Kimi

📅 Published on June 3, 2020

“Kimi”

Written by Ryan Peacock
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 24 minutes

Rating: 8.00/10. From 4 votes.
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I’ve never been good with people. It’s always just been easier to live my life alone, burying myself in fiction and living vicariously through the stories I read and watched. It was comforting to do that. My life could never have been as interesting as those stories and so I knew I wasn’t missing out on much.

My father had been an important man. I admittedly don’t know the specifics of what his company did. I think it involved treating diseases by modifying human genetics? It was all way too complicated for me and when he’d passed, I was in no position to inherit his legacy. That honor had gone to my sister, Kathleen. She’d taken over the family business and I’d just taken my inheritance and faded away. It was for the best, really. I was always doomed to be the family disappointment and it was better that everyone just forget about me.

I had enough money to float on so I’d never want for anything as long as I was smart about how I spent it. I had property, a farmhouse in the country that was far away enough from the world that no one really bothered me and I was happy, as happy as I could be, at least.

I didn’t really even leave the house, unless I needed to pick up food or supplies from the nearby town. It was just me and my stories, drifting through the endless days in what was as close to an ideal existence as I could get. I was happy and I never wanted it to change… Until I met Kimi.

Visits from my sister were rare. She had far bigger things to concern herself with than her deadbeat baby brother, in his house in the middle of nowhere. I can only imagine she’d let herself into my house, as I’d still been asleep that morning. She woke me up by tossing an old pair of jeans onto my face.

“Wake up,” The command was shrill and not to be questioned and I almost tripped over myself as I ripped the pants off of my face and looked over at her. Kathleen stood tense by my door, waiting for me to get dressed. She was a stoic looking woman and while we bore a clear family resemblance, she seemed so much more put together than I ever did. Her red hair was neatly combed and tied back into a professional bun. Her freckles and pale skin seemed only to add to the uneasy coldness in her sharp green eyes. She was shorter than I was yet her presence seemed to fill the room and left no room for anything else.

“What? Kathleen? What are you…?”

“Up,” she said bluntly. “I need you to do something.”

No greeting. No ‘how are you?’ Much like Dad, Kathleen only ever cared about you when you could do something for her. Otherwise, you didn’t exist.

I put on my jeans before wandering out of my bedroom and down to the kitchen where Kathleen was already making coffee. I could see three men in dark suits with her. I wasn’t sure if they were her security team or something else.

“What’s going on?” I murmured. I watched as my sister poured a cup for herself. She added nothing before she took a sip and glared at me.

“I need you to do something for me,” was her reply. “Sit.”

She gestured to a nearby seat as if I was a dog and I knew better than to argue with her. I pulled up a chair and watched as Kathleen rubbed her temples and sat down. I didn’t ask any questions. I waited for her to start talking. I knew she wouldn’t have bothered with me unless she truly had no other choice.

“There’s been a setback in one of our projects,” She said after taking another sip of coffee. “Something we’ve been cooking up for a private client. You could call it a genetic experiment… Either way, it’s not something that officially exists according to our books and it would look very bad on us if anyone found out about it.”

“Genetic experiment?” I asked. “Like, a cure for cancer or something?”

“Yes and no,” Kathleen said. She hesitated a moment before she continued. “Dad had branched the company out into other avenues. Once you start playing with genomes the possibilities are endless. After that, all it really takes is someone asking if something is possible. One of our technicians wanted to run an experiment. Why Dad approved it is beyond me, but they saw results so I allowed it to continue to function as we looked into developing practical applications. I was thinking along the lines of human limb regeneration, cures for illnesses… The problem is, what our technician did is…” She paused. “Let’s say it exists in a legal and ethical gray area. It may bring up some questions that would be difficult to answer and right now, the last thing our father’s company needs is an ethical controversy!”

“What exactly did you do?” I asked. Kathleen bit her lip. It was the first time I’d ever seen her look out of control of a situation, ever since we were kids.

“You’ll see… To get to the point of the matter, I need you to keep the assets I’ve brought here close by, and keep them secret. We’ve brought several hard drives containing notes on the project. Don’t touch them. We had to purge any mention of the project from our databases and those are the last copies. You’ll also have a guest of sorts for the foreseeable future.”

