She woke from the sunlight streaming through her window and into her face, but as she opened her eyes and she quickly close them, as the light caused a sharp pain to travel across her head. She put her hands over her closed eyes and turned away from the window, only to fall off the bed and land on her dirty clothes from the day before. The metallic smell of blood immediately filled her nose, causing her to run to the bathroom and threw up in the toilet.
“Len, are you okay?” Ruv here auto-server asked from the door, in a sweet voice, that was only slightly robotic.
“Yeh, I’m fine,” she said leaning against the wall, and trying to take deep breaths. “Can you please make some tea?”
“Of course,” Ruv said, and quickly floated away.
After rinsing her mouth, she steeled herself, and walked back into her room. She looked at the clothes she’d thrown off the night before; their former colors were now indeterminable, as they were completely dyed in the maroon color of dried blood, which had also seeped onto the floor as well. She put on gloves, then picked up the clothes. The smell and sticky feeling almost made her throw up again, but she held her breath and put the clothes in a bag, then threw them in the combustion bin. She was about to a activate the instant combustion, but a thought crossed her mind, and her hand froze in front of the activation symbol.
When she considered it carefully, she realized that not only was she a witness to a crime, but she was also about to destroy what could become crucial evidence. As she turned the thought over in her head, she cursed herself for not running right to the City Defense Office. If she had reported what she’d seen immediately, she wouldn’t be in this predicament now. Len sighed, then reached in to pick the clothes out of the combustion bin. She placed her hand on the plastic but didn’t pull it out. Though the bag only had her clothes in it, the sight of the blood, and the fear that it instilled in Len made it difficult for her to pull it out, and when she held it, she felt goosebumps forming all over her body. Her breathing became rapid, and cold sweat dripped down her back. All she wanted to do was erase all traces of what she’d seen, and move on with her life, but her conscience pricked at her. She wondered if she even had a choice. Someone had been murdered, and here she was considering whether or not she should destroy evidence. She let out a dry laugh and slid to the floor. She knew would have to go to the CDO to make the report, but when she closed her eyes and tried to gather her courage, she screamed aloud, as she recalled the deranged eyes of the man in white.
Her night class had ended late, and because the weather that day had been a rare sunny day, she had decided to walk instead of bringing her hover-scooter; a choice she deeply regretted. The weather had turned cold and windy, and she had to hunch over, and bury her hands deep in the pockets of her thin coat to keep warm. In addition, the streets that were so familiar to her during the day, or when she rode her scooter, now covered in the shadows of night, seemed alien and oppressive. The walk back home, dragged longer than she was used to, but she was thankful when she saw a familiar street sign that meant she was almost home. She habitually turned into the side street, which was more of a small alley between a few tightly built houses. The alley was off the main road, but it was a shortcut frequently used by the academy students. At the time, she’d just waned to get home as soon as possible, so she hadn’t considered the fact that while the side street was usually bustling with rushing students by day, it would be chillingly empty by night. She had walked only a few feet in before she started to feel restless by the lack of people and street lights. The ally was lit by a few dim lights hang from people’s houses, and the only sounds she could hear were the muffled voices of people talking, and loud music, coming from inside the buildings. The ally wasn’t long, so she quickened her pace to a jog, and could already see the bright lights of the main street.
It was then that she passed a small gated fence, with one panel missing, and stopped. Len clutched her chest, and tried to keep walking, but she was too terrified by the sight her eyes had fixed on, and no matter how much her brain screamed at her body to move, she was still. Through the panel, she saw a man laying on the floor screaming and screaming. His screams should have filled the entire city block, and drowned it the sound of his agony, yet nothing was heard as the knife was plunged in over and over again. The assailant, dressed in a crisp white track suit that shone like the moonlight, stained with blood, laughed manically and seem intoxicated by the torment he was inflicting. His laugh too went unheard through the night. Some small part of Len’s brain registered the fact the killer must have raised a sound shield to prevent any interruption.
Len watched as the man on the floor continued to struggle soundlessly under the assault, then man in white suddenly stopped mid strike. The grin on his face disappeared, and he turned serious. He leaned down and grabbed the man’s collar. His mouth moved, then he paused. Whatever he said or asked was not acknowledged by the other man, so he threw him down. The man in white, threw his knife in the air, catching it by the tip of the blade. He threw it again, catching the hilt, then he drove the knife through the man with the weight of his entire body. He lay on the man for a moment, letting the red blood completely soak into his white clothes. It was when he rose after his final strike, that Len saw his eyes: two empty sockets filled with shadows and swirling green lines. The killer said nothing more and disappeared in a green mist. Slowly, the sound flooded back.
