- AUTHOR: Chopsticks
- TITLE: Double Negative
- CATEGORY: AU
- RATING: PG-13
- SUMMARY: “One goddamn grammatical mistake.” Sometimes, misusing the English language can come back and bite you in the ass. Cypher learns this lesson the hard way.
- AUTHOR’S NOTES: This is, theoretically, my first-ever Matrix fic. Theoretically. But that’s only because it’s the first one I’ve posted. I have more. I’m just lazy, m’kay? This isn’t beta’d, except by me, and that doesn’t count.
- Archiving: Anywhere I send it to personally. You may not take it and then ask me! If I want it archived with you, I’ll send it to you. Period.
- DISCLAIMER: I do not own The Matrix or anything affiliated with it. It is owned by Warner Brothers and the Wachowski Brothers. No profit is being made from this. Please don’t sue.
- THANKS: To RRP, who literally wrote the last two lines of this for me. Thanks a lot, Rivey!
“Then we have a deal?”
“I don’t want to remember nothing. Nothing. You understand?”
Harold Reagen awoke with a start. He blinked several times, allowing his eyes to acclimate to the darkness. The dream was still vivid in his mind. He could recall every detail–smell, taste, sight, touch.
Only he knew it wasn’t a dream. He knew that it was really a memory. A memory of the life he had once lived before he sold his soul–or rather, his body–to the Devil. He had once been called Cypher, a hard-ass who escaped The Matrix. He had lived nine years of his life onboard the Nebuchadnezzar, the elusive Morpheus’ hovercraft.
He cursed underneath his breath, remembering the deal he had made for all their lives. One minor slip, and he was paying for it in his own personal hell.
Harold threw the covers off of himself and stumbled over to his closet, the early morning light shining in through his second-story window. He glanced out said window, over the sprawling landscape that was the city at dawn. It looked magical, somehow, he decided. Soon everyone would be waking up, and he’d be forced to smile for the cameras, even though inside he was screaming. It wasn’t real, and he knew it.
He quickly threw on his jogging clothes, intent upon taking a peaceful early morning run. He did his warm-ups outside, against his door, and then took off, letting the constant thud of his shoes lull him into a sense of serenity.
He flashed back to that conversation he had with Agent Smith over dinner. Agent Smith had seemed no more emotional than a tin pan, but that hadn’t affected Harold in the least. All he wanted was to get the hell out of the real world, and put back into The Matrix. He had thought the deal had been that he would remember nothing about the real world, his life as a rebel, or as a hacker.
But, as Agent Smith would later point out when when he introduced Harold to his new life as a famous actor, he had said, “I don’t want to remember nothing.” Since both “don’t” and “nothing” were negatives, the sentence became a double negative, and therefore became a positive. Harold had never hated the English language more than at that moment.
Harold had attempted to argue that his following statement should have made it a negative again. Agent Smith simply stared at him, then told him that, if that were the case, the entire thing was completely convoluted and hopelessly misunderstood. And then he had walked away.
“One goddamn grammatical mistake. . .” Harold said, shaking his head sadly as he ran. He had given up everything to be permanently plugged back into The Matrix. He’d killed the people he’d spent nine years of his life with, for Christ’s sake! And this was his reward. Remembering every single moment he had spent with them; remembering Tank and Dozer’s faces as he killed them; remembering the horrified look on Trinity’s face when Neo had fallen over dead after his plug had been pulled. He had planned to spare her; let her live, in the hopes that she might be able to get Morpheus back.
Instead, she had pulled out her gun and ended it all right there, in the TV repair shop.
He had never been more shocked in his life. He ended up sitting in Tank’s operating chair, just staring at the green code, until the machines came for him. After that, he couldn’t remember anything until he had woken up in his house, Agent Smith staring down at him.
They hadn’t even bothered to fabricate any memories for him. They simply let him remember everything about what he had done. Perhaps they had hoped he’d eventually kill himself, but it had been nearly a year and that hadn’t happened yet.
As he ran, he wondered why they had never sent someone to kill him. He was, after all, a danger. He knew about the Resistance. He knew what The Matrix really was. Yet they didn’t do one damn thing about it.
Perhaps it was because they knew he would never go back to the real world. That was, after all, why he was living this life now. Or maybe it was that they didn’t care. If he did escape back out into the real world, the Zion Council would have him killed in a heartbeat. His alter-ego, Cypher, was a traitor, after all. Zion would want him dead.
Assuming Zion still existed.
That thought caused an involuntary shudder to run through Harold’s body. The quarter of a million inhabitants of Zion were probably dead by now, and the Resistance would have died along with it.
Harold had stopped running, and doubled over to catch his breath. No matter what, he had to continue. He knew that much. His life was damn perfect in The Matrix, with the exception of his memories. He could deal with his memories. He had dealt with so much worse in the real world. Suppressing his memories would be a walk in the park, compared to the mental exertion required to free his mind.
Still, a memory was a memory, forever lingering at the back of his thoughts. A shadow, so to speak.
Damn Agent Smith. Damn the machines. Damn double negatives.