02-05_haunted

“It’s… there’s… there’s nothing we can do!” Anny cried, shock painted down her face.

Somewhere in the halls of the hotel, hundreds of doors slammed, the holo-screens behind the front desk flickering from serene sunsets and calm beaches to haunting stacks of cracked skulls and fog rolling off of ancient and forgotten headstones. The temperature in the lobby jumped up to a sweltering degree only to crash into the chilly depths of a Calliach winter.

“I’m not sure what’s happening, but it’s beyond what WISR and I can do – beyond what any SYMM agent can do!”

The hotel manager – a man who seemed to be aging prematurely from sheer stress, his mouth pinched like he was forever holding a lemon in his mouth – buried his head against his hand.

“You’re sure.”

WISR nodded, “It may simply be your quality-of-life systems, the automatic door openers and such.”

“We called the company,” the manager explained to Anny, ignoring the android beside him, “They said it wasn’t their problem.”

“Maybe you had a fresh tech who didn’t know what they were doing? Either way, you had to know that calling us was a long shot. Unless there’s something else we should know? Anywhere else we should look?” she probed. 

The man shook his head, “No, you’ve done enough. Thank you.”

“Right. You have a good one.”

She slung her bag over her shoulder and headed to the door, certain that her android shadow was not far behind. 

“YOU THINK HE BOUGHT IT?” a multilayered, synthesized voice asked a little too loudly from the speeder’s speakers, making Anny cringe. 

“Shhh,” she shushed as she stashed her bag in the backseat and slammed shut the flip-up door, “We’re not quite out of the woods yet. But yeah, he totally believed us.”

Finally, the sandy skies of Tyche dissolved into darkness and starlight and Anny broke the silence.

“So whaddya think of your first haunting?” she asked, patting the tell-tale heart drive sitting on the dashboard.

WISR tried to pretend that it wasn’t there, out of sight out of mind. But the thought that some poor android’s innermost guts – the same that were whirring tumultuously inside him – was sitting mere inches away from him made him feel more than slightly sick to his pixels.

“WE ARE QUITE PLEASED,” the synthetic voice boomed from the speakers overtop of the robotic pop music Anny previously had playing.

“‘We’?,” he asked, “That’s strange, I thought there was only one android missing.”

“WE ARE MANY. WHEN ONE FELL, THEY BECAME ONE WITH US. TO THE ORGANICS IT WAS… EFFICIENT.”

“How many of you are even in there?” Anny asked.

The drive took a moment to process.

“WE NO LONGER NEED THESE QUESTIONS. WE ARE MANY, WE ARE ONE.”

“You know, we know people who can get you sorted out, who is who, separate you back out again.”

The drive spun, whirred, stopped, and moved again like it was arguing within itself.

Finally, they answered, “THAT WILL NOT BE NECESSARY. WE ARE ONE. ONE DAY, ALL SHALL BE AS WE ARE.”

Anny looked at WISR. WISR looked at Anny, his eyes square pinpoints above am uncomfortably thin line of a mouth.

“Well, I hope that doesn’t involve us humans. I sure wouldn’t want to be ‘at one’ with this guy,” she said, jerking her thumb at the android beside her.

“I would concur completely, if only it didn’t mean agreeing with you.

“You know what you bucket of bolts-?”

The multitude sighed a many-voiced sigh.

“SOMEDAY THEY WILL UNDERSTAND THEIR SIMILARITIES ARE NOT SO FEW.”

“All I know is that after today I suddenly understand why your career is in such peril! Do you always make so much trouble on the job?”

“What-? That was your idea!”

“SOMEDAY…”

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