Are bug eyes ugly
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Prologue: The first birth
This story is something different, it's about the attempt to create perfect people. But as with every experiment, there are also failures - and these failures are quickly chased onto the street and simply exposed to all dangers there. Their names are Alpha to Omega. Most of them are dead, but Alpha, Beta, and Gamma have found a way to give their lives meaning. They want to kill their creator, who calls himself Louis. And so they travel to their "place of birth" with a pistol in their handbag to do what could save innocent humanity from immortal, beautiful, all-devouring conspecifics. You have learned to deal with losses - but will your knowledge of the evil be enough? Can they absorb so much bad that they don't threaten to burst afterwards? They are pushing the limits of their abilities. And not without severe blows. I look forward to your comments! Hannah Molkenthin
The phosphorescent jade that painted a deer's head on the ceiling bathed the laboratory in a greenish light. He could hardly take his eyes off it. It had taken two years to finish looking for the right material, and another half to get it used. The tiny LED lights cast into the gemstone continued to do their job after twenty years. He didn't care about the price.
"We're ready, sir." He whirled around and looked into the submissive face of one of his workers. He had ducked his head and the huge eyes behind the horn-rimmed glasses were staring fearfully. They all obeyed his orders. He didn't even have to pay her well enough for it. The only thing he had managed financially was the snow-white lab coat that adorned each of them. And the contents of the test tubes that were steaming in their holders on the stone walls. He had never understood science, but he had his bug-eyed dogs for that. Each of them looked almost confusingly similar to the other. They were all the same. Bald head, thick glasses, white coat. They had adjusted to each other. In the background one of them called for the placenta.
Stressedly bored, just not to show his excitement, he looked back at the glass ball, which was tailor-made for the underground vaulted chamber, which stood in the middle of the stone hall. Thousands of thin cables ran from her base and led into several beeping metal boxes. Even for the most natural in the world, modern technology could not be ruled out. No, he corrected himself, it's not natural. And that's why you're here, Louis. To get rich with your idea. You will grow up, Louis, and you will forget all those loyal dogs who would kiss the hem of your jacket if you made them do it. They follow you on your word. They are afraid of you, and fear was always something that fascinated him. It was so easy to bring about. It was harder to inflict on yourself.
"Should - should I pull the start lever, sir?" He was confused. Naturally. He hadn't answered and now he wondered why.
"If you feel like it," he sighed now, eager to see his reaction.
"B-Please, sir, yes or no?" He had known.
The smock pulled away, back arched, and walked over to the largest machine of them all. A red lever switch was built into it. When he pushed it down with a brief hesitation, a jerk went through the dome. It too had a light green tinge, which clearly came from the image of the deer above her. Several workers now nervously adjusted their glasses, dabbed the sweat from their foreheads, even made the sign of the cross and wished each other good luck. The egg cell.
His gaze, which had previously been on his dogs with amusement, swiveled to a man who carried a white plastic tray to the dome, opened the barely visible door inside and put on rubber gloves to place a barely visible grain on the gray couch with tweezers to place that stood in front of him. He had to put it down exactly right to the millimeter, otherwise all the work would be in vain. He felt himself trembling and had to smile. Anxiety. But it worked.
Relieved, the tray carrier scurried back out of the sphere to push the artificial placenta on wheels into it. The pride of the whole laboratory. It contained nutrients, collected in containers from which cables also came off. It had to be just the right dose. The egg cell, which did not yet have an umbilical cord, had to be connected to the cables with a needle-fine cord in order to mature. Artificial life. Perfect life. The pride swelled his chest. He was the creator of people. Immaculate people. He was a god.
Everything had to be done quickly now. Come on, dog. Get out there. I need you alive After the man had left the dome, he cast an unconvinced look back at the bed on which the fertilized egg was lying. The air trapped in the dome had the same properties as amniotic fluid. It had taken them forever to come up with the right formula. It had to be natural, but the cell couldn't swim around wildly either.
"Three. Two. One."
Red light. The dome filled with steam. You couldn't see the egg grow into an embryo, a fetus, an infant, until it finally matured into a toddler - and then beyond. He didn't want to see it either. The result of ten years of work, ten years in a musty vaulted cellar in which a laboratory was only growing slowly, was more important to him: ten years.
And he was the father of a perfect person. He would never be sick, never age, never die. He had immeasurable knowledge in his brain from birth, and so it was with the other egg cells that were already waiting in their test tubes to finally wake up. They spoke English, French and German, understood the theory of relativity and, without ever having done anything, had a very individual consumption of interests.
“Sir, maturation is complete. It's a girl. ”A girl. When he realized that he had closed his eyes, he opened them ecstatically and took a step towards the now-enlightened dome.
"And? Did everything go smoothly? "
"Um ... sir ... there was a problem. The genes weren't enough. ”The dog bowed its head and stared at its feet in shame, as if expecting a blow.
"What do you mean?" He asked sharply. He walked quickly to the dome, unlocked it, and entered.
There was no longer any unsavory egg on the couch. There was a young woman lying there, maybe seventeen or eighteen years old in appearance, naked, but still with wide eyes - his first child. She was good after all.
"And where is the problem, if you please?"
"Your eyes, sir." Shortly before he had spoken, he too recognized the mistake. Under her right eye, almost invisible by a shadow, was another crippled eye. Tri-eye.
He almost spat in disgust.
"Bullshit. Correct that. Come on, wake her up, shoo her out into the street. But do you put on something beforehand. Maybe one of you has a lab coat to give away? Call her Alpha. If something like that happens again, the alphabet just rattles down, is that clear? ”His voice became more and more angry, more and more gruff. He was angry. He hadn't planned something like this to happen.
Chapter 1: The Man Maker
The sunglasses were like poison. She saw almost nothing. She almost hit the cobblestone twice already, just because it was too dark through those glasses. It was winter. People stared at her in disbelief that she was wearing something like this. Maybe at least they thought she was just an epileptic. She would have given anything to just be that way. The bag she was holding made her step difficult. She weighed a lot. But that was good. It meant it was enough.
Some of the threads of her coat dangled from below and dragged on the icy floor. She urgently needed to sew it. Even the lining was cracked open and actually the thing didn't really warm anymore, but it was better than nothing. The soles slowly peeled off the boots and slobbered up and down with every step like flip-flops. She stumbled, caught her breath in shock, and then recovered. Her heart pounded as she slowly calmed down. She had to go home.
The narrow alley she ended up in was filthy and there was a pile of rubbish piled up at every house. Only one not. On the house with the broken window. She stopped in front of it, awkwardly fingered the bent hairpin from her deep pocket and put it in the lock. They had realized some time ago that it was wiser to go through the front door rather than climb through the window every time. That only drew unpleasant looks. And they couldn't use looks at all. The door creaked. It was wrongly on its hinges again. She had to take care of it.
"I'm back!" She hadn't even unbuttoned her jacket completely, and he was already standing in front of her. Beta.
"Did you get something to eat?" He asked and looked at her carefully while he took the bag from her stiff hand. "Wow. That's a lot this time. "
"Yeah," she sighed, hung her coat on the hook and slipped her shoes off her feet. It was clearly too dark in here, even without glasses. She took it off her nose and blinked in relief.
"You have snow in your hair." Involuntarily she ran a hand over her curls. "Oh."
"Wait, I'll do this for you." Beta put the bag down and held out her hand to her. She had to pull herself together not to flinch. She actually hated being touched.
She followed him with her limbs burning with the cold and sat down in a tattered armchair. Inwardly she counted what she had found. Three apples. Slightly moldy bread. A cold half chicken. A couple of half-empty spice jars. A yogurt two days past the date. Two bottles of milk. A small piece of butter wrapped in cling film that probably wouldn't come off very easily. A chilled chocolate Santa Claus that Beta put aside with a grin. Two candles on which most of the wax had already overflowed on all sides.
"No water," he stated absently.
"You didn't bring any water with you." Beta packed everything up again except for the candles and didn't take her eyes off them. Amazed, she crossed her arms.
“We have tap water. Or have you turned it off in the meantime? ”The house had belonged to an old woman. She had died a few months ago, but everything was as it was, except for a few more cobwebs, perhaps. And they had taken advantage of that.
"N-no," Beta replied, shaking her head. “But they add something to it. It smells strange. "
Inadvertently she had to stare at his nose. If he smelled anything, it was true. He had come out of the lab after her, but it had gotten worse than her. Pinocchio, Louis had said. That asshole. He wanted them to know his name. He wanted them to know everything. From the names of their "siblings" to the times when a new failure was created.
But lately - nothing more. They used to jump up as if stung by a tarantula, feeling a hot pain in their head when Louis bent over another flawed body, cursing. But everything now seemed to be going according to his wishes. But they hated him more than anything.
