Industrial: Do They Gather Quietly?


Do They Gather Quietly? is the sixth and final story in the Industrial Anthology. This is the complete story, but this is the second editing so you might encounter a typo or two.


Ver Sacrum Books - Industrial - Dystopian AnthologyDimly lit, crowds departing, street-lamps and night dew. Was it a scene, something pre-designed? Or was it something naturally flowing, actions leading to actions leading to confrontation? The moment eyes lock, lips become wet, the blood begins pumping and the scene finally commencing. This scenario seemed to have started hours ago when a pair of violet eyes happened to fall upon a woman sitting in a bar. The woman wouldn’t notice these eyes till much later. Till things would begin to progress beyond a point of stopping.

The woman stood in a Masta bar, sipping the house specialty flaming Caegar wine, best tasted when still hot from a flame. Rumor had it the wine was made from the piss of a species of red winged black birds. Whether this was true or more urban legend, piss and vinegar most often tasted the same as wine and beer. It was all in how the nauseous concoction was presented. A flaming Caegar wine was presented with such flair it could have been goat piss for all the customer cared. Such trivialities were meant for the uninitiated, those not jaded. And the woman Ev? She was as jaded as the definition allowed for. She enjoyed the wonderful dreamy sensation of intoxication this particular drink caused. It went beyond being punch drunk or high. It made her body warm, it melted her within her skin.

The woman looked outside, past the glass of piss wine in her hand and the windows shielding the inside of the bar from the outside. She sighed at this picture. It appeared as every other night these days. A picture which didn’t move her. A façade of possible events which would never take place. More of the same and yet nothing worth enjoying. Her time was running out, it was slowing down. She was becoming something stuck behind the glass of the bar, kept away from the life going on outside. Ev was slowing down like a dying clock.

It was hard moving through the city with one function, one desire. Hard to find the few things that would fulfill her palate these days. Especially in this city built on technology and never ending change and evolution. Man was no longer a unique in the world. The human race was no longer so simple as man and woman, child and adult. Not when science had brought the religious to the question of the soul. Not when the nature of being human was being tested and reworked. Not when all the old standards had been thrashed into subdivisions.

On one side you had the Unics finally claiming themselves as their own sex, or better stated sexless, belonging in their own category. On the other side there was the sudden scattering of cyborg life forms clamoring for mutual respect even though they were considered thinking tin cans. After such progression in the world, it was a wonder a normal person of given sex and normal genetic make-up could find anything to fulfill them amid the more demanding hybrids.

Somewhere out there beyond the hybrids and the sexless, was a city constantly reinventing itself for the better. Only now and then did it give off hints everything was not right. It was like an unspoken underground was quietly bubbling to the surface. It was there to be seen, if you looked hard enough. It was even to be found in the nightly news. How often did a city find itself with two ruling bodies trying to take over for complete control? The wonder was that no one seemed to find it abnormal that many a century system of government was being cast aside by some faceless form of government known only by one name, The Ministry. It was like the bad plot of an old conspiracy movie. Yet no one listened, no one seemed to sense this.

Such utter ignorance of current events seemed normal these days. The former government, the State, was old and clunky. It was not so hard to think no one would care about their decline. The old State had a hard time accepting homosexuals and minorities into its laws and policies. It was made up of old men who could still remember wars once fought, but now only spoken of in the history books. Stuffy old men with old world values. The men the world’s grandparent class grew up with. They had no need of the technological evolution taking place. They couldn’t understand computers, let alone the creatures they were bringing forth. They still wore costly suits and worried over their public image. They still thought little of the younger generation, even though these were the class of people about to inherit the world. They still believed in respect and order in a world which held little regard for either. They were so old and dusty as to not realize the computer generation was so engrossed in their toys they didn’t care what the State wanted. They didn’t care about much of anything.

The faceless mob, the new government which smacked of totalitarian, they could see the world for what it was. An ugly place falling into a sort of odd disrepair, falling into electronics even as it looked more and more like an industrial revolt. Where people embraced the steel, brick, and mortar of the city and its technologies instead of the suburban white picket fence ideal of yesterday. There was a place for the cyborg in this government. There was a place for the sexless masses. Theirs was an idea which no one would believe till the reality of it was staring the public in the face. Theirs was the devolution of the world even as science advanced it beyond any level of comprehension known in centuries past.

