The year is 2121. Elena Wallis is one of the only humans left who has refused to be altered by cybernetic augmentations, witnessing how vile and reprehensible society has become as a result of their inception.
Darkwave melds cyberpunk action with cosmic horror. As more and more of the truth begins to unravel, Elena’s mind begins to slip. Maybe there are some things the human mind is not meant to comprehend. What begins on Earth, will end someplace no human should ever be allowed to visit.
The smog cleared just enough for Elena to see the top of the building. The skyscraper’s spire was still hard to make out, but the rooftop was visible enough. It was tall and would do the job. She shouldn’t feel any pain. She’d been staring up at it for so long that her neck had started to cramp.
She lowered her gaze just in time to meet a surveillance droid’s scanner. The large circular, black, robotic orb had stopped right in front of her. Its one red eye took a couple of snapshots and then began to scan her up and down, red lines dancing from her head to her feet and then back up again. It blinked a couple of times and then flew up a few meters at great speed, its movement blowing a force of air at Elena. She staggered back and covered her eyes with one hand. As she squinted through her fingers and stared up at the droid, it emitted a low hum. The rays of sunlight battling through the dense fog that obscured the ominous glow of the machine’s one red eye did fill Elena with anxiety. She felt it everywhere she looked. Unease, dread, sadness, horror… This wasn’t the place for her anymore. She didn’t want to be there.
“Citizen Elena Wallis,” the droid boomed with a strangely human voice, yet with a slightly robotic undertone. “You can’t be here,” it continued. Elena looked at it curiously. “Loitering carries a fine of up to two hundred dollars.” Elena nodded. “If you are here when I return, the fine will be issued, and payment will be due immediately. If you cannot pay, you will be arrested.”
Elena looked past the droid to the building. It was okay. She was leaving for good. She rubbed her eyes to get all the dust that had flown in, courtesy of the machine, and she headed inside.
The first floors of the skyscraper were a museum, but with a focus on only recent inventions. It didn’t make sense to Elena, but then again, nothing in this world really made any sense to her. On a podium directly in front of her was a model of the very same surveillance droid that had just harassed her, with a summary of its conception. Elena would die before someone caught her reading that.
The upper floors were luxury apartments. The tenants would rarely leave. They had everything they needed in their safe havens, while the rest of the city was tearing itself apart. The elevators to the roof were at the other end of the floor, and that was her destination. She did her best to ignore the various pieces of “art” as she walked through. Models of new augmentations took up most of the space. Limb and cognitive function enhancements were the bulk of it—a particular highlight was that on each of the models was a directory to certain chop shops that could have these enhancements installed. Elena wondered why they even bothered to call this place a museum.
Elena rolled her eyes and ignored the concierge.
“Umm, hello!” the concierge said again, slightly louder. Elena sighed and stopped, then turned to look at her, who waved enthusiastically. She was young, full of energy, and was almost dancing on the spot she was moving so much. Her hair was completely synthetic and changed color frequently, presumably based on her mood. “Would you like a tour?” she asked, but Elena shook her head. “Are you sure?” the woman insisted. Elena nodded and kept on walking, but then came another observation. “You look like you belong in a museum yourself.”
Elena stopped and looked at her to find one of her pupils had changed to a triangular shape, with a bright yellow outline. She was scanning Elena for augments.
“Not this one,” Elena said as she continued to walk.
“Do you really not have any augmentations?” the concierge asked, running out from behind her desk and to Elena, who ignored her. “I’ve never met anyone like you.”
Elena made it to the elevator and pushed the button to go up. The concierge waited next to her, and Elena looked at her awkwardly.
“Why are you following me?” Elena asked.
“I’m sorry. We don’t really get many people coming in here.”
The elevator doors opened, and Elena stepped inside. She pressed the button to go to the roof, but nothing happened.
“Do you live here?” the concierge asked. Elena shook her head. “It won’t work then. You have to live here… or work here.”
“Thanks,” Elena said. She then reached forward, grabbed the concierge’s hand, and used it to push the button.
“Hey, stop! You can’t do that.”
Elena shoved her back, and the doors closed. In a matter of seconds, Elena was up eighty-seven floors, and the doors opened to the roof. She almost had a heart attack when she saw what was up there. Mouth open, she stepped outside. Compared to the rest of the city, this place was an oasis. Sure, the flora was all fake, and the benches were ugly as hell, but this place almost looked like a garden. Almost… But it was still beautiful.
A couple of kids were chasing each other next to a pond. One of them had augmented legs, and the other just couldn’t keep up. Their mother—Elena assumed—was knitting so fast, the fabric and her hands were a blur.
