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Jerry's blood fills the air and runs under the sole of my shoe, soaking the predominantly white colour of the sneakers with a tint of dark red. His gun lays beside him, shining under the blinding and electric light that brightens up the room, as if it is reminding that I am one of the reasons for his death. I can't help feeling guilty, even though he deserved it. A question now lingers my mind like a hidden predator awaiting for fear and confusion to settle into my weakened brain: Is Max really dead? Or was he trying to scare me?
I deny the possibility that my partner could be dead. We're a team and they know that. We both have answers and have caused this chaos in equal manner. Why then is it that I'm treated differently? Since the beginning of this deployment not only have I been put into a separate room but barely any harm has been done to my body. Perhaps I'm going crazy and this is simply a portrayal of my mind blocking any sign of pain or harm.
I look down to my knees and then examine my arms. Nope. I'm fine. I hear a noise; a door closing firmly somewhere near my location. I grab several syringes and run towards the emergency exit located on the side. I'm instantly welcomed by several groupings of white, lighted stairs. It almost looks like a staircase to heaven, although I know that this ship is the depiction of hell and choosing this path could kill me. I have no other choice but to go up, even if uncertainty is now my biggest fear. Who could be hiding up there, willing to hurt me mercilessly? I run while my heart palpitates inside my chest, letting me know that I'm still alive. I still think I died the moment I stepped on this ship.
I reach a tinted glass window, yet the inside is too dark to let me see what awaits. The door is locked. I look both sides to find that I am trapped and that there is nothing else but a metallic, white wall. I hear someone quickly climbing each step. They finally reach my location and I look down to the ground, my hands coming up in defense of my head and my whole body becomes stiff. I wait, helpless for someone to grab me violently by my hair or limbs. I expect aggression, someone hitting me until I'm down on my knees. Instead, I get nothing. I look up and I see someone I did not expect, his eyes open wildly in amazement. I too am surprised. I know this man, his gaze and mannerisms; the way he conducts himself. His hair remains exactly as when I left him: Lightly tilted to the right side. His expression shifts to a sudden grin. I can't help but smile back.
Both our questions stay still in the air, waiting for the answer to sit somewhere in our minds.
"You're here? I thought you were... gone."
'Dead. You mean to say dead. And, frankly, I am' he lets out a disturbing laugh while his hands shake uncontrollably.
Something inside tells me this man may not be my father, but rather a construction of him as an individual by my own terrified brain, seeking to bring a good memory to life—yet accidentally turning into something horrifying. At this point I am debating if I can call this vision my father. Is he a product of my imagination? A simple hallucinatory experience?
I step forward, determined to touch his arm and I do so. He looks at me perplexed and then lets out another chuckle.
"What? You think I'm not real? I guess this is what it has come to... I've been too gone for you to even think I'm real," he says, beginning to weep and I instantly feel guilty. He then smirks eerily and continues talking. "I'm here Elle and always have been." His bony hands attempt to reach for mine, yet the whole encounter is too disturbing to make my unease go away. I don't reach back to him and he seems to understand the message.
"OK, OK," he says, his face contorting, rendering him more angry and quite ferocious. Who is this man? Certainly not my father, or the man I remember to be my dad. This is a strange being, capable of displaying enough mistrust for me to not consider him part of me. He was not this pale, thin or insane.
"OK, OK," he repeats, as though he needs to reassure to himself that he can speak and that his words are directed towards me. "If that is how this is gonna go, then so be it."
With no previous warning he grabs my hair and pulls me, forcing me to kneel down on the floor, screaming. Now I feel incredibly helpless.
"Stop!" He does not listen, and instead I feel drool fall onto my face, oozing on my cheeks almost inadvertently as my brain tries to focus and think of a strategic way to free myself from this man.
As I do so, a thought comes across my head. A flash of memory that opens my eyes on the situation. I begin to remember "The End." The way all children were quickly brought into the ship, without even letting some say their last farewells to their progenitors or the planet itself. I remember me, small Elle, been told that it would all be fine and that we would see each other again tomorrow. What was tomorrow? If I was to define it now, I would probably not give you an answer since I have not seen night or day in years. At the time, however, it seemed logical to think that I would see them in a few hours. That I would wake up and I would see my father smiling while my mother caressed my hair dripped in sweat from this nightmare. I wish I had known that I would never wake up from this bad dream. That way I would have not awaited for this long, only to find that my father is a monster and he may just kill me.