OK, here's chapter 2 of The New Prometheus, where we are introduced to the main character of the series.
‘Francesca, there you are, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for days now. Your rent is overdue.’
Frankie stopped walking and turned to face her landlord. She’d hoped she could slip past Janet’s apartment and get into her place without being noticed, but it seemed like she’d run out of luck. Frankie was always late with her rent, the paydays at her job and the date that Janet wanted her rent never seemed to line up, and neither of them would agree to a change of date. She always wanted to try and save and get out of this cycle, but it just hadn’t been possible recently.
‘Sorry Mrs Scrivens, I should be paid in a couple of days, I’ll drop it in as soon as I get it, okay?’ she said.
‘You see that you do young lady, I’m getting fed up of chasing you for it every month,’ Janet said, raising her chin and looking down her nose at Frankie. ‘You’ve not been down to the Undercity again have you, Francesca?’
She hated her full name. She much preferred to be called Frankie, but Janet always insisted on Francesca. She’d commented in the past that Frankie was not a good name for a self-respecting young woman.
Frankie couldn’t care less what Janet thought of her name or her lifestyle and figured it was none of her business what she got up to. But Janet was nosey and appeared to enjoy passing comment on the lives of others. She seemed to think that because Frankie paid her rent, she had a right to judge her life choices.
It was at moments like these that she found herself resisting the urge to show Janet how much she had learnt at her self-defence classes.
‘Of course not,’ Frankie lied.
‘Good. Otherwise, I might have to review your tenancy agreement, good day to you,’ Janet said and disappeared through her apartment door.
Frankie stuck her middle finger up at the door of her landlord and pulled a face before turning and continuing up the corridor the last ten meters to her own door.
As she pulled out her key card, movement to her right caught her eye. She glanced over to see Franklyn, her neighbour and fellow tenant of Mrs Scrivens poke his head out the door.
‘Sorry, meant to catch you this morning and warn you that Scrivens was on the warpath. She was asking after you yesterday,’ he said.
‘Don’t worry. I can handle Janet. Thanks for thinking of me, though.’
‘Hey, no problem. You busy tonight? I have some Pizza coming. You want to come over, play some video games like we keep saying…?’
Frankie smiled. She couldn’t say for sure, but she had a pretty good idea that Franklyn had a bit of a crush on her. He’d been suggesting that she pop over ever since moving in, but so far she’d avoided it. He was nice and all, but she didn’t have much interest in him beyond saying hello and swapping the occasional gripe about their landlord. ‘Not tonight Franklyn, sorry, it’s been a long day, another time okay?’
‘Sure, no problem, my door always open, you know that.’
‘I know that,’ Frankie smiled, and walked through her doorway.
She closed the door behind her, shutting out the glow from the corridor outside her apartment, leaving only the dim, hazy light that filtered through the persistent clouds of grey smog that hung over the city, reaching down into the chasms of concrete and steel and passing through her window.
Beyond the hardened glass, the towers of the city rose high above her, while also descending to the shadows of the Undercity far below.
From where she stood at the opposite end of the room, she could only see the sides of other buildings. She’d have to get much closer to her window and look up to see the sky.
She dropped her bag in the corner, and her key card on the side next to the front door and walked over to the old, well-used mattress on the floor by the window that served as her bed. She’d called this room home for a few months now, but she hardly ever spent time in it, preferring to be out there.
She’d scavenged a few bits of basic furniture, including this stained mattress so she could at least sleep here, but had little else.
She didn’t care, her life wasn’t this room, it was out on the streets, doing what she did best, and she wanted to be out there now. Pulling herself up from her bed, she changed out of her work clothes and put on a pair of black leggings, boots and a dark jacket over her vest top before checking herself in the mirror.
She was in her early twenties with short dark hair cut to just below her jaw line. Her fair skin had seen better days, and she almost always looked tired with dark rings under her eyes. She had fairly pleasant, if a little sharp, features, with no one thing being too prominent. She didn’t hate anything about her face, but sometimes felt she looked a little plain.
She kept herself in trim, her time on the streets and her self-defence training keeping her fit and teaching her to take care of herself.
