A low-pitched gurgling noise escaped the ocean as she heaved her last strangled wave onto the beach.  Gillian Bean was the only person to witness it. She was sitting quietly on the sand at the shoreline near her home.  An ashy cloud covering obscured the full moon, but even so, Gillian still felt bathed in a bright, silvery light.

For years Gillian had been unable to inhale the salty, fresh sweetness of the ocean but still retained a strong memory of what it smelled like.  Just imagining the smell was enough for Gillian to remember the ocean washing up shells, seaweed and small creatures through a never-ending cycle of rhythmic waves.  Tonight the waves stopped leaving behind forever a thick, viscous soup of primordial bacteria and dense jellyfish, teeming with brilliantly colored bits of plastic.

A tear slid silently down one cheek.  Gillian knew a small window of time existed before somebody would catch her.  But she needed to be in control again of what she was feeling.  First she inhaled deeply to slow down her heart rate.  The feed would know she was reaching intolerable stress levels and she would receive an incapacitating zap.  She reached for her flask and took a swig.

With her eyes closed she imagined the salty beach air and could almost hear the soft shushing motion of the waves.  This would be her final memory she decided while removing a straight edge razor from her front pocket.  Acting on a reserve of determination she cut deeply into her forearm revealing the embedded finger-sized feed.  Grimacing from the pain, she separated the feed from her nervous system and flung it deep into the sludge.  The pain was excruciating.  Time was limited before tremors would overtake her preventing the task from being finished.  She risked being “rescued.”

One…two…three, Gillian whispered, placing the point of the blade on the underside of her wrist.  Salty waves, she thought pressing down.  Her form crumpled onto the sand and rolled forward into the slop.

Across the bay, Senjina was in a cab heading home from a first date.  She couldn’t wait to plug in for a stats reading.  She’d felt jittery, which was either a sign of attraction, warning, or the environment.  The restaurant had been trendy and loud triggering Senjina’s aversion to noise.  Nothing about her reactions would make sense until she could see those measurements.

*Happy Halloween!  Read the next installment Technombie 2.  In case you’re wondering, the whole story is completely fictitious. 

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