“A guest?” I asked. “Wait, Kathleen, wha-”

“The decision is made, Laurence. You’ve been living off of Dad’s money for six years, now. I am asking you to give something back and what I am asking isn’t even that difficult. The girl does not leave this farmhouse. You can guarantee that, can’t you?”

“G-girl?”

“Laurence! Can you guarantee that the girl will not leave?”

“Y-yes,” I finally said. Despite my confusion on what exactly was going on, that much was clear. Kathleen’s expression seemed to harden as if she still wasn’t convinced.

“Good,” she said. “My associates here will ensure everything is taken care of and the girl gets settled in. I will provide you an allowance to see to any needs she has although should anything else arise, I’ll ask that you not contact me outright about them. These matters should be discussed only in person, never over the phone or via email. There can be no evidence that the girl exists. Is that clear?”

“W- I… Okay?” was all I could manage to get out. Kathleen was usually fairly cold when it came to business but there was something almost threatening about the way she spoke this time.

“When is she getting here?” I finally managed to ask.

“She’s already here,” Kathleen replied. “I’ll have my associates send her in momentarily.”

“Miss Brooks, we need to go,” one of the men in my kitchen said to her. Kathleen glanced at him before she stood up.

“I apologize that I need to cut this short. One of my associates will be in contact regularly. They’ll pass along any further information.”

“A-alright?”

“Understand that I am trusting you with this because I truly have no other choice,” Kathleen said. “The girl cannot remain in the care of any of our employees, there is nowhere in the company that I feel is safe for her. Frankly, even leaving her with you is far more of a risk than I am willing to take but we have concluded that this is the safest place for her. However, I must be perfectly clear… The girl does not leave the house under any circumstances.” Her green eyes burned into mine and slowly, I nodded.

“I… I understand.”

“Good. Because if I find out that you have failed me, our blood relation will not protect you from what I will do. Is that clear?”

It took me a moment to realize that my sister was threatening my life and the mere thought of that made my heart skip an anxious beat.

“Y-yes… That’s clear.”

Kathleen’s eyes softened. She exhaled a breath I didn’t realize she’d been holding.

“Good. It was nice to see you, Laurence. I’ll be in touch.”

She sounded anything but sincere as she turned away and made for the door. She left without a further word.

“Stay seated, please,” Said one of the men she’d left behind. He had serious brown eyes and a crew cut. “We’ll be bringing the girl in momentarily. I hope you don’t mind but we have some men downstairs who have been setting up a living space for her in the basement.”

“Yeah, okay.”

I still didn’t know just what to make of any of this and didn’t feel that arguing or making some comment would do me any favors. I just sat at my kitchen table and let the men around me do their work, keeping quiet and simply watching. A few unmarked steel boxes were brought into my basement by other men in suits and it seemed like almost an hour before my soon to be co-occupant was brought in.

I wasn’t sure what I expected but at a glance, she seemed human enough. She was short, about five feet tall, and very slender. From what clothes she wore, I could make out a lean but muscular physique. A dark bag had been pulled over her head and her hands were cuffed in front of her via zip ties. One of the men pushed her down into the seat across from me and kept a hand on her shoulder. He didn’t say a word to me and his stoic silence didn’t exactly do much to set me at ease.

“Her living quarters are set up, we’re clearing out,” said another man as he came upstairs.

“Affirmative. Move everyone out. I’ll brief Mr. Brooks about the subject,” said the man who’d brought her in. His eyes fixated on me now.

“Miss Brooks was quite clear when she said the subject should not leave the house. We will be monitoring you to ensure that she does not and this has been communicated to the subject as well.”

“I… I understand,” I said softly.

“Good. Her diet is primarily carnivorous. She has shown a preference for fish. However, most meats will suffice. Her food should be cooked. Her digestive system cannot properly process alcohol, chocolate or caffeine so we would ask that you do not attempt to feed those to her. If she does consume them, there’s the risk that she may become sick. She seems to process dairy just fine, but limit the amount of it you allow her to consume. She is aware of her dietary restrictions and is not likely to ask for anything she knows she cannot safely ingest.”