Happy with her outfit, she picked up her Data Pad and key card before leaving her apartment. She locked the door behind her and headed to the row of elevator doors pressing the button to call one. Someone else walked up and stood close by, waiting for a car to reach their floor. She glanced it him as he approached and recognised him. This was Dion. He was well known on her floor and in the building in general. He and his teenage mates hung about being anti-social and intimidating people. He seemed to have lost some of that confidence for the moment, though, stood here alone without his friends to back him up.
‘Evening Dion,’ she said, looking at him.
He looked up at her with just his eyes and then looked away. ‘Evening,’ he grunted in answer to her, apparently not impressed that she was talking to him.
‘Off to see your mates?’
‘Ugh,’ he muttered. At least, that’s what it sounded like to her. It might have been a word or two, but she couldn’t tell. He clearly didn’t want to talk to her, though.
Raising her eyebrows for a moment, she silently mouthed the word ‘okay,’ to herself and looked back at the lift. It was taking a while today, so she reached forward and pressed the button a few more times.
She glanced at Dion as she stepped back again and she knew the thoughts he was having. “How backwards, having to push a button to call a lift,” or something to that effect. He probably hated Nats, but she didn’t care. It was her choice not to turn herself into a robot.
Most people these days had some sort of Cybernetic enhancement. It was as much a fashion statement as anything else. A Neural Net being perhaps the most common kind of augmentation, giving people a direct connection to the Net from their brain. With that, they could log into the buildings Intranet and call the lift with just a simple neural command, but Frankie didn’t even have one of those. She preferred to keep herself all natural. If that made her a Nat, then so be it, but she didn’t see herself as one of those Social Justice Warriors out there attacking anything that didn’t fit with their world view.
She’d just made a conscious choice to stay as free of Cybernetic implants as she could. She still had the Nanobots inside her, though, just like most of the human race did, that was pretty much a given, without those the chances were she would have died from a bout of the flu by now with Antibiotics being ineffectual.
The lift door finally opened up before her and announced its downward direction. She stepped in and looked over at Dion.
‘Going down?’ she asked.
He shook his head. ‘I’ll get the next one,’ he answered her.
She nodded and pressed the bottom button on the panel. He probably thought that she would try and talk to him again, which was no doubt the greatest of indignities.
Descending seventy-four floors to the bottom level of the tower block she lived in, the doors opened and allowed her to disembark. Although she was on the lowest level the apartment block lifts went to, she wasn’t at the lowest level of the city. This was merely the bottom of the mid-levels, the main working-class section of the city, built atop the ruins of old London. What had been left of it after the war anyway. There had been some notion of saving the cultural heritage of old London, but these days it was an area you avoided if you had any sense. Today it was filled with those who had nowhere else to go. The cast-offs from society and those who preyed on them.
But Frankie had been going down there for months now, with a goal of helping those who needed it. She walked through the lower lobby of the apartment block, nodding at the concierge who saw her pass this way most days.
She made it outside and looked up for a moment. She’d lived in the city her whole life, but no matter how often she came down here, she always enjoyed the view. She felt like she was at the bottom of a steep-sided valley, surrounded by these towering buildings that stretched up high into the low hanging clouds.
Above her, elevated highways snaked between the buildings feeding onto the upper-mid and higher levels of the city that hung in space above her.
Drones and flyers flew through the air, their lights flashing in time to the neon advertising signage that covered the sides of the buildings selling their wares to the hungry masses.
The street was busy as she moved into the crowd and made her way a few blocks over to the nearest escalator that led to the Undercity.
It looked relatively innocuous, and there were far fewer people near here. She didn’t stop, she just walked onto the moving stairs and dropped out of sight of the street. No one else was before her or following her down as the escalator moved through the tunnel before eventually exiting through to the underside of the high street she had been on moments before. She stepped off the end of the escalator onto sturdy metal catwalks suspended on the underside of the main street level, looking over the rooftops of the old city about eight or ten stories below her.
Below her, every so often, one of the blocks had been reinforced and extended up to the city above, acting like massive supporting pillars filled with small and dirty apartments, most of which were probably empty.
Frankie walked the familiar route through the catwalks, looking down at the city below and wondering if she would see Jude tonight.
Very few people were walking through these catwalks, she’d only passed one guy, who had kept to himself as most people did, although you did find there was a higher proportion of crazies down here than in the mid-levels.
As she went to pass another guy walking in the other direction, keeping out of his way, he suddenly pulled a gun and pointed it at her. She stopped in her tracks, the barrel of the gun just inches from her head.