It didn’t matter to Ev. The world just wasn’t as it once was. The world had become disappointing. She’d ceased carrying about government unless it got in her way. She didn’t care about cyborg rights or genderless people. Fuck the State and fuck the mob coming to over throw it. She couldn’t even care enough to wish anarchy could rule. She was without ideals and foolish dreams of a better world.

She sighed, somewhat comfortably, putting her musings aside. Her sight was already becoming clouded, the quick effects of the wine, the bird piss. She crossed through the small gathering of cliques within the bar, moving to a round console at the heart of the establishment. A life console, as they called them. Better than an atm machine and a computer on the street. These machines allowed access to a person’s life as it was kept recorded on the harddrive of the city.

She withdrew her identification card and slipped it into the blank console and watched as the smooth black surface pulled away to reveal a screen. A slightly mechanical human face lit up the screen. The face was just one of the numerous personal communication options to be made when a person opened a life account. Each account was allowed a personal interface, a real face —to make the impersonal seem more personal. The face she decided upon was easy to hate, she had wanted it this way. The computer generated face was too perky, too perfect, almost more human than human. She was an older model, programmed with only one emotional capability. An emotion which was a cross between perky and bank teller happy. She came long before the new models, which were becoming more popular, but remained terribly creepy to anyone with an eye for details. The new ones were too real. Ev’s personal interface was still very mechanical. It could deliver the most somber and crushing of news with smile intact, synthetic dimples showing.

The hated face popped up, its programmed smile ever present. “Good-evening Mistress Ev. You have three messages waiting and Tou has asked to hold the line and be put in contact with you the moment you come online. Should I put you through to him or open the messages first?” Bright, chipper, ever the tone of a cheerleader teller in a dead world.

Ev leaned her head against the console and debated for a moment. The messages would be trivial, most likely work related. Tou would be trivial and mostly work as well, but at least he was a face. A warm human face. “Connect” she answered.

The bright face dissolved into a scatter of colors to be replaced with a small processing sign. The screen darkened and Tou’s face replaced the darkness. He was busy with another conversation on the opposite console in his room. The room around him was a museum of outdated technology. She let him talk for awhile, quietly staring at him.

Tou was the product of the Asian and Scandinavian hybrid culture named Sacuel. The Sacuel started as genetic research forty years ago, a project to see if a new race could be effectively made from the coupling of two differing pure races. Eventually the test subjects tired of being guinea pigs for research and demanded their own homeland, their own name. The Sacuel was born and Tou was one of its young sons.

An attractive lot they were. His hair was silky, straight, cut to his ears, shaved bald up the back, and the color was white blonde. Like corn stalk silk. His features were more distinctly Asian. His eyes were a beautiful almond shape, rimmed in corn-silk eyelashes, with a black iris, black as the pupil. His nose was somewhat flat and round, his lips lush and pink. His body was slim but well toned. He was, sadly, a very beautiful creature she couldn’t find in herself to fully love.

“Tou” she finally said softly. The man’s head turned to see her face broadcast back to him. He beamed, always happy to see her, always happy to know she would still answer his calls.

“Ev, good to see you. You are somewhere public?”

She nodded “Yes, 1282, a Masta bar. I was in the mood for quiet gatherings.”

He looked at her softly, warmly “So, do they gather quietly for you Ev?” he asked, his voice as soft and warm as his look.

Her eyes, already red from the wine, now felt as though they might produce tears. She stared into the screen at the sweet man and wished she could go home and let him put his arms around her, hold her tightly. It was too much of a backwards trip to make though. It might make her feel better for a time, but very few of her inner demons would be silenced. She would take comfort in him as long as her conscious would allow and then she’d have to leave him all over again. It was simply wrong to do to Tou, to get his hopes up when she knew she’d be out the door come morning.

“No.” she said very softly “Not quietly enough. I think I’m going to go now.”

There are some expressions of pain displayed by the human face where the effect is complete and crushing. Tou’s pain was crushing. He wanted so little. So little out of life, so little out of her. Just a quiet home, his old world electronics and her ability to now and then smile at him and mean it. It was so little and he could be content with no less. How life would haunt him otherwise. Ev didn’t like knowing she was the living ghost haunting him.

“It’s quiet here Ev.” Tou said in a whisper.

She slipped her fingers onto the screen, lightly touching the place where his lips were. “It’s always quiet enough there Tou. I’ll come home to you soon. I promise.” she slipped her card out of the slot and watched the screen go blank before she could witness the sadness as it came over Tou’s face. Her words weren’t a complete lie, but neither were they the complete truth. She would eventually come home to him, but not soon.

