I didn’t mind the fame I received on campus. I wasn’t anything super special, just a nice person who could speak well. It seemed people forgot I was a student after all, because coming to my room at the end of the day was so humbling. Or depressing. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate to only be sharing the bathroom with one other person, and that guy was absent from his room for weeks at a time, so it was essentially my own. The room was just big enough to fit a twin sized bed, a small desk, a TV stand, and a recliner. The bed was lifted and pushed against the far left wall. I understand that colleges had a budget, but even the shorter students had their feet dangling off the edges of these puny beds. I couldn’t complain about my desk, it was fairly new, with a sandy colored finish. It was pushed up against the window, the view of which was the large, outstretched branch of a tree. It was convenient. I wasn’t much of a gamer or a TV person, but that didn’t stop me from having a more than big enough 55 inch flat screen. You would think in the year 2025, flat screen TVs would be a thing of the past, but they really just made them better. I used it primarily as a separate computer screen. And last, but not least, was the recliner, a burgundy, oldish seat that I had inherited from an family neighbor, Mr. Rowan. He passed away when I was young, however, he had given my father the chair prior to his death. I then inherited it after my father moved upon me starting university. Outside of that, my belongings were a few posters, small appliances, my computer, and other random stuff.
My room was cleaner than normal when I stepped in. I forgot I had recently cleaned it because I was unable to find something I needed at the time. It was funny. Most people were in-cognizant that I was a little on the messy side. My room wasn’t atrocious like some rooms I had seen. I didn’t think it was possible for people to be so sloppy. My room was not excused from having an empty pizza box sitting next to the microwave, multiple half emptied glasses, and a few candy wrappers on the desk next to the bed. I was cleaner before college.
There it was. Sitting neatly on the center of the bed, a small brown box. Grabbing the box, I sat on the bed and began tearing into the sides. Yes, it was that serious. Inside was a small, smoky gray business card. It simply had a giant, red G on the front, with the words “Gryphon Industries” below it it. I turned it over and there was a black dot. As if I knew was I was doing, I pressed a finger to the dot, from which a thin beam of white-blue light shot up towards the ceiling. It fanned out into a hologram. There was a tiny man floating in air above the card. A smile grew across my face.
“Why hello there Mr. Alex. It is a great pleasure to speak with you again,” he said.
“No sir, the pleasure is all mine. You guys finished faster than I thought you would,” I replied. The hologram laughed before continuing. This wasn’t some prerecorded message I was receiving. We were talking in real time, one of the most innovative and convenient inventions to come out of Gryphon Industries.
“In that package you will find the beta of the project we were working on prior to your leaving. We were not sure what to call them just yet. We figured in the event of a successful test-run, we’d give you the honors of naming it,”
I didn’t respond immediately. Instead, I dug past the foam peanuts to discover a discover a pair of jet black gloves. There were golden lines that ran up the fingers, that encompassed blue circles in the area of the knuckles. The palm side was mostly blank, but with a solid, hollowed out blue circle in the middle. I picked them both up and glance back down at the holographic man.
“They look incredible,” were the only words to escape my mouth.
“Indeed, and those are simply the prototypes. Why don’t you try them on?” the man urged. I nodded, as I slipped on the gloves. They hugged my hands tightly, but they were still very comfortable, well insulated, and didn’t cut off any circulation.
“In order to activate the gloves, you have to program a codeword. This word can only be used by you, for the gloves will only respond to your voice, so you don’t have to worry about anybody stealing them. It would be a futile effort,” the man explained.
“I see,” I began. I expanded and clenched my fists a few times. “How exactly do I set a password?”
He laughed again, this time for a longer period of time. Eventually he answered my confused look, “This is the fun part. So you see the ring on your right palm? Press the inside of that palm with your left thumb to activate the coding sequence,”
His instructions sounded weird, but I followed them anyways. Upon pressing the inside of my right palm, the blue rings and golden lines on the gloves began to glow brightly. It took me by surprise, so I nearly knocked the man’s hologram to the floor. Suddenly, a warm sensation began to rush over my hands. With every passing second, the insides of the gloves grew hotter and hotter. Eventually, it grew to the intensity of sticking my hand into a fire.
