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"Can I leave?" You ask. Though you cannot see its source, the Voice seems decidedly angry.


"Yes," it says through what you presume to be gritted teeth, although you aren't quite sure how a disembodied voice can grit anything, "Yes, you can leave at any time, through any door except the one you came in. That information was already given to you. If the rules ever change, you will be notified at the proper time. I'm sorry, but you've wasted all three of your questions. This MINDLESS behavior will be reflected in your next form."


At that moment you lurch downward. You're falling now, through the inky blackness, and the Voice seems to have abandoned you. You've started Round Two off on the wrong foot, and it looks like whatever form you land in won't be pleasant. It takes you a moment to realize it, but you've gone totally numb. You can't feel your arms flailing in the darkness, or the feet that used to be standing on solid ground. You're falling head over heels in the darkness, and you can feel neither head nor heel.


With a jolt of indescribably intense pain that subsides the instant it begins, you reappear. You're in a dismally lit, windowless corridor. Everything is hospital-clean, but a dull shade of dark gray. On either side of you are black, unmarked doors stretching down the hall in front of you. Behind you is total darkness. The monotony of the hall is broken only by a mirror, which is also broken. Still, you can see yourself well enough to know that you'd rather not. Your overall shape is familiar enough--it appears to be an idealization of the person you were before. What you're MADE of is what frightens you--your skin, hair, and clothing appears to be steel, and your eyes are two piercing red lights. You try to move, and find it exceedingly difficult. You have to carefully think about every single motion your new mechanical body makes.


You've obviously become an android...but that begs the question...what kind of mind will overtake yours when 30 days are up? Things were simpler with animal transformations--after a month, your animal instincts would overpower your humanity. But what sort of instincts do machines have?


The Voice, perhaps due to uncanny timing, perhaps due to mind-reading, answers your question. To your dismay, the Voice is no longer right in front of you. It sounds like it's coming from several floors above you: "The form you have taken on has no mind, to speak of, and is therefore governed solely by the will of others. As you spend more time in your form, you will be less able to resist human efforts to program you. By the end of the month, you will only be able to perform tasks that you are ordered to perform, and will be totally incapable of autonomous thought. You will, in essence, cease to exist at all, since your conscious mind will be obliterated. I suggest taking measures to prevent that, but you already know what to do, I trust. To answer your question, by the way...the nearest exit is the three hundred and sixty second door on your left. It's an unmarked black door, just past the unmarked black door, across from the unmarked black door. You can't miss it. Or at least, I can't.


The one advantage to being an android, you note, is that androids can't have panic attacks. That's fortunate, because if you were flesh and blood you'd be a mess right now. As it stands, you analyze the situation with the cool, calculating nature of the machine you are. You could easily find the three hundred and sixty second door on the left, all you'd need to do is count doors. What self-respecting computer can't even count? But do you really want to return to your world as a machine? How well would you be able to pick up where you left off, and how would your friends react to seeing you as a creepy robot? Your other is to venture into the darkness behind you. You could could also...this is odd. It seems that there's another option, a big, obvious one, that your human self would have already jumped on...the OTHER doors, that's it!


"Error: Overload" you say, totally involuntarily. It seems that your robot brain can't fathom the utter randomness that lies behind the near-infinite set of doors, so it refuses to even try considering thinking about it. You try to focus on the three doors nearest you, and find it much easier to regard those as options. So, what will it be? The outside world, the inky darkness, Door Number 1, Door Number 2, or Door Number 3?

Written by Zodiac on 31 October 2007

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