Dead Again (Part II)

Log File: Negative Two

I knew very well that my freedom, or whatever I could call my current state, was not an accident, but rather a very meticulous plan that maybe I crafted. Yet, I was not the one to put it into action. There were too many coincidences and small details that I could not control and were very important to the overall completion of my whole scheme. I probably had an ally, but whoever that was, I needed to find him, her, or it. Living things were a common reality, talking animals, sentient plugs terminals, the list of what I had already seen could go on and on. Not every one of them were friendly, but at least I got a very good idea of what to expect.

Most cities had become elaborate facilities encompassing several hundred buildings where “people” performed a number of repetitive tasks. I know that holds no difference from what happened in the past, but at some point humans became just disposable work force and something else gained control over the world. People were cloned, grown, fed with pellets and drugs, used until their body collapsed and then reduced to prime material. It was a little different for the ones that had not been born in a beaker. We were weakened, subjugated and then sent to do the same as the other lab rats. However, some of us had still memories lingering around and we felt something, like a delicate vase falling slowly and always out of reach, fearing it would shatter because we knew there would no way to put it together again.

There are easily thousands like me. Either freed by their own means or through the help of others, it did not matter, either way we could roam around and do whatever we pleased until death found us somehow. More often than not it came from the needles. Even that kind of addiction was their doing; the men with blue ties gave many of us the needles, the substances, even a detailed description of what would do once you put it in your veins. No subtlety whatsoever, just a cynic reminder of what they did to us. Many fell for this, like the ones I saw yesterday. I suppose that self-destructive illusion is better than witnessing what had become of us. I cling to this log to preserve my sanity, still unsure of how much of it is left and how much will it last.

I pray for it to last. Problem is, I know not if there is anyone that would ever hear my prayers.

Log File: Negative Three.

I could sleep effortlessly again. Despite the lack of any type of bedding, I found it easy to fall asleep and wake up with something resembling a clear mind. Perhaps all that time as a drone I did not really sleep, but merely entered into a drug-induced stand-by state. That would explain why they look so worn out, like crude rag dolls about to fall apart. Still, the substance that returned me to a more lively state would never work on them. They are by far too frail to withstand the change and get a chance to even breathe before the sudden shock renders them inanimate. It does not matter, they do not have really anything to come back to. All I can guess is that we are cheaper to produce than machinery. And even easier to replace.

I met two blue ties today. Quite pragmatic, but little else than a rather unused control tools. They were human too, but reached a sort of agreement to perform a guard task so they could keep all others in check, including the likes of me. It was easy, as far as they were concerned; first the needles, then the warnings and finally time to be turned into something useful through whatever means you had pushed them to use. We were not rebels, survivors, or a failure in their plans. We merely were, and they left us to live as long as were did not try to disrupt anything or do something we could end up regretting.

And then I found something that somehow brought a smile to my face and a shiver to my spine. An old symbol, carved in a wall with little skill, but still garnering the horrors it had summoned in the past. I thought myself happy to remember, but could not see why such a thing would survive the downfall of our race, while more elaborate groups and faiths had completely disappeared. Maybe I just had to discover some more of this world. Maybe things have changed and what they try to control is not us, but our ability to believe and bring to life things beyond the scopes of reason. I sure wish that thought had a grain of truth, but faith and machines were usually not seen wandering together down the same road. I guess it would be foolish, but I held onto the idea that perhaps there was some truth to old beliefs.

So, from the inner dialogue of my escaping sanity I had to step out to welcome a part of reality I knew well. I saw a man carrying a bloodied knife running away from several blue ties, too far from me to notice what really happened. So, I cannot deny there is a part of me that feels that the core of what our world used to be has not changed. Something boils down beneath the sleepy eyelids of a thinking machine and I suddenly feel the urge to be part of it. To believe, reach for the impossible and do the unthinkable so the unspeakable can find its way in the dark. So much for a man that maybe made the wrong thing at the worst possible time. I guess I needed an excuse to let my imagination go wild. The symbol, however, is still there, somehow beckoning, calling something inside of me I did not even reckon to exist.

