Author : Jordan Whicker

Wake up, Pjotr.

My eyes snap open. I am awake. Adrenaline courses through my body and my eyes flit around my bedroom, eager to locate the source of the voice before I alert it to the fact that I’m no longer asleep. There’s no one here.

“Fuck,” I whisper into the pregnant darkness of the predawn world.

My body uncoils and I roll over onto my back, riding out the jarring hum of a body coming down from its own blend of crank. I boot up my HUD – the world seems foggy without it – and check the downloads tab. A tingling of excitement runs down my spine as I see that the package I began seeding last night has completed. A mod that – if the chatter is to be believed – will change the way we perceive the world. It’s illegal, of course: a legacy of the drug wars. Not to mention that if they actually cracked down on every illegal modder they’d run out of cells to constrain the wicked masses.

This alarm clock mod my mom installed under my admin login, for instance. Under the Preserving Inalienable Cyber Rights Act I am guaranteed exclusive access to and use of my admin account. My mother has made it clear what she thinks of her Inalienable Right to induce suffering and culture dismay. And this cheap-ass alarm clock can’t even get my name right. Peter. Some hackjob she got off the Russian penny markets, no doubt. Pathetic.

I walk into 4th hour geometry as the tone is sounding. Hood up, head down, I head straight for my desk at the back of the class. I slump into the seat and resume my Sisyphean meditation on the faux wooden desk in front of me that is now dancing with an assortment of shapes and formulas that I look at but do not see. This facade of fastidious concentration assuages the teacher (what was his name?) and frees me up to spend time navigating my HUD, which I begin to do immediately.

I bring the package to the front and give it clearance to assemble. Immediately the mod begins executing billions of operations – the initial stirrings of a coded entity’s existence. After a handful of seconds and a furious sequence of alterations to the source code of my HUD, the mod’s icon floats suddenly, irrevocably, at the center of my vision. KLB502, it reads. Karium LithoBios number five hundred and two. The sum of our efforts. My heart quickening, I open the mod.

And nothing happens. I shift in my seat, to see if the mod’s effects are reticent; I’ve heard of mods that alter base level cerebral processes. But there’s no discernible difference. Nothing has changed. A panicked anxiety begins to constrict my heart and the dread of squandered anticipation and hope and promise begins to seep into the periphery of my brain. I look desperately around the room, silently pleading for some revelation to appear in this drab, unidimensional existence that is my life. I want to scream.

“Fuck,” I whisper to myself, for the second time that day.

Stand up, Pjotr.

And then I am standing, although I do not remember leaving my seat. The teacher has stopped lecturing and the other kids in the class have all turned to look at me; his mouth is moving but he’s not making any sound. I tilt my head to look at him – why is he mouthing words at me?

Kill them, Pjotr.

And I take my first step forward.


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