Another Interlude [p012]
My wrists are bound with the disease of regret. Failure spiked metal twists dig into the flesh beneath my hands, slitting veins. I bleed the blood of loss, watching it pool in an empty puddle at my bent knees. I wriggle for freedom, but the heartache bindings tighten at my slightest movement. Every finger twitch exhales a thin stream of life out of me, painting the ground with the jiggled movements of a sickly child.
I open my eyes and scream at myself.
That outburst frightens the residents of this place. They scurry away, almost animal like. They're human, but in the shadows of this night, I can imagine them as carnivorous creatures, feeding under the moon.
This useless building, bombed and burned, houses many of those impoverished by the fall of cyberspace. I found it just an hour ago, and they welcomed me. Don't know why they let me in. I expected an attempt at a molestation of some sort, but there was none of that. Just a few quiet words, and swift motions to join them, back in whatever safety they had managed to concoct for themselves. I haven't even seen their faces. They haven't offered. Mutations are rampant ever since the Comet decided to pay earth a visit, and society doesn't like mutations. Just scrapes them off the edge of the world.
That's how I feel right now--scraped. I'm not sure it's justified, but my feelings aren't mine to control.
I leave my shelter. I hear rustlings and movings behind me as I do--the inhabitants reclaiming the space they had given me. The street is alive with the city's citizens. I blend right in with their depressive maneuverings, walking the streets.
It's been two days since I left the Haven and I can still feel the bubbling turmoil inside me. Not sure if it's just me or not. But I do know that I've loosed a beast, and I'm not sure if I can get it back under control.
JACK. She infected Q'and'q. That's what it keeps coming back to. She performed the witchkiss and made him a wirewitch! She stripped his humanity from him like a peel from a fruit, and I...do...not...like...it. It was a horrible thing--watching his humanity flow out of him. I can't get those images out of my mind:
...circuitstreams racing...skin flowing...machinery...eyes exploding...hair falling...
What she did was wrong.
I believe that. It feels right that it was wrong. She took from somebody what was not hers to take. She gave freely and took freely. But it was not her right. What she gave--took, and what was taken can never be given back. Technosite infection is irreversible. No way back once the toe is across the line.
Glitch this world! This place is an abomination to me!
And then that last image of JACK comes to me--older and changed. She did it in an instant. A youngling transformed into one of the aged in seconds. Why did she do that? My mind has the answer: everyone changes. But--everyone changes. The truth is there and I know it. She looked older than me! Perhaps she was all along. Age does not mean the same to the wirewitches as it does to the rest of the human race.
JACK has changed, if but only in appearance. Q'and'q is a warlock. And I? What am I? How have I changed? Memories spanning nine days minus hours here and there doesn't give me much to work with. I--
--am suddenly grabbing the shoulder of somebody in front of me. Tripping, glitch it. I see a flash of long blonde hair in front of me as I reach for anything to stop my fall. It's the thick shoulder already in my hand that I squeeze harder, supporting my weight. But I throw the person--turning back towards me--off balance, and then we're both falling, and rolling, and I hear a high whine getting closer, and there's something big headed straight toward us--hovercar glitch it--and the cloak the person is wearing glides over my face, and all I can see is a faded brown, and all I can smell is imitation woven alloys and street grime, and I feel a hand in my hair, pressing my ends to the ground, threatening to tear clumps out, and that whine is all I can hear, but then something moves over my body, and there's a hand at my back and at my neck, and I'm partially lifted, but mostly rolled--elbows and thighs banging the harsh ground, and I hear a muffled curse, and I realize that I'm back off the street, and I'm lying on my back, knees slightly bent, and that high whine is fading off somewhere, and then the cloak corner covering my eyes is whisked away and I can see a man with blonde hair kneeling beside me, and the only thought that I can find in my wastelanded mind is hope shirt is whole.
For a second there I think I see the man's hair shimmer, get darker--as if there is a truer color beneath a shell, but then I see his head jerk sideways and it's fully blonde, and I wonder if I hit my head.
The man gives me a smile on that bland face of his. "That's the last time I let a girl fall for me."
I'm too confused to react to that.
"Or on me for that matter," the man continues.
I sit up with his help. Shirt's undamaged, but soiled. I tug it downward. "I--I'm sorry," I say. Not knowing what else to speak.
"You are forgiven."
"I'm sure it was an accident," the man says pleasantly, helping me to my feet. Nobody passing even gives us a glance. "Are you hurt?"
Nothing radiating pain right now. "No, I don't think so." I don't understand it, but I want to know his name. I ask. He smiles, breaking the blandness.
"MU," he says. "And you?"
"My name is Thf-oua." Don't know why I lied. Felt right.
He smiles a few more times and then leaves me standing there. I watch him go and realize that he is a pinprick in the night sky. A point of good on a wall of black. He's gone now.
