Chemical Numbers

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  • Published: 29 Oct 2013
  • Updated: 29 Sep 2014
  • Status: Complete
What if death didn't apply to you?

What if you could have infinite second chances at life?

That's what the Numbers seem to have, endless chances at life. They are mutants who come back to life every time they die. But, with the Numbers System in place, their chances of survival are zero. The Number System requires them to be tagged with numbers on their necks that drop as fifty more Numbers are executed each week using the chemical Agent-10, a chemical that strips Numbers of they're regenerative abilities.

Indie Caserento is a seventeen year old Number living with her sister, Adrian, in Manhattan. Working for a band of thieves has made them wealthier than most Numbers, but still on a count down to their deaths. They think they have a few more years left until their numbers are up, but when Adrian steals from the Monitors both of their numbers are dropped to zero. Their deaths seem imminent until the government makes them an offer that could change everything.


16. Chapter 15

The soft breeze floating through the open window sends shivers over my skin, it reminds me of the burning cold of my dream. It had all felt so vivid, I thought it was real. But, what does it mean? Is Kern supposed to help me? Does Mallery need my help? Something tells me that's not what my mind was trying to tell me. Mallery and Kern were just images, figments of my imagination, my brain included to make me realize something painfully obvious.

What I'm supposed to realize is buried deep in my subconcious. It came forward in my dream and now it's gone, as  if the breeze caried it right out of my head and out the window. I want to tell myself that if I can't remember it, it can't be that important, but I know that's not true. After all, I can't remember my own mother's face and that's something everyone remembers. How do you forget what your family looks like?

I shake my head trying to clear the turmoil of thoughts. I think I might be going crazy. It would make sense if I was going crazy. What doesn't make sense is my foggy memory and absurd dreams.

Adrian still sleeps soundly next to me and I want to wake her up and tell her everything that I've been thinking about. It feels like forever since I've had someone I can really talk. It's not that I feel like I can't talk to Grey or Simoran, it's more like I don't want to burden them with the weight of my pessimism. Simoran is one of those people you can tell anything in total confidence and then she'd be there comforting you. Grey wouldn't comfort you, he might actually make you feel worse, but he'd be honest and understanding.

Thoughts carry a lot of weight and crush our spirits as easily as you crush a bug under your boot. Thinking is what makes us human. It allows us to understand what's around us and adapt. It's our ability to think that allows to comprehend death. My thoughts tend to unravel me faster than anyone else ever could. I can ignore their words and actions, but I can't ignore the voice inside my head.

Adrian mumbles something I can't quite make out next to me and rolls over on the couch causing her to almost fall on the floor. Her black hair is covering the tan skin of her face, which has lost color since I last saw her, she probably hasn't been outside since we were arrested.

Seeing Adrian so at peace eases the worry from my mind and I can allow myself, just for a moment, to think everything will be alright. I let myself believe that nothing else wil go wrong. But, then the little voice inside my head called my subconscious reminds me of what Adrian said. One of my best friends is probably dead, no, definitely dead if she went into the execution room, and the government is looking for other Numbers to help them put their plan into action.

My fists tighten and my breaths quicken. I can't let myself get angry or upset, I need to keep a clear and level head, there is nothing I can do to help Casprie now. The only thing I can do is to make her death worth while.

"You alright?" a feathery light voice asks from behind me.

I turn to look at Simoran, her green eyes seem to glow in the morning light and her wavy copper hair is stuck to the side of her face. She reminds me so much of Adrian, but at the same time they are so different. Simoran is an optimist and always talkative, while Adrian is more like me, always deep in though and a bit pessimistic.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I tell her as I rub the last bits of sleep out of my eyes and comb my messy hair away from my eyes using my fingers. "Just thinking."

Simoran doesn't pry, which I'm thankful for, instead she pulls out a bag of the grain substance us Numbers call "mush". "I'm going to make some breakfast. Want to help?"

"Sure," I say with a genuine smile. There is something strangely appealing about doing something as normal as making breakfast during a crisis.

"It was kind of cold last night," Simoran says as she guesstimates the amount of "mush" we will need to make to feed four people.