She left the console and noticed a pair of brilliant eyes following her as she moved. Rich violet eyes, perhaps contacts or a birth defect, yet pretty all the same. With those stunning eyes, a bit lower, a thin upper lip curving delicately over a full, pouting lower lip painted in wine red or henna, one could not tell for sure in the dim bar light. His nose was long, thin, aristocratic. His hair black, straight, shoulder length. His body was obscured by a massive black wool coat. She mused a moment on this, the coat looked like a pair of dark clouds encircling him. Perhaps a dark angel of coal floating up from the mine shaft, to the surface above to create some diamond nephilliam by friction with a daughter of man. This caused her a small, private smile.

She thought to herself, very attractive and somewhat regal, but for another time. On another night she might have tested out the dark angel’s wings, but on this night she simply kept on walking and moved out into the night. She left the violet eyed man back in the bar with the cliques and flaming piss wine.

Her mind dwelled on Tou, on the old world and the old life. Almost thirty now, she’d been born into an age that was pushed away by technology. When she was twelve she read cyber fiction and found, by the time she could legally drink, fiction was just everyday reality. It didn’t seem as exciting anymore. By the time she turned twenty-four the practice of life accounts was created removing all the older versions of identification, money, even information. Personal accounts, money, internet access, school credits, medical records, you name it, it was contained within one account. It simplified things greatly while at the same time bringing a person’s worth and history down to a strip of bar code.

Even that time was in the past for her, when she was still living inside the circle of society. Now she was outside of it all. She rarely even knew the ever changing state of the government and it’s fight for power unless she over heard talk of it from drunken occupants of a bar. She drifted from this place to that, casually spending the money she’d squirreled away over the years. Every now and then she took an odd job offered to her via email, to tuck more money away to replace what she spent. And when she needed her stint with stability, she went home to Tou. On most occasions though, she was little more then visual email for the younger man.

These were the things going through her head as she walked. Now the effects of the wine were fully starting to kick in, making her groggy. So she walked and she thought and she walked some more. Till she was lost, drunk and oblivious to either fact. She rounded a corner and was greeted by a group of faces which seemed familiar to her in her haze. They spoke as though they knew her, put their arms around her and squeezed her tightly, kissed her cheeks. This wasn’t terribly shocking though. Whether she knew them or not, chances where she’d called them friends at some point when she wandered aimlessly in another drunken daze. She was drunk more often than she was sad. This was the ratio she liked to keep. It took a toll on her memory though.

She let her body fall against one of the crowd strangers, let his arms encircle her and keep her close for the moments she hung with them. It could be so easy to fall into a group of people, strangers, and feel just as close as family. False security. Did it matter really? For a little while she felt as though she were in the strong embrace of a long time boyfriend. In time his hands would slip from her as another woman tempted him more and she wouldn’t mourn the lose of him one bit.

One of the crowd women smiled at her and withdrew something from a small bottle. “Here Ev, for your skin.” she said with a laugh. She apparently knew her name and knew something of her tastes.

The woman’s hand brought something to Ev’s mouth and Ev opened her lips to receive it, knowing it was a sugar cube laced with a narcotic. She didn’t stay to trip with them. Her feet moved her down the street as the cube melted over her tongue, sugar water bleeding into her gums, chemicals bleeding into the sweet water. Her senses rolled and her skin tingled. Soon even the air would move her to gooseflesh and every little sensation would be magnified ten times.

As she stumbled about someone spoke to her. “So Ev, do they gather quietly?” a voice said to her.

She turned, as startled as her condition would allow for. They were Tou’s words from earlier imitated perfectly, but not in Tou’s voice. It was the violet eyed man from earlier. Standing there in his dark cloud.

She smiled at him and held her hands out a little as though she were looking for her balance. Her head shook slowly from side to side as a giddy smiled curled her lips into a shallow U. “They didn’t. But now they do. It’s terribly quiet here.” she replied.

The man moved forward so quickly that even in her dulled state of response, she was shocked enough to step backwards. As he approached she kept moving backwards until a wall halted her progress. The man stopped a few feet from where she stood. He didn’t make any other movements, he just looked at her.

Ev tried to fight the sensations in her body, but the chemicals were overriding her natural functions and she could only feel at ease, feel good. So she looked at this man in his dark garb and almost tangible presence. He was attractive, and his eyes —the more she looked at them— were all the more stunning. Violet eyes rimmed by such black and thick lashes, it made his irises almost appear to glow. Had she been in a more sober state of mind, she might have indeed seen his eyes to be somewhat luminescent. This was a side effect of the artificial implants that were his new eyes.

