Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chapter 33 The Humans

"They're humans too. Like me, right?"

Alex still looks uncomfortable, but he agrees to let me go ahead. There are two standing watch at the one door we found that looks like it isn't rusted shut. One young man and an older man with graying hair and a receding hairline. The older one is the one that makes me worry. He looks tough, and as gruff as Henri looks every time I see him. He holds a large gun in his hands, and I wonder if they're just for show of if they actually manage to produce bullets for them.

I swallow then take a deep breath. We're stuck. There is no where else to go. We need to find a place for the night, and it's pure luck that those people are standing outside. Alex manages to explain that he rarely sees them outside, but he thinks it's when they're waiting for someone to return. The place is that impregnable that they have to wait outside to let their people in.

So I spend a couple of minutes trying to convince myself that this is something I absolutely must do.

Alex doesn't say anything at first, but he crosses his arms and frowns. He's another person who picks up on the unspoken language of people, and I'm sure he can tell that I'm waffling.

He tries to offer me an out, suggesting that he can find us a safe place in one of the other abandoned buildings, but I shake my head. "I have to get in there." I don't bother to explain why I have to get in there even if only for one night.

Alex coaches me through it. He agrees to let me approach ahead of him, but he wants me to go slow and not get too far away from him just in case. I nod and don't bother confessing that I wouldn't want to get too far from him anyway. This bravery thing is completely new and untested.

We both walk towards the people with me in the lead and my hands in the air. The people standing watch see us right away, and their grips on their guns tighten. The younger one's eyes pop open and I can see the whites of them, but the older one, his eyes narrow. He doesn't point his gun at me, but he still holds a finger on the trigger.

"I'm human," I say.

He looks me over then lifts his chin towards Alex. "He's not."

It's true. Even with his shirt on and without his making much movement, they can tell. How? What clue are they picking up? His stance? His hair or his eyes? I try to refocus on the problem at hand and hope that if they're picking up that he's a danger, they're also noticing that I'm not a danger.

"No, he's not, but he won't do anything." Words gather in my head, barely halted by my tongue. Should I even say it? They wait for me to explain, but I can't help looking at the guns they hold and remembering that night when me and Mom were separated so long ago.

"I want to ask you something, but, uh, don't shoot me, okay?"

The older one smiles. "You'd be dead already."

I nod, not completely comforted by his response. "We need a place to stay overnight. And, um," I pause to take a breath and swallow to clear my mouth of any extra saliva. "I sort of want to see the lab. If I can."

The old man looks me up and down. Behind me, Alex doesn't make a sound, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. He could be sneaking up soundlessly from what I'd seen of him as we were walking through the remains of the city.

The older man jerks his gun in Alex's direction but still doesn't point it at us. "What's his thing?"

I glance behind me slowly and catch Alex's eyes. He makes a tiny nod to give me the okay to tell. "Uh, he controls people with his eyes."

"And he's a fighter."

Isn't everyone here a fighter? I wasn't aware that there were special classifications for Wildlanders, but it's true. I've seen what he can do even if it was mostly in play. "Yes."

The old man stares at the two of us with his lips held tightly together. I don't catch what he says at first so he repeats himself again, but louder. "All right. C'mon."

I glance back at Alex, surprised that anyone is going to trust us and half expecting a trap, but he steps forward, smooth and careful, to stand by my side before we step forward together.

The older man eyes us again now that we're up close, but he doesn't seem to change his mind. He gives a small shake of his head. "I'm going to trust you. But you," he says with a glare at Alex, "Any funny shit and I will shoot you."

Next Chapter -->


  1. Oh leave it to you to not even get into the lab till the next time XD. I would say, if he can just tell that Alex isn't "normal" that it has to be in body language that gives it all away. Something most people would easily overlook if they weren't in the situation that the lab rats are in. Yes, I'm calling them lab rats so there. And, it seems odd that the man would be so trusting, so easily, without cause. Maybe he got a look into Alex's eyes before being warned, it seems a bit fishy.

