Crushed to Bits of Glass
by Sanghoon Choi
It was the middle of autumn, trees were rose red, bronze-like orange, and butterscotch yellow. It was only autumn, but we were already wearing our winter jackets. The wind was gentle, a calm breeze that ended the day beautifully, the small waves lapped the pebbles gently, and the night sky was a piece of black paper with specks of light peeking into the view. The full moon hid behind the thin streaks of clouds so billowy, it was almost as if you were to look at a cotton ball and see no difference. I was sitting on a large rock beside Eva and I held my warm mug of hot chocolate as Eva spoke cheerfully about our adventures when we were only young children. Mum always told me we are still young, but I feel old enough to deny that, after all, I am fifteen years old. I took a small sip out of my mug as Eva babbled on about how we always got lost in the woods together. I remembered every detail of it; we were playing a game of hide-and-seek in the woods, which was forbidden to all humans, but we didn’t know back then. We had fun until sunset when the machines caught us and literally threw us out of the forest. She still had long silver hair as she did ten years ago, I had a more orange hair colour but years later, it turned into a dark red. Eva was my only friend, my best friend. The only one who guided me out of trouble, mostly of course, and the only one who truly cared about me. Mum and dad were far too busy to look after me; they always went out for work before I awoke, always home after I fell asleep. It was barely once in two weeks I saw them. Which explains why I didn’t really miss them either. They were nice to me, but something about them made me feel uncomfortable when they were around. I never knew what it was, but sometimes I sure am glad I don’t see them often. When Eva gave a rest after talking, I quickly glanced at the time. ‘11:45’ it read.
“Hey, I think I should get going now,” I said.
“Yeah me too. Well goodbye then!” She said as she hopped up and stretched.
When I got home, Elyx, the home robot took my mug and washed it. I went up to my room and sat on my bed, I gazed out the window, the crippled lighthouse still shone bright, and the city of Halekgan in the distance glowed, but it was blurry. I was just about to sleep when I heard a knock on the door.
“Come in.” I watched as Elyx came in with a small ruby amulet and a letter.
“I have had this for a very long time, but, I suppose the time to hand it over to you has come.” Elyx said. “I’ll leave you alone then. Goodnight.”
I opened the crumpled letter when Elyx slid the door closed. I immediately noticed Eva’s writing from many years ago.
I had this letter written beforehand just in case I wouldn’t be able to see you again (I don’t know but the reason for me to disappear like this is probably because my father was caught.) This message, it’s a really short but I hope you hold on to it. You were my life savior (super girl heroes remember?) and I hope you will always be one to others as well. I hope the many years we were together meant something to you, because it really changed me. I hope that someday, we would meet in the most unexpected places. Well until then, see you!
Your friend, Eva.
Speechless, I got up from my bed and rubbed the tears out of my eyes. I brushed my scarlet red hair out of my face. I couldn’t believe Eva would go away in just a few moments. I didn’t even say goodbye yet. I stumbled downstairs and pushed Elyx out of my way as I ran to the door. I ripped the door open and ran without closing it. The cold air froze my lungs but I didn’t care, my feet felt like ice and I was pretty sure they were bleeding. I navigated through the streets as I ran for Eva’s home. I tripped on some stairs and fell but I kept going. When I got there, the door was blasted, walls were torn down, windows were shattered, small fires across the stove, nothing was there. It felt like an empty storage room. I walked inside, visualizing the warm and happy mood that was once there. I collapsed to my knees, trying to remember as much of Eva as possible.
“E-Eva… why…” I crumpled up into a ball and laid down for what seemed like days. “I need you so much… w-why did you leave?”
“Amy, Eva wrote you a letter for a purpose. She did it because she hated to see you cry and beg, she didn’t want to see you crumble to pieces. She did it for you and herself.” Elyx acknowledged, she somehow caught up to me.
“She didn’t have to leave!” I cried. “She could’ve stayed with me!”
“And that was what she could not do. You are not the only one who feels the same, Amy.”