His three words are in my head: You are forgiven. Said in humor, but meant in earnest? That's the first time that I've heard those words. I like them. They are good words when used together. Powerful words.
But can I use them myself. Can I use them on others? Can I use them on JACK?
My souls says no.
Glitch this world! I will fight it. I will fight this world because I am opposed to everything in it. This fallen society sickens me. There are so few good, and so many evil. I see a doom descending, and that doom is the end of purity. It is the end of good. It is the end of right. The black horizon is closer now--I can see it, feel it's chilled touch. No. I will wage against it. I will forgive and I will fight.
I will fight because of what I am.
Rumbles, Trembles, Tremors
I knew something was wrong this morning--from that first moment when I opened my eyes and let a new day in. I could feel it--a wrongness in the air that brushed against my skin as I took to the streets for yet another day. But it wasn't exactly in the air. No, it wasn't. And if it was, it was only there due to the people who were venting that wrongness. As I walked among them then and as I walk among them now--I could feel it, and I can feel it. It's stronger now though, as if it's been growing throughout the day. It's only slightly past noon and I want to get into a sonic shower. Want to feel the invisible waves washing over me, chiseling the air and vented wrongness off of me. I want to breathe freely, but it seems so hard to do.
I heard explosions this morning, and what I can see of the sky through the south end of the city is filled with smoke. The smoke tends to blend in with the clouds--those perpetual wisps of gray--but I know that somewhere, detonations have taken place, and something that was...is no more.
The doom storm is blowing. I can feel it blowing my hair against my forehead.
Citizens of the street are restless. Implant infested denizens look at each other warily or not at all. Some are standing around as if waiting for something. They move their eyes, watching, scanning.
Need to get off the street. Don't want to be out here in all of this.
I move to the side: dodge. Ducking in away from the midday. A door appears in my peripheral vision and I move through it as others exit out. I attract a little attention as the dimness of the room slides over me. It's essentially a bar, perhaps on the upper side of the middle, but a bar nonetheless. Didn't catch the name as I came in and I don't give a glitch. Gaudy memorabilia from ages past are plastered in a frenzy-like fashion over every square centimeter of wall and ceiling space. I don't recognize any of it. I can't remember my own history so somebody else's doesn't matter to me right now.
The rooms are crowded, but I make my way to a counter. The noise level is low, but restlessness and anticipation is what I'm sensing. I don't like it, but at least it's calmer than out there.
Then there's a hand on my arm, pulling, and suddenly I'm sitting crooked in a slick, poly-coated chair, an arm reaching around my neck, a hand on my chin, can't look at the person sitting beside me, holding me on my right. Something is poking at the skin over my right ribs. Glitch this, I getting tired of always being--
A deepened feminine voice sounds in my ear, "You cannot walk around like that! Do you know how dangerous that is? If the wrong person or thing notices you, you'll be dead!"
"Let me the glitch go," I say, trying to turn my head.
"Your irresponsibility is inexcusable, young one."
"Get that blade out of my side!" It's a female, I can tell, but the voice is not familiar.
"That was simply to get your attention. I would not hurt one of your kind."
"Glitch you." I'm not going to converse with this person.
"Displaying your mark like that is just asking for trouble."
My mark? The mark on my back? Is that what she's talking about? As if in answer, there's a finger at the base of my spine--my bare skin back there. Glitch JACK! Why couldn't she have found me a shirt that fit! Glitch! The mark covering my back is available for public viewing!
"Let me go, glitch it," I say.
"Watch your language, young one," is the reply, but the blade retreats and the hand on my chin slides across my cheek and behind my neck and then is gone. I turn and face her.
She looks tall, despite the fact that she's sitting beside me. The first thing that I notice about her are the etchings which cover her skin. They run and curve and bend in ordered patterns all over her exposed arms and face and neck, molded to natural body flows and curves. She's close enough that I can see the slight indentation that characterizes each etching trail--tiny grooves burrowed into the surface of her skin.
She's a modie. She has no eyelids. Her eyes peer at me beneath clear casings. She can't blink. That in itself is disconcerting--her stare is a constant, wide-eyed one.
Her head is not adorned with hair, but with countless, segmented metal tubes. The sections are thin and short, falling flexibly past her shoulders and farther down. On the end of each strand of tubes is a small, curved talon. From a distance, it would look exactly like hair, but at my current proximity, it just looks lethal.
Lower peripheral vision tells me that she's got a robotic leg, but I don't let myself confirm that.
"Who the glitch are you, and what the glitch do you want with me?" I ask. Maybe she knows something about the mark on my back.
"I'm Kiiziiziixii, and I want nothing to do with you."
"Then why the glitch did you--"
A finger in my face. "You, watch your language, young one. Now, tell me your name."
It doesn't really matter does it? "(2)syl."
