To Feel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story based on a homework I had to do for my Writing course as a part of my Teaching English As A Foreign Language degree. A science fiction story about mind control, consciousness and whether we truly are ourselves.

Submitted: July 02, 2019

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Submitted: July 02, 2019

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It was a warm Saturday morning when Michelangelo Quivers woke up in his unbelievably comfortable bed after a long night of partying and heavy drinking, fresh as ever. Though his buddies couldn’t handle the booze the previous night, he seemed immune to it, as it had been happening for the past few months. Michelangelo attributed this unbelievable skill to the medicine prescribed to him after some stomach aches he experienced a few months earlier. The TV was on. Apparently, he fell asleep on his bed watching it. Now the weatherman was announcing the weather for today in the local city of Chicago. Michelangelo looked around his scruffy apartment, disgusted with its state but too lazy to clean it up, as it had been for the last few weeks. Suddenly, he heard hard knocking on the door and sadly got out of his bed to see who the intruder was. When he opened the door, he saw a package on his doormat wrapped in black paper with a small note glued on top of it: “Free Kettles”. As he went to pick up the package, he caught a glance of a redhead suspiciously leaving the hall with a grin on his face. He put the package in his kitchen and went to turn off the TV, but as he was approaching it, he saw a commercial stating that “Brazilian scientists have come to a conclusion that tea is the greatest natural resource we have”. Unsurprisingly, he felt the urge to have some tea. He went to grab the supposed free kettle, but once he touched it, he felt pain in his entire body and an epilepsy attack coming. He fell to the ground, landing on a nail sticking out from the floor, hurting his forearm in the process. Once the attack stopped, he looked at his arm, fearing he would see an ocean of blood but to his surprise, he just saw a small scar. He looked at it closer and realized that there is metal hidden under his skin and the cut revealed it. Frightened by the sight, he immediately got up on his feet and thought he was just imagining things because of all the alcohol he’d consumed the previous night. He grabbed his coat and left his studio apartment to get to his office in the Southern part of the city.
The very same morning, a few streets further, Suzanne just woke up next to her husband ready to happily go to her day job – retail-sale managing. Her husband jumped out of bed quickly and was already pouring tea when she entered the kitchen. 
-Would you like some, honey?
-Sure. Where did you get that kettle? Looks new.
-Yeah. I went to buy some groceries yesterday and this guy approached me with a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. He offered me this kettle for just, like, $10, so I bought it.
-Seems like a fair deal. Show it to me, let me see if you got your money’s worth.
Suzanne barely touched the kettle when she, just like Michelangelo, felt immediate pain in her entire body and started to shake uncontrollably. Her husband, Mike, tried to help her but ended up pouring the hot tea straight onto her exposed chest. She expected to feel excruciating pain in her chest but she barely flinched. The hot tea burned through her chest exposing metal hidden underneath. She quickly turned around in horror, hiding it from her husband.
-Oh, god, honey, you alright? 
-Yeah, yeah, Mikie. – she said, heading for the bathroom.
She quickly locked the bathroom door behind her and looked in the mirror with fear in her eyes. She looked at her chest, now clearly exposing a metal plate which seemed to had been concealed under her skin. She grabbed a dressing gown hanging near the shower and sprinted out of the apartment.
-Hey, baby, where you goin’?
-I need to see a doctor, I’ll be right back.
She left the apartment and headed to the subway. She went down the stairs and sat down on a bench. Suddenly she felt a joint of electricity in her body when she looked at a man sitting on a bench on the other side of the subway. He was looking at her, too. She noticed a sticker on his coat with his name written on it – “Mr. Michelangelo Quivers”. She couldn’t remember his name but felt as if she’d seen him before. The man lifted his sleeve to look at the clock and Suzanne caught a glimpse of his scar and immediately she felt the urge to get closer and touch it. Apparently, this Michelangelo felt it too. They both got up and as soon as they made three steps, a train arrived in the lane between them separating them from each other. The electricity faded, but now they both felt extremely tired and decided to get back to their apartments. 
Immediately after walking through the door, Michelangelo went straight to the bed and fell on it happily. He didn’t even remember when he bought it, but it seemed to be a remedy for all his troubles. A few minutes into his nap, he heard knocking for the second time that day. Angrily he reached the door and opened it. There was a 30-something-year-old redhead guy standing in front of him with a slight grin on his face.
-Hello sir, my name is Jack Soper. The landlord sent me to make sure your windows are ready for winter.
