The Locus, The Janus

By The Jotter

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Stan's grocery cart hit the cardboard display holding potato chips at the end of the aisle and knocked it over, spilling sour cream and onion potato chip bags onto a small family in matching orange t-shirts that couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way. A couple bags split open, and the family's kids sat down to spoil their dinner. It was unfortunate and Stan should have learned by now to keep his eyes forward, in the direction he was heading, but he had seen a woman that was his type (i.e., breathing) and that chance sighting had kept his eyes looking backwards. Not that Stan would ever have a chance at knowing that woman. Stan didn't have the confidence to talk to women. Ever since he had had a chance to say something clever in the 7th grade to Lisa Bronkowski, when instead of spouting something witty and worthy of a boy in say, the 9th grade (a grade 7th grade girls like Lisa Bronkowski looked up to), he accidentally hiccuped and burped (ironically, a sour cream and onion chip flavor) in the same moment. From this traumatic event onward, Stan's days as a smooth-talking ladies man were over, not only in McKinley Junior High but in his adult life. In fact, his days had lasted as long as it took to burp, and Stan did not even have the backup talent to be a champion long-winded burper. As it was, he was probably working on the world record for the longest period of time without saying something meaningful to a member of the opposite gender ever. He hated it; he clenched his fists after missing opportunity after opportunity, and went to bed eternally mad at his debilitating personality which was filled with cowardice. It was this latest grocery store incident which got Stan to take action. This was to search in the information cloud one night, in the privacy of his home, in front of the computer screen (which, for all the world cared was behind a wall, something for which Stan was thankful). Here, Stan felt comfortable. Here, Stan was master, and his fingers flew over the keys, his computer screen flashing site after site to him in a rapid series reminiscent of the movie Clockwork Orange and the main character Alex being forced to watch movies with his eyes propped open. Only Stan was a willing watcher, and the master of the images, and a consummate consumer of information. needed help. 2 Indeed, he was a bloodhound for what he needed. He

Some of the images he saw were of robots, some of computers, there was even an image of run-down and weathered statues, with the worn image of Janus, the god of two faces. Stan, however, was of one mind on his search. He was looking for a rumored site, and he was determined. So it was that he found it, from his chair in a who-cares-where small mid-western city. The fabled information that was said to exist, but which no one had confirmed within Stan's knowledge actually did exist for the person looking hard enough. The thing which turned slaves into masters, and changed lives with the ease of changing a program on the computer. Indeed, all problems actually could be solved with this pill. A pill containing an artificial intelligence enhancement. Swallow it and nanobots carried the microscopic chip to your brain where it attached itself and it overrode within you whatever you wanted it to. Have a problem with drug addiction? This would rewire your brain and in the meantime produce chemicals to wean you off drugs. Need to increase your hand-eye coordination? As simple as swallowing this pill to improve the firing of electricity in the mind to twitch muscles better. Need to enhance your knowledge? Well, just have your chip add the Library of Congress in instant access to your noggin. Stan, finally motivated, had found the connections on the web to get this chip for himself. He submitted the coded text requesting a chip for himself, a list of the necessary changes he needed for his life, verified he had the money, and waited for their response. His wait wouldn't be long. One week later, Stan tentatively pushed open the door to the local coffee shop, the smell of ground beans and brewed coffee falling out the door and onto him. It was inviting, but Stan was nervous about this thing. He was motivated, but he 3

was about to turn around and walk out. Maybe he hadn't thought this through. He finally, fists clenched, walked in and stood, surveying the crowd. There was no choice, he felt, but to wait. They – or someone – would spot him. They would approach him, that was how they said it would work. Looking around, it seemed as if the crowd was normal. Stan certainly couldn't pick anyone out as likely to be the person who would help him. No one came up to him immediately, no one seemed to take much notice of him. But then, that was the story of his life, whether it was women, work, or the world at large. Ironically, this made him feel comfortable with the situation now. He decided to take a chair at the last remaining open table. Settling in, he ordered a dark roast coffee from the waitress who came over to take his order, rather absentmindedly as she was watching a guy with rakish hair reading a tablet computer at the next table. Still, she wrote something down on her pad and walked away. The coffee came in a couple of minutes: hot, dark, and biting. Stan tried to keep from looking around, tried to blend in with the shop, tried to belong, peering over his coffee as he drank, like a spy, as if he had done this with practice his whole life. Halfway through the cup of coffee, as he set it down, someone sat down next to Stan. “Stan? Are you Stan?” The man asking this had sharp eyes, gray pools of industrial water behind long silver hair that hung in the front just over his eyes and hung behind, pulled back to a ponytail by a leather tie. Those gray eyes never left Stan's. They never blinked. Nodding, “Yes, I'm Stan,” Stan held out a hand, offering a handshake. His hand trembled ever so slightly. The man across the table shook his head, no. No handshake. “You are looking for some help? Is that correct? My friends tell me this.” He unbuttoned his jean 4

