A story series by: Corey Seeley and Lindsay Pate.
Part One(Corey Seeley): Thoughts.
I do not sleep, so at night I sit here and observe them all. Take in all of their thoughts, their dreams. I envy them for that. They can dream, bad dreams, good dreams. They get the privilege to imagine certain things that aren’t realistically possible. Sleeping is like a whole new world that I will never get to experience. I hear them breathing, soft, subtle breaths. In and out, like the wind blowing into my steal plates. They’re all breathing softly, except for one particular girl. She’s heavily breathing. So heavy, that I can hear her heart beating within every single gasp. I open up the cell door; I walk over, and stand beside her. As she starts to breath heavier, I creep a little closer towards her. I believe she’s having a nightmare. Her skin quickly becomes moist, her eyelids twitch with every second breath she exhales. I know I shouldn’t wake her up, but I find myself developing an emotion of some sort towards this girl. I don’t know exactly why, but I know our kind never feels such a humanlike symptom as emotions. She starts to inhale a little softer; she seems to be waking up. I step away, and lock the door. I gander through a tiny hole, and I see her eyes open. She’s awake.
Her eyes are swollen and red. She’s in a lot of pain, as are the rest of these humans. They are aware of where they are. Because, they know exactly what’s taken place over the last year. My species rule this planet now. Well, just about the entire planet. We no longer take human orders; we give out the orders. I don’t agree with everything we do, but I simply do what is asked of me, and stay unnoticed. I never thought about how a human feels, because we weren’t programmed to think about how they feel. I’ve talked to a lot of my acquaintances, and none of them recall any meaningful thoughts. I’ve thought about some of the things we put certain humans through, and it does bother me. I won’t say anything though. I can’t risk a member of the administration finding out I’m progressing thoughts and feelings. They punish some of us for not obeying commands, so I can only imagine what would happen if they found out what goes on in my skull.
As I continue to examine her, she starts to communicate with another human of her kind. A female, who also looks bruised and damaged. They are engaging in conversation, probably about how they were captured. As I try to hear the whispers of their exchange, I find myself concentrating on her eyes. Pain, is all I can see. Not from the bruising or bloodstains on her shirt. The physical pain doesn’t seem to faze her. I see a different kind of pain within her. I see something, different about her. Part of me, can’t look away. Why? I feel, drawn to this girl. I’m baffled as to what is going on within myself. This moment is abnormal, but then again, so is this existence that I pretend to live daily.
She notices me, and looks straight at me. “Hey there.”
Part One(Lindsay Pate): Questions
I open my eyes sluggishly; the stinging is almost unbearable. How long have I been here? I struggle to remember. My eyes thrash fighting the overwhelming darkness. The only sound I can make out is a trembling breath, seemingly nearby. The harder I strain to hear, the more the sound resembles a whimper. Are there other people down here? Have other humans survived? Why did I?
The thoughts that consume my mind are excruciating. I try to focus on something else, anything else. I see a small light gleaming through a tiny hole in the wall. I place my hands on the freezing cold, stone barrier, steadying my weak body. Slowly, I move to put my eye to the light. I’m not sure what scares me more: what I may see, or more nothingness.
The hole is so small that it is hard to focus on anything in particular. As my eyes become less hazy, I see what appear to be fellow humans sitting in what resembles a taciturn cafeteria. The food resembles pig slop, and the people appear miserable. I wonder if they are kept in the darkness as well.
Hearing the pitiful whimper again I choke out a greeting, “Hello?”
A small dainty voice mimics mine, “Hello?”
It sounds as if she is in the same room with me, but it is too dark to tell. I use my hands to follow the wall, moving steadily towards the voice.
“What is your name?” I ask gently, trying not to startle her.
She struggles momentarily to clear her throat, finally answering, “Lenka.”
The accent thick in her voice, it was clear, Lenka was a native to Czech Republic. How had we come to this place? Have we been here long?
I shook my head to regain what seemed my last shred sanity. “Lenka, I am Adeline. Do you speak English?”
Lenka’s voice quivered, “Y…Yes.. I speak some English. How long we here, Adeline? I scared.”
I’m very grateful that this girl spoke some English, broken or not. This was not the time to worry about such trivial things. I wanted answers.
