The 2020 Event |The Main Event|

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Chapter 17
Purpose

NewMann Secretaries

After finally finishing the half hour of setting Chuck’s bongs back up on her desk, Karen is ready to have the chillest day ever. She’s never been much of a smoker, and with Chuck keeping up his newly established gone for days on end trend, Karen decided to take a little control over her working (read: writing) space. Sue her.

 Karen’s liked to write stories and essays and stuff ever since she was a kid; her and her mom would always sit on the floor of their trailer and make up clever little tales of a boy named Sid and his camel named Sally. Using their time machine, Sid and Sally would travel all throughout history going on crazy adventures together. They stopped bank robbers in the old west, they met and tamed the dinosaurs, they even ran into some purple-skinned aliens once or twice. ChildKaren was such an inspired being, always up to some creative this or that; what a wonderful time.

Her inspiration to create came from two sources – her mother’s constant love and affection, and the collection of art that ChildKaren would display on the shelves on the side of the trailer where she slept. On the weekends, ChildKaren and Missus Page would hit the local flea markets and pick up whatever caught their eye – nothing ever cost more than a couple dollars, and although they didn’t really have the money, Missus Page was never one to turn down the sparkle in ChildKaren’s eyes. ChildKaren’s favorite piece was this weird little ceramic sculpture – it looked like somebody was going to make a beer can, but then decided to turn it into a face instead. One half of the face was painted green, the other half blue, and the eye on the blue side was green and vice versa. Of all the metal contraptions, wood whittlings, and silverware jewelry, the Blugreen Maninacan was always her favorite; it taught her that, even when things have you feeling like a deformed stillborn, all it takes is a dopey lil’ smile to brighten your day.

Furthermore, it taught ChildKaren that, in order to be happy and creative like a proper human, one has to be surrounded by things that one finds inspiring. This is why Karen boxed up all of Chuck’s many, many bongs when she came in on Wednesday morning. No matter how colorful, smooth and expertly blown these glass beaker-thingies are, they do not inspire Karen.

But lo and behold, today is Friday, and Chuck never misses a highdayFriday. Unless, of course, he decides to call it a Friedday, in which case he never misses one of those either.

 In the two days that Chuck’s been gone, after she snatched up that glass company for him, Karen has done nothing but write in her many notebooks. She conjured up a few stories, at least twenty poems, some short works of prose, an entire three-act play about a lowly yet plucky secretary who finds the true meaning of life by doing exactly what her boss doesn’t tell her to do (I wonder where she got the inspiration for that), an entire novella that, ironically enough, is about aliens that do psychedelic drugs and what happens when they meet her boss Chuck, plus a spiritual successor to that novel where the main characters from the first one actually get up off their couch and get some shit done instead of sitting around all fricking day high off Cannabis. Ugh, now he’s got me calling it that.’

The amount of finished work and productivity Karen achieved over these past two days has been nothing short of magical… but, like any miraculous series of fortunate events, this staycation must too come to a close. Chuck will be here any minute, probably with some business associates that he forgot to mention to her, and she’ll have to put on her secretary hat and sit at the desk in wait for some remedial task to accomplish. A phone call to answer or some guests to entertain, or maybe even some coats to stash away in a closet. She’s none too thrilled to be broken out of her creative flow, but what can she do? Life is about the dollar at the end of the day, and until Chuck tells her which of the billion floors of this building houses the printing press he probably still hasn’t built for her even though she… well, she hasn’t asked him yet, but he always sees her writing stuff, he knows she wants to be published, so why does she have to ask?

Yes, until then, she’ll be the best darned secretary this company has ever seen. Even if that includes fishing out grandiose smoking pipes from a cardboard box almost as tall as she is and removing the three layers of bubble wrap (each) that she’s mandated to wrap them in before storage and displaying said pipes on her desk so Chuck can look at them right when he walks in the door. Because that’s what good NewMann secretaries do: whatever they think their eccentric bosses might need.

ringgidy-ding-ding

Oh, a text message from Karen’s eccentric boss with something for her to do! How lovely… oh… oh, is that right? ‘He wants me to pack up all the bongs… that I just fricking put back out… and hide them on the forty-first floor… right next to the…’

“Holy fuckin’ gosh!” Karen exclaims, almost dropping Chuck’s absinthe bottle bong out of sheer excitement. “Somebody is listening to my prayers!”

