Elizabeth smiled as she watched her little girl trot toward the entrance of her school. Her eyes moistened a bit as she thought about the incident that happened just three years ago…
In one of the testing and dev. rooms of Crathos Inc., a five years old girl excitedly swirled on her chair near a thirty-something man in a white lab coat. The girl had light blond hair, cute pink lips and dark blue eyes, contrary to the man that instead had brown hair and black eyes.
The only thing they had in common were their eyes, sharp and full of vitality and playfulness.
“Lia, papa has to work and this part is reeeaaaaally hard, so could you be a little more quiet, please? Pretty please, sweetie?”
At the man’s plea a few snickers arose from his co-workers that had already heard similar banter throughout the whole day, while Lia stopped and looked at her father with a cheeky grin.
She jumped from her chair and hugged her father, who gave a helpless smile at his cute little daughter.
The men and women present felt their heart warming up, but they still continued to work. They were working on a supercomputer and also an AI. They were the developers and ‘parents’ of what would be known in the future as Yuki.
“When is mama coming back?”
Asked Lia while looking at her father’s work.
Keeping his gaze on the computer in front of him and his hands on the keyboard, the man glanced briefly at his child before as he answered:
“She’s having an important talk with uncle Jack, so it will take a while.”
Lia frowned a little but then quickly went back to her rotating chair.
A couple of knocks came from the backdoor of the laboratory. Everyone was a bit surprised, but it wasn’t the first time this had happened, as sometimes the guards would knock and enter to check if everything was alright. There was this kind of security because of the nature and importance of the project they were currently working on.
A woman who seemed to have more authority than the others paused her work, looked at the time on her wristwatch and said:
“They are a bit early, but whatever, Mike could I trouble you to please go open the door like always? Thanks.”
Lia’s father nodded at the woman while sighing at the fact that she always repeated the same words, as if she was stuck on a loop.
He stood up and went to open the door, his daughter followed while grabbing the end of his white lab coat with her adorable little hand.
Facing the door, almost on the verge of opening it, Mike heard some faint shouts on the other side of the door. He frowned, unconsciously putting himself slightly in front of his daughter, as he opened the door and finally heard what was being shouted:
“..top or I’ll shoot!”
The former voice was that of another worker of Crathos Inc., trying to call over the other guards, while the latter was from a guard lying on the floor, with a hand on his side to stop the bleeding and a gun pointed at the men with empty holsters and knives in their hands that stood right in front of Mike and Lia.
When the door opened, the nearest man quickly grabbed Mike, making Lia, who was holding on to her father, stumble ahead of them, placing herself between the guard and the criminals. One of the hostage-less men seemed indecisive for a moment, but he hardened his heart faster than his colleagues as he picked up Lia, his knife quickly pointing at her throat like his accomplice was doing to Mike.
“No! Please! Leave my daughter alone!”
Mike screamed, struggling to get free from the armed man. The other man again hesitated for an instant, but he regained his composure when another three new guards came, thus he walked forward for a bit, while their comrades placed themselves behind the two.
Mike, noticing that the men were concentrated on the arrival of the guards, hit his captor with an elbow strike and freed himself, before dashing toward the man who held his daughter. Unfortunately, the criminal hadn’t totally let his guard down.
Mike’s throat was cut. But he didn’t stop. He covered his throat with a hand and with the other went to pull the hair of the bastard who kept Lia hostage. The man now without anything to protect him immediately got shot in the chest by the guard lying on the ground.
One of the guards that just arrived was standing still in surprise and shock at what was happening but when he saw Mike pull the head of the second criminal, he was flustered as he thought he had seen the perfect chance to shoot him in the head.
So he quickly pulled the trigger.
With all the noise, people came looking at what was happening and when they saw the guard on the floor and the situation, they all started calling the police and the ambulance.
When he heard the first shot, Mike jumped forward to take it while the intruder tried to put Lia in front of him, but of course in such a short distance the second bullet entered his head before it happened. Just that his body’s momentum wasn’t changed.
Jack Stanford and Elisabeth Ashenworth entered the laboratory from the front door after hearing the shots and saw Mike on the ground, blood flowing non-stop from his carotid.
A look of utter despair was on Elisabeth’s face, but then came another two shots. The man who was still standing in front of Mike, fell on his corpse. A small instant of joy went through Elisabeth’s body, until she saw who the criminal was holding in his arms.