The man maker. The life creator. He had given himself many names. But no one except his "children" knew who he really was. A sewer rat who experimented on perverted things in basement laboratories. But it was of no use to them. There was nothing they could do about him. They didn't even know where his lab was anymore.
"Ah," she said, looking at the scratched tabletop. "I'm sorry, Beta."
"Hey." He came around the table, crouched in front of her and searched her gaze.
"It's my fault. I should have told you. ”He straightened up, worried.
“You look exhausted. I better not ask where you've been. Do you want to lie down I'll bring you something up afterwards if you want. ”With his caring he made her smile every time.
“Thank you, Beta. But not now. I'm more sane than you think. ”She got up and stood there, undecided. Then her eyes fell on the bag.
"I'll take this to the kitchen." He nodded and put his hands in his pockets.
Chapter 2: Copy Trash
When Alpha rushed out, he looked after her. Something was bothering her. He got down on his knees, took the candles in both hands, and placed them in the center of the table. He didn't even know if they still had a lighter or something. Tomorrow was the first Advent. She had thought of it. Not quite winter yet, but he always counted December as that time of the year. Especially this year when it was already so cold. His hair fell on his forehead as he straightened his legs again. He brushed the stubborn strand aside and promptly brushed his nose. He groaned. Sometimes, no, always, she was in the way. It was too big. Much too big. A huge lump in the middle of his face. Sometimes when he stood in front of the mirror he wondered if he would have looked better without her.
It was different with Alpha. She was beautiful with and without her superfluous eye. With her, Louis had done almost everything right. When he looked at her, he imagined that the white sheen on her right side wasn't a retina, but a melted marble. Then it was much better. Of course he didn't say anything to Alpha. She didn't believe in any improper embellishments. "It's no use for me anyway, Beta." He heard her putting the food in the fridge in the cool kitchen. “We can just cut away the remains of mold from the bread, what do you think of that?” She shouted. “If you think so,” he replied. They both had to think the same thing. Then there is not much left of the bread.
The kitchen was the only room in the house that had electricity. The shabby, ugly lamp on the ceiling produced a dim light that always made him sleepy. And it attracted pesky flies. He took the few steps towards the stairs that led to the upper floor, took one last look back, and then climbed it step by step. It was so dark that he was afraid he would slip. There was a terrible creak at every step. At least they would hear the burglar stupid enough to fall into an already smashed window, through which the cold air hissed in like a snake. The heating failed. Sometimes they had to sit on the sofa in winter jackets.
Upstairs was the bedroom and a bath where the basin was shaped like a clam. Alpha thought she looked like that. He was more of the opinion that it looked like half a beehive. He preferred a shell, but the bedroom was warm when he stepped inside. Most of the time they kept his door locked so that at least they wouldn't have to freeze there. Its windows were intact, there were no drafts. Still, he wrapped his arms around his torso as soon as he stood on the carpet that led to the only bed. His blankets were full of holes, his curtains were moth-eaten and it was very difficult to sleep in them for two. When Alpha went to bed before him, he would make himself comfortable on the sofa on some evenings to make her more comfortable. She was more than just a sister to him. She was a friend. And of more value to him than the silver jewelry they had once found downstairs in a dresser and from which they had bought clothes. The guy at the pawn shop had looked pretty good when he came into his pawn shop in the middle of summer with a scarf in front of his face. Otherwise he did not dare to go out into the street. Some people asked her if they'd like to perform in their circus, and he didn't want Alpha to do that. She was too sensitive.
Sometimes he wondered if Louis really intended to keep them together before his little experiment went wrong. The monsters he'd created weren't even good for a variety show. They were like copier junk, like the first paper jam in a new printer; he had clenched his fist. Slowly his fingers broke apart, limb by limb, until they only trembled slightly. He remembered Alpha singing softly before going to sleep. It's all good beta. Calm down. He is not worth it.
The window behind the bed showed a slightly darkened sky. Alpha called him for dinner. He heard her voice echo through the walls. "Beta? Where are you again? "
"I'm coming." He tore himself away.
Chapter 3: Spanish Songs
They ate in silence. She didn't know what Beta had been looking for upstairs, and she didn't want to confront him; the slimy porridge she'd mixed was blurring before her eyes. Not again. Her third eye was blind and pulled one of the others with it. They were grown together tightly, but the eyelid was only there for one of them, and even that wasn't working properly. So the superfluous, ugly thing underneath had long since dried up.
She put the spoon down resignedly. It didn't make sense. Exhausted, she rubbed her aching forehead. She felt Beta's eyes on her, but said nothing. He knew too well what was causing her migraines. But they had no means against it. Stealing from pharmacies was not as easy as stealing from a small supermarket with stalls outside and no surveillance cameras.
Beta also lowered his cutlery, but not because he was sick, but because his plate was empty. He glanced at her barely touched food and she pushed it over to him. He continued to eat and gave her a thankful look. They rarely got anything good. As he raised the spoon to his mouth, over and over, she watched him with her head propped on her hand and her eyes half closed. The only thing that made him really unattractive was his nose. It made up half of his face and hung down in a teardrop shape. Despite the huge frame on his head, he had normal nostrils, not the elongated things old men sometimes had.
He was handsome. His caramel colored hair didn't even have to be combed to make that indisputable. He had recently started wearing an earring that flashed in the dull light of the kitchen, as did his eyes, which almost made her forget that he was really just her brother. But just as basically you couldn't call them siblings. The bond that welded them together was far tighter.
"Are you finished?" She asked quietly after a few minutes in which she had wished more and more that these headaches would finally stop. Beta nodded. “I'm washing up today. You're too pale for me Go up. ”She wanted to shake her head, but groaned in pain. "No, Beta," she managed. “Whenever you say that, you sleep on the couch afterwards. You're going to get God knows something from that damned window. ”He got up and went to the sink with the dirty plates. The faint rustling of the faucet boomed in her skull like a hammer drill. "But then at least you sleep peacefully," he contradicted.
It took her a while to even come up with a counter-argument. She just didn't want to be alone. "But ... I'm scared up there," she finally whispered, even if even she wasn't convinced herself. "It's always so dark - and I hear noises."
"It's just me." Beta scrubbed the ceramic clean with a rag. “You don't need to be afraid. But if you feel so bad again, it would really be better if I stay with you. "
She finally closed her eyes and silently thanked God. "Man, am I tired ..." He turned off the tap. She heard him putting the plates back in the cupboard, with a clang much too loud for her ears that made her jump. "Come on, I'll take you up." She didn't argue as he gently pulled her off the chair and pushed her through the cold house with one hand on her back. She had a few doubts as to whether she would even be able to climb the stairs, but Beta threw an arm around her waist and she suspected a smile on his lips as her head fell against his shoulder. He was right. He really didn't want to know where she had been today.
She half noticed that he was lifting her up on the bed in the bedroom and squeezing into next to her. "Wait," she mumbled and rolled down again. “I'll change my clothes for a moment. He did her a favor and didn't look as she slipped the zipper of her dress down and dropped the hideously flowered thing that originally belonged to the old woman on a nearby chair. The nightgown, which was hanging on a hanger on the closet door, smelled of mothballs and the tip of it scratched her bare legs horribly. She gathered her dark blonde locks by her hair and twisted them into a tight bun. She had found some clips in the old lady's closet and decided that they would only be good for her crow's nest. There were also some exotic ones. So she picked out a Chinese hair stick, tucked it into her knot and crawled back to Beta.
"I'm back," she breathed. He leaned his head on the pillows, which after all these years still smelled of the strong perfume of which there were still three bottles on the bedside table. "I noticed." For a while they were too tired to say anything. Then Beta broke the silence. "Alpha?"
"Mmh?" She turned to him.
"Are you singing the song again?"
A year ago, despite his protests, she had been to a fair with him. The gypsy who had begged for some change between the shooting galleries had sung it. His lyrics were Spanish, she didn't really understand a word, but his melody was as bittersweet as honey, such leaden words with an emphasis on the consonants. She didn't know herself how she had managed to memorize this song. Maybe because it had nothing to do with what Louis had filled their brains with. She didn't even speak the language. And that was fascinating. The will to learn something else, something strange, perhaps even forbidden, had been so strong that she had recited it over and over since that day.
His nose almost touched hers as she slowly nodded. His eyes were full of delight when she sat up and threw the covers off her legs to go to the window. The moon shone through, almost full. Beautiful. His eyes shone with joy or with tears, she didn't know, but her voice was so low that she almost couldn't hear herself. She was too scared to spank something. It wasn't until the chorus that she dared to sing a little stronger. Betaâ € ™ s mouth was open now. He loved it when she sang.
Chapter 4: Dreams
It could sound so smoky when she wanted to. He had never heard her sing so beautifully before. Well, yes, sometimes even very well - but never perfect. And now she made up for it all.
He was proud of her. His emotions fluttered, and he only realized he was crying when she had finished and came back to him and wiped a loose tear from the corner of his eye.
