The Station was unsurprisingly crowded, as was the norm on Saturday nights. Security seemed a tad tight tonight, and there was an odd number of police vehicles surveying the area. Nothing too astronomical, but definitely enough to be noticeable. Now that I finally had time to relax and think, I decided to text Willow, in order to confirm that everything was still going according to plan.
Willow, when will you be here? ~ Blaine
It took less than a minute for her to reply.
Not really sure what spurred this sudden date on, but I’m really happy about it! We haven’t seen each other in foreeeeeeeever! I’m actually really close to the Station already, so just be patient! ~ Willow
It was then that I realized my attire wasn’t proper for a “date.” Of course, I was merely planning on convincing her to join me/stealing her government documents, so I suppose it didn’t matter. My casual attire, consisting of khakis and a button-up, were at least nice enough to pass for trying.
Shortly after our conversation, Willow appeared, dressed for the occasion. She wore a short, frilly black and white dress, with white stockings covering her legs. “Blaine, it’s so nice to see you!” she said, happily.
“And to you!” I said, putting my arms out to hug her. I had to act regular, as I couldn’t show my deceit until we were far enough away from Triton. “So, would you like to get onto the submarine now? Mine as well use as much time as possible!” I said with a fake grin.
Luckily for me, Willow bought the act. Being that we hadn’t seen each other in years, she must have been in a wacky emotional state, confused that her old friend would call her up for a date so soon. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised she was even able to accept a date on such short notice, especially with her job. She might even be as lonely as I am.
“Sure, let’s!” she said. She took me by the hand, and began blushing bright pink. “It’s just like when we were in school! I mean, technically we didn’t do anything like this, but just being together! I wish we talked more.”
I nodded in agreement, whilst gently dragging her over to an open submarine. All you had to do to rent one was walk into the sub you wanted, then punch in your payment information. After it was confirmed, you could swim off. I sat her down onto the bright orange seat, and said “I’ll put in the payment information.”
“You should close the hatch before you do that! I heard drowning sucks.” she said, laughing.
“That’s probably a good idea!” I replied, with a fake laugh.
I walked over and closed the hatch, then began inputting my payment information into the system. A giant “CONFIRMED” screen appeared, and I detached the submarine from the dock.
“Where are we going to go?” asked Alicia.
“Not really sure, to be honest. I thought we could just drive off then surface, and maybe use the windows to gaze at the stars and Moon.” I replied.
“Wow, that sounds awesome. I’ll keep quiet while you control this thing, I’m seriously not interested in dying.” said Alicia.
“You’re acting a bit deathly today, aren’t you?”
“Sorry, too much television!”
I manned the controls, and began steering the submarine as far away from Triton as allowed by law. While I was fully planning on possibly breaking the law tonight, I still wanted to keep offensives on the minimum.
Willow was visibly perturbed, and she kept changing her sitting position.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Willow bit her lip in the same manner as 2,600, before speaking.
“Why are we going so far away from the Colony?” she asked.
“I heard it’s easier to see the sky over here.” I said, lying out of my teeth.
“How about we just surface here?”
My hands began to shake, but I quickly regained composure. If I seemed afraid, she would realize that something is up. It definitely seemed a bit early to surface, but I couldn’t risk Willow trying something.
“Alright, that’s fine then.” I replied.
I activated the surfacing mechanism and slowly allowed the vessel to rise to the surface. The feeling of being in a vehicle half surrounded by open air, rather than just water, was odd, but soothing.
“So, shall we look at the stars now?” asked Willow, faking a smile.
“Sorry, that won’t be happening. At least, not yet. I need to talk to you about something much more serious,” I finally cut to the chase.
“Do you know anything about the Infinity Project?” I asked.
Willow shook her head. She was backed up against the wall of the submarine, and she was trembling from head to toe. I had to choose my words carefully, less I risk losing her trust. I didn’t want to resort to violence, but if it came to it, I would.
“I should have known. The government censorship teams probably wouldn’t know about something so secretive. Hell, maybe they even censor the censorship teams. That wouldn’t surprise me.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Willow.
“Just watch this video.”
I inserted the disc into the provided entertainment system, and showed Willow the same video that Chadley and I had seen before her. She too was awestruck, but in a different way. Her hair covered her face, and the only eye contact she made was with the floor.
“So, what Alicia told me was true.” said Willow, surprisingly angrily.
“Did she tell you about what I was going to do?” I asked.
“Yes, she did. I didn’t want to believe her, but I guess you really are trying to go against the government.”
“Look, I have my reasons.”
“Your reasons don’t matter. Blaine, you’re breaking the law. Why would you go against the government? What have they done wrong? How often do you even hear about dissatisfaction with the government?”
“I never hear about it because it’s all censored by pigs like you!”
I had finally lost my cool. The pent up aggression from seeing 2,600 taken away had finally been released, in one sudden moment. I didn’t hate Willow as a person, but after today, I hated everything that she represented.
“I’m sorry about my outburst. I just want to ask you for help.” I said.