-Oh, finally! I’ve been meaning to call him again this evening. You see that window there… - but as he turned around to point at the window, he felt a muzzle of a gun on the back of his head.
-Hey, man! Easy, just… take whatever you want, just take it!
-Calm down. I’m not here to rob you. I’m here to help you. Just calm down, if you follow my instructions, we’ll both be happy. Walk slowly towards the bed. Slowly.
Michelangelo followed the instruction of the burglar and laid on his bed.
-Now, close your eyes. What you can see, they can as well.
-What? The hell you’re talking about? Who’s they?
-Calm the fuck down. Just lie down and don’t move.
He obeyed his command and felt the housebreaker putting something on his forehead. It seemed to be a device because it beeped as soon as it touched his skin.
-Ok, it seems like it’s working. You can open your eyes. I won’t hurt you. – said the burglar and Michelangelo opened his eyes.
-Listen, man. I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing here. I won’t tell anyone. Just leave.
-You have no idea how long I have been waiting for you. My real name is Maxwell. Maxwell Selwyn. And I am not here by accident. I suppose something weird has happened to you in the last 24 hours, hasn’t it? – a look of surprise, but curiosity appeared on the Quivers’ face, but he didn’t utter a word.
-This is going to be difficult to hear, but you… are not you. I brought you a kettle a few hours ago and I think you have touched it. If you are who you think you are, you experienced something weird and painful as soon as it touched your skin. The metal from which it was made contains a special alloy that is very painful for your kind.
-My kind? What the fuck are you talking about…
-Just let me finish. I saw a scar on your forearm on the subway, it looked fresh but there wasn’t any blood, was there? That’s a result of the kettle. It congeals the substance they used to replicate blood for twenty-four hours showing you exactly who you actually are. Is there anything in this apartment you don’t remember buying?
-Ah… - said Michelangelo confused. – I guess… the bed.
-The bed… Of course.
The intruder fell down on the floor and slid underneath the bed. After a few screeches and other unpleasant to hear noises he clawed and scratched his way out, holding a piece of metal in his hand.
-This, my friend, is a turbomolecular regenerator. If it wasn’t for the kettle, you would fall asleep soundly in the evening and wake up without the scar or any knowledge of it. 
Though this amount of information seemed overwhelming, it all made sense to Michelangelo. 
-Ok, assuming I believe you, what is that thing you put on my forehead?
-It is a transmission blocker. As I said, what you see, they see as well. But thanks to that tiny bastard, now they think you’re asleep. 
-They? Who’s they?
-Initio. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. People call them the next Apple, but they are far from it. They started as an IT company but soon made their way into weapon deals and military operations. They kidnapped you, and as far as I know, about thirty others to test on you and transform your consciousness into robots. They intended to create indestructible super soldiers, but the human body can only take as much. Most of the subjects died during the transitional process. You are one of the five that survived.
-Wait… How do you know this?
-I… I was kidnapped as well. Four months ago. But I managed to escape unscathed. I saw everything. The experiments, the surgeries, the deaths, all of it. But I know no one will believe me, and even if they did, who can stop robots that can’t die. I guess the answer is simple: other robots. That’s why I have been looking for you, and the other four who survived.
-Wait, there was another weird thing today. I saw a girl on the subway, and I saw a burn on their chest. Something shined from underneath it and it sort of… woke up something weird inside of me, something primal. I needed to get close to her.
-Yes. I saw it as well. It’s called mutual metallingua. You must have been close at the prison where they held you. They wiped your memory but seeing the metal they built you with awakens those memories. 
-Umm… okay. Suppose I believe you, how did you even find me? Did we meet at the prison?
-No, but it doesn’t matter now. Now we need to find another survivor. Her name is Suzanne Delaney… and you met her today.
-That was her? Okay, that explains a lot. But how will you reach her?
-How will WE reach her. You are now a part of this. There is no escape. That device on your forehead will only fool them for so long. She is not easy to reach and it took me a while to track her down. But thankfully, I’ve made some steps towards showing her the reality.
On the 42nd Street Suzanne just pushed the handle of her apartment door and entered the hall confused. Her husband, Mike, stuck his head out from the kitchen with a surprised look on his face.
-Hey! What are you doing here so soon? I thought you said you were going to the doctor with that burn.
-Umm… Yeah. I just suddenly felt sleepy and had to come back here. I think I need to lie down. 
