Killing Time OST – 12a – Struggle

<< 11c – Deception

Vexx’s laser training program came with an instruction manual.
Sorta.
His computer had analyzed the series of laser patterns and extrapolated the best – if not only – route to get from the entrance to the safe, based on the volume of my body and humanly achievable contortions. Said path appeared in blue amidst the red laser beams. It was up to me to find the best choreography of movements that allowed a stable progression.
Depending on the laser pattern on which I entered the zone, the path changed. Some starting patterns only led to failure.
In the actual room, touching a beam meant losing a body part unless I could lay my hands on a reflective suit, which would avoid getting cut but trigger the alarm nonetheless.
Luckily, while I warmed-up on the treadmill, I had my music chip search for song fitting my required pattern. The third one it found was perfect. Melissa Auf Der Maur’s Overpower Thee accompanied the training program.
I bent over backward in my ‘Ready to Roll’ pose and unfolded before stepping into the “Start here” light circle.
“Welcome Lorelei. Please select your speed.”
I had watched the succession of patterns a few times already but couldn’t take the complex sequence full speed. “Twenty-five percent.”
The distorted, slowed-down music started and I crouched. Lying on my back, I slid my upper body in first, pushing with my feet for about a meter as I gradually sat up between two lasers. I trailed my hands along my flanks bending my elbows and keeping them perfectly aligned with my body as anything protruding from my profile would be my demise. On the fourth note, I stretched my arms behind me, over the newly moved laser beam. Transferring my weight to my arms, I pushed my body off the ground in a bridge pose for the next beat.
And the alarm rang.
“You rose too high.” The automatic voice scolded. With a grunt, I returned to the starting point.
This time, I tackled the same problem on my belly, lifting my chest off the floor with the sheer strength and flexibility of my back, Cobra pose style. On the fourth note, I stretched my arms in front of me and prompted my body into a plank. I cleared the beat. Unfortunately, my knees were too low for the next change and since I faced the ground, I couldn’t bend them upward.
The alarm rang again.
“You stayed too low.” The voice was going to drive me nuts before day’s end.
Vexx had warned me about this; each pose within the path was humanly possible but the program didn’t manage the flow of action between the moves. It could have accounted for it but two weeks of intense coding would have been necessary to push the analytics AI that far. Leaving me to sort out the best path was easier.
After four additional tries, I still hadn’t managed to get past the choke point.
“Switch to next starting pattern,” I instructed to the training program, giving up on my current route.
The afternoon went by and ache conquered every single inch of my muscles. I silently thanked Naomi for forcing me to take yoga classes with her for the past two years. I had been fit before them but not as flexible. Circus training might be necessary to get through this, though.
I interrupted my efforts for dinner.
“How is it going?” Vexx asked as I stepped in the lab after a quick shower. On one of the counters, two plates and sets of utensils flanked a large stainless steel dome; he had gone upstairs to order food to Julia.
“I’m not as foldable as what your computer considers ‘humanly possible’.” I sat on a stool. “I’ll get there.” I uncovered a huge serving plate of spaghetti. My mouth watered at the smell of tomatoes, beef and a reasonable amount of spices. “Carbs! Good thinking!” With all the exercise done and still to come, I definitely needed fuel.
Vexx smiled and cleaned some oily residue off his hands while I filled our plates. The melted cheese gave me a hard time but I managed to avoid messes. Vexx picked a milk carton in his mini-fridge before he joined me at the table. I usually drank red wine with my pastas but apparently, the only exception to Vexx’s parents ‘water with dinner’ rule was a glass of milk with spaghetti. I’d taken up the habit.
“Damn!” I moaned at the first burst of lightly sweetened goodness. A slice of something squished between my teeth. Olive? “This isn’t Julia’s recipe.” Vexx blushed. “You cooked this?”
I knew the hacker could mess up with kitchen appliances so no robotic chef was required to put together a meal but I didn’t think he’d done it to his kitchen. Or that he could cook something this good.
“I had an urge,” he shrugged. “It ain’t brain surgery.” Which he could also perform. I chuckled. “I put that recipe together a few years ago when I grew bored of both college and the universal spaghetti sauce. It was the first time I hacked a stove.” He laughed and I could hear the nostalgia for the free-spirited years before Merrilyn turned him into a monster. “I didn’t cook this while I was hooked on tech.”
I didn’t doubt his words but the thought crossed me that he was trying pretty hard to show me he was still clean. I decided not to bring it up; I’d catch him before he fell too hard.
I wanted to go back to training after dinner but the weight of a second serving of spaghetti nailed me to my stool. I rarely allowed myself to indulge like this.
Maybe I could use this to my advantage.
“Hey Vexx,” I said, interrupting his transfer of the leftovers to a Tupperware. “Wanna kill zombies with me?” If I was to sit, I could at least do it in a comfortable couch and remind Vexx how wonderful it was not to be high on tech.
“Hmmm… Sure…”
“Then put your face on and join me upstairs.”
I picked up the dirty plates on the table and ferried them to my sink. Across from the living room was my game room, all cushiony furniture and vintage video game library. It took me a couple of minute to put my hand on an old Left for Dead game.
Teamwork and zombies. Perfect.

12b – Struggle >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

10 responses to “Killing Time OST – 12a – Struggle

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