Ida’s House of Beauty (Examination of Ida) ----------
Cosmotic Calendar Year 2030 – Age: 10 Years Old
I slipped on the cyber-gloves and loosened the knob on the holo-projector floating in the air. Everything was in place to deal with the nasty object embedded in Ida’s neck.
It had been a couple of hours since Rocky and I arrived at Ida’s house and admittedly, we were met with a very warm welcome.
Of course, I recognized the warm welcome as a ruse to guilt-trip me into doing my best work but my mind was still at ease.
Rocky sat on the side couch comforting Ida’s nervous family members. Ida had two daughters and a husband.
The two daughters were a bit on the skinny side while the husband seemed just a general sickly person.
I guess I now understood why Ida had to work so hard as a Receptionist, even making a bit extra on the side at a nearby strip club as the dancer ‘Bootilicious’.
I could feel the tension in the air, it was palpable but I couldn’t afford to be tense.
I had to be sure I could perform the slave-implant extraction since should I fail; a few knife stabs would be waiting for me outside.
A couple of days ago, Ida requested that I remove her slave implant and Rocky readily agreed since I had performed the operation a couple of times before without any issues.
Still, there was a major miscalculation on both my and Rocky’s parts.
The moment I made a small incision at the back of Ida’s neck, I was pretty appalled at what was revealed below the surface of her skin.
Thick lines of fiber optics seemed to tie into her central nervous system through her brain’s pleasure centers.
“We are leaving!” I told Rocky, pausing my cutting hand “One millimeter more and all of us would have been dead!”
“What’s up?” Rocky asked confused but I was already turning off the holo-projector and re-packing the tools that would have been used for the operation.
“Wait! You haven’t even started yet!” Ida shouted, rightfully angry at my wasting her time but I wasn’t solely to blame.
Before anyone could get exciting ideas about blocking my path to the door, I explained “Rocky and I usually remove the slave implants for a couple of bucks. We work with dick heads and drunk assholes. I even do a couple of spouses with moderately expensive slave-implants…”
I paused to make sure that everyone was listening “But you” I pointed “Have a fucking bomb that wraps around your jugular and extends all the way to the pleasure section of your brain!”
Ida frowned in confusion and I could tell it was genuine.
Rocky gave me an inquisitive stare as he worked the non-existent math in his brain to come to the conclusion that he would have to ask me to explain some more anyway.
“Explain a bit more,” Rocky stated and I felt the need to bang my head against a pillar and just die.
“He means the slave-implant is not a regular one, it was willingly implanted” Ida’s first daughter, Rena, commented and I felt like someone finally had a brain in the family.
The second daughter, Agne, frowned “Mother would never do that!”
‘Familiar…’ I thought as I heard the second daughter speaking.
My knuckles clenched until they were white just from hearing her voice and I felt my mind briefly drifting before a tap from Rocky pulled me out of my daze.
“What does she mean willing?” Rocky asked.
I was also at a loss for that part but one more glance at the husband and I found all the answers to my questions “Is your husband perhaps unable to really perform sexually?”
Ida frowned at the question but was also curious about my line of inquiry “Yes… he is sickly after all… to keep the marriage going, I had an operation to enhance the pleasure section of my brain so I could get the same sexual satisfaction of intense sex with just limited activity.”
“There you have it!” I stated, taking a bow in awe of my own brilliance “Such an operation is expensive and that means you work as a Receptionist to repay the debt. However, when you got that operation, someone wanted an extra incentive for you to repay them
They basically made a bomb inside your head during the operation. A very expensive bomb that is usually only used on personal servants in rich families. If a deep enough incision is made near the neck – the bomb goes off.
If Rocky farts when I am working – the bomb goes off…. If light from the ceiling touches the sensors – the bomb goes off… If anything is done to tamper with the bomb – the bomb goes off.”
“You’re saying she has no hope of getting rid of that thing?” The Husband asked, tears in his eyes and I nodded my head since a hard truth was better than a beautiful lie.
