Brian Kendley ~ Final Project

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Jayson crouched atop the pillar, scanning the ground below the hospital. His pure black Doberman’s snout-shaped helmet gleamed in the sunlight. Drones circled him inquisitively; their tracking systems studying his body, but he paid them no mind, his eyes fixed on a couple that had just exited the building with a bundle held between them. The couple stepped onto a panel in the ground in the long line of panels. It enveloped them in a gunmetal grey cube and sped off between the spires of the city. Jayson leapt to the ground, rolled, and released a steel wire that pierced into the side of the cube, leaving an X shaped groove in the metal. It pulled taut and Jayson was yanked off his feet and into the abyss that was crisscrossed by other speeding metal cubes. Jayson spun wildly on his wire, but it held fast. He began to climb the wire, twisting back and forth to avoid the many other speeding cubes. As he climbed, the wire retracted back into a steel tube that was strapped firmly to his inner wrist. Every foot or two, he would lock the wire into the tube so that if he ever fell he wouldn’t fall all the way back to the end of the wire.

When Jayson reached the end of the wire, he retracted it directly back into the tube and clung to the top of the cube. The cube had almost reached the end of its journey and Jayson could see a massively overhanging housing unit designed to look like a mortal-era post-modern house just ahead. A panel in the housing unit opened up and the cube sped through it, nearly knocking Jayson off. The cube slowly floated into a stark-white room filled with strange and irregular curves. A panel in the front of the cube slid back and the couple hurried out. The cube sped back out, barely missing Jayson. Jayson crept behind the couple and into the rest of the house. The rest of the house’s rooms were decorated quite rusticly and many had piles of clothes and dishes littered in them. Tiny little spiderlike robots scurried around, picking up things and tossing them into the hampers floating behind them. The couple’s voices floated into the room ahead of him and Jayson flung himself into another room.

“But darling,” the man said, sidling into the room and holding the baby. “I think the baby would be better off closer to her parents.” 

The woman huffed. “Antlien dear, we have a massive house and all these rooms. It would be good to use some of them if we can. And besides, there’ll be plenty of time for her to get to know her new parents.” Antlien did not respond, he was looking out at the cubes flying across the city. “Antlien? Are you listening to me?”

Antlien turned to her, his face a mask of horror. “There’s someone else in the house. We need to get our child out of here.”

“Who is it, Antlien?” The woman just stood and watched as Antlien handed the child to her and then sprinted past her and directly into Jayson. Jayson and Antlien tumbled to the ground in a tangle of limbs. A blade glinted in Jayson’s hand and when he rose, the hem of his robe was damp with blood. The wife handed the child to one of the bots and hurled herself desperately at Jayson. He dodged her effortlessly and vaulted the entire room, dashing after the fleeing bot.  The wife collapsed over her husband, his blood immediately soaking through her clothes. She gripped his wound, clenching it together. 

Antlien looked up at her, his eyes completely dilated. “Leave me here. Go after our child. I have always loved and will always love you.” She backed away, tears streaming down her face.

“I’ll be back,” she said, running into the room where Jayson had disappeared into. She entered the room and felt a stinging pain directly over her heart. She looked across the room to see Jayson, holding the child; a tiny tube protruding from his sleeve. The steel line had pierced directly through her body and into the wall behind. He flicked his wrist, and the line sailed through the air back to the tube, leaving a spray of blood in its wake. Jayson slung the child over his back and hopped out the window. He fell through the lines of cubes, down to the underbelly of the city. As the layers of the city and the windows whizzed by his face, workers peered out of the windows to watch the black-clad figure with a bundle strapped to his back hurtle towards the ground. About twenty feet from the ground, he released the hook. It slammed into the wall of a building and jerked him to a halt only inches from the ground. He glanced up briefly at the upper city miles above his head, then looked around himself.

He had landed in the underbelly of the city; a relic from the mortal age. When humans had been modified to survive in the upper atmosphere with very little oxygen, the surface was deemed unnecessary. Most cities were built on top of existing cities, creating slums for those who couldn’t afford the transition, and the rest of the world was surrendered back to nature. Jayson had found himself in one of these slums. This particular one was the remainders of a mortal age city known in its time as Seattle. As he hurried down the street, clutching the child to his chest, a bulky slum-dweller stepped in front of him, a club dotted with metal shards clutched in one of his hands. 

