145-2 ran as fast as he could. Not only to keep himself warm, but more importantly, to escape his hunter.
Every time he stopped to catch his bearings, the cold instantly invaded his body.
He looked down at his bloody feet, wishing they had at least given him shoes.
He had only been alive for a few hours. Long enough to know he most likely wasn’t going to survive.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of the dogs in the distance. They were closing.
Pushing off the tree he had been leaning against, he began to run again, trying to create as much distance between himself and the hunter. He knew the hunter was moving much slower than him, but he knew the hunter could afford to be patient. He could survive for hours in the frigid weather, but 145-2 knew he would freeze to death soon if he didn’t find some shelter or clothing.
He tripped on a branch and hit the ground hard. His body ached as he tried to get back up.
He closed his eyes, wishing there was a way for him to survive.
The sound of the dogs closing pushed him to stand back up and keep moving.
‘There has to be a way out of here,’ he thought, keeping a steady pace, despite the pain he felt all over.
He almost forgot about all of his pain as he made it to the top of a hill. On the other side he could see a fence and a road.
For the first time in his short existence, he had hope that he could survive.
Before he sprinted down the hill towards possible freedom, he looked behind him to see how close his pursuer was. He couldn’t see him, but he could hear the dogs.
‘He’s close,’ he thought. ‘It doesn’t matter. This is my one chance.’
In full sprint, he took off down the hill.
He didn’t dare look back. He kept his focus on the fence ahead. He knew he wouldn’t be able to stop to climb over. He was going to have to jump over at full speed.
He timed his strides and calculated when he would have to jump.
Behind him, he heard the dogs barking. He could tell they were closer, but he wasn’t about to slow down to look.
The fence was closing, and so was the hunter.
‘He has to be at the top of the hill now,’ he thought, not slowing down. ‘Once he sees what I am planning to do, he’s going to move faster.’
Planning his escape over the fence was easy. Planning what to do after was the hard part. He knew the hunt wouldn’t end there, but there might be something on the other side he could use to escape, or fight back with. He hoped maybe there would be people on the other side as well.
‘I hope there are people close,’ he thought, picking up his pace. ‘I know if someone sees me they’ll help. All I have to do is make it over the…’
He never got to finish his thought as a bullet passed through his head, killing him instantly.
“What the fuck happened?!” Rudy screamed, once he was back at the lab. “That thing almost escaped!”
Three scientists stood shivering. Even though this wasn’t the first time they had been yelled at, it never got easier.
“You said you wanted them smarter,” the tallest said cautiously. “145 is known for speed, so we brought his intelligence up just a bit to add a challenge. We don’t think he planned his escape, but just happened to stumble upon the opportunity. His route doesn’t show any thought. It was essentially a straight line. That’s the direction he just happened to be going in. If he hadn’t survived that long, he probably never would have thought of an escape route.”
That seemed to calm Rudy a little. He had instructed the scientist to make the next batch a little smarter, so his hunts would be more challenging, but one of these things escaping wasn’t an option.
“Fine,” Rudy said.
The scientists were visually relieved.
“Which one is up next for tomorrow night?” he asked, unzipping his jacket.
“123-2,” the scientist responded. “This one was designed to be more agile, so expect a little harder of a target to hit. His intelligence was bumped up the same amount, so as long as he doesn’t go out as far in that particular direction, you shouldn’t have this problem again. 145 was made for speed, so he made it to the edge of the property much faster since he was running in a straight line. 123 should be more erratic his direction, so he shouldn’t go out as far.”
Rudy grunted and said, “He better not. For your sake.”
The scientists didn’t relax until he was completely out of the room and the door was closed.
“What are we going to do?” the smaller one with glasses said.
“I have a plan,” the tall one said.
The three scientists huddled closer. Even though Rudy wasn’t in the room, it was possible he could still be listening in.
“Sven,” the tall one said to the third scientist. “Tomorrow, when you prep 123, I want you to give him the shot labeled H123. It’s a shot of slow acting adrenaline. It’ll give him a steady boost of energy and it’ll also keep him warm for a few hours.
Sven nodded his understanding.
“Carl,” the tall one said to the smaller one with glasses. “I want you to tell 123 when he runs, to try to keep the north star to his right as much as possible. Quickly show him before, so he knows which star is the North .”
“Okay,” Carl replied. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to take a few rounds out of his weapon and put some sleep aid in the dog food to slow them down.
Carl tilted his head toward the security camera as it started to move.
So that their conversation didn’t seem unusual, Carl said, “Have a good night, Ben.”
The tall scientist replied with, “You too, Carl.”
Without looking at the camera, they walked out of the lab in different directions.
Watching them through a computer screen, Rudy watched as they walked out of the lab. He didn’t trust the scientists, but for now he would have to keep them alive.
He grunted and walked out of the security room.
“Alright, get the next subject ready,” Rudy ordered. “I’m looking for a real challenge tonight. I’ve got some upcoming potential investors that are going to want to be impressed when they arrive.”
“Right away, sir,” Ben answered.
As he walked into the lab to prepare subject 123, he briefly glanced at the other two scientists. They all slightly nodded and then went back to preparing the subject.
