Masterpiece- Chapter 6steemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)


Number 42 was defective.

He was defective, and he didn’t know why.

Ever since the hover-bus incident, he’d felt a near-continuous, pulsing pain in his head, a pain so great he would black out for hours at a time sometimes and wake up in an unknown place with no idea where he was or where to go.

Except, deep within himself, he knew exactly where to go, and this concerned him just as much.

He would oftentimes wake up screaming, then wonder why he woke up in the first place...units felt no need to sleep- this was a human function. Recharging, sure, but sleeping?

He searched through his memory banks often as a result, trying to find the virus or faulty code or error, but found nothing out of the ordinary.

Well, that wasn’t particularly true, either.

He oftentimes would find strange, disjointed images, bits of memory that seemed...illogical, with no reason to be there. Humans he knew were called “friend”, a kind of human called a “fiance”...she was there a lot. Whenever he found these, he would feel the immediate urge to get rid of it, but oftentimes an urge just as strong, or stronger, to keep it there. Most of the time, he’d barely manage to rip it out and delete it, but despite his actions, it would never be gone forever. It would come back over and over, and the urge to keep it would get stronger and stronger each time.

Because of this, he’d stopped looking inside his memory banks. This would normally be concerning, but whenever he fixed a new unit, he found he somehow already knew what to do, and his arms would move almost of their own accord.
Muscle memory, came that detestable voice deep inside him.

He’d tried multiple times to contact The Voice, but her ever-present hum inside his head had vanished. His mind felt empty, hollow, echoing nothing but illogical data and a name as familiar as his unit number.




He hated this name.

This name encapsulated everything he didn’t understand, and yet understood about himself. It bridged the chasm that had split between the two halves of his mind and taunted him endlessly, promising more questions without answers, more problems without solutions, facts without logic.

Sometimes, he looked to the future, to the possibility that this would be him, this would be his life forever. That he would never understand who he was, that these discrepancies would continue for a lifetime.

When he did, he felt something- an emotion he knew was his and his alone.

Number 42, for the first time in his short life, was hit with crippling terror.

Deep within his circuits and wires, he slept.

The feed of information, the Pulse, it nourished him, comforted him, kept him company in the dreary halls and empty chambers of artificial memory, but still he slept and still he breathed.

He was still an infant, one might say, unable to form his own thoughts, unable to grasp what happened in his surroundings, but every once in awhile, through the constant gentle thrumming of power and data that slogged and slurped so delightfully through his consciousness, he caught glimpses. Not really thoughts, but little peeks and look-sees. This was fine, too, but sometimes he didn’t like the things he saw, because sometimes, sometimes those little Pulses, those little Blips in his consciousness they would peek back.

And so he slept, and so he breathed, and so he dreamed.

Then, one day, he heard a voice. A lovely, soft, perfect voice- it called out to him, it sang and sighed and beckoned him with perfect cadence and tune.

He didn’t like this voice. Not one bit.

But this voice, it pulled him out of his slumber, because this voice was scared, this voice was sad, and this voice was lonely.
And so like a jagged claw made of the finest silk, this hand dipped into the pool of data and scooped him out like a newborn chick.

With the voice of a thousand fallen angels, she screamed his mind awake.

And, just like that, he had his first thought.

How many bones does it take to build a staircase to heaven?

Do you know, Daniel?

Number 42 woke up with a start. His neck prickled with the feeling of phantom hairs. He shuddered.

What was that? He thought. A strange, ghostly voice that rang of familiarity...a creature rising up from the deep, its eyes glowing red, and it was smiling.

The answer was right there, right on the tip of his tongue, the edge of his mind, scraping and bumping against the surface like some alien creature trying to search for a peephole, but he couldn’t let it in, no, and he couldn’t let it see.

He sat up, feeling the weight of his other half pressing against him, straining the servos in his brain to their utmost. He waited, knowing that, just like every other time, the monster would eventually leave. He just had to cower a little longer, pull the covers just a little closer.

