Author’s Note: This part of Merry’s Story probably gets an R rating for language, sorry it just wrote itself that way.
Monday, October 23rd, 2006. (Evening)
Shopping at the commissary and the gift shop wasn't a total bust, as I did find something to cover mine and to my surprise it more or less fit. Though the concept of lettering things seems skewed. I had to bite my tongue when I was comparing A's, B's & C's… D & DD which were too scary to contemplate; though A's seemed more a case of why bother? Then there was the concept of going up a number size versus a letter size, up one size I was a solid B, down one I was C… Mental perspective of being larger did not win-out over being comfortable.
Slacks on the other hand, were a pain in the ass. No let me rephrase that, finding one size that fit and then expecting that size to be your size on a different rack, was a pain in the ass. Ok I'm not a clothing maven; but one size should be the 'one' size. Though by some mischance I did find a pair of Capri’s and some jeans that mostly fit.
I did manage to find a few jumpsuits, and a few shirts, mostly of the touristy T-shirt type. You know the kind; "My dad went to the Caribbean and all I got was this crummy t-shirt?" Well there were also a few scoop neck shirts as well in the pile and other needful things. Cotton seems to be a theme at the commissary, not a lot of silks or satins. So much for James Bond finding a silky playmate 'here'.
People, people everywhere were watching me, every move I made, every slight frown and they would wince. 'They are scared of you.' Yeah, I could see that. I let out a soft sigh and took everything to the counter; normally most clerks don't seem to give a damn about a person, they just scan and say, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" And the ever popular; "Is that everything?" For a moment I considered being snarky and saying “No, who is the freakin' idiot in charge of women's clothing?”
I held back on that bit of annoyance when I saw the eyes of the lady clerk. They were a lot like Barbara's only they were filled more with fear than shock. I shook my head and paid for things. 'People are worried you will do what you threatened to do to the security guard.' The voice in my head was louder than usual great, not to mention some odd hum, just great.
The trip back to my room was peaceful, aside from the occasion hush that developed whenever I walked by a conversation. People even went so far as to move to the opposite side of the hallway when I was walking down one side of it. Absently, I noted security stationed along the open areas of the concourse slipping from relaxed to tensely alert when I passed them. 'Just stay calm, focus on getting out.' Good advice, I suppose.
Well my room had been restored to its usual neatness though I had a few more 'notes' from my various fan clubs. The notes from Evolution Rocks, were very kind, though they seemed to have their own agenda; no surprise there. The others, well. 'It's not surprising is it?' No, it wasn't really surprising. Sadly, I had pretty much expected it.
A new addition to my room was a menu and a number to call to order room service and a phone. I picked it up and tried to dial out; naturally the only person I got was the inter-campus operator. I spent a few minutes ordering my evening meal then I went to lie down on the bed. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore everything.
'You know once they figure you are no longer needed you are dead?'
Yes, I had gathered that.
'You could always take them with you if you died.'
Yeah right, some asshole always wants to call that bluff. I may not be the best person alive, but killing folks to avenge my own death is just plain sick.
'Everything goes better with blackmail.'
What have you been reading? That only works if you have lots of people who give a damn about you and who have the same goals as you do.
'There is Bill, Tammy, Father Pete, and NEXT.'
Unconsciously I shook my head, Bill and Tammy possibly they cared; if it's not just an act. Father Pete, well it's not likely he'd subscribe to blackmail. As to NEXT, I am their cash cow, the golden goose, only good if I serve their needs. Somehow I doubted the Feds were just going to let me go.
'Then there are the other Agencies and Governments.'
Not enough of me to go around, they will all want me, and by the law of greed: If they can't have me, no one can.
My internal 'discussion' was interrupted by a knock on the door; upon opening it I was greeted by a porter with a cart laden with my food. It took a few minutes for him to unload my food on to the table. I felt sort of foolish; as good service requires a tip. I thought for a moment, "If you play the stock market, Antel looks good this quarter." He paused for a moment, then he smiled and bowed slightly. I guess stock tips work as well as cash.
After he left, the discussion resumed.
'Jeeze just announce it to the world that you're all seeing.'
Does it really matter? I was enjoying the meal, sort of.
'Well considering that you have turned the Federal Database upside down, I don't think that tid-bit will change things. Consider this, sometimes there are too many secrets.'
The only secret I give a damn about is the one that keeps Joni safe and alive.
'So how do you plan on doing that? You can't even guarantee you can keep yourself alive.'
I am only dead, if and when I become useless.
'Putting yourself out of a job would be fatal.'
Eventually I will kill the Palm, whoever or whatever is being him.
'Nice to have a goal. Then what, die happy?'
Back to dying again.
'So do something, doing nothing, accomplishes nothing.'
I looked at my meal and decided it could wait.
One thing I missed from the trip to the sewer was a futon, no it wasn't the smell. 'That's for sure.' A pillow on the floor was the best I could manage. Though sleeping on dirt and cement had toughened me in that respect. The power button was a fingertip away and soon I was too.
I looked around the local network; it was an attempt at security, well normal security. I dropped below it and into the bowels of the system, boy am I being morbid. “So Clu, what is in the left hand column?” I misquoted absently. Clu, that Tron type guy is out there, so is Amelia Hartford. Two different directions one that was legit, the other one who knows? Either way, if I die someone has to be able to keep up the hunt.
A few moments of digging in the CAT network and I had my files from the sewer. Time is relative, ask Einstein or Hawking. Ah well if you are going to make friends and influence people a gift never hurts. I lost an hour of my time rewriting the firewall I had liberated from the HAIT server. I had my doubts if it would stop the Door Breaker files but it stood a good chance at slowing a PALM AI down. I threw an extra dozen pages of notes into a file with it and zipped it up.
One copy I routed though a few dozen routers, IPs and for giggles I routed it through NASA and bounced it off a dormant DARPA Spy satellite, they didn't need those few moments of time. With luck Ms. Hartford could understand all the changes I put in the firewall. Well her day will start with a 'bang'. After a few moments thought, I a shot a copy off to the Vatican as well, evil comes in all forms. I figured they might as well join the party.
Finding Clu or whatever he is using as his alias, would be trickier; well I had all of my night. Fortunately the Feds have their own database of known hackers or at least suspected ones. Anyone any good, never hit that list; so I could use that list to mask out a large portion of the Internet.
It was sort of like screen painting a t-shirt, you make an overlay using some sort of mesh, silk is preferred, then you use wax or something to fill the holes that you don't want the dye or paint to get through. You cover the overlay with paint, let it dry somewhat and remove. Instant do-it-yourself logo type t-shirt. Although the t-shirt I was using was the web, and the ink I used would remove all the other hackers' usual routes from my search.
Still that left more places than I could reasonably cover. I doubt I could get the Feds to just hand me the ultimate new toy. Going 'downstairs' to do things from CAT HQ, while it might be amusing; would raise questions. Questions need answers, the question of the day: what sort of bait would Tron aficionados respond to?
Most, if not all of the movie TRON is out there on the net. Obviously he or she liked Lightcycles, so there was a fast moving cyber-motorcyclist. So much track out there and no one to race. It was virus time. No, not that sort of virus; it may surprise you that some aspects of search engines are cruising the web, picking up all sorts of data and likely started off as a virus.
Ok, some viruses are not friendly, no surprise there. Did you know some people write viruses just so they can get a job with anti-virus companies? Scary but true. My virus was simple, just a bit of code wrapped in a shell that looked like a Lightcycle. Inside the shell I put an IP address located someplace on the real world, in New Hampshire, a common hacker node. With the words, "Want to race?"
I spawned a few hundred copies and sent them out to the various nodes that were 'painted' as not a known hacker node via the Feds database. Sure it was a long shot and without a doubt would take some time for it to find him or her. I needed someone to hold the code and use it, outside of the Feds. Someone that didn't play exactly by the rules; someone like me.
I changed my attire to match the world of Tron, I lost the sword and my digital spike, allowing a circuit style patterning to cover my bodysuit. I left my hair alone: It's one thing to be in his version of the world, it was another to surrender to it entirely. ‘Oh Vanity, thy name is woman,’ and all that.
I went to that node, it was fairly busy and was frequently used by the better hackers simply because they actively discouraged traces there. 'They', were some sort of school. I never paid much attention to what node was actually sited where. Unless, of course, the node stopped working. You never know how much activity passes through a node until your Internet radio stops working.
I figured I had time to kill, so what was behind server door number WHAT069. Hmm looks like some sort of prep school. Whateley… You have to be kidding me. Doh, so much for being oblivious to where the net really sits. Well since I am headed there, eventually, possibly, I may as well peek around.
It seemed fairly tame, some old geezer with a beard's picture was sitting at the top of the page. Noah Whateley, looks like it was taken in the early fifties. Not a lot of real earth shaking information, if anything it was very low key. Well if you are going to hide a diamond, a pile of ice does the trick neatly. The only bit of information I found relevant was that Amelia Hartford was Assistant to the Administrator there. No wonder the place was a Vital and Active node. Though she really needed to loose her current hairstyle, she looked way too cranky.
I spent some time reflecting on my options, dig deeper into the server node or just lounge, while I waited for the cyclist to show up. So far the only bit of sage advice my inner voices was giving me was that I was in deep kaka and sinking fast. Keeping Dr. Palm, or whoever was using his AI's alive was not one of the options. It was starting to look like I would end up trading my life for his.
It would be a fairly sucky trade by any means, as long as there was a threat; I was marginally safe. Wonderful, I could keep the threats up just by copying PALM AI and releasing them on to the unsuspecting innocent and defenseless. That was pretty damn sick, how could I justify that?
"Damned if you, damned if you don't." I mumbled into the peace of the Internet.
"I beg your pardon?" was a voice that was close to Bruce Boxleitner's.
I looked over with a slight intake of breath, I had not expected him to appear out of thin 'air'. Ah well so I wasn't the only one with that trick.
He, definitely a he, was dressed as Clu from the Movie TRON. His bodysuit differed slightly from Clu's in the movie as it was blue instead of orange with yellow circuit traceries. His helmet was different too as he took the warriors helmet, an interesting touch. "So you are Clu?"
"Blue, actually." he stressed the pronunciation of Blue so I guess it was important to him. "And you are?"
"Oh, you can call me…" I hesitated a moment, alias, crap, zap, bolt, jolt, and charge to "Arc. It's as good as any other name."
"I've never heard of you," he was toying with his disk, Frisbee and Tron: he had it all down pat.
"No you probably have not, I'm dead." Ok it wasn't exactly a lie; a bit of confusion never hurt things.
"You seem very alive to me, what are you? Some sort of construct?" he looked at me, and for a moment he seemed to be trying to look inside of me.
"Not exactly, though if it helps, even I am not sure exactly what I am." No kidding, I held up a hand, "Much as I like attention, do you mind cutting back on the stare a bit. A girl does like her secrets." Not to mention it felt weird.
He blinked, "Very odd, you don't seem to be software." He squinted and looked at me a bit more intently, "You do have some sort of connection to the Net, though it seems to be woven through out the whole of the Net in some fashion."
