“He’s too dangerous to leave alive…”
“Let’s at least hear what they have to say…”
“Don’t be scared, Rhodes…stop shaking.” He rubbed my arm gently, glancing out as we were waved in.
“It’ll be fine.” Pulling me out in front of the two that sat in this little, white room, he put a shaky smile on his face.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Cold…cold eyes. I couldn’t help it. As they stared at me, I hid myself behind Apollyon.
“There’s no reason for you to kill him, really…” Calmly, the tall man before me put his hands behind his back, holding onto mine. “I know what it looks like to you…but he’s not a monster.”
“He isn’t human.”
“But he is. He may not have been naturally conceived…but he has a heart. He has feelings…can’t you see he’s terrified?”
“Apollyon, you engineered that thing behind you. It isn’t human.” One glared past him at me, and I closed my eyes.
“Can he speak? Does he show intelligence?” the other asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, he’s human…like I said. He understands English very well, but he suffers from vocal paralysis. He can speak…it’s just very hard to hear him. It must have just…been a defect on my part when I was putting his genes together.” Nervously, he tightened his grip on my hands.
“Let’s hear him, then. Rhodes, is it? Come out from behind Apollyon. He doesn’t hid you well, anyways. You’re a bit taller, aren’t you?” Though his voice seemed kind, I was terrified. “I know you aren’t deaf.”
“I-I don’t want to…”
“We won’t hurt you if you can prove you really are human. Do you bleed? Can you feel pain? Have you ever been sick?” When he stood up, I took a step back, pulling Apollyon with me.
“Please…you’re scaring him…”
“No, I don’t believe he feels fear. I don’t believe he’s human. Does he need those glasses?” As he strode right up to my side, I kept my head down. My shoulders were shaking. It felt like I couldn’t breathe.
“Yes…he…he does. He doesn’t have very good eyesight. Please, you shouldn’t get so close to him…”
“And why not? What would he do?”
“He’s very strong, stronger than he understands…it’s just…his body is as mature as it’s going to get…he was designed to mature to the equivalent of about twenty years and then stop in just a few months…but his intelligence is still just a little bit behind. He would never try to hurt anyone but…as you can see…” Hesitantly, Apollyon took his hands away from mine, holding them out to the man. They…didn’t look the same as mine anymore. Mangled…was he bleeding? Had…I done that? Tears flooded my eyes, and Apollyon turned quickly, holding my face gently. I could feel his broken bones. “No, no, don’t cry. It’s okay.”
“It’s all right. It only hurts a little. I’ll be okay.” When I didn’t stop crying, he put his arms around my neck. “Hey, it’s okay, Rhodes. I promise. You can help me take care of it when we get back home.”
“I’ve seen enough.” Getting up from his seat, the other man scowled. “We can’t let that thing leave with you.” Apollyon’s calm expression became frightened…rigid. He didn’t let go of me.
“I agree. We’ll have to kill him immediately. Human or not, he’s dangerous.”
“No…please listen. He isn’t dangerous.” Frantically, he shook his head, stepping away from me.
“He hurt you without even realizing it.”
“He just needs a few more weeks. He’ll be fine…I…I promise.”
“You know we can’t trust that, Apollyon.” Shaking his head, the man took ahold of my arm, and I whimpered softly.
“Please, he won’t hurt anyone else!” The desperate pleading in his eyes…but I didn’t understand what was happening. “You…you could use him, couldn’t you? His only weak point is his heart. He can’t die from sickness or blood loss…his heart his pumping electric waves as well as blood…he doesn’t need to breathe. Th-the war…he could be a soldier…with just a little bit more time for him to mature mentally…”
“So you admit he isn’t human?” They both…looked so pleased with themselves. But…I was human, wasn’t I?
“No…not completely…it’s just…he wasn’t completely stable at first…I…I was so scared he would die…but I didn’t do anything to his brain or his genes…it’s just his heart that isn’t completely human…” Shaking violently and even starting to cry, Apollyon dropped down to his knees. “You can’t kill him…please…he’s human, he really is. Anything else…just please don’t kill him!”
“Do you honestly expect us to use him as a soldier?”
“I can’t watch him die…please…anything else, please…”
“Does he feel pain?”
