It's two in the morning. I've just had my fifth shower since talking with Amanda and Jason. I still feel filthy, and the sensation is getting worse as I watch the news. It talks about finances, a disaster overseas, how the weather's getting worse, and how the demons are responsible for it.
There is nothing about the women, and the men who mistreated them. Nothing about the two men beating another one. There nothing on the news indicating humans commit violence on humans. It's always been like that, for as long as I remember watching the news, but tonight it fells wrong. It's another lie.
I rub my arm, it's still throbbing.
He told me to question who I am, except I know who I am. I've read all the files in the system on my creation, more than once. Except, is that true? yes, I've read all the files they gave me, but are there more? I never asked. I always assumed that if there was, they would have given them to me.
Should I ask?
Will they tell me if there are more? will they give them to me? will those file contain truths, or be more lies like the news? I can't trust them to be honest with me, not when it seems they have surrounded me with lies.
I take the keyboard and switch the television to the computer output, and I stare at the screen. I've already gone through everything the computer has access to. If it can get more, I don't know how. I've always asked Jason when I needed something new.
Where could I find out if there's more?
I put the keyboard down. I want a coke. No, I crave a coke. I've never felt this need before. It feel like the anger I felt as I hit the demon over and over. It's something that's in me, and yet doesn't feel like me.
I stand and head to the fridge, I have one can left. I can drink it and go out to get more, the grocery story is opened all night. I'm half way there and I stop. Why am I bothering with a coke. I have something more important to deal with.
I get out of the apartment and walk through the halls, down the stairs, through more halls. I don't have a destination in mind, I don't even know what question to ask, so I just look through the offices' and labs' windows.
I'm on the third subbasement when I come across someone working in one of the labs. She's on a computer. I knock on the open door's frame.
She looks up and at me. "Yes?" She had blue eyes and blond hair, cropped short.
"You know how the computer works?"
She looks at her screen and then back at me. "Sure."
"I need to add more files on mine, but I don't know how, or where to look to find them."
She raises an eyebrow. "You don't know how to move files about?"
"No, I usually ask Jason, but his sleeping."
She thinks about it for a moment. "Well, if you don't know how to move them, You'd have to go to the mainframe itself to access them."
"Where is it?" My heart speeds up, my breathing becomes shallower.
She stares at me and for a moment I'm afraid she won't tell me. She shakes her head in disbelief. "It's on sub seven, room 105."
"Thank you." I'm gone before she replies.
I know the room, I realize, when I'm standing before it. I've walked by it often when going to do the endurance test down the hall. I never known what it was. I enter the room and it's much colder than the rest of the building. I'm standing among columns and columns of... what? Mainframes? They're made of plastic and have blinking lights.
I should have asked her how I'm supposed to search it. I'm pretty sure it isn't by taking it apart and looking through the pieces. I walked between them, trying to see something that will indicate how I'm supposed to go about this.
Then I see the screen on the side of one of the columns. Under it is a drawer with a keyboard. When I pull it out the screen blinks and then a cursor appears. This is different than my computer. Mine always offers me choices. Not knowing what else to do I type: Search for Derick.
After a moment a line appears under it : Search by File Name, File Content, All?
I type all.
A long list of file name comes up. They roll by faster than I can read them, and goes on for two minutes. When it finally stops the last line reads: Derick Test Result, and has yesterday's date next to it. I go up and each file is a little older.
I go to the top of the list. If I want the truth about me, the best place to start is the beginning. The first file is a video named: Derick initial, and is dated six month before my creation.
I start it.
A face appears on the screen, and it takes me a moment to realize it's my face. My eyes are closed, my face it relaxed, I must be asleep.
My eyes suddenly open, and my face shrinks. No, the camera moves back. I look around, and there's fear in my eyes. "What the fuck?" I say. Except that it isn't my voice. The timber is right, but the way the words are formed sound very different than how I speak.
The camera continues to back away and I can see that I'm-- no, that he's in a chair like the ones used when the doctors take readings, but he is tied to his. He tries to break his bounds.
"What the Hell is going on? Who the fuck are you people? where am I?"
The camera move to another room and continues to watch the man through a window. "Well, he's awake," someone says, and I realize it's Jason. "So, this is the fourth try, so that makes him a D. Let's see, David, Dominic, Donald, Damian... No, I have it. Derick. What do you think Manda?"
The camera turns to show Amanda bent over a keyboard and looking at a screen. "I wish you'd stop naming them, they aren't pets."
"Yeah, but once this works, he's going to need a name. SO I'm just getting ahead of it."
She rolls her eyes. "Why do you keep coming here anyway? You're not needed for this part; in fact, until this succeeds you're not needed at all."
"I'm documenting the process. There's no telling what I'm going to have to work with mental wise. What he goes through here might give me a clue on how to proceed in shaping his mind."
