A\N: Hey this is something I wrote awhile ago that has just been sitting around. I hope you enjoy it! R&R
My eyes snapped open, just to be greeted by the almost blinding light of the television, which had been left on for what I realized to be hours when I checked my watch. Turning over onto my side on the big, green overstuffed couch in my small apartment's living room, I watched as the news reporter on the screen spoke of the most recent events I knew of.
"The death toll has now risen to over three point-five million out in Los Angeles, leaving the usually busy streets practically emptied of life, and instead covered in the deceased bodies of nearly all the city's inhabitants. Due to a new directive, all law enforcement officers are forbidden to arrive on the scene, and will be shot on sight if spotted. The irony of this situation is that this law was passed only last week. A coincidence? Most people don't think so..."
Yes, I had heard about what the reporter spoke of, but it hadn't really registered in my mind until seeing the limited pictures of mayhem across the country. The thing that usually struck me the most were the shots of the children. They really hit me hard. I like kids, and have always wanted one of my own, but with all the confusion and chaos in the world at the time, I was still single. I would be happy if a man even knew my name, instead of referring to me as a "strange looking girl walking past on the sidewalk". I'm not usually one to complain, even though someone with my deplorable excuse for a life had certain rights. In my humble opinion, even having a life was better then most these days. Being alive was truly a gift that was not to be taken lightly. The city I lived in had not been touched yet, but surely any day they would be coming. It was all just one sick joke, that all these innocent people were dying because of one perverse man's amusement.
His name was Trofim Ignatius, a name with caused fear overshadowing that of even the most horrid of tyrants. Rumor had it that he was currently hidden away somewhere in Stockholm, his face hidden from the world, and with good reason. He was a murderer of billions, all for some research. Over the past years, Earth had been entered by another human race known as the Vessalods. At least, they were somewhat human. They acted and talked like humans, but their genetic makeup was completely different from any regular Earth-living soul. Their physical appearance was either drastically more lanky, or more muscular, and their skin tended to be perfect. Facial features were, to say the least, naturally attractive, in order to better suit their purpose. A line of black markings ran down their backs, right over where their spines were, a characteristic that disclosed their identities instantaneously if there was any doubt. They lacked the emotional view of humans, and were normally very detached from others. If one of them were to become involved with a human, they would be hunted down one by one and killed for jeopardizing their peoples' research.
Ignatius's plan was to wipe out all but a choice amount of Earth's population, in an attempt to create a stronger, better race of people. The progeny of this plot would be a hybrid of the invader race, and standard humans. When the space-faring creatures had arrived--which in and of itself was an amazing contribution to the world of science back then--the idea had been proposed as simply an alien study that was done on every planet the Vessalods visited, but was all but dropped before they discovered Earth. From the ranks of a curious race, Ignatius had apparently rose to power, becoming their Supreme Leader and main superior in the operation they liked to refer to as The Red Earth Project. Originally, the country's leaders had been very pleased to help, but over time, things had deteriorated. Gossip began circulating around that the subjects the visitors had been using were unwilling, and had been forced into the whole ordeal. What was even worse was when the experimental parties started dying at the peak of their observation. Somehow, alien DNA wasn't able to be combined with that of a regular human, and therefore killed the recipients before their test period was over. Things just went downhill after that. The leader had been furious, and so the news went out of control for interviews and opinions on the failure. That was when the deaths had become more and more common; they had began to intentionally murder people out of their own shame. Stories about "the private clinics" had scared many a child.
All that happened over twenty years ago, just before I was born in the year three-thousand-fifteen. My mother, a good woman with dark brown hair and kind eyes had given me life in her own home, unconfident about the abilities of the doctors anymore, considering that any one of them could have been a Vessalod. I was given the name Serena, in hope that tranquility would grace my future, just before my mother died. I have replayed the account over and over in my head throughout the years since my grandmother had told me, and I still fail to see how my existence is possible. While all others died, I lived. While nations fell, I had lived on in silence, alone in the world. And while most of the doomed populace around me were entirely human, I was not.
I am one of the only living half-breeds to have survived past birth. My mother was no test subject, nor did the horrible life forms toy with her in any way. The man who had been my father was a tall, strong Vessalod named Nyestor Jalein who had truly cared for her, and was later brutally executed for it when one of his colleagues found out. They had taken her, and locked her away in a confining room for observation. So it goes, that when she knew that there would be a child, she escaped the confining building where they were holding her against her will, and fled to the very remote backcountry of an undisclosed state. There, I was brought into the world a healthy, though a bit eccentric looking hybrid. I have no regrets. I suppose this is why I've always felt odd being around full blood humans. When you have nearly white colored hair, and skin equally pale in tone, you tend to attract unwanted attention. I've tried dying my hair, but it never works, and consequently have had to pass for an albino most of the time. I'm happily fit--not model material, but thin enough to be in nearly perfect health. Because of my father, I have the black marks running down my back, but they are faint, and easily covered. The only feature about myself I honestly can say I appreciate are my eyes, which are an icy cold blue. Eyes like them are only seen in colored contact form and digitally altered in movies. I'm unique in more ways than one, so some have said.
