Error In Programming

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I woke up to the sound of what I could only presume was Jeremy dying, which made me smile, only to change abruptly to electric keyboards tapping away.

“He had one instruction,” I muttered weakly as I got my systems working. I dropped out of my bed and walked out into the main room. Looking down, I saw Jeremy working in the kitchen. There were ingredients covering the counter with smoke rising from the pan heating of the oven.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Breakfast.” He responded. “Want some?”

I denied his request by sharply turning away and heading back to the room to change and get ready. As I cleaned myself up in the bathroom, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. I was already made aware of my physical changes but for a strange reason, I felt differently about my emotional changes. It never bothered me before. I needed a close mind to accomplish missions but this time, It just felt strange and unnatural how cold I was. Did it?

I shook the thoughts from my head. I needed to focus on the mission, not Jeremy or myself. I finished everything and put on a casual outfit and headed back out to see Jeremy was no longer setting fire to the kitchen and was now eating on the countertop. I walked down the stairs as he turned around and saw me.

“I didn’t know how long you’d take so I didn’t make you anything. Sorry.”

“I doubt that I would consume anything of your creation.” There it was again. Why did it sound so formal and unnatural?

“I hope that my music didn’t wake you up.”

“It didn’t. It was the sound of what I thought was your screams of agony that woke me up to this blissful morning.” I said as I crossed him, walking over to the other side of the counter.

“Yeah.” Jeremy said in a weirded-out manner. “That was the music, sorry to disappoint.” He took a sip of his tea and looked out into the morning skyline.

“Radiation from the storm should be gone by now. They should give the all-clear soon to go outside.” I grabbed a glass and filled it water as I walked back towards the couch where my laptop was sitting on the coffee table in front of the couch. I sat down and opened it and went to see my emails. Opening the app, I saw one new email in my inbox. It was from my mother. I opened it.

Hello My love,

I hope that your trip wasn’t too bad. You know how I feel about you doing these missions but, at last, I can’t do anything about it. 1 is quite stubborn, just like you. I know that it’ll be hard, I just want you to know that I love and miss you. You’ll always be in my heart and in my mind. Hopefully the mission ends quickly and you can come home. I promise that when you do, I’ll buy that car you had your eyes on.

Goodbye for now my love,

Lady Wintercoat

CEO of Alphacom

I smiled at her email. My mother had always cherished our relationship and had always been by my side. Although it can be annoying at times, I still love her.

I thought back to years ago. I was 14 at the time and my first serious boyfriend had broken up with me. I remembered crying for days, trying to call and message him to reconsider. My friends had bought me tubs of ice cream and all types of dresses to try to cheer my up but nothing worked. Then one night, while I was eating chocolate ice cream and looking through old photos of us together, my mom walked into my room. She was wearing a silk nightgown and her hair was still wet from her shower. She walked over and sat on the bed, looking at the state I was in.

“Are you okay?” She asked.

I looked back at her in confusion and distraught.

“Do I look okay?” I screamed her. “My boyfriend dumped me for some bitch and he won’t answer any of my calls and he broke my heart and I just want to be alone!” The tears had once again returned as I started sobbing buckets. My mother looked at my me as I cried.

“Sweetie, listen. There is nothing in this world worse than losing a loved one. But if he were to go on your back like that. Then, he has never truly loved someone and shouldn’t be worth your time and energy.”

“But I loved him.” I responded.

“And that’s why you should move on. He broke your heart and to do that to someone is immoral and inhumane.” She cupped my face and looked into my eyes. “Astral, you’ll find your prince one day. But this boy, he was never a prince or a man.”

I hugged her, still crying, and took in everything she said. I did eventually move on and find myself other prince, one who I know will never betray me. Even though we have to keep things on the downlow, we are happy.

“Well I’ll be damned. You can smile.”

