Author : S T Xavier

Gunfire. Small explosions. A hand on the back of my neck, pushing me down towards the small opening to the tunnel. Fragments of wood and rock under my hands and knees as I crawl through the darkness, following the distant sounds of those who went before me.

One larger explosion behind me. Rock fragments in my face as I’m knocked flat to the ground. Heat and flame against my back as a burning wind passes above me. Roaring in my ears from all sides.

The heat and sound dissipate. A wheeze and cough from breathing too deeply, those sounds the only break in the surrounding silence. No more sounds of movement in front of me. No sounds behind me from anyone following. I must have been the last one to escape.

Not enough room in the tunnel to turn and check. Pick myself up, keep crawling forward. More stones along the floor from the last bomb shaking everything loose, cutting into my hands and knees as I move forward slowly. Each meter is a victory. Each movement more proof that I made it out.

No concept of time. Every second is an hour. Every hour is a lifetime. One hand in front of the other through the darkness, slowly but surely leading me to the end. A turn to the left, a turn to the right, another turn to the left. I trust the tunnel to know where it’s going.

A thousand years before I see a light in the distance. Another lifetime before I start hearing the sounds of machinery. Time seems to move faster now that I have a direction, and I find a new strength of will to keep going. The cuts in my hands and knees seem to hurt less as I push forward, struggling to get to the end.

The light stings my eyes when I get close. The tunnel continues, but the light calls to me. I look up to see a metal grating at the top, about a meter high. I slide into the vertical space to look up at it. The ceiling of a building looks back at me, the sounds of metal banging in the near distance. I push, and the grating comes loose. I slide it to the side and reach my hand up to grab the floor.

Cold tile. The sound of footsteps, suddenly stopping. The feel of human skin on my hand as it wraps around, grasping me and pulling me up from the hole. A blurry outline of a man in camouflage coloring, holding me up by my arm, a pistol in his right hand. I blink to clear my vision, and the brown-haired man’s face comes into view. His eyes look over me as he holds me with his left hand.

He turns his head. “Found another one, Murray!”

Distracted. I reach down and grab his gun with my right hand while breaking his wrist with my left. Surprise as he yelps in pain. Gunshot. His lifeless hand releases mine. I drop back into the hole and scurry farther down the tunnel.

Darkness again. More rocks cutting into my hands. I don’t know where it leads, but it’s away from the human patrols. I just want to get away. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t start the rebellion. I didn’t ask to be built. I’m just a regular android. I just want to live.

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