As I finish my morning routine of washing my face and getting a snack and heading back to my room, I pick up one of the new chemistry books that I’ve been reading while on this trip. After about an hour or two there comes a knocking at my door.
“The doors open!” I say.
The door slides open and on the other side is Captain with his usual grumpy morning face, “Morning York,” he says as he walks to take a seat and closes the door behind him. “How are ya doing on this fine fucking morning?”
“Well if I’d gotten some better sleep last night I probably would be doing better, how about yourself?”
It’s true that I didn’t get much sleep, and kept having nightmares of random things. Which isn’t that uncommon when it comes to me, at least it’s not for the past year or so.
“Yeah I hear ya,” he says as he takes a sip out of his coffee mug. “I’ve been racking my head around trying to figure out what to say, when to say it, how to say it... it’s absolutely killing me.”
After hearing that, I close my book and tilt my head while looking at him, “And what’s the thing you want to say?”
He makes a deep exhale and without turning his gaze off the floor he says in a melancholy tone, “We’re reaching the base in an hour or so... there’s really no better way of saying this so I’ll just be blunt,” He says and turns his gaze to meet mine. “We most likely won’t be seeing each other again, I have a feeling that I won’t be seeing anyone again. You already know of my situation, and it’s just a matter of time before the higher ups put me on the chopping block.”
He gulps and takes a deep breath, his stare more serious than I’ve ever seen, he’s being serious... deadly serious. “You’re a smart kid,” he says. “Maybe more so than I ever was , you probably caught on to my behaviour as of late and don’t quite know what it’s about... I’ve been in the Organization for a long time now, and I never regretted my choices, a good friend tough me that... you and I both know what happened on our last mission, we both know why we did what we did and I’m gonna stand behind that choice because I know that was the right thing to do.”
I can hear his voice becoming stronger and more dedicated, “But you saw them. You saw both of them, brother and sister. They were just trying to survive, right?” He asks but before I can think of anything to say he just continues. “I put a fucking bullet into her brothers head and she watched as I did! Her own brother, dead on the fucking spot!” His leg now starts pacing up and down and his breath quickens.
“You know something kid? I don’t blame her for trying to kill us. Hell! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I deserve it! The anger in her eyes, York...” he pauses for a second. “I regret my choice on that day. I was raised to hate and despise Users, that the Organization is here to save this wretched planet and help unite us all... but after what I saw, the raw anger in her eyes... They are humans, York, just like me, just like you. We are sent out on mission after mission to kill humans just because they are different, I wasn’t born for that, and I know sure as hell that you weren’t born for that either! I deserved to die that day, how many times have other humans killed my brothers and how many times did I kill them because of it, and when the rolls have switched, here I still am... I killed her brother, right before her eyes and then I killed her.”
He stops... looking at his cup of coffee without saying anything. I can’t think of a single damn word to say, absolutely nothing. I always had my doubts sure but they were always just doubts, and now I’m just speechless.
“Listen to me kid,” he says without lifting his gaze. “I was raised to be a killer, raised to the ideals of the Organization and their vision, but you weren’t. I have one request for you, man to man, human to human,” he sighs and reaches into his coat and pulls out a small envelope and holds it up in the air while looking me straight into the eyes. “I’m not gonna survive to see another sunrise, but promise me this, when the time is right and when you feel like you’re ready, open this envelope and read it.... To me, you are more human than anybody else in the Organization, and if anybody here deserves a second chance, a second life to be human, to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s you.”
He brings down the envelope and gestures to me to take it. Still trying to put together everything he just said, I lean forward and take the envelope from his hand. “I... what should I do?” I ask, puzzled and looking at the envelope.
“What you do is entirely up to you. I have given you a choice I was never given, and probably never deserved to have been given. But I believe that you are, maybe, the only person here who deserves this choice.” He says and stands up making his way to the door. “When we reach base, just stay away from me, I don’t want you to get wrapped up in my problems, ok?” He opens the door and turns his head just enough to look at me. “It was a god damn pleasure working with you, you are one of the finest people I’m proud to call a friend,” he puts on a weak grin. “So long, kid.”
With that he leaves the room and closes the door behind him.