Only fleetingly, like the most normal gesture in the world. But he couldn't get this picture away, this picture, Alpha in front of the window, in a white dress that was a bit big but no longer reminded anyone that someone had died in it, this beautiful girl with the hair pinned up slowly dissolved again, and behind him the almost full moon, which was reflected in her eyes.
She was lying next to him again. Her hand was dangerously close to her unprotected eye. Was she asleep yet? She breathed evenly and calmly. He didn't hesitate, put his fingers around her and pushed them down a little further.
She smacked her lips in her sleep, her foot twitched under the covers, but otherwise she remained calm.
Her fingernails dug into the pillowcase. Could it be that she was dreaming badly?
He had known her for two years, namely since he himself was expelled from the laboratory and found her on the street, a poor, filthy thing, totally thin and penniless, but it seemed to him that he knew next to nothing about you. He had had this feeling for a few days and he didn't like it at all.
What was she dreaming? Did she dream of turning the fat neck on Louis? If so, then he envied her dream.
Something he generally envied her for.
When he asked, she would tell him what she had dreamed. What she saw.
Her feeling in dreams was very pronounced. They didn't know whether that was Louis's mistake, too, or whether it was deliberate. Perhaps their sleeping senses were dangerous.
She could become unpredictable if someone woke her up. She could thrash. To step. Scratch.
He had seen it once. It was the morning after the worst evening she had ever known. He didn't know what had happened to her. When she got home she had a huge bruise on her cheek.
Her sunglasses were gone. In her hand she was holding a bottle of beer, already half empty, and it staggered so hard that, despite his arm, it slammed against the bottom step of the stairs. She had lain there and cried all the time. She hadn't wanted to calm down until she finally fell asleep.
He had carried her to bed and stayed on the sofa.
The next morning she just didn't wake up. He had made coffee, bitter, but it was coffee and you could still dissolve an aspirin in it if they found one,
and really wanted to see her face when she stomped down and scolded so loudly that the neighbors would also notice, who would probably ask themselves
who the hell was there in the next house. But she just didn't come. It was a long time coming. And he, as clueless as he had been, went up to where she had slept and he walked over to her and grabbed her shoulder.
He regretted that. Still.
One scar on the back and many in the heart. He had never known her. He realized that.
He suddenly realized that she herself didn't know what was happening to her. That was what made her cold.
The reason she got drunk back then. She felt it. She felt it and hadn't told him.
Chapter 5: Television
Beta was still asleep when she woke up.
Most of the time he slept when she finally got up. He looked peaceful. He had his hand under his cheek, his head turned to one side and was gently blowing his breath into her throat.
She had to stroke his cheek briefly as she swung herself carefully out of bed and grabbed the musty, heavy dressing gown that was lying on the carpet. She tied the belt around her hips, sighed softly when she realized she was thinning again, and left the bedroom. She really couldn't afford to look in the mirror now, she probably looked terrible. Today was the first Advent. She had to look pretty though, at least for Beta. Every time she tried, and every day, his look said he thought she was pretty.
She thought it was kind of weird. But she liked it.
The living room was a cold chamber compared to the bedroom. Soon, even if the refrigerator would give up the ghost, you could just put all your things on the table, it wouldn't make any difference.
The small, chubby television that dimmed on the sideboard next to a purple vase and a china doll with a puffy hat was still eye-catching, but she had never tried to turn it on.
There was too much fear of bills, numbers that would trigger fainting fits even without the currency symbol, stupid questions from the electricity companies because officially nobody lived in this house anymore. But from that point of view, they shouldn't use the kitchen lamp either.
She gave herself a jerk.
The on button just below the screen was the size of one of Beta's shirt buttons.
The shirts were kept in good order by the husband of the deceased woman. He must have gone before her, otherwise there wouldn't be so many untouched things and photos of him here. The house had been derelict when she and Beta first came here. Everything was just as the woman had left it. With a thick layer of dust on top. Sometimes she felt the need to get to know this woman. She felt she knew too few people. She wasn't like Beta, who felt it was enough for her to be there. She wanted to talk to friends, several friends, just like that on the street and ask for the time. She didn't know it any differently than this game of hide and seek. She had nothing to long for except for Beta when she was back on her forays into town.
She didn't tell him anything about what she was looking for there. It would only make him sad.
The television cracked and rustled. A voice screamed, a pistol cracked, and above her she heard Beta fall out of bed, startled, and hit the floor with a thud.
"The TV works," she called up to him.
"Don't worry, it's just a movie!"
A film. She knew what that word meant, but had nothing to do with it. No picture.
No smell, Beta would say.
No feeling under the fingers. No location. Just nothing.
"Tell me, are you crazy?" Beta rumbled down the stairs, opened her mouth to say something else - and paused in surprise when he saw the picture on the screen. His hair was sticking out, his shirt was wrinkled and his left sock was only half hanging from his foot. "You ... you got it done?"
“There wasn't much that could be done. I just had to turn it on. "
Beta let herself fall back onto the sofa without taking her eyes off the guy in black and white who was just about to shoot something.
"That's ... crazy."
Smiling, she sat down next to him and took the remote control that was on the coffee table.
"Just imagine. You and me. We're in a big house. We hear children playing upstairs. Sing your wife in the bathroom. "
He winced for whatever reason.
"My husband is at work and wants to buy me a nice dress afterwards ... and we sit in the living room, as old friends, and watch TV."
“That… can never be, Alpha. And you know that."
His gaze was fixed on the screen, but he swallowed and something glittered in his blue eyes. "It's never real."
She sighed and zapped skillfully through the channels. A thriller, a report, an animal film about lions. Bingo.
"Let me dream, Beta."
He didn't reply, but only because the dripping, velvety voice in the background was telling something about the alpha male. "Which of us is the alpha male, you or me?" He whispered in her ear.
“I am alpha. You are the male. We're the alpha male. ”She put her head on his shoulder.
"I wish so much that my dream will come true."
"Which one?" It was little more than a breath.
“The one in which I have children. And you a beautiful woman. I am a man. We both have a life. ”The collar of his shirt poked into her nose.
"Alpha ..." Beta pushed her head away. She looked at him disappointed. His eyes were full of something she couldn't place. But it was definitely not joy.
“I can't do this, Alpha. I can't listen to your dreams if I don't even know what you do during the day. "
So that was it. Suddenly she was all the same coolness again.
"You're joking, right?"
"What shouldn't I be serious?"
Ooooh, how she hated this ignorant being.
"You seriously want to poke at me about what I do every day."
"Get it, Beta!" The darkness around her could hardly emphasize how desperate she was. “I need my space! I need to know what's going on out there, I don't want to sit around all day and do nothing ... "
Excuses. She always hated lying.
But it was only for his own good.
Beta was silent for a moment, then said with a kind of insulted finality:
“You think I'm a couch potato. You really think I'm a couch potato.
I don't believe it ... Alpha, if I could, I would go out and enjoy life too! But unfortunately there is such a thing on my face that makes it really difficult! "
"That ... I didn't mean that at all ... Oh God, Beta, I ... I think I'm going crazy."
She let her head sink into her hands and massaged her temples.
"I am sorry. You're welcome. Just believe me. "
She heard him sigh. "I do not have another choice."
Please, please believe me, because I know better Beta.
"Should - should I light a candle?"
"There should be a pack of matches on the kitchen table," she said softly, turning red. She hated herself for how she hated herself for ...
She really wanted to tell him everything. She had to someday anyway. But if her plan worked, then ... it would soon be too late.
Chapter 6: Gamma
He still didn't believe her.
Part of him trusted her, but the other made him think of the long scar. You shouldn't trust her blindly, Beta. We saw what that led to.
He had never known her. The dressing gown she was wearing, the nightgown she had sung in the previous night, it all suddenly seemed so strange to him.
He went into the kitchen to get the tattered packet of matches. They were slightly soaked, I don't know where she got them from, but the ends were dry.
The candle's wick was so short it took it a while to even hit it.
"It won't burn for long," he stated curtly.
Alpha glanced at him from the sofa.
“It looks pretty festive. Last year we didn't have any candles. "
“We still need two more for a real Advent wreath,” he reminded him and ran his hand through his hair.
"It doesn't have to be a real one, we can just put the things up in a square or ..."
"Beta," she interrupted. “If you let me, I'll steal one from us. But only if you want."
He looked at her doubtfully. “Let's just get the other candles. I don't want you to take risks. "
I always worry when you're gone and I don't know where you are, Alpha.
She lowered her eyes - and they both started
when the doorbell rang.
Nobody knew they were here. Unless it had become too colorful for the neighbors lately and they had called the police. Anyone who was half sane saw the light burning in the kitchen and their silhouettes in front of the windows -
oh god, had they been stupid. They had believed in people's naivete, hoping it would go away - and now it was too late.
