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The Girl who was Also an Atomic Bomb
You might think school would be difficult for me, but it’s not so bad. Sure, a person like me isn’t always the epicenter of social behavior, but I like to think I’m at least well-known, if not necessarily popular. But really, for a teenager, don’t you just want to be noticed? Or, was it accepted...Well, that’ll never happen, so I’ll stick with noticed, and trust me, that will never be a problem. But if you don’t know me yet, hi! My name is Quinta, and I’m just your average teenager.
And, if you want to get all specific and racist, I guess I also happen to be an atomic bomb.
But don’t worry about it. It’s not like I’m dangerous, otherwise they wouldn’t let me go to school, right? I’m just glad I get to retain some part of my human life, since it is at least half of me, if not more.
Oh, there’s someone else walking to school!
Oh, it’s just another person who ignores me. Maybe shuns would be a better word. Or, perhaps, flat out running at top speed to the school in a desperate effort to get away from me. I’m not great with description.
Normally, the halls would be crowded right now, but most people are already in class. Not my lazy class, though, practically everyone in my homeroom is still loitering around their lockers. A few stragglers, kids I don’t know, see me and rush to their rooms. Guess they’re not comfortable with the idea of my existence yet, like the kids in my class are.
Terra runs up to me and starts chatting away. Even though its mindless chatter about some band I’ve obviously never heard of, I appreciate it. It makes me feel a little more involved, less feared. It’s not always such a bad thing to be avoided in high school, as long as I have at least one person to talk too.
I remind myself to nod and at least attempt gushing with her about the hot lead singer (or was it the sexy drum player?) before we begin heading to class.
Some boys are whispering and glancing at me every few seconds. It makes me a little nervous, but Terra just grins at me like she knows a dirty secret. One boy breaks from the group, staring nervously at me, and Terra winks at me before latching onto some other girl heading into class, one who can counteract her fangirl-beams with her own.
I've seen this play out before, but I don’t know if I can handle it He’s staring at me, like he wants something and is determined to get it. I don't know, I just--
AH! He slapped my back. HARD. The he practically shouts to the four people still in the hallway, “HAVE A NICE DAY, QUINTA!”
He rejoins his group of friends, following everyone else into the room, and I’m in the hallway, feeling very confused and not a bit happy like I think I’m supposed to.
I can’t even obsess about these feelings, because when I go into the room after them, the first thing I hear from their corner of the room is, “I toldja she wouldn't asplode! Where’s my ten bucks?”
Nope. No normal, petty teen romances for me. Terra lopsidedly smiles at me, and I’m at least glad that she cares. Someone does.
Terra does what she can to keep my happy, trying to avoid anything that might bother me in the slightest, until Biology. Even though she went so far as to throw away a stray notebook fringe before I sat down at our lab table just a minute ago, she doesn't hesitate to yank a hair off my head.
“Owch!” I exclaim, more hurt on the inside than the outside. Is this just another lame experiment to see if I’ll blow up? Is she trying to be funny?
But she doesn't even smirk at me or acknowledge me in the slightest. She puts my hair next to one of hers on the microscope, slides of cardiac muscle apparently forgotten,
“Weird, it’s just like mine. I can’t even tell the difference unless I zoom out to see the hair color! You, try, Quinta!”
I peer into the microscope, and I see her point. Our hairs are exactly the same, even on a cellular level. No one’s ever explained me to me before, so this is the first real proof I have.
Proof that I’m really no different from them after all.
But this discovery doesn't help my standings with the rest of the school. We had to have another assembly, third one this week, which steals away my precious study time. And the worst part is that it’s because of me.
“You know why you’re here, students,” announces the principal to a student body loudly groaning their complaints. “Bullying remains an ever-present issue, even if you don’t know you’re doing it.
“Purposefully ignoring your classmates, even if it’s just one student, is a serious issue. I know most of you may be doing so out of caution, maybe even fear, but know that their emotions are meaningless. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. She’s just the same as all of you.”
I thought he was looking straight at me when he said, “She’s more similar to you than you could imagine.”
