I was taught my code was 26229 21376, never get involved, do not capture anything either photo or video, do not re-do your ink, obey, never walk alone in the city, do not stop for more than a minute, never take your ear cuff off, and you will never be alone. A civilization that is more advanced in technology fulfilling our deepest wishes, dreams, and fears. Our civilization is called Inks. Inks explain the tattoos we have on our body. I have one on my face the right side of my cheek going to my hairline. I’m considered a child although I am the correct age to be a full-fledged adult. In order to be classified as an adult you must be at age 240. Last month I turned 240, but every adult I see says I’m just a child. I wear a dragon ear cuff. The dragon symbolizes fire within. My parents named me, Atlas.
“Hello ma’am, are you here to check in?” The secretary asks.
“Indeed.” Atlas says with a slight bow.
“May I scan your ink?” asks the secretary and she grabs a brush like object with tons of picking needles instead of bristles. Atlas takes a deep before her face gets penetrated by the small daggers of pain.
“26229 21376, Atlas Dracink, correct ma’am?” The secretary asked unfocusedly.
“Correct.” Atlas replies and stabs her face with a small injection she got from her jacket.
“You may proceed to your destination, 26229 21376.” The secretary hands Atlas a paper.
“Thank you,” Atlas grabs the paper and walks over to the stairs, “They make these robots more advanced every day.” She says to herself while climbing a few flights of stairs. Atlas makes it to floor 82 section C.
“ATLAS DARLING!” A voice yelled from down the hall and presumed to get closer and closer.
“Um…excuse me?” Atlas looked around in a complete circle and doesn’t know the source of the voice.
“Hello,” The voice suddenly turned into a person right behind Atlas and covered her mouth before she can say anything. “You will be quite and come with me right now,” Atlas kept quiet and tried to figure out whose voice is that. Atlas feels another set of hands grab her arms. She feels the sudden urge to run, but she knows if she does she will be hunted and killed and possibly gutted and made in to a robot just like the secretary, “We need you to come with us if you don’t we know who you are 26229 21376. So cooperate and you will be okay.” Atlas nodded in agreement. They pulled Atlas away with her still not able to see the faces of the people who are taking her. As they arrive to their final destination they push her into a room covered with native ink patterns.
“Ms. Atlas, correct?” A deep voice asks from a one sided window.
“Indeed, and I’m hoping this is important to me.” Atlas remarks.
“It is, I know you would love to be part of this project. We want t...”
“Why don’t you come in and show yourselves?” Atlas cuts off.
“Because if you know who we are you could tell everyone our secret.”
“I will not, I give you my word. It’s a Dracink’s word it’s kept where no one shall know,” Atlas persuades. Three men walk through the door, “Ah yes come in and be cozy with me.”
“This is serious ma’am.” One guy says.
“Oh hush Lumina.” Atlas smirks.
“I am Aldre and here are Ocecyptum,” Aldre introduces, “I tend to think you and Lumina already know each other.”
“Yes sir.” Lumina responds with a susurrus tone.
Aldre speaks with lassitude, “Atlas we need more people like you. That is cunning, strong, furtive, halcyon, lithe, surreptitious, and a talisman. It’s not every day we get someone we can trust.”
“I don’t want to be rude but what do you want from me specifically?” Atlas shuffles in a labyrinthine motion.
“We need you to test out this new program we want to make. It’s something what will be hard to test. If you get caught with it you will be arrested and since it stores information after you are arrested you will be killed…”
“And tracked through your own ink,” Ocecyptum finishes.
“Yes, OCECYPTUM THANK YOU FOR THE HELP!” Aldre yells sarcastically. Ocecyptum quiets down and demurely hides behind Aldre sitting in the uncomfortable chair.
“Don’t have to be so rude,” Atlas mumbles, “And where is this so called project?” Aldre pulls out a palm sized camera. “Is that a real camera!?”
“Yes, we produced it right in this building here,” Aldre says, “We need you to use it in secrecy and take photos of whatever you want as long as it’s important to this project.”
“What does the project consist of?” Atlas asked
“It consists of documenting things that has been happening by the stream.”
Ocecyptum mumbled, “The only touch of nature we have…”
“Excuse me.” Aldre said as he turned around to look at Ocecyptum.
“Oh um nothing sir.” Ocecyptum replied hastily
“Anyway, how would I be able to get there without suspicion? Tomorrow is giving of thanks day, and everyone will be indoors you know how it is.” Atlas gazed onto the table and drew a circle with her finger.
“That’s why we need you, you are 26229 21376. That number is never in the system the only reason we have it here is because we used a blood test and I imputed in the mother board so you would appear every time you come in,” Aldre stated as he handed her the camera, “Be careful with these camera it is made with the hardest materials to find.”
“I will, but what about the computer scanners in the front?”
“That won’t be a problem the power will go out in approximately in an hour,” Lumina smiles, “I got this covered.” Atlas nods and stands to her feet.
