Authors Note: I'm responding to a question posed during the last chapter.
The protagonist has, at most, next to no memories of her past life, infected or otherwise. Her dreams are, to her, important, yet she cannot even begin to fathom their meaning. She fears them, perhaps greatly, but doesn't try to understand what they are (except here..). Basically, she's a shell. She has no idea who she is, what she is, or about anything. As such, she has no concept of embarrassment or of nudity. In the first chapter she didn't understand why it was wrong of her to pull her pants and shirt off, but when she was asked to pee into a cup, she had to deal with Robert (or Neville Robert, as she calls him) being highly embarrassed. While she herself is very intuitive, she could sense Roberts discomfort at asking her to pee into a cup. He had no idea what to expect from her, so, hence his nervousness. And embarrassment when she simply pulled her pants down and did it there.
See, if I was to write any of this, everyone would get very angry and people would start flaming. See, I doubt ANYONE wants to read about someone peeing into a cup as little as I want to write it. Hence, it's not in the chapter. It's referenced, and the audience has to merely assume. Because I am by God not writing anything like that. Sex at the start of this chapter. If you don't want to see it, leave it be. Not very descriptive, though.
I originally had this all planned out, this fic. Yet, upon the realisation of the ending I began to question why I had to continue writing it, and, to keep myself writing it (apparently it's good, according to some of the reviews I've received, and some people I've spoken to..) I've scrapped the end and let it write itself. I will spoil you this- the original ending everyone was supposed to die. So, I think I'm glad I'm changing it...
I'm sorry for the large leave of absence and the delay of the chapter. I had Writers Block and I didn't... feel like writing. Until someone rejuvenated that desire.
It was warm, where they lay.
His muscled arms were gently curved around her form, providing comfort and reassurance. Her left ear was pushed into his chest, and all she could hear was his thundering heart beat, pounding steadily to the beat of a primal drum. Her eyes were focused on his, two black luminous orbs inside a pale, gaunt face. A hand, detached from her own reached up to caress his chin and the corners over his mouth twitched. Her mate slowly rolled over, a rumble arising in his throat, the deep baritone warding off all other predators. His pale, strong arms encompassed her tiny form, and, dwarfed by him she curled up closer to his side, her own arms wrapped around his waist.
Their skin was still sweaty and pliant, yet the fast and hurried race towards ecstasy had served only to relax them, letting them lie back into their nest and enjoy the warmth of each other. She felt his hand trail down her lean back, to circle the butterfly tattoo once, before descending to roll her over onto her front once more, his strong, coarse hands lifting her up by the hips. They met together, engaging in a ritual that has been forever performed throughout time, their once hushed and quiet breathing returning to the harsh labored breathing of the powerful animals they were. Her mate growled into her back, the vibration making her in turn groan, and as his tongue flicked out to lap at the light blue colored butterfly tattoo she found herself screeching hoarsely in animalistic bliss.
With a final roar, her mate subsided, and, sated he let himself lightly relax on top of her, resting on her lithe back...
... With speed unprecedented I shot upright, my heart pounding high in my chest. The sun was up, that I could tell, the sun filtering in through the curtains of the bedroom, making visible the dust motes that danced together in the air, in the never-ending waltz of time. I felt a muscled arm slowly encircle my waist, and silently I moved back into the pillows, huddling closer to my protector, he who kept me warm and comfortable, safe in the terrifying nights.
I rubbed at my eyes with my snow white hands, hoping to rub the horrible yellow gunk from the corners of them. From beyond the glass window I could hear the birds twittering, gleeful little melodies sung high and loud, perched on top of whatever was out there. Trees, my protector had called them. Trees. Tall, brown and green natural spires that lurched into the blue sky. I lightly stretched and settled myself further into his grasp, making sure to nuzzle my head into his chest. It had become his custom- every day, at about five in the morning my protector would wake, and open the large steel windows to let the sun shine through, letting it filter through the curtains to shine upon our bodies. Why was a mystery.
We slept together, now. It had been a week since my awakening, and my protector, Neville Robert had discovered that without the sound of his beating heart overpowering the screeches of those things I heard at night, I would become a danger to both myself and him. The long cut along one side of his neck was now a testimony to that. The second night after my awakening that I slept alone, I hurt the one person that protected me, the one person that protected me and guided me.
As the protector in question stretched, the device resting on a black band on his arm began to beep, and wincing I muttered how I hated the device. In the single week I had been awake, I had learnt so much, discovered so many things. I even learnt how to juggle, but most of all to hate the sound that damnable device made. As my protector shifted my crimson eyes moved to gaze upon him, his dark eyes already focused on my face.