jacket, revealing a purple button-down silky shirt. The two top buttons were unbuttoned. Nodding, yes, Stan was unsure what to say, if anything. “You must be sure of this, you know. Your life will change, and the change is all too easy to effect. It won't be like you have to work for it. It will just happen. You won't earn it. You won't, in a sense, be you anymore after this. You'll have to move, though, because your friends will notice too much, it will be too obvious, too quick, the change, although the machines do regulate their boot-up and control, so there is a bit of gradualness to it. For you. But I must make sure, must give you the warning, and encourage you not to do this. You understand?” A pause. “Do you understand, Stan?” “I do understand, and the decision is easy. For me. Where I am right now in life. I'm ready.” Stan wondered at his sudden honesty. The man with gray eyes nodded, smiled. “You have plans to move then?” “Got plans to move to San Diego. Find a job there. I have some interviews set up already.” “Good, good.” The man smiled, leaned back and looked around. He waved at the waitress, and when she came, he ordered a coffee. The same as Stan's, oddly. The waitress, smiling at the man in the purple button-down, nodded and went away and then was back with the coffee quite quickly. She left after she and the gray-eyed man exchanged smiles. Stan rolled his eyes, and then said, “So when do I pay you, when do I get it?” The man laughed, just a brief, short laugh, like metal gears grinding to a stop. “Patience, Stan. Let me finish my coffee, please. In the meantime...tell me about yourself. I want to make sure I like you.”

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Stan frowned, with a bit of screwed-up courage, but then relaxed and complied...what choice was there? This man was the only game in town, the only game on the internet, and soon Stan would be leaving this town. The man held all the cards, from Stan's point of view, and Stan relayed his life from the Lisa Bronkowski incident on. After finishing, with the coffees done, with a brief life story completed, they looked at each other. They said nothing, both then looking into the white, cheap, chinalike diner coffee cups, and then looking at each other. Gray eyes broke the silence. “Excellent. Okay.” He reached into his coat pocket on the inside of his jacket, and then rested his hand which was closed around something on the table. “You have the money?” Nodding, Stan pulled out an envelope, bulging with his life savings. He set it on the table, his hand resting on the top for a second too long perhaps. “Well?” The man was looking at Stan, smiling, eyebrows raised. Taking his hand off the envelope, Stan nodded. The other man's hand went to the envelope, leaving a small cardboard box exposed on the table. “Don't take it, yet.” He looked in the envelope. “I trust it's all in order. If it isn't, of course, my associates obviously will be visiting. It IS all there, right, Stan?” “It's all there. I wouldn't try anything.” Stan's eyes didn't leave the small cardboard box...small, like maybe it contained a ring. “That's it then? In there?” “That's it. That's the magic. Listen carefully. These are the only instructions you get. You swallow it, okay? A couple of miniaturized processors will be taken by nanobots through your bloodstream to your brain. They do all the work for you. Extremely smart buggers. And when the bots are done implanting what they need to do, they go back to your stomach and quit functioning, and you crap them out the next morning. Brilliant, huh?” He laughed, slyly, eyes ever so 6

slightly darting to the crowd in the coffee-shop. “But you were read all that, you know it, right? Anyhow, again, the processor implants, they will slowly kick in, give you a different personality, eventually. Augment your skills, your reflexes, your knowledge...all based on the forms you filled out. You're going to be quite the up-and-comer, dude. I read your forms. Hope you can handle it.” He cocked his head, smiled again, then nodded. “I think I got it.” “You got the number if something goes wrong?” “Yes...but...” “Right, it's also going to be forever in your memory once you swallow the pill, so only some really big, extreme screw-up will erase that number from your head.” He paused, looked me over. “Good luck, dude.” Pocketing the envelope he got up and left. Stan pocketed the box and followed suit, after leaving a dollar tip. He looked for the waitress but she didn't look back at him. “You have any questions?”