I turned to my right to see Jeremy looking at me with his annoying smirk. I looked back at the computer and closed out the email app. Jeremy moved across me and sat on the other side of the couch. He pulled out a vape pen and went to take a puff. I watched as he inhaled and removed the pen as smoke rose from his mouth. I picked up the smell of marijuana almost immediately.

“How can you tolerate drugs? There lowely and cheap and just disgusting.”

“Living the life of a true Christian huh?” He snickered. “I thought you’d love drugs Ms. Rich Party Girl.”

I rolled my eyes and left the couch. I walked over to the door and started putting on my shoes.

“Wait, where are you going?” I heard him ask.

“To eat.” I said as I put on my shoes. I then walked out the room and started to make my way to the commercial center of the hotel. As I rode down the elevator, it stopped on the sixteenth floor and the door opened to reveal the Handler waiting for his ride down.

“Hello Astral, would you mind if I join you for dinner?”

“No, by all means.” I responded.

He walked in and the doors closed as the elevator continued downward. As we went down, the Handler spoke up in a monotone voice similar to mine.

“Did Jeremy cook you breakfast?”

I made a quick glance at him, the light reflecting from his bald, sweaty head nearly blinded my sight despite his coarse white skin.

“He did make breakfast. However, It was not for me. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering. Jeremy is a good cook.” The Handler said smiling.

“I doubt that.” I said.

“You shouldn’t.” He said as the elevator doors opened and we walked out into the commercial center of the hotel.

A bit later, we were sitting in a cafe eating sandwiches and drinking coffee. The Handler spoke of his two kids who were living somewhere in Siberia. “The last thing I want is the Order to get their hands on them. They are only children. I want to protect them.” He said before taking a sip of his black coffee. “You understand, yes?”

I sat there in silence. I knew what my answer should be but yet, I felt conflicted. The Order of 12, for all their secrecy, has one clear goal: Unite the world. They want to put an end to all these wars. One world, one government, no more of this empire crap. They are doing what is best for the world.

“I don’t know.”

The Handler seemed unturned by my words. He raised an eyebrow at me “I wouldn’t expect you to understand considering your lineage.”

“What does that mean?” My voice was sharp.

“It means what it means.”

“What do you know about family, you russian bastard?”

“That they willingly sent their daughter to a mission that may result in her death? That they don’t care for you to the amount you think they do? That they don’t even care what happens to you.”

“I think we’re done here.” I got up and left in a huff.

The Handler, realizing his mistake, tried to chase after me but I was out of the cafe before he was even out of his seat. I stomped all the way back to the hotel room and loudly knocked on the door. I yelled for Jeremy to open the door but all I heard inside was someone screaming. I put my ear to the door trying to listen inside.

“Son of a bitch!”

I scrambled for my pocket for a keycard until realizing that I never brought one with me. I stepped back and charged at the door with a shoulder charge. The door blew open as I ran into the kitchen where Jeremy was.

He stood alone in the kitchen. He looked at me with a face of shock and confusion. My glance dropped down to his left hand resting on the dark wooden cabinet with a knife jabbed right in the center.

“What the hell happened?”

“I was keeping myself from dying from boredom and then you came in and made me almost cut my hand off.” He made an attempt to remove the knife as he told me this. But the knife wouldn’t bulge.

I grabbed the knife and effortlessly removed it. He let out a short scream as he fell to his knees.

“Christ! That hurt.”

As he climbed back up to his feet, I looked down at the hole his hand. It was long and narrow but you could see right through it. Looking inside, I could see the metal endoskeleton that made up his arm and the wires that were cut from the knife. There was no blood leaking out from the wound and were was no sign of flesh anywhere in or around the wound. He covered his hand but my mind still lingered on the wound.

The handler came rushing in behind me. He walked in and took two seconds to look at me and Jeremy.

“What the hell happened?”

Jeremy, without breaking his gaze with the Handler, pointed and said “Astral happened.”

In all honesty, that punch was long deserved.

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