Leon looked up at Nick. The tall spindley boy was in charge of getting up all the orphans for cleaning duty. Was it time to wake already, then? Leon didn’t feel like it. It had only been three days since the incident at the warehouses. Leon was already back at the orphanage. He felt… drained. Was it because he was a killer now?
“Yeah, I’ll be alright, Nick.”
The boy nodded. “Alright, man.” He walked off, but stopped to shout out the Matron’s orders. Apparently, Leon was on street cleaning duty. Great, there was nothing like cutting grass and trimming the hedges of every darn house under the orphanage’s ownership to start off a morning.
Leon found himself with Matt and Ali, all of whom had started with the decorative bushes in front of the orphanage.
“So, Leon,” Matt said, “You feeling OK?”
Leon just nodded. It was a lie, but one that satisfied Matt. Ali was a different story though.
“What you did was… well, not usual,” she said, finishing her bush already, like usual. “I think it was something to do with that bug.”
Leon nearly left. For the past three days, every one of his friends had suggested that the bug was to blame. Little did they know, it was just Leon… He had remembered the… incident… that night, like a memory. At first, he thought it was just another of the memories from the bug, but he saw Ali, Cat, Tristen, Cass, and Matt in it. It appeared as clear as day, too, unlike the other memories. He remembered the movements.
And Leon knew he could do them again.
“You OK, man?”
Leon jumped at the sound of Matt’s voice. “Yeah, just a rough subject, truly.”
Ali and Matt stopped trimming their respective bushes and stared down Leon. Was there something on his face? Or was it just their skepticism of his condition? Wait… Skepti-what? “Well then,” Leon said, “My words seem to have gotten more defined.”
Matt laughed. “You trying to show Ali up or something?”
“No, just something in my head…”
They shut up. Leon knew why. Just the day before, Leon came close to correcting Ali on something. ALI! That was like telling Matt how to plan or teaching Cass to fight. He was slowly learning from the memories, almost like instinct. What was going to happen? Would his brain explode? No, that was physically impos- What was happening!?
Leon took a deep breath and concentrated on cutting his bush. His first bush. Ali was on her fourth and Matt on his third. They had been busy while Leon was lost in thought. Well, he would show them! Leon concentrated hard and started to cut. His shears rapidly sped along, cutting any of the stray limbs from the main body. For some reason, each snip of the shears was dead on. It came naturally this time. Leon, thinking of winning and winning alone, simply ignored it. Before he knew it, he had done ten of the bushes. Being only twenty all together, Ali and Matt had done six and four respectively.
Matt looked at him oddly and whispered something to Ali. She nodded and walked off to start on the grass. The lawnmower was around back, so that left Matt alone with Leon.
“Look man, we need to talk.”
Leon sighed. He knew this was coming. He stabbed the shears in the ground. “Alright.”
Matt did the same. They were aloud breaks between chores so long as they got done. The orphanage wasn’t very full at the time thanks to the latest cure for cancer. Not many people were being regenerated, so there were homes for those who were.
“What exactly have you learned from that thing?”
Leon looked at his friend. “It’s doing what that man said it would…” Leon replied, running a hand through his long hair. “So far I can cook relatively well, talk and understand more complex matters, and” – Leon looked to his nearly perfect bushes – “trim bushes with talent and speed. Honestly it’s-“
“And you can kill,” Matt said, cutting him off.
Way to kill a mood. Leon was just getting excited, talking about the things he could do, and forgetting about the thing he did do… “What do you want me to say, Matt?!” Leon yelled, causing his friend to jump a little. Leon took a breath and added quietly, “I know I killed someone, I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon…”
Matt nodded. “Sorry man, I just don’t want you getting cocky or flipping out on us.”
Ali was back then, the two mowers rolling behind her. She had put her red hair up and changed into jeans and a tanktop, obviously for the purpose of giving Matt time to talk with Leon. She had probably distracted the Matron as well. Clever plan, but Leon was used to it for when they snuck out.
The rest of the morning was spent cutting grass and weeding the flowerbeds by the road. No one talked to Leon, but Matt and Ali did speak among themselves as they cleaned the flowerbeds. It was probably about Leon’s mental condition or uncanny knowledge of random things. Maybe even his speech of abilities.
The Orphanage was meant to look like a nice place for any child orphaned by regeneration or death of parents. Death was rare, but it still happened. No one would talk about it, but the human population was slowly decreasing. Eventually, everyone would be dead.