It was just another, perfectly normal day. We were walking home from school as usual. She wore her backpack on one shoulder, just like always. And then I scolded her, just like always.“It takes too much effort to put on the other strap,” she answered. It was the same reply as yesterday, and the day before. “Besides, it’s only a five minute walk home, anyways.” And then she smiled. I scoffed and turned away, but I smiled, too.

Lucy and I lived in the countryside. Our town was small, and everyone knew each other. We only had one school, but no one had ever had a problem with that. No one ever bothered us, either. We were all one big family. And the land we lived on was our gorgeous, welcoming home.

Life was good.

So good I could almost pretend I didn’t know the town’s secret. That none of us were actually human. That none of us were really alive. That we were all genetically engineered artificial humans; test tube guinea pigs raised by the government as an experiment. That we existed only so the government pigs had a place to escape to once the real world—the outside world—finally died. That we could be destroyed on a whim.
I could almost forget.

We reached the abandoned train tracks that ran through the east side of town. Lucy loved walking on them. It was perfectly safe. The tracks were so run-down that all of the trains took a detour instead of coming through the town.

She stopped, tilting her head. “I hear something,” she whispered.

A particularly strong gust of wind blew past us, lifting her hat off her head and into the air. She started after it. Suddenly, a flock of crows flew above us, causing her to stop in the middle of the tracks and take cover. At the same time, a low rumble came from the left, growing louder and louder each second.


I leapt forward, pulling Lucy with me. We landed on the other side of the tracks, my body shielding hers, just as a train car flew past us. I held her close, waiting until after the noise of the train faded away.

“Thank God you’re okay.” I had broken out in a cold sweat. “I’m so glad you’re not hu—”

Three distinct gunshots rang out. I felt the first one pierce the back of my head, the second one start to dematerialize my body, and the third force me back into nonexistence.

Oh, I thought. They finally decided I knew too much.

In my last few moments of consciousness, I watched as Lucy stood up and brushed herself off.

“I wish I had someone to walk home with.”