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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38. Chapter 37

Chapter 37: Chemical Era

"Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation."

-Richard M. Nixon

The world crumples and is rebuilt in a single moment. The foundations of the old society have never felt so paper thin, like if i were to jump on them they'd rip away and reveal something much greater underneath. It's like I can feel all of society shifting from one era to the next. What I heard can't be real. There's no way it's real. Nothing changes that quickly. Hostility does not change to love in a single moment, nor does violence turn to protection without the batting of an eye.

It's a trick. It has to be another trick. Everything is built on deception and this is just another thread in the cloth they tie around our eyes to keep us from seeing the truth. Layers of lies upon more lies make it impossible to find the truth.

I look at the lock I'm holding in my hand. It belongs to the shack in front of me. All I need to do is break this lock so that I can get into the shack and give myself the cure. If I can manage that then I can do what Remus said and make Avalis feel the heat. Whether this is a deception or not, I can still do my part in ending it.

My fingers grasp the lock firmly, some of them looping around the top and some of them forcing the metal into my palm from the sides. It's a rusted, old thing so it shouldn't be too hard to break. I give it a sharp yank but only succeed in hurting my arm with the painful motion. This time I press my foot against the door for more leverage and try again. The quick motion feels like it's going to rip my arm out of its socket, but I keep pulling anyways and after a moment the lock gives.

The lock falls to the ground with a clatter, landing among broken bottles and smooth pebbles. Without a thought to how loud I'm being, I stir up a racket when I yank open the door on its creaky hinges and then slam it closed once I'm inside. I just need a place to give myself the cure without being near Numbers. Isolation is necessary for this to work.

Bottles rattle on shelves made of rotted wood as I throw myself to the ground and unravel my fingers from the glass syringe. My fingers are as red as the liquid inside the syringe from holding it so tightly for so long. The future of the Numbers now lays in my open palm. I need it in my blood. I need my heart to pump it to the rest of my body and wash away the damage Avalis has caused.

The three hour time period Craggier gave me must almost be up. I'll be contagious very soon, so it's now or never. With that in mind, I uncap the needle of the syringe and slowly slide it into one of the veins just below the crease of my elbow on my left arm. The plunger moves down slowly, forcing the muddy red liquid into my body. Something between a gasp and the sound you make when you're choking on something escapes my lips as a sense of nausea over takes me. I don't know much about diseases and their cures, but I can only assume this is to be expected. After all, this cure is attacking what ever is trying to destroy my body. It's like they're having their own personal war inside my body. Cross my fingers that the cure wins because I am betting an awful lot of lives on it winning.

I make myself sit straight up until all of the liquid has left the syringe, afraid that if I crumple into a ball, because of the pain building in my stomach, the needle will slip out of my arm and spill the remainder of its precious contents on to the ground. As soon as the liquid is gone, though, I collapse to the ground in a burning hot sweat. It feels like someone has poured a pot of boiling water on top of me and filled my stomach with small explosives that go off every few seconds.

A grunt wiggles up my throat as the explosives try to leave my stomach and I try to keep them in there. Unfortunately, the explosives win and I vomit on the ground in front of me, releasing the only food I've had in the past thirty-six hours. Great, now I have to stop genocide on an empty stomach.

The vomit begins to trickle towards my nose so I make myself sit back up and lean against the wooden shelve behind me. It digs into my neck, but it's better than having vomit on my face. It's already in my mouth, I'd prefer to keep it off of the rest of me.

The nausea fades as quickly as it came on, leaving my body along with all the food that was in my stomach. I force myself to my feet and push open the door into the blinding noon day sun. It burns like I've been in the dark for years, but I'm assuming this has more to do with my body fighting the disease now. I still don't feel all together but it's better than before.

Gun fire has replaced the hollow sounds of the city once again while I was in the shack. I wonder why I couldn't hear it before. Too much pain, I guess, too hard to concentrate on anything else. The gun fire is coming towards the center of the city, where the Court House is. The same place Mallery, Simoran, and Grey are supposed to be. They'll be caught in the middle of the blood bath.

My heart starts pounding in my chest and I take off at a dead on sprint. I legs burn like crazy, my head feels like it has been pumped with air, and my entire body is sweating a river still, but I run harder and harder anyways.

All I can think about is watching Kern die and the having to watch everyone else I care about die less than two hours later. It's unjust and cruel that Avalis and the Dynasty already took one of my friends away from me, made me watch them die while I got to die. And now they've put me in a position where I'm almost powerless to save the rest of them. I can feel my eyes water up at the thought of Kern, but I force the tears away. Mourning is not a luxury I can afford at the moment.

