The last thing I heard was a crack—an ear-splitting, gut-wrenching crack.
As I woke, I found myself staring at the ceiling. It was fuzzy at first, from the suddenness. A strange mix of emotions swirled inside me. Some I could identify like hurt, betrayal, sadness, but the others I wasn’t sure of. They held a different sort of fear, confusion, and something else I hadn’t felt before.
There was a…ringing of sorts. It wasn’t any sort of sound. Instead, it went straight into my interface. Someone groaned, and everything flicked black for a moment.
My gaze fell downward. My vision shook.
I stumbled a few steps forward, my hands catching the edge of a rather dirty sink. I knew my hologram couldn’t catch any germs. Still, I didn’t like being near it. Without thinking, I touched my forehead, where the ringing came from. As it came back down, my vision blurred again. A strange sensation formed in my mouth. The blackness came again, like blinking. I don’t remember adding the closing of my optical receptors to my programmed blinking.
Finally, my vision steadied. My hand was red. Bright red.
That couldn’t be right. I brought my hand up to my face. The substance felt warm. Though I’m not sure how I could sense the temperature of it. I stuck out my tongue and licked it.
Iron registered in my knowledge bank. I spat out what I could. My body convulsed. I coughed and flailed around the small room, nicking my leg on the edge of a metal bed frame. Curses spewed out in a voice that wasn’t mine.
“Why’d I think that was a good idea?” the voice came again. It sounded close like it was coming from me. But it was not me.
Who are you? I asked. But no sound was made. Well, none outside of my head.
My body stiffened. My gaze darted across the room, and not of my doing. Silence hung in the air, strange and oddly warm, like the blood on my hand. I did nothing more, trying to make sense of it all. Eventually, my body relaxed.
“I better not be going crazy. I don’t need another thing wrong with me,” the voice whispered. My body moved and walked back over to the sink. Instead of speaking, I watched this time.
My hands washed themselves. Water splashed on my face—it was cold. My head hung for a moment, strings of wet hair dangling around me. A deep breath. Then my head flipped upward. The hair flung aside, and my optical receptors landed on my reflection.
The voice screamed. I jumped back.
In front of me stood a human, very much a human, with long, straight brown hair, gray-blue eyes, and a pallid complexion. Nothing even close to my previous hologram settings. Female, though, at least that was the same.
This…is not my backup core, I said to no one in particular, realizing that I no longer had an actual voice.
It’s then that the human appeared to notice, too, that something was wrong. They—we—tensed. Their eyes blinked, bringing back the flashing darkness from before.