And then I did something I wasn’t supposed to do: I looked back.
New house. New city, new country. New personal mission. Feeling impatient, I wish I could just finish it all soon. But I can’t rush. A trace of doubt crosses my mind. What if he wouldn’t like me?… I quickly reject the thought. He needs to.
He is a nice neighbour, but you can’t believe the first impression. Never believe the first impression, I usually think while looking in the mirror. Blonde hair, blue eyes, angel face. And smiling, always smiling, they like seeing you smile. Although you know inside is nothing like that at all.
We talk about the weather – I make sure I laugh occasionally. I know what I have to do: get closer, let him know you, but not all at once, because men find it exciting when you keep a few bits hidden. Who’s the prey though?… Who’s hunting who? I’m sure I know which side I‘m on, but I still blush at his compliments.
I feel so strange when I’m with him, so… euphoric. I can’t wait to see him, to hug him, to kiss him, to talk to him about everything and nothing at all. I find myself smiling for no reason – which is nice, although today something strange happened. I was smiling at my own reflection in the mirror, when suddenly a thought crossed my mind: This is wrong, it shouldn’t be like this. But before I could grasp the meaning of it, I hear him coming and I forget anything else apart from him, and me, and us…
We are eating dinner in his favourite restaurant. I know stuff about him already – like his status: single – but I let him speak, while listening carefully in order to get updates on any new information he may say or show. He’s always looking at me. Me, whose story I had to struggle not to say in a mechanical way, after repeating it so many times: Russian, moved to London… single.
Would this be the night he makes the next big move? Or shall I make it? But before I can properly plan my next steps, something happens. We are on our way back to the car, when I feel something. Like electricity through my whole body, starting with my right hand. What’s wrong, what happened? I try not to panic and quickly look down at my fingers, which are now curling naturally between his owns. He’s staring at me while I stare at our hands. Something has changed… Raising my head, I meet his eyes and it’s like the world stopped. I can see him so clear and for the very first time I become aware of his electric blue eyes, and I feel lost again, and then it’s something about the way he bites his lower lip… Anticipation? Nervousness? What is it? I’m quickly looking for the answer but I can’t find it, and it’s too late anyway, he leans forward and presses his lips against mine, and I suddenly feel lost.
I knew rewinding my memory was forbidden. “It can change you”. “It will make you forget your true purpose.” I could feel hot steams raising inside me; my purpose had been forgotten beforehand anyway. So one more time, I did what I wasn’t supposed to do: I searched through my brain for the memories before day 0.
Day Minus 290
This is the day I am born, the day all my components are bounded together, and I am finally switched on. I have everything programmed inside me, starting with my clear purpose: win and bring fame to my master. Everyone has failed before me – they were transferred to another centre afterwards, so I never had the chance to talk to them. But it doesn’t matter, I know what I’m supposed to do: follow the rules and destroy the target. Which target, though? Well, I will find out when the time comes – for now, it’s just an ordinary guy.
The mission was to kill him in 29 days or less: to smash his heart and possibly his mind, no questions asked… but in a complex way that took me a while to understand – and I still wasn’t sure about it when I started. Apparently there is a highly effective way of hurting someone, and what makes it perhaps worse than death is the fact that the victim has to live with marks for the rest of his life. But not skin marks, as I thought at the beginning. Inside scars, where his heart was broken into pieces, where his mind still tries to make sense of what happened, what he did wrong. It’s called non accomplished love. No questions asked.
The hot steams inside me are getting out now, they’re tears slowly filling my eyes before starting rolling on my checks. What have I done? How did I manage to become so… human? This is my end now, they’ll come get me back, leave him a message in which I say Adieu, and he’ll be left heartbroken… Exactly like they wanted him to. Why? Why do I have to do this? What was the purpose of my training? What did he actually do wrong, to deserve this? I know we’re different species, but we can still co-exist… Suddenly I realise I can’t do it, I can’t hurt him. It took me 29 days to figure it out, but now I know I need to tell him the truth, even if there’s a punishment for that…
I wipe the tears away when my internal system receives a message; nothing about failing and disappointment, but something completely different: Congratulations, V101-eT. You’re the first one to pass. You’re free to go home. Keep in touch. Without even blinking, I start running towards the other half of me – the human completing the machine.
Written on: 29 February 2016
Note: This story was submitted for a "1000 word challenge" competition on the theme "29", and it received an honorary mention from the judges!