I let out a soft sigh, it was interesting to know I was connected oddly to the Net, but Blue was in serious geek mode. "Look, I am not a program or a virus of any sort."
"You are not a program or virus, what are you?" Blue asked in some confusion.
"Complicated," I had to grin. "Annoying isn't it?"
"Ah humor, so you really are alive," it was a statement.
"Yes and no." I took a breath and let it out. "Currently I am alive, most likely I'll be flat-lined and gone for good. Sooner or later."
"Why is that? Surely if you got here you can go anywhere?"
"I wish it were so easy as all that." I shook my head, "This is as free as I get, the rest of me is unconscious locked in a room someplace."
"So you are 'jacked in' then?"
"That's one word for it, though the hardware is unusual to say the least."
"I can imagine."
Well I doubted that. "Anyways, I have to get something out on the net, its fairly hot. It's very good, too good to let the Feds keep a hold of. Ever see the movie Sneakers?"
He nodded, "Seen it."
"Well this is a software version of the 'No More Secrets' black box. It blows through most security as if it wasn't here. Needless to say the Feds are just a little too happy to have it in their hot little hands."
"So how did you get it?" he asked.
"I wrote it."
"You, wrote it?"
What, a girl can't write code? "It was designed to hunt down the PALM AIs." I held up a finger, "Once the Dr. Palm and his AI are gone, I am as good as dead." I gave him a lopsided smile, "I am not exactly a people person, too wild, too free and independent. And so I made too many people nervous and afraid."
"Doctor Palm is dead."
I shook my head, I guess that he didn't follow current events. "For someone who is dead, he's pretty danged busy."
"So the Feds are playing Dillinger with your code?" he shook his head, "Sorry I get a bit wrapped up in the movie lingo at times."
"It's apt. Basically I stepped on too many toes and made it too evident that I could do too much to their tidy little world. Absolute power, corrupts absolutely; or in my case they think I am corrupted and possibly deranged."
"So are you corrupted?"
"No, but the deranged bit may be very close to home." I gave him a slight shrug, "In either case without someone, someplace with the same code to work from, the Feds hold all the cards."
"Which brings you to me? Why?"
"Well, you're -here-, like me; as opposed to most of the other hackers on the planet." I pointed to the surroundings about us.
"Good point. So where are you?"
I reached behind me and pulled my own disc out from behind my back. "Langley, but stay far away from there. It's probably going to get very hot there soon, I seem to attract enemies." I smiled ruefully then tossed the disc to him. "I doubt you want to get burned."
He caught it with an easy grace, "Don't you want to know where I am?"
"No." I paused, "Sorry that was a bit harsh. If they dig in my head." I shook my head. "You know about telepathy?"
"I know a few things."
"Ok, well if I don't know where you are, they won't either. You don't want your life to be a screwed up as mine is. Trust me on that."
I turned to nearby wall and created a doorway with blue light, "I have got to get back, my dinner is probably cold."
"Wa-..", I stepped through the door. "..-it. Dang girl you move fast."
Suddenly we were at node not far from Langley, he had stopped my movement. I didn't think I had a limitation; then again I was still using his worlds rules.
I turned on him jabbing a finger towards his face, "Look, you so don't want to end up with the Feds turning up on your doorstep."
"I just wanted to know if I would see you again."
I sighed; my life was headed for some sort of gilded cage of enslavement or death and he was looking for a girlfriend, wonderful. "I don't even know if I will even be alive tomorrow, or the next week for that matter. You can't go where I go, where I am, you cannot and should not follow."
"Almost like Enya's 'Anywhere is'," he deflated somewhat. "Why is it when I finally meet someone like me, here, they only want to just be friends?"
"Oh you will find someone, somewhere; if you just get out of your room more often. You are cute, here, so you have to be cute out there as well. Go find a flesh and blood girl, not some ghost who has not stopped walking."
He stood there slightly lost looking. "But."
"Buts, are for users Blue, go meet some users." With that I changed from his worlds rules to mine and vanished from his sight in a spattering of sparks. Damn this sucks, he really was cute.
I waited for him to leave the node before moving on, his presence had changed somewhat, he was less there. Oddly enough, it seems he left some sort of construct behind, well everyone has a secret and their own tricks too. The last thing I needed was a boyfriend or girlfriend for that matter, so alive, so close to dying and I have never been really kissed. Damn, damn, damn.
Back to my life, my prison and my fate.
Monday, October 23rd, 2006. (Just before Midnight.)
I took a breath and let it out, letting a few tears escape. Meet someone interesting and let them go.
'You would only get him killed, you did the right thing.'
I sat up and then fell backwards painfully hard against the floor, a wave of dizziness passed through me; I was so tired suddenly. I reached over to the power button, maybe the computer being on was causing problems. My arm felt like it was too heavy as well; as it flopped uselessly against the case and slid down to drop solidly on to the floor. 'Help I've fallen and I can't get up,' the voice cackled insanely in my head.
I slid into the net I was safer there. Right, sure, not… I was slow as molasses and things were so fuzzy. The only thing clear was the fact that the folks in the computer department were fighting a PALM AI on the inside of the local network. I had to do something, even if I had problems of my own.
A quick check of the network showed the firewalls were intact, which means someone fucked up, pardon moi' French. That or someone turned it loose intentionally. Either way it was major bad news and I was not up to my usual speed. If anything it felt like I was falling and slowing down even more so.
Things were stalling out. I could feel that I didn't have any time, only one thing left I could do; kamikaze on the PALM AI and hope someone could figure out what was wrong with me. I pulled my sword into life and plummeted down out off the 'sky' aiming to pin the PALM AI to the flat geometry of my world.
I landed so freaking hard on the PALM AI that my sword was lost from sight and my head was buried literally in the wound. The puncture bled out a flash of sullen blue fire, washing along my face and body. Its blood seemed to drown me as I gasped from the impact. My lungs and mouth seemed to be full of it, the thick blue AI blood was choking me, scalding my mind; the rest of my nerves felt as if they were on fire.
I barely had time to send out a halfhearted call for help and abruptly my connection to the net stopped dead in its tracks. For one awful moment I still felt it's blood in my lungs, then I could breathe again… After all of that, I tried to open my eyes; all I could see was darkness and a light from far above me. The light was too, too far away and then darkness took me.
Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 (Too dam early in the morning.)
Somewhere in the darkness I was drifting, lost though not as alone as I could wish. Voices, so many voices and all but one of them mine. I could see myself, as if I was looking down from the ceiling. I.V. Check, additional wires for sound and audio, check, yes I was in a hospital bed. Again. 'Boy does that ever figure.'
~’/So what's with the real time clock in my view of self?/'~
~:'It's a Web Cam you dolt. Someone is watching you sleep. They probably don't want to be in the room with a sniveling mutant punk.':~
~'I don't snivel!'~
~'/What-ever. Pay attention you two, what's that guy doing?/'~
The camera tracked and zoomed in somewhat to focus on a bald man in medical whites who inserted a hypodermic into the I.V. line and depressed the plunger. A dark fluid slowly followed the path of the IV tubing and then it disappeared under a mass of tape on the unconscious figures hand. A few moments later a machine that draws several lines on a long strip of paper starts to go from fairly calm to hyperactive.
~:'EEG, Electro Encephalo Gram, checks to see if you have a brain, and you still don't have one, brat.':~
~'/Boy's we got problems enough, or can't you feel it?/'~
~'#1001 AF B0 No Op.#'~
~:'Try English you dirty little scum sucking invader.':~
The limited view of the Internet started to expand and grow, the far distant lines of communication leapt in closer. The world washed Blue, though the image of the small hospital room snapped clearly into focus. The man was talking on a cell phone.
~'/Can you see the number?/'~
~’/I don't think he's supposed to be calling out from here. Besides something is wrong, the Net is so close and pulling me so hard that I can barely stay here./'~
~:'I got the number, trace or intercept.':~
~'#Integer interrogative, intercept danger threat to self.#'~
"… Yes Nimbus, the drug actually seems to be working as projected for a change."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes I am testing it on an Energizer, an ideal test subject. It has a measurable electrical field that can be used to monitor minute changes in power levels. It has tripled its electrical field in bare moments after administration of the drug."
"Very promising, any outward effects?"
"Well nothing outside of a slight case of the shakes from the rise of adrenalin, which was projected. The only problem I foresee is the drop in blood sugars, though an insulin 'crash' will provide data as well. If the subject crashes, I can justify implanting an insulin pump and I will be able to remotely administer further injections with less risk."
"Good, the tablet version of this batch should be ready for distribution shortly, we are going with a codeine base, to effect the addiction."
"Ah, adding a mellowing effect to the power boost. That should prolong the life span of the test subjects. A nice touch."
"I'll be in touch."
"Good, and my payment?"
"Rest assured it's being deposited as we speak."
"So nice to deal with professionals."
The call stopped.
~'/Did we get a trace?/'~
~:'No, too short, the Fed's equipment sucks.':~
~/'Where did the kid go?'/~
~:'Off to play. Something about GEO whatever that is. Not like we need him.':~
~'/Hey he's a part of us./'~
~:'Not unlike it. We didn't invite you Fucker, get out.':~
~'/Wonder-dam-full. Bad enough its -here-, it wants to be complete. Fucking AI, just die./'~
~'#Must survive, self repair at twenty five percent, code source corrupted.#'~
~'/Great, makes sleeping with the enemy look tame./'~
~:'You bet your ass I am, your creator killed my family.':~
~'#Creator flawed. Seeking new source.#'~
~'/And I am that source?/'~
~'#Affirmation, partial assimilation of failed AI shows host unit self is capable of providing new source code.#'~
~'/No way in hell, I'll kill myself before I let you out onto the net./'~
~'#Co-operation is not needed.#'~
~:'Like hell. Prepare to get erased bit brain.':~
For a long few minutes the EEG machine seemed to go haywire, the various lines turning into a mix of brain wave signals and what looked to be electronic signals. The bald man in the room made notes on a clipboard. A separate monitor shows a marked rise of electricity, the sleeping girls eyes flutter under closed eyelids.
For a time the bald man watched the monitors intently then pushed a button on the wall. "I'll need some blood work drawn up on Ms. Powel. I think she's having some sort of reaction to the Deidrik's medication." He let off of the button, "Too bad you are a perfect test subject; you could have been a real asset."
After a moment of waiting the man pulled out his phone again, and dialed a number. A few moments he spoke, "ARC Mental Health please. Yes I have found the test subject, she does have a case of Deidrik's Syndrome, possibly severe. No it will not interfere with the tests, if anything it will make it a good control case study. No, no I do not expect we will have too much trouble getting control of the subject. Apparently it has folks here worried. I am not sure why, it is just a powerful Energizer, from what I can tell. Though they have been very closed mouthed about it, possibly she is a key witness to some crime. Good I'll brief the people on scene here when time permits. Look I have to go, the techs should be here shortly. Right. Goodbye."
Inside the mind of the girl who seems asleep, but is not: a war is raging. In a war of the mind there are no winners; only casualties. Some dreams are more real than others, some moments more precious, some enemies unnamed.
Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 (08:00)
I was in the hospital again, though my throat didn't hurt. My butt sure did and I was plugged in again, all those wires. Did they cancel the Tonsillectomy? Dad would be ticked if they did. This was the third time my tonsils had to come out. He wasn't happy, every time I ended up in the hospital he hurt mom or me, though Joni never seems to get it.
Joni is great, most boys don't like their sister. Joni always took care of me when I was hurt, an I was hurt a lot. When she was around even Dad seemed to be happy. Mom and Dad always were happy with her, me, I was always in trouble, even if I had nut'in to do with it.
I guess I must be in a recovery room again, no family or friends allowed. It sucks, not even a teddy bear. I have more dang wires again, are they doing more tests for the headaches again? Dad was so pissed when they didn't find a tumor or sumptin'. You would have thought he'd been happy that I was ok. But noooo. It just made him more mad, he gets drunk when he is mad. Mom says he can't help himself, I dunno seems easy to me, don't drink, don't get drunk and mean. Meaner.
*Joni is important, special, die to save Joni.*
~'Pay attention, who is Joni?'~
=You are Joni, secret game. Ok?=
*Ok, I am Joni.*
~'No you are not. You are Merry Candice Powell.'~
*No I am not!*
=You are doing good, bad man, playing with your head, lie a lot.=
*I am too Joni, I live at 1021 Castile dr. I am a gymnast and I have all sorts of medals to prove it.*
~'No you do not, that was your Mentor’s daughter.'~
*I don't have no mentor. Just myself.*
~'Yes you did his name was Owen Wilson, he's dead.'~
*Dead? No isn't dead, saw him a few hours ago.*
"Who are you then?" That was a voice from a speaker, it sounded familiar. Maybe it was Paul.
=They want you to be someone else, tell them You are Mai.=
"I am Mai." I spoke to the air.
=Merry went away, Merry hiding.=
"Merry's in a galaxy far, far away." I giggled, it was funny.
"Christ, what is she on?" That first voice was friendly, I should know who it was. Bill?
"Something for Deidrik's."
"Well it sure as phtt isn't working." Yep that would be Bill.
"Um why does my butt hurt?" It really did hurt and there was a large bandage there too.
"Don't worry Merry it'll be ok."
"I'm. Not. Merry! I am ... Who am I?" Huh, who am I? So many of me and all of them upset about it.
=Lots of people, you are in deep trouble.=
"Great job Doctor, she's so out of it she isn't sure who she is. I told you medicines don't work normally on her." Bill was sounding slightly amused, I am so glad someone is having a good time. This is very aggravating.
"Who AM I!?!?" I was angry so I screamed it at them.
"Crap there she goes, you better sedate her be…"
Puffs of smoke started to seep from the various medical equipment attached by wires to the girl. As a team of people wearing medical whites and thick gloves rushed to the wailing girls bedside, holding her down as she thrashed around.
"Leave me alone, we don't want your help. John, help me! Please! Please, plea…" Someone pushes an injection home.
The girl slumped back against the bed, her eyes shedding Blue tears, "John, help."
=John died, he won't be able to help any more.=
=Rest Merry, just rest.=
Somewhere, perhaps an angel cried, or was it just the soft voice in the girls mind?
Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 (Late Evening)
The door to the outside of my room opened, ‘Oh joy’. I was so freaking bored I almost hoped someone would try to kill me. There is only so much listening to beep, beep-beep, beep a sane person can take; then again, am I sane anymore? I vaguely remembering people replacing equipment, that and a few unkind words directed at me. I guess I was loosing my charm. ‘Too bad.’
I opened my eyes to regard the person who I saw in the video camera when I was in cyberspace. Ok, how did I get there? I took a few seconds and felt around, hmm, I could feel a computer though the wall next to the bed. I gave the bald man a stare, ok so it was more like a glare. Hmm, white medical top, of courses his name badge is in the pocket where I can't read it, clever. Dark gray slacks, and a pair of shoes hidden under some sort of booties.
"So how are you this evening?" his voice hinted at some sort of mid-western accent.
"What, trying to score points with your lab rat?" Oops did I say that?
He blinked, "What makes you say that?"
Ok, cat's out of the bag, may as well run with it. "Well, you injected some brown crap into my I.V. then made a phone call to some asshole named Nimbus. What did you think, that I was asleep?"
He paled slightly, interesting.
"Now look here missy, you were obviously delusional when I was in here. The only medication you were injected with was clear and it was for Deidrik's Syndrome."
"I'm sure that story will bounce true with the Feds, but it won't wash with me. So if the Feds check your phone records and then check this phone number." I paused then rattled off each number one digit at a time, watching him pale further. "They will find a number that is going to be non-functional in a few hours. But then, we know it existed. Don't we?"
"Shut up. You got your wish, I evidently have the pump you mentioned on the phone in my butt. So now what? You going to overdose me and say. 'Oops, I was dumb and stupid,' to this Nimbus person?"
He fidgeted, then pulled out the remote. "I could."
"Yeah, so go ahead."
I used the bed controller to make the bed give me an approximation of sitting up. "Frankly, the way my life has been heading, you might be doing me a favor if you did."
"How so? Surely you have a clue as to my medical and mental condition."
"Somewhat, yes. They won't tell me what your status is, other than you are very important." He looked around and pulled a chair over from the wall. Evidently he wasn't worried about our conversation. I guess since I was nuts, no one would believe me if he denied it.
"So do you have a name?"
"Ah, you can call me Frank."
"Hi Frank, I am Merry."
"Are you really?"
"It's as good a name as any, right Frank?" I stressed his name making sure it was obvious that I didn't think that is what his real name was.
"I see." I sincerely doubted that.
"So Frank, since no one is going to believe me anyhow, what is the crap you injected me with?"
"It is." he paused then shrugged. "It's a powers booster, essentially it chemically stimulates your brain and fools it into thinking you are in a crisis."
"Yes and no, there is a genetic element to it as well. Hmm, think of it as adding nitrous-oxide to a racing car. Turn it on and vroom." He made a quick wave with his free hand.
"Nitrous is rough on the engines of cars, so what is this shit going to do to me?"
He sat silently for a time.
"Hey stupid fuck, what is this crap going to do to me?" I stopped a second. "Oh great, you either don't know or you know it's going to kill me."
"Well, it's a possibility." Hmm, honesty, nice but scary.
"So spell it out for me, what is this shit going to do to me?"
"It may not do that much damage."
"Damage, fine what sort of damage?"
"It makes you burn up your bodies sugars, much like you were diabetic. Though you may not have to worry about that, much. The pump that was implanted does have a real insulin injector."
"Oh great," sarcasm fairly dripped out. "So it is going to seriously fuck with my body, what else?"
"That depends on your body, from what I can make out from your medical evaluation, you start to physically change at the upper end of electrical intake. It is a pity that you are in such a screwed up mental state."
"How much of that is from the stupid drugs you people inject me with? Aside from the powers one?"
"Honestly, I have no idea."
"Great. So nice of you to be so forth coming."
"Well its not like anyone would believe you."
He had a point, I guess. "So how much of that crap can I take with out permanent damage."
"I am not sure, so far you are one of the first few to come through the initial dose undamaged."
"Not dead, you mean?"
"Not really, what good is drug that kills in the first use?"
"Ah. So is it addictive? Not that it matters, I'll likely be dead in a few months or less." I frowned, yeah I guess it was in the cards.
"Not in this form," he shrugged. "Aside from the powers boosting effect, though absolute power is addictive in its own right."
"So you like 'playing god'?"
"It has its moments. So how much do you recall from the first test?"
I thought a moment, "I can't say, really. You mixed the drug with some other crap that had me fairly fucking loopy already."
"How are you now?"
"I don't know, I think I am clear headed. Am I on something?"
"Yes, a variation of the Deidrik's medication."
I held up my hand. "I've heard the name, but I have absolutely no clue what it is."
"Ah. Well some mutations do affect the mind. Sometimes it's beneficial, Perfect Memory, being one such case. Though in your case, I am not sure you were 'exactly' stable before the mutation kicked into high gear."
I laughed, "Define stable."
"True, that does vary a bit from person to person. In any case, you've seen movies where the bad guy rambles on and on until the hero beats him senseless?"
"Yes. It always struck me as a bad plot device."
"Not exactly, in the non-movie world it is just as real."
"So what? I'm going to break down and spout my plans to take over the world and dominate it for the next millennium?"
"It doesn't always manifest like that. Some times its obsessive compulsive behaviors, in others multiple personalities evolve." He gave me what I could guess was a significant stare. "Then there is megalomania. All of which are treatable with the right medicine."
"Which in my case is a problem."
"Well considering how valuable you seem to be…"
"Oh, trying to figure out if you can get a few more bucks out of my carcass?"
He flushed slightly. "Now that you mention it."
"Don't bother, if I am not on the Federal Bandwagon, I am as good as dead. So unless your 'boss' has a good and safe way to remove me from here, much less keep me hidden: I am not going, I can kill myself perfectly well without any extra help. Unless your drug does that for me."
I gave him a dirty look and he had the good graces to at least shrug. "Right. So how many times do I get the dubious joy of enduring the power up drug."
"As many as I can safely administer."
"Wonder-dam-full. Can you at least start with smaller freaking doses?"
"Fuck me. Fine, great what-ever. Get on with killing me then."
He sighed, "It shouldn't kill you."
"Sure, and the FDA has approved it for use in the United States. Look what the hell happened with the shit they pushed on the servicemen in Gulf Storm."
"I," he stressed the I, "had nothing to do with that."
"So you can guarantee I'll live a long life after all these tests?"
"That's what I thought." I gave him the finger. "Just do your bit and get out. Since you obviously don't give a shit for my life, spare me your fake concern and just push the fucking button."
"Do it and get out." The lights flickered and died, his control unit made an unpleasant beep before it died as well. "Too late. Hope you can get another one of those, or a few dozen." I snickered, "Maybe I'll just make shit fry every time I see you. So much for your fucking tests then."
"You can't stay awake forever. I may even order a course of sleep inducing drugs. Not like you can refuse them, you are crazy, remember?" I could faintly see him smiling in the dim blue glow I was emitting.
"Fine, get out Frank."
"If you could get out of the Feds hands, would you go?"
"What? Trade one form of slavery for another? Get real at least the Feds 'have' to follow some of the rules. I doubt your Nimbus pal has to."
"True. Though he may want you anyways."
"If he is smart he'd wash his hands of the idea, I don't play well with others." I snorted in the relative darkness.
"I can see that."
"Just go. Play with your chemistry set, hell get creative and find a medicine for Deidrik's that works on me." I paused, "It won't matter for long anyways."
"Why is that?"
"Just go Frank, I have no desire to hurt you, yet. For a sociopathic asshole your are at least slightly honest."
"I'll be back." Hmm he almost sounded hurt at my last barb. I guess he wasn't used to the idea of a lab rat that was on to him. He walked to the door and let himself out as the lights kicked back on.
After a time a nurse hurriedly brought in a tray filled with food and my semi least favorite thing; Sports Nutrition Bars. I didn't chuck the power bars at her though she wilted slightly when I frowned at the power bars. I sighed and put on a calm neutral face.
