This is the second section of the eleventh chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
Bah, there's a bit in this section I hate, see if you can guess where. It got the job done but it seems so childish.
Iz ran down corridor after corridor, legs pumping screaming at her in pain but somehow she found the strength to run. She didn’t have the chance to consult the pad so she just ran taking corridors at random as her legs seemed to choose. She tried to listen for anyone pursuing her, but all she could hear were the echos of her footsteps and the blood in her ears.
“Yes!” a gleeful memory “I have a position lock on where we are. Keep running, we’ll be out of here before you know it.”
Iz turned a corner, no chance, no ability to think back a reply running now was her only hope. She took a left charged past two people sat either side of her on the corridor, never had a chance to tell more than that she simply heard gunshot then a ricochet.
“Ok this is it, this is what I feared. Guns.” the memory said almost faintly “I can use the shield to protect you against a few, just get out of here.”
Iz heard the sound of ricochets from what she assumed was the bullet bouncing off the shield and hitting the corridor wall. There in the distance she sighted another corridor intersection if she turned down there, maybe just maybe.
She heard the sound of what could only be machine gun fire.
“Dive!” screamed the shield in her mind.
Iz took the last drop of strength in her legs and ponced at the right hand fork of the intersection, rolling with her landing and her back slamming the wall of the corridor.
“Can’t stop, they’re chasing you now. Not far to go maybe half a mile at most”
“I can’t run half a mile like this!”
“You can, your body can, come on the more I have to forcibly stimulate your body the less I can do to deflect bullets. Now run.”
Iz pulled herself up and in the reflection in the wall of the corridor at the junction saw her pursuers almost at the junction. In her leap she had dropped her package of clothes that she was carrying, but if she picked those up she realised she’d be caught, leaving them behind again she sprinted forwards crossing left at the next junction.
“Good” the memory was strong this time “They can’t fire without stopping, keep on.”
As she ran further she felt she was beyond pain. She had heard of marathon runners talk of the wall, that once you were past it the pain went. Maybe this was what that felt like, or maybe the shield was doing its trick again manipulating her body for the last bit of the charge. Again she rounded a corner, this time charging down the corridor but felt no urge to take a turning. In her head formed the memory of this being the door she had come in through. Through there was safety, you can put up with anything for a minute she told herself.
Behind her she heard footsteps and ahead saw a spark from a bullet ricocheting off the corridor ahead and then the boom from behind of the sound of the gunshot. Then as she felt every muscle in her body ache with each pound of the footstep as she sprinted this last dash she felt a slam in the back of her body as she was thrust forwards. Is this what being shot felt like she wondered? Was she about to die this close to the exit. Strange there was no pain.
“No” came the memory “I’ve used the momentum of the bullets to give you a boost, can’t keep it up forever, you’re alive for five more bullets then I’m gone.”
Bang. Her foot slammed against the deck again.
Pound. Her back smashed forwards hit by a sledgehammer.
Bang. Her ears felt as if they were bleeding from the sounds coming from behind her.
Pound. her body banged forwards again.
Bang Her foot on the floor.
Bang. Was she hit in the back? She couldn’t tell anymore.
Bang. There was the door opening.
Bang her chest slammed against the floor as she dived through the door. The world turned to darkness as she rolled along the hard metallic floor.
Iz wasn’t sure if she had lost consciousness but when she opened her eyes she was looking up at a familiar silvered sphere.
“You’re back” commented the drone, boredom was the wrong word for the tone of its voice, but then again so was relief.
Iz lifted her head to look towards the door she had come to, it couldn’t have been for more than a moment that she had lost consciousness because she saw her pursuers still charging down the corridor and had not yet reached the door.
“You saw?” asked Iz to the drone
“I saw.” as the drone said this her pursers rammed into a field that she presumed the drone had erected across the door.
Iz studied her pursuers. She didn’t recognise any of them. Clearly some who were in service of the queen in some way. Now she studied them she realised two of them were barely more than teenagers, the other two at the rear looked significantly older, late thirties she thought, maybe that explained why they were lagging behind in pursuit.
“Let us through” what Iz thought of as the youngest shouted “She’s a subject of the Queen.”
“No” replied the drone “Out here she’s a subject of herself. Leave.”
“She will do as she is told.”
“No, you will behave or you will go.” Replied the drone stating it in a level voice that carried no small implied threat. With this his body morphed from the familiar sphere into what looked to Iz to be an extremely tall well muscled male figure. An Atlas in silver. He stepped forwards towards the imprisoned chasers towering over them in what was clearly meant to be a crude but effective method of intimidation.
Silence greeted this display from the two at the front, but the one that Iz had christened the second eldest spoke up. “I want out.”
“Pardon?” asked Iz rising to her feet again
The man’s companions all stared at him glaring at him in disgust “You heard me, you’ve been here. I want out. I was born here, grew up here, never new a way out, but please let me out.”
“Drone” cautioned Iz
“No,” it replied “all are free who wish to be free. If he knew of no way out then he can’t be blamed for how he has had to live until no.”
The field that the drone had erected faded at the side where the man was standing and he passed though. “Thank you”
Iz watched in caution as he moved towards her. The drone turned back to the group “Anyone else want a change?” it asked.
“Thank you” said the man with gratitude as stood to the left of Iz and placed a hand on her right shoulder. “Thank you” he said with more menace as the hand slid around Iz’s neck in a choke hold “Now we leave.”
The drone turned around furrowed his brow in what Iz thought was it’s attempt at pity. As quickly as she had felt the force choking her neck from the man it disappeared; as a warm red fluid covered her still naked chest.
She looked down to see pieces of the man’s arm on the floor. She turned around taking a step back to see the man completely missing his right arm and it sliced into half a dozen pieces on the floor. His face was an expression of shock and disbelief.
Before he could recover himself the drone stared at him again “Now go” and with a flick of his wrist, which Iz guessed was more for show than any need, he was flung down the corridor smashing into the rest of his mob. Iz just saw the sparkle of the effects of the forcefield as he carried on accelerating down the corridor before the door closed blocking the view.
Iz stared at the drone speechless for a moment “I never knew”
“I could be so cruel?”
“That the Habitat allowed that”
“He’ll be healed. Violence is all some understand, we have to give them a chance, but we have to teach, or at least discipline.”
Iz wiped at the blood on her chest. “I think I need to go home, I think I need to get dressed. I really need to shower I just...” her voice tailed off.
“I’m sorry I should have been in there with you, but there are rules. He broke the rules, but I’m sorry you had to see that.” his hand reached for her face and took on a flesh tone as it caressed her chin. Warm and soft to the touch she was fooled for a moment thinking it was a human touch as the flesh look spread over his whole body.
“Overkill” mumbled Iz
“No such thing as overkill, only sufficient force.”
Iz stared at the drone seeing him as an alien for the first time. He’d never looked more human there before her standing in its nakedness. Yes it was an it, she thought. Not a he. As the adrenaline in her system wore off she realised she was naked in what was ostensibly a public place. She turned around away from the drone adding steel and as much coldness to her voice as she could manage “Drone, get me clothes” she almost shouted “Now!”
“Yes” came the muted reply.
When she turned around the drone was waiting for her back to its normal hovering sphere shape, clothes for her floating eerily in the air. She put them on without a word said as she left the room the drone spoke “You should go back to friends, have some normality, see that suit of his that you wanted to or whatever, just get some normality back. Then when you’re done, come see me.”