"Good morning," he murmured, his arms snaking away from my small body for him to stretch.
"G'morning," I whispered back, the greeting he taught me for some reason feeling alien to my lips, almost like ash on my tongue. My protector smiled as he usually did when I spoke, and he raised a dark hand to my head, rustling the very short white hair that had grown there. He moved, swinging his muscled legs over the edge of the cloth-covered bed, before raising himself to his full height. He stretched, before slowly padding out of the room, signaling the start of our morning routines. His routine I knew very well, since mine was based closely around it. I carefully stood, testing out my thin legs, reassuring myself they wouldn't collapse on me as they sometimes did, before moving to go about my routine- Sam hot on my heels.
As per my morning ritual, I would start a bath for myself, gazing out of the window, viewing the street and the world beyond the warm, safe house. When the water reached a suitable level, steam billowing up to meet my naked form, I'd lower myself into it, hissing slightly at the hot water, yet relaxing moments after as the hot water relaxed my tense muscles. Sam would sit beside me, her wet nose digging into the palm of my pale hand, short puffs of air creeping out of her nose to embrace the other air particles surrounding us, before being sucked back in, to be kept safe inside her nose. As I listened to each of the birds singing, I watched lazily the animals that roamed the tree that had grown just a few meters from the window. Its' bright brown bark was as smooth as the tables in my protectors under-place, and the leaves were a bright green, looking velvety soft in texture.
I raised my head, my hands cupping the soapy water to pour over my small form.
The dreams were getting stranger, now. As I learned more during the day the dreams became more real- more tangible, so much so I felt I could reach out and catch the nightmares, shove them in a jar and gaze upon them like a child would fireflies.
I laid back, my scarlet eyes focusing on the dust motes that danced above me, swaying to music that I could not hear. Thinking back on my life since my awakening, I had swiftly changed from horrible books for children to the more.. mature ones that I craved. Reading seemed natural, now, even though it felt alien. As if I had the skills before, as if they had been deeply ingrained in part of my mind they began to surface- basic conversation was now as easy as throwing a ball. In one week, I had learnt many objects around the house, I had learnt the names of various animals and how to use something Neville Robert called a "DVD player". Whatever it was, I could press one button, a tray would open, I'd place a disk-like thing in the tray, close the tray and then watch the tool that taught me the most, which seemed to be to the disdain of my protector. This.. "Idiot box", as he called it, despite his discomfort was an excellent learning tool. According to my protector.
My protector... I shifted, one of my hands gently running fingers through Sams' hair and the other making swirling patterns in the sud-filled water. As if on cue, my protector called out, and I knew instantly that breakfast was ready. My stomach growling in anticipation, I lifted myself out of the water, and quickly pulled one of my protectors' shirts' on, followed by some pants he'd found, although where, I have no idea.
I descended the stairs, the smell of egg and toast rising up to greet me, powerful and pungent. A hand on the wall, I slowly made my way towards the kitchen, where breakfast awaited my hungry mouth. It was as it was every morning; two glasses, two forks, a carton of drink of some description, and a steaming plate, filled with food, exactly the same. Egg, toast, and some light meat. At his usual place, opposite mine, sat my protector, his elbows on the table, his hands obscuring surely what was a smirk on his face.
"Good." I echoed, and his grin widened. I slowly sat in my seat, fidgeting slightly before picking up the plastic fork, diving it into the yellow pillow depths of the egg. The air felt soft today, gentle almost. There was little water in the air, and the day was a moderate temperature. It was, in my protectors terms, "a fucking nice day".
"You're really howing into those eggs of yours." Neville Robert commented, and I merely gazed at him, in the middle of a bite. He was merely sitting there, gazing at me with those observing eyes of his. He hadn't touched his food yet. I swallowed and nodded.
"They're good," I replied, my hawk-like eyes watching him carefully. Why wasn't he eating? After a few moments I gently placed my fork down, and straightened myself. He wanted to talk. "Yes?"
"You're speech is improving, that's good. That's real good." He assured me, a soft smile on his gentle face. "I'm proud of your progress."
"Something wrong?" He watched me guiltily for a few moments. I lowered my head and nervously began to play with a loose string on my shirt, feeling the fibers of the fabric run through my fingers. "You're progressing very well.. I'll run a few tests today, reaction, endurance, that sort of thing. Then.. well.. I don't know."