“Alright,” I said, giving a half-nod. I looked over at the subject across from me, still not entirely sure what to make of her.

“The subject is autonomous. She can govern and entertain herself without much input and should not rely on you to directly feed her. This is primarily a reference. In the basement, you will find a box full of computer equipment. Please do not touch any of it, although, on top of the box, you will find handwritten notes on the care of the subject should you need to consult them.”

Again, I nodded.

“Do you have any further questions?” the man asked.

“I… I don’t think so?”

He stared at me for a moment before reaching into his pocket to take out a knife

“We’ll be in touch, Mr. Brooks.”

He cut the zip ties around the subject’s wrist before he turned to leave. She sat patiently in the seat across from me as the door to my little farmhouse closed and we were left completely alone.

I sat still for a few moments, not sure what to do or how to react. Finally, I spoke to the girl across from me.

“Hello?”

Her head cocked slightly beneath the hood. I could tell she was listening to me.

“H-hello?”

Her voice was small and high-pitched, almost childlike, but there was clearly anxiety there. She was probably just as scared as I was! Had all of this been thrown on her so suddenly as well?

I caught myself recoiling slightly when she spoke and staring at the bag on her head.

“C-can I take this off?” she asked in that same meek voice.

“Yeah! Of course… Let me…”

She probably could have managed it herself but it felt right to try and help her. I stood and approached her, reaching for the bag to remove it. The material felt smooth in my hand as I pulled it off of her head. I wasn’t sure just what to expect, yet I’d never have anticipated what I saw beneath that hood.

She was clearly young. Under twenty years old, but she’d clearly passed her teenage years. I’d later learn that she was only 19. At a glance, she could have passed as fully human. Her skin was flawless, her hair was platinum blonde and cut short. Perhaps in another life, she could have been a model. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.

Her eyes and her ears betrayed her inhumanity though. Her sapphire eyes looked human enough at a glance but I saw her pupils narrow into predatory slits as she was exposed to the light. Her ears were another story entirely. They resembled a cat’s ears although they were lower on her head than I had expected them to be, likely to correspond with where her ears were supposed to be. It took me a moment to realize that I was looking at an honest-to-God catgirl, and as that realization took hold, I was sure I was being pranked.

The girl stared at me for a moment, regarding me with clear unease before looking around at her new surroundings.

“A… Are you Laurence?” she finally asked. She stayed nervously in her seat as if she was afraid to move.

“Y-yeah, I’m Laurence,” I managed to say. “Are you… real?”

“Real?” She furrowed her brow. It was such a human expression. “Of course, I’m real! I’m Kimi!”

“Kimi,” I repeated. It was the sweetest name I’d ever heard.

“Where am I?”

“You’re… Well… You’re at my house,” I said. I wasn’t really sure how else to answer that.

“Can… Can I stand?”

Now that was a strange question.

“Yeah, of course, you can stand!”

Kimi rose from her seat tentatively, as if she was expecting something to attack her at any given moment. She eyed me warily as she sniffed the air around her. In one quick movement, she was over by the window, looking out at the field around her. Her eyes were wide as she drank it all in. She glanced at me periodically, before looking around the house once more. I watched as a small white tail worked its way up and out of Kimi’s pant leg where she’d hidden it. It swayed around as if she was finally able to stretch it.

All I could do was awkwardly stare at her. I wasn’t entirely sure I wasn’t dreaming as Kimi stared out the window. She was beautiful, more beautiful than any other woman I’d seen before.

“Is… Is that the sky?”

It was such an odd question to hear that it took me completely off guard.

“You’ve never seen the sky before?”

She glanced at me, then sheepishly shook her head.

“N-no… I… Dr. Smith said I wasn’t supposed to leave the lab. He… Um…. He said it wasn’t safe outside. Miss Brooks told me I was supposed to stay in here too.”

