What the hell is that? A human?
No. Something about it said so. Little things like this had never interested me at all. But why now? Was it because I was bored? Tired? Although today was just a normal damn day. Ah, crap. Never mind my day. Now there, in the dumpster. Was that a human? It’s too dark, can’t see. Damn the night. Anyway, why was there a person sitting, as if so comfortable, in that such place? If he was just a drunk or some homeless person, I couldn’t care less.
Argh! But why am I curious to get a good look? Damn. I must be very bored today. Hmph. A little peek would do no harm.
Gravels crunched under my black shoes as I stepped nearer towards the figure leaning against the wall which was dirtied with random not-so-friendly graffiti. The silhouette seemed a little weird… stiff.
Deformed? Dead? Then I have nothing to do with it.
Before I turned to leave, the hung down head of the figure slowly raise up. The light from the moon reflected in those gleaming honey-brown orbs. She gazed at me with a monotonous expression as if the life inside her had died. It did not dawn on me that my life would change the moment I spotted her.
A young girl she was with dark brown hair, those ochre eyes and slightly tanned complexion. Sixteen to seventeen should I say, despite her small and skinny form. She gazed at me with a look. A look that pierced my chest and melted the stinging cold ice that I had frozen for as long as I knew. The empty hollow of loneliness ripped down those chains on the walls and threw open the locked door; eager to have something inside.
I kept my ‘I-know-what-you’re-thinking’ eyes on her, although I have not the slightest idea of what pieces of mind he had. This look, I had always used on everyone; to get domination and scare the wits off their skins. She did not budge and irritated, I openly glared down at her, barring my fangs. At this, she jumped in surprise and tried to scamper back although she was already against the wall.
“I-I’m sorry! F-forgive me please!” she stuttered, her knees up to her chest.
Amusement struck me, gushing into my hollow chest. The corner of my lips tugged and I smirked. However, the logical part of me thundered back into my head. Her appearance was clean; her hair and clothing neat and she seemed well and fit, not starving. I could not see her clearly, but her shoulders and elbows looked odd. From what I could make out, she was clothed in a sleeveless black turtleneck, long light brown pants and a pair of black sneakers.
I stepped forward and she tried to blend into the wall. Kneeling down until I was at eye-level with her, I grabbed her right hand. She jerked violently and a surprised cry slipped out of her arm.
However, my attention was not on her reaction, but her arm.
Her arm was smooth, flawless, but hard and stiff as if there was no flesh. The thing that startled me was the temperature. It was not the temperature of a human body; colder like the atmosphere. My silted gaze traveled up the arm and reached the elbow. Unconsciously, I hissed in a sharp breath. My eyes grew wide in shock, my heart pounded against my ribcage and whistles rang in my ears. What I saw had never once crossed my mind.
The elbow was not one of a human’s. Instead, the upper and lower arms were connected together with a ball of some sort.
Stunned, I kept my eyes fixed on the elbow. What the hell does this mean? Eyes diverted towards the shoulder, I stared at the same but slightly different structure as the elbow. “What the hell are you?” I voiced out and my emerald green eyes glared at the frightened honey-brown ones.
“I-I… I’m a puppet…” she averted her eyes to her knees; unable to bear the eye contact.
Silence stretched between us. A puppet, huh? As in those wooden dolls moved by attached strings? So, it’s just a toy. Heh. Judging by the location, it must either have been thrown away or its previous owner had somehow left. Ah, ******** that. This is my first encounter with a living puppet. Might as well use it till it totally breaks beyond repair.
Releasing my grip on her arm, which then dropped to her side, I pushed myself up to my feet. “Stand” I ordered.
She gave me a questioning look and irritated again, I raised my voice, “Stand, puppet!”
She practically jumped and scrambled up, her height just passed my shoulders. It amused me to no end seeing her frantic reactions, making me want to toy her further. Well, I’ve got plenty of time.
“Come,” without further delay, I headed to the direction of my home. The sound of gravels crunching by another pair of shoes followed behind me and a smirk lit my face.