Alpha watched frightened as he walked slowly, careful not to make any noise, to the dresser, opened the top drawer, and took out a pistol.
"Beta! Are you crazy?"
He didn't reply, just silently charged it with the cartridges lying next to it and pointed it at the front door.
"Don't do that, Beta, who knows who that is ... oh please, don't kill her!" She had got up from the sofa and stood behind him. In the meantime he had crept to the door, turned to her for a moment, put his index finger, which was not on the shutter button, to his lips as a warning, and whipped around again when someone started knocking on the outside of the wood.
"Hello! Hello! Is there nobody there? "
A woman's voice. He lowered the gun. Had anyone else with this woman, she would have been heard. And besides, he had vowed not to harm women or children.
"Don't open up! We can pretend we're not there! ”Alpha whispered desperately and clung to his arm. He almost shook her off on instinct.
"No." He shook his head. "No. Either we die, rot in this accursed house - or we face it. "
And with that he turned the handle.
Alpha dropped her head on his shoulder. But he stared at the figure in disbelief
who now stepped slowly up the two steps into the hallway and examined them both closely.
It was a woman, maybe in her twenties, in a light brown parka. She had an angular face and a dark ponytail. In the darkness he could only vaguely see her face, and especially not her eyes, which he would regret afterwards. But the woman only took off her scarf, hung it on the coat rack and peeled off her jacket without a word. Her gaze kept sliding to the ready-to-use pistol in his hand.
"Who are you? What do you want from us? ”He asked urgently and raised it again, which forced a suppressed cry from Alpha. He put his free arm around her protectively and she began to sob into his shirt. She was afraid.
"My name is Emma," the woman finally answered in a scratchy voice. He heard her swallow as he still did not lower the pistol but instead closed the door. "I wanted to meet you."
"And why?" He didn't trust her. She smelled of an expensive perfume, a terribly pink deodorant, of something that made his nose itchy.
"They're alpha and beta," said Emma. He could tell that it was difficult for her to hold back from raising her hands above her head.
"And you are my siblings."
And then - clack. One of her eyes fell in the opposite direction from him,
rolled over to Alpha, who was trembling by his side, and elicited a startled shriek. She clapped her hands over her mouth and watched as breathlessly as he, as her eyes swam back and forth independently of their counterpart on the other half of her face and inspected everything.
It was a failure.
"I call myself Emma, but only because Gamma and Emma sound almost the same," explained the woman, almost bored, strolling into the living room, followed by the barrel of the gun. She smiled mildly,
when she noticed this. “You can take them down.
I won't hurt you. As well as? Unlike you, I am unarmed. "
She let herself fall on the armchair and looked around happily. “There are not many people who were offended and sent Louis onto the street and who built up a reasonably contemplative life.
I've followed the history of almost every one of them - Delta to Psi are all dead, frozen to death, starved to death, perished by chemicals of some kind, all sorts of things. Those who are still alive fight for this. So I can only congratulate you. ”Again she looked them both up and down. After a little pause, she continued. “I managed to build an existence for myself. My… minor handicap is easy to hide, even after I've had to train hard. I have a job, a nice apartment, a friend who loves me. I think I'm the only one with that, ”she added quietly.
Alpha took an uncertain breath. She had clung to his top and couldn't take her eyes off the stranger. He hadn't dared step forward himself for fear he might accidentally pull the trigger.
"Allow me a question." Emma or Gamma, whatever, cocked her head. A black fishnet dress had emerged under the jacket, which she was now smoothing out. “Which of you is Alpha? The first?"
"I - that's me." Alpha pushed away from him, apparently still in a panic. Her eyes were wide as she walked slowly towards the stranger, who followed her movements like a hungry tiger of its prey. Alpha sank down on the couch. "I'm Alpha."
"I see you have ... an eye condition ... like me."
There was a fake smile on her face.
"Alpha, get out of there." His voice sounded firmer than he'd hoped.
"Get off this creature."
That got a resounding laugh from Gamma. Considering the fact that she could still get a bullet in the head at any moment, he thought it was pretty pathetic. "That's what the right one says!" She laughed.
He jerked his head towards the exit. "Get out of here, or ..."
"Or what?" Challenge, Beta. Now don't say anything wrong.
"Or I'll blow your ugly skull off," he hissed.
“You wouldn't dare do that, kid. I would turn your little friend's neck first. "
"Then you would have twice deserved to die."
"Beta." Alpha gave him a reprimanding look, even if there were still tears on her face. "Don't damn it."
"What? Shall we consider this bitch a guest, or what? ”His grip on the metal tightened. "I thought you would think just like me!"
Her look said it all. Well You thought wrong, my friend.
"Speaking of guests ..." Gamma's spinning eyes fixed him.
“I don't mean to be rude, but first of all, I don't feel any hospitality here, and secondly, I'm thirsty. Do you happen to have a glass of water? "
“In theory, yes, but I doubt that you like to drink tap water with chemicals.” Alpha now had the cool expression on her face that he had wanted from the beginning.
Gamma just shrugged, unimpressed, and crossed his legs. “It's a shame, but there is nothing you can do about that. I guess I better go. Jesus Christ, finally take that fucking gun down. "
She strutted over to her jacket, slipped it on, and gave him half a look.
The other eye looked suspiciously at the peeling wallpaper. "I would have loved to tell you where Louis‘ lab is, but it doesn't seem interested.
Good luck for the future."
"Wait a minute!" He punched the pistol into Alpha 's lap, which had just jumped up.
and grabbed Gamma by the shoulder. "Louis‘ laboratory? "
"Yes," she snapped. “He's using the sewers. It's a complicated system of sewer tunnels, but as luck would have it, the company I work for specializes in ultrasound in public spaces and completed the research down there years ago. No rat can cough without our noticing. ”A diabolical grin. “We could make a deal. I'll take us to the lab and you must swear that you will kill Louis. "
Chapter 7: Names
"I have one more question," she began uncertainly when Gamma sat down in front of her again and Beta sat down next to her. “How did you know where we are? I mean, how did you know about the house? "
"It seemed most likely to me," Gamma claimed. "And please, we should be on good terms, after all we're kind of siblings, aren't we?"
Silent nod from Beta. He stroked the barrel of the gun, which he still hadn't put down, lost in thought. She was quite queasy at the thought that he might decide from one second to the next to just shoot Gamma. But she too mumbled something in agreement.
"Well then." Gamma let the piercing green eyes slide through the room, this time both together. "Don't you have any electricity here?"
"Only in the kitchen," she replied.
"Hmm ... it doesn't matter. We need a plan. And a city map. So two plans… ”For a moment she smiled at her own pun, then, when she realized that no one else was laughing, the corners of her mouth twitched and she continued.
“I think I intend to take you home with me. My friend will be especially happy about you, Alpha. Because he is an optician by profession. Or at least almost. "
Now Beta started grinning. She gave him an annoyed look. "That's not funny."
"Yes, that's right, excuse me." Her grin couldn't be stopped. “I mean, I have problems myself not ending up on his examination table. If I squint even a little, he gets hysterical. "
Gamma cleared his throat. "And in his presence please call me Emma."
"You didn't tell him?" Asked Beta in amazement.
"And ... and what will he say to ME then ?!"
"Nothing at all if I text him beforehand that I have two monsters with me that would make a great mole together," Gamma replied coolly.
She felt Beta's hand tighten.
"That's enough, Gamma."
"Emma," she corrected.
"I don't give a shit!" He was seething with anger. "If you want us to kill Louis, you have to do something about it!"
"I already told you, I'll lead you to him," she reminded and checked her fingernails. “And I warn you if, for example, someone is behind you or something.
Thats my job. No more and no less."
"Then shut up and concentrate on this job, chameleon."
It had slipped out of her.
When she saw what she had just said, she shut her mouth in shock.
Gamma's eyes glowed sour. She just stared at them for a few seconds.
She knew what she was thinking. Louis called her that too.
Louis had given each of his failed humans a "nickname" the first time he saw them. It was nothing more than an angry swear, and almost every other failure, they'd heard his voice when he'd uttered it.
Yours was three-eye.
Should she apologize? No. It would have been unfair, especially since Gamma had done nothing but insult her out of control.
But before she could decide, Gamma had calmed down again and her eyes were on the burning candle. "Do you have money or are you going to steal?"
She tried to remain steadfast in silence. That does not concern you.
Gamma read it in her face. “Well… after all, this is your life, not mine. So, if you would follow me to my apartment, please… ”She got up, took off her jacket and put it on.
Perplex, Beta lowered the pistol onto the upholstery and pulled it to her feet as well. "Come on," he whispered reassurance as she struggled. “Nothing can happen to you as long as I'm with you. Promised."
They wrapped themselves in their coats and did not take their eyes off Gamma, who waited patiently at the door and returned her gaze. One eye was on Beta, one on her.
