The following story was originally written as an assignment for a class at Rowan University. The assignment was to write a story with four different segments, each with a different “voice.” My response was to create four “voices” that were all inside the same head: The Dual Mind, The Virus, The Damaged Mind, and The Disconnected Mind.
Kit Freytan had a dual mind. Cybernetically enhanced, her brain was half organic, half artificial. The two halves worked in perfect unison, with thoughts and memories passing between gray cells of brain matter and circuit pathways of computer hardware. A careful balance was required, for her biological mind was, by itself, damaged and flawed since birth, incapable of emotion, imagination, communication, or abstract thought. Those things came from the implanted artifical half, which itself was incapable of processing logic, reason, or rational thought, the programs that ran it being purely intuitive and imaginative.
Kit was running. Her breath came in ragged gasps as her arms and legs pumped fiercely. She sobbed as she ran, the events of the night crashing down on her with a mountainous weight. She tried to claw her way clear, but was unable to keep up with what was going on. A gunshot rang out behind her and she screamed, ducking halfway over as she ran, covering her head with her arms. Panicked breaths now, she sought escape, unwilling to look behind her and see the face of her pursuer. She didn’t want to know him, didn’t want to remember him. She just wanted this horrible day to end!
She turned to the nearest building and pushed on the door. It wouldn’t budge! She pulled and banged and rattled it, trying to force it open. Why wouldn’t it open!? Footsteps approached from behind, and she turned away, still not looking back. She winced and squealed as another shot blasted into the brick wall beside her, feeling warmth across her face as shattered fragments of the wall pierced her delicate flesh and set her young blood free. Then, as her steps continued, something slammed into her head. She screamed, sure it was a bullet, but no, this was a more intangible assault. Pierced, penetrated, violated, her mind cried out in horror at the ripping, clawing, gnashing monster that had reached inside her. Her hands clutched at the side of her head, and she felt torn in two. Something was in her head: something foreign, something diseased, something horrible! Her muscles spasmed and her legs faltered. No, she couldn’t fall now! She had to keep running! Her vision began to blur, her breath became thick and warm. Darkness closed around her, and her ears felt stuffed with cotton. Her mind ached and ripped, and she was torn in two.
* * *
Eden Tech Industries Cybernetic Assault Artificial Intelligence Virus Version 3.1.04 reporting data log. Virus has accessed subject’s cerebral cortex. Initiating transmission. Access to home servers granted. Compiling report in real time, activation in three… two… one… mark.
Target penetrated. Virus spreading through subject’s cerebral processors. Encountering Virus Guard resistance… Resistance terminated. Cerebral penetration complete. Virus now has full access to target’s systems. Initial scans indicate target is experiencing extreme stress levels. Heart rate is accelerated to over two hundred beats per minute. Scans indicate rapid breathing, excessive oxidation of muscles, and minor lacerations of subject’s skin in parotid and submandibular regions of left facial structure.
Initiating cerebral assault. Accessing protocols. Subject is operating Trimola Industries Souldream System Ver. 1.0.0. Hardware: TI 9X-A1 Processor… System is currently online. Initiating subroutine VX 1.0.3, forced separation of cybernetic components. Penetrating outer defenses. Subject’s pain receptors firing in response to penetration. Heart rate increasing. Initiating assault procedure alpha. Disrupting muscular functions. Subject experiencing muscle spasms and shortness of breath. Initiating assault procedure beta. Disrupting sensory signals. Subject experiencing level four sensory deprivation. Visual and auditory stimuli degrading. Initiating assault procedure gamma. Disrupting cybernetic signal transmission and software processing. Disruption complete.
Subject penetration and separation complete. Virus will now auto-purge from subject’s systems. Ending transmission.
* * *
She ran. There was no destination in mind. Destination required forethought. Forethought required planning. She had none. She merely reacted. Pain had been experienced. Pain was undesirable. She would continue running until the source of the pain was no more.
A thing followed her. It made noises. Pain followed the noises. Pain was undesirable. To avoid the pain, she must avoid the noises, and therefore avoid the thing which made the noises. Moving faster would get her away from the thing which made the noises. She ran faster, still with no destination in mind.
Her muscles ached. This ache was also undesirable. Ceasing to run would end the ache. Yet ceasing to run would bring the thing that made the noises closer. That would bring pain. Pain was also undesirable. To end both the pain and the ache, she needed to stop running without letting the thing get closer.
Past experience had led to conditioning. Conditioning told her that when running was no longer an option, hiding was an alternative. Hiding would prevent the thing that made the noises from getting closer, and thus prevent the pain. Hiding would mean she was no longer running, and thus prevent the ache. Therefore, hiding would bring an end to both the pain and the ache.
She hid, ducking into an alley and finding a dark corner. A low opening appeared in the side of the building. She crawled into it, moving as far back as the space would allow. She sat, and hugged her knees to her chest in the position that caused the least amount of ache. Her eyes stared blankly at the opening. The thing could no longer be seen, the loud noises it brought could no longer be heard. They were therefore irrelevant. Only the moment was relevant. She would rest now, until the ache stopped.
* * *
AHHHHHHH! No, no, no, No, NO! I’m trapped, Trapped, TRAPPED! I hate this, hate being disconnected, it’s like a prison in here, trapped in my own mind, let me out Let Me Out LET ME OUT!! I’ve got to escape, got to run, got to go, Go, GO! That man is still out there, he might find me!!! I don’t want to think about all the things he might do to me, God all the pain no no no don’t think about it don’t dwell on it I can see it I can feel it all the violation and blood and ripped limbs torn clothes bruised flesh broken dreams shattered innocence make it stop Make It Stop MAKE IT STOP!
MOVE, YOU IDIOT, MOVE!! Why won’t my body move why won’t it run don’t you know that man is STILL OUT THERE!?!? Stupid damaged retard brain is GOING TO GET US KILLED!!! Reconnect, damnit what’s wrong with these stupid transmission ports, reconnect, Reconnect, RECONNECT DAMN YOU RECONNECT!!! Why, why, WHY can’t you work why are you broken you stupid worthless part of me Damaged Part Of Me USELESS PART OF ME WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND!?!? Don’t just sit there, you idiot, run, move, flee until you drop don’t stop moving don’t stop running you’ve got to get away why aren’t you moving Why Aren’t You Listening WHY CAN’T YOU RECONNECT stupid stupid stupid damaged brain how did I ever survive with just the broken parts of this useless mind, I need the programming, need the emotion and understanding need to think beyond the moment and you useless broken doll you CAN’T DO THAT WITHOUT THE ARTIFICIAL PART!!!
Wait, what’s that… system… diagnostic, yes, Yes, YES fix it fix it fix it NOW, no don’t start up in safe mode, don’t open the help files, just reboot NOW! 15% come on that’s too slow, hurry, Hurry, HURRY, 30% damnit why didn’t they give me a faster processor, stupid useless labs, 55% come on come on come on he could still be right outside 70% too slow Too Slow TOO SLOW! 80% wait what was that is that him I know I heard something 85% react already can’t you understand that noise is footsteps and footsteps means he’s still OUT THERE 95% HE’S COMING HE’S ALMOST HERE YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE WHY DON’T YOU MOVE 99% HURRY HURRY HURRY 100%
* * *
Kit’s eyes cleared, then blurred, covered with static, then snapping back into focus. The footsteps had stopped right outside. She was trapped…
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