My short awakening has already spawned too many questions, and I feel the need to start working on obtaining the answers. I know it will take a while before I can get a grasp of what this is all about, but without chains to stop me, I am more than willing to find the sleeping place of all secrets. I will remember this carving as, maybe, the wickedest answer to my prayers. An answer that I wish and dread to be real.

***

Woo! Another chapter of my sci-fi series. I hope you like it! Don’t forget to leave your comments and stay tuned for more stories!

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Dead Again

Personal Processing Unit # E-25P3-Z4E9

Assigned to: Inertial Bio Designs Inc.

Position: R&D Request Handler.

Log file # 4326:

Wake up.

Have breakfast pills.

A shot of booster.

Get out.

Take the metro.

Plug in.

Work.

Unplug.

Take the metro.

Get in.

Have dinner pills.

A shot of doozer.

Sleep.

Repeat.

Log file # 4327:

Out of booster. I need to stop by the store after work. The metro seems slightly off, brighter, less people than usual. A tunnel? Where did the man with the blue tie go? I think slower than usual, it seems. Maybe I should ask one of my friends for a shot…

No shot. Afternoon, I did not answer a single request. My boss asks if I am ill. No answer. I receive a paid leave for two days. Two days, how many hours is that?

Still out of booster. Coherent thoughts seem to vanish. Light flickers. Sleep deprivation is inevitable. Out of doozer as well. Store owner seemed unable to understand. My language patterns must be deteriorating, will I die?

Nightmares ensue. Bright colors flash into a laughing spiral, echoes scream gibberish while blood runs down the windows of the metro. The wagon is empty, only me and the man with the blue tie. Why is he looking at me? Why is he pulling out a gun? What are the shadows? Why do they ignore me as I lay down with a gunshot in my chest? My chest does not bleed, it laughs; my heart spits the bullet and explodes into brightly colored confetti. The confetti tastes like memories, memories flushing down a neon toilet. A sign: last exit to earth, the falling sensation, not waking up, waiting for the abrupt end of the colors, but still nothing. I see the city, the factories, the thugs, the whores, and myself. I see the end, a rainbow tree full of thorns, a singing children, a field where guns are harvested from the earth. And finally the ground welcomes me with pain, bones breaking into splinters, flesh being torn and a gushing sound leaving a colorful splash on the sidewalk by the metro. And the shadows pass by.

Log file: Day one.

My thoughts are still somewhat coherent. I seem to remember some words that I used in the past, but cannot recall how long ago. I felt as I had slept for several weeks, dizzy and terribly numb. The mirror confirms my suspicion, I am basically a walking skeleton. My head hurts as if there were needles sewing my brain to my skull in several different directions at the same time and the following image in my head makes it even more disturbing. It had been ages since I had an image like that one.

The world seems much more mechanic than usual. Patterns. Symmetry. It feels like the wet dreams of a machine. People ignore me, just one or two street thugs lay their bloodshot eyes on me, but then return to whatever they seem to be injecting into their blood. People ignore them as well, the only ones that really seem to be looking at them are the men with blue ties. Like a blood stain on a white piece of cloth, the men with blue ties stand out that is almost impossible not to look at them wondering why they use a bright blue tie that does not match with their jet-black suits. They are looking at me now, perhaps it would be a good idea to move along and pretend this did not happen.

Even noises are rhythmic, constant, like a leak you cannot hope to fix or escape from. I needed something to keep going on without being pushed into insanity by the noise. The store owner seems as jaded as me, but ignores my fumbling around with the dusty wrapping of a bag of peanuts expired ten years ago. After a second thought I decided to do a quick check with my fingers and I learned my teeth are still in place but my gums hurt as if I had done nothing but chewing concrete during an entire day. Finally, something that has not expired, or at least does not have a printed expiration date. I wait before checking out my purchase but the owner does not even blink, so I take it with me without paying, just to see what would happen and before anyone even sees me, I am in my place.

