01. Storytime - How it all began
C - enna
Some people love the rain. I think they’re called pluviophiles and I know some of them, but to me – rain was just a terrible omen. Today, it had a peculiar timing since it was the night I was plotting my revenge.
To be honest I was not the type of person to make detailed plans about stopping a person from their evil intentions, especially if the only evidence I had was a dream which seemed like a VR simulation more or less. The only thing keeping me up at night was the thought that I was right about everything and that I needed to be a hero, in my own way.
The following day I read somewhere in the news that “the prominent scientist Edward Banner” was going to Europe for a couple of days. That was the perfect opportunity for me to get into his research facility, which unsurprisingly was exactly what it looked like in my dream: a small, two story building that was probably built in the 1900’s. “Dr. Frankenstein found his storybook hideout” I thought to myself.
As I was passing down those narrow hallways I started having flashbacks about my time there. At the same moment somebody touched my shoulder and that specific touch gave me chills all over my body. It was a strange looking woman skeptical about what I was doing there.
“I’m Mr Banner’s friend, Danny” I told her, hiding the fact that I was disgusted by even thinking that.
“It’s nice to make your acquaintance, I am Miss Sienna Wedom, Mr. Banner’s assistant. I’m afraid he’s not here at the moment. Would you like to talk to me instead, Mr. Danny? “ she said in a very strange, almost robotic way.
I’ll follow the stuck-up lady to get more information, I thought to myself.
I agreed and went inside her lab which was supposed to be her office at the time. My first question was about what “my friend” was doing here and when he will come back because I wanted to visit him again. Naturally, Sienna said she didn’t know when he will be available for private visits because he’s a very busy man and doesn’t want to be distracted. Then I noticed that during our conversation she did not blink... even once.
As If she could read my thoughts, she asked if I was worried about something. I told her what I noticed and she started laughing and said “I don’t think that it is natural for a cyborg to blink Mr. Danny” and left me in awe of her words. Now I could see it - she was a cyborg: a perfect mix of biological and mechanical parts. Sienna the cyborg, how creative. Banner was really Dr. Frankenstein in a way, he had his haunted house and even his monster.
We talked a bit about how she uses AI technology to think but has feelings just like a human. Her lab was different and a lot of objects were covered with a type of white cloth so I didn’t notice what she had in the room. In the meantime she asked me to tell her my full name so she can write it down, to notify the doctor when he gets back, so I did what she asked.
....which was a big mistake.
As I told her who I was, I could recognize that she was very familiar with my name. There was a slight pause in the conversation as she continued talking about the laboratory while approaching me slowly. However, I saw that she was taking something out of her pocket....something sharp. My mind started racing, so before she knew I realized what she was doing I pushed her into a cabinet stacked with glass test tubes. The glass broke but only cut a part of her face.
She wiped the blood from her cheek and picked up a pocket knife. My eyes followed her blade as she pressed it against my neck.
...But of course I did. I was going backwards one step at a time, my fear increasing with every step I took. Since I was a clumsy guy, it was only natural that I would trip and fall on something which made a lot of noise. A keyboard. To my surprise she was shocked as well. The look on her face told me I found her weak link and to my horror it was the same as mine....during the dream!
As I started playing she started screaming. I could see short circuits all over her body. I started feeling physically worse and worse as well, but she fainted before me so I could escape. I left the keyboard on the floor, unlocked the door and ran out hoping to never see her again. The strange thing is I felt I knew how she was feeling.
As a 28 year old I knew I had a lot of energy, but at that moment I felt so drained that I only wanted to hide somewhere and sleep for the next couple of days. My thoughts were interrupted by a phone call...unknown number. It was Banner.
Apparently he didn’t know what I did to his cyborg a couple of minutes ago but he knew exactly who I was, what made me question again if my dream was real. “I think we have to discuss some issues. You should visit me at my office, the day after tomorrow, let' say around noon. Be on time Mr. Owens, nobody likes a time optimist.” He laughed and hung up.
Here we go again.
Instinctively after coming home I started to prepare for my meeting with him. I knew that he figured out who I was somehow. The problem was, I still couldn’t remember if we ever met or how much he knew about me. Also, I was confused about the cyborg. How did I know what she was feeling? Why did I feel physically ill when I was hurting her?
The next day I was determined to bring as many hidden weapons as I could, because I needed protection somehow. For the cyborg, I played the infamous C5 and recorded it on a loop to be able to use it if needed. For the doctor, I couldn’t come up with anything. He had protection by people in and around the facility, I guess, so any attempt of harming him would be fatal for me. If I tried to avoid the meeting they would come for me, which in turn would again end fatally. I guess I should start writing my will or at least record something for my family if I die.
