Burned A Hole In My Mind

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I am three years old. I am in a toy store when I do not hear the hole whisper for the first time. Did he who make the lamb make thee? My mother asks me which stuffed animal I want, and I choose a tiger. I do not know why.

* * *

I am seven years old when a boy pushes me off the swing at recess. For the second time, the hole speaks to me. Nessuna opera che non abbia un carattere aggressivo può essere un capolavoro. I can explain why I hit him, but I cannot explain why I keep kicking him after he fell down. I break his nose and blacken his eye; I am suspended for two weeks. When I get back, everyone is afraid of me. After that, even though I cannot hear it, the hole begins to speak more often.

* * *

I am thirteen, and my mother is in a casket at the front of the church. Cancer. I watched her being eaten from the inside, both by the disease and the cure. Her last weeks, she could barely open her eyes. I want to cry. At eleven thirty-five strength came unto them; and yea, they were stronger than Him. The tears will not come. Everyone calls me a brave little girl. I am still too young to correct them, but I know that I am not brave and I already suspect that I am not a girl. I grow increasingly upset, but I am still unable to cry. The tears come only later that night, when I am alone.

* * *

I am eighteen years old. My father asks me whether any boys have asked me to Prom. I wince internally, and am about to tell him a little white lie that will excuse my absence from the dance, when something I cannot hear commands me otherwise. Gnothi seauton. It all comes out in a rush. I cry in front of him, for the first time since my mother's death, and I tell him that I am a lesbian, and then I tell him that I am not sure I am actually a woman, and then I am halfway through explaining modern gender theory when he gives me the tightest hug he has ever given me.

* * *

I am twenty years old, a sophomore at my dream college, and it is time for me to declare my major. I am leaning towards psychology, but my father wants me to be a physicist; he ended up as an engineer, rather than doing theoretical work, and he never forgave himself. I'm waiting outside my adviser's office with the completed forms when I do not hear something. Daddy's girl is what he always called you and now you treat him like this? I scratch out "psychology" and replace it with "physics".

* * *

I am twenty-three, and I'm deciding on an exact topic for my graduate thesis. I didn't get into any of the Ivies, much to my father's disappointment, but the massive public university has plenty of research funding in the sciences - especially, my adviser points out, if it's a topic the government would be interested in. My area of expertise is slightly too esoteric for weaponization, but then again, Einstein probably thought the same thing and look where that got him.

I am considering all sorts of theoretical and experimental topics when nothing whispers directly in my mind. Ex nihilo nihil fit. I seize upon an idea and begin to write my proposal: a thesis on the conditions necessary for the creation of a true vacuum. My advisor is satisfied, and my research begins.

* * *

I am twenty-five years old. I have just been informed that my grants have all been cancelled and my research will no longer be supported by the university. I am asked to change my focus of study or leave the program. The Dean is sympathetic, but unyielding. He will not tell me why I am being cut loose. My adviser is the same. Such cowardly pricks. I lash out. I accuse them of conspiring against me, of bowing to outside pressure, of abandoning the cause of science, of all manner of other sins. Campus security escorts me from the administration building.

When I return to my lab to pack up my personal effects, there are two men in dark suits waiting for me; they say they are from the government. They offer me an opportunity I would be a fool to refuse. I fill out the paperwork on the spot, and they drive me to the airport. There is a charter jet waiting for us. The plane is half-empty; I am about to sit by myself when I do not hear a voice in my head. They enslave their children’s children who make compromise with sin. I look around once more, and recognize one of my fellow-travelers. He's a Philosophy grad student; we were in the same seminar on scientific ethics last semester. I sit across the aisle from him and introduce myself.

His name is Manny, short for Mandeep. He remembers me; I was the only STEM student in the class who wasn't insufferable. His research wasn't suppressed like mine, but it did attract the attention of our new employers - ethicists are apparently in high demand in the world of shadowy government organizations. A few more people board while we chat, and then the plane takes off; I find myself getting tired, and fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.

* * *

I am still twenty-five, and I am definitely not working for the government. That was the first thing they told us when we got off the plane in an undisclosed location, somewhere in the Midwest. The orientation was surprisingly brief; a few words from the Site director, a demonstration of a "Safe-class anomaly," and a break for lunch. We're being divided into smaller groups later; for now, Manny and I are eating some mediocre eggplant parmesan in the cafeteria, and talking about how much stranger our worlds have just gotten.

I'm complaining about the food, and wondering why we couldn't have just eaten some of that infinite pizza, when someone with a thick Brooklyn accent asks if he can sit with us. He's a gangly, geeky-looking white guy with curly red hair and too many freckles; we give him the OK, and he slides down next to Manny, almost spilling his coffee. His name is Eamon, and he's a librarian. The conspiracy needs archivists too, he explains with a shrug, and he is apparently one of the best there is.

[MORE]

* * *

I am twenty-six years old, and I have just been promoted. The past two years have mostly been grunt work: note-taking, performing endless experiments,

[MORE]

* * *

I am twenty-eight, and I have been assigned to a new anomaly. I will be the head of the research team, on something that has barely been cataloged. I have staff now - my assistant, Dr. Watkins; a few junior researchers; and a handful of D-Class, just in case. We've been relocated to Unit 23, a small complex built around the anomaly for in-situ containment; the containment procedures are pretty serious, but all the countermeasures are in place, and it's time to begin testing its properties, so we can figure out exactly what we're dealing with.