It's not fair this is happening now, but it makes sense. Where else would Remus's troops, if they're really here to free the Numbers, attack besides the Court House? It's the home base of all of the Monitors in the city and it's where they keep all their secret data. It's just painful to think that my only remaining friends are trapped in there without any means of escaping. The Monitors could easily kill all of the prisoners before Remus's troops can take the building or, worse yet, they can hold them hostage. They could give Mallery, Simoran, and Grey Agent-10 and point guns at their heads, saying they'll blow them off if Remus's troops don't surrender. The Numbers's only chance at freedom could end in a flash along with my friends lives; though, I doubt Remus will surrender to save just a few Numbers. So, my friends are probably dead unless I can get there on time.

I skid around corners, jump over fences, and shove past Numbers in my desperate attempt to get to the Court House. Numbers are filling the streets, watching the Court House from a distance. Their faces illuminate all of the terror and hope inside of them. They're all fully aware that this could be the bridge to a new era. The only question that remains: will it be an era with or without Numbers?

As I continue to bolt through the streets, I start to wonder what exactly happened while I was locked away. Did the Numbers think that the troops were there to hurt them or help them? I can't even imagine the fear they felt. The gunfire and explosions were terrifying enough from the relative safety of my cell, they must have been petrified.

The Court House comes into view, its solid break walls and heavy metal doors already look like they've been through years of hell. Troops in grey and burgundy uniforms surround the building in perfectly uniform line with their guns leveled at the door, waiting to barge in whenever those doors do come down.

These are not the troops that Avalis dictates nor are the Monitors. The Monitors are merely a policing force whose group was created with the sole purpose of controlling the Numbers. These troops can't possibly be Avalis's troops either because the standard uniform for the Dynasty's troops is army green and blue. That means that these people are Remus's troops. I don't know how he got an army under his control considering Avalis is supposed to lead the army, I'm just glad there here because at this point it doesn't seem like they're here to kill Numbers. They would have a much easier time if they, you know, actually went where the Numbers are. I can promise you very few Numbers are at the Court House. Except my friends, they're in there.

The soldiers begin to back away from the door and I have no idea what they are doing until the ground-breaking, metal-ringing explosion goes off, filling the air with debris and sending the world spinning around me. A few soldiers shout something to each other, orders maybe, and they begin to move through the debris and towards the sight of the explosion.

The dirty air clogs my throat and burns my eyes, so I hunker down behind a wall away from the explosion sight and wait a minute. I need to know what's happening over there before I can run in and expect to save my friends.

The debris falls back to the ground, large rocks pummeling the streets, while particles of dirt fall like brown snow to the cement. As the air is slowly cleared of the cloud of debris, a huge hole that has been blown both into the street and into the wall of the Court House is revealed. The steal door that once kept the soldiers out now looks like a silver bridge, welcoming them inside. The hole in the ground looks like a meteor struck it. Long spider web like cracks extend out from it in every direction. They really must be dedicated to using lethal force if they used an explosive like that.

Once most of the soldiers have filed inside, their guns still raised at targets thats just haven't presented themselves yet, I get ready to make my move. The troops have given me a way in, but they've also posted to soldiers at the entrance to the giant hole. Not at all surprising considering the Monitors are through out the city and anyone inside could call for back up at any time. Unfortunatly for me this means I have to get past these soldiers. Just because we are on the same side doesn't mean they'll let me into the building. I'm technically a civilian after all.

I look around me to find anything I can use to get past these two. Looking for a weapon is pointless, I don't want to attack them and they also have guns. I could throw dust into the air like I did with Adrian to distract them, but that would just raise more alarms and I'd probably still end up getting shot. I keep trying to come up with a non-confrontational solution when my eyes wander to the roof. Then it occurs to me. I don't need to go through that hole. I can get into the Court House the same way I once broke out of it. Through the air vents.

I move to the other side of the wall I'm hiding behind and look around the corner again. There's no gaping hole on this side, but now I can see that they aren't leaving anything to chance. There are no soldiers around this side of the building, but there are some standing on the roofs, guns ready to take out anyone gutsy enough to intrude on their plans. I shouldn't be afraid of the people trying to help me, yet I am. Losing another piece of my sanity is not something I want, but I have to risk it.

My only chance to get inside is to get to air vent without being seen. If I Can do that then they'll have a hard time shooting me because I'll be inside before they even have time to aim their guns. With that in mind, I check once more to make sure there are no soldiers on the ground and then run for the nearest wall as fast as I can. I start climbing before my feet even have time to stop running, leaving them tredding the air for a second until they start pushing me up the wall. The climb is fast and I'm on the roof within seconds. The air vent is less than ten feet away, but that's ten feet that I have to cover without getting shot. It's likea competition between me and the soldiers who hopefully haven't spotted me yet. Will I make it to the air vent first or will they hit me first? I guess I'll find out.

I only sprint for a few steps before I dive for the vent, which hasn't been repaired much since I broke out of here a few weeks ago. The Monitors put the cover back on, but it's stil heavily dented and doesn't seem to be attahed too soundly. I hear the first shouts of the nearby soldiers when my right shoulder hits the cover, snapping it off and sending it down the tunnel below it.