Lia was on top of the intruder who just fell on the lifeless body of her father, her right eye opened wide, her left eye burning like never before. She wanted to scream, but a strange sensation of liquid filling her head stopped her.
She was scared, but the only thing that she could do, the only thing her body was able to do at that moment, was humiliating itself, wetting her lower parts.
Everything felt so dull.
Even the rustling sound of someone picking her up.
Even the warm but wet sensation of some sort of liquid falling on her face.
Even the voice of her dear mother.
And then, everything was swallowed by darkness.
Slowly waking up, Lia felt a warm sensation coming from her right hand. Turning her head to see, she found the cause was her mother, who was tightly grasping her hand while she sat near her bed.
Lia gave the room a quick look and thus she noticed two more things: first was what appeared to be a doctor was standing near her mother, and second, the bandages she felt on her head obscured her vision.
Elisabeth’s blue eyes looked intently at her recently awoken daughter.
Elisabeth’s normally beautiful blond hair not only were in a mess, but they also seemed to be a shade darker, now completely different from her daughter that now had snow-white hair.
She was only a five year old child, but Lia already had white hair.
Certainly before the incident, her blonde hair were already quite pale, but the event at the lab traumatized her mind so much that her body had quickly changed the colour of her hair, while the nano-machines changed her eyes, no, her eye.
Right now, Lia’s right eye was black with a tinge of purple.
“..Yvonne, how do you feel?”
Yvonne was Lia’s second name, her father called her Lia, her mother Yvonne.
Sometimes people who didn’t know of this got a little confused, but it was their problem in the end, not Lia’s.
Lia waited a second to asses her condition, if it was the past, she’d instinctively feel the need to make her mother happy at this point, but right now, she didn’t feel that compulsion at all.
“My head hurth. Why ith my eye covered?”
Her mother made a strange face, Lia tried to understand what that expression meant, but quickly gave up. Elisabeth slowly put her right hand on Lia’s cheek, lovingly caressing her.
“Mrs. Ashenworth, now that your daughter is awake, we’ll be conducting more tests for the following days and then you’ll be free to return home once we’ve determined how long Miss Yvonne should stay in the hospital.”
After Elisabeth nodded the doctor silently left the room.
Other than Lia and her mother, no one else was present in that big, simple room.
“Mama, where is papa?”
All this time Lia had been expressionless, she herself hadn’t noticed it yet. Elisabeth likewise thought that it was because of what had happened.
“Papa.. is up in Heaven now…”
Elisabeth’s eyes were on the verge of crying as she tried to give her daughter a reassuring smile, but Lia remained expressionless.
She said, not really comprehending or feeling something from her mother’s words.
Later, when Lia fell asleep again, Elisabeth went out of the room and cried.
This was incident where her husband died and her poor daughter was shot, which resulted in her losing her emotions.
The doctor had said Lia was now incapable of feeling any trivial emotion. She could feel the strong ones, but the simple joy of living everyday, the feeling of friendship, the small fear one has while watching a horror film or even the small happiness of eating your favorite food were now unreachable to her.
Lia had survived. But she was scarred for life.
Alone in the car, a tear flowed down Elisabeth’s cheek as she recalled her little girl’s apathetic expression when she knew her father had died.
Her cold, emotionless expression never changed.
Her eye seemed to be made of glass as it showed no will to live nor emotion.
Gripping the steering wheel hard, Elizabeth drove toward her workplace.
It was difficult to work in the building where the incident happened, still, her family needed money. Obviously not as much as when her Mike died, but someone had to work and certainly an eight year old girl couldn’t sustain a family of two. The only comfort was that Crathos Inc. took full responsibility of Lia’s medical expenses, health and even part of her future education.
It was harsh, but she couldn’t stop.
She couldn’t embrace her husband anymore.
She couldn’t see her daughter’s smile anymore.
Lia was alive, and, even if the glimmer of hope was fragile and nowhere to be seen, Elizabeth hoped with all of her being that her daughter would one day feel emotions once again.
Parking the car in front of the garage, she silently gazed at her house.
Memories of her life with Mike, of Lia’s cute baby laughs when she played with her parents, of the three of them sleeping together gushed out.
Elizabeth brought her hands over her face and began sobbing as countless tears ran down her cheeks.