-You remember we have the marriage counselor at 4, right?
-Yes, honey, I just need an hour or so. I’ve already texted Josie that I won’t come to work today.
-Ok, whatever you need.
She walked towards the bed when she heard a rustle in her right pocket and reached out to see what it was. It was a small, yellow note with a text written on it… in Latin. This couldn’t have been a coincidence, for she studied Latin briefly in college and it was a badge of honor for her that she could speak it. The note said: 
Et mentior. Non-dormiunt. Vide.
It took her a few seconds to translate it in her head, but as far as she knew, the English translation would be: “Lie down. Do not sleep. See.”. Though exhausted, she forced herself to find some logic in this and decided that even if it is just a prank, lying down has never heard anyone. She jumped on the bed and though her eyes closed instantly, she remained awake.
-You okay, honey? Need anything? – shouted Mike from the kitchen.
-No, I’m good. Just give me an hour to relax.
She has been lying for about twenty minutes when something bizarre started to happen. She looked down on her chest, where twenty minutes ago there was a visible burn, underneath which was a large piece of metal. Now, before her very eyes, her skin cells started to “crawl” through the wound and thirty seconds later, the wound was gone. She heard a quiet pop from under the bed and saw a green light flash quickly over the room. The source of the flash appeared to be hidden under the bed. Frightened, she jumped out of the bed and immediately wanted to grab the coat and head out of the apartment. But when she grabbed it, she felt another rustle in the same pocket, yet a bit deeper. She put her hand inside of it and took it out. The second note, also in Latin, said: 
Damon Silos. 6:30 PM. Hac nocte.
She recognized the last word immediately, it meant “tonight”. Damon Silos… The abandoned structure in western Chicago? Who might want to meet her there? Insane theories entered her mind and as she started to walk in circles, thinking, she accidentally dropped the note on the floor and saw that the text wasn’t the only thing that was on the paper. On the back of it was a logo. 
 
She could have sworn she had never seen it, but the second she laid eyes on it, she felt a massive migraine, which stopped after about ten seconds. She decided then and there that she will find out what was happening to her and would meet whoever is behind these notes. 
It was 6 PM when she left the apartment. She told her husband she wasn’t feeling very well and he went to see the marriage counselor by himself. As soon as he left, she grabbed her coat and headed to the Damon Silos. 
It was 6:28 when she entered the building. It was empty. Or, at least, that was her immediate reaction. But a few feet away from here, on the ground, was another note. She went to pick it up and she saw that this time, the text was written in English:
Don’t freak out.
As soon as she finished reading it, she felt a rag pressed against her nose and a sweet, yet chemical smell of chloroform, and soon, she was unconscious. 
She woke up on the ground, a few feet away from the middle of the room in which she was sedated and there were two men standing over her: the first one, a redhead around the age of 35, with striking brown eyes, medium-long hair and a scar over his right ear wearing an old Metallica shirt that clearly had not been washed in a long time. He seemed to be the guy who sedated her because he was still holding a rag. The second man was much older, probably in his early 50s, with medium-long grey hair, glasses, a pink sweater, and a grey blazer. They immediately realized she was awake and approached her.
-Hey, easy. My name is Maxwell Selwyn. This is Michelangelo Quivers. We are not here to hurt you. We’re here to help.
-Then why on earth would you sedate me?
-Oh, right. We had to put that little thing on your forearm. – said Maxwell and showed her a small mirror so that she could take a look at herself. At first glance, she saw the same face she had always seen. A middle-aged African-American woman with blue eyes and an afro. But once she focused on her forehead, she noticed that there is a very small, skin-colored device placed on it with a small, green light flashing from it. He looked at the men again and realized that the older one has the same device on his head. 
-You… Why? What is that?
-Umm… That’s a long story. – said Maxwell and told her the same story he had told Michelangelo. 
-Wait, so those guys at Initio are what? Controlling me? Seeing what I see?
-More or less. They can’t do much to you. If they see a huge danger to their project, they can blow you up… - Suzanne snorted hearing this. – They can send your consciousness back to your body and leave the robot wherever they want and of course, they are in possession of your body, so, if push comes to shove, they can… eliminate you. You are mostly in control though, they just observe, or at least they had observed you before I put that thing on your head. In a few minutes, they won’t have any control over you.
-Wait, but they must have seen the notes you’ve left me in my coat. In my apartment. With my husband. What if they did something to him?