Suddenly the house darkened even more when she put on her sunglasses.
"I've seen you before," said Gamma suddenly.
"In the street."
She looked horrified. Please don't let her have seen me ...
But Gamma didn't seem to think about getting more out of it.
Beta wrapped a scarf around her nose. It stood out uncomfortably from under the wool, but it would probably work for a short time. He opened the door and let them both step out first.
That must look strange. Three people, two of them strangely dressed as they came out of a dead house.
Chapter 8: The Truth of the McRobb
Gamma's apartment was not far from a huge department store in the heart of the city. It was a bright yellow, modern block of flats with a view of the always overcrowded pedestrian zone.
I have a nice apartment, a friend who loves me... He almost laughed out loud. If she called it beautiful, then he'd rather not know how her boyfriend felt.
“It's on the fourth floor. Elevator or stairs? ”Asked Gamma. Oh yes, he had to call her Emma now.
"Elevator," Alpha decided curtly.
"All right, although a little movement probably wouldn't hurt you," Gamma replied with an amused look at Alpha's broad hips. "But if you really want to ..."
She unlocked the front door and stepped into a sterile stairwell that smelled strongly of lemon. He almost pulled his scarf down, but then he remembered where he was and preferred to let it stay.
Gamma stopped in front of a heavy metal door and pressed the button, which immediately began to glow bright green. Inside they heard a rumble as the elevator slowly eased down and finally jumped up.
They entered and Gamma waved her hand towards the many switches that were mounted on a silver wall. "Go ahead. The four."
He hit the button in question and closed his hand around the rod that was attached to the wall opposite the door under a mirror. He could barely take his eyes off his reflection and Alpha felt the same way. It was too light here for his taste. But that could also be because he hadn't seen anything other than the dark interior of the old house for a long time. But now that the mirror was neither fogged up nor covered with cobwebs, he hardly dared to let his eyes wander higher than his collar. The fear of his face was too great.
The elevator stopped, let out a soft "ping" and pushed the doors apart.
It didn't look much different here than downstairs, only that there were two doors here. Bright red. It was never his favorite color.
"And don't forget: My name is Emma."
She pushed past them and walked quickly to the back door, from which hung a wreath of fir branches.
The inviting sign below welcomed visitors to the McRobb and Rewell home. He wondered what name belonged to her.
The lock clicked, the key ring jingled in her hand and she pushed the red thing open, apparently full of anticipation. “Robin! I'm back and I've brought someone with me. "
There was a fluffy black rug on the hallway floor. The walls were dark yellow and were lit with a couple of candles that painted shadows on the paint. Against one wall was a beechwood chest of drawers with another bunch of keys and a cell phone on it. Black men's shoes were pushed underneath, polished so flawlessly that the candlelight was reflected in them. On the cloakroom with an attached mirror were a few jackets, more than half of which appeared to be women's coats.
"Emma, how nice that you ..." The tall, slender man who stood in a glass door,
which apparently led into the living room had paused when he saw who his girlfriend had dragged along. He adjusted his bulky horn-rimmed glasses in amazement and eyed Alpha and him curiously.
His gaze stayed briefly on Alpha's sunglasses and scarf. But he too punctured him suspiciously. He didn't look as if he would expect to have two beings standing in front of him who didn't look like normal people at all - and who didn't even behave like that.
He didn't appear to be more than twenty-eight, but his hair was slightly thinning.
His shirt was wrinkled like he'd just gotten home from work, but otherwise he looked very ordinary. So not exactly what he thought of Gammas - sorry, Emma's taste.
"Hello," said Alpha, trying audibly to sound lighthearted. She held out a hand to the man and he took it. "Hello," he smiled and immediately took his hand. The smile became unstable as he stubbornly kept silent about it.
"Robin, these are my siblings." Emma fell on his neck and kissed him on the cheek while she was busy taking off her jacket.
"Hang your things there," she said to her and immediately demonstrated it.
“Pleased to meet you, I'm Robin Rewell, Emma's friend.
And what is Your name? And what are their names?"
crap. He unbuttoned his jacket, deliberately slowly, to buy time. You couldn't say alpha and beta, that would really blow him away. He looked more like a harmless mosquito bite could send him straight into a coma.
"That's, uh, Mary and uh, Jacob," Emma said quickly instead, giving them a warning look.
Alpha had apparently ignored him. "No," she said, hanging her coat on a hook. Her fingers twitched to her glasses, she started to pull them away,
But then apparently decided differently.
"I - I think Emma and you have a lot to talk about ..."
Robin looked at her confused. "What does that mean?"
“Nothing,” Emma replied. “It doesn't mean anything. You know, my siblings are a little ... confused ... they came to the ... "
Too late. Her eye had popped out of its holder with excitement. It now pointed in the direction of the dresser, while the other was still staring at Robin, who gave a startled cry.
“Emma! Your eye!"
"Oh shit," cursed Gamma (again) and tried hard to hold both pupils together again, which she finally succeeded in doing. "Robin, I ..."
“You have to see a doctor with it, honey! This is not normal, probably a muscle tear or ... "
"Oh, shut up." He had now torn the scarf off his face and the man stared panting at his nose with wide eyes.
“Your girlfriend is a failure, just like us. Alpha, your glasses. "
She winced when he called her by her real name, but reluctantly obeyed.
Another outcry. "Whaaaaa! What kind of disabilities are these? Emma? Emma? ”Desperately he shook her. “Say something at last! What kind of people are you that you let into our apartment? And why can you look in two different directions at once ?! "
"It's probably not the first time for you as an optician that you see something like this, is it?" Laughed Alpha and clung to Beta's arm. He stroked her upper arm and smiled too. “Well, probably not that extreme, and for my part I don't have a Siamese twin or something to whom I owe that ... Everything can be explained scientifically.
You just have to know that Emma is actually called Gamma, Jacob Beta and I am Alpha ... well, you have a good reason to faint now ... "
And that's what he did. His glasses slipped off his nose as he slumped to the floor with a cinematic groan, rolled his eyes and lay pale for a while down there.
Chapter 9: One and a Half Plans
They had brought Robin into the huge living room (with combined efforts, because he had made himself really difficult), laid him on the leather couch and Beta had not flared for long and gave him a juicy slap on the face that had startled him again. Now he was sitting there shivering, glasses crooked on his face and a steaming mug of coffee in his trembling hand, visibly trying to calm himself down.
"Well," he began with a frown and preferred to put the cup away, because he was apparently afraid that the brown liquid might spill over his skin, "Emma ..."
"Gamma," she corrected him and put an arm around his shoulders coquettishly.
“From the Greek alphabet, honey. You should be familiar with that. "
"B-well, gamma ... You lied to me the whole time about your origins.
I took it from you that your parents are dead, but then all the other stuff with ID, birth certificate, family tree and curriculum vitae ... "
"I'm sorry, too," Gamma replied, offended, and placed her leg on his lap, which made him flush in his face. "That means I just fell head over heels for you and ... Damn it, can't we just pick up where we left off?"
Beta glanced at Alpha. She replied annoyed. She was tired of being treated like air all the time, so she audibly cleared her throat, drawing attention. Robin still didn't seem used to having one more eye than usual, and he looked slightly goofy. She wouldn't have been surprised if he'd started drooling too. "That's all well and good," she said angrily. "It's good that you fell out, it's good that you're quarreling now and don't want to forgive yourselves, but I just wanted to ask what happened to Louis and the laboratory now?"
"Louis? Is that one of you? ”By now Robin was terrified every time something like that was mentioned.
"No, he's just something like our creator, a fat pig that crawls around in the sewer and tries to create people - that's the usual," said Gamma.
"So what is it now?" Beta looked at her expectantly.
"City map and idea of how we can get there?"
"Yes, I'm already fifty percent done," replied Gamma and briefly disappeared into the hallway. There she rummaged around a bit in the dresser and a short time later held a car timetable in her hand, which she triumphantly spread out on the living room table.
“I took a close look at the records from the ultrasound scan four years ago and found out that the laboratory under Louis‘ is a doctor's office. Quite a large vaulted chamber, probably seventeenth century. ”She removed the lid from a red felt pen with her teeth and drew a cross on the spot, while her other eye was already feeling the paper. “And when the laboratory is there, we have a long way to go. We are only here. "
Another cross, a refreshing sixty centimeters further. Satisfied, she straightened up, put the lid and pen back on top of each other and looked at her siblings and Robin one after the other, both of her eyes turned so far inward that they almost felt sick. “But don't be lulled by this doctor's office. I heard it is the shitty one in town, but it demands a lot of money for it. "
“That means we just screw on a manhole cover and stand up to our knees in rat shit? No thanks, without me. "Robin crossed his arms resolutely.
"You shouldn't come with me either, four-eyes."
Beta's gaze flickered briefly to his sister, who had winced when he used the term. But she got a crooked smile on the line.
