The hall produced no sound as I walked it. I expected its length would match everything else I’d experienced, but was wrong. The hall ended at a pair of elaborately carved white painted double wood doors. I didn’t stop to examine details, but raised both hands and shoved my way through. They swung open easily, but my anger drove me on not stopping until I stood in the center of a room large enough to hold a concert. There were, a mismatched row of chairs along three walls. All looked like they were taken from different periods of human history.
Seeing them got me thinking about the farmhouse with the historical weapons collection. Putting the two together, made me consider the world I was on was at least in part preserving human history. And that did not bode well for humanity.
“Are they really all dead?” I asked no one. “Is this place where I now live a collection of history and people deemed worthy of living here?”
No answer. But then I didn’t expect one.
I also could not believe that might be true. I knew there were places on earth when I lived there where the pandemic did little or no true damage. It seemed the more technology, controlled life, the unhealthier we’d become. No one in generations practiced proper diet and exercise. “Why bother’, was the question often asked, ‘when we have everything we need without even stepping outside.’
Sure many were not that way entirely, but the food we had was processed. From what? Only the corporations knew. Machines told us when to do everything to conserve time and energy. And then the corruption I was created to destroy ran amok.
I don’t know if we humans deserved to survive our techno-wizardry.And now I’ll likely never know what happened after my departure.
I heard distant footsteps, more than one or two. Glancing around the room, I spied a closet and went to it, swung open a door and stepped into the darkness. My eyes adjusted immediately, another alteration I received when training. I had the night vision of a cat and the day vision of a human with 20-10 eyesight and a chip inserted that allowed me to zoom in on a scene of a single object.
All of these things I’d mentally buried so to not be reminded of my other life. Now I focused my mental energy on survival and knew there would be little alive in this place that could best me. Monroe had been slightly better, stronger, swifter, even, more intelligent. My upper hand was surprise. Never allow an opponent the opportunity to act before you do, I was taught.
Whoever entered the room beyond the closet door stopped walking. Not close to where I hid, but near enough I could use my enhancements to hear them breathing. I counted fifteen, and knew the odds were not in my favor should I be discovered.
I thought of Margaret and how good it might be to have her in warrior form alongside me. Then I felt I had somehow done her a disservice. Margaret had not chosen the life thrust upon her by the greed and domination of the corporate demigods of her time. I thought of the ones I fought to bring down while I was a working assassin and then wondered if there was or would ever be a way to erase them from humanity’s fading existence.
Hell,I thought. If I don’t get out of here alive then, none of that matters so why bother thinking about it?
The footsteps I’d heard moved again and moments later I felt sure I was alone. I waited another five minutes and then stepped out of the closet and into a preprogrammed laser assault. I spun and vaulted, leaned and rolled across the elaborately carpeted floor, felt the searing burn on two glancing strikes before I managed to, after one last handspring and spin, find shelter.
“Nicely done, assassin.” A pleasant feminine voice spoke as if she was issuing a prize for my efforts. Since the lasers were finally silent, I stood and faced the direction of the speaker.
“Who are you?” I asked in my command voice.
She laughed and stepped from the shadows of the alcove across the room.
“And here I thought all of those alcoves were filled with mindless statuary.” I added as I watched her elegant movements.
“I suspect you didn’t really but then from what I’ve learned about you, Stanton you don’t miss much or you would’ve been long dead by now.”
She was strikingly beautiful, tall and slender. She had shoulder length auburn hair that hung in waves of curls. Her eyes were large and deep green in color. She wore a bodysuit that from the way it reflected and refracted light, hid more than it revealed. Surprisingly her feet were bare and I saw no sign of artificial adornment.
But then a beautiful woman like her doesn’t need it.
“How about we save time and you tell me what you want from me and when you’re through tell me where my friend Margaret is being imprisoned.” The wounds stung as I moved to meet her halfway. I knew they would not bleed since lasers cauterized too. I once saw a solider with a round hole through his abdomen that was not bleeding. It didn’t slow him down either until the next laser burn hit the center of his sternum.
She spoke quieter now that we were less then ten feet apart. “I wondered why you were granted passage to our home. When I’d heard my reaction was for you to be put to death immediately. Fortunately for you, I’m not in charge so you live. Yet you found your way here with a plan I suppose.”
I laughed at the irony of the expressed thought. “I had little choice. But I if my leaving here pleases you then have you thugs bring Margaret to me and we will gladly leave.”