8 minute read ★

Part 1: Hounds to Hamartia

I NEVER pegged myself to be a cynic. But, it goes with the job, I suppose. In my early days, I considered myself a romantic, which is also what made me a loner. Carefree, in love with the world, on my own adventure. But now, this job. Begs me to be a cynic, but a part of me stays the same carefree guy.

Well, you would never guess what my job is. Let’s just say that it needs me to put up a front, a proxy personality. I deal with a very particular kind of security, and that makes me a person of international importance. But no one knows it. Yeah, you have probably made a guess by now, but no, I’m not a spy.

To most people, I’m an ordinary guy with a boring IT job. I mock my proxy personality, myself. Call myself a “tech janitor”. Who’d ever want this shit job?

My job, the actual job that is, doesn’t require me to move around much. I lived in my hometown for the longest time. And then came a deckload of revisions and updates in security. So, I had to move to this place. I worked from my accommodations, but gottakeep up appearances in the other life too. Irksome to have a dual identity. My proxy office was separated from my accommodations by this long stretch of isolated road. On both sides were barbed wire fences, separating wide unknown fields from the road. It was a government “genetic research” center. I wondered why they put me there. Too much of a giveaway to put a government security guy next to a government experimentation ground. But well, like I said, never been a cynic, so just accepted it.

I had always been partial to Chinese food, and even though they required me to cook my own food, I couldn’t resist myself that day. I had been here a week, and had had enough of spaghetti. I got some Kung Pao Chicken for takeaway, and started my journey on the long, isolated road. It was perhaps the romantic loner in me that made me prefer walking.

Something was eerie about this road tonight. It was more than your usual kind of quiet, and more than your usual kind of creepy. And then out of the dark, two dogs appeared and started following me. I figured it was the smell of chicken attracting them. I always hated dogs. It was just a natural repulsion, not a violent or scared instinct. Nah, I’m very much against violence. I must remind you again, I’m not a spy! Yet, for reasons unknown, dogs always repelled me.

As I continued walking, more dogs joined. More repulsion. And then I noticed something extraordinary; the first two dogs were now bigger. This was rather strange. But then I could see the other dogs getting bigger too. And then I put the pieces together, the genetic research institute means genetically modified dogs? Was I set up, so that the dogs could attack me? After all, international importance also makes you an international target for terrorists. Or was it my own organisation disavowing me?

I was never a cynic. But this was real, and I made a run for my accommodation. Nah, not gonna be any use. That place is isolated and the dogs could very well get me there. I couldn’t drive them to the city, and risk the lives of ordinary citizens. So, I dropped my chicken and ran at my fastest towards the barbed fence. And the dogs followed at great speeds! Clearly, it wasn’t the chicken they were interested in. Bloody genetic mutation! I pushed myself through the wires, and cut myself everywhere. But there was no stopping, and no looking back. I was running as far as I could, wherever these vast fields led me, hoping the dogs would eventually lose my trail.


Part 2: The Lie Eternal

I was never an emotional person. Some would say that this job hardens you, but I don’t think it has changed me in any way. I was always like this, always a cynic. Born to be a prison inspector, I think. And this wasn’t any ordinary prison either.

I noticed that the new nurse was rather attractive. As she was doing the usual chores, she noticed my glance, and smiles. I was wary, but I managed a wry smile. It’s the slowest hour for the prison. Not much to do at this hour. Well, maybe I could indulge in her presence for the while. Just to pass the morbid hours.

She turned to leave, but I made an excuse to talk, pointing out how we’re at those morbid hours. As with most non-technical personnel here, she was curious about the machine. Well, I love throwing around some technobabble. I told her about the “prisoner simulation program”. I skipped the part where I voted unhesitatingly for the program; if I want to be laid, I’d better keep my cynical side masked.

“… The simulations are all looped, and involve a rather short duration of time. Look at this guy, for instance. He’s trapped in a looped sequence of an evening where genetically mutated dogs attack him in the end. The reason for using dogs must be either that he has a phobia against dogs, or the crime itself had to do with dogs in some way.”

I always liked dogs. People made me a cynic, but dogs would touch my romantic side, if it existed. The fact that this guy was repelled by dogs and probably committed a crime against them should be enough to make me loathe this guy. But that’s not how I felt about him. Something mysteriously attracted me to this guy. Not in the romantic way though; I’m lesbian. It was just a strange, mystic attraction. Which shouldn’t even be happening in the first place.

“… Now, within the simulation, he thinks that he is someone with an “international importance”, whatever that really means. In reality, he was just someone with a dull IT security job, but always fantasised a colourful, adventurous life. James Bond as his idol, know what I mean? And so, we give him an identity which reconciles his reality with his fantasies. That way he adapts more easily to the simulation.”

“And that makes the punishment and pain more real, too! Oh, that’s fantastic!”

