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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5. Chapter 4

Everything around me is a blur. I can make out no definite shapes and all the colors trickle together like oil in water. The sounds around me are a haze of cunfusion with no definite tone or meaning. A sweet yet sickly scent hangs in the air that I can't identify and I feel something cool beneath my finger tips that has no meaning to me. Is this what the after life is? Indefinite shapes and sounds, a place where nothing has a meaning or purpose. If so I don't want to be here, I crave a purpose like nature craves to be free.

"Why isn't she awake?" garled words filter in my dreamy haze.

Another voice a little louder than the first penetrates my thoughts. "The drugs are still wearing off."

A impatient sigh. "How long is this going to take?"

"A few more minutes at least," the annoying voice comes again.

The two voices are buzzing around me like pesky flies and I want to swat them away, they're disturbing my after life. "Shut up, would you," I grumble stumbling over my words like a drunk man.

I can hear the ruffling of clothing as the two people, at least I think there is only, turn towards me. Something grips my shoulder and pulls my sharply upwards, or maybe it's down.

The movement snaps me out of my haze and I find myself sitting at a cool metal table in the middle of an all white room. A man with slicked back hair and a crooked smile sits across from me and a bulky man stands behind with an iron grip on my shoulder, the source of me being jerked awake.

"Miss Caserento, welcome the Court House," the man with the crooked smile say slowly letting every word hang in the hair like a weight about to fall on me.

The words "Court House" send a shiver up my spine, I'm not dead yet but I'm about to be. My palms are sweaty and I press them against the cool metal table to try and get the fear flaring up through my body to go away, but I only leave sweaty hand prints on the table. Each breath comes a little shorter than the last as my eyes search the room for a way out and the man's lock onto me. He wants me to react, to panic, maybe plea to be realeased, but I'm not a fool. I'm not going anywhere.

"So, when are you going to kill me? You better do it soon, I heard this Agent-10 stuff is expenisve and doesn't stay in the body forever," I say almost too casually.

I thought the man would be annoyed with my reaction, but he just laughs. "We're not going to kill. That is unless you give us to. You're not going to give us a reason to kill you, are you?" he asks with the same crooked smile.

I don't even have to think about this, there is only one answer. "No."

"Good. Now we can talk about why you're here," he tells me.

"First, where's my sister?" I demand even though I'm in no place to. I don't know why they're letting me live, but I still don't trust them in any way.

"Your sister is receiving the same offer your about to receive," he says.

"Offer?" I ask not trusting anything this man has to say.

"Yes, an offer. We are willing to let you and your sister live if you help us start a war among the Numbers," the man says wickedly.

My mind is still hazey from the drugs and it takes me a moment to understand what the man is offering. "A war?" I ask. "Why?"

The man shrugs nonchalently as if war were a casual thing. "The Numbers are the only blemish on the perfect society that is the Axis Dynasty. If we get rid of them then we will have formed the perfect society."

"You seem to have forgotten that you are talking to one of those blemishes," I spit haughtly.

The man doesn't react to my anger at all instead his crooked smile broadens. "You're not just any blemish, Indie. We've been watching you, actually several Numbers, for a while, ones that can help us reach our goals. It was just our luck that your number was up, much easier to descreetly get ahold of you this way."

"Why me?" I ask trying to comprehend the situation. "Why start the war now?"

The man picks dirt out from under his finger nails before answering. "You have some very useful skills: hacking, stealing, fighting. We know everything you've done from all of the thefts to knocking out those Monitors and you've caught our attention. We need someone on the inside, someone with influence."

I keep my face slack refusing to react to the man's compliments. "And the war?"

He turns to face me again with an almost excited look on his face. "The Dynasty needed the labor of the Numbers' to support itself for a long time, but now we've reached a point were we can support ourselves without the need for the Numbers and we've decided it's time to cleanse our society."

"You're talking about genocide," I point out trying to keep a poker face as a wave of nausea roles over me. They won't me to take part in the genocide of my own people.

"Only if you consider Numbers human," he replies cruelly.

"I do," I say with bite.

His eyes narrow at me. "We are all entitled to our opinions. Now, will you comply?"

I need to know more. "How do you plan on killing the Numbers if they will just come back to life?"

"I can't tell you that yet, but it won't be hard. I just need to know if you're in or not," he's not asking this time, he's demanding.

My heart picks up speed again and moisture collects on my palms. Will I willingly help these monsters kill my friends and just about everyone else on this island? Or will I turn myself and Adrian over? My eyes squint shut, I can't give Adrian to them. I don't want her to die and I really don't want to die either. But, what about after the war? What will they do with Adrian and me then? Probably kill us. Still, I have to think of myself and my sister first.

"Okay, I'm in," I tell the man and open my eyes to look at his greedy face.

He looks both pleased and sadistic at the same time. "Perfect. Now, my collegue and I are just going to guide you down to one of the tactic offices and they'll tell you more about your role there."

"Will my sister be there?" I ask hopefully.

The man shakes his head. "No, you can't see Adrian now. You each have your own role to play."

 My heart sinks. They're keeping my sister and me apart. I can practically feel the betrayal in the air; as soon as this whole thing is over Adrian and I will be serperated, unable to protect eachother, and they'll kil us. I don't know how I know this, but I just do.

The large man behind me grabs my arm with an iron grip and begins dragging me down the hall. I can't do this, I can't be apart of genocide. I need to find Adrian and get the hell out of here. My eyes search the hall taking in every detail. Every ten feet or so there is a door frame where they can block of diiferent sections of the hallways with metal gates, a typical and basic security measure. My mind works out a very rough plan as fast as it can and when we get close to the next door frame I take action. I slow down so that the man pulls me along causing me to stumble.

