Emily got to the top of the stairs and paused to catch her wind. She found the door to the roof open, but was hesitant to go through until she was ready. She ran her hand through her hair and wiped the sweat from her brow. She checked her appearance as well as she could without a mirror and wondered why that was important. It was Pierce. She knew why, but she did not want to think that way. She tried hard not to think that way after the zombie lab and after Doctor Zimmer disappeared, but she could not help it. She loved him.
Emily stepped slowly and carefully on to the big, flat roof. When she closed the door behind her, Pierce stepped out from behind the HVAC unit. She wanted to run to him, but he held up his hands, so she paused and looked. He was dressed in black, his knife at his side and he wore a shoulder holster with a pistol.
“We have to talk first. Don’t come any closer.”
“What is this?” She pointed to him and at his weapons. “I don’t understand.”
“First I need a promise, and then I need to tell you two things,” he said. Emily did not say anything or move. “You need to promise,” he repeated.
“Okay,” she said in an uncertain voice. She was completely in the dark here.
“Promise if you survive this you will stay at this school and finish your studies. This is a good school and you have—we have friends here, and real friends are hard to come by.”
“Promise.” He insisted.
“First, you need to know I am not human.”
“Not like you, anyway. I mean, everything about me is human, but I was not born like you.”
“Doctor Zimmer. He made me in a laboratory out of hundreds of mothers and fathers, hundreds of separate genetic strands all tied together.”
“You know those old people who went missing and turned up dead?” Emily nodded. “Well, Doctor Zimmer was looking for clues to the aging process. You see, I am not aging correctly.”
“What? You are twenty-four, I thought.”
“Twenty-five now. Physically and mentally, and I like to think emotionally I am twenty-five, but chronologically I am only twelve-and-a-half years old. I am aging at twice the normal rate and Doctor Zimmer does not know why.”
“Pierce.” Emily did not care about any of that. She wanted to run to him, but he would not let her.
“I want you to know, I wanted to be with you since the first time I saw you. You are all I can think about and all I dream about. After we spent some time together, when I was ordered to spend time with you, it was moot. I was already in love with you.”
“Pierce.” Emily’s felt the tears come up into her eyes. She loved him so much.
“But they ordered it. As I told you, I am completely flesh and blood, but I was made to follow orders. That was why I couldn’t say anything about the zombie lab. That was why I couldn’t tell you what I am telling you now.”
“But none of that matters, as long as we are together,” Emily spoke her feelings, but Pierce held up his hand again.
“Two things,” he reminded her. “The second is they want to know if my feelings for you can overcome my programming.”
“I don’t understand.”
“They ordered me to tell you this much.” He paused to take off his shoulder holster and gun. He stepped over to the edge, but appeared to be thinking so Emily gave him time to frame what he wanted to tell her. Pierce dropped the gun over the edge to fall to the ground below, and then he turned to her again and finished his thoughts. “They have ordered me to kill you, and in case you are thinking of making some noble sacrifice, they ordered that after I kill you I have to kill every student on this campus.”
“Emily, I love you, but I have to kill you. Please Emily, you have to kill me first, if you can.”