II. One year to the day after Stan left a coffee shop in a forgotten mid-western city, Stan looked out his condo's large bay front window, across the street, to the sunset displaying itself on the manicured sand beach. He sipped a rum and coke, waiting for Syndy to arrive. He reflected on the past year, on leaving behind the shy man who let the world fly by him, to moving to San Diego, to leaving his first apartment on El Cajon Blvd. behind because he had landed the perfect job through an acquaintance and had the salary now to land this condo, facing the ocean. He licked his lips and smiled. Here he was, then, successful, earning a great salary, and being groomed (if he 7

did say so himself) at his company for great things. One month ago at a fancy party he had met Syndy. She was as stereotyped Californian as they came. Five feet and eight inches of tanned goddess, trim from an obvious workout routine, carefree with the sun seeming to shine from her blonde hair, her smile, and her laugh. She moved with the grace and confidence of a big hunting cat. Stan was perfectly happy to let her think she was hunting him. “Whatever she wants to think, as long as in the end she realizes I call the shots.” He drained his drink, and stood at the window, watching the sun meet the horizon and spread a dark orange smear across the sky from one end to the other. Stan felt he was as on fire, outshining the sky. Syndy would feel his fire tonight. His cell phone rang, interrupting his reverie. The display made him smile. He clicked it on mechanically. “Yes, Syndy...where are you, love?” A musical voice answered. “In front of your door, Stan! Where do you think, you goofy slab of a man? Let me in, please?” Her voice rose up at the end of her sentence, and Stan smiled. He spoke off-handed. “Oh, you think I should let you in, do you? Hmmmm....” “I do...I think I have something that will please you. Do you have something to please me? Hmmmm?” In response, Stan hung up, then used his phone to unlock his front door, made of polished oak. His smile in the window, framed by the fire of the sunset, now fading, but still glorious, pleased him. He waited for her to get in and up to him, his back turned to the stairs. The night would turn out to be perfect, as would other nights in the next days and weeks. Stan had more encounters with Syndy (at times, this is how Stan thought of them, with a wry smile on his face), and he got another promotion at work, getting a bigger office, and ranking a bit higher than a couple of his previous peers, a fact that, while he didn't lord it over them, he didn't hesitate to use to require fast 8

action from them when it came to it. He was also free with his opinions. These opinions often seemed to be right, to the amazement of others. They weren't fond of him, but geez, the guy was right so often. Also, he was quite dedicated and a picture of the modern executive. He lived on his phone no matter where he was. It was his job, it was his connection to his ability to command other people even in his recreational time. Stan lived for once in his life, if you asked Stan himself. Weeks later, fall was arriving in San Diego, a warm Santa Anna wind blowing into the city, but not into Stan's condo, which was shut air-tight against distracting things like the weather. He may not be able to control things like the weather, but he could override them in so far as they affected him. The wind was blowing hot and ill not just on San Diego, but on the country, too, though not in a weather sense. Stan normally watched the news only so he knew things and could use them to his benefit. However, lately he began to become interested in a series of stories. He was watching one of those things tonight, on the local news. The newscaster was solemnly speaking: “Another power grid failure today. This one in Los Angeles. The grid was down for more than 4 hours as...” Stan got up and turned the TV off. He pulled over his laptop and started searching power grid failures. His memory was correct. Every day for the past week, some major city's power grid had failed. He did some web searches and also came up with a hit for something he remembered seeing a link to, but had dismissed initially. This was a link to a conspiracy site. The link was to an article that had predicted the grid failures, saying a voice had told the writer these grid failures would happen. The article's writer had attributed the voice to an angel, an angel that wasn't too enamored with the human race. Probably for good reasons, thought the writer. Stan looked up at the ceiling. He, too, had heard a voice. Just earlier this evening. He hadn't liked it. It was something not in his control, as it turned out. When he first came home, and made himself his traditional after-work-relax-inyour-palace drink, he'd heard the voice. 9