Elena could understand her wanting to augment her hands to be more productive, but she couldn’t understand why she would let her child augment their legs. Then again, these were wealthy citizens. They probably had more money than they could spend.
There were a few others on the roof, but Elena paid them no attention, nor did they to her. She walked over to the roof’s edge and stepped onto the ledge. This was it. This was what she had been building up the courage to do for one whole year now. She tried to wait it out, tried to make sense of the world, tried to find a purpose, but it was useless. This was the only way. She couldn’t even see most of the city from her view. It was all just covered in dense smog. She looked back to see if anyone had noticed where she was or what she was going to do, but no one did.
All her friends were dead. Her family was dead. She was alone, the only non-augmented person she knew of, and every day, the world was getting crazier. This decision was the only thing that made sense to her now, and she’d finally worked up the courage to take action.
“Goodbye,” she whispered to herself and stepped off the ledge.
Darkness. Quiet. No thoughts. Nothingness. All for about two minutes. The throbbing pain in her head was the first thing Elena felt, then the sound of trickling water and small chatter—and then a thought: I’m alive.
Elena opened her eyes and saw Sunview City, not too dissimilar to how she saw it while standing on the roof’s edge a few moments earlier, albeit a few meters closer to the ground. She wiggled her fingers and toes, and then moved her arms. Aches shot through her entire body, and she could already tell there were going to be a few bruises. Lying face down on a protective force field was not what she intended, and she wasn’t ashamed to admit feeling a little bit embarrassed.
She pushed her closed fists underneath her to get to her knees and strained to look up at the roof. As expected, no one was peering over to see if she was okay. Did they even notice that she’d stepped off?
The field she had landed on began to ripple, and streaks of blue and purple started to form around her. Then she sank a bit, and a second later, was propelled into the sky in the direction of the building, landing on the edge and then rolling off onto the roof’s surface.
She groaned and clutched her ribs, and tried to get to her feet, staggering and falling onto one knee. While there may have just been a few bruises before, she knew she would be covered in them now, and wouldn’t be surprised if she had broken a bone or two.
She gave up trying to stand and just rested with her back against the edge. She closed her eyes.
“Hey,” a voice called out, and Elena opened one eye. One of the men on the roof walked over to her and kneeled next to her. He looked intelligent and was dressed in a nice suit, with slicked-back hair and a kempt beard.
Elena peered past him and saw his friend or colleague browsing through his TUX.
“Hey,” the man said again, snapping his fingers in front of her. “Can you hear me?” Elena nodded, rubbing her forehead with the back of her hand. “We saw you step onto the ledge,” he said, and Elena squinted, looking at him curiously. “But we didn’t think you’d do it.” Elena sighed and closed her eyes again. “Are you in pain?” he asked, and Elena opened her eyes again.
She studied the concerned look on his face. Why was he trying to talk to her? In the past three years, she’d never seen someone so inquisitive. People were barely people anymore and only ever thought about themselves. Frankly, despite Elena being in quite a bit of pain, his questions were refreshing. Maybe there was hope after all for this world. She nodded, acknowledging his question.
“Good. You should be”, the man said, then sighed. Elena’s brows furrowed. “I don’t know who you think you are,” he went on. “But, trying to off yourself where people live is a pretty fucked up thing to do.”
Elena closed her eyes again and wondered if this was his version of tough love, he was genuinely annoyed that he’d witnessed someone try to kill themself, or a bit of both. In any case, it did make Elena think. She’d have to try again, but not in a public place.
“You know,” he started again, and Elena sighed. She had hoped he’d finished. “If you lived here, you’d have known about the safety measures this building has, which means you’re in a restricted area, and that’s against the law.”
Oh, shit. Elena’s eyes shot open. She needed to get out of there. She moved to stand, but he pushed her back to the ground.
“I’m alerting the peacekeepers. You’re not going anywhere.”
“You don’t have to do that,” another voice called out. Elena turned to see the elevator doors to the roof open. Out stepped the concierge, with a peacekeeper in tow. Her hair was now a fiery red. She marched to Elena, pointing. “There she is, officer,” the concierge said. “She pushed me and forced her way up here. That’s physical assault and breaking and entering!”
“And, she tried to kill herself,” the man said, who was also now pointing.
The peacekeeper came to a halt and scanned Elena, just like the surveillance droid did earlier.
“Attempted suicide carries a sentence of one month imprisonment. Assault carries a sentence of five months imprisonment. Breaking and entering carries a sentence of up to one year imprisonment. You are being arrested.”
If only attempted suicide had the death penalty.