Nihil – Chapter 1: Lost – Part 2

Then suddenly everything stopped. I didn’t feel the pain anymore. I felt much better than I did ever before. It scared me as I was left without any bad sensation.

“Am I dead? The pain is gone…”

“On the contrary, you are very much alive, friend!” I sensed that he eased up from my question. Maybe he wasn’t as sure about my survival as he pretended to be.

I managed to stand up easily. Somehow it felt so distant when it was a deadly struggle just to move a finger. Guess it’s in our nature to get used to the easy way as soon as we taste it.

“So, what now? Can you please give me an explanation on this all?”

“Sure, just let me try something real quick.”

I started hearing a loud screeching sound in my ears. I thought my eardrums were going to implode. Then, just as instantaneously as it began, the noise stopped. Then Xcell started to talk, but instead of the speaker, I heard him as if he was conversing through an earphone.

[So…can you hear me? Your skull still seems to be intact, so it’s a good sign.]

“What did you just do?” His disinterested attitude towards putting me in lethal situations made me feel a shivering chill down my spine. I was wondering whether he was that ruthless?

[I interfaced with the nanites in you, so they would resonate your ear bones, creating an always available comms channel.]

“Nanites? What are you talking about?” His explanation was even more terrifying than anything I could imagine. I had some kind of a machinery inside me?

[That stuff you injected into your bloodstream carried billions of diagnostic nanites that would detect any abnormal condition and stimulate the different agents in the serum to activate appropriately. They are basically a tiny medical staff working 24/7 so you don’t die. But they occasionally need outside input to handle unexpected situations. Like in your case, where reprogramming was required in order to work properly, and heal you.]

“I’m guessing, that you voluntarily took it upon yourself to tinker with my machines…”

[You’re guessing right, pal. If you are to use the other ten syringes, you’ll need a pro’s assistance not to screw it up big time.]

“Why would I ever need more shots?”

[Well, those babies are quite handy, y’know. They’re not just for healing purposes. With the right programming they can optimize your body’s performance.]

“Meaning?”

[One can achieve super-human feats without any sort of body modification. Of course the volume of the boost is depending on the potential of the user, but it’s a real kicker nonetheless.]

None of what he said made any sense to me. Super-human feats? Body modifications? I couldn’t comprehend was all this about.

“What the hell are you talking about? Why would I want to be super-human? I don’t get it!”

[Well, you’re gonna need whatever advantage you can get if you’re to survive around here.]

“And why was I dying? I could feel my body giving in, but I don’t understand why?”

[Honestly, I don’t really know. The camera in this room had a few medical scanning functions and those sensors picked up that you were in a critical condition. Then I spotted the syringes on the table and thought that they could work if I managed to interface with them. From the data the nanites have sent I can’t really make out the issue with you, it doesn’t look like some kind of an infection…]

“You’re still not making any sense…”

[Whatever.] he said in a frustrated manner [You need my help to get out of here alive, and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme if you follow my directions wondering on everything.]

Something struck me as he was dissing me. He wasn’t doing any of this out of sympathy. He was in a hurry as if someone or something was after him. I guessed that he was putting up with me, because he needed me for some reason. I had no clue of what sort of unique purpose could he have for me. I figured that I could use the situation to finally understand what was going on.

“You should start explaining my situation if you want me to follow you orders!”

[Don’t get too full of yourself! You’re in much more dire need of my assistance than I am for yours. Now that we’re done shaking our fists at each other could you please get up and start making your way out of the room?]

“Fine…” I knew that it did not matter whether or not I trusted Xcell, I had to do something and look around at some point. I thought that I might even get answers for my questions if I could get a better reading of my surroundings. Besides, anything was better than lying on the ground for who knows-how-long.

I tried to move my muscles, ready for the same amount of struggle I had before, but to my surprise I managed to stand up easily.

[Those nanites are amazing, right?] Xcell was bragging about his work just like an enthusiastic kid.

“I guess…”

As I looked around, I spotted a small sink in one of the room’s corners. I just noticed that I was painfully thirsty, so I thought that I should see if there was any water in the system.

[Hey! The exit is not there!] He sounded like he had it with me. But I pay little to no heed to him.

“I’m thirsty. I’ll just take a few sips and I’ll be on the move, OK?”

[Ah, fine! But hurry! We shouldn’t waste time!]

As soon as I reached it I opened the faucet and, thankfully, the water started flowing. It didn’t taste good at all, it was rusty and murky. I couldn’t stop drinking it nonetheless. While I was leaning above the sink I noticed a small mirror on the wall, covered in moss. I started to clean it, so that I could see my own face. I couldn’t make out in my head how exactly I looked like, and the mirror had awakened my interest in the issue.

[What are you doing now?]

“The mirror… I have to see my face.”

[Come on, man! We really don’t have time for you to fix your makeup!]

“Just shut up for a second!” I yelled.

Finally I managed to rub it long enough to use it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and leaned in front of it. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the experience, but I knew that I couldn’t pass up this chance. I opened my eyes, ready for whatever appearance I might have had, but the one that was waiting for me petrified me the instant I gazed upon the reflection…