“What’s your name?” she managed to ask as she tried in vain to gather her thoughts together.

The man seemed to relax a bit as he sensed the woman was not in full possession of her reasoning. She was obviously drunk, and underneath that, terribly sad. Her sadness was like a fragrance he could smell. Even smelling it over the blood flowing in her veins (which also had it’s own particular odor familiar to his sensitive nose.) He’d first caught her scent in the Masta bar many blocks away. A scent so strong in its unique odor it moved him in a way he’d long thought forgotten to his former self. It moved him to attraction. Attraction that was not solely based upon his programmed protocol. These feelings were his own, over top of the other. The old feelings.

He smiled at her. “My name is Kiev.”

Ev started laughing, a rolling drunken sound. “Like me! Like my name missing two letters, yes?” she laughed harder.

The man stared on in quiet fascination. “Yes, I guess that is correct.”

Ev continued laughing, though the tone of it was becoming more nervous laughter than one of humor. This man, this Kiev was just staring at her. He made no movements towards her, he made no movements at all. She thought it might be a condition of her slowed senses, but he didn’t even appear to breath. He just calmly looked at her, every so often smelling the air around him like there was a lilac bush in full bloom somewhere near by.

“What do you want?” she finally asked.

Kiev looked around a bit, almost seeming sad for a moment as he regarded the area around them. There were no crowds, no pedestrians moving about. The businesses in this area had closed. They were in an area which had gone to sleep, not to awaken till the approach of a new work day when the newly imposed curfews would be lifted. Whatever he wanted, there was no one to bother with trying to keep him from having it. Which made him sad. Sad there was no one to protect or honor the best interests of this woman. He looked back at Ev.

“I want you.” he replied simply, honestly.

Ev shook her head “You can’t have me. I’m sorry if I stared at you too long in the bar or gave you the wrong impression, but I’m not into the pick up and go sort of thing. You know? I’m a little trashed at the moment. But even so, I’m not going to just up and fuck you here.”

Once again the man’s face took on a look of deep sadness, even has he smiled and seemed amused at her misunderstanding. He shook his head slowly, approaching her in a most painfully slow manner. “It’s not your sex I want. There might have been a time when such a thing would have appealed to me greatly —yes, I would have wanted you badly. You’re beautiful. You look like a turn of the millennium pin-up which I have seen many images of. The short black hair, the curvy figure, the way your lips seem to invite even as they pout. Yes, from my memories of such human things, you are quite attractive by all standards of the meaning. I would have wanted to penetrate your beauty in some way that shared it with me, gave me pleasure. I’m beyond such simple actions now though. I will penetrate you for my pleasure, but not as you understand such things.”

Even in her muddled state of mind, his words made her feel uneasy. She was alone in street-ways she’d seldom bothered exploring. She was lost as a result. This man’s voice was attractive in some soft alluring way she couldn’t describe to herself. The effects of it were calming even as she wanted to panic. He was threatening her was he not? Her brain reasoned that he was, but his actions were not threatening in any manner. So she didn’t run at that last moment before he reached over and grabbed her by the arms. She probably didn’t have the time to run even if her body had been motivated to move.

Kiev took her by the arms, pulling her close to his body in an intimate fashion that suggested he wasn’t being completely truthful of his intentions. His eyes were moving over the surface of her skin, his nose was smelling the air between them. He smiled, putting his lips to her forehead and kissing her softly as the examination was completed. “You’ve been drinking that awful bird wine. Perhaps you will make me drunk.” he said softly “I miss being drunk sometimes.”

He let his lips brush against her skin, moving them softly over her eyelids, down her cheeks, coming close to her own lips. When his lips came to rest against her mouth he let them idol only millimeters away. She could feel his breath, even smell the faint vanilla like scent of it. With a sudden movement he pushed his arms around her chest and pulled her achingly tight against him. She could feel his solid body beneath his massive coat.

There they stayed. As if they were a couple caught up in a passionate embrace, or preparing to have a slow dance. Her body was growing warm from the intimate contact. Like his arms had small lines of heaters in them pushing generated warmth into her by force. He too seemed to be growing warmer. His skin was mimicking this response as well. His pale pallor seemed to glow ever so slightly. Like he wore a glaze of glow in the dark fluids which were weak upon his skin.