There is some look of understanding in her eyes, and her mouth parts a little. "Ah, yes, of course. That makes sense. But that's not important right now. To tell you the truth, I said I wanted nothing to do with you, and I meant it. I don't. I wish I had never seen you. But we don't always get to choose our path in life do we?"
Now there's a truth glaring me in the eyes.
Kiiziiziixii continues, "I came in here to kill someone, but...but I didn't." It's then that I notice that she's fingering a small, cylindrical beverage container. It's hissing softly--as if the contents are eating away at the container wall.
"I didn't kill him. That means that the job isn't complete. And if the job doesn't get completed...then I'm responsible, and I have to go back and explain to my employers why the person they wanted dead is not currently in that condition. And you know what? I'm not going to do that. I'm not going back and explaining anything. I'm just not going to do it."
"I suppose you want to know why I accosted you?" Kiiziiziixii says, ignoring my question.
"I want to know why you grabbed me and I want to know what you know about the mark on my back."
Kiiziiziixii looks down at her beverage for so long that my mind begins to wander, but she is speaking now. "This isn't like me. This isn't like anybody in my line of work--we don't do anything for free--but I don't know... Maybe I'm in a friendly mood, or maybe I'm just drunk. I'm not sure, but I'll tell you what you want to know."
"Good." Finally, a chance for some answers.
But Kiiziiziixii never gets to say another word because that's when the wall next to her explodes inward and all I can see is thick black smoke, and all I can smell is burning flesh.
Calamity Knocks Down
Somehow, Kiiziiziixii escapes being erased by the blast--the wall is not so fortunate. I throw myself down to the floor, beside the table, down where Kiiziiziixii is crouched.
My ears are ringing from the explosion, but I can still hear the inhabitants of this place screaming. Several were not so fortunate as Kiiziiziixii and I, and I can see incomplete bodies just a few feet away, inner fluids spilling out onto the smooth floor. Somebody's hand is lying unattached right by my knee. Glitch. Don't know how we weren't killed by that. Must've been at the edge of the blast area.
"I think it's time to leave," Kiiziiziixii says looking up.
"Agreed," I say. Can't believe how calm I am. No static. Yet.
The explosion created a hole leading to the street. Through the smoke, I can only make out strange movements outside, random and chaotic.
"This way," Kiiziiziixii yells over the screams and new explosions which I can hear in the distance. "Follow me and stay close. I'll help you."
My mind asks why? but I say, "I'm with you, Kiiziiziixii."
When we stand, still crouched, I notice some sort of weapon in Kiiziiziixii's hand. Didn't see her pull it, but I'm comforted--a little. We move toward the hole. People are clawing to move through that same hole. In seconds, we are caught in a panicked crowd, pressed up against legs and arms and implants, and I can feel them all, against my body and against my skin. Kiiziiziixii loops her arm not holding the weapon--a pulse displacer--around my waist, pulling me against her, pushing me forward, outward into the street.
"Don't let go!" Kiiziiziixii yells.
"I'm not!" I yell back, but I'm pulled, feeling her grip slip, my arm snaking around her in reaction. Why is she protecting me? She knows something.
The crowd exits the bar like water from a pipe, spewing out in all directions, trampling those too clumsy to stay on their feet, slicking the street with blood.
"What's going on?" I yell. We're in the middle of the street now, moving to the side, still clutched together, the press of the crowd still demanding.
"Nothing organized! This is completely random! Look at everybody!"
E n ce
...around us in whirlwinds and I realize that we're caught up in it and there may be no way to move from the center. The storm surrounds.
It's a riot. Full scale.
I see images of random violence.
A woman with robotic arms ripping into a
A staggering, deformed modie,
A group of small children beating a city peace officer and tearing his clothes.
A trio of dokks beating a young boy to
Naked bodies nailed to a wall, dead and limp.
A large, multi-headed creature with
Bodies exploding and flying through the air
"We're going to get killed in here!" I shout.
Kiiziiziixii's response is lost in the deafening of new explosions, closer this time, but then a hand is pulling on the back of my shirt and looking down I can see an implant diseased hand threatening to pull me from Kiiziiziixii. I push it away, but it doesn't go, and then I hear Kiiziiziixii's pulse displacer go off, see a flash, and the hand retracts, spasming. Whatever that hand is attached to exhales its last and is gone.
"Sorry I had to do that, but whatever that was should not have done that!" Kiiziiziixii yells.
The crowd is less dense here and I have room to relax my grip and breathe.
"Where can we go?" I ask.
"I don't know. There's something extraordinarily wrong here! This isn't normal!"
"A riot? No j'aa!"
"No, we've had riots before," Kiiziiziixii says, pausing to dodge a hurled rock, "but this is different. There's no purpose to this!"
"I would agree," a voice says. The voice is quiet and right in my ear. I know that voice.