I sat up on the couch and flicked off the TV, standing then. Entering my small kitchen, I grabbed my small bag that I took everywhere with me. It had all my general information in it; one could never know when one would be interrogated. Ever since the rebellion against the invaders had began back when I was still very little, people had to carry around with them special cards that signified their humanity, a rectangular piece of metal engraved with their rank in the society--such as a common worker or a wealthy proprietor--and a small folded piece of paper with their signature of agreement promising their disloyalty to The Red Earth Project. I had to sign this to blend in, but truthfully, it pained me to do so, considering my background. The emotional connection Vessalods shared was extremely complex, but I was not fully subject to it in most cases. What I had experienced when I was writing my name at the bottom right corner of that paper was but a taste of what the real effect would have been. I heard hundreds of voices weeping inside my head. It was so terrible; so heartbreaking to hear, that I strongly believe that the full effect of it would have been too much to bear. I don't have a strong emotional barrier against those kinds of things, unfortunately enough. Another problem were my back marks. Everyone was checked upon signing the paper, and fortunately, no one had inspected to see if there was any makeup covering the black diamond shapes. That would have been a complete disaster...
Heading to the door, I quickly threw on my coat and hat, stepping out onto my small front porch. The sight before me was nothing out of the ordinary. The streets were crowded by fast walking multitudes of people. Cars had been replaced long ago by what was known as the "U.R.S" or, in its unabridged form, called the Unorthodox Railway System. The train-like vehicle ran through every street in the city, never stopping, but slowing down at specific stops. On the front and back were thick metal arms securing it to a pair of specially made tracks, thus the "unorthodox" part of the title. Pedestrians traveled by foot on either side of the tracks, entering at any point where it slowed down. The roads had been widened to support two of these machines, and walkways above had been installed so people didn't have to wait all the time for them to pass. The standards had been raised for a generation that could never wait. The means of transport was much more convenient than cars in a city because it never had to wait in traffic. I'll never know whose idea it was, however. It was before my time.
As soon as I traveled down the steps I found myself immersed in the jostling crowds, most shoving past my motionless self. At times like those, I was thankful for my hat, concealing my unusual hair and preventing most stares. I commenced on my way, at a slower pace than practically everyone else, walking in the direction of the coffee shop I visited almost every morning. When I got to a crosswalk, I climbed the steps, packed with moving humans from a variety of skin colors going either way. Some carried brief cases, while others futilely wore jogging gear. Making my way tentatively across the bridge, I looked down over the edge at the tracks below, marveling them for about the hundredth time that week until I descended the steps on the other side.
Only a few blocks away was my destination, with a blue neon sign advertising the name and a catchy phrase beneath. It was on a corner, and sitting on the very end of the side wall was a disheveled man dressed in a dirty jacket and ripped, black formal pants. His face bore a rugged five o'clock shadow and dark grey hair hung down his back in a messy ponytail. In one hand he held a cracked glass mug, holding it up to whoever happened to pass in hopes of getting a handful of spare change, and in the other hand, between two fingers, was a sizable piece of paper. I glanced down at it just long enough to see that it read unemployed, in large, red letters. My heart felt pity for the man, but in this cruel society, most of people in those kind of circumstances died soon after hitting rock bottom. No one had the time to care anymore, since death was so common anyway. All the same, I fished around in my pocket and withdrew all the change I had, which consisted of two square shaped coins amounting to a grand total of four universal dollars. Dropping them in the mug, the unemployed man hastily took a gander at his gift and then offered me a smile riddled with missing teeth. I didn't react, and entered the coffee shop without looking back.
The usually cheery atmosphere greeted me with an unfamiliar sound. My eyes searched the place, and soon found the source: a new TV mounted up on the wall over the counter. A small group of regulars had gathered around, their eyes glued to the screen, where a different local news program told of more gloom and doom. Sighing, I tried my best to ignore the calamitous background narration and went to sit at an empty seat at the counter. The owner, Kari, came away from her spot under the television with a troubled expression on her face. She didn't speak to me, seeming to be in some sort of a daze. Something had to have happened; Kari was never worried about what was happening in the world, ordinarily not caring at all. But there was no mistaking the genuine fear written across her face this time. Uneasy, I offered a look that conveyed my apprehension more than any word ever could. Kari said nothing, and distractedly reached for a remote under the counter, turning off the TV in a state of confusion. Protests followed, and when the complaints had died down, a woman's voice was raised.
"What do they mean?" The question rang out around the quiet space.
"Are they coming here?" A man near me asked, fear in his tone. "I have a wife and kids to take care of!"
Shouts of agreement came subsequently, until Kari raised her arms in a gesture for quietness. They heeded her, and she told them hesitantly, "I don't know. All of you go home now, and wait for other information before you act. We don't want the whole city to be in a panic!"
