I pressed the ‘notes’ folder on the phone. I found a list of information about a man named Christopher Nealon – his height, weight, age, that sort of thing. And then, at the bottom was a line with Christopher’s signature and a copyright logo that was just next to the name ‘Isaac.’ What had Christopher signed up for, and why?
Do you think my writing is really why I left? I mean, I know that it’s why I said goodbye. Several times. It’s why I’m seldom around when you need me most. It’s what I tell myself is so worth being so scarcely seen by the one I love most. But I can’t shake this feeling that there’s more to it. Maybe it’s subconscious, or maybe I really do just love this library where I write. Or maybe I just like being alone. Not lonely, but alone.
I couldn’t stand up any more. I was weak from hunger, and from passing adrenaline, and from thinking too much. I sat in a corner as far away from the windows and lights as I could be. I wanted to be in my own world, but I didn’t feel alone. I felt like someone else was with me. Watching me.
“You’re right to want to be isolated right now,” a voice came out of the dark. I shuttered. I don’t think out of fear so much, as just exhaustion. I am exhausted.
“Things didn’t go as planned. You must be worried, scared even,” the voice was monotone, too much so to convey any real emotion. “Lots of questions, I’m sure. I know, in fact. I know for a blatant fact that you are scared, you are worried, and you have many questions. Let me help you out.”
His voice sounded more annoyed and rushed now than before. I could hear him inching towards me and then he stopped, just out of my sight in the shadows.
“I have been watching you. I have been studying you. I own you, and I mean that in ways you cannot even comprehend. I am not here to kill you, but I do not care about your wellbeing. I own you and I own the libraries. Don’t ever forget that. These places are not to you what they are to everyone else. I think another one of your friends can attest.” I heard a loud thump and then another man’s grunt as his footsteps left the building.
I heard the door close behind him, and then some rustling in the hallway. I slowly got up and went towards the door. It was another man in the matching shirt with the electronics in it. He was bleeding as well, but he still had his uniform on. He was coughing on the ground.
“Kill him,” the man growled out. “That’s what your next step needs to be. You have no one else. He’s gone after families, friends, you name it. Just some fun new technology, huh?”
“I don’t understand,” I told him. “I don’t know who that was, I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who that man was who died speaking to me! I don’t know if I want answers, I don’t know if I care. I just want to go home,” my eyes were tearing up and I was losing my ability to speak clearly.
“Look, I don’t know how you got into this, but I know that he knows you. And if he is making threats to you, look out. He’s already done so much…”
“But what? What has he done, what is happening here, who are you!” I was sobbing.
“That man is Isaac. I don’t know his last name, no one does, he just goes by that. I signed up for a test group. It was early stage implant technology. Do you use Siri?” He waited for a response but I didn’t speak. “Well anyways, artificial intelligence is farther along than the public thinks. Much farther. But robot brains don’t work the same way that human ones do, right?”
Again, no response from me.
“So what are you going to do, then, not advance your artificial intelligence? Never, you use human brains to improve on your robot brains. Take what you want out of the humans, find its source, extract it, and upload it.”
He quit talking, not looking for a response this time. I sat for a few moments and let things register as best as they could. “And that’s what these shirts are?” I barely let out.
“Right. The shirts were designed to connect to our brains. They’re looking for the most suitable mentality for their software.”
“What type of mentality? So, there are robots being built to walk around and kill people? To do what all of… you people did outside, running into the window?”
“Not exactly. They didn’t say what the software was for, outside of artificial intelligence. I’d doubt if it’s real robots, these people are bigger and more sinister than that. They want their software to infect. And I think you were a test. Probably still are.” He sounded tired.
“What do you mean, he said he wouldn’t kill me.”
“I don’t know how these tests end. I just know that it was uploaded into us to find you at all costs. We couldn’t help what we were doing. They want to know how we fulfill an objective with our own brains. If they like what they see, either in thought or in action, they take that part out of us. Isaac owns the libraries, they are his playgrounds.”
“But why was I the only one left in here? This is a public place but I can’t find anyone who isn’t attached to whatever is happening now!”
“This is his playground. He can do what he wants. He probably used some type of illusion to lure you alone here, all I know is that he will use his no-tech subjects however he wants. Just like us. He watches everything and when he no longer has a use for you-” his body snapped back quickly. He was dead.
And I was alone.