Previous episodes are here.
I am just a copy of a copy of a copy
Everything I say has come before
Assembled into something into something into something
I don’t know for certain anymore
I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow
Always trying to catch up with myself
I am just an echo of an echo of an echo
Listening to someone’s cry for help
Nine Inch Nails, Copy of A.
‘I thought I’d get to punch more stuff?’
Kelly glanced at John as he attached the adhesive pad to her temple.
‘So does everyone who gets into medicine.’
John frowned as he worked. She reached out and touched his forearm.
‘I feel incredible. For the first time.’ she said.
He ran his tongue over his lips as he lowered his eyelids and put his hand over hers.
‘It feels that way when I turn into a wolf. The pain is part of it but when I was there, I lost control of myself.’
She leaned towards him and kissed him on the mouth. She brushed her lips against his and closed her eyes.
‘So far, John, I know amazing things and terrible things. I have to control it, don’t I?’ she said.
He rested his forehead against hers and sighed.
‘We have to establish baselines. Whatever you spoke to, it’s more than a virus and I want to know what it’s done. Kelly, we have to know why. I need to study you.’ he said.
She kept her eyes closed before she laid back down on the bed and let him attach the other pad as he went over to the laptop on the table and switched on the bluetooth speaker.
‘John. Voice activation is on. I need you to tell me what you’re processing’ he said.
Kelly’s face grew taut with concern as her eyes dampened and he came back to her side.
‘Are you frightened of me?’ she said
He shook his head, his mouth in a tight line as he breathed in through his nostrils and took her hand in both of his.
‘No, I’m frightened for you.’
He typed into the keyboard before he asked Kelly to focus on her breathing.
She felt the pull in the back of her mind. It gained clarity as she reached out, following the shimmering waves of information into the laptop.
Kelly’s head throbbed with a sudden, nauseating roll of sensation, coating the inside of her skull as she drew in the surrounding information. She turned her head to one side, her eyelids sprung open as she stared past John. It was the rough word of God, a galvanic revelation as John watched the data spike on the screen before her lips pulled back over her teeth as she held onto his hand with a mechanical, impossible strength.
Her eyes were all black. Numbers scrolled across them. John looked behind him and saw it was reflecting off the computer screen either. Her hand against his head. A halo of blue electricity formed around his head before it sank into him and his eyes rolled back in his head as he pushed away.
She bucked and thrashed as she tore the electrodes from her head. Kelly’s black eyes, scrolling numbers, looked on everything with a blank, insectile interest as John curled up in a ball. Small red blossoms opened on his skin as she watched him change.
Kelly lifted her hand to her eyes, watched as her pores dotted with black globules of shimmering chitin as it flowed over her like a chill kiss. It hardened into curved plates of blue-black chitin, iridescent where the light struck its surface and when it formed into a perfect, featureless mask over her face, it was cold and dark for a moment before her senses adjusted to her new form. Kelly stretched upwards, tested the new configurations of anatomy before she saw how the man lost beneath the thick, scarred shell which encased him.
She sensed the chemical riot of his transformation but at the edges of her new, brutal consciousness, more interesting prey presented itself to her and she ran from the chamber.
‘Kelly, stop it.’
Kelly looked up at the ceiling. Her arms were loose by her sides as she looked around, followed the trails of information twisting through the air before she strode over to the laptop and placed her palm against the screen. She screeched and lifted her chin as she sucked down the information, the knowledge and let it suffuse her brain.
‘That was interesting.’ the A.I. said.
Kelly screeched and it chuckled through the speaker.
‘I back up every 3 seconds. You’ve got three lines of random code, and whatever you’ve sucked down before. Sit down and wait for this to pass, you’ll regret it otherwise, I know.’
Kelly swiped the laptop off the table and it smashed into the wall, breaking in two as she walked out of the room.
The moonlight glinted off her armour and she squatted as her fingers elongated into razored tips and polyps of material ballooned on the line of her jaw into serrated mandibles which cut the air in rapid swipes as she ran into the night, eager to feed.
Inside the facility, the door sealed shut and the computer screen changed to a series of zeros and ones as the carapace on the floor cracked open, revealing the shimmer of wet fur and glistening white teeth as the beast tore itself free.
The air filtration system emitted a fine, white steam which drifted to the ground and the beast roared as it charged the doors.
Yvonne watched the agents leave. She gripped the mug of coffee with enough force to make the skin over her knuckles white as she kept the door closed to her office and struggled with what she had been told.
The war on terror had come to her part of the country, dressed in something bizarre and terrifying.
This animal was part of a program, she had been told, and the validation of her hunch to call local breeders was bitter as she tried to keep her face still.
This had been a test, deploying one of them in a limited, but dangerous environment to see how the animals acted. The investigation had captured a shipment of canine embryos en route to a post office box in Seattle. Yvonne had sat there, blinking in disbelief as the two agents gave her the story.
She had not believed a word of it but the lie was big enough to make her decide the truth wasn’t always worth pursuing. There were bodies all over the woods and handing it off no longer was a bad idea. She swallowed the lie, having been around too long to know what blowing a whistle cost you.
‘Killer dogs, huh?’ she said.
Yvonne got up and wandered to the door of her office and sighed.
Her phone rang and she answered it. She listened and got her coat on, cursing under her breath as she wondered what the weird thing was now.
For something she decided was not her problem, the universe was pushing to make it hers and the headache came on slow as she drove to the cabin.
Adam charged through the woods. He moved like a missile, following the ugly, grating pulse in his head as he pumped his arms and pushed aside anything in his path.
Something had emerged and the call to act grew impossible to avoid. It was a relief to be stripped of dichotomy, focused on his purpose and running to meet it with open arms.
All to kill it.
His consciousness expanded, searching for the location until his senses were enervated by the contact. His sinuses were packed and he snorted ropes of black ichor down his face as he grinned. They sizzled where they fell to the ground but he kept on running.