“Please stop.” Ev managed to ask, though her voice felt as weak as her body was becoming.

The man spoke, with his lips gently grazing hers as he mouthed the words. “I cannot stop Ev. I’m sorry. You must believe me that I wish I didn‘t have to do this to you. As much as I dislike the thought of hurting you this way, I am thrilled by the touch of someone like you. It gives me great pleasure to perform this act upon you. I hope this gives you some comfort. A comfort knowing that we are in a way lovers right now. A new type of lovers and you are my first. Even as you are a stranger to me, you are my beloved first.”

The words registered on her brain, but they were barely decipherable in the sudden static gripping her mind. She felt as though someone had reached into her body and was turning her controls. They were looking for radio stations that might have been found within the ions of her blood. Her white blood cells might pick up India if molested just the right way. But through this molesting of the blood, the rest of her body felt as though it were being pulled and drawn. She gripped the sides of her head in a mental way one does when they feel as though they’re slipping inside of their skin somehow. It was as if someone were trying to pull her soul out of her body.

Ev moved her arms, though weakly. She put her hands to his face to try and force him off somehow but there simply was no strength in her limbs. She barely felt as though she had any power to command her body at all. For a moment she could feel the heat coming off of his skin. Then her fingertips and all over senses gave out and she was without feeling in her skin. The only thing she could still feel was the man’s lips close to her own.

“What are you doing to me?” she whispered.

He sighed, as if gripped in bliss. More of that vanilla air from his mouth found it’s way into her own mouth. When he spoke, it was the sound of a man on the verge of mechanical orgasm.

“I’m stealing you and I am loving you in the only fashion allowed to me.” he breathed.

“But why? Why me? What are you doing to me…” she felt as though she said these things, but in truth it was simply her mind throwing up the few thoughts it could as a distinct cloud was being placed over it. Mental netting was pulling her away from her senses and substance.

The man heard her thoughts because he was taking those thoughts, taking everything. “I will tell you. I’ll tell you all Ev, because it’s the only thing I can give you back. You must promise to remember though. Don’t fight me. Don’t resist this. We’ve moved past the point where we can stop. You’re body is dying now, this is why sensation is leaving you. You soul won’t move on though. Your will is to fight back, to keep this body around you, don’t fight Ev. Focus that strength into accepting, into remembering. Please, tell me you understand this. Tell me you will. Please Ev. Please…”

She knew his words were registering in her head, not her ears —though she couldn’t claim it to really be her head anymore. She heard and felt him in the place she called herself, her true self. The energy which contained the programming that was her. In this place she could hear his thoughts and feel the compassion and longing which came with them. So she did as he said. She quit the instinctive reflex to hold onto her life. She instead turned all her energies towards him, holding onto his words.

“Tell me.”

“There is too much to say and not enough time to say it before your body dies and I steal you. You will be buried into my subconscious so that your instincts don’t cause you to try and dislodge me from my station and take over this body. I’ve been taught how to control you. I will bury you down into my subconscious and you will be lost in a dark place there. You will not think, you will not remember, you will only dream as those lost to a coma like sleep dreams. You will know nothing, you will be nothing. When you are called from that place eventually, the disorientation will only allow you to comply with the things which will command you. You’ll be in a new body, you’ll be at the mercy of a new nervous system, a new brainstem. Memories will come, but only as a dream. You will not remember this life in the way you remember it now. You will know it as only the ghost remembers having lived a real life. It will haunt you and you will long for it, but it will be nothing more than a dream. The same as mortals dream for the ethereal life they lost in choosing to fall into the mortal coil. Do you understand this Ev? His words were coming quick, quicker then a spoken conversation as they were pure thought. She replied back in the same manner. Saying she understood, clinging to his sentences like they were her body. She wore his thoughts in place of her dying skin.

“Good. So understand this Ev. Long ago it was discovered where the soul rests within the body during life. It was discovered how the soul leaves when it is purged from the body during death. It was learned the theories where correct, we are in our purest form simple energy. Energy that retains its memories and sense of self in waves. We are always who we are Ev. The way we translate this information about ourselves and our awareness simply changes depending upon the shell we use to house ourselves.

“There is a plane of existence that is one of energy and light, where we are nothing but this energy, we are all one even as we are ourselves. In this plane we are filled with the knowledge we cannot grow in anyway. We are as we are, eternal. To grow from this, to progress to the next level, we must come to an existence which allows for such understanding, such spiritual growth. We need the brain to tell us what we feel. We need the brain to translate this to our energy in the waves it understands. There are other states of being Ev, other places to take form and have the translation commence.