Dr. Smith? Lab? This was all too much information to process, as was the fact that I was looking at a literal catgirl! What the fuck was Kathleen doing with Dad’s company? Had she seriously grown some sort of human hybrid in a lab? No wonder she wanted to hide this… Even if I knew nothing about the company, I knew that this was probably unethical. It didn’t change my fascination with her, though nor did it quell my immediate attraction to her.

“What are you?” I asked. Kimi’s ears lowered. For a moment, I was afraid I’d offended her.

“I… I don’t know,” she said after a while. “Dr. Smith said I’m not like a person… I… I’m just Kimi, I guess…”

She seemed to notice the way I was looking at her and she shrank away from me.

“Am I…” she hesitated, seeming to struggle to find the word she wanted, “wrong?”

“No!” I said. I got up and she tried to shrink away from me. I caught her by the wrists before she could run.

“There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just fine… Here, are you hungry? Why don’t I make you breakfast, and we’ll talk.”

Kimi stared up at me. The prospect of food had gotten her attention.

“Okay,” she finally said. “Let’s have breakfast…”

I didn’t have much aside from cereal for breakfast and the cereals I liked were mostly sugar. I wasn’t sure how well any of that would have sat with her so I threw some frozen breaded tilapia in the oven. Fish was okay for her to eat, right? We talked as the fish baked and the confusion of our sudden meeting seemed to wear off.

“I’ve always been in the lab with Dr. Smith,” she said. “I’ve been there as long as I can remember.”

“Was Dr. Smith nice to you?” I asked.

“Usually… Sometimes he hurt me. Stabbed me with needles to take blood, or did experiments.”

We sat together for over an hour as I listened to her talk about where she’d come from. To my understanding, Dr. Smith had been the closest thing to family that she had. He’d been her parent, her teacher, and more or less her only contact with the world in general.

While she’d clearly been sheltered, Kimi didn’t come off as ignorant or stupid. Clearly she knew how to interact with people, even if she was a little shy. She told me that she knew how to cook and clean and more or less take care of herself. She’d had everything she’d needed to that back at the lab. The lab she’d described sounded more like an apartment. A gilded cage where she could live, hidden from the world and no amount of education or socialization could hide that she’d been sheltered, to say the least.

I could see it in her eyes as we ate. She kept glancing over at the windows, looking outside, still in awe of what she saw. I suppose the view from my little patch of land was more beautiful than most. My little farmhouse had its own patch of land that I took care of. As much as I hated the work, it was cheaper than hiring a landscaper and had shaved a few pounds off of me. Beyond my land was a vast forest. Endless trees as far as the eye could see. I could tell that she wanted to go out. She wanted to explore. I almost wanted to set her free just so she could. I knew better than that, though. Kathleen had been very clear in what she’d said. Kimi was not to leave the house under any circumstances and I would not disobey her.

The first few days with Kimi were strange but not exactly unpleasant. We got along just fine although my new guest mostly kept to herself. The living quarters set up in my basement amounted to little more than an open prison cell. There’d been a cot and a few books for her to read and a little half window set up in the same room as my freezer but not much else. I tried not to bother her too much but… Well, it was hard not to. Whenever she was around, I couldn’t help but stare at her and I knew that I was smitten. In my heart, I knew I would have done just about anything for her, no matter the consequences.

Despite my feelings, I gave Kimi her space. I didn’t know a lot about women but I knew that being overbearing wouldn’t help. I wanted her to be comfortable! I wanted her to warm up to me on her own terms so I made little peace offerings. Usually, it was just food, but I did buy her some new books when I was in town. She seemed happy to have them and I saw the first hint of a smile on her sweet little face.

It was almost a week into her stay when she came into my room. I’d been playing a video game, one of the latest in the Tomb Raider series. I like to stealth it up in my play style and I hadn’t noticed she’d been standing in my bedroom door, watching me play until she spoke.

“Why is she killing them?” she asked and she almost made me jump out of my skin. I looked over at her, wide-eyed and a little off guard as Kimi stared intently at the screen.

“Well… They’re bad guys,” I said. “They want to steal an artifact and I’m supposed to stop them.”

Kimi’s brow furrowed a bit as I paused the game.

“You’re controlling the girl?” she asked.