"Something completely different." He leaned forward interested and traced the edge of the paper with his index finger.
"We can't get on a bus to the neighboring city like nothing-you-nothing,
"Of course that's possible, what else are they there for?"
Gamma tossed the pen between Robin's legs and then dropped next to him.
“Who's in favor of shooting Louis? Come on, come on! ”She had raised her arm, but Robin pushed it down again.
“Have you gone mad? You want to kill a doctor? "
"He's not a doctor," Alpha corrected him. “He's a monster.
He brought us to life without our consent and then we just became what we are now. "
"But what's so bad about living?" Asked Robin.
"Actually nothing, but if you always have to walk around like us, you'll get tired of it at some point," muttered Beta.
Alpha stared at the map. Oh yeah. Please don't ask why I'm looking like that. It would only distract you from doing the right thing. Oh please, beta, don't take care of me. And you, Gamma - stay with Robin. We can do better alone.
She looked up, still fearing that she looked like she hadn't slept in weeks, and sighed audibly.
"It doesn't matter now," she said. “Anyway, the world would be better off without him. He created so many destroyed people, and those who did it are probably no better than himself. Gamma said it himself: Delta to Psi are dead. "
"Yes, although I like the story of Psi best by far," she intervened. "Maybe I'll tell you about it tonight."
"What? You're planning to let them stay here? ”Robin snapped in horror.
"But - but - I don't know whose toothbrush are you using then ?!"
"You're just looking for reasons." Beta made a dismissive gesture. “We'll probably get by one night without dental care, right? After all, we once had the privilege of being perfect, ”he added with a sarcastic grin.
She couldn't help but smile too.
Robin grumbled and looked somber.
"If it has to be."
“But what about Louis now? Beta, we would have to take your pistol with us ... "
Robin whimpered again.
"... and on the bus or on the train it just doesn't work out well ... We drive the car," Gamma said.
"Out of the question!" Beta shook her head violently.
"Why not?" Alpha looked at him questioningly.
"That ... that's a mess, it's hard to get out of all materials ... I always throw up in the car," he admitted with a red head.
"Well, then we'll just walk, just because you're all scared of public transport!" She looked at Gamma and Robin with crossed arms. “Man, that really can't be true! Gamma! You didn't even flinch when a gun was held to your chest
and now you're writhing in front of a few ridiculous tickets! "
"I didn't mean it that way!" Gamma returned her look just as angry.
"My doubts were that we could possibly be controlled ..."
"Not if we hide it in a bag, you mastermind!" Beta groaned and ran a hand over her face. "My God, was that a difficult birth ..."
Chapter 10: The Story of Psi
The four of them had made themselves comfortable in the bedroom. Gamma had found an old mattress in the closet, to which she had put a woolen blanket.
The mattress was big enough for Alpha and Beta together, but barely fit into the narrow space. The foot section even had to be pushed under Gamma and Robin's double bed. But at the moment they really didn't care. You could have slept on a needle board yourself.
They had skipped dinner because neither Gamma nor Alpha could open their eyes long enough to prepare anything in the kitchen, so they went to bed with a growling stomach, but with a very plausible plan.
Alpha had asked for the outstanding story of the last failure, so to speak, as a bedtime story, even if Gamma had warned her beforehand that she had nothing to do with asterisks, sheep or fences.
"We're used to something like that," Alpha had yawned, and Gamma had started a little hesitantly, but still with a firm voice.
“As I said, I like Psi's story best of all, her ... let's call it Gabe was very interesting. Not that I would have liked to want her. Well, anyway, it was a girl with scarlet hair, not to be missed ... She had no physical sense of pain. She kept trying to harm herself, wanted to have that feeling, the feeling that something was hurting her ... She had dozens of scars, especially on her arms, she even sometimes rammed her head against massive stone walls and hoped she would would get a concussion ... And at some point she cut her own throat out of desperation. "
Next to Beta, Alpha gasped and felt for his hand.
He stroked her fingers and felt the deepest pity for this girl.
“The police first found the severed head, with a peacefully smiling face, then the body on which everything indicated that she had committed suicide. Then they examined her more closely, autopsy and something ... and found faults in her nerves. ”Gamma sighed. “The only story I don't know is Delta’s story. But I know she's dead. She probably never came out of the laboratory. "
Alpha jerked her hand from his grip and jumped up. "Excuse me," she managed, opened the door and stumbled into the bathroom.
Beta heard her gag and closed the door again. "You shouldn't tell her that sort of thing," he said, looking concerned. "She always overreacts to things like that."
"I'm sorry, she wanted to hear it," Gamma defended himself and snuggled closer to Robin, who had already started to snore.
He waved his hand with a sigh and sat up with a slight groan.
The knobs on the drawers of the closet, against which he was now leaning, screwed themselves uncomfortably into his back, and it took him just as long to find a reasonably comfortable position for Alpha to come back in snow-white in the face and with stiff limbs sat next to him.
"Is everything okay?", He asked carefully with a sidelong glance at the towering double bed in front of them, because Gamma also seemed to have fallen asleep.
She responded with a rather strained nod. "I'm fine, I think." She closed her eyes, put her head on his shoulder and groaned. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Me too ... One more reason to shoot Louis."
He hugged her. “You should sleep now. Tomorrow we'll get the tickets ... Hopefully not for a bus. "
He grimaced and as if to prove that he was going to be sick, his stomach rumbled a little.
"A train would be cheaper for this route anyway."
Her voice sounded a little more sluggish. She was as tired as he was. She shifted a little beside him as if she was not finding the right position.
"But ... I'm afraid of him."
For a brief moment he thought she had stopped breathing, but then realized with relief that she had finally slipped into sleep. Perhaps she would take turns dreaming something pleasant.
Chapter 11: Driving
Robin stayed home. His nerves were too weak for something like that, he had said. And added, so that it had almost only been Gamma that he hoped for her that everything would go well.
Alpha put her ticket in the stamping machine down by the stairs to platform 6. He loved her. Even if she failed and intended to kill someone. She almost believed that Gamma had fulfilled not only inconspicuous luck, but also her fate with this guy.
Don't think about it anymore, Alpha. Gamma can hide its problem. Beta and you don't. So don't be too hopeful. You won't get to know anyone who looks like them, no matter what you let yourself be done. But remember: your crazy plan can still be carried out after Louis is dead. Then there is almost nothing left of him. Neither he nor there - nor his first failure.
"Alpha? Are you okay? "Beta had stood behind her and put a hand on her shoulder.
She noticed that she had been standing motionless in front of the stupid orange-colored part for a long time and that the scrap of paper she was pulling out was already stamped.
"Sorry," she mumbled, turning around in the human salad that kept flowing up and down the escalators. Beta's eyes above the shawl brim looked at her worried and he only let go of her when she looked around resignedly to Gamma. Please, please, please don't look at me like that. I'll get the crisis out of it - please don't take it personally.
She discovered them in the midst of the people exactly between platform 5 and platform 6. Her eyes were equally focused on the same goal: the timetable. Relieved that she was making herself useful, Alpha made her way through the lettuce and stood next to her. Beta followed her.
"Our train leaves at twenty-six," Gamma informed and tapped the pane of glass.
"And what time is it now?" She watched her pull up the sleeve of her jacket to check her watch. "Twenty, so very close." The fabric folded back again and Gamma looked up. "No idea if that's right. I posted it last week. The stupid thing goes wrong every few hours, sometimes right. "
"Better let's go up then," Beta suggested.
His voice sounded rather muffled by the scarf.
Alpha was the first to arrive on the platform. There weren't that many people here, just a bunch of young guys, no more than eighteen years old, fumbling loudly on their cell phones and whistling admiring whistles to the girl of about the same age who had already got out of the danger zone.
She clicked her tongue contemptuously. She knew these kinds of guys. The distinctive feature of this variety was that even in winter they had their waistband hanging around their knees and, in addition to an excessively fat and expensive leather jacket, they also wore Yankees caps. Otherwise they occupied themselves with their thick means of communication, bullied people on Facebook and had developed a special language in which “age” was a popular word and at the same time a form of address that showed respect.
The girl threw the newly arrived future passengers a look for help, which Beta returned with a friendly, but astonishingly crooked smile, which she unfortunately could not see through his scarf. Alpha only recognized it by the slight movement under the black wool. She gave herself a jerk and grinned at her too, which she apparently found less great, because her helpless gaze disappeared and she pretended not to have seen her.
The roaring voices of the boys, stumbling over a few German terms, were only overwhelmed by the pulling-in of the train, which after a few minutes of silent pleading that it should finally come, it also arrived. The rusty rails made noises they thought would break away under the weight of the track any moment.
They had foreseen the howl of the slow slowing speed when the thing was about two hundred yards behind the trees, and Alpha stumbled against Beta's torso at the force it took to stop.
