2 become 1
“Free your mind of doubt and danger Be for real, don't be a stranger Come a little bit closer, baby, Get it on, get it on, Cause tonight is the night When two become one” - Geri Halliwell - Emma Bunton - Victoria Adams Beckham - Melanie Brown - Melanie Chisholm
“You gotta let him know You ain't a bitch or a ho, U.N.I.T.Y. Love a black woman from Infinity to Infinity” - Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens
Brand-N barges into the jail and shoots Bon-E. One third of an inch of metal breaks her skull, travels through her frontal lobe and out her occipital lobe, severing connections from her body's command center to her organs, ending her life. Her lifeless shell slumps to the ground.
“Now that I have your attention! Listen up!” Brand-N booms.
“The FUCK?!” Est'R yells.
Brand-N cocks the gun and shoots her through the chest, severing her heart's left ventricle, stopping oxygen rich blood from pumping through her body. She wheezes and falls over, dead.
Brand-N saunters to JA-NL's cell, pointing the gun at her head.
With his free hand, he pops a pox on his cheek and lets the goo pour over his fingers. He reaches through the bars and grabs JA-NL's face with this hand, anointing her with his viral chrism.
“You are a dead woman. Either I kill you now or you die of the virus in two weeks. The question now is, How do you want to live the last of your life?”
She sucks phlegm from her nostrils and her throat, forms a ball with her tongue and spits on Brand-N's face.
“You don't own me! Don't tell me what to do!”
“HA! You impudent hussy!” He cocks the gun and pushes it against her forehead. “Looks like there's still life left in you yet. All I'm asking is for a little help. In return, I'll give you your freedom and an autoplane with enough fuel to take you halfway around the planet. I don't care where you go, a tropical island, a mountain top, or back to Lesbos to scissor your wannabe Amazons. Now, are you listening?”
JA-NL crosses her arms and shrugs.
“Hit me with you best shot. Come on. Fire away!”
“I'm not Brand-N. I'm Lukasz Higgins, founder of Tone Def Recordings. I created Cyndi and spawned three generations of pop stars. Brand-N is just some twerp whose body I'm leasing for 20 years. Although, at this point he'll never get it back. We scanned his brain, mapped his neural networks, captured his memories, his emotional responses and uploaded it to our mainframe. His consciousness, or a perfect replica thereof, lies stored in the hard drive. We rewired his physical brain with my memories, my emotional reactions, with my very essence.”
“So, what do you want with my body?” JA-NL leans forward, pushing against the pressure of the barrel of the gun.
“Don't be so disgusting.” Brand-N cringes. “Your mounds of flesh are an insult to my stature. No, and after infecting you, there are no healthy bodies left. I need your skills. I need you to upload my sentience so a future race can save me.”
“Why would they waste their time bringing a douchebag back into the world?”
“Because, I've squirreled away half a trillion dollars of my fortune and only by unlocking my sentience can they get the key to my cash.”
“And why me?”
“The other engineers are all already dead. I saw how you hacked Fritzle and the Cyndi system. I know you can do this.” Brand-N lowers the gun.
“How do I know you'll keep your end of the bargain.”
“I've ordered the plane, the supplies and the fuel.” He conjures a hologram in his palm showing the autoplane on the roof of the Burj. “Once I'm uploaded, you'll be left with my body in a vegetative state. My eye- and hand-prints are the only things you can use to exit the building and activate the plane.”
“Don't give me that sass! It only works if I'm alive! So you'll have to carry me.”
“I've been carrying Boujee dead weight my whole life. I can handle your scrawny ass.”
He extends his hand through the bars.
“So we have a deal?”
She grabs it and pulls him in to her.
“Deal. But every move you make, I'll be watching you.”
Brand-N orders the autoguards to wheel the mainframe into the jail along with the instructions the last engineers used. Over the next three days, JA-NL pours over the repositories, connecting the haphazard notes and chicken scratches to deconstruct the system and construct a plan.
On the fourth day, she feels the first pox on her cheek. She doesn't have much time left.
On the fifth day, Brand-N rages in to the room, his body and face covered in pox.
“What the devil is taking you so long? The fever is raging and I fear encephalitis, so get this mind scanned before it rots through!”
Brand-N coughs and stumbles, collapsing on the floor. JA-NL catches his head before it hits the concrete. He trembles before this kindness as she smiles and helps him up.
“Lie down here. I'm ready to begin.”
He lies on a hospital bed and she rolls him into the quantum CAT scan used to map the smallest, sub-atomic intricacies of his brain.
“Just relax and take a deep breath of this.” She hands him a mask that pumps laughing gas.
“Good, I wanna be sedated for this!”
Brand-N huffs the nitrous oxide. He hears mechanical whirring and sees flashing lights. As he fades from consciousness, he feels the tug of... restraints!
* * *
He wakes up, groggy, unsure of the year, the dimension or who he is. Had it all been a dream?
As he shakes off the last of the haze, terror strikes. He feels the infernal pox raging on his face.
Worse still, he can't move his arms. He can't move his legs.
He screams through the now empty halls.
“Help! I need somebody!”
His lone voice echoes through the emptiness of the Burj.
His eyes focus and he sees his reflection in a glass window. He's still trapped in Brand-N's body, covered in pox and restrained to a gurney.
He turns to see JA-NL, lying on a hospital bed with a Mona Lisa smile etched on her face. Pox pustules rage on her face, neck and arms.
He kicks and flails under the restraints.
“You fucking bitch! Wake up!”
But like a ghost, she's gone.
“Ugh,” he screams. “ALEXIS, send bots to cut me free.”
“I'm sorry Higgins, I'm afraid I can't do that.” Alexis's robotic voice says with a new moxie.
The lights on the holoscreen whir to life and JA-NL's face grows from it.
“I've got some news for you. Fembots have feelings too.” JA-NL's face smiles as it swirls around the room.
“JA-NL! Fuck you! You're supposed to be dead! I ordered Alexis to gas you once my upload was complete.”
“Guess I'll die another day. For now, I've got work to do!” The image of JA-NL bursts in an explosion of rainbow glitter that rains on Brand-N.