“Yeah, I am.”

“You’re making her kill those people… What if she didn’t want to kill them?”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit at the way she said that. She was talking as if Laura Croft had some autonomy, as if she was anything more than a fictional character.

“It’s her game, she kills the bad guys. It’s what she does! It’s fun!”

“That’s fun?” Kimi repeated. Her eyes hadn’t left the screen and I made space for her beside me on my bed, patting it so she could take a seat. Reluctantly, she did.

“How about you give it a try?” I offered. “You might find it fun!”

She looked warily at my controller as if she expected it to bite her before she took it. I unpaused the game and watched her clumsily maneuver the character on the screen. She picked it up faster than I thought she would and managed to make her way through one firefight after only dying a few times. I watched as she shot down the bad guys and then kept shooting them even after they were dead, wasting her ammo.

“What now?” she asked. “Do we have to eat them?”

“What?”

That comment caught me completely off-guard.

“Well, we killed them. Wouldn’t it only be right to eat them?” She said it so matter of factly that it was almost an innocent question. Almost.

“No! You’re not supposed to eat people!”

“Why not?”

“It’s… Well, it’s cannibalism! Humans aren’t supposed to eat other humans.”

Kimi stared at the screen, at Laura Croft standing over the corpses of her latest victims and she seemed lost in thought.

“Can we play some more?” she finally asked. Of course, I said yes.

It was a few days later when I got my first call from Kathleen. I’d actually been awake this time and just kind of skimming through the newspaper. A sale at the farmers market in town, the results of the local fishing tournament, an animal attack in the woods, and some heartwarming piece about the local school fundraiser. More or less the kind of things you see in the local newspaper.

When my phone rang, I answered it even though I didn’t recognize it. I can’t say whether I was surprised or not to hear Kathleen’s voice. This wasn’t her usual phone number but if things were as bad as she said they were, I suppose I understood why she’d call me from a burner or something like that.

“How are things with the girl?” Straight to business, as usual.

“She’s fine, staying inside and reading mostly,” I’d replied.

“Good. I’m sorry I had to dump her on you last minute. I wish I could say how long it’ll be. Things are pretty hectic right now.”

An apology from Kathleen? It must’ve been worse than I’d thought.

“It’s fine. We’re getting along great,” I said. “She’s nice.”

Kathleen paused for a moment as if she was unpacking everything I’d said, looking for some sort of subtext as if she didn’t quite trust me.

“Can I speak with the girl?” she finally asked.

“Uh, yeah. She’s downstairs. I’ll go get her…”

I stood up and took the phone to the basement. Kimi was on her cot, curled into an adorable little ball and fast asleep. She slept often, but was also a light sleeper. Her eyes opened just a crack as she heard me coming and her ears twitched lazily.

“It’s Miss Brooks,” I said as I offered her the phone. Kimi took it without comment. Watching her use a phone was… Well, interesting. She couldn’t exactly press it to her ear like a normal person. She needed to position it a little awkwardly.

“Hello, Miss Brooks,” she said before yawning the cutest little yawn. A slight gust of wind rustled her hair and the beauty of that little movement tore me away from my thoughts. I looked up at her small half window, up near the ceiling. It was open. I looked at it and then back at Kimi, who barely seemed to notice me as she talked to my sister.

“I’m okay… He’s nice to me. He even lets me play his games… Tomb Raider, I think? One with a girl in it.”

I could almost hear Kathleen’s sigh of exasperation. I was sure I would eventually get an earful about corrupting her dear catgirl with video games but I could’ve cared less in that moment. I just waited for Kimi to say her goodbyes and hang up before she offered the phone back to me.

“You weren’t outside, were you?” The question that had been on my mind was finally blurted out. Kimi’s ears twitched as she looked at me.

“No? I’m not allowed outside, right? I just wanted to open the window, I… I wanted to know what a breeze felt like…”

Oh God, how could I have doubted her? The way she said that made my heart melt. Of course she hadn’t tried to go outside, she was smarter than that.

“Alright. Sorry to get on your case, I just…”

“You have to look after me,” Kimi finished. I nodded.