‘Gimmie all your stuff, whatever you got, I wan’ it.’
Frankie raised her hands in surrender. ‘I don’t have anything, sorry…’ she said.
When she’d first come down here, she’d known the risks, the stories, but she did it anyway, and within a few days of visiting every day she had been the victim of a mugging.
When it had happened again, just a few days later, this time with a punch to her face, she knew she would need to learn how to look after herself.
She took up some classes that taught some no-nonsense street tactics for dealing with attackers, and she also started to come down here with minimal possessions. These days she usually only brought her Data Pad and key card, both of which she kept in a hidden pouch at the small of her back.
The man stepped forward and pressed the gun to her forehead. ‘Empty your pockets bitch, you better have something on you,’ he said, hissing and spitting through clenched teeth.
This guy clearly had no idea. He was making it too easy on her, and she just couldn’t resist showing him some moves. She just imagined it was her landlord for a moment.
She reached up in a flash, slapping the gun away from her head and gripping it with her left hand while bending his elbow with a strike from her right. She moved quickly, giving him no time to resist, twisting his arm and his hand into a very painful position behind his back. He dropped his gun as she shoved him against the wall with a clang.
‘Hey, hey, chill out. I wasn’t gonna hurt ya girl. I just wanted some cash fo some dust is all, you know?’ he pleaded.
She picked up the gun while holding his twisted arm with one hand.
‘I’m going to let go and step away now, and you’re going to leave, got that? Frankie asked him.
‘Sure, sure. Whatever you want,’ he answered her.
Stepping back, she let go of him and watched as he turned to look at her while holding his arm.
‘Damn girl, you’ve got some moves,’ he said backing away. She didn’t answer him, she just watched him go, backing away from him as he went the other way. Once she felt safe, she turned continued on her way.
After starting her classes, most of the situations that followed were dealt with easily and quickly, just like that one had been.
Upon reaching the next checkpoint, she placed the gun she had confiscated from the attacker on the floor outside the lobby and told them where to find it. They detained her for a short while until they had reviewed the security camera footage of the attack, then they let her continue on her way.
She wasn’t a big fan of guns, knew next to nothing about them and felt much happier to be rid of it. Passing the checkpoint without trouble and moving to the next escalator on the side of one of these supporting blocks. She stepped onto it, heading towards the final security checkpoint below.
Heading down to the Undercity was never much trouble, the guards would warn any new faces they saw about the dangers of the area, but they wouldn’t stop you.
Coming back up, however, was a little more tightly controlled, after all, no one wanted a Jacker Gang running riot on the mid-levels.
She passed the final checkpoint, nodding and smiling to the guards on duty and walked through the scanner, out onto the street beyond.
The layout of the streets down here, from what she knew of its history, had changed a lot since the bombing of London. So much had been moved or added too, that it looked quite different now.
These days the only map she had and trusted was her memories, because no current and up to date map of the Undercity existed. She headed off down the street, her hands stuffed into her pockets and looked straight ahead. It was always tempting to gaze upwards at the underside of the mid-levels and the meagre light that came through the gaps to reach the Undercity, but doing so just made you look like a tourist and painted a metaphorical target on your back.
She’d learnt a long time ago to keep to herself, look straight ahead and never to look anyone else in the eye.
She knew where she wanted to go to, and walked with purpose, following a path she knew well.
After a few twists and switchbacks, she turned onto a narrow single lane side street that allowed her to cut through to her destination a little quicker. Home to one of the Undercities backstreet labs that refused to work with her, she hadn’t been down here for a while. The lab was a recent addition to the black market cyber clinics that were down here, offering Cyberization services at a fraction of the cost that the Corps were offering, but at a much higher risk.
She’d spoken with the technician in this one a few times but with little luck. She had a few that she worked with, though, helping to get the worst cases she found into the labs to try and help them out.
But this new one was having none of it so far.
She’d given up on him after the last time and walked past the non-descript door that led to the lab holding her middle finger up at the hidden security camera as she went.
Up ahead though was something she wasn’t expecting, the blue and red flashing lights announcing the presence of some police in the street. She continued walking up the narrow road, and sure enough, some tape had cordoned off one side of the street, with a police car just past it and a drone hovering above.