I know that voice!
I spin, turning Kiiziiziixii with me, bringing the two of us face to face with Calamity Carl.
"Hello, Blue Beauty."
Kiiziiziixii's arm is up, weapon pointed at the rivot bot. "Get away from us 'bot. She is not for you to toy with." The crowd rages around us, but even in their current state of insanity, they're giving Calamity Carl, and us, plenty of room.
"New friend?" Calamity Carl asks. "Cute."
"Shoot him," I say to Kiiziiziixii.
"Now," Calamity Carl says, voice suddenly forceful, "that is not a good idea, Blue. You must not care for your friend very much." His blades are moving. Growing?
"What do you want, 'bot?" Kiiziiziixii asks. She holds her gun steady, but I know that she's not going to shoot. I can see it in those unblinking eyes.
"I'm here to let you in on a little secret."
"Again?" I ask.
"There are an infinite number of secrets in this world. I don't think I'm in danger of running out--especially where you are concerned."
A clearly electronic explosion goes off just to our left. Kiiziiziixii braces and holds me up as the shock wave nearly knocks us off our feet. Shrapnel and bodies fill the air. Calamity Carl is unmoved and unaffected. He doesn't even flinch, his feet remaining solid where they are. The crowd is running our way now.
"We're going to be trampled!" Kiiziiziixii shouts, pushing me behind her, ready to fire into the advancing throng, but I can see that it's not going to make a difference. There's nowhere to run. We're in-between two immovable walls of crowd.
Calamity Carl steps in front of us, moving so swiftly, even before Kiiziiziixii can react we're pushing to the ground. "Stay down!" he shouts at us, leaning over us, and I can see a wide smile on his face, and I can see a sick pleasure reflected there. "Sometimes, Blue, you will find that it is necessary to cause a little mayhem to stop a little mayhem! Finally, I get to kill!!"
The front of the crowd almost reaches us, but Calamity Carl hunches down and I can barely see what happens, but I still am able to watch as hundreds of blades and spikes shoot from his body, flying at the oncoming crowd in a wide arc. It is a hail of metal, and the front lines are actually thrown back, limbs torn, organs impaled, skins and clothings assaulted away. The torrent of piercing metal tears at the crowd, forcing them to stop for a moment, but they begin to climb over themselves, running and trampling the fallen. The advance continues, fueled by fear and the mentality of the herd..
Kiiziiziixii shouts something which I can't hear, even though her head is near mine. I think I hear myself shout, "No!" But I can't tell because Calamity Carl launches another volley. His body is making a low whine, each razor and spike which leaves his body sending out a silent hiss. The people climbing over the dead bodies fall and join the lifeless. I see ten people decapitated at once, their heads disappearing back into the crowd--ten less people to trample us. Others are hit and wounded, their bodies spinning in downward corkscrews, dead on the ground.
Enough. I push myself to my feet, keeping beneath Calamity Carl's arc of attack. The crowd has stopped advancing directly toward us, their movement deflected to the side. I scream up at Calamity Carl, "Enough! No more!"
"I'm having a blast!! How about you, Blue?!? Good!! I'll be with you in a minute!!"
I'm done talking with him. I help Kiiziiziixii to her feet as Calamity Carl begins to physically attack crowd members who get too close. Some of them do so through no fault of their own--the press of the masses is too much--but they die by his bladed hands just like the rest. I feel sick, and I think the static is waiting for the right moment to come back.
I see an opening in the crowd, and I take it, pulling Kiiziiziixii with me. We run, fleeing the destruction of the rivot bot. I don't know where we're going--as long as it's away. Sometimes I pull Kiiziiziixii in a direction, and other times she leads, but we both know that to stay in one place is death. We pass through streets torn with explosions, giant craters forged with smoke and fire. We are attacked again and again, and Kiiziiziixii saves us again and again. Entire buildings are down, cracked open like g'ekk eggs.
We run and continue to run.
We only stop when we realize that, after turning a corner, Calamity Carl is standing in the middle of the street, in front of us, calm and too obviously patient.
I let slip a, "Glitch!" Calamity Carl smiles at that, a wide smile, teeth exposed.
"Blue, you escaped. You always have and you always will. I'm glad to see that you haven't changed."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
Calamity Carl sits down in the middle of the street. He begins counting, using his fingers, ignoring my question.
"Do you know this 'bot?" Kiiziiziixii asks, fingering the pulse displacer. It's glowing from recent use.
"No, but I've encountered him twice before. What do you think we should do?"
Calamity Carl looks upward as if thinking, still counting.
"We'll never get rid of him unless he lets us leave. Best to find out what he wants." Kiiziiziixii looks around, eyeing the area for any danger. The surrounding streets are relatively deserted. What few people there are, notice Calamity Carl and quickly leave.