Ooh… this is gonna be fun. Now that the puppet is mine, I can do damn anything to it.
The road was almost pitch; the streetlamps broken and the only light came from some houses or shops. I was familiar with this atmosphere. Ironically, I brought this kind of atmosphere with me everywhere I go no matter what time of the day. It did not bother me and yet everyone knew well enough to run off when they saw me; even hearing my name.
The gloomy apartment where I lived came into view. The soft but flat footsteps behind me marked that the puppet was still following me, not daring to defy my orders. Of course no one dared. After all, I was known as the 'Commander of Hell'.
The metal staircase creaked under me. Ignoring it, I reached my floor and headed to my home. My steps echoed in the dark empty corridor; no sound of lives came from anywhere. Not a single word had come from the puppet behind me throughout the whole walk home. It did not matter whether she tripped and fell, as long as I could still play her.
Reaching the 13th door, I stuck in my key and the lock opened with a loud clack that bounced off the walls and rang through the empty floor. I stepped in and switched on the lights. “In” was all I needed to say and the puppet entered what would be her new home. With my right foot, I kicked the door shut and brought my attention to the other occupant in the room.
“Let me get things straight,” I began while closing in the distance between the puppet and me, “you obey my words without arguments or I’ll shoot holes into you.” And from my back, I pulled out a random shotgun and reloaded, “Got it, puppet?”
Her unnerved and frightened-to-death expression and trembling body was enough to answer my question. I smirked openly, “You better get used to your new life here or I’ll make sure your sorry a** will be on fire.” And without another word, I left her where she was and attended to my laptop.
Things will be fun now.
“Puppet, get the newspaper.”
“Right away, sir.”
“Puppet, wash the dishes.”
“Yes, sir. Here’s your paper and coffee.”
“Puppet, clean the house.”
Well, that should do it for now. Hell, weekends used to be some boring s**t days. But now there’s this puppet I could toy. Hmph, what luck I had.
The warmth and bitter taste of the coffee made contact with my tongue while my emerald eyes scanned the front page of the news. Just some boring unimportant stuffs. It was not my business if some homicide guy was finally arrested. Setting the ceramic mug and paper on the kitchen table, I amused myself with the sight of the puppet bustling around the house cleaning every spot she could. Sometimes, a creak would be emitted from her joints and she would stop what she was doing to adjust the slightly jammed joints before continuing her assigned work. As long as the puppet could still move, it did not matter to me, since it was what might be expected from a dumped puppet.
It had never occurred to me that this day would come; the day where there would be another life in my house. Ever since that b*****d, who had made me exist in this world, left without a word, I had hated people. Betrayal was their past time and survival was for the fittest. Like it or not, I had to struggle to survive.
I kept my gaze at her; my emerald shards dragged along her stiff body. Without thinking, I got up from the chair, strode across the kitchen and loomed behind her. Upon seeing my shadow cast on her, she stopped wiping the counter and glanced at me, anxious. None too gently, I grabbed her right hand and brought it near my face to examine. The fingers were so artificial, each joint mechanical that I could peer into the holes and made out various tiny wire-like things.
I ignored her stuttered attempt to ask what I was doing and, her hand still in my left hand; I reached out my other hand and touched her face. She jumped in surprise of the sudden closeness and threw her mouth shut, obviously frightened. I thumbed her smooth cheek and the coldness seeped through my skin. The chillness made her as if a living corpse.
“Can you feel my touch?” I voiced out absent-mindedly while caressing her face.
She hesitated for a while, “…I can’t feel anything…” her gaze fell to the floor, breaking the eye contact, “I don’t know what feeling is…” her voice trailed off into silence.
The ticking of the clock dominated the atmosphere, sounding blaring in my ears. An invisible chain tightened around my chest, clamping my heart, making breathing an arduous task. The pit of my stomach began to boil and clench. A nauseous sensation washed over me. How did it feel to not be able to feel? A question that I could never answer; nor could a puppet answer because it had never felt how it was to be able to feel.