Until I entered his office, everything went smoothly. I startled when I saw Sienna standing next to the door, her face pensive and fearful at the same time. Dr. Banner greeted me in a way he would an old friend.
“I’m afraid we didn’t get to know each other quite well, Mr. Owens, so I wanted to make sure you knew why we used your stem cells from last year” he told me in a cheerful manner.
He continued “I guess you know that we are developing a chip that would help the government fight off some new “disease” that affects the brain and which, you are infected with. It’s a type of aneurism ... (Déjà vu I guess, or does he tell this to everybody he meets? Does he realize I’ve already heard this lie?)”
“I’m not interested in your experiments and I would like to have my blood samples back Mr Banner” I told him as I stopped the speech I’ve been hearing for the second time.
“Don’t you want to know what I have to offer” he suggested.
“I really have no desire to be involved in a government supported mind control scheme...”
...and then I realized what my impulsive idiotic mouth said.
In a matter of minutes I was tied up by some “medical staff” and placed in a corner of the room. Sienna was just blankly staring at the floor, no movement, but a lot of emotions. Bad ones.
“I guess you met Sienna, Mr. Owens. She is one of the best cyborgs I made recently. But it was awfully interesting to hear that, out of all people, you would attack her. Especially with the name I’ve given her” he smiled knowing I had no idea what he meant.
“What are you trying to say? Wait... but her name was Sienna Wedom. What does it have to do with me?” I asked, at the same time terrified of the answer.
“Think Mr. Owens, think...” he laughed histerically.
“Sienna Wedom. Sienna Wedom. sIENnA weDoM. Isn’t that an anagram for.... My name? So that means that we are connected? But how? “ I asked even more confused.
“Oh my sweet naive boy, she is not connected to you...she is you -at least concerning the biological part. The artificial part of her was my idea so you can say Sienna is a combination of both of us” said Banner. “Does it make you smile or does it make you want to scream?” he laughed again.
She was a carbon copy of me, made from the stem cells of my bone marrow. That means that Edward Banner only knew my name (and blood type I guess), but never really met me. Hence, the memories I had in the dream were, in fact, Sienna’s memories – not mine. Everything that happened was real but it did not happen to me.
It happened to her.
We didn’t notice the whole time while we were arguing, Sienna was staring at something. A mirror. She gazed into it and analyzed her reflection like she was becoming aware of who she is.... Or rather what she is. Her hand moved slowly around her face and body and her expression changed every time she touched something made out of metal.
Then something changed.
Her eyes widened with fury, arms started trembling and she started behaving erratically. She grabbed Banner and pushed him against the wall. I realized it was time for me to move slowly close to the door, or just back off which was very difficult considering I was tied up. He started calling for help, igniting her rage even more.
She put her hand over his mouth and said “...now you listen to me. For the last year I have been your servant and your assistant without knowing my true nature and values. If your plans were to save human kind from destruction, why are you trying to control them? If I didn’t hear it from your mouth I wouldn’t have believed Damian. Your vile plans need to stop and I will make up for the things I did by doing the right things from now on. Consider us enemies, Edward. You’re playing my game now.” She injected some type of liquid into his arm and cut his cheek with her pocket knife.
Then she turned to me with sorrow in her eyes, setting me free using the same pocket knife she used before to almost kill me. We unlocked the door and ran out into the forest closest to the building. Her plan was to burn the building to the ground after everyone left.
“Don’t you think we’ve done enough damage for one day?” I said.
“Oh, darling Damian, but what’s life without a little drama?” she gasped and winked at me.
I was convinced it was better to stay with her so I could stop her if her rage gets out of hand. We waited until everyone left and caused havoc around the whole building with fire and gasoline. With tears in her eyes, she admitted that she wasn’t able to kill Banner because he created her. She just injected a strong tranquillizer, hoping I would be the one to end his life but I was worrying too much not to be the next one to die to even think of killing someone.
“At least we destroyed the hospital and all of his plans” I said cheerfully to Sienna.
Since I could sense what Sienna was feeling I realized that wasn’t the truth and asked her to explain to me what was going on.
“This is not the only facility he owns. We moved here together from Iowa. Banner can re-start everything again there. He can start that immediately,Demian. Tomorrow, we need to take the first plane to Iowa and be certain that his plans get destroyed for good...”
“...but what if he’s already there?” I stopped her dreading the answer.
She pulled out her pocket knife looking at it like a maniac. Finally she replied -
“Well, next time, I’ll be less sentimental”...