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The Reanimatrix [M]


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[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]Welcome to The Reanimatrix, my first attempt to experiment with the Literature forum in some way. ~_^[/color][/size]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]Basically, I want to take a moment to explain exactly [i]what [/i]this thread is and how you can participate in it.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]First and foremost, I want to express the fact that this is [i]not [/i]an RPG. Instead, it is intended to be a collection of short stories, written by myself, by other members and by actual authors who have an involvement with the Wachowski brothers' series.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]I decided to make this thread because of my upcoming RPG, [b]The Matrix Revelations[/b]. Originally, I was writing some basic skeletons related to the history of certain characters within the RPG. But as I was writing them, I decided to expand this concept, to allow myself and other writers to create short stories that explain various events relating to The Matrix and its history.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]If you've seen The Animatrix, you know what I'm talking about. It is a collection of animated shorts. Each short sheds a little light on some aspect of The Matrix, whether it's the war between man and machine, or a beatiful demonstration of a ghost house (and how the Agents handle the "clean up" of it).[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]My intention is to use this thread to write short stories about events that relate to [b]The Matrix Revelations[/b], but which also relate to any of The Matrix stories in general.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]This will also give me an opportunity to read what others write and if you have an interest in the RPG itself, it will give you a chance to demonstrate your creativity as it relates to The Matrix.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]I want to make something very clear at this point though; there are no limitations on what you can do. I don't want you to write an epic story, though -- these are [i]short stories[/i]. However, you can be as creative as you like. You can write a poem, or a narrative, or a diary entry and so on. You can even create a short comic strip if you like. The choice is up to you.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]As we go, I will also post the works of "official authors" who have written short Matrix stories. You can read these for your own enjoyment (they are free anyway), but you can also use them to develop your own ideas.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]Most of all, I want everyone to have fun. If you loved The Animatrix, this thread should be right up your alley. Feel free to experiment with ideas and different styles of writing, feel free to use images (your own art or something else) and feel free to explore any aspect of The Matrix universe that you want.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]So, to avoid further rambling, I'll kick this baby off with my initial entry. Have fun![/color][/size][/font]

[/font][font=Verdana][size=2][color=#696969]EDIT: Oh, and please note; I'd like it if people included their comments on other people's entries [i]within [/i]the same post as their own entries. So if you want to comment on people's stories, please also include your own short story as well. But make sure to seperate comments from stories. I recommend using the "< hr >" HTML tag to do this (without the spaces). But you can do what you like (different colours, images as dividers, etc).[/color][/size][/font]


[center][font=Verdana][size=4][color=black]THE REANIMATRIX[/color][/size][/font][/center]

[center][font=Verdana][size=2][color=black][/color][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=2][color=black][b]CAIN'S AWAKENING[/b][/color][/size][/font][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JAMES[/size][/font][/center]

[center][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SIREN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR'S ONLY MEMORY[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ZIDARGH[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY NEIL GAIMAN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]REBIRTH AND DEATH[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ALAN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]A "MACHINE'S" CALL TO DUTY[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ZIDARGH[/size][/font][/center]

[center][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MIMMI[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]DRONE ROBOT CONVERSATION[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ALAN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]MIDNIGHT CHASE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JAMES[/size][/font][/center]

[center][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=2][b]SOAP-BOX SERENADE[/b][/size][/font][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY UNBORN LORD XION[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]PULLING THE PLUG[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY CHARLES[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY BOBA FETT[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]PIRATES' MISSION: PART 1[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MR. MAUL[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]PRINCIPAL CONCERN[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SIREN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]AND THE SUN WILL RISE UP[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SHINMARU[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]SYSTEM FREEZE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY POPPY Z. BRITE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]CAUSE TO EFFECT[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MIMMI[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SUBLIME2004[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]I FEEL[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ANATEMA[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ALAN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE RABBIT HOLE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY BIO[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY LORE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY WHO?[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]GHOST STORY: LOST[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY REFLUX[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]FROM THE ARCHIVES: LUCY[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY CHARLES[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE CHASE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JAPAN_86[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]SEVERING TIES[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SUBLIME2004[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]ARTFORM REQUIEM[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY AJEH[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]IGNORANCE IS BLISS[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SOLO TREMAINE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SHINMARU[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]ADVICE FROM A CATERPILLAR[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY LORE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY KAZUKO[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]TWIN VOICES OF EDEN[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY CYRIEL[/size][/font][/center]

[center][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=2][b]A NON-BELIEVER'S ACCOUNT[/b][/size][/font][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SUBLIME2004[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]IDENTITY CRISIS[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY BARON SAMEDI[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MIMMI[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]SOLILOQUY OF THREE: ONE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY CYRIEL[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]FROZEN HEAT[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SIREN[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]REALITY SHOT[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY WONDERSHOT[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SOLO TREMAINE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]ANOTHER FIRE STARTER: PART ONE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY BIO[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]NEW MANAGEMENT[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JAMES[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE MAN IN THE BLACK SUIT[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY EPITOME[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]RENAISSANCE AFFAIR[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ANATEMA[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]BOARDWALK CAFE[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY KANE[/size][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE AWAKENING[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY EPITOME[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]BUT...IT'S SHINY[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY ALAN[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]MY LAST STAND[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY EPITOME[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]NOT SO CRAZY[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JJRIDDLER[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]LAST THURSDAY SESSION[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JAMES[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]UP IN THE AIR[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JJRIDDLER[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]PLUG ME IN AGAIN[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY REISE[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MIMMI[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]THE WORLD TURNS[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY JJRIDDLER[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]A HOUSE OF CARDS[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY MIMMI[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]DISSOLVED GIRL[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY SEAN[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2][/size][/font][/b] [/center]
[center][b][font=Verdana][size=2]EVERYONE FALLS THE FIRST TIME[/size][/font][/b][/center]
[center][font=Verdana][size=1]BY EPITOME[/SIZE][/font][/center]

[b][size=2][font=Verdana]Caine's Awakening[/font][/size][/b]

[size=2][font=Verdana]When I look back at how it happened, I'm still amazed. You hear of people having out of body experiences during surgery, but what I went through was ridiculous. And for what seemed like hours and hours, I actually [i]did [/i]think that I'd died and gone to hell. I'd been booked into the hospital for surgery on Tuesday, I remember that much. It was in the middle of winter and I remember that the windows in the car were fogged up. My wife was driving. I miss her so much. But that's all I remember. I remember being in the car and rubbing the passenger side window with the cuff of my shirt, to get a better view of the hospital as we approached it.[/font]
[font=Verdana][size=2]I don't remember actually leaving the car though. My memories beyond that point are vague. I know that I was having wonderful dreams while under the anaesthetic, that much I am sure of. But something happened, something that shouldn't have happened. My dreams stopped abruptly and I felt conscious, although I couldn't seem to open my eyes. I couldn't hear anything either; not even the sound of the heart rate monitor, or anything that one expects to hear after waking from major surgery. Instead, I still felt like I was flying -- or rather, [i]floating[/i]. And suddenly, there was a strange jolt to my body. That's the only way I can describe it. It was like the feeling you get when a shiver runs down your spine, except that it shook my entire body violently. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]And then I woke. I opened my eyes to a nightmare. There was no comfortable hospital bed, with crisp white sheets and soft pillows. I was under water, or so I thought. But it wasn't water, it was something else. It was cool and wet, but also thick and gelatenous. At first I was afraid of drowning, but I realized that I could still breathe. I was enveloped in blackness, though. For some reason, I couldn't see. It hurt to open my eyes. I blinked several times -- or I [i]tried [/i]to blink -- and each time, I saw flashes of vivid pink and black. As my eyes began to adjust, I was able to keep them open for longer periods with each blink. And it was only now that I began to realize my situation. I was submerged in what seemed like a bath of strange pink liquid and I could hardly move, as my arms and legs were apparently tied down. I tried to scream, but it didn't work. My mouth was covered by something. Whatever it was, it felt cold and hard.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]I tried to swallow and discovered something else; the tube was not only connected to my mouth, but it also ran all the way down my throat. I could feel it inside my chest, too. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Perhaps I passed out. I'm not entirely sure what happened. I remember opening my eyes very briefly now and again, and seeing pieces of metal fly past my face very quickly. It felt like I was falling at an incredible speed. I was still cold and wet.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]The sheer coldness of the water woke me. Despite the fact that I'd been a swimmer for my entire life, I had great difficulty in that pool. It wasn't that I couldn't remember how to swim, but I simply couldn't make my arms or legs move. There was something wrong with them; even when I closed my eyes and fought with all of my strength, all I felt was pain in my limbs. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Upon reflection, I don't know how it was that I didn't drown. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Eventually, I managed to push myself forward in the pool and drag myself out of the water. For a moment, I just lay there on the ground, breathing slowly. My skin felt oddly warm now that I was out of the water. And my limbs still felt lifeless and numb, though every time I attempted to move, the pain shot through them again. I was even too weak to cry, should I have had the desire to; although I think that I was far beyond that. I was terrified, like never before. Had I really died on that operating table and gone to hell? At the time I seriously entertained the thought. And although I now know that I [i]hadn't [/i]died, perhaps the reality was still quite close to it.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]While I lay there, I fell in and out of consciousness. Finally, I gathered the energy to sit up. Upon doing so, I also noticed that my ears had unblocked. Before, everything had sounded as though it were deep under water. But when I sat up, I could hear all sorts of alien sounds. The world around me was like a landscape from another planet. I was surrounded by a thick white fog, which I could barely see past. When I finally stood up and looked toward the sky, I could only just see through the white plume that covered me. What I saw beyond it looked like a skyscraper; a tall black column that almost stretched beyond the sky itself. But it wasn't a skyscraper. It was covered with countless egg-like objects, which were all emitting a soft pink glow. They reminded me of the strange pink liquid that I'd seen when I first woke from the operation. Each one had something inside it, but from where I was standing, I couldn't quite tell what they were.[/size][/font]


[/size][/font][font=Verdana][size=2]I turned away from the pool and began walking along the cold ground, one painful step at a time. With every step, my legs wobbled uneasily. The ground below my feet was smooth, but it wasn't grass or earth. As I looked ahead of me, my eyes began to focus a little more. The clouds of white fog were clearing and I could see the blackened horizon in the distance.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]It was then that I noticed the fields. I'd never seen anything like them before; fields of tall, angular plants that stretched for miles in all directions. I approached the edge of the field slowly, taking care not to trip over my own feet. As I came closer to the first plant, I realized that it wasn't a plant at all. Although it [i]looked [/i]like some kind of tree, it was clearly synthetic. It was covered in thick cables, which littered the ground at its base. Each branch -- if that's what you'd call them -- had attached to it a single egg-like object, much like the objects that I'd seen on the columns only moments ago.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]I approached the lowest branch of the nearest plant and ran my hands over the egg's cool surface. It was slimy on the outside and covered with grime. I pushed the dirt away and looked at it more closely. Although the surface of the egg was cold and moist, there seemed to be a faint heat coming from within. It was an odd sensation to be standing beside such an object. But nothing prepared me for what I saw, when I peered into its deep crimson core. I saw a baby. A human fetus, to be more precise. It was curled up in the center of the egg and I noticed that there was a small black cable attached to the back of its head. [/size][/font]


[/size][/font][font=Verdana][size=2]As the realization of what I was seeing dawned upon me, I keeled over on the ground and vomited. My stomach groaned violently, as the thin white liquid splashed across the smooth ground. I held my stomach for a moment and tried to catch my breath. The world around me was hazy and it seemed to swirl endlessly around my head. It was then that I lost consciousness again.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]When I woke later, I dragged myself to my feet and began wandering through the fields. Part of me wanted nothing more than to die, to end this insane nightmare. At the same time, part of me wanted to survive and to find answers. I wanted to get out of there, to find safety and comfort and most of all, I wanted to see my wife again. Did she know where I was? I entertained the thought that as I was walking through those fields of unborn children, my wife was standing by my grave, weeping into a black handkerchief. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]I must have walked for hours and hours. I remember that I was trying to avoid looking at those terrible glowing eggs. Sometimes I'd pass one and notice the fetus move slightly. It was incredibly unnerving. I had tears streaming down my face as my thoughts wandered into a myriad of dark places.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]I could hear noises above me. And occasionally, I could make out the silhouettes of enormous, insect-like creatures, as they were hovering above the fields. They had spotlights underneath their heads, which they seemed to be using to comb through the individual plants, though it was difficult for me to tell. They also had long arms, with large, metallic claws on the ends. They used these to scoop up the glowing eggs. Although it was difficult for me to see, they seemed to be despositing the eggs into gigantic baskets on their backs. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Eventually, I stopped walking. Apparently I had come to the edge of the nearest field. I saw a massive canyon ahead. It was as though a piece of the ground had been torn away; the edges of it were slightly curved toward the sky and broken all the way along. When I looked down into the canyon itself, it seemed to stretch for miles underneath the Earth's surface. I remember seeing thousands of pipes, cables and wires everywhere, covering its vast walls and snaking their way down into the darkness far below.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Suddenly, a heavy sound enveloped me. I covered my ears, but it was no use; the sound was so loud and deafening that I collapsed and screamed at the top of my lungs, begging it to stop. I opened my eyes and saw one of the gigantic insect creatures hovering above me. One of its grotesque arms slithered down beside me and grabbed the nearest egg. As its claws gripped the egg, I could hear the sharp [i]"clink"[/i] of metal touching glass, or whatever those things were made from. It tore the egg from its stalk and brought it up to the basket, which was well beyond view. I closed my eyes and covered my ears, as I waited for the noisy insect to move away.[/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]I lay there for hours, on that freezing metal earth. I heard every terrible sound around me. I felt the cold, sharp wind biting at my skin. I wanted to die.[/size][/font]

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[color=green][font=Courier New][size=2]Chop. Chop. Chop. The hollow sound of a knife slicing through cucumber was all that Mary was able to hear. The television was kept nearly silent. Mary found the woman on the television to be rather irritating. Her voice was scratchy and grating; Mary?s aged ears could not endure the screechy racket. After all, this was the time of day that Mary sat in her chair and knitted, as she did every day. She was getting older and had adjusted comfortably to her quiet afternoons. Bothersome television clamor was a nuisance that she did not care to have.[/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]Her meal was sitting on a white TV tray to her right. She hadn?t been able to finish her sandwich and there was a tiny bit of tea left in her cup. The tea was surely cold by now. It had been sitting there for five or ten minutes. Mary didn?t drink much tea anymore. She had lost her appetite lately, too. She was just getting tired, she assumed.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]She was knitting a blue and green sweater with black trim. She had been knitting it for the past few weeks, getting more of it completed each day. It was supposed to be for her grandson, David, but she had not seen him in years. He was probably all grown up now, with his own life to live and didn?t have time to visit his grandmom, she thought. This made her rather sad and she stopped knitting. She felt a lump forming in her throat and a tear began to roll down her wrinkled cheek. Mary sniffled, holding back the rest of those tears.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]The chopping in the kitchen stopped. Mary quickly dried her cheek before Sarah walked in.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?Mary,? she said, ?are you okay??[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?I?m fine, just?had a little tickle in my throat,? Mary replied.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?Would you like something to drink??[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?Oh, no. I wouldn?t want to be a bother. You go ahead and finish cooking dinner.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?Are you sure??[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]?Yes, I?m sure. You go on,? Mary assured her.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]Sarah went back into the kitchen. Chop. Chop. Chop. Mary went back to her sweater. It was almost done, just a few more days left. She resumed looping the thread and running it through the fabric.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]A strange sound compelled Mary to look up from her sweater. ?That didn?t sound like chopping,? she said, ?that sound came from the hall. What?s going on out there??[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]The sounds were getting closer and closer to the apartment door. Mary thought she heard someone fall. Was there another fight going on outside? If there was, it must have been over something awfully important. Mary wished the noises would go away and then the door slammed open, crashing into the wall. A man stumbled in, panting and breathless. He looked like he was running from the Devil himself. Thunderclaps echoed in the hall. Bullets pierced the door, sending splinters of wood flying everywhere. Another thunderclap. The man ducked and Sarah?s hat flew off the coat rack. He got to his feet and ran into the kitchen. Mary heard the back door open.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2] [/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=green]A figure ran by the entryway, but it wasn?t Sarah.[/color][/size][/font][/color]
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[b]A Private Investigator's Only Memory[/b]

You know, it's funny really. I didn't even know that this place existed, or did I have any form of intuition that I was going to dissapear on that night. It simply happened all at once. When I first got here I couldn't do anything. I didn't know who I was, where I was or what I was, but it all came back to me. Well, everything except for my memories of life. There was this one thought that kept hitting me hard from inside, and I've yet to find out whether it's based on reality, or purely on fiction. Anyway, you need to know it seems so I'll give it a shot.