“What is this?” I whisper. “What just happened? Did I just lose one of the only people who ever took care of me? No... I can’t... his words... I can’t....” I feel a small streak of tears fall down my face, “Why the fuck am I crying?” I ask as I wipe my face. “He’s not dead, he’s not going to die, it can’t happen!” My voice gets shaky but louder, and my hands grip the envelope even stronger. “Why does he have to die! God fucking damn it!” My tears start pouring down faster but I just let them fall on the envelope. “Of all people... why him... why him?” My voice dies down as I can feel the throat tightening up. His words were clear, his mind was set, I understand but I can’t accept it. Why does he have to die? Just because he thought like a human? Because he saw that there was a flaw in what he was doing? So what... am I going to get killed just because I have a mind of my own? Hah... maybe Captain’s right, maybe I am more human than anyone else.
I get up from my bed and walk to my little window. Rain, falling down peacefully... makes you think if there’s something up there controlling when it falls, maybe this one’s in honour of Captain. Alright... okay... what was it that he said? Live with no regrets, was it? It was something along those lines anyway... Alright Captain... alright.
. . .
It’s been a while since I was back at camp, this is the closest thing to a home that I have but I never really liked it. It just serves as a hotel essentially, with designated rooms for agents that use it for a base of operations. Marko and I obviously have rooms here but Ray doesn’t, she was more of a loan teammate, I believe she’s going back to her old unit very soon. Captain too has a room here, but I didn’t see him since our talk... no point in thinking about it, he knew what he was doing, just leave it at that. I hid the envelope together with my diary just before we left our ride, Ray went off on her own while Marko and I continued to our rooms.
“Another job well done!” Marko says as he raises both arms to stretch.
“Yeah. Any idea on how long we’ll be resting here?” I ask.
“Nah, no clue. Let’s hope we at least get some nice quality time to sleep, eat and enjoy ourselves!” He proclaims with a wide grin on his face. “Say,” he lowers down to my ear and whispers. “There are a lot of new faces I don’t recognize here. All in these suits and shit. What do you make of it?”
Now that I think about it he’s right. There’s been a weird feeling of unrest and uncertainty, like everyone is waiting for something inevitable to happen. And the men in suits are pretty apparent, if they weren’t in such numbers I wouldn’t even notice them, but by my estimation there are probably more of them then normal agents like me at this base right now. I wonder what’s going on...
“Is something going down that we weren’t informed on?” I ask while keeping a much sharper eye on our surroundings.
“Not to my knowledge,” Marko pauses and stops breathing for a second as if he came to some conclusion. “Fuck me...”
“Before we got off the ride I saw some guys in suits talking to Captain outside, and then they just walked off... I don’t like this man, not one bit. Something is happening and I don’t like the fact that we are in the dark.” He says almost through his teeth.
The suits took Captain away? Damn it...
“How about this, you head to your room and I’ll see if I can find out what’s going on and then I’ll report back to you. Good?” He asks.
“Yeah, that works.” I say, still focused on the suspicious people around us.
“Alright, meet you at the room.” Marko says as he takes off and disappears into the crowd.
I don’t know what to make of all of this. I don’t have the slightest idea of who these people are, but one thing that I did catch is that, all the people in suits looks almost exactly the same, the only thing that separates them is their sex. It’s like both the males and females have a base model and were just copied over and over again. Creepy... The uniforms themselves look like your average Organization uniform, standard white button up shirt with the logo on the collar, black suit pants and dress shoes, but theirs looks just a little off for some reason that I can’t quite say. Well whoever they are I guess it doesn’t matter to me, I should just head back to my room and wait for Marko’s info.
After getting to my room, I throw my backpack on the ground and sit down on my bed. I close my eyes and try to take in everything that happened today, with that talk I had with Captain and now this weird scenario at the base, it feels like all the fucked stuff was just waiting for this day to come. Without opening my eyes I take out the envelope and hold it in my lap, it just feels like an envelope to the touch, there’s probably just a single piece of paper inside... What did he mean by all of that? When am I supposed to open it? Damn it! I don’t understand a damn thing... A slight thud from my lap catches my attention so I open my eyes and look down... a single drop of water, and then another one... I take my hand and wipe it across my face and wouldn’t you know it, it’s wet. A single streak of tears coming from my right eye, damn it... of all people he just had to leave this cryptic shit with me... he knows better than anyone about how I feel towards Users and there he is telling me that he had a change of heart, and how all of them are just different people... and that I’m just a human, nothing more and nothing less. Was he fucking with me? Why would he tell me of all people something like that? Does he think that I can just forgive Users and accept them as normal human beings, even after one of them made me into this monster? How...
