The Story of Brutus
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One Monitor

"See, I'm right!"

He said, looking at me. A CRT screen glowed in the dark room, showing the professor sorting papers turned in. As he stepped out holding the sorted papers under his arm, a sheet of paper fell to the floor. It, unfortunately, slipped under the desk, which was hard to notice.

"He didn't even check properly and went all 'U R F' on me."

"So? Are you gonna do something?"

"Heck yeah, I am. I'm going to bust in there and find it myself. Some professors need to be spoon-fed."

He laid on the chair and giggled. I let out a chuckle too.

"You mad lad, how'd you think to hide a camera in his office? What if he finds it?"

"He'll never find it. You know my skills. Bring the president of the United States, and even he'll give up."

Smiling, we gave each other a high five. At this point, we didn't know what kind of one huge step for ourselves we've stepped.


Five Monitors

"Huh, this works."

Five CRT screens showed five different professor's offices, including the first office I got the camera installed. We let out a wry smile.

"What did your adviser do to get himself filmed?"

"I dunno, being my adviser? If he's not guilty, it would be my curiosity."

"So, what are you going to do with this?"

"Spy on them for any weaknesses."

"And blackmail them?"

"What if it goes wrong?"

"You can't monitor them in class."

"That's why I need storage. That's also why I'm not going to spy on them right now. I need stuff."

"Anything you need from me?"

I asked mischievously. He replied with the same mischievous expression in his eyes.

"Lots of external hard drives, maybe."


Seven Monitors

"Dear lord…"

My heart jumped after seeing what was on the screens. Those were no professor's offices. It was like a scene from a movie. If it weren't for who was in it, I would have thought it was a record from a drama series.

"You here? Any luck with getting a job?"

"That can't be."

"It is. The president's office, assembly, and so on; our political leaders."

"Is that even possible?"

"Apparently."

I put down a bag full of external hard drives next to the keyboard as I approached closer to the screens.

"You bought them today, too. Thanks. You'd be stressed from job searching."

"I got one. I brought some snacks for celebration."

I pulled out a bag of crisps from the bag. His eye sparkled. He softly grabbed the snacks from my hand and spun in joy after he sat down on the chair.

"Kudos, friend! Where did you go?"

"I'm enlisting."

His mouth went flat again. However, in contrast to his mouth, his eyes still had a soft glisten.

"As a soldier? You mean as a professional soldier?"

I nodded.

He let out a short sigh. This time both his eyes and mouth showed sadness. We shook our hands in remorse for the lengthy awaiting departure.

"Keep your head on your body. I'll show you something cool when you come back."

I looked up at the monitor.

"How cooler can this be?"

A lifetime promise was sealed like this.


200 Monitors

"Long time no see. You're carrying more than before."

"Cooler indeed. What's with all these gadgets?"

The Monitors were wider than before. Some looked like two CRT monitors wired together. Some looked like the newer, wider, thinner models. The unfamiliar atmosphere from the added monitors made me hesitate as if I faced an invisible wall.

"We can't have snacks here. These babies are sensitive to crumbs. Let's head outside."

"You didn't answer my question. How did you make all this?"

"Oh, come on, I have a job. I can easily afford this with my wealth and talent."

"Where'd you put the hard drives? Those you format and use again…"

I heard a sound from up close. I turned my head to see a machine that wasn't there before. Something that exactly resembles the hard drive that I gave him before fell from it. Before I could even ask what it is, he stood up, picked up the hard drives and nonchalantly spoke as he approached me.

"It's an automatic manufacturing machine."

"How did you make that?"

"I applied the method used to maximize the regenerative capabilities of a severed human body part; I should have written my thesis on this. I couldn't go into detail. Too complicated."

This time, I didn't question the bullshittery he was talking about. Instead, I scanned him up and down and noticed a knuckle of his left ring finger missing. I saw his face. He smiled at me like he knew everything.

"Why do all this?"

"Because it's fun."

He looked at the screen. His expression was, as he said, that of fun. However, his following statement showed a hint of fear, too.

