...I’m still trying to scream in total terror when a suddenly uncooperative throat inconveniences this pursuit. I stop banging around, and send out a few feelers to work out what’s up. The pain in my head and stomach has ceased completely.
Cautiously, I climb out from under a heavy blanket of insanity, feeling exposed and silly to be wearing it now. I stare at blurry whiteness. Blinking is not possible. I must be paralysed. Even my eyelids won’t obey me. Using all my concentration I force them to move, and control the path of each eyelid down and then up.
That brain stabbing device has severely messed me up; worse than usual.
Completing the blink does not bring anything into focus. That thought brings the ceiling zooming crazily in and out until I tell it to stop.
A strong sense of déjà vu layers this reaction I’m having. Not the unreality of losing my memory; this time I’m totally siezed inside myself. Maybe this is what a coma feels like. An unending existence of nothingness.
“If you’ve quite finished freaking out so melodramatically, maybe we could discuss what you are doing INSIDE MY SYTH?”
The shock of this very close voice breaks a lock on my numb neck. It creaks as I turn it to look around. Across from me is another body-form bed. I’m lying on it, pasty white and still... Uhhhhh, wait a minute, this is weird. Why am I looking at myself?
“Who... said that? Is that me?”
“You’re that truck driver aren’t you? This is Government property. I’ll see you prosecuted. I’ll have you deleted like so much corrupt data.”
What the hell is he talking about? Sounds like that creepy doctor.
These blurry eyeballs roll about loosely doing their best to find the source of the voice from my prone position.
There’s no one near me. Even mother has disappeared again.
“Who is that speaking? I demand to know what is going on. I cannot see. Has something gone wrong with the transferral?”
Oh shit! Another voice; distinctly different. Have I finally gone properly mad? Having my brain drilled could do that I suppose. The second voice sounds as frightened as me, yet contains an inbred arrogant; used to being obeyed. The doctor replies to it formally; deferential in his speech.
“Sir! I am your data technician, code name Zachariah. Your emergency procedure was interrupted by a series of unfortunate incidents. I was damaged in a hijacking attempt and have arranged to transfer myself to your Synth in order to protect your PDF. It appears my ‘assistant’ has blundered rather severely. Somehow all of us have been transferred.”
“Preposterous! Isn’t that dangerous? Mind integration! I don’t want to integrate with you people.”
“That has crossed my mind. Did you partition the Personality Data Files? Driver!”
He’s shouting at me again. I find it quite irritating.
“I don’t know. And my name’s Sam. The guy that was gut-shot, remember? Not that you cared. I used the bed to diagnose myself... and then...”
“Jesus Christ! It’s like putting a monkey in charge. I’ll handle this, Sir. I have participated in opts requiring multiple personality downloads to a single Synth before and had no ill-effects. It’s an approved procedure, though not usually done under these circumstances. Driver! I order you to transfer dominance to me.”
“No, Tech. I demand dominance. This is my Synthetic.”
Bloody Hell, they’re going to fight over this body.
“Sir! I respectfully refuse. We have a situation here. We are still under attack and it is my duty to protect you. I cannot do that in an advisory capacity.”
It’s slowly coming together for me; and I dislike the scenario more and more by the second.
Mother! She’s transferred me and the other two minds in the data banks into this Synthetic. I look at the poor old body I’ve been yanked from and my brain whirls unhelpfully. Some things never change. The other two are still chattering away, leaving me out as I should expect.
“Give me you most basic sit-rep. Am I in danger?”
“Yes, sir. Hi-jackers; possibly for your assassination.”
“Very well, Tech. I am too important to risk. You have my authorisation to command this vessel!”
Although still circling the drain of insanity I almost laugh at his cowardly, abrupt change of heart.
“Upload me immediately, and transfer the PDF to...!”
“Sir! Do not divulge that information. We have a civilian here. I will do as you ask as soon as I regain dominance.”
“Oh, ahh yeah. Hello? Is this thing on?”
“Yes, moron, we can hear you. Stop thinking so loudly. You have zero self-discipline. I’ll give you one last chance to redeem yourself. Go to the terminal. I’ll have this situation fixed in an hour or two.”
“Do as he says, Driver. That is a direct order from the Supreme Command Group.”
Impressive. To someone who gives a shit.
“I’m not in the army.”
“I will not tolerate insubordination. You will be shot.”
“Well! Incentive to help you out... gone.”
Being a smart arse never got me very far in life, but what do I have to lose.
There’s a gap in the chatter as they are both stymied by my lack of concern. They begin muttering quietly between themselves, although I can eavesdrop on the mixed conversation.
“He is too unpredictable. Find a way to make him cooperate. Threatening him isn’t going to work. Fix this or you know what will happen.”
Closing them out is as easy as wishing it to be so. I need some time to consider my position.
I’ve been transferred to another body! Get your head around that one Sammy-boy.
Although my own over-weight, beat up body isn’t much to look at, I feel a perverse need to be safely back inside it. It’s mine; for better or for worse.
Maybe I can get the doc to repair my body and then I can upload both of these people. Data can’t hurt me. Worth a try.
“Hey! Ok. I want me out of here as much as you two do. But you better come up a better deal than killing me. First fix my body.”
Seeing a simple way out, they are suddenly most agreeable; keen to get the maniac away from the steering wheel.
“Agreed. Get up.”
“I have other conditions.”
I just haven’t had time to put together a list yet.
“We must move quickly. We’ll give you whatever you want.”
Yeah, right now they’ll agree to any damn thing but it’s bound to be a different story when I no longer have the upper hand.
“How? This thing is locked up.”
“That's just a safely feature to prevent damage and accidental deaths while the subject acclimatises to the body. The Synth will pick up the dominant’s intention. Concentrate hard. Try to sit up.”
“Oh, wow, we’re flying.”
“At least one of us is dominant. I was rather worried you’d transferred us all without it. Now, get a hold of yourself. Adjusting to the POV takes days of training in one of these vessels. You’ve got minutes. Now concentrate!”
“Ohhh, moving is really effortless. This thing is so strong.”
“Be very careful. It is military spec; very powerful. You’ll crush items without meaning to. All you have to do is get us to the computer and everything will be back to normal for you.”
If Zachariah gets hold of my data file my erasure is imminent.
“That simply is not true. You can trust the word of a General. We will keep our promises.”
Shit. He can hear everything I think. This is not a good way to comprise a covert plan. Lalalalalalalalalalala.
Christ now even I can’t think. How can I keep these two dangerous men at arm’s length? It’s a difficult proposition with us all crammed in here at once.
A burst of static goes through my brain and I clutch at my ear. The static becomes a crackling, hissing sound.
I can hear!
I smell burning.
I can smell! Very clearly. In fact a breakdown of the air’s molecules is scrolling across one eyeball until I think it to stop.
I feel cool.
I can feel! Actually I feel good! Strong. I swing the Synthetic legs over the side of the table in much the same way I would with my own. Through my new, perfect eyes I see a shower of spark erupting from the end of a burnt line.
We’re well out of time. The attackers are cutting their way in.
I wobble over to my old body. It does not look in good shape at all. The face is all puffy and red, the skin is turning grey and my mouth hangs open moronically.
I think I'm dead...
Chapter 18 - Coming Soon.