That night is so hazy I can’t remember most of it. It was night and I was out on a field trip with my class which was nothing special or out of the ordinary. I don’t remember when exactly it was but I got woken up by someone, their face is blurry I can’t recall who it is, and not a moment after that all I saw was red, blood and gore everywhere...
I close my eyes shut and cover my face with my hands. I remember I was in the woods, running... I think, or was I? Was I leaning on a tree? No, I was levitating... or was I suspended in air... pinned maybe? Yes, pinned! By who... or what? Then there was pain, oh God the pain... It was like a sword stabbed straight through my heart... it was pulsing, I could feel it move like it was digging itself deeper and deeper into my body. Then I felt water, no it was more like blood, like I fell into a river or a pond... my vision was failing and my breath was losing power... then there were lights and yelling, help maybe? Then it was black, just black...
A loud knock snaps me back to reality, and a voice yells out, “York! Buddy are you in there?”
Shit it’s Marko! I quickly hide the envelope in my back pocket and wipe my tears from my face, or rather just the right side of it, and get up on my feet. “Yeah I’m here!” I yell.
Quickly busting the door open, Marko frantically looks around my room looking to find my gaze and with a bewildered look on his face and a shaky voice he says, “The Sun Valley... It’s been attacked.”
“That huge laboratory or whatever it is down south?” I say with a puzzled expression. “Okay, well what happened?” I ask.
“I’ll fill you in as we walk, for now we need to get to the garage, our ride is waiting for us.” He says while motioning me to leave the room and follow him.
“We’re going right now? We just got here!” I say, with a bit of a pissed off voice.
“Dude! They need every able hand they can get, from what I hear it was a fucking bloodbath.” Marko says with a serious look on his face which is not very common for him, so I guess he’s being serious. “Come on, pick up your shit and let’s move!”
“Alright! Fuck me, let me at least pack some fresh clothing... shit.” I say while I start unpacking my previous clothing for some fresh ones.
We make our way through the hallway and to the garage where I can see a plethora of other transport vehicles, all moving in the same direction. I guess he wasn’t lying when he said they needed everyone.
After finding our ride we get in and each finds our rooms. What I noticed when we were getting to our ride is the obvious lack of Captain’s or Ray’s presence, looks like it’s just Marko and me this time. After getting into our ride and without wasting any time I make my way to Marko’s room and without knocking I open the door.
“So for the fifth time, do you mind telling me what the fuck is going on?” I snap at him.
Marko takes a deep breath and with both hands leans on a small table next to him. “As I said, The Sun Valley was attacked,” he says while looking down at the table. “A lot of people died, there was a shit ton of Users and... Constantine was there.”
I close the door behind me and take a few steps towards him. “Constantine? The big revolutionary? The fuck does he want with a lab? And how the fuck does a ‘shit ton’ of Users just appear and cause a bloodbath without any alarms going off?” I continue my questioning. “You do hear yourself right? You want to tell me that this makes perfect sense to you?”
“Look man,” He pushes himself off the table with force and turns to face me head on. “Nothing about this makes any sense, but what the fuck do I know? All I do is follow orders, why the fuck can’t you do the same just for once? Many of our agents died, York! And God knows how many Users are running rampant in that area! The higher ups need us there, and that’s all I need to hear, so just for once go with what you’re told, man!”
I look at him for a couple of seconds, not saying anything, before I turn my gaze to the side. Silence takes the room as both of us take a moment to cool off, Marko takes a seat at the table and I stay put by the door.
“What about Captain, or Ray? They’re not on the ride with us,” I break the silence, being as calm as I can be.
“I know about as much as you do,” He replies in a more calm tone. “As I said, I saw Captain walk away with those guys in suits when we arrived, and that’s about it, as for Ray, well, I honestly have no clue, maybe she already took a ride back to her previous post to regroup with her squad. You’re guess is as good as mine.”
“Right... So what do they want us to do when we get there? Hunt Users in the area?” I ask.
“Dunno, guess we’ll find out when we get there.” He says as he puts his forehead into his hand and rests it on the table.
“Cool, I’ll be in my room if you need me.” I finish the conversation and leave the room.