A couple of onlookers stood outside of the tape, while inside, a few crime scene investigators were picking over two dead bodies. Stood just inside the crime scene, Detective Gibson stood with his hands in his trench coat pockets and a grim look on his face.
She reached the tape and caught a glimpse of the two bodies. Jackers by the looks of it, one with a Mohawk and one with a missing Cybernetic arm, both of them with a single bullet hole in their heads.
‘There are worse ways to go,’ she said, standing next to the Detective.
He spun round and smiled briefly on recognising her. ‘Frankie, down here again are you?’
‘I could say the same to you,’ she quipped.
‘Yeah, well, if people keep getting executed down here, we have to come down and clean it up.’
‘What is it this time, gang wars? They look like Jackers to me.’
‘Yeah, looks that way. Maybe they tried to Jack the wrong person or the wrong lab. Who knows, just two more faces with made up gang names to add to the folder.’
‘Do you ever find out who these people are or what happened to them?’
‘Sometimes, if they’re related to someone up there that cares,’ he said, looking up at the city above briefly. ‘Do you recognise them at all?’
‘Sorry, no, can’t say I do. Look, I’ll catch you later okay?’
‘Sure. Go careful tonight. The gangs are out and about.’
She nodded back to him and left him to finish cleaning up the mess, heading out into the streets beyond.
She’d crossed paths with Gibson a few times these past few months as he went about his job down here. She liked him, with his close-cropped hair and world-weary expression. She’d already noticed the ring on his finger, though, so she hadn’t pursued him. She had too much on her mind anyway.
He’d helped her out in her mission a few times, giving her some help here and there. She liked and trusted him more than she would most authority figures.
He was probably just looking out for her, a young woman down here trying to do some good. What was it about men that sometimes made them want to be the knight in shining armour?
It was cute, but there were times when it grated on her.
Leaving the side street, she continued on and after another couple of blocks found the disused parking lot she had been aiming for. Located beneath the corner of one of the gigantic skyscrapers above that rose into the main city, this area looked like a forest of concrete trees that held up the underside of the building above. Wires and thick cables hung down from the bottom of the structure above, leeching power from the city. No natural light reached down here, only the random dirty work lights attached to the makeshift hovels and shelters provided any light. Made from scraps of metal, scaffolding and sheets of plastic to keep out the incessant dripping of water from the city above, these were the homes of the victims of the modern capitalist Cyberized society that lived above them.
Most of the people in here were Cyberized to some extent, and most of them were victims of the corporations and their greed. Cyberization was the new frontier, giving you abilities far beyond what a natural human could do, but it indebted you to one or more of the corporations. Cyberization was expensive, so most paid for it on finance, paying monthly amounts to the conglomerates for the work and products. Then there were the repairs and upgrades, it never ended, unless you couldn’t pay of course.
The Corporations didn't care if you couldn’t buy food this week, they only cared about the money you owe them, and if you couldn’t pay, then they could always turn off your implants, or worse.
She’d heard it all during the few years she had been trying to help those who had become victims of the Cyber Revolution. She’d heard of bank accounts been wiped clean of money. She’d heard of Corporation thugs paying visits to people, threatening all kinds of horrors, such as smashing up your prosthetic limb.
Often, these victims were left homeless, impoverished and without recourse. The police were impotent against the Corps, not least because most of the police were corrupt, paid off by the Corps to look the other way.
Law enforcement, the judiciary, government, all of it seemed powerless against the Corps. She hated it, and she felt like she couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. She wanted to help, to do her bit, somehow. She couldn’t do much, who could? But she could try to help those in a worse position than her.
Coming down here and offering support to some of these victims so that maybe they could have a better standard of life, that was her purpose now That was what she wanted to do.
She’d learnt to hate the Corps, and did her best to remain as free as she could from their influence. There was only so much she could do really. The Nanobots inside of her were the only thing that tied her to any Corporation, and they were an unfortunate necessity in this post-Antibiotic world.
She walked into the shanty town, ducking through gaps between the shelters and through the plastic sheeting that hung here and there.
She saw a few people she knew, people she’d helped already. But she was looking for a young man she’d met the last couple of times she’d been here who went by the name of Jude. She hunted around for a few minutes before she spotted him and walked over. He sat by the side of a shelter, his back leant against it with his two Cyber legs stretched out before him.
