Operation Stingray                        Part 5 // PG. 4 of 5

     

     “It's time for you to see something,” Dreiser said.

     The doors opened and we entered a massive, dome-shaped room with a raised dais in the center. The dais had a semicircle of keyboards and control panels around it. I looked around and saw that the inner surface of the dome was covered in hundreds and hundreds of dark monitor screens.

     Dreiser stepped onto the dais and tapped a key. One of the monitors lit up. A young woman looked into the screen as she applied her makeup. A female voice was speaking softly, in rapid, broken sentence fragments. She talked about her classes, her mother, the laundry, and a television show, all simultaneously.

     The image was odd. It was clear in the center, but fuzzy on the edges. It flickered dark every few seconds. Suddenly it panned downward to show a bathroom sink. A hand picked up a tube of lipstick and the image flicked back upward. The woman began applying the lipstick. I realized she was looking in a bathroom mirror. Was she wearing a camera somehow? It was almost as though I was looking through her--

I gasped as I realized what I was seeing. Dreiser grinned. “The first generation of Stingrays were quite limited.” he said. “They allowed us to transmit commands and little else. But the newest versions are wonders of technological innovation. Now not only can we transmit whatever we like, but we can observe and manipulate all brain activity as well.”

     He typed a command into the keyboard. The woman looked into the mirror and her expression hardened. Her inner voice became grim and anguished. She said she hated herself, her life was painful and meaningless, she would always be alone. The woman's face twisted--a film of moisture distorted the image. She looked at a razor blade. She picked it up slowly with trembling fingers and held it to her wrist.

     “Imagine,” Dreiser said as the monitor faded to white. “Stingray antennas covering every inch of the globe. Imagine countless minds at our disposal, ready and willing to perform whatever tasks we choose. Imagine wielding complete omniscience and omnipotence over all of humanity from this very platform. What is Phase Three? My dear boy, Phase Three is nothing less than the power of God.”

     He touched a key and the entire dome of monitors lit up. I looked through the eyes of people all over the world. A man shopping in a crowded market. A doctor performing an operation. A woman bicycling down a desert trail. A fighter pilot in the sky. An infant lying in a crib.

     “You believe that you can lead the people in a revolution against us,” Dreiser said.      “Tell me, what will you do when we have six billion cameras showing us everything we need to see? When every living creature serves us and their thoughts become tools we use to enforce our will? What will you do when we delete the word for 'resistance' from human memory with a keystroke?”

 

     I stood in a white room. The world was thick and distorted, like I was underwater. Was I dreaming?

     Brian sat on the floor near the opposite wall. His head was down and his hands clutched the back of his neck. I called to him but the sound was lost in the curdled air. I ran to him, my slow motion body heavy and aching. I called again. I needed to warn him about Phase Three and the danger facing the world. I finally reached him. He looked up.

     His eyes were completely black. His face was a grimace of fear and pain. He shrieked like a frightened animal and bounded away on all fours. He cowered in the corner of the room and screamed.

     Dreiser's voice whispered in my ear. “Animals,” he said.

     I walked to Brian and begged him to snap out of it. I searched his eyes for any trace of understanding or intelligence. Any trace of my best friend. But his eyes held nothing but primal fear, the unthinking look of a beast in danger. The look in his eyes was like a claw hammer to my heart. He had been broken. He was gone.

     “You are alone,” Dreiser said.

     I sank down to the floor. Yes, I was alone. Totally, helplessly alone. Dreiser was right. He had taken everything from me. Everyone I cared about. Every hope I had. Everything.

     No. Not everything. I had one thing left. I had the rage that burned in my chest when I thought of his face. I had the image of his bloodied corpse that hung in my mind's eye like a mandala. I had my hate. I would find a way, somehow, to get my revenge on him. And if I couldn't, then I would kill him every time I closed my eyes. That was the one thing he couldn't take from me. The one thing that would be mine forever.

 

     “We've reached the end of our time together,” Dreiser said.

 

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H. K. Reyes

SCIENCE FICTION & HORROR