"It. That isn't a 'he', that's an 'it'."
"He's a human being, just like you and me."
"Not for long." She presses a button. "Everything is green on this side, prep him."
The camera turns to the man in the chair again. Doctors secure his head in place and are put IV needles in his neck. I recognize two of the doctors.
"When this works, we can't treat him like one of them. If we want to be able to use him he has to think he's one of us."
"Really? And how are you going to explain the projected strength, increased reflexes and God knows what else it's going to be able to do?"
"We don't have to tell him he's human, but we have to treat him like one of us, otherwise it's going to create a sense of alienation and it's going to lead to him looking elsewhere for a place to belong. So we can't treat him like he's a demon, we have to treat him like he's human. In fact, we should stop referring to demons as 'its' and use 'he'."
"This is ridiculous. You expect us to treat demons as is they were humans?"
"Of course not. I just want to assign them a gender."
"Because he, Derick, needs to know he's fighting living beings. We can't rely on them being whatever they are as defining what he fights, because then we're going to have to explain why some humans are working with them. So instead the way to go about it is define them as bad people."
The doctors move away and the last one gives a thumbs up. the man in the chair tenses his arm and continues to fight the restraints.
"And what's to stop that Derick of yours from going after any human he sees doing 'bad things'?"
Jason is silent for a moment. "We're going to have to make sure to control how he views us. If the demons are bad, then humans have to be good, except for the ones working with the demons. I mean, if he comes across anyone doing something bad we can probably blame it on demonic influence."
A table is rolled next to the man, and the IV tubes are connected to a machine attached to a large upside down glass. Metal needles are visible on the bottom of the jar. On a small stand in it is a soul stone.
Amanda sighs. "Well, that is your department. I think it's idiotic to go to such length, but we'll do as you say." She presses the button. "Everyone clear the room." The Doctors leave, and the man stares at the jar and its content, confused, and afraid. "Well, here it goes."
"Fourth time's the charm," Jason says as she enters a command in the computer.
Sparks appear at the end of the needles in the jar. At first they're only at the tips, then they arc from one needle to the other, before finally jumping to the stone.
At first it doesn't seem to do anything to it, but then I notice there's dust floating in the jar, and each time one of the arcs hits the stone there's a little more. After five minutes there's almost nothing left of the stone, and the black dust is so thick I can barely see inside the jar.
"The stone's all gone," Amanda says. "Initiating the transfer."
The dust gets sucked into the machine attached to the jar, and a moment later I can see it's traveling along the IV into the man. I can't hear it, but he screams. He fights even harder to break out, but the bounds are too strong. it only takes a few seconds for the IV tube to be empty of dust.
He's fighting hard enough that the chair shakes. the veins on his neck and arms bulge out, darkening, an then it spreads to his skin. A ridge appears on his forearm, and then moves forward, cutting the leather restrain. He pulls his arm free and rips the other restraints off.
Amanda curses. "Security, get in there and restrain them."
A dozen men enter the room and jump him. He bats them away easily, one of them hitting the window and cracking it. Under a minute he's the only left standing, He looks in the direction of the camera and takes a step forward.
Amanda curses again, and then lighting strikes the man from multiple direction. He staggers back, and then takes another step forward and another, falling to his knees a few feet away from the window, then down on his side and stops moving.
"Damn it! I was really hoping pulverized without a extra medium to interfere with the transfer he would be more manageable. Now this one's a corpse too."
The camera moves closer to the window and looks down at the man. "Err, Manda?" Jason says, and I notice what he has. "He's still breathing."
* * * * *
A finger presses a key and the screen goes blank.
Amanda sighs. "I really wish you hadn't seen that."
"What did I just watch?" I can't move. I can hardly believe what I saw.
"I'd think it was obvious."
I turn to face her. "You said you created me!"
"Then who was that tied to the chair?" My hands are shaking. How could she hurt him like that?
She shrugs. "Some guy from the military with the right skill set for what we were planning."
"Some guy? You don't even know who he was? did he have a family? Are they my family?"
"Derick, calm down." She places a hand on my shoulder but I shrug it off.
"Calm down? I just learned that not only is everything you've told me about humans and demons a lie, but I'm a lie too."
She sighs again, and I hear the sound of metal sliding against metal. "I am so disappointed. I really thought you were our first true success."
It takes me a moment to figure out what the sound was. It's the only moment Amanda needs to stab me in the stomach with the sword.
"You're not a lie, Derick. You're a failure."
She steps away and I look down at the sword in my gut. I look up, wanting to ask why she did this, wanting to tell her she didn't have to do this, we could work this out. I just needed to know the truth. But her back is to me as she walks out of the room
The pain hits me then, both physical and emotional. Amanda has just abandoned me to die.
I fall to my knees, and then on my side.