Author's Note: I know I need to finish Kingdom Come, and I'm working on the next chapter now. This is a short story I'm working on though and I wanted to get it out here. Currently this chapter is unedited.
Warning(s): Adult Situations, Strong Language, Violence, Sexual Content
God of the Machine
I've never seen the stars before. The sky has always been covered in a thick layer of smog, blotting out Heaven. Occasionally, when the moon is bright enough and the thick layer of fetid exhaust has thinned to a gossamer blanket, I can make out the moonlight in a blurry halo. Tonight was like any other night, black as coal, filled with the bitter bite of December. Snow had fallen, but it had taken on the shape of slush from all the cars and foot traffic. In some places, farther off along the outskirts of the city where the slums hang, the snow falls gray like ash.
I could make out the ten foot walls that surround Neo-Columbus, punctuated every ten to fifteen miles by guard towers. Spire Corp says that the walls are there to keep us protected from dangers that lurk beyond the world. Every city is protected by a wall. It's our greatest defense against terrorism.
I leaned on the windowsill, watching the millions of city lights twinkle. Sometimes, when the nights got long and cold, I liked to pretend like all the flickering florescent lights were stars descended from Heaven. It was the closes I'd ever come to seeing them.
The large flat screen across the street was playing a Spire Corp commercial. A leggy blond model was smiling down at the world, saying with confidence, "Here at Spire Corp we're dedicated to protecting America and your freedoms. We work hard to find a cure for the Genesis Virus and to create new defenses in the fight against terrorism. Remember, we at Spire Corp care about your future."
When the commercial finished the screen flicked over to another advertisement and then to a news reading, starting off by listing the date: December 22, 2055, 10:48 PM.
I groaned and pulled away from the window, running a hand down my face and rubbing at the pressure that was building in the back of my head. Black bangs fell into my face and I pushed them away, tucking the longer strands that framed my face behind my ears. For a minute I could see my own reflection staring back at me in the mirror. I could make out the narrow details of my face and the bold black tattoo that ran across my face. It was a line that crossed over my left cheek and along the bridge my nose, stopping right before my right eye. Next to the line was a barcode (every Doll had one, mine for some ungodly reason just happened to be right on my face) and beneath the barcode in tiny, almost microscopic letters was my name; D.E.M.
I poked at the barcode. It had been my greatest stigma. I was a Doll, a cyber genetically enhanced clone made up with fifty percent of artificial parts. I also had no creator. I was a wayward Doll, no reason or purpose to my existence. I had been left at an orphanage, building my own life without any real understanding as to why I was even created. Dolls were made with purposes, whether it be small or large, so what was mine? Was I so insignificant, so pointless, that I wasn't even worth keeping? Had I been flawed? A mistake?
I had spent countless hours of my life wondering these things. It helped to watch my manmade stars. If I looked out at them, I could sometimes pretend that I wasn't hulled up in an office and that my life had purpose, even if it was as tiny as just being happy.
"But I don't," I sighed, rolling away from the mirror and turning back to the large computer screen. I was staying late to get some extra work done. As much as I wanted to go home and get some rest, I knew that I had to finish things or there would be hell to pay.
I was a Spire Corp computer engineer. The job came natural to me because I had a knack with technology. It was more then just being a Doll. I got technology. It was as if it were apart me, apart of my very make-up. While everyone else around me attempted to make physical connections, I poured myself into working on a computer or designing a new software program for Spire Corp. It was easier sometimes to do that then try and face the rest of the world, especially when the rest of the world just didn't understand you.
I leaned back in my seat and looked at the computer screen, exhaustion weighing over my mind. "Maybe I should call it a night," I mused to my self and my half empty coffee mug. I paused when I heard footsteps, craning to listen. The only people in the building should have been me and the janitors, and the janitors didn't do this floor yet.
