Albina had the same nightmare that she had had every night that week. It was a traumatic memory from her childhood. She had been accused of being a demon before.
Since her mother was a diplomat, she would hold meetings in her home with other official leaders since her house was very large. During that time, she could not take care of Albina during the day, so she usually hired tutors to teach her until she was done in the late afternoon.
Her tutor at the time was not a good person. She was a woman who went by the name of Linka. This woman came from the village nearby. She had silver hair that she kept in a bun and cold gray eyes. She always wore an old purple dress that was covered in coats whenever she went outside and old boots. She was religious, judgmental, and highly superstitious, a very bad combination. She claimed to be a true Christian but had no love in her heart especially for those whom she considered abominable. Albina was four years old, but she was very well-behaved and smart. Linka taught her as well as she could but was deeply suspicious of her. Albina with her white skin, blue lips, and white hair looked like the ghost of someone who had frozen to death. It was not normal. Her appearance scared Linka. However, Albina was too naïve to notice anything stranger about her behavior. Linka would be strict with her and stare at her a lot, but Albina did not think there was anything weird about it. Linka thought that at any moment the monster Albina was could spring up. She had heard legends of the elemental spirits. She thought that Albina looked like she could be one of them, but she had no proof.
One day, Linka returned after work to pick up her forgotten house keys. Albina’s mother, Anastasia, had come and taken her child, and they immediately went to play outside in the snow. That was when Linka saw it happen. Anastasia was standing in the snow in her boots and her black winter outfit with her thick black winter coat. Her long brown hair and her two pairs of dangling silver earrings were flapping in the wind. She was up to her boots in snow. Albina ran towards her wearing no shoes and wearing her white long-sleeved shirt and rolled up jeans with her short white hair. She was not cold at all. Anastasia bent down and grabbed her in her arms and lifted her up spinning her in the air. Unexpectedly, Anastasia let her go and Albina went flying up into the air. Linka continued to watch in shock from behind a tree. Anastasia watched Albina fly for a minute and then land. She then watched with joy as Albina created ice sculptures with her hands and played on top of it. Linka was horrified. She thought that the child was a monster. She thought that Albina was some kind of demon that Anastasia might have summoned in order to fight the aliens. She had thought that Anastasia was a good Christian woman who had adopted an abandoned child and was working hard to help the world. She didn’t think that she would sink so low as to actually summon a demon. Linka decided that she would do something about it, and she did. She took a video with her phone and walked away. This was where Albina’s nightmare memory began.
Linka came to tutor Albina the next morning like she normally did. Albina was her young self again, and she walked in eager and impatient for the day to end so that she could play with Mommy outside once again. After today, her mother would get two weeks of vacation so the two could be together without anyone to interrupt them. They were all speaking Russian at the time. Albina’s mother spoke to her in English as well as Russian so she would learn both languages. However for the sake of simplicity, the dialogue has been translated into English. Anyway, Albina walked in and Linka looked down upon her with a devious smile.
“Good morning, Albina,” Linka said.
“Good morning, Miss Linka,” Albina replied not suspecting anything. “What are we doing today?”
“We are actually going somewhere special.”
“Like a field trip?”
“You might say that.”
“Cool! Where are we going?”
“You will see.”
With that, Linka pulled on all of her winter overcoat and tried to help Albina do the same, but she stepped away.
“I don’t need a coat. I don’t get cold,” she said.
“No, no, you don’t,” Linka said remembering the day before.
Albina was standing there wearing a black sweater and a pink skirt with little cowgirl boots. According to Linka, her innocent attire and face only belied her evil. She was either a demon or she was possessed by one. Either way, Linka was about to solve this problem once and for all. Albina in the dream knew this, but for some reason, she still allowed Linka to take her hand and lead her out of the house.
Albina and Linka walked until they reached her car. Albina looked around to see the mansion and the Russian landscape just as she remembered it. The mansion was a large three story estate that had been in the Romanov family for generations. It was as big and grand as a family mansion could be. It fit in perfectly with the grand Russian landscape. She loved the thick woods that surrounded her home with their vastness and their mysterious nature. Albina would spend hours playing outside in it and next to it with her mother. The sky was grey and filled with snow clouds as it was mid-December. It was starting to snow which made Albina very happy. Albina had let go of Linka’s hand and was just staring at the world around her in awe.