By the time she had finished, the shop was empty. I then noticed a small blond girl with heavy eye makeup at the table in the corner. Her clothes were peculiar--all white, covered in a light blue coat with darker blue outlines on it. She wasn't responding to anything anyone had said, and studied a magazine very intently, totally unaware that I was watching her. Leaning against her chair was a curiously shaped bag, almost the height of an outmoded baseball bat, but wider. I couldn't be sure, but I could have sworn I saw a glint of silver coming from a small open section. I shook my head to make sure I wasn't imagining things and turned back to Kari, who by this point was sitting on one of the back counters, blankly staring. She let lose a strangled exhale and finally acknowledged me, her hands folded so tightly that her knuckles were white.
"Serena...?" She spoke as though I had just arrived. "What can I get you today?"
I shook my head, declining her offer. "Nothing." I said quietly. I waited, until I had formulated the correct words, and posed my query. "What's happening, Kari?"
Her brown bangs fell in her face, and her eyes held a vacant hollowness I had never seen before. "They said that the Vessalods are looking for someone...someone important." She informed sullenly. "They're going to destroy every city in their search...starting with the east coast."
"Wh-what?" I replied breathlessly. The facts were these: our city was on the east coast, and it was in such a central location that the Vessalod armies were sure to start here. "Who are they looking for?"
Kari had her head in her hands. When she looked up, her face was white.
"The Living." An unexpected, soprano from behind me input. I spun around to see the young woman who I had observed beforehand. She stood a few feet from the counter now, her magazine under her arm, and the bizarre bag slung over her shoulder. I narrowed my eyes at her. She got my message, and expounded. "So it goes, that there are a widespread group of hybrids that survived the Vessalod studies many years ago, and live among us in silence. They could be anyone, and there are special individuals appointed to hunt them down and bring them back to Trofim Ignatius, who has ordered that all large cities be destroyed in their search."
My blood ran cold at that.
Kari studied her with no feeling behind her attention. "Are you new around here? I don't think I've seen you before..."
"My name is Adelaide Winter. I come with direct orders from Martin Kane, who has named himself leader of the revolt. He has previously placed spies within Vessalod bases, therefore gleaning the information months before any pathetic news reporter heard it. Personally I find television a pointless and lamentable fad that should have left with the year three-thousand." She shrugged, gazing somewhere on the wall behind Kari. "You have approximately two days to evacuate the city before they come."
"Two days?" Kari sputtered, standing up with her arms firmly positioned at her sides.
I wanted to say the same thing. How could a whole city possibly be evacuated in only two days? It would take at least a week just to get the west side out, much less everyone else! It was a truly impossible feat. And what would happen to me? I was one of the "Living" Ignatius wanted. For what, I didn't want to know, but I pictured science labs and dissections...
Adelaide's mouth formed a smile. "Yes, I believe that is what I said. I suggest you go talk to your mayor right away about this, unless the news has already issued it?"
"We don't have a mayor. That went out a hundred years ago." Kari cut in.
"Hmm...I do not remember being told that was the case. I suppose I am still back in the year two-thousand and fifty-six. A very good galactic year, you know." She ended with a look on her countenance that could only be interpreted as nostalgia. "Well then, I must be off. Very nice meeting you both."
She tread lightly towards the door, pausing to glance over her shoulder at us. I had tons of questions to ask her, but it would require blowing my cover, which I was not ready to do. Then, something strange happened, her light green eyes traveled to my face, another smile pulling at the side of her lips. When she addressed me, I felt an eternal warmth spread throughout my entire being, as if this girl was some sort of guardian spirit watching over me. I returned her gaze with one of awe, wondering how someone like her could really care about a half-breed like me when all others probably wouldn't. With this thought, I became aware of the fact that Adelaide Winter knew what I was, and most likely more about myself than I even was conscious of. All of this was made clear to me in her simple words of caution.
"Take care of yourself, Serena Dryden, for a storm is coming."
She was gone after that, and when I hurried to the door and peered out around it, there was no trace of her. She had disappeared.
I could only ask myself: What storm...?
I didn't sleep that night.
My gaze stayed centered on the ceiling for hours at a time, my mind spinning with possibilities. What-if scenarios kept popping into my head, and paranoia that any moment the window would burst open to reveal one of the hunters made me quiver sporadically. At one point, I tried to be positive, and made an effort to convince myself that they probably just wanted to recruit me for something. That attempt, of course, was completely futile in doing anything more than making me even more unreasonable with my roaming imagination. Ever since I was little, I have always possessed an extraordinary sense of creativity, and have on multiple occasions thought about becoming a writer. I usually have to reject this dream, unfortunately, bearing in mind that it involved being associated with others. Since my mind went off on tangents so often, I provisionally forgot whatever had been in my head earlier. As it was, in those happy few moments, this was the case, until that sad sensation of realism brought me back, and I did not bar the tears.