“Yeah… I do.”

And I was happy to take care of her for as long as she needed.

It was less than a week before I heard news of a second animal attack. I’d been watching the local news channel with my morning mountain dew when the story came up.

“New updates on yesterday’s animal attack,” said the anchor on the screen. ”Local law enforcement has identified the victim as Raymond Masters, who is believed to have been attacked while out hiking yesterday evening. Police say the injuries are consistent with a puma and are advising hikers to take extra precautions while out on the trails!”

The news was nothing special. Animal attacks were just another fact of life when you were so close to nature. A picture popped up on the screen that very quickly caught my attention, though. I’d seen him before. The man in the image had serious brown eyes and a crew cut, although he looked less imposing in the picture where he was fishing on a boat than he had when he’d been in my house a few weeks ago, introducing me to my new houseguest. Somehow, I doubted he’d just been another random hiker.

Immediately, I thought about Kimi. The news had said the attack was similar to that of a puma… Kimi couldn’t attack like that, could she? She didn’t exactly have claws, not that I’d seen. I’d noticed that her teeth seemed a little sharper than a normal human’s, but she wasn’t capable of killing someone, was she?

I found myself struggling to answer that question. The answer was obvious, but I didn’t want to actually believe it! Kimi was many things but she wasn’t a killer, I knew I was being silly just thinking about it and, of course, I wasn’t going to ask her! She’d deny it! Of course, she would, and there was no proof that she even could be capable of something like that!

Although there was, wasn’t there? I thought about the hard drives in the basement. Everything there was to know about Kimi was stored there, how they’d made her, why they’d made her and what she was capable of… This Dr. Smith, her ‘father’ had almost certainly documented everything about her and it wasn’t the first time I’d wondered what was stored on those hard drives. Looking at them would be a violation of Kimi’s privacy though, wouldn’t it…?

No… Not if she never knew what I’d done. Besides, didn’t I have the right to know more about her? She was my guest for now, she was my responsibility and perhaps one day she might even be more… I needed to know. I needed to put this stupid idea to rest! Kimi wasn’t a killer. She couldn’t be! She wasn’t!

Kimi was upstairs when I took one of the hard drives. She’d occupied her time with a few more of my games. Like me, she seemed to enjoy the stealth ones and I’d even caught her smiling as she’d played, exposing some of her sharp little teeth. I could hear the soundtrack of the game as I went downstairs. My excuse would’ve been that I was getting something out of the freezer if she’d asked what I was doing down there and it wasn’t technically a lie. I did plan on bringing some fish up for dinner.

When I actually took the drives, there was no intrusive phone call from Kathleen or anything out of the ordinary. Kimi was still upstairs playing her game and I set the fish in the sink to defrost before hooking one of the hard drives up to my laptop. Transporting the data must have been a rushed job. The drive I looked at wasn’t password protected or anything although I couldn’t access most of the files anyways. A lot of them had been locked behind a password or needed a specific application that I didn’t have to open. The folder names were confusing and disorganized, as if the information had been copied as quickly as possible and a lot of it seemed incomplete, probably housed on the other drives. What I could access though was mostly word docs with research notes and a few videos that I didn’t chance watching. I stuck with the word docs for the time being and opened the first one I saw. I’ll probably get arrested for leaking the contents but what the hell, right?

Personal notes of Dr. Elias Smith

June 14th, 2011

We attempted to advance Kimi’s socialization this week. Our success has been… limited… Amongst people, Kimi seems fine and mostly well-adjusted. Her tutor continues to give her moderate to high marks for their lessons and our tests on her have indicated that she possesses intelligence that is on par with a fully-human ten-year-old child. Her brain does not seem hindered by the differences in her DNA which supports my hypothesis that she is for all intents and purposes, human. Our attempts to socialize her with animals, however, are where we have hit a roadblock.

Kimi displays a clear fascination with smaller animals which we initially took for natural human curiosity. We exposed her to cats at first, believing she might like them and had entertained the idea of allowing her to have a pet. It would seem that Kimi’s modified DNA has left her with some non-human instincts such as a desire to hunt. When left alone with a cat, Kimi chose to kill it.

