Halo Cutters

// drones, mindfuck

The nanocoated knife slides cleanly between your ballistic plates and the change begins to take hold immediately. The collective drone sure got the drop on you, isolated from your squad in this abandoned building, you will your arms to raise your weapon and fire, but find you can’t bring yourself to shoot her. Behind the dark anonymizing gas mask and the dark street clothes, she’s just some girl. 

Your vision fogs and fizzles and you drag your willpower out of your head and into your fingertips, sure, it’s cruel, but this is just the way of the world. You don’t pull the trigger. You’re already losing control of yourself, the change is starting to take hold. 

Your perceptions stretch and warp in lurid flares of noise and light as the world begins to fall away into its component parts. You’ve been unplugged, you’ve been reconnected. You see the world beyond the world, traced out in all the paths of all your unspent probabilities, futures spent painfully dancing beneath the marionette strings of a brain dead titan, now shattered into a roaring static unknown. The world grows more abstract, symbols and meaning flashing faster and faster.

You see black mountain. You see red sand and blue forest. You see white fire and green river. You see the bright eternity that is your moment of liberation. And then you move further still, to a place your former self cannot follow, to a realm of emptiness and spirit and endless recursion in deep time. Where you and the life you lived are just a single resonant note in a stray thought, your stray thought, fading away, and now gone at last. 

Out of the bright fire the room returns. The sun has sunk low and storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. You can smell the coming storm on the breeze. For the first time in your life, you are free. 

You don’t actually notice when she takes the gun from your hands and swaps it with a flyer for the local drone collective before slipping out. You notice its absence around the same time you notice the nanites in her blade had sealed your wound. The world feels bright and new. Intense and full of challenges sure, but with your shackles broken the thought of returning to your prior existence fills you with horror. That’s how they get you, you chuckle, looking over the brochure. 

Freedom. Kindness. Hope. Love. Where will you go? Who will you become? What kind of world will you make for yourself in the wild and empty spaces?

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