the guns are earth. The reason why I know this is that I just recently broke out of the same kind of containment room that was just like the last room I was captured in. However the aliens seem to know me by now so I was quickly fired at. I zoomed fast around corners knocking over the aliens I run past. This mothership is way bigger than of the other ships. There are so many corridors and I have absolutely no idea where I am. To make matters worse I realizes that I’m running to fast and no longer I have any shoes, but that’s besides the point. I need to find their battle plans room to get the blueprints for the machines down below.
After running around for way too long (for me that’s like two minutes). I realize that I need to treat this like one of my usual escapes. So what better way to find this blueprint and my way outta here while i’m at it then to find a map of this place. So going by my knowledge of all the other ships that there’s a map into the middle. So I head into what I hope is the middle and make my way through the ship.
I gotta admit I’m impressed. Well I was right about my theory on the middle on the ship having the map, but the middle of this mothership is literally the map! This place is absolutely huge. But thankfully the spelling for all the rooms are the same so it’s time to head to the battle plans room.
Now I’m on my way to the battle plans room, and that when I notice that there’s no guards shooting at me anymore. Plus that loud intruder alert noise that I usually hear isn’t going off. Maybe they just assume that I was pulling one of my usual escapes and that I’m already gone. Well aliens, I find the lack of trying to find me very insulting. But no matter I’ve made it to the battle room. It’s what you would expect from the average battle plan room. Large table in the middle with the plenty of chairs around it for meetings with a Monitor at the front of the room projecting what I think is the machine I’m looking for. That suspicion of if it is the device or not is quickly changed as i see a clear diagram of the drill digging into the ice. So I quickly used the device given to me to print it out. Plus for added measure I took some photos of it using the camera the general had given me. You know what would be handy? A camera that can take colored photo. But considering these aliens don’t even have colored technology. So i guess that technology is impossible to get.
Now that is done it’s time to head to the flight deck. Running through the corridor it makes me wonder, what if the ships they have there are the flagships that I normally escape from? That would be awesome and regardless of what anyone says. If that ship is there I am taking it and it will be mine and no one is going to tell me otherwise. Finally I make it to the flight deck and what do I see one of those flagships waiting to be taken and more guards then I have ever seen in my life. They aren’t even taking prisoners this time they start firing away and quickly I dash towards the ship. If I can run as fast as I think I can I should be able to make it to the ship before they even know what hit them. I run past the guards, knocking them over just in case as I make my way to the ship. Running through the flagship interior I know so well I make it to the drive console and fly on out of here, Now I can sit back and relax as I fly close enough to the base and run to deliver the blueprints. All of my troubles are over...except for the alien that I now see is right behind me.
“Thank you translator or I would have never realized this dude was behind me” The alien was now laying on the floor presumably dead. It’s not that I wanted to kill him, I just didn’t want to take that chance of him being around. But still I hate getting my hands dirty. So this is what happened. I was sitting back getting ready to relax when all I hear behind me is;
“It seems that I’m the only one smart enough to stay in the obvious ship you would take. It seems I have the upper hand now.” The alien said which what I assume was a smug for look at them. But that look quickly faded as I ran toward him, grabbed his gun, and shot him before he even realized what happened. However now that this minor conflict is over with, it’s time to head down to earth.
“Speedy” managed to make it towards earth and give the general the blueprints he’s looking for. This helped breach the fear wall that was blocked between humans and the test subjects working together and after the successful defence of the base in Alaska, humanities military showed that they have what it takes to fight back. However the results of this war are unknown for Speedy because after his help with delivering the military the blueprints and not taking no as an answer for the ship, Speedy decided to take his ship and head to other planets to see where life will take him. With the common misadventure every now and then. However where he goes there are always those that are never going to forget what the boy that can run fast did for the world.
“Stay where you are, I repeat, do not move, I am a Federal Air Marshall and when this plane lands, I promise you that you will never step out of a prison again”. I told him over and over to release his hands from his chest.
“I am a US Marshall, I repeat, take the vest off and hand it to me”.
He stared deeply into my eyes while his hands remained on his chest as if he were to click the button that would kill us all instantly.
“This is the Philadelphia Air Traffic Control, United Airlines Flight 93 do you read me?” As I stared around me, everyone was hysterically crying.
“Just tell the babies I love them, please Sonny, I need you to be the new man of the house, watch over my baby girls and mommy okay?”, said the man on his phone three rows down from the cockpit.
I needed a plan, how am I supposed to save all 44 people aboard. I`m the only US Marshall on this plane, it`s my responsibility. As I thought of a plan to save us all, a crowd of passengers pinned one of the hijackers to the ground and took his vest off. The other three hijackers were not paying any attention to the commotion in the back, people had been screaming ever since they knocked the pilots out. As they focused on getting the plane to what seemed to be The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., 4 other men and I were coming up with a plan to take down the other hijackers who were directing the plane. It was not going to be as hard because the only hijacker with a bomb was already pinned down to the ground.
“I say we just go in and each one of us grab one of them and put our fighting skills to the test?” said one of the men.
“I agree, it`s now or never, we have women and children on our hands”, I said.
All of us ran into the cockpit and started to attack the hijackers. It seemed as though 10 minutes of chaos had gone by till I realized we had all of the hijackers down.
“Flight United 93, do you copy, do you copy?!”
“This is John, I`m a man aboard, we have gotten all of the hijackers down and will try our best to land this plane at the nearest airport”.
As I pointed my gun to the hijackers to keep them from moving, the other three men that helped me get the hijackers down were driving the plane. As they were directing the plane, I was hearing a beeping sound coming from the cockpit.
“Is everything okay John?”, I screamed at them.
None of the men were answering me. I could feel the plane going down rapidly. As the plane was going down, the passengers began to pray and cry even harder. I knew I was going to die. For some reason I continued to point my gun at the hijackers, I never laid my eyes off of them. I knew if I did, they would try to kill us before the actual landing did. The plane was going faster and faster, I`m not exactly sure why, but I could feel the plane getting closer and closer towards the ground, cockpit first. My eyes were locked on the hijackers so was my gun, but my mind, my mind was far far away. My mind took me back to when I was a child, ten years old to be exact. I lived in a beautiful house with my mother, a house that for some reason I never got to see the outside of, I was always locked inside. Why didn’t my mother let me go outside? Why did that question come to mind right before I was about to die? Then it hit me as I was staring out the windows of the plane, that Unites Airlines Flight 93 was crashing into a park.
