Author : Duncan Shields

It wasn’t the blood or their still-staring eyes that did it. It was the smile I could feel fading on my cheeks. My throat hurt like I’d screamed myself hoarse and the muscles in my face hurt like I’d been laughing for hours. Everyone in the department was dead except for me. That kind of narrowed down the list of suspects.

I sat down hard and ran slippery hands through my hair and tried to ignore how red the room was. I tried to figure out what had happened.

I was promoted to Special Ops Admin back in ’18. I remember thinking what a juicy bit of promotion that was. I couldn’t wait to have all that access to national secrets. I was a bit naïve for someone so intelligent.

Let’s back up.

Every morning, I download my brain. Every night, I upload it to the computer. I am two people that are identical in every way except that during the day at work, one of me knows what only 8 other people in the world know; every single unclassified, need to know, off the books, super secret mission ever. My head is a filing cabinet along with the others. We sort, update and access the world’s secret files for people who, quite simply, need to know. We found it couldn’t be left to computers alone so we were chosen. We’re smart people with the right kinds of brains to be wired up and bright.

At the end of my shift and also before I go for lunch, the back of my head is jacked into the computer and the security-sensitive contents of the day’s events are encrypted and uploaded into the main computer. My work week is basically a series of lunch hours as far as my memory is concerned peppered with some scattered fragments of banal conversation that the memory techs think are allowable.

I was picked for my absurdly high IQ and specific brain makeup by my bosses here at the CityMP. I suppose whatever chose me for this attack picked me for the same reason. Or maybe it was just roulette.

According to the clock on the wall, my day started twenty minutes ago.

There are 8 bodies in the room. I am the only one left. Something must have hacked into my brain while I was off duty and lay dormant, waiting for me to download it in the morning.

I’m piecing it together when I feel my eyes squint and my cheeks tighten with a smile that doesn’t belong to me. My hands fly up to my throat and break my own neck before I can even scream.

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