It was a good night. I liked the rain and God blessed me with it. Having just entered my apartment from another job that consisted of me spying on someone for someone else's wife, I let out a deep breath and sat down on the black, leather sofa. I remember I was having trouble getting work, and it was beginning to bring me down. Standing up again to avoid creasing my beige raincoat, I approached the small fridge and opened to find one, single beer left, I took it of course. Snapping it open on the kitchen draining board, I took a sip and enjoyed the strong, fermented liquid that ran down my throat. Letting out another sigh of relief I turned around in my one room apartment and heard that faint clicking a computer makes when it's loading.

[i]Funny,[/i] I thought. I remember I even switched the computer off at the power source due to it's constant crashing habits, but I shrugged the thought off none the less and took this opportunity to [i]perhaps[/i] find some more freelance work. Sitting down in the desk chair, I placed down the beer after taking another sip and turned on the flat-screen monitor. The screen glowed for a second as the electrons rebounded off of the glass tube and I was then given a simple, text based template. It was nothing but black, save for the odd pop-up that pestered me at times. [i]I've never seen this before,[/i] I thought as I stared at the monitor blankly.

All of a sudden, a message was making itself apparent as each letter appeared in a left-to-right direction, the text in a green font. All it stated was, "We know who you are." I shrugged it off as if it was another advertisement trying to get me interested in purchasing some company's product and tried to exit the screen, but all the attempts were in vain. I couldn't get out. [i]Great,[/i] I thought sarcastically as I went to switch it off at the power, the switch had already closed the connection to the computer.

In wonder I grasped the seat and pulled myself up to sit on it once more, only to be met by another small message on the monitor screen. This time it said, "They're coming for you." Having been a bit freaked out by this comment I typed in a message also, "Who is coming for me?". The little cursor blinked but disappeared as the third message was written, "Someone wants to meet you. Go to the Shinkoku Line and board the 24:36 train."

[i]Now that's more like it,[/i] I thought in the hopes that this could be another job proposition, I was willing to take anything.

"Follow the White Rabbit," a fourth message appeared and all of a sudden, the computer turned off.

I wasn't going to lose out on another opportunity and so I grabbed my sunglasses regardless that there was no sun and pulled my door open of which I ran down the apartment corridoors into the street. From there on, my journey to the station in memory is kind of blurred for some reason, maybe it's not important or something. But there is more.

Running up the steps and through the warden-less turnstiles, I waited on the platform of the train station and looked up at the electronic, schedule board. '24:34:48', the time stated, I was going to make my train. The station was deserted except for a little, old woman who seemed to have seen too many years go by, and the rain outside dripped onto the edges of the yellow-bordered platform.

Hands in my pockets I stepped out of the roofing shelter to look for if the train was approaching. Three, breaming lights could be seen in the distance and they become larger as the lights neared. [i]Right on time,[/i] I thought as the lights belonging to the train neared even more with a swoosh of the brakes. As the train stopped, the old woman stood up and walked over to the carriage nearest to me, she was carrying a white bag that was as wrinkled as much as her face. [i]The White Rabbit?[/i] I questioned in my mind. As the carriage door opened, I stepped up and grabbed the railing to which I found an empty car. Taking a seat that faced the paintless wall, I closed my eyes and heard the little woman slowly finding a seat. The train then pulled off of the platform and continued it's journey.

After what only seemed like a few minutes, my train reached the Shinkoku Line Station and so I wiped the steamy glass to look for this 'person' I was supposedly going to meet. There was no one. The train moved on suddenly and I hit the wall in frustration of my gullible behaviour. The old woman didn't seem to stir at all. Everything was silent except for the rattle of the baggage bays overhead, but suddenly, hurried footsteps could be heard becoming louder and louder. The door connecting the two carriages together opened and all of a sudden a woman walked through, dressed in black leather, with black hair and black sunglasses. She looked down and met my eyes, I could tell something was going on.

"Come with me." She spoke softly and reached out her hand of which I took and stood up.

"Who are you?" I asked but for no reply.

"Come on." She said as she looked further down the carriage.

All of a sudden a sound similar to a narrowband connection could be heard and the old woman began to make violent spasms. She then began to morph into what looked like a well dressed, neatly shaven man who wore sunglasses and an ear piece. He then looked up at the woman and smirked, "There you are."

"Come on!" The woman shouted as she tugged my hand. My adrenalin rushed through my veins as we charged down the carriage to a service telephone. The man stood up and did not run but just walked calmly towards us, picking something out of his pockets.

The woman desperately grabbed for the phone which was now ringing eerily. I began to breathe faster as I realised what the man was picking out, a gun. Reaching into my coat pocket, I pulled out the same and aimed it straight at the man's head, tonight was not the night I was going to die. Pulling the trigger, I made a very accurate shot which failed in hitting the target miserably, he simply tilted his head to the side.

"You won't be able to kill him! Let's go!" The woman shouted to me as she reached for my hand. As I reached for hers I heard a large thunderclap of which my head jolted uncontrollably. Barely missing her hand I fell to the ground and looked up to the now hanging phone, the woman was gone, as was the man. I couldn't hear anything except for the deep echoes of the train's movements, my sunglasses fell off and I began to feel cold. After seconds of shock, it appears I blacked out. But not for the worst.

I had only woken up.
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[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]Just a note, guys. I'd like it if you would all include titles to your pieces, so that I can create an index of short stories and their authors within the first post. ^_^[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]I'm really pleased with this so far. I encourage everyone to give it a try and to branch out as much as you like.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]I am going to take this opportunity to present an official piece, written by Neil Gaiman. Hopefully this should also provide some ideas. ^_^[/color][/size][/font]

[b][font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Goliath, by Neil Gaiman[/color][/size][/font][/b]


[color=black][font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I suppose that I could claim that I had always suspected that the world was a cheap and shoddy sham, a bad cover for something deeper and weirder and infinitely more strange, and that, in some way, I already knew the truth. But I think that's just how the world has always been. And even now that I know the truth, as you will, my love, if you're reading this, the world still seems cheap and shoddy. Different world, different shoddy, but that's how it feels. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=helvetica][size=3][color=#ffffff][font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]They say,[i] here's the truth[/i], and I say, [i]is that all there is?[/i] And they say,[i] kind of. Pretty much. As far as we know.[/i] [/color][/size][/font]

[size=2][font=Verdana][color=black]So. It was 1977, and the nearest I had come to computers was I'd recently bought a big, expensive calculator, and then I'd lost the manual that came with it, so I didn't know what it did any more. I'd add, subtract, multiply and divide, and was grateful I had no need to cos, sine or find tangents or graph functions or whatever else the gizmo did, because, having been turned down by the RAF, I was working as a bookkeeper for a small discount carpet warehouse in Edgware, in North London, near the top of the Northern Line, and I was sitting at the table at the back of the warehouse that served me as a desk when the world began to melt and drip away. [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Honest. It was like the walls and the ceiling and the rolls of carpet and the News of the World Topless Calendar were all made of wax, and they started to ooze and run, to flow together and to drip. I could see the houses and the sky and the clouds and the road behind them, and then [i]that[/i] dripped and flowed away, and behind that was blackness. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was standing in the puddle of the world, a weird, brightly coloured thing that oozed and brimmed and didn't cover the tops of my brown leather shoes (I have feet like shoeboxes. Boots have to be specially made for me. Costs me a fortune). The puddle cast a weird light upwards. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]In fiction, I think I would have refused to believe it was happening, wonder if I'd been drugged or if I was dreaming. In reality, hell, it had happened, and I stared up into the darkness, and then, when nothing happened, I began to walk, splashing through the liquid world, calling out, seeing if anyone was there. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Something flickered in front of me. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Hey," said a voice. The accent was American, although the intonation was odd. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Hello," I said. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The flickering continued for a few moments, and then resolved itself into a smartly-dressed man in thick horn-rimmed spectacles. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You're a pretty big guy," he said. "You know that?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Of course I knew that. I was 19 years old and I was close to seven feet tall. I have fingers like bananas. I scare children. I'm unlikely to see my 40th birthday: people like me die young. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"What's going on?" I asked. "Do you know?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Enemy missile took out a central processing unit," he said. "Two hundred thousand people, hooked up in parallel, blown to dead meat. We've got a mirror going of course, and we'll have it all up and running again in no time flat. You're just free-floating here for a couple of nanoseconds, while we get London processing again." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Are you God?" I asked. Nothing he had said had made any sense to me. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Yes. No. Not really," he said. "Not as you mean it, anyway."[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then the world lurched and I found myself coming to work again that morning, poured myself a cup of tea, had the longest, strangest bout of [i]deja vu[/i] I've ever had. Twenty minutes, where I knew everything that anyone was going to do or say. And then it went, and time passed properly once more, every second following every other second just like they're meant to. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And the hours passed, and the days, and the years. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I lost my job in the carpet company, and got a new one bookkeeping for a company selling business machines, and I got married to a girl called Sandra I met at the swimming baths and we had a couple of kids, both normal sized, and I thought I had the sort of marriage that could survive anything, but I hadn't, so she went away and she took the kiddies with her. I was in my late 20s, and it was 1986, and I got a job on Tottenham Court Road selling computers, and I turned out to be good at it. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I liked computers. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I liked the way they worked. It was an exciting time. I remember our first shipment of ATs, some of them with 40 megabyte hard drives... Well, I was impressed easily back then. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I still lived in Edgware, commuted to work on the Northern Line. I was on the tube one evening, going home - we'd just gone through Euston and half the passengers had got off -- looking at the other people in the carriage over the top of the [i]Evening Standard[/i] and wondering who they were - who they really were, inside - the thin, black girl writing earnestly in her notebook, the little old lady with the green velvet hat on, the girl with the dog, the bearded man with the turban... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then the tube stopped, in the tunnel. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]That was what I thought happened, anyway: I thought the tube had stopped. Everything went very quiet. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off. And I was looking at the other passengers and wondering who they really were inside when the train stopped in the tunnel. And everything went very quiet. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then everything lurched so hard I thought we'd been hit by another train. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off, and then the train stopped in the tunnel, and then everything went - [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]([i]Normal service will be resumed as possible[/i], whispered a voice in the back of my head.) [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And this time as the train slowed and began to approach Euston I wondered if I was going crazy: I felt like I was jerking back and forth on a video loop. I knew it was happening, but there was nothing I could do to change anything, nothing I could do to break out of it. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The black girl, sitting next to me, passed me a note. ARE WE DEAD? it said. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I shrugged. I didn't know. It seemed as good an explanation as any. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then everything faded to white. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]There was no ground beneath my feet, nothing above me, no sense of distance, no sense of time. I was in a white place. And I was not alone. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The man wore thick horn-rimmed spectacles, and a suit that looked like it might have been Armani. "You again?" he said. "The big guy. I just spoke to you." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I don't think so," I said. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Half an hour ago. When the missiles hit." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Back in the carpet factory? That was years ago." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"About thirty-seven minutes back. We've been running in an accelerated mode since then, trying to patch and cover, while we've been processing potential solutions." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Who sent the missiles?" I asked. "The U.S.S.R.? The Iranians?" [/color][/size][/font]

