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Breed: Thirty-four

12/09/15

  05:35:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 938 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Thirty-four

?I don't feel right about this,? Mahmoud said into Rox's headset.
She walked past the nurse's station trying not to be noticed. The pen slipped off the finger of the nurse sitting behind the desk, and she bent down to retrieve it. Rox lowered her voice, and waited until she was well past to say, ?He's in the hospital; he tried to put me in the morgue. And from the sounds of it, he was trying to do the same thing to somebody else, in front of witnesses. He's got brazen, which means he's not backing down, but also thinks he's so right he can do that shit in public.?
?I don't disagree that this cop's a monster. But if we replace this fucked up world with one just as fucked up, only in a slightly different direction, is that really any better??
?Have you got me a room number yet?? she asked, ignoring his question.
?212.?
?How is he?? she asked.
?What you overheard was right. He's concussed, but the rest of his injuries? He seems to be fine. No, fine doesn't tell the story. He's perfectly healthy. If he didn't have witnesses to his injuries, they would have tossed him in the psych ward because he doesn't appear to have been injured at all- except the concussion. Doctors even entered in a note, 'Transhuman?'.?
?Good,? Rox said. ?I'd hate to feel like I was picking on an invalid.?
A nurse was inside 213. Rox took out her phone and pretended to swipe through a few screens, until she pushed her cart down the hall. Then she went inside, and shut the door behind her.
She had never seen her attacker in even passable light. The room wasn't well lit, since the overhead lights were off, but even the low track lighting showed him better than she'd seen. Somehow, despite rifling through his belongings, she hadn't paid attention to the man in his photographs. She wondered if it was because she didn't want to humanize him.
He resembled her father enough that she wanted to hit him in the face- and immediately felt badly about the sentiment.
He stirred, and her fists balled without her thinking about it. He blinked a few times at the world, as his eyes adjusted. Then he seemed to recognize her. Instinct carried her to within striking distance. He recoiled, holding up his arms pitifully. ?Don't hurt me,? he said.
?Don't hurt you?? she asked incredulously. ?You followed me into an alley and tried to shoot me.?
?I,? he started, but didn't have a follow-up.
?Why were you stalking me?? she asked.
?I was afraid.?
?Of what??
?You.?
?I know girls can be intimidating, but there've got to be easier ways to meet women.?
His eyes narrowed. ?Freaks.?
?Okay. So you got hopped up on bigoted sentiment, then decided to stalk a high school girl, hoping to show her your pistol??
?Just wanted to scare you. Show you how it felt.?
?Is that why you pulled the trigger??
?I was scared. It got the better of me. But I only wanted to scare you back.?
?You wanted to show me how it feels to be scared?? she asked, leaning over his hospital bed. ?Do you have any idea what it's like to be different?? she asked. ?Try growing up Latina- or even as a woman. Or better yet, try being both, while being terrified that bigots like you would find out that you've got an ability. This country was built on a history of discrimination; but being transhuman you aren't just a slightly different color, you're different, down to your DNA. I've known since I was 10 that people like you were just itching for an excuse to come for people like me- that the breed war you're so stoked to start was coming. You know who I identified most with growing up, who I knew I was all but destined to be someday? Anne Frank. You don't know fear,? she said.
She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. ?But you know what? I don't care. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that you know two things. We aren't here to hurt you. We're just normal people who want to live our lives in peace, without being threatened or bullied. Having said that, if you push us, we will make you regret it. Maybe not me. Maybe not whoever put you here. But one day, one of us will fuck you up in a way there's no coming back from. I could personally make your life hell. Your entire life will become a worst-case scenario- literally every bad thing that could happen to you would. I can do that.
?But I want you to recognize the distinction. You tried to put a bullet in me. I'm not here to return the favor; I'm not even here to threaten you. You were wrong about me- about my kind. We're like just about any other animal, human or otherwise- we don't lash out unless we're cornered. So stop trying to corner us. Go back to living your life. Because all I want is to feel safe in mine.?
She walked out of the room without another word.
?How'd that feel?? Mahmoud asked in her ear.
?Like preaching to a two-by-four. I don't know if he heard a single word I said.?
?But you tried.?
?Yeah,? she said. ?Thanks, for staying up to keep me safe.?
?It wasn't you I had to worry about. I just wanted to make sure you didn't do anything you might regret tomorrow.?
?Well thanks for that, then.?
?Any time.?

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