Terraform #1

Who Am I?

By: Ammar Ahmed Khan

Who am I? I don’t remember anything. The last thing I remember is seeing complete darkness and the next thing I know I’m wide awake in the middle of nowhere. By the look of the trees very close together I can tell I’m in a forest…But which one? And more importantly…What am I doing here?

 

I know I have a lot of questions right now, but for some reason I’m getting this feeling that now is not the time to answer them. I can hear leaves crackling from a distance. It sounds like people are coming in this direction. Somehow I cam near it from a great distance, which is both interesting and concerning. From the sound I could tell that it’s only two people.

 

I can see them from behind the bushes as I  hide. I don’t know why, but hearing them gave me an instinct feeling to hide from them. Two hunters are wandering around the forest as if they are looking for something. They are not holding shot guns, but something I’ve never seen before. It looked like some kind of Tranquilizer or something, but there were no removable darts. I could see their lips moving.

 

“We have to find him.” said one of the hunters, “He could not have gone far.”

 

Who’s ‘He’?And What are they looking for exactly?

 

“Relax, Ahmed” said the other hunter. “He doesn’t know where he’s going. He’ll be stuck in the forest for a long time. Plus the city is far south from here. He won’t be able to find it if he keeps running around here.”

 

“Yeah, you’re right.” said Ahmed, “We should keep looking.”

 

I remained in hiding for a little while longer. I didn’t want to give away my location and cause some kind of misunderstanding with those two. But it’s safe to say that I learned something today. The city is south of here and it’s to my left. But what, or who, are these hunters looking for? Could it be me?

 

What am I doing? Now’s not the time to worry about that! Worry about what’s important: Heading towards civilization.

 

“I SEE HIM!” I hear someone say as I begin to run. I turn around to see one of the hunters pointing his gun at me, with the other hunter catching up behind him.

 

“Me?” I asked as I raise my hands. “What do you guys want from me?”

 

“Relax, pal.” said the first hunter as he came forward a little. “We’re not going to hurt you.”

 

I can somehow hear his heartbeat as I heard those words. It was beating in an abnormal manner, it was pumping really fast.

 

“You’re lying.” I calmly told them. “I can hear your heartbeat.”

 

The hunter looks at me with shock and confusion before looking at the other hunter. The other hunter simply nodded as the first hunter walks towards me. I know I definitely have to keep my distance from those guns. That hunter points the gun at me and I realise I can’t move any further. There’s a giant boulder behind me – I’m dead.

 

I close my eyes as he takes the shot with my hands against the boulder. I hear gunfire and that’s it. I’m dead. But for some reason, I can open my eyes, only to see the hunters dead, laying on the ground.

 

I look at my hands and realize what happened. Somehow, I don’t know how, I’m nothing but rock. My body is the same structure as it was…or used to be, but now my skin is entirely rock. I cannot believe this.

 

The bullets must have bounced back on strike and hit them instead. I killed them. They were human beings with families and they’re dead because of me. I’m a murderer.

 

I have to bury their bodies. It seems like the least I can do, but suddenly I feel weak. As I recall I heard three gunshots were fired at them. I understand two of them were hit by two of them, but where did the third go?

 

I look down and see that the side of my abdomen is bleeding. The bullet had hit me. It must have been before this change. My rock-ish body is now deteriorating as I feel weaker and weaker. If I stay here now, I will die here too. I have to go back into the city.

 

I remember the city being south, so going south it is. There are so many identical trees in the woods. It would’ve been easy to get lost in here. After a long while of running I stop to catch my breath. I look down to see that blood is still oozing out. I could remove the bullet right now, but the bullet, ironically, could be the only thing keeping me alive.

 

To maintain balance, I have to position my hand on the tree, before any signs or forms of vertigo appear. I look at my hand to see that my hand is slowly turning into wood. I backed away, terrified of what’s happening. Now more questions come to mind, but sadly, I don’t think anyone can answer me.

 

I believe my biggest mistake right now was running. If I keep running, my body will get very little oxygen and I might drop dead. But if I don’t run, I will bleed out in any minute and I’ll definitely drop dead. I’m at a loss no matter what I do.

 

It’s getting dark. The moon looked so beautiful tonight. Looking at it, for some reason, made me feel at peace. The stars looked magnificent in it’s alignments. But after a short while, the stars had disappeared from sight. I think I’m losing too much blood. As I look forward I see a light from a cabin. If there’s light coming from there, no doubt there’s someone in there.

 

I feel weaker as I reach the cabin. I don’t think I have much time left. I opened the door and found an old man, sitting next to the fire place. He had short white hair and had small traces of a beard on his face. He hadn’t shaved yet. By the look of his condition, I say he was working on something for a long time, two straight nights maybe.