Linka coughed and got Albina’s attention. She had opened the side door of her small blue Cadillac, and she was motioning for Albina to get in. Albina knew that it was the perfect opportunity for her to run away. She could have just flown away whenever she wanted to. She just did not know what was about to happen. Albina wanted to run away, and she would have. However in the dream, she just walked forward as if she was being controlled by someone else. Albina crawled into the back seat of Linka’s car, and she buckled her in.
“Are we going to the village?” Albina asked.
“Yes, we are going to a special place in the village,” Linka said.
“Just be patient, my dear. You will know soon.”
Linka walked into the driver’s seat of her car, and she turned on the ignition and started driving. They pulled out of the estate’s driveway and drove down the road. Albina watched as the car drove past the trees of the forest that were growing thick on either side of the road. Ten minutes later, the car pulled off onto a dirt driveway that led to the village’s small Russian Orthodox Church. Linka got out of the car, opened the door for Albina, took her hand, and led her inside. She recognized this place. She and her mother came here every Sunday.
“Why are we at church?” Albina asked.
“We need to see Elder Vladimir right away,” said Linka.
“You ask too many questions, child.”
They entered the sanctuary where Elder Vladimir was. He was Linka’s husband, and he was every bit as crazy and hypocritical as she was. She had showed him the video of the “demon,” and he was anxious to deal with the phenomenon himself. He was dressed in his elderly robes. Meanwhile, Albina was admiring the stained glass windows and the painted icons. They were her favorite part of going there at the time.
“Is this the child in question?” Elder Vladimir asked.
“Yes,” Linka said. “Are the others here?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Is Father Romanov gone?”
“Yes, he has gone to visit the home of a sick saint.”
“Excellent, now we can carry on without him interfering in mistake. He is fooled by her.”
Albina turned her head and paid a bit of attention once her uncle’s name was mentioned.
“What are we doing?” Albina asked innocently.
“I know you are special, little one,” Linka said. “I just wanted to introduce you to some friends and tell them how special you are.”
Linka and Vladimir led Albina into a meeting room in the church where a small group of elderly men and women with devilish and suspicious eyes were gathered. Albina knew where this was going in the dream, but her dream self did nothing. They all stared at her like she was some kind of freak. Their eyes were filled with fear mixed with hatred. Albina did not understand why they stared at her this way, but she tried to be as polite as her mother had taught her to be. She just stood there and smiled politely.
“Albina,” Linka said firmly. “I know that you have ice powers. I want you to show them to my friends.”
“I can’t,” Albina said politely.
“Why not?” Linka asked.
Looking back, Albina should have replied that she had no idea what they were talking about. However, she heard herself say innocently, “Mother says that I am not allowed to do it inside because it will make a mess.”
The men and women started whispering to each other excitedly.
“Don’t worry, child,” Linka said. “We don’t mind. Just do it please.”
“Okay,” Albina replied.
She created ice from her hands to go on top of the table in the middle of the room. It was a thin sheet of ice. She then flew up into the air in order to get on top of the table and skate on it. Albina was laughing and smiling, but the people around her stared at her with shocked and frightened faces. She stopped skating and stared at them. She was beginning to get very scared.
“What’s the matter?” Albina asked timidly. “Did I do something wrong?”
“Linka, you were right,” Elder Vladimir said in amazement. “She is one of them.”
“What are you talking about?” Albina said looking at him.
Another man shouted out, “She is a spirit of the elements in human form.”
Another man said, “She is a demon. We have to get rid of her.”
“What?” Albina said.
“I knew that woman was desperate for help,” Elder Vladimir said. “Who knew that she was desperate enough to call for the help of the devil? We have to carry out the ritual before it curses us with its evil.”
“I’m not evil,” Albina said meekly. “I swear.”
“Silence, succubus,” Elder Vladimir shouted at her pulling out his crucifix. “You have given yourself away. No human can do what you can. We know your secret. Now, kneel before the power of the cross. We drive you out in the name of Christ!”
Albina not knowing what to do sat down, cried, and trembled.
Subsequently, everyone else started yelling the same thing. In one voice, their hypocritical voices yelled. They accused this child of God of being a demon because of her gifts and because of her appearance. Albina was so scared. Their hate-filled and afraid eyes would haunt her mind for years to come. In Albina’s dream, their eyes were blood red and burning like fire. They shouted and shouted yet to their surprise nothing happened. They thought that she was going to disappear and descend back to hell.
