Friday, 12 April 2019

P Squared, chapter 12

[Note: The first two sections of P Squared, the second of which has been seen by exactly no one, were written in 2011, when I was working in an office role that could charitably be described as a "non-job".

I was, frankly, angry. I spent much of the last few months there writing this when I was supposed to be working, and re-reading it now, it's essentially what passes for me as an unhinged spew of rage and id. I have, in editing this up – and it's still a draft, so it's gonna need more work – actually toned down the sex and death. The sexual abuse that Pubs inflicts on P is a thing that isn't going to get better, although I was relieved to see that even in 2011 I was able to make it, I feel, revolting rather than prurient. I am genuinely interested in what you think. Did it make you uncomfortable? Is it too far?

The first part, part iv, ends with chapter 13. And then we get part iii, which is written, and then part ii (also part v) and finally part i, which aren't. Yet. Part iii is entirely new to the world. I think it is the bleakest, most sickening and most brutal writing I have ever done. Back in 2011, I gave up on it because I went too far even for myself. It took me a while to forgivwe myself for having written it (which is hypocritical, given I had a part in Legacies: The Ancient). Now... well, I still might leave it with chapter 13. I haven't decided.

Let me know.]
By the time they get to the hub of the School of Business and Economics, it’s a blackened wreck, a crater in the middle of the building. Bits of masonry fall from the ceiling; flaming notices and bits of wallpaper burn up, flutter into the air and extinguish. The blackened bodies of the remaining Business and Economics staff — the ones still recognisable as bodies — lie scattered, just more pieces of twisted debris.

The three remaining KillDrones stand idle in the corridor, stand by for Pubs and P to get past.

“They went Hard Brexit,” says P. “Presumably, the remaining members of staff, assuming that the School had been earmarked for immediate closure, decided to cause as much damage as they could before their final dissolution.” They are mechanical, empty of feeling.
Pubs kicks what might have been the corner of a desk across the ash-strewn floor. “Bit of a rubbish tactic,” they say. “They whacked, what, five of us in the end?”


 “Five. You haven’t accounted for Quality.”

P is not physically able to cry. Their tear ducts aren’t made to do that anymore. “Yes,” they say.

“I mean,” says Pubs, picking up the charcoal remains of a hand, examining it, and then tossing it across the room, “I was sad when they got him, but that’s all part of the job, isn’t it?”

“All part of the job.” P stands to attention, looks into the middle distance. They are still trying to limit the damage, trying to stop the datastream changing before their eyes, trying to pull out the invading applications from manipulating the words and numbers and images in their head, deleting and re-writing the program information in her HeadWares, removing limits and break points, setting others. They regain their will periodically, but it is getting so much harder to concentrate now. So much harder to hold on to any remnant of self. Soon there will, P knows, be nothing left.

Pubs stands behind P, wraps their arms around P’s waist. P makes a little “ah” sound.

“Don’t worry,” says Pubs. “It’s all going to feel fabulous when it’s done. New person.”


“That’s the spirit.” Pubs blows into one of P’s input sockets, the one behind their right ear. “Huh. It’s like licking batteries.”

The crippling fear that the worst might happen never prepares P for the times when it does, no matter how many times it happens, has happened, will happen. Even though the happy-programs are working on erasing all that negativity and making them keen and obedient, they still have this cramp in their stomach. It’s happened. Nothing can get worse than this.

“You know,” whispers Pubs into P’s ear, “you are unbelievably hot when you’re pliable. I could make you do it right here.” They look around, take in a deep breath as if absorbing the smell of burning MDF and freshly cooked human flesh. “Be a bit tasteless, though.”

P shudders.

The program is complete. The datastream, such as it is now, is back under P’s control. P extricates themself from Pubs’ arms, turns. They are all business. “So what now?” They say.

“Well, I suppose we’re going to have to talk to Admissions,” says Pubs. “Of course, first, we’d better take out the order on Rina.”

“Order.” The order is already there in P’s head. Someone has to take ultimate responsibility for a botched audit. P knows that it was not Symons who logged in and checked the “cleansing” box. But the system doesn’t lie. P knows that Symons didn’t botch it. But the system doesn’t lie. P is completely aware who the actual culprit is. The system doesn’t lie.

“That’s right,” says Pubs. They lead P and the surviving KillDrones back through the corridors and corners of campus.

It’s catering staff lynched on the lamp posts today.

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