Let's Just Call Them Monsters

They’re all human to begin with, but when does their humanity run out? Do they stop being human when their hearts stop beating, or when their minds stop thinking? Is it when their eyes turn white, or when their blood turns black, or when their brains rot in their skulls? He’s asked himself this question countless times, and he still doesn’t know the answer.
All he knows is that he sacrificed his own humanity to get here, and he’s not going to let theirs get in his way.


30. The Last of Us

My name’s Dylan Hyde, I’m five, and I have a lot of bad dreams now.

The man who comes to talk to me about mummy says it’s normal to have bad dreams after somebody dies, but mummy wasn’t in the dream I had last night, and it didn’t feel all fuzzy at the edges like dreams are supposed to anyway. I’m sad that I don’t see mummy in my dreams, because I miss her a lot. Everyone keeps saying it’s normal to cry and I think I’m meant to cry to show I’m sad, but even when I try to cry, I just get a weird achy pain in my chest that won’t go away.

Last night, I was standing in the window of my bedroom and looking out at the street and the stars above it. It had been raining all day, and the road was all wet and glittery and silver because of the lamps. Mitchell told me street lamps were supposed to be orange, but mummy used to say that you can get red shooting stars even though you can’t. Everyone always tells me I’m clever for my age, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend I’m stupid anyway. It’s fun to tell all the children at the Home with a capital H that I saw red stars, because some of the teachers start getting really nervous and twitchy and telling me that’s enough. None of the kids are allowed to tell me off, though, because my mummy died and apparently I’m broken. I don’t know what part of me is meant to be broken, but I don’t really think it’s my arms or my legs.

The dealing-with-grief man told me I’d get used to what happened to mummy, and that I’d get used to living in the Home as well. I’m only still here because Leah told me she wanted me to be with good people and not bad people like her. I don’t get why she was so upset about whatever it was she did, because even the best people do bad things sometimes. I liked Leah and she was nice to me, so I don’t really care if she did something wrong because she’s obviously not a bad person. I hated George, the scary man with the white eyes who was Leah’s boyfriend, but I saw him again last night and this time, he wasn’t scary at all.

My bedroom window was all smeary because I’d had my face pressed up to it, and the glass blurred him until he looked a bit like a ghost. He was walking really, really slowly, just kind of shuffling along one foot at a time like he was lost, but his head was looking down at the ground. It was all dark outside the window, but when he walked under the street-lamp I could see him as a sort of black shape with the little white glowing lights at the top which were his eyes. When he turned round, his eyes lit up even brighter, and he looked a bit like the cat we used to have before mummy sent her away to live on a farm. I used to wonder why the farm wanted a cat that was dead, but the dealing-with-grief man told me everyone goes to a better place when they die, even my mummy. I guess that’s why Leah said mummy was on holiday even though I already knew SHE was dead when I woke up in the hallway and saw George and Leah and the blood on the walls.

I think being colourblind makes you harder to lie to.

The policemen came to the Home with a capital H two days ago, and they told the teachers to lock all the doors and keep us inside, so I wasn’t allowed to go outside and get my telescope, which I’d left on the front steps. I want to be a spaceman when I grow up, but when I told that to the dealing-with-grief man his face went all white and he told me I’d change my mind when I was old enough to understand. He’s stupid. I already understand.

My mummy was taken away by aliens, and I know because I saw the big flashy light like the explosions in the movies outside in the field, and then I went to find her and she was gone. I didn’t bother telling him that I want to be a spaceman because I’m going to take my laser gun and go up above the planet and shoot all the aliens for hurting my mummy. I would have done that yesterday, but they wouldn’t let us leave the house, and I think it was because there were lots more evil robot people like Leah’s boyfriend who wanted to make us evil too. I don’t think George was that evil, though, because last night, he was just standing in the middle of the street not doing anything. His hands were stuck by his sides, his head was sort of lolling to one side as if it was too heavy, and his shadow was even taller and skinnier than he was.

I don’t think he would have hurt anyone. The police were talking bullshit.

George stood in the street for hours and hours before the police car came. I was asleep by the window, and when the noise of the engine woke me up the sky was purple instead of black. I thought maybe the police had come to arrest George for trying to hurt people, but when the door opened and the driver got out, it wasn’t a policeman at all. It was Jamie, the man with all the messy hair that I think was orange who Leah called an asshole and who killed loads and loads of people on the news. I saw loads of silver things sticking out of Jamie’s trouser pockets and I think they were knives, and they lit up even more than his hair when he walked under the lamp with George.

I was still too far away to see properly, but I think Jamie was talking to George, because I saw his mouth moving. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, and talking seemed stupid because when Leah tried to talk to George he never even answered. Jamie could have been saying hello, or he could have been saying goodbye, but because of what happened next, I think he was probably saying sorry.

He finished whatever he was saying and pulled the gun out of his other pocket. I knew it was a gun because when he fired the first time, the air kind of cracked in half with the noise and there was a little puff of smoke. Black stripes started coming out of the back of George’s shirt and he fell and didn’t get back up. Dead, like mummy.

I heard Jamie say the ‘f’ word, which was funny, but I couldn’t laugh because there were three more boys asleep in the room with me and I was scared that Jamie might hear me and come to get me. My chest was hurting because of mummy and my ears were hurting because of the loud BANG the gun made, but I think Jamie must have been hurting even more than I was, because he fell onto the floor and started to cough up loads of dark-coloured stuff onto the road. He was swearing more between the coughs, and some of them were even worse words than fuck and shit, but it wasn’t really funny anymore.

Then, Jamie stood up and stopped coughing and ended up leaning against the bottom of the lamppost next to where George was. I think he was crazy, but I suppose that since aliens are real now and nothing makes sense, maybe everybody’s crazy now.

Jamie wiped his mouth, which was useless, because when the coughing started again, the gross gunk went all over the road anyway. After that, he picked up his gun and stuck it onto his chest and I couldn’t see it anymore because his shirt was black and the gun was black and everything looked black anyway because it was night and I can’t see colours very well. The air cracked again and I covered my ears and Jamie fell and died too.

I’m not really sure why I wasn’t frightened, but I think it was because George tried to hurt Leah and Jamie killed George and bad men are supposed to be punished. The problem was that when the lights came down from the sky, everyone stopped being able to choose between good and bad. Even the people who weren’t robots. George and Leah and Jamie used to work at the hospital, which means they used to help people, but I think all that stuff stops mattering when the world stops making sense.

They weren’t the only victims, but I hope they were the last. 


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