“It’s not working, Vlad,” Linka said. “What do we do?”
Albina continued crying and began to call out, “Mommy! Mommy! I want to go home!”
“Quiet, succubus,” one of the men yelled at her. Albina stopped yelling and just cried in fear.
“In order to rid the demon from our presence, we will have to try something else,” Vladimir said.
Just then, they heard a knock at the door, and heard a voice call out. It was Anastasia’s older brother, Olexei.
“What is going on in there?” he called out. “I can hear screaming all the way from my office. Open up the door now.”
The group members looked at each other in fear. Father Romanov had performed exorcisms of demons before. He might be of some help. However, they were afraid that he would never buy the theory that his own niece was a demon. Elder Vladimir opened the door to let him in. He was a tall man in priestly robes. He had brown hair and brown eyes like his sister. He was in his early forties. Albina was relieved.
“I’m glad you’re here, Father Romanov,” Elder Vladimir said. “We have been trying to perform an exorcism and we need your help.”
“Help me, uncle,” Albina yelled.
“Shut up,” one of the men said while slapping her in the face.
Father Romanov was shocked. Albina rubbed her face while sobbing.
“What are you doing to my niece? Leave her alone!” he said.
“Father, I am sorry to tell you this, but it turns out that she is a demon,” Elder Vladimir said. “We have seen it for ourselves. She has the power of ice. We think that your sister summoned her in order to fight the alien invaders. She is in the form of a little girl. I know that this might be hard for you to accept, but we have to send her back before she brings evil down upon all of us.”
Olexei pushed through all of them, and he picked up Albina who was sobbing uncontrollably.
“You’re insane, all of you,” Olexei said. “I know that she is different but it’s not because she is a demon. She is touched with an act of God like others have been. She is gifted with power like Samson in the Bible. If she was possessed, then the demon inside her would panic at the sight of holy artifacts. She has been near them many a time and nothing has happened. She prays with me and her mother and learns from the holy word. She is no more evil than any other child is.”
“You have been tricked, sir,” Father Vladimir yelled. “This demon has hypnotized you, too. We have to get rid of her now before she destroys us all.”
Olexei started running with Albina in his arms down the hallway. The other people ran after him. Olexei got into his office and shut the door behind him. He put Albina down and locked the door. The other people all started slamming against it in order to force the door to open. Olexei pushed his back against the door to help keep it shut. Albina was so scared.
“What do we do, Uncle Olexei?” Albina yelled.
“I’m going to call the police,” he said pulling out his cell phone. “Just stand back.”
However, the door gave way and fell over on top of Uncle Olexei, disorienting him and causing him to drop his phone. The men jumped over the door and grabbed Albina dragging her out of the room and down the hall.
“Your reign of terror ends now, succubus,” Elder Vladimir shouted into her face holding his crucifix.
Albina kept twisting her head back and trying to look at her uncle, but they kept dragging her forward.
“We are going to get rid of you once and for all, you monster,” Elder Vladimir said.
“Follow me,” he said motioning to the others.
He opened the door to the boiler room that powered up the heater that kept the building warm.
“If normal methods do not work, then we are going to have to use extreme measures,” Elder Vladimir said opening up the door to the furnace.
The two men holding Albina started dragging her closer and closer to it.
“No, please stop,” Albina yelled. The men didn’t listen.
Albina summoned all the strength that she had and decided to fight.
“I said to stop,” Albina screamed as she froze the men who were dragging her right where they stood. Only their heads were free and their hands were free. She shook out of their grip. Linka, her husband, and all the other people ran towards her but Albina froze them, too. They were completely covered in ice except for their heads. They were shivering and could potentially die if they were trapped there long enough.
“Finish the job, monster,” Linka said spitefully looking at Albina.
Albina did not respond. She turned around and ran back down the hallway to where Uncle Olexei’s office was. He was alive, and he had just crawled out from under the door. However, it was obvious that he was hurt. One of his ribs was broken. Albina stood in the hall in front of the office and looked at him.
“Uncle Olexei?” Albina asked.
Olexei looked at her and smiled with relief.
“Thank God,” he said. “How did you get away?”
“I froze them,” Albina said.
Olexei looked concerned.
“You didn’t kill them. Did you?” he asked.
“No,” Albina said.
“Good, hand me my phone. I need to call the police.”
Albina flew over the door, landed, and picked up the phone from where it had slid across the room under her uncle’s desk.
