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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8. Chapter 7

The fleshy palm is warm and rough against my mouth, I could easily bite into the calloused hand and spill this person's hot blood against the ground, but something stops me. If this is a Monitor they would be wearing black leather gloves, not expose their hands to the city's filth, and they'd have already injected either a knock out drug or Agent-10 into my veins.

"Don't scream." The person's breath tickles my ear. "I'm here to help. I'm going to let go now, okay?"

I nod my head and relax my body, so that who ever is behind me will think I'm willing to comply. The hand leaves my mouth allowing me to take a breath that tastes of rain. Their arm that had been wrapped around me, preventing from moving releases, it's grip. As soon as I can move freely I have the person pinned to the wall of the shed with my forearm against their throat.

Rain has plastered his brown hair to his face framing a pair of hazel eyes that look down at me with a smirk. I knew it wasn't a Monitor, but I didn't expect it to be him. A smirk plays across his lips to match the one in his eyes.

"Did you come to turn me in?" I demand. That's what I thought he'd do the first time I met him. I didn't trust Grey then and I don't trust him now

He moves so quickly that within seconds he has my arms twisted behind my back and my face presses against the wall. "No, I told you that I'm here to help you. You don't believe me?"

"You didn't want anything to do with me before." I try to wiggle out of his grasp, but he has me perfectly pinned and I can't move. I can see why he's one of the top fighters.

"Simoran saw you at the Ring and begged me to help you," he explains without loosening his grip on my arms.

I scowl against the cold metal wall of the shed. "You could be lying. There could be Monitors just around the corner."

"If there were Monitors here they wouldn't have asked for my help in the first place," he argues.

"You still haven't give me a reason to trust you," I fire back.

He laughes lightly. "Maybe I haven't, but you don't have to many other options either."

When I don't answer he laughes again. "What? You're just going to spend of your life in this shed?"

"No," I answer sullenly.

"Then I think your best option is to come with me," he says and releases my arms allowing me to pull away from the metal wall.

The wall's bumpy pattern has left an imprint in my cheek that I rub gently. "Fine," I say, but my eyes still wonder to the door. I can still make it out; Grey may be stronger and a better fighter, but I'm a lot faster than he is.

He sees me eyeing the door. "I don't have to help you if you don't want me to, but we both no they're looking for you. I don't know what you did, but whatever it was has put you in serious danger."

"Then why are you helping me?" I ask still rubbing my cheek.

He shrugs. "Simoran begged me to."

I look into his eyes an know he's not telling the complete truth. "That can't be it," I insist.

Another smirk stretches across his face. "Maybe I think you deserve to be saved."

He starts walking back into the rain and I stand there baffled for a minute. "You don't think that."

He doesn't respond to my statement he just asks, "You coming or not?"

My feet shuffle uncertaintly for a moment weighing my options. If I go with him then I run the risk of being turned in, but I don't I will, quiete literally, spend the rest of my life in a shed. That stupid kid is right, I need his help. "Wait for me," I call out and run out of the shed, I can't see his face, but I can practically feel him smirking at me.

The rain has turned into a down pour filling the air with mist and the sound of thunder rolling across the sky. Grey looks at me through the rain and tries to say something, but I can't here him over the slapping sound of rain on the cement.

"What?" I ask loudly.

"I said keep quiet, we're getting close to the center of the city," he says back.

Instead of answering I just nod my head, you never know if someone wil hear you. I'm still not a hundred percent certain trusting Grey is a good choice, but I don't see any other options. There is a war that's being set in motion and I can't stop it if I'm dead. And the first thing I need to do to stop whatever the Monitors are planning is to protect myself.

Before long we are standing at the front door of Grey and Simoran's apartment and Grey does some sort of special knock on the door. It creaks open with a sigh and Simoran appears in the door way her golden brown hair bright in the moon light.

Her face lights up when she sees me and I begin to feel uncomfortable. Why am I here? I ask myself yet again.

"You found her," she exclaims.

"Yeah, it wasn't easy to talk her into coming with me. She thought we were going to turn her in," he grumbles tiredly since it's early morning at this point.

Simoran scowls. "We wouldn't do that."

"I know," I mumble. "I just don't know you guys all that well."

"Well, we wouldn't," she says almost defensively.

I shuffle my feet nervously before saying, "I know that now. Thanks for coming to find me."

Her defensiveness slips away when she says, "Of course. We couldn't just leave you out there."

Simoran steps out of the doorway so Grey and I can walk into the dry apartment. Dust floats through the air and creates a thin coat on all the furniture in the tight space. Everything is worn and tattered, but surprisingly homey, maybe because it kind of looks like my apartment. A small radio sits on the kitchen counter, it's turned to a new station and bits of information come out between the crackling. Most of it's nothing really new.

My clothes awkwardly cling to my body and make a suctioning noise when I try to pull them away from my skin. Black strands of hair stick together and fall in my face like string. The tenneshoes on my feet squish everytime I take a step and I can't stop shaking.

Grey is just as soaking as I am making the wet clothes cling to his muscular body. Simoran sees me shaking from the cold and disappears into the bedroom she and Grey talked in yesterday. She comes out a moment later with two stacks of dry clothes for us to change into.

"Thank you," I tell her through chittering teeth.

She smiles a awkward smile and says, "No problem. You can change in the bathroom over there." She points to a door just across from the bedroom and I nod my head.