"I was thinking of taking you outside.. I mean, you've been cooped up in here for a week, you must be itching to stretch your legs." I stared at him. He meant.. go outside? Where the animals and the sun was? Where the trees were, almost begging, calling out to me to be climbed? Where fields of grass lay, stretching further than my eyes could possibly hope to see, free for me to run in? No.. it was an impossible dream. In those few seconds, I doubted him, and hideously I muttered,
In the most sarcastic and contemptuous tone I could have ever mustered. He seemed in that moment almost repelled- looking up at him I watched as my protectors' eyes widened, a look of shock and hurt filtering onto his face. I felt as if I had been slapped, the way he looked. I lowered my head, biting my bottom lip as I was apt to do when I was nervous, scared, or.. mortified. Much how I was now- not at him, but at myself.
I hadn't previously thought myself capable of such an acidic emotion. The remnants of the look on his face becoming like a sick cow in my brain. I breathed in harshly, the air rattling around in my windpipe as if what I was breathing were useless, unusable.
"I'm sorry you feel that way." He muttered, and I stared down into my breakfast. I felt heat rise into my face, most prominently into my ears, and instantly it felt as if my head were on fire. Raising a hand to my cheeks, I felt the flushed skin underneath my sensitive fingertips.
"You're blushing." I looked up, and my protector nodded at me, gently. "Typical response to negative emotional stimuli. Particularly guilt. Other possible emotions would be amused, angry, sad, horrified, embarrassed, aroused.."
He stared at me dumbly for a few minutes, before coughing into his dark hand. He began eating, appearing ravenous now. After a few mouthfuls he looked back up and said, "I ain't givin' you 'The talk'. Eat."
I did as he suggested, and started to gulp down the rapidly cooling egg and meat. "What's 'The talk'?" I asked between mouthfuls, and, startled, I looked up at the sound of him choking. He bore a pained expression on his face, one of his dark hands covering his mouth as he gagged, giving way to hard coughing, blood rushing to his face, making the skin flushed and darker. I felt my head tilt, and then bow at his icy stare.
"I can't tell you."
"It's not right." He said, shaking his bald head. "I'm sorry you don't believe me. I promise you this, we'll go out today. All three of us."
"Outside..?" I whispered, my hand gripping the fork tighter, the skin over my knuckles becoming impossibly white. I almost felt a smile spread across my face. With a short laugh, I made him promise. "Promise?"
"Of course. I promise." We comfortably went back to our meal, the uneasiness dissipating with great ease from the conversation and from ourselves. He'd promised-- and he hadn't lied as of yet. I had no reason to believe he'd ever lie to me, as he was my protector, the only person I could trust.. In the entire world.
"Will others be out there?" I asked, and at his reaction I immediately wished I hadn't. Looking up at him, his face paled considerably, and he placed his fork down on his plate, dabbing at his mouth with a napkin obviously finished even though he'd barely eaten.
"There are no others." He whispered, his normally loud voice seeming suddenly dull in my sensitive ears. I felt myself stare, my blood red eyes going wide at his declaration. Even with my lack of knowledge, how he was by far superior to myself.. the things I had read and seen on that damnable square box had shown me that there weren't just two people living in a large house in this place. That there were billions, and even though it was a number that I couldn't comprehend, and had no hope to, it inspired awe to swell in my breast when I thought about it. And now.. no others?
"No others," I echoed, and he shook his head and sighed, his elbows moving to rest on the dark wood table, his hands hiding his mouth from my sight. The room seemed bitterly cold now, the air that I breathed in feeling like ice as it ran down my windpipe and into my lungs. Why did everything become so cold so suddenly? Goosebumps were beginning to rise on my skin, and I felt overly uncomfortable sitting on the wooden chair.
"I don't know if I should tell you."
"Tell me what?"
He sighed, and rubbed the top of his bald head tiredly. "You.. There was a doctor, named Alice Krippin. She was, ultimately, working for the betterment of humanity but it backfired. You try to play God and something bad will happen to dissuade you from doing it again. She tried to cure cancer, the uncontrollable reproduction of cells, which ends with the death of a person. She thought she could cure it with an altered virus."
"It.. didn't work..?" I felt unbelievably ill in those few moments. All of this seemed so... familiar, sickly familiar. This feeling.. It reminded me of that one film my companion had shown me, in black and white, which then turned to colour. I cannot remember the name to save my life, yet, I remember the little black dog, and the girl, in her dress. It reminded me of how.. dull the world seemed. In an instant my world became black and white, and for an instant I felt almost detached from the world, merely an observer in a world of black and white.
