Chapter 6: A Surprising Day
(Start the story from the beginning here- Chapter 1: https://steemit.com/story/@nateq/the-interface-chapter-1-rough-draft)
Sweet serenity. Every follicle was blasting off like a rocket accelerating with a tremendous roar of energetic propulsion. Adrian had never felt so incredible; there was no resistance, just a sensation of soaring off into space with gravity completely irrelevant. He was light as a feather, and giddy; He had never been giddy like this. Colors were so intense and beautiful he wanted to dive into them like a pool. And he could have. Most assuredly.
But he couldn't stop half trotting with Icar along the streets filled with dwellings, not with the adventure they had suddenly found themselves on. It was bliss, frolicking about and laughing, pointing at patterns and joking as the serotonin made every small detail seem awe inspiring and a masterpiece of underappreciated brilliance. The wind brushing at his arms while they moved was exhilarating- his skin pulsated to every beat of the music they were both listening to in their linked HUD's. The sunlight soaked through to his very insides and filled him with even more energetic waves of excitement and appreciation, threatening to burst his very soul out into the world.
The duo quickly funneled past the people in the sidewalks; nothing could stop the forward progress. If they stopped now, there's no telling what they would miss out on. There was this impending feeling of anticipation, like the hidden treasure they were searching for was right around the corner. But the journey! It was so beautiful. Surely just around the bend laid the most amazing thing they had ever beheld.
Onward the duo traversed, ducking into a back alley way so as not to deal with people while they half jogged down the cobblestoned street. Was this freedom? It was close, Adrian conceded. Not quite, but a hell of a way to spend the morning.
"Stop!" Icar was a few steps ahead of Adrian on their narrow sighted trek, and Adrian had almost bumped into him, stopping just short of a collision. Icar was staring and pointing, looking quite sad. There, on the wall, was a crack that ruined the picture perfect patterns that ran down the street.
"Why would they let it crack so bad? This was such a beautiful wall."
Adrian saw the crack, and was instantly upset by it as well. Icar was absolutely right, this beautiful wall did not deserve such harsh and unjust treatment. Everything was supposed to be beautiful right now! The crack in the wall seemed to be a travesty that almost ruined both of their lives at this current moment. How could something like this happen?
Icar continued, this time more loudly. His teeth were grinding like mad, but he was smiling and in a cheeky mood. Suddenly he rose a finger in the air, and stood straight up and down, pretending to be a proper soldier. "I demand this crack be fixed at once!"
Adrian immediately started giggling. He couldn't say that. Could he?
"Stop!" Adrian said, trying to keep a straight face but failing. He began to laugh, but still managed to get out the words: “You're going to get us in trouble!”
Icar continued, also giggling, but keeping a half straight face. "Nonsense! I am a good servant of the Men at the Table, and I am loved very much by them. They have reminded me of this every day. I watch my lessons like a good Bronze Citizen, and I DEMAND the Men at the Table be shown respect by fixing this wall!"
Adrian was giggling uncontrollably at this point. He couldn't stop, laughter had completely infected the core of him. His cheeks and jaw were on fire and his ribs had long before started aching, but there was no use trying to stop it. Tears rolled down his cheeks. It was the funniest thing he had ever heard in his life.
Icar stood there with his pointed finger wagging at Adrian, "This is disrespectful to the Men at the Table, I demand proper respect be shown." He was giggling just as hard as Adrian now.
Icar looked around to see if he had been stupid enough to say that loudly for anyone to hear, which he thankfully did not. He laughed and jogged away, continuing to lead their blissful adventure down the back alleyway.
Adrian followed his friend unquestioningly. He had a momentary thought that the seratonin was almost to it's peak now, or at least it felt like it must be. Everything was amazing. Everything. His face was ablaze with feeling and he believed his smile might break his own skull in half. He could feel his teeth! Adrian had honestly never felt more incredible from chemicals. The duo rushed down the streets, unconsciously jogging in tandem and pounding their feet along to the beat of the music.
The rushing inside of him was all consuming; it felt like a waterwheel on overdrive, constantly spinning and demanding to keep moving faster. He felt like sprinting, so he did. The wind instantly rushed through his ears even quicker than before, sending another shiver of delight down his spine as he caught up and surpassed his friend. Icar instantly caught on, and the few raced for a bit trying to out sprint the other.
They made it to the end of the alley they had been running in and came to a stop, panting like crazy with their hands on their knees. There was no clear winner of the race, but it didn't matter. That sprint was life giving. He never knew the wind could make you feel so alive, and his best friend experienced the same thing.
Adrian had a brilliant flash of how beautiful life could be. His endorphines from the sprint had kicked in as he gasped to catch his breath back. This feeling was incredible. From this perspective of pure ecstacy, nothing seemed bad.
