The Follower

man standing on brown pathway
Photo by Isaac Weatherly on Pexels.com

I once found myself in a dark alley in the busy streets of the city one night.

I must have been lost in thought, or had my heads in the cloud that night, but it was incredibly stupid of me to be up and about in a city full of people, and not have my head on my shoulders. I could have been mugged, or my pockets could have been picked.

A loud crashing metallic sound made me spun around. I could not see what it was, but from the corner of my eye, a small, dark shadow scurried into the darkness.

“Rats…” I grumbled. Or it could have been cats, I reasoned to myself as I continued my walk, every so often glancing around at the street signs and lighted business signs that plastered the area.

I had this strange feeling in my gut that I was lost. How could I be lost? I have been a resident of this city for more than twenty years. I have been to almost every inch of the place… well, almost, but there was barely an area that I was not familiar with.

I started to slowly walk and tried my best to trace my steps.

Just how in the world did this happen, and where am I?

The feeling of dread crawled up from my stomach and seemed to choke me.

Breathing became difficult.

I kept walking and walking, and stopped when I realized something.

I was back in the dark alley again.

My forehead crinkled and a scratched my head.

A loud metallic clang made me turn around quickly, and then I saw a rat scurrying in the corner away from a garbage can that it turned over.

My mouth felt dry. I gulped down what little saliva that was gathering in my mouth.

I turned around and ran.

The lights and signs and people on the street were all a blur. I did not care where my legs would take me, I just want to get the hell out of whatever place I am.

I ran and ran and ran, until I could no longer run, and had to catch my breath.

I stood there breathing and sweating.

A few moments and I could somehow no longer hear my heart thumping like a loud drum set in my ears.

I looked around and almost lost the strength in my legs.

I was in the middle of a dark alley. I knew what would happen next and spun around quickly. I saw a large, black rat feasting on the contents of a garbage can. It saw me, and quickly jumped down, knocking the can over, spilling all its contents on the floor.

“What is going on here?”

Then I heard footsteps. It was faint, at first, then grew louder.

It was coming my way.

Who, or what could it be.

The sound grew heavy and loud. It was getting closer and closer.

Friend or foe? I quickly made assumptions, calculations and simulations in my head.

There was no time, I made the best decision I thought I could make at the time… I ran away.

I tried to run into the busy streets that was at the end of the alley, however when my sides began to hurt, I started to wonder how far the exit really was.

I ran and ran, yet saw no end. The alleyway kept going and going. I slowed my pace as I held on to my sides that were starting to be unbearably painful. My speed slowed down to a slow walk.

I probably would have stopped and rested there, however my eyes caught something in the distance, far ahead.

I saw a man running away.

I did not have time to think. I immediately chased after him.

I lost sight of him, but after a brief jog, I saw a figure standing in the distance. I heard  a metallic clang as I saw ahead a trash can fall over when a small dark spot of a figure jumped out from the can.

I picked up my pace.

However, when I came closer, the figure up ahead must have been alarmed by my presence, or my heavy steps, that he decided to turn around and run away from me.

I found myself standing where the man that I was pursuing earlier must have been standing. I lost sight of him. He probably was just up ahead. My mind kept wandering as to how he got away from me, when the entire alley was just  a straight path.

Clang! I heard a familiar scampering sound as the garbage can fell over.

Then I heard it again. My pursuer caught up to me! I ran again…

 


I hope  you liked this story.

Did you figure who the follower was?

I hope I somehow managed to make it mysterious, and yet somehow enable you to be able to deduce what was probably going on.

 

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Reborn

This post is in participation to Myth of the Mirror’s May Speculative Fiction. I hope you like this.


 

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The last thing I remember was bright lights rushing toward me.

Then everything went blank.

There was no pain, no suffering. It must have been instantaneous. I did not even knew what hit me.

I was declared dead three hours after I was rushed to the hospital. They say I was a mess. I seemed more ground meat than human.

What saved me was a decision I made on a whim years ago. It was an act I barely put any thought into. I saw the choice, thought it was cool, and simply ticked the box with a check mark. I donated my body to science.

As soon as I was declared clinically dead, I was rushed to a laboratory who has been in the field of medical research connected with advanced prosthetics and robotics.

There, they did their work – replacing human flesh with artificial parts. I would love to say that they turned flesh to steel – but from what I can recall regarding the parts they placed, those were not really steel, but more of some kind of alloy.

In life, I was an ordinary college student in the field of engineering. Though I did not take my studies that seriously and was part party guy, and part student. When my consciousness was re-awoken… I did not know what I was anymore.

Everything was still black, but I could hear murmurs… voices…

“Connect that to the…” a man’s voice seemed to be instructing someone. A soft whirring sound started and a strong surge of electric current started buzzing.

“Normal on this side….” someone else said.

“Initiate the optic module.” I heard someone said.

The black was replaced by a blinding white light. I could not see that well, but I could see figures moving about around me.

Beep… Beep… beep… beeeeeep!

“Doctor, something’s wrong!” Someone yelled.

“Pull the plug, hurry!”

They told me that my brain almost fried that day. Fortunate for me, the fail-safe worked.

***

The creature I saw in the mirror when I opened my eyes was clearly not human, however it retained my facial structure.

“We tried our best to reconstruct your face…” The man in the white medical robes said.  “We do want you to live as human as possible.”

