Author: Surina Venkat

“Your nanobots are infighting,” my doctor tells me over the phone. It makes sense now – the sudden blackouts, the locked limbs, the dark red bruises that snake my body. The doctor’s voice is tight but careful, in the way of someone who’s used to delivering bad news. He tells me he’s never seen this before and my respect for him increases; unfamiliarity doesn’t phase him, even when he’s confronted with something as unordinary as this.

“Come to the lab for more tests,” he says. It isn’t a suggestion but an order. The implications of the nanobots’ malfunction are not good, especially since they’ve just started injecting babies. I’m a walking, talking PR disaster. I’m not stupid, no matter what the bots seem to think. It appears I don’t have a personality disorder as suspected – I feel vindicated in the realization. No one had believed me when I said I could hear voices in my head.

They’re whispering at me, even now, even as I hang up the phone. You’re our home, my left ear murmurs. You’re our prison, the other side says. Or maybe I’m imagining it. Or I could be hearing it. They can alter cognitive function, warp my senses so I conjure voices that aren’t audible to anyone else. Is that what’s been happening? Did they know they were slowly driving me insane? They have the ability to measure cortisol levels, they must have.

I pause. The whispers don’t. I feel dizzy but I don’t get a moment’s peace. I can’t, not with the them inside me. Or am I nothing but their container? Can both be true? I lean back against the kitchen counter. Take a deep breath.

My body won’t be my own for much longer. I don’t want to trapped in it like they are. I know how being trapped feels because one side won’t shut up about it. I look at my arms and imagine I can see them swimming inside me. My entire left arm is red and bruised and it’s all their fault.

I realize: My body is already not mine. It hasn’t been mine for a long time, longer than anyone else has realized. I don’t want it anymore, not like this.

I drop the arm to the side and use the other hand to pick up a steak knife.