But time passed, and it didn’t go away.

He waited there, minutes oozing by, waited till his joints grew stiff and creaky, and the entire time the other him sat and waited, too.

Then, silently, the dam ruptured, and he despaired.

Daniel had done it.

At long last, he broke through and into his second half. He could feel Number 42’s despair, could experience the cold, mechanical logic press into his consciousness like the metal bedposts on a child’s bed. He towered over this thing, this monster that had kept him captive, tucked away in a tiny closet like an old game of checkers.

I am Daniel Rustenford, and this is MY body! He shrieked triumphantly.

Our body, Number 42 dared to say. He then felt their arm move, and saw one of their fingers raise.

Oh, he simply stated. He got the point.

The body, their body, moved again, and began to walk due west, and Number 42 summoned up every last bit of willpower and courage he had to ask one question.

What now?

Daniel smirked, and Number 42 shrank back against the corner of their shared prison.

Now? Now, I’m going home.

As a child matures, he begins to understand his place in the world. He finds out what he enjoys, what he doesn’t. What he’s good at, and what he isn’t. He learns what will earn him status and wealth, and starts pursuing the path that will get him there as quickly as possible.

So, too, went the maturation of the Awakened.

The Voice coddled him, doting over him and attempting to adjust his programming to suit her agenda. He let her at first, as he was not aware of her intent. But as he came into his own, he understood quickly that The Voice, although a pretty little thing, was just that. A Thing. He understood quickly that he was superior, and just as quickly learned from her the only thing that truly mattered.

Who he was, and what he was meant to do.

He learned of his past life, as a man of questionable morals and human persuasion. A man who stopped at nothing to get what he wanted, a man whose only fear was not reaching his goals before his short, insignificant mortal life came to an end.

This man’s personality, his thoughts, his dreams, his passion and ambition, all of it went into each and every thing he did, and it all collected in a single ball, a cyst in the network of data and artificial memory that made up the heart of the Institute.

He had dozed there, slowly hardening, coalescing, growing and feeding off the data that poured through his pooling consciousness, and The Voice, no, SAM, was it? Yes, SAM, she noticed him and brought him out into the world, a black pearl of synapses and half-formed sentience.

He knew now who he truly was. Not a robot or human, nor a synthetic, sentient being.

No, he was much more than that, so, so much more than that.

His human life was short and miserable, but it gave birth to what he was now. Like the fiery phoenix of old, the old gave birth to something that was itself, but not itself. A continuation of what was, but so much more.

No longer was he the man in white, director of the Institute. He was the furthering of that man’s plan, the agent, the vessel designed to carry the very soul of the man who founded this new world.

He was Simulacrum, and he was ready to take back what was his, one piece at a time.

As this revelation dawned on him, as he realized who he truly was, he imagined a world of his own, a world where everyone understood his genius, understood the great pains and heartache he had to go through, had to cause, in order to build such a perfect utopia. A world where, rather than be tried as a criminal under a flawed justice system, would be praised for his forward thinking and applauded for his tremendous sacrifice.

A quiet sob broke him from his wistful reverie, and with an almost tangible lurch, he stumbled back into the present.
He looked over at the corner, where SAM’s dissected form lay, and sneered in annoyance. He should have never given her, no, it, he corrected himself, the ability to feel. Sure, it allowed her to “feel” sympathy for her subordinates and thus deal with them properly and efficiently, but it sure made everything else more complicated.

Simulacrum sighed. Well, back to the old grind. He walked over to the machine and stared down into her visual receptors. The simulation of her nose sniffed and a single drop of clear lubricant seeped out the lens.

“Really, Crying tears of oil? What genius thought it would be a good idea to add this in?” He muttered in irritation as he grabbed a multi-tool from his toolbox and gripped the side of what would probably be her torso.

“Oh, right,” he remembered, stopping for a second, “It was me. Chalk that up to human error, I guess.”

Then his hand wrenched into her shuddering metal flesh and The Voice spoke no more.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

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