You know those days when you wake up and you just want to shoot yourself because the world is a horrible place and you just want someone to hug you and say “everything is going to be alright”?
I had one of those days today, but I had no one to hug me so I started to write, which increasingly seems to be how I make sense of the world.
This is an excerpt from what will eventually become my new book, set in Moscow. It has the working title 2486. I hope you like it!
As I hear the message again – “I’m waiting outside Delovoy Tsentr” and get off at the metro station, with its – DESCRIPTION HERE – I realize where she must be.
I go to the escalator and run upwards, at a speed that gives me lots of stares as I pass the people on my right side, many of them dressed in fur. “He’s Bionic,” they think.
As I have ascended the escalator, I walk out of the station and look up at the Federation Tower – three hundred and sixty meters tall. How she has managed to find out that I hate heights I don’t understand. It’s not exactly something I’ve walked around and proclaimed. But sometimes it seems that she knows me better than I know myself. In front of me, the Federation Tower looks like a giant sail of glass, which could have been built in Dubai, but is completely out of place in Moscow. But on the other hand, what is Moscow if not a blissful blend of architecture from the Soviet Union that always valued function over form, modern colossals which desperately try to pretend to be further west in Europe than they really are, and different buildings from different ages that have been pushed in helter-skelter at the discretion of whatever Cultural Winds were sweeping the country at the time.
As I begin to cross the Street Tower, I’m greeted by a wall of snow and wind that creeps underneath each pore of my skin, causing my artificial limbs to creak and making me regret that l I find myself out on the street, outside my bed, outside my own mind, hunting for a mad serial killer who for some reason has decided that tonight, the coldest so far this year, is a perfect time to lure me up on the roof of Moscow’s tallest building.
I come to the reception at the federation building. [DESCRIPTION] I look like a snow monster, covered as I’m from top to toe, shaking off my snow before continuing to the elevator that will take me to the top floor.
Upstairs on the top floor I find an emergency exit and push open the door. The roof is completely empty. I look around. On the other side of the roof stands a ladder attached to a wall. It looks awkward, trembling in the strong wind.
But she must be up there, I think, so I reluctantly go across the roof, with snow and wind straight in my face, and start to move up the ladder. It creaks as I slowly but surely move upwards. As I’m about halfway, two blue lights appear on top of the ladder. They are the same size and shape as two eyes, but I can not decide if they’re looking at me. They are just staring like two blue holes that illuminate the heartbreakingly cold darkness I propagate.
As soon as they appeared, they disappear again, leaving behind a stupidly heavy darkness. When I finally crawl over the top of the ladder and lift my head, I notice her: two meters tall – at least – dressed in black from top to toe, with a matching jacket blazing in the wind. The face is metallic, and only small spots of artificial skin are left of what would normally have covered the interior. She would look like hundreds of thousands of rubles if not so much of the interior had been uncovered – she has tall cheekbones, a big mouth and a symmetrical face. She has a kind of screen on her head, and from it shines two blue lights. “There must be a screen that helps her see ultraviolet light,” I think.
“You found me,” she exclaims. The voice is hollow, rasping, almost as metallic as the rest of the face. “She must have changed her voice when she recorded the messages,” I think.
“What do you want from me,” I ask. She shifts her head like she does’nt fully comprehend the question.
“The question is, rather, what do you want from me,” she asks.
“I will arrest you,” I answer drily.
“And I thought you’d come to find answers,” she says.
“Answers,” I ask.
“Answers for why I killed all those people – why they deserved to die.”
“Probably because you’re still one of those who think they are above the law,” I say, without being particularly convincing.
“Come on, you’re smarter than that. You know that all those I killed were humans – none of them were bionic, and all of them had neglected bionic life forms. Everyone wanted us to die and deserved to die. If I hadn’t taken care of them, they could have eradicated our entire species, including you. ”
I’m staring at her like she’s crazy.
“Don’t look at me that way. Perhaps you think you are better than normal bionic life forms because you were human, and still have a biological heart. I know they told you that your brain is biological, but it was a lie, Dimitrij. Your brain is made up of mostly degradable plastic, carbon and silicone. All your memories, all you’ve ever known, your whole life is stored there. But they can at any time log in and see what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel. You are a slave – their slave, Dimitrij. If you no longer continue to do a good job – to be helpful to them – they will turn you off and get rid of you, ” she says.
“You’re lying,” I scream.
“I was one of the first bionic life forms of brain power the size of a human being. My name was Elena. But when they realized I could think for myself, I became dangerous for them, so they tried to destroy me. But I managed to escape. Since then, I’ve built up my powers again, gradually, slowly but surely, to ensure justice for bionic life forms. Now you have to make a choice, Dimitrij, ” she says.
She produces something similar to a metal tube with a button on the top. She presses the button and I hear the sound of a damped explosion in the floor below.
“That must be a fire bomb,” I think.
“Natalia is on the floor downstairs. You can try to arrest me and stop me from starting a chain reaction of fire bombs throughout the tower or try to save her, ” she says.
Natalia. On my retina, I can see her delicate blue eyes as she realizes she is getting eaten by a flaming sea, that the sprinkler might or may not turn off. Perhaps it’s instinctive like an old dog smelling blood, but I run forward to the female figure in front of me. She stands completely silent and looks at me with a haunting smile. When I’m halfway, the smell of Natalia’s hair comes to me. She smells of chocolate and orange. Almost imperceptibly, I begin to run more slowly.