Stacey’s steps were quick around the corner. She wore a loose sweater over a thicker shirt, and tighter pants, a silver necklace glinting beneath coarse webbing at her throat, her dark hair tied back. She slowed as she passed beyond the corner.
‘Matthias?’ she whispered.
‘I’m down here,’ he groaned.
He sat by the wall still, clothes torn, seared, and matted in blood. Patches of skin missing from his torso and legs, the synthetic flesh beneath undisguised, all hair singed away.
‘Jesus, what happened?’
‘I was hoping you might tell me.’
‘Help me up?’
He lifted an arm and strained to keep his feet balanced as she crouched to lift her shoulder, supplying her weight beneath his. She faltered beneath him and Matthias fell forwards, catching himself with his one arm against the dumpster.
‘Matthias, your skin..’
‘I was hoping you wouldn’t see me like this.’
There are police out front, I..’
‘I gathered. Those people, your company, I can give them an arm. Can you get me out of here?’
‘Police!’ A male voice barked from the entrance. Who’s back there?’
Stacey took a breath and stepped back, raising her hands. ‘It’s just me.’
The officer came forwards, a younger, blonde officer. His face was kind, but his expression impassive. ‘My friend was in the building. Can you call an ambulance?’
‘Stacey!’ Matthias growled.
She looked down to him, still wearing her concern.
‘Let me see him.’
‘You really don’t want to see..’ The officer stepped around the corner, heedless of the warning. Matthias looked upon the officer whose blinked, startled at the mix of damaged human and naked android before him. Before he could speak, a sharp buzzing came from behind and his body slumped to the ground. Stacey replaced a small taser in her pocket, all expression of concern vacated.
‘Can you walk?’ Stacey demanded.
‘Yes, I can walk.’
She placed an arm around him nevertheless, guiding his balance as he limped from the corner, giving a quick glance to the side of the building as they headed in the opposite direction.