Chapter 19: Tough Choices

"Jenny," Bryce asked. "Are you okay?"

It had been a week since he'd awakened from his coma. He was staying at Edison Carter's apartment now. His eyesight had returned a couple of days after he'd first come out of his coma and he'd taken advantage of what he called his "sighted time" to practice walking with crutches.

Jenny came to visit him for a few hours every day. Acting as his mentor as well as being a very close friend.

"Not really," Jenny admitted. "I feel really bad about Susan. She was a good friend."

Bryce sat down on the edge of the bed and patted it invitingly. It was easier for him to sit down on than the sofa.

Jenny knew he wasn't going to try anything. It wasn't because of the belladonna. He simply hadn't outgrown his shyness around women he wasn't working with.

She sat next to him and let him hug her. It was the closest he had ever got to anyone.

Bryce didn't know exactly why he wanted to hug Jenny. He'd just seen the act on TV a few times and decided that it was the right way to respond.

He had to admit, the closeness of her felt pretty good. It almost made up for the pain he himself was going through.


"Bryce," Jenny asked. "What's wrong?"

"What do you mean?" Bryce asked.

"You're trembling," she told him. "Is it from the belladonna or are you really upset about something?"

"A little of both," Bryce admitted. "Jenny I want you to replicate the Max Headroom process with me."


"I mean it," Bryce cut her off. "I want you to recreate me in the network computer. I'll tell Max to give you access to the computer."

"Won't it recreate the brain as it is? With the injuries and faults?" Jenny looked at him. For the moment, at least, it seemed like some of his ability to reason had returned. She wondered if he would fully recover.

"There was to be a way to resolve those issues," Bryce said. "Jenny, I see that look in your eyes. You think I'm getting better. I don't know if I am or I'm not. But let's not take chances. While I'm in a copyable state, let's recreate me."

"Bryce, I don't know if I can," Jenny admitted.

"Just hook me up," Jenny told her. "Max can do the rest."

Jenny turned Edison's home terminal on and found the EEG wires that had been used on Edison when he'd been infected with the virus Zik Zak had implanted with an infected neurostim bracelet.

Bryce lie down and listened as Max instructed Jenny where to place the wires.

"Just close your eyes and relax," Max told Bryce. "It helps to not have the brain taking in additional information from the optic nerve."

Bryce closed his eyes and listened to the soft hum of the computer tower as it uploaded a copy of his brain, mind, and memory into the system.

Jenny watched as the construct began to form on the screen.

Unlike Max, it wasn't just a head and shoulders. It still looked a bit cartoonish, like Max. However it was softer, less angular.

When the last wire had been removed from his head, Bryce opened his eyes.

"Hello," he said to his construct. "I'm Bryce. Bryce Lynch."

The construct considered him for a moment.

"I suppose I am, too," he said after a moment. "But it's going to be confusing if we both use the same name. Though, I guess it won't be confusing for too long."

"What do you mean?" Jenny asked.

"Jenny," Bryce, the one sitting up on the bed, told her, "I can feel my mind deteriorating again."

"Bryce," Jenny said, realizing where this conversation was heading. "No."

"It's not just my thought processes that are going, Jenny," Bryce said. "I'm shaking more and more every day. I know the blindness will become more and more frequent. Soon I'll be nothing but a vegetable. I can't live like that, Jenny. Nobody should have to."

"That's why you asked me to create this stupid construct!" Jenny screamed at him. "That's why you asked me to copy you! You were planning this from the beginning. I hate you both!"

She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. In the hallway, she let her tears fall. It wasn't fair. She loved Bryce, wanted him to stay with her. But those stupid doctors had poisoned him with that stupid belladonna. And now she was being asked to be the instrument of his death if his brain deteriorated too much.

No. It definitely wasn't fair.

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