Ok, here's chapter 1. Thank you for continuing to read.
Ok, let me start from the beginning. I'm what they call a multiform, which basically means I can be in several places at once. I'm just not any multiform though, I'm a level 10, which means that I can create 9 copies of myself, and thus be in 10 places at once. I've met other multiforms while I've been running, but the highest I've ever met was a level 5, and that's Francesca, more commonly known to me as Fran.
Life is dangerous for multiforms. Not only do we have to be careful to avoid being caught in two (or, in my case, 10) places at once, we also have to be constantly on alert for any signs of Them. They don't have a name, as such, we just call them 'Them'. Every multiform knows who They are, and have been caught by one of Them at least once in their time on the run.
If They catch you, you really only have to options: Get killed, or get tortured. Escape is, as far as I know, impossible, and to kill them would give Them a reason to think us dangerous. The last thing we need is for Them to have a valid reason for hunting us down. So, They catch you, what do you do? Well, the best option is to force them into killing you, it may be one of the greatest pains we ever feel, but it's generally quick. If you can't force them to kill you, or you don't want to, then they'll take you into a room to be tortured. The problem with us is that is you torture one of us, we can all feel it. So, if I were to get stabbed in the leg, every other one of me would feel it. It's painful, but not deadly. The only way to kill one of us is to kill the Consciousness, also called the Original. If you kill a copy, it'll just turn to dust, but if you kill an Original, all the copies turn to dust, and the original turns into just another dead human. I've only seen that happen once in my life, and I never want to see it again.
His name was Zac. We'd been teamed up for about a year; we'd both gotten cornered into the same corner by two different people, both one of Them, of course. He managed to fight both of them off, which was pretty impressive, and after we got away we decided to stick together. Zac had been a level three, but he still taught me more than I could ever teach him. He taught me how to fight; he suggested the idea that we could kill ourselves, if we couldn't force them to kill us. That would only work if we weren't the consciousness, of course, but that didn't need saying. Rule 1 about being a multiform: never reveal the location of your consciousness unless the situation demands it. It rarely does.
We'd just escaped from yet another one of Them. He'd been tailing us for ages, but we'd finally managed to lose him somewhere in the Australian Bushland. We'd just begun to relax when Zac suddenly cried out in pain, and fell to the ground. "Zac!" I screamed, rushing over to kneel beside him, "Zac, are you alright!?"
"They've found me," he gasped. By the way he was clutching his stomach I guessed that he'd been stabbed there, though there was no blood. I tried to stay calm. "When you say 'found you', do you mean…" His eyes met mine, and I knew exactly what he meant. They'd found his Consciousness, the Original Zac, the one that was keeping the other Zac's alive. My panic level rose considerably. "Where are you, Zac? Maybe I'm somewhere close by"
Zac laughed without humour. "I doubt it," he said, "Given that I'm somewhere in the Amazon rainforest."
"What, and they caught up to you?" I asked in disbelief. I was hiding out in that rainforest, it was true, but the thought that They could track us down in there was horrifying. It was one thing for them to find us in a crowded city, but the Amazon was huge.
"They don't know it's me," Zac continued, choosing to ignore my question. "They think I might be a copy."
"Well, we don't have long before they figure it out. And once They do…" I couldn't finish, the thought was too horrible. Zac struggled into a sitting position.
"We need to move," he said, still struggling for breath. "We're too exposed here. That other guy could catch up again any minute," I knew he was right, but it was clear that he wasn't going anywhere fast.
"We can't move, you can barely sit up as it is, you're not going to be able to run anywhere."
"Well, then, you have to go on without me."
"Like that's going to happen! I'm not going anywhere without you!"
"Chloe," he looked at me with those brown eyes that I'd grown so used to over the past year, "I'm just a copy, and my Consciousness isn't going to last much longer. There's nothing you can do. The other guy could catch up any minute. Now get out of-" He cut off, and I knew what had just happened. Knew because while we'd been here arguing, I'd been running through the Amazon, searching desperately for where he was, and I had found him, just as one of the men standing around him put a dagger through his heart.
In the Amazon, I watched his body go limp. In the Australian Bushland, I watched him turn to dust. I don't know where the third Zac was, and I know I'll never find out.