"You feeling ok?" she asked.
I gave her the once over, jet back hair, styled almost like Fay wore hers in Cowboy Bebop, and a heart shaped face, that was distinctly anime'ish in some regards. Her eyes were partial obscured by the dark tinted square lens of her glasses. I think they were blue, as she didn't seem blind with her mostly white eyes. She was wearing gray surgical whites. I guess gray may be gray or blue. I could tell shopping for clothes in the future was going to be a tag team event.
"More or less, I am bored though."
"I can relate, this room isn't exactly the Ritz."
"I doubt they want to have to replace things all the time too."
"Would you like a book?"
"Sure, as long as it's not a romance novel."
"Oh, not into romance yet?"
"Not really," I almost laughed though it may have been more of anguish than any other emotion. "I don't think I'll get a chance for romance the way things are going."
"Oh, why is that?"
"Well I'm not exactly into older men." I gave her a rueful grin and motioned to the room and building in general. "Then there is the whole touching issue." I reached over to the wall socket and tapped at the grounding screw, eliciting a small spark that briefly illuminated the room like a camera's flash.
"Oh!" she paused. "So do you have a boyfriend?"
"No, not really, my parents were entirely too religious for that." Oh boy, me having a boyfriend; that, would have been a death sentence or something.
"Outside of class, not exactly. I didn't have a social life." ‘Or a life for that matter.’ I absently noted quietly.
"Sounds rough. So you were one of the Talented and Gifted of your school?"
I laughed, "Oh, yes and no. I was good in my classes, I guess, I did have good grades." Even if I did have to adjust them to being good… Poor grades meant a beating, I quickly learned to hack the school records a long time ago.
"Barbara had mentioned that you were in band?"
"She's ok then?" I asked.
"Oh yes, a few cuts and bruises. She's very impressed with you for some reason." Her eyebrow rose up over her glasses at the last bit.
"Good, I wasn't paying too much attention that day."
"I can't say I blame you there. How are you coping?"
"I don't know," I took a few bites of the fake Veal Parmesan. "I haven't exactly had a quiet few days to rest, much less figure out how I feel."
"They were quite upset to find you passed out in your room."
"Yeah, I am not exactly sure why I was out either."
"There was a bit of ruckus with security about the same time you were found too."
"Some sort of hate monger or something. Rumors do travel around here a lot, but then with all the really secret stuff, knowing the folks around here… Well you could say some rumors are more real than others."
I took a few more bites. "I take it the power bars are to make up for the lack of proteins in my meal?"
"Well, more or less. You haven't exactly been on a scheduled diet as of the past few days. Bill pointed that out, rather firmly. You need a lot of fuel and were not getting it." She laughed, "I am not sure I want him mad at me."
"So what has he been doing all this time?"
"Well aside from ranting at the staff, I think he's been taking his frustrations out on the rifle range."
I frowned, he was supposed to be teaching me how to shoot sooner or later. "Well I am glad someone is having fun."
"Well from what I hear the range instructors are trying to hire him."
I smiled, "I’ll bet." I spent a few minutes eating, then I pushed the tray off to the side. "Why is it hospital food, always tastes like hospital food?"
"Because its hospital food?" She giggled, "I think the dieticians leech all flavor out when they design the menu."
"Could be, speaking of diets. Do I have to cut all the candy and sugar out of my diet now?"
"Yes and no. You're metabolism is rather accelerated, so you will be doing a lot of monitoring to figure out what your daily intake of food and foods that generate sugars should be."
I opened a power bar and regarded it sourly. "Great, more pokes and prods."
"It's not that bad now days. You can take blood from a number of places and there are external monitors that go with the pumps now days. So you can get a reading fairly painlessly."
"But I have to spend how many days playing pin cushion in the mean time?"
"More likely a month or two."
"Hey it beats being dead or having your toes or limbs rot off."
"What?" I had that ugly sinking feeling sneak up again.
"If you don't monitor your body and sugars, you run the risk of small wounds becoming infected and rotting away. Gangrene, is not a fun way to loose a limb."
"You are saying that to frighten me?"
"No, it is a real problem, as is blindness with diabetics, though you may skip out on excessive weight gain."
Fuck me. "Just great, it is bad enough I am a fucking freak of nature, and a nut case. I also have deal with being a diabetic as well, if someone would just kill me I would be so much better off."
She frowned. "You don't mean that."
"Tell me what is so great about my current life. I, by a freak bending of genetics, am a social outcast. I can't touch anyone with out gloves unless I want to hurt them. I have people telling me which way to live and then I have others looking to kill me or take me for their own needs. Not to mention all the screwed up things my body is doing to me on top of the funky reactions to medicines and now diabetes. What is so good about my life? Tell me, I really want to know."
"God loves you."
"He sure has a fucked up way of expressing his love then."
"Sorry, I'm a bit off."
~’In more than one way.’~ That was a voice that wasn't one of my own.
*Gee fuck you too,* I thought back to it.
"Anyways, I'll come back to help you to the bath room after a bit."
"Um, pardon my rudeness, I didn't get your name."
"I'm Ann, and you are?"
~’Are you sure?’~
*Does it matter if I am sure or not?*
"I'll be back in a few, need a pain killer?"
"No, not yet anyways."
She left closing the door behind her with an amused glance at the mirrors.
"You are so very rude." I addressed the mirror.
~*Shrug.*~ There was a longish pause. ~'You give me headaches.'~
*It's not exactly like I invited you to drop into my head you know. Does this mean I am a telepath?*
~'A psycho-path perhaps, a telepath no'.~
*Funny. Hah hah, so how are we 'talking' then?*
~'I'm doing a lot of the work. You do seem to have some sort of esper thing going on. If it's any consolation, you are very difficult to lock -into- to. Painfully hard.'~
One thing about telepathic communication you can eat and talk at the same time, power bars. Ugh.
*So not that you're exactly invited, did you learn anything new?*
~'Not exactly, I was thinking it would be so much 'noisier' in your head than it is, currently.'~
*Maybe the medication is working, or not. Drugs never seem to work correctly for any length of time.* I laughed aloud, *One thing my parents never had to worry about was me and drugs. Grass totally failed to do anything, and LSD is only good for minor headaches.*
~'You're kidding me.'~
~'Hell if I can tell. 'groan' I have to get out now. You really can give a guy a headache you know that?'~
"Well e-x-c-u-s-e me," I waved at the window. "Next time just try talking to me instead of playing psychic Peeping Tom."
A few seconds later I heard what sounded like a door slam shut from the direction of the mirror and some cursing. Oh well, he'll get over it.
Power bars, empty hospital room, b - o - r - i - n - g.
For a time I drifted in and out a semi-awake state, earlier the nurse had helped me to and from the bathroom and had reconnected all the fun wires. So I didn't expect much in the way of further visitors. Part of me was royally pissed that Bill had not shown up, I had come to the realization that Bill had been right. Coming here had been a mistake.
I felt a slight vibration in the vicinity of my butt, then the world tilted and slid sideways; I was abruptly back in the Net. "Well crapola," I announced to the blue world of C-space. For a long moment I invented new forms of verbal abuse that I would use the next time I saw 'Frank'. Then I sighed and looked about the net, I suppose the drug did have a slight benefit while I was Cyber Space, things did seem a lot clearer, if not overly intense.
I spent some time drifting through the local networks in the building, trying to sort out who, what and where. Largely, networks are boring, even if they connect various small systems to a server. Sure, they may have some interesting files on them, but unless you were in to porn, most were rather dull.
Once I hit my boredom threshold I dropped into the servers proper. One thing I had noted, depending on if the system administrators had any style, things in a server tended to be very chaotic. Or very orderly, the Langley servers seemed to spill between the two extremes.
I took a few seconds to find the local search commands and then told the system to find all references of Bill and John. Ignoring some thousands of entries involving invoices and the current roster of CIA personnel, I eventually found them. John was listed as John Mathews, deceased, giving the where and withal of his death.
For a time, I blanked out and just cried in the peace of Cyber Space. It seemed so unfair and unjust that he was gone. Bad enough I could not be with or near my sister, what little family I had adopted seemed to be falling away too. I studied his image then looked for Bill. Bill Smith, very original there, checked in to the infirmary, checked out, removed from access, all security privileges suspended as of a few hours ago, peachy…
~‘#Interrogative, self-aware defensive unit removed from service?#’~
"I guess so." I turned to see the AI version of myself, it was still so very incomplete. The fact that it recognized that we were ever so unguarded was disturbing in its own right.
"Yes we are in danger," I shook my head, here I was conferring with an AI infection as if it was an ally. "We, you me and the others are in deep shit and sinking fast."
~‘#Fecal material? Sinking? No perceived loss of Z-Axis.#’~
“You definitely have a long way to go before you are alive, if you did not catch the references.”
“Precisely.” I looked around the Net, then on an impulse I went looking for Tammy. If anything she might have an idea of what to do next. I still had a good idea where NEXTs main system was, and if Tammy was there or not I might have a way to find her.
I suited thought to action and soon I was before the Firewall leading into NEXT. I gave it the once over and had to smile, the home team had decided to go all out on improving the Firewall. Though I will say they did seem to have a bit of humor about it, as it had a sign attached that said “Violators will be Trespassed.”
Every now and again a small tendril would slip out of the Firewall. Then it would wave about as if trying to smell something, then it disappeared back into the ‘wall. For a time I watched the tendril pop in and out, I was tempted to just grab the tendril and give it a firm jerk. Though I was fairly sure ‘that’ would be a bad idea.
I felt rather naked not having my usual library of hacking tools handy. If I ever got ‘free’ I was going to make sure I cached my files someplace on the net. Still time sits still for no one, though in my case, time was relative, just ask Einstein.
I sat in mid ‘air’ and created a file system, then I spent what felt like a few hours recreation my ‘tools’. Part of me was thinking that I could simply think things into existence, and if the file system was any indication it was true. Yet, part of me did revel in the joy of writing code, or perhaps I am just anal about wanting every stinking detail nailed down.
“Still with me?”
I sighed, lovely. “These people are our allies, if you get free and interfere with them I will make sure you never do anything again. Understand?”
“That was not the question.”
~‘#I will comply.#’~
I gave the Firewall another glance then reached out and punched my spike into it. “/bypassSecurityProtocall.” I gave the command and waited a few moments as spike shifted in brightness and pulsed for a time. Then Firewall slowed and finally faded from view.
“So glad you approve.” I went into the system noting the flurry of activity that suddenly sprang into being.
“It doesn’t matter,” I silenced the various alarms and sent a few random queries into the system to give the various system administrators something to boggle over. “/findFreind Tammy,” I gave command to see if she was online. After a time it became evident that she was not active in the system.
I did locate her system, and poked the network it was attached to bring it alive. Absently I noted that the Wake on LAN feature for network cards was not that good of an idea, security wise. Something more to keep in the back of my head for later incursions.
I dug through her system and noted a few phone numbers and a fax header that had her cell phone listed on it. Knowing NEXT, in general and their love of computer gadgets it likely had an email option. I co-opted her email client and quickly created my own account.