"I knew it!" Calamity Carl exclaims suddenly, jumping to his feet, his crown waving wildly. "I knew I could kill that many!"
"Oh no," is all I can say.
"Over three hundred!" Calamity Carl says. "I'm quite proud of myself! How about you?"
I'm not playing. "What do you want to tell me, Carl?"
"Come here," he says. "Come here and leave your friend there."
"You really don't have a choice, do you?" Kiiziiziixii asks.
I sigh. "No. He hasn't hurt me before. I don't think he will this time either."
I walk up to the rivot bot. His hand goes to my head, I feel his spikes running through the blue strands up there. His eyes glance over my body. "Interesting choice of clothes, Blue. You are quite daring to display yourself so. It does fit you though, even if showing parts of your back could get you in trouble."
"Tell me what you are going to tell me and leave, glitch it."
Smiling still, still wider. "You got it, Blue. Just one secret this time."
"What is it?"
"Get out of this city. Get off this island, now. Today. If you do not, a black future will come to pass, and you will kill no less than two hundred million people."
Before the sound of his sentence fades, he is gone. I feel numb. I walk back to Kiiziiziixii in silence, letting his words fade back to a place where I cannot hear them bouncing through my mind.
Kiiziiziixii does not ask what Calamity Carl said, and I do not offer to tell her. Does it matter what he said? He speaks in untruths and lies and riddles, and I don't know if anything means anything or if everything means something.
"I have a place we can go," I say. "I have some friends, in a Haven."
Kiiziiziixii nods and we walk, and sometimes we run. Night comes and we continue.
Somewhere, it some dark part of the city we find an intersection devoid of life. Devoid of life--but not abandoned. The intersection is not empty--corpses lay here and there, each one defiled and battered. Planted in, stuck in each corpse are signs, each one bearing a different message scrawled with blood:
REPENT OF YOUR SINS
THE WORLD ENDS TOMORROW
KILL ALL UNBELIEVERS
NO SALVATION FOR THE WEAK
THE PURE WILL BE DEFILED
We look away, but I see one last sign as we turn to leave, and it is the one that I can't get out of my mind right now. It says:
THE END IS HERE.
And I believe it.
In The Midst Of The Riot
Who watches the angels?
Somebody's watching over me. I know this because I'm standing in front of the Haven, and I'm not dead. I'm breathing and I'm not bleeding. Kiiziiziixii is beside me. She's not bleeding either--we both made it back alive.
It's amazing when I think about it--the Haven is unscathed. Either the violence hasn't reached this part of the city yet, or people are upholding the sanctity of the Havens. Mind tells me that the riots just aren't here yet.
I don't know how the Haven is still functioning. Q'and'q was the Guardian-8 of this place before JACK made him a warlock. Fulfilling the duties of his former position will not be a high priority with him any more.
Kiiziiziixii grabs her hair in one hand, pulling it off to one side. I can see a small black device attached at the base of her skull. Some sort of implant. "Are we going in? Are you sure your friends are in there?"
"I'm not looking forward to this," I answer, "but yes, we're going in. You don't have to go."
"I'm with you for now, but I thought you said they were your friends."
"Yes, but friendship is a complicated concept, and 'complicated' doesn't begin to describe my relationship with JACK and Q'and'q."
"As long as they're friends."
I hope so. I hope I can let them be my friends. I
take a step toward the Haven's entrance. My foot hits the ground,
my next step, and I'm
(standing in a barren wasteland. not alone. two others are beside. to the one side is my chrome knight. to the other side is a figure I know but do not recognize. surrounded on all sides by flat dead land. knowledge comes. we are the only three left.)
The Haven is more crowded than before, but we find JACK and Q'and'q in a small room. They're alone. Nobody wants to be near wirewitches at a time like this.
"Hello, syl," JACK says as we enter. My eyes take in her physical maturity. It's unnatural--going to take me awhile to get used to. The two wirewitches eye us, but they don't look wary or agitated.
Kiiziiziixii has her pulse displacer out before I can say anything. "You didn't tell me your 'friends' were wirewitches, syl. You should have let me in on that particular bit of information. Are you absolutely sure about them?"
The wirewitches don't look concerned. I can't think of anything say, but JACK can. She says, "Who's this?"
"JACK, this is Kiiziiziixii. She saved my life."
"Then she is our friend as well. But you should tell her that, while pulse displacers are quite effective on a wide range of biological entities, they have no effect on wirewitches."
"Kiiziiziixii, these are my friends, JACK and Q'and'q," I say. I'll find out if there's truth in that statement soon.
Kiiziiziixii lowers her weapon and speaks to the wirewitch and the warlock, "I apologize for my behavior. It's not often that I've dealt with your species, and the few times I have--have not been pleasant."
