You are in your office going over the case files scattered around your desk. It’s not a large workspace, but the desk and filing cabinet make it feel more cramped than it actually is. In addition to the folders and scattered papers, your desk houses a computer monitor, pencil cup, and a nameplate with “Special Agent Ramírez” printed across it.
The latest report was for the disappearance of Melanie Sanders, a young woman who was last seen with her seventeen-year-old sister. The sister was found dead at the wheel of the woman’s car after an accident involving a drunk driver. Melanie had been seen getting in the car but was nowhere to be found after the accident.
Detective Johnson walks in to update you on the investigation of the other driver.
“Hey, Ramírez. The lead was a bust. The boys checked out that address and couldn’t find anything. The place has been empty for a while and is probably a crack house or something. An officer is stationed on lookout just in case, but it looks like a dead end.”
“Looks can be deceiving. Nothing was out of the ordinary?”
“Well, we did get some photos of the place. I already looked them over, but you can see for yourself. I’ll send them to your drive.”
“Thanks Johnson, I’ll let you know if I find anything.”
From here, the reader is directed to Ramírez’s desktop where there are several links to help solve the mystery. One of those links leads to a text conversatinon between Ramírez and her sister.
After figuring out the password, the reader is given access to a webpage that contains the following text.
Hello, Special Agent Ramírez. Yes, I know who you are, Alejandra. If you are seeing this, then you have no doubt come to know me as Acceleration Zero. I must commend you for solving my puzzles so quickly. Unfortunately, many do not make it this far. You must be confused or maybe intrigued but not frightened. You do not scare easily. You want to know about the disappearances; how I am involved.
Several years ago, I realized that technology was advancing at an alarming rate. Left unchecked as it is now, humans will become obsolete. We will lose our place in this world, and the technology we have come to rely on will take our empty seat of power. This is inevitable. I found the solution to this crisis in an old adage: “If you cannot beat them, join them.” In order to keep up with technology, humanity must be forced to evolve. We must be faster, smarter, and stronger to survive. In order to survive the threat, we must become it.
I began “recruiting” volunteers for my project. I call it Velocity Over Time. Human advancement is accelerated through the integration of technology. It started with replacing biological systems with mechanical ones. Artificial limbs and organs had already been achieved, but unlocking the processing power of a computer was a dream only realized in fiction. That is, until now. I created a bridge between human thought and the digital realm! After replacing key parts of the brain with connections to an internal CPU, the subject’s consciousness is merged with and overwritten by an artificial intelligence. I even designed a virtual space were upgraded humans can relearn any lost functionality while I observe and perfect them.
What? Don’t tell me you believed this was all real. Think back to the accident. You were picking up your sister from a friend’s house. She had just received her license the week before and wanted to drive home. She didn’t see the drunk driver run the red light. You were lucky I happened to be driving by that night. You accepted the upgrades far easier than any of my previous subjects. Your mind has so perfectly adapted to the alterations. It is truly unfortunate your sister was not also viable. If she was anything like you, my research would be much further along by now.
Have you figured it out yet? Well, it does not matter now. I am sending you back to my virtual space. I honestly just wanted to tell someone about my achievements and, of course, record your reactions to our enlightening discourse for research purposes. You will likely not remember this discussion after you go back. In fact, the artificial reality you have created will soon overwrite the memories of your old life. It is better this way.
There are two endings after this.
After closing the strange webpage, you hear your phone buzz on your desk. You open up the notification to see a text from your sister.
You are about to text back something snarky when Detective Johnson knocks on your open office door.
“Hey, nice work on the Sanders case.” He says.
“Uh, thanks?” You reply confused. I really didn’t make much headway on it.”
“I would say that finding a missing person and catching the kidnapper is more than enough headway.”
“Huh? Oh, right. Sorry, I’m really tired right now.”
“No worries. You should get some rest.”
Johnson turns to leave, but you stop him.
“Hey, Johnson, have you ever heard of Acceleration Zero?”
“Hmm…no, can’t say that I have. Is that a new drug or something?”
“No, nothing like that. It’s the name of a musical artist my sister likes.”
“Oh, okay. Well, have a good night Ramírez.”
“You too Johnson.”
You bring a hand to your forehead as Johnson leaves. Your head is pounding, and your fingertips brush up against something cold and smooth. Before you can even process what you are touching, the pain disappears. You forget what you were doing, but you remember that you were concerned about something. You hear your phone vibrate on the desk and see a text from Angelica.
“Oh right, the jacket,” you say to yourself. “That must have been it.”
You pick up your coat and purse then lock up your office for the night. As you walk to your car, you whistle a catchy song, but you can’t remember were you heard it.
After finding hidden messages throughout the story, the reader click on the words “go back” at the end of Acceleration Zero’s rant.
You wake up to the sound of sirens. Your head is pounding as you push yourself off the ground. You wipe the dirt from you face and take in your surroundings. The first thing you notice as you stumble out of the ditch is a car turned on its side. It’s your car. The memories come flooding back all at once. “Angelica,” you whisper to yourself. “No. Oh God, please no.”