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Title: Plugged-In Souls
Author: Claassen Dick
A guard stood at a distance from him. Guards didn't frighten him anymore. They just made him angry. And that was the tough part; he didn't dare show that anger. He was supposed to be an artificial-not an emotional human.
Now a second guard approached the first. The guard held out his note pad to the first guard. The first guard looked at Mark and nodded as if giving permission. God, what now? he thought. The second guard turned slowly toward Mark and tapped its heart with its open palm. It was Abby! She walked toward him. When she got within arms reach she took him by the upper forearm and yanked him to her. He looked into her visor but could see nothing. He could hear her breathe, and he was comforted by the sound because only Abby could breathe like that. Without speaking she pointed to an empty shuttle some distance from them. She pulled the riot baton from her belt and began rhythmically slapping it into the palm of her hand. Mark began to walk toward the shuttle, his best friend only inches behind him, his best friend doing a chillingly effective job at being a despicable bastard.
When they reached the shuttle, he climbed on, faced backwards, and grabbed the hand rails. He didn't know where she was taking him, but he was comforted by the fact that she was close to him.
She accelerated rapidly and took corners quickly. Several times Mark found himself in danger of falling off. He wanted to yell at her to slow down, but knew he couldn't. Now the shuttle came to an almost screeching stop. He felt himself going over backwards, his inertia almost taking him up Abby's backside, but he managed to hang on.
A guard came to the shuttle. Abby handed the guard a set of papers. The guard looked at them closely, then handed the papers back to her and waved her on. Where was she taking him? They came to a branch in the hallway. Abby turned down it. This hallway had a different feel to it. The doors were no longer gray steel; they were made of rich wood. She slowed the vehicle now, apparently looking for a name on the door. Then she stopped. "Get off," she growled. Mark was chilled by her voice. He would never forget this experience. He knew she was acting for both their benefit, but on some level it frightened him.
He got off and she again took his forearm in her gloved grasp and literally pulled him to the door. He could see several guards down the hall from them. They ignored Mark and his best friend. Abby knocked on the door, and the door opened.