This story is by Kostiantyn Kyrpach and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The sun has long gone, only a small lamp burned on a table dimly illuminating a room. An old house is by the ocean. The house made of stone is the only shelter for him now.
“It will be painless for you,” he whispered, stroking her hair with his strong hand, “I hope everything will turn out, and everything will be fine with you …”
He closed his eyes. His breathing was slow and deep as if in meditation, he anticipated complete liberation from problems, sins, suffering, and people. He carefully cuddled his little girl, who was fast asleep, as hard as possible under the influence of sleeping pills. All he wants is to protect his little daughter. He kidnapped her from her mother’s house. The woman he still in love with. As much as he loves their common child. Their five-year-old daughter. He must have taken away her from the mother so as he would able to find out the most vital thing.
He knows that they will come after her if they find out this. They will come after him to continue their hellish tests. These thoughts swarmed in his head and gave no peace. Even this dark and deep night could not sink him into a sleep. He stood by the window and looked at the ocean. The ocean soothes him, enlivens him that is so necessary for him at the moment. Despite this suffocating heat it was already possible to feel a slight blow of wind, which penetrated into the open windows.
Hedge shears were in his trembling hand. He kept shifting them from one hand to another, laying them on a table, and again taking them into his hands. Time is ticking out. He has already made this decision. Do it right now no matter how hard and unbearable it is.
He carefully bandaged her little hand a few minutes later. A dark red spot appeared on the white bandage. It was impossible to look at it. The hedge shears had to be cleaned from the blood. He plunged the hedge shears into a vessel with alkali. He did the same with her little finger to let it dissolve there. There will be no trace left of it. He had cut the finger off and did not know what would happen. But there were no other choices.
He hardly slept all night. Only in the morning, it seemed he could immerse his mind into a deep dream without any necessity to awake. He lay with his eyes closed for more than an hour, only the sun and street noise made him open his eyes. He walked closer to his daughter. Carefully unwound bandages, which covered almost all of her palm. He exhaled all the air he had inside him and tears came to his eyes. A little finger on her tiny hand, a new one, was in place of the one he cut off yesterday. This confirms his conjecture. The desire to protect her was hammered even harder among the other thoughts in his head.
“Rita … your daughter is with me now. Come out to the square. Please trust me”, no confidence in his voice, even though he had rehearsed this call for several days.
“Who is it? Is that you, Mark? ”
“Please, be on the square in an hour”
“What’s happening? It’s you.. ?”
No one has answered.
“Darling, it’s time for us,” he quietly said to his daughter and took her in his arms.
She was still asleep. It is crystal clear now. She has this gift of regeneration which he has. He knew it, and this knowledge gave him the strength to move on, and not give up. Now she may be in danger, but they barely know about it. “They do not know, they cannot know,” he muttered to himself, driving his old Peugeot through the streets of Lisbon. He tried to convince himself that everything would be all right with her, he will do his best to protect her.
On the way, he thought about his father. Life makes us do desperate things. Sometimes we become hostages to our past, and the past of our parents and their parents too. His father had been the first one. It all had started with him. The father became a victim of experiments. He was the only survivor among hundreds of test subjects and acquired the phenomenal ability of the rapid tissue regeneration. In fact, there were possible of full restoration of any tissue in the shortest possible time, whether it was skin, bones, teeth, blood and even eyes. The years of tests on his body and brain had made him insane. The degradation of the mind was the result of complex experiments in attempts to regenerate his brain. The brain was regenerable, but there was no chance to completely restore all the neural connections. Finally, after several months the father lost control of his body, even though it could regenerate very quickly, it was already of little use. He died as a helpless cornered man.
Mark had got this ability from his father and also became a victim of monstrous experiments in a special laboratory since his birth. It wasn’t easy for him. He was drowning in suffering and his own blood. He was running away from them, running from a pitiless corporation and mad people who have established it to carry out their inhuman and absurd tests on people. He was caught again and again, and they continued to cut off his hands and feet, pulling out the liver and heart, just to make sure that tomorrow he would be still alive and well. There were a huge number of attempts to duplicate his DNA, but all of them were unsuccessful. They were pulling him to pieces so that he would reborn like a phoenix. He had to defend himself, he did everything he could. Now, he was thinking only of his daughter. He did not want her to go through all the torture that he and his father went through. Perhaps, he sees her for the last time. He doesn’t want to leave her but it may be the only way to protect her. It will be better for her, for them.
He did not even notice how he had reached the square. His thoughts were restless all the way, all those last days when he was considering his decisions and his plan. Peugeot stopped at a corner just a few meters from the square, which already had been filled with many people. Here, it will be easier for him to go unnoticed. He bent to kiss his daughter, carefully, so as not to let her wake up, the sleeping pills probably ceased to function. Leaving the car, he could not look at the girl, his heart was beating violently in his chest, and there were tears in his eyes.
“A blue Peugeot is to the north of the square, you’ll see it at once”
“Mark, can you explain what’s going on?!” He hears her shouting. It felt as though her voice was ten meters away from him. You just need to take a few steps and embrace her. They could have been happy, live a fulfilling life, as millions of other families do. But fate decreed otherwise.
“Listen to me … you will not able to understand me, but… I want you to be safe. She’s in the car.”
“Why is it so…? You must explain to me”, she shouted. And she cried.
“I love you. I love both of you so much.”
He stood by the window of the building opposite and watched as his daughter hugged her mother. “Everything will be alright with them.” He tried to console himself. Tried to regain confidence. He looked until they were out of sight. It’s time to go back.
That evening he came see the ocean nearby his house-shelter, a hundred kilometers from the city. He looked at the troubled water for a long time and listened to the sound of wind. He did not want to run away anymore, his whole life was in pain, suffering, it was a race for survival. The only joy is his little girl, who may not even remember him. He only wanted to be with her, but he decided otherwise. It was not easy to reconcile with this.
Countless blood washed his hands. He was forced to kill more than a dozen of his pursuers. And here he is, still alive. His struggle is not over. He yearns to destroy this corporation completely, to kill its leader who brought so much suffering to him and his family. Everything is ready for this final step.
The ocean will inspire him. Good thoughts will help him.
He closed his eyes to listen to the sounds of the night.
“I love you, Alisia.”