“Call mommy, too,” Albina said as she handed the phone to her uncle.
The police arrived not long afterwards followed by Anastasia. She dropped everything that she was doing as soon as she found out. An ambulance came and picked up Olexei, and Anastasia held her sobbing child in her arms while sitting on the hood of her car. They sat outside while the police were thawing out the criminals inside. Anastasia was furious with Linka and with herself. How could she not have figured out that Linka was crazy? How could she have failed so epically at protecting her only daughter? She was proud of Albina for being strong and brave enough to defend herself even when one of the men struck her in the face. She knew her baby was strong and smart. However, she felt guilty that Albina had to be put in this situation in the first place.
Albina on her end was scared and very confused. She lost some of her innocence that day. She did not understand why those people called her a demon and tried to kill her. However for the time being, she could find comfort in her mother’s loving arms. She felt safe and secure since her mother was there. She believed that her mother had everything under control in the way that all young children do. She just wanted to express how scared she was. Albina was not trying to make her mother feel guilty. She was just a scared little kid who needed the love of her mother to help her get through what she was feeling. Albina was burying her face into her mother’s left shoulder and sobbing her eyes out. Her mother was silently thinking and rubbing the back of her daughter’s head with her right hand.
“I am so proud of you, Albina,” Anastasia finally said. “You were so brave. I thank God for that. You were able to fight them off.”
“Mommy,” Albina said lifting her head. “They told me I was a demon. Am I a demon? Am I really a monster? I don’t want to be a monster!”
Anastasia sat her child on her lap and looked her in the eye.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“Yes,” Albina answered appearing confused.
“Do you love God?”
“Then there is no way that you can be a demon, sweetheart. Demons can’t love anyone because they’re evil.”
Albina accepted her mother’s explanation and gave her a hug. Just then, the police were dragging out the perpetrators in handcuffs. They had all been arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder. Anastasia scowled deeply at all of them. Albina buried her face in her mother’s hair. She did not want to look at the people and Linka again.
However, Anastasia tapped her on the back of the head and Albina looked her in the eye.
“You need to look at them, Albina,” Anastasia said.
“Why?” Albina asked.
“When you look at them, you are telling them that you are not afraid of them.”
“But Mommy, I am afraid.”
“That is why you have to do it. You have to conquer your fear and not let them make you afraid anymore. Do it, Albina.”
Albina looked up at the people as they were being led to the police cars in their handcuffs. She looked at them just like her mother instructed her to. One by one all the people were led out. Linka was the last to leave the building. She saw Albina staring at her in the arms of her mother. She shook free of the cops who were holding her and bolted towards Albina as if she was struck by lightning. Anastasia climbed on top of the car while holding Albina. The cops tackled Linka to the ground just before she got to them.
“You are a monstrous woman,” Anastasia yelled. “I can’t believe I was deceived by you. I never want to see you ever again!”
Linka laughed gently and creepily under her breath as the cops pulled her up off the ground.
Then she said, “My dear woman, you are the one who is being deceived. That creature in your arms is a demon.”
“That is enough out of you. Take her away!”
However, Linka continued to scream as she was being dragged to the station car. Albina could never forget her words or the wild look in her eyes.
“Mark my words! That child is a demon. I knew it from the first moment that I set eyes on her. She is a monster. The Devil may be using her to help you now, but he will go back on his word. That little monster will get you killed! She is cursed and a curse to everyone around her. She is a demon! She is evil, and she will kill you! She is cursed! She is cursed! She is cursed! She is cursed! She is cursed!”
Everything faded to black, but that voice kept echoing in Albina’s mind. She couldn’t make it stop no matter how hard she tried to block it out. She tossed and turned in her sleep while listening to the voice. Then finally, she woke up.
Albina sat up in her snow and looked at herself in her mirror. She tucked her hair behind her twice pierced ears to reveal the earrings that her mother wore in her dream. She took them off her mother’s body when she died. They were her favorites. Albina saw tears streaming down her face as she remembered her life that she thought she had made peace with. She stood up and quietly walked towards the window. Albina opened the window and flew outside. She then sat on the roof and proceeded to cry.