All of the sudden, I`m staring off into a crowd of people panicking, I'm on top of a building, and I have the same stance as I did on the plane. However, I was no longer on that plane. The same exact stance. Eyes alert, same clothe on, gun still in hand, and pointing to whatever stood in front of me. It was evident that I was no longer in the same place when I heard a woman shout
“Up there! Look, everyone look! There`s a man up there point a gun! He shot the president!”
I put the gun down and start to run, I was already too late.
There were already a crowd of police men chasing after me. Why was I running? I did not shoot the president. Oh, what was I saying? They would never believe me. I had a gun in my hand, and directly pointing at the man who was shot and killed on the ground, they would never believe me. Let alone believe that only four minutes ago I was on a flight that crashed, or did it crash? I`m running for my dear life, as if it were me that killed the man, or the president as the woman had yelled out. I was so confused, but trying to figure out what was going on was the last of my worries, I had to run away from these cops.
An hour, gunshot wound, and what seemed to be 5 miles later, I had succeeded in getting away from the police officers. I was laying inside an old boat house soaking my wound in the water that was coming in through the bottom. It was dark, and I didn’t think anyone would be coming by, till I heard a voice and saw a light through the cracks of the old wood.
“Is anyone there?”
It seemed as to be a voice of an old man. As I looked the the crack, it was an old man. He was carrying his flashlight and walking his dog. I needed medical attention, it was either speak now, or remain in here and bleed to death.
“In here” I whispered out.
“I`m in here.”
He opened the door to the boat house.
“You the man they been lookin’ for?” He asked.
“I didn’t shoot him, I swear, I need help. I have been shot”.
He ran back to his house. He came back with a wheelbarrow and a younger boy. They managed to put me in, as they carried me in the house, I seemed to have fainted. A great sleep later, I woke up in a room. As I looked around, the old man was sitting there waiting for me to wake up.
“What`s your name son?”
“Bobby, my name is Bobby Wahlberg”.
“You shot President Kennedy son?”
“Kennedy? What do you mean President Kennedy? What happened to Bush?” I asked. “Bush? Son what in the world are you talkin’ about?”, he glared at me with his eyebrows together.
I could see the lines on his forehead as he stared at me in confusion. Old man is really twisted if you ask me. First, I shot the president. Second, it was president John F. Kennedy, yeah right.
“Did you shoot the president or not?” he rose from his chair and came closer to my bedside.
“No! I did not shoot the president okay! Look, I have no idea what the hell is going on. You would never believe me anyway.”
He sat back on his chair again and began to stare.
“Believe what? I have seen some crazy things in my lifetime. I do believe that you didn’t shoot the president. I have always had an ability to distinguish a lie from the truth. I believe you. Now tell me what you know.” He put his glasses on, and stared into my eyes.
“Well go on son.”
“All I know is that I was in a plane yesterday, it was about to crash, I`m a US Marshall that`s why I had the gun. I was pointing it at hijackers and then, then, I`m here. I don`t even know where I am. What the date is. I don’t know anything”.
He stared off into space, a minute late, he responded.
“Well, I have heard some crazy things in my lifetime I tell ya, never this. It is Saturday November 23rd, 1963 and you are in Dallas, Texas.”
I started to vomit once he said that.
“How, wait, what?”
“We have to get you out of here, they think you killed the president, and if they find you here, oh boy, it won’t be good for any of us. There`s an old mansion about 6 miles up, I can drive you there. A woman named Angie and her two kids are staying there. They’re in hiding just like you.”
“Angie, humm, that`s my mother`s name.” I look at the old man with the first smile on my face in two days.
“They could sure use your help. I`m Nazi by the the way.” He shook my hand and smiled back.
“Well Nazi, thank you.”
“Here you are. Let me walk you in and introduce you.”
Nazi walked ahead with his dog Charlie and I followed. The house had to be about 10,000 square feet and three levels tall. It was the biggest house I have ever seen in real life. The windows and doors were all boarded up, no wonder the family has yet to be found. “We have to go in through their lake house and crawl through.” Nazi said to me and kept walking.
Once we crawled through and were finally inside. The outside of the home did not do the inside any justice. Hard wood floors, white clean walls, large curtains, antique furniture, and best of all silence. Then, it suddenly hit me. This was my house! This is the house I lived in when I was ten years old! My mother would never let me out of here!
“Follow me, it`s 1pm they must still be in the learning room.”
As Nazi was talking, I remembered. Mom also had a learning room for me and my brother Mason, this was all too strange.
“Bobby, meet Angie, Mason, and Bobby. Wow, Bobby meet Bobby, how funny.”
As Nazi was talking, I could feel myself fainting again, and surely enough I did.
I was staring at myself as a child, my mother, and my older brother Mason who died when I was ten. I had returned to the year my only family had died. Words could not explain the feelings inside of me. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or afraid.
“Bobby are you okay?” Angie, my mother had asked.
“I`m, I am okay Angie, thank you. I`m sorry I am still feeling a little dizzy from my gunshot wound.”
I decided that I would keep this to myself. Nazi didn’t believe that I came from the year 2001, I know he didn`t. There would be no reason in telling him. No one knew my mother and my brother Mason better than I did, so I definitely knew that they would not understand. This is an advantage, a do over. A do over at trying to save my family from the horrible fire that killed my family.
“Bobby” called out Nazi.
“No not you Bobby, the other Bobby” Nazi looked towards my direction.
“You gonna be okay son?” he frowned at me.
“Yeah I’ll be okay. This is pretty good for now thank you.” Nazi walks towards the exit way and begins to crawl out.
“So, Angie, why exactly are you guys stuck in here?”
“Oh honey, that is the longest most unbelievable story on the face of this earth. Boys why don’t you head up and work on your paintings. Follow me into the kitchen Bobby let`s gets started on supper.” She walked towards the kitchen as I followed.
“Did you choose to be isolated in here or is there an actual reason?” I asked her.