 

I whisper a slight ‘Help’ before I collapsing on the ground.

 

I can faintly hear a faint voice yelling ‘Hey’ again and again. Right now all I see is darkness. But as the voice gets louder, a small light shines in front of me. The light shines brighter and brighter until eventually all I see is a wooden ceiling. As I get up to look at the window, I notice that it’s day outside. I find this confusing. I am pretty damn sure It was night-time when I came here.

 

“Good, you’re awake.” said a man to my right. It’s the old man I saw before I collapsed. Although, the only difference now is that his beard fuzz is gone – he shaved. He started to walk in my direction, handing me a cup of, what appeared to be, coffee.

 

“You had me worried there for a second.” he continued as I sip my coffee, “You’ve been unconscious the whole night. You were bleeding quite a lot. You’re lucky you found me here when you did. If you bled out any longer you would’ve died out there.”

 

“Thank you.” I replied with a smile, “I greatly appreciate it.”

 

“There’s no need to thank me.” he said, “Those clothes you’re wearing belonged to my son. I hope they are comfortable.”

 

I look around at my body to see that my clothes are completely different. I’m now wearing a white T-shirt with a logo on it. The logo has a giant blue circle covering the center of the chest area. And from the upper corners of the circle, there are two rectangle type figures moving from the sides of the circle towards the center of my shoulders. The T-shirt is rather skin-tight, and so is the light blue denim jeans. I also notice I’m now wearing pitch-black sneakers.

 

“They fit just fine.” I said with a look of gratitude. “Thank you once again.”

 

“Like I said before.” he replied as he extends his hand to me, “There’s no need to thank me. Can you stand up?”

 

I grab his hand and try to get up with a lot of pain. As I stand on my feet the pain slowly fades away. I’m starting to feel so much better. I walk forward a few steps in order to understand the situation of my pain. There was no pain.

 

“I can’t believe it.” I said with excitement as I walk around a little more. The old man, however, is looking at me in a rather amusing manner. I can see a shed of tear fall from his eye.

 

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

 

“Oh, yes.” he said as he tries to wipes his tears. “It’s just that you remind me so much of my son, Faisal. He used to look just like you.”

 

“Oh.” I said, confused. “What do you mean ‘used to’?”

 

He looks at me as if he didn’t want to remember. He just closes his eyes and taking a deep breath before opening them again. I can see more tears form from his eyes as I begin to understand what happened.

 

“I’m sorry.” I said, “I didn’t mean to..”

 

“It’s okay.” he said, quickly as he wiped away the tears. “It was long ago. Stay here for a moment and I’ll be back.”

 

He walks into another room, leaving me alone for a moment. I look around and see the wonderful cabin. It intrigues me how extravagant this cabin is, with a fireplace and what appears to be the living room from where I’m standing. I look towards the fireplace to see a picture of him and his son by the fireplace. They look happy. I see a piece of paper next to the picture with the phrase ‘See you soon.’

 

Suddenly there’s a loud bang on the door in a certain rhythm. The banging slowly started to become louder and louder.

 

“ARSHAD!!!” someone yelled as the banging got louder, “We know you’re in there. We know you’re in there, and we know you’re hiding him. Open the door now.”

 

I look to the other direction to see the old man, Arshad, in despair with an overcoat in his hand. He run in my direction and pushes me into the other room, looking in the direction of the banging door.

 

“What’s going on here?” I asked as Arshad as he makes me put on the black overcoat. He doesn’t reply. He simply makes me put it on along with a hat and a pair of black sunglasses.

 

“Now listen carefully.” he said, looking concerned. “I don’t want them taking you away as well. They’ve done this far too long. Get out the back window and run to the city. I’ll buy you some time.”

 

I try to talk back but he quickly ran out the room and locked the door. I’m trapped.

 

I look around and find a window. As I escape from it, I can hear Arshad opening the door and inviting them in. I can’t hear anything else as I run further and further away. I stop after a while and hide behind a bush, hoping that those people would leave.

 

I suddenly started to hear loud mumbling, I can’t make out what they are saying, but the mumbling is becoming louder and louder until I hear a loud ‘NO’ with a gunfire. Afterwards, there’s nothing but silence.

 

Tears are rolling down my face. That man did not deserve to die. All he did was try to help me. I know that they are looking for me, and if I stay any longer, they will without a doubt catch me, so I have to get to the city. As I run away, more questions come to my mind: Why are they after me? Why did that man have to die because he was protecting me? How did they know I was there?

 

But the most important question of all is this: Who am I?

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