I don't know what street I'm on. That's probably a red flag of some kind.
I make myself stop walking--it's surprisingly difficult, another bad sign--and make myself go over the doctor's advice again. They told me after the operation that I needed to be vigilant, because even though the neural implants would correct the... the cognitive deficiencies, my brain supplies just a little too slowly... that I suffered after my motorcycle accident, there were vulnerabilities in the cybernetic systems that were unavoidable. Exploits and back doors that a skilled, a skilled s-something, someone, someone who uses exploits to, to, to... shit. Lost it. That's probably a pretty bad sign too. I haven't experienced that kind of brain fog since the operation.
Technically speaking, I didn't consent to the operation that restored--no, not restored, more like supplemented--my intellect. My family had to do it. Don't get me wrong, they asked me for permission, but I wasn't considered legally capable of consent due to the severe neurological impairment I suffered when my head slammed into the tunnel wall at sixty miles per hour. My helmet kept my skull mostly intact, but the only thing keeping my brain from hitting the front of my skull that day was a thin cushion of cerebrospinal fluid. It wasn't enough. Most of my memories between the accident and the experimental surgery that inserted a fine mesh of networked computers directly into my nervous system come back to me through a haze of confusion, even now.
Confusion. Shit. I was confused about... about something. I'm having trouble remembering what it was. That's a warning sign, isn't it? The doctors, they told me that I shouldn't experience any problems holding a train of thought. The network has multiple redundancies, it should be able to handle the workload even if up to half the nodes fail. And I, I'd get signals. From the failed nodes. Danger signals that I was experiencing issues with the system that required immediate attention from a qualified medical professional.
I look around, still not recognizing the neighborhood I'm in. Was that what happened? Did I come here looking for a doctor? I rub my temples, my fingers brushing the little bump of the wifi antenna as I try to massage some sense back into my fuzzy thoughts and unaccountably patchy memories. It doesn't seem right. None of this seems right.
I'm not getting the danger signals. I mean, I'm getting danger signals--my feet are moving again, and that's a pretty big red flag that something's wrong with my brain right now--but my supplemental neural network isn't warning me of any node failures or processing problems. I know what those sound like; they ran diagnostic tests on me for weeks back at the hospital, triggering every conceivable alert and system warning until I got used to hearing the voice inside my head without panicking or wondering if I was going insane. If I was losing my ability to think, or worse to control my body, the network would tell me.
But it's not. I'm walking down an unfamiliar street in a neighborhood I don't recognize, with no real memory of how I got here, and my cyborg brain thinks that's just fine. And I... I don't know if I can figure this out without it. Without the network, I'm. I'm not very smart. I have trouble holding onto a thought, I have trouble remembering things. The doctors, they told me I might never regain my full mental capabilities, even after years of therapy. Too much brain damage, they said. The cells couldn't grow back. I recall how much they had to dumb it down for me and I can feel myself tearing up.
Is that what happened? Did the whole network fail at once? That's not supposed to be possible. The doctors said it had a one in ten thousand chance of even a single node failure per hundred thousand hours of use, and there were over a million independent nodes in the interconnected network with failsafes to contain any kind of cascade effect. That means the chances of a total crash are--are--
I sob in frustration. I can barely even picture the individual numbers, let alone turn them into a mathematical equation that would give me the probability I'm looking for. Even before the accident, math wasn't my strong suit, and afterwards I needed someone to help me make change at the corner store. I've gotten so used to having a supercomputer in my head to handle complex calculations that I'd completely forgotten just how infuriating incomprehension could be.
That's when it hits me. I'm not having trouble with language. Oh, my brain is slow and sluggish the way it was after the accident, back before they decorated the inside of my head with titanium and molybdenum and gold and silver and all sorts of heavy metals that had to be hermetically sealed inside microscopic capsules so they didn't leak into my body and poison me. I'm following trail after trail deeper into distraction, losing track of my initial revelation as I wander down the rabbit hole into my own memories of the surgery that upgraded my intelligence to superhuman levels. But, I remind myself very forcibly, I'm still finding all the big words.
