04-04-20XX, Professor Skinner glances at his attentive classroom. “That’s for today, papers are due by the end of next week,” Professor Skinner calmly stated. His students groan but swiftly gather their papers to go home. Professor Skinner does the same, gathering his teaching materials. He unconsciously pauses and glances up at the classroom window that shows a swift setting sunset through the blooming spring trees on the school’s campus grounds.
His kids were off with his wife watching some children’s movie that was huge in theatres. Never mind that he didn’t understand the point, but he couldn’t very well skip teaching his class just to go to a movie he didn’t want to see. It still surprised him, how often teaching was his savior of such situations. With that in mind, Professor Skinner decides to head directly home, but first stop by the Chinese takeout to pick up an order of Mushu-pork to enjoy, while grading without any interruptions.
Lost in thought, Professor Skinner exits the empty classroom having shut the lights off. However, he failed to notice the watchful figure who had stepped out from the shadows. The red hooded figure swiftly disappears among the students without a trace.
Carrying the Chinese takeout in one hand and his briefcase in another, Professor Skinner juggles the items between his arms to reach the house keys. His takeout almost falls as he steadies the plastic bag with his teeth and twists the key into the doorknob. The door unlocks as he swiftly jingles the keys with his fingers back out. Holding the keys by the keychain, he hastily grabs the bag, before letting go of the plastic takeout bag held with his teeth.
Pushing the door open with his briefcase, Professor Skinner wipes his feet on the Welcome mat, before stepping inside. With a firm kick with the sole of his leather black oxfords shoe sole, the door slams shut behind him. The doors slam echoes rather loudly throughout the empty, dark house.
The house is eerily quiet without his children. Professor Skinner thought to himself as his footsteps sound far too loudly across the wooden floor. Even the shadows seem so very large to his eyes as they loom from every corner. With growing unease, he reaches for the light switch in the hallway. The light switch clicks dully as the light bulb barely flickers with light casting even stranger, moving shadows across the floor and walls.
Professor Skinner’s suddenly hears his wife’s sharp voice in his ears. “Berry, will you change the light bulb in the hallway? It’s flickering and the children don’t like it,” His wife had asked two days ago.
Professor Skinner sighs as he remembers and feels largely comforted by the reminder. He calmly strides into the dark kitchen and sets his things on the counter. Before he can turn around to turn on the light, a movement or flicker of a shadow catches his attention. Turning too slowly, a dark object smashes into his head. A wrack of pain crashes through him as Professor Skinner falls to the floor. Barely able to see in the dim gloominess, he sees a red blur as everything goes dark.
A soft ticklish voice in his ear whispers, “Wake up, sleepy head.” With a pounding headache, Professor weakly tilts his head as he blinks rapidly still rather dazed. Slowly the object’s before him come into focus until he sees a figure with a red hood sitting casually in front of him.
Suddenly, his training kicks in as Professor Skinner alertly scans his surroundings. He was very well tied on the ground with his arms tied behind his back and his feet tied together at the ankles and upper thighs. To ensure any movement was visible, he was propped up against the kitchen cabinet. Not tied to a chair, lest the chair itself be used as a weapon or as an aide to loosen the ropes. It was a professional job given the knots on the rope and the fact that he wasn’t dead yet. And if so, they needed him alive, which would buy him some time.
Professor Skinner carefully studies the figure in front of him and tries to narrow the candidates down. But unfortunately, the bright hoody only described an age, but not any particular group. Though at least the hoody did enlighten the gender of the individual, a female.
Taking a deep breath Professor Skinner clears his mind and ignores the throbbing in his head. A nauseating feeling climbs up his throat, but he merely rests his head back against the wooden counter. The feeling slowly ebbs and dies until it becomes a dull sickly feeling in the bottom pit of his stomach.
“To what organization or whom do I owe this unexpected visit?” Professor Skinner drily asked as he breathed through his nose. Slowly opening his eyes, he studies the figure for any reaction. The figure doesn’t move keeping their hands in the hoodie pocket.
