Living In Binary

Jason Landsman had been nervous about leaving his only daughter with his wife. He had left in a hurry. After 14 years, he had reached a breaking point and was finally ready to abandon the withering relationship that had been the foundation of much of his adult life. The truth is it had been defective. That defect had cultivated a rot, a cancer that was pervasive in every aspect of his marriage, and that was exasperated by his wife's deteriorating mental state.
She lived a life lost in her delusions. She inhabited a world carved out of her own insanity. She believed she was seeing the shadows being cast by whatever existed behind the smoke and mirrors of what she called the “day to day illusion.” Fantasies of big brother and digital tyranny became her obsession.
Her descent into madness had been quick as if she had simply fallen over a cliff. Jason felt guilty about leaving Kate in her hands. There was a period when his daughter ceased answering his texts or his Facebook messages. He watched her pages on the various social media platforms that he knew of. She had gone silent. It was as if her life had come to a standstill. He didn't push too hard at first. He figured she was just upset with him and rightfully so. After a few days, communication resumed albeit sporadic.
It was mostly small talk. They both seemed to want to avoid the topic that was surely on their minds. Jason was glad to do so. He wanted to avoid the feelings of guilt and uncertainty.
He pulled up to the house. He could see his wife's car in the driveway. He began to imagine every possible scenario. He tried to predict what she might say and prepared a snappy yet mature sounding response, something that would give him the higher ground. He turned off the car and checked his phone before getting out. He had a Facebook notification. His daughter's status had been updated about 2 hours ago.
It's been a while since I've seen my dad....I guess we have a lot to talk about
32 people liked the status, and some other people had left what he assumed they thought were words of advice and encouragement. Should he like the status he wondered? Would people recognize his intentions to reconcile with what had happened and to try to make the best of everything, or was the status a way of her telling everyone how abandoned she felt by him? He guessed it was similar to liking a status that's about someone dying. You don't like the fact someone passed, but you use the like as a lazy way to show sympathy. He stared at the screen and thought about it another moment. He decided not to hit the like button.
The front door was unlocked. All the lights were off, and the curtains drawn. His wife had cocooned herself in clutter and darkness. Literature about government and the occult was stacked next to leaflets from her church. Gift shop paintings of Christ hung in place of family photos; open books were strewn across the floor with various passages highlighted. She had apparently begun research into another ludicrous idea that had blossomed into an obsession.
His daughter's room was just at the top of the stairs. He could hear music pulsing through the walls. He made his way up the stairs and stood a moment before knocking. He didn't know how this reception was going to be. He almost wanted to run back to the car. Finally, he worked up the courage to knock. She didn't answer, but then again he could barely hear the knock over the music. He decided to try again this time he hit the door harder. Still nothing.
“Fuck it.” he muttered and let himself in.                                                                            
The smells of decay and artificial watermelon pervaded the room. Her eyes drew his to them like they were the focal points of a portrait. Her shimmering green pupils had turned a dull gray and looked like they would soon fade from her eyes entirely. Her skin had a blue tint that stood out against the dark bruises that spotted her neck. Her jaw hung open, and she stared with unseeing eyes. That scent was death wearing perfume. Her body was arranged sitting up in her bed against the headboard with her left hand hanging over the side.
His stomach knotted, and he fell to the floor and started to dry heave as more and more particles of his daughters decaying body filtered through his nose.
“Oh, fuck Oh my god what the fuck.” He sobbed. He crawled on his knees over to her. He took her hand that was hanging off the bed and held it in his. Her flesh felt like cold clay.
“Katie, Katie, my little girl!” He cried out.“Wha wha happened to you??!” He stuttered through fits of sobbing.
“Jason,” a voice murdered from behind. He whipped the burning tears from his squinted eyes and saw his wife standing in the doorway. Strands of her matted hair hung in front of her face. Her bloodshot eyes were sinking into the crows feet. She looked like she'd aged ten years in the 18 days since he'd last been home.
“What the fuck did you do Theresa?” He shouted. She answered with a silent glare.
“What the fuck did you do you psycho bitch?!” He screamed in a voice that spiked an octave.
Rage released adrenaline into his blood, and he felt himself leap to his feet. She took a step back and held out a large kitchen knife in her wiry fingers.
“Just stay away from me Jason. Just stay away,” she repeated sternly.
“What the fuck did you do?! What did you do?!” He demanded.
