Fear, once again, flooded into me. I looked into my protector’s eyes and saw only steely determination. Not-Exactly-Lila looked at the clock on the wall, back at me with a scowl, and then snatched a black case off a table. She tossed the case to me. It was heavier than it looked, and my knees bent under the weight.
“What is in this thing?” I asked.
“The controls to the bio-nanites. Without that, we won’t be able to retrieve them once they finish healing you. Hold onto it, and don’t let go. Your stupid little life depends on it, Caleb.”
Trembling under the weight of the case and the terror flowing through my veins, I only nodded in reply.
“Follow me, and stay close. Don’t get separated, no matter what. Things are probably going to go crazy once we get outside. We’ll head straight to the car.”
Again, I could only nod and clutch the heavy black case. The case that held the controls to the tiny robots filtering the cancer out of my brain. The case that held the power to save my life … or end it, if the Doc was to be believed. What the hell has happened to my life?
We tore out of the building to find shadows dancing everywhere. The streetlamps were all out, and the sounds of muted whispers and soft footfalls floated through the night. Not-Exactly-Lila held a finger up to her lips, urging me to resist speaking. She must have some serious sixth sense, because I was just about to ask what was happening. That’s when, just as she had predicted, everything went absolutely crazy.
Two red beams suddenly traced through the air, visible all the way back to their place of origin, but I couldn’t make out who was there in the darkness. One beam landed on my chest, the other on my bodyguard’s forehead. Lila’s clone, faster than I thought possible, dropped and spun into a leg sweep kick, causing me to fall onto my back, slightly crushed under the weight of the black case still held in my arms.
Immediately the air was filled with a trilling of soft pops. Silenced gunshots sprayed right where we had been standing, but instead of killing us, the bullets hit the wall and caused a shower of dust and debris to rain down on my face. I shook my head, clearing the dirt away, and saw the men who had come to kill me. My eyes had finally adjusted to the low light in the alley, and I could finally make out the figures of the two hulking figures holding the guns. I looked over to ask my protector what we should do, only to find Not-Exactly-Lila sprinting towards the gunmen, her posture low. Upon reaching the origin of the red beams, she pulled a slender knife from a hidden sheath somewhere on her body and slid the knife across the first man’s throat while pushing his rifle to the side. The man fell to his knees, blood pouring out of the gaping wound in his neck. He dropped the rifle, which still hung from the strap across his torso. The dead man fell face first to the filthy street.
Meanwhile, the second shooter whipped his gun towards Not-Exactly-Lila in a lighting fast motion. But it was not quite fast enough. She placed one hand on the barrel, again forcing the aim away from her, and stuck the knife into his face, just to the left of his nose and below his right eye. Only the handle showed, as the blade was deeply imbedded. The angle of the knife was upward, so as he fell to die beside the other gunman, I saw a bloody red point sticking out of the top of his head. It all happened in seconds, two men trying to kill us but instead being mercilessly and brutally murdered by the clone of my dead girlfriend.
My body tried in vain to make me vomit, but I had nothing left in the tank. So, I just dry heaved onto the pavement as tears fell freely from my eyes.
“Get up. There’s more coming,” she hissed at me as she hauled me to my feet. I stood up, still clutching the heavy black case.
“They’ve arrived,” a deep voice said ominously.
I glanced in the direction of the mysterious newcomer and found Not-Exactly-Lila had a gun barrel pressed to the back of her neck. Her muscles tensed, ready to pounce on this new threat, but before she could attack, the man smashed the gun into her skull, and she fell unconscious to the ground.
“Give me the box, Caleb. The Senator wants his property back,” the big man said darkly.
Without hesitation I handed it over. “I want no part of this,” I said. “I never asked for this, please don’t shoot me.”
“I won’t kill you, Caleb,” the man admitted. “I know this isn’t your fault. I’m going to open the box now, and order the bio-nanites to gather in your ear. Then I’m going to cut your ear off. I’m sorry to have to do that, but it’s better than the alternative.”
While that may be an accurate statement, the prospect of having my ear cut off while I just sat and watched filled me with dread. The shakes returned to my body and I felt powerless to stop what was about to happen.
The man opened the case, and inside was a keyboard with a display. Somehow, this man knew exactly what to do. I saw him enter a set of commands, and the display showed the black dots I had seen earlier. They stopped their pulsating and small movements, probably the healing of my brain cancer, and all stood still on the display. He then began to enter another command, probably telling them to congregate in my ear. I wondered which one I was going to lose. I hoped it was the left one. It has the scar from the time I let my cousin pierce my ear with a safety pin, resulting in a crazy infection, eventually causing a dime sized piece of my lobe to almost rot away.
Before he could finish inputting the sequence though, two soft pops sounded from behind him, and two identical holes appeared in his white shirt. Red blossomed from those holes, spreading outward. The man who was about to cut off my ear fell forward on the keyboard, his fingers hitting the keys in random movement as his life fell away.
Genevieve stepped out of the shadows and kicked his body off of the case. Blood covered the display, and she hastily wiped it away.
“Oh shit,” she muttered, staring at the screen. She attempted to press some keys, but nothing happened. The controls seemed to be broken.
Looking at what had freaked her out, I saw that the black dots were not still anymore. And they were not in their previous formation, either. They were moving rapidly across the screen, and going absolutely crazy. That is when the pain erupted in my brain, and I blacked out. Before I did, though, I reached my hand out to her. As I fell into darkness, I noticed that my hand was changing before my eyes. It grew larger … much larger. And there were less fingers, too. Only two and a thumb. What had he done to me?