Short Story: “Those Left Behind” pt. 3
When we last left Jimmy he had emerged from his hovel in an attempt to find some food. He discovered that his companion, Lindsey, has little remorse when it comes to her own survival.
When Jimmy is discovered in a crowd, a passerby sets the police on him. In this world, Jimmy is an Animan, a person who those with privilege and wealth want to be rid of. But it is more than the Enhanceds that are against Jimmy. In a harsh world that he isn’t designed to survive in, every step is dangerous.
In this final part, Jimmy flees desperately from the police and finds salvation in an unlikely place. The story concludes with Jimmy confronted with the price of his salvation.
“F–ing Enhanceds!” Jimmy screamed back at the police. He spins around and flashes them his middle finger. Jimmy winced at the pain in his lungs but he didn’t slow his pace. He shout cost him precious energy and air.
“Stop!” One of the policemen shouted back. “Stop! Or we will shoot.”
Jimmy looked back, his hood slid off his head, and he noticed that the two policemen were drawing their weapons. He pushed himself even harder. He could hear the telltale whoosh of the approaching light-train as he got closer to the tracks. He knew had to time this perfectly.
“Stop! Don’t do this!” The same policeman shouted.
Jimmy was close to the tracks. Turning his head to the right, he could see the blur of the train. It was close now. Somehow, Jimmy was able to push his legs faster. He heard a crack of an electro-gun behind him. Luckily, the shooter had bad aim and Jimmy watched as the blue and white stream of electricity crackled past his head. Unfortunately, the projectile hit an unsuspecting onlooker gawking at the fray.
I’m sorry, Jimmy thought as he watched the wounded man fall to the ground.
Jimmy was close to the edge of the tracks now and the train was only meters away, slowing down as it approached the platform. The police fired again, and Jimmy heard the waiting crowd on the train platform scream. Many of the people ducked, but others abandoned their commute and fled from the platform.
The train was almost on top of him and Jimmy closed his eyes. He leapt forward just as the train conductor cut the train’s power. The light-train screeched to a halt.
Jimmy crashed onto the platform, knocking over a few crouched and screaming commuters. He looked behind him. The immobile train had created a barrier between him and the pursuing officers.
Jimmy scrambled to his feet and the people around him recoiled. Seizing the opportunity to flee, Jimmy pushed past them and ran to the back of the platform.
Jimmy frantically looked left and right, trying to find a safe spot to recover. He could see a tiny narrow alley between two restaurants to his right, just meters beyond the platform.
“That’ll have to do,” Jimmy said. He suddenly doubled over. His weakened physical state and lack of breath had finally taken its toll. He began to hyperventilate.
“Are you okay?” a little girl said.
Jimmy raised his head. In front of him stood a smiling little girl with big blue eyes and long brown hair. Jimmy guessed that she was about six or seven. She crouched down in front of him so that they were face to face. Looking into her eyes he could just make out a slight tinge of green recessing behind the bright blue that now dominated her eyes.
Lucky! She’s just received the enhancements, Jimmy thought. Noticing that the little girl was looking at him intently, her brow furrowed in genuine concern, Jimmy nodded in response to her question, forcing himself to smile at her.
“Why is your hair that funny colour?” She asked. “I’ve never seen hair like yours before. And what are those funny speckles all over your face? Do they hurt?” The little girl stretched a finger towards Jimmy’s face.
“Rachel!” a frantic woman screamed. A woman dressed in an elegant dark pantsuit grabbed the little girl by the arm and yanked her away from Jimmy.
“Bye!” the little girl said. She waved with her free arm as her mother dragged her onto the train. Jimmy could hear the mother frantically scolding her daughter.
After all, what am I but another dirty animan? Jimmy thought. He couldn’t afford the genetic upgrades like the rest of these people. He couldn’t fix his flawed genetic makeup, and his red hair immediately gave him away.
“Hey! Over here!”
Jimmy looked around him. A richly dressed man and woman were beckoning to him. Jimmy immediately thought to run the other way, but something about their kind faces froze him in place. They beckoned again, more frantic than before. Reluctantly, Jimmy moved towards them. The doors closed on the train, the ding of the departure bell sounded. The train edged forward. A muted rumble filled the air around the platform.
When Jimmy got close to the couple, the man took off his clean-cut tailor black overcoat and threw it over Jimmy. Then the man pulled the collar up and placed his fedora on top of Jimmy’s head. He placed his arm around Jimmy’s shoulder and pulled him close. The man and woman began walking towards the restaurants, guiding Jimmy along between them.
“Come along, son,” the man said.