JACK nods, but turns to me, Q'and'q standing a little behind her. Her voice is even and factual, hair stalks undulating silently. "The warlock is no longer called Q'and'q. That name has only a null meaning to him. He is called 2-85."
2-85 is deferring to JACK, normal for warlocks. His clothes are different than before, but he has the same build and height. His hair stalk hangs from the base of his skull down to his ankles. He stares--face appearing the same as it did only a few days ago--only this time I am looked upon by his unfocusing eyes of blue turmoils. For a second, a feeling is there--what feeling?--but I push it down. Something...
"I need to talk to you, JACK," I say.
"Yes, alone and now."
Kiiziiziixii gives me a glance, but she leaves, her pulse displacer back in its holster. 2-85 leaves without a word, but as he passes me, his hair stalk brushes my shoulder. Indescribable jolts spider-dance over my body, shivering. I can't catch his eye before he is gone.
"syl," JACK begins, "I wish you hadn't run away like that. I wanted to explain everything to you. But watching over 2-85 took precedence over that. Newly made wirewitches are not to be left alone."
"I had to leave. There was no choice for me at that moment. I saw what you did--and it repulsed me! I couldn't handle it. Leaving was all that there was left to do."
JACK takes a step toward me, but stops. "There are many things left to do. There are many things left to say. I will not let you leave again before they are done and said."
Her voice is non-threatening. Was that a threat? "And I will not leave like that again." Can I keep that promise?
JACK turns her profile toward me. "I am a wirewitch, syl. I will not apologize for that. I will not apologize for my actions. I made 2-85 into a wirewitch--"
Static rising. I can't hold it. "You robbed him of his humanity! You had no right!"
"He was not entirely human--you saw his implants. I took him from a state of in-between to a state of fullness. He is no longer part man and part machine. Now he is completely wirewitch."
"Just because you can make somebody a wirewitch does not mean that it is right!"
"I have the right because I am a wirewitch. We must continue to survive!"
"You can reproduce by normal methods, JACK!"
"Extremely inefficient and messy. The witchkiss is swifter and more meaningful."
"That is not the point!"
JACK raises her voice, grinding boulders. "I cannot change what I am, syl. I am wirewitch!"
Louder buzz now. Must stop it before anything happens. This line of thought will not get us anywhere, and there is truth in her statement. "I...I will try to accept that."
"That is all I can ask for."
"I'm not sure I can forgive you. I know that you can't change what you are, but neither can I change what I am. I will try to forgive, but--"
"When the time is right, I will make others. You have to know that."
I turn my back to her in reaction. "I--I know." I feel a tear, eye leak, the static vibrating constantly. "And that's what is going to make this difficult. I can only promise that I will try to do what I think I should--even if that means going against myself. I'm not sure if I can do it. You will have to be patient with me."
"And I too will try," JACK says, coming near, putting her arms around me. I return the embrace. Coarse skin against mine, the warm embrace of technosite infested flesh.
But as I embrace, the plague of doubt sickens its way through my mind. Promises promises promises. Promises to keep. Promises to break. Make some, break some. Can I be true to my word? Can I be true to myself? Will myself let me be true to my word?
When the future becomes the present, will my future self be the present self I desire?
JACK leaves me, departing. I stay where I am. I think about nothing for awhile. After I drift for moments, I look up and 2-85 is entering the room. He closes the door behind him.
Together we are alone.
(2)syl Gets Kissed
"syl," 2-85 says softly. Something in the way he says my name...
I know that I should leave the room immediately--don't let myself be alone with him. Something will happen if I don't go now, vacate. He's looking directly at me. I can feel those light blue spheres beholding me. Stop it please this feeling is something I don't understand. I try to swallow and talk. "What do you want?"
"You said that you would talk with me sometime. And I would like that sometime to be now."
Flustered, not ready for this. "I don't really think that--"
"Our last attempt did not turn out on a positive note." 2-85 moves to my right slightly, forcing me to turn to face him. I realize that he's giving me my opportunity to leave. He's purposely not blocking my route to the door. He's giving me a choice. "And I want to remedy that."
The door or the warlock? Glitch it, I don't want to deal with this now. Don't really know what I want to do, but--
"We may not get another chance, syl. You should know that. You were just out there. You know what's going on outside."
The warlock or the door? 2-85 is right. Time is quick now. I nod. "Okay, we can talk now."
There's a warlock smile there, minuscule, but present nonetheless, hair stalk swishing.
I want to know something. "Do you truly accept what has been done to you, 2-85?"
"Been done to me?"
"JACK made you a wirewitch! She took your human qualities and tossed them aside! Do you actually accept that?"
"I am wirewitch. What I was before has no meaning to me. There is nothing to accept."
"She changed you without your consent! Doesn't that matter to you?"
2-85 shakes his head. "It does not. I am wirewitch. The only thing that has meaning to me is the present. My former configuration holds no value or relevance."