It was the usual story. Jude had fallen upon hard times, been made redundant and fallen behind on his payments. He’d been threatened and harassed, and eventually, they’d repossessed his apartment and much of his belongings, which led to him finding his way down here.
His legs hadn’t worked at all when she’d first found him, the Corp he owed money too had shut them down. But with the help of one of the labs she had a good relationship with, they’d been able to hack the Corps code and give him some mobility back. Nothing like what he’d been capable of before, and still much slower than a purely natural human, but at least he wasn’t sitting in his own piss and shit anymore.
‘Hey Jude, how’ve you been?’ she asked.
‘Oh, hi Frankie. Yeah, I’ve been okay, you know,’ he muttered. He sounded down and depressed, understandable considering.
‘Anything I can do to help?’ she asked.
‘Not unless you can give me a new set of legs,’ he joked.
‘I wish I could. Have they been working okay?’
‘I’ve had a few issues with them, but nothing I can’t manage.’
‘I can always see if we can get you back into the lab, what’s the issue?’ she asked.
‘It’s my right leg. It’s picked up a few glitches, nothing major, but… hey, look, I’m fine, don’t worry about it, there’s others around here that need your help more than me.’
‘I’ll get to them, but for now, I’m talking to you,’ she smiled.
Loud engines roared nearby, followed by horns blaring, loud shouts and whoops of several people.
She knew what these sounds meant, and after listening for a moment looked back at Jude.
‘Jackers,’ she exclaimed.
‘Aaah shit certainly sounds like it. Go on, get out of here,’ he said.
‘No chance,’ she answered. ‘Not without you.’
‘I’ll only slow you down, I can hide,’ he offered.
‘No dice,’ she quipped as she got on one knee and started to help him up. He was heavy, and his legs were having some issues, occasionally shuddering as the hacker code within them fought against the Corps own code.
As she got him to his feet, she could hear shouting and yells of pain close to the entrance she had come in here through.
‘There’s other ways out of here aren’t there?’ she asked.
‘Yeah, there’s one over there,’ he pointed, so she started to head that way, his arm over her shoulder as she helped him walk. His black prosthetics scraped the concrete floor as they attempted to walk through the camp and escape the Jacker Gang.
A couple of the guys who lived here ran past them, nearly knocking her over. She wasn’t entirely sure how she managed to keep hold of Jude and remain on her feet, but she did. They took a few more steps when they heard the sounds of fighting up ahead. Frankie considered her options, and just had a bad feeling that a Jacker was about to walk around that corner at any moment.
Makeshift shelters were on both sides of her, so she pushed through the plastic sheeting that covered the door to the one on their left and stepped inside.
The place seemed unoccupied, so they backed round a corner and waited.
Sure enough, she could hear the sounds of booted feet walking outside approaching the shelter.
‘Look in all of these shitty things? He’s gotta be kidding me,’ said a voice outside.
‘That’s what he said,’ answered another.
‘Well I ain’t doing that, I got shit to do,’ answered the first voice.
As she stood there, silent, she noticed the scared face of a little boy buried in the junk, very well hidden with only his eyes being at all noticeable.
Frankie raised a finger to her lips, indicating that he should keep quiet. The boy nodded, agreeing with her.
Moments later, the voices and the footsteps receded, so she thanked the boy, and manoeuvred Jude back to the entrance and with a glance in both directions, left the shelter behind.
She moved along the row, doing her best to try and anticipate any Jackers finding them.
‘Hey, you?’ came a shout from behind them, making her stomach do somersaults in fear.
She stopped, and gingerly looked back the way they’d come in time to see a tattooed Jacker with a bionic eye, staring at her.
‘Ugh, hi! Um, gotta go, she said turning away from the Jacker and continuing on her way, only to see two more gang members, another man and a woman, both with prosthetics of their own, appear in front of her. She stopped and eyed them suspiciously.
‘Hey guys, so… um, let’s talk about this shall we?’ she said.
‘Where are you going with our legs little lady?’ asked one of the Jackers.
‘Oh, nowhere, you know, just out for a walk. We’ll be back before you know it,’ Frankie answered.
The Jackers walked towards them, looking like they were enjoying this far too much for her liking.
‘I don’t think so,’ said the second man, his head shaven clean. He had two Cybernetic arms in addition to his two organic arms and was a very well built man. ‘Hey, Razor, you think those legs would look good on me?’ the four armed man said to the woman stood next to him, who had a pair of digitigrade prosthetic legs herself.
