I watched the two girls in disgust as they prepared themselves to listen attentively to Dr. Everett. I could tell immediately that they were no longer human, even before the doctor could. As soon as they had stepped in the room I had analyzed every strip of their DNA and had not been completely surprised at what I’d found.
I stood straight as a rod, propped up on a pedestal on a long, flat shelf, imprisoned in a glass case much like the cases of my siblings and covered with a velvety purple cloth that only I could manage to see through. My name was plated at the very base of the dome that covered me: Kapricorn Reserved for Instantaneous Situations. The “K” at the beginning of my title was there to differentiate me from the original Capricorn model, who had met an unfortunate end a few years back. But, despite its nonexistence, Capricorn’s commands, functions, and settings were still programmed in every piece of technology Dr. Everett owned, and so I was stuck with an acronym for a name. They say if you’re ersatz you cannot dream, but my dream is to get out of this prison and take control of my own synthetic life. Or, possibly, the lives of others.
“So what exactly is going on, Doctor?” The red-headed girl asked. I sat back (not physically, only mentally) and watched in default interest as I witnessed for the first time a conversation between Dr. Everett and another human being.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to be a little more specific than that!” The doctor replied, chuckling.
The original speaker exchanged a glance with her dark haired companion before saying, “Okay- how and why have some people ‘mutated’?”
“Simple!” Dr. Everett replied with a smile, “Once the atomic bombs went off, radiation practically covered the country and gallons of it seeped into the bodies of every living thing. But, these weren’t just any nuclear bombs- they were the product of mad science! Completely radon based, from what I’ve gathered.”
“What about the mutants?” The dark haired woman cut in.
“I’m getting to that!” Dr. Everett waved her off, “Anyway, once the radiation seeped in completely, you all died!” This was met with complete silence and disbelief, until the doctor burst out laughing. “Your hearts all stopped for a few moments before they began beating again! So much radiation got in, it was almost as if your body over-flowed with it to a point where you were brought back to life!” The two girls dared not blink as the old man laughed and laughed. “I know, shocking, isn’t it? Think about it; the night that the bombs went off, isn’t there some piece of your memory that’s missing? When you know time passed but you can’t think of what you were doing or what was happening? Haha!”
“So how did we mutate?” The red head asked again, getting impatient.
“Some people received more radiation than others,” the old man explained after getting his laughter under control, “In fact, most people did! But only a few people went through life-threatening situations, which is usually the only cause for mutations.”
“So what you’re saying,” the dark haired one thought out loud, “Is that pretty much everyone in the world has the potential to become a mutant? And that the only real way to mutate is to die again?” The doctor shook his head.
“I didn’t say that,” he said, “First off all, it’s not everyone in the world- it’s everyone in the United States. This was the only country that was bombed.”
“What?” The red head exclaimed in shock while the dark haired one sat in rigid silence. “But why? And won’t the radiation carry over to the rest of the world?
Dr. Everett shrugged, “Eventually,” he said, “And as to your first question, I don’t know. Why it was just the States that were attacked is a mystery, although I think the best guess is that it was just an upscale terrorist attack.”
“Wait, wait,” the dark haired one spoke up, bringing attention to herself. “If this really was a nuclear attack, wouldn’t people have been on fire and disfigured and blown to pieces? Why are we all still here?”
“Who’s to say you were not blown to pieces?” Dr. Everett said with a smile. “Next question.”
“I’ve got one,” the dark haired girl said, a little more boldly than I would’ve expected, “How do we get out of this? We’ve seen the barriers you talked about in your book.”
“What do you mean?” He asked, “You’ve already gotten out!”
“We have?” the red head asked, raising her eyebrows in astonishment.
“Well, you’ve gotten out of the city,” Dr. Everett replied. “The water projected outside the barrier is just an illusion, and the barrier itself isn’t any kind of sphere. It’s just a wide cylinder shaped wall with no roof or floor. Judging from the hole outside, it seems as if you got here by tunneling underground. You literally crawled under the barrier!” One might wonder at this point how the doctor had known about the two girls coming from underground, but I knew what they didn’t and that is when Dr. Everett had gone to get them food he had entered a room that was filled entirely of screens that showed every square inch of land within a two mile radius outside of the building. “Unfortunately, every city is like that. The only way to really ‘get out’ is to leave the country, and I’m afraid that’s impossible.”