“Ahh, damn it. What the hell!” I began to yelp in pain as I waved my arms. A sudden jolt of pain pulsated from my fingertips and down through the veins of my hands. The pain shot up my arms and finally to my head. The end result was a radiating headache, it felt like my brain was getting bombarded by waves of falling bricks. “Ahh, fuck man. What the hell is going on!” I shouted at the man. I didn’t bother to lower my voice due the writhing pain. I’m sure someone probably heard me, but I didn’t give a shit. My back was arched over, as I clutched my head. It felt as if my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets.
“The gloves are bonding to you, to your magical code to be specific. It hurts, I know, but it will only last a few more moments,” he assured.
“Like hell you understand,” I said through my teeth. “I’m the guinea pig!” Sure enough, the heat began to leave my hands. The overflowing pain that ran from my fingers to my head, began to fade away. The river of fire in my veins had finally been quenched, and the drumming in my head ceased. The resulting relief was possibly the greatest feeling I had ever felt. My body relaxed and sunk into the bed, melting the sheets. Even the stiff mattress felt like a cloud after that ordeal. The gloves were now emitting a dim glow. I picked up the card.
“What the hell just happened?”
“Didn’t you hear me the first time?” he asked. “The gloves are now bonded to you. It had to read your magical code so it could duplicate it. Now you are the sole user of these gloves. Anyone else that tries to will, well, probably get hurt,”
“What do you mean by that?” I questioned.
“Take of the gloves and look at your hands,” he ordered. Taking them off, my eyes widened. On the tips of my fingers were black dots with a rim of deep red. The palms were the same.
“You turned me into a mime?” I asked sarcastically. I was only halfway so.
“No. How do you think the gloves were able to read you? The pain you felt were the gloves magical energy shooting up to your brain. It felt hot because the magical energy of the gloves was essentially being soldered to your magical code. It’s a rather, eh, unfortunate side effect. Too bad your not a pyro,”
“No kidding,” I replied. I examined the gloves closer and noticed words lit up on the inside of the large, palm circles. “Gun Girl?” Upon reading it, the words faded away and the gloves grew brighter.
“Gun Girl huh?” the man began. “That’s your codeword I guess. Interesting choice though,”
“I didn’t choose it,” I refuted.
“Oh, but yes you did. You see, we programmed the gloves to kind of pick a password for you. When the magical energy shot up to your brain, it scanned it for whatever thoughts were fresh in your mind. These words were the most prevalent, so it picked them for you. So in a sense, you did pick them, subconsciously,”
I was completely blown away. I knew that Gryphon Industries was amazing, but never did I think they were capable of this sort of technology. How fortunate was I to receive the opportunity to have worked with these guys and help them test run new products? It was just too much for me to handle.
“I wonder though, why Gun Girl became your password. It is a rather…interesting set of words,” the man paused between words. I shrugged, despite knowing exactly why it had became that.
“Well, aside from the searing pain, I really appreciate the opportunity to test these out for you,” I said.
“We would not have even thought about making it if it weren’t for you, son. Your collaboration is much appreciated,”
“I know you gave me a brief answer to what you planned to program into these gloves, but can you give me a more detailed description of its capabilities?”
“Sorry,” the man responded abruptly. “That is for you to find out on your own. I have to attend a meeting. I trust that I will receive a report from you in the near future?” Before I could even respond he assumed my answer and the transmission ended. The hologram faded back into the card, and in its place engraved on the back was the name Dr. Steve Wzelchy. I sighed and laid back on the bed. My head nearly hit the wall as I stared up at the ceiling. I brought the gloves into view, marveling at them. They were still faintly glowing.
In my 21 years on the planet, I made it a goal of my mine to connect with as many people as possible. Networking, getting to know people, I felt it was essential if I was going to parry my way to my ultimate goal. Last year, a speaker came to the school to give a guest lecture. After his speech, I approached him. He must have been impressed, because he gave me his card and told me to meet with him later that evening. Him and some colleagues had a business meeting in town and we going to have dinner. Turns out, the speaker worked for Gryphon Industries, a privately owned, magical technologies business. They mainly ran operations out of Rotterdam, Netherlands, but they also had locations in all of the other continents, including Antarctica. They were responsible for a great majority of the new technology that utilized magic. It was rumored for a long time that they held contracts with some of the military groups in the world, which caused some concerns. However, the president and CEO of the company flat out admitted that this was true, however, it didn’t mean they were conspiring against the people. It made sense to provide this technology to the armies of the world. The revelation actually led to less conflict.
The speaker who had come to Mozley was impressed by my “skills”, claiming they could really spark a revolution of great new projects for the company. Thus, I was invited for a summer-long internship at the sister site located in Helena, Montana. It was, needless to say, a remarkable experience.