The only light in my office came from the warm glow of the computer monitor. Maybe staring at nothing but that screen for so many hours was starting to mess with my mind. Giving into my fatigue, I saved the program and clicked my computer off with a few key strokes. I got up and collected my things, shrugging on my old winter coat. I fished my keys from my pockets and walked towards the door, stopping momentarily to see if I heard the footsteps again.
When I didn't hear anything, I walked out and locked the door behind me. I had to be overtired, because I was acting like a scared little cat locked in a Chinese restaurant. I drew in a shaky breath and pulled my coat tighter, swinging my satchel over my shoulder and heading down the hall. I pulled my red scarf from the bag and wrapped it around my neck as I headed over to the elevators.
My phone rang, startling me. "Shit!" I cursed, visibly jumping. I think I might have just had a heart attack. I grabbed my bag again, shifting through it to find my cell. It was down at the bottom, buried beneath files and tools, and other random trinkets. I pulled it out, looking at the name that flashed across its screen. I hit the accept button and the image of a blond man appeared on the slim black phone.
"Dem," Donovan said, a fellow computer engineer and one of my best friends.
I smiled, because you couldn't help but smile at him. He was handsome in that American dream kind of way; his hair was cropped short and his eyes were a bright hazel, just like honey. My smile wilted a bit when he looked up at me with a grave expression. "What's wrong?" I asked, panic seizing my heart. "Is Eliza alright?"
"She's fine, look Dem, listen to me. I need you to do something for me, okay?"
'Okay… what is it?"
He took in a deep breath and for a minute his eyes wavered, something like regret passing through them. "Don't scream, don't run, and don't fight him."
"What?" I said, raising a brow. What kind of request was that? Had Donovan finally lost all his marbles? Or maybe Eliza had knocked his brains out of him.
I heard someone move behind me and spun around, phone falling from my hand. I couldn't make out the details of his face, only the lines of his lumbering form. A pair of pale, frosted blue eyes stared out at me. They were just like mine. He looked down at me, eyes harsh, and then closed the space between us.
I couldn't even get anything out. Pain shot through my neck as he slammed a needle into me. I made a weak sound in the back of my throat and reached up to grab at him, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt. His hands wrapped around me, holding me up, and the only thought that crossed my mind as the world went black was; he smells nice…
I could only see blackness, a thick, oily darkness that seeped over me and clung like tar. Pain congregated at the back of my skull and proceeded in a steady forward march. I gave a weak groan, unable to move my body without feeling a wave of nausea wash over me.
I could smell cigarettes in the air. Beneath the smoke was earth and cinnamon, a faint musk that helped sooth some of my pain. I drew in a shaky breath, still not opening my eyes.
What happened? Where was I?
I couldn't remember anything. Just walking out of my office and then nothing. It was like my mind had been wiped completely clean.
Something, or someone, moved in the distance. I could hear shoes scraping against the ground. The bed I was on leaned to the left as someone shifted the weight on the mattress. Then I felt it, a pair of soft lips that made my entire body cease up and release in a spasm. I couldn't explain it; there was just something right about the feel of this unknown stranger's mouth against mine. I could feel the scratchy tickle of a goatee and I liked it.
Without thinking about it I opened my mouth, taking the smoke and cinnamon. He tensed at my reaction but then eased forward, deepening the kiss, pillaging my mouth like I was a treasure trove.
Was this a dream? Was it all in my head?
If it was a dream, I didn't want to wake from it. It felt so good, almost too good.
I opened my eyes, albeit reluctantly, and stared up into a pair of dazzling winter blue eyes. Memories came back, like the rewind button had been hit, and I froze in place.
Don't scream, don't run, and don't fight him.
I threw all my weight into my arms, pushing him off me and scuttling back as far as I could on the bed. My body wrenched forward as nausea slammed into my stomach like a sucker punch. What little I ate the day before all came up in a burning wave of acidic slush. I vomited onto the bed, gripping the metal frame of the headboard to keep from falling face first into the mess. My stomach convulsed as I heaved, shoulders tensing and shaking, my arms bunched with thin, tightly corded muscles.
