The Upgrade: Human 2.0

In a not too distant future a war changed the Earth forever.
On this different Earth Neida lives in a small village with her brother, Deon. When the Crimson Death attacks their village, they are forced to escape to Village Xion since the disease only attacks the mutants - in other words, Deon. Follow Neida as she fights for her brother’s life, (along with fighting the urge to kill her brother for his stupidity).
Will she prevail, perhaps even find love in unexpected places, or will she fail and pay the ultimate price?

Winner of the NaNoWriMo competition Denmark

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4. Chapter II - The Travellers

 

Neida turns towards Deon in shock. He is still staring at the child. His eyes are taking in the death in front of them, in front of the whole village. His brows press towards each other as people quickly starts to scatter. They should scatter, too. Run. The Crimson Death attacks the mutants, the old generation. Deon shows no fear, though, he might even already be infected. Curious, he is about to take a step closer, but Neida stops him by putting a hand on his chest. Her eyes are pleading. She knows he is as much a target as Jack Jefferson's kids.

     “Deon…” she pleads with him. “We need to leave! It’s the Crimson Death! It could kill you!” But it seems like Deon is not listening to her. “Deon!” Finally, his eyes land on his sister. There is no sign of fear in his expression of the disease that could kill him.

     “Calm down, sis. How can we even be certain this is the Crimson Death,” his tone borders on mocking as he finishes his sentence.

     “You do have eyes, don’t you?!” she rages. “Look at the child! Blood is still flowing in a steady stream creating a pool of blood under them!” she says and gestures to the father holding his dead child.

     “My eyes work just fine. The kid could have fallen and gotten internal bleedings,” he rolls his eyes. “Just because the kid bleeds, it does not mean it’s the terrible Crimson Death,” he mocks. But suddenly, his eyes grow wide. “Oh my God, sis,” he suddenly exclaims, looking at her with a horrified expression. “Does this mean you have the Crimson Death every month?!” Neida is appalled and stares at Deon with wide eyes.

     “Will you please take this seriously! You know it attacks every mutant it comes in contact with! When the first signs of the Crimson Death appears, you’ll be as good as dead!”

     “Is that what this is about? You are afraid of being alone? How typical,” his arms cross. “Father left and Mother died. Now there is this threat of a disease on my life. That is to say, if it even is this so-called Crimson Death,” he grumbles. “How can you be so selfish that you actually make a false claim that the Crimson Death has appeared in our village?”

     “Deon!” she exclaims upset. “Why are you always twisting my words?! That’s not what I meant at all! This is a real disease that has--”

     “Supposedly disease,” he corrects. Neida glares at him.

     “This is a real disease,” she continues, “that has killed hundreds of humans. Your kind of humans. How come you are not just a little bit fearful of this?”

     “My kind of humans?” he raises an eyebrow. It’s like he didn’t even hear her full sentence. “Once again you make sure to remind me that you are an upgraded human.”

     “That was not my point,” she bits out. “Can you for once just be--”

     “Be what? Afraid of this disease? Afraid of dying? I hate to break it to you sis, but I am not like you. I do not run from everything. The Crimson Death results in blood pouring from every opening. Oh yeah, how believable for a disease. That sounds so terrifying.”

     “Will you two please show some respect for the dead and stop bickering! You’re disturbing Mr. Williams!” An old lady shrieks in anger, causing Neida to look over at the child’s father with a somewhat guilty look. As she meets his gaze, he is staring back at her with a glare that does not have much effect, considering the snot and tear streaks on his face. She returns her gaze to the old lady.

     “I… we... are sorry, Widower Francine,” Neida bows her head slightly in apology. Out of the corner of her eyes, she sees Deon turn around and leave. She presses her lips tightly together and mumbles another apology, before she follows after him. As she catches up to him, she does not slow down to walk beside him. Instead, she grips his arm tightly and uses her upgraded strength to force him after her, to the road that leads out of the village.

