May 6, 2117
(…continued from earlier post)
“Don’t say the Opposition. It’s a dirty word.” The horrid man spoke in a deep voice that betrayed the juvenile reverence with which he spoke. His words and tone were those of a toddler, but the man was well into his thirties.
Perturbed by the disconnect and already regretting her admission, Ella only shrugged her shoulders and scowled.
“Do you belong to them? To the, the Opposition?” He barely whispered as he uttered the last word.
She shook her head only once.
“The Legion, then?”
To that Ella scoffed. “I’m only thirteen.”
The man’s head tilted again as he sat forward in his chair, entranced. “Thirteen is a good age. It’s an important age. That’s when you really want to belong.”
“To something. Anything. I assume that’s why you joined the Opposition. You wanted to belong. Like your mother.”
“What do you know about my mother?” Ella had grown defensive, territorial.
“Nothing.” Though still creepy, the man too became defensive, surely an emotion born of vulnerability. None of us viewers knew his story, but we could see, just as young Ella could, his story was beginning to unfold. “Just that your mother must have been beautiful.” Silence again claimed the room before the man cleared his throat and ventured, “It’s ok to want to belong.”
She didn’t respond, but I saw the sympathy. It was in her eyes, her expression, her heart. “You know, it’s also ok if you don’t belong.”
“What?!” He lashed out, crossing the room in one leap. He had his hands wrapped around her neck before she even had a chance to block him. Her air was running out as she hit and scratched at his arms, but he acted like he didn’t even feel it. Instead, he raged. “Are you saying I don’t belong? Huh? Is that what you’re saying? Is it? Is it!!”
She shook her head desperately as her tears streamed down her face.
Without warning, he let go and began to pace in front of her as Ella struggled to suck air back into her lungs.
Finally, as both their breathing returned to normal he mumbled. “’Cause I do belong you know?”
“I’m sorry.” She admitted.
He stopped to face her. “Sometimes I doubt it, and when I do, I…” He knelt before her. She tried to scramble away, but he blocked her escape and rolled up his shirt sleeve. “When I wonder if I belong, I do this.”
As viewers, we couldn’t see, but Ella’s reaction told us everything. Her face sagged and the light within her was snuffed out. She was empty, hollow, all hope diminished.
His voice was calm when he spoke next. “You see? All of you, you join the Opposition because you’re scared, because you’re lonely and want to belong. But, if you knew another way, if you knew how to make yourself feel, something to connect you, you wouldn’t have to do that.”
Ella searched his face, desperate for something, anything that could be an alternative to what he was offering.
“That’s what I’m going to do. You’ll be the first. You’ll see.”
“I’m going to save everyone, show them how to belong without joining the Opposition…I’m going to eliminate the Opposition.”
“Eliminate the…” she couldn’t bring herself to go on.
“It’s like I said; you have an amazing destiny Ella. Simply amazing. You and I are going to create history. Right here. In this room.” Still mindful to keep his face from the seeking eyes of the camera lens, he moved to the far wall where he pushed on a panel that dropped down.
It was a hidden shelf and compartment from which he pulled a knife and casually moved back to Ella.
“No.” She whimpered as her chest began to quake from her sobs. “Please.” She managed to squeak out. “No.”
“Sh-shh. Don’t cry. It’s not bad. Really. It just helps you feel, so you know you’re not adrift, that you’re connected. See? Pain is the same for everyone. It’s how you know… it’s what ties you to everyone else.”
Ella could do nothing more than cry until the blade brushed along her skin too and screams burst forth. First, he cut the tops of her forearms, and then his own. She scrambled, desperate to get away, but he pinned her down, matching her agony with his own, stoke for stroke. Her shoulder, then his, her cheekbone, then his.
She begged and pleaded. “Stop! Please, stop! It hurts! No! No! Please, please, please, NO!”
He ran the edge of the blade across her forehead causing the blood to run down her entire face. As he matched the stroke across his own forehead, he used his hand to collect his blood, and run it across her newest wound. Then he repeated the process, adding her blood to his. “See?” Despite the blood that coated them both and smeared the tile floor in illustration of their tragedy, his voice was at ease. “Forever, you and me, we will always be bonded.”
“Stop it!” Her voice launched into hysterics. “Stop, stop, stop, Stttttoooooopppppp!” she was choking on the emotion that clogged her throat as she spat her own blood from her mouth.
“You want me to stop?” he rolled back on his haunches.
“Pleeeaaase.” She whimpered.
“But doesn’t it feel nice to belong?” the vulnerability in his voice then caused even me to hold my breath. Every one of us who was watching on knew that her response would determine her future, but with such a fragile psyche in control of that destiny, there was no telling what was the right or wrong answer.
I watched as her eyes locked on his. Her focus was unwavering even as her mind darted back and forth between telling the truth and lying. “No.” she finally said flatly. “You’re hurting me.”