"And there's more to it as I go deeper."


Approx. 250 Monitors or More

I had to stay at his place after getting a new job after quitting my old one. The addition of new monitors was slower than before because he needed more time to find a new target to install his camera. Now his eyes shared the vision of those in the upper class of this world. And yet, he was searching for more.

When I visited him after I got a new job, he was installing a new monitor. Instead of the crude assemblage of CRT monitors, it was a giant one that easily fit several of those screens. He saw me while connecting the wires and waved at me in congratulation. I replied with a wave and sat on the place where he used to sit. Noise filled the screen. It looks like the wires were connected.

"Is it done?"

"The screen's not on yet."

He stuck his head out from behind the monitor and tapped the monitor a few times. I looked at the other monitors. Those ancient ones used from long before, to modified ones that I have never seen, and honestly think that'll be hard to exist in the future. On the screens that resembled the human evolution process, individuals were going about their rather ordinary lives, oblivious of the opposite-of-ordinary person spying on them.

Now I see the keyboard much bigger than before. Did it grow using his finger? It seemed plausible, looking at his left hand busy typing.

I threw my body on the chair. This place felt especially uncomfortable today - not just today, but in the future as well, since I got a job now. His current situation could soon make me a target, too.

The monitor turned on. It showed a typical office with someone sitting, turning a pen reading a document. At first, I thought it was another company. However, I soon recognized a familiar logo on the cover as the figure closed the document: a black circle and three arrows pointing in. I saw that logo on the lecture hall where I got my orientation.

"… I'll be leaving."

I shot coldly at his smug face. I went back to where I stayed to pack, leaving the worried fellow behind. I decided to stay in the company dormitory.


I quit counting the monitors.

He stared blankly into the empty screen. He was holding his hands together and shaking his legs as if something went wrong. The newly added screen showed the now familiar blue and purple offices.

I didn't intend it, but I was able to pass by here as my patrol route covered his place. I was here when the two said offices first started showing. He said that it takes longer nowadays since system development is slower. Because of this, he was always nervous about new instalments.

The screen let out a slight noise. He sat upright. I watched beside the door, arms crossed. The noise filled the screen from the centre and showed yet another office.

His face was filled with relief. I let out a fist in congratulations, and he hit it with him as a thank you. I said goodbye as I couldn't stay for long, and he answered with a chuckle. He became thinner than before, quieter, smiles devoid of vibrancy. He changed as much as me.

I saw lots of people like this in the military. This was a face only seen from people under prolonged stress.

At that moment, I was worried that he might have been spying on me through his screens.


Two Monitors Lost

His two eyes bore no life. Every part of his face except his eyes was bloody to the point of being unrecognizable. His famished body was in stark contrast to his face viscerally noticeable with blood. I have never seen a person commit suicide this way in my life.

Two suicide notes stuck on the wide control panel, now wide enough for me to lie on. One had scribbles of fear without any coherence or pattern. It looked like those warnings that crazy people left in horror movies.

The other was for me, who was probably the first person to witness his last moments. Unlike the other one, this one looked organized and desperate.

First, he was good to see me through the monitors. Second, the sight of the underground where I am was well past his understanding. Third, and to see that vast world of mine, acknowledged him of the monster he created. Fourth, to be on top of a world that he could possibly grab is too much of a burden, and with great power comes great responsibility, and so on.

Last, he couldn't take that pressure and left his creation to my organization, which he could at least trust and me.

It was not hard to understand, but I needed some time to comprehend. What did you think? Why did you do it? Habitually, I put my hand on his corpse. His body - even the least deathly bloody face of his - crumbled down like a tarnished book.

The dust flew away instead of piling on the chair. Some went into the monitor, and some must-have went into me. When I got back to my senses, there was nothing but stains of blood on the chair.

I held my radio. After a brief hesitation, I turned it on and spoke into it.

"This is sector Theta-5, suspicious anomalous entity sighted. Repeat. This is sector Theta-5…"

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