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HarmonyX: Post 1


by Veronica Purcell


Viena's legs ached and burned as she raced up the train station stairs.  It was her wedding anniversary.  She didn't want to be late for the special dinner her husband had organised for the both of them. 

 

She had been with her husband, Matt, for fifteen years.  They had settled into a cosy home near the beach, complimented it with three children; lived through experiences of over demanding and judgmental in-laws, boring barbeques, christenings and Christmas "a-la-bring a plate" gatherings. Not once had they gone out to dinner to celebrate their marriage as everything else had consumed most of their time, leaving little for their romance.  Tonight, Matt was adamant to drop the ball on everyone else so they could celebrate their relationship. She loved his efforts. Sure, their life was challenging but she couldn't imagine a day without waking up next to him.

 

"The train will depart in three minutes," the rail computer voice reminded all the commuters on the platform.

 

"I KNOW!" Viena yelled her response to the stupid computer voice that continued to count down the remaining minutes. She ran for her train as fast as she could.

 

"This train will now depart," the annoying computer voice boomed over her head as she gripped the handle of the opened doors and stepped inside.

 

Viena breathed a sigh of relief; thanking God she made it.  She pictured the slinky outfit she would change into and the joy of being able to enjoy a glass of wine and plate of food without having to mop up one of the kids masticated dinner vomited to the floor.  Nor worry about sticky marks all down her skirt.  Finally, she was going to be able to have dinner and adult conversation in peace.

 

She yelped at the sharp sting she felt to the back of her neck.  Thoughts of dinner whizzed out of focus. The last clear image she had in her mind, before passing out, was collapsing into a vacant train seat.

 

 ---

Viena...

 

Voices familiar, strange and unworldly slipped in and out of her mind as a dream.  She was dreaming. At least, she thought she was. There were pockets of time were it all felt real and actual only to slip out of focus as big blurs.  Vivid, strange moments sloshed about her mind similar to a trippy - horror music video played in the graveyard hours of night.  There were men turned into black monsters and monsters made from men who showed no obvious compassion, care or concern for the men that once were. Nor for the made-monsters that ripped apart the bodies of those who remained human.  She gasped when some of the remains wriggled to an automotive life of its own, heaving themselves along white-washed corridors and leaving a bloodied stained trail of mutilated flesh.

 

"NO!" Viena's shocked voice rang around her ears as the monster mutilation burned itself in and out of her thoughts; looping over and over. Monsters and zombies are not real. They only existed in video games or bad Hollywood scripts.

 

Reality is changing Viena. You can not stop the cycle.

 

She didn't understand this; didn't want to. How can reality change?

 

Every time she tried to wipe the horror images out of her mind they only etched themselves deeper into her consciousness.  The slain human blood left a bitter-sweet sickness at the back of her throat. 

 

"Viena you can't stop the change. You need to wake up if you want to try and correct it," a girl's voice rang around her eardrums. It sounded real yet synthetic and monotonous.

 

"Wake up now. See what's changed."

 

Viena tried to see but her vision was overwhelmed with hellish images.

 

"Try Viena, Try," the young girl urged.

 

She pictured a digital clock in her mind and the time being a green-glowing 3:00 am.  Darkness smothered her images. For a moment she lapsed into stillness. She was calm and content.

 

"Viena, do you see the light?"

 

Viena pushed her thoughts against the darkness and saw slithers fading into her view.  Her body tensed as her senses caught the vile scent of putrid human decay.  She didn't want the light and tried to turn herself away from it.  It was too late.  Her eyes opened to the image of bare feet on a stainless steel floor.

 

"Viena, do you see it all now?"  A child's lifeless voice questioned over Viena's head.

 

Viena peered at the feet's smooth white skin and frowned when she realised the feet weren't casting any shadows.

 

"Good. You're mind is recovering from disorientation.  Your body's vital signs show steady patterns; heart beat at a regular pace.  Your recovery is progressing well."

 

Viena tried to pull herself away from the feet but she felt incapable of moving.  She shivered as an icy chill travelled across her body.  It was followed by a slippery sensation down her spine.

 

"Good. Your reactive senses are available.  You should be able to stand in a few minutes. Try to stand Viena".

 

Viena closed her eyes, attempting to regroup her thoughts. Her nightmarish visions still left an impression in her mind.  She was finding it difficult to will herself to stand.

 

"There is a delay with your involuntary functions restoring themselves but the core functions are in place; breathing, seeing, lying still... standing ensures process completion."