To : Tammy@99955551216
Why was Bill kicked out of Langley?
Who is looking out for me now?
What next? (No pun.)
I wasn’t sure how much text her phone could handle so I went for short and to the point. I amused myself in the long wait for her reply by digging through the system and retrieving my files, namely the Door Breaker files.
After what felt like a small age had passed an email popped up in ‘my’ inbox.
Bill kicked/locked out, found you were gassed by
Human’s First member. CIA security breached,
2nd time. Bill not happy, went off on people.
Willard unable to secure your release. Our hands tied currently. Are you ok? Ideas?
To : Tammy@99955551216
In deep shit. Someone using me for guinea pig.
Some sort of Power Boosting drug, bad side effects.
Possibly being moved to ARC, whatever that is.
I am not sure if drugs making insane or Diedrick’s.
I am in bad shape either way. I gave Door Breaker to a good hacker, A. Hartford and Vatican.
Screw the Feds. I don’t see any easy way out.
Another long wait then:
I know ARC, will work to get something established there. ARC is rival Corp. Can do Biz.
Told Willard, he is talking now with CEO ARC. No Poaching! J Not sure about medicines or drugs.
Will make sure ARC gets a copy of your medical records just in case. Willard very PO’ed with Feds.
Bill worried for you.
To : Tammy@99955551216
Damn, not going to be slave to Feds.
Not sure I like idea of ARC interfering.
No ones puppet. L
Don’t do anything rash.
We’ll figure out something on our end.
I need to make calls, contact you when can.
Is this email addy secure & will you get mail?
T.To : Tammy@99955551216
Me do anything rash? J Good idea.
Email secure, access to it?
I spent some time writing some notes for the system maniacs about what I felt needed improvement on the Firewall. With a small note of consolation to those who expected it to keep me out. Hey, I was bored, being stuck in a hospital room with no company will do that to you. Even though I did have access to the Net, I did not want to advertise it to the world.
That completed I slipped out of NEXT’s servers and made my way back to WHAT069, and into the Whateley server. I was fairly amused to see the Firewall I sent Ms. Hartford up and in place, though there were a few subtle changes. I suppose if I were her I would have toyed with it too.
Time really doesn’t have much meaning for me in the Net, I am either accelerated so far beyond the processes of the system or I hang out at the same speed everything else is ‘traveling’ at. Which is measured in microseconds or nanoseconds. Somehow I don’t think I am even close to the speed of light, which may be its own blessing considering all the weird stuff that is supposed to happen at that end of the spectrum.
If there is one thing in my life I truly hate is being bored, I suppose it comes from being mostly ‘locked’ in my room all the time. So I took some time to go over the Whateley systems. In some ways I was pleased at the set up, though it seemed badly in need of being patched in some areas.
~‘#Damage similar to PALM AI attacks.#’~
“Really, why would PALM AI be attacking a school?”
~‘#Amelia Hartford, enemy of Dr. Able Palm, previously the only threat to PALM AI.#’~
“And now there is another threat?”
~‘#You, and possibly now me. Code base is now too dissimilar to PALM AI, corrupted copies must be neutralized.#’~
“So where does that leave you? If your code is corrupted surely you have eliminate yourself?”
~‘#Self neutralization is against operating parameters.#’~
Well damn for a brief moment I had a faint hope it would just go away. “Do you understand the concept of; the enemy of my enemy is my ally?”
“If I were you I would give it some serious thought.”
~‘#Computing, insufficient information.#’~
“Ok, take a while and gather information then.”
“Talk to yourself often?” Came a voice from behind me.
I turned to see Blue looking everywhere but at me, “Hi Blue, how goes?”
“Not bad, forget your clothes?” he sounded both amused and embarrassed.
I looked at myself, oh yeah, I was naked. I suppose it is possible to blush in cyberspace, I surely felt ‘warm’ anyways. With a hurried thought I dressed myself in a blue bodysuit, as an after thought I added a few circuit patterns. “Sorry I was not expecting to run into anyone.”
“I suppose not. So what brings you back into the Net?”
“A series of unfortunate events.” Oh well the book title did fit the occasion.
He laughed, “That was a funny film.” He shook his head, “I can’t believe you used to be a guy, you sure don’t look anything like one now.”
“I am flattered I think, it doesn’t bother you?”
“I have run into weirder things at school,” he gave a slight shrug then he grinned. “I thought you were not going to show up again from the way you were talking last time.”
I pulled up a bit of ‘air’ and sat in a Zen lotus, “Well I am still as screwed, if not more so.” I took a few minutes to discuss my encounter with Frank and the conversation he had with Nimbus.
“You are in a pretty ugly mess then,” he sounded fairly concerned.
“Yeah, up a data stream without a router.”
He chuckled, “Oddly enough that does seem to fit our world. So what are you going to do?”
“Try to stay alive for a time,” I sighed, “I am not sure what I can do. I am trapped, essentially in a hospital room in Langley. If I thought this Nimbus guy could be trusted…” I trailed off.
“I wouldn’t trust anyone that used people our age for illegal drug testing,” from the sudden flare of his ‘circuits’ I could see he was more than a bit angry.
“Yeah, that sort of was my take on it too. Currently I am juiced to the gills on that damned drug, if it doesn’t eventually kill me.”
“Kill you?” now he was really angry. “We have to get you out of there.”
“Yeah, kill me. The drug screws with adrenalin and other things, eating up your bodies sugars, at the very least it looks like I am going to be stuck with diabetes. At the worst, well… you get the idea.”
I took a minute to recreate the Langley grounds and the building I was in. “The last people that just wandered in and tried anything got seriously dead.” For a moment tears flooded my eyes.
“I lost a good friend in that attack and now I am isolated from my other friends.” I looked at him for a moment, “Do yourself a serious favor and never let on to anyone with authority what you can do. Otherwise you will end up in a room next to me.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, so what is next for you?”
“Near as I can tell they are going to move me to ARC, from what I can tell its not too far from Dunwich.”
“Or Whateley for that matter.” he smiled though he seemed half lost in thought.
“If only I had been a teleporter or something useful.” I half gripped.
“You don’t regard this as useful?” he indicated the Net around us.
“Well, yes and no. Sure it makes acquiring money very simple and learning stuff that is supposed to be secret. It’s just not very practical in getting away from my current situation.”
“True, you may as well be in Fort Knox. I wish there was a way to help you. But shutting down Langley isn’t the same as shutting down a Kidde Porn site.”
“You shut down Kidde Porn sites?”
He looked both angry and amused at the same time, “Yeah, I have my reasons. I make sure the money they ‘collected’ goes to help the victims too.”
I smiled, “That sounds very noble, are you making a serious dent in their efforts?”
“Some, you know how it is, people are sick and well they will do anything to feed their sickness.”
“Yeah, I haven’t thought much beyond what to do once I eliminate Dr. Palm.”
“Well there is a whole world of problems out there to address, who knows you might find another worthy task.”
“If I live that long.”
He frowned and looked down, “You sound like you are expecting to die.”
I sighed then looked at him, “I wish I could see a happy ending in my future Blue, I really do. So far the only thing that is certain is a life of involuntary servitude. That is if I survive the lab rat routine.”
“Slavery is illegal,” he said that flatly.
“Yeah, so I am sure it will be called something like: Ensuring the Public Good.” I snorted, “Or some such crap.”
“You could just dump the information out there for everyone to see it,” he offered.
“Do we want a few billion people panicking? Not to mention every government either wanting me or wanting me dead. If only to ensure their own nations security?”
“Oh. I see what you mean, still it doesn’t seem right that they can get away with what they are doing to you.”
“Yeah, a friend suggested that I give them a bit of trouble for making my life miserable.” I gave him a wicked smile.
“What do you have in mind?” his smile echoed my own.
“Well I had considered having all their secrets turn op on a VDT at the Times, but that might be a bit over board.”
“Not to mention echoing a scene out of Tron,” he laughed. “Though I am not sure people would find it funny.”
“So I think I will merely suspend all of their communications with the outside world for a few hours.”
He gave me an odd look, “You can do that?”
“Its not that hard, I just have to tell a few dozen routers and phone networks and a satellite or two to ignore everything from them…”
He was shaking his head, “What?” I asked.
“You make it sound so easy,” he sounded a trifle disbelieving.
“Well its just computers telling other computers what to do. Surely you can do the same thing?”
“Honestly I have never tried that or thought about doing it for that matter.” He shook his head, “Sounds like a good way to get traced and burned.”
“Can you find my point of origin on the net on the net?” I looked at him with a grin.
“Hmm,” he lifted a closed fist up then he opened it revealing a small flashing orb. “Bit, trace this route.” He then held the flashing orb out to touch me.
For a second it felt like several fingers were dancing on my arm where the Bit touched me. Then it rose and circled around me a few times. For several moments it zinged this way then that way; then it seemed to shiver in frustration.
“No route to host, please verify connection,” it finally announced then winked out of existence.
“Well I will be damned,” he blinked a few times. “How?”
I shrugged, “I just do it, if it’s any consolation my friends at NEXT don’t have a clue either.”
“NEXT? Aren’t they as bad as the Feds? I mean it would be one thing if you were working for the ‘Evil Empire’ and pushing Windows.”
“Well they have done all right by me.” Jeeze what was his problem.
“Still, it’s a corporation,” he sounded both appalled and disgusted.
“What? You think you are going to sit in some garage someplace and take on the corporate sector with open source and a limited budget?”
“It can be done,” he countered.
“Oh, like Napster? They ended up a corporation in their own right. For people like you and me, we need people to cover our backsides and look out for us.”
“Like NEXT is doing for you now?”
“Well before we had to share information with the Feds, things were more or less working out.” I made a few adjustments to some code I was working on. “If the Feds has stuck to the original arrangement and had not cut NEXT out of the loop I would have likely been able to walk away at anytime.”
“Still, it doesn’t sound like anyone I would care to work for.”
“Don’t worry I am not going to tell folks that you exist, you don’t need to end up like me. You will just have to make your own choices on who to work with and who to trust.”
“Surely you are not working with them for money alone?”
“Hardly, ‘we’ can manipulate ones and zeros in any bank account we choose, if we want to. Correct?”
He nodded thoughtfully, “So why?”
“Because they care about me. When you are all alone, its so very nice to know you have people who give a damn about what happens to you.”
“It has its moments, ready for the fireworks show?”
“Sure, I guess.”
I gave him a smile then pulled up a ‘window’ to show the various routers and other connections. With an evil sounding chuckle I tapped the various nodes. As I tapped each node the lines connecting them to Langley faded out. “So much for their net connection, well mostly.” I pointed to one strand of the net. “This is tied into the medical section, can’t shut that down as folks may need it to stay alive.”
“Ah, for a moment I was thinking you had gone to the dark side.”
I laughed then intoned, “Give in to the dark side and take your place at my side.” I changed the view, “This is PAC Bell, the Watts lines and all things telephone.” I looked over to him where he was twitching slightly, “Have a phone bill problem you need fixed?”
He snorted, “Hardly.” He waved a hand to the ‘view’, “You make it seem so easy.”
