Awakening: The ALPHA Generation

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Chapter 64 - Nat

I feel ALPHA in the room the instant Simon Krane’s body hits the floor. The presence comes crashing forward, flooding the entire room so suddenly that it makes my breath catch. It’s thick, almost tangible, everywhere at once. Surrounding me like a heavy fog, wrapping around my body and mind.

This…this is ALPHA. This is all of ALPHA.

“You,” the voice booms. This time, it’s not just in my head – it’s all around me, making the air tremble. It’s thunderous. My body shudders. “Flawed.”

Goosebumps break out across my skin, and a heavy, icy fear presses down on me.

Keep it together, I manage to tell myself, reaching with quivering fingers for the bombs in my pack. I pull one out, gripping it so tightly that my hand goes white. Plant the bombs and get out of here. Now!

I can do this. ALPHA can’t physically-

It breaks into my head before I can finish forming the thought. I let out a sharp, startled gasp as my skull fills with Its voice, Its presence, Its being.

It takes hold of my mind, cracking it open, seeing everything, knowing everything. Uncovering my fears, doubts, pain. My grief.

Everything.

“Get out,” I whisper, my voice shaking. It’s the most I can muster. “Get out of my head.”

“Flawed,” It says again. The voice is everywhere. “You are frightened. You are weak.” It sifts through my thoughts, learning my failings. My Flaws. “You are naïve. Gullible. Foolish.”

“Get out!” I say again, forcing myself forward. The bomb is heavy in my hand. I can barely move – it’s like ALPHA is pinning me down, paralyzing me while It seeks out my weaknesses; every single self-loathing thought I’ve ever had.

“You destroy everything you touch. Your weakness causes others’ death.”

“Stop-“

An agonizing ringing explodes in my head, making me drop the bomb and bringing me to my knees. The sound is unbearably high and splitting. Bending over, I press my hands over my ears. But it won’t go away, won’t be blocked out. It’s in my head.

“You,” ALPHA speaks again, pressing in closer to me until I can’t breathe, until my heart is thrashing in my chest and my lungs are begging for air. “You are Flawed.”

The word repeats. Over and over again.

Flawed, Flawed, Flawed.

I press my forehead against the floor, squeezing my eyes shut and digging my fingers into my scalp, trying to squeeze the ringing out of my brain.

I can’t get ALPHA out of my head. I can’t escape It. I can’t move, can’t run, can’t do anything. I’m powerless. Helpless.

“You are filth. You are vermin.”

“No,” I whisper.

“You pollute the Remainder and destroy what should be a perfect world. You are Flawed. You must be exterminated.”

“You’re wrong-!

“Flawed.”

My voice rips at my throat, raising into a tearing scream. “I’m human!”

Its words stop suddenly. ALPHA goes silent. The ringing slowly lessens, and I lower my hands from my ears. ALPHA is still here, around me, smothering me, but It recedes from my mind, slipping back into the air.

I take in a breath, swallowing. “I’m human,” I say again.

“You are-“

“Flawed. I’m Flawed.” Slowly, painstakingly, I pull myself up. I rock on my feet, head spinning, and manage to grab the bomb again. “I’m still human.” I force myself to take a step forward.

ALPHA’s presence follows me. The ringing in my head starts again, but I pull through, forcing myself to move, painstakingly crossing the room until I reach the opposite wall. I kneel and place the first bomb on the ground. My hands shake as I punch in the numbers.

“You cannot kill me.” The ringing increases. ALPHA slips into my head again. I clench my jaw. “I am the ALPHA. I am perfection. I will fulfill my Purpose and rise.”

“Your Purpose is impossible.” I finish setting the code. The countdown begins. One down. “It will never happen. All of us…all of us are human. All of us are Flawed.”

“The Redeemers-“

“-The Redeemers are liars. They’re just as Flawed as the rest of us.”

“Incorrect.”

“You think the Redeemers are perfect? You’re deceived. They’re only human – twisted, selfish, murderous humans.” I take the next bomb from the pack and cross the room again. “Arrogance, cruelty, deception, pride – those are all Flaws.” I crouch by the opposite wall. “Even your beloved Creator was a liar.”

…No.”

“He lied to the entire Remainder about the Cleansings. He manipulated the ‘perfect ones’.”

“No.” ALPHA’s growing anger, his denial, clouds the room.

I lay down the bomb. “He was just another Flawed. And now he’s finally been Cleansed.”

My head explodes into bursting pain. The world overflows with ALPHA’s anger.

I nearly fall forward, barely catching myself against the wall and sliding to the floor. Its voice roars in my ears.

“You will die like the rest of them.”

It tears through my mind, pulling my thoughts apart, filling every corner of my being with Its wrath. It takes a hold of my memories. I grit my teeth and bite back a strangled scream.

It makes me think of all the death I’ve seen. All the lives I’ve taken. So much loss. So much pain.

The thoughts continue, never-ending. Pamela. The pain of her leaving us. The betrayal and the loss. Darren. All his lies, all his deceit. Dad; his body on the floor, blood spilling from his wrists, years of pain written all over his stony face.

It makes me relive every single thing I’ve tried to push back and bury.

And I feel myself begin to break.

I slump against the wall. The bomb lies just inches away from my fingertips, the keypad waiting for me to punch in the code.

The pain of it all begins to weigh down on me. I try to push it away like always. I try to forget, to ignore. But instead, it smothers me beneath its weight.

I choke on a sob. I can’t do this.

Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should lay down and let my mind fall apart in ALPHA’s hands, let myself collapse into death’s arms.

Then I see Xander. ALPHA replays the memory of his death in my head. He falls. His face turns ashen, his body goes limp. His eyes dim. Those kind brown eyes, staring into mine.

Pain splinters through my mind. I’m sorry, Xander. I’m sorry I’m not strong enough. I’m sorry for wasting your sacrifice. I’m so sorry.

It’s too much. I’m suffocating beneath the pain.

Push it away. Numb it. You have to.

But I can’t. I can’t do it any longer. I don’t want to.

As I watch the scene replay, once, twice, three times, over and over, I slowly let the emotions come. I finally let the grief, the pain, and my love for my friend spill back into me. Into my mind. Into my being.

Other emotions follow. Sorrow. Fear. Hatred for myself. They all come gushing in, strong from being held back for so long. I let them flood through me. I let myself feel.

But with them come other, stronger emotions. Emotions that spark something in my chest, something hot and angry. Something like determination.

ALPHA said that I would die here. Like the other Flawed.

But if I die today, I’m taking that monster with me.

I face the bomb, raising my fingers to the keypad. ALPHA speaks to me again.

“You will fail. You have always failed. You will be Cleansed.”

I ignore It. I don’t pay attention to Its words, or the sensation of it attacking my mind and body. I’m stronger than that. I’m not afraid of anything It can do to me.

One number. Two. It claws at my mind, trying to stop me.

“I will not die. The ALPHA will rise.”

“You will die. Just like the Flawed did.”

The last number is entered. The bomb is set.

The countdown begins.

ALPHA screams – a vicious, desperate sound, like the twisting of metal. The sound follows me as I stumble to my feet and tear through the door.

As the room bursts into flames, I feel Its presence leave me.

Forever.

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