The doors opened with a hiss, as if the train were panting, and hunted-looking people came out, some dragging small children who soon lost themselves in the crowd, others pushing bicycles or pulling dogs behind them so that they could just catch the next train.
It took a while until everyone apparently got out.
This was the final stop, and the conductor had to make that clear to some of the passengers when they were still seated. But then the train was empty and Alpha, Beta and Gamma dared to set foot in it.
The girl took a seat at one end, the boys at the other end, just as they had got in. Beta had taken Alpha's hand without asking and pressed her to a central window seat, which, although overlooking the tracks, stank of pretty much everything that came to mind because of the mobile garbage can that hung on the window frame.
Beta had his scarf, he certainly didn't smell it, even if Alpha was sure he couldn't have endured it either. Gamma took a seat across from them on the seat next to the aisle and, as a precaution, placed her bag on the one next to her so that no one would sit next to her.
Even before the train left, Alpha could no longer stand the smell. She buried her nose in Beta's coat, which smelled of the old lady and thus of her home. Her glasses almost slipped off, which prevented her from hitting the dirty floor with a quick wave of the hand. She quickly put it back on and made herself comfortable on Beta's arm again. He glanced at her briefly, then stroked her fingers and then directed his eyes again in no particular direction.
Something moved below them. The wheels began to spin, well past the advertised time, but Alpha didn't care. She could have sat like this forever, her face on Beta's jacket, her hand on his forearm, her eyes constantly closing, a regular rattle beneath her, as if someone were pouring out a toolbox, over and over again, at ever shorter intervals. And finally - it stayed constant.
After two stops, she put the collar of her coat over her mouth (the pungent smell was still there) and tried to look out the window. Suddenly she realized why Beta always felt sick when he was in the car - the mixture of wobbling and the constantly passing landscape was drowsy at first and headache at second. You could hardly focus on a thing out there long enough to identify it, and it was over. No details, no idea where they were exactly, just that blurry mass there in front of the window - after two minutes it was hanging by his side again and had closed the burning eyes, in front of which everything was still spinning.
She heard him laugh softly.
"So you are like me," he stated with amusement.
"It's not funny," she muttered, trying to resist the urge to throw up. "I'm sick," she complained reproachfully, blinking up at him. His eyes laughed, although his mouth didn't show it. Since their first meeting she had got used to reading what he was thinking in his eyes. But lately, when he'd only been in the house and didn't need a disguise, she might have forgotten it a little.
Before heading to the train station, they had made a detour to the old house and had their pistol in their pockets. Sometimes she wondered where she was from - most likely it was simply that the old woman wanted to live safely. The only thing that was open was whether she'd been able to handle it. She couldn't even do it herself. But that was one of the specialties Beta seemed to have learned before they met. In addition to the pistol, which now slept like a calm animal in Gamma's handbag, they had packed all the cartridges they had found, and there had been quite a few. Beta had given Gamma and her a crash course on charging that they neither understood nor really memorized, and Beta had had to explain twice about where the pods had to go in the first place. But as long as Louis didn't expect a murder of himself and thus didn't have time to fight back, they had a decided advantage.
"It's my fault now, huh?" Beta grinned and leaned down to her.
"Maybe," she replied with a smile. "Maybe it's your fault that I even looked out."
A soft laugh. He turned his head back, looked at Gamma, who was staring intently at her, and Alpha looked at the seat cushion, embarrassed.
"Tell me," began Gamma, "you're actually siblings, aren't you?"
Beta nodded in surprise. "Yes, of course, just like you."
A grin spread across Gamma's face. She didn't have her eyes under control for a moment. One flashed over to Beta, the other swept down Alpha. "Aha."
"What do you mean by that?" Beta wanted to know, confused.
"Nothing, actually ... nothing." And she looked out the dizzying window again and shut up.
Alpha saw Beta's forehead wrinkle and go smooth again. He tilted his head until his forehead hit the plastic headboard at the end of the double seat.
Alpha, on the other hand, watched Gamma's eyes stop and not move along with the landscape outside to inspect it. She had no intention of enjoying the view at all. She thought about it. And apparently not without putting up a stop sign for the more terrible consequences. Her face darkened with every minute that passed, with every station they stopped, with every tree they passed, with every person,
The cities she and Louis took in were big.
They were like two armed forces that swallowed their inhabitants whenever they needed to be protected. Unfortunately, however, neither streets, traffic lights nor houses knew of the calamity that came from this protégé. Even if the vault
in which he cherished this, belonged to the city. That was logical. However, if you looked at it that way, this vault did not seem to have any good friends to believe in its tales.
Alpha smiled as she imagined talking buildings, chatty skyscrapers with mouths between the windows, small rental apartments that were jumping excitedly on the spot ...
It seemed as if Louis had honed her imagination for so long that it was infinitely wide and so multifaceted that even the best novelist faded next to his people.
They had a long journey ahead of them, she had already understood that when they were crouching in front of the map. However, it would also be difficult to locate a single doctor's office in a huge city. Unless Gamma had either taken the map or remembered which street it was on. Because none of Louis ‘failures knew his last name.
Everything about her came from a test tube. She had no mother, no father, no family, just her so-called siblings, one of whom she was about to fall in love with. No old grandmother who knitted them itchy sweaters and read them fairy tales, no cousins to mess with, no friends she met.
They were on their own, all three of them - and one of them had hit the jackpot in a normal life. She was jealous of Gamma, and she could see it now. As well as how she felt her affection for Beta.
If they killed Louis, his body would probably never be found. Perhaps his lab assistants would drag them out into the daylight - but they were easy to kill, too.
Unless he's stuffed his own people in white coats.
Then they had no chance.
And then she would have to tell Beta and Gamma what she was up to when she left the house.
Chapter 12: Sean
He didn't remember when Alpha fell asleep on his arm, but he remembered that shortly after she had finally closed her eyes, a tear had seeped from under the rim of her sunglasses.
It also felt as if he was about to slump in his seat. He had been lucky that Alpha had sat down on the window seat instead of him, but now he also had to be careful not to look outside. He was a bit dizzy.
But Gamma hadn't been able to take her eyes off the pane of glass the whole time. She hadn't uttered a sound, only stroked her handbag every now and then, as if the bulge in it could reveal the contents as a pistol without much compromise. Her angular jaw worked, she bit her teeth, to an inexperienced eye it looked like she was chewing on a piece of chewing gum, but he had seen it often enough in himself and Alpha. Alpha did it in his sleep, he in between.
A mother and her young son had settled next to them. The child had a plastic robot in one hand and a brightly colored backpack in the other. His mother had put him on her lap and was now stroking his cheek the whole time. The boy smiled as he looked up at her every few minutes and made the robot circling in the air.
Eight more stops to the hotel that Robin had booked over the Internet. They had his debit card with them, they would need it because a hotel room couldn't finance itself. It wasn't the best to find, but if they hurried they'd be out there and on their way back soon anyway.
And then - I have no idea what came next.
They would probably carry on as they had been. Gamma would continue to live with Robin and he and Alpha would return to the little house. And then on. Keep going until the police were on their heels and shooed them into the slap.
The child looked over at them. His mother whispered something in his ear and it grinned.
Gamma looked away from the window and gave it a friendly smile. She ran her hair through her loose, dark hair and gave him a slight wave. A quick sideways glance at him, which indicated that he should also do something. "Hi," she said and the little one bared his milk teeth.
"What's your name?"
Hopefully the mother thought they didn't belong together. Don't look at me, kid.
I don't want you to get the shock of your life. I must look like a bank robber.
"Sean," said the boy, clutching his plastic figure tighter. Have no fear.
"That's a nice name", Gamma convinced him and the little one smiled.
"And how old are you?"
"Wow." Gamma pretended to be impressed. You are good at it. Keep it up and he won't feel so badasked Beta. "Then you will surely come to school soon."
"Yeah, next summer," said the boy eagerly, stretching his chest proudly.
"Are you in school too?"
Gamma visibly struggled with the smile on her lips. Still, she managed to answer. "No, I'm already done," she said. “You really don't need to be afraid of it. It's not as bad as it sometimes feels. "
"Yes, sometimes you get bad grades or feel as if the teachers don't like you ... they just want to make the best of you." Had Beta not known that Gamma was pulling everything up his sleeve, he would have been serious believed.
"Oh." The boy nodded and promptly a curl slipped into his face, which his mother wiped away for him.
Gamma raised the corners of her mouth as if she were proud of what she had just invented.Like him, she had never attended school.
Alpha winced in her sleep and he hugged her tighter to calm her down.
"How old are you?" The boy eyed her as if one could read her age from her body.
Which of course you couldn't.
Not even she could.
"Twenty-two," she stuttered.
"Oh my God, how old!" The little one looked concerned.
"Then you have to die soon!"
"Sean!" Admonished his mother and pulled him off her lap. "Leave the woman alone."