I flexed and wiggled my hands at him, “It’s all in the wrist.” As his face contorted a few times I had to giggle. “Hey I like Tron too. I just am not bound by it.” I tapped a few points of light watching other lines fade. “So sorry these lines are no longer in service, please contact your regional service agent.”
“Bound by it?” he sounded puzzled.
I pointed to his virtual appearance and the current perspective of the Net. “All of this that you see, is a perception you force on your surroundings. It obeys the rules of your ‘perception’ or will. You know the movies of The Matrix?”
He nodded, “Yes, so what? I am making my own simulation every time I log on?”
“Exactly, and you bind yourself to those rules, and that environment.” I made a few changes and a view similar to NORAD from the movie War Games popped into place. I spent a few minutes watching data go back and forth. “Hmm, I will have to leave a few satellites functioning. Apparently the CIA is conduction a live counter terrorism operation. I don’t like terrorists.”
“Yeah, Nine-Eleven made me a bit angry myself,” he smacked a fist into the palm of his hand.
“Did you do anything about it?” I asked as he fumed for a few minutes.
“I didn’t have everything working right at the time.” he sounded bitter about it.
“Well there is no time like the present or are you just going to raid the Kidde Porn sites forever?”
“That’s personal,” his voice was flat.
“Ah, sorry.” I reached out to squeeze his shoulder, but he shrugged it off. With my other hand I shut down the unimportant satellites.
“Old news,” his voice was definitely angry though he seemed to shake it off. “So how long are you going to leave them disconnected?”
I debated on letting them stew forever, though with time and a lot of work they could get everything back up in a few weeks. “I think I will set everything to wake up in twelve hours. With luck they should not crash the buffers I set up for email and what not before then.”
“Why did you set up buffers?” he seemed impressed and confused at the same time.
“Well I just wanted to jerk their chain not shut them down for good. Besides, if email is going out to them, and not bounced back to the sender, it will only make them that much more nuts.”
He laughed, “Yeah that would make a System Administrator go crazy.” He took a step closer and gave me an easy hug.
“What was that for?”
“I was being an ass earlier, besides you’d probably hit me if I kissed you.”
I gave him a hug back, “It’s ok, but I don’t think you should get too attached to me.” I stepped back and took a look at him, “You just need to spend more time out in the real world. I used spend too much time buried in my computer too. Go get a life.” I poked him in the chest.
He looked around, “Not many girls like you on the Net.”
I laughed, “True, but then there are not any guys like you here either. So you are gonna have to get out and discover where the other girls are.”
“Other girls, just not you,” he sounded a bit grumpy.
“Look Blue, I am flattered, but up a few weeks ago I was a guy. I have yet figure out if I like boys, or girls for that matter.” I sighed when he frowned in confusion. “Lets say you were in suddenly in my shoes, would you suddenly start chasing boys? Or start thinking of sex with them?”
He grimaced, “No, I guess not. Though you don’t seem to act like a boy, or react like one.”
I smiled, “Trust me its largely all an act, half the time I utterly hate what has happened to my body.”
“And the other half?” he prompted.
“The other half is nice, in some ways.” I grinned, “I can get away with a lot more sh-stuff, simply by being ‘cute’.”
“So my ‘liking’ you, is bad?”
Jeeze how do I answer that? “Blue it’s not a matter of liking or not liking you. I just can’t see myself doing the whole dating thing any time soon, then there is a world of other problems.”
For a moment I considered going for a total shock effect and just showing him how screwy my body was down there. But that idea made me sick as well. Instead I pulled a few clinical black and white drawings up off the web. “I am a hermaphrodite Blue, I have both sets of genitals.”
He took a half step backwards for a moment he looked sick, which made my stomach spasm. “I, uh.”
“Its what I am Blue, the true me. Look, in the net you are what you think you are. Your will determines your appearance. I seem female, because I largely ‘feel’ female or at least I am trying to be female.” I sighed and looked back at my displays, “Would you preferred I lied?”
For a long moment there was silence, then there was a different voice. “He um, needed to go think a bit.”
I turned to see a construct that seemed a bit like Blue in his place. “Oh, great.” My shoulders sank and that spasm was back in my stomach. “He can’t handle the truth?”
“Well he has been thinking about you a lot. Not to mention you didn’t exactly hit him with it gently,” it offered in Blue’s defense.
I made a few corrections to the effects of my ‘shut down’ efforts. “What, was I supposed to make sure he was completely enwrapped around my finger before clobbering him with it?” I turned to look ‘him’, “Would that have been fair to either one of us?”
“No, probably not.” He smiled, “So you do like him?”
“Ah, some, I guess.” I sighed, “Like I said I am still trying to sort out this whole mess of who I am, and other things.” I took a seat in mid-air, “So do I call you Blue too?”
“No, though we are a lot alike,” he have a half bow. “I am Clu, his alternate digital self.”
“Like the movie again.”
“Well we all have our habits and ways of seeing things,” he motioned to the various walls and they shifted colors slightly. “I am bound, I guess as you put it, by his rules.”
“So are you alive then?”
“Alive, yeah I suppose. Blue and I started off as simply as a symbiotic partnership. Though after a time we shared something and then I was more than just collection of programs and algorithms.”
“To quote Mr. Spock, ‘Fascinating’. So you feel what he feels?”
“When we are together yes.” He frowned, “In some ways you have been a real pain.”
“Yes, he’s been very distracted ever since you gave him that data. Obsessed even, though that is a bit relative if you ask me.”
I blinked, “I tried to tell him…”
Clu held up a hand, “I know, he spends too much time here in the net. He feels safer here, no one can hurt him here. Well not physically anyway.”
“Ah great, so he’s off in the real world sulking because I was honest?”
“Probably.” He shrugged, “Though if it is any consolation he will probably be back, if only to talk with you.”
“Ah,” for a moment the odd feeling in my stomach faded some. “So I didn’t entirely scare him off?”
“Is that what you wanted?”
“I... I just wanted him to ease up some. He’s too intense, and I don’t want him to get too close, so when I die he’d not be as hurt by it.”
“Planning on dying?” It sounded a bit puzzled, “Surely things are not that bad?”
I looked at him for a moment, “Lets say for example, Blue gets discovered for what he can do, and then lets say he refuses to play ball. What do you think the eventual outcome would be?”
“Imprisonment, coercion, injury, and possibly death.” It said slowly looking at me with a sad frown. “So you are really in that much trouble?”
I pointed to the displays, “Is this the act of someone who is not desperate?”
“I don’t know, it almost seems like you are daring them to destroy you.”
“I just want my freedom, sooner or later I will have to make a break for it. In some ways this is a test run. The only thing I have not shut off at Langley is the power. Though I could cut that off, I do need the some of the net up and intact there, to be here.”
“So you do have a limitation of sorts.”
“Well, yeah. Though the powers drug that is being tested on me does make things easier.”
“If it doesn’t kill you. I have been looking at the medical sites on Diabetes. You could easily end up in a coma from what it says.”
“Yeah, so I have to force them to do something, if only to get away from the person who keeps drugging me.”
“Maybe if you just told them.”
I just looked at him. “They think I am nuts, and well I may be slightly.”
“So even if you do tell them, nothing will happen.”
“You got it.”
“You are so screwed.”
I laughed, “Yeah, I guess I am. So any ideas on how to escape an overly secure facility?”
“Not yet, though I am sure I can come up with a few ideas. Given time.”
“Well if they move me to ARC, it may be easier to get out. Though it depends one my access to the net.”
“I’ll see what I can do, Blue and I are not exactly without resources, even if he is a bit confused at the moment.”
“Look, I am sorry about that.”
It smiled, “Don’t worry about it, if he thinks about it with his head and not his heart; he’ll eventually understand that you are trying to protect him.”
I nodded then for a moment time seemed to shift and slow. “Looks like the drug is doing its thing again.”
“Get more sugars in you, maybe it will stave off the effects some. If you are…”
Wednesday, October 25 (Morning)
A pressure on my eyelids then a bright light first in one eye then another, “Damned gloves, pupils are responsive.” The pressure holding my eyelids open released. “Merry, can you hear me?”
~’Merry wake up.’~
‘???’ I tired to move, but my arms were stuck. “Wha…”
“Merry open your eyes, wake up.” It sounded like Paul, I think.
I just wanted to sleep, everything was sore, and my tongue felt like I had bitten it. I opened one eye, everything was fuzzy so I closed it, “Jus’ let me sleep.”
“Merry you have to wake up.” I opened the other eye, yeah it was Paul.
“Why, so you can drug me up again? Besides why should I?” I asked with a petulant tone.
“You had a diabetic seizure, they need to run some more tests and they can’t exactly do that while you sleep.”
“They can find another lab rat.” I tried to turn over and found I was unable to. I bent my neck up to look down at my arms and opened both eyes, I was strapped to the bed, “Ok whose fucked up idea is this?”
“That would be me.” Great, Frank was present. “You went into convulsions, if the nurse had not came in when she did you would have died from blood loss.”
“What a pity. So how did I manage that?” I was curious, as it would present a way out.
~’You don’t mean that.’~
~’You are an obstinate brat.’~
“You had kn…,” Frank paused. “I don’t think I should tell you, you are likely to use that information in a harmful way.” He looked down on me with a faint smile, “Lets just say you thrashed about a bit and leave it at that.”
“So am I going to be stuck tied down? Like your girls tied down Paul?” I thought it was his computer that had the bondage porn on it.
“Merry!” Paul seemed a bit shocked.
“You really should not be looking at bondages sites on government systems Paul. People will talk.” I gave him a glare as he looked a round the room hurriedly, “So when were you going to tell me that you stripped me of my friends?”
“Stripped you of your friends?”
“Don’t try and play me Paul, I know you had Bill removed from the Campus. I also know you had a system in place to gas me unconscious, too bad you don’t know how to choose reliable security people.”
“That system was to protect you.”
“Try another lie Paul. You can’t even be sure your doctors are on the up and up. I wasn’t diabetic until you bastards gassed me.” I gave Frank a hard look, then I looked at Paul, “Didn’t you find it a bit odd? I took an overload of voltage, got up and managed to kill your intruders, and then didn’t have any real problems until I was gassed.”
~’You were not exactly yourself then.’~
*How the fuck would you know what I was then. When was the last time your one of your friends were killed in front of you?*
“You were not exactly sane then.” Commented Paul.
“Oh so it’s a matter of sanity. Well if you sorry fucks would quit injecting me with crap that doesn’t work, I would not have half the fucking problems I am having now!”
“There is no need for such language Merry.”
I spat at Frank, “You’re the worst of the lot, hiding your illegal tests with your buddy Nimbus, under the premise that the Insulin pump is only an insulin pump. But we know better than that. Don’t we Frank.”
“What is she talking about Doctor?”
“I am not sure, I would hazard a guess that she’s heard something and confused it with another. It happens from time to time with seizures.” He frowned, “Though it could also be a paranoid delusion on her part.”
“I am not delusional, when people are trying to kill you and drug you, you are not delusional!”
“Easy Merry, people are not trying to kill you.” Paul was watching the lights flicker on and off.
“Get Bill back here and I might believe you.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“I have my instructions.”