“Well, we were put in here by the government. They claim that my baby boy Bobby is going to time travel. I mean can you believe that?” She laughs out loud but with worry in her voice. “Time traveling? Who in their right mind uses that as an excuse? The boys don`t even know why we’re in here. I refuse to confuse them in any type of way. So I just tell them that we’ll go out there one day, and for now we will just focus on learning. Nazi is a farmer who works for the government, he checks up on us about once a week.”
As she’s washing the dishes and talking on and on about the reason`s for them being in there and giving me information, I freeze in shock.
“Wait a minute, Nazi works for the government?”
“Oh yeah he knows all about it, he’s the one who proposed the idea to the government. They say he can predict the future, that he predicted that Bobby would come back and cause harm, and the government being the dummies they are, listen to everything that he has to say. What`s wrong Bobby?”
“Nothing nothing, It`s just a lot to take in”.
“Oh don’t worry about us honey, me and my boys are better off here than in that screwed up world out there.” She was smiling as she told me that, its as if she were happy that we were in there.
I never remembered mom being unhappy. If it weren`t for the fire that I know would be happening, I would have found a way to escape and just let my family be, but I must save them.
The past few days have actually been some of the happiest days of my life. I have to admit, it`s incredibly weird hanging out with myself as a child. I was so nerdy. My favorite activities were painting, reading, and knitting. How in the world did I become a US Marshall? Mom, well Angie, cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Home sweet home, I missed my family.
“Boys, are you up there practicing?” Angie yells out at younger Bobby and Mason. “They’re putting on a talent show for me in a week” she tells me.
Then it hits me, in the middle of the talent show is when the fire erupts. I have exactly one week to get my family out of here. What will my plan be?
“Oh, Nazi is stopping by today to drop off some groceries too, do you need anything Bobby?” she asks me.
“No, no thank you I`m just fine.”
Every time I think of Nazi it makes me upset that I didn’t take him out when I had the chance, he lied to me. He knew all along who I was. Not only did he actually believe my time traveling story, but he knew it would happen, long before I did. Nazi had been expecting me.
I could hear Nazi`s voice downstairs. My plan is to not let him know that I know about his abilities. I must remain clueless. If not, it`ll ruin the chances of me getting my family out of here.
“Hey there Nazi” I grin at him.
“How are they treating you Bobby son?” he grins back.
“Amazing, Angie and the kids are great. How`s the search going? Are they still out looking for me?”
“Oh yeah, they’re looking for you like crazy.”
I just listened, even though I knew that was a lie, they probably already know I`m in here, but I continue as if I don’t know. About fifteen minutes later Nazi leaves. I have yet to figure out how I am going to explain to mom what`s going on. Do I tell her about the time traveling? Or do I just tell her that she and the boys have to get out?
“Bobby what’s bothering you? You have been awful quiet all night.”
I love when she worries about me, nice to have mom back.
“I`m okay Angie, I just, I need to talk to you Angie” I grab her hand.
“What`s going on Bobby?” she replies as she pulls her hand back.
“You and the boys are in great danger. Nazi, he`s no good, it doesn’t bother you that they are keeping you in here, with such close surveillance? Angie I could help you.”
I search her face for an answer, but this is a face I have never seen before.
“Angie?” still no sign of an answer.
“How dare you come into my house and try to me what to do? Me and my boys are just fine. Yes, the situation is nonsense, but we’re in a great state. We live in a beautiful home, and everything is provided for free. Thank you for your concern Bobby, but your opinion is not needed.” She closes the door shut loudly.
Now there really is no hope, I`m going to have to drag them out of here one way or another.
There was only two days left till the boys talent show. It`s been awkward between me and mama since she last stormed out of my room. We make small conversation at dinner, but that’s about it.
“Pass the salt please?” she asks me without looking up from her plate.
I have no idea what has her so bothered. If she doesn’t feel as though she’s in danger, that`s it, end of story. It could have easily been dropped, but it`s more than evident that there`s something that`s still bothering her. After dinner, I walk in the kitchen as she`s doing the dishes.
“Angie what is wrong?”
“Bobby, I know who you are. I know everything. Your time traveling. That you`re my son. I know everything Bobby. This is a process that you will never understand as many times as I try to explain it. This isn't the first time you have been here. It was an ability inherited from your father. Every lifetime that you have, you come back here trying to save us. Whenever you’re about to die in your normal life, you time travel. You time travel to whatever your thought is right before you’re about to die. I haven’t seen the adult version of you in about two decades, I guess you must have been thinking of this time when you were about to die. Do you understand Bobby? I know what the future looks like for me and Mason, it`s nothing to look forward to. Each lifetime of yours is nothing to look forward to either. Every lifetime, Nazi and the government burn down the house trying to kill you specifically and stop the cycle, somehow you always end up escaping.” she looks at me and begins to cry.
I look at her and begin to cry myself, I can’t remember the last time I cried. That was also the first time I had hugged my mother in 38 years since I’ve hugged my mother. So much for them burning the house on the day of the day me and my brother would be performing for mom, I could smell the fumes coming from upstairs already.
“Mom I have to get you and the boys out of here!”
“Don’t you understand? This is going to keep happening if you don’t die. There is no saving us. We will keep repeating these steps over and over if you don’t die with us. Bobby there is no point.”
“Yes there is a point! There is a point. Don’t you want to keep living?”
“I have. It’s not a good life. I have lived it over and over and over again. I know what’s it’s going to be like. Bobby please. Do us this favor will you?”
I stood frozen. Do I really have a life worth going back to? Why should I have to watch and feel the pain of my brother and mother dying every lifetime that I do have. Many might say living over and over is a blessing, not for me, this is a curse. As I lay with mama, myself, and Mason, I could feel the fumes getting to me.
She was already gone. I couldn’t stop coughing. As I lay there, for an odd reason I thought of my last death experience on United Airlines Flight 93.
“Just tell the babies I love them, please Sonny, I need you to be the new man of the house, watch over my baby girls and mommy okay?”, said the man on his phone three rows down from the cockpit.
The Story of Diamond Philips
By: Jules James
The name is Diamond Phillips and this is a story about what I went through during the year of 2100. I will start off by telling you about myself. I was born on February, 29, 2083 in West Philadelphia. I lived with my father, Greg Phillips, but I called him Wawa because he told me that’s where he was when he found out Angela, my mother, was about to give birth to me. Wawa worked as a contractor who builds houses and hospitals. He was born in West Philadelphia too but we moved to New York after his wife abandoned me and him. Me and my dad got along perfectly, we're like best friends. We told each other everything and we always hung out. I must say I loved that man to death. His death would tear me down from the inside out.
