Having dealt with the problem of Michelle’s murder, and added a stack of names to the list of those I’d killed, it was time for me to rest, and recover. You might wonder where my home would be, or where a safe place would be.
I’m an Armor. We don’t exist. We have no homes.
A few years earlier, I’d found a cave in the mountains. One that wasn’t on any map. An unknown cave. It was away from everything. Away from electricity, roads, stores, towns, gas stations. It was in the mountains, hidden.
I figured someone would eventually find it, and when they did, I’d never set foot near it again. We all do what we must to survive. And for an Armor to sleep, to physically rest, is a dangerous thing. If an armor is ever identified, they are hunted down, and killed, by the Armor Corps. Secrecy is everything for us. Without it, we can’t exist.
It took six days of hiking, but I reached my hidden cave, and pulled aside the covering I’d placed over it’s entrance. Once inside, I pulled the covering back into place, making the cave entrance virtually invisible. Someone would have to fall into it to find it.
The armors night vision painted the interior of my cave in shades of green. I walked the rocks I’d placed inside to make a small trail into the back of the cave. There was nothing inside. No bed. No food. No water. Nothing.
Everything was outside, in the mountains. A stream I could use for water was a mile and a half to the north. The trees, and brush provided all the food I would need.
I pulled off the armor. Something that was always terrifying. Without it, I was vulnerable. I could trip, and fall, and break bones, or slice an arm open, of have a concussion. That would be easy to do in the dark.
Predatory animals, bugs, mice, ticks, everything I never had to worry about inside the armor, was a reality outside the armor. But, the only way to heal me, the only way for me to rest, and let the bruises fade, and watch the rings under my eyes, where I hadn’t slept in days, fade away, was to leave the armor.
I wouldn’t put it on for a week. I’d sleep on the cold stone floor of the cave, just my clothing, and a sleeping bag. I’d search for food, and visit the stream for water, without the armor. That was the medical requirement. Leave the armor, and let my body feel the air, the hot, the cold, the wind, the weather. Let my body breathe.
It was something we all did. We all had to. The first armors hadn’t, and they’d all died. They’d made mistakes, and got themselves killed, or identified. They’d learned we were all human, not supermen. And humans need sleep. Armor 5 had gone on a killing spree, when he’d lost his mind, and become trapped in some nightmare none of us understood. We’d had to stop him.
Armor 9 was the first to leave the armor, and rest. And it worked. He’s still there. Working. Doing what we do. He hasn’t found his end yet. If he’d stayed in the armor, he’d have died years ago.
All the simple things, all the senses, got locked away in the armor. And we’d learned it drives us insane. Slowly. Steadily. Relentlessly. We’d learned, a human being has to use their senses. Touch, vision, smell, taste. In the armor, you didn’t feel the rain. And funny as it sounds, you have to feel the rain.
So, I’d found a cave. In the middle of nowhere. And I lived there for a week at a time, every few months, as I remembered what it felt like to feel the air flow between my fingers, or the sunlight shine on my face. As I remembered why I became an Armor. Why I became Armor 17.
It was so easy to forget. I fought, we all fought, against the tides of darkness and violence, so others, normal people, people we wished we could be, could live, could feel the sun, and the wind, and the rain, and the heat of the summer, and cold of the winter. And the touch of another.
We couldn’t forget that. We could never forget that.
It’s why my hands shake, I know. Why they’re always moving. Because. They’re always seeking someone. That someone they can touch.
That someone I would never know, and could never touch.
We don’t exist, you know.
We don’t exist.
It’s week 90 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Saw the cave, and knew Armor 17 would show up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.