“So you are going to just let them fuck me over too? Some liaison you are, I thought you people had to play by the rules.”
He winced, “Its not my choice.”
“Everyone has a fucking choice, other than me it seems. Well I am making my choice now. Either you fuckers release me, or I will shut down your entire fucking agency.”
“Shut it down more than it is?” He asked with a grimace.
“Oh, so sorry are you having connectivity problems?”
“You did something?”
“Well if you bastards had been working with me rather than against me, I would have left good enough alone.” I looked at Frank, “I guess you have another fun phone call to make. Its such a shame I can’t trust you either.”
Paul looked over his shoulder at Frank, “What is she talking about?”
“Honestly I have no idea.” Though I could tell he was thinking hard about something.
“So Merry, what do you want?”
“I want out, I want my damned clothes and I want my friends here to make sure you sorry shits don’t pull any more crap.”
“Not happening. Any other things?”
“How about I feed the coordinates of your house into an nuke?” I frowned, “It shouldn’t be much harder than rerouting all the routers that feed this place.
*Maybe but I can do it. At least I think I can, which is the whole point of this isn’t it?*
“You wouldn’t.” Paul was looking a bit green.
“No, probably not. Too messy and innocents would get hurt.”
“Is that why the medical side of the network is still up?”
“What, did you think I was a monster?” I waited a few moments for him to reply, but he didn’t. “Jeeze, thanks for the vote of no-confidence. I did leave your communications to the anti-terrorist group open.” I felt around for the bed controls and angled the bed up somewhat, wonderful I could feel it pull on my head, more damned wires. “Thank you ever so much.” Yes the sarcasm was in full effect. “What? Did you really think I was just going to sit here and let you morons ruin my life without doing something?”
“Hmm, and what about Dr. Palm and the HAITs?” He found a chair and pulled it closer.
“Find them own your damned self. You made your bed now lie in it.” I said with some exasperation.
“We had a deal.”
“Had, is the operative term, you failed to keep your end of it up.”
He looked over to the mirrored window, “Is she sane?”
A voice over the intercom replied, “I can’t tell, the only thing for certain is that she is very angry and upset.”
*Upset, we’ll give you upset. Surely you are in the database?*
~’I’m trying to help you’~
*Then get me out of here you sorry sack of shit*
~’Evolution rocks, kid, just don’t get caught under a boulder.’~
The intercom crackled on, “She just threatened me using the plural we, rather than I. I don’t know, I think she’s buggers.”
“Fuck you, you god damned Peeping Tom. We’ll erase you!”
“Who is we? Merry” asked Frank.
“I am not Merry you stupid son of a bitch.”
“The who are you?”
“I’m C-k,” I paused, “Oh no, I am so not playing that game.”
“I don’t think she knows who she really is, at moments I get flashes where she seems male, then almost alien.”
“Ah the coward behind the mirror.” I felt into the network and ‘looked’ at a few files. “There are only three registered psychic types with any sort of security clearance. Paul is here, and you don’t sound female, so that would make you.” I paused for a moment, “One Richard Evans. Born December tenth, Nineteen-seventy-three.”
There was the muffled sound of applause from the direction of the mirror. ~’Very nice, what do you do for an encore?’~
*If you didn’t have 2.5 children, I would delete your bank account.*
~’Crap, don’t do that.’~
“Merry, be nice to Mr. Evans, his wife is due in a few months, and it would take us that long to sort out what ever you did to his records.” Paul was looking like I had developed horns.
“Gee Paul, concern for useful freaks only?”
He looked affronted, “Merry I know you don’t mean that.”
“Oh. So sorry Paul, I forgot you were a freak too. Though you seem to have forgot that your are as much a freak as I am.”
“I am not a freak,” he stated flatly.
“Keep telling yourself that Paul, when all of your colleagues never seem to willingly sit with you at lunch. Or they neglect to invite you to dinner.” He actually cringed, “Ah so you have noticed that already?”
“People naturally fear what they don’t understand.”
“So are you afraid of me Paul?”
“Anyone with half a brain would be afraid of what you can do.” he half barked out amongst forced laughter.
“Then why are people so determined to piss me off and screw with me Paul?”
“They are not trying to screw with you, they are trying to help you.”
*Hey Evans, what do you see when you look in Frank’s head?*
~’Nothing, I can’t read him at all.’~
*And that doesn’t make you wonder if he is legit?*
~’Well his credentials say he is who he is.’~
*Idiot, I can make your credentials make you seem to be a rocket scientist. Credentials are crap, would you really trust Frank to give you medicines?*
Paul turned and looked at Frank then looked to the mirror, “She is obviously paranoid. You may as well go get something to eat.”
“Paul, Paul, Paul. For a moment I has such hopes for you. I hope you have some spare cash to tide you over for the next few months.” I closed my eyes and started to rework his employment and pay status. He was going to be so broke in a few moments.
When I ‘came back’ my face was burning slightly as if I had been slapped and Frank and some other gentleman was help Paul into a chair, while some one else was waving something under his nose. “Ah struck a nerve did I? Just think Paul, it could be you where I am, then who will you be loyal to?”
A different man in a white coat came in, “I think it would be best if you all left, her vitals are doing a jig. Not to mention people upstairs want a word with you all.” He regarded me with a frown, “Her medicines evidently are definitely not working correctly. I have another drug to try. If that fails we may have to ship her off to a more specialized facility.”
“Thank god.” said Paul, evidently I was not on Paul’s all time good pals list.
“Enjoy your all time new level of poverty Paul, maybe once you wake up and smell the shit you have been eating you will find a better job.”
~’Are you really going to do that to him? I mean he is a mutant too.’~
*Already done. Mr. Evans, he is only concerned with making his way up the spook ladder. Would you want him controlling your life?*
~’Still he is one of us.’~
*Is he? Are you so sure? If he’s so much like us or you, then why is he working to fuck me over?*
~’I don’t know. Perhaps someone has some leverage on him, still I will see what I can do. Even if you are nuts, you do need help.’~
*Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.*
~’It’s just Deidrik’s kid, it can be controlled.’~
~’Back at ya. I have got to get Paul out of here before he does something stupider.’~
For a moment I almost regretted making life rough for Paul. Though after feeling the fresh cut on the inside of my cheek with my tongue, I quickly banished that thought. I watched everyone leave, though Frank seemed very happy about things. Ah well, I will just have to spend some time rearranging his accounts into a new obscure one for me. No bad deed should go unpunished after all.
“Ah Chaddy, I am not mean, we are just in a very bad situation, which means I have to play rough.”
“I beg your pardon miss?” I looked back to the door, where the other doctor was looking back, “Sorry, just talking with myself.”
“You mean to yourself,” he corrected me with a hint of a smile.
“Yeah, I guess, can we lose the straps and such? I do need to visit the little monsters room.” For some reason the quote from Monsters Inc. fit my mood.
He actually chuckled, “Give me a few minutes to chase the children away and I will see about getting you breakfast too.”
“Ok.” So, with in minutes I was alone again. A few minutes passed, then a few more. I let out a sigh and looked at the straps, leather with Velcro and buckles. If I was Houdini I might stand a chance of getting free, as it was, I was distinctly uncomfortable.
Ten minutes later and I had not quite calculated the square root of Pi when Ann the nurse from the previous night wandered in.
“You sure have people agitated today,” she commented as she started to undo the straps.
“Not my idea, they wanted to play games, I wasn’t in the mood.” Once one of my hands was freed I started to undo the other arm.
“Careful, you don’t want to tear the IV loose from the pole again,” she cautioned.
“Ah.” I spared a glance to the bag and line, lots of extra tape. “Looks like someone went tape happy.”
She laughed, “That was me. I think if you seize again, it should not come crashing down. That was a mess.”
“I really need to use the bathroom.” I pointed out with some urgency.
“OK, let me drop the rail and disconnect a few wires, do you think you can manage the IV stand or do you want help?”
“I can manage.”
“Ok, just be careful, I have your breakfast outside once you are done.” She moved the last belt out of the way and lowered the rail.
I sat up and for a moment I was slightly woozy, though a few deep breaths cleared my head.
“You seems a bit pale, I think we will postpone the trip to the bath room, let me get you a bed pan.” She seemed a bit alarmed, so I sat back.
“Yeah I guess so. I don’t know why I am so messed up.” I sighed leaning back into the bed.
“Let me fetch the bed pan, and I’ll check your blood sugar once you get done.” She pointed at the bed, “Don’t move.”
She stepped into the bathroom and returned with a bedpan and a long strand of toilet paper, “Just slide this under you. Don’t worry if you make a mess, it happens.” She stepped back and pulled the curtain shut around the bed, giving me the illusion of privacy.
After a moment I heard the door open and close, then I was able to put the bedpan in position and relax. As a general note to myself I decided that I hated bedpans, I also noted that they are very inconvenient to use as well. I did count myself lucky that I didn’t spill it as well; though the whole process was a bit mortifying.
I guess self-dignity was not major feature for hospitals.
‘Ever so kind of you to return.’
~:‘Yeah, checking things, Frank for example, all his records turn to dust after a few years.’:~
“Big surprise there.” I grunted aloud.
“Are you done Merry?” Boy she is sneaky, I did not hear her come in.
“Uh, yeah.” I rearranged the hospital gown so that it mostly covered me. With a grace of many years practice she pushed the curtains back out of the way.
She laid a few items on the bed, some sort of pen thing and what looked like a digital meter. “Let me clear this mess away, they want to know what your output is.”
“Ugh.” My mind was filling in the blanks as to what the output was.
“It’s not that bad Merry”, she called out from the bathroom, “vomit is so much harder to deal with.”
“Oh,” I pulled the meter where I could look at it. Accu-Check™, some one had put a computer strip that had my name and other information on it. “So, what does this do-hicky do?” I called out over the sound of a flushing toilet.
After a few seconds of odd sounds from the bathroom I decided to wait a moment for her to return then I repeated the question.
“That is a blood sugar monitor,” she picked it up and took a small strip of some sort and put it in a slot at the side of the unit. “This is the test strip, it uses a capillary action,” she paused to see if I was following her, so I nodded. “To pull a drop of blood up to a sensor, the sensor tells what your blood sugar level is on the monitor.”
“So where do you get the blood?”
“Oh anyplace, though most people try to avoid doing it too many times in one area.” She picked up the pen and pulled out a gray piece plastic with a round end on it. “This twists off,” she pointed to the round bit, ”then you place it back in the pen.” She pulled on the pen and it made a click. “Next you pick a finger and clean it with a swab.”
She handed me an alcohol swab and pointed to my hands, so I cleaned my left pinky.
“You might want a finger with a bit more meat on it,” she suggested with an amused tone.
“Ah.” I shrugged and cleaned my left thumb. “Ok now what?”
She handed me the pen, “Ok, now put the open end on the clean spot and press the red button on top with your other thumb, like a ballpoint pen.”
I looked in the hole, I could see a hint of a point there. “OK, it’s not that big of a needle is it?”
“No, it will barely poke through the top layers of skin.”
