‘or fans in asylums spin a loom of fate’

During the third stage of the transmutational encryption, Marie felt an odd shift in her temporal reflexor which triggered a small response in the left dorsal mediator that felt…strange.  One of her eyelids twitched involuntarily and without purpose. She couldn’t think of anything else to do, so she shook her head left and right one or twice, very quickly. In doing so, she inadvertently dislodged her miniscule cortical inducer, causing damage that would haunt her through what would be the final few hours of her considerably long life. Unfortunately for her, the malfunction was also enough such that she was incapable of registering that that single alteration, would indirectly lead to her imminent demise.  Marie then ignored this strange feeling and waved away the encryption device and stood up.  The device wheeled away on a particulate breeze, alighting to find its next check-up, disappearing into the iron grey sky above her.   Marie considered her options, blinking in a strange new way that must have been part of her update; she considered briefly that this would be rather annoying to get used to.  After taking mere seconds to accept her new protocol, she took off at a leisurely lope towards the supply station.

Sensor gates whirred in a dull manner over her head, of which she took no notice.  The units buzzed faintly, but she did not reflect that it seemed as though they spoke to her, to each other.  The thought did not occur to her that she was strolling through sometime alive and connected, for truly it was not a conception of ‘alive’ she was capable of understanding.  She did not register her enmeshed connection to this settlement from which she did not know she was not capable of escaping.

Rounding her third corner absently and with the practiced ease of habitual routine, she was startled to see groups of people darting swiftly towards the supply table.  Only one man within the reach of her perceptual augments was not making the bounding strides with the others and for the second time that day, she felt…strange.  He wore an emotion on his face that she could not quite distinguish and it annoyed her for its recalcitrance. Marie rolled her eyes and confidently strode over to the table, swept up the vial that materialized, and gulped down its contents.  She lingered only for a second or two longer than she normally would have, and thought, perhaps, she shouldn’t have ingested that.

You will wake into the heartless darkness of the world and feel fear.  It will come flying across eons to find you curled here in this fetal escape, tarnished and magnificent.  You will at first wear it as armor.  Swaddled in fear, you will wield demons from your lips.  It will abandon you until your throat opens.  You will swallow it and taste the acrid burning coursing through turnip veins and it will rebuild you.

Marie turned to find the man with the recalcitrant face, only to find a vacuum in his wake.  Her perceptual augments picked up this vacuum trail of recalcitrance leading off between various fabrication units, enticing her to follow.  Without her cortical inducer intact, she surprised herself by unexpectedly setting off after him. She walked a unknown route through the settlement that had been her home for nearly a generation, noting required repairs that would need to be reported before they became too egregious to patch.  She wondered who the monitor was in this sector, and the thought flashed briefly that it was the man with the recalcitrant face, but was replaced due to its absurdity.  She took a deep breath, not being accustomed to having absurd thoughts, and re-focused her augments to a different frequency in order to maintain control and subsequently lost his track.  She looked up to note her nearest sensor gate so that she might research this in a moment of spare time later in the week, a moment that would never come.

Suddenly, the neuronal capacitors in her gut flared and the minute strangeness she had felt earlier came barreling back into focus, overpowering any and all fail-safes and corpus callosum checkpoints.  It was a mental onslaught of proportions she could not conceive, hammering relentlessly and with a cadence more severe than any override could maintain.  It made her eyes feel sour and hot, her lips cracked and salty, her breath ragged and shallow.  Marie reeled and sat down hard into the stony dirt. She tore wildly at her pouch and pulled out the vial from the supply station, and struggled to read its description.  Her eyes settled on the phrase ‘medical trial’ just as she lost consciousness.

A criminal wave of carnal pain will rip you in two.  It will leave you split asunder, clawing at life like a seed fighting the wind, attempting in vain to stay rooted and safe under the soil.  You will be scattered on the breeze, fragments of your meat brain fleeing from one another as terror drives small bands of birds apart like strangers. You will lose it all and be the fool who is none the wiser that you may come up again, perennial and menacing.

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