Terra seemed happy as usual as we left the school. As we came up to her street, though, she stopped and stared at the ground as if her home had suddenly reminded her of something sad.
“Oh, you can’t stay at our house tonight, Quinta. We’re visiting some relatives in the next town.”
I couldn't help but look disappointed. I hated staying in my big old house by myself at night, even though, due to my presence, it was probably the safest place in the country.
“But I’ll be back tomorrow, and we’ll see each other at school, yeah?” She tried to look cheery, and I did, too. It wasn't her fault her parents were dragging her off to visit old aunt so-and-so.
“Yeah! See you then, I guess.”
“Objective accomplished. Target 2 in transit. Acquisition of Target 1 now awaiting signal.”
“Excellent work. Confirm transit and arrival of Target 2, we will begin the acquisition phase.”
It’s dark in this plane, and it smells like sweat and gunpowder. I've been ready for this, though, and with the week I've been alive, I’m honestly lucky that it’s been this long.
I’m just sad that I won't see Terra again. That’s all I’m going to miss, really. I’m not even going to have a horrible death; I’m going to have a relatively painless one. Just like the thousands of people in the town below. Only the town, though, I hope. After all, I’m not that big, and as far as I know, I’m only partially a bomb.
The pilot signals me off and opens the hatch. He doesn't watch me jump, even though I know the autopilot is on, and we're flying too high to be in danger of hitting anything. I don't’ really blame him, though, and before I waste any more time contemplating, I jump.
This actually isn't such a bad way to go, from what I know about death. No worries, no stress, no unachieved dreams or even family to miss. Just death after what I suppose could be called a blissfully short life.
Here comes the ground. What a nice city this is, I think, with a beautiful, enormous park. Wait… those are decorations, not flowers. Looks like a party, so many people. Darn, it looks like I'm going to land right in the middle of the party. Ironically, it would be the first party I've ever been to, even if I was obviously uninvited.
God, I don’t know why they’re bombing this city, but I hope it’s full of murderers. I hope this is a murder party I’m about to destroy.
Wait, it’s not a murder party, if that’s even a real thing. Drat. It’s a family reunion. I hope it’s a family of assassins and drug dealers.
But then, the chilling thought comes as I absorb the last name printed on the banner right in front of “family reunion” that would make Terra an assassin and/or a drug dealer.
Now I realized that everyone’s staring at me. I was kind of hoping I would just unexpectedly fall out of the sky, but I remember that I came in a military plane, not a quiet, common commercial plane. Of course everyone’s staring at what just came out of it.
Even though it’s horrendously disfigured with confusion, terror, and even pity, I’m just glad I got to see Terra’s face before I landed.
“Impact, sir. Anticipated result achieved. Everything within a mile radius was destroyed, but no fatal chemicals lingering in the air. Minimum chance of nearby communities experiencing effects.”
“Follow through with investigation nonetheless.”
Anything besides the anticipated outcome would've been a tremendous waste of his efforts. Because of the outstanding success after a very stressful and critical project, the commander tried to loosen the mood a little. “Good work, yourself, “sir”. Go ahead and get wasted tonight, my treat. And don’t worry about work for the next few weeks, it’s in the military's hands now, they get to decide the next step we take.”
The young man shudders, clutching his head like he has the mother of all headaches. I know how he felt. “Sir...what will this mean? That ordinary people can be turned into bombs with just some simple wiring in the brain and the right situation?”
“The human brain is dangerous when combined with our emotions, which are unique to our species. You should know that as well as anyone.”
Yes, emotions, the cause of it all, and yet, the only thing that hindered this experiment.
A photo was on the commander’s desk, an alien among charts and reports on death and destruction. It was a man and a woman he no longer seemed to know, strangers, looking so happily at the camera, capturing their perfect life. An unborn child was also in the picture, unknown to the merry couple. A child who would never be born, but grown in a test tube. Even her designated name changed to a mere number for easier classification.
“I’m sorry,” whispered the man to himself and his family, staring back from a universe that no longer existed, “I’m so sorry...”