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Chapter 11: Benjamin Kaminski (2)

The view of the city from that height was majestic. The sun had risen in full force, and as it rose above the horizon, its rays cast a golden glow over the buildings below them. They glowed like so many fireflies on display for all to see.

Erik could hear birds singing their songs far overhead somewhere among the skyscrapers—a beautiful symphony echoing off the surrounding concrete walls around him.

It reminded him of his first time flying with his father years ago: how he'd felt when he took him up into this sky high above everything else.

He was younger then and free of any worry. Now he knew better than anyone what kind of world lay beyond these skies.

A dark place where nothing lived but monsters lurking, and he wasn't talking about the thaids. Something about being at such an altitude made him feel safe somehow.

As though reaching such heights meant he could escape those who persecuted him.

Countless skyscrapers surrounded him now, each one standing taller than the last. They were arranged in neat rows along both sides of the streets below, some rising higher still while others seemed more run-down or dilapidated.

Each building had multiple shop signs advertising this or that product. Food stands selling hot dogs, coffee shops offering lattes, fast food restaurants advertising hamburgers, pizza joints serving pasta dishes... All of which looked delicious enough to make Erik start salivating.

He saw people moving between the various structures below as they flew past. Some went inside, and most simply walked right across their front doors.

Others stood outside, smoking cigarettes or chewing gum. Their faces wore expressions ranging from boredom to anger or sadness as they moved back and forth under the watchful eye of security cameras positioned at every corner.

They looked like tiny working ants scurrying through a maze beneath giant feet. Some of them seemed unhappy, some others the opposite.

"Are you ok?" Benjamin asked Erik gazing from the car window.

Erik shook himself out of his reverie before replying. "Yeah," he said quietly. Then louder: "I'm fine."

"We almost arrived at the restaurant," Benjamin said.

Erik's stomach then growled loudly, reminding him how hungry he was. He hadn't eaten since breakfast this morning. He was blushing because of embarrassment. "Sorry," he said to Benjamin.

"Don't worry," the latter replied.

They finally arrived at the restaurant. It was a giant building with an indoor parking lot directly built inside the building. The two entered it, passing by a sort of blue barrier, and then Benjamin parked in an empty spot.

The parking lot was huge, easily large enough for several dozen vehicles to park side by side without interfering with one another.

It was lit brightly even during night hours, thanks to dozens of fluorescent lights lining the ceiling. Benches lined either wall and vending machines were placed sporadically throughout the area. In fact, it looked more like a mall than anything.

Far from their position, Erik saw multiple people lined up to take the elevator down. Two men wearing suits waited patiently in front of the elevator's door; they were probably bouncers.

The two waited in line, and Benjamin showed his ID when it was their turn.

"You can enter, sir," one of the bouncers said. Then Erik and Benjamin entered the elevator. The technology behind it was incredible; the machine didn't make a sound, and the two could barely feel the difference between moving and staying still.

They only realized they were inside the restaurant because the elevator's door opened, revealing the huge restaurant room.

The place was massive, to say the least, distributed into multiple floors connected by elevators. The place was white and gold. On the tables nearby, the two men could see golden cutleries on top of plates containing all sorts of foods. A waiter approached them after the elevator stopped, holding a menu.

Benjamin smiled politely. "Please follow me; I will bring you to your table," the server said.

With that, he led Benjamin and Erik away, walking straight ahead until reaching the far end of the hall where their table was.

The furniture was in front of a giant window that allowed the two to see the city in its entirety. Outside, traffic flowed smoothly, with flying cars driving in different directions.

After being seated at their own table, Benjamin ordered for two.

His choice consisted of a steak dish and a salad. For his part, Erik wanted something much heavier on the stomach since he couldn't come here often. So he chose a pasta dish. When the food arrived, the waitress brought them a bottle of wine for Benjamin and a water one for Erik.

The two ate their lunch while enjoying the view of the city outside the windows. They would sometimes talk about random things, mostly work-related topics for Benjamin and school-related ones for Erik.

They also talked about sports, movies, books, music, and TV shows. The duo's mood was good until Lucius's topic came out.

