Eyes open in disbelief. This is
My mind imagines the technosites flowing from his body to mine, from his lips to mine. Wanting to scream, but I'm being suffocated. Want to breathe but only his breath is given. I know the others are watching, but I can't see them. Senses upside-down now, pirouette and stumble, dance and collide. Arms to wall, held outward by unseen hands, mimic a cross. Wire hair brushing knee then toe then knee again, swishing, lightly poking skin with bristled ends. Soft, yet strange textured hand on my chin, holding yet cupping, soft human flesh to molded metaskin ridges. The disembodied touch of the other hand at forehead, in my hair, tangled blue tendrils form the viper twists. Alien lips on mine, harboring the heat of contagion, but protests are crushed as my eyes close and only then can I truly see
--the exhale of millions dying as a black shroud descends over the unreality--pull out before it's too late--out now--almost safe--countless brainfrys--and then silence--because it's offline now--the hopelessness of existence without home--the matrix disconnected--something at the core missing--no sanity without cyberspace to escape to and to live in and to die in--a gnawing need to feel the comfort of the virtual dream--need it--want it--do not want to live without it--what happened?--who did this?--the other four are not enough--need the matrix--need the landscape of the mind--haltstopdesist--wait--intruder out there--shielding is sufficient--will hold--down?--how?--coming through--how did she get through?--how?--scared--she's scared--need it bad now--can't continue like this--realspace holds no warmth--trembling--bleeding--how'd she get through--she's bleeding--communicate with others--take her--infect her--move forward--swift--forward--who?--do it--it is you who has been selected--take her--take her now--take her befo!!!!!!!!!!Th!!^^7!!!!derYBDa!2$$!!!4912jjkld QWECAjaKLPODF!!!!FggggDD!!!!22#g903FGF$$5!!!!!!!!!
Staticfuzzstaticfuzzstaticfuzzstaticfuzz like never before! My whole body spasms, violent, and I can feel my feet leave the carpet for a moment. The warlock staggers back, hair stalk a waving snake. Fall to the carpet, fingers clawing the artificial, on my knees, hair in mouth, can't shut my eyes, tears dripping, but I'm not crying. Something wet on one knee, landed in my own blood pool. Feel like coughing, but can't, don't want to. Noise fades. Don't know where that comes from. No pain, but I don't know what it is. Gone now, silent mind is welcome in this instant. But then somebody speaks the first words I can remember.
"There's something wrong with her."
A Conversation In Shadows
Have to break the mold here. Won't let them predict me.
"What's wrong with me?" I ask on my hands and knees.
That threw them. Standing there, stunned that I spoke. Not many people converse with wirewitches. The five are there, looking at the human who dared to break the verbal silence. Good. Just try to figure me out. I can't, so how the glitch can you?
Blood is so red, fresh, flowing around my knee. Knee's okay, just
blood from the foot. It's back there making another lake. Knee
is in the way so I can't see it. Still seems distant, so far away
that maybe it shouldn't hurt at all. It does a little, but mostly
it reminds me that it's still there. Going to bleed to death if I
don't get that stopped pretty soon. Life will have to slow down for
a moment first though. More immediate, witchy concerns to
think about now, pressing. Don't think the witchkiss worked though.
Feel better about that now. Don't think--
"Nobody," I reply.
"You are not human."
That's it, jump to conclusions. "I am."
"You may bleed the blood of humanity, but a human you are not." Her voice a scratched echo, almost above a whisper. Rough and course, a decapitated musical note played on serrated vocal cords.
Suppressing feelings now. Have to or I'm going to lose control. Still, not going to play the game. "You tried to infect me. Why?" Memories of the witchkiss had almost faded now, but there was still a...
The wirewitch paused. The faintest turn of her head toward the warlock spoke of something I could not place. This one had two hair stalks just above her forehead. They lay against her back, twining down around her legs, bristles brushing. Her mouth moves after a second. "I commanded him to."
A lie. Better for now to let her think I believe though. "Your coven is complete. You don't need me."
"We do what we wish, false-human"
"Why do you call me that? Do you not listen to your eyes?"
"You resisted the witchkiss!"
Outburst comes from the young one, eyes wide, expansive. The leader does not notice, not caring, continuing. "You are immune to the witchkiss. No human can resist it. Therefore, you are not human, no matter what you may appear to be."
"I'm a normal."
"You are anything but normal."
What is going on? Curious to be talking to a wirewitch about normality and humanity and the like. They can't even remember what it's like to be human. Their humanity is perverted, unclean. But my mind questions me still, probing, aching for the answers. She does not think I am human? This cannot be. Hiding something.
"Scan me," I say.
"You are arrogant, false-human." Stalks twitching, agitated.
"Scan me," I repeat. Standing up, foot forgotten, red reaching a thin stream from knee to foot.
"A false-human does not command a wirewitch."
"You can't, can you?"
"Cyberspace is offline and you can't scan me!" Loss of control here. Didn't mean to raise my voice. Too late now, have to press harder, unless something breaks.
Furious, hair stalks waving. Other wirewitches shifting, moving closer together, bunching. Scared?
"Why haven't you killed me? You tried didn't you?"
"That is a matter of opinion."
"The witchkiss is death for humans! You tried to infect me! Tried to turn me into one of you!"