I know what 'hermetically' means, same with 'incomprehension' and 'independent' and 'interconnected'. I'm not spending whole minutes groping for a word, staring blankly into space while I struggle against the limitations of my damaged Wernicke's area in growing irritation. I even know what 'irritation' is, a word I'd have sputtered to a halt over in my attempts to describe just how angry it made me to be so diminished by the accident. Those ten-dollar words all come from an implanted vocabulary that interacts with the intact portions of my language processing centers, and if I can think of them, then that means the network is still running.
But I can't think. Straight. I can't think straight, I can barely even walk straight--my shoulder smacks into the side of the stairwell, and my hands are clumsy and inarticulate as they grab for the handrail set into the concrete wall that leads down into the cellar. I... I'm walking down a flight of stairs into a cellar, now? When did--how did--right. The distractions. It's just so hard to keep to a train of thought. That's a sign of... of something. I make myself sit down on the steps, determined not to move until I figure out what's going on.
At this rate, that might mean I never move again. My thoughts feel so slow--the network easily and effortlessly retrieves the words, but all I can do with them is describe just how sluggish my brain is at putting them together in any kind of coherent pattern. Some operations have shut down entirely, some of them seem to be running without any input from me at all... the doctors warned me about this, they said that erratic and unstable processes were a sign of something, but. But I can't remember what. Every time I get close, my mind seems to slide right off it. I can hear people in my head, lecturing me about what to look out for, but every time I try to concentrate on it the words start to sound garbled and distorted like the adults in those old 'Peanuts' cartoons talking.
'Marilyn, the wifi antenna is necessary to diagnose and repair issues with your neural network's operating system that may come up over years of continuous operation, but it does mean that wah wah waah, wah wah wahh wah waaaahhh.' 'A concerted effort at wah wahh waaah, wah waaaah wahh wah wah could take advantage of those vulnerabilities to gain wah wah wah wah wahhhh.' 'Early warning signs of a wahh waaah wah wah wahhh could include slow runtimes on your basic cognitive processes, system impairments without a corresponding error message, and glitches in memory retrieval.' 'A more serious sign of waaah wah wah wahh wah could involve something like an inability to control your own muscles.'
I give that last one a lot of thought. Whatever's happening to me, it's getting serious now. Because I'm not in control of my own body anymore. I realize that when I suddenly stand up, without any accompanying resolution on my part to do so, and walk the rest of the way down the narrow concrete steps to the incongruously cheerful yellow door set into the side of the house. I catch myself wondering why I'm fixating on the color of the door when I should be wondering why I can understand the word 'incongruously' but I can't stop my hand from reaching out to the doorknob. Then I catch myself wondering why my network is acting so strange when I should be trying to stop myself from going inside a strange house in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
It's just... it's distractions within distractions within distractions. Every time I think I'm focused on the problem, it turns out my brain has simply been diverted into a different layer of the endlessly nesting confusion that threatens to engulf me. It's as if someone's closed off the neural network in some way, forcing my thoughts to continually loop around through the same futile steps without ever really reaching a conclusion. And as long as I'm constantly trying to identify the issue, I can't fix it. I'm not really even aware of it, not with my mind as dependent as it is on the neural network to form and process memories. I. I get stuck. On the wrong thing.
I suddenly notice that my hands are moving again, gripping the hem of my t-shirt and pulling it up and off. There's a woman staring appreciatively at my body. She's wearing augmented reality goggles and interface gloves, just like the doctors who helped to test my implants. That seems really important for some reason right now.
Be-because my brain has vulnerabilities, I tell myself, my network helpfully supplying the word in lieu of bodily autonomy. It has to, they couldn't seal off the software the way they sealed off the hardware. Brain surgery is too risky to resort to it every time they needed to patch my operating system, especially when cutting in the wrong place by even a millimeter could result in tiny flecks of palladium floating around in my cerebrospinal fluid. They had to install a wifi antenna to get a signal through to the network, because radio waves don't travel well through water. I know all that. Why do I know all that and not know why I'm taking my pants off right now?