"Hey!" one of the soldiers shouts. "Get down from there. We don't want to hurt you, but w..." I dont hear the rest of what the person is saying because I've already swung my feet into the vent and am falling down it like some sort of slide.

My limted knowledge of air vents and where they lead prevents me from makng a strategical decision about which air vents to take, so I just end up taking the ones that feel like they're getting closer to the center of the Court House, where the prisoners are currently being kept if I remember correctly. I'm crawling at this point because the vents are too short to even crouch in, it's rather slow going.

Every time I pass the cover to one of the opening to the air vents I look out to see where I am. Most of the places I don't recognize and are filled with Remus's soldiers. Hopefully they haven't gotten so far into tthe building that it would force the Monitors to do something drastic like kill my friends. Not that killing my friends would be particularlly drastic for them. It keeps going like this for a while until I get to a hallway that I'm shocked that I do recognize out of alll of the nearly identicle hallways. It's the one where they gave Kern and me the disease. I can tell because the dare thicker and have more complex security systems. I need to go left here, I know that for sure.

I make a sharp left and crawl as fast as I possibly can in the limited space. It doesn't take long for me to find the hallway that contains what was once my improvised prison cell. The other prisoner can't be far from here, so I kick out the nearest cover and drop into the hallway, landing in a crouch to keep from twisting and ankle or knee.

Thundering foot steps come from the same direction I just came from except they are coming from the hall not the air vents. Panic rises up inside of me. If it's Monitors coming they'll certainly kill me and if it's the other soldiers then they might assume I'm working for Avalis and also kill me. Without thinking if whether or not running will make me look like more or less of a threat, I try to escape in the opposite direction only to be stopped by another group ofoot steps. I'm surrounded on both sides now.

I should probably put my hands up or something, so they don't see me as a threat, but I just stand there frozen and waiting. Both groups round there corners a moment later, guns pointed at me now and I finally have the sense to raise my hands; though, it's a half-hearted effort.

The soldiers wear the same grey and burgundy uniforms I saw earlier and I let out a sigh of relief. Now I have at least some chance of living.

One of the soldiers approaches me with his gun pressed to his side instead of at me, but the other soldiers, maybe ten or eleven of them total, keep their guns up. "Who are you and why are you in this building?" the soldier who approached me asks.

"My name is Indaline Caserento and I'm looking for the prisoners being kept in this building," I say slowly, my throat tight. I couldn't come up with an excuse that wouldn't end with them killing me, so I just told them the truth.

The man raises his eyebrows skeptically. "Oh, is that so?" I nod my head and he continues. "Then you will have to come with us."

I swallow hard and try not to cry. If I go with them, then who will save my friends? I look at the man and ask, "What about the prisoners?"

"All of the prisoners in the building have been secured," he states factually.

I nod my head again. As long as they're safe I can deal with what ever consequences I'll have to face and being Avalis's daughter I suspect that I'll have to deal with a lot. No doubt they'll treat me like a traitor to the Numbers. But, that's okay because I'll know that I did my part in saving my people.

It's so simple to comply with these soldiers because that's all they expect of me, unlike the Monitors who always expected me to lash out like a savage animal. We march down the hallways, taking turn after turn to get to the exit. All of the hall are riddled with bullet marks and I see several bodies, which I ignore as best as I can. Most of them belong to Remus's soldiers or Monitors. I don't see a single dead Number on my way out, which gives me hope that my friends really are alive like the man said they were.

The soldiers keep their guns at the ready, but we run into no Monitors or confrontation of any kind. Remus's soldiers really have taken the building and soon they'll have control of the entire city. This could be the change I thought I would create. But, now I realize I was a fool to think I alone can change everything. One person can give an idea to a society as Remus has to us, but it is the society itself that has to make the decision to change. I can be a part of that change even if only a small part. I might not even be needed but I will fight anyways.

We step out of the gloomy hallways and into the light outside. My heart stops beating for a second because I can't believe what I'm seeing. Numbers and soldiers together. There are no guns being pointed and no fear in the Numbers eyes. They're helping eachother, tending to wounds and passing out rations.

"Indie!" I hear someone say my name and turn to my left to see Simoran. She runs up to me with a smile on her face and I can see Grey and Mallery not far behind her.

This is a new time, a new place, and a new way of thinking. The era of equality has begun.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow, it's finished. That was the last chapter. I'm not sure it was any good, but that's how the first book ends. Please tell me what you think in the comments because I don't know how to feel about this ending. Was it good?

Anyways, I wanted to thank all of you for sticking with me through the end of this story. I seriously love you guys. I'll be posting an author's note later with more thank you's and some info on the sequel.

 

 

 

 

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