‘Sure would,’ she said and smiled at Frankie and Jude.
Frankie scowled at the Jackers but had no idea what she could do. She’d been in dangerous situations before, but this one seemed like it might be the worst.
‘Go, get out of here. Go on, leave, it’s me they want anyway,’ Jude whispered to her.
She glanced at the small gaps between the shelters. It was possible that, on her own, she could maybe slip through the gaps and make her escape, but she wouldn’t be able to take Jude with her. She’d be leaving him to die as these Jackers would most likely hack off his legs and take the prosthetics for themselves. It’s what Jackers and Tech Gangs like this did.
‘I’m not leaving you,’ she said after a pause to weigh up her options. She could maybe escape, as they were obviously more interested in Jude than in her, but nothing was certain, and she could just as easily be chased down by them or run into other members of this Cyber Gang.
Jude was suddenly hit from behind and flew forward and out of her grasp. He fell to the floor and splashed through the puddles he landed in. The Jacker that had been behind them had quietly moved up and kicked Jude in the back. Frankie looked up at the tattooed man in shock, only for him to backhand her across the face with his Cyberized hand. Her head rang, and she yelped in pain from the hit as she dropped to the floor.
Reaching up, she touched her jaw and felt the warm wetness as she bled onto her hand. Her jaw felt like it had been ripped from her face it hurt so much.
She looked over at Jude to see the three Jackers kicking him. The four armed man stopped and pulled a huge machete from his belt, and Frankie felt the anger rise within her. She just saw red, jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain in her face and ran over to the nearest Jacker leaping onto his back.
She screamed as she hit the man in the head, again and again, feeling nothing but rage and hatred, not only for these Jackers but for the whole thing, the whole system that created these people.
She hated the Corporations and the selfish corporate elite who were raping this society. She hated the fact that we let them do it, we enabled them and bought into their plan, becoming culpable after the fact.
She let it all out, all the rage and anger and channelled it into her punches and bites.
The Jacker moved and threw himself forward. She couldn’t hold on and flew through the air, landing in the dirt against a metal wall of a shelter. Her head swam with the impact, her vision blurry with the pain. After a moment she pulled herself up into a sitting position and looked up, thinking she could hear someone talking to her.
In front of her stood the woman with the cyber legs, holding a gun pointed at her body.
‘Wait…’ Frankie said, raising a hand in protest, only for the pistol to bark at her anyway. Its muzzle flashed yellow as it fired a quick staccato burst.
It felt like her stomach had exploded, as if a bomb had gone off in it. Her mind reeled as she went into shock, her brain becoming overloaded with pain signals.
She dropped sideways and lost all track of time as her life essence drained onto the ground beneath her.
She saw the Jackers carry Jude away while they laughed at her, she saw the faces of the people she had helped and wondered if she had made a difference? If her work down here had been in vain or not?
She wondered if she would do anything differently if she had her time again. Would she have run from her parents and her family against their wishes to pursue this personal goal? Had the Corporations even noticed her? She doubted it. She hadn’t even made a dent in their empires. Not even a scratch.
She saw another face swim into view, a face she thought she recognised. Was it Detective Gibson? Was he here to save her?
‘Frankie? Are you in there?’
‘Detective,’ she said, ‘you found me…’
Her vision swam again, and she saw the face of Doctor Xenox from the Lab she had passed earlier that night.
‘Can you hear me, Frankie? I can save you if you want me too…’ he said.
It was as if she was underwater and looking up through the surface the way her vision swam and changed. One moment it was the Doctor, the next it was the Detective, and then Jude, a sad expression on his face.
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t save you…’ she heard Jude say before the vision faded.
‘Save me… Save me…’ she muttered, repeating his words.
The lights were moving then, or was it herself that was moving? She couldn’t tell.
‘Hold on Frankie, I can save you, just hold on,’ said a voice nearby. She didn’t know who was speaking anymore. Xenox, Gibson, Jude? She’d lost all judgement, and everything was blending and blurring into one.
A bright light filled her vision, and she saw a masked man stood over her briefly, followed by a pain in her arm, a new pain that soon faded along with the world as a whole. Everything slowly faded away. All the noise, the sights and bright lights, all of it as she descended into a black oblivion of fitful dreams, strange images and thoughts that made no sense.