Erin walked into the school, feeling the same old stirring in the pit of her stomach every time she walked into a school.
“Okay, I’m 20, I’m in university, helping out as an intern, majoring in science. Great, no problem.” She looked down at the list they had given her, and headed to her first class to sit in on - Math.
“Eek.” The new ‘intern’ walked out of class with her head spinning. The other students around her, however, seemed to have no problem. “Guess I’ve been out of school a little bit too long,” she thought wryly. Luckily, she was exempted from homework, and Erin breathed a silent thank you at the math teacher.
She looked around her with total confusion. “I have computer design next, and that’s room 201.”Erin peered desperately at the tiny print on the paper. “Or is that room 211?” Erin groaned and smacked her head. “Somebody get me a map!” Erin wandered hopelessly around the massive school, getting more and more frustrated by the second. “Argh!!”
“Do you need some help?” She stopped pounding her head against the wall long enough to see a pair of friendly, brown eyes peering at her.
David Hendricks grinned at the teen’s surprised look. “Do you need some help?” he repeated.
“Um…” Erin faltered, then decided to accept his offer. “Could you point me in the direction of room 201? Or 211, as the case may be?”
“Could I take a look at that?” David reached over and pulled the schedule out of Erin’s hands. “Yeah, it’s room 201. You just go down that way, hang a right, go left, keep going until you reach a water fountain, go right again, then keep going left.”
Erin blinked. “What?” She groaned. “Oh, to be back in my bed…”
He laughed and handed the schedule back to her. “I’m going in that direction anyway. Why don’t you come along with me? I’ll show you the way.”
Erin was deliriously grateful for any help, be it from a teacher, student, or mutant freak. She followed the tall, lanky teen as he wove his way through the halls. Erin kept on bumping into people and was gaining plenty of nasty looks when the bell rang.
“Great. First day on the job and I’m late for second class. Perfect.” At the confused look she received, she hurried to explain. “I’m an intern here. I’m supposed to be helping out with the teachers.”
David’s friendly look evaporated and a hard, emotionless mask took over his face. “Oh. Here’s the room, miss…?”
“Erin. Jacobs! Just call me Erin.”
She got a stiff, formal nod in return. Sighing, Erin turned around and headed to the door. It wouldn’t budge. “Dang it, open!” The door stubbornly refused to listen to her, resisting all her efforts. Erin covered her eyes and made a cat-like sound in her throat. “…”
She tried the handle again. Finally, she grabbed the knob, twisted and yanked with all her strength. It came out. “Oops.”
Erin stared down at the mess of circuitry before her. This was their task for the day: To re-assemble a computer. By hand.
"Well, I’m half of a cyborg, I’m pretty sure I can handle a simple HP Pavilion. Heck, I have to do tune-ups on myself!” At that thought, her right arm sparked. “Shoot! I must need a recharge!” She raised her hand cautiously. “Mr. Roberts? Could I go to the washroom, please?”
As soon as she was out of the room, Erin sprinted through the halls faster than a kid who realized he got boiled spinach for lunch. She pushed her way through the main doors and promptly jumped across the roofs. In broad daylight. “If VR or one of his goons see me, I’m dead.”
Safely back in her apartment, Erin reached up and took off her necklace. It was a smooth, oval stone that shone a pale, shimmery gold. She carefully wedged it open and drew out her tranfuser. Along with the transfuser came a small, much-looked-at photo of her family. Her last and only remaining link to her old life.
Erin rolled up her sleeves and plugged the wires in. As energy flowed up the wires and into her skin, she slowly sank back into her memories.
“Erin!! I TOLD you it was YOUR turn to do the dishes!” Dani stomped into the family room where a young Erin was glued to the computer screen. “Come on, you can be a computer geek later! It’s YOUR turn! Mom said so!”
Erin looked at her older sister and pushed her glasses back up her nose. Her mousy black hair swung lifelessly as Erin protested. “I’m not a computer geek! And besides, you owe me a favor, so that means…”
“That means that YOU have to march your scrawny butt over to the sink and WASH!! And you are a geek! What other kind of kid spends time hunched over in front of a screen and does extra homework?! I’ve got a numbskull for a sister...” her sister sighed.
Erin drooped her head and sighed. Resigned, she walked past her sister to her *realm* - a realm of dirty dishes and bubbles.
Eleven-year-old Erin stared longingly out the window. “If only I could just run away from this all! If only I could jump and climb and leap and run all away from this stupid family!” She didn’t realize that one year later, she would sorely regret having wished that.
“Erin! Your friends are here!” Erin’s mother, who was named Jackie, smiled at the eager kids as they barreled into the room, talking and laughing excitedly. Even though Erin WAS a geek and outcast in her class, the other kids simply couldn’t pass up a chance for free birthday cake.
“Come on Erin, everyone’s here!” Her mom started up the stairs. “Erin? Where are you, honey?” She reached Erin's closet of a room. No one was inside. The lace curtains flapped loosely in the wind, the window wide open. Jackie felt her heart sink. “ERIN!!”