“The only thing I could do.” she answered as she sniffled and wiped away a solitary tear that had formed in her eye.
“You're a crazy cunt you know that?!” Jason hissed.
“Deep down a part of me had known the truth for a long time.” She said ignoring his insult. "On the outside, she seemed normal but over time God made it clear to me. She wasn't our daughter. She was hollow inside just an empty shell of flesh acting as the earthly vessel for evil.”
“Oh, Christ Theresa what the hell are you talking about?” Jason moaned.
“Don't, don't take the lords name in vain! Not here.” She hissed. “I've heard you call me every vile thing under the sun. Things a good man would never think to utter at the woman he had vowed to stay with for the rest of his life, but I will no longer tolerate blasphemy from you.” She growled as she pointed the knife at him.
They stared at each other a moment. The silence bore down on Jason like an invisible weight. He couldn't predict what she might do, and that put him even more on edge.
“When they chipped her they promised it was to keep her safe, but that was a lie.” Theresa continued. “After you left could I see the coldness behind her eyes that had replaced a once loving heart. when the doctor implanted that computer chip into her body he had given her the mark of the beast, and she was forever forsaken by God.”
“Chipped her?” Jason said. “Chipped her.” He repeated. “Are you talking about the fucking child tracking chip!?”
“Don't you understand!?” She shrieked suddenly losing her composure. “She wasn't our daughter. She wasn't our little Katie. She was whatever they put on that chip! It took over her brain Jason!” Theresa held her clenched hand to her heart.
“I've been reading about it. These computer chips merged with her neural pathways.” she said as she burst into tears. “ She didn't have control over herself anymore! She told me...she told me she hated me Jason.” She said hoarsely. The light twinkled in the tears that had pooled in her black eyes.
“How can...how can a daughter hate her mother?” she wailed as she burst into a fit of uncontrollable sobbing.
Jason didn't know what to say. His eyes kept darting from the body of his daughter to his deranged wife. A paralyzing tsunami of grief and hatred washed over his body.
“I knew I had to wipe her from the Earth.” Theresa continued. “I prayed and wept and prayed and wept until God finally gave me the resolve. When God told me that Katie had to die and that I had to be the one to do it I had never been more scared, but God taught me that fear and self-doubt are just the tools of evil meant to prevent us from carrying out his will.”
Theresa was silent for a second while she gather her thoughts. She fell against the doorway. Her body was shaking.
“When I wrapped my hands around her neck all my self-doubt just seemed to wash away. She kicked and thrashed, but I held her in place. I had to look into her eyes while I held her down. In my heart, God had shown me what they had made her with that damn computer chip, but there was something in her eyes. She was invading my mind. I started thinking about the day we took her home from the hospital. I remembered watching her learn to ride a bike, every moment played in my mind like a movie or something. After she stopped moving I let her go. I was relieved I couldn’t see her eyes. I was shaken, but I knew I had done the right thing. It’s just the last times he gripped my hand she still felt human.”
Jason shook his head. “You fuckin lost it. You're completely fuckin gone!” He growled.
“You don't know what she was like after you left!” Theresa shouted back at him. “She said she hated me she said she hoped I died!” Don't you see Jason? She's the reason all this happened. That damn chip they're trying to destroy the family unit so then we'll be too weak to fight back!” Jason's jaw dropped almost to the floor.
“You know why she said she hated you?” Jason asked rhetorically. “She said she hated you because you're the kind of psycho bitch who kills her kid for saying she hates you!”
“Oh like you're any kind of prize Jason!” Theresa retorted. “You just picked up and left. Till death do us part remember that?” Then as soon as things were a little too hard you panicked and ran. If she meant that much to you how come you didn't even know she was dead the last 14 days??!”
“14 days?” Jason repeated. He looked back at his phone and thought about the Facebook conversations and the texting they had been doing the last week.
 He remembered the status he read just before he got to the house. He was at a loss for words. She was right. His connection with his daughter had been relegated to the digital realm. She was a number on his phone a profile on his list. No one had known what happened because no one had taken the time. Not even her father
. Her digital persona had been kept alive, and that had been enough for all of her friends and family. Katie was nothing more than a neatly formatted profile and a couple of photo albums stored on a server. She was simply a number on a phone grid and bits of information circulating cyberspace. Digital traces were all that remained of a life snuffed out at barely 12 years old and apparently that was enough to be considered living.


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