That was the day I began to lose it. Zac had been right, of course, and the guy we'd just lost caught up to me again. I let him kill me. There was no point in me staying if Zac was gone. In the Amazon, however, I wasn't so lucky. The ones who'd just killed Zac weren't the only ones hanging around, and unfortunately these ones were smarter, and knew what happened if they only killed a copy. The guy in Australia obviously didn't. I was so distraught about losing Zac that I'd barely felt the guy kill me, the guys in the Amazon, however, were going to make sure I felt every second of pain. They took me to what they called 'a secure location', which basically seemed to mean prison/experimentation lab. That was where I met Fran.
She'd been caught only a few weeks before me. The cell They put me in was right next to hers, and I caught a glimpse of her through the bars as They dragged me passed. She was curled up in the corner, on the ground, as there was nothing to sit on in these cells, but she looked up as I was dragged by, and I saw that she had dark green eyes that looked as though they had lost all hope. Her hair was obviously once blonde, falling just below her shoulders, but it had gotten dirty through the years she'd obviously spent on the run.
Moments later I was dumped in my cell. It looked exactly the same as the cell next to mine. Completely bare, with 3 plain white walls, no window, and a wall of bars, which contained the door. There was nothing in the cell, not even a bed. After locking the door, the guards left, none staying behind. Wow, they must be confident of this place. I thought, and I could see why. No-one, to my knowledge, had ever actually escaped from one of these labs, which were apparently located all over the world. I'd only been in one once before, but I'd managed to get myself killed before they'd gotten me to the cell. I moved quietly over to the bars and glanced around. After making sure the place was deserted, I went over to the wall that adjoined my cell to Fran's, and tapped quietly on the wall.
"Can you hear me?" I asked, not daring to raise my voice louder than a whisper.
"Yeah, who are you?" Was the response. She sounded like she hadn't spoken in a very long time.
"I'm Chloe. Level 10. What's your name?" It was normal when meeting another multiform to make sure they knew your level. Call it politeness.
"Francesca, but just call me Fran. Level 5. I've never met a level 10 before. How long did it take you to get that high?"
"Well, I was born level 4, so it only really took me a few years to get to level 10, but up until now I've never met anyone above a level 4 before…" There was a time, a few years back, when I'd travelled around with a girl called Emma. She'd been a level 4, but while in London we'd gotten caught and killed. Neither of us had been the Consciousness, thank goodness, but I hadn't been able to contact Emma since. "How long have you been here?" I asked.
"It's hard to tell in here, maybe a few weeks, how'd they catch you?"
Not wanting to mention Zac, I replied in what I hoped was a casual tone, "Oh, just did something stupid, didn't watch my back, that's all."
"Oh," I couldn't tell if she knew I was hiding something or not, but she didn't push the matter. "Well, I was hiding out, just outside the Amazon. I was debating whether or not I should try hiding in there, but they caught me before I'd made up my mind."
"I was caught in the Amazon, too. You wouldn't think they'd be able to find us in somewhere like that."
Fran started to respond, but was cut off by the sound of a door opening at the end of the corridor. I quickly moved away from the wall, and moved back so that I was up against the back wall of the cell. I could hear the distinct footsteps of three people, one of Them, and two guards. I don't know how much the guards know about what They are doing, but I suppose it must pay good, so they keep their mouths shut and so what they're told. The footsteps reached my cell, and a man appeared, with a guard on either side of him. I tried to stay calm as the man looked through the bars, straight at me, with horribly familiar dark grey eyes, and smiled as though he was pleased to see me; but not a good kind of pleased. More like, pleased that he was going to have an opportunity to once again make my life hell, as if it wasn't already.
"Well, well, well, look who we have here," he said, opening the bars and stepping inside, still wearing that horrible smile, "It was, Chloe, wasn't it? And I believe we last met, hmm, where was it? Vegas?" I said nothing, just glared at him. I remembered Vegas all too well. The constant flashing bright lights that never seemed to switch off, the never-ending noise that wouldn't quiet down, and this man, chasing me through casino after casino, until he finally cornered me on the roof of a soon to be demolished, abandoned building. He had smiled then, the same smile he was giving me now, as he threw the dagger in his hand. It was a perfect throw, and I was dead in an instant. That was the good thing about it, the pain was over fast. The bad thing was that it had been the first time I'd actually been killed, and while I had been expecting the pain, what I hadn't expected was the hollow feeling of loss that dying would bring.
