Here it is, part 2, of the craziness that is/will be/should be The Wandernell! Enjoy!
I turned on the light. What was that beeping? It wasn’t the smoke detector. I didn’t have one of those fancy surge protectors with the battery back-up. The computer was off. I didn’t own a watch. I hadn’t set the alarm, and it didn’t sound like the microwave.
A gentle light came from the living room. I grabbed my lightsaber again, which I’d placed for just such an occasion, and tiptoed into the room. That strange, blank pad the man had left me was shining. I’d poked and prodded it in every way I could and had convinced myself it was just a dead rip-off. The beeping was growing louder. I backed away.
It was a bomb. I was suddenly certain of it. I was going to die. My feet wouldn’t move because I was imagining how it would feel to have the my skin burned from my body and the impression overwhelmed my good sense. The light grew suddenly as the insistent beeping ceased. Then all sound ceased, as if it had been torn out of the air and crushed. I turned away from the light. My last thought was, I’m afraid to admit, nothing more profound than I wished I had called Mom tonight.
The light wrapped around me so tightly I was enveloped in darkness. The silence grew so intense it roared. My body burned until pinpricks of ice assaulted my exposed skin.
“Initialization complete. Customization commencing. Please state your name.”
Okay, I wasn’t dead. I didn’t know where I was, but I wasn’t dead–and I wasn’t going to open my eyes. Not yet
“Please state your name.”
It wasn’t the old man’s voice. I knew because it was a woman’s voice.
“Please state your name. I insist.”
I found that speaking was nearly impossible. The calm, clear part of my mind knew what was happening. I had been chosen for some mysterious role. It was obvious. I’d known it since the old man had left. It was why I hadn’t disposed of the pad he’d handed me, why I hadn’t called the police. But this was only one small part of my brain. The rest was screaming in terror, and my body was shaking.
“Name. Now. Capiche?”
“Thank you. Age?”
“Thank you. Married?”
“Thank you. Would you like to keep the default settings?”
“Thank you. Please wait. Do not reset the system. This will take a few minutes.”
I thought it was about time to open my eyes. It was dark, with black clouds skidding across the sky. The wind flung cold water into my face. It was raining lightly and the sea was crashing down below. I stood upon a dune in the night, the ocean knocking its hand against the walls of its cage, the storm the mad shadows of its deranged mind. And beside me upon the sand was a faint rectangle of comforting blue. I picked it up. A smiley face beamed from the screen.
“Contact initiated. Melding commencing. Please wait.”
My hand grew warm, a pleasant feeling in the cold rain. Then the device began to melt, rather like the Wicked Witch, and as it dissipated to nothing, in my mind I thought What a world, what a world!