“Please don’t kill me,” she whispers.
I pause, my hand inches from her neck. I could snap it so easily, I crave the feeling of bones crunching in between the lines of my palms. But I look into her and I see something peculiar, the same tired look that only someone like me could recognize.
“Do you have kids?” I ask.
“Wh-what?” she asks in a dazed and tired voice.
“Hey-hey stay awake,” I snap my fingers in front of her eyes and she jerks her head back a little. “I asked, are you a mother?”
“Y-yes,” she replies desolately and I can see a little color flood into her face, a little bit of hope maybe. “I have a son, he’s seven. I have to get back home to him.”
“Hm,” I say. “I have a kid too. Your people took him away from me, so killing you would only be fair.”
She panics, her breath comes out in short gasps and she scrunches up her face.
“Whoa it’s alright! Calm down,” I pick up her chin and hold it delicately in my hand. “Do you see these?” I touch the dark circles under her eyes, then touch my own. “I have them too. That’s how I could tell. It’s from the first year of having a crying baby, spending all those sleepless nights taking care of him They never really go away.”
Her face wrinkles in pain and confusion. “Wh-what do you want from me?”
“Only to talk, opportunities like this are so rare, since so few of you venture to this side of the Gateway. Let me explain something to you, my friend,” I slip into an easy, calming tone.
“You see me as nothing more than a brainless monster who poses a imminent threat to all. But I think if the Elite took a moment to get to know the ancient humans, you’d see that we’re the same, mothers and brothers and sisters and fathers, all that good junk. We’re humans trying to protect our own, beaten down and broken by a fucked-up system and some fucked-up assholes who make a profit off of our genocide. You could choose to stop playing their game you know, you could stop believing in their lies and propaganda. I promise that if you do, you’ll see us in a different light. Hopefully a better one. And maybe stop trying to do all this shit,” I gesture to the assimilation room, she follows my hand with scared round eyes.
“I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t think we were meant to hurt one another, but somehow some evil bastard took the reins and plunged us all into this hell-hole of senseless war and violence, pitting us against each other at his benefit. It’s a nightmare, this era is a fucking mess and I can’t believe I brought a child into it. Maybe you feel the same way.” I sit cross legged and let her go. She backs up against the wall and rests against it, too concussed to run away but not enough to fall asleep.
“I’ve suffered too much for no reason at the hands of the Elite. You’ve given me so many reasons to seek revenge, but honestly I’m just fucking tired of this blood shed. I don’t want to kill the minister, I don’t even want to kill you. I just want you assholes to leave me alone so I can give my kid a shot at a good lifestyle without having to fear for his life all the fucking time. I don’t want him to suffer like I do, I hate having to modify myself just to stay alive, but we have to, because you people refuse to stop killing us. I don’t want to be like this,” I gesture to my scars. “It’s extremely painful. And I certainly don’t want it for my son. But the world we live in requires extreme measures in order to stay alive. And that’s your fault, not ours.”
“Honestly I wanted to end it so many times. Do you know how often I tried to kill myself? I tried everything. At least five of these represent my attempts to commit suicide,” I jab a finger to the sun rays on my back. “I would have been successful if Thief hadn’t been so damn determined to keep me around.
“And then...I had him. I had my kid. Eliott Sage, that’s his real name. He saved me. I thought that I was through, that I had nothing left to live for. But then this motherfucker came along and proved me wrong. Kids will do that to you, you probably know better than me. They change you.
“Can’t you see? I might be a bit strange, but I’m still human. I have real emotions just like you, I carry the same weariness that every mother knows, that you know. I am intricate and complicated, I’m not some mindless animal and I’m so sick of the Elite seeing the ancient humans that way. I have somebody I love unconditionally, and so do you,” I poke her sternum three times to emphasize my last few words. She can’t move, she just sits there and drinks in my long overhaul of a speech, slowly bleeding down the shiny sloped wall.
She takes in a dry husky breath, her eyes flutter as she painfully pushes the air out of her lungs. “You are nothing of the sort,” she rasps. “I saw the data, I know what you are. You will never be one of us. You’re a monster, designed to destroy and terrorize the human race, and your children are no different. You are nothing like me,” she says through gritted teeth. “Mark my words Eden, someone will kill you and your son. The two of you are too dangerous to walk free. The crimes you’ve committed against the Elite are too steep, you will face the consequences.”
I sigh. “Okay, whatever.” I pick up her neck with one hand and smash her cheek into the wall. Her blood runs over my wrist like a water-fall, I pull it away and lick it off my fingers. My mouth fills with salt and delicious nutrients, it explodes with flavor and my spine tingles with the zest of swallowing it down.
“Please don’t kill me!” she gasps. “Please beast, if you have it in you, show grace...”
“I just went on this whole fucking rant about how I’m not...you know what? never mind. I’ll spare you,” I say. “Despite the way I look, I’m actually quite sweet.” I give her a big juicy burgundy smile as a small drop of her blood dribbles down my chin. I wipe it away, smearing the rest over my mouth and cheek.
“However,” I grip the spider on my chest with two hands. “I can’t just let you go. I’ve got shit to do and I don’t need a scrub like you getting in my way.”
I slowly, painfully take the spider and his web out of my chest, it’s legs rip up my veins and peel through the skin above my sternum. She watches in horror as the rivets in my legs and belly close up behind the wires. I twist the spider and crunch through the bones in my chest, then finally pull him away, his long limbs still move and squirm in my hand.
“That’s better. Now, try not to scream, it’ll hurt more.” I cram the white rag back in her mouth and rip away the silky blue threads of her undershirt, then slam the spider onto her chest. I hold her back against the wall as he ruthlessly sinks his legs into her skin and spreads his tendrils throughout her body, the pieces writhe like worms as they slink through her veins. She struggles to breathe as the world grows heavy around her and I leave her there alone, bleeding against the wall as the light dims from her eyes and she slips into a long, painful sleep.
Fortunately for me these fools left all my gear stacked nicely on the cold tool bench. My coat is missing, otherwise everything is still there, from my map to the vials of ink to my first aid kit to the last of my rations. I slip into my smelly dirty clothes and put my pack over my shoulders.
“Right,” I say as I set my eyes on the hologram computer with its words and symbols I can’t comprehend. I take the small disk beneath the green data and crush it with two hands, then throw the contents in a silver sink and wash it down the drain.
With that I open the big metal prison door and stare down into the depths of my worst nightmare, the horrors of the Martian Elite all piled up and hidden away in this very building. I shrug my bag high over my shoulders and make my way out, wondering what sort of havoc I can wreck before I confront the monster hiding within the Factory’s depths.