[size=2][font=Verdana][color=black]"Aliens," he said. [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You're kidding?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Not as far as we can tell. We've been sending out seed-probes for a couple of hundred years now. Looks like something has followed one back. We learned about it when the first missiles landed. It's taken us a good twenty minutes to get a retaliatory plan up and running. That's why we've been processing in overdrive. Did it seem like the last decade went pretty fast?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Yeah. I suppose." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"That's why. We ran it through pretty fast, trying to maintain a common reality while processing." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"So what are you going to do?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"We're going to counter-attack. We're going to take them out. It's going to take a while: we don't have the machinery right now. We have to build it." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The white was fading now, fading into dark pinks and dull reds. I opened my eyes. For the first time. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]So. Sharp the world and tangled-tubed and strange and dark and somewhere beyond belief. It made no sense. Nothing made sense. It was real, and it was a nightmare. It lasted for thirty seconds, and each cold second felt like a tiny forever. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I started talking to the black girl with the notebook. Her name was Susan. Several weeks later she moved in with me. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Time rumbled and rolled. I suppose I was becoming sensitive to it. Maybe I knew what I was looking for - knew there [i]was[/i] something to look for, even if I didn't know what it was. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I made the mistake of telling Susan some of what I believed one night - about how none of this was real. About how we were really just hanging there, plugged and wired, central processing units or just cheap memory chips for some computer the size of the world, being fed a consensual hallucination to keep us happy, to allow us to communicate and dream using the tiny fraction of our brains that they weren't using to crunch numbers and store information. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"We're memory," I told her. "That's what we are. Memory." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You don't really believe this stuff," she told me, and her voice was trembling. "It's a story." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]When we made love, she always wanted me to be rough with her, but I never dared. I didn't know my own strength, and I'm so clumsy. I didn't want to hurt her. I never wanted to hurt her, so I stopped telling her my ideas. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]It didn't matter. She moved out the following weekend. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I missed her. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The moments of deja-vu were coming more frequently, now. Moments would stutter and hiccup and falter and repeat. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then I woke up one morning and it was 1975 again, and I was sixteen, and after a day of hell at school I was walking out of school, into the RAF recruiting office next to the kebab house in Chapel Road. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You're a big lad," said the recruiting officer. I thought he was American, but he said he was Canadian. He wore big horn-rimmed glasses. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Yes," I said. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"And you want to fly?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"More than anything," I said. It seemed like I half-remembered a world in which I'd forgotten that I wanted to fly planes, which seemed as strange to me as forgetting my own name. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Well," said the horn-rimmed man, "We're going to have to bend a few rules. But we'll have you up in the air in no time." And he meant it, too. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The next few years passed really fast. It seemed like I spent all of them in planes of different kinds, cramped into tiny cockpits, in seats I barely fitted, flicking switches too small for my fingers. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I got Secret clearance, then I got Noble clearance, which leaves Secret clearance in the shade, and then I got Graceful clearance, which the Prime Minister himself doesn't have, by which time I was piloting flying saucers and other craft that moved with no visible means of support. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I started dating a girl called Sandra, and then we got married, because if we married we got to move into married quarters, which was a nice little semidetached house near Dartmoor. We never had any children: I had been warned that it was possible I might have been exposed to enough radiation to fry my gonads, and it seemed sensible not to try for kids, under the circumstances: didn't want to breed monsters. [/color][/size][/font]

[color=black][font=Verdana][size=2]It was 1985 when the man with horn-rimmed spectacles walked into my house.[/size][/font][/color]

[size=2][font=Verdana][color=black]My wife was at her mother's that week. Things had got a bit tense, and she'd moved out to buy herself some 'breathing room'. She said I was getting on her nerves. But if I was getting on anyone's nerves, I think it must have been my own. It seemed like I knew what was going to happen all the time. Not just me: it seemed like everyone knew what was going to happen. Like we were sleepwalking through our lives for the tenth or the twentieth or the hundredth time. [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I wanted to tell Sandra, but somehow I knew better, knew I'd lose her if I opened my mouth. Still, I seemed to be losing her anyway. So I was sitting in the lounge watching [i]The Tube[/i] on Channel Four and drinking a mug of tea, and feeling sorry for myself. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The man with the horn-rimmed specs walked into my house like he owned the place. He checked his watch. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Right," he said. "Time to go. You'll be piloting something pretty close to a PL-47." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Even people with Graceful clearance weren't meant to know about PL-47s. I'd flown one a dozen times. Looked like a tea-cup, flew like something from [i]Star Wars.[/i] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Shouldn't I leave a note for Sandra?" I asked. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"No," he said, flatly. "Now, sit down on the floor and breathe deeply, and regularly. In, out, in out." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]It never occurred to me to argue with him, or to disobey. I sat down on the floor, and I began to breathe, slowly, in and out and out and in and... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]In. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Out. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]In. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]A wrenching. The worst pain I've ever felt. I was choking. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]In. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Out. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was screaming, but I could hear my voice and I wasn't screaming. All I could hear was a low bubbling moan. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]In. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Out. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]It was like being born. It wasn't comfortable, or pleasant. It was the breathing carried me through it, through all the pain and the darkness and the bubbling in my lungs. I opened my eyes. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was lying on a metal disk about eight feet across. I was naked, wet and surrounded by a sprawl of cables. They were retracting, moving away from me, like scared worms or nervous brightly coloured snakes. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was naked. I looked down at my body. No body hair, no wrinkles. I wondered how old I was, in real terms. Eighteen? Twenty? I couldn't tell. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]There was a glass screen set into the floor of the metal disk. It flickered and came to life. I was staring at the man in the horn-rimmed spectacles. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Do you remember?" he asked. "You should be able to access most of your memory for the moment." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I think so," I told him. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You'll be in a PL-47," he said. "We've just finished building it. Pretty much had to go back to first principles, come forward. Modify some factories to construct it. We'll have another batch of them finished by tomorrow. Right now we've only got one." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"So if this doesn't work, you've got replacements for me." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"If we survive that long," he said. "Another missile bombardment started about fifteen minutes ago. Took out most of Australia. We project that it's still a prelude to the real bombing." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"What are they dropping? Nuclear weapons?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Rocks." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Rocks?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Uh-huh. Rocks. Asteroids. Big ones. We think that tomorrow unless we surrender, they may drop the moon on us." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You're joking." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Wish I was." The screen went dull. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The metal disk had been navigating its way through a tangle of cables and a world of sleeping naked people. It had slipped over sharp microchip towers and softly glowing silicone spires. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The PL-47 was waiting for me at the top of a metal mountain. Tiny metal crabs scuttled across it, polishing and checking every last rivet and stud. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I walked inside on tree-trunk legs that still trembled and shook. I sat down in the pilot's chair, and was thrilled to realise that it had been built for me. It fitted. I strapped myself down. My hands began to go through warm-up sequence. Cables crept over my arms. I felt something plugging into the base of my spine, something else moving in and connecting at the top of my neck. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]My perception of the ship expanded radically. I had it in 360 degrees, above, below. And at the same time, I was sitting in the cabin, activating the launch codes. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Good luck," said the horn-rimmed man on a tiny screen to my left. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Thank you. Can I ask one last question?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I don't see why not." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Why me?" [/color][/size][/font]

[size=2][font=Verdana][color=black]"Well," he said, "the short answer is that you were designed to do this. We've improved a little on the basic human design in your case. You're bigger. You're much faster. You have faster processing speeds and reaction times." [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I'm not faster. I'm big, but I'm clumsy." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Not in real life," he said. "That's just in the world." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And I took off. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I never saw the aliens, if there were any aliens, but I saw their ship. It looked like fungus or seaweed: the whole thing was organic, an enormous glimmering thing, orbiting the moon. It looked like something you'd see growing on a rotting log, half-submerged under the sea. It was the size of Tasmania. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Two-hundred mile-long sticky tendrils were dragging asteroids of various sizes behind them. It reminded me a little of the trailing tendrils of a portuguese man o' war, that strange compound sea-creature. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]They started throwing rocks at me as I got a couple of hundred thousand miles away. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]My fingers were activating the missile bay, aiming at a floating nucleus, while I wondered what I was doing. I wasn't saving the world I knew. That world was imaginary: a sequence of ones and zeroes. I was saving a nightmare... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]But if the nightmare died, the dream was dead too. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]There was a girl named Susan. I remembered her, from a ghost-life long gone. I wondered if she was still alive (had it been a couple of hours? Or a couple of lifetimes?). I supposed she was dangling from cables somewhere, with no memory of a miserable, paranoid giant. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was so close I could see the ripples of the thing. The rocks were getting smaller, and more accurate. I dodged and wove and skimmed. Part of me was just admiring the economy of the thing: no expensive explosives to build and buy. Just good old kinetic energy. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]If one of those things had hit the ship I would have been dead. Simple as that. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The only way to avoid them was to outrun them. So I kept running. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The nucleus was staring at me. It was an eye of some kind. I was certain of it. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I was a hundred yards away from the nucleus when I let the payload go. Then I ran. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I wasn't quite out of range when the thing imploded. It was like fireworks - beautiful in a ghastly sort of way. And then there was nothing but a faint trace of glitter and dust... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I did it!" I screamed. "I did it! I ******* well did it!" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The screen flickered. Horn-rimmed spectacles were staring at me. There was no real face behind them any more. Just a loose approximation of concern and interest. "You did it," he agreed. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Now, where do I bring this thing down?" I asked. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]There was a hesitation, then, "You don't. We didn't design it to return. It was a redundancy we had no need for. Too costly, in terms of resources." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"So what do I do? I just saved the Earth. And now I suffocate out here?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]He nodded. "That's pretty much it. Yes." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The lights began to dim. One by one, the controls were going out. I lost my 360 degree perception of the ship. It was just me, strapped to a chair in the middle of nowhere, inside a flying teacup. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"How long do I have?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"We're closing down all your systems, but you've got a couple of hours, at least. We're not going to evacuate the remaining air. That would be inhuman." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"You know, in the world I came from, they would have given me a medal." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Obviously, we're grateful." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"So you can't come up with any more tangible way to express your gratitude?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Not really. You're a disposable part. A unit. We can't mourn you any more than a wasps' nest mourns the death of a single wasp. It's not sensible and it's not viable to bring you back." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"And you don't want this kind of firepower coming back toward the Earth, where it could be used against you?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"As you say." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]And then the screen went dark, with not so much as a goodbye. [i]Do not adjust your set[/i], I thought. [i]Reality is at fault.[/i] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]You become very aware of your breathing, when you only have a couple of hours of air. In. Hold. Out. Hold. In. Hold. Out. Hold.... [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I sat there strapped to my seat in the half-dark, and I waited, and I thought. Then I said, "Hello? Is anybody there?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]A beat. The screen flickered with patterns. "Yes?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I have a request. Listen. You - you people, machines, whatever you are - you owe me one. Right? I mean I saved all your lives." [/color][/size][/font]


[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"...Continue." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"I've got a couple of hours left. Yes?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"About 57 minutes." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Can you plug me back into the... the real world. The other world. The one I came from?" [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]"Mm? I don't know. I'll see." Dark screen once more. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I sat and breathed, in and out, in and out, while I waited. I felt very peaceful. If it wasn't for having less than an hour to live, I'd have felt just great. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]The screen glowed. There was no picture, no pattern, no nothing. Just a gentle glow. And a voice, half in my head, half out of it, said, "You got a deal." [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]There was a sharp pain at the base of my skull. Then blackness, for several minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Then this. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]That was fifteen years ago: 1984. I went back into computers. I own my computer store on the Tottenham Court Road. And now, as we head toward the new millennium, I'm writing this down. This time around, I married Susan. It took me a couple of months to find her. We have a son. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]I'm nearly forty. People of my kind don't live much longer than that, on the whole. Our hearts stop. When you read this, I'll be dead. You'll know that I'm dead. You'll have seen a coffin big enough for two men dropped into a hole. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]But know this, Susan, my sweet: my true coffin is orbiting the moon. It looks like a flying teacup. They gave me the world back, and you back, for a little while. Last time I told you, or someone like you, the truth, or what I knew of it, you walked out on me. And maybe that wasn't you, and I wasn't me, but I don't dare risk it again. So I'm going to write this down, and you'll be given it with the rest of my papers when I'm gone. Goodbye. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]They may be heartless, unfeeling, computerised bastards, leeching off the minds of what's left of humanity. But I can't help feeling grateful to them. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=2][font=Verdana][color=black]I'll die soon. But the last twenty minutes have been the best years of my life.[/color] [/font][/size]

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I am bored
I stare at my screen, and it stares back
A stark white canvas, with one infernal line blinking
Always blinking
It doesn't move
It just blinks
Forever more

But no!
It moves
It types
It is asking me, 'Who am I'
Where am I?
My mind boggles, I feel sick
I pass out, my head hitting the desk with a thump

Eyes opening, bleary, painful
Floating. Floating?
Why am I floating?
A tube drives deep into my chest
Yet it doesn't bother me
It is like it is a part of me
And has always been there

But my suspicions are taking me over
Why is the tube there?
Why do I float?
I rage, and rip the tube out
I lash out against nothing
I black out once more
Whilst floating

Not floating
Covered in goo, sticky
Covered in wires, like some sick fetish
Where am I?
Who am I?
I tear the wires out one by one
Raging once more,
Until the insect appears,
And I see, never more

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[b][center]A 'Machine's' Call To Duty[/center][/b]

[i]"Is A112 ready?"[/i] I heard a voice similar to mine speak out.

[i]"Affirmative."[/i] Then, I heard a second, followed by silence.

As soon as I opened my eyes I noticed that the head of my model had been altered. There, staring me in the face was a glass visor of a transparent nature with a tint of turquoise. A few meters and readings were scattered across but they did not move, or change for that matter. I didn't know why I had been tampered with at all, but I eventually found out.

Somehow I managed to see through the visor and realised what I really was looking at. A large, oblong dome for a window was being supported by a metallic structure that encased everything, including myself. Through the window all I could see was a dark grey ceiling, and so I wanted to find out where I was. I went to move... but I couldn't. I went to move my head... but I couldn't. I was bound by an unknown force.

"Hello?" I called out in the hope that someone would answer me.

All of a sudden, my body and head jolted as the force that bound me seemed to be lifted. I noticed that they were black cables retracting into small cylinders surrounding me. I could now move and I tried to do what I attempted to do earlier with success.

Having sat up, I looked at my body. My smart clothing had been removed and replaced with armour of some sort. A reading appeared on my visor stating, 'Synthetic material. Plastic adhesive coating = Form of protection'. [i]Protection against what?[/i] I thought. But I was inevitably going to find out.

I then looked around and noticed a figure next to me that seemed to have been disabled from it's power. It was dressed like me, built like me, I thought it was me. I then looked around and noticed another figure, and another, and another. Each built and modelled exactly like me, but all of them were powerless.

I had no idea what was going on, but I continued to survey the area. All of us were positioned between two pedestals of some sort, each containing a lever on each pedestal with a form of trigger at the top. Next to every right pedestal was a glowing button with a number blinking every second, decreasing in value. It seemed as if it was a countdown.

The small, round room of which 'we' were in was small and dark. So dark that I felt alone.


So dark that I felt isolated.


So dark that I felt afraid.


So dark that I felt I needed someone.


So dark that I felt I needed [i]anything[/i].

I had never experienced these feelings before. [i]Are these, 'emotions'?[/i] I thought.

So many thoughts struck me all at once, it felt like my system was deteriating, as if I was about to break down at any moment. And then suddenly, the room shook violently and the deep screeches of a metal hull lifting, sounded. I was thrown back and the cylinders around me shook as their cables slithered like snakes towards my limbs, attaching themselves. My hands were pulled towards the levers on the pedestals and my index fingers were positioned upon both triggers. Then, my legs were bound by round, metal clasps as if I needed to be supported, and eventually I would need to be.

The lights scattered around the room flickered until they lit up for the last time, this time permanently. The room was filled with a bright light which was dimmed by a thin, blue layer that surrounded the room. I turned to look at what came upon my fellow 'clones', I had thought they were thrown at all different angles, but they were now attached the cables I were, eyes opening and blinking every now and again.