I wasn’t feeling as remarkable right now, however. Sure, I got to test drive a new invention, but I hadn’t the faintest idea how. It was as if they had pushed me out of the nest and expected me to fly immediately. If I failed though, it wasn’t like a cat was going to eat me.
It was at that moment I realized that I could hear my clock ticking. I glanced up, the clocking read: 12:30.
“Oh, crap!” I exclaimed quickly gathering my things. I slipped a red bag onto my back, shoved my phone into my pocket, and turned off all the lights. Upon opening the door I paused to look at my hands. The gloves were still and glowing slowly. I still didn’t know how to deactivate them, but I also didn’t want to remove them. There were so many secrets to unlock in this potentially industry changing item. I wore gloves often, for I found it helped me control my reading ability, so it wouldn’t have been out of place for me to have a new pair. It would be more difficult to explain the blue glow. Shrugging, I dug my hands into the pockets of my jacket and stepped halfway out the door. I paused again, peering into the hallway. No one there. I looked to both sides before receding back into the room and locking the door.
Upon opening the window, the aroma of the trees and plants outside rushed in. I often used this route from my room. I wasn’t sure exactly why. It was more fun I suppose, but it was also unpredictable, and I liked that. The branch was strong enough to hold me. Swinging myself down from branch to branch, my feet eventually hit the ground. I dusted off any residue from climbing down. Suddenly I heard a voice.
“Did you seriously just climb down that tree from your room?”
I swiveled my head to discover a young lady, a little shorter than I with blond hair tied back and hazel eyes. She looked like a runner, her body was slim and toned. She wore a short sleeve, purple shirt that had the abbreviations of some sorority on it, as well as black yoga pants. She was a walking stereotype. I was surprised she didn’t have her “sisters” with her.
“Yea, what about it? And who are you?” I asked.
“Well if you must know,” she started in nasally voice, “I’m a new member of this sorority” she pointed to her shirt. “My name is Courtney and soon everyone will know it, because let’s face it, I’m beautiful,”
Nice to see you have hubris I thought to myself. These chicks always strike me as average. She was popular at her former school, and now, she was desperately and already, trying to find a way to make her self popular again. It was sort of sad really. I then remembered my gloves.
“Hey, you’re into fashion right? How do think these gloves compliment my eyes?” I said with an inflection of bullshit in my voice. She didn’t catch it, however, and she examined my outstretched palm. She opened her mouth, but I all I could see were her lips move.
Trying to explain how it was like to read people was like trying to explain algebra to a five year old. If you were lucky enough to keep their attention for a few minutes, you would still struggle to articulate in words they could understand what you are talking about. Colors were more vibrant. Things lost their definitions. It was like a blast of colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and symbols just running at me like cinematic 3D. However, this was new.
I was flying through space. It was is if I was able to bypass all of the firewalls and see her in the raw. What felt like an eternity of flashing images and loud vibrations soon accumulated into a point of blackness. I saw myself standing in the void. In front of me was a slowly rotating double helix that stretched up and down as far as the eye could see. Gliding over to the rotating neon, green helix, I reach out to touch it. Suddenly, it rapidly condensed into a ball of neon green in my hand. I knew not where I was, but I was still wearing the gloves. The ball began to sink into the glove, soon it disappeared entirely. Gasping, I could feel a rush of energy up my arm and into my head, however, it wasn’t hot like before. This time it was icy cold . A group of letters I had never seen before suddenly emitted from the gloves, similar to the hologram and the business card from earlier. Despite, not being familiar with the language, I knew exactly what it said. As soon as they had appeared, the words vanished and the darkness was sucked up like a vacuum. I found myself back outside, the girl giving me a weird look.
“Umm, did you hear anything I said?”
“Wait what?” my voice was a little disoriented.
“All you men are the fucking same. You didn’t hear a word I said did you? All you want are my goodies!”
I really don’t. “I’m sorry, I just got dizzy for a moment there. Thanks for your opinion, I gotta go!” I said scurrying off.
“Wait a minute? I’m not done with you!” I heard her voice as I turned the corner of the building in heading towards the student center. I was at a lost of words. What had I just witnessed? Normally when reading someone, I could just see the answer I seek in my head floating with the other shapes and colors. But never had I gone so deep and had such vivid images. It was if I had traveled to another world. My mind felt shattered and the only thing I could think of was what I saw in there.
Courtney was a succubus.