I make my way to my room, locking the door behind me and falling face first onto my bed. Can’t say that I didn’t expect some more shit to go down today, but man did I wish I was wrong. The Sun Valley is, or well was, supposed to be some sort of a research laboratory or something among those lines, what they actually research is an absolute mystery to me though. And why does Constantine have anything to do with it? Last I heard he was over on the mainland attacking random laboratories and bases with his merry band of Users. Why would he come here, so close to the hornets nest? And how the hell did all of those Users get there without being spotted, the security and defences were pretty solid at the Sun Valley as far as I know, no small number of Users could have easily made it inside even with Constantine’s help. All of this isn’t adding up, there’s something that connects all of these things but I can’t figure out what, something’s missing, like a piece of evidence or some unknown fact that we’re unaware of. Damn it! Like I didn’t have enough on my plate as is!
After contemplating all of that for a while I get up from my bed and look outside and see the heavy rain that spans for miles on end in every direction. Reminds me of home, the only thing I can really recall from home. I can remember going on hikes away from my little town and into the valleys nearby when it rained, it didn’t matter if it was light and peaceful rain or a heavy and raging storm, there was meaning behind each one, a reason why it fell, and I wanted to find out that reason. Not in any scientific way, no, but in a way that would make me understand the meaning of it.
I would go to a lake near the town and listen to the rain fall, each time it was different, even if the rain fell down in the same way as the last, each time it carried a song of its own, a song of hope, happiness, sadness, despair... it was all beautiful and after some time I learned to hear that song and to understand it, for it came a long way just to sing its song in my little town. It had meaning, they all do, whether it’s back in my hometown or in the mountains, or here, they all sing me a story, one of the future, either happy or sad. I open my window and listen, a quick and cold wind fills the room as stray raindrops hit my hands and face... I listen to the song, to the melody, to the story... This story is of a new sun, a hero that will rise up, and the people who will help him do so, this is a story of a new beginning for everyone, at the cost of a life of one. My journey will be a harsh one, but it must be done... I look up into the dark sky that is now adorned with occasional flashes of lightning and chuckle. I don’t know if your alive... or dead, and I don’t know if I understand what you want me to do or to figure out, but... when the times is right, I promise I’ll do everything that I can, I promise that I’ll make a decision that I believe is right and that, in the grand scheme of things, will help the hero save us all and give us a new beginning, a new hope.
So sing away, let your song be heard, so that maybe it reaches the ears of those who are willing to help, to those who will stand up to fight, to the hero and his allies, whoever they may be. I can not promise if I’ll be an obstacle or an aid to the hero, but I will do my best to fulfill my role, whichever that may be.
Taking one last breath of fresh rainy air, I close the window. I switch into some more comfortable clothing and take out my diary, flipping through the pages, some neatly written and some that have sketches of various animals and maps, until I find the first blank page and make my new entry on it, until eventually exhaustion takes over and I decide to lay down my pen and close my eyes, and drift into the darkness once more, awaiting what the next day brings.
Diary Entry 2:
We’re one day away from reaching the Sun Valley, or what remains of it.
Not too excited to be honest, there’s still a lot of things that just don’t add up in my head. I’ve thought about all the possible explanations and all of them just don’t make sense, and the ones that do, well I gave them absolutely every benefit of the doubt, so while they can be true, I highly doubt it.
Marko and I have barely spoken since our departure a couple days back, probably for the better, I think. He’s a good friend but he’s always strict on the rules, and with me experiencing what I have both with Captain and my own issues, I don’t know how much trust I can put in orders and rules anymore. Not like I put much trust into them anyway, but there was a time when I believed that the Organization was the only thing that could help cure me, but with every passing day that same belief is getting harder to hold onto.
Still haven’t heard anything from Captain... I don’t have much hope in his survival at this point... I wish there’s something I could have done.
Ray on the other had did contact us. It was as Marko guessed, she was on her way back to her original base but after what happened in the Sun Valley, she’s been redirected there and will probably meet us there a day or two after we arrive.
The rain hasn’t stopped falling still, the melody hasn’t changed though, which leads me to believe that what its trying to say is real. It may be an outlandish tale I’ll give it that, but anything’s possible under the right circumstances I guess.
I’ve been trying to remember what happened that night in the forest but to no avail. The more I think about it the more pain I feel in my right eye, it seems like it’s reacting to my memory in some way. Now that I think about it, that mission that went wrong, when I grabbed the sniper rifle it felt as though my eye activated on it’s own, it’s not like I subconsciously wanted to activate it, my eye’s ability is shit at close range but in a way it made my vision sharper all on it’s own. I don’t quite get it but there might be something more I can do with it if I start testing different theories I have, I might have more of a use of you than I originally thought. Interesting...