– Or Holy Deus Ex, Batman! –
The plan is simple; write a short story based on Deus Ex, then kill the Batman. Also, this is based on a theoretical future, in which human augmentation with technology is possible and common. Danny is entirely fictional. The initial-ed people are all real people, but I’m not putting their real names here.
Name: Emily Milner
Family: Spouse (Male, 36), Children ( Male and Female, 5)
Known Occupation: Author, Publishing Writer/Editor
Active Augs: Enhanced Rebreather, Enhanced Legs, Icarus Landing System, Smart Vision, Social Enhancer
Status: Under Surveillance
It’s raining. Again. It’s been raining a lot in Chicago lately, not that I’m complaining. It’s the wind that gets me…and the cold, but I took that risk when I moved to Chicago with Danny seven years ago. The midwest is only ever cold. So much for global warming.
The kids are in bed still; I don’t know when in hell I picked up a 6:30 wake up time. El would be horrified. I’ll need to be quiet if I’m going to go out now – Danny’ll be up in fifteen, so the kids’ll be fine. I just need to get out of the house for a bit. Maybe call D or El or H. Just…out of the apartment. Not enough space here.
I throw a glance over at the wall. It takes a second, but I can see Kay and Neil’s sleeping forms through the wall. Still throws me off, these Eye-Know augs; seems like yesterday EL, D, and I were casually freaking out about this sort of thing in the lounge back in Blacksburg, and now…well, now we have them. Last I checked, D got the “lungs” he needed a few weeks ago. Haven’t heard from him since, but that’s normal for D.
Ah, there it is – aug use head ache. Completely expected, and not at all pleasant. I need the reminder sometimes, though, that these augs don’t fix everything – the pulse thrumming against my forehead is a decent enough memory jog. I’ll need to see my doctor about those tomorrow.
I reach the stairs in a matter of minutes and look down -no one appears to be around or up; time to have a bit of fun. Our apartment is on the fifth floor, and I can totally make that jump. The orange glow of the Icarus landing system is…weird, but I suppose it gets the job done. Slows everything down a bit, though I think that could just be some weird psychological thing. I am essentially free falling to the first floor and slowing my decent down enough to prevent damage. I land as silently as possible, what with all the goddamned noise this system makes. The lady at the front desk looks a little alarmed, but that’s normal. Most things alarm her.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Milner,” she says, her voice shaking a bit. “You’re up early.”
“Just going on a walk, Amy, chill.” I smile wanly, and she manages a polite, fake smile in return. I really should try to talk to her sometime, because you would think she’d be used to my ridiculousness after three months. It may require the Social Enhancer, though, which is what holds me back. I try to reserve that for working book deals and contracts. Outside of the office, it shouldn’t be necessary. Amy watches me walk quietly through the doors, which is totally not weird at all. I pull my flannel tighter around my torso. It’s cold, and the rain has been reduced to a drizzle. There’s a balcony in front of my building, which looks over a sort of park. I lean over the rail and watch the drizzle hit the fountain in the center of the park.
The city looks ridiculous from here, a forest of concrete, steel, and light. I haven’t see the stars since we took the kids out to see them a year ago. That’s ludicrous – taking a vacation to see the goddamned stars. We had to go pretty far to see them, too; about 50 miles out to reduce the light pollution enough to see anything.
I pull out a compact mirror from my back jean pocket, and just…look at myself. Objectively, I suppose nothing much has changed, out side of the scars. My hair is still short, close cropped, and light brown. My eyebrows are still wildly unkempt. Eyes remain brown, despite the augmentations. Nose still looks like a beak.
What gets me is the scarring. The strange web starts at my forehead and spreads down to my left eye. There’s a nasty line on the right side of my mouth from a fight I got into two years back. There’re scars on my lower back from Icarus, on my hips from the legs (sleek, white metal legs), and across my chest from the rebreather. Nothing and everything has changed about me in the last three years.
It bothers me, I suppose, as much as the light pollution of Chicago does. Enough to register, but not enough for me to worry about it constantly. It’s bothering me now, in the early hours of the morning, when I used to worry about things in college. It’s causing my chest to contract uncomfortable ways; panic attack, or the beginnings of one. God, I need a drink.
“Oi, Emily.” My info link knocks me out of my self-indulgent reverie. It’s EL. What the hell is she doing up?
“EL? How’d you get this frequency?” I answer, smirking at the inside joke.
“Ancient chinese secret. Now listen.” I can hear the sleep deprived delirium in her voice. She’s been up researching, or perhaps surfing the internet instead of sleeping. Typical.
“Haven’t gone to bed yet, eh?” I smile. “What is it now, uranium or new transhumanism things?”
“Oh, new Augs.” She says. “I researched new eye enhancements all night. Been running on…four hours of sleep today. Hey, what time is it?”
“My time? 6:30.” I say.
I roll my eyes. “Scream at me about the new augs around 3 p.m. my time, I’ll be back from work around then.”
“Alright, fine.” El sighs. “Just know you’re encouraging me to stay up until midnight. Have you heard from A or D in a while?”
“Nah. D is just on radio silence, and A is probably out doing something…questionable.” I huff out a laugh. “How’s H?”
“Oh, she’s good. She’s coming to visit soon, so we can have story conversations.”
I smile. “Sounds great. Heard from N?”
“Isn’t he doing…confidential stuff? Something with robots, I think.”
“Well, that’s specific.” I snort. “Last I talked to him, he said airplanes. Just airplanes. I don’t know what that’s supposed to tell me.”
“Yeah, well, that’s N for you.” El says. “How are you doing, then?”
“Oh, you know, hanging in there.” I sigh. “Still getting used to my augs, and it’s proving…weird.”
“Well, talk to me if you need anything, Kay?” El pauses for a second. “I can ship you tea and hugs!”
I laugh a bit and push off from the rail. “Thanks, El.” I turn and walk back into the apartment building. “Promise me you’ll sleep tonight, kay? Sleep deprivation is not helpful.”
“Your mom’s not helpful.”
El disconnects. I’m still uncomfortable with my lot in life, but it’ll get better. It has to. I can get through these worries with my friends and Danny. Now, the kids should be up in half an hour, and I need to make breakfast.