Killing Time OST – 12b – Struggle

<< 12a – Struggle

Teaching Vexx how to use a controller turned out to be a bit of a challenge; all his life, he had only known virtual reality. Even family game night’s classic board games had been projected straight into players’ mind and controlled by thoughts for years. Nevertheless, after a few friendly fires and awkward moments angling the camera at the sky, he mastered the buttons and joysticks – mastered might be a strong word, he did okay. A lot of fun and laughter spiced up the evening until we finally turned off the console and went to bed.
That night was another sleepless one with nightmares tearing my brains apart as I fought my way to sunrise. I woke up in a foul mood and spent the better part of an hour sweating in the pool before I regained a smidgen of calm. When I got to the basement, Vexx had already resumed his efforts to work out a plan to get our hands on what we now simply called ‘The Device’.
“It’s so perfectly ominous,” Vexx had declared to justify the name.
Stepping in the training room made me feel like I was back to square one of figuring out a path through the sea of lasers. The slurring music began to irk me and I wished I could put it back to its normal speed already. I kept trying and trying to push through the various scenarios, each failure pissing me off more and more. When my anger robbed me of any concentration and control, I beat up my punching bag for a couple of minutes then returned to my task.
I finally managed to get from the virtual door to the virtual safe in the late afternoon. I wiped the sweat off my hands, brought the music up to 50% of its speed and started again, only to fail another handful of times. When I finally worked myself up to full speed, my body knew the sequence of moves better than my mind, my stomach was empty and my muscles cried for a bubble bath.
“I won’t say a thing. I won’t tell a soul. But I could easily overpower you.”
The lyrics, said at the proper speed, were reward enough for completing the path. After a couple of girly jumps when the voice announced my success, I swayed my hips to the remaining bars of the song. One half of the trip down, one to go. But that was tomorrow’s problem.
I dwelled in the sound of my victory when a sharp pain in my skull wrestled me out of it.
“How’s it going?” Vexx’s voice resounded into my mind.
He hacked my chip again.
I crossed the entire room in less than a breath, blood thumping and fury fuelling my steps. I was in the lab before my mind caught up with my movement. Seeing me approach, and probably hearing the jumbled mess of curses going on in my thoughts, Vexx dropped his headphones and rounded a counter to put it between us.
“What did I say about hacking my chip?” My voice boomed and bounced off the acoustics of the lab. Frogster ran for its life. Keeping my momentum, I vaulted over Vexx’s workplace and wrapped my legs around his arms and chest, locking my ankles together behind his back. I sat on the counter which pulled him close enough for me to grab the top of his t-shirt. “What did I say?”
“You said ‘don’t’ but –”
“I said ‘don’t because it hurts like hell’,” I barked about an inch from his face. He was searching for air and, for a fraction of second, reason took over and loosened my grip on his collar. He could lift me up the counter and slam me into a wall if he wanted – not that it would do him any good – but he was shocked still. “Will I have to break something before you get it?”
His face was as red with anger as mine, the only difference between them being a little stubble and fear. I felt his chest expand between my thighs as he took a deep breath. Soon after, the muscles against mine lost a bit of their tension.
“Look,” he started with a soft tone. I forced myself to let him talk. “The ultra-sensitive mikes mean we have to communicate without a word while you’re fetching The Device. You have a chip that transmits your thoughts and receives audio waves.”
“If it hurts, it isn’t an option. I’ll lose an arm if I jerk at the wrong time,” I snapped. At least, he had made an effort to push his anger aside; I forced myself to release an inch of pressure.
“I thought my hack maybe the problem so I found another way in.” I opened my mouth to react but he gave me a ‘let me finish’ look. I clenched my teeth and my knees squeezed his elbows against his flanks. He fidgeted a little but made no attempt to escape. He couldn’t have both the right to talk and comfort – not now – and realized it pretty soon. “I’ve told you before: your chip isn’t supposed to backfire.”
“Swear you’ll leave it alone and all will be fine.”
“You don’t get it.” His voice rose and his muscles tightened. “Something is wrong with it. Let me take a look before it blows up your gray matter.”
I sighed and was about to release my hold on him when a scraping sound drew my attention. Or rather “drew my hand” by reflex, my attention only catching up once my grip closed around Vexx’s robotic snake.
“Foul me once,” I growled.
“It’s not what you –”
“– Shut up!” I threw the snake and it crashed on a shelf, tangling itself around Frogster. “This is my head and I get to say who pokes around in it.” This might just be the excuse he waited for to try some new tech. He once told me testing his designs was his favorite part of the job at Merrilyn. “We’ll find another way to communicate and you will stop hacking my chip. End of discussion.”
“But it might kill you!”
With a sigh, I swung my elbow against his temple. He let out a yelp then lost consciousness. I carefully angled his limp body so his head rested on my shoulder instead of hitting the countertop.
I pushed his hair back and checked his pulse, just to be sure I hadn’t accidentally broken his neck or caused an aneurism – it had happened before to a mark I had planned to use as bait for someone else.

12c – Struggle >>


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

6 responses to “Killing Time OST – 12b – Struggle

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