Anyway, this started out as a suspense scene, but then it kind of turned into a short, rather experimental story about an epiphany the main character has.
So... make of it what you will.
July 29, 2121
Agent Ryan Gray
Federation Security Bureau
J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, DC
Federation of American Socialist Republics
Psychological analysis profile of Special Agent Sidney Little
Agent Little has undergone a considerable amount of cyborg-related stress lately, and I have therefore been tasked, per her request, with ensuring her mental well-being.
As a result of this profile—euphemistically referred to as an interview—I am beginning to seriously doubt that well-being, and therefore Agent Little’s suitability for her current position. As you will see, she exhibits a great amount of so-called “creative flair,” which leads me to question the veracity of her somewhat melodramatic statements. I have not edited this interview, except to take out a few unnecessary curses; I have forwarded it to you in its entirety so you can make of it what you will.
Honestly, I don’t know how to diagnose her. While she is certainly not my first of this type, she certainly shows symptoms beyond anything in my experience—or my textbooks. Thus, from a professional standpoint, I cannot give you a final answer in regard to your original query yet. I can, however, recommend that she be relieved of duty, as she apparently was of her strangely obsolete gun.
This interview was conducted via ethermail. I sent the following question to Agent Little: “On the morning of July 5 at approximately 0800 hours, what event took place that caused you to request a mental evaluation? Please be as detailed as possible.” She responded with the attached.
Command:Open attachment>Use EtherPro ether-to-voice converter?>No>Convert to text?>Yes>Save file to removable drive?>Yes>Encrypt drive?>Yes>Encryption level?>Very high
That day began just like any other day. I got up, ate a small breakfast, took a shower, and went to the office as usual.
“I sat in traffic for an hour” would actually be a more accurate statement. I live right in Chicago, as I guess you know, but it still takes a good, solid eternity to get to my office from where I live, even driving on the highest-speed traffic level. And parking… well, I won’t go there, because that’s tangential; I never actually got to park that day.
Anyway, I turned on the radio as I was sitting there in traffic. I listened to oldies for a while, got the weather—overcast with scattered thunderstorms for three more days—and tried to stave off boredom and insanity.
Then I heard the gunshots. I ducked instinctively, and it was a good thing I did, since two bullet holes appeared in my windshield.
On the off chance that the shooter was not, in fact, shooting at me, I stuck my head up. That was stupid; one bullet zinged over my head and another barely nicked my ear, which, of course, started bleeding profusely. I grabbed my 9mm out of the glove box, leaped out of the car, and started running, bent almost double. I heard a crunch, crunch, crunch behind me and risked a look. Sure enough, there was a rogue cyborg jumping after me on the car roofs. It fired two more shots and missed with both of them—as everyone should know, cyborgs are terrible shots and can only fire in twos. The shots were close enough to make me jump, though, so I kept running and cocked my gun.
I threaded my way through the honking, bumper-to-bumper cars, but I couldn’t shake the cyborg. I ran as fast as I could, doubled back on myself, even went under a few semis, but it was no use. The half-blood was a little too good to be thrown off by those simple tricks.
Thus, I sprinted away from the interstate, painfully aware that doing this would completely expose my back to the cyborg. I heard a crunch-crunch-thud as the cyborg came off the roofs of the cars and onto the solid ground. Two more bullets zipped by as I hightailed it to a convenient parking garage. I ran under the barricade and up the ramp, and the cyborg smashed right through behind me. Its claw-like metal feet dug into the concrete, making a noise not unlike fingernails on a chalkboard.
I raced up to the top of the garage and got my back in a corner. The cyborg came onto the roof with all the impetuosity and momentum of a freight train. It blew to a stop and grinned evilly at me. This one was certainly a doozy; it had obviously gone to great pains—quite literally—to make itself look threatening. Half its head was robot, and the other half was human. Its torso was human, but its legs and arms were robot. I knew this was probably by choice and not because of an accident; most accident victims look totally human unless their synthetic skin somehow gets peeled away.
Everybody knows this, Gray; why am I telling you about it like you don’t know anything? I don’t know… I haven’t been myself lately. But you’re an analyst, and you told me to tell you everything, so I guess you asked for it.
I raised my gun. The cyborg stopped grinning and looked at me incredulously.
“Really?” its grating, half-metal, half-human voice asked. “I am a cyborg. You are a human. Your puny weapons are no match for me.”
For answer, I shot its left kneecap. I was using tracer bullets, and the hydraulic fluid cyborgs typically use is very explosive, so it should have exploded into a bunch of little pieces.