The guy gathered himself and walked over to me, grabbing my arms and holding me in place as I emptied the entire contents of my stomach. When I was doing nothing more then dry heaving he said, voice a low, gravely rumble hinted with a faded Russian accent, "it's the serum. It's purging its self from your body, you should be fine in a little bit."
Says the man not puking his guts out. I'd like to hear him say that while he has acid burning a hole through his esophagus.
Finally the dry heaves stopped and I slumped forward, only his large hands keeping me from drowning in my own pool of vomit. I panted softly, wanting nothing more then to brush my teeth and go to bed.
"Can you stand?" The man asked.
I felt shaky all over, but I knew it would pass. "I don't know."
He moved off the bed, still holding me by my arms, and helped me slide off the bed. I stood up, knees quaking, and leaned against him. His body was hard a granite. He was muscular, with a set of broad shoulders and thick arms. They curled around me, iron bans, supporting me against his side.
"Take a seat over there," he said, gesturing with his free hand to a small, pathetic looking chair next to an equally pathetic looking table. There was an overflowing ashtray on top of the bistro table. The smell of smoke was masked by vomit now.
I slowly walked over to the chair with his help and took a seat, feeling frail and useless.
He didn't say anything else. He just stepped back, looking down at me with eyes so similar to mine that it felt like I was staring in a mirror. They had gone gentle around the edges. Chestnut hair framed his face in long waves that fell to his shoulders. He had strong features, breathtakingly handsome. I felt my insides melt, something inside me coming to life in a burst of tickling champagne bubbles. It was like everything clicked into place at the sight of him and the anger and confusion I felt just wanted to fade away. I quickly grasped onto the remaining strands of anger, refusing to allow my self to sink into this wanton feeling.
Before I could gather my wits enough to ask any questions, he turned and left, the black trench coat he wore billowing behind him like a pair of wings. The door clicked closed behind him and I suddenly realized that I was locked in a cramped room.
"Fuck," I whispered, taking in my surroundings. There were florescent lights buzzing over head. That was the closes technology that I could tap into and a lot of good they we do me.
I didn't get much time to ponder a way out. The door opened and Donovan stepped into the room, dressed in a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. He looked over at me, eyes lighting up brightly. I grabbed a hold of the edge of the table and pulled my self to my feet, yelling, "what the flying fuck is going on Donovan? Why did you kidnap me!"
"Breathe Dem," Donovan said, raising his hands up in an I surrender. "Lets get you cleaned up and then I'll explain everything, okay?"
"How about you explain now? Who the fuck was that guy?" I asked. Just the memory of him made my stomach do strange things. Not a good mix if you just finished throwing up.
Donovan looked skeptical at first, his resolve wavering for a bleak second, before he gathered himself up and said, "come on."
I squashed the urge to start screaming and ranting. It wasn't going to get me anywhere. Donovan was the kind of man that once he made up his mind, it was final. He would explain things, I knew that, and it would be when he was ready to talk. I drew in a deep breath through my nose and let it out slowly.
"Can you at least tell me what it is you injected me with? I don't get sick yet here I was trying to spit my stomach out!" I said, trying to keep my voice from escalating too high.
Donovan grimaced, regret flashing in his hazel eyes, darkening them to a woody green. "I'm sorry about that… I didn't want to use it but it was the only way I could think to get you here. It shouldn't have any more affect on you. Once it's out of your system, you're fine."
"And what is it?"
"It's a tranquilizer Spire Corp developed especially for Cyborgs and Dolls," Donovan said.
"What?" I swallowed a lump. I'd never heard of anything out on the market that dealt with tranquilizers for Dolls. Because of our enhanced makeup, the same chemicals and drugs that affect humans have no affect on Dolls.
"Come on, don't you want to rinse your mouth out?"
I nodded and followed him, walking down a dimly lit hall to a filthy bathroom barely big enough for me to fit in. "Where are we?"
"The underground," Donovan said.