-Relax. When you were in your apartment, I placed a bit bigger version of the blocker on your roof. It couldn’t block the signal as well as this one, but if they knew you know about what they have done to you, they would have grabbed you on your way here.
-Well, thanks. And what about those Latin phrases? 
-They trained their systems to recognize any language currently in the world through your eyes, but since Latin is no longer in use, they couldn’t recognize it as any sort of a message. 
-Okay. So, what’s the play here? Do you know how many… robots… like us have been created?
-When I wandered around their lab looking for the escape route, I read some files. It said that they had tested on around seven hundred humans, mostly kidnapped homeless people or those donating blood regularly, like you two and me, with less than 3% emerging successfully from the merger with their robotic counterparts. 
-3%? So, it’s like…
-Nineteen. At least nineteen. 
-But why? Why would they do that? – asked Michelangelo.
-For the same reasons why technology has evolved over the last hundred years. To be able to beat your enemy in a split second, to create super soldiers, to win wars with a handful of soldiers, to control the nations, take your pick.
-So what do we do? Do you have a plan? – asked Suzanne.
-I’ve been working on it for the past three months. We need to get into the Initio headquarters on the corner of 14th Street and Garfield’s. Hopefully on a weekend so that there aren’t many people there. The prisoners and your bodies are locked on level -2. The main engine, controlling the connection to the robotic bodies, able to reverse the system and place you, and the other seventeen back into your physical selves is on level -4. You will split up and take care of it. Meanwhile, I’ll go to the main office on the eighth floor and destroy their research data. They must not be able to replicate this experiment. 
-Wait. What’s in it for you anyway? Why are you doing this? – asked Delaney.
-My… my wife was one of the imprisoned. They tested her a few days before my escape. She failed and… died. – his voice broke. – When she didn’t return to her cell, I knew something wrong had happened and I promised myself to escape stop this hellish creation.
-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…
-It’s alright. You need to be able to trust me. I get it. – said Maxwell.
-So maybe it’s high time to get me out of these cuffs you put me in and let’s do this thing, huh? 
-Don’t you want to call your husband or something? – asked Michelangelo.
-No. We aren’t exactly as close as we once were. He’s used to not seeing me for a few days. 
-Okay then. – said Max. – Here’s how we’ll do it.
They spent the next few days making sure “every little detail has been discussed, every scenario has been taken into consideration” as Maxwell said on the day before. 
-There shouldn’t be more than four guards on each floor. You have chloroform and metal bodies, you should be able to defeat them. I don’t think there’s any of your kind in there. As far as I know, you are the only ones that have been released back into society were you two. The rest has been sent to Afghanistan and Syria. You were the test subjects in the modern world. They must have noticed that something is wrong with you already, but I don’t think you’re their priority, so it’s our advantage. Jack Lipsky, the CEO should be in his office, as he’s always there, so I’ll try to seduce him, but if I can’t, I’ll press this button. – said Max and pointed at his belt buckle with a big, blue button in the middle of it. – And you will have to come to me. But the priority is to get the prisoners, and your and the soldiers’ bodies, out. Once I destroy their most important files, I’ll cuff Lipsky and call the cops. And this horror will be over. 
It was Sunday, August 18th, 2029. 6:52 PM. They grabbed everything they needed – extra chloroform, rags, a few knives and headed to the Initio HQ. There were no people in front of the building, most of them were at a local concert a few miles away. There was a security guard walking in the main hall. Maxwell knocked on the closed door and the guard opened them.
-Sir, it’s closed today.
-Yes, I know, sir. I just wanted to ask what is about that window behind you? – said Max, the guard turned around and was immediately sedated with a chloroform rag. 
-What’s with you and windows? That the only distraction you know? – asked Michelangelo, smiling.
-Just do your thing. 
They took the keys from the security guard, locked the main door, cuffed and gagged him and left him behind the secretary’s desk. 
-Ok. You know what to do. Hopefully, we’ll see each other in three hours. Good luck. – said Maxwell and headed to the elevator. 
-Ok, we go together to -2, if there aren’t many guards, you go to -4 to destroy the main engine, correct? – asked Suzanne.
-Correct. Let’s do this. – answered Michelangelo.
They entered the second elevator together, put the guard’s key in the panel to reveal the underground floors and pressed the “-2” button. As soon as the elevator door opened, two security guards were standing in front of them. Without even thinking about it, both Michelangelo and Suzanne punched them right in the mouth knocking them unconscious.