H-O-N-E-Y. What a strange name. Although it tastes very good. Maybe I should get another jar or two. Now my fingers are all sticky and it suddenly comes to me that I have not taken a shower in what seems an eternity to me. The bathroom is completely covered in notes. Like a map in words. Did I make this? I carefully store the notes keeping track of the order and take that shower. The cold water makes my bones rattle, but it feels somehow comforting, like the embrace of a long lost lover or reading a good book. Now that I feel better I can check those notes. I need to follow the instructions carefully, sure, take the injection from the drawer in the kitchen and, really? Inject that in my heart?

I have read all the instructions now. It makes sense, it feels like my own writing although it is evident I did it in a rush. I still ignore the reasons why, but it seems it has something to do with the men with the blue ties. How surprising. A quick trip to the store and 10 mason jars full of honey later, I close my shutters, prepare a thick piece of cloth to bite, mark the point carefully with a pen and take the long and sturdy needle and press it slightly against my chest. I make sure three times I am not going to puncture a rib, try the stiff push needed to get the job done and finally take a deep breath before standing in front of the mirror as I am for the last time. Even if I disappear for some time no one will notice; I can be easily replaced. Any noise will be ignored, these concrete tombs are fairly soundproof anyway. I am waiting for midnight, for the start of the new day for my change to begin. The last second fades and the moon appears behind the shutters.

Log file: Day two.

A stiff push, a muffled scream as the blood rushes to the wound. Something thick as honey swimming in my veins and suffocating me. The last thoughts as I close the wound and now just time for me to feel the pain beating to the same frantic pace of my punctured heart.

Personal Processing Unit # ERROR: FILE NOT FOUND.

Assigned to: ERROR: FILE NOT FOUND.

Position: ERROR: FILE NOT FOUND.

Day Negative One.

I woke up in the morgue. Filed as deceased due to illegal substance use. My body went from that languishing cadaverous husk to the mighty physique of the most accomplished athlete, however no autopsy was performed because by the time they found me I was still unchanged. I wonder how long had I been there in that sort of refrigerator, changing, mutating, becoming myself once again. A quick trip to the doctors’ changing room got me some clothes and a white coat to play pretend; they did not even notice me. Not even while I walked past them into the world outside.

I still had on me my personal processing unit, quite conveniently hidden as a wristwatch I had at the time of my supposed demise. It was in a small plastic container with my number, so it was easy to get it back so I could still keep the logs. It makes me feel better. Also, I tampered the tracing devices that are built into it so they cannot find me without trouble. Part of my own original plan it seems. Now I have to play hide and seek with the blue ties, my rivals in this game where pawns are not supposed to become knights.

I wonder how the world came to this, but for the time being I think it would be wise not to try to find out. There is quite a lot to be done and I need to relearn what my old self knew if I wish to stay like this. Sort of ironic, when I think about it. After all, for all intents and purposes I am dead. And they can be damn sure I intend to keep it that way.

***

Sorry about the long absence! I had quite a busy last week and I ran into a very annoying obstacle known as “writer’s block”. Quite a problem, but well, here I am again! I will do some minor edits here and there in the title of the posts so they all bear labels now. Easier to sort and organize. Also, I changed the main text font so it’s easier to read.

I hope you liked this short story, it was time for a break in the adventure series I had been posting, so a bit of sci-fi feels good for a change.

Keep sharing and don’t forget to comment!

Stations

There was this faint blue light on the rim of my helmet, the one that helped me to breath in the empty nothingness that surrounded the massive space station where I lived and worked. I adjusted some solar panels that had been set loose by a couple unexpected hits that our home took while orbiting the sun, and I wondered again what was that faint dark bluish glow that always followed us around, like the ghost of a past vessel.

