Guess WHAT??? The concluding chapter of Owned is here.
To be fair, this is not the final version of this story. This is merely the 2nd draft and only the first FINISHED draft. I still want to solidify Chris’s voice and carry ideas throughout the storyline. And I’m not a huge fan of the final scene. Something feels off…
Sometime after the unbelieving doctor’s visit, a rap came at the heavy metal door. I don’t know how much time passed. No external stimuli allowed any marked frame of time passage. Such things might garner excitement from someone in my position. No friends or acquaintances to speak with, no books or computer access to occupy the mind, a simple door knock should elicit interest. No. For one, the shuffle of shoes could be heard making their way down the concrete floored hallway. It’s true what they say. All senses your senses increase when nothing else exists to occupy them. For another thing, the same rap comes when it’s mealtime or when one doctor or another decides it’s time to visit the crazy loon who thinks computers are chasing him. I wish those were words I fastened to those doctors but it’s impressive what the ears will hear when they are given little to do.
The door squeaked open.
“You have a visitor.”
I tried to tell the guard to send the doctor in but it came out rough and muffled with lack of use. I coughed uncontrollably for longer than I care to admit.
The guard waited for me to stop gagging on my own esophagus, “It’s not a doctor.”
Unlike the knock at the door or squeaking of it’s hinge as it opened, this comment spurred my interest. Wiping phlegm collected in my hands on my hospital outfit, “Who is it then? Executioner?” He didn’t laugh. Instead he backed away from the door into the hall. Apparently either hospitals kill the ability to administer good humor or they clean employee souls clean of any sense of humor. Or both. Probably both. Felt like both.
“That’s a hell of a name for me, Chris.”
I knew that voice. So sweet. So tender, yet somehow wrapped in soft assertive bows. There was no way. My mind had finally snapped. Too much time passed in this cage with no external stimuli. The boat had sailed and I was watching it float away from shore. I looked up.
My body adjusted to no sudden moves, so when I hopped from my cot to hug that beautiful piece of human flesh, it popped in dozens of places. I fell back to sitting position on the cot, but our eyes never left each other.
She was even more beautiful than I remembered. Her dark hair so neatly tucked behind her ears, that same tuft of hair rebelling and falling just beside her left eye. I gave her that blue coat she was wearing. God, how it caressed every curve of her body so well.
She leaned in to hug me, her cucumber melon shampoo scent marched through my nose warming my extremeties like no cabin fireplace could. My body numbed. Tears fell all over the place. She tried to break away several times but I wouldn’t let go. Too much time passed since last I touched her. Or anybody for that matter. I couldn’t let her go again.
I sobbed uncontrollably. The tears just increased the cucumber melon scent, making it even harder to let go. Had I inhaled any harder I would have inhaled her very being. I hoped I would. That is probably why I never saw her finger for the guard to assist her, nor did it register that I heard he holler for help from colleagues.
As quickly as my wife came into my life and into my arms, she was pried away from me. The loss of her warmth and shampoo moved through my arms and legs leaving me shivering for a blanket. Or her again. Preferably the latter.
All my senses set shocks through me. Confusion set in.
There was no way my wife would come to visit me. Not after this long. Whatever my mind had in store for me, it stole my one wanted dream away as soon as it gave it to me. I would have pinched myself to wake up but between the two guards holding me down, it remained impossible.
Then my wrists hurt, felt cold. Then warm. Then my ankles.
Realizing I still held my eyes closed, I opened them. The two guards backed away, they looked like giants. Wanting to pinch myself but being fully restrained I bit my tongue.
Not a dream.
Through tear soaked vision I watched the guards back into the hall. My wife moved back into sight.
“What’s going on,” I begged. Clearly whatever happened happened without her consent. Of course she came here to explain our situation. We’d make amends and be homeward bound before nightfall, assuming it wasn’t already night. She leaned in close.
I readied for her kiss but it never came. Instead her hair danced on the left side of my neck.
“Why did you have to tell everybody,” she whispered.
Of all the possible sentences to be whispered in a husband’s ear after days, weeks or months, this one made the least sense.
“But, honey,” was about all I could mutter.
“Janine,” she spat in my ear hard enough to send a snake of pain to my toes. “My name is Janine, damnit. Not honey. Not ‘your wife’. Why couldn’t you just have paid attention to me?”
“But the computers,” I stumbled through. “Virtual Me. You thought I was courting you. You loved me.”
“I do love you, Chris. That’s why I did this.”
“You did nothing wrong, sweetie. It was my virtual self.”
“Damnit, Chris. Who’s the IT tech? Who’s the computer programmer?”
We both knew. Rhetorical question. Not that it made any sense.
“There is no global New World Order of Artificial Intelligent computers enslaving men and sexing women, Chris. It’s an App.”
She paused but I couldn’t speak or free my hand to slap myself away. Though I tried.
“All I wanted was for you to show me you loved me like you use to. I thought that by pretending to be cheating on you, with your computer, what did you call it? Virtual self? I would get your attention. You would fight to keep me. You’d come back. All I wanted was for you to pay attention to me again, like you did before we married. Hell, we haven’t spoken for months before today.”
“This is crazy. Why didn’t you just ask me for those things?”
She shot up, “I did, you asshole.” Then she leaned in close again but this time staring me straight in the eyes, our noses nearly caressing. “You wouldn’t listen. You never listen. This works for everyone else. Why did you have to blow it?”
“I’m sorry I failed to break the chains, honey. Guess I’m no better than Kyle, am I?”
“Yeah, he ended up in the nut house, too.”
“Is that what you idiots think?”
“That’s what happened.”
“No he didn’t. They moved to Colorado to rekindle their love after Kyle fought for Christine. Hell, even your arrogant friend Mark figured it out after you got hauled away. Christine gave me the App after it worked for her. Thought I’d give it a shot. But no. You just can’t get it through your head that I’m a human being, can you.”
“But nothing, Chris. I’m done. You’ve made you bed. Lie in it all you want.”
She stood and backed toward the door, “Too bad, too.” Her voice softened, sounded almost sad, “I loved you. I love you. But you just can’t get passed yourself. Good bye, Chris.”
She walked out of vision, down the hall. The door slammed.
NOW: Off to NaNoWriMo! But don’t worry, I will be adding my NaNoWriMo story as it’s written so you can enjoy that as well. When November closes, I will return to Owned for a final edit and rewrite.