I turned on the water, half expected it to come out brown. It came out clear though, feeling the dusty sink. I swooshed around a few handfuls of water until I was sure my mouth was clean, and then drank three more handfuls. The fog bank that had rolled over my mind had begun to fade away, my thoughts growing clearer. I looked up at my reflection, taking in the dreary looking figure staring back. Was that really me? I looked like death had taken a shit on my face. My eyes had dark circles under them, my short black hair disheveled, my lips swollen and red from kissing.
I ran my hand along the back of my neck, feeling the four small ports. "Shit," I said, "it looks like I was beaten to death by an ugly stick."
"You look fine," Donovan snorted, leaning against the door frame.
I shot him a glare. "Says the man who put me in this state."
"Come on," he nodded over his shoulder, "lets go."
Right, lets hear why I was drugged and dragged down into the forgotten tunnels beneath Neo-Columbus. I really wanted to be enlightened to the purpose of this. Because as far as I was concerned, there wasn't a reasonable explanation. But I was willing to hear what Donovan had to say, for old times sake.
I followed him down the hall to a large room. We passed two more cell style rooms along the way, both of which were empty. The larger room was equally as dirty as the rest of the base, but instead of haphazardly placed furniture pulled out of the garbage dump, there was a whole motherboard set up. Several monitors covered the wall, a mousy looking man sitting in front of them, typing away as he digested the data. There were a few random chairs pressed in corners and some crates stacked on top of one another as well. I spotted various weapons resting in cases and mounted on the walls, as well as two lithium motorcycles parked in the corner.
"What is this place?" I turned around slowly, stopping in front of the man with my eyes. He was sitting in the corner, looking like a surly grizzly bear, puffing away at a cigarette. I quickly turned back to Donovan, ignoring the heat that rushed up my neck. Why the fuck did my body respond to him, as if I knew him?
"Simply put, it's our makeshift base for the moment." Donovan said, walking over to the tiny man in front of the computers. I stood about six-foot exact, with a wiry build. This guy had to reach at best, five-four, with an equally petite shape. At least I had Cyborg strength backing me up. I was pretty sure if he got caught in a strong breeze he'd go flying across the country.
"And what does that mean?"
Blue Eyes didn't say a thing, but I could feel his eyes on me. They were penetrating me in more ways then one, burning a whole in the back of my head to mind fuck me with. I tried to ignore him, focusing my attention on Donovan.
"Pull up the file, Pit." Donovan said to the mouse man.
Pit looked up at him and then spun around, looking over at me. Interest sparked his muddy brown eyes, which were magnified by his coke bottle glasses. He pushed off his seat and walked over, straining on his toes to look at my face. His spindly fingers probed at the barcode on my cheek. "This is it? This is the thing that is going to save us?"
"Uhh…" I pulled my head back, glaring down at him. "Mind getting off me?"
"This is amazing. I've never seen one like this before. He's absolutely beautiful." Pit continued to ramble. Great, a Doll Freak.
A shadow loomed over us, smoke curling around me. I could feel the hard muscles of Blue Eyes' chest as he stepped up behind me. In a grave tone he said, "back up Pit."
Pit looked past me to him, squeaking. He retracted his fingers, shoulders hunching up in defense. Quickly he scurried back to his seat, turning to the computer to do as Donovan asked.
"Don't kill him Sergei," Donovan said with a chuckle.
I took a large step forward, turning to look up at Sergei. I shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, saying, "uh, thanks. I think."
He looked at me and then away, taking a long drag from his cigarette. "Pull up the file."
Right, you're welcome too.
He walked past me to stand behind Pit. He was very good at the intimidation thing. Pit clicked at his computer, fingers flying across it at lightning speeds that could put androids I knew to shame. The center--and largest--screen extended out, going black for a second, then date began to flow down, a 3D image of me appearing. I blanched, stumbling back and farther away from the computer and them.
"What the hell is that?" I shouted, pointing at the screen.
At the top of the screen, in blue letters, were the words 'Deus Ex Machina Project'.