-Holy crap. That actually worked. They ain’t dead, are they? – said Suzanne.
-No. They’re just out of it. – said Quivers checking their pulses.
-Good, let’s just cuff 'em and gag’em and you can be on your way. 
They did just that and Michelangelo walked back into the elevator. 
-See you in thirty minutes. If you need anything, you have my cell. 
-Will do. Good luck.
Michelangelo re-entered the elevator and pressed the “-4” button heading for the bottom level, which according to their plan, was the home of the engine responsible for the connection between the human consciousness locked physically in the bodies on level -2, and the robots. 
The elevator on level -4 opened quickly to show Michelangelo an incredibly spacious room with countless computers, all processing information registered by the “super-soldiers”, according to Max. In the middle of the room, there was a small room with its walls made of glass. Inside of it was a wooden desk with a laptop on it. He approached it carefully making sure there aren’t any protection systems that they weren’t aware of. There wasn’t any door, any entrance whatsoever. He took a deep breath, stepped back and punched the structure as hard as he could. The sound of his metal hand clashing with the glass would be heard a good ten miles from there if they weren’t underground. He looked at a camera on the ceiling, with hope. The transmission from the room went straight to the CEO’s office. The alarm didn’t sound. It looked like Maxwell had already reached the office. He walked up to the camera, pulled it from the wall, crushed it with the inside of his shoe and went back to work on the glass wall. A few scratches appeared in it but the structure stood still. It didn’t surprise him. They were sure that reaching the main computer would not be easy. He took out a knife and held it tightly in his hand. He took about six steps back and with all his strength pierced the glass with the knife. Now it was stuck inside the wall. The structure was still standing, but it was a good start. He started punching around the knife and soon the wall started to tremble. After about three minutes the glass shattered loudly in front of him. He looked down on his knuckles. The skin was gone, but the metal underneath it was clearly visible, even though the bogus blood used to fool him. She entered the glass room and sat behind the desk. He powered on the laptop and immediately data started to appear. He started closing all the windows with the patients’ information until one name caught his attention. 
-Michelangelo Quivers – he read out loud. - Age: 52. Family: none. Admission: acquired during blood donation. Status: Alive. Experimentation: Successful. Model: MQ-2903. Current mission: Reckon. Body: Room 12A. 
He tried to remember all the data and erased the file and the remaining ones. However, another name caught his attention.
-Jane Selwyn. Age: 29. Family: Maxwell Selwyn, husband. Admission: volunteered by the husband. Status: Dead. – with shock written all over his face, Michelangelo clicked on “More information”. – Status during admission: Cancer. Admitted against her will. Killed during an attempted escape by MQ-2903 guarding the hall.
-MQ-2903… Michelangelo Quivers… It… Was… Me… – he said out loud and hid his head in his hands. – I did it. They must have modified my memory to make me think I was a guard and after this, they released me into the world. Wow. That’s how he knew me. What must he be thinking?
He closed the remaining windows rapidly and started looking for a way to shut down the system. But there wasn’t one. It looked as if the computers were only storing data. There was only one other place in the building where it could have been. The main office. The CEO’s office. And Maxwell was there. Michelangelo rushed out of the cage and headed towards the elevator, but before he reached it, he saw something red in the corner of the room. Actually, it was in all four corners of the room. He walked slowly towards it and realized it was dynamite. About three kilograms in each corner. It could easily level the whole seven-floor building. At least the explosives were underground, so hopefully, the collapse would not destroy much of the neighborhood. The explosives couldn’t have been activated or deactivated manually, therefore he went back to the elevator to meet with Suzanne on level -2. But she had her own problems.
When Michelangelo left Suzanne on the -2 floor, she took a deep breath and went forward into the dark room. She walked about twelve feet and started seeing prison cages. The first four were empty, but the next was not. 
-Excuse me? Hello? – said Suzanne. 
The prisoner slowly turned their head and Suzanne saw a face. It was a young woman, around the age of 24, that clearly hadn’t seen the sun in a while. But surprisingly, she seemed to recognize Suzanne.
-SD? You came back for us! You said you would! How long has it been? Months? Years? They still haven’t let me in for the test. They say my leg needs to heal before that. What is that thing on your forehead?
-I’m… I’m sorry, I don’t remember you. Do we know each other? – The prisoner’s smile slightly faded.