     “Neida,” Deon says is a dismayed tone. She merely ignores him and grips his arm tighter, making him wince a little. “For fuck’s sake, Neida!” Still she ignores him. “Neida Zita Sieks! You let go of me right now!” he raises his voice. Neida lets her hand fall, but in a sudden violent act she pushes him forward in anger, making him stumble.

     “I am not in the mood for any of your games Deon,” her green eyes shine with a dangerous gleam. “You are a mutant. This disease will come after you, whether you believe it is real or not,” she steps closer to him, “We do this my way, and get the hell out of this village before it spreads. Before you die,” she stops just a few inches from his face. “Is that fucking clear?” she hisses.

     “All right, fine,” his lips tighten. “If that’s what you fucking want, then we’ll do as you say,” he relents. “Since you are the fucking adult here,” she hears him mumble when she turns away.

 

It is the late afternoon when Deon and Neida start traveling to another village. The sun has already been at its peak and therefore the air is getting colder.

     “Please do remember that it was your idea to be traveling. If you become tired or too cold, I’m not carrying you,” Deon says as the village disappears behind them. They are each carrying a small backpack with supplies, clothes and most important of all - money. Deon insists on carry the last by himself, though. Stubborn as always.

     “Thanks for your concern, but I’ll handle it,” she says.

     “Do you have a plan, besides the we-need-to-leave-village-plan?”

     “Yes.”

     “Care to share?”

     “Relax Deon. I heard Mr. Jefferson say the other day that Village Xion has a special system that makes it possible for us to live without fear of Crimson Death,” she explains. “Mr. Jefferson would have travelled there if his children weren’t so helpless. Besides, you probably took the money they were gonna use when they were ready,” she sends an accusing look after him, but he brushes it off.

     “Really now?” he mumbles. “So, what makes their system so special that it makes it impossible for a disease to sneak its way through?”

     “If what he said is correct, they scan regularly and make sure everyone is healthy and not a carrier for Crimson Death.”

     “How can they make sure?” he questions. “I mean, if someone was rich enough they could just pay the guards off or something.”

     “No one rich would wanna live there. They prefer the stronger and better cities,” she explains. “And have you not heard about the rich tossing out mutant children? Only the upgraded human 2.0 is by law allowed into the cities.”

     “A bit harsh, don’t you think? I mean, what if someone they toss out, turns out to be something they could use?” she turns to face him and frowns.

     “Something they could use? What do you mean by that?” Neida questions.

     “Ah, never mind sis,” he shrugs it off.

 

The two siblings have been walking in silence for a while before they finally meet someone - an elderly male and a younger woman.

     “Hello, my fellow travellers!” the elderly male greets in an old cheerful tone. Neida smiles politely at them, whilst Deon looks at them with an irritated glance.

     “Hello,” Neida says, earning a displeasing look from Deon. The elderly male smiles, though, while his eyes drift to Deon.

     “My name is Damian Travis, and this is my granddaughter, Alicia Travis,” he introduces.

     “Nice to meet you,” she greets. “My name is Neida Zita Sieks, and the grumpy one here is my brother, Deon Nathaniel Sieks,” she introduces. The travellers greet back, but Deon only produces an uninterested grunt as a response.

     “And where are you two headed?” he asks, choosing to ignore Deon. “If I may ask,” he adds as an afterthought.

     “We are on our way to Xion,” Neida smiles.

     “Ahh… The safe haven,” he informs.

     “We hope to be save from the Crimson Death,” she continues, intrigued.

     “You are a normal human being?” he wonders. “You certainly do not look like one,” the old man says with a smile.

     “It must be our good looks,” Deon says mockingly with his arms crossed. “I was not aware that you had the capabilities of spotting mutants from a distance,” he continues, lifting an eyebrow to support his claim.

     “Ah… I suppose you’re right…” Damian agrees a little embarrassed. Neida gives Deon an accusing glare.

     “Don’t worry about him,” Neida apologizes. “Deon is a mutant and a not a very well behaved one. Honestly, I don’t know where I went wrong when I raised him.”