Karen wraps the bongs like nobody’s business and BlokStaks them (you know, that old video game?) so tightly into the box that the bubble wrap itself is more likely to shatter into a million pieces than the pipes are. As she’s gently setting the last baby into its crib, Karen feels a little tap on her shoulder that she ignores because it’s obviously just Chuck being a weasel.

Then she feels the tap again, then a fricking hand grabs her and spins her around. The look on her face when she sees NotChuck behind her isn’t quite fearful, but it’s definitely a few steps above startled. This dude looks… well, he looks old. He might not actually be old, but he looks old; he’s got spindly gray hair tied in a ponytail, beady eyes, a weird patchy chinstrap facial hair thing, a thin mouth that’s sporting yellow teeth chewing on a cigarette, he’s wearing a gray suit… this geezer could be Karen’s grandfather when Karen’s grandfather was in his early forties. But Granddad isn’t in his early forties, he’s fricking ancient, and this guy looks almost like Chuck, except like… except less Chuckish. Or something like that.

Standing her ground like the alpha she is, even in the presence of the gray man, the weird looking scientist dude with a big scar on his babyface, and the six weird-looking humans in black jumpsuits behind them, ‘Is that one wearing zombie makeup? What the fuck?’ she doesn’t say a single word. Like the memos that Chuck wouldn’t stop spamming her with all day yesterday said, Existence is weird, especially in this city. And knowing this city as well as Karen does, she deuces this little showdown will go one of two ways: either these are new business associates of Chuck’s paying Cape a surprise visit when Chuck isn’t here that want to get a look around the facilities, or…

“Excuse me, miss?” Grayman finally says, breaking the uneasy silence that’s only made more difficult by the unblinking stare of the jumpsuited bois and gorls.

“Um…” Karen ums, keeping on her toes. “Yes?”

“Do you work here?” as he strokes his crimson necktie. “We’re looking for whomever’s in charge of this fine establishment.”

‘Okay, definitely the ominous or… “Well, I did, but my ex-boss fired me. He’s kind of a dick to be honest, that’s why I have this box here,” as she proudly slaps the box.

“I see…” eying the large box. Then, “Well, can you point me in the direction of your old boss? My associates here wish to… have something of a conversation with him.”

Karen raises an eyebrow, unsheathing her NewMannity in prime form. ‘It’s showtime.’ “Now hold on a cis-male second, how do you know my ex-boss isn’t a she?”

“Because,” the lab coat to the right of Grayman says with a smug little smirk on his German-looking babyface, “you just referred to your ex-boss as a he, darling. Do you not remember saying that? I’m a psychiatrist you know, I can help yo–”

“Edvard, please!” Grayman shouts at Edvard, apparently. Then, to Karen, “So where is this ex-boss of yours? We nee–”

“Oh I’m sorry, I don’t want to get involved. I only worked here for a few weeks, I uh, I’m just trying to move on with my life, you know? The hands are washed, as they say.”

Upon hearing this, Grayman and Edvard The Lab Coat both stand aside, as do five of the six staring-ass motherlovers. This five doesn’t include the (likely weeaboo) zombie cosplayer, of course, and he steps forward, closing the gap between him and Karen. Karen backs up against the desk and feels her butt smush into it, the untoned layers of muscle (if you’re feeling kind enough to call it that) molding to the shape of the edge of the desktop like clay.

Karen would be thinking that she needs to work out more if Zomcosplayer, who’s really selling the whole decomposing flesh thing with that rank cologne he’s wearing, wasn’t standing inches from her face. But he is, he’s standing right fricking there so instead, Karen thinks, ‘You ever hear of boundaries, guy?’ while not saying anything, keeping up that alpha status that she’s earned from dealing with Chuck and Chuck-types for the past umpteen years of her life.