“Hey there buddy,” he slurred. “I hear you’ve been bringing reuvie children through here.” When Jayson didn’t speak, he became incensed. “I said, we don’t approve of what you’re doing here. You’ll bring the SS down on us.” The SS was the abbreviation for the Safety and Security officers, who enforced the laws. Reuvie was short for reincarnated. Jayson pulled a pouch from underneath his robe and poured out a few chips into his hand. He spilt them back into the pouch and handed it wordlessly to the slum-dweller. He stepped out of the way without a word, rummaging through the chips to confirm their validity. 

Jayson continued through the slum, taking a dizzying series of turns to throw off any followers that might still disagree with him. The child squirmed indiscriminately, but Jayson came across no other trouble for the remainder of his journey. After a time, Jayson reached a plain oak door inlaid with a steel lock. After looking in all directions, he reached up to the door and performed a complicated series of knocks. The door opened tentatively and Jayson was grabbed by the collar and yanked inside. The inside of the room was plainly decorated with a row of bookshelves and several sets of tables and chairs. The bookshelves and all other furniture were covered with stacks of mortal-age medical books and scientific journals. The centre of the room was filled with a large flat metal table covered with a green sheet. A tray of improvised medical tools sat atop a stack of thick red medical books. All around the table, dried-out red stains covered the floor and crusted the edges of the sheet. Another tray full of electrodes sat on the other side of the table. A man stepped out of shadows holding his hand out for the child. He wore parchment-coloured robes and had no eyes, just empty eye sockets, and his cheeks were covered in scarred writing. 

“No pay, no child,” Jayson said, stepping back with the child. The man’s lips pursed, and when he opened his mouth to speak, Jayson could see that he had six different writhing tongues that lathered the inside of his mouth in a sort of slime.

“After all this time, you still don’t trust me?” The man seemed slightly offended. “Do you know why the flowers never bloom? Will you retry, or let the pain resume? I took care of you and  I’m your ticket out ofthis wretched place.” Jayson looked up at the man and loosened his grip on the child. 

“I know. You’re also the one who told me to trust no one.” Jayson pulled the cloth away from the child and looked upon its face for the first time. It had a disproportionately small head to the rest of its body and a resoundingly cleft palate. Despite this, its heterochromatic eyes darted feverishly around at the room. Jayson peeled the cloth away from the rest of the child’s body and dropped it to the ground. The child’s perfectly sculpted arm reached and touched Jayson’s face. Jayson’s vision doubled and blurred; splotches of rainbow colour spreading irregularly from every edge. He nearly dropped the child, but the man with no eyes lunged forward to catch the baby just as it toppled from his hands. The swirls of colour continued to converge toward the centre of his vision. Eventually, his entire vision was covered in these streaks of colour. When his vision cleared, he was strapped to the table, the child laid out beside him. The man stood at the foot of the table. He had shed his robe and instead wore mortal-age surgical scrubs and balanced a surgical knife on the back of his open palm.

“Jayson,” he said. “You might be wondering why I’m doing this. Jayson, I never told you this, but when you were a very young child, almost like this one here,” he indicated the child, “I lost my eyes protecting you. We built up this business selling reuvies back to their families or the state, but I’ve always wanted a new body or at least new eyes. And then you brought me one with my exact same brainstem composition. I’m going to implant this child’s brainstem into you and then supplant my mind over your brain. Don’t worry though, I’ll put my brainstem into the child and supplant your mind over the child’s brain. 

Jayson managed to croak out four words beore succumbing to the drug again. “Just let me die.” Then the colour that had been swirling at the edge of his vision pressed back into the centre. When he opened his eyes again, the man had split open the child at Jayson’s side and was peeling the skin over the spine back. He looked up at Jayson and smiled.

“It’ll all be over soon,” he shushed, before placing electrodes all over Jayson’s body and flipping him over. From then on Jayson only saw flashes of colours and objects. Red. Blue. Child. An exposed spine. Lime green. The man’s smiling face. Teeth. Too many teeth. Why does it have so many teeth? The man’s bared spine. Flaps of skin. The scalpel. The man laughing. Eyes. So many eyes. Stitched eyes. Flashes of the man’s childhood. And then darkness fell upon him.

Brian Kendley is a 14-year old middle schooler living in Fairfax County, Virginia. He wrote these stories as assignments for a Creative Writing class and hopes to keep growing as a writer. Bienvenue au Danse, young man.

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