Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Worst Day of My Life

I hate you! I hate you, diary! And I hate Alexander Dalton, and Thomas Markovitz, and Oberon, and President Walsh. I hate every person is this stupid, fucked-up world. But most of all, I hate myself. I hate how weak I am. I hate how powerless I am. I have never felt like this. The moment I learned I was MAD- ecstasy compared to how I feel now. My trial, where I saw the families of the people I had killed- I'd rather spend a year there than go through today again. But I will go through today again. And again and again and again until Dalton has what he wants and everyone is dead. I hate Dalton. I hate myself.

I didn't sleep last night. I was too scared. Too busy thinking of all the ways Dalton might try to convince me, or force me, to work for him. But I never imagined what would happen.
At 7:45, I heard my door unlock. It opened, and Dalton entered, a terminator on either side. "Hello, Allegra."
"Hello, Dalton." That was my witty comeback.
"Have you seen reason? Will you help me make the world safe for humanity?"
"I will never work with you."
Dalton seemed saddened. But only for a brief moment. "I am sorry to hear that. I am not, however, surprised." He reached into his pocket, withdrawing a syringe. "This is called Quionizine C. I created it in the hopes of alleviated the symptoms of M.A.D.N.E.S.S. You, however, will find it actually has quite the opposite effect." The machines grabbed me, holding me in place. Dalton injected the strange substance into my arm.
I began to feel its effects. The voices in my head, the ones which speak night and day of science, began to grow louder. Was there some way to quantify the effect the Quionizine was having on me? Perhaps by measuring the volume of sodium flow through the broci channels? No, that wouldn't work.
"How do you feel," Dalton asked.
He sounded almost mechanical. Was Dalton a robot? How would you go about trying to make a Dalton-like robot? You would likely need human flesh over a robotic endoskeleton. But that barely counts. So you would want some sort of synthetic material that behaves like human skin. Permeability, sensitivity. It would need to regenerate when cut.
"How do you feel," Dalton repeated.
"I feel fiiiiine. The compound, or mixture of compounds isn't having any effect. How does it work? It must be a complicated molecule. How does it enter the brain so quickly? Does it have proteins facilitating it? Did you inject me with nanobots? How long is the shelf life? It must degrade pretty quickly. If it contains any collodinoids, those would become poisonous. You checked for those right?"
Dalton smiles. "It seems that the Quionizine had the desired impact. Don't worry, Allegra. Very soon, nobody will feel like this."
The robots dragged me along. I calculated the energy required to do that while I wondered about what would happen if you gave Quionizine to a neurotypical. Meanwhile, another part of my brain was thinking about alkaline batteries, and a fourth part was screaming in frustration.
"Now Allegra," Dalton said. I calculated how much of an echo would be bouncing off each of the walls. "I still don't know how to regulate that virus. And I admit you are more talented in that area than I am. So, how do I get you to work on that problem?" How indeed. I started coming up with ideas.
Dalton gestured to the whiteboards that filled the room. "These will display the progress you have made so far. I have several speakers rigged to repeated ask you about the subject. I think there is a seventy percent chance this will work. If not, I will come up with something better."

It worked. I didn't want to help Dalton. I knew what I was doing. But the question he was asking would just build in my head. They would build and build and build until they split my skull and I just had to go to a board, I just had to try to solve them.
I wanted to think of something, anything else. I thought about how the robots must work. I tried to deduce the workings of Quionizine C. I devised the horrible ways I will kill Alexander Dalton when this is all over.
I was his puppet. Off the top of his head, he had thought of a way to make me do the thing I least wanted to do. I was his puppet. He had me tied up in strings and was exerting forces on them to move my arms. I thought about puppets. It must be hard to control them accurately. How would you go about making a marionette capable of complex motion? You would- How do those whiteboards work? How far apart are the pixels? How could I measure that? And those speakers! How small could you make a speaker and still have it be audible? What was the relation between size and power?
I was on the floor, weeping, trying to ignore the stimuli around me. I couldn't. I tried to focus on the pattern of tiles on the floor. I thought about the symmetries it had, and how it was like a crystal. You could bounce x-ray off a crystal and figure out its structure. Maybe you could bounce microwaves off the floor? What would be the symmetry group of the floor in higher dimensions. What effect would the floor patter have if I spilled water? What about oil? Blood? What would be a good way to figure out my red cell count. Could I do it by watching how blood spread over the floor. What about measuring the rate of mutation of a virus? I could make a virus that only affects MADs. NO! No, I could modify bird flu. A virus. Could I make a virus that only affects MADs? It would need to tune into our brain chemistry. But how? A complicated problem. I would need to work it out on one of those boards. But I knew I shouldn't. But I needed to know. But I couldn't. But I had too.
I got up. It wasn't to work on Dalton's problem, though. No, I would do something else. I would work out the melting point of every element on the period table. That would take forever! It would keep me occupied.
Halfway though lithium, I got bored. I needed to do something else. I could write a program to play chess. I started, but I really wanted to think about viruses. Maybe I could design a virus that would only affect MADs. I jotted down some ideas. NOOOO! I tried to erase them, but the computer had already taken note. Soon Dalton would see it, and add it to his list of facts to torment me with.

I tried to clear my mind. I could do it. Just keep my mind empty. Like the vacuum of space. Nothing but one particle per cubic centimeter. And the photons from background radiation. The Cosmic Microwave Background. Not quite isotropic, but is it uniform? Hard to tell. We could look at its reflection off- no that would be silly. We would need to determine it theoretically. A quantum relativistic model of the early universe would need at least four terms in the Lagrangian- NO! Quiet! Quiet like the absence of sound. No, because then I could Dalton's voice, his evil little voice, asking me to betray myself and everything I care about. And I gave in. I hate myself.

The machines brought me food. Bags of chips and dried fruit. I opened them. I tried to think about them. I read the nutrition facts, and wondered if I could make a Dorito out of its constituent elements. I thought about the chemistry in my apple juice. But it was all to no avail. I soon found myself returning to Dalton's problem with a renewed vigor.
I tried everything. I wanted nothing more than to silence my mind, to be free of Dalton's influence. But I couldn't.
I wanted to take a blood sample. To try to analyze this Quionizine C. But I didn't have any of the tools I needed. I was alone with interactive whiteboards and terminators.
I wondered if I could cut the power to the whiteboards. I looked at them, but I didn't see where they were plugged in. I guess that meant they ran on battery. I briefly wondered what sort of battery, and how they were recharged, before I tried to smash one. Immediately, I was dogpiled by my two terminator guards. I tried to figure out how they worked. How had they been programmed? I started wondering about a virus that could only affect MADs.

Eventually, it began to wear off. I began to enjoy some piece and quiet in my head. I was escorted back to my makeshift bedroom. One of the robots spoke to me, in Dalton's voice. "Please understand that it gives me no pleasure to do this. I want nothing more than for you to cooperate. But also understand I will have you down here drugged up to your eyeballs for a decade if that is what it takes. We made valuable progress today, but not enough. I am sorry I could not be here for you in person, but I have a rather pressing engagement in Brazil."
I hated that thought. Alexander Dalton was probably sitting on a beach in Brazil, splitting a piƱa colada with the President. He was probably smiling, laughing at me. I hate him. I hate him so much. But not as much as I hate myself.
I'm his tool. His puppet. Right now, my strings are slack, but tomorrow, a machine will come, and grab me, and fill my veins with a chemical I don't even understand. And I will sing and dance for my puppeteer, and he will laugh as he sets the world on fire. I hate him. I hate myself.     

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