Home > Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5)(6)

Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5)(6)
Brandon Sanderson

“He was a god.”

“He was a cursed man,” I said, inching my way toward the window. The gooey remnants of bone and flesh steamed off me, evaporating, leaving my clothing as dry as if nothing had happened.

“Just like you are. I’m sorry.”

The clones stepped forward. I used the music to melt those who drew close, but they didn’t seem to care. They marched on, falling to the ground, dissolving to nothing. They kept coming at me until only one stood in the doorway, though I could see shadows of a few more waiting outside. Why were they killing themselves?

One toward the back took out his handgun. It didn’t break as he raised it. Sparks. Mitosis had just been trying to reduce his numbers to make the copies more stable.

I cried out, jumping onto the desk. I had to drop my rifle to rip the board off the window.

A large crack sounded from behind. I felt an immediate thump in my right side, just under my arm—like someone had punched me.

Back in the factory, we would watch old movies every night, after work was done. They’d played on an old television hung from the cafeteria wall. Getting shot didn’t feel like it looked in those shows. I didn’t gasp and collapse to the ground. I didn’t even realize I’d been shot at first. I thought the clones had thrown something at me.

No pain. Just heat on my side.

That was the blood.

I stared down at the wound. The bullet had ripped out a chunk of flesh just beneath my armpit before cutting through my upper arm. It was messy, all warm and wet. My hand didn’t work right, wouldn’t grip.

I’d been shot. Calamity … I’d been shot.

For a terrifying moment, that was all I could think about. People died when they got shot. I started to shake; the room seemed to be trembling. I was going to die.

Another shot bounced off the wall beside my head.

You’ll die way sooner if you don’t move! a piece of me thought. Now!

I spun and threw my mobile at Mitosis. That worked; when the music got close, his clone wavered and melted. The mobile came to rest in the doorway, warding off those outside. I still had in my earpiece, though, which was connected wirelessly.

Somehow, I gathered the presence of mind to haul myself by one arm up and out the window. I tumbled into sunlight and collapsed to the ground outside.

I’d often heard that it wasn’t the bullet wound that killed you—it was the shock. The horror of being hit, the panicked sense of terror, prevented you from getting out of danger and seeking help.

I slammed one hand over the hole in my side, which was worse than the hit in my arm, and squeezed the wound shut as I pressed my back against the wall.

“Tia?” I said. I figured I was still close enough to the mobile for the earpiece to work. I wasn’t sure how far I’d have to go before I lost reception.

“David!” Her voice came into my ear. “Sparks! Sit tight. Abraham is on his way.”

“Can’t sit,” I said with a grunt, climbing to my feet. “Clones are coming.”

“You’ve been shot!”

“In the side. Legs still work.” I stumbled away, toward the river. I remembered there being some inlets to the understreets there.

Tia cursed on the line, her voice starting to fuzz as I hobbled away from the hotel. Fortunately, it seemed that Mitosis hadn’t anticipated my actually escaping this way. Otherwise, he’d already have clones back here.

“Calamity!” Tia said. “David, he’s multiplying. There are hundreds of him, running for you.”

“It’s okay. I’m a rhinoceros astronaut.”

She was silent a moment. “Oh, sparks. You’re going delusional.”

“No, no. I mean, I’m surprising. I’ll surprise him. What’s the most surprising thing you can think of? Bet it’s a rhinoceros astronaut.” The connection was fading. “I can hold out, Tia. You just find the answer to this. Get some music playing across the city, maybe on some copters. Play it loud. You’ll figure it out.”

“David—”

“I’ll distract him, Tia,” I said. “That’s my job.” I hesitated. “How am I doing?”

No reply. I was too far from the hotel.

Sparks. I was going to have to do this last part alone. I hobbled toward the river.

4

I tore off part of my shirt, wrapping it around my arm as I stumbled along; then I put my hand back to the side wound. I reached the stairs to the river and looked over my shoulder.

They came like a wave, a surge of identical figures scrambling along the street.

I cursed, then hobbled down the steps. Still, this was good. A terrible kind of good. So long as Mitosis was chasing me, he wasn’t hurting anyone or trying to take over the city.

I reached the bottom of the staircase as the flood of figures arrived, some jumping over the sides of the rail to skip a few stairs, others scrambling down each step.

I pushed myself faster toward a set of holes drilled into the wall just above the river. Air vents for the understreets; they’d be big enough to crawl in, but not by much. I reached one just before the clones and clambered inside, kicking away a hand that tried to grab my ankle. I managed to spin around, facing the opening, and backed away into the darkness.

Figures crowded around the tunnel opening, cutting off my light. One of them squatted down, looking at me. “Clever,” he said. “Going where only one of me can reach you at a time. Unfortunately, it also leaves you cornered.”

I continued to back away. I was losing strength, and my blood made my hands slippery on the steel.

Mitosis crawled into the tunnel, prowling forward.

A lot of Epics liked to think of themselves as predators, the step beyond humans. The apex of evolution. Well, that was idiocy. The Epics weren’t above humans. If anything, they were less civilized—more instinctual. A step backward.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified to see that dark figure stalking me—to be confined in an endless tunnel with the thing as I slowly bled out.

“You’ll tell me the truth,” Mitosis said, getting closer. “I’ll wring it from you, little human. I’ll know how Steelheart really died.”

I met his gaze in the darkness.

“I wanna kiss you!” I shouted. “Like the wind kisses the ra-i-ain!”

I belted out the song as loudly as I could. Tia had played it earlier, and I knew the words, though I’d been too distracted by the whole getting-strangled-then-getting-shot thing to listen closely.

I’d heard it as a child, played time and time again on the radio until I and pretty much everyone else got sick of it.

Mitosis melted in front of me. I stopped, breathing deeply, as a second clone crawled over the melting form of the first.

“Cute,” he growled. “How long can you sing, little human? How are you feeling? I smell your blood. It—”

“I’m gonna miss you,” I shouted, “like the sun misses the ra-i-ain!”

He melted.

“You realize,” the next one said, “that now I’m going to have to kill everyone in the city. Can’t risk them having heard these songs. I—”

Melt.

“Stop doing that!” the next one snapped. “You—”

Melt.

I kept at it, though my singing grew softer and softer with each clone I killed. One of them found a knife and passed it up the line. That didn’t melt; it just fell to the floor of the pipe each time one of them died. The next one picked it up and kept crawling.

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted