The Next Level – Part 1

The doctor peered into her head using a digital retinoscope. The small probe could look past the retina and into the brain. Information relevant to the patient’s mental faculties would be processed and released to the internet for the world to assess. Kate Centrose tried to blink to fend off the onslaught of bright light shining in her left eye, but clamps held her eye open. She obsessed on the memory of the exam — she wondered if it had been a dream. For two years Kate was controlled by Dr. Elbert Henderson, a high level government psychiatrist. He redesigned her life (but that was the past)…now, Kate was in an anonymous airport waiting for an Aerojet to take her far away from everything she had known. Kate was fifty-four, still stunning with short hair swept back from her face like a metallic helmet. She was still thin with a tight, athletic body. She wasn’t always in such good shape — once she was a man, middle-aged and tired. She was always running, trying to stay ahead of the impossible creatures who hounded her like hyenas driven mad by the scent of death. They were once human, but no longer. Signals changed them. Electronic impulses from digital devices were altered and morphed into Trojans and Viruses that effected human physiology. It was an experiment that left the laboratory and went viral. Kate remembered the man she used to be, an agent trying to expose the New Order, the people behind the botched experiment who wanted to destroy the old world. She’d been a man named Roland Finster who was about to expose the truth and reveal the true identity of Dr. Henderson, but the world turned upside down before reality could be repaired. After a complete sex-change and months of surgical procedures, Finster became Kate in order to escape; but the doctor released his dogs, the minions who captured Kate (aka Roland Finster)

“No one answers the phone – it keeps buzzing. It is very distracting when you make love to me. When we are together as a family at the dinner table I can’t concentrate. No one answers the phone.” The obsessive thoughts looped around Kate’s mind. The thoughts had significance because the world functioned on cell phones and computers. Everyone was hooked up. There was no privacy. It started with the I-phone, a stroke of genius that extended the reach of human sensory perception. The Brain Phone was the next big thing, an evolutionary step forward that meant the phone was always answered because the buzzing in one’s head was dreadful — hailed as a technological wonder — it changed everything. People were no longer burdened by having to carry phones, tablets, laptops, and digital peripherals. Expensive devices were easily lost or damaged. The Brain Phone was the whole world on a tiny chip that was easily inserted in the brain. Specific eye movements controlled the chips functions. It was a breeze to browse the internet or chat with friends. It approached telepathic communications because everyone was connected via the Mindscape. It also meant that people could be harnessed and controlled by computer hackers and rogue AI (artificial intelligence). The Brain Phone was perfect for world domination and the rise of the Red City Brigades under the command of people like Dr. Elbert Henderson.

After being processed and monitored for two years, Kate was allowed to escape from the clutches of Henderson. It was determined she was no longer a threat. She wanted her old body back. She was never comfortable as a woman, although she grew to enjoy sex with men (it was never a big deal or crisis of identity, but the old body was more comfortable and now the former agent was tired and needed comfort). Small comforts were not granted to Kate; but, at least they let her go. They put a Brain Phone in her head so she couldn’t do anything without being monitored. The whole world watched her, but Kate had a secret: she could manipulate digital devices, turn them on and off with her mind. Few people had this extra sensory ability. It had never been diagnosed. Kate’s plan was simple. She would turn off the Brain that controlled all the phones and all the computers. She was able to hide her plan from “others” — it wasn’t difficult to fake a disorder that looked like psychosis. She rambled on about “world enemies” and mutant creatures. Dr. Henderson believed she was harmless and if someone killed her or she got into trouble he simply was not concerned.

The Aerojet took her into space where she was a resident at a half-way house for people with mental disabilities. The house was located on a satellite that also contained a prison for recalcitrant criminals. It was part of her plan of escape. For years Kate lounged in the cold, dark womb of outer space — she had no responsibilities and no demanding assignments. She was isolated and in a daze. The half-way house was just a holding tank and the prisoners were allowed to linger and waste away. Everything was automated, no one was in charge. The Brain Phone monitored all mental activity and altered neurotransmitters and chemicals to maintain control when necessary — it was rarely necessary. The patients became walking zombies. (to be continued)

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