The wood of the door has been warped from time and looks like it's made of cardboard. I shut it carefully to make sure it doesn't break. The wet clothes stick to my skin as I take them off and replace them with the dry ones.

Simoran sits on the couch awkwardly with her hands tucked in her lap, but Grey has disappeared. I walk into the room with my injured leg still causing me to wince and limp as I move. Simoran sees my limp and stands up to help me.

"I need to look at your stitches," she tells me as she wraps an arm around my back to help me walk.

"Yeah, I think I might have torn them when I left," I say.

She shakes her head almost in criticism. "Why did you leave?"

I mostly left because I didn't trust Grey, but she already knows this and I don't want to rub it in her face. "I don't know really. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do after I'd suddenly lost everything I'd ever known, so I guess I was just looking for somethin familiar."

"Like?" she asks with a raised eyebrow as she lowers me onto the couch.

"I went to find a friend of mine named Maura," I tell her.

She rolls up my pant leg and grimaces; I lean over to see what's so bad, the stitches are torn and instead of gushing blood a slimy, yellow puss drips out of the bullet wound. Simoran goes into the kitchen and pulls a plastic box out of one of the broken cabinets. She pulls out tubes of ointment, gauze, and needles.

She cleans the wound with an antiseptic wipe that burns my skin as she continues to ask questions. "Why aren't you still with your friend?"

"You ask a lot of questions you know," I say to her.

She shrugs. "I'm just curious."

I sigh and answer, "She told me to leave because of what happened to my sister."

"I though you said your sister lived in the free world," Simoran asks looking up from her work with her eyebrows furrowed.

I bite my lip nervously having forgot that I lied about my sister to Simoran. "No, she's dead." Simoran stops cleaning the wound while I continue speaking. "She was a Number and her she was dropped to zero at the same time I was. She didn't make it out."

She tries to continue cleaning the wound like before, but it's clear she's distracted now. I expect her to ask what happened, but I'm grateful when she instead asks, "What was her name?"

"Adrian, she was only fifteen," I say and my heart squeezes when I say her name. Tears fall over my eyelids and run down my cheeks. I want to curl up into a ball and just cry my eyes out, but now is not the time.

"I'm fifteen too. Is that why I reminded you of your sister?" she asks cautiously like if she says the wrong thing I might run off again.

The salty tears sting my chapped lips as I speak. "No, it was something you said. You told me that you wouldn't let anything happen to me and that was one of the last things Adrian ever said to me. Sometimes it felt like she was the older sibling."

She nods in understanding. "That's how it is with me and Grey. He's incharge, but sometimes I have to keep him out of trouble."

A laugh surprisingly comes out of my mouth. "Sounds exactly like me and Adrian. There was so many times she kept me out of trouble." Without meaning to I go into a story about the time I was on the roof past curfew and to keep the Monitors distracted on one of their random curfew sweeps she pretended to have fallen down the stairs when the Monitors opened up the door. They were furious with her, but they just wanted to get through they're rounds as quickly as possible, so they helped her back into the apartment. By that time I had heard the commotion and had climbed back through the window before they came into the apartment.

Simoran laughs at my story and the sound eases some of the weight on my chest. "Grey's always running late for his shift at his factory. I always have to remind him or he'd be late every day. He was almost late today, but I reminded him just before you came out of the bathroom.

Simoran and I both start laughing and she has to hold my leg stil so she can take out the old stitches. "This part shouldn't hurt to badly," she tells me before pulling out a pair of tweezers and plucking at the ripped threads.

It doesn't take long to get the old stitches out, but I know what comes next. She'll have to restitch the hole so the infection doesn't get worse. Numbers can only buy the most basic medical supplies and the strongest pain killer available is ibuprofen, which won't really help in this case. She threads a curved needle carefully before holding my leg still.

"This is going to hurt," she reminds me, but I wish she'd just do it already.

"I know," I tell her with my teeth gritted and my hands grabbing the armrest to prepare for the pain.

The needle pierces my skin and I enhale sharply. The pain isn't as bad as I though, but it still hurts like hell. My fingers tighten their grip and I force myself to breath steadily until she is done. She finishes the stitch of and applies ointment and some gauze.

"I just need to look at your arm now," she says and I groan inwardly and offer up my arm.

The loose fabric is pulled up my arm as she examines the wound. I sneak a peek and realize that it is not nearly as bad as my leg, especially since the stitches are still intact. Simoran clearly agrees because she just applies ointment and gauzes to the wound.

"Thank you," I say gratefully.

She gives me a bright smile. "Of course."

She plops down on the couch next to me to relax before her night shift, which she must have if she's not working now. Her eyes have just fluttered shut when a crackling sound comes from the radio followed by a monotone voice.

"A reminder to all Numbers that their will be a registration sweep tonight and to have all members living in each dwelling prepared to be checked for registration. If any unregistered Numbers are found then they, and anyone living with them, will have their numbers dropped to zero and be executed immediately. The sweeps will commence at 6:30 tonight."

The registration sweeps are used to insure that no Number had a child and didn't have them registered into the system. Most Numbers don't have children because it's pointless to start a family if everyone in it will be executed before long. Normally such a sweep wouldn't bother me, but now it's dangerous. They will use this sweep as an opportunity to search every apartment, warehouse, and factory they haven't searched already for me. This even be the main reason for the sweep, so they can search every building in Manhattan without raising question of who or what they are looking for and why.

Simoran realizes this and looks at me with fear in her eyes. I pray that she can hide me well enough.

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