  2. Oh, another cliffhanger! I think I'm as anxious as Paula to see what's inside that lab!

    The fact that this guy is allowing Paula and Alex in so easily is worrying. He obviously doesn't view them as a threat...or if he does, he thinks they're a threat they can handle. Or, alternatively, he thinks Paula or Alex might be useful to him in some way.

  3. I was thinking about the old man and trust. I think that he sees Paula as the dominant in the relationship. In which case, he sees Alex as controlled.

    Given that Alex loves her - he could be right. Or he could be in for a shock.

    Also maybe he sees that doing something to Paula would set Alex off, so trusting Paula is a reasonable thing.

    For all her 'powerlessness' she really is the lynchpin in the whole situation.

  4. Hmm, you have to wonder if it's Paula's honesty that they trust, or whether her and Alex are walking into some kind of trap...

    And kudos for finishing the chapter there, now I can't wait for the next one :P

  5. That was too easy, or am I just being overly suspicious? I can't imagine that nosy tourists with wildlander bodyguards would be particularly welcomed by the people trying to survive in the abandoned labs.

    Having said that, it is a lab. Who knows what equipment is still working or has been Macguyvered from the abandoned components. They've lasted this long on their own, they must have some tricks up their sleeve to help them defend themselves which allow them to take a chance on Paula and Alex.

    Man, I can't wait to see what's in that lab.

  6. I think I'm beginning to understand why the 'Wildlanders' don't really think much of 'humans' and why 'humans' don't think much of 'Wildlanders'. I mean, strip it right down and it's just plain old prejudice isn't it?

    The Wildlanders think humans are easy prey because they don't have powers, the humans don't trust Wildlanders because they have powers.

    But at the end of the day, they're all human, powers or not.

    And relations between humans and Wildlanders look like it's discouraged or at least not looked up favourably.

    I'm half expecting the older guy to shoot Alex in the back or something. There's definitely hostility here.

  7. I read this yesterday but had to go make dinner right after.

    This event still has me wondering whether Paula has some latent power. On the one hand, since these humans are presumably pretty good at detecting non-humans and the man immediately singles Paula out as human, that would seem to indicate that she has no real power. On the other hand...maybe her power has something to do with getting people to trust her easily? Maybe they'll believe anything she says. That could simply be something to do with her, though--not with any real power she has. She may just have an honest face. I would imagine Paula is a bad liar, in most instances.

    Her request may have also been granted because she was so honest about what she wanted. Maybe the man is curious about why she wants to see the lab. Maybe he also just feels such a strong solidarity with other humans--he won't turn one away and he may look at what he's doing as protecting her. But something tells me that he's come across or heard about pairs like Michael and Edith before--where the human will help the non-human infiltrate a place.

    So many questions! I haven't even thought of all the alternative motives the man may have for letting them in. I can't wait to see where this goes. :)

  8. Migy, I know right? XD I'm just going to totally draw this out.

    I will go with that. I imagine that a fighter like Alex or any number of the Southlanders would have a very different stance compared to a human like Paula. There are definitely subliminal clues that can be picked up.

    Lab rats! LOL! Uhm, can I steal that? I was a little surprised at their semi-derogatory term for the Southlanders, so the Southlanders need a derrogitory term for them.

    Carla, I know, I'm going to be a little evil with this part, lol!

    True all of that. Of course imagine that poor man and what he's faced with, lol. I'd be a little curious too.

    Kiri, oh yeah. I didn't even think of it that way. Paula was the one to approach first with Alex behind. I'm sure the old man got quite a bit of info from that alone.

    I like that-- it's true. She really is the lynchpin without even realizing it probably. Balancing the two sides, human and tribal.

    Poida, it's a reasonable question! Also, thanks, lol! I aim to keep you addicted if I can.

    Illandrya, it's probably a great idea to be suspicious, lol. I love that image. I had the same one when I wrote it out. Kept imagining Paula with a camera around her neck...

    Oh yeah. That's a very real possibility. To survive so long, they'd probably have to MacGuyver stuff like crazy.

    Carnaxa, yes exactly! Yes very much so. I mean they have their reasons, but ultimately they still cling to those old thoughts illogically. It has very much just become prejudice.