"Dem, calm down. It's okay." Donovan said, holding his hands up.
"No! No it isn't okay! Why do you have a file on me? What the fuck is this?" I screeched. Panic never helped a situation, nor did it ever solve anything, but at that moment I was pretty sure I earned the right to panic.
"This is a file from Dr. Milhailov," Donovan said, "and the answer to the Genesis Virus."
"What?" My panic wavered for a second, like a flame caught in the breeze, and I looked at the screen.
The Genesis Virus was the greatest terror America and the world has ever faced. It was a virus released into computers, so that when you hooked up, you automatically downloaded it. For humans and Dolls, the virus was dangerous. It put a person into a catatonic state, and seventy five percent of the population that downloaded the virus either died or became a Geek. The president, with Spire Corp's backing, provided facts that suggested a terrorist faction in the Middle East had sent virus.
"If you found a cure, then why haven't you turned it over to Spire Corp?" I asked, eyes going wide.
Donovan grimaced, anger flashing in his eyes like a streak of lightning. "Why would we? So they can destroy it?"
"What? Why would they destroy it!" I shouted, hands flailing in the air uselessly. I didn't understand any of this! "This could save lives Donovan!"
"Exactly!" Donovan shouted back.
I fell silent, staring blankly at him. He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "You don't know, do you?"
"Dem, damn it! Are you really that blind?" It was more of a statement then a question. Donovan shook his head and turned back to face the screen. "Spire Corp has been feeding the world nothing but a load of bullshit. They make the Soylent Corporation look like a group of nuns."
I didn't know what to say. I swallowed, looking between him and Sergei. Sergei was watching me silently, an unreadable expression on his face. He was like a carved statue, everything about him so cold and aloof. Donovan nudged Pit to the side and hit a few keys, the 3D image of me zooming in and turning into a green grid of my body, my cyber genetic parts bolded.
"Spire Corp has been lying. The Genesis Virus isn't some attempt at a terrorist attack from the Middle East. There hasn't been a terrorist attack from there since Iraqi War back at the beginning of the millennia! They've been playing on the fears of the nation since that war, because the truth is the world doesn't know how to survive without having someone to blame!"
"I've seen the reports Donovan!" I felt the sudden urge to defend the company that I worked for. I knew it wasn't some glorious corporation, but at the same point in time they were trying their hardest to protect us.
"Please Dem! If we were wrong then, don't you think we could be wrong now? Anyone can make up reports! The truth of the matter is, the Genesis Virus was created right here in Neo-Columbus. That virus was designed by Spire Corp and unleashed on the population so they could control us!" Donovan stepped back, turning to look at me. His warm eyes had gone hard, looking like distant forests caught behind a stormy night.
I shook my head slowly, continuing to look between him and Sergei. I almost wanted Sergei to say something, to say that it wasn't true. They had no fact to back their hypothesis.
"But we know how to cure the virus," Donovan said. I looked at the screen, to where they zoomed in on the grid of my brain. There was a spot glowing, like a green firefly. "Before Dr. Milhailov died, he created you. Inside of you is the cure to the Genesis Virus; The Catalyst."
"What?" The world was spinning and I felt like I was about to slide off the world. I took a step back, reaching out for something to balance me but finding nothing. Sergei took a step forward and I jerked farther away, a scared rabbit cornered by the wolves. "I-I don't know what you're talking about."
"Dem, don't you understand? Haven't you ever wondered about your name, about where you came from?" Donovan asked, his voice softening.
"I want out of here," I blurted out, eyes jumping around the room for a place to run.
"Let me out of here!" I screamed, panic slamming into my chest, my heart beating rapidly like a frightened bird. I ran towards the door, arm slipping through Donovan's fingers when he reached for me. I burst through the door, knocking Eliza on her ass. I almost stopped to help her up, wanting to ask if she was in on this, but I couldn't. I just had to get out of there. I didn't know where I'd go, I just knew I couldn't stay there.
