A short story set in a near future – Internet and our societies have fallen and the law of the jungle prevails…
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2063. After the Event, communities have reformed — while the majority of the population has regrouped in a handful of megacities under lockdown, the rest are scattered across the globe and fighting for their survival. This is the story of seven survivors stuck in a bunker, in the Middle East…
- Ouch! That fucking hurts, Aiko!
- It will be worse if I don’t take care of it.
As she gently taps the dirty shirt soaked in alcohol on my face, pain rises like a damn incontrollable wave. I guess these tears that roll on my cheeks lack masculinity. She is very focused on the wound, this frown is the one she usually has with stubborn electronics. The bunker’s white light cuts out her crisp lines in a weird way. And these eyes that seem to glow in the shade, the small lips pursed in a ghostly smile… I think I am shivering, now.
- Stop moving, Adam.
There is something strange in her voice. This tension, this vibration as she says my name are freaking me out.
- How did you manage to cut yourself so bad?
- I slipped with the knife while opening my beer.
She throws me a half-amused, half-disapproving look. How can I tell her I simply took the blade and checked how far I could go before Rick would jump in to stop me? The answer, by the way, seems to be ‘quite far’, actually. My hand hurts a lot, the burning sensation is rushing up my arm in waves. Aiko is carefully examining the skin, her small fingers are stretching the skin. I do not like these savage eyes, or her voice. Last night, while the old man played the piano, she was watching me. I could feel it, a heavy weight on my neck. And now, she is taking care of me with way too much dedication. I take her hand off of me a little more brusquely than intended.
- That’s enough, girl.
Am I going crazy? Has Anna fucked my brain completely? No, that is unfair, she only said out loud what I refused to reveal. She saw through me with these piercy eyes of hers — or her woman’s eyes? or maybe she was just looking and that was enough? A huge sigh shakes my shoulders. Have these years spent being someone else changed me so much I cannot be myself anymore?
But who am I, really? Wasn’t Adam born in this bar the night he saw a young astrophysicist drinking alone at his table and his heart stopped for a second?
She suddenly leans towards me. Before I can do anything, I feel her lips pressed against mine. They are warm, quivering and completely lost now. I quickly get back and stand up, away from her, horrified.
- What the hell, kid?
A lot of thoughts rush through my head. I reconsider the girl in front of me. I used to see a girl, an innocent and harmless teen I had to protect; then she became weird, and creepy. And now, she thinks she is a grown woman, much worse she thinks she is my woman?
I look around. Piano Girl’s right hand has stopped playing — she is listening. The Prof, who was watching her fingers behind her shoulder, turns a questioning glance to us. Ichirō is still plunged in his maths. And, just across the bunker, Rick and Anna are staring at Aiko and me with wide eyes. I take a step away from the girl. My heart beats irregularly in deep booms, my hands shake, my knees rubber down. My whole body refuses to think straight, it hesitates between throwing up and simply crashing on the floor. A slight sound behind me makes me turn around. She is looking at me with such strange eyes. Like a beast, an animal with no humanity left. Her brain has snapped, I can see it in these two firepits. My instinct pushes me towards Rick. I need him, like he needed me so many times before. Every time he was in doubt, when he yelled, screamed, scratched, he always found me. For better or worse, always. Please, Rick.