"It means something to me!"
"What do you mean?"
"Look at me," I say, "I'm completely human, and I possess all the feelings and emotions and weakness and strengths that go along with that. And my humanity is telling me--screaming at me--that anything which chips away at the humanity--the humanness--of any being is wrong. The stripping away of a person's humanity is a personal thing to me! I see what JACK did to you, and all I can see is a person had his humanity lost for him. You didn't have a choice! You were changed in a matter of minutes, without ever being given a chance to see what might have happened had you remained human!"
"The future is not predictable, syl. You should not get too attached to 'might have happened' scenarios."
"You're missing my point. The point is that you did not get to make the choice! It was made for you!"
The circuitways in his skin are more visible for a second before fading back to obscurity. I can almost see him thinking, his eyebrows arched. "We do not get to make all our choices in life, syl. Some are made for us. You should know that."
"I know, glitch it!" Don't know why I'm so angry. It's a pointless discussion, no end or resolution in sight--irresolute. It's that glitched staticfuzz in my mind. It's sawing away deep in the dark places, high frequency vibrations, threatening to overwhelm my thoughts. Level is still low enough as to put it in the background, but the threat of higher intensities is there.
2-85 moves to in front of me, once again between me and the door.
"So," I say, "do you have no ties to your former life? What about your position here? You can no longer be a Guardian-8."
"Another will take my place. But there are no rules to prevent a wirewitch from assuming the role of a Guardian-8. Havens are free zones. Although, you are correct in that a Haven run by a wirewitch would be--unique."
Query. "Did JACK violate the rules of the Haven by making you?"
2-85 pauses at that, unanswering. I realize that somehow he's moved closer, space invaded. I take a step back, but realize that I've hit a wall. Cornered? Then I notice that 2-85's eyes have stilled, the swirling currents are without motion, and what he's about to do hits me with a
I know what he's going to do, but I can't move, focused on those eyes. He's close enough to smell now, that wirewitch smell, only this time (again), it's the smell of a warlock. Some minor difference, but it's there, metal and flesh, vein and circuit. I see his hands moving vertically in my peripherals, to each side, now coming together on either side. I feel the ridges of wirewitch skin on my chin and on my forehead. Head rotated, single strand of hair in my eye. I see the warlock closer than I ever have before--can't close eyes to shut all of this out. Mouth is pulled open, lips apart, and 2-85 lowers his head. I see his hair stalk move to my right, then I feel it on the back of my neck, a snakish embrace, and then he fills my vision and his lips touch mine. circuitwarmelectricityskin
flash of past comes a dream of a warlock named 3-43 and the witchkiss
But this time it's different. No wirewitch thoughts invade my brain, my thinking is my own, and there's only a slight hint of static. My senses check in: arms at sides, flattened against wall along with back and legs, wirewitch hands holding turned-up-and-sideways head gently, entwined with hair strands of blue, his body towering over and curving slightly to hover above, hair stalk wires draping at neck, not cold, but yet unwarm, his circuit pathway patterned skin, microscopic details magnified by proximity.
And I know the technosites aren't infecting me.
For that reason I'm not afraid this time. My humanity is in no danger. I am safe. But I will no longer allow myself to be abused like this. I must acquire control. I will have control, whatever the cost. This must stop now. I must do something to stop this.
Before I know what my body is doing, I realize that I've moved my arms from their passive position flat against the wall to the back of 2-85's neck and head, pulling him at me. Somehow I manage to straighten my head, his fingers straightening and letting go in what I can only assume is surprise at my actions. As far as I can remember, this is a new experience for me, so I make up the kiss as I go. The witchkiss turned realkiss takes on a vague intensity and something stirs in my chest. Now 2-85's arms are at his side, he tries to take a step back, but I hold on, maintaining. His eyes are moving now, spinning cyclones, vortexes rotating in spiral spins. I close my eyes, and I'm lost in the straight sensation of the moment, and just when I notice the texture of his lips on mine I feel a staTICSURGE!!!!agdf43GDFgggLL99))12SSbbgDfe@@lllll@@67
My body spasms uncontrollably. Our strange embrace--vomitting out the touching--is broken, and I fall, 2-85's hair stalk slithering off my back, static fading to a low dull presence. It happened again, just like last time.
"You--" 2-85 says, cutting himself off. He's still standing.
Nothing seems to be sending me pain signals so I stand up, facing the warlock. "You should not have done that, 2-85."
"You--y--how did you--"
"After all we just talked about, you still tried to make me a wirewitch! Glitch you, 2-85! Glitch you!! Glitch all of you!!!"
"You are immune to the witchkiss?"
"You're not the first warlock to try that, you festering g'ekk."
2-85 ignores the insult. "No human is immune. What are you?"
"I am human, 2-85. You'd better accept that."
