A melodic female voice echoed in the air. “My sanctuary… my sanctuary.”
My heart trembled and I opened my eyes. I knew that voice. Who was it?
I was lying down in a dark room. Padded walls on all sides with only a single flickering lightbulb in the cracked concrete ceiling. If there was a door, it was impossible to see in the dim light, blending perfectly into the walls.
I stood up.
Chains clattered. My body was covered in rusted iron links, wrapped around a straight jacket.
“Where am I?” I muttered and tried to break the chains.
The iron links rankled, but remained firm.
I frowned and then turned my attention back to my surroundings. I listened close, hoping to hear that voice again.
“My sanctuary… my sanctuary…”
The female voice echoed. A soft melody drifted through the room.
“That voice… that voice…” I muttered, hoping for the name to return. It was something I knew, someone I knew. But I couldn’t remember.
A soft click echoed in the room. Afterwards, a rectangle in the wall formed and swung open, revealing a passageway outside.
I stared down the newly opened area for a moment and then began walking towards it.
The voice stopped. Instead, there was only silence.
My heart trembled. Somehow, I knew that it was bad. The silence meant that something had happened.
I started running.
The passageway was lined with windows, cracked and broken. Beyond them, a world torn by battle could be seen. Crater-ridden grounds, blackened grass, ashy bones. Something terrible had occurred here.
My sense of urgency grew and I strained against the bonds on my body. “Break already!”
Metal screeched and then the chains snapped.
I quickly tore off the remnants of the chains and my straight jacket. “Stay alive! Please, stay alive!”
The passageway led into an abandoned facility, a laboratory. Rooms on either side of me were riddled with blood and decaying corpses.
I ignored them and redoubled my pace. Somehow, I knew where to run, my body moving on its own.
The stench of iron and decay grew the deeper into the facility I went. Soon, it was like the very air was stained with blood, heavy with each breath I took.
I grimaced but continued moving.
A metal door loomed before me. Though rusted with age, it stood firm and covered the entire end of the passageway.
“Get out of my way!” I roared and rammed my shoulder into the door.
A loud clang echoed in the passageway, but the door stood firm.
I roared again and slammed my whole body into the door.
The door crumpled like paper and collapsed onto the ground.
I ran past it and into the room it hid.
Eerie green fluorescent light illuminated the room. Towering test tubes lined the walls. Most had been shattered, spilling their contents, a strange clear ooze, onto the floor. But one remained untouched.
I moved towards it and placed my hand on the glass. “Sylvia.”
A girl floated within the test tube. She was beautiful beyond words, with silver hair drifting gently behind her.
The girl’s eyes were shut, and a soft smile was on her face. It looked like she was just sleeping.
But she wasn’t.
I clenched my hand, scratching the glass. “Dammit.”
The girl didn’t move, didn’t react.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”
I roared and smashed the test tube next to her.
Something crackled and then a mechanical voice sounded. “Subject S-001’s life force has vanished. The Sylph project has been cancelled. All personnel are to immediately evacuate the facility.”
I swung my fist at the test tube holding her. But before my fist struck the glass, I stopped. Not like this. Even if she would never open her eyes again, even if only her body was floating there, I wouldn’t hurt her.
I let out a shaky breath and then walked over to the control panel on the side of the room.
A terminal with countless buttons lit up, each marked with a strange symbol.
I stared at it for a while and then pressed three buttons.
A hissing sound echoed in the room, along with that of draining liquid. Soon the girl’s test tube opened. Without the liquid suspending her, she started to fall.
I ran over and caught her.
She was light. Too light.
I blinked away the tears in my eyes and carefully cradled her body. “I’m sorry, Sylvia. I’m sorry.”
There wasn’t a reply.
I stood and started walking away, leaving the room behind me.
A tremor shook the building. Shortly after, a mechanical voice echoed from a speaker above. “Self-destruct sequence initiated. All personnel are reminded to leave without further notice. Countdown: five minutes before total destruction.”
Five minutes. I had five minutes to get out of the facility if I wanted to live. Five minutes to escape with my life. But…
“Do you remember, Sylvia? The promise we made?”
…There was something else I had to do.
I cradled the girl’s body close to my chest and tried to smile. “There’s the sky. The sun. You wanted to see it so badly.”
“Four minutes remaining. All personnel, leave as soon as possible.”
I shook my head and continued walking. “We would walk around outside and I would show you all the beautiful things in the world. The green grass, the blue sky… we would wander around and go wherever we wanted. Do you remember?”
“Three minutes. Warning. All personnel, immediately evacuate the facility.”
I reached the glass passageway and looked outside. “…I’m sorry, Sylvia. I lied.”
“Two minutes. I repeat…”
“This world no longer has any color. This world no longer has any joy. The reason why they made you, the reason why they made me…”
“…Was to stain it red. To get rid of everything and start all over. To destroy life, not advance it.”
I gently brushed the silver hair away from the girl’s face. “…I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise, Sylvia. And I’m sorry that I lied to you.”
I looked away from her and to the crimson sky. “If there is a next time…”
“…I hope that we could meet again. That time, I’ll surely-“
An explosion rocked the facility. Searing energy from a nuclear explosion spread for miles around. Blinding light filled the air and nuclear fallout poisoned the earth.
I knew nothing else.