Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day Seven-Fifty-Eight: For your own good

“Save me,” Dragomir said, not a question. “Save me. From what, eh? Save me from what?”

The voice seemed almost to shrug. “The obvious answer is the Non. They will sweep over this world and obliterate all that is good and decent. Imbalance is inevitable so long as they exist.”

“Pfffft!” Dragomir stuck a middle finger up at the white void, which, he realized, was no longer bothering his eyes. Nevertheless, his headache lingered. “I might not be all fancy book learned ’n shit, but I know a generalization when I hear one, bud. I’m not so stupid as I used to be. Not every Non is a crazy maniac.”

The backdrop shifted. Dragomir immediately recognized the fall of his hometown, Villeinville, as a horde of cloud-white Non figures enveloped the settlement’s flimsy palisades. 

“Yeah, well…” Dragomir shoved his finger up again and turned away, not wanting to watch his old home be destroyed a second time.

“It does not matter whether they are all monsters or not,” the voice continued. “They are currently commanded by Kierkegaard the Shunt. He has been labelled an extreme threat, one who leads through fear. He has more than enough power to keep the Non on the warpath. We must destroy him, and the potential for more monsters like him.”

“Monsters like me,” Dragomir murmured.

“Biologically speaking, yes,” the voice agreed. A disturbing satisfaction seemed to carry through Grayson’s side of the voice. “Monsters like you. Yet there is a solution for that, too, which brings us back to the original point: we can save you. Though you must help us.”

Tired of talking, Dragomir hugged his legs and waited for the voice to continue. He rocked in place, noticing that his pliable Non skin was furrowing up into a small heap against his butt. He wondered if warm candy toffee ever felt quite so dismal, then further wondered why he’d wondered such a weird thing.

“You complained of a headache earlier,” the voice began. “Does it yet linger?”

“It yet does,” Dragomir grunted. “Thanks so much for askin’.”

“You may believe that is our work, but it is not.” The voice paused. “You have had such headaches before, correct?”

Dragomir rolled his eyes, concocting a sarcastic response, but he stopped himself. Thinking back, he realized that he had been suffering more frequent - and sharper - headaches in the last few months. He realized, too, that the headaches were typically at their worst whenever -

“They are the fault of the Catastrophe,” the voice cut in. “Your body, strange though it may be, is not suited to using a glitch. No creature, living or dead, can tolerate the destructive effects of something like the Catastrophe forever. Even we can only hope to temporarily contain and direct its power. If you continue to use the Catastrophe it will degrade your code, eventually resulting in your destruction. Even if you never use the Catastrophe again, it will, one day, kill you - and your code will be too corrupted for you to ever return. A save point will not, eheh, save you.”

Manipulative though the voice might be, Dragomir realized that it was, probably, telling the truth. He’d suspected, even in the crimson haze that always came with using the Catastrophe, that doing so was somehow not good for his body. The voice’s cryptic explanations didn’t help his comprehension of the phenomenon at all, but he understood ‘kill you’ just fine.

“Gotcha.” He shrugged, a little helplessly. “So, what? You gonna suck it outta me, or something? Not sure how comfortable I am with rats, or regulators, or whatever the fuck you things are, havin’ it. You lot are bastards. I can tell a bastard when I see one, and I’ve seen plenty of you up ’til now. I’m practiced.”

“Perhaps,” the voice conceded. “But you will give us the Catastrophe, because you do not wish to die. Your dedication to life is admirable, even if you think you want to die. All living things wish to continue living.”

More generalizations, Dragomir thought. He shrugged again.

“There is a greater incentive, however.” The voice became smug. “You are part Non. To us, that means you are fully Non. We do not allow Non to live, and so, by our dictates, you must be killed with the rest of your kin.”

“Great.” Though he tried to sound sarcastic, Dragomir’s mouth instantly dried.

“We can change that.” For the first time, the voice full-on chortled. Its ill-humour made Dragomir shudder, though the word ‘change’ also sent a spark of excitement up his body. “We can remove the Non elements in your body and make you into a normal human when we pull the Catastrophe from your code. Every glitchy element of your existence will be purged, and you will, for all intents and purposes, be just another man.

Dragomir bit his rubbery lip, eyes wide. He rocked back and forth all the stronger, skin expanding and shrinking unnaturally. It was an odd, unpleasant sensation, one he knew he’d never get used to. For all his talk of generalizations, of not branding every Non as a monster, he thought of their very nature as monstrous. He did not want to be a monster.

“… can you actually do that?”

Libby would not want him to be a monster. She would reject him, just as she’d rejected Eve. Dragomir felt, down to his core, that this was a fundamental truth of her personality.


She’ll reject me, he thought. She’ll go for him instead. ‘cause… ‘cause he’s…

The voice waited.

Dragomir had no idea whether or not the voice was telling the truth. It could well have been lying, simply to get him to agree to its terms. Lead an army, become a human. Sounds good - if it can be done. Dragomir doubted that the voice could manage any such thing. Yet even a chance so remote, so likely to be a false hope, no hope at all, was better than doing nothing. So, when it came down to it, Dragomir only needed about a minute and a half to think over his position.

Somewhere to his right, as the white background faded, a door opened.

“It’s a deal, then,” Dragomir said. “Keep your mouths shut ’n I’ll do it.”

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