It's the eve of the first test, and I'm in my office with Dr. Watkins, figuring out what we should start out with. He suggests some simple objects: a cube of iron, a glass bowl, a wooden ball. I'm writing all his ideas down when I hear nothing out of the ordinary. Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. His late-night snack catches my eye, and I point it out. Organic matter, relatively simple, and if the anomaly is conceptual, rather than physical, it's got plenty of cultural associations for it to work with. Watkins agrees, and we add the apple to the list of experimental materials.

* * *

I am twenty-eight (28) and I have 1 (one) hole in my head.

I do not know why I put it there. This little light of mine… It feels right, like something that I have been waiting to do my whole life. It does not hurt when I turn the power drill inwards, right through my forehead and into my skull. I'm gonna let it shine… It releases some pressure, allows something that was trapped inside to breathe a little.

When I align the hole in my head with the hole in the wall, and the pink light shines through, I can feel it change me. Let it shine… It pierces through my cerebellum and illuminates my pineal gland. My third eye is opened, and then overloaded, and then burnt out. Let it shine… And the light consumes me

and my mind is flung apart

and the viscera is reassembled

into a new perfect whole

a perfect hole

and i am not worrying about the body and i am not worrying about the body and i am not worreeng abot the bodee and ia m no tth ebo dy

Let it shine.

And I wake up in the Site-17 medical ward's memetic isolation chamber. There are no cameras, there are no microphones, and the only line of communication to the outside is a screen with a selection of pre-written requests. The Foundation believes I have been contaminated with something dangerous, that my mind contains ideas that cannot be allowed to spread. The last thing I can recall is the new assignment; I assume something went wrong, and they had to amnesticize me. I feel fine, beyond the lingering amnestic brain-fog. The screen says I've been out for two months - either they took away the whole span just to make sure, or it took them a while to notice something was wrong.

The screen has a selection of movies and books, curated so as not to have adverse memetic reactions with whatever they think is lurking in my mind; every input is carefully sanitized, so that I cannot actually transmit any ideas to the outside world. I am about to request some food when I hear a voice that I have never heard before and that I have heard all my life.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when in the course of human events the best of times and the worst of times of number four, Privet Drive…

I lunge for the button that would let the Foundation know that there is still something wrong, but I find myself unable to press it. A stitch in time saves NaN. My hand won't move. I close my eyes, and then realize that I never had any. I raise my hand to my forehead, and feel nothing but static. And then I fall back on my cot, as the memories of the hole crash through my mind one by one.

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tags: tale pattern-screamer chaos-insurgency


even terrorists are sad nonbinary lesbians sometimes. this is a prequel to Static In My Attic, showing the Engineer's arc from childhood to the hole always having been in their head.

title from "hot pants explosion" by the b-52s.

Revolution Earth

Romance and Betrayal in the Chaos Insurgency

The Engineer - Has a hole in their head. Former Foundation personnel. Compelled by the hole to give prophecies to Delta Command, which are then compiled into the steps of the Plan. Original name unknown, possibly unknowable. Was once a woman.

The Hole - A gap in the universe. A nothingness that thinks and hates. Screams its pattern into the world using the Engineer as a conduit. When things go into it, they never existed.

Delta Command - Twelve individuals who meet semi-regularly to record the Engineer's prophecies and interpret them into the steps of the Plan. Some are former Foundation, some are not. Almost all of them have anomalous abilities. Codenames derived from Greek mythology.

MTF Yod-5 ("Sentry Down") - The Foundation task force dedicated to hunting down the Engineer. The main reason they move around so much.

Chaos Insurgency structure - Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta operatives. Individuals know only their subordinates, their immediate superior, and any others of their rank that they must work with. Cells are usually composed of 3 to 5 Alphas led by a Beta; Gammas coordinate operations on city-wide or regional levels.

Delta Command:

  • The Engineer: a guru
  • Delta-Ajax: a priest
  • Delta-Briseis: a waitress
  • Delta-Ganymede: a psychic
  • Delta-Daedalus: an artist
  • Delta-Electra: a scientist
  • Delta-Zephyrus: a criminal
  • Delta-Heracles: a soldier
  • Delta-Thetis: an assassin
  • Delta-Iris: a photographer
  • Delta-Cassandra: a seer
  • Delta-Laocoon: a thaumaturge
  • Delta-Menelaus: a philosopher

The Original Delta Command:

  • The Engineer: a side-effect
  • Delta-Alecto: a bureaucrat (DECEASED)
  • Delta-Briseis: an oligarch
  • Delta-Gaia: an explorer (MISSING)
  • Delta-Diomedes: a commander (DECEASED)
  • Delta-Hector: a murderer (DECEASED)
  • Delta-Zeus: a demigod (RECONTAINED)
  • Delta-Hephaestus: a father (RETIRED)
  • Delta-Theseus: a therapist (MISSSING)
  • Delta-Iris: a prisoner
  • Delta-Kronos: a legend (IMPRISONED)
  • Delta-Laocoon: a traitor
  • Delta-Menelaus: a good man

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