Now, the lady who gave birth to me was Angela Martin. She was from South Philly and also was a drug addict. She died in 2097. It’s not much I could say about her for the simple fact that I really didn’t know her. All I knew is before 2100 came I didn’t like her much. My reason for this is because I never had a mother figure in my life and I blamed that on her. I never saw my mother in real life, only in pictures. When Angela's funeral came I refused to go because when I needed my mother she wasn't there for me so I thought that I wasn't going to be there for her.
Other than Wawa, I had no other family in my life, but I do had this friend, she was my best friend. Her name was Mia but people called her Mo, that wass her dyke name. At first she was hard to get along with but by the end of sophomore year we ended up becoming best of friends.
I was also raised as a Christian. I questioned myself of whether or not I still was a Christian. I still went to church, once in a while but the person I was drew me from that religion. During 2100, I was single but I also was bi-sexual. I never had sex with a guy but I did with a girl once, only for fun though.
My relationship life wasn’t the best. I’ve had 18 “boyfriends” altogether but only 1 real boyfriends, the others only wanted to fuck. And I only had 1 girlfriend, sadly we didn’t work out.
Enough about the people around me, I’ll continue telling you about me. During the time of 2100, I was in 11th grade and I attended Turner High and I received good grades such as A’s and B’s. As much as I didn’t want to do the work I knew I had to just to keep my father happy. I was all he had, I didn’t want to be a disappointment to him.
I was smart, quiet, defensive, persistent, emotional, and I had anger issues. I was a basic young girl who tried to finish up high school, had no hobbies and no favorite sports. I hated the way I looked and the reason for that was because I looked like my mother. I was scared that I was going to be just like her and I didn’t want that. So I thought if I changed how I looked then I would be different from her. When I was 17 I was 5’4: I had tattoos on my chest, arms, and thighs, I had to cover up the skin that was just like my mother’s. I dyed my long black hair to blonde and I cut it. I was full in the chest and butt area, and I wore makeup all the time. My goal was to get rid of the look of my mother as much as I could no matter how much I had to change the way I looked. I mostly wore all black and my clothes were fitted just enough to show far my beautiful curves.
There’s one more thing you should know before I start my story. Everyone other than Wawa and Mo didn’t like me and the reason for that is because I was different and no one actually tried to get to know me. That was the reason I kept my distance. My happiness was all that mattered.
Now I’ll began my story:
I ran. I ran at an incredible pace so she wouldn’t see me coming. I flew through the cold, hard metal doors of my school, which created a strong breeze that hit everyone that was in my way. I went inside every girl’s bathroom and I looked in every stall but she was no where to be found. After I went in all of the bathrooms I then went to the place she had to be, her rusted 25 year old locker. Her locker was the first locker installed inside of our school. People call it the ancient locker.
When I got there, there was a group of people there, including Tia. We were both dressed alike, we were in fighting clothes with our hair tied up. I was the one who had to break the intense silence.
“You was talkin’ a lot of shit yesterday, why you so quiet now?” I said putting my book bag on the ground. I’m not going to lie, she was a brave bitch but so was I.
“The only reason I ain’t saying anything is because I prefer to use my hands other than wasting my breath with you.” She turned around to everyone behind her and said something that turned all of my sanity off. “Don’t worry about her. She just mad because I saw her mom yesterday for the first time and that was more than how many times she saw her mother. I put up a picture of her on Tweinstabook. Y’all should go see it.”, She said.
As she laughed, a boy with his phone out, it was set on video mode, asked, “Wait, but didn’t her mom died like three years ago from cocain?” She turned back around to me with a smirk on her face.
“Oh yea, oops. Maybe it was another dirty ass old crackhead that I saw then.” Everyone behind her gave out their “ooo’s” and I didn’t want to hear anymore of the bullshit.
Before I knew it my left hand was connected to her nose that stood out more than her hard effort she put into her Tweinstabook pictures trying to expose a butt that never existed. Lucky for me she didn’t know how to fight and I found that out by noticing the only thing she was doing was pulling my hair, like that was never been done to me before. But because my head was down and I couldn’t see her face, to aim at it some more, I had no choice but to knee her in a not so delightful place. That one hit brought her down on the ground, which gave me the advantage to get on top of her and start fisting her face in a few times.
I heard kids yelling, videos being taken, flashes, and a lot of other loud things that, for no reason, made me angrier which made all my hits on her face harder. But then I heard Officer Smith work his way to us. He pushed his way through the crowd so he could try to get me off of her.
When he finally came and got me off of her I looked her dead in her bloody face and said, “Try talkin’ about my mom again, bitch.” She covered her face and started to weep. Officer Smith and I walked away while the blood drops off my fist followed me.
I got suspended that day. They sent me home after the fight and suspended me for a week. When I was on my way home I thought my dad was still going to be asleep by time I got there and I would just explain to him what happen when he wakes up. But I was wrong. When I got home he was getting himself ready to go somewhere. He also had a bag packed.
“Wawa, where are you going?”, I asked putting my bag down slowly, hoping it wouldn’t touch my knuckles.
“Did you forget what today is?”, he asked. After a few milliseconds a nebulous look appeared on his face.
“Why aren’t you in school right now?”
“I’ve gotten suspended. It’s a long story involving a fight. I’ll tell you later.” I tried to change the subject quickly.
“So what’s the special occasion?”, I asked
“Your mother’s 3 year death.” I rolled eyes then quickly painted a polite smile on my face.
“I hope you have fun at the graveyard daddy. I’ll see you when you come back.”
“Oh well I’m going to stay in Philly for a day so I won’t be back until tomorrow night.”
“That’s even better, I’ll just stay with Mo tonight.” I was on my way to my room to pack some clothes but then Wawa stopped me.
“Wait, there’s something I wanna talk to you about.”, he said in a low voice, trying to sit me down.
“What is it?”, I asked. He pulled out this hackneyed paper from out of his back pocket, it looked like it was there for years.
“I’ve had this information for a while and I was thinking maybe,” he began to hesitate “... maybe you would like to go back in time?” I was confused with where he was getting at.
