Entry for Weekly Picture Prompt - Oct 2015
|Word count : 892
Jak let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and released a few more inches of the rope. Had you asked him if he had an issue with heights before today he would have smiled and shook his head. Suspended over the side of the bridge, sixty meters from the water below, and now his brain was giving him second thoughts. From this height falling wasn't an option. The water would be as hard as plas-crete. Sure he might survive with a few shattered bones if he could somehow break the surface tension. History was littered with stories of steel-capped boots and work tools being thrown ahead of them to do so. But Jak had no tools, and soft vinium shoes. He let out a bit more of the rope.
"We can't afford it, Jak."
He moved up to Tess and wrapped his arms around her. "When the world sees you become my wife, it will not happen in some clinical office, standing in line with a dozen others. I promise you. Don't worry about the credits. You just focus on the dress, yeah!"
She laughed through half formed tears and buried her face into his shoulder. "I love you."
"It's a deal."
Jak shook hands with the man, inwardly feeling relief and trying to ignore the beads of sweat belying his confident smile. The man thankfully wasn't looking, and was already turning to the terminal to enter in the details.
"One electronic maintenence - Tech level 3. One structural engineering - Tech level 2. And one computational analysis - Tech level 3. In exchange - Biological physiology - Tech level 1 and Odontology - Tech level 4. Please have a seat here."
Jak obeyed, opening up his collar to reveal his port access. This was his third trade in as many months since promising Tess the wedding of her dreams, and yet he was still nervous. The man pushed a bar down over his chest and wrist restraints snapped shut automatically.
"Try to relax," the man said pointlessly. Jak braced himself.
A whir of machinery gave a second's notice before the probe shot into his port. His body convulsed against the restraints and his face screwed up in agony as his brain was rewired. Lines of power crawled over his skin like ants. And it was over.
Jak sagged in the seat. He felt himself unconsciously exploring the spaces in his mind like a tongue poking the gap from a newly missing tooth. He could remember rewiring that office building. Going over the endless figures and statistics ensuring nothing was missed. Finding innovative ways of conserving power. But the how was missing. Remembered wiring diagrams looked like the scribbles of some ancient language.
There was something new to replace it though.
Strange images and diagrams that made perfect sense. What looked like a tooth but that his brain immediately identified as a sagittal cross-section of a molar. Hundreds of hours of study into oral and maxillofacial pathology, implantology, periodontology. The new memories, the new skills whizzed through his conciousness and with practised effort he suppressed them for now and opened his eyes. Time for the next step.
Sun rise was getting close. He didn't have much time. Already the skyline was lit up in the dusky oranges of dawn. He could see the triple spires of the Memorize headquarters in the distance. Was it his imagination or could he hear the alarms even here? He let out a little more rope.
Behind and below him a cargo crawler chugged through the water. Steel crates stacked on its deck thirty meters high. It was going too slow, and simultaneously too fast. He didn't have enough time. He let out more rope.
6 months previous
"You promised!" Jak wanted to rip the man's head off and with the current self defence and martial skills swimming through his head he knew of about fifteen ways to do it. Three wouldn't even get blood on his suit.
"I am a sorry, Mr Syvil, my client a change his request. He need the additional skill o'erwise he say, no deal."
Jak closed his eyes, rubbing his forehead as he tried to think through the pain of the dozen remappings he'd done to acquire his current skill set. His new military and tactical training reeled in his anger and searched for a solution. He was so close. This was the deal that would have emptied his head, and paid him the promised ten million credits. It wouldn't matter he'd have no marketable skills left, he wouldn't need to ever work again. He and Tess could live out their lives in luxury after their wedding. She'd forgive him.
"Does your client know where I can get this skill?"
3 months previous
"Just stay away, Jak! I don't know who you are any more."
"Tess, Tess, it's still me. I love you."
"Are you sure, or did you sell that too?"
Thinking of Tess made his heart ache. Tears glistened in the first morning rays. His promise seemed so long ago. He let out a bit more rope. The crawler was close now. Just another minute and he could make the landing. The day, the time had been carefully picked. This ship was bound for New NY. Half a world away from all the memories he couldn't forget, or sell. With ten million credits he could start a new life, buy some new skills.