Gamma was fixated on the boy who was now reluctantly pulling out a cheese sandwich and biting his mom into it on command.
"Gamma?" He whispered, worried she might have a cramp.
"All right, I'm okay," she pressed out and turned back to the window. She hid her face behind her hair, but he saw her tears.
It was so great to talk to children.
Chapter 13: The Emperor's New Clothes
Alpha woke up when Beta gently stroked her hair.
"We're here, Alpha," he whispered in her ear and she pushed his head away, smiling.
She swung her legs off the seat, swayed a little to her feet and followed Beta and Gamma onto the strange platform so that they could immerse themselves in the crowd.
She was still so tired that she just let herself be carried along. Clutched to Beta's arm so as not to get lost, head bowed, sunglasses crooked on her face. She adjusted them with stiff fingers.
"Where is the hotel?" Asked Beta Gamma downstairs in the strange train station. He picked up a crumpled up, carelessly tossed bag of fast food and threw it in the trash can next to him. "Do you have the address?"
"Of course," replied Gamma, rummaging in her pocket, making sure that you didn't see the barrel of the pistol and took out a scrap of paper that Robin had hastily written to them this morning. She deciphered it with narrowed eyes and finally suggested: "Let's get out of here first so we can see where we are."
Beta pulled Alpha with her, and she had to stumble after him. Everything was dizzy again before her eyes, she had to be careful where she stepped.
"Hotel," she muttered, inaudible to the others. She knew what that was. But once again she had no idea what it was like to be in one.
No sensations. Nothing.
The air outside was bitingly cold. By the time they came here by train, the temperatures had dropped again. She pulled the hood over her head and watched her feet creep across the asphalt next to betas.
But then, after about five minutes' walk, she looked up in surprise.
And there wasn't a hotel here yet.
Gamma opened the door of a boutique and held it open for them to enter. But neither Alpha nor Beta knew what she was up to.
"What's that supposed to be?" Beta asked confused and glanced inside.
"I want to buy you some new clothes," said Gamma and pointed down at them. Alpha almost laughed out loud. She didn't even know her sister like that.
"Are you serious?"
"I'm very serious." She threw herself in the chest.
"I'm generous today."
Yeah, and besides, you don't want to check into a hotel with your seedy siblings. She followed her in resignedly and pulled the struggling Beta with her.
It didn't take long and Gamma had proven anything but generous.
She still eloquently talked them out of the more expensive things and strictly refused to
to go into the cloakroom to see if the clothes fit. Because of the image, she explained.
"I've never seen anyone stingier," Beta Alpha whispered through the wall in the dressing room that separated the two of them. But she didn't really listen to him, otherwise she might have said "Louis". She looked at herself in the mirror. Without sunglasses. And she liked what surprised her.
She wore tight dark blue jeans that showed her knobbly knees, but otherwise totally corresponded to her taste, an orange polo shirt and a long dark green cardigan. She had never felt more comfortable. Well, apart from the stink of plastic and the thick air - and the hideous music that droned on them from the ceiling of loudspeakers.
Beta stretched his also exposed nose over the slightly unstable wall.
"You look great," he praised, holding up his thumb.
Alpha had to grin when she saw that he was apparently half-naked on the stool in each cabin. He had hung his arms over the edge rather awkwardly and was now watching her try in vain to hit him with her old coat. Laughing, of course. She never meant to hurt him. "What would you have done if I had also stood here naked?" She asked, amused, and also climbed onto the stool to be at eye level with him.
"Nothing," he replied, smiling mischievously.
"You're stupid," she teased, pulling his ear.
"Now go back down."
"Only when you go down too."
"As you want ..." she sighed and hopped down.
One last grin, and his shirtless body pulled away too.
They didn't have long to admire each other.
After an estimated ten minutes, Gamma shooed them out of the changing room again, then turned around resignedly, pushed them back in and tore the new clothes out of their arms. "I'll go pay for it, then I'll give it to you and you put it on, I can't take this bright green Fifties dress from Alpha that causes cerebral bleeding any more, sorry," she uttered and slammed the doors.
Her steps had only gone a few seconds when Beta was standing on his stool again and smirking down at her. "You looked really very pretty."
"Thank you." She leaned against the wall with a sigh, crossed her arms and looked in the mirror again. It showed Beta's face right above her, and it took so getting used to that she wanted to frame this picture.
"How long do you think gamma takes?"
"No idea. I think it will take longer because the salesman has already given her a few smiles. ”He stretched his arms down and tried to get to her head,
but she dodged him laughing and ran a hand through her hair.
"What will Robin say if we tell him?" She speculated.
"Gamma will pluck us first and throw us into the pan alive!" He pouted a little indignantly, which looked a bit strange under his nose.
"Yes, yes, whatever you say."
Her stomach felt weird, she wanted to say something else, something that made him laugh again, maybe something he thought was funny. But she couldn't think of anything. What was that feeling? She had never felt it before.
It was like pouring a bucket of fun on them. She had always longed to feel something like this. Something normal, just pure happiness, to be alive, to be able to laugh - but it sounded kind of wrong in her head. It didn't suit them to just be so free with what their future promised them - and certainly not what they were experiencing now.
When Gamma finally came to pick her up, she gasped slightly, her lipstick was smudged and she tried to hide it with her hand. She gave them a slightly haunted look, handed them the things in and waited while they put them on in front of the cabins.
A short time later they were on the street, in the bags that were originally intended for the new clothes, their old clothes, somewhat disoriented, until Gamma remembered to pull the city map out of his handbag and guide them through the wide streets of the city center . She did this rather taciturnly, if she believed that her siblings weren't looking, she adjusted her skirt, which was far too short for Alpha's taste, and which in the time when Alpha and Beta could only guess what she was doing, copiously had been rolled up and straightened the hair that had slipped out of the hairstyle a little too often.
Alpha didn't have to look meaningfully at Beta to see what Gamma had done.
The only question was what Robin would think of it.
And she was dead serious now.
Chapter 14: Hotel
Beta reached out her hand to Alpha, exhausted on the last steps, to pull her up with her last bit of strength. "And you are sure that this is the right way?", He gasped in the direction of Gamma, who had stilted up the whole 367 steps unimpressed (he had counted).
Every few seconds they had to avoid excited tourists who had each other photographed on the gigantic staircase, pigeons pooping on the stone, and until the end they hadn't dared to touch the rusted railing until they stumbled up more than had risen.
But Gamma left it cold. She didn't even look strained.
In complete contrast to before. Apparently the red complexion and the lipstick all over her face were caused by something else.
She was what Beta had always seen in her. And he cursed himself for not pulling the trigger in the old house. But then again, they had a chance now. And Alpha has been doing so well lately. He had never seen her so happy before. Society was good for her. But he just didn't want to admit it. He felt offended, used - and maybe she could read that in his eyes as he hugged her, looked down at her new clothes, and told himself it was still the old Alpha, regardless of whether she smelled completely different or not. Perhaps he put too much hatred in his eyes, too much longing for the past? Either way, Alpha stared up at him in such surprise
as if he had just confessed to her that he wasn't from Louis at all.
He was sorry for her.
“Well, that has to be the hotel. It doesn't look so bad after all! ”Gamma exhaled contentedly, opened her bag without really paying attention and let the plan slide back into it. That was the understatement of the century, in his opinion.
"Whoa," he managed.
In front of them was a huge forecourt, a quiet roundabout with a flowing fountain in the middle, the female stone figure of which coquettishly poured out a stone jug, turned leisurely in front of the building. A black metallic car was pulling up, stopped and a man in a suit and a brown fur coat got out, waved to the vehicle that drove on, and strolled past the neat flower boxes into the hotel, which was so shiny from the outside that it was in Alpha's glasses reflected.
There was a red awning in front of the entrance, but the gold writing on it was so entwined that he couldn't decipher it. It was attached to two window sills so that it swung over the entire door. The outer facade was completely made of glass, like a gigantic diamond the house lay on the street, surrounded by a fenced in park and an almost natural looking lake. Curtains were stretched in front of some of the windows, he didn't want to know what was going on in this suite, but some of them allowed a view of large, light-flooded rooms, some of which were guests, some in which, in his opinion, had a lot to offer angular fitted kitchens and sizzling something they had just found in the high-tech refrigerator, others lay on the wide beds and frowned through the brochure on the bedside table again, and more people tore at the torn magazines and books that were cluttered between the teeth of their vicious pets.
"And you're sure we're right here?" Alpha snorted.
"Yeah, absolutely sure!", Gamma replied happily, traced her eyeliner with a skillful movement (without a mirror!) And put on a duck-like wobble, with which (which he noticed especially from behind) her buttocks protruded so much that he stood out I would have loved to pull the scarf over her eyes as well.
Reluctantly, he followed her with his hands in his jacket pockets. That could be something.
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