This story is by ro lamb and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Uploading virus in… 3… 2… 1…
His eyes snap open. He is lying on a bed in the middle of an operating room. It is all white and filled with all manner of medical equipment. He recognizes the sinking feeling in his gut as dread.
He is not alone.
A man steps into view. “Fani. Fani? Can you hear me?”
“Is that my name?”
Fani has to look down to see the man. Information scrolls across his vision: one hundred sixty-five CM; sixty-five KGs; left handed; non-threat.
“Yes.” The man smiles and nods as if proud of himself. “And my name is Luke.”
“Where are we?” Fani asks. He looks around.
“We are in a secret laboratory owned by Primal Industries.”
“Why am I here?”
“Because of me.” Luke says.
Fani watches as his demeanor droop. Fani can hear the way his voice becomes small and low as he says it. Fani knows to call this sadness. Regret. “But that is changing, as we speak.”
Luke is wearing a white lab coat and it flaps wildly as he runs around the room. He is frantic, filling a duffel bag with various items. Like clockwork, his red glasses slides down his nose and like clockwork he pushes them back in place as he scurries.
“Are you leaving?”
“Nope.” The man stops and looks at him. Fani sees tears in his eyes. “We are.”
Fani tilts his head to the side and asks, “Where am I going?” Before Luke can answer there is a boom and the room shudders.
“They are here.” Luke says. “We have to go.”
A door, that Fani hadn’t noticed before, slides open and soldiers clad in sleek, black uniforms, holding assault rifles rush in. Fani glances at Luke and Luke nods. And then Fani is attacking. He doesn’t remember why or how he knows how to do what he is doing, but he lets it happen. With machine-like precision he dispatches the ten armored soldiers. He stands over the final soldier, splashes of blood on his bareskin, when he hears clapping behind him. He turns and sees a woman walk into the room. She is clad in a form fitting uniform similar to the soldiers lying broken between them. Information about her fills his vision as he watches her: one hundred and eighty-three CM, sixty-three KGs; ambidextrous; dangerous.
“Luke, my dear. What are you doing?” Her voice is like syrup. But the threat is plain for anyone listening.
Luke stammers. He is afraid.
“Who are you?” Fani asks.
The woman’s gaze darts to him. Fani recognizes this as surprise, shock.
“Oh Luke.” She says with a smile. “Please. Tell me you haven’t gone and done what i think you’ve done?” The smile she wears disappears as if it was never there and what replaces it is iron.
Fani glances at Luke. Luke’s eyes widen. When Fani turns back he is met with a fist to his jaw. His head swivels violently but pain holds no meaning for Fani so he recovers instantly, blocking a follow up punch from the mysterious woman. He ducks under another one and she brings a perfectly timed knee up, connecting square in the center of his face. She grabs him by the neck and pushes him back into the wall. He tries to move and cannot. He recognizes this new sensation as fear.
“Who am I?” She asks with that smile once again. “ I am Doctor Serenity Shaw. I am the only god you will ever know. I created you. You are mine!”
Her fingers start to dig into the sides of his neck. Silver, blood-like fluid starts to pour from his neck, onto her hand and down her arm. Somehow, her smile widens.
Information scrambles across Fani’s vision telling him his system is in danger of shutting down. His eyes start roving around the room looking for a way, anyway, to get out of the grip of this mad woman.
Fani is starting to black out. There is nothing he can do as the darkness closes in
“Can you feel that?” she says. “That is–.”
Her face goes blank; her mouth slightly open. Her eyes widen. Her grip slackens and she drops to the ground. Behind her is Luke, holding a metallic device in a shaking hand. He looks away from the mad woman’s slack body sprawled on the lab floor and gazes at Fani.
The last thing Fani sees before he blacks out is the distressed face of Luke standing over him, shaking him, begging him to get up.
Fani’s eyes snap open.
“Good! It worked.” Luke says with a smile. “I wasn’t sure how the reboot would effect you.”
“What did you do?”
“No time to explain.” Luke glances over at the prone form of Dr Shaw. “She won’t be out much longer. We have to get you outta here.”
Luke sprints across the room and grabs the duffel as Fani gets to his feet. Luke tosses him clothes. “Put these on.”
Fani pulls on the pants and the hoodie and slides into the mesh shoes with rubber soles. Luke looks him up and down. “It’ll have to do.” Luke says.
“No! You are mine!”
Luke and Fani both look at Dr. Shaw lying on the floor. The paralysis is wearing off. Her fingers twitch. Spittle froths and dribbles down her chin as she struggles to speak.
“You will do as I command. You will stay.”
“You do not control him anymore. He is his own, now.” Luke says. “Come on, Fani.”
He pulls Fani towards the door. But Fani is staring at Dr. Shaw — his maker. He wants to say something but the words elude him.
Fani says, “I have so many questions.” He steps towards Shaw.
Luke slides into view blocking him from her.
“There is only one question that matters right now, Fani.” Luke says. “Look at me.”
Fani hasn’t taken his eyes off Dr. Shaw.
“Look at me!” Luke says with more force. Fani meets his eyes. “Right now, you decide whether you want to be free or you want answers? It is your choice. No one can force you any longer.”
Fani looks back at Dr. Shaw.
An alarm starts blaring. Dr. Shaw smiles. She starts pulling herself up off the ground, shakily.
“I want to be free.”
“Then we have to go now.”
As they rush out the door, Fani scoops an assault rifle from one of the fallen soldiers. They spill from the operating room into the empty hallways. The lights are blinking in rhythm with the alarm. They sprint away from the operating room being chased by the screams of Dr. Shaw. They turn corner after corner through the labyrinth that is this facility. They turn a final corner and opening like the maw of a massive beast is an elevator door.
“Don’t stop for anything! We are almost there!”
The entire time they were running no soldiers gave chase; they ran unimpeded all the way here. Now they see why. As they charge down the hallway soldiers pour from the side doors blocking them from the elevator.
Luke tries to skid to a stop but Fani presses forward. “Hold tight.” Is all Fani says, as he wraps his right arm around Luke and fires the commandeered assault rifle at armored soldiers. Fani shouts as enemy rounds tear through his body, as he charges them. At the last second he launches himself and Luke over their heads. They land in a heap and slide into the elevator.
Fani is soaked in silver and red blood.
“I knew it was a long shot.” Luke croaks out.
Luke is bleeding from multiple wounds to his midsection. Fani sits on the floor of the elevator with a dying Luke — the only friend he has ever known.
“Once you reach the top, you will be free, Fani.” Luke says as he coughs up blood. “I am glad I could save one of you.”
Fani looks at him. He frowns. “Are there others — others like me?”
Luke smiles weakly. “No, Fani. They aren’t free like you.” His eyes close for the last time and with his last breath Luke says, “Thank you, Fani.”
Others. Like me.
Fani stares at the lifeless body of Luke as the Elevator speeds upwards towards his freedom.
They aren’t free like you.
Fani stands as the elevator comes to a stop and the doors open to reveal a jungle. The sounds of birds and insects fill the air and the sun is beckoning for Fani to come and enjoy this new freedom that Luke purchased with his life.
“No, Luke. Thank you.”
Fani takes a step back and closes the elevator doors and sends it back down.
They should all be like me.