"For a while, it did. The people who were injected with what is now the KV were cured completely of cancer. And then, a few weeks afterward.. They all began changing. Turning into creatures that killed without remorse. Aggressive beasts, all resemblance to the humans they once were completely destroyed. They were contained, for a short period of time at Ground Zero, before the virus became air-born. Then, in an astounding 24 hours, 90 percent of the population that were infected were killed, including Doctor Krippin, killed by her 'genius'." He spat the word, almost, his tone becoming more bitter the further he spoke. My breath merely hitched in my throat. "Only 2 percent of humanity was immune. There were 6 billion people on the planet. 12 million of that 6 billion were immune. That's 12 million people like you, and me. Healthy. The other five hundred and eighty-eight million that was left of the human race became monsters. They got hungry, and they went and fed and burned through the 12 million healthy people left. We're the last people in New York, possibly the world. D'you understand!?" He ended his tirade, standing angrily, his entire large form quaking with an emotion I had never felt. I merely sat, dumbfounded, my thin hands gripping tightly the chair I sat on. He no longer faced me, his normally tall and proud stature slightly hunched now, his shoulders shaking with the powerful emotion.
"I can help. I can save you. I can save everybody." He whispered. "This is Ground Zero. This is my site. I can fix it. I can fix this." I watched him as he slammed his fists angrily down on the counter infront of him, turning to me harshly. His eyes took on a crazed appearance, glazing over slightly, and for a few moments I was afraid, my heart thumping high in my chest. "I have. I've fixed this."
"You've... fixed it..?" I realised at this point in time how familiar this sounded. Thinking back on it, I realised that only a few days ago did he mention the same things. I chided myself mentally for being the fool and not paying attention.
He stopped himself at that moment, gazing at me thoughtfully, the crazed look disappearing. "Kind of," he whispered, before slowly sitting down, eating his now cold eggs with renewed vigor.
"There's... no one."
"No. Now, finish eating. We've got a big day ahead of us." Feeling sick, I did as he asked and returned to my meal, the normally soft and gorgeous tasting eggs turning to ash in my mouth. Still, I swallowed the food down ravenously, my eyes constantly on the man sitting across from me. So, he was, in truth my protector. The truth, now that I knew it, was what he had previously sought to protect me from. The truth that everyone else was dead and that he and I were the only ones alive.
And what horrified me, the emotion that shortly swamped me after the cold realisation.. was that I didn't care. I didn't care that the rest of humanity was dead- I didn't know them, nor did I care to. I found myself in that moment cursing myself. I was one person. There were... 6 billion, before, were there not? And, now, all were dead. Except for my protector. And myself. I found myself thankful for that, at least.
".. Are you alright?" I heard my protector ask me, and, startling myself out of my reverie, I nodded. I looked back down into my food, and stared at it for a few moments. There was.. something horribly wrong with what he had said. In a week I had learnt so much, when before I had known nothing. How was this possible? Shouldn't I remember these events, too? Infact, a whole lifetime of events? And what were the dreams I continuously had? What were they, things I witnessed each night speaking of less innocent things.. Of the same two people, each night. Someone.. normal- looking like the other people around her, and then, something.. looking.. horrific, yet again, looking the same as those around it.
"What did they look like?" I found myself asking. I looked up to watch as my protector stared at me. He swallowed the last of his food before standing.
"I'll show you," he muttered, before taking the dishes, sitting them beside the sink on the counter. I followed him, my eyes focused on a spot between his shoulders at the back of his neck. My protector had never sounded as he did minutes earlier. With such hate in his voice, it chilled me to the bone. I watched him idly as he unlocked the door leading towards the basement, towards the room in which I had awoken. As we descended the stairs, my bare feet making soft slapping sounds on the concrete, my protector muttered to me to wash my hands before going in. I copied his motions, turning the tap on, rubbing my hands together before turning it back off, wiping my hands on a cloth as he had done. I followed him into the room, curious. I had gone into this place before and that was never done before, when entering this room.
"Come over here," He motioned to me, and we moved closer towards the see-through wall room. I felt myself grow weary. Would he put me in there? For asking too many questions? I mentally reprimanded myself for those thoughts, confused at where they had come from. My protector had never given me reason to be paranoid, had he?
No, we didn't move into the see-through wall room. Instead, we moved to stand in front of a wall, covered with layers upon layers of pictures."These are pictures I have taken of various specimens of the Infected." He told me, and I gazed at them all, before my eyes widened in shock.
I... had seen all of these before. I had seen all of these people before. In my dreams, my nightmares, whatever you could call them. These.. were the infected? The.. creatures in my dreams were the same as these. They looked alike, and I could even recognise a few of them. I glanced down at the table infront of the wall and stared.
There.. was a picture. A woman strapped to the table, snarling, her jaw stretching unbelievably, showing her elongated teeth. She was snapping at whoever was behind the view of the picture itself. I stared, however, my eyes wide. I reached a hand down and picked it up, bringing it closer to my face, in the hopes that I was possibly wrong.
