A Game of Keys, Stage 3 – ch. X

The moment I released us from the basement, there were a group of people ready to assist us. They took Cuán from me and placed him onto a stretcher, then left. I was led to the living room in a daze, where Sarah and my elder brothers waited for me, all of them either in tears or appearing worn out. They tried to ask me questions of what had happened, but I was so out of it that I could not speak. Soon, they realized that I was not able to talk, and they left me to sit by myself. I dared not look at my hands or my clothes, which were drenched in Cuán’s blood, so I stared out in front of me, looking ahead but seeing nothing.

It was Sarah who ultimately took me to the bathroom and helped me clean myself up. After that, I was led to my old room where I lay upon the bed, staring up at the ceiling. Every other moment, either Sarah or one of my brothers came to check upon me, sometimes bringing something to drink or eat.

It wasn’t until eight hours later that news came from the DowersBioTech laboratory. It was father, personally calling me. I picked up my cell phone and stared at the image of my father.

“The transference was successful,” he told me. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” I said absentmindedly. “How is Cuán?”

“His mind has been transferred to the Dowers Network.”

For a moment, neither of us said anything. I contemplated what it must be like to be data now, to spend all days in a virtual network. Then I wondered what father must be feeling, now that his mission of purging the blood of his enemy had come to an end. To that end, I asked him, “Are you happy, father?”

He contemplated my question for a long moment, but then shook his head. “Death is never a happy occasion,” he answered. “However, I am at peace now, Connor. I feel like I’ve finally been released from a dark, dark place. I am free.”

I chuckled lightly. “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”

My father laughed. “Yes– yes, it is,” he agreed.”

“Father,” I said, “there’s something I need to know.” He gave me a guarded look, so I urged him, “Be honest with me. Please.” When he remained silent, I said, “Tell me, father, why did you do all this?”

Another moment passed where nothing was said between us. Then, father sighed, and he conceded to me. “I think you already know by now,” he said. “Cuán must have told you.”

“He did,” I concurred, noting with surprise that father had called Cuán by name again. I remembered that he hadn’t spoken that name anymore, the moment he had revealed to me that his relationship with Cuán had been nothing but a sham. “He said you wanted to kill and replace him. Did you really think I would be happy with anyone else but the real Cuán?”

“But even the real Cuán didn’t make you happy, did he?” father said. “You can’t accept that he is a boy. You see him as your brother. You want him as your lover. And you love him as your other half. Had Cuán been born a girl, you would have accepted her, you would not have had the objections to her that you have today. She would have been the sister of your heart.”

“But he’s not,” I countered. “He is not a she.”

“He could be.”

I started. My eyes met father’s penetrating gaze and I suddenly realized that this had been his final plan. “You were going to make Cuán a girl?”

“I need time,” father said. “I am still unable to create a living body without a mind. I cannot download a mind into a body if it contains one already, the person would develop severe mental disorders if that happened. Also, I still need to figure out how to change the Y-chromosome into an–”

“Stop, father,” I interrupted. “Stop. You don’t have to do it anymore.” When he was about to open his mouth to protest, I said, “I am fine with Cuán as he is. He doesn’t need to change. I’ve… accepted him.”

Father looked stunned. “You… have?”

I nodded. “Yes, I have.” I scrutinized him for a moment, then curiously asked, “How did you… what gave you the idea of cloning? And robots? And the, eh… the whole mind transference thing?”

Father chuckled slightly. “That?” he said. “Connor, we have a vast collection of movies here at home. It isn’t so difficult to find inspiration.” He then sighed. “Well, I guess I should end this call and come home now. Sarah and your brothers will probably have all sorts of questions for me. And no doubt they will try to kill me once they find out what has happened, though I suppose I deserve it.”

“Wait father!” I said, stopping him before he could end the call. “There’s still one more thing I need to know.” He gave me an expectant look, and I asked him, “Will you take good care of C1?” I noticed his eyebrows lifting a fraction. “Promise me you will?” I urged.

He sighed. “I will,” he assured me. He then said, “I really have to go now.”

I smiled at him. “Bye father,” I said.

“Goodbye Connor,” he returned. His image faded away.

I was about to put my phone away, when a new window popped up. It was the D-chat program. At the top of the window, a picture of MysteryMan indicated that I was chatting with an anonymous person. My heart sped up with hope. Could this really be…? Quickly, I entered a message into the input:


Cuán, is that you there?


Anxiously, I waited for a reply. I waited – and waited – and waited. Nothing. Disappointment coursed through me like an unbidden force, and I sighed deeply. I made to turn off my cell phone when a beeping sound called my attention back to the screen. It was Cuán’s reply:


Thank you, Connor. I love you too.





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