Wednesday, July 17, 2013

EXCERPT: Program 13 by Nicole Sobon

Program 13 
by Nicole Sobon 
Publication date:  August 15th 2012
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction - 15+

Two identities. One Body.

17-year-old Emile Reed, may have died, but she isn't dead. Her body now belongs to Program Thirteen, where her every thought, every movement, is controlled. Until Emile begins to find her way back inside of Thirteen's core, where she manages to fend off Thirteen’s programming to reclaim the life that she lost. But Charles McVeigh, the owner of Vesta Corp, isn’t willing to let Thirteen go. And he will stop at nothing to reclaim control of Thirteen's programming. Because without her, McVeigh has nothing.

What makes you human?

“May I present to you your new caretakers?” McVeigh turned to his left, pointing at the on-looking White Coats. From left to right, there was Tina, the friendly White Coat, Roger, Rhys, Mark, and Sterling. “These will be the five people responsible for you at all times.” 

Had I not known better, I would have assumed the male White Coats were like me. Their faces were cold and their bodies rigid. Standing beside Tina, they looked lifeless...almost like me. But unlike me, they were actually alive. They each had a beating heart, blood flowing through their veins, and a conscience of their own. I did not. My exterior was flesh, but my insides were constructed of computers and wires. My mind was not my own. My words, my movements, my emotions...they were all fed to me, to my core. I did not have blood flowing through my veins, for I had no veins, only wires connecting to the Program built inside my mind. They might have looked like me, but they were not like me. 

Lowering my head, I walked over to the White Coats. The men parted so that I could stand beside Tina. I was grateful for their gesture, though I knew it was not meant to be friendly. Charles McVeigh and Douglas Todd made their way towards us with their arms open and face’s beaming with joy. I was their new toy, their new test in Level Three. I was everything McVeigh wanted out of this operation, or so it seemed. Both men threw their arms around me, not even wincing as their skin touched mine. Even through their suit jackets and long sleeve shirts that they wore underneath, I suspected they felt the coolness radiating off my flesh. But if they did, neither of the men made an effort to back away. 

“Program Thirteen.” McVeigh broke his hold on me, leaving Douglas Todd by my side. “Your caretakers will now be taking you into your hard drive evaluation. Since you have excelled two levels, there will need to be some changes made to your programming.” 

Without further ado, the White Coats grabbed hold of my arms and pulled me off into the evaluation room behind us, placing me in the metal chair before securing the restraints. This was the part I hated most, feared even, at least, inside. I was at the mercy of the scientists whom I’d yet to meet. These strangers controlled my core. Unlike my caretakers, they would never become a part of me. They would continue to remain strangers who stood behind the glass, clipboards and pens in tow, marking down my every flaw and my every strength. Whoever or whatever they wanted me to become, I would and that was all I could do. I was nothing without this place, these people. 

“And we’re ready to begin,” a voice rang through the speakers surrounding the top of the room. There were no lights. Just darkness. 

I could feel the restraints pressing against my flesh. Do not move, I had to remind myself. I could not bleed, but my flesh could still tear. I closed my eyes as I heard the charge running through the wires, tugging on the hard drive in my back. I pushed forward against my will, acting strictly on what my mind was feeding me. There were flashes of lights around the room. I looked down at my right wrist and noticed a large tear revealing the wires beneath. A pale blue light pulsed where the flesh once was.

Nicole Sobon is the author of the Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and various short stories.
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