I took the chance to communicate with the robot below me, "Hello."

"Hello." It replied with a tilted head towards me, staring blankly.

"Where are we?" I asked.

"We are inside another machine."

"Another machine?" I repeated in question.

"In a sense yes. It is more like a weapon. Think of it like a cell, and we are the nuclei."

"How can I be a nucleus if I don't even have the knowledge to operate this weapon?" I asked.

"You have the knowledge." It replied once again, monotonously.

"Why are we using a weapon?"

"To fight the war."

"What war?" I asked, storing the information for further use.

"The war between man and machine."

Suddenly, it's head returned to it's position, looking up at the globe-like window. The room itself seemed to be lifted and rotated at a ninety degrees angle forwards and so we were practically dangling. The room we were in then shook with every... [i]Step?[/i] I thought. And we were plunged into darkness, stepping into nothingness until the black surface in front of our 'weapon' opened horizontally and everything was gloomily lit. We seemed to turn in both directions and I noticed there were three times the amount of us, each group of 6 in what seemed like a metallic monster with huge legs and four spiny tentacles. [i]Is that what I'm inside?[/i] I thought.

[b]"Commence battle operations."[/b] A scratchy voice sounded over the intercom, and from then on, I knew exactly what to do for an unknown reason.

Ahead was a destroyed field, letting off explosions every now and again as swarms of man and machine charged against eachother. The sky was black, there was no sun and so I wondered how I was still functional.

A platoon of armed men could be seen nearing our 'weapon' and so I reacted with a pull of the right lever causing a black, pointed whip to be seen penetrating the lead-trooper's chest. The tentacle lifted the screaming man while it was fired at from the platoon but it didn't affect or damage it whatsoever. Then, the tentacle automatically took control and returned to pluck another troop, only to be placed above again.

"Begin the harvest." We all said simultaneously.
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[color=silver][font=Tahoma][size=2][color=black][color=silver][font=Tahoma][size=3][size=2][color=gray]Touch me now, while I can still be sure it?s real
Breathe with me, before I die from artificial air

Look at me, remember you promised not to let go
Convince me, the nightmare was a mere reflection of a ghost

Stay by my side, you know it?s not time to leave
Come with me, let?s bring life to what was once a dream....
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Where is this?
Where is this?

Where is it happening
Where is it

Where is this?
Where is this?

This is where we roam.
This is where we go.
It is our home.
We won't let you have it.
It's our own.

Where is this?
Where is this?

But you should've known
You should've known

This is where the machines roam.
This is where the machines roam.

A child--the innocent bystander of every story that's had its yarn. The question that's pertinent is if you can sew them right. Or if you cut them in the process.

We were all children once. Look over at that elderly man there--the one that's at the bus stop, the sun on his face like a halo. He was once a child. And look over there--the alley. There's a bum there. He's got a long beard, and a strained face. It's sure you could smell the reek of alcohol from him, since he's got a bottle in his hand. He was once a child.

We were all once children.

How can something as beautiful as this come torn away? How can it leave us, like it wasn't ever there? It's such a paradox. From the outside, it looks contradicting. How can anyone lose their essence--lose the child in them? But deeper in, in most peoples' eyes, it's really gone.

Gone is the imagination. Gone is the wonder. Gone is the splendor. It's all gone.

All of it.

What took it? How could it possibly have been taken? I know I will fight for my child. But what happened to the rest?

I've seen it. Yes. I have. I have seen what's taken it.

The world, it's one big machine. The way it functions. The way it appears. The way it eats at you. The way it shows itself. It's all a machine.

Each and every day, we awake from our sleep: from our dreams. We wake up to go out and waste our lives away doing what this machine wants us to do. What it tells us.

Get an education. Learn about humanly-created facts. Devices. Ideals. Subjects.

Get a job. Get experienced in your job. Uphold the status quo. Get your money. Save some of it for retirement.

Get a nice house. A nice car. A nice wife. Get a nice life. Get a nice reason to your existence. Get a nice way to live.

It's all about it being nice when it's not nice at all.

All the while, your heart's slowly ripped right from your chest.

The cold metal will first feel your hair. Then your neck. It will touch your lips. Your lips will flutter in fear. You will feel the metal and it will numb you. You are touched by the machine. [i]Deus ex Machina[/i]. Your are touched by the God that comes from the machine. What it does to you. What it forces you to do. What it tells you to do. Your are brainwashed. You are stymied. Hampered. Impeded upon. And in the grip of this God that comes from the machine, that watches over it all, you become so disillusioned that you can't even see how much of a waste of time it is. All of it. The machine assimilates you and moves you on.

To assimilate you, it'll take your heart. Just your heart. It's nothing much. Nothing much at all. In the heart there's many things. There is blood. There is capillaries. There is veins. There is movement. There is beathing: a resonant thud-thud. And here there is no machine. It is all muscle, cells. There is no machine.

But are our bodies not machines themselves? Just shells we wear? Perhaps it is true. But it is our minds. From our minds we ascend. With our minds we are more than machines. Even if our minds are cold and calculating in what they do, there must be something more there. Is there?

I have searched for the answer. I believe what makes us different from machines is we feel emotions. And we have feelings. And most of all, we have heart. Hearts that're far more than blood, tissue, muscle, capillaries, cells, atoms, electrons, neutrons. You can go small as you want. There's something more to it than that.

And that part of me I won't let Them take.

I can feel the machine probing me. Feeling me up. It wants to entice me. It wants me to break down to it. To give into it. It wants my heart.

It wants the me I know to die so the me I don't know comes to life. The me who has an iron heart. Who is a machine in every way. Flawless in action, unfeeling and cold in demeanor. That's what it wants.

Some have lost. Some have let the God that comes from the machine gain them. Let Him conquer them. I won't.

Over in my mind, I see what it's like. The metal hand, it grasps you. Comforts and numbs you till you can't feel anymore. Then, when you're least paying attention, it slowly crawls its fingers up your bare chest. Crawls like a worm.

It comes to the center of your chest. It gropes there, feeling. Feeling the warmth of what's down there. It knows the warmth. It knows it's not needed.

Then down. Down it beats into your chest. First it bruises your skin, softens it up. The beating resonates in your ears, but you are too dumbed to hear it. Too numb. Your eyes are off in the distance, they aren't your own eyes anymore. They are someone else's. The someone else of you.

The middle of your chest now a bruised smear, the hand retracts, moves its fingers back and forth, back and forth. It prepares.


Then with intense speed its hand rears down. Its fingers, held open, dig into the middle of your chest. The skin is punctured, torn. It digs deep in, moving its mechanical fingers for leverage. Down in. Down in it goes. The blood. The anomalous pain you cannot feel. Then with precison unlike in human nature, it is at your heart. Holding it. Cradling it like it's a baby. Like it's a baby for it to own. Like it's given birth to it. It's nourished it, nourished it from a fetus to what it is now. And it's true. It has nourished it. You've been alive in the world--the way it is, the way it acts, its proclivities, its banalities. You've been with its everything since the beginning. It had you from the beginning. Had you enslaved. Servile, you had done what you had done, thinking it was right.

Now it comes down to this. The stealing of your heart. Of the thing that makes you most you. The thing that's different than anyone else's. The thing that has you in it, and is the you you know in every way.

Thud. Beat. Thud thud. Beat. Can you hear it? Can you hear it beating. Beating as its hand's in there? I can. And it's dying.

This is not the first time it's been in your heart. It's fingered it before. Fingered it like it had an itch to. There are scars on your heart from where it's gotten you before. But this isn't before. Scars are memoirs of what should never be allowed again, but it is too late now. It's too late for you. The machine has you. It's got you down with just its presence, and now it's got you by your heart.

I can feel it touching your heart. I can feel it, and it is sending shivers up my spine.

The hand lies in there for a while. Just cradling your heart. Feeling it up. It's taking its good time. It's taking its good time because it knows it has its good time to take.

Then it goes in. It's a well-trained killing machine. It knows right where to go. It goes to your vena cava--the largest artery in the heart. It chokes it with its two fingers. Then it grabs the rest--blood dying and all--and brings it out. It holds it in its hands for a while. You're still sitting there. Blind to it all.

It sets your heart down--it's dying now, the beats are slowing; soon it'll be gone. Gone forever.

It comes at you and takes a metal heart out. Cold still. This one's cold steel. It's steel cold.

And in you it goes.

It's too late now.

When you finally wake up--when you finally feel a hint of what is taken, when you finally know what's happened--that your whole life was stolen from you from the beginning, you'll be too old to do a thing about it. You'll be old, emaciated, inundated, debilitated. Wasted away. There'll be nothing you can do.

When you die you'll die alone. You'll die alone because you don't have your heart.

I won't let it happen to me. I am standing outside the bus stop as I write this. The old man I was talking about--I can see it in his eyes. He's been dead a long time. I feel numb. I feel dead too. But in that dead carcass of nothing, in that dead carcass of nothing that's inside me, that I'm swallowing, I feel something moving. I feel something slithering and heartening me. It tells me to keep me me, and not let the machine take me.

I listen. Walking in the bus, I listen.

They all follow their God here. Their God who made Jesus Christ. Their God who put him on the cross. That God comes from the machine. God isn't like that. God isn't.

God is not judicious. If he were judicious, the Holocaust wouldn't have happened. Wars wouldn't have happened. Suffering would not have happened. The machine we live in today wouldn't have happened. If God was what they say he is, then I'd still be a child. I wouldn't be changing, struggling to keep me me. Struggling to have it.

We all carry our crosses. We carry them our whole lives, and we suffer as much, if not more than, Jesus Christ did in that one day. The machine tries to help us carry it, but it can't.

You're going to be crucified by that cross one day. I'd rather make mine the real me. I'd rather write on it what I want. I'd rather bleed and sweat and cry on my own. Not for this machine. Not for this waste of time world. Not for this.

But I can't.

It's funny that those who have full hearts are seen as the most empty.

In we go
In we go
In we go
Go go go
In we
In we

In we go
We go

Goodbye heart

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This plays on the idea that the machines are just like humans. It pits two clone-field harvesters in a 'human-like' conversation.

The machine glided through row upon row of humans, idly checking each pod with it sensors as it passed.

Alive, alive, alive, dead, dead, alive, dead, dying, alive The machine stopped. They had fought a bitter war with the humans for this? Turning around the machine beeped to its closest mechanical neighbour:

Hey Jim? Did you picture this when we slaughtered those humans? Both the machine and Jim were very old units, around since humans breeded naturally.

No way man! 'Jim' beeped back. I was seein days just lazin around at ground level, barrel of oil in one tentacle, human pods to leech energy off in all the others. I tell ya Rob, we missed out when we signed up for 'civil duties'

Blegh, Rob beeped. Civil duties? More like servo-draining hard work. Both machines beeped in a random matter - it was what served as a laugh. The Architect's voice cut into the back of both machines minds as they beeped, bringing them both back to earth.

You two! Back to work! Efficency is done 0.0000000000000000007% because of this idle chit chat!

Jim sighed.

See ya at the docks Rob, he said as he glided away. Rob waved with a few dozen of his metallic tentacles in farewell.

If some 'free humans' don't get me first The two hulking machines laughed once more, before getting back to their allocated duties. Free humans was an old joke among the lesser machines.

Dead, dead, dead, alive, alive, dead, dead...
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[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black]Again, I want to remind everybody to include titles with each piece, so that I can credit you. Mitch, I removed the two song lyrics posts, because they were neither your own work, nor were the "official" Matrix stuff. But everything else is fine, so it's been left as-is.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Also, I want to stress that I'm not holding people to any constraints about what they post, except that obviously, you have to post Matrix-related stuff that is your own work. So far I'm incredibly impressed with everything I've seen, and I really want to encourage people to post their work here -- please do not be concerned about your post quality, or English skills. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]This is one occasion where I really don't care. If you have fun writing your piece and if you really want to submit it, please do so. There aren't any requirements on post quality in this thread, provided that your piece is Matrix related and within reason (so obviously, something that's two lines and unreadable wouldn't qualify). [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Anyway, here's my next piece. Like the first one, it's based on my original character notes. Actually, this [i]is [/i]my original set of notes for Sabine. I decided not to edit it, unlike my first one. [/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=2]Oh, and, CrH...I borrowed your HTML for this one. Thank you. ~_^[/size][/font]


[b][font=Verdana][size=2]Midnight Chase[/size][/font][/b]


[img]http://www.otakuboards.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=18543&stc=1[/img][font=Garamond][color=#08846e][left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]Sabine was a police officer; a traffic cop, to be precise. Highway patrol. Nothing too out of the ordinary. That is, until a high speed chase changed her life forever. [/color][/size][/font][/left]

[left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray][/color][/size][/font] [/left]
[left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]She was tailing a speeding truck in her cruiser for several kilometers, until it finally pulled over on the side of the road. And just as she went to give the driver a ticket, he took off at full speed. Sabine jumped into the cruiser and gave chase. The pursuit lasted for more than an hour, until it came to a horrible end[/color][/size][/font][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]. [/color][/size][/font][/left]

[left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]Sabine raced along a highway bridge, which sat over a wide river. She sped along beside the truck and edged toward it, in an attempt to force the driver to stop. But she was not prepared for what followed. The truck driver veered across the broken line and nudged her cruiser; there was only a slight kiss between the two vehicles, but it was enough to send Sabine's cruiser lurching sideways through oncoming traffic. Sabine's eyes were wide with terror, as she attempted to gain control of the vehicle. But it was too late. [/color][/size][/font][/left]


[left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]The cruiser ploughed through a concrete barrier and dived off the bridge, toward the murky water hundreds of meters below. Sabine stared intently at the wall of blackness that was fast approaching. She stared so intently, that the wall seemed to slow down. It was no longer speeding [i]toward [/i]her, but rather, it seemed to be creeping away from her. [/color][/size][/font][/left]

[left][font=Garamond][size=2][color=slategray]Sabine looked away from the river, which now appeared as a tiny speck in the distance. The car was gone from around her and she could no longer see it. Instead of falling, she was flying high above the world. For a moment, it was peaceful. She could hear water running nearby and birds calling in the distance. And then, as suddenly as it had started, the black river approached her again. She began falling faster than before. And just as she hit the river's surface, her eyes opened for a second time. She was immersed in a pink gelatenous liquid.[/color][/size][/font][/font][/left]

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My attempt at a Matrix-esque story. Personally, I don't like it that much. But I'm not the one who's reading it, eh?


The man stood atop an old crate, at the corner of 180th and 5th. Stood there for two days.

Cars and people milled about, hearing but not listening. Who would listen to such a loon? He looked crazed, with his wild eyes and messy hair, rumpled tie and disheveled clothes. His face was grimy and lined, and he looked like a Holleywood Hobo.