    A real relationship between a human and a Wildlander probably isn't really viewed favorably. They would probably just assume the human is a stray and unimportant. But we've already visited one couple now separated that consist of a human and a Wildlander.

    Rachel, oh you post a good question. It would be a very subtle power though, so it would never be very clear, but it is a possibility. (Paula probably is a bad liar, lol.)

    All of that is completely possible! To be honest, I haven't written this storyline out completely yet, so I'm curious as to where this is going, lol.

  9. Oh you and drawing things out as long as possible, like an episode of DBZ XD. Of course you can use lab rats. ^_^ And thinking about it, just because he allows them entrance into the lab, doesn't really mean trust. There could be an area locked off where they can "interview" people to see how safe they are. So as they can better determine whether or not to allow someone entrance.

    As for Paula having some kind of ability, I've often wondered such a thing. That there lies an ability that is latent, or just subtle, and determining what it might be. I guess we'll find out sooner or later either way.

  10. Caught up!!! *hits a spit*
    I agree that that was way to easy. First thing I thought when the old man was talking to Paula and looking at Alex standing behind her was the whole "pet" thing. Though in most cases it probably would have been switched but I can't seem to wrap my brain around why the old man is so trusting. Maybe it is a trap! I hope not!

    But umm, let me just say this one good time since I'm just getting caught up... Alex= MEOW!

  11. I was stunned that they would allow someone like Alex to enter a compound where children are probably protected. On the other hand, I don't see any sense in trapping a nonhuman by luring him inside, although, like you said, they could try to hold him in some kind of separate entry area before permitting him total access (if they do that at all).

    Paula seems to be the key. Alex's strange response to her initial question ('they're humans like me, aren't they') makes me wonder all the more about her. You've hinted before that she is not.

  12. Migy, DBZ? LOL! *imagines Henri in the background working on a spirit bomb from here until the end of the story* Alex, watch out! (Don't those things like destroy planets? Am I remembering that right?)

    Qui! Wow! I'm amazed and awed that you'd go through all that to catch up. Thank you for reading!

    lol! Feel free to say that all you want about Alex. He seems to get cuter as we go along, lol.

    SB, oh all really good points and a good idea. I was rather surprised too at the ease (which I know is ridiculous since I'm the writer, but really, we're sort of just going with whatever spills out of my head at this point).

    To be honest, I don't know what could be up with Paula. Her mother says that they tested her and she was a normal human, but there are some things beyond understanding I think, even in this world. So I wonder if it's possible that she could have latent powers that are just subtle? I dunno. We'll all find out together if there's anything to find out, lol.

  13. I hope Paula has a power, lol is that a complete fan-girl wish, or what? lol

    I think though that her ability to make people trust her is in her guileless nature. But that old man has to be a good judge of character or he would probably not be old in the first place.

    I think Alex exudes a certain protectiveness where Paula is concerned and maybe that makes them more likely to see him as less of a threat... I don't know, in my head it made sense.

  14. I'm with Illandrya, getting inside seems to be just way to easy for something so dangerous.

    Now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  15. I love that Alex didn't really answer Paula's question if they were humans like her.
    I know I shouldn't make any comparison, but this sort of reminds me of 'Lost', the different factions, experiments, but I know they are NOT the same. Yours is better~
    Hope it isn't a trap, seemed too easy.

  16. Willow Weeds, lol! Aw, but thanks. That means a lot because you care.

    Exactly. He has to be a good judge of character, and she is rather guileless.

    Alex certainly would appear to be a mystery to the old man, I'm sure! So your thought does make sense to me.

    Thanks for commenting. :)

    Nicole, ha, true. It can't be this easy, can it?

    Thanks for reading!

  17. Drew, whoa you snuck in on me!

    Aww, thanks Drew. I never actually watched Lost, but maybe I should. I hear it disappointed a lot of people, so I should know which way to NOT go, lol.

    It did seem too easy, didn't it?

    Thank you for your comment!

  18. Wow this story is amazing. I just love it.