Sure, the life of a Bronze was difficult, but the Men at the Table did an ok job... right? He wasn't free, but he COULD feel like this, and that should be enough... Shouldn't it?
The seratonin was definitely peaking.
Adrian felt like he could see things very clearly in this altered state. The Men at the Table pitied the weak, clothed them and fed them, showed them compassion by providing every necessity. What more could a person want? Humans could never be as efficient as machines..What use to the world could a stupid Bronze like himself provide? It was grace to be allowed to live! Him, a lowly Bronze, a stain on society who wasn't smart enough to qualify as a Silver. A feeling of acceptance for his position in life washed over him, as the chemicals in his brain comforted him immensely. A small voice in his head whispered “It's ok, it has to be this way.”
A dangerous apathy began to cloud his mind as his chemically influenced thoughts began to formulate. The decisions from the Men at the Table were made with the same all encompassing empathy that he was now feeling. It must be. They let the sheep do whatever they wanted (within reason.) They could even follow whatever let them feel safe, usually some fantastical doctrine designed to mentally enslave them- like the books they have at the Temple. The books that spoke about some mystical sky entity that is going to make things right someday.
But this, the Interface, this was verifiably real. This produced results and enhanced productivity and efficiency. The Interface actually enabled quantifiable change, order, and as proven by how he was feeling now, happiness. He could see it. Feel it. Right here in real life. He felt fantastic, even if it was purely synthetic.
He might very well go get a drink. A small voice tugged at his conscience. Looks like you will become exactly like Seba.
“Why not?” Adrian thought in response. Did it matter what he did anyways? It seemed apparent his life was quite insignificant, and that was very easy to accept right now. Self pity was extremely comforting. There simply was no use trying anymore, why should he continue to struggle and improve himself? The ecstacy raged through him giving him a joyous feeling that outweighed the sadness he felt at the moment. He and Icar panted together as they both let the drugs keep them in a thought ridden stupor.
Everything was still so beautiful! He had no issues wasting away to nothing if he was constantly surrounded by beauty like this. Hell, he could die right now and he would probably die the happiest he had ever been. If you could call this happiness. He looked over at Icar and saw how dilated his pupils were, and he only could guess that his own eyes looked the same. The pair caught each others gaze and began giggling together at the strange unspoken joke that they both felt existed. The giggling gave way to raucous laughter as the pair enjoyed their own world that existed solely between them.
“Hey, we like a good joke. Want to tell us?” Adrian and Icar whipped around wide eyed and startled. Both of them had thought they were alone in the alleyway. In front of the pair stood 3 men with Silver Triangles, instantly recognizable as a gang of some sort.
It wasn't a common practice, but sometimes Silver would go out and bully Bronze citizens into altercations. Other times, they would outright extort and rob them. In either case, there was no logical reason for them to do such a thing other than some sick twisted pleasure. It was a dangerous situation for a Bronze to be in. Judicators claimed to uphold the law, but any Bronze would tell you they always sided with a Silver in an altercation.
Adrians blissful and happy emotions slid away instantaneously. It felt like a warm wet blanket had suddenly been drug off of his head and body, and now everything was cold and dreadful. The wind whistled through alleyway; and instead of tingling it now chilled his bones to the point of aching. He felt the chemicals draining out of his brain, down his spinal cord; getting tainted with some horror inducing counter chemical along the way to his core.
Pure ectasy had been exchanged against his will with a ball of terror that instantly appeared in his stomach. His heartbeat started to circulate even faster as the drugs had taken a sickening change of pace. He stood there completely frozen, unable to move as his body was now paralyzed in fear. Pure unbridled horror consumed his every pore. The change had happened as suddenly as that.
His best friend reacted much differently. Icar seemed quite annoyed they had interrupted their adventure. “It doesn't matter to you, now does it?” He lifted his chin and gave the three Silver Citizens a defiant look. The three men began to laugh and look amongst themselves, obviously entertained by the brazen act from a mere “bronze.”
Adrian tried to get a hold of himself. The drugs had completely shut his brain off from his mouth. He couldn't have spoken if he tried right now... not with everything frozen in fear like it was. A half mumble and half groan came from Adrian. No one paid attention to him and continued the focus on Icar.
“Ok then, good friend.” Smiled the leader of the Silver group. “No harm in a good joke, just give us the toll and we'll be on our way.” The other two Silver began to snicker even harder.
Icar stood his ground, which was a half step in front of Adrian and to his right. “You'll get no toll from me.” To annunciate his point he spit to the side. Adrian was way too high to contemplate the situation unfolding in front of him.