“Why would I do that? What’s back there for me?”
“Your mother.”, He said gaving me a sharp stare in my eyes.
“What?No... I won’t... I refuse...I...” I couldn’t complete any of my sentences. I was too appalled by his suggesting. Why in the hell would I ever go to see her?
“I don’t wanna hear it. I’m your father and I command you to go see her tomorrow. Do you understand me?” Wawa said with a loud tone of voice.
I had no choice by to reply by saying, “Yes Wawa.”
“Good. Now it will cause $1,000 so here you go.” He handed me a thick envelope that said, “Back in Time Money”.
“Now with this, you will go to the Franklin Museum, to the Time Machine exhibit, and give the people the money that’s in this envelope. And when they ask where do you want to go you have to say the first house on 58th and Christian Street on March 10, 2084.”, Wawa explained.
“Why this date?”
“This was the day she left.” This was a lot to take in. One part of me didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to see her face or hear her voice. But another part of me wanted answers to all my questions. I didn’t know what to do but I knew someone who would help me, Mo.
After Wawa left , I went upstairs to pack my bag and then I texted Mo to tell her that I was on my way over her house to spend a night.
When I got to her house she was home by herself. When she opened the door for me she only had on black and white ball shorts, a black sports bra, and white socks with Nike sandals. Her hair was wrapped in a bun and she looked like she just got out of bed, which made sense since she skipped school that day. But even though she was not there to see the fight between me and that girl she still had people there to tell her about it.
Time was going by fast and all l wanted to do was go take a shower and talk to Mo. And that’s exactly what I did. After I got out of the shower took of my clothes that was covered with my blood and Tia’s blood and threw on my pajama shorts and the matching shirt that came with it. I went to meet Mo in her room so we can begin our long talk. When I entered her room she was sitting on her bed.
“Come here girly and tell me what’s going on.”, she said as she patted on her bed. I took a seat next to her and my mouth began to run. It felt like it was running at 90mi./hr.
“Well, you know Tia, like the bully she is, she started talking about my mom. And you know how I get when people start to talk about my mom, I snapped. I had to fuck her up because she just kept running her mouth. She wouldn’t shut up. So after they suspended me for a week I went home and I saw my dad about to leave. He told me he was going to Philly to see my mom at the graveyard for her third year death and he is going to stay there for a day. But then he was like he want to go to the Franklin Museum to use the Time Machine to go back in time to go talk to her and I just don’t know if I should go or not. HELP.” When I was finished saying all of this I was out of breathe but Mo was just laughing. I think the speed of my talking was amusing to her.
“You lucky I’m your best friend cause if I wasn’t I don’t think I would have understand you. But anyways, I’m going to skip over the fight because that is totally irrelevant, but we are going to talk about going to see your mother. I think you should go see her. “You lucky I’m as good of a friend as I am or I would’ve not been able to understand anything you just said. But anyway, you’ve been in a hundred fights because of her and I think you should talk to her about how you feel. And you can’t say that you don’t feel anything because you wouldn’t fight for someone you don’t care for. And you know you have questions for her so why don’t you just...”, before she had the chance to finish her speech I stole a kiss. Both of our soft lips connected and the kiss that I thought was only going to be just a peck for maybe 20-25 seconds ended up being a long. passionate, love kiss that lasted for hours.
After a few hours into our kissing, I detached our lips from each and looked her in her eyes.
“If you really want me to go see my mother than I will.”, I said in a low, soft voice.
“To be honest, what I really want is you.” She spoke just as soft while smiling and leaning in for another hours long kiss and a cuddle session. And that is how we end our night together.
She woke me up the next morning around 10 o’clock and told me I should get ready to go the museum before it gets crowded and she was right. I threw on my black crop top with my black tights and I put on my make up and repacked my bag and I was ready to go. But before I left, I gave my girlfriend a nice “think about me” kiss and then I was on my way to the museum.
When I got there it wasn’t crowded at all but when I my turn came I was hella nervous. After I gave the workers the money for the use of the machine and I told them where I wanted to go, they told me somethings I should know before they started me up. The workers told me that I only have 15 minutes inside the past and nothing longer. They also told me to not do anything that could negatively affect the future, basically don’t kill anyone. After the workers was done explaining everything. They put me inside the machine and strapped me in. They closed the door and told me to count in my head to 30 with my eyes closed. I started counting as I heard the machine start up and I felt the air blowing through my hair.
When I got to 30, I was there. I was standing right outside of the house my mother a banned me and my father in. Then I saw her. I saw her long caramel soft legs exit the door with her perfectly curvy shaped body following it. Her long black hair that was put away into a ponytail and her incredible ass was the last to exit.
I went behind a bush as she came down the stairs and waited for a G bus to take her away from me forever.
“Hi Angela.”, I said. When she looked at me I could tell that she didn’t know who I was.And she seemed high by the abject smell of weed in her breath and the redness in her eyes.
“Ummmm.... Do I know you? Who are you?”, she asked.
“No you don’t know me... Well you do but not as much as you should. I’m Diamond Phillips.” She gave me a hard stare.
“I’m your daughter but from the future.” I was emotionless at first because I didn’t know how to feel.
“Oh my god, it is you Dia. What are you doing here?”, she asked.
“I have so many questions I want to ask you. Like why are you leaving?Do you even care about me? Did you...”, she stopped me.
“These are questions I never wanted to hear you ask so that’s why I’m leaving while you are or while you was young. But I guess the U.S. figured out how to created a time machine. But I do owe you an explanation. I’m leaving because I want to find help for myself. I didn’t want you to grow up with a crackhead mother so I’m taking myself to rehab for a few years.”, my mother explained.
“I was forced to grow up without a mother. When you was finished with rehab why didn’t you come back?” Tears was flowing down my face.
“I had plans too. Maybe I did try to come back. Did y’all happen to move at anytime?”
“Yea, we moved to Brooklyn a few months after you left.”
“I probably tried to come back but y’all was probably already gone. I left for your life and and for mines baby girl. I have nothing but love for you. I would never want to hurt you.”, then she started crying.
“Mom, I love you but you physically and mentally destroyed me when it came to me not having a mother figure in my life. I forced myself to change my physical appearance because I was sure that if I looked like you then I would be like you and I didn’t want that. I want to be there for my child, when or if I have them. But now that I know why you did what you did, I can’t be mad. All you really wanted to better your life for your family.”