-Right… I forgot about the memory wiping… I’m… I’m PB, as you see. – she said, pointing at a sticker glued to her outfit like a name tag in an office. – You were locked in the cage next to mine. This one. – She said and pointed at the empty cage to her right.
-I… How long was I here? How did they get me? 
-You said your husband was on a work trip and you went to donate blood and you remember fainting on the chair and waking up here. You’d come here sometime before me. Around the time one of the prisoners died trying to escape. 
-Wait. Someone tried to escape? 
-Yeah… It was some time ago. Actually, it’d all started even earlier. There was a guy locked here. A clever guy. He passed the tests and we all thought he was released, but he came back. He became our guard. He was one of the few civilians that were taken, so they wanted him to practice his skills before sending him into the field, or at least, that’s what we, here, thought. One night, he grabbed her, JS, to take her for some tests. I didn’t see what happened, I just heard a scream and then I think she tried to run, but he got to her and I think hit her. It was his second day so he probably didn’t even know his own strength. He hit her too hard. She passed instantly. The guy never came back. 
-Did you know the guard? Are both men and women locked here?
-I just saw his name tag. It said MQ.
-MQ… Holy crap! Older guy, grey hair?
-Well, age doesn’t really matter once they put you into that machine but yeah, he looked like he was in his 40s or 50s.
-Okay, we need to hurry. Move away. – said Suzanne and grabbed the metal lock. It crumbled in her hands. – Quickly, we have to release the rest.
They walked from cage to cage and released over twelve prisoners. Next to the last cage was another door. The number on the door was “12”. 
-Wait, what’s in there? – asked Suzanne.
-The bodies. – said the prisoner from the last cage. – That’s where they keep them.
-Great. Everyone! We need to take the bodies. They don’t deserve to rot here, underneath this evil fortress. There’s fourteen of us here. How many bodies are there?
-I’ve seen eight. Maybe there’s more. – said another prisoner.
-Okay, let’s do it.
She kicked the door open and entered the room. There were nine bodies lying in chambers, whose goal was, presumably, to keep them alive. She immediately recognized the first body on the right. It was her own. The next one was Michelangelo’s. She took a deep breath and said:
-Quick. We need to get them and the guards outside and to a hospital. Everyone, carry them into the elevator.
It took them a while but managed to get the bodies close to the elevator. She pressed the button calling the elevator and it soon appeared with Michelangelo nervously pacing inside.
-Suzie, we have to get to the main office. We have to. Maxwell… He…
-Calm down. First, we need to get these people out of here. 
-No… You don’t understand. I… I killed…
-I know. – she said and he looked straight into her eyes. – I know that you were a guard here. But it wasn’t you. They must have changed you, they messed with your psyche, you can’t blame yourself.
-It doesn’t matter if I blame myself or not. The prisoner I killed, the woman, it… It was Maxwell’s wife.
-What?
-Yeah, she was locked here as well and there are explosives downstairs. I don’t know what to make of it. He’s been lying to us the whole time. There was no engine downstairs, only files. It could’ve been a mistake, but we need to get to the main office. See what’s going on.
-I agree. Let’s get these people to the main hall and go.
They entered the spacious elevator and pressed the “0” button to get to the ground floor. They released the prisoners there, looked at each other and as the door closed, pressed the button sending the elevator to the eighth floor.
They got out when the female voice in the elevator announced “Floor number eight. Main office.”. They were standing at the beginning of a long corridor with a golden door at the end. They could hear people arguing on the other side of the door, but the voices conversation was inaudible from far away. They rushed towards the office. When they were a few feet away from it they managed to hear a part of the conversation, which now turned into a screaming match:
-IT WASN’T MY FAULT! IT WAS HER! WE TRIED! – said an unfamiliar voice.
-I GAVE YOU EVERYTHING! AND YOU LET HER ESCAPE! AND THEN YOU RELEASED HER MURDERER INTO THE WORLD! YOU THOUGHT I WOULDN’T FIND OUT? – said Maxwell.
Michelangelo and Suzanne read the small note on the door saying “Jack Lipsky, CEO, Initio” and pressed the handle. They opened the door to see Maxwell pointing a gun at a man in his 40s with round glasses, wearing a Dolce & Gabbana suit. 
-MQ! SD! Thank god you’re here, we thought your systems killed you! Help me with this madman, he wants to kill you all!
-He’s lying! Haven’t you seen all he’s done? The prisoners, the bodies, this whole building and everyone in it deserves to be leveled.
