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.

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19. Chapter 18

"What do we do?" Kern asks which doesn't  help to calm my nerves. Kern seems like the type of person who always know what to do and the fact that he's lost in such a crucial moment terrifies me.

Mallery, Adrian, and I stand silently for what feels like hour, but is only a few seconds. "We can't run," Mallery states. "We wouldn't make it out if here even if Indie wasn't injured."

'Great,' I think to myself. 'Now I've been demoted to dead weight.'

"Maybe they'd be willing to talk it out over a cup of coffee," Adrian says and laughs awkwardly.

"I don't know. They seem more like the tea type of people," I say in a scratchy voice and smile a bit. Why am I making jokes when a group of Monitors is only a few blocks away.

Mallery and Kern look at each other and then at me like they expect me to know what to do, but I don't. It seems so damn hopeless. We run: they shoot us down and with the Agent-10 in our system we'll be saying bye-bye for good. We stay: they capture and torture us. I think I prefer lights out.

"What if we scale a building?" 

"No, they probably brought rifles with them."

"We could just run away from them."

"That's exactly what they want us to do. If I learned anything by spending time with those vermin it's that they have three back up plans for every backup plan. There are probably more Monitors around the corner."

I barely hear the others' words as they discuss how to stay alive. There hands shake at there sides and they never lose sight of the Monitors just over four blocks away from us. There is no way we can turn left or right, up or back would just be suicidal, but not as suicidal as staying here. That just leaves down. What's down? The sewers.

"We're going through the sewers," I say quietly as the idea pops into my head. The others are still anxiously debating so I say it again louder. "We have to go through the sewers."

They all turn to look at me slightly shocked. "It's a maze down there of old tunnels and new ones. Half the old ones have completely clasped. We could easily get lost or stuck," Mallery points out with an air of knowledge.

"Do you have a better idea?" I demand knowing we have little to no time left to fight.

Mallery opens her mouth to talk, but Kern interrupts her. "Indie's right. The sewers are best bet."

"How do we get down there?" Adrian asks in a  squeaky voice and holds on to me like both of our lives depend on it.

I look around the streets. "There," I say pointing to a man hole.

Kern and Mallery go to lift it up as I will them to move faster. Only two blocks left. They could easily just pull out there rifles and shoot us, but I'm guessing they want to bring us in alive. With a grunt the pair pulls the heavy metal cover off and drops it to the concrete with a bang that sounds like the last moments of Venaree's life. 

Adrian starts dragging me towards the hole as the Monitors sprint towards us their guns slamming against their sides. Sweat beads down my neck both from the sheer effort of breathing and from the thought of Monitors breathing down my neck. Only half a block for then and three feet for me. At this rate it's hard to tell who will win this race.

Most of the movement is done by Adrian. It's all I can manage to fill my lungs with air each step we take. Pull. Drag. Breath. Wince. Repeat. Mallery and Kern are already climbing down the hole when Adrian and I reach the edge. She nudges me forward and I'm about to protest when I notice how close the Monitors are. Arguing who goes first will only waste precious time like throwing money into a fire.

I grasp the edge and lower myself down as fast as I can. Adrian jumps in after me and we begin descending. Even if I wasn't injure we would be too slow. I'm not even a quarter of the way down and I can see the shadows of Monitors approaching the hole. 

"Jump,"Mallery calls from where she stands on the ground. It's a good fifteen foot fall. Eh, better than getting captured.

I push myself away from the railing and embrace the fact that I could easily snap my neck if Mallery doesn't catch me. Adrian also let's go of the latter and begins falling through the air her outline dark against the bright sunlight falling through man hole. The little air I had managed to cling to rushes out of my lungs as Mallery catches me from below and quickly moves out of the way so Kern can catch Adrian.

Miraculously none of us are injured from either falling or  catching a flailing person, but doesn't really matter when the Monitors are now in view inching there way down the latter. Mallery sets me down on the ground and wraps her arm around my shoulder. Time to get moving. 

Hopefully the Monitors sense supplies will slow them down a bit. I'm not willing to take a chance though, so I shuffle along as fast as mg mangled body will let me. The adrenaline is keeping the pain at bay for now, but it will hit me like a tsunami later.

Kern and Adrian lead the way now for me and Mallery. I'm moving a lot faster now that Mallery is helping me. I don't know if it's because she's stronger than Adrian or is just more relentless, probably both. 

"Surrender now under the orders of Avalis Axis herself!" a Monitor shouts, his voice echoing off of the damp walls.

Wow. If Avalis herself ordered our arrest herself we must be pretty important. One of the rulers of the country wants me dead! I feel so special. Maybe Remus will want me dead soon. Then both of the rulers will want me dead!

"If you don't surrender now we'll be forced to shoot!" the same Monitor warns.

"Keep going," Mallery whispers to me as we turn around another corner. There are a lot of tunnels down here, but I can't imagine the Monitors are having too hard of a time keeping up.

A shot echoes off the nearby wall and now it's me dragging Mallery. The faster we move the higher chance we have of surviving. 

The moss covered walls seem to close in on me the closer the Monitors get, trapping me for whatever is to come. The smell of sewage overwhelms my senses, making it hard to concentration. I can feel the adrenaline slowly slipping away as fatigue curls around me and pain rockets in my chest. Pull. Drag. Breath. Wince. 

The gun shots are coming faster now. Not enough for the Monitors to waste too much ammo, but certainly enough to kill us. "This is your paste chance!" the Monitor yells now infuriated. "Give up!" 

"No," I say more to myself than anyone.

"Never," Mallery agrees.

Another gun shot hits the wall next to Kern's head and now even I'm sprinting. Screw the pain. I'm aiming to live. 

Rats flee from the sound of gun shots and stomping feet. I wish I could be them. Scamper into a dark corner and hide, but I can't. I am human. And us humans don't like to sit to the side and cross our fingers. We do the best we can to face our problems. And a problem we can't handle comes after us, we run like hell. 

The next shot seems to come out of no where. The Monitors hadn't shot at us in a while. I had assumed it was because they couldn't afford to waste time or ammo trying to hit us. This shot just comes out of the pitch black hunting us down like death itself.

"Duck!" I yell, but it feels like no one can hear me. They're all watching the bullet with a morbid curiosity as time seems to go by in slow motion. Who will it hit?

Mallery. I can see it now. The bullet will hit Mallery. 

I react without thinking and push Mallery off of me. She falls to the ground with a thud. The bullet doesn't just whiz by us or over Mallery's now safe it head. It hits me square in the chest.

I hear screaming, but all I can focus on is the blood mixing with the dirt on my clothes. The dirt is everything I've done in my life gathered on my clothes as permanent stains and the blood is the last moments of my life washing away my entire life as if had never happened at all. 

I'm supposed to be invincible, immortal even. Yet, here I kneel on the ground of a sewer with the life bleeding out of me.

It would be so easy to blame Mallery for not moving herself, Kern for throwing the Agent-10 gas bomb, or the Monitor who shot me, but in the end it was my choice. It was my choice to save Mallery and I can't say I regret it.

I guess this is lights out.
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