He fell back as though she had kicked him and clutching the knife to his chest, he scuttled back to the center of the room. “Not you too. Not you too. Not you too. Not you too. Not you too.” He mumbled incessantly.
“Not me what?” she was exasperated and in pain, desperation clinging to her words like a weapon as her fear expelled from her in anger. “You’re the one…” her voice quaked as more tears clogged her throat. “I didn’t do anything to you.”
“But…” now he was crying, his voice like that of a child. “”None of you, not any of my past besties I’ve picked out or even my mom… none of you want to be connected to me.” His tone shifted as he rose from the floor. “Why don’t you love me?!”
“Love you?” She cried, horrified. “I don’t even know you!”
Her words caused her captor to lose his mind. He bent forward at the waist, his arms dropping toward the ground as he screeched and bellowed like a wild animal with clenched fists.
Ella slipped and slid across the floor to the corner where she covered her ears and let the tears flow.
He screamed so loudly the camera had difficulty capturing, and the speakers had trouble broadcasting, the varying pitches and sounds that spouted from him. Finally, he dropped to his knees. “My mom didn’t want to be connected to me either.” His voice was raw as he spoke. “So I blew her up.” He spoke the words so matter-of-fact, it was as though he were a different person than the raging beast that had lost its mind a moment ago.
Ella’s hands dropped from her ears.
“But it didn’t help. I’m still alone.” He began to weep. “I tried to save her, but she refused to leave the Opposition. If she just would have listened to me, she could have belonged to me. Then, she wouldn’t have had to belong to the Opposition.” He crawled over to Ella slowly, his blood marking yet another trail on the floor which looked as though it were out of a horror movie.
Though she twisted and fought, Ella had grown weak from blood loss, and her attempt was futile. Instead, she could do little more than watch as he held her wrist, the blade just above it.
His voice was small, desperate as she spoke. “Ella, will you belong to me?”
Through her tears, she shook her head. “No.” she blubbered softly. “I’m sorry.”
Again, he roared as he jumped to his feet, stepping purposefully to the same collapsed shelf he had pulled the knife from. “What does the Opposition have on you, huh? What’s so special about it? Why isn’t it good enough for you to just belong to me?” Again, his voice broke as he was overcome. “Why doesn’t anyone want to belong to me?”
Pulling something from the shelf, he turned back to her. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
Terrified, Ella offered, “You’re not.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“No. Really. I do. I swear, I-”
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO LIE TO ME!” Then his voice shriveled up as he continued. “No secrets. That’s all I wanted, was no secrets, but you can’t do that can you?” He shrugged. “I’ll love you enough to make up for it anyway. I still want to give you the greatest destiny in the world.”
“We’re going to show them.” He was exasperated that she still didn’t understand as he moved to stand before her.
“Who? What?” she blubbered.
“All of them. Everyone. You and me. We’re going to show them how to belong without joining the Opposition.”
“What are you talking about?” And then, Ella gasped as the air left her body when he opened his hand. There, lying on his palm was a grenade.
The pin was already pulled out.
There was a serenity in his voice as he spoke, even as Ella scrambled to her feet, slipping and sliding in their blood. “We’ll always belong to one another Ella. Always.”
There was a moment, a single fractured moment when the room seemed to fill with energy, and then, after a burst of light and noise, it was gone. The camera feed stopped. Young Ella Chang was gone. And her faceless monster? He ceased to exist.
Of course, the public went crazy as they took to the media to discuss what we had witnessed. Some tried to rationalize it. But how could you? Others glorified it. After all, he wasn’t the only monster among us. Some blamed our beloved Opposition, but we’re used to that. Still others, others could do nothing more than question. How could someone like that have so much money? What was wrong with him? Who was he? Was he truly crazy, or did something cause him to snap? Was it a conspiracy? How on earth did he live so long without being eliminated? Surely he wouldn’t have passed through school without elimination. So, who was he? Who was he related to? What makes a person do that? How did he go unnoticed? Did they know he had a bomb? Did they know he was going to blow that building up? Was anyone else killed or injured?
The questions were endless, but not from me.
I didn’t ponder those questions. I didn’t wonder who he was, who approved it, or what was wrong with him. Instead, I focused on fear.
I am terrified of whatever it was that happened to him, whatever broke him, and more importantly, who is responsible. You see, monsters walk among us, but they are not the same as you and I, nor are they victims or weak. As you know, in our world, only the best and strongest survive. So then, for an extremely wealthy, broken man to reach that point… the answer everyone else is looking for becomes clear.
Ladies and gentlemen, he is not one of us. He was created, his psyche molded to hurt us, to attack us.
To beat us.
So until next time…
We are the Legion. The Legion lives on. Harper Eckles, out.