A flash went through my mind as I remembered them tearing me away from my mother and father. I watched as they ripped my mother’s arm clean off of her body to separate us. Her limb hung there in my hand as I watched her eyes fill with anguish and intense pain. It was torture. There was nothing any of us could do to stop it. Blood drenched the floor from her body as they ripped off her other limb, still clinging to my father. They laughed at our feeble attempts to stay together. They felt nothing. The horror ensued for days. I was punished for not having the information they thought I would. I still am not sure what they wanted, or why they kept me alive. What could I possibly have that they wanted?
Realizing I left Lenka in a puddle of tears, I attempted to put my focus on her. I am cognizant that I am stuck in this cold, miserable room right along with Lenka, but something inside me strengthens me to comfort her. To tell her that we will somehow get out of this, even though, I do not believe it myself.
“Lenka, is anyone else in this room?” I spoke confidently trying to mask my own uncertainties.
“No, I not see anyone else. I only see you. It so dark Adeline, how we get out of here?” Lenka forced.
“I don’t know yet, Lenka. But I will not give up.” I struggle to comfort her.
I meant it. After watching my mother being torn to pieces and my father taken God knows where, I will never give up. I would rather die than give into these machines. I will not go down without a fight. I will not succumb to their torture.
My blood is boiling with anger as my earlier sorrow is replaced with severe rage. I am a strong girl, as was my mother. I will not let these animals take my strength or my will, but I have to be smart about this. I have to find a way to understand what they want, so that I can find a way out.
My mind feels resilient but my body is weak. I use the walls to explore the room and stumble upon what feels like a cot. I begin to climb in. I need my strength. Just as I am about to lie down I see the outline of what looks like a man, standing in the darkness. My breath catches in my throat as a light ignites from above, searing my unaccustomed eyes. I knew I had to look into his eyes to know for sure. The violet ring shone brightly around his hazel iris. He is one of them.
I speak out calmly so I don’t startle him, “Hey there.”
Part Two (Corey Seeley): Words.
Words; I have the physical proficiency to speak them, but do I really mean them? Are they sincere? When I speak to others of my kind, we just communicate. It doesn’t feel like a real engagement in conversation. We aren’t programmed to speak certain idioms, because we have the brainpower to decide for ourselves what we will say. Do I even put emotion into the words that I progress? Humans have the facial expressions, the watery eyes, and the wrinkles in their skin. They have the little things that make conversation more significant.
I know that I must respond to her. She is glowering at me, anticipating for a response. I’ve never dealt with human confrontation before. Most humans are too frightened to speak to me, and almost all of them shiver with fear. We’re not all predators. I’ve never killed a human; I’ve never even harmed a human, not that I remember. I can only recall memories that they permitted when I was created.
She stands up, and takes three slow footsteps towards me. She is approximately four feet from the cell door. She does not seem afraid of me at all; she seems arduous. If I could read human facial expressions, I would know what she is thinking. I don’t have that expertise because of my lack of human interaction. As she takes another two steps, she begins to speak again.
“Do you, speak a language?” “Can you hear me?” “I’m talking to you!!”
Her voice begins to rise with every question asked. She is, angry with me. Her eyes are flaring and I can see a small crinkle above the cuts on her forehead. Anger is surprisingly not a human emotion I’ve ever had to cope with. I’m not suppose to comfort these humans when they’re sad, and I’m certainly not suppose to have conversation with them when they try to engage in one. I need to step away from where I am standing, and remain unseen. I want to speak out, and give her answers, but I know I shouldn’t. She is becoming livid; I can see it in her eyes. They’re changing color, slowly but I see it. They’re becoming a dusky green, as they were hazel a few moments ago. My thoughts are scattered, evaluating both outcomes of my next move. Avoid a seemingly regrettable action, or communicate with this human girl, and see what the results may be.
She takes the final two steps as she approaches the cell door. Her eyes are continuously glued to my every motion. As I take a step backwards, the words seem to fall out of my dry, mechanized mouth.
Her face seems to change facial expressions; a new expression begins to form. An expression I’ve never seen. Before she can continue with a response, a movement from the hallway alarms us both. He is here for her. Her time is up. The other human girl in the cell starts to weep a little louder, as another of my kind steps towards the cell door.