Zomcosplayer opens his mouth and begins to speak, or at least Karen assumes that’s what he’s trying to do. She can see down his throat, disgustingly enough, and it seems to be caked with mud. His teeth are rotting out, gigantic lesions dot his tongue and the roof of his mouth and they’re leaking, nay, spewing an abysmally revolting yellow-blackish ooze all over his pallet. When Karen decides that Zomcosplayer’s done attempting to make noises out of his mouth, which occurs at the same time that she smells his indescribably rancid, putrid, fetid, noxious, mephitic, gamy, olid, revolting, foul, makes puke smell like Gavon-ass fricking breath, she draws the line.

Converting inches to centimeters, Karen almost bumps the tip of Zomboy’s leaking nose with her own, and she says, in a perfectly flat tone, “Get the fuck out of my face.”

Zomcosplayer gets the fuck out of Karen’s face.

In fact, all the random humans in Chuck’s office step further aside, giving Karen a direct path to the glass doors outta here. With a smile and a nod, Karen picks up her box of Chuck’s bongs and struts out into the hallway, shooting all the randoms a stink eye until the elevator arrives and takes her to the forty-first floor, Cape’s very own printing press and publishing facility that Chuck installed for Karen, because he does care after all. Good ol’ Chuck, I tell ya.

Passwords

“That,” Hymarc says to a visibly shaken Doctor Torpol, “was the most intimidating woman I have ever met.”

“Quite,” the Doctor concurs. “It’s a miracle that she doesn’t still work here, I don’t think we’d be able to kill her.”

“She scared KingPig… he’s a cybernetic zombie without an emotional hard drive, and she fucking scared him.”

“I know sir, I was standing right here.”

And you offered her therapy?!

“Vhat can I– oh, I’m sorry,” slipping into his accent entirely on purpose. “But what can I say, I felt like the woman was stressed. She probably could have used a release of tension.”

Hymarc just walks away from Torpol after that, shaking his head all the way down the hallway behind the secretary’s desk until he stops at the wall of windows. The view from the forty-second floor of this building is… fairly lackluster, at best. Hymarc can’t even see the Apex building from here, this is just disgraceful. Pitiful. It’s like the anonymous owner of this building is trying to insult him! Why else would he have his office on a floor with such a crappy view?? ‘Unacceptable!’

“It’s no wonder I never came across this lowly man in my travels though this city,” Hymarc says to the glass and the nobody who’s listening to him. “He clearly lacks vision… this tower is at least a hundred floors tall, yet he conducts business from the top of the bottom half. He lacks perspective, ambition, drive; he lacks all that makes me great, Edvard. Don’t you agree?”

A moment of silence, or rather, a lack of acknowledgment.

“Edvard!”

Still nothing… fine, very well. Hymarc refuses to fall for this game again. He is the boss, he’s the owner and operator of the Apex Corporation, soon to be finest financial powerhouse in all of New Manhattan. If The Peasant Doctor doesn’t want to banter with him then fine, Sean’ll just get acquainted with his new office space all by himself.

He looks to his left – ah, the center of operation. At least the man has a nice desk. It’s a very antique-looking thing, probably carved by hand more than two hundred years ago. Shining finish, elegant design… what kind of wood is this? ‘It starts with an ehm, or an ehn I think… bah! It doesn’t matter. After I have that unsightly hole in the wall mended, it will be me sitting behind this desk. The wood will carry whatever name I choose for it to carry.’

Hymarc straddles the desk, awkwardly climbing over it with a technique that no father would teach. He then carefully sits in the chair as not to enlarge the hole in the wall with the back of said chair – he doesn’t want to leave any trace of The Apex Crew’s being here, just in case they have to leave and come back another day. The CEO of this company, ‘no matter how blind to the true greatness he could achieve with his incredible wealth,’ still has incredible wealth, and therefore a likely very busy life. He might not even show up here today, let alone this weekend. Edvard will probably throw his hands up if their plan can’t be executed within the time frame he originally planned, but a little tension-release therapy will fix that. How’s that for reverse psychology, Doctor? Boo-yah, ten points to Hymarc.

Hymarc, being Hymarc, then immediately loses all ten of those points by trying to log in to the computer. After digging through the desk drawers and finding, underneath a box set of dominoes of all things, a notepad with the word PASSWORDS scrawled across the top (with most of the letters written backwards, mind you), Sean goes through the pain-staking process of inputting the eighty-four passwords. The process takes literally hours; not only are the codes all case-sensitive, not only do they all have spaces in them that are nearly impossible to catch on the first attempt because of how bad this man’s handwriting is, not only does Hymarc have to start over at least eight times because he entered the passwords in the wrong sequence, but once he gets to the seventy-third password? The box where he was entering them disappears off the screen!

