By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 8 May 2023



The campus

When we finally headed west a month had passed since finding Beth. Her eyes were now sparkly clear and so was her vision. She was in shoes again. Only an ankle brace and a slight limp remained of her wound.

The delay to our trip wasn’t that. It was the luxury of the life we were enjoying, day and night. Amira couldn’t resist the temptation to slip into our bed and we all slept together unashamed, Beth and I in connubial bliss. By day we’d take long strolls through the stores and malls, shopping mostly for clothes, the women developing a burning interest in bright colors and fashions, making up for all the years those tastes lay necessarily dormant.

My pleasures were somewhat surrogate, listening to their feminine chatter, Amira’s youthful, ebullient delight with each new object she’d see, which she had to touch and feel and often take home. They discovered make-up for the first time and spent hours on each others hair and face while I read books, pilfering whole shelves from an old bookstore nearby. With their new eyes they were both exploring a world which they’d been told of but denied and each day was a feast to them. Our triangle was perfect, without any friction, only caring and kindness for each other and no one else anywhere to interfere in this hour by hour rediscovery of life.

Not so our journey. Dora told us there was a hive near Chicago, a sight too interesting to pass up. But we did it from a distance again with three sets of binoculars from a hillock near the former campus. I still didn’t trust her enough to step into a crowd which she controlled, though she protested no one would harm me or even notice me for that matter as each one was entirely focused on their business in the most myopic manner, without personality or passion. We watched from the evening into the night as the campus lit up after dark, a pretty sight, unlike the blackness and deathly silence of Detroit.

I asked Dora if these beings going about their chores could be restored to something like their former selves. She said she tried that experiment on a few already, on my behalf, turning off all her prompts and commands, her constant stream of input into their minds. But they only shut down, sat listless and unresponsive to any stimuli from the world around them. Five years of unthinking servitude had brainwashed them in the simple sense of that word. Their minds had been washed away.

But she did tell me there was a distant hope. She would begin the experiment on this campus of raising the infants without any interference on her part, free of her goggles, instructing the adult caretakers to teach them human lore in as human a way as possible, though she would have to prompt them through every step. So in twenty years I might return and meet with a whole set of young human beings, to direct as I pleased. She would do this for me. Such small numbers posed no threat to her.

It was on the next day that things went sour. I needed gas and pulled off the highway and into a small town, Black River Falls, to siphon some. I had a can and hose but had to fill it a dozen times and that took half an hour. The women of course went window shopping.

I had Dora about my neck and was nearly done when she told me something was terribly wrong. The women had been strolling by a door when it opened and one then the other were rudely jerked inside. Then it closed again.

I grabbed my handgun and ran towards it but found it locked. Dora instructed me to place her over my eyes, for the heat vision. I could now see through the door four figures, already upstairs, two standing and two horizontal, perhaps pushed on a bed. I could hear a man yelling and Beth pleading. Dora told me they were armed with rifles and had evil intentions. I had to act fast. She had a plan.

She told me there might be another staircase in the back of the store to the living quarters. There was. I made my way quietly and entered an unlocked kitchen. They were in the adjacent room and noisy. Beth was pleading to one not to harm Amira, who was sobbing, while another was cursing and ripping cloth.

But it was easy. Dora told me to take two steps back and aim at the center of a picture on the wall and then a specific date on a calendar three feet to the left. I pulled off the rounds exactly as told and heard two thuds. With her X-ray vision they never saw it coming. Both had been shot through the chest.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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