“The camera is very simple you push this button,” Aldre points to the small round button on the top right corner, “To capture the photo and this dial chooses the type of view or if you want to see the picture you just took.”
“Alright, thank you for your time, but I must go and continue what I was doing previously,” Atlas takes the camera and puts it in her jacket pocket, “Good bye now.”
“Wait Atlas!” Lumina catches up to her as she walks away, “Hey where are you going?”
Atlas breathes heavily, “To get my work. Now could you go?”
“Well I’m going that way too.” Lumina chuckles.
“I’m going back down that hall you kidnapped me from.”
“That’s the way I’m going that’s why I said I’m going that way too,” Lumina follows. Atlas doesn’t mind Lumina following since they are going the same way, but she really doesn’t want him to talk to her. Lumina walks next to her and looks down at his feet, “Are you excited about the camera?”
“Mhm.” Atlas responds without listening. Lumina silences himself and walks besides her. They continue to walk endlessly into the hall that darkens at the end due to low power to the uppermost part of the building. Atlas goes to the room she needs to go to and opens the door with the key, “Alright bye now.”
“Can’t I stay?”
“No,” Atlas said as she closed the door in Lumina’s face. Lumina shuffles his feet on the floor and starts to walk off. Atlas puts her ear to the door, “Finally he’s gone.” Atlas lives here in this room. She works and lives in this building. The building is highly advanced in technology. All employees are human-looking robots. The robots are all named, coded, and programed to be the best for the company’s performance.
As soon as the warm yellow sun started to rise at seven in the morning Atlas opened her eyes in her comfortable bed. Atlas isn’t looking forward to today. Today is the giving of thanks day. It feels like an ordinary day although she has to go to her parents’ house for this day of thanking. She looks at her phone that she took off of the charger on her short wooden nightstand, “Giving of thanks day, have to be there by one,” Atlas mumbled and stretched to ease her achy tired muscles. Atlas gets up and takes a hot warm shower and puts on fresh clothes. She grabs her phone, keys, and camera. Atlas grabs her jacket, puts it on and slips the camera in the pocket. Atlas locks her door and starts to head down the concrete stairs. She makes it to ground level, walking down the steps out the building, “Time to go to my parents’ house.” Atlas thought to herself. She started to walk toward the direction of the house in a total of twenty minutes. It’s a crisp fall day with the smell of pine and leaves. The leaves are all red, orange, and yellow, crisp and dried on the ground with piles on every side of the street. Atlas kicked some as she was walking desultory. Before she went to the house she decided to take pictures of the leaves and stream for the giving of thanks day. She wanted to give something special to her family. As she started to go towards the edge of the city the more open the world got. Atlas slipped her hand in the jacket pocket and pulled out the camera. As she arrived she noticed a mangled body. Body hanging from a tree, blood dripping down from the intestines cut open from the belly, neck sliced still dripping with blood, teeth scattered on the ground, toes and fingers cut off and one leg near the polluted stream that once was beautiful the last time she went. Atlas started to take pictures and did so in a fast manner trying to get away, but wanting to find out who did this gruesome mess. She captured a total of fifty-five pictures, detailed as if you were standing right here. The smell of the body was foul. The body smelt almost burnt. Atlas starts to run away and goes back to her family.
A head turns to the side with a desultory blink, “She must die and the camera must be smashed.” growled the heartless killer.
“Mom!?” Atlas yelled.
“Yes?” Stephanie, Atlas’s mom, answered.
“Could you take a look at this?” Atlas rushes into the kitchen to show her mom the pictures, “This is what I found at the stream where we went when I was a little girl.” She pulls out the handheld camera and shows her mom the picture.
“What is that?”
“It’s a body found.”
“No, what is the device?” Stephanie asks again.
“Oh it’s a camera, I’m a photographer now.”
“Yes, it’s illegal but I was asked to do this so please don’t tell anyone. But please help me mom what do I do about this?!” Atlas starts to cry.
“Don’t cry, sweetie,” Stephanie grabs her only child and hugs her, “It’s okay, it’s okay contact the police don’t show them the camera photos but tell them where you found the body.” She kisses Atlas’s forehead and twirls her hair between her fingers. Atlas continues to cry softly in her mother’s safe arms. Meanwhile in the living room there was a loud screech. “Stay here, okay?” Atlas nods and Stephanie grabs a butcher knife and looks out of the doorway into the living room. Stephanie drops the knife and breaks down in tears. Atlas scoots over to her mom crying on the floor not able to speak, shocked in terror. Stephanie covers Atlas’s face not allowing her to see what is beyond the kitchen door. She picks up the butcher knife and throws it past Atlas’s head and into the wooden cabinet.
“Mom, are you okay?” Atlas asked regaining her strength. Stephanie cannot manage to let go of Atlas. Atlas manages to sneak a peek. And that peak is something she wishes she never saw. Her dad’s throat has been slit and written on the wall was, bring the camera to the stream. Atlas starts to cry with her mother and feels her pain. Stephanie wipes the tears of a saddened widow and calls the police.
