The Captured: Roidon

Here was somewhere different. A dimly lit room – just a blue background light. Wires connected to his metal body. But he still felt like a human. Or was it just the memory of it carrying through like a phantom limb?

Memory: both a curse and a blessing. He’d been dreaming; dreaming of a life he once had when he’d first tasted humanity – his own and others. The wonder of nature. The intoxication of a summer’s garden, where he felt as carefree the wildlife appeared to be. Holding a woman whose body was receptive to his every touch but whose mind was still enough of a mystery that he yearned only for more intimacy.

There was no going back once you got a taste for it. Life. Forget the hyper intellect and the flawlessly logical thinking; that was all willingly sacrificed for the visceral emotional fuzziness of being alive. The flood of the senses. Maybe the contrast had made it feel special.

Now the muted in-between, just the fading dreams.

If this was the Kintra compound, why had they kept him alive when there was a near perfect copy running around, infiltrating and undermining the best efforts of the B’tari?

Yet this could be the worst of both worlds. Paralysed but with a mind intact. Trapped in reality.

Something stirred in the corner, a figure. No … not him? Roidon turned his gaze back to the dimly lit blue ceiling.

“Roidon,” came his own voice. “Don’t ignore me now. That won’t help matters at all.” The figure, his own previous human form, loomed over him.

“Why shouldn’t I?” he thought he replied. “You are are clearly but a figment of my imagination brought on by sensory deprivation.”

“Or I could be another clone, courtesy of the Elusivers.”  That version grinned, somewhat menacingly: a contortion of him.

“This is a waste of time. Get out of my mind.”

“First you must leave this room.”

“How do you suggest I do that?”

“Err. By getting up and walking.”

“This body does not function.”

“Yes it does.”

He tried lifting his head. Nothing. Proprioception almost non-existent.

“Try a bit harder now.”

The room tilted. Yes, he was moving. His tritanium-alloy torso rising from the couch, willed to life. An image of himself – the metal monster. The thing exists. I am the thing!

His clone had vanished, at which point he felt once more to be in control. But had no idea where this is or how he got here.

Yet he’d also dreamt of being taken somewhere far away, not by something malign. They had saved him; his benefactors. For what? More tests?

He got off the bed. And it was only then he discovered the restraining field. A pale blue aura roughly the shape of his body now flickered. He had overloaded it just with his strength! They didn’t trust him. Shall I be the monster – the imposter?

He took a few staggering paces towards the door. He even thought he could hear the sound of servos whirring. Absurd; he was supposed to be mechanical perfection. The thing he most detested. But it may well serve him now.

The exit – judging by the door’s recessed bulk – seemed to have a simple slide mechanism. The side panel: a hand-print and vascular topology reader. Apparently unhackable, they must have considered adequate security from inside.

Roidon gave the door the hardest kick he could muster. It sent him flying back, slamming on the ground. He got up, seemingly unharmed. The door had a crack in it. This time he hit it with his palm. The crack increased. Repeated the action until a section broke clean away. He took a few seconds to dwell on the extreme force he must have used. The restraining field a gesture only to elicit anger; a gamble that they’d keep him contained.

He emerged into a dimly lit corridor. As far as he could see, only a dull amber glow pervaded the long curving section. This area seemed to be isolated. Abandoned. Roidon still had a moment of dread that he’d been captured by the Kintra insectoid machines, and that they had his every move under close surveillance, just standing by to clamp down on his little transgression, as if a toddler had escaped its pen.

But he kept walking. The corridor went on and on. Occasionally he would pass a door, with an unidentifiable security panel, knowing he would have to exert every effort to break through.

Eventually he reached an end. A door presented before him, bringing to mind the Kintra base where he had been forced to make a choice about his existence and that of his other self. It certainly gave the lie to any notion of individuality. As if he could ever really be fooled. But like everyone, every sane sentient being, he wanted to hold to that very notion, to be convinced. Only, even now, he could hear in his mind the stilted tones of the Btari Temporal Directive being quoted: ‘What defined you were your actions, not the fact of your being.’

On this door there was not even a security panel, at least not one that was visible. Really it was just a rectangular recess. So again he kicked, one foot then the next. Alternating between them. This exit was not going to give so easily; not even a crack. Hadn’t anyone detected his presence here?

After about five minutes Roidon felt himself tire. It was type of fugue state. Everything seemed to recede. He sat on the hard shiny floor.

How do I recover? Upon that thought a display came into his mind: a series of bars and graphs that for a few seconds didn’t make any sense, then he noticed one bar beginning to rise from a red to an amber. Just rest now, he thought.

Another minute passed. And then the door slid open. The figure in padded military-style garb was clearly Btari, holding some kind of weapon….

 

Previous work: http://www.adriankyte.com/

 

 

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The illusion of chance

I never worried about the number of languages dying out. After all, the OED surely contains every descriptive word. Well, no, it doesn’t have a word for one of those days when one unlucky thing happens after the next. Unluckaday? Not that I’m describing anything major like being in a freak accident, but the things that no one except the subject thinks even matters (though often starting from something so eminently avoidable but for a second or two of misjudgement). OK, so it’s tempting to look for a pattern where none exists.

In my novel The Hidden Realm I’ve explored the nature of luck, particularly if good fortune were handed to you: your numbers came up, you met that fantasy lover, or just the kind of positive happenstance that occurs beyond the norm. The question I wondered and continue to explore in The Captured: how real can it seem? Is there a point when it falls apart, and your mind rejects it. But can there be such a thing as taking the blue pill (Matrix reference) and just buying into a utopian lie. It may mean sacrificing an element of your mental process.

An experiment was conducted to show how chance is understood. A group of people tried to fake random coin flips against those who did it for real. The faked results almost without exception underestimated the long runs of heads or tails of the genuine, thinking randomness should give a more even spread. But really there is no such thing as true randomness with anything that can be studied. Even with the lottery if you were to observe with enough precision the way the balls in the machine moved about you’d know which ones would be selected, even theoretically from the first second. Or a roulette wheel … Well, you get the picture.

So is bad luck avoidable from the things you can observe? No. I found however careful I was there’d always be that occurrence that I never could have envisaged (the information is not available). And yet, I’ve noticed how procrastination leads to bad luck, perhaps over-thinking a decision. But then we never know if what initially seems unlucky ultimately turns out to have a positive consequence.

Finally, on the serious scale, there are the cases where people who’ve sensed/dreamt of a disaster before it happens. So maybe that’s evidence that we are in a simulated reality, where that out-of-sight information is available – when there’s a short circuit in the system or glitch in the program.

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