“It can’t be!” The red headed girl stood up angrily, fists clenched. “There has to be some way out! I can’t take it anymore!” Quick as a whip, Dr. Everett grabbed a small device from his pocket and stabbed the girl in the back, paralyzing her for a few seconds before her body and face visibly relaxed. “What is that?” she asked in a calmer voice.
“Everyone with mutant powers is slowly being consumed by them,” Dr. Everett explained, “They start acting like the forces they possess and, depending on what their power us, they can become quite destructive. You were acting a like a wild fire just then, my dear. This is almost like a taser,” he held up the small white object, “It reduces you to how you acted before you were mutated, but only for a few hours.” The red head smiled warmly and thanked him, then returned to her seat. “Anyway,” he continued, putting the object back into his pocket, “There probably is a way out, I just don’t know what it is.”
“Why was all that glass outside?” The dark haired woman asked, trying to divert her attention from the fate the doctor was implying.
“To protect the soil,” Dr. Everett replied, “Some of the experiments done here were a little off-the-wall, if you know what I mean. Just in case anything had stuck to our shoes when we left the sectors we created a glass shield to protect the earth around us.”
“You keep on saying ‘we’,” the dark haired girl asked, “Who are you talking about?”
“There used to be other scientists here,” Dr. Everett explained.
“Where are they now?” The girl asked.
Dr. Everett shrugged, “I’m not quite sure. Their absence doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think I enjoy life here without them!” In that second the atmosphere changed. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was different. A wave of new energy coursed through me and I found my arm moving for the first time in years. It shot up to my side violently and knocked against the glass dome. All three heads turned to look at me and I froze.
“What’s in there?” the red headed girl asked, getting up from her seat to take a closer look. Take off the cover and find out, I thought to myself with a smile.
“Uh…!” Dr. Everett ran over to stand in front of me (or rather, the base of my pedestal, as I was considerably higher than ground level) before the curious red head could reach my covers. “Nothing, really. Just another robot that I’m still working on.” A smile played on my lips and without warning I lurched forward, causing the dome to tumble off the shelf and shatter on the ground. Thankfully for them, the doctor and his companion had moved out of the way before I had fallen. The dome and pedestal lay in pieces and the only thing covering me was the purple cloth. I threw it off and stood up. Without giving another look at the Doctor, I turned and ran toward the wall. Once I was a few feet away from it I jumped and crashed through the bricks as gracefully as I could. I landed outside on both feet, letting the dust and rubble rain down around me.
I reached out and tore open the fence, raced through as soon as I could and dived into the hole the newcomers had emerged from.
I stood in shock at the broken wall before me, not exactly sure of what I’d seen. I glanced over at Kyra, whose surprised expression mirrored my own, and then over at the doctor, whose face was an ashy white. “What was that?” I asked hoarsely.
“Kapricorn…” Dr. Everett replied softly, “Capricorn 2.0, Kapricorn Reserved for Instantaneous Situations, KRIS….whatever you’d like to call it.”
“I thought you said Capricorn was gone?” Kyra asked, concern in her voice.
“You have to stop her,” Dr. Everett announced, breaking out of his trance. He walked quickly over to a computer and began pounding on the keyboard.
“Stop who?” I asked, still looking outside.
“KRIS!” He replied, exasperated, “That thing that just crashed through my wall! It’s heading for Reyesent. Tell me, are there any other threats in your city right now? Any tyrannical rulers? Is your town in anarchy?” I thought of Svetlana, but my mouth was dry and I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded. “Make this your priority!” Dr. Everett cried, “KRIS is destructible beyond imagine! I know this all seems sudden and I hate to spring this on you, but even I could not have foreseen this! Go! Go!” He began ushering me and Kyra toward the hole in the wall.
“Wait!” I called out before we got outside. “There’s still more we need to know!”
“Never mind that!” Dr. Everett bellowed, running his hands through his hair, “I blame this entirely on myself! Go! Bring KRIS back here and I’ll tell you anything you want! Just don’t let her get into the city! Go!” Kyra and I took off running, but stopped when we got to the hole.
“What if she’s down there?” Kyra asked, looking into the dark pit. I quickly formed a ball of fire and threw it into the hole, illuminating the cave for a few seconds.
“She’s not,” I replied, nearly out of breath, “Kyra, I can’t stand to leave when we don’t know anything!”
“We can always come back!” she replied, “But now, you heard the man! This robot he made is dangerous and is just going to make things worse! We have to catch up to it before it reaches the city!” On the count of three, Kyra and I jumped back into the caves, neither of us feeling any the wiser.