Self-check over: authorized
Patient: Ford, Scott
Complaint: dizziness, headache, nosebleed, vertigo, physical imbalance, nausea
Diagnosed with 3D-neurotransmitter scanner 42b1
Assisted by MedBot Hb3a
Diagnosis: Deliberate Deceleration Device not detected. Additional verification scans completed: two. No changes in state of patient. No 3D or 3D effects.
Warning! 3D functionality not detected.
Please report to the community Medical Center of your Living Complex (#45) so that your health can be fully assessed by a human health professional, and your 3D reinstated.
Scott blinked. Then stared some more into the middle distance. Glanced again at the fateful warning displayed on the holo. He sat up straighter in the medical exam chair, surrounded by the faint, calming buzz of MedBots circling him, cleaning the equipment. An even fainter vibration, almost soundless, ran through the lacy thinner-than-hair electrodes feeding along his scalp as if they too were alive.
A query repeated three times wasn’t lying. He frantically felt around in his thoughts again, trying to reach for information that was previously so readily available to him. Addresses, data, some work-related memories. All he remembered instead was the encounter with the Boogeyman, his morning illness, the vertigo on the rooftop. Other recollections seemed behind a wall of milky glass, and yet some were becoming startlingly sharp. His childhood, weird little details: school; college; stupid jokes from years ago…
Scott’s head was spinning, but he was certain it wasn’t residue from his brush with height sickness. The smooth wires kept curling and uncurling along his hairline, sending signals, searching for a Device inside his head—a nanobot that was no longer there. Scott’s lungs felt suddenly too-empty, his head too-full of odd thoughts running too-fast, as if part of some unnatural illness.
He was no longer a proper Temporal. The 3D that had set the boundaries, the space for his memories, was gone. His thinking… his thinking was different. The electrodes moved like snakes, while Scott breathed heavily, trying to pinpoint what made his new reality so strange. Not one thought was repeated. Instead, his brain shone with stark clarity as if brand new and ready to learn an endless stream of data without forgetting. Fred’s circular questions, the meals always the same and so bland—it all came together in a grotesque image of the Devices’ real power over mind, body and will.
Scott grabbed at the wires, dragging them away from the surface of his head. A few snagged behind his ear and he scratched at them desperately. He needed to delete the medical data, any records that his brain was now different. But before he could swipe at the holo, a door to the First Aid room slid open.
“No, wait!” He’d be turned back for sure; the diagnosis had sounded some kind of alarm. There was no real escape.
He expected anything but the apparition behind the door that told him to stop. It was a girl, of some 15 years old, with two tall tufts of auburn hair on either side of her head. Grey overalls, still in school. She snuck around Scott, who still stared at her dumbly, hands frozen in front of him, as she finished deftly unhooking him from the scanner, her hand doing an odd little twitch on the buttons.
She then moved to the other side of the holo, staring into Scott’s eyes through the blueish three dimensional screen. She did a complicated hand gesture, and the message, with all data pertaining to Scott’s diagnosis, vanished.
“That’s that. Welcome to humanity, Scott Ford.”