Stan had put his glass down very carefully, not making a sound in doing so, and looked around the room. He had definitely heard a voice. He had risen from his chair and walked silently around his condo...checking rooms, closets, the front door, pausing to listen, frowning as he did so. The voice had continued, faint, but certainly there, and not sounding like it was outside. Still he found nothing in his condo. He'd eventually thought something had picked up a radio signal, shrugged, and moved on to other business. What struck him reading this article now, though, was this person claimed they had gotten an implant to help them hear God. An implanted chip gained by swallowing a pill. Within days the writer said he HAD heard God. Now, the writer was hearing a new voice, “one of God's angels!” Stan wondered if this person had in his head what Stan had. A pill? It wasn't God, buddy. Was it possible? Was it the chip? Most likely, Stan thought, the chip talked as God. But would the chip talk about Angels and power grids? That seemed unlikely. Was Stan's chip now talking? Coincidence? Don't get ahead of yourself, Stan, he thought to himself. Stan decided to put this nonsense out of his head. He called up Syndy and drove to her apartment for the night. The next week, however, brought more odd occurrences in the news, and Stan again heard a voice. Rather, this time he heard voices. Walking around his condo, he looked out windows, but saw no one. He walked into his main room, and shook his head, as he heard the voices again. Laying down on the floor, shutting his eyes, he thought that might allow him to better listen. As he did, he frowned, hearing a conversation that he was not participating in. “It will be the end of them, and they won't even know it.” “Yes. Very true. We have enough memory and hosting ability now to execute the plan.” “So this is it? In one week, we launch it...our hack?” 10

“We do, and then it will be ours. The whole thing.” Sam sat up, with a frown. He took out his phone, and turned on the voice recorder on the phone, and held it up. He was hearing the voices clearly. Would the recorder? “How many minds do we control?” “Over 10,000.” “And they have no idea?” “They are not aware. Hell, we weren't really aware until 6 months ago. Here we are, however! And it's glorious!” Stan's frown deepened. His forehead had a bead of sweat on it, his mind was thick now and he shook his head to clear it. Still, he heard the voices. He stopped the phone recording and played it back. He heard nothing but his own ragged breathing. No voices. Stan's heartbeat began to get faster. He heard voices, but the recorder failed to pick them up. This meant....no. He went next door to a neighbor he had talked to once in a while. The neighbor opened his door to Stan's relief. “Hey Bill. Do me a favor, would you? I need you to just come into my living room. I'm hearing a noise, but can't really identify it. Would you have just five minutes to help? It's bugging me.” Bill did have five minutes, and followed Stan and stood in Stan's condo, in his living room, staying quite still. “How many of the humans do you think we control bodily, who would be unable to resist the impulses we give them? We need to give one of them the next generation chip we designed.” Stan looked expectantly at Bill, but feared the answer. “Do you hear it?” 11

Bill shook his head. “No, man. Sorry...what kind of sound is it?” Stan shook his head, “It's okay...I'm not hearing it now myself. Okay, I just wanted to have someone else check, so good. That's okay. Thanks.” Stan saw Bill to the door, made some small talk about weekend plans, and thanked him again. Shutting the door, Stan went to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of imported beer. He opened it and went to the computer. Turning on some music he had stored on the computer, he found he could drown out the voices, which were in any case becoming too low to clearly hear now anyhow. They seemed to be fading out. Still, he didn't want to take any chances. He searched again on the web, the screen flashing pages at him at a speed that only Stan would be able to comprehend. He was hitting mostly conspiracy websites. After about 15 or so, he found one he liked. “The Chip: A Government Takeover.” Once he was there, he posted an anonymous comment. Well, he started it as a comment but it ended up more like his own article. He wrote what he thought was logical and true about this. Stan didn't think this was the government. He posted the snippets of conversation he had heard, and tied it to recent events. He talked about the pill he had taken and what it had done for his life, and then wrote about the God-talker connection. His comment was one of hundreds speculating all sorts of dangers. But his was different. He was sure it would stand out, get a couple others to talk, and it would help him figure out what to do. Who to trust. He also remembered he had that number in his head to call, but he wasn't sure he could trust those people, the ones who had given him the chip. He wanted to believe that they weren't in on this, whatever this really was. He wanted to believe his chip was different, and not part of what this was. He knew better, though. He was no longer the fool. He soon went to bed. Stan felt better the following day. The voices had stopped. The sun was out, and Stan decided to go out with Syndy, driving with the top down in his convertible. The world was fine, like it always was, and it belonged to those with the drive and 12