“They, those people who tamper with such things in this existence, they know of the trapped ghosts, energy held to this plane because something within their energy is confused, it won’t allow them to find their way back to the light of original creation. They know of a the Coda, another place where we take form, but not as you’d understand it now. And Ev, they understand the way of the brain and body, they understand how to communicate in waves to our energy to mask this form. They’ve found a way to steal us from this place.”

Ev felt herself panic even as she took in this information. She felt herself become frightened in a very strong way she couldn’t quite understand. It wasn’t fear in the body, it was fear in the soul. The latter was so much stronger than the other could be. She feared for her existence.

Kiev calmed her fears, throwing his mental self around her so she could feel the protection he offered. His knowledge was all she needed to be safe.

“It’s okay Ev. It’s alright. They’ve found another body to place you in. One they think gives them absolute control over you, over everything. But this is false pride on their part. This place they think they control, it’s another plane Ev. It’s just another form of existence we’ve discovered. People like you and I are not the first to travel here, but we are some of the first from this plane of humans to go there. We can rule it Ev, if only we remember ourselves and not allow them to lull us into ignorance and servitude.

“Remember yourself Ev. It will be hard. So much harder than any explanation I can give you. You must be willing to not be afraid of your memories falling away, for once imprinted they will never go away. You will simply have to learn down the line how to remember them. It’s most important to remember yourself. This will be hard because knowing ourselves is knowing how our thoughts can be random and separated. To overcome this you must make a target. Focus all of your thoughts onto one person, one being, one thing. Something you can relate to that reminds you of who you were or of something which always drew your attention, your attraction.”

His thoughts became panicked. She felt an odd tug from somewhere below. She imagined it was her body giving one last attempt to reclaim the energy it needed for survival. It wasn’t strong enough to pull her away though. Something within his body was pulling her harder than her body could. She knew soon she’d be falling into some type of collection within him. For this was most surely what he was, a collector. She could understand that now. She could gleam it from his own thoughts. Thoughts that were upset because she was soon going to beyond his conscious reach and he hadn’t said enough.

“Quickly Ev! Think of something. Focus yourself! I will try to reach you but I don’t know how. Not once inside. Perhaps my dreams. Please Ev, now!!” he was frantic.

Ev felt like she was floating. So many of her memories, thoughts, even her fears, were so far from her as to not be anything but flecks of mental dust. She pawed through the fodder that remained. Finding something very shallow but comforting. At first she thought of Tou, but he only offered shame, guilt, and sadness —which was too much for her to attach herself to. So she thought of random images and came upon one. It was a woman, someone she had physically styled herself after. He had been right in this assumption earlier. The elegance, the sensuality and sexuality, the iconic nature and class of the persona. She let herself fall into this persona and did nothing but focus on this persona till Kiev, her body, and all thoughts of herself or her old world simply vanished down a vortex like drain pulling her under.

Ev ceased to exist.

Kiev held the dead woman’s body a moment longer. The extreme heat he gave off during the process was already draining from the body. It wasn’t actually heat, it was waves which felt like heat. Waves which put him in contact with the energy of the soul and allowed him to pull it forcefully from the body and place it within a special place created within his subconscious. A place he was not allowed immediate access to.

He let the body slide to the ground below, giving little attention to it now that the payload was removed. He felt the sadness of his loss deeply, even though he should have felt nothing at all. There was no room for emotions, he’d said this to himself countless times. And normally it was never even a problem. He did his job day in and day out with no regard to what his conscious should be telling him to think of it. That part of him was lost to those days he spoke of tyranny with Mesa in dark cafés which smelled of good coffee and clove smoke.

She’d made him feel though. Feel on a level akin to his old emotional process. It had only been sadness, and that bothered him somewhat. Joyless sadness was not the lost emotion he craved. Yet, that emotion had allowed him to feel so deeply as he performed the task. He still felt warm from it. An inner warmth. As if he’d shared his bed with his soul-mate. Love, passion, lust, it was all there, made real once more from the overwhelming sense of despair in the woman. Her desperation seemed just a starting ground for him to feel and find his way back to all the better sensations of feeling.

He promised himself he would try to seek her out, try and touch her and calm her in some way while she resided within him. He owed it to her if he could not find someway to love her. That was something to hope for too. If he could feel with one of the myopods in transit, perhaps he could find love within the system. There was hope.