“First, tell me why you’re doing this.”
“I’m tired of the government and everything that they do. I want freedom!” I yelled, trying my best to emulate a Troubleshooter.
“You don’t want freedom. I’ve known you for long enough to know that you don’t care. Tell me the truth,” she said.
My heart rate increased exponentially, and sweat covered my entire body. I never expected Willow to go on the offensive, nor did I expect her to be able to read my emotions. She knew more about me than I did.
“There’s an undesirable girl that I’ve fallen in love with. She’s everything that I have, and everything that I want. She’s been arrested by guards, and I have no way to know where she is.”
“You do realize I work for the government, right? I’m sure I could pull some strings and find out where this secret lover of yours is.”
“You didn’t even know about the Infinity Project until now. I doubt you or any of your other government friends could possibly help me.”
“My god, Blaine, when did you become so pathetic?” Willow said, mockingly.
She looked me straight in the eye, before continuing. “Ever since we were kids I had always been better than you at everything. I was ranked above you, as expected, and you became bitter about it. But were you really so bitter that you had to resort to an undesirable to find happiness? You have Alicia, and if you were lucky, maybe you could even get someone like me. Of course, an exultant is probably a bit too high-class for someone like you.”
“What happened to the cheerful Willow from earlier tonight? You’ve become a sadistic freak,” I said.
“That Willow was never here. You don’t know how hard it is to live my life. I’m expected to control government files 24/7, and rarely do I ever get a break. Sure, prestige comes with the job, and so does money, but I’m so tired of everything. I was bred to get this job, forced from childhood to work harder and harder. The only thing you’ve had to do in your life is deal with some snot-nosed brats.”
It was clear that Willow wasn’t going to work with me. In fact, she might have even gone insane. The government had changed her, although it definitely made her a good actress. I believe every bit of her ditziness from start to finish. I prepared for action.
“So, you’re not going to work with me?” I asked.
“Of course I’m not going to work with you. I planned this entire thing out from the start. Now drive us back so you can be arrested.” she said.
“That won’t be happening.”
I lunged at her, grabbing her by the neck, trying to asphyxiate her as fast as possible. Willow resisted with a knee to the stomach and a slap to the face. My body met the metal ground of the submarine with a resounding thud, and Willow put her foot on top of my head, in an attempt to somehow keep my down.
“We’re surrounded by police vehicles. There isn’t much you can do, really.” said Willow.
This was the end of the line. Because I had panicked and acted so quickly, I would never be able to be with 2,600. Maybe if I had been a bit calmer and thought everything out, this would have worked out. My love for 2,600, while powerful, is what defeated me. However, it wasn’t really love. It was loneliness. There was a void in my heart, that 2,600 filled. That void was so large that when 2,600 was taken away from me, I had an unbearable heartburn.
It was an all-or-nothing situation. The chance that 2,600 was still alive and kicking was entirely possible, but at the same time, being that 2,600 was the first escapee, I thought that they may simply execute her as soon as possible. A runaway was dangerous, especially if they were involved with something as secretive as the Infinity Project.
However, I still had just a bit of desperation inside of me. I grabbed Willow’s leg and threw her onto the ground, and ran to the other side of the submarine. An underhanded tactic was all that I could really resort to. I wasn’t very well versed in combat, or physical movement at all, honestly. Willow, an exultant, would clearly be the victor in a one-on-one bout.
I stood my ground opposite her. With a 10 foot gap between us, Willow slowly got back up. “You just made a big mistake,” said Willow.
“I’m already going to be arrested. All I have to do is knock you out and take your card before you can do anything,” I said. Revealing my plan wasn’t the smartest thing that I could have done, but I had to delay for time as much as possible in order to find out where her exultant card was. I scanned her from head to toe, before noticing a pocket on the upper left of her dress. Considering her outfit, the card had to be there.
Before I could act on my finding, Willow pulled out a pistol. A fear unlike any other had consumed me. I knew that my life could end tonight, but I didn’t expect it to happen in a literal sense.
“Did you really think that I wouldn’t have a weapon? Alicia, the other officials, and I planned this entire thing out. Why on Earth would I not bring a weapon?” asked Alicia.
Willow was right. I had never even thought about the possibility of her having a weapon. Of course, prior to this exact situation, there was no reason to even think about that, but if I had attacked just a moment earlier, I could be dead already. Regardless, I was already a dead man walking.
Without saying anything, I charged at Willow. With a resounding bang, a bullet hit me pointblank in the knee. I fell onto the ground, screaming wildly.
“That’s what you get, Blaine. I liked you better when we were little. You were more complacent then.”
The bullet seemingly didn’t go through my knee. It was merely lodged in the kneecap, as if a barrier had somehow blocked it. Nonetheless, blood began pouring out. Somehow, I was still alive, but I knew it wouldn’t be for long. Even if I somehow survived, I would surely be locked up for the rest of my life, or possibly even tortured. Surrounded in a pool of my own blood, writhing in pain, I finally blacked out.