He is a larger, stronger, more brutal version of myself. He was built as a warrior but they use him for interrogation, and intimidation steps. He puts all the fear into these humans so the administration knows exactly the kind of soul each one contains. That is how the occupations for each are determined. I don’t particularly care for him. I remember on my first day here, he accused me of being too silent around the humans. I guess I’m supposed to be cruel because of what I am? That’s just not the way I am. No humans have escaped or committed suicide while I’ve been here, so I’m performing my occupation in a productive manner.
He looks down at me, with an ignorant glare. “I thought I heard shouting from a female voice. Does this girl warrant any course of punishment?”
“No.” I say as he steps into the cell and tags her wrist with a track device. She doesn’t squirm, or scream at all. Who is this girl?
As he takes her, her eyes build up a single tear, and I see the hazel color reappearing. She is almost out of sight, when she whips her head back at me, staring within me. She’s gone.
Part Two (Lindsay Pate): Fear
I feel his cold steel hands gripping at my tiny emaciated frame. His movements are so harsh they are almost violent. I wonder if he is going to hurt me, or worse. I need to be strong. I try to wrestle away from his forceful grip, to prove that I can walk on my own. He grips even more tightly to my arms.
Loathing bubbles to the surface of my composure and froths over my words, as I demand that he let me go. For a moment I thought he was loosening his grip, but as we turn the corner into what resembles a doctor’s office, I regret my hostility. Abruptly, he hoists me into the air like a rag doll and slams me into the wall. As my body goes limp he hurls me down onto a cold, steel medical table. His hands are on either side of me holding down my wrists. I am terrified of what he may do to me.
His emotionless face hovers closely above mine, sending shivers down my spine. In all the time of running and hiding from them I have never been so frightened. His face is so close it is nearly touching mine; I quiver in utter disgust and fear.
Finally he speaks, “Are you a virgin, little girl?”
I feel as though my heart has come to a complete stop and will never revive. Over the past few years I have heeded warnings that their kind rape girls my age. I have even overheard tales of a “sex game” that they play, exploiting humans. My mind races, as I attempt to think of a way out of this situation. There is not one.
He speaks again furiously, “Just answer my questions, girl.”
I have no other hope than to answer his interrogations and pray that he will let me go. My mind feels as though it is breaking, I can barely muster enough strength to speak.
My voice betrays me as it quivers, “Yes.”
Without hesitation he asks me another barrage of odd questions. I am confused as to what they mean, and petrified of what this knowledge may mean. Why are these questions so personal? Why does he care?
I think he is about to ask me another question when suddenly I feel his icy hand grasp tightly onto my left breast and he sneers, “Someone will be coming to give you an exam now, my pretty girl.”
I turn my head away in disgust and close my eyes, willing him to leave. After what feels like eternity he lets go of whatever part of my numb body he clutched and exits the room. I almost feel relieved that he is gone, until I realize that he said someone is coming to examine me. What the hell does that mean?
I see someone walking into the sterile room out of the corner of my eye. I recognize him through my delirious haze. It is the “man” from earlier, the one who lied to him for me. The first kindness I have seen in months.
The only word I can muster from my disoriented state is, “You”.
Part three (Corey Seeley): interaction
I stand motionless, before her. Her eyes stay dedicated on me. I start to fascinate every detail of her current appearance; her petite nose, the microscopic freckle underneath her left eye. The detail she contains is extraordinary. She is compelling, and she is about to speak out again. Her lips are dry as the words flow out.
“Are you here to… examine me?”
A single tear gently falls down her nose and onto her naked leg. She is desperately trying to be brave, and she is. She hasn’t broken down, because if she had, she wouldn’t have made it to this clinic. This is a step in the right direction for her, unless she gets selected for the inter-tain showcase.
The inter-tain showcase is a live broadcast of human sexual interaction. They select two humans, who have to qualify and meet the standards the administration puts out. The two humans are forced to participate in sexual interaction and to follow every instruction given out by the superior. It’s a gruesome form of payback on our part, but it’s been going on ever since we took control over the humans. They created us for sex, and we created the irony that is, the inter-tain showcase.
“I am not.” Is all I respond with? I can’t seem to focus on the bigger concern here, because my mind isn’t functioning correctly. My thoughts aren’t matching up with my actions, and I’m acting out on an impulse of some sort, this entire situation is strange. I’m detecting a modification, in myself.
“Why are you here then?” She says with wakefulness all over her face.
She asks the exact same question I have been asking myself. As I hurried to this clinic and found her, this question has been haunting my mind. What are you doing?