To my horror, I wasn't. I'd seen this woman, too. I bit my lip. I'd seen this woman more than I had seen any other, and at times through her eyes. Her eyes were freakishly blood red, large, yet angled at the ends, unlike my protectors. Her jaw was well pronounced, as was her forehead and her cheekbones. Infact, she almost looked like-- My head whipped back to glance at Neville Robert, and finding him facing the other way, fiddling with something I quickly pocketed the picture, hiding it in one of the holes in the fabric of my pants.
I turned around, and faced my protector. He hadn't seen anything, and for that I was thankful. It would be the first thing I'd keep from him, that I knew, but I couldn't admit it to myself. I didn't want to. I raised an arm, and gently rested a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head slightly and smiled at me. "Have hope," I whispered. I had read the same words in a small book my protector had, hidden in his room. It had other phrases in there that were appropriate, yet I couldn't remember them. It was titled, "1001 inspirational words and phrases," resting right beside another called "the little book of calm". He turned completely to me, and gently wrapped his arms about my shoulders, pulling me close to his warmth, and I savoured the tactile contact. I hated the distance. It made me feel alienated.
For him, I could feel in his muscles, it was strange, to hold someone. His muscles were slightly tense, rigid, as if he were a wall of stone. I gently wrapped my arms around his middle, and rested my cheek against his chest, listening to the sound of his heart pounding steadfast. For him, my protector, I felt a strange peace. He alone could make my worries vanish, and yet, contradicting that he was one of the main contributers to my worries and sorrows. The news he gave me not ten minutes ago was proof of that. And the picture resting in my pocket..
"We should get moving. Not enough hours in the day, my friend." He said, and I felt warm, suddenly. My face felt warm, and so did my stomach. I could tell I was blushing again, and his incredulous expression only confirmed it. "What's with the blush?"
"You called me 'My friend'. You haven't called me anything before." I whispered, settling nicely into his arms, not wanting to move from the warmth.
"You do need a name.." My protector muttered, one of his hands lazily rubbing my back between the shoulders.
"You don't know mine?"
"No.." I couldn't help the bubble of disappointment rise up in me, threatening to choke me. I pushed it down, and closed my eyes, trying to shut out the horrible thoughts that threatened to consume me. About that damned picture, about that damned woman..
The moon was bright and high in the night sky. The streets were far from empty- filled with cars and trucks, littering the concrete and pavement. Up high, on one of the tallest buildings lay a creature, panting and crying out with pain. This creature was tall, that much could be discerned from it's long legs and long arms, the arms wrapped about it's own stomach and it's legs spread, ever so slightly. The female was struggling with something, perhaps even nature itself as it cried out, it's features screwed up in torrential pain. She was clothed in nothing, her albino white skin shining in the pale moonlight, the sweat beading on her skin causing the light to bounce off the small beads in showers of colour and light. Beside this female creature writhing on a bed of cloth, crouched a male, his dark eyes focused entirely on the female writhing beside him. One of his hands was gently resting on her left shoulder, the other resting gently over the females on her stomach. His eyes were almost pained as he watched his mate writhe on the rooftop, surprise becoming the dominant emotion when she let out a piercing scream, mingled with the cries of another, far younger being...
I opened my eyes, an odd sense of calm washing over me in the few seconds of my reawakening. Usually I'd be confused and almost distraught, horrified, yet this time I felt more at ease. Coming out of the dream, I looked up at my protector to see him staring down at me in a confused and worried manner. I raised a hand to gently touch his chin, running my pale white fingers over his dark smooth skin.
"You alright..? You.. seemed a little out of it for a second.."
So. The dream had lasted only a second. Perhaps this was a vision I had often heard about, read about in books. Yet the visions I'd heard about were usually of the future, and, for some reason I couldn't shake the feeling this one was about the past. I, however, forced a smile upon my face, and I felt myself utter my second deception.
The tests my protector had spoken of, the 'endurance' and the 'reaction' tests, were in the end, avoided, possibly to my relief. We had merely stood in the room my protector called "the lab", my red eyes focused on his brown ones, and his focused on mine. It was just a few moments, yet I knew were minutes- it was impossible to calculate, as I gazed into my companion's luminous eyes, trying to fathom what went on in those glorious depths. I could see thought almost swimming inside his eyes, hypnotizing in its' fluidity. The moment, as all moments are, was broken, by the sudden, harsh beeping from his watch, located on his left arm. We both glanced down, seemingly in sync, both of us grimacing at the metallic object.