“Exactly. Hmm, at least she wasn’t one of those bimbo nurses. But I didn’t like the idea of this guy suffering. For all that he was, though, I should want him to suffer far worse. He’s degree 3, but if it were up to me, I’d transfer someone like him up to degree 2, at least. But not him. Why this strange, mystical attraction?

“So, what did he do?”

“Ah, they conceal such information from us. Keeps us from taking actions in our own hand, and somehow want to manipulate the simulation.”

She was not impressed, and rather bemused.

“We can, of course, take a look at his possessions and make some assumptions.”

I was going against protocol just to bang a nurse. Well, sometimes, exceptions can be made. While I was fiddling with the possessions, something caught my eye that shouldn’t have been there. His personal diary. It looked slightly damaged, but functional. It was supposed to be a total giveaway of the prisoner, and would only end up making me more sympathetic. Maybe, I should be cautious with it, what with the feeling I already have.

“His personal diary, a plethora of clues. So, let’s have a look now, darling.”

She was all excited upon hearing this. So, I might just get laid. As I turned it on, I noticed that some files were missing, some half deleted and so on. I started putting clues together; he must have started cleaning it up while the authorities narrowed down on him, and probably tried to smash it but couldn’t manage to.. They probably just threw it into the possessions box, because it was useless to them in this state. Nothing significant could be derived from these bits and pieces. I felt slightly relieved. Until I read it.

I froze, not sure how to react. This is why the strange attraction. I remembered everything, thanks to this diary.

I was almost reflexive and impulsive as I took my needle to inject the nurse. Now, to turn the simulation off; it was a long, elaborate task.

And so, I immediately got to work.

1Spectre | 2015

Part 3 : The Janitor

I checked her pulse to make sure that the anaesthesia wasn’t too much, and then I checked the nurse’s pulse as well.

The prison authorities don’t want their personnel knowing that the person being held is of international importance, but they don’t realise that it works in our favour usually. It makes the personnel careless, especially when the escapades are well-planned, as in my case.

Damn, I must’ve spent 100 loops in the bloody machine. I felt rather dizzy. I waited a few more minutes to make sense of reality. The simulation they put me under was close enough to reality, and that’s a good thing; I am still sane! It’s like some nightmare I could have had, because it’s just likely enough that the fucking security agency transfers me to such a place. God, I hate dogs.

The extraction team is so damn lazy! They should’ve checked the inspector’s sexuality and not just her gender. No wonder it took the susceptibility program so long. And then this nurse! Must’ve added 50 more loops to my sim.

Well, enough of the ranting.

I took the “diary”, which went through another fall thanks to the inspector falling with it in her hand, hoping that it’s not completely lost. They should make these things more sturdy, and perhaps the guy who planted it shouldn’t have smashed it so hard. Well, still functional, thank God. I might as well clean up. I prefer not to be like some stupid agent, who leaves all sorts of traces when they’re rescued. I’m not a spy. Clean-ups are what I specialise in, and that’s why they call me “The Janitor”.

I reprogrammed the “diary” into a memory device. Took me an hour, at least. It’s intriguing, really, and somewhat exasperating how different the codes are. The “diary” is used to create memories, and the memory device is more generalised; it can create and delete memories. The difference, however is that the “diary” is like a grenade, you cannot stop it once it’s rigged, while the memory device it’s like a gun; you use it on someone, and the control is in your hands.

I’d prefer these as my weapons any day. You can destroy the body with actual weapons, but it’s the mind where the fun lies.

I deleted all memories associated with the break out from the inspector’s mind, including the sympathetic feelings she had for me. I deleted most of the nurse’s memories too. Not all, though. Some of them could help with what I had in mind for these two. I created some alternate memories.

I almost forgot to remove the inspector’s susceptibility grain implant. It’s harmless, really, now that I won’t be around any more, but it would be too cruel to still keep it there, nonetheless. I couldn’t help but muse how useful it could be having a minion in an entirely different part of the world, though. It’s a small world, so one never knows.

My work was done, and so I lied down, waiting for the extraction team. It could take them a couple more hours. I imagined how it would be when these two wake up. The inspector wouldn’t remember anything (because I didn’t create any new memories for her), and assume it to be one of her hangovers. Then she’d glance at the naked nurse next to her, probably feeling proud of herself. The nurse, on the other hand…

I heard a blast. The extraction team; they were early. Not so lazy when it comes to action. Well, I wouldn’t know, I’m not a spy. Anyway, time to leave.

I glanced at the nurse and the inspector once, and made a run in the direction of the blast…

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Neelesh Agrawal

Neelesh Agrawal

I’ve got this madman in my mind, this prolific designer.. And he’s working overtime, and he gets all wired up..
Neelesh Agrawal

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Categories: Fiction & Poetry