An Excerpt from CAGED

Morning, everyone! Today’s post is going to be an excerpt from my pride and joy Caged. I don’t want to tell you too much, so without further ado….

CAGED. (Excerpt taken from chapter 4, “Cornered”)

I brace for impact, holding my head high. [The cybernetic] does exactly what I expect, throwing her entire body into tackling me against the wall. I step right. She crashes into the brick, sparks flying. My hand meets the back of her head and I entangle my fingers into her hair, rearing back and slamming her head into the wall a few more times. 

When I pull it away, there’s nothing but steaming metal and drips of plastic left of her face. The glass of her eyes is shattered, spiderweb trails scattering across the surface. I throw her to the ground, kneeling down beside her and digging my hand into the soft skin of her exposed back. 

Finding the familiar panel, I grip it and yank, the suction of her skin attempting to hold me back. When the wires snap like string, the cyber falls limp under me, steam curling out of her deformed body. 

“Hey, Linux, I got it!” I say, standing and turning around to face the boy. 

Instead of his broad, goofy smile, I am greeted by a ghost’s face, panicked and horrified. 

Standing beside him with a paralyzer aimed at his head is a cyber unlike any I’ve ever seen before. 

He’s monstrously tall, towering over even Linux. His outfit is a black suit and tie, finished with black shoes that reflect the sunlight overhead. His hair is short, spiked up in the front. I would’ve thought he was human, had half his face not been translucent, showing the machinery beneath. One eye is human, emerald green, and the other is mechanical, red as it stares me down. 

Scarier still is the emotion on his face, a mixture of joy and rage. 

“Oh my, what a catch we have today,” he whispers, picking up Linux by the back of his neck. Linux turns whiter still, his hands trembling at his side. “Zwei, there’s two of them.”

A female comes around the corner, dressed in a matching black suit. She’s as tall as he is, yet leaner. Her blonde hair curls at the top, framing electric blue eyes that put mine to shame. Like him, she looks entirely human. Yet, there’s a huge piece of skin on her face missing, a gaping hole that cuts from her hairline to her collarbone. As I stare at her, feeling my heart racing in my ears, the mechanics in her face shift, giving her a sinister half-smile. 

“Eins, she’s adorable,” the female says. Neither of them have the cybernetic accent. They have no accent at all, as far as I can tell. The female takes a giant step towards me. “Sorry, cutie. You’re going to have to come with us.”

I shake my head violently, taking a shaky step backwards. Stumbling over the body of the cybernetic on the ground, I hit the wall, knocking what air remains in my lungs out of me. 

“Eins, can I just shoot her?” the female asks, taking aim for me. The gun in her hand isn’t a paralyzer. In the barrel are actual metal bullets, not the electrified blue ones. 

“No,” the male says, shaking Linux at her. My eyes dart between him and the female. 

I promised him. I have to protect him. 

“Why not? Do you see anything valuable about her? She’s painfully average.”

I say a quick prayer of thanks to God for making me normal. 

“No, she’s not,” the male says. “Look at those eyes. Almost as lovely as yours, except natural. Our ‘Eyes’ exhibit has been needing a second occupant.”

My heart stops in that moment, crushed by the thousand-pound weight of his words. I can’t go to the Anthros. I won’t. My body kicks into overdrive, and I dive for the limp cyber just as the female switches weapons and begins to fire. 

Using the dead cyber as a shield, I inch backwards towards the end of the alley. There is nothing but a brick wall behind me, but there’s a ladder. Maybe I can climb out. 

The female, Zwei, continues to fire her paralyzer, electrified bullets flying like bees in the air. Through my personal shield, the electricity tickles my hands, spreading goosebumps up my arms. The hair covering my body stands on end. The metal of the cyber is a good enough conductor; yet, the strength behind the bullets dies out before it reaches me. 

My teeth chatter as I struggle to hold up the weight of the cyber, bending almost backwards. 

The computer panel in my hand is destroyed, fried by a stray bullet. 

“Eden!” Linux screams. “Please don’t leave me.”

I take a chance and glance at him, where he’s still being dangled in the air. 

Leaving Linux isn’t an option. What was I thinking? I couldn’t leave him even if I tried. He means too much to me. And to Cyrus.

I let out a long, determined breath.

Even if I don’t make it out of this alley alive, Linux has to. 

“Oh, don’t fight me, little Mensch,” Zwei says, throwing her arms in the air. There’s a sick smile painted on her face, still, even as she waves the paralyzer at me. “Just come willingly, and we won’t kill either of you. We will find a place for your boring companion.”

“Make me,” I whisper. 

“Make you?” She lets out a dry laugh. “Okay, but you asked for it.”

She lunges at me, grabs the body of the cyber with both hands, and lifts me off of the ground. My feet dangle under me until I am eye to eye with her. 

“The fear in your eyes is hilarious,” she whispers at me. 

I hold onto the cyber for dear life, frozen. 

No, no, no; this isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. 

The image of my parents flashes before my eyes. These two machines aren’t Artificials. They’re something much worse. Why am I scared of them? They have to have a weakness. 

Desperate, I kick out at Zwei, my foot landing square in the middle of her chest. She takes a deep breath, losing her grip on me in surprise. 

“Ooh, feisty,” she squeals, grabbing my ankle as I crawl away. 

Now, I’m upside down. 

I look around for a weapon as she carries me by one leg toward Linux and her partner. With the blood rushing to my head, my vision blurs. The heat in my face is unbearable, and my heartbeat pounds in my ears. 

We pass my backpack, where my grenade sits. Why couldn’t Cyrus have given me a gun? Just once? Screw the limited resources and needing to protect the other Luddites with the guns. If I just had a long range weapon, I could…

My eyes fall on the gun in Zwei’s pocket. The hilt is exposed by her open suit jacket, flashing silver in the streetlights. It doesn’t have the blue tint of a paralyzer. Mustering up all the strength I have left in my upper body, I grab for the gun, aiming towards Linux and Eins. 

“Zwei, you Dummkopf!” Eins snaps, pointing with his free hand at me. 

He is a second too late, though. The bullet hits its target, the joint of his shoulder. He swears loudly as the arm dislodges, sending Linux tumbling to the ground. 

“Run, Lin!” I scream, tossing the gun at him. 

For a moment, confusion passes over his face. Then, he takes off at a sprint, disappearing from my sight. 

“You let him get away,” Zwei whines, throwing me onto the ground. I slam head-first into the pavement. Pain radiates through my head and back, and warm liquid runs down my forehead. 

“She better be worth this,” she continues. 

I pry my eyes open, the misty form of Eins’ face uncomfortably close to mine. His single red eye bores through mine, making my head hurt worse. He smells faintly of motor oil and plastic, and his teeth are slightly yellow. 

“She will prove her worth. If nothing, we will breed her. She’s a strong candidate.” He puts the cold barrel of a gun on my temple. The blue of it appears like lightning in my peripheral. 

“Kill me,” I mutter. “Harvest me, please.”

Eins laughs, reminding me of the sound trains make when they scrape on their brakes. The paralyzer hums in my ear. 

“See you behind the glass,” he says, and I enter the lightning, thrown into a sea of excruciating pain. 

For the next week, you can find CAGED on Wattpad! It won’t be there much longer though. So, if you want to read it for free, you’d better hop on that! See you next time!

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