The man on the floor was still breathing, but the sound was a wet gurgling, and Len knew he would soon drown in his own blood. She had regained control over her body again, and she took a step back. She hadn’t made any sounds, but the man’s eyes shot to hers. She took another step back, and was about to run, when a voice echoed in her mind.
“Please wait… help me,” the voice said weakly, and Len turned to face the man again. his eyes were desperate, but they shone with fierce determination. They were not the eyes of a man at death’s door, they were victorious, and there was even small smile on his swollen lips. “Please come, He’s gone... please,” the voice sounded in her mind again, and Len was drawn in. She opened the gate and went to the man’s side. She did everything mechanically and couldn’t understand her own actions. She should have been running away, screaming at the top of her lungs, but there she was kneeling in a puddle of blood, trying to stop bleeding from more holes than she had enough hands for.
“Don’t worry about me,” He said. This was the first time Len had ever been communicated with telepathically, and while it wasn’t unpleasant, she felt somewhat exposed, and each thought came with the feeling of a hand placed on the back of her head. “Sorry, I know it’s not proper to speak into someone’s mind so abruptly, and without prior permission, but as you can see, I don’t really have much of a choice.”
“I understand,” Len said, and her voice sounded hollow even to her. She was numb, and the only feeling she was truly aware of was the warm blood soaking her clothes. The man coughed and attempted to raise his hand. After failing a second time, Len helped him.
“Thank you, again, I’m sorry but I need you help. I want you to take this and keep it for a while. The owner will come retrieve it soon,” he said, and above his palm, a blue light formed, then condensed into the shape of a small black ring. “Please take it.”
Len looked at the ring, then at the man. He still had that desperate look in his eyes, but the determination was fading, and even his telepathic voice was weakening. Len said nothing for a while, then in a voice filled with assertion, she said “No,” while still holding the man’s hand. “I won’t take it, because I’m sure this is the reason why that man did this to you. I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to put my life at risk for something that has nothing to do with me.”
The man sighed audibly but didn’t deny Len’s statement. “I’m sorry,” Len said again, putting the man’s hand down with the ring still resting in his palm. “I think it would be better if I left now, do you want me to call the CDO?”
“Don’t bother,” the man said, and he smiled sadly. “That would only complicate things for you, leave quickly, before someone else notices.”
Len nodded and stood up, but before she left, she wrapped him in her jacket, hoping that it might keep him alive a little longer. After she fished, she took one last look at the man, and the ring in his hand, then turned and ran the rest of the way home. When she got to her room, she was suddenly hit by a wave of exhaustion, and only had the energy to strip off the bloody clothes before passing out.
Len, shaking from the memory, vaguely heard Ruv calling her name. “Len, Len, Len…” he called. “Len if you don’t respond in the next ten seconds, I will call for an emergency vehicle.”
“I’m okay Ruv,” she said weakly, “Just a little shaken.”
“Are you sure?”
“Seriously, I’m fine,” She said smiling. Sometimes, he acted so much like a person that she almost forgot he was a robot.
“Alright. Here’s your tea, it will help you relax,” he said.
“Hold on to it for a bit, I need to finish taking care of this first,” Len said, getting to her feet. She picked up the bag, and without further indecision, threw it in the combustion bin, and activated the sequence. Whatever she had witnessed, was far beyond her average everyday sphere of existence, and the man told her not to go to the CDO. With the clothes gone, the only thing she needed to do to completely erase any physical proof of the event, was to clean the area on her floor that had been stained by the clothes. She laughed sadly at the fact that for the first time she was thankful for the hideous white tile flooring of her apartment, instead of the carpet she had initially wanted.
She scrubbed the floor viciously, wiping twice to get the stains out, and four time to remove smell. As the floor got cleaner, she wished fervently, that she could have as easily wiped the memory from her mind. When she was finished, all the supplies and tools went into the combustion bin. She picked up the empty bottle of soap to throw away as well, but she saw something laying on the floor, and the bottle dropped from her hand. The sound of it clattering on the floor, paralleled the sound her shocked mind would have made, if minds could make sounds. She clenched her fist over her chest, and had to take deliberate breaths, as she stared, eyes shaking, at the small black ring laying on her white floor.