"We must awake to the real world!" he yelled. "This world is a false-hood! A mimicry of existence! It is not real! I have seen the true world! The world beyond! We must awake! Awake to reality! We must go through the rabbit-hole!"

"Looks like someone's been chasing the 'white-rabbit'," a young man said to his friend, who mimied smoking a joint.

"We...we must not let them win! We must find the truth!

"But they don't want that! NO! They want us to stay here! They want to use us! Use us as their...their batteries! Batteries for the foul machines! The machines that threaten to enslave man-kind for all eternity! We must stop them!"

All around him, people shrugged off his words. Who should listen...who would listen? He was just a crazy, after all.

"We must awake! AWAKE!"


Just a crazy. [I]They[/I] knew that. The men...in the black coats. They took him away, kicking and screaming like the crazies do. They took him, and he didn't come back.

[I]Why, do you think?[/I]

He had been there for two days, you see. They must've finally figured it out. And they got rid of him.


Yes. No more crazy conspiracy theories. No more cries for awakening. No more psychoes standing on the street-corners, yelled their insanities. No more.

[I]Isn't is kind of suspicious, thought?[/I]

You're right. Those men in black coats [I]were[/I] kind of suspicious. I mean, they didn't have badges or anything. But still, they must've been FBI.

[I]You sure?[/I]

But who else could they be? They must've been police, or FBI, or CIA. They had guns, and black coats, and sunglasses. Who else would dress like that and take some crazy away?


I mean, he was crazy, right? He couldn't have been in his right mind, right? He...he was wrong...right?


No? He was right? Then...then what can we do? Awake? How?

[I]You must...[/I]

Wait. What was that? That noise? Like a car...a car outside...

[I]They're here for me.[/I]

You? They want you? For what?


Knowing? Knowing what?

[I]I...I have to go![/I]

Go? Go where?

[I]You have to hide! They'll get you too![/I]

What? Why?

[I]You heard...[/I]

Heard? Heard what?

[I]The soap-box serenade...[/I]
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[b]I haven't posted a short story in a while, and, to the best of my recollection, I've never based one off an existing property. So, here's what I ended up with. Sorry if it's somewhat boring. No cool illustrations either. =/[/b]

[b]I am proud of how I managed to blur the lines between sexes though; there's never a clear distinction made as to whether or not the speaker is male or female (unless I messed up somewhere and don't realize it). [/b]

[b]If the relationship to The Matrix material is too subtle or not what you're looking for here, just delete my post and private message me briefly so I don't feel too embarrassed or anything. :blush:[/b]

[center][b][u][color=seagreen]P[color=seagreen]u[/color]lling the Plug[/color][/u][/b][/center]

The opening curtain had only just been raised, and there I was, approaching the final act.

I only knew the morning because you would draw back the curtains and tidy up around me. The early morning rays would filter through the musty panes, and breathe a soft incandescent glow into the otherwise cold linoleum. It was truly the loveliest part of the day. Far superior to the clear navy sky of night.

Otherwise, the same picture frames, wallpaper, medicine bottles and cables plugged me into one misery--this life for me. When I said the days ran together like the pain, you said you understood. The ache and I were constantly thrusted into a bitter, meaningless void. I would fall like a stone, and no matter how far down I was pushed, it remained bottomless. Suffering redefined. I was breathless; I didn?t want it. But, at the same time, I didn?t feel comfortable living in the past tense yet, either.

You said, Give me your hand.

And I did. It looked like it belonged to a child as it disappeared into your palm.

I looked into your eyes, those big beautiful eyes, those pulsing, swelling pools of compassion that had swept away so many sleepless nights over the years. There were lots of reasons I gave my hand to you, but to see you cry wasn?t one of them. And God bless you, your eyes were moist, but they never gave way. You stared into those glossy black orbs of mine with firm courage. You were good that way.

You never dwelled on your emotions because you didn?t want to make me feel guilty and I didn?t want you to think I wanted you to feel guilty. That was good enough for the both of us.

You told me, If I could take your Leukaemia, I would.

The stability in your voice was as thick as a curled eyelash.

I believed you.

I felt a peaceful smile crawl across my face. I heard the notes--and they formed a lullaby. I felt a great sense of uplifting that would sluice the fear away. My eyes shut and I faded off into never-never land. It was a full experience. That?s what made me want it all the more.

My slumber chipped away at the day like a pickaxe

When I awoke, the last rays of sunlight were slivering across the fertile bluegrass. My deep-set eyes and aquiline nose were unmistakable in the half-opened window?s reflection. In that transparent visage, I saw you. I made myself not miss you. You holding my hand. You shifting in the undersized chair beside my bed. You brushing the back of your hand against my pasty cheek. You tidying up around me. You probing me with questions.

You weren?t doing ordinary things. You weren?t feeding the dogs. You weren?t listlessly thumbing through junk mail to find the bills. You weren?t pressing your breasts against a date?s shoulder at the climax of a scary film. You weren?t chatting idly over a cup of coffee.

How was it that, when you told me you would take my sickness, I believed you not realizing you already had?

A spring chill was in the air, nipping at my toes, carrying with it a subliminal sense of finality.

I wondered what you would be doing right now.

I plucked a wire from my body, and then another, and then another with undeniable ease. Outside, the steadily-darkening sky was becoming filled with a very heavy, thick-looking substance; a curiosity for anyone who should see it. I ripped more wires from my veins; the surrounding cacophony of mechanical beeping transformed into a long whine. Soon, the sky clouded over with ominous thunderheads.

Others surrounded me, screaming frantically, pleading for me to stop, flailing their arms as if to prevent the sky from falling.

They screamed, These are what's keeping you alive!

My mouth was closed. It wouldn't open. I couldn?t tell them anything.

A roll in the heavens preceded a blinding glint across the night sky that seemed to slice it in two. A surge of electricity popped the bulbs above us in a slow motion shower of golden star-shaped sparkles. And suddenly, there I was--struggling in a sludge pond, gasping, bleary-eyed, a helpless infant ready to be crushed or cradled but uncertain of either destiny. Thunder echoed, before another bolt cracked out across hard, dead lands, across jagged rock edges protruding out of the earth. Death--was everywhere.

The sludge began to bubble and froth. The gelatin on the outermost edges of the pond thinned into a liquid state, while the center coagulated and steamed like a boiling kettle. The middle began to rise up like the stalk of a strange liquidous/solid hybrid substance. It boiled and frothed still more. The stalk rose some twenty feet out of the pond. Then, it began to take form. Gigantic, tentacle-like legs emerged at the base. Trunk-like arms extended from the sides, dripping a thick ooze back into the originating source, yet the extremities themselves lost nothing in the way of mass.

I would be lying if I said I wasn?t afraid. If I said I didn?t wonder what this purgatory had in store for me.

Amidst all the confusion, however, when nothing made sense at all, when everything I knew fell apart at the seams for the second time in my short existance, one thing did manage to become perfectly clear: The old cliche was wrong; surely I should have seen my life flash before my eyes. Instead, I pulled from it what was most important; I concentrated on what made it worth living to begin with. I thought of you, baby, dancing on a sunset strip somewhere outlined by a golden glow, a bleeding pink sky permeating your form, and I thought to myself, Whatever this is, whatever happens from this moment on, whatever is left unsaid between us, I?d bear it for you in a heartbeat.
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It was three years ago, before I was freed from the Matrix. I?d just begun contemplating a tactful way to ask my father for permission to go into the courtyard and play, when cold, echoing words began to fill the crisp autumn air. Then the sounds of a brawl began resounding through our apartment, and my father yelled for us to get on the floor. I was scared, and a little jealous. Everyone else was in the kitchen, which had a balcony that overlooked the courtyard, which was were the fighting seemed to be taking place. I debated crawling into the kitchen to see what was going on, but knew that my parents would be furious with me if I did. So instead I waited, listening to the voices outside grunting and groaning in agony of a feirce melee. I heard the swoosh of something cutting through the air like a sword, then a eerie crunch as it made contact with a body. Most likely it was a turf war between local gangs. There was simply no other explanation for such a large fight.

My attention was diverted to the kitchen, as I heard a strange noise, and muffled cries of pain. I placed my head on the floor and looked under the closed door of my room into the kitchen. A kitchen where, moments before, I was sure had been my family. Now, they were gone. Vanished from their prone positions on the floor, and nowhere to be seen. I got up, and looked through the keyhole of my door, terrified. The pounding of several pairs of shoes reached my ears as someone else walked though my house, down the back stairs, and out the door into the courtyard. It could have been several people; I was too scared to think straight.

Adrenaline pounded through my veins. Curiosity overpowered fear. I opened the door and nervously peeked out. Seeing nobody, I walked over to our balcony and looked down. What lay below was like nothing I?d seen before, or since.

In the courtyard below was a pile of men. They were all jumping on top of each other, as if trying to cover something beneath them. Stranger still was that all the men were wearing the exact same clothes. Upon closer inspection, they all [I]were[/I] the same. Like identical twins, only there were about a hundred of them. I blinked and pinched my arm, but the dog pile of human clones remained.

A muffled voice spoke from deep within the pile, and I didn?t catch what he said. Then the others started echoing him, in a malevolent and gleeful way. Then silence filled the courtyard for the first time in what seemed like years. Nobody in the pile moved.

Then a cry came from the middle of the pile. A scream of rage so loud it pierced the mound of bodies it was enveloped in. Then the mountain of clones exploded.

Men in business suits went flying in every direction, one straight up into the sky for fifty feet before plummeting back to earth. Then a different figure caught my eye. One man emerged, who would have struck me as cool because of his sunglasses, if I hadn?t been completely scared. Moving with confidence and without a trace of emotion on his face, he looked around at the ?clones?. Seeming neither worried, surprised or scared that he was surrounded by a mob of identical men, the different one gazed skyward. He knelt down, and the pavement beneath his feet rippled like water. After slowly raising his head to look up, he flew away. I was shocked. He just flew away. Just like superman?
In perfect unison, the clones looked up after him. They watched him, as did I, until he was no more than a speck in the distance.

Then the clones began dispersing. They exited the courtyard though every available exit, all one hundred of them, in just a few seconds. I began to worry that they might come into my house, but my curiosity got the better of me and I stayed to watch. One of the clones had stayed in the courtyard. Just one. Like all the rest, but different. He began to walk towards the main entrance to the courtyard, a door behind the bench. The doorknob turned in his hand and he was about to leave when he stopped. The ?clone? raised his head and looked straight at me. It, whatever it was, stared into my eyes with a look of utter contempt and I stared back. After a moment, he left.
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"Hurry up, man."

"Dude, shut up." This is a lot harder than it looks, thought the boy,
attaching the alligator clips to their corresponding wires. Field hacking: A
lot more work than conventional hacking, but bigger overall payoffs. The pr-
ocess involved taking a regular old phone cord, replacing the head with the
head with the alligator clips, and then going on a late-night stroll. These
boys were on one of these strolls.

A week prior, the "Dude, shut up" kid had noticed a payphone he had
never seen before, while riding the bus home from school. It was tucked away
in the alley between "Zhao Jiancheng's Noodles-2-Go," and "Big Bad Bill's G-
uns." Chinese food and guns. Right next to each other. Only in New York.

This kid, which shall now be referred to as Jonathan, immediately de-
cided that this was the spot. The next day, he managed to talk his mom into
eating at Noodles-2-Go. They got there at 7:00. The street lights flickered
on. Jonathan and his mom were finished eating by eight. As They were leavi-
ng, Jonathan took note that the light above the payphone hadn't come on. P-

When the two arrived home, apartment 15b, Jonathan went into his r-
oom, flipped on his computers, and IM'd his friend.

[color=red]50UL FL4Y3R:[/color] i found it.
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss:[/color] ?
[color=red]50UL FL4Y3R:[/color] the perfect site.
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss:[/color] ??
[color=red]50UL FL4Y3R:[/color] 4 a mission!
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss:[/color] ??????
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss:[/color] what r u talking about?
[color=red]50UL FL4Y3R:[/color] just come over u retard.
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss:[/color] k. >:E
[color=blue]us3r fri3ndl3ss has logged off at 8:25PM.[/color]

Ten minutes later the intercom buzzed in apartment 15b. Jonathan?s
mom answered it.


"It's Nick."

"Oh. Just a sec," said the mother, pressing a button on the intercom.
45 seconds later Nick was at the door, and then inside 15b.

"John's inside his room...I think."

"Thanks, Mrs. V." Nick walked down the little hallway to the door wi-
th the upside-down American flag taped to it.

"About time," said Jonathan as the door opened.

"What were you rambling about earlier?" Nick asked this with a confu-
sed air.

"I found the perfect phone for a field mission."

"Oh. Sweet."

"Yeah, and it's in an alley with a busted street light."

"Is it next to that one Chinese place?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"

"I blade there all the time. They have the best moo-goo-gai-pan."

"Why didn't you tell me about it?"

"I didn't think you liked moo-goo-gai-pan."

"That's not...shut up. Get me my stuff so I can get the police schedule"

"Fine." Nick went over to the bed and pulled out a milk crate from under
it, then he opened the air vent and removed a small safe. "Armageddon-proof" read
the sticker on the bottom. Small, golden, raised letters on top said "Dave." In-
side the crate was a collection of CD's and a hat.

"Shall we be working with the Flag or the Rage today?" asked Nick, pulli-
ng out two CD's.

"Umm...the Flag," said Jonathan, putting on the hat. It was an "I sailed
with Long John Silver's" pirate hat. Nick popped the CD into the computer and An-
ti-Flag came blaring out the speakers.

Nick sat down next to Jonathan at the second computer.

"While you're doing that," said Nick, "I'll play operator." With that,
Nick reached for his backpack. He pulled out an old hard hat he'd swiped from a
Bell truck. It had an engineer's hat ductaped on top. He also pulled out a head-
set that had a Verizon sticker stuck to it.

"All aboard! The 8:45 train is now leaving. I'll be your social engineer
for this trip. all passengers must have their passwords, credit card, and social
security numbers out and ready to be punched." At this, Nick punched the air n-
ext to him, followed by a verse of "Crazy Train."

"Quiet. I need concentration," said Jonathan. He slid a key into the s-
lot of the safe, then put in the combination: 17-20-45. One thing left. He pres-
sed down the raised text, "Dave," and the safe opened. Inside there were five f-
loppy discs and one mini disc. He pulled out the floppy that read "Homework,"
and slipped it into the drive.

Jonathan dialed the modem of the police station with his computer. "I
just discovered this number a few days ago," he said, "it should help us a lot."
A log-in screen appeared. Jonathan typed in "Administrator" under screen name.

"All I have to do now is get the password." He opened the program on the
floppy disc. When it came up, it immediately started running through words in a-
lphabetical order through the password field.