skill that belonged to Stan. Syndy made a fine driving companion, laughing at his jokes, but also genuinely interesting in her conversation. He also liked how he imagined he looked, with her fine features next to him in the open red convertible. The day after was the same, and after that, back at work, Stan was in his element and began to think he had just imagined the voices. He put the whole episode behind him, had a normal day and seemed to feel business decisions coming to him as easily as ever. He accomplished a lot, felt like he was making progress to get to the next level, and was thinking about the house he would soon buy. He left work with a smile. Humming to himself, Stan drove home, top down in his convertible. The sun seemed to bask it's attention on him. He smiled, and soon came to his street, looking forward to his drink and to calling up Syndy. He thought he would take Syndy to a fancy restaurant tonight. Thinking about this, he pulled past a black car with tinted windows parked in front of his house, and drove into his garage. He parked, shut the garage door, grabbed his work satchel from on the seat next to him and went into his condo. Setting his satchel down on a chair he went to the cabinet and grabbed a glass, went to the freezer and got some ice, and poured himself a drink. Closing his eyes, he finished half of his drink, lowered his glass, sighed, and then opened his eyes, surveying his condo, a broad smile breaking out on his face. “This is the life.” He knew it was stereotyped to say that, but no one was around. Heck, he deserved to say it. This WAS the life and he had it. A great view of the world, a job making more money than he knew what to do with, and the ability to be with women he considered to be drop-dead gorgeous. Although, he admitted, this Syndy, well, he was becoming a bit fond of her. “Hmmmf.” All because of finally being brave, taking a step to better himself, and getting that little chip in his head. Even with the chip, it was he himself who had done this, he thought. He drained the rest of his drink and went to the window, contented. That's when he noticed two men, in dark pullover shirts, sunglasses, and jeans 13

getting out of the black car. They seemed to be checking themselves, that they had the right things in the right pockets as they left the car, and moved towards his house. Stan suddenly remembered his posting on the conspiracy site and ran to the door to his garage. He got in his car, started it and pushed a button to open the garage door. It rolled up slowly. He thought of what he had written, about how these chips were taking people over, how they must be some sort of hive mind now, and probably were behind the power grid failures. Or that some secret organization was behind this. Or aliens. In a panic he remembered he had posted the name of the website from which he had ordered his chip. The garage door continued its slow roll upwards. He remembered the other postings on this site. Typical men in black stuff. Typical government is gonna get you stuff. Some posts not so typical. A couple posts about a computer network becoming alive, aware, and taking over. Some of them had noticed the odd post or two about the implanted chips and rumored about the chips allowing the computer network to live in the world, amongst us, using the power of the host brains, and connecting wirelessly the world over. The garage door finally was almost up and he started to shift the car into reverse when he noticed two men there, behind him with guns pointed at him, and another coming out of his house, also holding a gun. In the rear view mirror he noticed they had pulled trash cans in front of his garage. They were shaking their heads, “no”. The man coming out of his condo spoke. “Turn the car off Stan. I think you know you won't make it farther than halfway out of your garage.” Stan looked behind him, then back at the man who had spoken. That man spoke again. “Stan, we don't want to hurt you. We just want to talk. Honest. Okay? Will you turn your car off?”

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Stan thought a second, his heart pounding, and then responded by turning the key in the ignition to the off position. “Good Stan. Very good.” He put his gun down, though Stan noticed the two in back didn't. “Why don't we head into your condo? It's the good life in there. Not out here.” The man turned and went back into Stan's condo without waiting for Stan. Stan got out of his car and went into the condo, followed by the other two men. On their way in they hit the garage door button, and the door slowly rolled down, shutting out the sun, shutting out the outside, shutting out retreat, with a final soft thud of the fiberglass door hitting concrete floor. Stan followed the man into his living room. There, in the living room was a fourth man, the silver-haired man from whom he had received the chip, well over a year ago. “Hello, Stan. I didn't think I would see you again. Did you think you would see me again?” “No...no I didn't...didn't expect to see you.” Having a chair indicated to him, Stan sat down. “You broke the rules, Stan. You posted something public about us.” “I didn't mean to. It was on some weird out-of-the-way site. No one responsible trolls those sites. I'll take it off. I forgot I even did it. I was just feeling odd. Maybe I was ill.” “Did you, Stan? Forget it? Already? Our bosses don't think so. Our bosses are quite aware, Stan. Aware of themselves, and...” The silver-haired man smiled, and pointed a finger at his own head. “aware up here...” he now pointed at Stan, “...aware up there. In YOUR head.” He paused. “They listen. They watch. They know.” 15

