Player Two

Author : Duncan Shields

I wake up. It’s dark. I’m in chains.

I’m in a prison cell. Like in a castle. Like in the middle ages.

Straw on the floor, mortared brick stonework, metal door, the whole bit. My lenses adjust. Clearly this is a construct. Incongruously, there is a mirror on the wall. I shuffle over to see what state I’m in. The chains are heavy and make a ridiculous amount of noise.

I take a look in the mirror to see how things are.

Giant extended binocular lenses refocus and adjust in my reflection where my eyes should be. There is no skin on the bottom half of my face. Just white teeth and bright red muscle stretched over strong jaws. My nostril slits purse wetly at the smell in the place. There’s a ruff of long stiff bright green feathers above my huge distended black glassed-over eye sockets. I bring my fingerknives up and run them gently over the ruin of my face. My long white limbs have been left alone. There are still six of them. My bone white skin has the texture and dryness of cork. Old scars criss cross my entire frame.

Everything looks normal. At least they didn’t screw with that. I look out the window to see when and where I am this time. I hope it’s not Salmento. I don’t know if I could handle that again. I see the moons outside in what I suddenly realize is a night time sky. My lenses adjust. I think the hardest part is the disorientation.

I shrug and my skin goes transparent.

I look inside myself to see if the parts of the weapon are still there. They are. I relax marginally and my skin goes opaque again. All I have to do know is get out of here, find another Korridor, assemble and bail. I’ll need some meat to do that, though, so I have to sit tight and wait for a visitor.

All the prisons I’ve ever been to have guards. Even in the distant future. Automation just never takes place. The variables mix with the cost and it turns out the best and cheapest way to police people is to hire a bunch of other people. Lucky for me.

I kick back. I overlay a game in the center of my vision and turn off my corpus callosum connecting the two halves of my brain and play Ruse with myself, waiting for the biology of this building to come to me. Maybe a guard but hopefully someone important. An officer or a regal representative or something. Those are always tastier.

I will win.

I’m always one step closer. I’ll stay ahead. They’ll be sorry they picked me.

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