“May I give my beautiful daughter a hug, please?”, she asked.
“Yes you may mom.” We hugged and cried on each other for 5 minutes.
Then she asked, “So I have a question, how is our relationship right now?”
“I'm sorry to say but you’re dead back in my time. This is my first time seeing you in person. You died when I was 14 years old. I had so much hate for you that I didn’t even go to your funeral. But not my dad. He still love you so very much. He went to your funeral and he go see your gravesite every year.” I started to fade.
“MOM”, I yelled.
“ Baby girl, I want you to remember this one thing, I will never go a day without thinking of you. I love you baby.”, she wiped away her tears as I slowly became transparent.
The last thing I was able to say was, “I love you too mommy.”I was back. The workers unstrapped me, let me out and told me to have a good day. I was happy. I finally knew the truth about my mother and even though I really only knew her for 15 minutes I was glad that I took that time to get to know her. I cried happy tears all the way home and when I got there I told Wawa about it all. I told my girlfriend too. She was so happy that I went, and I was too. Knowing that my mother never went one day without thinking of me helped me become a better person to the people around me, a better wife to my wife, and an awesome mother to my daughter. And this is all because of my mother. I love you Angela Martin, I love you mommy.
Having a family is a dream for many people. The thoughts of coming home everyday after a long hard day of work to a loving family is a wish to be fulfilled. Making something that you’ve built from love is a blessing, and thats what a child is. Putting all hope, faith, love, and care into a tiny baby to help them grow into the person who has it all. To someone who people look up to, who has a future, who has a good life. Knowing that there is no such thing as a perfect, you still will try everything in your power to have something as perfect as possible. Someone you always wanted to be, its now the time to try and make that happen. Watching a baby grow, from being born, to crawling, to their first words then to their first foot steps. The moments are precious and are meant to be cherished forever.
When someone has a child they will do anything in their power to keep them from falling, getting hurt, and from losing. Making sure they are always happy and having what they want, when they want it. Even if that means you doing things that you never wish to do but will anyways because you’re doing it for the light of your life. Even though you may not be capable to do so, you’ll still try your hardest to make sure that it will happen. Having a child can change a person forever. The way they think, to the way they do things, to the way they love and see things. Making you finally see the light of the gray years that passed. In the darkest days. The feeling of a full heart, just for a tiny baby. That feeling of having a child will make you happy every second of every day. Even when there are fights, miscommunications, regrets, and tears. Your child will always know where home is.
But what if you aren’t able to have that. The ability to make a love child. You’ll do anything to have the capability of creating a beautiful creature. You’ll do anything to have that, even if that means taking in someone else's child as your own. Thats how Maria and John saw it. And thats exactly what they did. They wanted a child, no matter the race, the gender, healthy or sick. They’d love it as their own. Never giving up on something that meant so much to them.
John was a Doctor, one of the top plastic surgeons around. He performed over a thousand surgeries, where all were very satisfied. He made enough money a year to help support his small family that he always wished for. He had it all. Because being one of the younger doctors on his field and being very talented at what he did, he was a bit more liked, with his age and his charming looks. Maria on the other hand was not as good looking as John. She didn’t make as much money as he did and wasn’t as liked. The thing is, John didn’t care about her money, he made enough to make both of them stable. He didn't care about her appearance. Looks didn’t matter to John, he was completely fine with Maria’s appearance. The way someone looks shouldn't be the reason to start a relationship with someone its the way you feels towards and about them. Matter of fact, he liked the way she looked, she had a different kind of beauty. The way she spoke gave him chills. Her words grabbed a hold of his heart which made it no longer his, but hers. It was love at first sight for the both of them. The thought of him not being with her broke his heart, he couldn’t imagine life without her. Thats when they finally decided after three years of happy strong marriage, it was time to expand their family with a baby.
Trying for a few months, many doctor appointments, injections, and tears, it was impossible for the them to ever have a baby. Maria’s body could not stand the what was needed when trying to have a baby. She was devastated, broken down. She tried so hard, did everything in her power she could to try and conceive, but nothing worked. A long month of grieving, barely able to eat, barely able to speak, John finally rose the conversations about adoption. A big responsibility, long process, questions, and wonders. Where they up for it? Caring for another person’s child. Having to face the fact that they are not the child’s birth parents. It was all too much but despite all the fears, they began the process of really being a family. Almost a year being past, the adoption was almost final. John and Maria were now going to be the new parents of a healthy baby boy by the name of Jack. Jack Mask was his name, no one really knew where Mask originated from but they weren’t going to change who Jack really was. Like they said, they’ll love him no matter what. For some odd reason, though the name was different, it fit him. They finally got what they always wished for.
Everything was great, Jack loved his new home and Maria and John loved being parents. As time flew by and Jack was growing from a baby to a developing boy it was time for Maria and John to start thinking about schooling for Jack. For some odd reason, Jack wasn’t as comfortable with other children, not comfortable with people in general. There wasn’t a problem with family because they knew Jack since he was a baby, but you couldn’t bring different people around Jack because nothing ever turned out right. He would spaz out, shouting, kicking, crying, and no one knew what to do to stop him. The only way for Jack to really calm down is to get the people he saw as strangers out of his presence. Maria and John didn’t know what to do anymore, it was either bring new people around Jack and hear him scream and shout or it was having no communication with anyone when it come to Jack having to meet new people. After several doctors appointments to see if anything was actually mentally wrong with Jack, but there wasn’t. After a few weeks of John and Maria consulting about their son about school there was no other choice than to place Jack in homeschool. There were scared about the whole face the thoughts everything not working out right enough to keep Jack in home school because he didn’t have the ability to stay focus, or the ability to memorize things that he’d learn and then recap by doing a project or taking a test. But all they could do was try. At first, John and Maria didn’t know how to homeschool Jack, they both worked. While John was performing surgeries, Maria was cleaning houses so who was going to teach Jack. Thank god that Maria’s sister Jamie somehow joined into the conversation and suggested to John and Maria that she could homeschool Jack while they are at work with his cousin Alex. They seemed to get along well since they are around the same age and understood each other, agreeing with aunt Jaime to homeschool Jack Mask, the situation of schools was no longer a problem.
