When he opened his eyes, he was in the room, tied to the chair with his wrists behind his back. He was alone. Of course, he screamed for help, tried to go online and call for help, but his screams went unanswered and he found his connection to everywherenet scrambled. The small, still lucid part of his brain guessed that whatever hit him from the metal box had screwed with his implants, but he kept trying to connect, over and over again until the full implication of his situation caught up with him and he began to cry uncontrollably. He was going to die, after that crazy fucker did god only knows what to him first. Luis threw up all over himself.
He waited, alone and afraid, smelling the stink of his vomit and sweat. With every minute that passed, he became more afraid, less able to think clearly. By the time the apartment door opened, Luis couldn’t even speak. He simply thrashed at his bounds as the man entered, grunting incoherently as the man slowly walked toward him, Luis’ eyes wild with pure animal terror. Even though he was looking right at the man, there was no way Luis would ever have been able to identify him, even if he lived. He never even noticed the knife.
• • •
It gleamed as if it were a brand new laser edged cutter, but it was old. The short handle was made of fossilized bone, worn smooth and shiny by the sweat of untold numbers of hands. The blade, Damascus steel, was inlaid with an intricate pattern — wavy like water — as it had been folded and forged by hand. The steel was honed to a razor edge, its tip a dagger’s pinpoint. It was beautiful.
The hand which held the knife, loose and comfortable, belonged to a man who was as ordinary as the weapon was remarkable. He had a body sculpted by the nutrients and chemicals in budget food bars —- young, thin, muscular, healthy and utterly nondescript. His face was dotted with the small metal studs most everyone wore, implants which upgraded the neural interface with everywherenet. He could have been anyone; Luis could easily have been his brother. Even his voice was unremarkable, but Luis jumped when the man spoke.
“I’m sorry about this,” the man said softly, tracing the polymer bounds with the tip of the knife. “I don’t usually keep people like this for so long, but I was unavoidably detained. I’m sorry; it must be very uncomfortable.”
Luis struggled to make sense of the man’s words, tried to formulate something to say, something to get him out of this. “Please,” he croaked, his voice hoarse from shouting, “please. Let me go.”
The man laughed, the sound surprisingly light. There was no trace of cruelty in his voice when he said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.” He drew the knife absently across Luis’ arm, a thin line of blood welling up in its wake. “Make no mistake,” he said, “I am going to kill you. But there’s no reason why we can’t both enjoy it.” He pulled the small metal box from a pocket and Luis felt the spark of lightning again. One of the nodes in his face burned for a fraction of a second, then he felt the sensation change to one of intense pleasure.
The man began the work with the knife and Luis felt physical ecstasy like he never had imagined. He spent twenty glorious minutes before he finally died.