"Hurry up!" he snaps at me and yanks my arms even harder making me stumble gain, but this time I exaggerate the movement and fall the the floor.

My arms are tugged out of the man's grip for just a moment before he reaches to grab me again and in the moment I take action. The door frame is less than two feet, so I jump to my feet and sprint past the frame knowing th man will follow me.

"Hey get back here!" he yells and starts running after me.

He's slow because of his bulk and before he can reach the door frame I've spun around and started running towards him again. His face is a mixture of confusion and shock when he stops to try and figure out what I'm doing.

My feets move swiftly across the white tiled floor and easily push me into the air where I grab the smooth metal of the door frame. My momentum sends me hurtling towards the surprised man who tries to move out of the way, but he didn't think quick enough.

With the bottom of my feet infront of me and my knees bent I slam into the man and push out with my legs. I hear the disturbing cracking of ribs under my feet, but it's too late to care. He foes flying backwards and lands on the ground with a loud thud that echoes through the halls.

The man lays groaning on the ground, he's in a lot of pain, but still concious. I don't have time to knock him out, I need to find Adrian.

Speakers crackle over my head and a voice comes screeching out of it. "All Monitors report to central command. I repeat, all Monitors report to central command. There is a Number loose in the Court House. All employees please lock the doors to your office, stay out of sight, and refrain from talking. This Number is considered armed and dangerous."

'Armed!" I think. 'The only arms I have are attached to my body.'

I run through the halls as fast as I can screaming Adrian's name, no point in being subtle now, the Monitors were probably called as soon as the commotion in the hall started. The Court House is massive and no matter how many hallways I turn down there is just more nothing. Everybody is probably under a lockdown until the Monitors catch me.

"Adrian!" I scream desperatley. "ADRIAN!"

I want to cry. Where is my sister? If I don't find her they'll kill her.

I hear the thudding of military boots coming down the hall and I know my time is just about up. I need to find Adrian right now or neither of us is going to make it out. The thudding comes closer and I run faster and scream louder.

"ADRIAN! ADRIAN! Please, come on," I beg my missing sister.

"There she is!" someone calls from behind me and I go into complete survival mode. I can't save Adrian now, I need to leave.

My feet move in the direction I know the exit to be in. The Monitors are getting incredibly close and I can hear the clicking of guns being loaded. They may not be able to kill me yet, but they can certaintly slow me down.

The first gun goes off as a group of Monitors finally have a clear shot. The bullet ricochets of the wall next to me sending a few sparks into the air and making me jump.

There exit is only a few feet away, but now there is another group of Monitors coming down another hall leading to the exit. I reach the exit with each group only a few feet behind me, but I try to yank open the door I find it's locked. Of course it's locked, I was an idiot to think escape would be this easy.

The Monitors are each only a few feet away from getting the perfect shot at me and I have no where else to go. All of my instincts surge at me all at once: fear, survival, hope, desperation, sorrow. They make my brain scramble and my body tense. I don't know what to do.

I'm thinking about trying to run straight at one of the groups to see if they'll move out of the way on instinct when my way out suddenly becomes clear. An air vent. Just like the ones I use to break into factories and warehouses.

My moment of panic cost me and the Monitors all have the perfect shot at me now. They open fire without patience and without mercy. The bullets whiz through the air as I sprint with everything I've got for the air vent. One of the bullets skims over my shoulder, but a second finds a spot in my right arm, still I don't stop.

My feet leave the ground as I rip of the air vent cover and grab the edge. I use my feet to push myself upwards and further into the vent, while arm burn like someone is probbing the muscle with a hot poker. I'm almost all the way in the vent when another bullet finds it's place in my calf causing me to pause.

The moment seems to long and I push myself the rest of the way into the vent even though each push on my leg makes tears role down my cheeks. Unfortunatley Numbers only regenerate when we die not when we're injured.

The Monitors can't fit into the vent with all of their equipment, so now they're trying to figure out we're the vent leads so they can stop me. They won't figure it out fast enough to catch me, but still I force myself to move faster.

Tears blur my vision as the muscles in my arms in legs contract around the bullet wounds. My arm bangs into the side of the vent and I let out a choked sob, I've never been in so much pain.

 The vent leads to the roof, as many vents do, and I push of the cover forcefully. My entire body seems to burn from the bullet wounds, but I have to keep going. I left Adrian behind and now I have to keep moving for her. Maybe they'll let her live if she agrees to help them.

The Monitors are running around the building and through the streets looking for me, so I suck down on the roof. They'll think to look up here soon. When the most of the Monitors have dispersed into the streets, thinking I managed to evade them, I walk to the edge of the building where a fire escape hangs just one story below where I am. One story isn't much for me, but this fall is going to hurt like hell.

Biting my lip I grab the edge of the building and gently drop my legs over the edge, even this gentle pull of gravity makes me want to cry out. It takes me a moment to work up the courage to let go, but when I do I immediatley regret it. My feet land solidly on the metal fire escape and then I immediatley crumple onto the metal unable to hold my own weight.

I sob hopelessly into my hands before I think of Adrian and how I left her. If I gave up now then leaving her would have been pointless. I limp down the fire escape and into the street carefully watching for Monitors. By some luck they've moved into the outer parts of the city looking for me. They probably think I'm way ahead of them when in realty I can barely move.

I move through the narrowest and emptiest allies I can find ducking into the shadows when I see anyone, even another Number. The panic in my chest slowly gives way to exhuastion from blood loss. Red stains my white shirt and pants making me dizzy and unstable. I want to keep moving, yet I can't. As an attempt to save itself my body finds the darkest, quietest ally neaby ally and collapses into it.

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