“…Then you won’t be able to feel this, will you?” slowly bending down, I pressed my lips on her cold stiff ones. She flinched in surprise but did nothing to resist. The kiss lasted short, and I pulled away.
A cold painful kiss…
She gazed up at me with those wide honey-brown orbs, surprised by the sudden action.
Hating humans; loving puppets… is this right?
“Do you feel anything here?” I touched her chest lightly, the place where a heart should be. Instead, a silent hollow sounded. No heartbeat. But it did not matter. As long as she was still alive, nothing mattered. “Stay by my side. Don’t ever leave me.” I ruffled her hair and strode away.
If only I had waited for her to reply, I would not have been this panic.
Returning home from school, I found her sprawled on the floor, face upwards, eyes shut. She lied in that same position, silent as death. The first thought that came across me was, ‘Is he asleep?’ But my logic countered, ‘Puppets do not sleep.’ I could feel my stomach clenching, ready to throw out whatever was inside me.
“Hey…” my calm tone surprised me. Was not I supposed to be worried? I stepped slowly to her, as if afraid to wake her up. But would she…? “…Wake up.”
Kneeling down, I slid my hand behind her head, the dark brown hair soft to my touch. With gentleness I never thought I possessed, I cradled her body in my arms, pressing her tightly to me. The coldness of her body sipped through my attire and pricked my skin like ice shards.
“Stay by my side. Don’t ever leave me.” Now only did I realize that I never heard an answer to that command.
I glanced down into honey-brown eyes which had always stared up at me. I could not describe the sudden electric spark that shocked through me. Should I call it gladness or relief? This feeling that rushed into me.
“Is something the matter?” upon realizing where she was, she sat up on her own, leaving my arms. Then she switched her attention back to me, gazing with concern I never received.
“Didn’t I tell you?” the words tight in my throat, “Not to ever leave me?”
She appeared confused for a while before recalling previous events. “I-I’m sorry! I w-was out for a bit!” she stuttered and began to fidget. Those actions that I found amusing just the day before did not amuse me now.
“What do you mean by out? Puppets don’t need any sleep.” I did not realize that I spoke those words with monotone. Normal people would have been more emotional in this kind of situations. But I’m not normal, am I?
“T-that…” she dropped her gaze onto the floor and did not say anything. I was not the most patient person and I grabbed her cold hand, “Spill it, puppet.”
She looked up at me for a brief moment but decided that the floor was much more interesting.
“This is an order,” I growled and he flinched. She appeared doubting but following my command, she lowered her head so that her bangs covered her eyes, and she began her short story.
She was created seventeen years ago, in a secluded area of the country. She was told, by her creator, what she was: a puppet. And she was born to follow and complete orders. Rebels were forbidden and feelings impossible. Even if her limbs were broken, slashed, chopped or whatever, she would still move if her head was still intact. However, she had a lifespan… that was a little near eighteen years…
At the beginning of her seventeenth year, she had slipped out of consciousness for the first time. That was the sign that she was nearing her end. Shocked by the fainted puppet, her owner at that time had thrown her away; assuming that she was already over. She was then picked up by a second owner and she had been scared when she blacked out again. She was then thrown out for incompetence. One after another, each new owner would throw her away upon encountering with one or two of her ‘out’s which were growing more frequent. She could not be labelled as ‘second-hand’. But more than that…
“…and finally, you found me, sir.”
I stared at her head, unable to identify the strings of emotions that crept up on me throughout her story; a story I had never listened to, a story I did not want to believe.
“…I…” she began in a whisper, “…I was created on the 21st of December… that is… less than two weeks time… I may di-stop moving earlier… I don’t know…”
She could not use the word ‘die; since she was not a living being. Was she? Was she not?
“Isn’t there… any way to prevent your end…?” I was not thinking when I said that. She shot her head up as if surprised by my words; but yes, she was.
