Killing Time OST – 13c – Exam

<< 13b – Exam

The third return to reality wasn’t as gradual as the first two. A sharp pain stabbed my chest and I woke up to see a needle sticking out of my breast. Adrenaline?
“Oh thank God!” Vexx pulled the needle out.
“I fainted? And isn’t that a bit much?” I said, massaging the wound with the cotton pad Vexx provided. Everything hurt, even my mind.
“Fainted? You shut down! The freaking bots killed production of way too many stress hormones.” Vexx patted sweat off his forehead. I had never seen him so afraid. I decided it was enough fear for us both. I just couldn’t quite get myself to feel anymore. Maybe that was because of the shutting down thingy Vexx still mumbled about. “Team, she’s panicking! Turn off the amygdala, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Who needs cortisol anyway?” I preferred my lethargic reaction to Vexx’s silly overdrive.
I didn’t understand half of Vexx’s delirium, except that the nightmares were true.
I chuckled. “The machines got me.” I fell back against the table, my head hitting the surface hard and sending waves of pain through my skull. That, I could handle. Pain was simple, understandable, and controllable.
Whatever Vexx still had to tell me wasn’t.
The thump of my head against the wood had stopped the techie’s chatter and instantaneously calmed him down. I silently urged him to explain what the hell he had found, urging him to point the finger at someone I could kill. All in one look.
Djeb couldn’t have access to this kind of tech so when, where and how did it get in me?
“We’ve done enough for today. You need to rest.” Vexx began untying my ankles.
“Oh no you don’t,” I snapped. Or tried to snap. There really wasn’t that much power left in my voice. “You wanted to know. You opened the can of worms. And you are going to explain.”
Vexx shook his head and pulled away as soon as he freed my ankles. I swung my legs over the table’s side and stood to grab him. The tube in my arm tugged loose with a painful plock. My knees buckled, my feet slid and I would have kissed the floor if Vexx hadn’t turned to catch me and my cover-made toga in extremis.
“Your body’s gone to hell and back. Can you not try to kill yourself?” He scolded, lifting me off the ground and back onto the table. I hated it but took advantage of the situation by wrapping his collar around my hands.
“Listen Vexx,” I murmured in his ear. I sat safely on the table but he kept his arms around me. He could have broken out of my weak hold with a jerk. “You might think your knowledge is leverage but I swear if you try to snake your way out of this, you’re a dead man. And then I can forget all the shit that came with your existence.”
“Fine,” he growled against the nape of my neck. A shiver resonated all the way down my spine. How effing inappropriate!
Vexx pulled back a little and, for a moment, I thought he would lean in for a kiss. He just made sure I was steady and resumed his seat on the stool.
“Fine,” I said coldly.
Vexx motioned for me to give him my bleeding arm. I tucked the linens under my armpits and grabbed his cotton pad to apply pressure all by myself. Not much was needed anyway. Vexx took his customary deep breath before geek-speak.
“The chemicals in your brains are responsible for a whole lot of things, right?”
I sighed. Biology class, really? Good thing I didn’t wish to kill his innocent ass or I wouldn’t bother playing along.
“Muscle growth, metabolism, learning capabilities, blah blah blah.”
“Feelings.” Vexx eyed me intently. I swallowed hard. Why was I turning this into a silly temper tantrum? “Some of the bots control development-related hormonal secretion, which explains why you’re as fit as a human being can possibly be. There are some regulating the white cells production, among other things.”
“That’s why I’m never sick and heal so fast.” I shivered and tugged the flimsy cover higher. The world wavered again. Worry flashed across Vexx’s face and, in the blink of an eye, I was wrapped in a blanket. “What about the rest?”
“The rest!” Somehow, my anger-fuelled strength was already back. Vexx’s shoulders slumped.
“The chemicals that would induce soft emotions are rigorously controlled.” Vexx started to walk back and forth, probably finding it easier to address the question without looking at the victim. I felt sick. “You’re basically a nymphomaniac so you can use your libido to ensnare your target but the bots never allow your brain to secrete dopamine or serotonin in a human relationship context.”
Vexx suddenly stopped on his track, connecting back to the reality where I sat on a table, naked in my bed sheet. Me, the non-faceless science project.
“You can’t love, Lorelei.”
I scoffed. “That’s overly dramatic! I love my father!”
“You’re not taking me seriously!” He barked. And he was right. Why wasn’t I? “But then, you probably can’t.” His sigh broke through whatever shell of chemicals tried to protect me. It said it all; the tech in my head wouldn’t let me take its existence seriously.
“It reads my mind?” Why couldn’t I find the panic? I should be going crazy right about now.
“Not really. It reacts to stimuli. Feeds on what your senses perceive. I think it also connects the dots, like your memory, which expends its understanding.” My muscles tensed and for an instant, I thought I felt fear. It slowly washed away under the nausea. “I can’t be a hundred percent sure,” Vexx continued, resuming his pacing back and forth. “But I’d say killing releases a high dose of endorphin. Passivity makes you depressive. Defeat literally makes you sick and your sleep… Well it’s some ungodly mix of adrenaline and melatonin.”
“Okay Vexx, what’s your conclusion?” I muttered but he was deep in techie wonderland
“Your amygdala is all messed up.”
I covered my ears in an attempt to shut out his voice. The nausea was building up inside of me and I didn’t want to throw up. My reason fought against the unnatural calm within me. I knew I shouldn’t be calm but my body refused to have the proper reaction. The internal fight sickened me.
Anger. I was always up for anger.
“Shut up!” My voice rang loud and clear, surprising us both. I stumbled off the table. Vexx moved in to support me. I stopped him with a glare. “What does it mean, Vexx?”
“You’re the perfect anti-tech, human assassin. Strong, sexy, loving the kill, fearless, dangerously angry and tie-free. In a nutshell.” It was out and yet I couldn’t quite grasp the concept.
“I need fifteen minutes.”
Fifteen minutes and my punching bag.
Despite the pain throbbing throughout my body, I slowly limped toward the gym.

14a – Sickness >>


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 – 13c – Exam

  • Jenn

    Lots of big words! The sad part is that I remember them all from my biology classes lol.
    It’s getting good!

  • ralfast

    She can’t love? But she does care. And who made L that way?

    • Aheïla

      Care? I guess an optimist can say that.
      The pessimist way to see it is that she hates the tech and any harm it causes pisses her off so she tries to keep it from happening. The fact that it means saving people is a side-effect.
      I’m not saying that’s how I see it. 😉

  • mish

    WOW ! That’s a major curve-ball you’ve thrown ! I’m not sure what my response is … yet … still trying to digest the info !
    I thought that the problem wrt the implant would be life-threatening in some way , as in a limited number of weeks/days to live … 🙂

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