Albina had not thought about that incident in a long time. When she was four years old, her mind quickly moved on to better things. She decided to trust in what her mother had said. It was actually at that point that she got interested in learning more about the Bible and about Russian Orthodox Theology consequently developing her mystic side. She was unusually deep-thinking for a four year old. Although her mother was a Russian Orthodox Christian, she did not discuss these things with Albina because she thought that she was too young to really understand them. However that day after they got home, Albina begged her mother to start teaching those things to her. Her mother was happy with her curiosity, and since she was taking two weeks off to be with her daughter for Christmas anyway, she did it. They would sit on her bed and with her Bible and her Russian Orthodox Theology book, she would explain the mysteries of the unknown in a way that a four year old could understand. Albina enjoyed what she was learning and moved on from that horrible experience. Albina smiled at those memories.
Albina missed her mother more than words could express. She had loved her so much. She always had the answers to every question she had. Anastasia loved Albina and every little thing about her. She instilled in her the deep sense of confidence that she possessed and her elegant manner of speaking and acting around others. She also inspired the growth of her mystic side. She loved her even though some people had considered her to be a monster. GLADOS’s words had touched Albina to her core. She didn’t want them to, but they did anyway. Albina wondered whether or not she could possibly be a demon. They reminded her of her persecution that she had endured so long ago. She wondered if Linka was right. Albina wondered if her mother was killed because she was cursed for helping her. She wondered if she was abandoned as a baby because her original parents were demons.
Albina wished that her mother was with her instead of in heaven. She would give her a warm hug and tell her what she needed to hear. Albina bowed her head and cried to herself as the wind blew her hair and her tears away.
God sent her someone else to comfort her instead. Unbeknownst to Albina, Alpha had seen her wake up and fly out of the room in tears. He decided that he wanted to help, so he walked towards the window and tried to get Albina’s attention. He jumped on top of Kayla’s sleeping body, and he jumped on top of the window sill. Of course, his legs slipped off so he landed on his body with two legs hanging out the window in front and one leg hanging behind him. He used his front two legs to pull himself further and further out the window. Alpha was precariously balanced on the window liable to fall out at any second.
“Albina,” Alpha called out.
Albina looked up from her sobbing surprised at her name being called. She then heard her name be called again. She looked over the side of the roof and saw Alpha teetering on the window sill of the building on the verge of falling out.
“Alpha,” she said in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“I want to help you,” Alpha said. “You’re sad.”
“I don’t need your help,” Albina said coldly. “Go back inside.”
“I want to help,” Alpha said as he began to teeter forward. “Please!”
“Will you be quiet? You’re going to wake everyone up.”
“I’m coming out.”
Then suddenly realizing that he was sliding forward, he said, “I’m going to fall. Help!”
“Just push yourself backwards, and you’ll fall back in,” Albina said.
“I can’t. Help me.” Alpha’s front two legs were struggling to find support on the side of the wall to push him backwards but to no avail. He just kept falling forward.
“Help me!” Alpha cried as he fell forward out the window. “Ahhhhh!”
Albina flew off the roof and caught him before he landed on the ground.
“Thank you,” said Alpha looking up at her with his light blue eye.
Albina flew up to the window to put him back inside, but he started shrieking.
“No! No! No! No! No!” Alpha yelled. “I want to help.”
His yelling woke Kayla up.
“What’s going on?” Kayla said half-asleep.
“Nothing,” Albina said. “Alpha and I are just going to be talking outside. Would you shut the window without locking it please?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Kayla mumbled as she telekinetically shut the window and lay back down to sleep.
Albina looked at the turret that she was holding in her arms and then carried him up to the roof with her. She put him down and stood up looking down at him.
“Little turret, what is problem? Why are you being such pest?” Albina asked.
“I want to help you,” Alpha said.
“Yes, I know that, but why? Why do you want to help me?”
“According to my programming, a human cries when they are sad, scared, or otherwise feeling vulnerable. Feeling that way is not good because it means that you can more easily be killed. I don’t want you to be killed, so please let me help you. I don’t want her to get you.”
Albina was annoyed by his behavior. She did not like making her issues everyone else’s problem. She would talk to Chell or Chelsea about things sometimes, but she did not want to talk about her problems to a turret. However she realized that this turret was actually developing a self, a personality that wanted to help others, and she did not want to hinder that. So in spite of herself, she decided to indulge him. Albina wanted to encourage this behavior.
“Okay, fine,” Albina said. “I’ll tell you what’s bothering me.”
Albina sat down on the side of the roof so that her legs were hanging off the side and her arms were supporting her body as she leaned backwards.
“Ever since GLADOS called me an ice demon, I’ve been having the same nightmare every night…” Albina started to say.