-Maxwell, wait. We’ve seen your wife’s file, we know why you’re doing this. – said Michelangelo.
-Don’t you dare say her name out loud! You killed her and they let you walk out of here. They thought you didn’t mean it, but I know you did. I’ve seen who you became after the experiment. They think that just because you don’t remember it, you’ll never do it again, but I know you will. 
-Can’t you hear him? – said Lipsky. – He’s not here to save everybody, he’s here to kill me, kill you, and every breakthrough we may make in the future.
-Breakthrough? How many lives have your tests ended? These are the only two civilians that survived! And you think they’re happy?
-Yes, they are! – said the CEO and looked at them both. – When was the last time you felt pain, hunger, tiredness? All the bad feelings were erased from your life by our systems. We’ve made your lives better.
-Oh yeah? – said Maxwell. – And what about love? Suzanne, why do you think you’ve been going to a marriage counselor for the past few months? It’s because you haven’t been able to feel anything! And you, Michelangelo, why do you think you’ve been going out with friends and coming back home feeling nothing, no happiness, no joy, it’s because you can’t feel it, that’s what they did!
-Hey, hey, hey! – said Lipsky and lifted his hand in a peaceful gesture. – You think we’re the villains here? You, MQ, why do you think you’re here? He wanted you here to destroy you, he wants to blow up this entire building for what you did to his wife. He hacked our systems and discovered your real name, we’ve been using initials ever since. And… Suzanne, has he told you how he found you? – Maxwell’s smile faded and was replaced by a mixture of fear and anger. – He hacked our systems again but only found the name SD. And he needed to find you. He knew he couldn’t do the job with only MQ. But he didn’t know how to find you. But he knew one thing about the machines you’ve become. They can’t be killed. Haven’t you seen the obituaries in the papers recently? We have. Sarah Dermont. Sabina Domint. Stephanie Deer. Sophia Doquerty. Want me to go on? What do they have in common, huh, SD? HE! HE! – he said and pointed at Maxwell. – He’s killed them all! Poisoned them with cyanide, looking for you. If I’m the villain here, who is he?
-I am a savior! – Michelangelo, Suzanne, you know it’s true. You see that button on his desk? One click and this whole place goes boom. I’m sure you’ve seen the explosives. You know that’s what needs to happen. 
-And how do we get back to our bodies? 
-Press that button under the desk! – said Lipsky. – Just get me out of here, I can help you. He is the one that needs to be stopped. – he pointed at Maxwell but got hit in the head with the barrel of the gun. 
-Quiet! Listen to me, you know this is what he deserves, and deep down you know it’s what you deserve too. Look at yourselves! You think you’ll ever be able to live a normal life after what you’ve seen over the past few days? Join me and we’ll all make this disappear. – he told them firmly and stretched his hand towards them.
They looked at each other, then the desk, and nodded. 
-You’re right. This can’t happen again. But he’s right too. – said Suzanne and pointed at Lipsky. – You are mad. 
Before he could react, both of them sprinted towards the desk and pressed both the buttons. They heard the explosion underneath them, but a few seconds later it was much further away. They opened their eyes. They saw the sky. They were lying next to each other on a sidewalk about fifty feet away from the building, collapsing before their very eyes. They felt bruises all over their bodies and huge migraine. They were back. PB was standing next to them, her eyes locked on the Initio HQ. They looked around. Men and women in military attire were waking up all over the sidewalk, confused and scared.
-We’ve done it. – said Suzanne.
-Yes. Let’s get out of here. I don’t think the police will want to hear our story. – said Michelangelo and they both ran away from the site.
Without the mastermind behind the project, Initio never recovered. Police was searching through the rubble for days. They found Jack Lipsky on the second day. He was barely recognizable but DNA tests confirmed it was him. Maxwell Selwyn was found a day later by a local cop. He saw a leg sticking out from underneath a concrete block and pulled him out. 
-Hey! We’ve got a body over…
But before he could finish, he felt a hand around his throat, squeezing it with incredible strength. He tried calling for help, but couldn’t. The grip tightened and his throat exploded under the pressure of the stranger’s hand. Maxwell stood up, took off his destroyed t-shirt, and started walking away from the body. Another cop saw him leaving the scene and tried to run towards him but stopped seeing his fellow policeman’s body. He looked at the survivor’s back. Where there should have been skin, there was a large metal plate with letters written over it: SELWYN TECHNOLOGIES


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