“What the fuck?!” Hymarc shouts, about two neural pathways over from involuntarily putting his fist through the screen.

The computer then dings, auditorily recognizing the three-word passphrase needed to move on to the next step in the unlocking process. Next, a small black nozzle extends towards Hymarc from a hidden slot in the screen. A window pops up on the screen itself that looks to be some sort of analyzer, as if one were to insert something into the wide-mouthed nozzle to be scanned…

After debating whether or not he should stick his penis into the nozzle, Sean gets up, unzippers his pants, and sticks his penis into the nozzle, the girth of his flaccid member fitting loosely into the tight, narrow space. ‘He lacks all that makes me great.’

Sean holds himself in there for a good couple minutes. He just stands there, pants down, his groin pressed against the computer owned by the most powerful human in the lawless concrete jungle that is New Manhattan. When he realizes the nozzle definitely isn’t a penis scanner in any way, shape, or form, Hymarc awkwardly pulls out and zips his fly back up.

After an amount of time that will go unspecified for the sake of what’s left of Hymarc’s abysmally frail ego, he finally realizes that the nozzle must be some sort of breathalyzer. Meaning he has to put his mouth on it…

“Doctor!” Sean calls out, climbing back over the desk. “Any progress with… whatever you’ve been doing all this time?”

What has the Doctor been doing all this time? Well…

The interFacer

“But what can I say, I felt like the woman was stressed. She probably could have used a release of tension.”

Sean, after staring at The Good Doctor with a face reminiscent of, ‘Oh, what was that thing called… ah yes,’ Byron, turns around and walks past the front desk and down the hallway that’s lined with doors that he doesn’t even open, just to stare out a window like he’s the star of some emo band’s moody music video. It’s just as well; this is, and will be, Doctor Torpol’s operation. Seizing Cape and all the assets and technology held within, this is all part of the bigger plan. The Good Doctor’s been scheming for years to execute today’s activities – but yet, when the day ends and he’s in control of the city of New Manhattan, the work will not yet be complete. There is still much to do in order to bring The Utopian to this world. It will all be done though, it must be; this is Ed’s purpose.

Torpol takes a small metal case out of the breast pocket of his lab coat. He can hear Sean babbling and shouting about something in the background, but he pays it no mind – this is not the time to listen to the fool on the hill playing his fiddle. Inside the case is a small wireless earpiece, the same one that’s hardwired into the skull of the Zerocian assassin who’s currently flying loops around the Cape Enterprises building on a hoverboard that was revamped and upgraded into an extremely high-tech glider device.

Outfitted with four dual-barreled auto-targeting machine guns, two front-pointing lances ripe for the impale, three fully loaded missile launchers, and a deep bomb cavity equipped with electrical explosives, this glider is one of the most fearsome instruments of war ever crafted by Apex. And, if the device’s pilot fails, rebels, or is terminated by whatever forces, man or machine, which will surely be attacking from outside the building, Torpol can remotely control the TerrorWing with his mind. Oh yeah, you better believe this nonsense is called the TerrorWing.

Until he ultimately fails though, The Prisoner will be in constant communication with Doctor Torpol. The same is true with all of the MERCS; they each have an interFacer chip hardwired inside their heads so Torpol can keep a constant tab on them, and they too are subject to remote control by the Doctor’s mind in the event that any of their consciousnesses are knocked out for whatever reason.

Or at will, Edvard can control them all at will, too.

All the important players in this game are linked up into a matrix of sorts by Torpol’s latest invention, called the interFacer, and ready to execute the hostile takeover; all pieces except for the pawn, that is, but Hymarc’s totally useless anyway. Well, maybe not useless; he’s important in the same way that a figurehead is important to a shadow government. To everyone on the outside, the figurehead is the one in charge, the mastermind behind all the action, the one to catch blame and suffer punishment when the hammer falls. But on the inside, he’s a puppet through and through, and every puppet needs a puppet master.