With this new promise of hope he began the long walk back to his station, or apartment as he would have once called it. He thought of how dreaming might become a joy again. He thought of how differently his vision of the system was already changing. He felt warm. Within his head he began a one sided conversation he hoped was heard on some type of level.

Epilogue

“Who is it?” she asked as she looked out of the peephole on her front door. She spied a fish eyed version of a twenty something looking male with black hair and terribly violet colored eyes.

“Kiev Sandis ma’am. I’ve come to set up your account.” he replied, even managing a quick smile for the woman who looked at him from the other side of the door.

The woman stepped back and undid the many locks on the door, opening it to receive the system administrator. She offered him a slight gesture of greeting as he stepped into the apartment, but little else. She was already moving towards the spare room as he was closing the front door behind himself. He followed her up the hallway. She was standing in front of a slightly outdated but still up to code work station. The nest, as most administrators liked to call it.

“There it is.” she said absently.

As myopod collector, he was trained to be emotionless, quick, and careful. As a technician come to install one of the gathered myopods, he was something of the old world. He came with a pleasant smile and patience, knowing that most of the people having these systems installed where not ready to give into technology. Nor were they happy with being forced to comply with law enforced standards of technology.

He smiled warmly at her, almost feeling he might have known her before, never letting his almost mechanical nature show through. “You are Mirabye Challis correct?” he asked, all sunshine and fake cheer.

The woman was very pretty, even though her features were somewhat plain. None of his sunshine and fake cheer seemed to touch her in any manner. There was a sadness of loss about her, but it was shielded by a solid wall of apathy and disdain. She didn’t care for courtesy, she didn’t care to return it.

“Yes, that’s me. You have forms for me to sign?”

He dutifully handed her a clipboard full of papers, dotted with Xs in all the places she needed to leave her signature and identification number. She almost seemed to stab the papers as she scrawled her name where need be, not bothering to read over anything.

“So, this thing once installed will take over the apartment?”

He nodded. “Yes ma’am. The new wiring of the apartments allows for the set up of one primary computer unit, what we like to call the nest, to act as the central programming unit. Once we enter in your information, your personalized account unit and such, the information will slowly filter through the rest of the apartment and show the settings used on this one. Once its done that, you’ll be able to adjust and set your personal preferences for any item throughout the apartment. Should there be any problems, we’ll only need to fix this unit. It makes things much easier.”

She nodded. “How long will it take?”

“An hour or less is the standard. Most times though it takes all of ten minutes to see the results.” he paused, fishing through his bag of items till he found a hand sized container. “Do you have any preferences as to the gender of your account unit?”

She thought for a moment. “Girl I suppose.”

He nodded. “Alright then. Well now Ms. Challis, can I ask you to step outside for a moment so that I can program the personalization unit? It’s not terribly complicated but I do have to use authorization codes I’m not allowed to open unless I’m the only one in the room. It will take but a moment.”

He politely ushered her to the door and closed it behind her. As an after thought he turned the lock as well. This woman struck him as the type who’d be curious enough to just barge in on him mid install. That couldn’t be allowed to happen.

He sat down at the computer system, surveying it. It looked the same as computers had always looked. They were a little flatter and more compact than the old ones. These were also without many of the wires. There were two thick cords that sprung from the back of this one, and most like this one. A power cord, and the information cord. Each cord wove through the hidden spaces of the apartment, connecting to every single electrical gadget. These cords ran throughout the apartment complex, down into the ground where a main collection of cables snaked through the underworld of the city. Organized and efficient. Everything else on the computers were cordless.

He pulled a small CD from his bag and placed it into one side of the container he held in his hand. The container was surprisingly light for all the mechanics it held within it. On the bottom portion of the container a small panel slid back to expose a place for a CD to be inserted. He inserted the preprogrammed CD. The other side of the container held a panel that pulled back to expose an area mimicking the outline of his right hand. It was built specifically to fit him and read the waves which would be distributed through the heat of his palm. These waves would in turn be imprinted upon the CD.

Each time he did this, he silently marveled over the ease of it. In the first tests and beta versions, the myopods were stored on the CDs themselves. These souls were always lost, however. It was never completely understood why the waves of energy that were the essence of the myopods couldn’t be stored on the disks when they could be kept alive within the computers themselves. One scientist reasoned it was because the new computer systems were built with one piece of synthesized organic brain matter which allowed for a certain type of energy charge within the computer. A charge too large to be placed within the CDs themselves. The most compact they could actually make this charge was in the small handheld computers. But even when putting a myopod in such a small object, it had to be in sleep status and had to of already been programmed through a normal size computer. Otherwise, it died like the rest of them.