He sighed, and with a graceful movement, switched it off, the harsh beeping no longer ringing in my ears. I only hated the sound because it was sharp, loud and high pitched, intermittent by only a second. It annoyed me, like various other sounds did. The microwave beeping, was another, but didn't annoy me so much as the watch did, especially in the early hours of the morning, when I was barely awake. To have that drum into my head.. I shook my head at my protector and he chuckled.
"You still don't like it?" He asked, as if reading my mind. It was curious how he always managed to, managed to know how and what I was thinking, even the train of thought I was on, just by watching me for just a few seconds.
"No," I replied, letting a slight grumble enter my voice- something which was of usual raspy and monotone. I might not have liked the damnable watch, but in those few moments I loved it, knowing that we had somewhere else to be, and would be late, interrupting my companion's pre-meditated schedule, which was something my protector despised. He hated his schedule being ruined.
"You'll get used to it. I promised you I'd take you outside today, so I will keep my promise. The tests will have to wait for a later date." I grumbled at this, my right nostril crinkling, as if something distasteful wafted up the nasal passage, stimulating my sense of smell, which my protector had said was 'enhanced', whatever that meant. "Don't snark at me," my protector muttered in a sarcastic tone, one of his hands soothingly rubbing the small of my back, "it's something that's got to be done, alright?"
"Why the tests? Is there something wrong with me?" I asked, focusing on the sound of his heartbeat as it slowly began to race. I raised a hand, and gently placed it against the center of his chest, just above his bright warm core. "You beat faster.."
"That's my heart.. You can hear that... even from there?"
"Yes." I can hear it from across the room, was the unspoken reply, my heart desperately warring my mind to let the words leech themselves from my pale lips. Yet, as silent as the grave, I let my hands and fingers run over the contours of his chest, almost fascinated by the muscles underneath the rather large shirt he wore. My protector was very large, very strong. I could almost feel it in every breath, the way his muscles moved in tandem with his lungs, pulsing under my fingertips. I stared up into his black face, almost searching for something in his eyes. "Am I sick?" I questioned, watching my own piercing red gaze in the reflection of his smooth brown eyes.
"You're not well." My companion muttered, and again I felt his heartbeat begin to race.
"Not well.. I don't feel.. 'not well'." I muttered, staring at my hands splayed on his chest, deathly white against the brown, coarse fabric.
"I'm trying to find out why you can't remember anything, why you've got no pigmentation. But let's not worry about that right now. I've got a promise to fulfill. Come on. Let's see New York, huh?"
New York, as he called it, wasn't as beautiful as I thought it would be.
The street outside the windows lied about the truth of the world- outside his windows, nothing was out of place, and everything was immaculate, perfect in every way, how the leaves fell on the ground, how they were situated on the trees, how the birds knew the precise places to sit that let them bask in the sun all day long. But... outside of this impossibly small space, this small street, looking about one could see how delapitated the buildings were, how they became unkempt, grass breathing the morning air through cracks in the large concrete my protector called 'road'. Yet, the concrete and glass spires shot up into the sky, proud as if they would stand to live a hundred lifetimes. Yet, the windows were unkempt, dirty and filthy, a layer of grime coating the inside and outside layers. I could see cracks in so many walls, and even some buildings had begun to collapse, others already collapsed, for reasons unknown. Yet, as proud as they were they wouldn't stoop so low as to help another building in pain, would they? The buildings themselves reminded me of the people I had read about, of the people my protector often told me about. He had once said that he used to have pride in the human race. That now, he didn't, was of great interest to me, and the revelation during breakfast, the knowledge of the KV and Dr Krippin.. it made sense as to why he would think that. He'd spoken of how they poluted the planet- whatever poluted meant. Of how they, instead of seeking renewable energy, they kept pumping Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. And at those remarks, I would tilt my head and ask him what they meant. And, he'd gently pull me aside and say, calmly, that it was slightly too advanced for me. As if talking to a child. Perhaps, I was a child. I had no knowledge of the world around me, and I had to be taught, practically from the bottom up. How would I know anything about terms such as 'renewable energy' or 'carbon dioxide'? That's right. I don't. I have no clue. And I doubt he'd tell me, so cautious, my companion is, to reveal to me the true natures of the world we inhabit.
This world, this place he called New York wasn't as beautiful as what I'd seen and read about. I'd imagined buildings a hundred thousand people tall, made entirely out of glass- glass spires glimmering in the shining daylight and reaching towards the stars. But, I didn't see any of that. Not at all.
Turning around to face my protector, I watched as he laboured over a pump, lifting the lever up and down repeatedly in a rhythm that seemed to be set in habit, a movement having been repeated for so long it seemed natural, yellow light from the sun (which I basked in the warmth of) streaming over his features. I watched him for a few moments, the sweat pouring down his face, almost the same as when he was exercising, on the machine that made the ground move, and I watched as he straightened up, wiping his brow, letting out puffs of air in what I could tell was exhaustion. I moved closer towards him and muttered, "You're tired."