Torpol is salivating, a rabid dog. ‘It es tiem to pull zhe strings.’

First thing’s first: the building needs to be swept and cleared. Keeping the very young and capable bladesman– er, bladesborg R4y positioned at the door to avoid any surprises, Torpol sits down at the secretary’s desk and prepares to share his mind between all six of his MERCS. He puts his head down on the cool wooden surface and breathes steadily, allowing his mind to slip into a state of physical unawareness. This is the only way to activate the interFacer chip in the middle of his brain that links up to everyone’s consciousness feeds – by removing his own consciousness from the equation.

In the void before him are seven screens, each representing one of the seven operatives he’s experiencing all at once. On the left, J3nn43, Ultr4-V1, and R0s3; on the right, The Prisoner, G1-Zm0, and K1ng-Z1g; in the middle, R4y. By focusing on any one of these screens, Torpol perceives everything the broadcaster is perceiving: smells, sounds, tastes, sight, pain… pleasure.’

After taking note of this realization and saving it in the Later folder, Torpol instructs the girls to take the upper floors and the boys to take the lower floors. Through R4y’s eyes he watches as each party disappears into the elevators.

Following the boys first, Torpol sees the elevator door open to reveal… a literary printing press?

‘Is this man insane? Trying to sell books to the masses? The general populous of this country lost the ability to read ages ago… skip this floor boys, surely there’s nothing worth raiding in here.’

As the elevator doors close, Karen breathes a sigh of relief from underneath one of the conveyor belts.

The girls, meanwhile, come to a massive Cannagrow operation. All the plants are at least four feet tall, sprouting out of pots linked up to a hydroponic watering system and cast under the purple glow of full spectrum LED grow lamps. Not a single human employee in sight, though.

‘No matter. Skip this room girls, keep searching. We will find employees and they will be converted to lifeless sacks of meat, prime cuts ready to be devoured by the MERCS technology; they will fall to our crusade.’

The sweep of the building goes on for another hour. Not a single human employee is found. Ed doesn’t see much of anything through the eyes of his lackeys until they hit some of the lower levels, and even there he only sees little more than a measly few robots buzzing around like worker bees in a hive, disgraceful. They don’t even look human! Not that Apex’s robots look human, but still, how dreadfully uninventive… whoever’s in charge of the science division at this company needs a serious talking to. Perhaps Torpol won’t kill off the humans when they find them, perhaps Apex will recruit them.

‘But how to tell apart the slop from the cream of the crop…’ the Doctor postulates while he watches The Prisoner’s feed. ‘Perhaps… a tournament. We will round up all the humans toiling through the building and throw them into an arena with The Prisoner. Whoever doesn’t get beaten to a pulp will be allowed the chance to keep their human body, and the losers? The weak? The pathetic victims to the circumstance they’ve been thrusted into? They will awaken at a new dawn of humanity bathed in the hot light of advanced technomancy in the stylings of The One, The Only, The Good Doctor.’

‘Excuse me?’ The Prisoner thinks to himself so Torpol can hear.

Torpol says nothing – nothing The Prisoner can hear, at least – and so he keeps circling the building, ‘round and ‘round he goes.

The Perception

After an indiscriminate amount of time, Torpol, from the inside of his own head, watches through R4y’s eyes as the girls return to the waiting room, their sweep of the facilities proving fruitless. He instructs the girlborgs to post up at three of the four elevator doors, just in case Cape’s CEO gets back from whatever likely extravagant business venture he’s surely away on before the sweep is complete. Then, for the first time in a little while, Torpol focuses his mind’s eye on the boys. They’ve been going down for just as long as the girls have been going up, yet their descent is not complete. There’s only so many levels to this building before the structure hits the plasti’spa’junk that it’s built upon, how far down can they go? The Apex building has a few sub-plasti’spa’junk levels too, but… oh my god.

‘KingZig! Gizmo! Return to me now, my MERCS, with haste! Drop everything, back into the elevator at once!’