Everything seemed to be working out fine, Jack was doing better in school then John and Maria expected, he averaged out in grades as a’s and b’s which is good enough for them. Alex and Jack seemed to get really close as they began to see each other everyday for school. But the only thing is that Alex was loud and outspoken where Jack was always the shy one who kept to himself and came to a whisper when he actually spoke once in a while. John and Maria seemed to be okay with the fact that Jack was shy and to himself most of the time. He was comfortable with who he was and that is all that matters. One day while Jack and Alex were at school, Alex suggested to do a project about halloween because of it being early October, he liked the idea. Jaime being okay with that she gave a project of researching about any halloween character and then make them with some type of arts and crafts. Alex did no what he wanted to do at first, he was stuck between a ghost, a which, or a vampire. Where Jack did know what to do his project on. He never really went out for halloween except once but something bad happened and Maria and John never let that happened again, but that was when Jack Mask was only one years old, so he doesn’t remember anything that happened that day. John and Maria don’t like to talk about it so they try to keep it in the past. Jack always had a thing for people in colorful mask, dark clothes with bright ascents, with velvet material. He was looking up different types of monsters that are “seen” around halloween time. He came across some type of monster that caught his eye immediately. It was called the “joker mardi gra monster”, this monster was all that Jack loved. Searching up pictures of this creature, Jack fell in love with the whole look. He began researching about this mysterious creature. He researched day and night, and when he wasn’t he would draw pictures of the monsters. One picture he drew that his mother found was a family of these “people”, she was a little curious but she didn’t ask Jack about it because she understood he was a young boy and was exploring in his own ways. In the drawing, there was tiny words spread around the paper, but in a way to understood what it said in a sentence. “I will come home soon.” Maria didn’t understand what it meant, she just thought he was playing but thats when everything started to change.
Jack would stay in his room on the computer he received for his school work, he would sit up all day and all night on this computer. One day while Maria had off from work she went into Jack’s room to see what was going on while he was at school and went into his history just to see what he has been looking up all this time. The history list was full of google searches saying, “what am I going threw?”, “Feathers growing from my face”, “Body suit growing from nowhere”, “Joker”, “Mardi gra”, “Monster”. She was confused and didn’t know what to do or say. She questioned on whether or not this is just a stage her son was going through or something serious. But because Jack didn’t approach her with anything, so she thought is was best to just leave it alone.
The next day it seemed like everything was changing about Jack, his appearance, his mood, his voice, everything. Being new parents, Maria and John thought he was just going thru an early stage of puberty or something along those lines. But it wasn’t, it was something way more than that. The next morning Jack went down to the kitchen to get breakfast, he was thinking about either cereal or pancakes, walking into the kitchen and saying “good morning” to his mother there was a loud smash of a plate and a horrible scream that came from his mothers mouth.
“Jack, you scared me, why do you have that ugly mask and outfit on? Where did you
get that at?” Maria said while cleaning up the broken dishes.
Jack’s father ran down the stairs in alarmed from hearing the bloody scream;
“Whats going on down here? Maria why’d you scream like that, is everything okay?” John said while trying to catch his breath.
“Look at the costume your son has on!”
Jack then turned around facing his father in confusion,
“What costume? I have no costume on, what are you talking about?” Jack said while slamming his hand on the counter in anger.
“Where did that come from Jack, get that off before you give your mother a heart attack, I fix faces not hearts.”
Jack finally went to the mirror in the living room to see what his mother and father was talking about. Being a little hesitant to look in the mirror to see what they were talking about he finally gain the courage.
“No, its happening! Why me? Why mom why?” Jack screamed while tears were streaming down his face.
“What do you mean sweetie? Just take the outfit off, you’ll be fine, here I’ll help.” Maria said while smiling coming getting close to Jack.
“Stay away mom, please I don’t know what can happen to you if you touch me, don’t even look at me!” Jack screamed and cried crawling backwards to get away from his mother.
Jack knew this was going to happen soon enough, he thought it was just some stages but it was real. It was like all those dreams that he had. He became what we was researching, as joker mardi gra monster. From all of the research that was done he found out that these type of monsters as well as many others come from a place called Halloween World. Its a place like Earth but is different in a way where they have monsters instead of humans. They sip on witches brew instead of wine. They eat worms and cow eyeballs instead of spaghetti and meatballs. They are all around different from what a human is and does. But to get to Halloween World you can’t just take a plane there or drive a car, in order to get into that world you need to find the portal that leads the right way into the element. Unless you actually know where this portal is you can not find it until you are giving the ring of worlds by someone who actually lives in Halloween World.
Jack told his mother and father everything he knew about what he was now and the place he had came from. It was hard for him to everything out so he went to grab his computer to show his parents a video he found about the type of monster he is now. Though it was all so much to take in, they had to except their son for who he was now. They were still going to love him like how he was before all of this happened to him.
Months past by and Jack didn’t go to school anymore, it was all too much to take in and hold. So during the day he would continue to research how to go over to the Halloween World to see where he really came from. Why his real parents gave him up. And what he has to do to go back to a normal ten year old boy. Not having to wear this colorful, feather, shiny mask every day without taking it off. Not being able to remove this suit that was now his new skin. He wanted to know so much about himself from what he knows already. He knew that the only way from him to know everything is until he gets to the other world. He needed that ring.
Today was the day that everything was going to happen, Jack was going to get his ring, he was going to cross over to the other world and see what he really came from. Who he came from and why’d they let him go. The day was October 31st, halloween and Jack’s life is about to change. But Jack, Maria, nor John knew what was going to go on. Maria and John finally agreeing on letting Jack out for halloween again since he’s older and he actually wanted. Jack was going out trick-or-treating with his cousin Alex then after treating for all their candy to rot their teeth, they were going to go carve pumpkins at Alex’s house. Alex was going to be a mummy, he was so excited because his costume actually looks pretty real. Jack on the other hand can’t change his costume because it wasn’t a costume it was his real skin. Only because of how unique it was and how much it resembled halloween, he was okay with wearing it and going out.
While getting ready at Jack’s house he started to feel weird, like a sick feeling.
“Ahhhhh, ohhhh, ugh, ow,” Jack cried then falling to the floor.