“Human, huh?”

I looked at my reflection. My eyes glowed red, my arms had tubes, wires, steel plates, nuts and bolts… clearly, this was no human.

It looked like me, but it was not me.

It was scary to think that the hands I saw in front of my face was not the same hands I was used to seeing for the twenty or so years that I can recall. It felt strange to have so many eyes look at me with wonder, amazement, and even fear.

“Can everyone please stop staring at me like I’m naked.”

“Actually, you are. Please put these on.” The doctor handed me a pair of shorts.

I looked down at my legs, and felt a bit embarrassed.

“So these are not metal shorts I’m wearing?” I said as I tried to smile. My body seemed to be capable of that, at the very least.

The doctor shook his head.

“Well that was embarrassing…” I guess cyborgs still need clothing.

“Welcome to your new life, Mr. John. You’re our property now. I hope we get along well.”

The doctor and his colleagues left me alone in the room, as they congratulated themselves.

I was left in the room staring at the mirror as I contemplated on the new life that I was given.

***

Three days have passed since I was reborn as a cyborg. My ability to tell the time has been more accurate than before, so I was certain that it indeed has been three days since my boot-up. One of the scientists working on me came in my room. He was bringing something large and heavy with him. I could see the strain on his face, though he did try his best to conceal it.

“What is this, Doctor Spark?” I asked him as he placed the equipment on my desk. It was large, black and sleek, with various vents, wires, tubes and cylinders.

“A new upgrade for you, my boy.” He beamed. Despite being one of the younger scientists in the Cybernetics project, he treated my like a young child. Perhaps in their eyes, I am their little baby. I shuddered mentally at the thought.

He attached the new equipment on my right arm. My internal systems recognized the equipment.

“Ion Canon Detected. Configuring…” my new mental voice, which sounded nothing like my own spoke. It was like an auto-tuned man’s voice.

“A canon? You built a canon for my arm?” I spoke in shock as I realized what the thing on my arm was.

” Yes, indeed. This new prototype would be able to demolish an entire block to cinders in an instant. Please be careful you don’t accidentally activate it.”

“Activate it?”

“Ion canon activating…” The mental voice said. The arm canon extended its barrels. A loud whirring sound could be heard as its mechanism began charging energy. Orbs within the canon, and my arm started to glow bright. Energy began gathering in my right arm.

“Whoa, whoa.. stop… stop…” I panicked.

“Deactivate it, John!” Doctor Sparks yelled amidst the loud noise and flashing lights.

“Deactivate, how??”

“Ion canon deactivating…” the mental voice in my head said as the arm canon’s mechanisms started to die down.

Doctor Sparks started laughing aloud saying how that was a close call. “Voice activation can be tricky,” he said wiping the sweat off his brow.

“What are you guys working on?” I asked.

However, Doctor Sparks did not answer me. He quietly removed the canon from my arm as he gleefully declared the test as a success.

***

At first, I saw myself as a miracle. While I may have left my humanity behind, my mind was still definitely human.

However, I felt that I was being turned more and more into a machine. I felt like a tool. With my recent encounter to my new upgrades, I felt that I was becoming a destructive tool. A weapon for mass destruction.

In my previous life, I was generally a peaceful, fun-loving person. I liked adventure, and hanging out with my friends. Taking another person’s life has been far from my lists of things to do. While I do have experience in video games — those were fantasy, a world of make-believe. I felt a strange constricting feeling in my chest area, where my heart should have been.

I figured that my developers would not want to have a weapon with a conscience, so I kept most of my thoughts to myself.

 

***

The lead scientist in charge of me entered my room one day.

“Hello John.” He said with a soft voice.

“Hello Doctor Kusanagi.” The lead scientist was old, and wrinkled, yet his face calm and serene. He reminded me of a lake in a summer’s day. He was old, yet stood straight and proud. His stride seemed to hold some strength in them despite his age.

“What do you think of knives?”

Confused and taken by surprise by the question, I was not able to answer.

“What do you mean, doctor?”

“Knives. What do you think of them as?”

“It depends on the knife, I guess. There are knives that can be used to fight, and then there are the knives we use in the kitchen…”

“Indeed!” He exclaimed as he brandished a knife that he was holding with his right hand.

“This knife, can be as destructive to humans, as it can be as useful. Use it against another human, and it is a weapon. Use it for a different purpose, such as for cutting ingredients, then we have a useful tool.”

He handed me the knife.

“I have never seen you as a weapon, my boy… Be at ease.” With a smile, he left.

 

-End –

I was not able to participate in a few writing prompts, and I am happy that I immediately got an idea as soon as I saw the image. I also saw that there was no April prompt, so I guess I was not that far behind! Hahaha….

I haven’t read any of the other submitted works, and I will probably start reading them after I submit this one.

Science fiction has been one of my favorite genre of fiction, yet I don’t really write sci-fi that much.

I haven’t written anything in the past few months. This writing exercise has been very helpful, and hopefully would get the momentum going for me to get back into writing more fiction (whatever the story may be).

I hope that the story was interesting, and that you liked it.

Once again, thank you for reading, and have a nice day.

 

If you found my content useful or interesting, please subscribe to my blog, or even share my works to others. It would be a great help in growing my blog, and I would really appreciate it. If you wish to support me in anyway, please consider checking out my Ko-Fi page, or my Patreon Page..

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