After nearly seven long years, scientists have seemed to unlock a potential gateway to everlasting life! In a process now being called Intravenous Incubation, or Double I, scientists were able to more than triple the lifespan of a rat. Double I essentially refurbishes the bloodstream, lightening the workload of the heart and even replenishes the skin! The new oil change! Members of The UE have stated that there will need to be donors, and that they…
Red footprints led into the bathroom of the clinic where Naomi bathed herself. She slid down neck deep as her tears merged with blood and sludge and bath water. The liquid turned opaque and suddenly Naomi seemed to be floating in an abyss.
Water trickled as she scrubbed the death from her body. If she could only scrub it from her mind. She cried now out of guilt, out of sadness, and out of fear. Fear that maybe her brother was gone. She had went into that place, caused chaos, and what did she get in return? No answers.
Isaac listened to the sound of her sadness from the main room. The prepped bed for Noah was a silent reminder of what he considered a failed mission. Though, the two crops still lay comatose, they gave him some hope that Daybreak were still the good guys.
He had sent Martha and Jonas home to get some rest. The Mole had came by that morning and stayed to monitor the crops.
“I’m afraid we may have kicked the hornet’s nest.” The Mole said while standing over the crops. “The Upper Echelon has never been challenged to this degree before.”
Isaac prodded at his wounded arm, wincing.
“What will we do now?” The Mole came and sat down around the fire. “Everyone in The Byways will have to watch over their shoulder.”
Scanners whizzed through the streets of The Byways as if the hornets had come back for revenge. Lights shined through every window and every door of that decrepit town looking for some reason to make an example of someone.
By now, the word of Daybreak had travelled through the streets like a virus. An unspoken narrative which you could read on every person’s face. Deeds were embellished. Everytime something out of the ordinary happened in the District, the credit was given to Daybreak.
“What will they do if they find you.” Isaac motioned at the scanners humming outside. “You were one of them.”
“I have to remain vigilant. If they find me and find out I’m a defector, they will surely make an example out of me.” The Mole stoked the fire.
Naomi had come out from the bathroom and joined them by the fire. She held herself in a way that said she was fine. That she had gotten all of the sadness and anger out of her system in there. Her arms crossed across her chest as if she was cold, but the fire was hot that night.
“Sounds like they’re looking for us.” She said, noticing the waves of scanners just outside. She peered out of the boarded window, blinded by the roaming lights outside.
“Jesus, you’d think The Drip was tonight with all of those lights.” The Mole grumbled.
The machines continued to window shop for crime into the late evening. Strafing down the alleys for something of interest. Sometimes eavesdropping on one location for hours. Just hovering. Listening.
Passionate talks of searching for Noah had subsided into chit-chat around the television. Not that they didn’t care, but passion is tiring.
“You know…pizza…bread, cheese, toppings, crust.” Naomi was amazed that Isaac had never had it. Obviously, she knew that he had never had the chance to eat pizza, but the fact that it was now a spoken thing made it unthinkable.
“It sounds amazing.” Isaac’s mouth watered. It was so unfair that he had to hear about all of this good food, but never get to try it.
“Steak?” The Mole questioned.
“Nope. So far I’ve been a bean and potato crisp kinda guy.” Not like he had much choice.
“Man, I could go for a steak right now.” He said.
“Well, what happened to all of the cows?” Isaac wondered that they couldn’t all be gone.
“Driven out by industry, I suppose.” The Mole flicked the channel on the TV. “When I worked up in The UE, I used to hear about people finding stuff all of the time. Cows. Pigs. Even chickens were being hunted.”
“They ever find any around here?”
“Not for a long time. As soon as The UE caught wind of any livestock, they claimed it for themselves.”
The three dissolved into a lighthearted sadness as they spooned their beans in unison.
“If you think hard enough, it kind of tastes like chicken.” Naomi frowned.
“I don’t know what chicken tastes like, so I’d say you’re right.” Isaac smiled.
They all laughed. The first time the three had heard laughter in a long time. Probably the first time Isaac had ever heard it.
The three sat and watched television, their faces lit by fire and then scanners and then fire again. The TV played news from The Upper Echelon. A woman from the Cloud City spoke on some recent changes to policies and amendments to those changes that had yet to be signed off on.
They continued to watch. Only when the screen went to static did the television catch their attention again. The static cleared showing a man on screen in front of a black backdrop.
“That’s him, that’s The Crest.” The Mole didn’t take his eyes off of the screen.
He had salt and pepper hair and was clean shaven to reveal a square jaw. He looked younger than he probably was. With smooth skin and a devious grin, he spoke.
“It has been brought to my attention that our most esteemed Cultivator has been killed. Murdered in cold blood.” His grin faded. “This comes a mere day after the thievery that occurred at the very same factory. Now, a giant doesn’t usually concern himself with the goings on of ants, but this particular group of ants seemed to have fashioned themselves a bit of confidence. You see, confidence inspires confidence. And confidence often makes a person do things that they would otherwise never do. That confidence must be stomped out.” The man’s grin gradually came back into existence. “Now, I want you all to be proud and I want you all to carry yourselves with high regard, but the harming of others in the name of rebellion will not be tolerated.” The Crest motioned to someone off camera. “Bring him over, Harvey.”
They watched the TV screen in horror as the man rolled over Noah strapped into an upright restraint. Tubes branched out from his forearms like a dead tree. Visually exhausted and his face bloodied, his lip quivered in fear.
“I have it on good authority that the same group that murdered The Cultivator, was the same group that stole our crops with ol’ Noah here. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, I’m sure you know the group I’m talking about.” Again, his face became cold and unmoving. “Daybreak.”
The sound on the television became silent as the man was like a statue. White noise seemed to envelope the room in the clinic, dissipating when The Crest began to speak again.
“Yes, I know you Daybreak. Is this what you stand for? Murder? Well, you reap what you sow.”
The Crest pulled the tubes from Noah’s arms and the group watched as he drained onto the floor. The man walked off screen. Noah didn’t scream or yell, only small whimpers and visible shivers gave any signal that he was conscious. The splash of blood to the concrete sounded heavy like oil. Gore dripped from the hollow plastic like alien slime. Noah was left, seemingly alone, to bleed out as the television cut to black.
Naomi, devastated, fell to her knees. Just as she had regained some optimism for finding Noah, he had been slaughtered for her to witness. She couldn’t breath. Her mouth was open in an attempt to consume air, but all she could do was cry.
Isaac held her, still staring at the black screen. He had never experienced a more heinous act with his own two eyes. A fury brewed inside him because he knew that none of this would’ve happened if he stayed focused on the first mission. He knew that this was his fault, whether or not anyone could bring themselves to say it.
He left Naomi there to cry by herself. Grabbing a backpack, he filled it with some food and water. He stowed the Sentinel pistol in the front of his pants and left through the clinic door.
Across the muddy street and into the darkness of the alleys, he fled. Scanners following in tow, were on the prowl.
Daybreak had rescued the crops in the name of liberation. Naomi had killed The Cultivator in the name of rebellion. And now, Isaac was going to kill in the name of revenge.