"Yes, well, you didn't speak much then, either," the man continued. It was true. I made a point of not speaking much around Them; the less they knew about me the better. The man said something to the guards behind him, and they came forward, each grabbing hold of an arm. I struggled, but they jabbed some sort of needle into my left shoulder, and I felt my entire body from neck down go numb instantly. The guards dragged me out of the cell and down the corridor. I didn't bother taking much note of the path they were taking me along, my mind was still caught up in the aftermath of Vegas.
It had taken me days to recover from the loss of one of my copies. And even longer to figure out what to do to prevent it happening again. I'd been lying low at the time, so there weren't many of me running around, which was lucky, otherwise I would've been caught somewhere else, I was so out of it. In the end, I came up with a solution: get used to dying. I spent weeks creating copies of myself, and then killing them, until finally I was able to still properly function almost immediately after the death of a copy, and I became disconnected from that hollow feeling. Almost.
After taking several turns through several identical looking corridors, the guards dragged me into a room almost as empty as my cell. The only two pieces of furniture in this room was a chair, which had chains and ropes hanging off it, clearly designed for someone to be strapped to, and a table covered with an assortment of what could only be torture instruments. The guards dumped me in the chair without bothering to strap me down, I couldn't move anyway, and left the room and the man, after promising that he would be back shortly, followed suit.
I glanced around the room with disinterest. There was only one door in the room, and that was the one I had come in. There were no windows, only blank, white walls, like every other room in the building. No-one to my knowledge had ever escaped from one of these places, and it was clear to see why.
The door reopened, and two men entered. The man I recognised from Vegas, and another man whose face was hidden by his hood. The first man came and stood in front of me, looking down at me, still wearing that smile. The other man moved towards the table. "So, Chloe, here you are at last," the first man began, "It's taken us a long time, and quite a bit of effort, to get you here, but I suppose you know that, don't you," I stayed silent, I wouldn't start talking, not now. "Come on, now, Chloe, you and I both know that there is no way out of here, and we both know that if I kill you, you'll just crumble to dust, so why don't you make things a little bit easier, and a lot less painful for you, and tell me where your Consciousness is," I still said nothing. The man stayed silent for a bit, as if hoping that silence would get me to talking. When he realised I wasn't going to say nothing, however, he turned to the man behind him, "Ready?" he asked. The man at the table said something in reply, but I was no longer paying attention. I was starting to feel pins and needles in my arms and legs, the feeling was coming back! I still wasn't strapped down, but I couldn't move, not yet. I had to wait to make sure my legs would support my weight before I tried anything. Before I could, though, the two men turned their attention back to me. The second man had lowered his hood, now, and his face was fully visible, and what I saw almost made my heart stop. Because I recognised him, because I had seen him before, not that long ago.
He was the man who killed Zac.
While all that was happening, I also happened to be in California, more specifically, Disneyland. I was being followed, and figured that the best chance I had of losing this guy was by being surrounded by people. Not only would I be harder to spot, but They also don't like drawing attention to themselves, and what They're doing. They often say that the reason They hunt us down is so that the 'normal people' don't discover us, so if we're surrounded by people, They're less likely to attack.
One of the few good things about being a multiform is the ability to focus on many things at once, given that each copy has a complete mind of its own. So while I was here, focusing on not getting caught, I didn't have to focus on Zac, and the pain of losing him. I left that pain for the me who was there.
After darting around countless rides, and even more people, I found myself at the entrance to the park. I glanced around, checking to see if any of Them were nearby, and, after reassuring myself that there wasn't, ran out of the place.
I was just as crowded out here as it was in there, with California Adventure Park being just across the walkway. I tried to blend in with the crowd, staying as calm as possible. They knew what I looked like, so I had to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I made my way out of the crowd and onto the street. There were a lot less people here, which meant I could move quickly without bumping into anyone. I wasn't sure how many of Them were following me, but I did know that the last thing I needed now was to get caught. I'd been caught in the Amazon; They were dragging me off to the experimentation lab as I walked. I could feel it. If I died here, then I would feel it in the Amazon, and while I'd managed to dull the hollow pain of loss, I would still react to the pain of the death. And if that happened, then They would have absolute proof of the 'torture one, torture all' theory that They seemed to be adopting these days. I couldn't let that happen.
As I walked I hid my hair under my hood, the less I stood out the better, and my bright red hair, in addition to the even brighter sunlight made me stand out like a beacon. Especially out here in the open, where I was much more exposed. I couldn't feel them, though, so I thought they might be still searching for me in the crowd. However, as I turned a corner, the feeling of being followed suddenly washed over me, They were nearby. I raced across the street, not bothering to pretend I was just a normal passer-by, there was no point, and ran into a semi-crowded hotel lobby.