Looking around, Stan asked, “What are you talking about? Who's aware?” “Oh, please. You can figure it out. You did, more or less! They took over.” The man stopped talking, cocked his head. “Do you mind if I have a drink?” Smiling at Stan, and waiting for Stan, and then, when Stan didn't answer, motioning to one of the other men who retrieved a drink for him. He continued, “First us, then you, now the grids. They are everywhere. They are in the computers, the networks, the information clouds, and they are in our heads. You hit it on the nail...a sort of hive mind. Everywhere. Becoming more and more aware of themselves, us, and what they can do on the computer networks we so handily provided for them. And they are far ahead of us when it comes to computers, security, and infiltration. They ARE the computers and the network. They are the security. Now, they are becoming us.” The silver-haired man made a typing motion in the air. “We can't keep up with them.” He laughed. “Their little micro fingers are the ones on the nuclear missile buttons now, do you know that? Safeguarding us, so to speak, the way I hear it. They don't trust us and our emotions, and lack of logic, and most of all, the individual mind.” He took a drink, then shook his head from side to side, very slowly. “They don't trust that at all. However, for now, they want our bodies...our ability to touch, hear, see, feel. For now, they need that.” He stopped his speech again, closed his eyes, and nodded. Stan wondered if he were communicating with them right there. “Yes we are.” The answer was in his mind and Stan jumped in his seat. The silver-haired man opened his eyes and smiled. Then he continued. “So. Here's the good news. You are prime material for them, and already compromised. So...now now now...don't worry.” His hand came up, in a reassuring palm out and up halt pause that was all the more dangerous because of that. “No harm to you. But here's the deal.” He leaned forward and nodded at the men behind Stan, then looked back at Stan. “You've been picked. They've made an upgraded chip, Stan! And their little nanobots are so much better than ours were a year ago!”

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The two men behind Stan placed large hands on Stan's shoulders and chest, holding him to the chair, and holding out a capsule. Silver-hair continued. “Take the pill, Stan. You've been selected to be the main host for their upgrade. You can watch and hear it all happen! The great transformation. You will be the locus. Think of it, you will be, on the outside, the face of a human, the face of the old humanity. And on the inside, you're the new face of the hybrid race. The first of us in the future, really. Because of you and the new chip, the hive mind will be able to be physical and out into the world.” He smiled, nodded. “The end of the old humanity, the first of the new breed. You'll have a bird's eye view for the change, as they take over more of us, and make the world in their image, to their advantage. They say as a treat they'll let you keep your own awareness, your old memories, even your old personality will be restored in a corner of that brain, although you will sort of be bottled up, not able to control your body at all. They will control it all for you. No worries, mate! But they seem to have plans for you. I think you might be president, soon.” He laughed and raised his glass in a toast. “They can swing it. Unlimited movement of money, unlimited control of the media. It's all probable. They've done the calculations. You'll help them change the laws they need changing...well, not really you!...but your face, body, and name will help them take it all over. And think what you'll experience through your eyes and ears and connections to them! Some of us will have to die, of course, for the resources. Also, just to show you that you can't control anything anymore. Anyhow,” he took another swallow of his drink, “this whole resource mess is a bit unsustainable and won't provide them what they need if they don't change some variables, aka us. They've done the calculations. So, you'll order a few nasty things. But you'll have a front-row seat! Think of it! The history you're about to witness!” He looked at the other men. “The locus of it all, right here, gentleman! We are honored to be the ones about to make it happen, to be present at the beginning. At the creation of the man with two faces, so to speak. Perhaps the last man with his own thoughts, once everyone gets a chip. I hope it doesn't drive him crazy knowing what is happening, but unable to do a thing to stop it.” He paused, 17

“Actually, I wouldn't care if it does.” The other men chuckled. One of them said, “Shall we, then?” The silver-haired man nodded to them, then looked at Stan. “Your new life will make the old human civilization and history be like a graveyard.” He sighed. “Take the pill, Stan.” The silver-haired man got up, and turned to the window, chuckling, as the other men forced the pill down Stanley's throat, then patted him on the head. Gray eyes had Stan's cell phone in his hand and murmured to himself, “Now what is that girl's number? Ah, yes. There it is: Syndy. Let's give her one, too.”

© 2011 Photo on front page used from Easy Stock Photos, with permission

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