“Let me GO, you fungus-faced muffin!!” Erin kicked and screamed with all the might of a agile twelve-year-old. Fixed Ideas stood at attention around a tall, skinny man with a shining monocle. “Good job, Jose. You got one.” He leaned forward to inspect Erin's scratched, bruised face. He turned to his second-in-command. “I wanted her UNMARKED!”
Jose shrugged. “I’m sorry, Father. She was the one screaming all the way here.” He squinted and shoved his face near her’s. “She’s a wild one, but I think she’ll do fine for your…”Erin spat at him and kicked him sharply in the groin. Jose bent over, purple in the face. “See…what...I mean...Father?!”
Von Richter smiled coldly. “Perfect. She has the spirit I want, and the youth I need. Bring her to the lab!” he shouted.
“NO!! MOM! MOM!!”
The next two years were a living hell. The lab echoed with terrified screams that never stopped. Erin had long since given up all hope of surviving through Von Richter’s experiments, but somehow - she made it. By sheer will or by Von Richter’s twisted machines, she didn’t know.
Von Richter turned down the power on the electric output and turned to see Erin panting and struggling feebly. He smiled, knowing that her spirit still burned in her wasted, tortured body.
“Erin! See, you made it. Now, let’s see what these cyborg circuits can do!” He flicked a switch and Erin’s restraints fell loose. She stared at him warily.
“If you will notice, Erin,” he started, “I’ve enhanced your mortal body with a new kind of technology. Cyborg technology. You will notice that you do not need your glasses anymore, your eyes have computer chips working to help. Your body can now do what no one else can! Jump, leap, and run faster, faster than even my Cybers!”
Erin looked at her body with a mixture of suspicion and awe. “Can I really do all that? This is what I wanted! “ She grinned. “But…at what cost?” Her face fell. “I want my old life back.” Silently she vowed that someday, she would.
“Now, there is just one more thing that must be done.” He flicked the switch again, and once more, Erin’s screams rang for miles.
At last, it stopped, and Erin was flung back into her cell after Von Richter had finished explaining the new part of her body: her hands. “Wonderful. I’m fourteen, fifteen in three days, and for a present I get a pair of titanium-alloy coated claws that come out of my hands. Joy.” She curled up into a ball to gain some warmth, but secretly, deep inside, she was glad of the power that Von Richter had given her. A power that she had dreamed about, had wished for every single second. But a power given at a terrible price. Sooner or later, she would pay for it.
Erin’s tears dropped on the metal floor. “No. No more. I have to escape. I have to!” Knowing that without daily *drinks* from energy, she would burn from the inside and die, Erin knew he had gone too far. “I’ve got to get out of here. But how?”
Erin crouched near the exit, one step away from freedom. Von Richter had outsmarted himself. He’d helped create a being that had powers beyond even HIS comprehension. The door blew open slightly, and Erin felt the cold wind scrape along her bones.
“What’s this?” A nearby door was open slightly, and a warm, welcoming light seeped through. Erin crept slowly towards at and let herself inside. She gasped. Clothes! She hadn’t seen anything so well-made in three years of captivity! She reached forward and stroked the soft, black fabric of a slim, dangerous costume. “Mom used to make stuff like this…”
“Where is she?! Sound the alarm!!” Erin flinched, brought back to reality with a cruel twist. She snatched the nearest bundle off the shelf and ran.
The energy flow slowed down, and Erin opened her eyes with a sigh. She touched her face and to her surprise, it was covered with tears. “I really miss them…”
“Well, back to the rat race, I guess. I think walk this time…” Erin pulled on her hiking boots and headed out the door.
“What do you mean, you don’t know who I am?! Look at me!! I’m your SISTER!!” Erin protested, staring at Dani.
“Nope, sorry. I don’t know a Erin Jacobs, never will. I have no sister, my parents have no second-born,” Dani said with a straight face.
“Dani! Come on! It’s me, Erin! The one who disappeared four years ago!”
For a moment something flitted across her sister’s stoic face, then evaporated. “Look, I don’t know who you are. I’ve never seen you before. Even if I did have a sister, she wouldn’t be a freak like you!” she spat.
Erin drew back and looked down at herself. She was taller, tougher, and definitely more of a woman than before. “Do I look like a freak?” she wondered. In all those years she’d never looked in a mirror, too afraid to see what she knew was there. “I must look more ugly than I did before,” she thought sadly.
“Look, just go away, okay? Quit bugging us!” Before Dani slammed the door, she caught a glimpse of her mom. She looked older, more tired, but still her mom.
Erin slowly stumbled down the path. “Great. Now what do I do? I’m only fifteen, okay, sixteen in a week, but what can I do?”
The skies split open and dumped their fury on Meridiana. Rain poured down on the hapless people of Meridiana, flooding the dykes and filling houses.
Erin bent her head, arms wrapped around her legs to gain warmth. The corner she’d wedged herself in wasn’t much, but it provided a *little* shelter against the rain. It didn’t do much for the wind and for Erin’s heartache.
Erin walked back up the steps of Meridiana High School, pausing to think up a good excuse for being gone so long. Sighing, she headed back to her job.“It’s like this day, after day, after day. When will it stop?”
How's my writing? Still bad? Eh. :)