Sven walked to 123 and gave him the shot of adrenaline. Afterwards, he gave Ben a slight nod. Ben nodded back.
A few minutes later they sat the subject up, looked over him, like they had all the others to ensure he was prepared. Once they were satisfied, they walked him to the door where they would release him.
Carl stood by 123 at the door, and when he was sure he couldn’t be seen, he whispered the instructions into 123’s ear.
123 looked at him slightly confused but nodded his understanding.
“Okay, release him,” Rudy’s voice came over the loudspeaker.
And with that, Carl opened the door and commanded 123 to run.
He didn’t need to be told twice. As soon as the door opened, he ran out.
Rudy always gave his prey a thirty minute head start. When the time came, he pressed the button to open the door and along with his dogs, jogged after 123.
Once he was away, Ben turned towards the other two scientists and said, “Pack your stuff. We’re leaving.”
All three of them knew that whether 123 escaped or not, Rudy would more than likely kill them when he got back.
They weren’t the first scientists that were held against their will and then killed when they were no longer useful. They were also sure that Rudy was already working on getting their replacements.
It didn’t take them long to pack their stuff, and then they started implementing Ben’s plan that he had put in place weeks prior, to get past all the locked outer doors and access to a vehicle.
Fortunately, Rudy didn’t trust anyone stronger than him, so he didn’t have any guards. He figured fear, the frigid cold, and plenty of locked doors would keep the weak scientists there.
It was especially windy as Rudy pushed against the wind in search of his prey.
123 had a thirty-minute lead, but it didn’t matter. In the end, Rudy would find him and kill him.
123 looked around, unsure where to go. The man in the white coat had told him which way to run, but he wasn’t sure if he could trust the man.
He had no idea who was after him, but he had been told before he was walked to the door what was happening.
Initially, he was afraid when he was told that he was going to be hunted. They didn’t say by who, but they told him he could do whatever he needed to do to survive.
As he stood looking in the direction he was told to run and heard the dogs coming behind him, he made the decision to fight rather than run.
He looked around his surroundings to see what he could use as a weapon. He realized he had plenty of options.
While there were a lot of open areas, there were also some dense wooded areas a short distance away, and he could see he had plenty of rocks too.
He deduced that the hunter would have better weapons, plus dogs to pick up his sent, so he decided to use the terrain to his advantage.
If he could use the dogs to draw the hunter close to him, then if the hunter had a weapon that was better for long range, he could even the odds a little by forcing him close.
He started running for the nearest tree line. His first priority would be to get a weapon or two.
The dogs were much closer when he reached the tree line. He had to sacrifice distance for a chance to fight back, but he was okay with that. It was so cold out, he didn’t want to have to wait too long for the hunter to arrive anyways.
As soon as he was inside the cover of the trees, he found a couple of good size rocks that he tucked into his boxer briefs. The only clothes he was wearing.
He also found a good size stick, that when he broke it at the top, was nice and sharp.
The dogs were much closer now. He only had minutes before they arrived.
He quickly looked around and found a tree with a branch he could climb to, that would block him from the hunter initially. The hunter would have to get close to kill him, and 123 hoped it would be close enough to have a fighting chance.
It was only seconds after he climbed onto the branch that the hunter and his dogs entered the tree line.
The dogs were making a straight line for him, with the hunter behind at a light jog to keep up.
123 looked around the trunk just enough to see the dogs heading right for him, but just out of sight of the hunter.
The dogs went to the tree and started barking at him.
123 pulled out the rocks.
The hunter couldn’t see him and he knew as soon as he was seen, it was over for him.
When the hunter was close enough, he threw one of the rocks just off to the side of the hunter, causing him to look to see what had just made the noise.
123 jumped out of the tree, branch first and impaled it into Rudy, using his momentum to push the branch deep and knock him down.
As soon as they both hit the ground, 123 used the rock in his other hand to bash Rudy’s skull in.
To his surprise, the dogs didn’t attack. They barked at him, but kept their distance, unsure what they were supposed to do. The dogs were trained to find the subjects, and then stay back as Rudy made the kill.
Seeing that the dogs weren’t going to hurt him, he turned his attention to the now dead body of the hunter.
The cold started to seep in as the adrenaline shot started to wear off. He stripped the clothes off Rudy and put them on himself.
Once he was warm, he shooed off the dogs, who went running off into the darkness in the direction they had come from.
123 decided to follow the advice of the man in the lab coat and kept the North Star on his right side.
It wasn’t long until he made it to the fence.
He climbed over, and stopped when he met the road, unsure what to do next.
“Holy Shit!” Ben shouted as they drove down the road away from the lab. “It’s 123-2. Stop the car.”
123 wearily watched as Ben got out of the car.
He convinced 123 to get in the car, and they quickly drove off.
123 told them what had happened, and they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
They drove to the nearest town and pulled into the police station.
“This is it, 123,” Ben said. “This is where we finally tell everyone what has been going on over the last year.”
He looked over at 123 and said, “Welcome to the beginning of your life.”
123 looked out the window in awe of the world around him.
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