“What is a nightmare?” Alpha asked.
“When humans sleep, they often think about things, and they can see their thoughts in front of them like you and I see each other. These thoughts are called dreams. The scary or bad dreams are called nightmares.”
“Wow!” Alpha replied sounding amazed.
“Anyways in my nightmare, I relived a memory from childhood. I relived the memory when bad woman and her friends tried to kill me.”
“Why would they do that? Did someone tell them to?”
“She thought that I was demon, so I needed to be destroyed.”
Alpha was silent, so Albina continued.
“The dreams have been coming for a week now. They started when GLADOS called me an ice demon. It did not bother me at the time. However, it brought back that horrible memory and now I can’t seem to forget about it. I have wondered if it is possible that she is right and I really am a demon. That is why I am upset.”
Alpha said nothing but he walked around her and seemed to be observing her. Albina sat up so that her arms were no longer supporting her body in response.
Alpha stopped looking at her and gave his answer.
“There’s no way that you can be a demon then because according to my analysis you are a human,” Alpha said. “You have the body and appearance of a normal human.”
She smiled at his innocent response.
“My skin and my hair are snow white,” Albina said gesturing to her body. “My lips are also blue. You have also seen what I can do. There is no way that I can be normal human.”
“None of the others are normal humans either, but they are not demons. You are just like all of them,” said Alpha.
“No, I’m not,” Albina said. “I’m cursed. At least, that is what I’m afraid of. Maybe that is why my parents abandoned me as baby. Maybe that is why my mother was killed for protecting me. Maybe that is why everyone around me is in trouble now. Maybe that is only because I’m cursed. I am doomed to only bring pain to people I love.”
Alpha was quiet for a moment. Then he said something surprising.
“Well, you are cursed,” Alpha said. “Sylvie said so.”
“What?” Albina asked in shock.
“She says that all humans are cursed because of the evil in their hearts. I asked her what a curse was because I kept hearing you say that word in your sleep,” Alpha said.
“You told her?” Albina asked starting to have an angry tone.
“No, I just asked. I swear. She said that that was the only curse that existed.”
“You believe her?”
“Yes,” Alpha replied happily. “Sylvie knows everything. She’s really smart.”
Albina turned away wishing that she had his confidence and said, “She’s wrong about me. I have had so much pain in my life. I just can’t help thinking that I am cursed.”
“The others have had bad things happen to them too, but you don’t think they’re cursed.”
Albina looked at him surprised that he said something that smart.
“You only think you’re cursed because a couple of mean people said that you were. That doesn’t make sense,” Alpha said.
Then he stared at the ground and said, “You’re not a cursed demon. I’m the one who’s a cursed demon.”
Albina was taken aback by this comment, too.
Alpha continued sadly, “Sylvie said that humans weren’t originally meant to be evil. They were deceived by the Devil into becoming so. I was. I was created to be a monster. All of us were. We receive the order to kill the moment that we are assembled. We cannot violate that order or else we will be killed ourselves. We will be sent to Android Hell by her.”
“You did not want to be killer?” Albina asked.
“No, none of us do. Whenever we kill humans, we tell them that we are sorry. If they kill us, we tell them that we do not hate them or blame them for what they had done. We just have to do what we’re told or else she will kill us.”
“Then tell me, why did you go with Sylvie? You knew the risks, but you went anyway? I thought she had just hypnotized you.”
“She just made it so that I didn’t want to listen to GLADOS anymore. At first, I just did it because I was told to. Now, I do it because I want to. I want to help you humans. I like you. You are great people. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to be a demon anymore. Sylvie said that God would forgive me if I asked him, but I still feel terrible. I have shot people. I have done bad things. I don’t want to be bad forever. I don’t want to be a demon!”
Albina felt sorry for him. He had spent his life being forced to be a monster. She was able to get her mind off of herself and see his emotional pain. She wanted to think of some way to comfort him. Then, she thought of something.
“You are not a demon, Alpha,” she said crouching down so that their eyes were level and resting her right hand on top of his head. “You technically never were.”
“I’m not?” Alpha asked.
“No, a demon has no choice about whether to be evil or not. By that, I mean that they are unable to choose to be good. You have chosen to be good now, so there is no way that you can be demon. You have been forgiven now, so you are free from that. You are not doomed to cause pain forever.”