I ran down the hall and out another door, coming out into the abandoned subways. They had been built around late 2012 as an alternative form of transportation, but around the late 30's got shut down. Now, over a decade since they had been forgotten, the shafts were musky and dark, filled with the stench of sewage and death. The only things that came down into the underground were things looking to die. There was a rumor that circled around Neo-Columbus that if you followed the central shaft all the way down, you'd come to an entrance that lead outside the city limits. They said that the city use to be larger, but when they built the wall they cut the perimeter down. I'd never had any entrance in seeing if the rumor was true. Why would I leave Neo-Columbus?
I looked in both directions, each way dark, neither looking like a good choice. I went right, running in what I thought was south. I didn't look back to see if they followed, I just kept running. The smell of shit and aged blood made me gag and I threw up my arm to cover my nose, hoping to stave off the smell a bit.
My vision was better then an average humans, but the shaft was so thick with darkness, that I could barely see five feet in front of me. "Shit, shit, shit!" I shouted, racing down the path.
"Ungh," someone groaned. The smell of bodily waste hung in the air, powerful enough that it filled my mouth and slithered down my throat. I started coughing, staggering to a halt.
"Whose there?" My heart skipped a beat. I looked around, taking a shaky step backwards. Whoever was out there gave another mindless groan. I really wished I had night vision installed. Maybe it was something I could look into getting. "Stay back!"
They came at me, awkwardly running forward in a rush. They slammed into me front the front, hissing sharply. I let out a scream and slammed my fist into the side of their head, able to catch sight of their vacant eyes.
"Fuck, a Geek…" I breathed, letting my voice drop to a whisper. There were two extreme side effects to the Genesis Virus. If you didn't remain in the catatonic state (the lucky ones did) you either died, or worse, became a Geek: a human caught in a mindless rage, sent into a berserker mode. Decades ago, before the virus, people might have called them zombies. They thirsted for blood and meat, it didn't matter if it came from human or beast, man or child, as long as they could sink their teeth into it, they were happy. But these people weren't dead, they weren't risen from a grave by some voodoo magic. They were living, breathing humans, turned over into mindless drones.
Now I had a Geek on top of me, trying to unhinge their jaw so they could take a big bite out of my collarbone. I slugged them again in the head, sending them flying to the side. I heard a chorus of groans and grunts come from the distance.
My breath came out in a slow curl of white. The shaft was freezing, but that was the least of my worries. I was standing in a black pit, surrounded by Geeks, with no weapon. Brilliant, bloody brilliant.
There was a high whistle and a flash of ultra violet light before the Geek's head exploded. Blood painted the concrete wall, chunks of brain slowly sliding down like fat pink slugs. I spun around, catching a glimpse of Sergei's profile. He was holding a black hi-powered automatic. A very illegal, very dangerous weapon.
"Get over here." He ordered, already taking another shot. The bullet missed, hitting the ground with the strength of a small meteor. The Geek he missed screeched. Yep, lets piss off the cyber zombies.
I hurried over to his side, wishing I had a gun of my own. I'd have to settle for hiding behind him. He let off two other rounds, the Geek's body jerking in a spasm as chunks exploded out of it. It fell to the ground in a bloody heap, one arm still twitching.
Before the final Geek could rush us, he shot off its head. I opened my mouth to say something, instantly regretting it as the taste of blood coated my tongue. Sergei holstered the gun and spun around, grabbing my wrist in a bruising hold and wrenching me down the subway shaft. I would have screamed, but I didn't want to draw anymore Geeks our way. If there were anymore down here, they would already start coming from the sound of the gun.
He pulled me back to the base, throwing me into the hall and slamming the door shut. He quickly threw the deadbolts in place, officially locking me in there. I suddenly had the horrifying feeling that Geeks weren't the only monsters I had to worry about.
To Be Continued...
Let me know what you think! :) I'm trying my hand at cyberpunk and zombies, so hopefully it all works out. This is only going to be about five chapters long, so hopefully things run smoothly and make sense! Drop a review and let me know what you think!