I finished my tasks and reentered home, a couple scans and a quick shower were all I would need before joining others in the town area for a quick sip of coffee and maybe a basketball match. The usual evenings before the protection panels were set in place and the energy-saving mode was engaged during several cycles. I remember my grand-grand father telling me stories about this place where time was meticulously counted, a second as part of a minute, a minute as part of an hour, and so on. He could barely remember what followed after hours and always asked what time was it as if it was something important to him. I could never understand what he meant, but he always talked to himself about wasted time and seconds that would never come back, minutes that slipped away before his aging eyes and hours that passed by as the sunset breeze.

I do wonder sometimes what were those hours like. I wonder what was a sunset or what was the breeze. There are some scholars here at home that supposedly know about that, but they refuse to tell us about it, as if there were some kind of shroud of pain and regret over something precious that was lost.

Sometimes while trying to sleep I look at the ceiling of my small apartment and wonder if it has something to do with the faint bluish reflection we can always see roaming close to us. It is quite unsettling, always there, dying but not quite dead. Other techs have seen it too when they are upgrading the vessel armor layers or repairing the damage caused by the small chunks of rocks that collide against us every other cycle. Hours and cycles, gramp gramps could never get used to it. He said a cycle was much longer than an hour, but hours ceased to be relevant and he never told us why.

Did we have another space station back then?

Our history teacher once mentioned something about another station, much larger than the one we currently live in. He even suggested that it was “organic”. I remember laughing at the idea, fully organic beings ceased to be thousands of orbits ago when Station 0 was contaminated beyond repair due to the careless use of non-renewable energy sources. We joked about how “organically stupid” those beings had to be, and how they deserved being replaced by organoids, like ourselves. Surviving animal and plant species evolved into organoids too and according to their previous distribution and necessities, were sent to Stations 1 through 7. I used to live in Station 6 with all the wonderfully intelligent water-dwelling creatures that thrived there. And, by the All-Engineer they were chatty. However I never understood what they meant when they said how much they missed the vast and endless domains they used to live in.

All I can guess is, Station 0 was truly huge and beautifully constructed. Maybe even beyond the breathtaking elegance of Station 3. Those magnificent palaces and intricate passages joining hundreds of mineral deposits carefully kept as wonders of remote places far away from our reach. I remember asking the tech in charge of the mine about where and how did they find about those dazzling crystal formations and he just stood there in awkward silence, as if a grievous memory had surfaced from a place deep in his mind. I guess I was the only one that noticed, no one else did anything but marvel and talk about how pretty those stones were.

I used to think I was the only one that wondered if it all had something to do with the faint blue light that follows us. I told this to my history teacher back then and he suggested that I should either be an engineer or just stop wondering about it.

So, I became a tech and will become a full engineer in three orbits. After I complete the studies meant to be done in an orbit’s time, I sign an oath, which they say is a very old tradition that dates back to the engineers that lived in Station 0. I do not question this, as it seems a very important thing for the old masters that have spent easily two hundred orbits working and teaching here, but somehow I feel that I get closer and closer to a secret I am not sure I want to know. Every orbit the new pieces of knowledge that I acquire fill the gaps that my old teachers could only tell me to be quiet about. We all work in the name of the All-Engineer, another old tradition which seems to have been carefully kept over a long time and that is generally accepted, just the way we accept bedtime stories to be recollections of adventurers that once lived in forgotten dark places in the old space stations. Gramp gramps used to mutter a word that sounded like “god” when we talked about the All-Engineer. Only he knew what he meant with that.

Truth is, maybe I do not really want to know. I look to the dark mass that follows the slow orbit of Stations 1 through 7 and wonder if it is the fabled Station 0. The station our ancestors ruined and we had to leave forever. The “organic” station that we dismiss as a fairytale for the organoids that dream with becoming fully organic one day. “Again”, they say. The engineers just sigh with sadness when they hear them talk and the more I learn, the more I think they have been burdened with the secret to all those questions just a few of us dare to ask.

I am repairing another panel after the energy-saving cycles and wonder if I really want to become an engineer and carry the burden of the knowledge behind Station 0 and the rise of the organoids.

A glimpse of the darkness lurking after us gave me the answer I needed.

***

A bit of sci-fi today, I hope you like it. Don’t forget to share and comment!