Killing Time OST – 14a – Sickness

<< 13c – Exam

At first, standing up was a challenge in and of itself. I had a hard time trading the linens for some clothes and stumbled onto the towel rack. The ruckus caused Vexx to check up on me but my snarl quickly drove him away. Things got marginally better when I started punching. I forgot all about Vexx’s diagnosis, my body regaining energy as the memory faded. The little voice inside me harangued that it was all connected to the nanobots but I ignored it for half an hour.
Sweat felt good. Normal. Physical duress was a precisely charted territory. I knew how to make it worse and better. Being violent towards a punching bag also had the added bonus of keeping me in shape. All in all, my way of getting through the rough patches and channeling my anger was perfectly healthy.
But then the little voice came back and it hit me.
Could I actually pretend this was my way of dealing?
Despite the endorphin coursing in my veins at a probably unnatural level and telling me this was good, my reason knew it was wrong; it was how the machines wanted me to act.
Anger made me a good assassin.
Physical strength made me a good assassin.
Not anxiously obsessing over the tech programming my every reaction made me a good assassin too.
As soon as the thought crossed my mind, a knot formed in the pit of my stomach and the nausea returned. When I shied away from the thought, I felt fine. Of course, now that my reason was privy to the external control of my physical and emotional state, the whole mechanic of it couldn’t fool me.
But how many times had it influenced me before? It made me sick when I got the music chip. It gave me the nightmares that sprouted my crusade then pumped me full of bliss every time I took a life. I couldn’t trust anything I felt since nothing actually was my feelings.
Or was it?
Everyone was somehow programmed by their parents, their environment, their education… So my decisions had been dictated by nanobots in my brains, how was it any different?
My reason screamed that the whole justification was wrong but the argument made me feel good. And there it was again, the constant contradiction defining my life from now on. Even if I went against the grain of my feelings and physical comfort, I would still, in a way, be bound to the damned parasites inside my skull.
They made me a killer, for crying out loud. How could my mind even entertain the possibility that it wasn’t so bad?
I slumped to the ground, letting the punching bag dangle away the impact of my last hit. Fury boiled in me from so many sources I couldn’t even count them all. I was furious because, apparently, that was one of the things my nanobots loved. I was furious because of that too. And I was furious I let myself get pissed at it all.
One big blob of anger.
As designed.
I punched the ground so hard something snapped. The pain resonated all the way to my shoulder and I felt slightly lightheaded. It only lasted for a second though.
“Let me guess. Assassins are resilient. They feel only a fraction of the pain and rather enjoy it.”
Or maybe it was just the painkillers Vexx injected in me an hour ago.
I laughed at my bloody knuckles. I couldn’t move the fingers of my right hand anymore. I suddenly felt like taking care of myself, retreating to come back stronger. Great! Classic war tactics were also encouraged!
It only made my reason refuse to care if I lost my hand or not.
“Lor?” Vexx hazarded his head through the gym’s door and rushed to kneel by my side when he saw the blood, picking up the emergency kit by the door without stopping. His fingers circled my wrist as much to lift my hand as to keep me from jerking away. He gingerly laid my forearm to rest on his knee.
“You don’t need to do that,” I said. He scoffed and gently patted the blood away with a disinfecting wipe. One or two knuckles were broken. Well, I wouldn’t want to get into a fight for the next three weeks, whatever my hormones said.
The roller coaster of neurochemicals tired me and so did trying to figure out where I was supposed to go from here. I didn’t think I could do this. But I felt like I could conquer the world.
I needed to divert my attention.
“What else do you know about my… condition?” Vexx shot a glance at me to confirm that I wanted to talk about this. He thought I should take a break but I needed to understand my situation or I would go crazy measuring its consequences. I couldn’t handle that just yet.
“Most of it is an assortment of educated guesses and quick tests.” While he talked, he poked my hand, watching when I winced to determine what the damage was exactly. “The anger problem was pretty obvious. The lust versus love thing is based on the analysis of your default hormonal balance. I tested your reactions to some stimuli too but didn’t get very far before you woke up.”
“Go on!” I hissed through clenched teeth. My hormones might try to dull the pain, they couldn’t stop it all. Thankfully, Vexx’s speech distracted me from his manipulation of my hand.
“Of course, I didn’t keep the scan running while I tested your reactions. You’d suffered enough already. So I can’t know if they originated from you or your nanobots.” Vexx started wrapping my fingers together. Now I’d be physically and emotionally impaired. Could this day get any worse?
To top the ridicule, I wanted to punch something again. Damn this was confusing!
“I think it’s safe to assume everything came from the bots.”
“Yeah.” Vexx completed the wrapping of my fingers and planted a ‘there, all better’ kiss on my knuckles. “I didn’t want to say it.”
For a moment, neither of us could talk. I couldn’t even think. I wasn’t just out of sync; the music of the world didn’t make sense anymore.
I smiled.
“I think the music is mine.” I found the map to the real me, the doorway to my soul. “I loved it enough to go against the nanobots and have my chip installed.”
Vexx nodded and suddenly I felt calmer, safer. But it wasn’t nearly enough.
“Vexx, how the hell did those suckers get into my brain?”

14b – Sickness >>

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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

7 responses to “Killing Time OST – 14a – Sickness

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