I know I'm posting this really late for a Friday, but it's been one of those days. Of course, it's still Friday, so it counts. I'm just amazed that I got it done at all. Let's just say my children have learned to coordinate to do evil deeds. They may well turn out to be super villains when they grow up. Devilish, these two can be.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Here are links to the other parts of my story in case you haven't read them yet.
Memoirs From the End of the World
For now, 1 +1=2
I swore I’d travel on my own for a reason. Extra people only throw a wrench into the works when you can least afford it. Sure, when you pair up with people, you can split up the labor, and you can take turns with the watch. I understand that, but the risks aren’t always worth the benefit. After all, I’ve fed myself fine. I’ve clothed myself without any help. Why do I need anyone else to help me with the things I can already do?
Romero, I know what you’d want to say right now if you were real. You’d point out that I’m writing in a diary for company. Companionship isn’t without its perks. When you only have yourself to talk to, conversation can get boring fast. Yet, in having a diary as a companion, I can spare myself the indignity of talking to myself aloud. I might actually start believing that I’m crazy if I go too far down that road. This is as close as I can get to talking to a real person without incurring the icky strings that come attached.
Rule #5: Friends are a liability. People’s mistakes can kill you, and losing a loved one makes you weak and vulnerable to attack.
Remember, I lost my brother Pete to these creatures. That felt like a sucker punch in the gut. It seemed like I couldn’t breathe for days after that. I stumbled along through my daily life. Luckily, I was still 14 at that time, so I wasn’t running for my life yet. If I were old enough for the breeding, I would’ve been toasted by a security bot and thrown into the meat locker within seconds after Pete’s dramatic exit from the world of the living.
Anyway, I’ll summarize my latest harrowing escape from the security bots. I pulled a boneheaded move and turned a corner without checking it out first. Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you hotrod yourself into a hot mess. In my old life, any run in with the cops could be explained with a brief “Sorry officer, I was in a hurry.” (I’ll admit it, I had a tendency of skating super quick down crowded sidewalks, but I actually was in a hurry about 2/3rds of the time, I swear!) Yes, said officer would almost always dismiss what I had to say in my defense, but my punishment ranged anywhere from a warning to a modest fine. When you run straight into a security detail of techno monsters, there’s no such luck. The minimum fine is 14 years imprisonment.
So yes, I should have been more cautious. When those hands latched on to me from behind, I whirled around looking for some soft flesh to kick. In my panic, I assumed it may have been one of their spore infested minions. Some are green with bug eyes, some more squat and squishy, and others look more humanoid. With them, you never know what you’re going to get. Though none of our people are grown enough yet to be spore spawn (give it another ten years and you won’t be able to trust any child you see roaming the street), there are also those who help round up strays to curry favors with our overlords.
Rule #6: Presume that anyone might sell you out. Physical similarity does not necessarily indicate loyalty.
So, when I turned and saw a human about my age, I didn’t dismiss or assume anything. I couldn’t even assume gender, because when everyone you meet is wearing the same tattered street clothes and has the same unkempt hair that’s grown too long, it can be a challenge to differentiate. This stranger’s facial features also weren’t pronounced, and the dirt and general grime clinging to their skin obscured them further. However, when I heard the voice shouting “Run, now!” I could tell it was male. Not deep, but the sound was clear enough.
A fraction of a second later, the hands were pushing me down a set of stairs I hadn’t seen before. They led to a sidewalk that ran around the basement level of the house. My rescuer shielded me, so when the high pitch squeal associated with an identity scan went off, I know the beam hit his face instead of mine. The resolution of these scans is so high that the grubbiness that throws most people off the scent means nothing. I knew without a doubt this guy’s features were being matched up with an identity as I yanked open the basement door. We’d have to move fast to elude the inevitable pursuit.
Or so I thought.
When my knight in dirty cargo pants stopped just inside the door to catch his breath, I was stunned. “We can’t stay here,” I hissed in a low voice. “They know where we are!”
He shook his head. “They only scanned me, and they won’t bother coming after me. I’m useless to them, because I’m sterile. They may as well pick up an empty cardboard box for all the good I’d do them.”
“Lucky you,” I said. Those are honest words too. His lack of potency purchased him his freedom. And mine too.
I learned a lot about my rescuer while we moved on to another house. His name is Alyx (he made sure I learned to spell it right once he saw I’d be writing about him), and he’s searching for his brother. Apparently he wasn’t blessed with Alyx’s good fortune, and he’s been on the run. They got separated a couple of days ago. Since Alyx can pass by security bots without incident, he was gathering supplies for his fugitive brother. Then, one day, his brother wasn’t where Alyx last left him. He’s been looking ever since.
Anyway, Alyx may be handy just for his ability to circumvent the bots. So I’ll stick with him for a little while. Just not too long.
Go on to Entry #4