“Ar-aren’t you going to throw me out, sir?”
“Why would I?” a blunt answer. Her face showed how shocked she was. Damn the creator. If this was not a feeling, then what was it? The aftershock subsided and when she remembered my original question, she shook her head lightly.
“No… there’s no way to prevent my end. Everything has its end, even a human,” a sad smile crossed her face; but a smile nevertheless, “This is the only thing that I have which resemblances a human: the end. And I’m happy at the least…”
Ain’t I right? ******** the creator and her ‘feelings are impossible’ statement. This puppet here is feeling happy. I’m surprised that such an idiot could create a living puppet. A living being doesn’t mean that flesh and blood are necessary. As long as it has a soul, it is alive…
“But still…” her soft voice broke my train of thoughts, “still… I really want to be human… I want to know what sleeping is… what eating is…what feeling is… and I really want to feel your touch, sir.” Those pleading eyes that held unfelt pain locked with my blank emerald ones.
“Through my seventeen years of life, I know that we kiss someone that we like. And I really like you, sir. You are the first person to have treated me so kindly. All my previous owners used me as a tool to do risky life and death jobs. But you did not…” her voice trailed off into murmurs, “…I really want to be human…”
I really want you to be human too… I gazed at her, unable to say anything. What should I feel? When I know the deadline; literally the deadline, the end line? I could not distinguish the thousands of emotions that swirled inside me. One was nauseous, ready to throw up. Two was roaring, eager to grab some firearms and shoot randomly. And so many others, I could not sort them out. Instead, I did what my instinct told me to. I pulled her into an embrace.
“…That Creator is a real idiot…”
I raised her puzzled face to me, and bending down, I kissed her pale cold lips.
Such a painful love…
15th of December…
She was out again. This time in the morning. I found her on the kitchen floor. The talk we had had been engraved in my mind so clearly that I had nightmares of it. And seeing her sprawled on the floor did nothing to ease my nervousness. In a split second, I was by her side. I had no idea what I had to do to wake her, so I just sat there; her in my arms, waiting.
I had never felt so powerless before. There was not a single thing I could do to help her. I knew that fact very well, but a small part of me wanted to do something, anything. It was like fighting a losing battle. I sat on the kitchen floor, cradling her for what felt like three hours until she opened her eyes.
She had not ended. Not yet…
18th of December…
Her series of going ‘out’ was becoming much more frequent recently. In a day, she could fall unconscious at least four times, each lasting for more than three hours. Some days, it felt as if she was never awake. Many times I thought that she had ended, but I refused to believe. And she opened her eyes.
Ain’t I right?
20th of December…
“Hey… tonight come with me to bed.”
She glanced up at me, “…But I do not sleep…”
“Never mind. Just stay by my side.”
20th of December. Just a day before… before the end…
One arm draped around her and the other under my head. We stared into each other’s eyes, not knowing what to say but knowing that this was our last meeting.
I gave a small ‘Hm?’ as a reply.
“Do you believe in reincarnation?”
Reincarnation, huh? That would be a miracle.
“No,” was my answer, “but if it existed and you reincarnated… I’ll make sure that I’m your first owner. And I will never throw you away.”
She looked dumbfounded, but a genuine happy smile crossed her lips, “Thank you, sir.”
“Do you… what is your name?”
Her eyes began to flutter shut, “…Delilah… Baker…”
“I’m George Wills…”
He gazed up at me and with what seemed like her final strength, she pressed her lips gently against mine. And he whimpered, “I love you, Mr. Wills...”
Those three words… for me… from her…
“I love you too, Delilah…”
I could feel her smile against my lips…
21st of December…
I lay unmoving on the bed; her body pressed tightly against me. The silence was sickening but I did nothing. Just stayed there. Her body was stiff and eyes closed.
Never would she wake up again… Never would I see her smile again…
Reincarnation? Don’t ******** with me. There’s no such thing.
…But why is it me? Who should fall for such a painful love?
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