“Well, let’s just see how human he is.” With a roll of his eyes, the tall man began pulling me from the room, and the other dragged Apollyon up. I was frightened…but I followed. Would they hurt Apollyon? What were they doing…? As we were brought into a smaller, darker room than the last, I didn’t struggle as I was pushed up against the wall. I was sure…that if I did something stupid…they wouldn’t be happy. “Stay.”
“He won’t take orders like a dog.” Scowling, Apollyon glared at him, but he just turned away from me…and I noticed the gun on his belt.
“He will, if we use him as a soldier instead of killing him.” With a shrug, he loaded the gun, then looked at me again, a wild smirk growing on his face. “So tell me, Rhodes, would you scream if I shot you? Would you even feel it?”
“I…I don’t know…”
“Then, I guess we’ll figure out.” Snickering, he pointed the gun at me…but I just stared. Fear tightened in my chest, and I just turned my head away. What would happen if I fought back? I didn’t want to know.
I didn’t hear him pull the trigger. All I felt was pain. A scream, louder than I would have thought possible for myself, roared out from my lungs, and tears began to pour down my cheeks. Everything hurt. My throat…my head…but mostly my shoulder. A shaky sob escaped me, and through the tears I saw that the gun was still being aimed.
“N-no…” But I didn’t make a sound. I couldn’t, after that. If only he could hear me…but he didn’t. Another explosion of pain erupted from within me…and another…and another. Vaguely, I heard Apollyon shouting. Was he angry? Or did he feel this too?
“That’s enough! I told you, he feels pain!” As his speech became clear to me, I tried hard just to listen to his voice.
“I can’t quite say if I believe you or not. He only screamed once.”
“He couldn’t very well do so again! Didn’t you listen to a word I said earlier? Vocal paralysis! He screamed at the volume a normal person would! He won’t be able to talk at all for a few days, you ass!” And the man scoffed at him for this. Out of the corner of my eye, tears running down my cheeks, I saw him point the gun at me again.
“No weak points but his heart…that’s what you said earlier, right?”
“So what if I blow through his brain?”
“He wouldn’t die…but he’d be left in a vegetative state…so…I’ll have to ask that you don’t shoot him there.”
“And what if I shot through his stomach?”
“He doesn’t need to eat…so his stomach isn’t in use…he wouldn’t be damaged beyond the wound itself.”
“And could he procreate?” He pointed the gun lower.
“In theory…yes, I believe so. Not that it’s a theory I’d want to test. He has all the genes of a normal human being. There’s nothing different about his DNA…besides his growth rate and stopping point, and the organs that are designed to actively be in use. I have no way of knowing whether offspring of his would age as he did or as normal humans…and I believe it’s better that way. There’s no way to tell whether they would be the way he is, the way the female would be, or somewhere in between.” Apollyon seemed reluctant, his voice cracking and shaking with every word. I…had no idea what he was talking about. Nothing I’d ever heard of before…
“Then I guess we won’t have to find out.” As he pulled the trigger, I closed my eyes tightly…but there was no pain. Very slowly, my eyes opened, and I turned to look. Apollyon stood in front of me, his eyes wide as blood dribbled from his mouth. The hole from the bullet was through his lower stomach…since he was shorter than me. Astonishment and horror flooded through me. Shakily, I grabbed onto his shoulders, trying hard not to hurt him. If…his shoulders ended up like his hands…it would be my fault again. I shook my head, biting my lip hard. Why would he…? “So…he feels empathy?”
“Of course he does. He’s human.” Weakly, Apollyon rested against me, coughing and wiping blood from his mouth. “I’m okay, Rhodes. I’ll be fine…didn’t hit anything important, I don’t think…”
“Do you honestly believe he’d be a useful soldier, Apollyon?” His stern voice unnerved me.
“I don’t think he could fight just yet…but I know you could use him. He’s physically unstoppable, so long as his heart and brain are protected. Train him however you like, he could be a soldier or anything else as long as I stay with him.” As he pressed his broken hand to the wound in his stomach, Apollyon shook his head just a little. “If he’s separated from me, though, I can be certain he wouldn’t behave.”
“Both of you stay here. We’ll see what the others think and send someone to tend to your wounds.” With that, they both left. Biting my lip hard, I looked down at Apollyon.
“No, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself.” Chuckling softly, he shook his head and gently pulled my lip away from my teeth. “We’ll be okay. They won’t kill you now that I’ve given them an offer they’d be idiots to refuse.”