The man behind Cape might be smart, but Torpol is always one step ahead. As the most powerful man in the city, surely Mister Cape must be no stranger to the custom of the power grab. Dollarists from all walks of life must constantly attempt to take this facility from him… he’s likely grown accustomed to it by now. At this stage of the game, who wouldn’t be? According to the arbitrary statistics the Doctor just made up on the spot, Cape Enterprises must have had at least hostile takeover attempts this week alone. The basement and subsequent subbasements… they’re clearly a trap!

With his total lack of training in the fields of architecture and engineering, Torpol is very aware of the fact that one cannot build tower foundations too deep into plasti’spa’junk. It’s just not sturdy enough, not put together as well as normal Earth dirt. Around five or six stories under the surface, things probably get significantly less stable, they just have to; one gust of wind would be enough to rip an entire skyscraper out of the faux ground, surely it would! Torpol can see it in his head now, clear as day! The only way to do it right would be, theoretically, to build all the way down, to have the building extend through the plasti’spa’junk mountain and embed it into the floor of the ocean. But… that’s just impossible, nobody has the resources, or time, for that matter, to pull off such a feat.

No, this is obviously a trap; go deep enough and the elevator falls off its tracks, where it’s left to dangle in a small cavity installed between the foundation and the rest of the building. It would be solitary confinement in the worst way possible, never knowing when the cable will snap, hanging on by a literal thread as the universe itself plays God with your very well being. How sinister… Torpol quite admires this man, this Mister Cape, the Him that he is. The two will definitely have to have a chat before Torpol executes him in front of his audience of MERCS who will be recording the execution for playback during future therapy sessions.

After the longest elevator ride ever, made to feel even longer because Torpol is watching it through two pairs of eyes that don’t even belong to him, the boys finally return to the lobby. K1ng-Z1g is instructed to watch the fourth elevator and G1z-M0 joins R4y at the doors to guard his baby-faced father figure.

With his body protected, Torpol checks in with The Prisoner – no signs of any activity, suspicious or otherwise. The alien makes some offhand comments about the mindless insects marching in line along the streets below like ants in a farm, but Torpol largely ignores his condescension. The Prisoner’s extraterrestrial origins do not make him better or superior to humans in any way – in fact, he’s relatively weaker than humans. Ever since he was captured all those years ago, he’s been constantly spouting on and on about how Zerocian evolution never stops, about how he will evolve a way out of his confinement and slay those who locked him in. Well, he’s still here, captured by the humans who have successfully reached their final form, and nobody’s gone slayed. The Prisoner may be taller, faster, stronger, wiser, capable of telepathy, more accurate with a gun and more deadly with a blade than any human to have ever existed, but he still has rungs to climb on his ladder. The humans finished climbing theirs years ago – when you can only go so far, as is scientifically proven, it’s best not to kid yourself, lest you bump your head on the transparent glass ceiling which looms constantly above, the very ceiling which sits mere inches, nay, centimeters above Torpol’s golden blonde hair.

Yes, Torpol is surely the example of humanity in its prime. A master of technology, a manipulator of the mind, and a beacon of consciousness. He’s observing, and can control at any time, seven other bodies, one of which isn’t even a human, all from the comfort of this incidental swivel chair. Well, technically none of them are humans, but that just makes the feat all the more impressive! Torpol may work for the Apex Corporation, but he alone has truly reached the pinnacle. He has no equal, no superior, nothing that can break his concentrati–

Torpol feels a tap on his shoulder. This tap, this tiny little poke in the dermis, is enough to send his splintered mind spiraling into confusion. Which of the seven screens did Torpol originally inhabit? Which is his body? Is he even a he?

The Perception blinks between each of the six cybernetically enhanced humans but they all feel foreign and lifeless, too empty to be home. It then tries to interface with the Zeroc, clearly the superior specimen, obviously the body It originated from, but Its infiltration is thwarted with such ease that it’s a wonder the extraterrestrial can be controlled at all.

After recovering from the resulting bioelectric shock, It drifts from the screens back into the empty space from which It observes. The empty husk around The Perception begins to tremble, the tremors making it impossible to concentrate. ‘Who am I… what is the nature of my existence? Do I even exist? Am I… I?’

“Doctor Torpol, wake up!”

Edvard flies back out of his seat and collides with the ground. The impact jolts him awake, thankfully, but his entire body feels hauntingly foreign to him.

“What… what happened?”