“JACKY, are you okay? Whats wrong? Want me to go get your mom?” Alex said with a panic.
“I just don’t feel that well, I’ll be fine just give me a second.” Jack said while holding on hand on his stomach and the other over his purple lips.
Jack didn’t know what was going on. To him, it felt like someone was twisting his already twisted intestines. Like someone was holding and not letting go of them, holding them like they were trying to save themselves from falling in a body of water with sharks. After a half and hour or so Jack felt completely fine. It was weird. One minute he was in complete pain but the next he was completely fine. It didn’t make sense but now that it was gone, he was not even going to question it. Jack finished “getting ready” and it was time to leave and explore the world for the first actual time by himself, well with his cousin Alex. After Maria and Jamie being good mothers and telling their children what and what not to do they finally let them off to get their candy. So many things were running through Jack’s head and not knowing if it meant anything important or was it just a state of fear. He couldn’t put in words what he was feeling inside. There was a mix of emotions running through Jack Mask. The one step out of his front door and it all hit him. Reality hit him hard in the face and he knew where he had to be. Not with these type of people who he really is not. Not these people who are nothing like him. He needed to find a way to get back to where he really belonged, he needs that ring, but where does he find it at? Then he started to remember everyone who put a good impression on his life. His caring father who took him in, his loving mother who even though she didn’t give birth to him she still cared for him as his own. He thought about the two people who didn’t judge him at all when helping him grow and become better, his aunt Jaime and cousin Alex. Alex, his only friend. He could just up and leave Alex alone, that was his best friend. He loved Alex to death and would never want to hurt him but it was either the change to see where he come from or staying with the family that took him in. Cared for him. Fought for him to be theirs.
Jack try to put all the emotions and thoughts behind him to try and make the best out of have some fun with his cousin. Trick-or-treat to get all the candy a kid could ever wish for. Walking down the street with Alex, Jack looked back and glanced at his house for one of the last times ever, turning back around to find a tear rolling down his face.
The boys were out trick-or-treating for only about a hour or so and their bags were filled to the brim. A ton of people ran up to them to complement how amazing their outfits were. They were pretty happy about what they have received for the night so they decided to head home.
“Alex im not feeling that good so I think I’m just going to go home instead of your house to carve pumpkins, we can just do it tomorrow after lunch!” Jack said while holding his stomach.
“Okay just have aunt Maria call my mom and we can do that and make sure you have you mom check your candy before you eat it, you know, just to make sure everything is safe,” Alex said with eye glaring onto his big bag of candy. Both walked the separate ways to their own houses without looking back.
Jack finally got to his house, waiting a few minutes to enter the house he looked at him candy bag and notice something. It was a shiny red rock sticking out in the middle or the candy that he received.
“What the hell is this?” Jack said to himself while reaching down into the bag to retrieve the mysterious item.
Jack eyes opened wide with his mouth following, it was a ring. Could it be the ring he needed to get the Halloween World. Sticking the ring in his pocket and then walked in the house like nothing ever happened.
“Hello sweetie, how was it? Did you have fun with Alex?” Maria said with a large smile on her face fixing a little snack for Jack.
“Good mom, I had a lot of fun, I’m not that hungry so I don’t need my snack, actually my tummy is hurting a little bit I think I’m going to go lay down and try to sleep.” Jack said while holding his stomach with both hands.
“You didn’t eat any candy did you sweetie, you know i'm suppose to check every piece to make sure everything is okay with it.”
“No mom I just think I ate something earlier to mess up my tummy.” Jack said while throwing the bag on the floor and running up stairs.
Jack ran to his room closing the door fast but silent. He didn’t want to worry anyone in the house with a loud bang. He went right in his pocket to examine the ring with a closer eye. He pulled it out and and as soon and his eye hit the ruby that was on the ring it glowed. Bright lighting up the whole room with a red foggy light. There was a bang in his closet randomly with a beep, there was silence after that. Jack jumped up and went to his closet door to see what was going on in there. He took a moment to gain the confidence to open the door. After thinking of what could be in there he finally opened the door. There was now a blueish purple light that was shining. There was a swirl or different colors just hovering over his shoe rack with a an inscription on the wall. It looked like scribbles but for some reason he was able to read it right away. “Once you come, you can never go!”, Jack finally found the portal that leads the the Halloween World. He knew that it was either a choice of staying with the family who took him in as his own, continue to be freak in the world or “normal” or go and explore where he really came from. Thoughts were running through his head and tears were running down his face, he didn’t know what to do.
The lights started to dim after a while and another encryption appeared onto the wall, “Now or never Jack!” Jack knew this was his last chance to meet the people who made him so different, to see where he really came from. He stuck a finger in the portal, it was cold but a sense of relief. Out of no where the portal was starting to close and suck Jack in but Jack still didn’t know what he wanted to do. He tried to pull the half of his body out of the portal but it was too strong. In a matter of seconds Jack was on his way to Halloween World leaving back his family, his thoughts, his memories, and all the love that the people who took him in as their own stayed.
- These are concepts for the Kisiyume in the story I've written. It can be found here! I've put as much detail into these sketches as possible and made them look more like animals than they are humans. I've provided details of the Kisiyume and what you must know about them in the first image, and I put the information of the different genders in the second picture. I like this mainly because of the fact that this is very technical art about a character or characters. I have two more pictures of concept art with this kind of data analysis, both of them being of specific characters.
- I think you all remember Jade? Well, this is a different Jade. I know this seems odd, but, rest assured, this Jade follows the lore of the story. She’s a scientific experiment in this story, who had escaped in order to leave the abusive confinements of the cells in the underground laboratory. I was unsure about exposing her in the concept so I gave her a blanket, that does follow the story’s lore.
- This is another character of the story who the main character and Jade will meet up with in the sequel. He’s a mute Kisiyume who works with a woman on a television show. He had a majority of his memory taken away from him during experimentation, as well as his voice. He can’t say much about the situations he’s in because of the shock collar he has around his neck, but, when the time comes in the story, the truth about his past will be heard.
Now this is something that isn’t related to the story. The arms and other anatomy to this character, Skhen, isn’t pretty. Like, at all. And the writing is goofy as well. But the thing is, the face had a lot of patience put into it. I thought that it would be nice to showcase the face. I liked the face. I should do more with this.