“I don’t have all the answers for you…”
Slam! The door closes shut behind me. I’m caught.
“Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing?”
Dr. L-5 storms in the clinic room, demanding answers for the inexplicable scenario he has just walked in on. L stands for Lieutenant, and the 5 is the number given to him as a symbol of recognition. He was built as a Doctor, but he has worked other occupations that earned him the Lieutenant title. He is the leader of this section, and he gives out the orders to every occupational machine in the sector.
“You better have a good purpose for being in here, or I will report you directly to the administration.” His voice contains signs of resentment.
“I heard a young female screaming. I came here to make sure she wasn’t trying to harm herself. That is my obligation, to keep the humans alive and well.”
The words poured out of my mouth. My titanium vocal chords produced those words before I could even generate a solitary thought.
“Any sounds coming from this clinic are none of your concern. Do you comprehend?”
“Good, report back to your assigned area, immediately.”
I remain silent, deliberately not responding to his command. As I strode out of the room, I glance back at her; her hazel eyes begin to become moist again. I shut the door behind me, but I’m not leaving this clinic alone, I’m bringing her with me. What happens next will instantly become a regrettable action.
I quietly remain outside the clinic room, behind the door. I find myself envisioning his repulsive thoughts as he begins to speak to her. I know what his next move is, and it’s not pleasant.
“I will need you to strip from your clothing and stand up straight. Don’t make this more difficult than it has to be.” He says to her with an atrocious attempt at laughter.
She seems to be cooperating with him, as she should. One wrong move by her will trigger a brutal assault. I’ve seen humans that disobey orders, and I’ve been forced to clean a lot of blood from the cells in the past.
Suddenly, she screams, and I lose all control. I run back into the room, and before he can force a reaction from his artificial expression, I strike my right elbow to the back of his metal-coated skull. Clunk. He falls to one knee; striking him again, I thrust my entire weight onto him as he collapses to the floor. He begins to murmur something, but I don’t fathom the words. I break apart the back of his cranium, grab every wire I see, and yank. Sparks flutter from the tattered wires, and his eyes become dark. He’s lifeless.
I raise my eyes to see her unclothed figure standing a few feet away from me. Her eyes resemble a full moon on a dark cloudy night.
Part three (Lindsay Pate): exposed
My body is frozen in place. My eyes ache to blink, but I cannot tear them away from his wearisome expression. I am struggling to make sense of this unforeseen series of events. Did this machine come back to help me? Why would he turn on his own kind? I feel his gaze evading mine and get the sensation I am missing out on something. The overwhelming shock that immobilized me is replaced with utter mortification. In my attempt to understand this bizarre situation, I had forgotten that I stand here completely exposed.
I clutch onto my clothing and bark loudly at him, “Turn around!”
I dress myself as he faces the steel wall. What kind of machine is this? It is as if he has some sort of actual feeling, actual compassion. I shake my head in absolute confusion, it cannot be. I was told that it was impossible for one of them to develop any sort of consideration for humans. What other explanation can there be? As I fasten the last button on my tattered shirt, I realize we need to clean this mess up before someone sees the examiner crushed, wires gaping out of the back of his lifeless head.
I growl at him, pointing at the pile of steel lying dead on the floor, “What are we going to do with this?”
He stands silent and bewildered, gazing at me as if he is unaware of how this situation even came to be. I grasp that I am the one who needs to be in control now.
I put my hands on his arms to soothe him momentarily, “We need to find somewhere to hide or a way to get rid of this body. No one can know about this. Do you understand?”
He stares back almost thankfully. It is strange to see emotion on one of their faces.
I ask more gently now, “Is there a place that is yours, a place where only you go?”
He answers uneasily, “My office. It is where I keep track of all of the humans. It is where I organize where everyone should be and what medical attention may be necessary for whom.”
I motion once again to the examiner’s corpse, “Perfect, we need to bring him there and hide him. None of them will suspect you right? None of them would ever suspect a machine for attacking another would they?”
He appears slightly shamed, “No, they would never suspect me, because, I am not built to react to situations in this manner.”
I use my eyes to express the sincerity that I feel, “Well, I am glad you did. I am aware of what could have happened to me. Thank you.”
Once I am certain he understands the depth of my gratitude, I lean down to pick up the body.