Monday, November 23, 2015

I C-Can D-D-Do This

By now, I know the drill. I woke up. After a crappy breakfast, I was assaulted, and pumped up with the worst substance ever invented. I felt its affects coming. I walked to my new station, and listened to the sounds of my progress.
I no longer felt miserable as I toiled under Dalton's powers. I just felt numb inside. My mind head felt like it was being pulled in four different directions, my nose and gums and palms were bleeding, and I just felt numb. I drew clumsy diagrams on the screen, slowly playing into Dalton's hands. I wrote equations, and listed procedures. All the while, I avoided thinking about what was happening to me.
My mental clock had long since left me. My mental map was deteriorating. My hands were shaking, and far too much blood was leaving my body. I barely cared.

Eventually, one of the terminators left to fetch my lunch. And I noticed something: the machine had failed to lock the door behind it.
My mind raced into overdrive. What could I do? There was still one robot monitoring me. I would need to disable it. How long did I have. I didn't know, my sense of time was gone. How far was I from the elevator? I would need to navigate over a hundred feet of corridors to get there. I looked at my sole remaining watcher. Inspiration struck me. "E-e-excuse m-m-m-me? Could... could.... could y-you r-r-read the... equation for m-methylating p-p-prosonase?"
"Very well, Miss Complex." The machine walked to the other side of my board. I could hear its heavy steps. ThumpThumpThump. I felt the rhythm. My perfect timing was gone, but I was still able to push over the board while the robot was on one foot. The robot and the board stood frozen in the air for an amount of time I couldn't determine. Would it work? And, slowly, the robot and the board fell backwards.
I knew that these machines had difficulty getting up, when laid on their back. Their arms weren't designed for it, and their center of mass wasn't in the right place. I rushed out the door, slamming it shut, and hearing a satisfying click as a very formidable lock was put in place. And I knew where the only key was. It was picking up my lunch.
I felt alive. I raced to the elevator, stumbling more than once. I reached the elevator, and pressed the button. "Authorization needed."
What? What? I had used this elevator a dozen times on my own. It had never needed authorization. That was it. I had no chance. I fell to the floor, curled up. No longer was I numb. Now I felt the magnitude of my blunder. The machines would find me. They would break my legs. I would never escape. I would never see another human being. I would die in a hole in the ground, a miserable cripple. A broken mind in a broken body.
But, a few seconds later, my mood swung in the other direction. I couldn't give up this opportunity. My mind revved up again. What tools did I have at my disposal?
I had several computers. I raced to the nearest one, and sent emails to Gabe and Daniel explaining my situation. But I doubted that they would be able to spring me from Dalton's clutches. And by the time I could be rescued, I would likely be a broken husk. Even more of a broken husk.
What else did I have? There was a laser two rooms over. I ran over, and turned it on. It was large. Probably immovably so. I turned it on. A beam almost too bright to look at issued from one end. It extended a few feet, to be absorbed by what looked like a superconducting heat sink. I would need to cut a steel plate thirty feet away.
Mirrors. There was a microscope in the room. I broke it open. Mirrors and lenses galore. I began to visualize the space in my mind. This would require incredible precision. I sat in front of the laser. I imagined how the beam would travel, and stared at the surfaces of the mirrors. I calculated angles in my head. I was engrossed. To engrossed. "Allegra Complex. Come with us."
Not one, but two the Terminators. Interesting. That meant that the one with the key hadn't known about my escape until it had found its brother locked in the room. That meant that the terminators weren't networked.
"Allegra Complex. Come with us." The robots started to advance. No, no, no! I couldn't have them moving.
I moved my forehead in front off the laser. A lock of my black hair was sheared off. "Freeze," I ordered. "If my head moves forward three inches, I will sever no fewer than four vital centers of my brain. For every step you advance, I will move forward an inch." I realized I would actually do it. After all my waffling last night, there was no doubt in my heart now. I would die before I let Dalton degrade me any further. I had the means for a quick and painless death. I would do it.
And the robots believed me. They stood still, unsure. There was nothing in their programming for this. I worked quickly, calculating angles, how the light would bounce off the mirror. Finally, my calculation was complete. I thrust a mirror into the beam, and rotated it. Both of the machines were sawed in half.