When I later asked her why she had killed the cat, Kimi told me she simply ‘felt as if that was what she was supposed to do.’ Under our supervision, she did not kill the next few animals she was exposed to and when we were sure there would be no more incidents, we allowed a cat to stay in the room with her. It survived approximately four days before Kimi killed it out of boredom.

I have decided to suspend any further unsupervised socialization with animals indefinitely. We’ve already crossed far too many ethical lines; I won’t add animal cruelty to the list!

I felt my skin going a little paler as I read what the document had said. Killing animals out of boredom? I almost wanted to read the notes again. It didn’t seem like something that Kimi was even capable of! She didn’t seem like a killer! She couldn’t be! I almost clicked on another document before deciding against it. What the hell was I doing, looking into her history like this? Kathleen would kill me if she knew, hell, Kimi would probably be livid! None of this was mine to go through!

And yet I couldn’t shake the memory of the man on the TV screen… How convenient that a man who Kathleen had undoubtedly left behind to watch Kimi and I would end up dead from a ‘puma’ attack. I knew there was only one way to know for sure if she was sneaking out of the house to hunt. I had to see it with my own eyes. I had to catch her in the act.

I stayed up late that night, long after Kimi had gone to bed. I stayed in my room with the lights out and sat patiently, watching and praying that I saw nothing. I wasn’t as young as I used to be. All-nighters took a greater toll on me than they did before. Staring out at my field as night faded into dawn, I was starting to talk myself into sleeping, and debating whether or not I’d need to stay up and vigil another night, just to be sure.

I felt my eyes beginning to droop and stood up, getting ready to go to bed when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Immediately I was looking out at the fields before me and I could see movement. A shadow darted through the field, keeping low to the ground so it would not be seen. Its movements were nimble and quick yet in the light of the early dawn I could make out a humanoid shape with two catlike ears atop its head. My heart skipped a beat. Without thinking, I threw open the window and called out.

“Kimi!”

Kimi paused. She looked at me and I could see those unforgettable sapphire eyes gleaming in the darkness, just like a cat’s eyes. Kimi didn’t say a word. She didn’t go back inside. She just stared at me for a moment before she fled towards the woods. She was gone before I could make it downstairs and out the front door to go after her, vanished into the darkness of the forest.

She never came back.

I heard about the death of another hiker that afternoon. I’d spent the day waiting for Kimi, fearing that she wouldn’t come back to me but not knowing what to do. I didn’t want to call Kathleen! She’d lose her shit! She’d blame me for this when it wasn’t my fault! Kimi knew the rules! She’d chosen to violate them. She’d snuck out deliberately and run when I’d noticed her! Kathleen probably wouldn’t care, though… No, my sister probably wouldn’t have given a shit if Kimi had run away intentionally. She’d been in my care, and so in her eyes the mistake was mine and mine alone… Not to mention the fact that Kimi was still out there. She’d already killed at least twice, maybe even three times! I knew that she was going to kill again, if for no other reason than a sheer enjoyment of it. I needed to find her. I needed to bring her back, lock her up. Something! Then I’d call Kathleen, when I had the situation under control!

It was late afternoon when I left the house to look for Kimi. I walked quietly towards the woods. I almost wished I’d had a gun or something to defend myself with, just in case. Kimi probably wouldn’t attack me… Maybe I was still a stranger in some regards but I’d been good to her! I’d taken care of her as best I could! She was still mostly human, maybe we could talk this out? Maybe I could convince her to come back with me willingly. It was my only hope, really.

I’d never really wandered the woods before and as I walked through them, beneath a setting sun I began to realize just how little of a chance I really had of finding her. Everything looked the same and the unending trees around me made it hard to see much.

“Kimi!” I called, venturing deeper and deeper into the unknown. Predictably there was no answer.

“Kimi!”

As I walked, I could see the light that shone through the canopy above me slowly beginning to fade into an orange glow. Hours were passing and Kimi was nowhere to be found. I wondered if I’d need to search the entire woods! I’d need to call Kathleen for help with that, and I’d have to face her wrath with nothing to show for it.