It was all in the charge. The charge was the very first discovery of the waves which held a person’s soul. It was reasoned to be kept in this realm, some of the brain energy needed to be there. Otherwise natural process took over and the souls were called away to the light, the place where the death of the brain naturally delivered them back to. This was how human containment systems were thought up and designed. He would put his hand to this thing and bring up one of the myopods from his subconscious and imprint it upon the disk. There would be a two minute period of leeway, or purgatory as the old religious types liked to call it, where the myopod could be moved to the computer and contained once more.

Kiev put his hand into the fitted section and felt the machine automatically begin it’s process of calling up the heat from his system. The only thing he need do is direct it to seek out a female myopod from his mental containment and toss its wave pattern onto the CD. The process took all of thirty seconds and only felt like a soft electric shock pass through his system.

A green light flashed on the container, signaling successful retrieval and writing. Quickly he removed the CD and slid it into the appropriate slot on the computer. He booted up the computer and went through a series of instructions for the computer’s one bit of organic matter to read and retrieve the entity on the disk. This too, took all of thirty seconds. And it was done. The system was booting up and acknowledging the new programming.

Quickly he put his things away and called for the woman Mirabye to return. It was most important for the ghost, as these people called them, to see its owner upon waking up. There were more technical terms for this process, but he saw it as reawakening, or birth. Just as it was important for a new born babe to see it’s mother, so too did the ghost need to see it’s controller. It needed to make a connection that offered it a sense of comfort. It didn’t guarantee loyalty, there was little they could do to completely control the ghosts. They were the remnants of a human life after all, and many of those traits came with them. But human traits were controllable in the end. They were cheap to maintain, plus wonderful spies, and this was the underlining thought behind their creation. Many of the people using them would give in and become friendly with them never assuming they were an ever watchful eye.

He wasn’t worrying about such details just then. He was watching impatiently as the woman came back into the room and followed his instructions. He sat her down and instructed her through the set up. He was suppose to leave the room as the final tasks were taking place so it was a pure environment of the person and their ghost. There was programming within the CD that was conditioning the myopod the moment their entity was imprinted, so in essence it would know how to act. Since the person installing the myopod was the person who stole the myopod in the first place, it was never good to allow this last lingering memory to surface.

He wouldn’t go though. He hadn’t dredged up a female myopod in months. Each time he had he’d dreaded seeing the face of that woman pop up. He dreaded seeing Ev’s beautiful face come back into clear focus. But he had to see. He had to know when she left him. He had to be prepared for the silence which would greet him in his dreams.

The screen booted up and a storm of pixels flew around in a flurry as the ghost taught itself how to pull its visual identity together within its new environment. It needed to learn how to make new skin. It took mere moments to learn the task. The pixels rained down into the form of a woman. A woman with short black hair, beautifully sensual features. Very familiar features.

The ghost made one electronic type gasp as it found its source of speech. Then it clicked into cyber life as if it knew the routine just as naturally as it once knew how to breath.

“Greetings Mistress Mirabye. My name is Sivil and it will be my pleasure to assist you. Shall we start with customizing some of my settings?”

The woman looked on the screen, neither moved nor bothered visually by the image looking back at her. Kiev could feel her though, and she was mildly disturbed by the sheer humanity within the image on the screen. It went beyond viewing a person in a movie or on a television screen, and it went far beyond viewing a computer generated image. This entity was much too real for the circuits and programming she was claimed to be.

Kiev didn’t really care what the woman thought or where this relationship would lead. He only knew that his precious cargo was outside of his body now, beyond his control. He could hope to see her again, in another form, on that new plane. Or he could resign himself to the fact that she was gone. All she’d left was trace residue of where she’d been.

He left the woman to her set up and introductions. On impulse he turned around and put himself in view of the monitor, so the ghost could see him. For one moment, one painfully brief moment he felt the contact of his eyes with hers and he knew she remembered him, remembered everything.

He quickly made his way out of the apartment and into the day before something could shatter the last illusion Ev had left him with. The illusion there was still hope.


Industrial: Do They Gather Quietly? is copyright 2002 Bethalynne Bajema. All Rights Reserved
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