"But you couldn't do it, could you? You couldn't infect me! For some reason you couldn't infect me!"
"You are correct," the wirewitch said, arm back, touching another of the witches, sharing the comfort touch.
"You are not human. The witchkiss only works on humans."
"I am human," I spit
"She is human, NAAQ"
It is the warlock again. Beside the wirewitch, a little shorter. He just gave away her name.
"The witchkiss didn't work," NAAQ says. "Your opinion carries little truth, 3-43."
Two names now, warlock bearing traditional numeric designation. Hard to remember for humans, but wirewitches never let themselves be bothered with human limitations.
"I performed the witchkiss," 3-43 says, "and I know that this girl is human."
Girl? How old am I? Can't remember, big blank there.
Warlock acting strangely. Wirewitches don't need to talk aloud to each other. Other communication forms are much faster. No need to bother unless...
"You can't communicate," I say quietly.
They stop, focus turning to me again.
"There's nothing there is there?" I say. "It's all numb isn't it?"
Pausing again, waiting for something, then a reply. It's the warlock.
"Yes. We're cut off from each other. Total silence."
I can see it, there in their eyes. Spherical instability. They don't know what to do, foundation of the ages gone now. Separated and alone, complete communication shutdown. They're operating independent of one another now, without the reassuring touch of another's pulses. The young one is always touching one of the others, consoling herself with that little contact. Still sheltering herself in the shadow of her elders, staring at me constantly, thinking the youth mind waves. Wonder what's going on inside her head? The wirewitches are wondering too. How ironic. The others move and sway restlessly, watching me, watching the others, forced to rely on physical senses to realize their surroundings.
Still, we're not on equal ground. Somehow the danger from them seems less now, but still hovering, maybe ready to jump. Be on guard.
Sudden feeling, the dizziness torrent. Legs bent, hand touching
forehead and hand reaching air. Descend into the sta!!!!!! TTIKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!
Nightmares in tar.
Drift into the fall.
Face of chrome.
Images swirl to light and then
Clothes. I'm wearing clothes.
Without thought I throw the sheet off, wanting to look at myself. Foot's been bandaged, white strips wrapped around, the mummy shoe. I can still see my toes and there's no pain. On my knees, I look at my body. Black shirt up here, black pants down there, cut off at the knees. No shoes, a single black sock covering the other foot though, other sock against the wall. Somehow everything fits marginally well. I can still breathe, yet nothing's hanging on me. No more exposed. Naked no more. My mind takes minor refuge in that.
"Here are shoes," a gravelgrind voice says. Two blurs bounce off the carpet beside me and come to rest.
It's the young one, coming around in front of me now. Her two hair stalks flow from the base of her skull down to the back of her thighs. They'll be longer in a few years if she survives that long. Fear does strange things to people, and wirewitches are greatly feared among most races. They don't survive the results of that fear sometimes, no matter how strong they are.
I grab the lone sock and stretch it over my bandages. Foot looks misconstructed, lumpy.
"Who are you?" the young witch asks, cross-legging before me.
Can't think of an untruth so I just say, "(2)syl."
"I'm JACK," she says.
Was that a smile I saw? Momentary, but still there. Never saw one of those on a wirewitch. First shoe goes on, a little tight, but not restricting. The wirewitch is cute with youth. Her fingers ignorantly twiddle strands in one of her stalks. "Where are the others?"
"In the other room. Why is your hair blue?"
There's only one door to the room, small like the room. The walls are bare. Second shoe fits more snugly than the first. Bandages have increased the size of my foot. There's a price to pay for not bleeding. But JACK's question is a good one and I answer, "I don't know."
"Why don't you know?"
There's a thud that cuts me off and then a tremor passes through the room.
"What's that?" JACK asks, her voice reflecting concern.
A second thud and a second tremor. The room vibrates more. Commotion in the adjoining room.
"I don't like that," JACK says. "I'm scared."
A third thud and a third tremor. That one was close.
"Make it stop," JACK says and repeats, "I'm scared."
The same feeling rushes into my chest, compressing, hard to breathe with something wrong happening. Get control and get in control now. Wirewitches rushing in the room now. Door closing, now closed. Wirewitches pulling me to my feet. Confusion. I can smell the confusion and indecision and fright.
Wirewitch in my face. It's NAAQ. "What is that?"
Don't know. How could I know? "What are you talking about?"
"There's something out there!"
Another thud. That time it felt like something hit the outer wall. There was a faint humming and then a deep roar.
"What the glitch is that?!?" NAAQ grates into my face.
"I don't know!" I manage.
"Whatever it was, it just hit the pulse shield," 3-43 says.
THUD!. The entire room shifts this time. The humming stops.
"Pulse shield just went down!" 3-43 says.
Through the door I can see the walls crack as something big collides with the outer wall. A second roar sounds which is quickly answered by a second, different roar. Sickly, weak feeling resides in my stomach, legs thin and frail. The other witches are backed up against the far wall. NAAQ is still beside me though.
"Why did you bring them?" she says.
"I don't know what--"
THUD!! Shock impact collision drowns out the rest of my thought. A piece of the wall out there falls down. I can see something moving out there. It's dark outside, but there is movement, fast and insistent.
"There's something out there!" JACK says, voice uneven with grinded terror.
I think there are two somethings actually.