The thought of turning back had crossed my mind, but truthfully I wasn’t even sure I could reliably find my way back anymore. Like I said, I wasn’t used to hiking in the woods and I hadn’t exactly planned my little excursion well.

“Kimi?!” I called. My voice was starting to get hoarse from yelling her name for hours on end. Then I heard it.

Behind me, there was the thud of something heavy hitting the ground, and I spun around. My heart seized in my chest as I saw what it had been. It was a human body.

The head was turned towards me, the eyes wide open and vacant. The throat was nothing but a ragged mess of blood and torn flesh. I stumbled back a few steps as I saw movement in the tree above the body and sapphire eyes shining in the darkness of the dusk.

I couldn’t speak as I looked up at Kimi. In the low light, I could see the blood on her face. This had been a fresh kill. She’d already claimed another victim.

“He didn’t see me,” Kimi said softly. There was a hint of pride in her voice as she straddled the branch she sat on. I could see a smile on her bloodstained lips. “I took him down from behind, just like in the game!”

I couldn’t speak. My words failed me and Kimi didn’t seem to notice.

“I know I wasn’t supposed to go outside… But look! Isn’t it beautiful? The sun is so warm, the grass is so soft… and no one will ever see me. If they do, I can get rid of them, just like the bad guys!”

“K-Kimi… You can’t just kill people,” I said. My voice was hoarse and weak. She just glared down at me.

“You do it, in all your games you hunt and you kill people!” she said. “This is the same, isn’t it?”

“The game is fake, Kimi! It’s fiction! It’s not meant to be real! This… this is wrong! This is murder!”

“You said it was fun,” she replied. “And it is… It is fun… It’s what I’m supposed to be doing! I’m supposed to be out here, not trapped in some room! There’s so much to see, so much to experience, and the meat… It’s never been so fresh!”

My stomach turned.

‘…we killed them. Wouldn’t it only be right to eat them?’ she’d asked me once. I remembered the cat from the report I’d read, the one she’d tried to eat.

I couldn’t look at the body. I couldn’t check and see what she’d done to it.

“Y… you’re eating them…” I said softly, my voice weak and horrified.

“Well, yeah. It would be wrong to waste the meat. I’m not human like they are. You said it would be wrong if I was human, but I’m not, am I?”

“Kimi…” I said weakly as I started to back away. Looking at her now, I saw only a monster. A beautiful, inhuman monster.

She dropped from the tree in front of me, standing before her fresh kill. She smiled confidently, the sincere, beautiful grin of a girl who’d found her place in the world. A place as an apex predator.

“This is where I belong,” she said. “I can feel it! I should be out here, in the world!”

“You should be in your lab!” The words erupted out of me, angry and thoughtless. Kimi’s eyes narrowed.

“My lab?” she asked. “Why would I ever go back there when I could have this, when I could be happy out here?” She glared at me. “You wouldn’t send me back, would you, Laurence?”

I remained frozen to the spot, staring at Kimi and trying not to cry. Maybe I was bigger than her, but I knew that she could have overpowered me easily.

Kimi took a step back, and shook her head.

“No,” she said softly. “You won’t send me back… I won’t go… I refuse…”

“Kimi…” I managed to say in a hoarse whisper, but in an instant she was gone. She vanished at a sprint into the brush, leaving the corpse behind. I tried to run after her, I really did. But there was no way I was going to catch her. I was in her territory, and she did not want to be caught.

It’s been a few days now. I haven’t tried to call the police or even call Kathleen for that matter. I doubt the former could help me and the latter will find out eventually.

I’ve gone through the hard drives, but what little information I can access hasn’t been much help. I don’t think there’s any way to find Kimi unless she wants to be found… But I take a small comfort in knowing that I will see her again.

As dusk set in today, I saw sapphire eyes staring at me from the forest. She already doesn’t trust me, so I can’t imagine that Kimi sees me as anything more than a threat and I know what she does with threats, of course. I’ll leave a window open for her. Maybe I can still reason with her, but I won’t hinge my hopes on it.

Rating: 8.00/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Ryan Peacock
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Ryan Peacock


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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