Dalton knew what I was up to. I heard him on the loudspeakers. "Allegra, you know that I have more than two terminators, don't you? If you surrender to me now, you punishment will be far less severe."
I didn't know if he was telling the truth. And I didn't care. I wasn't going to surrender. I had an out. I knew I wasn't going back to my cage. At the very worst, I would learn what a megawatt laser tastes like.
I arranged the mirrors, and turned on the laser. With shaky hands, I turned a mirror, making a jagged cut through the wall. I looked at the circuitry, parts of it still smoking. I tried to rewire it. I pressed the button. "Authorization needed." No dice. More wiring.  "Authorization needed." More. "Authorization needed. Authorization accepted."
I got into the elevator, and was on my way up.

I stumbled out of the elevator on level 22. I walked around, as if in a daze. Eventually, I came upon Tom and Sam. "T-t-tom? I need to... tell..."
He turned away from Sam. "We'll continue our discussion shortly." He looked at me. "Allegra. You are obviously not well."
"Dalton making... virus." My adrenaline was gone. The mere mention of the virus started my mind working on it again. I didn't hear what Tom was saying. "...mentioned that you had been exposed to a neurodegenerative, and that he was containing you in order to spread contamination. Please leave before you endanger both myself and Samuel."
"No! No. Not... sick. Dalton wants... to make us... sick."
Tom stood up. He was not a physically powerful man. He was in his late forties, and probably hadn't lifted any weights in the past decade. But he was still strong enough to knock and quivering, shaking mess like me into a locked room if he wanted. "Allegra..."
"Let's hear her out," Sam said.
"Look at her. Shaking, bleeding from a half dozen places. She is clearly sick." To late, I realized. Tom was in on Dalton's plan. I should have tried to backtrack. Talk my way out of it. But I couldn't. I just ran at him, hoping to kill him with my bear hands. It didn't go well. He held me against the wall.
Tom was talking. I didn't listen. I assembled the words in my head. If nothing else, I could tell Sam. Someone would need to stop these two. "Dalton was forcing me to create a virus that would kill all MADs." The effort of saying those thirteen words almost knocked me over.
"That's impossible," Tom said. "Sam, this room is airtight. I will quarantine Allegra here. The two of us will be quarantined separately. Hopefully we weren't infected with whatever she is carrying."
"What the hell are you talking about? Quarantine? Allegra needs help. She must have just escaped Dalton."
"She is clearly hallucinating."
"Why don't we hear her out?"
"Proof..." I said. "Given Quionizine C... you helped make it..."
"Well," Tom said, "it is odd that she knew the name Quionizine C, but not nearly-"
"S-s-still in m-my b-blood."
"I'm not going to give you a blood test."
"You're right," Sam said. "You're going to give her the rest she clearly needs. And you are going to believe her, and put a stop to whatever the hell Dalton is doing."
With that, Sam picked me up, and carried me to the nearest bed. I was asleep before he left the room.

When I next woke up, Sam was sitting next to me. "Hot chocolate," he offered.
"He is looking into it. My job is to look after you. How are you feeling."
"I need a dose of clodizine. And something to stop the shaking. Perforamine? No, polyacylthalimine. I do not need hot chocolate. And..." the power of speech left me. "And b-b-boranine. S-so I can t-t-t-talk again."
"Whatever you went through... it must have been tough."
"Tom won't let him in here. Just in case you really do have a neuro-whatever."
"N-need to write down."
"S-stutter when t-talking. But still can write." At least, I had been able to write on the board earlier today.
Sam found some paper and asked for a pen. I saw Gabe on the other side of the door, as he passed the pen. I wanted to talk to him. I wrote a quick note to him, explaining what had happened to me. I wrote a more detailed one, just in case Tom really was on our side. And I decided to write another entry for my now-lost journal. Next, I will go to sleep.      

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