Instead of exploding like a good, well-mannered cyborg, it just looked at me as if to say, “Oh, please.” I stopped short of swearing and realized that I had made a very bad mistake. What the … was I doing in a corner? Stupid! My erstwhile protection had become my death. To add insult to injury, I’d always been told that I needed to update my gun, and now I really thought everyone else had been right.
Can you ask about that, Gray? My 9mm was confiscated because it was obsolete, so I need a new piece.
I looked for a way out. There was none, except to jump over the edge. That would be insane, of course, but I was starting to wonder if insanity might be my only way to stay alive.
I was too late. The cyborg was already right in front of me. It reached for my gun, so I shot it again, this time right in the chest. The bullet ricocheted into me. I dropped to my knees just in time to avoid the cyborg’s fist. I put my hand to my chest and realized that I wasn’t bleeding; furthermore, there was only a small dent where the bullet had hit me. This wasn’t right; I wasn’t wearing any bulletproof clothing.
The cyborg seemed as surprised as I was. It snatched the gun out of my hands, apparently puzzled, looked it over, and tossed it away. That was all the time I needed to sprint past it. It let out a bellow and followed me, but I was already on my way down through the parking garage.
I glanced behind me once, to see where the cyborg was, and realized that it wasn’t behind me. I paused for a moment. I could no longer hear its footsteps. This should have heartened me, but it did the opposite. My heart sank into my toes; I realized that the cyborg could very well have crawled down the outside of the garage and be waiting for me around the corner.
I heard a crunch around the corner, confirming my guess. There was nothing for it, then; I backed up a few steps and took a run at the concrete wall. I know, it doesn’t make sense. I probably was just going to knock myself out on it, but I figured that getting knocked out by a wall would be better than getting knocked out by a cyborg.
But I didn’t get knocked out. Instead I blasted through the wall out into the open air beyond. It seemed that time almost stopped as I fell toward the ground. It was at least a ten-story fall, perhaps more. I got my feet under me, even though that wouldn’t really do me any good.
I landed it. I landed that fall. I hit squarely on both feet and dropped to one knee on impact. Something was really, really wrong here. I wasn’t a cyborg… at least, I was pretty sure I wasn’t a cyborg. The FSB doesn’t hire cyborgs, not usually, anyway. I couldn’t be a cyborg. Such a thought defied reason. It didn’t make sense, it was all a dream, it had to be, I would wake up in my bed to the sound of my alarm going off.
The cyborg peeked out of the hole I’d left, its mouth clearly agape. It didn’t bother to follow me; apparently it thought that if I could survive a fall like that, nothing could really hurt me. I never saw that cyborg again.
I still had questions, though. I fell to my knees and grabbed my knife out of my pocket.
“This is crazy,” I told myself. “Only a total nut does stuff like this.”
Well, I must have been a total nut. I undid my shirt so I could see the spot where the bullet had dinged me, just above my camisole. Sure enough, the dent was still there.
“You’re crazy. You’re just crazy, Sidney; don’t do this. Don’t be an idiot. It’ll go away.”
Nevertheless, I sliced the spot open with my knife. It didn’t hurt. The skin peeled back bloodlessly… and I saw metal underneath it.
No. No, no, no. It couldn’t be. I wasn’t. I’m not. It was impossible. It is impossible. The FSB doesn’t hire cyborgs.
And then I remembered. It was three years ago. My partner and I had gone into a warehouse to check out a supposed drug runner. It was supposed to be pretty routine, pretty normal. We checked out drug runners at least once a week.
But there was an explosion. I had been burned, very badly burned, and many of my bones had been crushed. My partner had been killed. I was in the hospital for almost a year. They had rebuilt my ruined body out of metal and Syntheskin. I was a cyborg. I am a cyborg. But the FSB didn’t hire me. They just retained me.
So there you go, Gray. I guess you’ll come to the conclusion now that I’m insane and unfit for my position. You’re probably right. I don’t know; I’m no psychoanalyst, thank goodness.
And by the way, thanks for the memory wipe a few years ago. I would never have had this lovely breakdown if it wasn’t for that.
I would have spared you that last bit of vituperation, but I supposed that you’d want to see it all. I believe you’ll concur with my prior assertion. Really, if Agent Little ends up being discharged, I’ll be sad to see her go. Despite her eccentricities, she’s been an excellent agent. If she’s still fit for other work, which she may be in a few months, I hope you’ll give her a good recommendation.