“I see, a tough customer,” Professor Skinner rather friendly said. His training and years of experience told him, that if he could connect with his target, it would be that much easier to live or extract what he needed. In this case, gain time to escape. With his back turned against his captor and against the wall, he slowly flexes his muscles to test the ropes, the ropes are far too tight to even budge an inch.
Waiting for a response, Professor Skinner begins to move his fingers finding that the ropes are still too tight to loosen that way. As for his legs, they were far too well tied for him to try anything. His mind races for an alternative as his hands reach for each other and clasp each other firmly in response. Enlightened, his brows furrow at understanding what he would have to do. He would have to break his thumb to loosen the ropes, but he would have a very small window of opportunity to act. Therefore, everything hinged on that small moment in time, when his captor would make a mistake and reveal their weakness.
The hooded female cocks her head and finally speaks, “You cannot imagine, how many days and nights I spent imaging what I would do to you, Professor Skinner.” The chilling words cause a shiver of dread to crawl down Professor Skinner’s spine. “But to my surprise, I feel nothing. Which is frankly disappointing. But oh well, no use crying over spilled milk.”
Professor Skinner taking the opportunity to move his captor’s heart. “You’re right killing me, won’t make you feel better. And whatever I did, I’m sorry. I truly am. In fact, you can just leave me here tied until my wife and kids get home. You can leave and I won’t say a word to anyone about tonight’s events. After all, I can’t even identify you,” Professor Skinner persuasively stated to his captor attempting to appeal to his captor’s better human nature.
The hooded figure purposefully pushes her hood back causing Professor Skinner’s heart to sink. The female’s grey-white hair is pulled into a neat bun. Her Grey-blue eyes seem dull, but sparkle with some unspeakable emotions. And her features seem youthful, but more that of a young woman’s. Nothing outstanding to say the least, but those very features lurked at the edge of his subconscious screaming at him.
Professor Skinner hesitates, before saying, “I’m sorry, you seem familiar, but I don’t recognize you.”
“Ah, but you do know me and very well that I might add, Professor Skinner. I am the one who you named, let me think, ah yes, Alexandrina,” #017 calmly stated with a friendly smile. “Isn’t it good to see old friends, Professor Skinner?”
Professor Skinner pales as he begins to tremble. “Alexandrina, I’m not that person anymore, I left Cypher after the incident. I am an entirely new person, I teach ethics for heaven’s sake,” Professor Skinner softly pleads, “Please I have a wife and kids!”
“In that case, we better get to it, before they get back from the movies, Professor Skinner,” #017 calmly said as she took out a loaded weapon from her front hoodie pocket. With ease, #017 points the armed weapon at Professor Skinner.
“It’s simple really, I’ll ask a question and you’ll answer. Is that understood, Professor Skinner?” #017 serenely stated with the gun pointed straight at Professor Skinner’s head. Professor Skinner’s throat tightens as his mouth dries, but slowly and most firmly, he nods his head in reply. He subtly takes hold of his thumb ready to act at the slightest waiver of that pointed gun. It would be the only chance he would get.
“I only have two questions, that are really the one and the same. Where is Atlas?” #017 sternly asked.
Professor Skinner pales and says, “I don’t know.” The gun suddenly moves from his chest to his head. “I really don’t know, I was merely a scientist working on Project Cypher.” The finger of #017 tightens around the trigger in response. “But I know someone who might!”
The gun doesn’t waver as #017 asks, “Who?”
“After Project Cypher was terminated, the entire project’s personnel were relocated and any information on Project Cypher was scrubbed, blacked out, and destroyed, becoming only a need to know basis of classified information. While the only surviving proof of Cypher, the sole surviving subject known as Alexandrina,” Professor Skinner voice falters at the last two words.
“Rather than destroying the only survivor successfully programmed, Atlas deemed that Alexandrina was to be relocated to the township of Stoker to be surveyed by an entire town filled with ex-high level trained personnel, who officially no longer existed. However, the side-effects that had appeared in all the terminated subjects suddenly occurred in subject Alexandrina and the direct consequence was the occurrence, the massacre of the entire township of Stoker. The government was ready to destroy you for its losses, but Atlas interfered due to you’re classified nature and valuable existence as the last surviving subject. A bargain was struck, preservation of the last subject in a highly secure facility,” Professor Skinner firmly stated only pausing for breath.