"Yeah. Still got 60 litres to go, though." He grumbled at this, almost, before beginning to bend back down to the pump. In a movement that even I could barely register, my arm shot out and gripped the handle of the pump, and with a single arm I pushed down as hard as I could, pulling up again in a rhythm much like his. Yet, his grip was two handed, and, staring at me in shock, my companion watched as I did his task with relative ease, with one hand. It was a relatively hot day, I could tell, with the sun blaring down from above onto the back of my neck and bare head, and yet I found that the heat didn't bother me so much as it did my companion- he was sweating until his shirt was damp and I was barely bothered. Why was I so different..?
"That's a heavy lift.. how the hell are you doing that?" I raised an eyebrow as I tilted my head up to look at him. The expression on his face was almost incredulous, as if what I was doing was somehow hard. "You've retained a lot of the physical deformities..." He muttered to himself, and I snapped up straight, staring him in the eyes.
"Deformities? Retained? What.. what do you mean?" I watched as he slowly backed away, watching me carefully, scrutinizing me with an eye that I never recalled seeing before.
"I can't give you those answers."
"I can't tell you."
"Give me reasons why!"
"You wouldn't understand."
I stared at him, my chest suddenly heaving. My lungs in such a small amount of time had shrunk to the size of a small pea, and I could not push enough air into them to make it better. I felt constricted inside- what was this feeling? Why did all of a sudden my insides groan in protest of movement? Why did all of a sudden it become hard to breathe? I knew this feeling, this horrible nightmare I was experiencing. I felt it seconds before I woke for the first time, before light soared under my eyelids. I felt the sensation of being turned inside out moments before waking up, of being forced into an impossibly small space. And I was feeling it again.
Speech seemed impossible, as I sucked air in my lungs. Why will no coherent thought come? I slammed my fist down against the pump, feeling something shatter and break but not caring enough to even think about looking. "Am I not like you? I want a reason! I want to know what the hell is wrong with me!"
"I'm not qualified to give you those answers."
"You said there was no one left. That makes you the most qualified! Now, damnit, give me answers!" Down my hand went, again, slamming into the pump. I watched as my protector winced, and I shook my head, a growl rising in the back of my throat. "Please, I want to know. Why can't I remember anything? Why can't I remember my past? You have a past- you've told me about it many times. Why don't I have one?"
"I don't know. I don't have those answers."
Stop lying!, I wanted to scream at him, feeling sweat beginning to bead on my forehead. For some reason I felt too hot, far too hot, as if my blood itself was boiling. Even over my own heartbeat pounding in my ears, I could hear his beginning to beat faster and faster- perhaps faster than my own.
"I need you to trust me."
"Tell me my name."
My protector watched me for a few moments in complete shock. "What...?"
"Tell me my name!" I raised my voice this time, my blood red eyes entirely focused upon his bottomless, brown ones. "I want to know my name." I pointed to Sam, the dog having remained eerilly quiet for the entire time, mimicking my companion's actions and words mere days ago. "This is Sam." I pointed to him and said, "This is Neville Robert." I pointed at myself and cried at him, "This is what? What am I? Who am I?"
"What do you want me to say? I can't give you those answers- I don't know them! I have no clue!"
I turned away from him, my eyes catching on the pump, the metal deformed where my fist had come into contact with it. Only after looking at the pump did I realise the dull ache taking place in my left hand. I lifted my hand to my face and studied it, watching as blood lightly trickled down my hand. I found, that the ache in my hand wasn't the only ache I bore. There was another one, deep, somewhere I couldn't fathom. It was... inside. Deep inside. As if what was my soul was crying out for some kind of resolution.
I no longer faced my protector, my eyes merely observing myself, the clothes I wore, the shoes on my feet. It was high summer, my protector had said, and he'd given me a light brown shirt, some multi-coloured shorts, featuring various greens, olives and browns. The shoes were what he called 'sneakers', yet I recognised them from a magazine I had pilfered from the bookshelf in our sanctuary. They were called 'converses', or something to that effect, and were apparently high in regard with teenagers of the time. Whatever teenagers were. They were nice shoes, fairly comfortable, and somehow wearing them, the black converses, made some kind of sense to me. As if I had worn them before, yet I knew this was the first time I had ever worn shoes.
Although, I had no idea what relevance 'high summer' had in reference to my clothes.
