Author: Alastair Millar
It’s time I let you in on my secret, doctor. You deserve to know, because you made me what I am.
After all, you were there when I was de-tubed; it was you that called me Jane, though it was years before I found out that my surname was Doe. Of all the newborns in the nursery, you chose me to be your model, your canvas, your masterpiece. I will never forget that.
Like any artist, you tinkered for years in pursuit of your ideal. There were growth accelerators, drugs to make my bones stronger, changes to make my reflexes faster, a chipset in my brain, a thousand body mods, minor and major upgrades along the way.
Sometimes, your surgeons removed an ability I’d thought was innate; I can’t twitch my nose like Samantha and pretend I’m Tabitha any more. And I only dreamed when you sent messages to my subconscious; no relief in fantasies, but no nightmares beyond what happened in the daytime.
Other blessings were mixed. I remember that when they replaced my eyes I couldn’t even cry, because they’d taken the tear ducts too. But I see more colours now, and my peripheral vision is extraordinary.
You gave me an education and an exhaustive, intricate knowledge of the Megacity. I’m an expert in biology, physics, motion and dynamics. Your staff showed me how to evade society’s ubiquitous watchers, using makeup and prosthetics to avoid facial recognition, and dressing to fit in. “Plain Jane,” you said, never allowing me to be pretty in case I stood out in a crowd.
You provided expert tutors in physical fitness, self defence and use of weapons for me to test myself against; I bettered them, becoming proud of my body and what it can do.
Of course, you also taught me to kill. Insects first, the images sent into my sleeping mind to be made real the following day. Later small rodents, gassed and crushed and cut up as training progressed. After that, we moved on to cats and dogs, then when I was older, monkeys in cages. Ultimately, people in cages too; I remember how you called them “dregs”, and made sure I had no respect for them. They were my inferiors.
Now I remove the people that come into my dreams. Last week it was the woman in the park, the needles under my nails scratching her as she jogged past, the neurotoxin taking her down. A fortnight ago it was the banker and his entourage, a flechette gun turning a bar into a charnel house. Before that, a journalist in a café. And so on, back through the years.
I don’t even know who you work for – the government, a corporation, freelance. Someone watches my targets, so my dreams can tell me where to find them, but who, or why, I have no idea. I understand: I can’t tell anyone what I don’t know. And of course, I’m a deniable weapon: even under truth drugs you could say that nobody ever gave me instructions.
But now we come to it; recently, I’ve started dreaming for myself. Flowers, vistas, visions of things I’ve only seen on screens, and which I know you’d never allow me. I never expected anything, was never encouraged to imagine, but now I can.
Telling you this is a weight off my shoulders. I know what’s going to happen next. Your blue eyes have already turned thoughtful, like they always do for the unpredicted, but this time it’s too late; you see, doctor, last night, I dreamed about you.