"This might take a while."

Ninety minutes and four bottles of Jolt later...

"Ugh...this is taking forever."

"Hey, John, I just called my mom and told her I was spending the night."

"That's good," said Jonathan lazily. Just as he said this the password
generator stopped on the word "Maria."

"We're in," said Jonathan with a smirk. "Now schedules, schedules, ah...
schedules. Print, and here we go."

"Great. Now we can see when they patrol the mission area," said Nick. "I'm
going to get ready for bed."

"Okay." Nick left the room. Jonathan leaned back in his chair, yawning.
Just then the screen went blank; a green line flashing.

"What the..." Jonathan slapped the side of the monitor. Words began to a-
ppear on the screen.

[font=Lucida Console][color=seagreen]I know what you are planing on doing.[/color]
[color=seagreen] [/color]
[font=Lucida Console][color=seagreen]Who are you?[/color][/font]
[color=seagreen] [/color]
[font=Lucida Console][color=seagreen]Don't do it.[/color][/font]

The screen clicked, and then the computer restarted.
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[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Principal Concern?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]The main office was rather sizeable for a school of this size. A handful of students sat in alternating chairs along the wall, their eyes locked in a gaze as if they were staring at some distant hope of a freedom just outside of their reach. They saw nobody enter. They saw nobody leave. Their purpose, it seemed, was simply to be.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?I hope Jakob isn?t in any trouble,? Samantha whispered as she and her husband, Adam, walked quietly into the office.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Don?t worry, Sam,? Adam replied, ?I?m sure he?s fine. This is probably just one of those conferences.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?I hope so.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Sam, c?mon, hun. We?ve been here before. Nothing?s changed.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?I?m still worried.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?I know. Just relax. There?s nothing to be worried about. Here, sit down over there.?[/color][/size][/font]
[color=darkgreen] [/color]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]Samantha sat down in between two of the synthetic, blank faces. She looked to her left and tried to smile at him. She faced right. The girl?s earphones weren?t going to be unplugged. Samantha faced forward again, a queer worry creeping upon her face. She looked up at Adam. He was busy talking with the receptionist. Samantha folded her hands in her lap and closed her eyes.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Mr. and Mrs. Paterson,? the secretary said, ?the Principal is ready to see you now.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]The hallway was a narrow one; the walls were colored a greenish tan and the paneling was simple and efficient. There was no wasted space in the office. Everything was ordered in a neat precision. The operations were almost cold, hard calculations.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Here we are,? the secretary chirpily announced, ?you can go right in.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]The door closed behind them.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Paterson. I?m glad that you were able to attend our meeting. Please, have a seat.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]They sat down. The Principal produced a folder.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?I called you to discuss your son,? he looked down at the folder, ?Jakob?s educational progress. Now, it is on record that he suffers from a variety of learning disabilities. It is fortunate, however, that these difficulties are milder than this administration had previously observed.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]Adam and Samantha looked at each other in confusion.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Mr. and Mrs. Paterson, I, like members of our faculty here, am very impressed with Jakob?s zeal and inclination to certain forms of higher learning. I have spoken with his mathematics instructors and they all agree that his capacity for abstract numerical patterns far exceeds any student they have had in recent years.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]We feel that Jakob should be enrolled in an accelerated computations program held at one of our more technologically advanced campuses in the Tri-State area, in order to encourage his further intellectual growth so that he may be a fully functional contributor to society.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]While I am supportive of this initiative, I am required by law to inform you that your contact with Jakob will be restricted while he is involved in this program. Limited contact with the outside world is essential in creating a network for Jakob?s abilities.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Well, we don?t know what to say, really. I mean, we?re deeply honored and we?d like some time to think about this, if you don?t mind,? Adam replied.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Take as much time as you need. If you wish to proceed, my secretary has the necessary paperwork.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]Adam and Samantha rose from their chairs with unsteady knees. Samantha opened the door. Adam extended his hand to the man behind the desk.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Thank you, again, Mr?uh??[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Smith.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?Thank you, Mr. Smith. It was a pleasure.?[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Courier New][size=2][color=darkgreen]?The pleasure was all mine.?[/color][/size][/font]
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Great job on all the stories so far. I especially enjoyed Zidargh's entry and Petey's second entry. Great stuff.

Taking the bus home is a drag, sometimes. The people around you are strange as hell, the place smells like someone died in there and the bus drivers never really give you the feeling that they're all there in the head. If I could afford a car, I'd use it, but photojournalism isn't exactly the most profitable of careers. Sure, there are some people that make it big, but I'm not one of them.

The bus stopped a couple blocks from my apartment building, like always. There wasn't a bus stop near where I lived, so I had to make due with what I could. I walked through the thick crowd of people, bumping into everyone every which way, without a word of apology from anyone. Nobody cared enough to really say anything of the sort in New York.

I walked about a block, when I realized that I did not want to go home. In fact, home was the [i]last[/i] place I was supposed to be. I crossed the street, walking perpendicular to the path that went to my house, with my camera gripped tightly in my hands. I was shaking a bit. I had no idea where I was going or why I was going there. I just knew that I was going somewhere.

I continued walking fervently, with less and less people getting in my way. I crossed streets without the slightest regard as to whether or not a car would be heading into my route. I turned corners without paying heed to the fact that there may have been another person turning that same corner at that exact moment. Why? Because I knew that there would not be anyone or anything in my way.

I was truly frightened now. It had just dawned upon me that I was the only one who would be going to wherever I would be going. I was the only one taking the path to the unknown. It's a miracle that I didn't shatter my camera, my hands were gripping it so tightly. It almost slipped out of my palms a few times, because they were soaking with the perspiration of fear. The fear of walking the walk that nobody else wants to walk.

Suddenly, I was there. Central Park. The vast expanse of green was still visible, even in the darkness of night. I slowly walked forward, my heart pounding a mile a minute, my legs quivering with every step that I took. I stopped in front of a small pond, not knowing why exactly I chose that particular spot to stop.

And then, it happened.

The sun rose. The light was the most beautiful and fulfilling sight I had ever seen in my life. The bright yellow gleam of the light pervaded my entire being, lifting me, calming my fear, soothing my body. It did not even occur to me until much later that it had been nighttime and the sun should not have risen until much later. Or, perhaps it [i]did[/i] occur to me, subconscially, and that is why I regarded this light as such a divine miracle.

My arm, still holding my camera, raised to my eye, the only part of my body that was still shaking; not with fear, but with excitement. The spot on which I was standing was in perfect view of this glorious monument of light. I clicked once and took a perfect shot of the sunrise.

That photo still remains with me to this day. To anyone else, it would be worthless, but, to me, it is the most cherished item I have ever come to possess in my life. That light meant something to me. Hope, divinity, purity...there was one word, one feeling, that rose above them all, however.

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[font=Verdana][size=2][color=dimgray]Wow, amazing stuff so far everyone. You've all done an exceptional job. ^_^[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Verdana][size=2][color=#696969]I'm very pleased with how this thread is going. And again, I urge all OB writers to have a go -- whether you think your work is good or not. The aim here is to have fun![/color][/size][/font]
[font=Verdana][size=2][color=#696969]This next piece is a favourite of mine. It is written by Poppy Z. Brite and I think you'll find it to be quite an interesting twist on various stories that we've seen already. Very interesting reading.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]
[font=Verdana][size=2][color=black][b]System Freeze, by Poppy Z. Brite[/b][/color][/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Plodding toward the summit of Everest, high above Camp Three where every step felt like a life's work and every breath made her pray she'd be able to take the next one, Fria Canning saw her first dead body. It was a Japanese man in a red climbing suit, huddled in a fetal position beneath an outcropping of rock. He must have been here since last season, maybe longer; at these altitudes it was almost impossible to retrieve the bodies of dead climbers, and the mountain became their sepulcher. [/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]One of the man's mittens was gone, exposing a withered, clawlike hand. His face was as dark and scoured as the rock, a grimacing mask that no longer looked human. Fria had to unclip from the ropes to get around him. As she did, she said a quick silent prayer for him, a wish that the mountain spirit Chomolungma might welcome him, and then she kept climbing. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She didn't think of the corpse again until fifteen minutes later, because fifteen minutes later she was dying. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]It happened so fast, only a heartbeat to break through the deceptive crust of snow, less than that to fall a hundred feet, and then the shock of impact. Fria felt something snap in her thigh, something give in her shoulder. She'd plunged into a hidden crevasse, landed on some sort of ledge deep within the ice. Her harness had been attached to the ropes, but either her carabiners or the harness itself had failed. She couldn't move to check; hot knives of pain sliced at her when she tried. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Fria tried to assess her situation. She lay on her right side facing a wall of ice that soared up nearly as far as she could see, only a faint gray smudge of daylight wavering at the top. The outer layer of the ice was translucent, webbed here and there with white fissures. Deeper in, the ice turned a delicate, almost metallic blue. Beyond thatÇas deep as Fria's eye could seeÇwas an opaque core of darkness. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]If she died here, the glacier would chew her up and eventually spit her out somewhere lower on Everest. She'd heard of it before, climbers disappearing into crevasses and getting churned out months or years later. Fria didn't want that. She'd rather stay on the mountain, become part of its vast system. The idea of leaving her imprint on systems had always appealed to her, had kept her home learning to talk to computers when other kids were cruising the mall, had inspired her to write the artificial intelligence program that financed this climb. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She imagined her consciousness spiraling away from her body, into the multifaceted ice, into the matrix of the mountain. Dreamily, without fear or even surprise, she noticed that a man was coming through the ice to meet her. He walked as easily as if through thin air, wearing a well-cut black suit and dark glasses like some CIA spook. His stride was neither hurried nor hesitant. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Was this Death? She'd always imagined him as more colorful somehow. She flashed on the prayer flags that the Sherpas strung on the mountain for the wind to harry; each snap of a brightly colored flag was a prayer to an ancestor. Fria felt sure that the man approaching her could have nothing to do with such matters. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]When he reached her, he bent and offered her a hand. She grasped it without thinking, and the man pulled her up as easily as she herself might lift a toddler. She sucked in her breath, anticipating the pain of her broken parts, but the pain did not come. She realized she was standing intact on the ice ledge, supporting herself on her own sturdy legs, and the man was watching her with the barest hint of a smile. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Hello, Fria Canning." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Hi." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"I'm Agent John Fine, and I'm very pleased to meet you. We admire your work tremendously. AI isn't my particular specialty, but my colleagues say your Self program is the most revolutionary piece of artificial intelligence work achieved by any battÇany human." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Well, thank you." Fria was certain now that she must be hallucinating. Probably she was dying, random bits of memory spooling through her brain like a buggy hard drive spitting out lines of nonsense code. What could she do but play along? "I'm, uh, very proud of Self. It almost feels like I created something that's more than the sum of me." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Of course it is more than the sum of you." A trace of irritation crept into the man's voice, but he smoothed it over at once. "Fria, would you like to get out of this crevasse? Would you like to summit Everest?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"I don't think that's in the cards." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"It can be. Do you want it?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She laughed. "What are you, the Devil? Is this my chance to sell you my soul for another thirty or forty years on stinky old Planet Earth? I don''t think so, Mister." "What would the Devil want with an artificial intelligence program, Fria?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Help him recruit the damned, maybe? I don't know. Forget it. **** off." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]The man took a step backward into the ice, and at once Fria was lying on the ledge again, limbs bent in ways they shouldn't be, the pain red and pounding and a hundred times worse than before. She began to cry from the relentlessness of it, and soon her sobs turned into retches. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Die deep in the ice then, if you like. It makes very little difference to me either way. But I'm not the Devil, or any other such silly human bogeyman, and all I want from you is something you would have done anyway." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"What?" she managed to spit out. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Finish the new AI program you began work on before you left for Nepal. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]We will contact you when it's completed, and we will pay you very handsomely for it." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Honest?" she said, absurdly. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Honest." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"You got it." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]And then with no sense of transition she was back on the surface of the mountain, within sight of Camp Four at the base of the South Col. Her limbs were whole and strong, her gear undamaged, her climbing harness hooked onto the ropes. The whole thing might never have happened. In fact, it couldn't have. She was climbing without bottled oxygen, after all; she must have slipped into hypoxia, and her air-starved brain had taken her on one hell of a trip. Though every cell of her body ached, she'd never felt more intensely alive. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Fria started toward Camp Four, where her Sherpa team would have hot tea and a dry tent ready. The next day just before noon, she stood upon the summit of Everest, one foot in China and the other in Nepal. [/size][/font]

[center][font=Book Antiqua][size=2].................... [/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She'd been staring out the window above her desk for nearly an hour, not seeing the fields of tall grass and summer wildflowers that surrounded her house. She was picturing mountains. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]With a shake of her head, Fria brought herself back to reality and forced herself to look at her computer screen. It was filled with lines of code that no longer made sense to her. She didn't know why, but she just couldn't work on this program anymore. Maybe it had too many associations with the climb, with the accident she'd hadÇor, rather, the accident she imagined she'd had. Fria knew she couldn't have survived the kind of fall she remembered, let alone have gotten herself out of the crevasse and continued on to the summit. Therefore, she'd been hypoxicÇperhaps even had a touch of cerebral edemaÇand hallucinated the whole thing. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She was proud of having summited, but it upset her to think about Everest now. The summit was not all she'd thought it would be. The peak of her life, literally the highest point she would ever achieve, was over. Traveling back through Namche Bazaar, Kathmandu, London, New York, home, she'd felt a curious, flat depression. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She decided to put the new AI program aside. Her savings account was still healthy, and it wasn't as if she had promised the program to anybody. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]The knock came two days later, catching her in her underwear, drinking cold coffee and trying to make a dent in her huge backlog of e-mail. She struggled into a ratty bathrobe and headed for the door. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]She didn't recognize the man at first. With his dark suit and spook shades, he looked as incongruous on her front stoop as he had a hundred feet down in a glacier. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Fria Canning. Agent John Fine." He offered a hand which she was too confused to shake. "I'm sure you remember me." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Not really, Mister, uh" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Agent. Agent Fine. We met under rather uncomfortable circumstancesÇ circumstances I'm sure you wouldn't want to repeat. I'm here about the AI program." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"The new one?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Fine's silence was confirmation enough. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"I'm afraid I won't be completing that one. I've moved on to other things, and I'm not sure what business it is of yours anyway." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"We had an agreement, Miss Canning." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Then it all came back to her: the crevasse, the pain of her broken body, the searing cold. The promise she had made to the man who walked out of the ice. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"I can't do it," she whispered. "It makes me think too much of" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Of this?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]Fine's body was changing, glittering, a mass of proliferating crystals seeming to burst from his mouth, chest, abdomen. Ice. Ice coming out of his body, advancing like a speeded-up film of glacial encroachment. Ice touching her, surrounding her. Ice tightening around her and cracking her bones. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"We hate it when our batteries give out early," she heard Fine say, and then the ice covered her face and she knew no more. [/size][/font]

[center][font=Book Antiqua][size=2]............... [/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]The coroner stepped back from the autopsy table shaking his head. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"Damnedest thing. I don't understand it." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]His assistant shrugged. "What? All those broken bones, looks like she was beaten to death." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"I don't know if she was beaten or not. The injuries are more consistent with a fall, but she was found in her living roomÇwhere the hell did she fall from? Anyway, the injuries didn't kill her." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"What then?" [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]The coroner looked out the window for a long moment before answering. [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]"This woman died of hypothermia." [/size][/font]

[font=Book Antiqua][size=2]The window in the morgue was small, high, and dirty, but through it the coroner and his assistant could plainly see the sun and sky of a perfect July day. [/size][/font]
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Cause to effect ?