“Sorry, Alexandrina, but I’m a bit dazed,” Professor Skinner innocently said as #017 eyes flicker unhappily every time her subject name is stated. #017 warningly glares at him as Professor Skinner smiles innocently in reply. “Sorry, my dear. As I was saying, Alexandrina, the one person who might know is Georgio Adragna.” Professor Skinner sincerely replied.
“You’re lying,” #017 flatly stated. Professor Skinner opens his mouth to protest as #017 explains, “Drops of perspiration have been released by your body,” #017 said as she points to her nose with her left hand. “Your heart jumped several beats when you said that fake name and has been that way your entire statement,” #017 continued while pointing to her ears. “And your eyes, they are fully dilated and flicker inconsistently,” #017 calmly ended as she points to her eyes.
“Professor Skinner, I’m disappointed that you’re surprised. You know exactly what I am because this was exactly what I was made into. I can’t even remember my own name, it was all taken away for me. All I have is the code name I was given, Alexandrina. But worst of all, all of you, broke something inside of me and changed me,” #017 coldly said as she touched her heart with her palm before pointing at her head with her index finger. “I can’t change the fact that there’s something’s wrong with me, I know that know. But before we continue to discuss my emotional and mental turmoil, I suggest you remember some rather important details, Professor Skinner, lest I do anything rash.”
#017 paused theatrically as Professor Skinner quivers with rage and fear. “Professor Skinner, you have a wonderful wife and two adorable children. And given that you created me, you know exactly what I am, what I have done and what I can do. So, I shall solemnly ask you, Professor Skinner, do you think I am lying to you?” #017 eagerly said with a warm smile that was as cold as ice.
Professor Skinner trembles as his hand loosened its grip on his thumb. Dismayed at his mistake, his face pales as he gulps with terror. “They will kill me,” Professor Skinner whispered.
“Professor Skinner, the decision is simple to make. But given that you seem so reluctant and undecided, allow me to persuade you otherwise. I shall ask you a fairly simple question, Professor Skinner. Shall your lovely wife and children and I formally meet?” #017 calmly stated as Professor Skinner lips tremble with horror and alarm for his family.
#017 pensively cocks her head. “What are your two children, five and eight? A delightful age to make new friends, don’t you think Professor Skinner?” #017 charmingly said as she smiles a most heartfelt smile at him.
Professor Skinner desperately pleads, “Please don’t hurt my wife and children. Please, I’m begging you.”
“Oh, Professor Skinner,” #017 said as she let out a heartfelt sigh. “What was it that you said when we begged for the testing to stop? Oh yes. Be like snow…. Silent and Cold.”
Professor Skinner closes his eyes in defeat. “I don’t know if he is still alive or not, I lost contact after the relocation. But the only one of us, scientists, who worked on the project that would have the authority to know, would be William Burns. That’s really, all I know,” Project Skinner desperately beseeched as his eyes silently plead for mercy.
#017 is quiet for a moment before faintly answering, “I believe you.”
Professor Skinner sighs with relief but swiftly chokes as the gun remains pointed at his head. “It was nothing personal, Alexandrina, but I didn’t have a choice! You do! Alexandrina, you have a choice. I know you don’t want to do this, because I can still see that good girl inside of you,” Professor Skinner persuasively said as the gun shakes for just a second.
Seeing results, Professor Skinner continues, “Alexandrina, think about those good people from Stoker. They wouldn’t want you to kill me, Alexandrina!”
A tranquil little smile appears on #017’s face. “You’re right. But they are all dead,” #017 lightly stated and pulled the trigger. Professor Skinner is unable to react as the bullet passes through his brains and into the cabinet behind to remain deeply lodged inside the cabinet. The piercing sound echoes loudly throughout the house and onward like a ripple in a pond.