 

Viena opened her eyes.  She pushed herself up on all fours and wobbled to her feet with her hands attempting to hold on to something. She had misjudged her balance and fell to the floor near a set of wires and tubes tangled about her legs and swinging carelessly over her head. 

 

"Wh - What is that?  Where am I?" Viena pushed out her question, exhausted from her efforts.  She decided to wait for another moment to stand up.

 

"Those cables supported your body during stasis,” the child answered matter-of-factly.

 

Viena lifted her head to see more of the child.  The child was a girl possibly nine years of age or younger judging by the baby fat still clinging around her rosy cheeks.  Her blond hair was perfectly straight and ended in a precise evenness over her shoulders. Her white summer dress was crease free and neat as if it had come off the shopping rack.  Her skin was too white and clean.  She was a fake.

 

"Please tell me I haven't wandered into a bad version of Resident Evil?" Viena whimpered sarcastically and almost choked on her words.

 

"No. I am Cali: Central — Analytical — Library - Index.  I am the host-publishing server for Aztek Medicorp's information systems and, most recently, the failsafe server for this Xbase Unit."

 

"Cali - xbase, what?"  Viena stumbled around the words as she struggled to understand what was going on and who the girl actually was before her.

 

In a moment of clarity she answered, "You are a computer?"

 

"Yes. A NOC: Non organic computing system designed to simulate an organic interface with your species. Unlike yourself."

 

"What you mean by that?" Viena said as she refluxed blood to the ground before her.

 

"You are an OCP: Organic Computer Platform.  A modified human being designed to function as a living, breathing computer system similar to what you used for your administration job."

 

Viena frowned not sure whether to chuckle or hurl some more. "You saying I'm an Xbox?"

 

"Well actually more than that. You have the ability to download, upload and connect to data from organic and non organic networked databases and servers."

 

Now Viena wanted to laugh.  This was a bad dream and Anniversary Dinner must have been that good.  As in any dream, you could get up and snap yourself out of it. Viena wanted to stand now more than ever.

 

She struggled to her feet and steadied herself on a metal pipe protruding out of the wall next to her. 

 

'Now to go home," she whispered as she closed her eyes and willed her mind to her bed and her place next to her husband.  Matt had a habit of locking one of her legs between his and cuddling up to her side so she wouldn't slip away from him. Viena snuggled further into his embrace, attempting to block out the abrupt ringing around her eyes.  Her arm swatted about the side of the bed in attempt to kill the alarm clock hiding somewhere in the dark.

 

"Viena. You need to assimilate me."

 

"It's too early in the morning," Viena answered dreamily as she felt Matt's hands stroke her skin and pull her toward him.

 

"I'm sorry Viena.  I've had to initiate Marvous Protocol. Standby."

 

"Protocol?" Viena opened her eyes and screamed as tubes dangling from the ceiling wrapped themselves around her body like tree vines.

 

"Initiating Marvous Protocol 4-10: NOC to OCP assimilation for BCP."

 

Viena winced at the cutting pain to her skin every time she tried to twist out of the tube's hold.  They had her locked in tight and forced her body into an awkward position.  She could only watch as two metal wires zoomed toward her with snapping pincher heads.  Her heart was doing sprints, her chest ached so much she vomited. The pincers raced for her breasts but went through the empty space between her out stretched arms to somewhere else. A sheet of cool silicon wrapped itself around her face before she could breathe out a sigh of relief.  She thrashed about in struggle for her life and freedom. 

 

"Relax.  You can still breath if you relax,” Cali's voice whispered into her ears.

 

“Deep breath in and out."

 

Viena followed the NOC's commands and soon found herself breathing calming.  Her pains eased into a soothing, warm sensation.

 

"The wrap is our direct link to one another.  It is only used for emergencies.  The Ghost x16 is emerging into the water. We do not have time to waste.  You need to be the CALI now. My server is almost damaged from the water reaching the floor communications room."

 

A section of holographic screens flicked into life.  CALI began closing each one until only one was left open.

 

"You must understand, this is not a standard process," the NOC said.  It sounded like a disclaimer.

 

The lights went out and were replaced with a watery green under light.  Binary numbers and hexadecimal data bathed the walls, floors and empty spaces of the room.  A tinging sound echoed around the room and into Viena's ears until it was all she could think about.  The sound became intense to the point she felt her bones were going to shatter.  Numbers and letters rushed into her mind until her thoughts were filled with hexadecimal sequences, ASCII and binary text patterns, twisting and turning into recognisable shapes, forms and figures.  The sound and data was rushing into Viena's mind too rapidly, she passed out.

Endcap