It was cold waiting in the alley. Eunomia watched idly as her skin prickled and puckered in the chilly night air. Bailer shivered and gasped. He kept breathing in deeply. Eunomia was holding her hands over the wound, like Bailer had told her to do.
“They’ll get here soon. The ambulance…it’ll be here soon. Just a little longer.” Bailer’s voice was thin. It scared Eunomia.
There were so many sounds and smells that Eunomia did not recognise. She could hear a gentle mechanical thrum from somewhere to her left. The smell was far worse. She could identify the scent of at least two bodily substances, alongside a plethora of others smells she had never smelt before. Bailer closed his eyes. His pulse fluttered. He wouldn’t speak anymore.
All of a sudden a piercing noise split the air and Eunomia’s eardrums with it. The sound warbled and wavered and seemed utterly artificial. Eunomia had never heard the sound of am ambulance’s siren before, and it terrified her. She had no idea of what it was that was hurtling towards her with such relentless sound, and imagined a dozen dreadful fates. Her hands flew from Bailer’s wound to her ears and pressed down. She saw the flashing lights coming towards her from the end of the street. In an instant she ran; dashing into the alley and out the other side. The wind hit her, coming in from across the harbour. She had not known she was close to the sea; in fact she did not even realise that the expanse of black, shining water was the sea and was shocked at the sight. Instead of being calmed and lost in awe, the sound of the ambulance still crawling up the street drove her on and she ran with the water to her left.
There were houses overlooking the sea with lights on in their windows but Eunomia did not go to them. She did not realise she could call on others for help. Bailer and Child and Stern; they had been her only companions. The cold was almost unbearable, or perhaps it was the fear; the thought of blood pooling and feeble voices and the complete disorientation of not knowing where she was. Or maybe, it was the headache forming swift as a rushing wave in the folds of her brain.
She stopped and lingered, leaning against a wall papered with old poster advertising concerts or safety seminars and regulations. Looking back along the harbour road the place where she had come was shrouded in shadows. She could not even see the alley she had emerged from. She closed her eyes and tried to think away the pain behind her eyes. She crouched down, covering her eyes with her hands and rubbing feverishly, as if the headache were simply a speck of dust she could wipe away.
She found herself in the castle moments later. She was in the garden, looking at the flowers; fleshy, pink, purple and gentle yellow in full bloom of health. They crowded round the little path like guests at a party around their host. Eunomia looked up towards the house; her house that she had built stone by imaginary stone. There was a figure in the window. Eunomia’s heart went to ice and her eyes widened. The figure, black and clear as ink against the glass, stood at one of ground floor windows; the library perhaps. From this distance it was impossible to see their face, but Eunomia knew they were looking at her. After shock and fear subsided, she felt anger. A great black bird settled on the path by her feet. It was soon joined by another, and another until a large group of them were swirling about her head. Eunomia did not know if they were hers, or belonged to the shadowy individual stood at the window. She lashed out, grabbed one unsuspecting bird and held it in a tight, hot little grip. The bird did not squawk or attempt to escape. Eunomia assumed it was one of her creations. She let it go and looked again towards the house. The window was empty, as she had expected.
She returned to herself a little while later. There was a girl standing in front of her. She was tall, with chestnut coloured hair and wrapped tightly in a fleece. Eunomia wouldn’t have known it, but she was dressed in her work uniform and was on her way home from one of the restaurants further along the street.
“Are you alright?” She asked. In the dim light from the streetlamp she could just about see Bailer’s blood on Eunomia’s face and hands; and her pale, greenish complexion. She was staying back accordingly; tales of the zombie outbreak a century ago flashing through her head. Eunomia didn’t move; and the girl repeated the question.
Eunomia unfolded herself, looking suspiciously at the girl. She did not seem threatening, and Bailer and Child had always said it was rude not to answer a question.
“No. I am not alright. Bailer is hurt and I have done it again, and now my castle has strange people in it.”
The girl took a step back; likely considering whether the odd little girl in the yellow jumper was drunk or mad or if she had simply not heard her correctly.
“Do you want me to call someone for you? Are you lost?”
“Yes, I am lost. But there is no one to call but Bailer and he is hurt and the thing with flashing lights came and I was…I…have run here to be away from it.”
The girl took another look at the strange girl. “You’re an artificial aren’t you?” She said. She had seen one before, and a former girlfriend had been very interested in biological engineering and had even tried to make her own. She had decided the use the bathtub and understandably the artificial had never formed correctly. From what she could recall they had limited intelligence and lifespans.
Eunomia nodded, and then looking purposeful said, “My name is Eunomia. Nice to meet you.” She held out her hand stiffly.
“Eunomia? Is that Greek? My name’s Chloe, and it’s very nice to meet you.” The girl said, smiling warmly. She took Eunomia’s proffered hand and squeezed it gently. “Now, you said someone was hurt. Do you know where they are?” Chloe was tired and her feet throbbed from work, but she was kind and she could not leave a little girl in distress without paying for it with a restless night and a tarnished conscience.
Eunomia nodded and gestured further down the harbour side road. “Down there somewhere, but I cannot remember where…There was a man holding this thing,” her fingers made the shape of the gun “and it made a noise and it left a hole in Bailer’s back.”
Chloe suddenly felt slightly more dubious about lending her aid.
“But then he disappeared, and Bailer told me to call…to call…to call for help and then there was noise.”
“Ok.” Chloe soothed. “Well, why don’t we go and try and find him, ok?” She took gently hold of Eunomia’s hands, which she was pleased to find had no difference in texture to those of any normal human being. The girl rose without any issue and the pair walked down alongside the harbour. Eunomia walked as far away from Chloe as their joined hands would allow her. Eunomia paused at the mouth of each alley they passed, until they reached the third one. She pulled Chloe along with her and they walked out onto an empty street. There was blood on the pavement. Eunomia stared at it with a melancholy air. Chloe looked up and down the street, trying to spot someone who could help them. It was ultimately pointless. They were alone. Chloe started wondering who she should call. She was sure there was a governmental body that dealt with artificials, but she doubted there would be anyone to answer her at this time of night.
Eunomia pointed to a car sitting by the kerb. "That is his car. That is how we came here.”
Chloe got out her phone. “This Bailer…do you know his full name?”
Eunomia told her and Chloe searched for it on the internet. She found no means of contacting the professor,
but she did spy several articles. She did not have time to read them, and instead decided she had no alternative but to take the young girl home with her.
“Come on. You can come wait at my house for a little bit.” She said. Eunomia let her lead her away from pavement and its bloodstain and back out to the harbour road.
Continued in Part 14 --->
Manage Your Items