Still smeared in someone else’s blood, Cillian marched into his boss’s office and slammed down a letter of resignation. He was done, once and for all. As much as his heart and conscience tried to convince him otherwise, Cillian could not go through another torturous night of wrestling cold and lifeless men from crying children, sisters, wives, and mothers. Their screams had torn him apart.
After spending his entire life believing that he could make a difference, Cillian left the hospital with a growing realisation that all the lives he had saved, would forever be a drop in the blood and pain-filled oceans left in the wake of The Troubles. That same night, after folding up and leaving his paramedic’s uniform to gather dust in the back of his wardrobe, Cillian packed his bags and fled to the one place where he could be free from humanity and its promise of heartache.
In bated breath, Cillian watched as the traffic lights changed colours. When the GO flashed, he exhaled in the knowledge that the final teether between himself and everything that he had ever known and despised had been severed, and he was released to hurtle through the long, winding back roads to freedom. Through his rear-view mirror, he watched as concrete and steel was swallowed into flowers, foliage, and luscious greenery. Just as the sun was rising, Cillian smiled as his destination blossomed before him. Welcome home, he thought to himself.
Nestled in between a wealth of trees and clear, open skies, his father’s cabin was the embodiment of everlasting peace. It was born out of his desire to find the light – any light – in a darkening world. Once the initial euphoria of being home waned, Cillian resettled into the rhythm of mindful living: foraging, repairing, reading and nights spent looking up to the stars and beyond. He finally felt one with himself.
On the cusp of sunrise, Cillian was in the midst of his morning bath in the river, when the corner of his eye caught a distant, metallic glint against a bed of shamrocks. Intrigued, he swam to the furthest riverbed and sifted through the foliage. Cillian stopped cold when his fingertips scrapped against an algae slickened metal torso. Further rummaging revealed sinewy wires that lead up to a head, which took time and deep unearthing to see it in its entirety. By that time, the sun had begun to rise, sending a creeping light across the river as it did so. A light that soon fell on the metallic oddity.
Like the snap of a hypnotist’s fingers, the oddity’s eyelids popped open, revealing eyes hued in the sharpest, most dazzling of emeralds. Instinctively unnerved by the sudden awakening, Cillian began blindly inching backwards from the machine until the snap of a twig underfoot stopped him cold. Almost immediately, the oddity whipped its head towards Cillian, took him in curiously for almost a lifetime, and then vapourised him with laser beams from its eyes.