“Here, tell them what happened.” Stephanie hands Atlas the phone with the police ringing.
“Hello this is the police, how may we assist you on this thankful day?”
“Hello I found a body by the stream that separates us from the city from the forest. And ever since I left and told my mom now my dad is dead…”
“Are you going to bring the camera to the stream?”
“The camera you know what I’m talking about Atlas.” The soothing police voice suddenly turned in to a low static growl. Atlas hung up the phone and threw it into the corner.
“What happened!?” Stephanie asked in panic.
“It turned into someone else that asked for the camera. They… they…”
“Tell me it’s okay.” Stephanie hugged her.
“They knew my name…”
“Oh…” They sat in silence thinking, wondering why, “If the phone didn’t work we should go in person to the police.”
“That’s an idea but it is almost sundown,” Atlas checks her phone and it says 5:37.
“You should get some rest, I will watch over you I cannot manage to lose you too.”
“I don’t want to sleep knowing this.” Atlas looks at her palms flipping her hands back and forth.
“You are tired my sweet child, sleep.” Stephanie holds her in her arms and rocks her. Atlas trusts her and slowly closes her eyes. Stephanie sings a lullaby as before she knows it Atlas was sound asleep. When Stephanie was sitting resting her back on the wooden cabinet she saw a face. It was cocked to the side, staring at her, there was never a blink, the face was plain no mouth fading back into eyes sight but disappearing into thin air. She kept looking at it not knowing who or what it is. It terrified her knowing there is no escape, the eyes will stay and she will die. She didn’t want to know what will happen but the eyes told her of her future. Suddenly she felt a knife at the nape of her neck, “Let me take care of my child, don’t kill me.”
“That is highly impossible my dear thank you for your cooperation.” The face faintly said
“You’re welcome.” Stephanie smiles and strokes her daughter’s hair and kisses her forehead for the last time, “I love you, Atlas…” She shed more tears but only they were happy. Stephanie’s throat has been sliced open with blood rushing down her hanged head. Atlas wakes up to find she has been lying in a pool of blood. She looked up to her mother and saw her, head hanging, bloody serrated knife on the floor, and a dried slit throat. Atlas felt as if she was going to cry but she couldn’t manage to. Atlas gives a final kiss to her mom and kissed her cheek. Atlas got up and went to go talk to Aldre. She was limping as she tried to go back home. Every step she took she heard whisper, it was too silent to hear.
When she made it home she called Aldre, “What do you need, Atlas?”
“My mom and dad died because I took these photos,” Atlas shows Aldre the photos of the body.
“Wow this is some good shots,” Aldre admires, “Did you inform the police about this?”
“Yes but then it changed to someone who asked for the camera and they knew my name so I hung up.”
“Ah I see they don’t want you to have these files so they want it back to destroy it,” Aldre scratches his beard,” Either you give them what they want or you die.”
“Why did they kill my parents?”
“Because they are trying to scare you, yes they are dead but they knew they got you scared.”
“We will go to the forest tonight.”
“But we may die.” Atlas groans.
“It’s okay, darling.” Aldre said starting to pack things in a backpack. Atlas hugs a pillow and thinks about what happened today.
It soon turned to nightfall; Aldre grabbed his backpack, “Let’s go.” Aldre and Atlas run toward the edge of the city when the body is.
The same face that was with Stephanie was in the distance looking and watching Aldre and Atlas, “The body is right here.”
“Interesting, but was that face there before?”
“NO!” Atlas panics.
“Hello Sir or Ma’am.” The face cocked its head to the other side, “Do you speak? Can you understand me?” The face smiled widely even though it had no mouth. The teeth were sharp and little with black eyes.
“I cannot imagine this…” The face whispered
“Can’t imagine what?”
“What about my future?”
“It’s strange I cannot understand.” The face stops smiling and turns its head side to side, “I want to kill you.”
“Because you have relations with this girl that won’t give me the files.”
“Oh is that all you want?”
“No.” Suddenly Atlas feels something under her skin.
“Look.” Atlas shows Aldre tiny things crawling under her skin. Some of those tiny thing pop out of her skin and eat her muscles.
“Don’t kill h…” Aldre dropped to the floor gasping for air and is unsuccessful to obtain oxygen and dies.
“Please stop killing you killed everyone already.”
“Not everyone.” The face chuckles, “There’s you…”
“Please do…” Atlas falls dead. Into the polluted stream, floating face down. The face emerges from the shadows.
“Now that she is dead I can obtain the camera and get rid of the files. Witnesses are all gone. Excellent.” The face turns in to a black lengthily body. He uses his hand to smash the camera and stuff it in the mangled body in the tree, “Everyone is gone.” He chuckles. He lays on a tree branch and slowly falls asleep satisfied with what he had done.
Behind a tree was another Ink that has been following Atlas around and that Ink was me…