[center][/size][/font][/color][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][size=2]Are you ready to turn the key,[/center]
[center][/size][/font][/color][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][size=2]open the door and flick on the lights ?

[center][/size][/font][/color][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][size=2]Has the time come to prepare yourself,[/center]
[center][/size][/font][/color][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][size=2]to wake up and never go back ?[/center]

[font=Tahoma][color=#000000]His chest was slowly moving up and down as he breathed, a mumble telling of the dreams he had. Hesitantly she reached out and touched his arm. His muscles, always tense from the strains of keeping reality from illusion, were relaxed now. A sweet smile played on her lips, her happiness betrayed only by the pain in her eyes as she saw him sleep so peacefully.

S[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]he could feel him respond to her fingers as she moved them lovingly over his skin, his murmurs broken by deep sighs. Her thoughts trailed, soothed by the safety that always enclosed her in his company. Half closing her eyes, she let her hand wander over his familiar shape.
[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Falling into a trance-like state she watched her fingers trace circles at the base of his neck, but was dragged back into reality as his body jerked violently.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Startled, she quickly withdrew her hand and pushed herself away from him. A sudden jolting of memories washed over her.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Turning away and sitting upright on the bed, she tried to stop the racing visions of wires choking her, of machines watching her, that sickening fluid dripping off her body, the claustrophobic space that imprisoned her.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Holding both hands over her mouth, she forced the screams back down to her lungs. Her eyes and cheeks burned as the tears rolled rapidly down them. She could feel her heart beating out of her breast, the lack of oxygen causing her to convulse. Soon her body would be shaking beyond control, rousing her lover to wake.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]She slid off the edge of the bed and staggered to the nearest door. Hunching over and staring at the floor, she tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. After a few steps she looked up to see how far away from the door she was. The room was starting to spin around her, distorting into freakish shapes and figures. Darkness seemed to be oozing and crawling out of the walls, threatening to devour her.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Desperately fumbling for the door handle, she could sense she was losing the battle against the fear and anxiety that clawed inside of her. Thinking she would never make it, she suddenly felt the metallic door brush against her arm. A small wave of relief swept over her briefly and she flung the door open, closed and locked it, immediately collapsing on the floor.

[/color][/font][font=Tahoma][color=#000000]Curling up into a fetal position, she fought for air, her muscles seizing. Sobbing and spasming, she closed her eyes and prayed she would wake up.

[font=Tahoma]Somewhere in the distance she could hear low voices. Groggily she opened her eyes and was instantly blinded by bright lights. Groaning, she squinted and tried to raise her arms to fend off the invading whiteness. They wouldn?t move. She must?ve used up all her strength. When she moaned softly, the voices hushed and died out. Someone began stroking her arm, whispering softly in her ear.

- [/font][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][i]Shhh, try to stay calm. Everything will be alright.[/i]

[/font][/color][font=Tahoma]The voice sounded reassuring, but it filled her with unexplainable sadness.

- [/font][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][i]Don?t cry. You?ll be fine. No more tears, ok ?[/i]

[/font][/color][font=Tahoma]She tried to laugh, but could only muster a sigh. Her mind was weary and tired, her entire body ached. Where was she ? What happened ? The voice spoke to her again, more demanding this time.

- [/font][color=#999999][font=Tahoma][i]Try not to worry yourself too much. You need your rest now.[/i]

[/font][/color][font=Tahoma]Inhaling deeply, she reluctantly gave in and drifted away.

[font=Tahoma]Two men stood looking at the woman strapped on the bed, exchanging words of apprehension and concern. They tensed and silenced when she stirred slightly. Motioning to eachother, they stepped aside, careful not to disturb her further.

When she appeared to be settling, they resumed their conversation.

- [color=darkslategray][i]W[/i][/color][color=#333333][color=darkslategray][i]hat happened??[/i] [/color]
- [color=#999999][font=Tahoma][i]We?re not sure. And it is not important. All that matters is that she?s here.[/i]

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"There's got to be something to do today." I'm telling myself as I wait for the light to turn green. There were sirens coming from down the street.[/b]

[i]Hmmmmm...This might be interesting.[/i][b] I think. A few moments pass until the stop-light changes, signaling me to continue.[/b]

[i]Geez. What's going on here?[/i]

[b] An office building is surrounded by three-or-so dozen police cars. Each of the drivers looking skywar, guns drawn.

My question is answered by a speakerbox sitting on the dashboard of a blue and white cop car.

"There's four of them on the 18th floor. Get there NOW!" A group of six men dressed in full SWAT garb rush the entrance.

"Damn. This's gotta be pretty bad." I say aloud as I open my car door. The black surface of my hood burns my hand slightly in the blazing sun.[/b]

[i]Crap! That hurt.[/i][b]

I walk over to another person avidly watching the goings-on, "Hey, what's goin on?" I ask the squat, sweaty man.

"Beats me." he tells me "I just got here. I think there's some fugitives or somethin'."[/b]

[i]Maybe today's not a complete bust...[/i][b]

"Get out. Get OUT. GET OUT!!!" the speakerbox blairs.


Every window on the office building and some on the surrounding buildings shatter. Shards of razor-sharp glass and construction material rain down on top of me.

"AHHHHH!!!" I scream because a piece of shattered copper pipe has impaled my right forearm. Instinct takes over and I rip it out. Blood spatters all over my gray T-shirt and blue jeans. My car has been all but demolished.

I fall on my back. I'm laying and I now see someone standing on the 18th floor windowsill. Now two. Now four. They all leap simultaneously.

"Oh God, no!" I almost vomit at watching people commit suicide. But they're not falling. They're gliding.[/b]

[i]What the hell is going on?[/i]

[b] The people who had jumped are now about twenty feet above the pavement and then suddenly regaining their lost momentum, crashing into the concrete with extreme force. Each leaving a crater spanning ten feet.

I look back up to the 18th floor window to see if there's anyone else there. There is. A man. Just one, clean-cut and dressed in a black suit. He puts his hand to his ear and...


I wake up. I don't know where I am. I'm moving....fast.[/b]

[i]What the f**k is going on?[/i][b] I try to ask but my mouth won't move.

My eyes are messed up, somehow. Everything seems far away. There's a waterfall of green symbols. My highly impared peripheral vision seems to indicate I'm wearing sunglasses.

I see that I'm running[/b]

[i]I'm chasing someone....The people from the building.[/i][b]

A black man, an asian woman, two white men. All dressed in leather.[/b]

[i]Why am I chasing them?[/i][b]

The white man with black hair trips.

"Hadrian!" the woman yells after him and began to run back and pick him up.

"Taren!! NO!" the other white man yells at the woman. The black man grabs hold of Taren's arm and pulls her on.

I'm standing still now. I put a hand in my breast pocket.[/b]

[i]Hold on. I was wearing a T-shirt.[/i][b] But that's not important now. What am I doing? Then I see.

I am pulling a gun out of my jacket. I raise my arm and pull the trigger. I see the bullet leave the barrel and cause ripples in the air. It moves so slowly that I could almost catch it in my hand.[/b]

[i]Why can't I stop myself?[/i][b] I ask myself as the bullet hits the fallen man in the shoulder.

"Well, Mr. Bauer. I'm sure you regret coming here today." I spake. But it wasn't my voice. It wasn't me.

I raise the gun once more.[/b]

[i]Oh God! No! Stop it! I CAN'T DO THIS!!![/i][b]



"There's got to be something to do today." I'm telling myself as I wait for the light to turn green. [/b][/size][/color]
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[b]I Feel[/b]

It?s sometimes just like sleeping, this life, this world. Once upon a time I was the extreme of every motion and when I loved and when I hated and when I created and when I killed, I did it with all of me. But things seem to have changed and I can not even muster a giggle when the world tries to tickle me. I thought I needed to move, go, see, experience, but no matter where I am and in what dialect the street signs are in, everything feels dead. I am tired and I want to feel. I?d settle with sadness as long as I could feel that sadness move in me and take possession. I cannot bare to barely care anymore, I must be awakened.


I came to him because I heard he was like God, and could show you a world others were not aware of. A world in which all you could do was live and feel. And so I took his pill and I felt pain. Floating in gel, entangled in wires, I could not see and I could not breath. I was trapped and then just as suddenly I was released. On my knees I coughed and it was as if my lungs had collapsed. I was a ?fish out of water? as they say, except I was suffocating on what was supposed to keep me alive. I do not remember what else happened after that.

Several blinks later I could see a bright light and I felt like a child who for the first time ever stepped out into the sun. I raised an arm, providing shade for my self. A man stood before me, my aforementioned God and he smiled at me, asking gently, ?How are you??

I struggled for several seconds looking for a voice inside my throat and when I finally found it, managed to whisper, ?I feel.?
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[CENTER][COLOR=Indigo][SIZE=1][FONT=Arial Narrow]Deep beneath the Earth
Live humans
Free and happy
But in constant fear

Above the humans is the wires and tunnels
Patrolled by heartless Sentinals
Roamed by the fearless
Who have escaped

Above the wires are the clone fields
Row upon row of humans
Constantly being monitored and checked
By fearsome machines

Above the fields is the sky
Cracked and broken by human ignorance
An ever-shifting cauldron of darkness
And despair

But above it all,
Above the humans, wires, fields and sky
Is the sun
Innocent and pure

Untouched by man or machine[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/CENTER]
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[size=2][color=sienna]A lot of this draws from [i]A Detective's Story,[/i] as you can no doubt tell. Maybe there'll be a second part or something. I actually typed this up on the OB itself, so it's kind of awkward. Oh well.[/color][/size]

[/size][center][font=Lucida Console][size=3][color=darkgreen][/color][/size][/font] [/center]
[center][font=Lucida Console][size=3][color=darkgreen][b]The Rabbit Hole[/b][/color][/size][/font][/center]

[i][size=2]Click, Click, Click.[/size][/i]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]The rapid succesion of keystokes continued as it had for hours. The man sitting in front of the terminal would not give up so easily. This lead had been of more use than he had expected. The power of this person's skill had also suprised him. [/size][/font][font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]Trinity.[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]Error. Please restart computer.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]The monitor dimmed as the computer rebooted for the fifth time in minutes. This 'Trinity' was a damned good hacker, that was for sure. From what he could tell, she was even better than him, and he had always thought he was the best.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]The man logged back on to the internet, and started typing rapid fire.[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]Error. Please restart computer.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]"****!" said the man as he switched the terminal's power back on, "Fine, I'll play your game." The man browsed until he had found what he was looking for. The chatroom.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]## UNAUTHORIZED USER LOG ON:[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]WHITE_ROOK > I am looking for someone.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]There was no response for some time.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]WHITE_ROOK > How far does the rabbit hole go?[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]RED_QUEEN > How far do you think it goes?[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]The man smiled and shifted in his chair.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]WHITE_ROOK > I can't know.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]RED_QUEEN > Then let me show you.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]The man seemed disappointed. He had expected a line about a white rabbit.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=darkgreen]WHITE_ROOK > Tell me.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]Where is Trinity?[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]RED_QUEEN > Down the rabbit hole.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]WHITE_ROOK > And where exactly is that?[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]RED_QUEEN > Wherever you want it to be.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]All you need to do is follow.[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]WHITE_ROOK > Follow the white rabbit?[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Console][size=2][color=#006400]## USER LOG OFF RED_QUEEN ##[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2][color=black]"Damn it!" The man yelled, spilling his coffee. He slowly got up, and looked out the window. For the first time, he noticed a club that was across from him. The White Rabbit. [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]The man squinted. He didn't remember that ever being there. The club's name was even broadcasted on a garish neon sign. "I'm not [i]that [/i]stupid." he muttered.[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]He thought the evening's events over in his head. [i]And now the club...[/i] "Oh, he's good."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]Once the man gained entrance to the club, he immediately began searching for anyone that looked suspiscious. There was no real way of knowing, but it was always best to make sure. His hand brushed by his holstered gun. [/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"Hello, Flint."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]The man turned around. "Who are you?"[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"Who do you think I am?" said the woman before him.[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"I never knew that Trinity was sarcastic." he grinned. "I didn't know [i]he [/i]was female either. And why were you so direct? I heard that people usually have to solve riddles. You made me buy a copy of [i]Alice in Wonderland [/i]for nothing."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"What a shame."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"Indeed." Flint shifted. "What do you want?"[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"I could ask you the same. You've been prodding me for quite some time now." said Trinity.[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"I decided to find out for myself why everyone who seems to solve your riddles disappears."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"You'll find out soon enough." she replied. [/size][/font][font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]The man felt the walls begin to close in. He reached for his revolver. [/size][/font][font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]She caught his arm. [/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"You said that you wanted to see how deep that rabbit hole goes...?" Trinity began. "Yes..." said Flint, "Though I assumed it was a metaphor."[/size][/font]

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode][size=2]"Come with me."[/size][/font]
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At the edge of your life, in the shadows and corners, amidst the clutter of cobwebby dreams and once-hoped-for futures...lives a girl.

You remember her dimly, if at all. If you glimpse her again, it is through the mists of time, reflected in a dusty mirror. Her face is unclear, if you try to recall it, and malleable...she blends with your sister, or your mother, or your wife, her features forgotten and uncertain.

She is not easy to remember...a transient figure in the already transient world of memory.

But she remembers you.

She met you one bright cold night in midsummer. It was autumn, and the flowers were just beginning to bloom. She saw you first, and approached you--she seemed to know you before you had spoken. You told her your name. [i]I know,[/i] she said. You laughed then.