Because. Because of a thing. Because of a memory I can't access, because my brain is too damaged to make and retrieve them properly anymore and so that function's been off-loaded onto the sophisticated network of microscopic computers that mimics the operation of a human mind. But, but a network of computers can be... can be... oh fuck, now the fucking vocabulary decides not to give me a fucking word. There's a word for this. I can't remember, and I can't think straight, but I can reason this out. I know I can.
Something is messing with my head. It's impossible to ignore--there are so many red flags now that I can barely see my own thoughts anymore. I can't remember what any of it means, but I... I can tell what I'm doing. I'm taking off my sports bra. I'm pulling down my panties. I'm showing off my pale, lithe body, still showing the ghosts of the scars from my motorcycle crash, and I'm asking the complete stranger in front of me, "Do I please you, Mistress?" My mouth seems to know exactly what to say. All the words I used to grope and struggle for are right there, pressed into service to fawn over--shit! I'm still doing it!
Okay. No more distractions. No more confusion. Think it through. My brain is hooked up to a computer. That computer can be accessed by other people. It can be programmed. There's security, but they warned me that security can be... can be... no. Leave it. It's another distraction. My brain is hooked up to a computer and that computer can be programmed. So my brain can be programmed. My brain can be programmed by other people.
There are people who... who program computers that don't belong to them. There's a word for that, and my computer isn't telling me what it is because the person who's programming it doesn't want me to know. The same way they don't want me to remember what the doctors told me. The same way they don't want me to realize that I'm spreading my pussy lips, lewdly displaying my cunt to them and saying, "Yes, Mistress. I belong to you now." They don't even want me to know where I am. They're restricting the network down to the functions that help them program me.
They are programming me. The woman in front of me, the one who's beckoning me forward with her interface gloves and stretching out her bare leg for me to hump like a needy little bitch in heat, she is programming me. Right now. She's locking down the network, turning it from a peripheral that helps me think into a governor that enslaves my mind and my body to her control.
She, she can't completely control my mind, because my... my regular brain? My old brain? The part of me that's still left, it's damaged beyond repair and barely functional but it's still mine. Deep down, I'm always going to know what she's doing. I think. Sometimes. Unless she erases the memories of figuring this out. I shiver in sudden, incoherent terror as I realize that she can simply edit my personal history to erase any recollection of this moment. I can work it all out again... and again, and again, and again... but I'll have to start from scratch every time.
And she'll have so many opportunities to refine her control. I realize with a chill that I don't really know how many functions the computer connected to my brain can really take over--it's experimental technology, and experimental technology invites experimentation by definition. She can distract my conscious thoughts, take over my motor control, alter or erase my memories... maybe she can insert rationalizations for my behavior? Maybe someday she'll be able to give me a perfectly good reason why I'm grinding my cunt against her shin and whimpering, "Please use your slut, Mistress. Please make her your fucktoy forever."
She gestures with the interface gloves, and suddenly the network amplifies the physical sensation of my clit rubbing against her skin a thousandfold. My eyes instantly glaze over, and the train of thought I'd worked so laboriously to construct simply dissolves like cotton candy under a firehose. I don't remember where I am. I don't know why I'm here. I don't know what I'm doing or why I can't stop. The only thing in my head right now is need, and that need is to grind myself on a total stranger's leg until I cum like a horny slut.
I don't care if she's making me do this. If anything, that only makes me wetter. Do I want to be controlled like this? Is she making me enjoy her programming? I--yes. I think she is. I think she's making me want to be brainwashed. I think she's conditioning me to want to be conditioned, removing the last gossamer thread of my independence by convincing me to cut it myself. That's probably the biggest red flag of all... but I don't think I can bring myself to care anymore.