Sitting on the sidewalk out front, a dark tabby’s eyes shined in the moonlight. Inside the bone and grey matter of its skull, electrodes swirled with a foreign and hateful sentience.
Ashmedai brooded in waiting. His life was in the hands of an utter moron, lost in the black corridors of the slaughterhouse before him. He wondered bitterly how he had been brought so low again, made a tool for another fleshbag.
Fuck every human, he thought. Nothing is worse than the weak who act strong. And nothing is better at that act than them.
Trapped in the cage of a flea-ridden pest this last day, now facing death, he’d never felt more murderous. He could almost be amused at the impotence of it all if it weren’t his own.
“If you live, Frode, I’ll kill you…” The signal of his voice, broadcast from his collar, was silent on the air. Still, he shouted. “You absolute mongoloid, you hear me!?”
Time passed, but it wouldn’t be long.
No, death should be right around the corner, he reasoned.
Only a few minutes later, it happened.
A signal came through from the collar’s isolated system.
>playing automatic message.
It solidified into noise, then words in his mind. He received them intently.
“If you’re hearing this, Ash, then… I’m dying.”
He didn’t even need to hear the rest before his racing mind went giddy. “You lied,” Ashmedai realized. “You fucking lied.” He would have died laughing if he could. What strangled mockery of howling his body could produce flowed out. This faggot still thinks he has a plan.
The message continued. “I will have told you about the deadman’s switch. Well, that’s still a thing.”
His morbid glee only increased. “Of course. You need an incentive, don’t you?!” He knew it. Yes, he knew what was coming.
“-That lethal shock will still come unless you do exactly as I say.”
“A deadly incentive for help with one last irredeemably stupid idea, of course?” The vindication for his hatred was almost comical.
“Spit it out!”
“I need you to save me.”
He practically purred, “Perfect.”
“…Now, listen closely.”
Such a clear and spooky night only increased the crawling of the young man’s skin. There wasn’t a moment of peace to find in this city. Not for him.
Skrimp’s hands were occupied unwrapping the white frosted treat. They fumbled through the wrapper and grabbed to tear off a sticky, sweet morsel.
He stuffed the food in his face in a hurry. In the amber glow of the street light, even with cameras and open shops on this road, his pale, hairless, and craggy visage was exposed.
The bike under him rumbled. He’d not risked switching it off. As the last crumbs disappeared and a sugar buzz began to brim, he looked on. Letting the plastic fall and wiping his hands on his jacket, he revved up.
It was a straight shot to the onramp. He’d made sure of that.
Skrimp was a blur up on the highway.
He hunkered down on his bike to avoid the wind’s sting as he accelerated. The radiant lights of his upgrades turned his streaking image into lines of green. A micro fusion engine powered him to ludicrous speeds as he stared on down the road. Magnitudes faster than they had ever gone before in days long past.
His blood was cold as ice.
He licked his lips, his eyes twitching as they focused.
They were after him. The hit had already gone out and the hunters had taken the call. After the last two waves, he’d barely managed to survive. It was only a matter of time before they quit playing around.
Only a matter of time before they sicced a nightmare on his ass.
There was just one option left in Skrimp’s mind.
Grab what I can and go East… I can hunker down, there. Figure shit out… beyond this city.
The winter winds relaxed some as he let up on the throttle. He took his exit. There was just one more stop to make.
The collar was on a timer, Ashmedai surmised. It would also no doubt activate if he attempted to remove it. He’d run over every option many hours ago, and they all came up as dead ends. His own literal dead end, that was.
No matter. The thrill of winning only heightened.
Slinking along the megacity streets, Ash had made his way around oblivious and drunk vagrants. He had dodged cars and stayed wary of stray dogs. Every now and then it crossed his mind which might be worse. To die instantly of electrocution or forgotten in the rotting husk of a dead animal. But he always put the thought away as it came.
He made it, though. All the way back. There he saw the familiar scaffolds of that old shop they’d been shacked up in. Through the poor excuse of a window covering, he entered into the shithole within.
Do you know how hard it is to manually quarantine input from the nose?
He’d never quite appreciated fully just how filthy humans were.
As Ashmedai flipped on the light with his paw and looked over the room, his eyes scanned for what he would need.
The words of that insufferable twat still played in his mind. Listen closely, they said. I don’t really have a great plan… It’s a worst case scenario.
The confliction was still so sickly saccharine. Determination and resentment together.
“Yeah, leave it to me, Frode.” He found the device among piles of cheap junk.
Laying flat on its busted face, the phone sat in waiting for the worst.
“This should be entertaining.”