“I’m not sure,” Hymarc says whilst rubbing The Doctor’s moist tummy. “I attempted to get into the Cape mainframe through the computer on the desk in the back of the office, but their security system is… rather impressive. I called out to you a few times and you didn’t answer, so I came over here to find you in a state of convulsions. I think you may have had a seizure.”

Torpol doesn’t want to hear any of that. He grabs Hymarc’s wrist and attempts to throw it off his stomach, but he can’t seem to lift it. Everything is so heavy, the lights are so bright. Even his mind is a haze – Torpol closes his eyes and attempts to return to that sacred space, that sunken pit inside his consciousness, the place where he can’t feel this measly human vessel he’s imprisoned in. The matrix of The interFacer – The interface that is The Perception’s home, that is true reality.

But he can’t find the darkness; when Torpol closes his eyes, all he can see is visual snow. It looks like television static except instead of gray and black, it’s just… white… or is it a rainbow, the full spectrum of colors that humans can perceive? Hard to tell… perhaps neither. Perhaps both. It’s as if the snow was inserted between the perceiver and what he’s perceiving, the opacity of the layer lowered to about ten percent.

Finally Torpol finds it, the interFacer’s matrix, his home. The seven consciousness screens are still broadcasting, yet the snow has not relented. It’s very hard to make out but its omnipresence is felt; it’s distracting, it’s… domineering. He just has to reach out to The Prisoner, order an evacuation. So distracting, it’s slipping… Torpol can’t interface with the superior Zeroc brain. A flash of light and it’s gone, the screen is gone, replaced by a patch of snow so thick you could piss your name into it. That was his last chance… no, the MERCS! Yes! But which one?

All of them, it’s the only option. He enters command mode… the snow, this sandstorm, it’s too distracting. Torpol can’t move past it. He has his hands on the controls of all six MERCS but he’s trapped, ensnared in this blizzard, unable to maneuver through the buzzing, the electric…

Doctor Torpol begins to seize again. His eyes roll back in his skull this time and frothy drool fills and spills from his twitching mouth as his head flails back and forth. Sean Hymarc, without so much as a CPR class under his belt, has no idea what to do. Then he remembers – the MERCS! He has six operatives in here with him, two of which are just on the other side of the desk! They’ll save The Good Doctor, they have to! He created them!

“KingZig! Ray! One of you request immediate medivac, now! I need the other to… hey, why aren’t you turning around? HEY! LISTEN TO ME! I AM YOUR PRESIDENT!”

The MERCS, being soulless automatons that are still plugged in to the interFacer, couldn’t even respond if they wanted to. Torpol’s hand lays still on their controls, the AI left to sit in wait for an order, an instruction, a command that will never come.

‘This is bad… this is VERY BAD! You have to be some kind of fucking retarded to let yourself fall into a scenario like this, sean. It’s just like Father said, you are doomed for failure… no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you can’t handle the helm… your ship will crash and you will be impaled by the crags jutting from the murky waters of your own incompetence… just get a job, work for somebody, let someone take care of you… you’ll never be able to take care of yourself.’

His vision obstructed by the utter lack of purpose he blames his Father for instilling into him, sean crawls backwards and hits the back of his head on the wood paneling behind the secretary desk. He rubs the impact spot – a small bump, nothing life threatening. Sean will be okay, unlike the Doctor, who’s pale white body is drained of all its color, save for the blue of his eyes.

This is it then, it’s the end of the line. The hostile takeover failed before it even got off the ground. Sean Hymarc, seeing himself as something of a challenger of the gods, set his aim for the stars and exploded before he even left the atmosphere. This is rock bottom, there’s nowhere else for him to go. Nothing else to lose, either.

So, he might as well try for a Hail Mary.

“GOD! God, it’s me, God, it’s Sean! Little Seany Hymarc! If You’re real, if You’re listening, if Your white-bearded grandfatherly face is watching me from Your kingdom in Heaven, send me help! Save my friend! Save me!”

Outside in the hallway, K1ng-Z1g’s elevator goes ding, but Hymarc doesn’t hear it over the sound of his praying.

What he does hear, a moment later, is a man two hinges short of a full doorjamb yell out, “FUCK!! What the fuck?! Is that fucking zombie?!?