"So, do you have any news about your father? Did he contact you recently?"

That question was honestly weird. Benjamin often asked about his father; that was true, they were friends, and worry was natural in such situations. The older man openly admitted he hoped Lucius found a way to contact at least his son. However, due to the recent events, Erik couldn't stop thinking the question had a deeper meaning behind it.

Due to Benjamin's affiliation with the military, Erik couldn't say that his father returned from his trip and left him the biological supercomputer. Not only that, he couldn't even say that he saw him at all. In other circumstances, he would have told him.

After all, Lucius and Benjamin were friends, who fought many battles together, and sharing this news would make him happy. However, he now refrained from speaking.

His father made him understand that something big was happening and that it was related to his situation, so reporting weird things to a military man was not safe. At that moment, Erik realized that maybe he couldn't even trust this man.

"Not at all. He disappeared. As much as I know, he is dead," Erik obviously lied.

A silence fell over the two men. Benjamin stared blankly at Erik briefly before saying, "I'm sorry..."

"Don't be...It doesn't matter anymore, anyway. My dad chose his life, and his and only his are the consequences of his actions."

The conversation ended abruptly, with both men staring silently at each other for a moment. After a short pause, Benjamin spoke again.

"I shouldn't really say this to you, Erik, but… I don't want you to live thinking your father abandoned you. The truth is that the higher-ups sent him on a dangerous mission."

"A dangerous mission?" Erik inquired.

"Yes, but I can't really say much, aside from the fact that he loved you dearly and that he had your well-being in his mind." Erik didn't reply.

Then the older man added, "You know that if you need anything, you can count on me, right? I may not be your father, but I love you like a son," he said. Benjamin never said such words to Erik, despite doing a lot for him. That was suspicious.

"Yes, thanks, Uncle Ben…"

The two kept eating and ordered a dessert. While eating sweets, Erik often thought about his life and how much he wanted Uncle Benjamin to be his real father.

He was a lovely man, always smiling and kind, who loved talking to anyone regardless of age or social status.

But now, things were changing. Erik wasn't sure if Benjamin's actions were motivated by compassion for him, because he cared about him, because of his father's friendship, or because he had an ulterior motive. He didn't know if he was overthinking, if the only thing he was doing now was filling his head with paranoia. However, better safe than sorry.

Then, the pair finished their meal in an awkward silence. With that, the two got ready to go home.

They took the elevator again and walked toward the car. On the way, Benjamin told Erik that he could call him anytime.

If he wasn't too busy, that is. Then, the ride back home started.

Benjamin didn't immediately go to Erik's home but made a slight detour to make the young man look at the city again.

When they reached the house, Benjamin stopped in front of the building. Before landing the vehicle, he turned around and looked at Erik. "Take care, kid."

"You too, Uncle Ben," Erik replied.

"Yes," Benjamin said while smiling widely. He opened the passenger side door, and Erik jumped out of the car.

"Bye, Erik."

"Bye, Uncle Ben!" Erik said faking a huge smile.

Then the man left Erik there, alone. He then grabbed the house's keys and went to the entrance hall.

As soon as he reached the third floor, he unlocked the door to his apartment and walked inside, but when he opened the door, a chilling view appeared before him.

Someone had been inside his house; everything was messy. It was evident that whoever came searched the entire house for something specific.

Erik first thought that some thief had entered in, as he didn't really want to think that Benjamin was related to this and that he brought him to eat only to give the military a chance to search his house, but things were too coincidental. However, he looked to his left side and saw the computer still on the desk, meaning that nothing important was stolen.

Then, immediately, another dark thought spread inside his mind; this situation probably happened because of the biological supercomputer. Whoever was chasing his father knew that he had met him here. And now he, too, was implicated in the matter.

<No way…> Erik thought. If it really was the government, they could have sent him here just to make him leave his house. It was plausible. However, he didn't have any proof.

He sat down and sighed heavily, not knowing what else to do. Erik was scared, all of this was much bigger than himself, and he didn't currently have the power to protect himself. Still, he could do nothing to solve the current situation.

For now, he could only wait to fix his deformity problem and then hope that he could become stronger so that such things would stop happening to him.

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