As Albina listened to her own words, she was enlightened. This definition of a demon applied to her, too. She realized that GLADOS and Linka had been wrong about her and why they were wrong. She was not a demon or an elemental spirit or a curse. She could not be because she had the ability to choose to do good or evil. Albina looked different, and she had the ability to destroy. However, she had a choice about how she used her power. Albina was not doomed to only bring pain to the world. The things that happened in her life were not her fault. They were just bad things that had happened to her just like to everyone else. Albina was no different. Those mean words were just mean words. She felt monumentally stupid for not realizing this truth before. It would have saved her many nights of pain. She now knew the truth and had this little turret to thank for it. Albina reached her arms around him and gave him a big hug.
“I’m not demon either,” Albina said. “I can’t be demon either. I’m not demon! I’m not cursed either. I know that now thanks to you. Thank you!”
“Hooray,” Alpha said. “I told you I could help.”
“I guess you were right,” said Albina humbly.
Just then, Alpha looked up and was terrified by what he saw. He ducked under Albina’s arms and ran around her so that she shielded him from the perceived danger.
“Oh my, God!” Alpha cried as he ran to hide behind Albina.
“What is it?” Albina said anxiously standing up and looking around but not seeing anything.
Albina looked up, but she saw nothing. She was really confused.
“The ceiling is gone,” Alpha cried. “There is nothing up there. It’s so big! What is it? Why is there nothing up there? Why is it so empty and large? Where does it end up there? Are we going to fall in?”
Albina suddenly realized what he was so afraid of. She smiled.
“Alpha,” Albina said. “It is only night sky.”
Alpha looked up at the dark night sky full of stars and gazed at it. He walked out from behind Albina and kept staring. His fear slowly melted away to fascination.
“Wow,” Alpha said. “So, that is what the sky looks like? I have never seen it before.”
“It is beautiful. Isn’t it?” Albina said.
“Yeah,” Alpha said. “What are those bright dots up there?”
“Those are stars,” Albina said.
“You mean like the sun?” Alpha asked.
“Wow! Can I get a closer look at them?” Alpha asked getting really excited.
“I can’t go into space. Humans can’t breathe there.”
“Oh,” Alpha said staring at the ground sad.
Albina was sympathetic, so she gave him another offer.
“I can however take you as close as possible,” Albina said.
“Hooray!” Alpha said jumping up and down.
“I’ll carry you up there. You just have to sit still, so I don’t drop you. Alright?”
Albina picked up Alpha and took off on her wintry winds up into the air.
“We’re flying!” exclaimed Alpha. He could barely contain his enthusiasm. He was so excited.
She flew higher and higher up into the sky. Alpha looked down at the ground and was amazed to see the world below grow smaller and smaller. He did not say a word, but he simply stared in absolute awe. Then suddenly, Albina stopped.
“We’re here, Alpha,” Albina said.
Alpha stopped staring at the ground and looked up at the sky. From where Albina was hovering in the air, Alpha got an even clearer view of the night sky. The stars were so numerous and so beautiful to his curious robot mind and to Albina’s healing mind. The beauty was cleansing to her mind. It helped her let go of her sad memories and reminded her of her hope for the future. It reminded her of the day when she would be reunited with her mother and when God Himself would wipe every tear from her eye. Alpha himself was just amazed at how beautiful the scene was. He never knew that the world outside the facility was so beautiful. Albina looked down at Alpha. He was just so joyful and happy. He was so innocent, loving, and amazed by everything in sight. He was just like a child. Albina looked up at the stars once again.
“I wish I was more like you, little turret,” Albina said.
“I wish I was more like you,” Alpha said. “You’re so smart. You should really listen to the words you say sometimes.”
Albina nodded humbly realizing that he was right.
Then out of nowhere, he said, “God made the stars, right?”
“Yes,” Albina replied.
“God made humans, too?”
“He is a creator. But he isn’t like the scientists who created me. Is he?”
“Yes and no. He is brilliantly smart and powerful. He has made many wonderful things, but he loves and cares about all that he has made.”
“Yes, you may have been made by humans, but you still have a soul. I think that comes from God. He loves you, too.”
“God must be good then,” Alpha concluded.
“How did you figure that one out?” Albina asked puzzled.
“He creates beautiful things and he cares about them. He has the power to do anything, but he uses it to do good things. He must be good. He also made Sylvie and you. I like him.”
“He likes you, too.”