Jimmy looked at the man. His dirty blonde had been slicked back, each strand perfectly sculpted, his face clean shaven and glistening in the growing light. The man met Jimmy’s eyes. The man smiled gently. His warm chocolate brown eyes crinkling at the edges, his flawless skin revealing no sign of age or sun damage.
They walked towards the door of one of the empty restaurants. The name Alonso’s was written in gold letters across the large front window. As they got close, the red door of the restaurant swung open. In the doorway stood a tall athletic man, grease staining the white apron that stretched across his trim waist, his lush black hair tied in a neat ponytail that stretched down his wide back.
“Thank you, Alonso,” the woman said.
Once they were inside, Jimmy noticed that Alonso locked the door and drew the tan shade down the oversized front window. The rising sun cast a shadow of the restaurant’s reverse name on the tan blind. s’osnolA.
“What’s going on?” Jimmy asked.
“It’s okay. My name is Richard, and this is my wife Melissa.”
“Yeah, hi,” Jimmy said. “What do you want?”
“We just want to help you,” Melissa said. “What’s your name?”
“Bobby!” Jimmy lied.
“Well, Bobby,” Richard said. “We belong to a group of people that tries to help people like you, people that have been mistreated, that struggle to survive because they can’t afford the enhancements.”
“I don’t need your charity. I don’t need help from Enhanceds,” Jimmy said. He strode towards the locked door. Alonso, his brawny arms crossed, stepped aside to let Jimmy pass.
“We can get you out of the city,” Richard said. Jimmy froze mid step. His hand rested on the deadbolt lock. “We have a farm, about an hour outside the walls. There are all kinds of people there, people just like—”
“What? Animans?” Jimmy said sneering. He turned around to look at Richard.
“We don’t use that term,” Melissa said. “Despite what the government says, you are humans just like us. You don’t deserve to be treated the way you are.”
“Sure, whatever,” Jimmy said. “How do I know your not bounty hunters or cops? How do I know that this farm isn’t just a camp. I know what they do to my kind. Round us up and exterminate us simply because we are hard to look at! Just because we remind people…how do I know that I can trust you?”
“You don’t, Bobby,” Melissa said. Her blunt response and lack of further explanation or plea intrigued Jimmy.
“Look, Bobby, we have a car waiting nearby, but we have to leave now,” Richard said. Jimmy looked at him questioningly, still unable to decide if he believed these people, if he trusted them.
Sensing Jimmy’s apprehension, Richard continued, “Look the police won’t stop searching till they find you. You staying here means your death. Do you know of anyone else that needs help? Is there anyone that you want to accompany you?”
Jimmy briefly thought of Lindsey. Then he remembered the woman lying dead in the alley.
“No,” Jimmy replied.
“Okay.” Richard said. “So? What do you think?”
“Okay. Fine,” Jimmy said, his voice quiet. “And my name is Jimmy…not Bobby. I lied.” Richard nodded sharply at him, seeming to understand, and he then turned to Alonso.
“Alonso, can you be a chap and check to make sure that our way is clear?” Alonso nodded. The burly man pushed gently past Jimmy, unlocked the door and left.
Moments later, Alonso reentered the restaurant and swiftly motioned to Richard. Melissa approached Jimmy, buttoned up the coat, and pulled the fedora a touch lower to cover his face.
“It’s cold out there,” said Melissa. She winked one of her large brown eyes at him and flashed him a wide perfectly white toothed smile. Her curly black hair bounced with every movement she made. Once she seemed satisfied that Jimmy could not easily be identified, Melissa nodded to Richard.
Richard and Melissa walked casually out of the restaurant, Jimmy between them, the three of them walking arm in arm. Jimmy turned to look one last time at Alonso who was leaning casually against the door frame waving goodbye. Before they turned the corner, Jimmy watched Alonso go back into the restaurant. The red door closed noiselessly, the tan blind snap downward, and swiftly flew up the window illuminating the restaurant interior and Alonso’s white and greasy apron.
The three of them walked back down the street that only moments earlier Jimmy had frantically ran down. Jimmy kept his head bent, focusing on the foot-worn cobblestones of the street, allowing his weak body to be guided by his saviours. The adrenaline of his flight was waning, and his hunger came back with a vengeance.
“Soon, soon,” said Melissa as Jimmy’s belly audibly screamed in complaint.
Jimmy raised his head as they got closer to the alley where he lived, the alley where he had left Lindsey in a dingy hovel, the alley that was almost now illuminated by the rising sun. As they drew closer, Jimmy watched as two men wearing thick toques and scarves wrapped around their faces carefully exited the alley. The men were wiping their red smeared hands on their ragged pants. And one of them was wearing a blood-speckled long emerald green puffy down jacket.