"I know so much and so little. Tell me the truth, please. I'll find out anyway." I pleaded, turned my head slightly to face him. "Why am I so different to you? To the pictures in the books? Why do I have red eyes instead of blue, green and brown? Why do I have white hair instead of brown, yellow and red? Why is my skin the colour of the dead?
"Was I dead?"
"I'm sorry, sir, it won't happen again. I promise," a pleading voice cried out, a pale hand reaching back for the knob or handle of a door, feeling for something, anything that could get it out of the horrific situation it was in.
"No, it won't. I put food on the table, put food in your stomach, and this is how you pay me back? By spitting it all back in my face?"
The girl with long black hair stood up straighter, her fathers defiance creeping into her tone, and cried out indignantly, "I cook your food, I clean your house, and this is how you pay me back? I clean your plate, I wash your clothes, I polish your shoes, General, and you treat me.. you treat me like shit! As if I'm your slave!"
"But, my dear.." The large, boisterous man leaned forward, his huge, broad shoulders rippling under the soft cloth of his army uniform. His voice, a deep baritone, somehow managed to find it's way through his large mustache and to her ears, the prospect of which humoured the girl to some extent. Yet, try as she might, she couldn't find the will to smile, or even at least laugh, inside in this situation. "You are my slave.. didn't you know? You were sold to me when your mother married me. Look around you, Chihiro. (someone) is probably enjoying yahtzee with the ladies at the club, Kana is grocery shopping and the twins... well, I've always said they were boys after my own heart." The man leaned forward and rested a huge hand on the girls tiny shoulder, an action which she soon would start recoiling from. "You're a tall, young girl. And your mother tells me you've just entered puberty, yes? You'll be growing fast, soon, my dear.. Yes.. You're perfect."
Chihiro stuttered backwards, her back coming into contact with the cold, impersonal wall. It was almost comical to her, that she realised now that her bedroom was as cold and impersonal as her mother. Even looking at the walls sent shivers up her spine, and she searched a little more frantically for the blessed door knob. When her 'father' encroached upon her person, strong hands and arms wrapping themselves around her, groping, she renewed her efforts, with greater desperation than before.
"Oh god.. Oh god oh god oh god! Chihiro! Chihiro!"
"Oh god, Chihiro.. You're going to be alright, you're going to be okay."
"Shh, save your strength, baby, save your strength. Um, yes, can I please have an ambulance? It's an emergency! Um.. We're in an alley behind an Indian resturaunt- the Taj Mahal, in Queens? I have a 13 year old girl here, bleeding from head to toe. She's.. she's um.. She's losing consciousness, I think, she's.. Oh god, I don't think she's breathing! Chihiro!"
Authors Note: I understand that this is a very abrupt chapter, different from the rest. Yet, as they often do, my writing style has changed slightly with time and practice, and as such, I can present the characters' emotions in new and interesting ways. However, seeing as I do not have a Beta as of yet, I have spent the past few days painstakingly editting this to make it flow easier. Yet, I feel, that the more awkward this fic is, the better it is.
You will notice that the female protaganist, while she has significantly grown since the last few chapters, has sort of gone backwards, as well. It is up to audience interpretation. I'm not entirely sure this story even works, and, I'm only continuing it because several people have expressed interest. Please do read and review, and leave as much constructive critism as possible. As I am running without a beta, and without much writing experience to speak of, I'm pretty much flying by the seat of my pants without adequate lighting. As such, I apologise for any literary blunders and if they are pointed out to me, I will very much fix them up as soon as I am able. I hope you have enjoyed this last chapter, and please, contact me with any theories you may have about the direction of the story, of the characters, etc etc. There will be some time jumps, seeing as this part should span about a year, however, I must warn you that there are some very mature themes within this fic relating to sexual abuse, spousal abuse, slavery, physical abuse, and neglect. If you're sensitive to any of these issues, please do not read further, or, do so at your own knowledge. This story is mainly my attempt to a) write to an audience, as I haven't before, and b) explore themes present within my own life.
There are three parts total. And I will leave you, readers, and bid you adieu. Please read and review, constructive critism, as I am running in the dark, is very much appreciated, so long there is no flaming or claiming that any of the characters portrayed (I don't own I Am Legend!) are Mary/Gary Sue/Stu's, or, if the characters exhibit those qualities, please notify me at once. I understand that the female protaganist surely does, seeing as she's super strong with super hearing and super sight, etc, etc, but understand where I'm coming from- I'm diving into both universes, of the book and of the movie, going with Vampire lore. And yes, she may not be Infected anymore, but there are reasons as to why she is the way she is. Continue reading and you may, or may not (I have the tendancy of asking people to cut the strongest trees down with Red Herrings) find the answer. Thank you very much for your patience.