It was the harsh truth that could not be denied
I thought I was an emotionless and strong girl all until yesterday. I woke up the next morning on top of my desk. The automated curtains slowly slid up and the sunlight blinded me. The sunlight seemed so warm this particular morning. I had to skip school because apparently, the doctor (the man next door) said I broke my wrist yesterday, but I’m not sure how it even happened. I insisted on going to school, but Elyx forced me to stay at home by blocking all the doors and windows. She also said I had to stay at home for two more days. The days flowed by as I flipped through images of me and Eva from the day we met, to the last day I saw her. The day came when I was finally allowed out of the house. I woke up early to pack my bags, not with school materials, but with first aid, food, money, a map, my SlimAPad 2, I also made sure I wore Eva’s amulet. When I left the house. I sniffed in the fresh air a few times and enjoyed the moment of breathing in the cold air. I looked out to the sea and admired the steady fog above the water. I crunched some leaves under my feet before I left for my journey. I also took a picture of home just in case I felt homesick. I started to run, running has never been so fun for me, but this morning, it was different, I had a reason to run for. Unlike the running at the school where they make you run as fast as you can for a certain amount of meters for no reason whatsoever.
My primary objective was to get to the warehouse, which was the only way out of the village. Fortunately, there are not as many armed machines near the entrance as usual. I dashed in and was struck by the horrid smell of gasoline and the strong smell of burning steel. One crate after another, the smell got more and more unbearable, but I had to get into the transport truck.
Minutes ticked by and the transportation truck was soon to be sent out toward the city. I had to find a way to climb in without being caught by the machines, or their proper name, the AI. I crouched inside of the darkness of the warehouse, watching the machines load the truck one box after another. Time was running low and I had to get into the truck. With shaking knees, I scattered across the floor and leapt into the truck. Gasping quietly with sweaty palms, I breathed out a relaxing breath as they closed the door. My surroundings suddenly became dark, but I managed to find the door and peek out of a small hole to glance back at my hometown.
“Goodbye, I hope to see you again with Eva.” I whispered as I closed my eyes and sat back down.
I woke up in the dim sunlight, there were sounds of the machines moving nearby, a cold breeze hit me in the cheek and I realized, I was at my destination. I filled up with hope and joy to see Eva again, only to lose those feelings after seeing all the machines out in the city warehouse. I had only two choices left; to stay and hope they will not see me, or to make a run for it.
“Sir, there is an unidentified object at the back in the truck, shall I get it?” An AI asked.
My heart started beating faster as the robot came closer. I had only one choice left; to make a run. I made a dash for the door, I pushed the threatening robot out of my way and as I leapt out of the truck, I could hear the sudden movement of the clunk of steel and the hydraulics of their legs chasing me.
“You are strictly prohibited in this area. Give up now or we will use force against you.” The overhead speakers boomed.
I knew this was not true, the machines would physically harm me either way. I ran into a maze-like zone of the warehouse, full of high towering crates and metal chunks. I made my way through the area and finally out through the exit. The warehouse was located on a hill, dirty with metallic dust and debris of all sorts. The sky was beautifully tinted orange and had fresh yellow strokes across the horizon. The red sun sank beneath the surface of the Earth. I was admiring the city view as I ran down the hillside to find cover.
The city was an empty area with small rats scampering from wall to wall. I imagined that the path I walked that moment once had many people, but they all took off after the bombings. I searched the insides of the buildings but I couldn’t find a decent place to sleep, so the musty alleyway on top of a small patch of yellow grass was rather a nice ‘bed’ compared to the other ones. It was rather comfortable to be lying down on a patch of dead grass, although the strong stench of sulfur really ruined my experience. I took out my SlimAPad 2 and browsed through the pictures I took with Eva, my family photo, the ‘adventure’ around the town, and of course, my house. It had only been a day and a strong sense of nostalgia wafted through me. My lonely peace was broken when I heard the sound of steel hit the concrete
“There you are,” an autotuned voice said.
I stood up, packing my backpack as quickly as possible. I looked around but noticed there was no escape route anymore; I was nothing more than a trapped rat.
“Please, I surrender…” I begged.
The machines made no effort to stop coming toward me. I was backed into the wall as one of the machines pulled out its weapon.
“I’m so sorry Eva,” I mumbled as I dropped a tear. “I hope you remember me, too.”
I soon heard the loud blast I was expecting for. What felt last was the strong, yet numb feeling of being hit in the chest, falling down to my knees and then to my head. What I saw last was the picture of me and Eva smiling, laughing shoulder to shoulder, being crushed into small, bits of glass.