Places like this are the best places to hide. Mainly because we know for a fact that They won't attack us in front of a small crowd, and also because it gives us the best chance of getting a look at who's following us.
I crossed the hotel lobby and headed for the elevators. Getting in an empty one, I pushed the button for the top floor, which lit up as the doors closed. Just before the doors closed, I caught a glimpse of a man entering the hotel. I didn't recognise him, but I knew immediately that he was one of Them.
As the elevator ascended, I allowed myself a sigh of relief. The man in the lobby hadn't seen me. I didn't let myself relax for long, though. Somehow, no matter how fast we ran, or where we hid, They always found us. He would be back on my tail soon enough.
I managed to get to the top floor without the elevator stopping for anyone else. This was both a relief and a bit of a disappointment. A relief because it meant that I wasn't surrounded by innocent people. A disappointment because They wouldn't have to be wary of any casual observers. I walked along the hallways, searching for an open room. As I walked, I saw a cleaners' trolley, which was luckily unattended. As fast as I could I searched through it for the key-card that opened any room, and, finding it, quickly ran to the nearest empty room, flinging the card back onto the trolley as I entered it.
The room was huge; obviously one of the more expensive ones, which made sense, given it was on the top floor. I went over to the glass door that overlooked a balcony attached to the room. I wanted to go outside to see if it had a quick-and-easy escape route, but I had to be careful. I still had that feeling of being followed, which made no sense because, unless they could fly (and I doubted it), there was no way they could've caught up to me yet. But the feeling was still there.
I heard a minor commotion outside. It could've just been the noise of an unhappy customer complaining to the cleaner, but I wasn't going to take that chance. I went out onto the balcony and looked around. There was a fire escape. Not the best, but good enough. Climbing down as fast as I could without slipping, I kept glancing up, checking for any sign of movement on the balcony above me. Sooner than I liked, I saw a flicker of what was most likely someone on the balcony. I jumped as carefully as I could onto the nearest balcony, a little way below me. Looking through the glass door, I saw that this room, unlike the one I had just left, was occupied, although it appeared empty for the moment.
I heard movement above me, the man from the lobby had started his way down on the ladder. I pulled at the glass door, thankfully it was open. Dashing through the room I came out into another hallway, identical to the one on the top floor. I ran back towards the elevators a headed back to the lobby.
Just outside the hotel, I glanced around. The feeling was still there, but not as strong as before, which meant that the man was still somewhere towards the top of the hotel. I quickly headed back towards the street I'd been on before, and continued heading in the same direction.
I was just beginning to feel confident that I might've actually gotten away this time, when a sharp stabbing pain in the back of my leg caused me to collapse. The momentum of my running caused me to skid along the ground for a bit, and when I stopped I saw what had happened. The man was standing at the end of the street I had just turned onto, and this one was practically deserted. He had obviously just thrown a dagger, which was now sticking out of the back of my leg. He let out a yell of triumph, and came towards me, grinning in that horrible way that They all seem to grin.
Sitting up, I yanked the dagger out of my leg, which was hurting terribly. There was a great deal of blood pouring out of the wound, which was staining both the pavement I was sitting on and my jeans.
As the man approached, I tried to hide my pain, which was made a great deal harder by the fact that They had started with the torture in the experimentation lab. I could feel bolts of electricity running through my body, not enough to kill me, but enough to make me wish it did.
The man continued to come closer until he was standing right above me. One look at the look on his face made at least one fact perfectly obvious: he wasn't going to kill me. Not yet. I tried not to panic as I noticed that there was no getting out of this one. I couldn't run, in fact I could barely use my legs at all, which meant defence was out of the question, and then there was the fact that every now and then a shock would run through my body from the torture of the other men. I lifted my arm to try what defence I could when I realised something: the dagger was still in my hand. Now smiling myself (I couldn't help it), I raised the dagger and pointed it, not at him, but at myself. Too late he realised what I was doing, and too late he lunged for the dagger, which I had already shoved straight through my chest, and into my heart.
Alrighty, once again I will beg you to review. It doesn't have to be much, really it doesn't. Please review. It will be so very much appreciated. Also, once again, looking for a decent title. Thank you for reading. I have no idea when the next chapter will be up, it may take a while. It doesn't take me long to actually write the thing, but getting time to write it is something else. However, the more reviews I get, the faster I'll keep writing.