A part of me wanted to lie and recommend the family to someone else in the slums, maybe even a competitor of mine so they could all die together but I suppressed that darkness deep inside my heart.
“That’s why I said we should leave,” I said gesturing to Rocky as I made my way towards the door.
Rocky hesitated a bit before apologetically rising to his feet and walking behind me, but I barely made it a step outside of the door before I felt a pair of small arms wrapped around my legs.
Agne gripped my left leg, tears leaking from her eyes and she pleaded “Please help my mother… she is all I have left!”
A memory inside my mind was triggered and my eyes became unfocused….
“Four, they’re coming!” Agne yelled, gripping my hands tightly to pull me in another direction.
“I will stay and fight…” I replied nonchalantly, my eyes glued to the horizon where the sounds of shouting could be heard.
Agne paled at my response “If you’re not with us through the forest… the children won’t make it. As long as we get into the forest we can lose them!”
I frowned but didn’t reply to Agne’s plan since I had an even more logical plan – stay and fight until everyone else was dead, then I can run into the forest alone where my chances of survival would have increased without everyone weighing me down.
Agne glanced at my face and then at the children scurrying towards the forest a couple of meters away. She gave me a sad peck on the cheek and hurried after the children “I don’t ever wish to slow you down… I love you Four…”
I kept my head straight even after Agne ran into the forest, never once looking back because I learned a valuable lesson in my first year of the Apocalypse – never look at the people you care about in the eyes during the Apocalypse, it makes their memory that much harder to forget.
But Still… I couldn’t help but glance back at the forest and when I did… I saw her still standing there with her hands extended, hoping beyond all hope that I would choose to run away with her at the last minute.
A tear silently slid down my cheek and I walked forward towards the battle… Agne’s eyes burned a memory inside my mind….
A memory that was replaying right in front of my eyes as Agne, the child Agne, looked expectantly at me to save her mother.
“You okay?” Rocky asked shaking my shoulders hesitantly.
I frowned at the stupid question, or what should have been a stupid question before I realized that tears were falling from my eyes.
“I am fine…” I replied, wiping the tears from my eyes and loosening Agne’s grip around my leg.
I walked towards the sad Ida and placed a single finger against the base of her neck, I rotated the finger a bit to get a feel for the main component of the bomb, and slowly an image formed in my mind.
“Its voice modulated.” I voice disbelievingly and frown “This is getting weird… I never thought that anyone in the slums could do something this complex… I usually think that most of you guys are stupid…”
“That’s it!!” Rocky shouted with a smug grin on his face that showed he had figured out something that I had missed “We are usually stupid in the slums. Some of us can read but we can’t read well… similarly, we can’t remember a password for the life of us.”
I was already tired and especially grumpy since my mind was occupied by thoughts of Agne so my response came off a bit harsh “So Fucking what Rocky?”
The smug grin on Rocky’s face didn’t lessen a bit as he pointed at Ida “I sure as hell don’t know how to read but if I did, I wouldn’t remember my password so I’d put it somewhere obvious… like behind someone’s ear.”
I checked behind Ida’s ear following Rocky’s nonsensical logic and whispered the strange phrase I found tattooed there “BOOTILICIOUS?”
With a simple phrase, the voice modulated bomb deactivated from within Ida’s body even if it could not be extracted safely as yet.
“Well…” I paused, not sure what to say that could trump my amazement at solving such a ‘unique’ mystery.
“Wait!” Rocky shouted, holding both his hands up to stop me from speaking so he could tell one of his ‘legendary’ jokes “What did the suicide bomb teacher say to a class full of students?”
I was about to answer but it was Agne who chimed in “I think I hear something strange…”
“NOPE!” Rocky stated, already giggling at his own joke “He said: Now pay attention class, I am only going to show you this once!”
Rocky expected a ruckus of laughter but I was also frowning similarly to Agne “I hear something too… it’s str-”