"I do not understand, syl. No human is immune to the witchkiss. You should be infected."
"Why did you do that to me? I thought I could trust you!"
"I am wirewitch."
"That's not enough, glitch it!"
"It is my only answer."
"Well, it's not enough for me, and until you have a better answer, just stay away from me."
But he doesn't stay away. But moves towards me. I try to dodge, but he grabs me and moves me back towards the wall. When I feel my back against it, I know that he's stronger than me and I will not be able to escape.
His face is in mine, intense. His smell is in my nose, strong and filled with strength. "Let me go, 2-85. You have no right to do this."
"There is something I must tell you."
"Get the glitch away from me! This is a Haven glitch it! You're violating the rules!"
"You must know." With that, he releases my left arm, still holding my right, but he backs off a couple of centimeters.
I turn my head, not wanting to look at him. "What is it? Tell me then leave me the glitch alone." I turn my head back, facing.
His hand moves down my side, then forward. I feel wirewitch skin on my exposed stomach. It's sending tingles and prickles outward, star rays of sensation. I shiver in spite of myself. I'm repulsed by his presence, but my body sends signals of confusion. Feelings...unknown. "Hey--"
"You harbor a secret, syl." He's looking down there now, at my bare skin, bellybutton.
I hear myself inhale, his fingers sliding slightly against my skin. His words are soft, but they drown out the static, urgent.
"You have a child within you, syl. You are pregnant."
The Darkening (iii)
I hear myself exhale--a roar in my ears somehow. Outside of my control, arms go to my belly, pushing warlock hand away, feeling the bare skin there, smooth and unbroken, pressing, as if to detect the life within. But it doesn't matter. I know it's true.
Now static buzzing constant so fast it's almost not a buzz, the worst it's been, there's some pain, thoughts getting swept away in the force of the stream.
I CAN NOT DEAL WITH THIS
"Get away from me," I say through gritted teeth.
"syl, you cannot run from this."
Outburst. "GET THE GLITCH AWAY FROM ME!!!!! GET AWAY!!"
2-85 staggers from the force of my shove. "I will leave." I barely hear him above the static.
Buzz so LOUD I can't function. It's tearing me apart. Anger explodes with abandon. I'm losing control. Tears are flooding my eyes. "GET AWAY OR I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'LL DO!!!"
I squeeze my eyes, and when they are open again, 2-85 is gone. Cheeks slick with tears and brain slit in half by the buzzsaw. I can't remain standing, and I slide down the wall till my knees are at my chin. I feel the muscles beneath my fingers at my belly contracting and relaxing and tensing. Feel the expanding from intakes of breath, knowing that somewhere within is a second spark. A spark with a life of its own. A spark.
A blue spark?
Grinding intensify. Beyond comprehension. Mind impulses shattered before initiation begins. Pain close and real. Toes curling. Fingers gnarling.
And I know now that the rivot bot also knows.
Calamity Carl knows. He knows I'm pregnant. He told me once. He told me I had a blue spark inside me. Ignored him then, but I can't ignore him now, because his second secret is no longer a secret to me. He knew, he told me, and I didn't listen, but he was right. What else will he be right about?
I think I pass out for a moment. Not exactly sure, but I can't remember what just happened. Total blackness and null impressions there. A child. I have a child inside me, pressing up against my inner workings, taking up my space. A part of me is separate from me but still a part of my whole.
Something. It's right there on the edge of coherence. Waiting for the right moment to step into the light. Somebody else knew I was pregnant. Who? Who the glitch was it? I almost pull the answer from my shattered thought bank. Almost...
Waiting...not yet again
It was the warlock 3-43. It was him. He told me--with his dying words. Protect the child. He knew! Glitch my ears he knew! I thought he was referring to JACK, but now I know that he would never have called her a child. Mistaken again.
Static's receding now and the pain is too, but it's leaving its mark.
I was warned twice, and I didn't notice. Too busy surviving. Too bad. Survival is all I can do--it's all I ever have done. And it's all I'll continue to do. Few options are at my disposal. And now I have even less.
Glitch my life.
I am being abused. The world and all its inhabitants are here to take out unvented frustrations on me. I'm the whipping post. My back is bleeding from the wounds inflicted, and I feel like falling apart. I am the abused.
I will kill before it happens to me again. I swear it to myself. I must leave this place, and I must leave my friends. I know that now. I cannot be around them--the consequences are too dire and too severe. I am not the same person that they think I am. I am not the same person I thought I was. And I'm not the same person I will be. I am no longer only the abused. I am the abused abuser.
I leave. As I do, I feel the flame in my soul flicker, flicker, flicker and die. What have I done? That's not the question anymore. Not ever again, glitch it. The new question is not as easy to answer as that one was. The past is easy to comment on, but who can give an answer to
Can I control what I will do?
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