Chapter 17: Passing of Time

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Log #290: Biology

For at least seventy-eight years, humanity has been pursued, hunted, slaughtered, and separated from each other because of an unidentifiable multitude of species that all share one common trait: the hatred of humans. Finally, after careful consideration and discussion with our top surviving scientists, we have given a classification for these monsters: Shade. The name implies that they do not represent complete darkness, and can only exist where there is light. Shade under trees, shade from rooftops, shade from other people: in almost every instance, shade will be found vastly outnumbered by light, which is one of the main reasons we have officially classified these creatures as Shade. We have not been shoved into a corner. We are not entangled in a world of darkness and hopelessness. We will not falter or hesitate because we pass through a period of darkness, because the light is always close by. Humanity has survived this long in this unforgiving world, and we have no plans of ever leaving it.

-General Shura Averin

422 BPE

I had long ago lost count of the number of times I had gone out of my way to visit the hospital. Every breath on my bike sent shivers down my throat, and every pained pedal coursed through my ankles. Of course, compared to them, the pain I endured was nothing. Even if they weren't aware of the pain, I knew it was there. For a month now, they hadn't eaten with their own hands, seen with their own eyes. They were supposedly alive, but even that certainty was beginning to doubt itself. More snow fell upon the frostbitten dirt, and November slipped off of the calendar.

Still, I went to the hospital.

Still, I waited for them to wake up.

"Hey, Ali." A deep, adolescent voice reached out to me through the falling snow.

"What's up, Matt?" I spun around, crunching the packed snow beneath me under the soles of my feet. The smile that reassured Matthew was instinctual; I didn't need happiness to wear it. It wasn't like anybody would notice the difference.

"Is Kazuki still...?"

But a fake smile is all too easily lost, given the right magic words. Matthew's voice petered out, and he lowered his eyes.

"Oh. Sorry, Ali. I'm sure he'll be back up in no time, y'know? He's a big, strong boy. Something as silly as a house fire couldn't keep him down!"

Matthew's optimism was amazing. No matter the situation, he only ever looked down for a moment at a time. If I couldn't do the same, then what good was I?

I gave him my biggest, most honest smile, and nodded in agreement.

When Matthew and I had dug them out of the remnants of their home, they were barely breathing. They had inhaled a dangerous amount of smoke, and Kazu had burns of various degrees on his arms and legs. His sister was largely unharmed, but they both had been in the hospital, comatose and unresponsive, ever since. Kazuki's doctor reassured me with absolute confidence that they were physically fine, but mentally in shock. He said that they were fine, but that meant little while their eyes refused to accept the light around them. Every day dragged by in white darkness, and there was absolutely nothing I could do. Nothing but put my hands over theirs and beg for their awakening. The freezing air outside stung my skin, beckoning me to quit and move on. The field trip outside of the Barricade surrounding the city was rapidly approaching, and it was required that every student be presented with a minimum of a weeks of preparation in class.

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