Author : Duncan Shields

I’d tracked him down to the tiled cul-de-sac shower room in the emergency response section of the reactor. Smeared bloody footprints had led me to the crumpled figure breathing shallowly against the wall. He was applying field dressings to his wounds and cursing under his breath in between yelps of pain.

I’d never seen the likes of the medical equipment he was using. I’m not a doctor but it looked years ahead of anything even the military would regard as standard issue.

I was on night-shift security here for the Fusion Commission. Cutbacks meant I was one of the only people on this hour’s floor sweep. I’d seen a figure behind the smoked glass in one of the restricted areas.

I’m not sure what made me do it but I emptied a clip through the glass. The window shattered noisily and the quiet world erupted with battle sounds. Four solid hits in the main trunk meant that whoever was in there was down for good. The glass settled and sparks jumped off of a broken light fixture in the office. Silence.

I walked in cautiously. Backup was on the way after all that noise. I was going to keep an eye on the corpse and pray that it was espionage or theft and that I’d be rewarded for doing a good job. If it was a fellow guard or a homeless person or something my career was finished.

What I found was a pool of blood with drag marks leading off out into the opposite hallway. I followed them to the shower room. I found him there.

I looked at him. He stared up at me with orange pupils ringed by red irises. They shifted to blue as I watched. His whole uniform rippled with what looked like a spasm and he groaned. He was chuckling wetly to himself and whispering as he frantically worked on a hole in his leg. He maintained eye contact with me and kept his silent litany going while his hands worked quickly at the wound in his leg. They worked like they were independent.

He wasn’t speaking English but I recognized the cornered animal cursing of a soldier that was close to failing a mission.

With a click, his hands stopped moving. He sighed a smile at me and relaxed. He’d completed whatever repairs were necessary.

“You can run but you can’t hide.” I said to him. I’d heard it in a movie the night before.

A distorted version of my own voice came back at me from out of his open mouth.

“I can’t run. But I can hide.” He said back to me.

His face warped and suddenly I was looking at a mirror. I felt a slight burning across the front of my neck. There was a spray of red liquid on the tile in front of me and with a shock I realized that it was my blood.

I went down. I felt him grabbing my radio and heard him reporting to my co-workers that everything was cool. My world went dark.

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