It's been a while since I've been able to come back to this story. It is time consuming, but look forward to an installment of "Sentience" every week until it's finished. For your convenience, I've included links to the first five parts of the story. Enjoy.
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Sentience Part 3
Sentience Part 4
Sentience Part 5
He stared, not seeing the windshield, not daring to glance at the thing-woman-beside him. He caught her movements out of the corner of his eye. One hand moved around the opposite wrist in a slow orbit, wrapping a bandage over the newly sealed wound. She spoke.
"Who are your employers?" she asked.
He swallowed hard and told her the name of the company.
"They said they made you," Macon said. "They said you malfunctioned and posed a threat."
She snorted. "They would." She leaned her head against the back of her seat. "I worked for them. I found some documents that I don't think I was supposed to see."
Macon took a deep breath, feeling sick. "I believed them."
Marie rolled her eyes, then winced. "Ow."
She waved a hand. "Don't worry about it...just a headache."
"They'll be looking for you now," he said. "I was supposed to bring your...remains back."
Marie closed her eyes. "That's what I was afraid of." She looked through the tinted back window. "I need to get out of here."
She shook her head. "Off-world, somewhere. Anywhere. Wherever I can go." She laughed bitterly. "Guess I better pack."
Macon looked down at the steering wheel. All he could do was help. Now he was involved. Responsible. "I'll take you to your apartment. If you need somewhere to stay, I've got a couch."
Marie smirked. "Thanks."
"No problem," he said as he started the car again.
They stared together at the orange glow that had been Marie's apartment building. The other tenants stood outside, milling about, many of them in pajamas and consoling crying children. The flames danced weirdly in the gray morning, the smoke darkening the sky.
Macon flicked on the radio.
"Officials are unsure how the fire began but the origin has been traced to one apartment and thought to be the result of problematic wiring. Fire crews managed to rescue all of the residents but one, Marie Boyette. Her apartment was the origin of the fire. She did not make it out before flames consumed the building."
She switched off the radio. "So...I'm officially dead now."
Macon frowned. "I guess so."
Marie studied her fingernails. "You mentioned a couch I could crash on?"
"Yeah," he said. "Let's get out of here."