I want to laugh at this considering the strange dream I had. "Yeah, it was a bit nippy."

I retrieve a jug of water from the pantry when I notice how low their food supply is. I selfishly hadn't thought about how many resources I had probably used up by staying here. The supplies they can afford to get barely feed two people, much less four.

"Umm, you guys are a bit low on food and water," I mumble to Simoran a bit embaressed at my selfishness.

"Yeah, we don't have much now, but if Grey wins his big fight against the number two person tonight then we can afford to buy a little more," she says still smiling like it's no big deal.

"Right," I say as casually as I can and pour the water into the bowls of "mush" making sure to only use what we need, we can't afford to waste something as precious as water.

It's not long before Grey and Adrian wake up. We eat in silence before Simoran and Grey leave for their shifts at one of the factories.

"What are we going to do?" Adrian says once they've left.

"Stay here," I answer. It's to only logical thing to do for now. Adrian just broke out of the Court  House, they'll be on high alert for any suspicious activity and they'll be looking for both of us now.

"We can't just do nothing," Adrian says her brow narrowing the slightest bit.

"Actually, we can," I say to her.

"We need to find Mallery, and Ross, and all the others. They're endanger," she says her voice a mixture of pleading and anger.

"We won't help them by getting ourselves caught," I remind her as I look out the window to make sure no one can see us.

Adrian is starting to look aggitated, her face is turning red and the corner of her lips is starting to twitch the way it used to right before she threw a tantrum when she was little. "You're going to let them get caught and possibly killed because you're to scared to help them."

Knowing my sister I expected this kind of reaction. She gets really intense when it comes to people she cares about and the only way to cool her off is to act like you don't care. It hurts her feelings, but she gives up after a while. "That sounds about right."

She already looks like she's going to erupt. I don't let her frustration to get to me. I have enough problems right now and I don't need us getting caught to be one of them. Adrian isn't very good at thinking ahead, while I am. She didn't think about the consequences of stealing a access card with a tracker in it from a Monitor and she certaintly isn't thinking about the consequences now.

"What about Ross?" she says her voice a lot calmer than I expected. "He's one of your best friends. Could you really live with yourself if he died because you didn't help him? I know you think I'm not thinking ahead, you've told me that enough times in the past, but this time I really am. They're targetting these Numbers because they need them. They want to use them to help destroy the rest of us and the only way we can stop them from doing that is to prevent them from capturing these Numbers in the first place."

At first all I can say is, "Wow, I can't believe that came out of your mouth," and Adrian laughs, but then I really take to heart what she said. She's got a point. I'm used to being the one with the plan and Adrian being the one looking out for me on the sidelines making sure I don't screw up, but this time she's right. "Alright," I say after a moment. "We'll go at ten o'clock tonight. Right when everyone starts showing up at the Ring, that way most of the Monitors will have to keep watch there. We'll look for Ross first, he never goes to the Ring."

"Thank you," Adrian says with a sigh of relief like the wight of the world was just taken off her shoulders.

"The Monitors knew where Casprie lived. I saw them at her apartment right after I escaped the Court House," I tell Adrian. "They might know where Ross lives too."

Adrian shakes her head. "I don't think so. They knew where Casprie lived because another Number who knew where she lived told them about it. No one knew where Ross lives and I lied about it and said I didn't know either."

"Thank God," I say the tension in my chest loosening. I might be able to save at least one of my friends. "And what about Mallery, Maura, and the other?"

"Nope, no one knew where any of them live, but their only looking for the more experienced ones. I saw some information on each of the people they are looking for and they all have four or more years of experience in what ever they specialize in."

"So from our group that includes Mallery, Ross, Maura, Casprie, you, and me," I say as I go through the people from our old thieving group in my head.

"Exactly," she says. "I didn't see any one else we know on the list."

"What about Grey and Simoran? Were they on the list? They've been on Manhattan for five years ago, but I don't know how long they've been fighting for."

"Umm," Adrian says as she thinks about it. "I don't remember seeing their names, but I wasn't really looking for them either. I was just looking for names I recognized."

"Right," I say understanding that she was only thinking about the people she cares about. It's what most people would have done. "Well, I guess we better find Ross."

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