In college, I went on a date with the son of my mother’s coworker. I couldn’t remember if his name was Jason or Justin, so I spent the entire night maneuvering my way out of saying his name. He... [+]
My name is Oliver, and those were the last words I ever said. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound dramatic or anything of the sort but this is my story, and I believe I’m entitled to document these occurrences however I wish. Moving along, my name is Oliver, Oliver Ra, I was born an Alieni, an ancient word meaning stranger, used in Rome to describe another family's slave. Nowadays I can’t say the definition is much different, nor the use of the word for that matter. Alieni are creatures science created and now has to deal with, which of course means hiding the whole species away, using humanity’s fear as an excuse to exploit them and then throw them out like trash the moment they are shown to be no longer useful. We’re stronger, we’re faster, used for war and labor and nothing else. Treated like trash, born into trash and used until we’ve been promptly disposed of like the filth we were raised to be.
Now you might be asking yourself what on earth these creatures are, how horrible they must be for humanity to treat them in such a hideous way. Well, Alieni are exactly like humans, we get scared and fall in love, just like everyone else. The only difference between Alieni and humans is the spirit, or soul, life force, what makes you, you. Humans of course have it inside them, beating through their own blood, moving through their heart and brain. Alieni are different, our spirit is kept outside of our bodies, infused with an object since the moment we are born. Now that I’ve explained the basics of how society worked, let’s get to the actual story shall we?
The first time I saw Evyn she looked like an angel, a savior appearing from the darkness to show me the light that the world could provide, that everything wasn’t as black and white as I’d been told. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t a disposable object. I remember the fire in the trucks and the screams of humans as they tried to contain the escaping Alieni. Some were shot down, but I escaped. Evyn taught me how to be myself, she taught me to live my life, to live as if it were the last day I’d see the sun, the last day I’d be able to hold a spoon between my fingers and funnel beans and rice down my mouth. That idea, to live like it was the last day, has gotten me through every single day of my life until this moment and will probably continue to protect me through the rest of my sad existence.
Now I’m well aware that you came here for a story, the epic story of a hero, of Oliver Ra and all his accomplishments, the strength in his bones and the fire in his eyes. If so, then I’m quite sorry, because life is much less epic than the stories you read, and as exciting as the history textbox you pick up in class and glance at, only to put aside so that later you can explain very convincingly that, yes, you definitely did not just read one word. The story that I want to tell you, the real story I want to tell you was the day Evyn took her last breath.
I remember hyping up my troops, Evyn by my side to rally up the fifty or so Alieni I’d been ordered to lead in our battle against the nearest city. This raid would be our biggest show of power yet, the scream to tell the world that we were here and we were angry, the action that would turn eyeballs in our direction, if we could get a supporter, just one single human out of thousands, millions, it could be the difference between success and utter defeat, by which I mean death.
“We’ve learned to be afraid, learned to cower in the darkness...”
You all heard this before, at the very start of this little journey I’ve taken you on, so I will not repeat it. The sentence I’m sure you’ve all been patiently waiting for, well there it is. I remember the cheers I received, the feeling of praise I got from their bright grins and glowing eyes. Of course, as you might have guessed already, this is where everything went to hell.
The first thing I heard was a gunshot, followed by absolute silence, and then a single scream from the crowd. I remember turning around as fast as I could, my boots skidding in the morning dew of the grass I was standing on. The smell of morning fields and fresh meals mixed with the stench of gunpowder and blood as my eyes landed on the wounded woman beside me. Evyn’s face was pale, her mouth open and red with blood, her hair was coated in the stuff, red and black and hideous as it trickled from the wound down her hair and onto the green grass, turning everything crimson. I remember the tears falling down my face as I fell to the ground, a scream leaving my throat. I remember standing up, the silent scream that burned in my throat being spit out in a burst of anger and frustration, distress and sadness, every emotion compacted into one sentence.
“They should be scared of us!”
My words echoed through the gunshots, the cries and the anguish, the tears and the blood. I don’t know what made me do this, to this day I have no idea why I decided this was something that I could do. But in that moment, in that single moment, I remember a fire inside of me, a burning flame rising up from my empty stomach, up to my throat and out my mouth, giving me a power I can only describe as recklessness, though some might call it dauntlessness, or even courage, I believe they all mean about the same thing.
I clearly remember the faces of the people around me as they watched the humans step back, the eyes of humanity turning from determination to fear in what seemed like seconds. All around me I saw Alieni standing up, I saw them stepping forward towards the humans and I saw our oppressors take a step back with each one we took forward. I could still see it in their eyes, terror they had as we took our power, the power that they never thought we had and used it against them. One step at a time.
“You should be scared of us”
A voice called out, that voice became a call and that call became a scream, and that scream became a battle cry, a cry to tell the world we were here, we exist and we’re not backing down. I know we took a few steps forward and then I remember a man stumbling forward, gun in hand. Both human and Alieni watched in shock as the man ran up to me, his face was inches from mine, brown hair, stubble on his chin and a wild look in his eyes. I still don’t know exactly why I didn’t move, why I stood frozen as the man lifted the gun over our heads, it might have been shock, though in all honesty, if I had to pinpoint a cause I’d say I simply did not want to. I didn’t want to kill this man. The point is that I stood there, like a complete idiot, as he swung the gun, landing a clean blow to my head and promptly knocking me to the floor.
The next time my eyes opened I could not longer speak, words would not come out of my throat, I’m completely mute. At the time it really seemed like a horror movie serial killer had beaten me to death. I remember wanting to make a speech the next day and then having the crushing realization that I physically could not do that, I remember turning to the person closest to me, which just happened to be a nice young Alieni called Cassandra and scribbling down on a piece of paper: “I need your help.” A few days later Cassandra stood in front of the surviving Alieni, her grey eyes absolutely terrified as she shakily opened a piece of paper. I’ll never forget the change in her face as she tossed the paper away at my bidding, the smile turning into a grin as she took a step forward, confidence all over her, the confidence of a someone we should all learn to be.
“We are strong, we are courageous and reckless, we’re powerful, that doesn’t mean we can’t feel fear, that we can’t hesitate or scream in pain, and those emotions and actions do not mean we are weak. It means that we are alive.”