[i]You can't know my name,[/i] you told her gently. [i]I've never seen you before.[/i]

She looked at you, eyes serious. [i]I know your name.[/i] She paused. [i]I'm Cassie.[/i]


You were in love then, the two of you. She was fifteen; you, three years older. "She [i]seems[/i] older," you told your friends. "If you only knew her--I even think she's kidding about her age, she's just so, [i]so[/i]...I don't know. If you knew her, you'd understand." (You didn't know her, either. Not really.) Your friends teased your mercilessly that year--they probably still would, if they hadn't forgotten about her. (But she remembers them, too.)

She was so serious for a young girl. You smiled and laughed and humored her, and sometimes you almost understood her. Almost understood her, with her strange thoughts, and odd theories, and quiet, sensitive comments. You loved her for them--the endearing tangents and careful words--words that seemed so out-of-place coming from a young woman's mouth. You wondered how she thought these things, and where her ideas came from.

She was old for fifteen.

She was beautiful, too, in a serious way. She had a wonderful smile--you loved her smile--but she didn't use it often. You asked her once, why she was so unhappy, and she looked at you with surprise. [i]I am happy,[/i] she said.

[i]But you never smile![/i]

[i]I'm tired,[/i] she said, and she sounded like an old woman weary of life. You didn't ask her many questions after that.

She spoke of odd things--conspiracies, sometimes; strange religions and mysticisms, often. She studied reincarnation with a passion. [i]Why?[/i] you asked her once.

[i]Because I need to know[/i], she told you, as serious as ever.

[i]Do you believe in that stuff?[/i]

[i]I don't know,[/i] she said. [i]This is why I'm learning about it.[/i]


[i]She didn't know--[/i]that was her reason for many things. She spent hours in the library, in the bookstore, online, searching for answers. You were never quite sure what her question was, only that she was looking. Searching.

Sometimes it seemed like she had found it--what, you never knew. But there would be a glow behind her eyes, and she would seem lighter for a while. One afternoon she held her headphones up to your ears: [i]Livin' on a prayer--Li-Li-Li-Livin' on--Living on a-a-a-Livin' on a pray--Livin' on a pray--Liv-iv-iving on a prayer, I just-just-ju-ju-ju--Living on a prayer--[/i]

[i]The CD's scratched,[/i] you said, confused.

[i]I know[/i], she said, eyes alight. She looked pleased, or troubled...or both. She took the headphones back and listened for several minutes, finally switching the player off. You never saw it--or the CD--again. She always carried a cassette player after that.

It was one of the things you never understood.


She asked you questions, sometimes. [i]Do you believe in fate?[/i] she wanted to know.

[i]I don't know. I guess not.[/i]

[i]Do you believe that we were meant to meet each other?[/i] she pressed.

[i]Well, I don't know.[/i] You felt clumsy; you'd said the wrong thing. [i]I'm glad we did,[/i] you offered then.

She said nothing. [i]Why do you ask?[/i] you prompted. [i]Do[/i] you[i] believe in fate?[/i]

[i]Yes,[/i] she said.


[i]Because no matter how often I try, I can't help loving you.[/i] She looked away then, but you laughed, lighthearted, unbelieving.

[i]I guess I'm just that great a guy, eh?[/i]

She looked at you, and smiled, but behind the smile there was emptiness.


That was one of the last times she smiled at you, although you don't remember that either. She remembers, though. She remembers talking, listening, walking, dancing...every moment you spent together, and some you didn't. She remembers more than you ever understood, although she tried to explain it to you.

She remembers saying goodbye. You didn't understand that, either. [i]I won't be here much longer[/i], she told you. She was obviously upset, but you didn't see why. [i]Of course you will be, love[/i], you said, stroking her hair. [i]And I'll always be right here.[/i] She tried explaining, but you wouldn't believe her. You always were so firmly set in your comfort zone.

Memories played themselves out in her head as she looked at you. [i]You won't always be here,[/i] she didn't say, although she could have. She could have told your life to you, how your months and years would play out, who you would ****, who you would marry. How you'd land your dream job straight out of college, and how long it would take you to quit. The name of the teen you would kill when driving home drunk from a party. How your wife would always love you, and how you'd grow to resent her. Your future children's names.

She just looked at you, and said nothing, heart pained. [i]Goodbye[/i], she whispered in your ear, and began to walk away.

[i]Come back[/i] you said numbly, reaching for her--but she wasn't there, and you couldn't call her name.

Already you were beginning to forget.


Her face blurs in your mind's eye, and you strive to hear her voice, the words she spoke to you. They have run from your mind, water flowing gently through a sieve. She seemed terribly upset, didn't she? She thought her words were terribly real, terribly important. As though she knew--or thought she knew--the truth. Had lived her life a thousand times before, and remembered every moment. How many times, in how many lifetimes has she spoken to you? How many times had she tried not to fall in love?

Already she is fading from your mind, and she slips into the forgotten corners, dusty memories of half-remembered moments and forgotten dreams. And for a moment, before she disappears, her eyes lock on yours. You do not see their color, only the pain inside them--the longing, the remembering, the [i]truth[/i]--

You close your own eyes, and shake your head...and smile.

You don't believe me.
You never do.

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Just so you know, this is written a bit out of impulse and a loose idea. Aswell, I havn't seen any of the Animatrix apart from Final Flight of the Osiris, so excuse me if I get anything wrong.

[B][U]Ghost Story: Lost[/B][/U]

It was late, around 12:00 am. I was just surfing the net, hanging around message boards as usual. Just a very borrying thing. Then a chat window came up, Das001, my freind, in real life, Das was his nick name, his real name was Dan, though. It was good to hear from him, I hadn't seen him in a few days.

"Hello" he typed.

I kind of scoffed, it kinda funny and rude, "Hello is right, I havn't seen you in 3 days! Where have you been?" I typed down quickly, hoping for a quick reply. I waited and then he replied.

"Where have I been?"
"I've been in the real world."

I was angered a bit, I mean, yeah, I spent alot of time on computers, more than some, but I wasn't obsessed. I was typed furiously. "Don't feed me that crap!" "LOL"

"You don't understand. The real world."
"I fell into the rabbit hole."
"And at the bottom, I found the real world."
"Do you want to come into the real world?"

I laughed a bit in anger. "Listen up." "I just was wondering where you went." "No need to get all poetic about, Disney."

"This is no joke."
"I want you to come with me, into the real world."
"I'll show you the rabbit hole."
"But you will have to go down it alone."
"I'll be at the other side."
"The real me."

I raised my eyebrow, and typed. "What do you mean?" "I know I spend alot of time on the comp, but come on!"

"Your right, you do, more than you realize."

I was ready to type quickly in anger. That had gotten me pissed, but then I stopped as he replied again.

"Meet me tommorow. I know your free"
"Meet me at the usual place. The Café."

I smiled to myself, and typed. "Okay, that way I'll be able to exercise these muscles by kicking your *****. LOL"

"Will see you tomorow"
"Das001 has signedoff"

It would be nice to see him again.


It was just after noon, of the next day. And I was out in the city, and walking towards the café, ready to greet my freind. I saw him sitting down, sipping a cup of coffee. He didn't notice me from afar.

I countinued to walk with a smile, ready to suprise him. Then my cell phone rang. I picked it up.

"YO! Kyle!"

It was my freind Thomas. He sounded frantic, scared. "Yeah, what is it dude?"

"Oh my god... man... you know how we havn't seen Das in so long..."

I raised my eyebrow, and a slight sinking feeling came to my stomache. "Well, dude, I talked to him last night..."


I was confused and my stomache felt strange. "What why?"

"DUDE! They, t-they found his body two days ago in his apartment. He had been dead for three DAYS! Oh my GOD!" Thomas yelled loudly, his voice was cracking and he choked back tears.

My eyes went wide, and I felt terror in my heart, it was like that feeling you got when you fell down really fast on a roller coaster.... I dropped my cell phone and then looked up to Das. He was staring at me. Smiling interested. He motioned for me to come over to him. All I could do was stare in fear. I was looking into the face... of a ghost...

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[b]I've decided to do one more because I had a sudden idea that I couldn't refuse. I did it in-between classes today and the result isn't too bad. I even like it better than my last although I still may do some more proofreading. [/b]

[b]Ah well, bonus points for whoever knows where I got the name "Lucy."[/b]

[center][b][u][color=seagreen]From the Archives: Lucy[/color][/u][/b][/center]

It?s the middle of July and the day?s reserved peace has been pinched tender. Every other day there?s a parade on the prairie, it?s become customary, almost. So, what could have possibly motivated today?s marathon spectacle? Surely it?s a spectacular adventure only this make-shift entourage could invent.

A clammy breath sighs through his patchwork jeans, invigorating the soupy seams and stitched-on insignias of baseball teams. His shirt is missing three buttons, but it?s just as well--he lets it hang free, flapping wildly, like a panicked pair of wings that could lift him up from the sun dappled ground at any given moment. Eventually the shoddy garments swell with the breeze until they expand and take on a rippled buoyancy, as if they?re filled with water. This unlikely beauty is complimented by auburn sun streaks jetting through his blonde mane.

His foot feels heavy and tingly, he?d been sitting on it but moments ago. He loses one of his sandals and stumbles across the surrounding hilled landscape faster than his feet should physically allow him. In this infantile footrace, he refuses to pause for even but a moment, for it?s such a desperate time of need. Now he crashes through a series of hay bales; there?s an implosion that leaves the stringy substance flung all over. A feathery congregation of blue jays, somewhat shaken by the whole ordeal, look on disconcertedly before parting too, just for safety?s sake.

The boy?s caregiver, an older series model named Lucy, shuffles behind in cautious pursuit with an unencumbered ease unique to the mechanical variety. In her arms, she delicately cradles a trembling ball of fluffy white fur.

?Henry,? she says, ?I can?t keep up with you. Slow down, Henry.?

Laughter rocks the foundation of the stressed, wooden farm--an extreme rarity is this rustic dream world.

Henry rushes past the farm?s wishing well, where happiness hangs on a rope; his brow furrows with hesitancy. Any hint of indecision floods from his face, along with half a dozen beads of sweat. He unfastens a belt from his waist with fumbling hands and tosses it over his right shoulder. It?s tattered, has an aged look to it. He scrambles back to the well. The sunlight ensnares his silhouette against the well-settled skyline. He whispers, tosses the belt into the pail, lowers it and watches it fade into the nothingness, vanishing like a wisp of smoke into the infinite void of the night.

He says, ?C?mon, we?re almost there? and begins a straight sprint over the difficult terrain, his blazing robin-like chest, still puffing, exposed to the intense sun.

Rustling of brush can be heard, and the edges of leaves giving way can be seen through the dense brush. As the trees peel back, and a look at this isolated area can be stolen, they enter. Their feet win a decisive victory over the emblazoned-yellow dandelion carpet. Dwarfed butterflies, once mimicking the pastoral arrangement flee in terror. Henry plays ruler, introducing the occupants of his rabbit hutch to their newest roommate. Lucy bends to one knee, extends her arms, and allows a white rabbit, whose leg had been carefully bandaged, to limp forth timidly and enter its new home.

?Careful,? Henry says. Henry says, ?This is going to be the best rabbit farm in the entire world, people from all over will come to see it.?

Lucy?s underlying facial anatomy isn?t advanced enough to articulate a smile, so she merely nods in approval.

?Just remember Henry,? she says, ?Rabbits are good, but we need the cows for milk and the chickens for eggs. Everyone has their place.?

?I know, I know,? he says, still gesturing towards the rabbits, a terminal romantic lost in his dreams.

Before the boy?s mother passed away and the faint light behind the big windows of her bedroom was extinguished for the final time, in her final hour, the incapacitated woman made sure to invest her life savings into her son?s future. While Lucy couldn?t mimic completely, the nature of human nurture, she could perform the physical labor necessary to maintain the farm.

The place was in tatters, but she made it work. She was able to make use of pitchforks and shovels whose thoroughly destroyed handles had been splintered several times over. Lucy was even successful at teaching Henry arithmetic, and how to read; she could even play back recordings of the boy?s mother reciting bed-time stories on especially uncomfortable nights.

Thus, they enjoyed a glint of happiness in the wake of the world?s despair, even much more.

So everything is peaceful, almost normal.

For a while.

Then they come.

Then so do the troubles of an unhinged society.

Someone walks by. Someone with a bald head. The features can?t be thoroughly distinguished, behind the veiled shadows of the leafed drapery. As this uninvited figure continues down the winding path, light slowly filters into his inevitable destination. The increased light, obviously unnecessary at the day?s apex, brings forth the shadow of a torch in the man?s hand, as finally, he nears, and eventually reaches, the threshold of the path. He?s not alone. Florescent blue lighting lines the torched parade of some six men, and casts an eerie glow throughout the enclosed landscape.

The only one without a torch peels off his shirt, presses it to his brow and sits down with a steady expressionless gaze . He's wearing perfectly white sneakers, but his socks are stained with filth.

?What are we going to do with it,? another says to no one in particular.

?I don?t know,? another says, ?I don?t know what we?re going to do with it.?

The voice comes from the far end of the crowd, it?s low and crackling in the absence of water.

Henry and Lucy stand in silence, the boy paralyzed in fear. He is far too bashful to make eye contact, so he scans the crowd. They?re carrying a bondage rack, someone is hung there.

?Got somethin? to drink,? the bald man says, ?Hey boy, I said, you got somethin? to drink anywhere nearby??

?We?re dry,? Henry says.

?You got nothin??? the bald man says glaring with hawkish eyes.

?Dry,? Henry says.

?Well then,? says the seated man, now rising to his feet, ?We best ought to do what we came to do.?

?All right? another says, and spits.

?What?re you doing with this,? the bald man says, pointing towards Lucy.

?This is Lucy,? Henry says, ?She watches me and the farm.?

?She?? says one of the men, snorting laughter through kidney-shaped nostrils, ?He says it?s a ?she?.?

?He?s dumb? says another, becoming anxious against the scalding heat of the torch and the summer combined.

A stone, propelled by the dint of hatred, strikes Lucy?s shoulder. And then her face. The darkest, thickest blood Henry has ever seen, oozes down her face, almost like a syrup.

The boy turns his head sharply.

?Stop it!,? he says rushing at the men.

?What the hell are you doing,? the bald man says wrestling the child to the ground.

Two barely conscious and extremely nauseous eyes look forward at the cause of all this grief, their pits burning with fiery hatred.

As Lucy is being dragged away, her outer skin stained with a thick carmelite substance, blackened with burn marks and peeling away, she says absently, ?Remember to brush your teeth Henry.?

?She?s all I got,? Henry yells, writhing on the ground, ?She?s all I got!?

?Milk the cows before collecting the eggs,? she says as the distance between them grows, as she nears her final destination.

?This isn?t right,? Henry screams, trying to beat his arms, ?Stop it, she?s all I got!?

Lucy plays a recording of Henry?s mother.

?I love you, she says, ?I love you? until he?s unable to hear her at all.
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