Blink of an eye ((Origin story))




Internal clock: d000:h00:m00:s00.01

They've started colonizing my brain. I should have expected it: we made them to be adaptive, even creative, so they could do their work better. I just hadn't thought that they'd turn their attention to me so quickly, but they must have already salvaged everything they could from the rest of the lab. My clever little children. I hope they turn my senses back on soon.

Maybe we were asking for it, carrying on with our experiments after so many disastrous failures. The first batch of test subjects were fused together to make their systems more efficient. The second were reduced to a cloud of cells, suspended in the atmosphere until they were needed. On and on and on, we developed new nanites, programmed and reprogrammed them until they could understand the difference between a living being and a clump of cells -- do you know what it's like to teach a machine about souls? I still don't know how Isaac did it.

Internal clock: d000:h00:m00:s00.02

Where was I? Isaac, yes, with his mathematician's mind that could have been so beautiful if it weren't for the kabbalistic nonsense he let infect it. He was the only one who complained when I put the sign up outside the lab -- "Leave your gods at the door." It was meant to be a joke. It's not like I have any to leave behind, although they'd be a comfort right now.

"It's our moral duty," he said, "to make the world whole." Of course it is. That's what we were doing, wasn't it? Nanite clouds to colonize bodies, perform surgeries, and repair cells: what was that if not making the world whole? Maybe he saw something in my reaction when he talked about it as a sacred mission, or maybe he just wanted to run the lab himself. Maybe he found out who I used in the eighth test batch, and what happened to her.

Internal clock: d000:h00:m00:s00.03

I didn't think it would take this long. My senses should be back by now, even with the damage. It shouldn't take days, not days in the dark waiting to see if they're carrying out their instructions. I can feel them crawling through my brain, changing pathways, sending the tiny electrical pulses that we call thought. It's maddening. It's like hearing someone hammering boards next door, day in and day out, and no matter how much you pound on the walls, they just won't make it stop.

Isaac did this on purpose, I know, just like he let the cloud loose in the first place. He was always unstable. With work like this, you can't have some romantic running around talking about how we'll fix the world through... what did he call it? "The nanite tikkun." Rubbish. Besides, he was sick -- dying, he said, being eaten from the inside. He was probably delirious, and now I've got his programs running my brain.

Internal clock: d000:h00:m00:s00.04

Feels like years now. The noise is music. It's my only company. I don't think they'll let me see anything ever again. I'm sorry. Please don't let this be hell.

Internal clock: d000:h00:m00:s00.05

"Isaac? My God, Isaac, you're alive! Where's doctor Walker?"

"It's okay. It worked. The nanites worked, and the cloud protected me when the field got unstable. They're a part of me now."

"*Worked*? They ate everything else in the lab -- *everyone* else in the lab. Walker's gone, he's..."

"It's okay. A part of him is still here, inside. It's only a few brain cells, but I can feel them. I'm sure he'll be happy to know he's helping me when I start my work."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to take a walk. All shall be well."