     “Oh, so you’re his big sister?”

     “No, I’m his little sister…” Neida says and smiles, while Deon rolls his eyes in annoyance.

     “Oh.” Damian’s mouth forms into an ‘O’, while Alicia shifts uncomfortably. “We’re, uh…” he begins, when he comes out of his shock. “We’re both mutants…” he continues awkwardly. “It’s... unusual that only one child in a family is, uhm, a mutant…”

     “Oh really? And what, exactly, are you implying?” Deon snarls and takes a step closer towards Damian.

     “Nothing!” Damian says and shifts uneasily. “Just that… well…”

     “You are aware of what makes a mutant, aren’t you!?” Deon yells. “It’s not called a recessive gene for nothing! Neida and I are family,” he hisses. “We share the same damn blood!”

     “I know, I wasn’t--”

     “Get your fucking facts right, before you start accusing our parents of infidelity!”

     “I’m sorry, I--”

     “Fuck you!” Deon exclaims. “Is that what happened to your wife?!” he yells in anger. “She slept with someone else and now you’re alone with the only family who actually wants to be with you?!”

     “Deon!” Neida yells in disapprovement.

     “What? You just stood there and let him insult our family!” Neida sighs.

     “I apologize for my brother’s behavior.”

     “Do not apologize to that old weakling Neida!”

     “Will you please stop?! What’s wrong with you today?!”

     “Nothing is wrong!” he claims. “I may be a little cranky because you dragged us out here, but nothing. Is. Wrong. You do realize these people could either have or carry Crimson Death, right?” Deon reasons.

     “Yeah, but--”

     “They’re probably not even telling us, hoping to somehow infect me with their disease,” he continues. “You know you can’t trust anyone.”

     “Deon. He is an old man with his granddaughter--” Neida tries to argue.

     “No! They are perfect for spreading it. No one would suspect the nice old man and his sweet, little granddaughter of being a carrier. Perfect weapon,” Deon says in an accusing tone.

     “What has gotten you so paranoid?”

     “This is not paranoia, sis. This is common sense.”

     “Common sense? Are you out of yo--”

     “Excuse me…” the voice of Alicia interrupts quietly. The siblings look away from each other and give Alica their full attention. “Uhm… W-we do not carry the… disease. It hadn’t appeared in our village when we left and… and it would be cruel to just willingly spread it to another…” she argues a little hesitant.

     “Great. Perfect. Like I said. The perfect weapon! Do you see now, sis?”

     “Oh, will you stop that! They are no more the perfect weapon than you and I!” she sneers.

     “Please... W-we do not carry the disease. I promise you…” Alicia tries again.

     “And how do you suppose we could trust you? Do you have any proof? You might as well just carry it around without knowing it!” Deon accuses.

     “Please, young man. We are not infected.”

     “Ha!”

     “Deon!” Neida says. “Again, I’m sorry… But I do think it’s best for us to travel on different paths,” she continues. “Now a days, you just can’t be, too sure.”

     “But we’re not infected!”

     “Please, Alicia. Quiet,” Damian says quietly. “The strangers have made their choice.”

     “You two set down camp here, and we will continue walking today,” Deon suggests.

     “B-but then it would take another half a day,”

     “We are younger, healthier, and we do not walk with a impotent snail,” he smirks.

     “Young man! I do beliv--”

     “Damian and Alicia, you two make camp now. I hope for your sake we don’t meet again,”

     “You can’t just tell us what to do!” Alicia yells in defiance.

     “Oh, I can, and I will. You will make camp now, while we continue travelling,” he commands.

     “Deon, you can’t just command them to do what you say.”

     “No, no… It is alright. We will make camp now. Please, continue with your travelling,” Damian says tiredly.

     “It’s not commanding if they want to stay,” Deon says with a smirk. “Come on, let’s go, sis,” he continues, and starts walking towards their destination. Neida sighs and utters another apology, before she starts to walk after Deon. 

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