Writer and computery person. Occasional bastard.
Thirty Days of Writing 19/30:
beginning, accusation, restless, snowflake, haze, flame, formal, companion, move, silver, prepared, knowledge, denial, wind, order, thanks, look, summer, TRANSFORMATION. tremble. sunset. mad. thousand. outside. winter. diamond. letters. promise. simple. future.
Author’s note: Yes, I fudged canon a little. DEAL WITH IT.
FHR-EL/1494 (Former Husk Reaper—East London, #1494) begins his day, every day, with a bowl of fortified cereal and a cup of instant coffee. Quite aside from being all the rations will allow, it’s all he has space to prepare in his tiny apartment, little more than a bed with a small counter, microwave oven and a fridge.
It’s a basement apartment, too, so he can’t find out what the weather’s like outside without talking to his omni-hook. Grey. Drab. Dreary.
He takes a look at himself in the mirror. His hair is beginning to regain colour—slowly—and, three months on, most of the flesh wounds are showing signs of healing. The termini in his face, however, are still visible as ever, glowing bright green, and he hates them.
There are times 1494 considers getting a knife and cutting them out of his face, but he doesn’t want to risk the pain.
1494 leaves his apartment at 6:25 a.m. every morning, on the dot, and never takes more than seven and a half minutes to walk to the bus stop. He never gets a seat on the bus: although former Reaper victims are supposed to qualify as disabled, he always has to stand all the way to his destination.
Always busy. Always a few other ex-Reapers on the bus, always those trying to avoid any kind of physical contact for fear they might catch some disease. There’s always a smell of metal, ozone and sweat.
1494 is tired. Tired, and cold, and he wants to argue with the conductor to make the kid in the priority seat move so he can sit down, but he doesn’t have the energy. The bus plods onwards and rounds a corner: an old man in a hoodie crashes into 1494’s chest and swears at him.
Someone who abandons his daughter like that… you’re no son of mine, Lewis! 1494 can detect, hear the man’s bellowing: residual memories, possibly.
It’s not really mind-reading, but it’s enough to make people un-easy around him and other former Reaper victims. That, and the cybernetics continuing to protrude from his face.
1494 hears footsteps from the back of the bus, sees the top of a man’s head as he climbs on, hears a brief conversation with the conductor. “Does this bus go to Clapham Junction Station?”
“Shuffle on down inside, please,” the conductor grumbles, and the assembled passengers groan, 1494 included, as they pack closer together. The new passenger, a slender black Hispanic man with a quiet North American accent, dressed in Alliance fatigues, clumps further into them as the conductor closes the doors and sets the bus off again.
His face. FHR-EL/1494 has seen that face before, but he can’t remember where. He can’t remember where, but he knows he sees that face, in his dreams, nearly every night.
Someone from his former self. Someone his former self knew. He can’t remember anything clearly from before the war, before he was helped up by an Alliance soldier in the ruins of London, screaming and terrified.
But he must have had a life before the war. Somehow. Who am I? 1494 wonders, not for the first time, definitely not for the last time. And who is he? He’s beautiful.
That face. 1494 sees that face, in his dreams, every night. The voice, too, although it seemed quieter in the conversation he overheard. Who is this man?
The bus rounds another corner and rocks the clump of passengers together. Who is he? 1494 wonders again, thinking. Thinking, thinking. Brother? Half-brother? Unlikely, unless adopted. Friend?
He can resist the temptation no more, reaches out, and ever so slightly touches the mystery man’s hand, brushing it with his finger.
Lieutenant Steven Cortez. Alliance Navy. Widowed.
For the first time in over a year, Robert Cortez remembers his own name, and—