Posted by: Caitlynn | January 13, 2010

Genre #8 — Sci-Fi

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“To Be Human”

————

“We all bleed…” a soft voice murmured.

Darien groaned and opened his eyes. “Where—?” he began. When it suddenly hit him that he was not in his house, he darted up to a sitting position.

“Hmm? You’re awake?” came the same gentle voice as before.

He turned in its direction and studied the young woman he saw sitting there. She had faded green eyes and wavy black hair. Her skin was very pale, and her stature thin and frail. There was a strange sort of beauty about her, he thought, but he remained tense. This could still be a trap.

She tilted her head quizzically. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you in pain?”

For the first time upon waking, Darien realized that he was, in fact, very sore. He thought back to the last thing he remembered, now recalling the surprise blow to the head he had received the instant before passing out. If he had no reason to be suspicious of this stranger before, he had one now.

“Who are you?” he asked cautiously. “And where are we?”

“I am Isabella, and this is my home,” she answered plainly. “I brought you here because you were hurt.”

Darien raised an eyebrow. “You brought me here all by yourself?”

“Oh, but we’re quite close to the spot where I found you,” she insisted. “It was exhausting, but I managed somehow.”

He examined her more closely, then breathed a sigh of relief. She seemed a little off, maybe, but not much of a threat. He turned his attention to the room he was in. It was small and dank, with no windows and little furniture. “This…is your home? You must be an urchin, then.” When she looked at him questioningly, he clarified, “This is still the abandoned warehouse district, right?”

She nodded.

“And you most likely have some…condition…that prevents you from keeping a job or qualifying for assistance?” he prompted further.

She looked down, embarrassed, but nodded again.

“Then you are what the rest of us commonly refer to as an ‘urchin,’” he said, straining himself to stand.

“Oh…” she replied quietly. Then, noticing his efforts, she moved to help him. “You’ll hurt yourself worse if you’re not careful.”

“Thanks, but it’s fine. I have a job to carry out still. Besides,” he said, beginning to scold, “you should know better than to take people into your home at random. I thought urchins usually had more sense than that.”

She shrugged and pulled something out of her pants pocket. “This was near you,” she said, handing it to him.

“Oh, my badge,” he noted. “So you realized I was a hunter, hmm? But you should’ve understood that it was a reprobate that got to me before, then. It would’ve been best for you to have left me.”

She shook her head defiantly. “No. You were hurt.”

“Well, suit yourself,” he responded before moving toward the door.

“You’re leaving already?” Isabella asked, concern in her voice.

“Of course,” his tone was annoyed. “Like I said before, I have a job to finish. That reprobate is still out there.”

Before he quite made it out, however, she blurted, “Why do you hunt them?”

Darien stopped in shock and turned around sharply, wincing from the sudden pain as he did. “Don’t tell me you’re a sympathizer?” he asked sternly.

“I…I wouldn’t quite say that…” she stuttered. “But, I never understood why the reprobates and the humans don’t get along. They were human once too, weren’t they?”

“Only once,” he answered, disgust evident in his voice. “They sold themselves to technology, though, and live as machines. They don’t die natural deaths, and they don’t die unnatural deaths very easy, either. Takes a certain type of weapon, and only a select few of us are authorized to carry one. This is a fact they take full advantage of. They might look like you and I, but they certainly aren’t human.”

“And…what is it to be human, exactly?” The woman responded. Rather than replying, however, he merely raced out the door and out of the building, down the street, trying to discern where he was in relation to where he needed to be.

“Now let’s see,” he said, taking out his tracker. “According to this, the reprobate should be close. Better send the signal for back-up this time, just in case,” he noted, pressing a button. As he continued looking, he heard the sound of footsteps nearby. Slowly, carefully, he reached for his gun. The footsteps got louder and faster, and he could see a shadow out of the corner of his eye. Whipping around, he pulled his gun and shouted, “Hold it!”

And, standing there, was a very startled Isabella.

Darien sighed. “Listen lady,” he reprimanded, “I don’t have time for this. Things are about to get ugly, so if you don’t mind…”

Her eyes widened. “No!” she shouted, dashing toward him suddenly and knocking him to the ground.

“Wha—” he started in shock, but was suddenly silenced by the sound of rapid gunfire. “The reprobate!” he thought in a panic as he remained on the ground.

Isabella stood above him, acting as a shield. Even Darien, who had seen more than his fair share of gruesome sights, felt some twinge of horror for the poor stranger who had just offered herself as a sacrifice. When the bullets stopped, she collapsed. Without thinking, Darien caught her in his arms. In spite of his job, he felt some strange sense of responsibility, so he dashed away from the attacking reprobate with Isabella in his arms to a temporarily safe spot.

He crouched low to the ground. “Poor little fool,” he muttered, looking at her bloodied body. “She had no reason to die.”

But as he looked at her, Isabella suddenly opened her eyes. He let out a small gasp and dropped her, backing away quickly. “You…how could you be alive still?”

She looked at him pathetically, struggling to pull herself up.

“Unless,” he realized, drawing out his gun again and pointing it at her. “You’re a reprobate, aren’t you?”

Isabella did not answer right away, but continued attempting to pull herself up. “I was scared,” she eventually whispered. “So scared that you might die. I didn’t want you to.”

“And why not? I hunt your kind, remember?” he scowled, his finger itching to pull the trigger but his curiosity holding him off.

“No more death,” she whimpered, looking down. “No more…I hate it. I hate it! I’ve seen so much. And so, I was happy to save you. And I’m happier to have saved you twice.” She finally managed to pull herself to her feet, though she still remained weak and unsteady on them. “I’ve lived long enough, so even if my life ends tonight, I’m still…” she looked at him again, smiling, “happy.”

Darien’s resolve wavered. “I should kill her,” he told himself. “I should. So why am I hesitating?”

The two stood facing each other, each frozen in place. At that moment, though, Darien heard the familiar sound of sirens. His back-up had arrived, and it was safe to assume from the subsequent sounds of gunfire that they were hot on the trail of the attacking reprobate. It wouldn’t be long before they’d come by this way.

He glanced at Isabella and hesitantly lowered his gun. “Go,” he spat out.

Her green eyes widened, clearly surprised. “But…why?”

“Because you’re hurt. And…we all bleed,” he replied. When she still had not moved, he shouted, “Go! Before I change my mind!”

That seemed to snap her back to her senses, and Isabella ran off on her still unsteady feet as fast as she could. He watched her as she disappeared, then went off to find the other hunters.

“All taken care of!” a man shouted over to him once he had caught up. “Seems there was a small group of them gathered here. We disassembled six. Anymore over that way?” he asked, nodding in the direction Darien had come from.

Hesitating momentarily, Darien finally answered, “No. No, that’s all of them.”

“Good. Then let’s wrap this up and get back,” the other man said. “I’d prefer human company tonight.”

“I wonder,” Darien muttered, “just what is it to be human?”

“What was that?” his companion asked. “I didn’t quite catch what you said.”

But the former only shook his head. “Nah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

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Responses

  1. Finally, I get a chance to read this one. LOL. It was longer than the rest, so I figured I save it for when I had the chance to actually read it in one sitting. ^_^ I like it. You created a believable world and two decent characters. The title fits really well, because of the theme. We all really do bleed. Great job!

    • Thanks again. 🙂


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