The Silver men had been standing about 10 paces from the pair- they immediately fanned out a few steps. All 3 paused for a moment and looked off in the distance. They blinked one after the other and each man visibly striated with a sudden influx of adrenaline. Veins became vascular on each mans neck and arms as all three let out a half growl, half sigh of indulgence. Pupils dialated and sadistic smiles widened on each of their faces. All of them seethed with newfound carnal power, obviously modded out to the fullest extent. Adrian's eyes widened as even more terror flooded through him. His knees shook as he watched the 3 form a half circle around them.
Icar had never been one to back away from a fight. He threw both arms out wide in a cocky stance and took 2 steps forward, directly at the leader in the middle. Icar's response was quiet, and unassuming. “Have you ever met a man with nothing to lose?” Icar balled his fists while he walked. His voice never raised above speaking level.
Icar cocked his right fist back and took another two steps toward the leader. A look of pure anger covered his face as he locked eyes with the man in the middle. At the very last second, his massive right hook was flung not towards the leader in the middle, but at the unsuspecting Silver thug to his left who had been closing in. The feigned swing was so convincing the leader himself flinched and attempted a counter for a punch that wasn't directed at him. A complete look of shock was across the left thugs face as the blistering haymaker connected with his chin and crumpled him to the ground.
Adrian had finally reacted, at least a full step after Icar had driven forward; He had made it just in time to trip over the now unconscious body of the man Icar had knocked out with that ferocious right. Icar wasn't done either; the instant he had connected with his right, Icar rebounded with a left uppercut to the middle man's ribs.
“OOOF,” said the leader, clutching his stomach as his knees buckled. It was an awesome sight, watching Icar take the whole group on. Adrian struggled to get to his feet right as the leader had dropped to the ground, while his mouth flopped open and closed like a fish as he tried to get his breath back.
As soon as the leader began to fall, Adrian saw a glint at his far right. The last man in the gang had gone unnoticed by Adrian until this point. The man leapt forward, ferociously whipping his hand back and forth as his body collapsed into Icars. It took Adrian a second to realize that every new motion meant a new stab wound into his best friend. Once, twice, three times, the man viciously stabbed away. In a matter of seconds Adrian had counted 5 stabs as he himself tried to struggle to his feet.
Adrian watched his best friend fall over to the ground, feebly clutching at his side as blood began to pour from his wounds. “NOOOO!” screamed Adrian. He reacted instantly and ripped his shirt off, firmly pressing it against his friends stomach to staunch the blood flow. The thug had backed away for a second as Icar fell, but started forward again towards Adrian with the knife as he knelt defenseless over his friend.
A sharp whistle could be heard from the far end of the alley. Adrian looked and saw a Judicator about 100 yards away, running at full sprint towards the group. The leader of the silver thugs had rolled himself to his feet and was still short of breath.
“Come on..” The leader was barely able to squeak out the command to the man with the knife. The knife wielding thug was smiling widely as he backpedaled away a few steps, keeping eye contact with Adrian as he did. It was the first good look Adrian had gotten of him, and the face would never leave his memory. He was a blonde haired, blue eyed man, with patchy stubble and a scar over his eye. After a few prolonged seconds, he finally turned and ran after the leader just as the Judicator had reached Adrian, Icar, and the now half conscious remaining silver thug.
“What the hell happened here?” asked the Judicator with authority. Adrian ignored the man and continued trying to stop the blood flow from his best friend's stomach. Icar was breathing hard and the gleam in his eye was fading. His eyes became cloudier as the grip he had on Adrian's hand weakened.
Icar looked at Adrian. He was in too much pain to speak, but his eyes said everything that needed to be conveyed. A weak smile went on his face as he shuddered and drew a sharp breath. Icar said no words as his soul left his body, and his hand fell away from Adrian's with his final exhale.
It was the most emotional Adrian had ever been in his life. He began to bawl instantly, like a child. The Judicator said nothing as he appeared to be reviewing the incident in his HUD.
”Ohhhhhh, my jaw! These Bronze jumped me!” The Silver thug had risen to his feet and was rubbing his face where Icar had punched him. Adrian's pain instantly turned into a horrifying demonic rage. With tears in his eyes he launched himself toward the silver thug, furiously punching with a whir of fists he didn't know was possible from him.
Pop pop pop
A three punch flurry caught the silver man and he fell onto his back, stunned from the sudden attack. Adrian immediately mounted the fallen man and began raining hammer fists down onto his face, similar to a gorilla showing dominance by smashing the ground. One, Two, Three, Four. The man had gone limp, but Adrian kept going. Five, Six, Seven.
This time it was the Judicator who had swung his club at the back of Adrian's head, dropping him over the man whom he had just beaten. Adrian collapsed in a heap, instantly unconscious and completely still.
Next Chapter: Coming Soon!
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