The Shimmer Project

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Old Photos


I paced across my room. My hands were folded behind my back. I started at the computer screen then paced back again.

My cast had been removed. I was perfectly mobile again. It was today that the first chamber had been finished. It had been worked on for about two weeks, day and night someone was working. It had been finely sketched to start out with. Our builders were the fastest and the finest. They knew the dangers if they made a mistake. The chamber was put on the ground floor in Number 5’s old room. Caleb, that fine young man, watched them with wide eyes as they transported it in.

It was as tall as the ceiling, massive metal construction with gigantic doors where they had painted a number 5. I stepped inside, it was like a cylinder, a round living place, worse than what she had grown up in. There was a treadmill so she could stay fit, use her muscles so she wouldn’t be useless. There were no chains hanging on the wall, the construction was too thick for her to blast through even with her new and improved powers. There was a small slot at her eye limit where we could slip in a tray of food and water. There was just one light hanging from the top, a yellow bulb. The bolts on the doors were unbreakable. There was room for a hose so we could hose her off to keep her relatively clean.

The engineers had constructed a lift on the side of the chamber that when up to the top, there was a glass window there so when they did the test on her inside they could still see her. I could still see her. There were speakers in place so she could talk to us. It was the perfect chamber to hold her. When she would get restless we could always spray out some gas to make her fall asleep. She would never leave the chamber again. Like a goldfish.

When it first entered Number 5’s old room Caleb was fidgeting to turn and get a comfortable look. He was still attached to the wall in his chains. I knew he hated me and I didn’t blame him but I couldn’t help liking him. He was a fine, smart and brave young man. Oddly enough polite. The sort of guy I would have loved my daughter dating. He reminded me of myself when I was his age.

I stopped pacing and gazed at the photos tacked up on my wall. My daughters. I stared at their faces, some smiling, and some looking like they were about to rip my throat out. I picked one off the wall. One of Number 5 when she was about five. It was a sweet photo, she was smiling, slightly, her dress was new and unworn. Her old one had just been blown apart in a test. Even then her powers were amazing. No matter how hard she tried she would always have to take lives, innocent lives. She could never hide, sure she could destroy everything, kill everyone. But she would never be happy. Maybe if she tried with Caleb, but even then, eventually he wouldn’t be able to stand it. Even though he loves her, he could never live with a monster. They could never have children. They could never have a happy life and he could never be a doctor like he told me he wanted to be. He would have to give up on all his dreams and follow her around, trying to ignore her killing. Neither of them could live with it. It’s not something they could run away from.

If they really tried Number 6 and Number 7 could disappear. Their need to kill isn’t nearly so overwhelming. They could keep moving around the world, slowly moving on every five months. And they could never get caught. They would have to stick together and they could never have a life with romantic partners. But they could live. They could be the ones who survive. Number 7 is very smart, she could easily find a way for them to fit in. They didn’t deserve the future Director Morgan planned for them.

I made up my mind then. I had to help them live, I had to help them get away. Number 6, Number 7 and Caleb had to get away. They could help themselves. And as soon as I could I would find them and I would help them.

I gazed at their photos on the wall, Number 7’s wild ebony hair matted around her small pale face, but always that big smile. Number 6, a little more solemn, her curly locks hair twisting around her neck. They would survive. I glanced down at Number 5’s photo again. Her white hair hanging straight against her face, her black eyes cold at such an innocent age. They were all innocent. I slowly ripped her photo in half.

“I’m sorry,” I breathed a single tear slipping down my cheek and landing on the torn photograph.

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