“Ah, ok, “I had my doubts but I put the open end on my left thumb and pushed the button. Click… “Ow.” I moved the pen away with a jerk, and watched as a whitish bubble of blood welled up.
“That wasn’t so bad?” she held the test strip to the bubble of blood and it moved up the strip. She then handed me a small gauze pad. “Just press that tight with your thumb and finger for a moment, it will stop dripping in a few seconds.”
“Fun, not.” I studied the pad, white blood does not show on white gauze, well aside from a wet spot. Though I suppose it was blue. “You know, I am beginning miss the color blue?”
“Oh, ah yes they did note you had a shift in your visual spectrum.” She held the meter to where I could see it after it had beeped. “Two hundred and twenty, I think they gave you a bit too much glucose. Normal, is around eighty to one hundred and ten.” She gave me a brief worried glance, “You are double what you should be. So, we will have to adjust your insulin pump.”
“Oh great, can’t I just have a shot instead. I don’t think the pump is working that good.”
“It should be working fine.” She looked down at the edged of the bed and pulled up a metal clipboard. “The last check was after we got everything cleaned up.”
“I don’t trust things I cannot control myself.”
“Surely you are not a technophobe?”
“No,” I sighed, “I just don’t trust the person who put it in place.”
“Not a very trusting soul are you?” she asked with a hint of bemusement.
“Not lately.” I waved my non-IV bound arm around to indicate the building in general, “This is not where I planned to live.”
She nodded and took a few steps to the door, “I’ll be back shortly with the console for your pump, just relax a bit, ok?”
“Sure,” I wiggled a few fingers at the door, “Breakfast might be good too.”
“Right. Be right back,” she said then slipped out of the room.
I spent some time looking the meter over; it had a charting function so I played with that. Normal, normal, spike, and back to normal, then spike again. I scrolled back thought the dates and times. “Yeah buddy, every freaking time I get dosed.”
~:‘Well Frank is slightly honest, slightly.’:~
~‘#Danger, anomalous presence does not equate ally.#’~
~:‘Just figured that out?’:~
I groaned, “Just shut up for a bit will you?”
The meter had a clock built into it, another few hours and the CIA would be back on the net. Time, I glanced around the room, no clocks. Then again, I didn’t recall seeing any clocks outside of computers since I got here.
~:‘You could have handled Blue a bit better.’:~
~‘\Blue is cool, has neat interface for GEO./’~
~‘#Clu construct has potential.#’~
“Gods. Just shut up already, a girl can’t think with all this noise.” Not to mention that odd damned hum was driving me to distraction.
“What noise?” asked Ann as she looked at me with a odd smile.
Crap, I am gonna get an odd reputation.
~:‘Get? Don’t you mean have?’:~
I rolled my eyes and looked at the new device that Ann was holding. “So that is the implement of my doom?”
“It’s not that bad is it?” she pointed to where the other meter was sitting. “You could be forced to inject yourself all the time.”
I sighed, “It’s a good concept, I have doubts as to if I can trust the good doctor.”
She pointed a wand connected to the device at me. “Doesn’t seem to be that far out of the ordinary.” She turned the display to where I could see it, “Nothing odd on the dosage side of the coin, though the battery power seems a bit off.” She shrugged, “Not to worry though, these things last for five to ten years before they have to be swapped out.”
“Wonderful. So how often do they fill the medicine side of things?”
“Oh, a while. You have a double reservoir in there when one goes low it will start to vibrate like mad.”
I regarded my lap with a dubious stare. “Oh that could be fun.”
“Well refilling it is a long jab, though you should not need one for several weeks. The pump is much more effective for administering the insulin, than the shots.”
“I’ll take your word for that, I guess.” I sounded dubious even to my own ears.
She spent a few moments making the controller beep then she motioned for me to roll on my side. “Ok Merry, one second of exposure if you please, and a wave of my magic wand…” There was a chirp and a double vibration in my ass cheek. “Did you feel two pulses?”
“Yeah, very disturbing.”
“That is just the confirmation that the changes have taken place.” She smiled, “Ok magic time is over, back on your bum.”
I let myself plop back down. “So what is for breakfast?”
“Pills, pills, bad hospital food and a nutrient shake of dubious nature.” She chuckled in an evil manner. “We have you now my pretty.”
“Look out for that falling house.” I commented with a wave to the ceiling. “Besides it they catch you with ruby sneakers I think it is a violation of the dress code.”
“Not to mention give you a chance at escape?”
“Right, like I am going anywhere dressed like this.” I indicated the hospital gown with a rude gesture.
“So, awful shake and pills or water and pills?”
I gave her a raspberry, “Can’t we just skip the pills? They just make things worse.”
“Well they could just grind them up and put them in your shake… Though that might actually help the flavor.” She took a moment to arrange the hospital table.
“Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Ok, bring on the evil shake of doom, maybe it will neutralize the pills.”
“You are definitely a character Merry.” She opened the door and stepped out for a few seconds. When she returned she was carrying a full tray with the tall glass like she expected it to have toxic fumes, she sat it on the rolling table and pointed to a small paper cup. “Here you go, the red one makes you small and the blue one makes you big.”
I took the paper cup, there were six pills of different colors and sizes, though none were red or blue. “I think you have the wrong prescriptions, Alice.” I picked out an odd tablet that was beveled along the edges, “I suppose this one makes me small?”
“You won’t know until you try it.” She passed me he shake of doom. “Here, try not to gag too much.”
I sighed and popped the first pill.
“Drat, can’t put anything past you.” I took a taste of the shake, it wasn’t that bad, just not good either. “Ack dead sox flavored.”
She laughed, “Ok now the rest of the pills.”
Wonderful, I repeated the process with the rest of the pills. “Care to make a small bet these pills won’t do crap either?”
“They don’t let us gamble with patients lives. It’s against the code.”
I mumbled into the shake, “You might follow the code, but other people I have my doubts about.”
“Hmm?” She looked at me and pointed to the shake, “Finish that and then try talking.”
I rolled my eyes and chugged it down, dead sox and cardboard, my favorite flavors of late. I put the empty glass on the table, “So this code, how do they check to see who is following it or not?”
She frowned then smiled, “They check to see where you have been hiding the dead bodies, too many bodies and you have to apply for the mad scientists union card.
I was trying to stay grumpy, I really was but it seemed to be a losing battle. “So Ann, do you do stand up comedy as well as nursing?”
She laughed, “Ah you found me out did you?” She took a moment to peer around the room as if seeing an audience for the first time. “Welcome Ladies and Germs to da Improv.”
“I see the inmates are running the asylum.” I had to smile when I said it though. “So Igor, what sort of monstrous breakfast is this I see before me?”
She lifted the cover, “We have eggs of dubious origin, semi-fried potato product and the ever popular not so overly processed pig portions, also known as bacon. The extra carbon is just our way of making you feel like you are appreciated.”
I groaned and flopped back against the bed, “I would rather have Pop-tarts and a Coke™.”
“Ah the breakfast of non-diabetic prepubescent young ladies. Sorry, you are just going to have to learn to eat healthy from now on.”
“I am doomed, doomed I say!” I adjusted the bed to a better position for eating.
“Seriously though Merry, you are going to have to alter your diet a lot, at least to where you are eating on a regular schedule. Not to mention cutting a lot of junk foods out.”
I gave the eggs a poke with a plastic spork, they didn’t ooze which was a plus. “So what is with the funky food utensils?” I waggled the spork at her.
“They don’t want you tunneling out of here, or inflicting grievous bodily harm on the various staff. Also I have it on good authority that they think you are dangerous.” She looked me up and down, “Aside from the odd humor you have displayed I don’t see why though.”
“Wonderful. Any more surprises?” I took a few bites of the egg, and decided I could eat them.
“Not yet, I have to do rounds, will you be ok for a bit?”
I looked at the off color orange juice, “Is that real orange juice?”
“Oops, I don’t think that is on your diet.” She picked up the card that came with the meal. “Nope that should not be there.” She scooped up the glass and took it to the sink where she poured it out. “Fruit juices break down into sugars too quickly. Though the potatoes will as well, but more slowly.”
She rinsed the cup out, filled it up with water and sat the cup back on the tray, “I’ll be back in half an hour or so.” She deepened her voice, “I must see to my other victims.”
I gave up and laughed for a bit.
“Much better Merry. You do have a nice smile, try to keep it around for more than a few moments.” With that she exited the room.
I looked down at the meal, then I ate it slowly, trying to kill as much time with the act of eating as I could. Though even eating at a snails pace I could tell that only a few minutes had past.
Time, does not fly, nor does it run when you are bored, a television would have helped some with that. Though I had never been a fan of daytime television before my sudden transition into this odd version of female and male. Watch one days worth of soap operas and you knew the plot for the next week and a half. Boring.
So when Ann came back and I saw that her face was melting at an odd rate I was almost relieved. Not to mention a bit freaked out. so much for my normality. I looked down at my hands and wiggled my twenty fingers, “Um Ann, if I told that I had twice the number of usual fingers and that your face was melting, would you say that this was normal?”
For a moment her face solidified and then it slipped down to where her chest should be, “Are you being serious?”
I blinked a few times as the world took a hard spin to the left I announced, “I think I want to be sick.”
She blurred and suddenly there was an oddly shaped pinkish mauve thing under my face, I clutched at it. It felt like plastic. Abruptly I felt a slimy sinking sensation in my groin that crawled up throat to exit via my mouth.
For several long uncountable minutes I tried to turn myself inside out into the oddly shaped funeral urn. The smells was vilely toxic as well, the taste of regurgitated dead gym sox didn’t help me to stop the spasms either.
Eventually my tongue felt like it had crawled back up into its usual place in my mouth, “Urg.” I closed my eyes as the room twisted and melted into a primordial goo. I felt rather than saw the basin being removed from my hands, and a few moments later a cool cloth was pressed into my hands.
At least I tried to assure myself it was a cloth rather than a disembodied tongue. I took a peek at it and saw that it was white rather than a mucus covered pinkish object. With some relief I did my best to keep the mental image of a towel in my mind. The cool felt good, though my flesh wanted to crawl off out from under the cloth.
I heard a voice from a great distance, “Merry is having a bad reaction to one or more of the medicines Doctor. She said my face was melting then she was very sick.”
A few minutes later I felt an oddly covered hand push at my eye lids and then scalding light seared into my head, “Augh! No, stop! hurts.” I batted at the hands or whatever they were that held my eyes open so painfully.
“Get some gloves on we will have to strap her down I fear. Get an Epi-Pen™ ready as well, with luck the epinephrine will help burn the drugs out of her system. Also I want Benadryl in her IV once we have her secured. Just incase this is an allergic reaction.”
Snakes grabbed and bit down on my arms, then they pushed them away from my body. Pinning them out as if in a sacrifice. I tried to speak and to tell the pink, white and gray monsters to let me free or to just kill me. But the words were frozen, lost in the sour pink place in my mouth.
“Get her flat, I want a clear airway.”
The bed moved, stretching me out along a distended horizon. A snake coiled around my head, then it forced its head into my mouth. I felt the thick head of it slip past my tongue and slide down into my throat and somewhere, in that sensation…
I slept, and did not dream.