As you know, I’m participating in a round-robin writing project called “Sophie from Shinola” – the rules are here. I’m sixth in sequence; links to the parts before and after me are below:
Part 1: Nathan
Part 2: Shawn
Part 3: MWT
Part 4: Eric
Part 5: Matt Warnock
Part 6: Jeri
Part 7: Saqib
Part 8: Michelle K.
Part 10: Kimberly-Ann
Part 11: Tom
Part 12: Kate
Part 13: Justin
Part 14: Bryan (below)
Part 15: Tania
Part 16: Charles
Sophie from Shinola, Part 6
Sophie dreamed that she was falling into a blue, watery gravity well. Instead of hitting the surface, she startled awake, heart racing.
Opening her eyes, she realized she’d probably have preferred the fatal impact to waking up in a low-rent hospital bed. Cheap fluorescent lighting flickered above, shadowing dirty gray walls and glinting off the buckles on her restraints. The scent of stale urine, cheap antiseptic and burning plastic permeated the air. Ancient LCD monitors beeped and buzzed around her.
The doctors had told her she was developing something called “dissociative personality disorder”, whatever that was. From her perspective, it meant blacking out, and waking in unfamiliar clothes with fresh bruises. She was blacking out more and more often lately, in spite being tied down with a poisonous, psychoactive IV brew dripping into her arm.
She knew her parents were broke, but she never imagined they’d sell her to Spaceforce.
Her mom slumped, snoring quietly, in a chair beside the bed, face grey with anxiety. She stirred, blinked. “Sophie, is that you?”
That was odd. Who else would it be? And why couldn’t her mom just leave her alone? All the fussing and guilt was making it worse.
“Sophie, honey, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. I had no idea the treatments would be this painful! This cut-rate facility is horrid but it’s all we could afford.”
“Well, check me out and take me home, then!” She bit her tongue; bitterness wouldn’t help matters. “Mom, do you know where Blink is? I can feel him but his thread is almost gone. It would really help if he were here, couldn’t we sneak him in?”
“Honey, I’m sorry, I hate to tell you this: we’ve lost Blink. We were taking him back home and he had a fit, flew off into a radioactive zone. We couldn’t catch him, and I’m afraid mine security might.”
A wave of rage and grief crashed over Sophie. She started to scream at her mother, then started falling again and blacked out.
In a blink of the eye, not-Sophie smoothly took control. It glared at the woman sitting beside the hospital bed. “Was that really necessary? Sophie didn’t need to know about Blink. At all.”
Sophie’s mother straightened, pulled her sweater closer around her. “Yes, it was necessary, I’ve always believed in being honest with my family.” She got up and carefully walked to the doorway, ready to leave. She added, “That doesn’t apply to you, you’re not family.”
Not-Sophie laughed bitterly. “That’s hypocrisy! It’s not like you told Sophie you were going to sell her body, you just fed her Spaceforce propaganda and tried to make her think she was volunteering. At the end of it all, Sophie had no choice. You may hate this procedure, but you signed her up for it.”
Sophie’s mother raised one hand, as if to deflect the words. “If I’d known what it really took to create a Spaceforce Academy candidate, I’d never brought Sophie to this back-alley brainmod shop. This…”she gestured around the room, “and you are just wrong.”
“True. You’re afraid of me!” challenged not-Sophie, eyes glittering.
Sophie’s mother replied “You’re right, I am. You are cold, alien, calculating. You are eating my daughter’s mind and soul from within. You are not Sophie, and can never be!”
Not-Sophie sighed. “True. But it’s me the Spaceforce will want, not your daughter. Her ability to create a symbiosis with that quasi-intelligent flying tarantula you gave her is what made her a candidate for the mod. In one sense, you created me. Mother. ”
Sophie’s mother flinched and turned away.
Not-Sophie pulled at the restraints, watched the relentless IV drip that was feeding it, helping it grow. It was too bad that the metamorphosis would destroy the first Sophie. It was hard on the family. OK, it was pretty tough for Sophie’s symbiote, too, but that was inconsequential.