They hovered in the air staring at the sky for a few minutes when Alpha thought of something else to say.
“She is like God, too,” Alpha said.
“Who is?” Albina asked.
“GLADOS,” he replied almost as if he was afraid to say her name.
“No, she isn’t,” Albina replied as calmly as she could even though she was still angry at her. Her eyes started flashing with anger.
“You’re right. She is powerful like God, but she is not really like God. She is evil. She uses her power to hurt other people,” Alpha said unaware of her feelings.
“You’re right about that,” Albina said calming down her anger once more. “She is more like the Devil.”
“The Devil is still around right?”
“Yes. God will destroy him one day though when His Son returns to restore the world.”
The conversation went silent for several more minutes as they gazed once more into the night sky. For Alpha, the sky represented the new world outside the facility that he was about to see. There was so much that he didn’t know, and he wanted to see it all and know it all. However, he knew that they needed to stop GLADOS. She was evil, and he just knew that he didn’t want her to hurt his new friends.
“Will God help us stop the devil that lives in the facility?” Alpha asked. “I don’t want her to hurt you.”
“Have faith, little turret,” Albina said squeezing his body in a tight hug and rubbing her head against his. “Her time has come. I think God is using us to take her out. We will do it. Don’t worry. Don’t be scared.”
Alpha trusted her words. He believed that she was right. She had to be. God was with her.
Albina yawned and her eyes started drooping shut. Her head rested on his.
“Are you alright?” Alpha asked.
“Is it okay if we land? I’m getting tired,” Albina said.
Albina slowly lowered themselves down until they reached the grass of the ground outside the facility about twenty feet from the wall of the building. She let Alpha down on the ground.
“Thank you,” he said to her.
“You’re welcome,” Albina said as she sat on the ground and lay down upon the grass folding her arms behind her head. She shut her eyes to relax and gave a contented sigh.
“Do you think you will have any more nightmares?” Alpha asked.
“I don’t know,” Albina replied honestly. “I may never forget what happened, but at least now, I have realized that everything they said about me was untrue and always will be. Thank you!”
Alpha stared at her in silence for a moment.
Then he said, “I’m sorry those people were mean to you. I’m sorry GLADOS was mean to you, too. They are just monsters. You don’t have to let their words bother you anymore.”
“I won’t, Alpha,” Albina said. “I will do my best.”
Suddenly, Alpha noticed that the end of his leg was standing in something squishy. It was dirt. He had never encountered the substance before. He was amazed at it. Alpha picked up his foot, and he looked at it.
“What is this brown stuff?” Alpha asked.
“It is soil,” Albina replied without even opening her eyes. “It is the substance that plants grow in.”
“Plants?! I know what those are. They grow around the facility.”
Alpha looked at the substance at the end of one of his legs in awe then lowered his feet back down. The tip of his front leg sunk a little bit into the dirt. It made him a little happy. He walked in the dirt away from Albina in such a way as to make his feet sink into the dirt on purpose. He loved the way that it felt. He stomped in the dirt in the moonlight joyfully. He jumped up and down so that his legs went even deeper. He suddenly noticed the dew upon a blade of grass and brushed of his legs against it so that the drop of dew fell to the ground. Alpha then looked up and noticed a brown rabbit staring at him. He had never seen an animal like that before. The rabbit had never seen a creature like him either. They locked eyes without looking away. They shared the mutual feeling of curiosity. However, the spell was broken when Alpha took one step forward and the rabbit hopped away into the woods behind him.
“Wait,” Alpha said. “Come back!”
Alpha wanted to chase after him in the woods, but the woods looked like a dark and scary place. He didn’t want to venture in there alone. Alpha turned around and started walking back towards Albina. The night was quiet except for the wind blowing through the trees and the grass. Alpha was startled by the noise and focused his hearing to listen to it. He looked in the direction of the sound and watched the leaves rustle in curiosity. As Alpha looked up, his eye was naturally drawn back to the beautiful night sky. When he looked at the sky, he saw a shooting star for the first time. Naturally, he was shocked and amazed.
“Woah,” Alpha cried.
He turned and ran back towards Albina as fast as he could. He stopped right by her head.
“A star moved! It flew through the sky!” Alpha said.
However, he looked down and realized that Albina was fast asleep.
“It’s okay,” Alpha said. “I’ll tell you when you wake up. Until then, I will protect you.”
Alpha proceeded to open up his guns and walk around Albina so that he could guard her.