Prologue

Sandra Ballard would die tomorrow.

At least that’s what everyone kept telling her.

At precisely nine forty-five am the surgeons at The Winnipeg Neurological Research Centre would inject a chemical into several carefully mapped areas of her cerebellum, effectively destroying every last bit of what made Sara Sara. Her personality, hopes, fears, wishes, desires, would all be erased in a frenzy of government-sanctioned chemical annihilation. Though many of her basic memories would remain intact, without the framework of individuality to support them, they would become meaningless – like a long series of zeroes and ones stored on a hopelessly damaged hard drive.

Of course the surgeons would take care not to damage the most useful parts of her brain: the areas responsible for logic, problem-solving, motor skills, sight, hearing, taste, rudimentary versions of pain and pleasure. In truth, most of her brain would remain alive, but according to the powers that be, Sara Ballard would be no more.

Sara did not actually fear death. After years of guilt and remorse, an eternity of absolute nothingness would be a welcome relief. What she did fear, however, was the one thing that everyone assured her would not, could not ever happen: that she would somehow experience some form of consciousness even as her brain was harvested and repurposed. That within some automated factory device or mobile bomb-disposal unit would be a terrified woman, completely aware of her situation but powerless to express the fear and pain she was experiencing.

Sarah was pulled out of her morbid reverie by a hand on her shoulder. It was Kerri, one of the regular guards on evening shift. “You all right, honey?”

Sarah smiled weakly. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She glanced at the camera across the room, then fixed her gaze on the reporter sitting across from her.

“Are you ready to start?” the young man asked, smiling.

She took a deep breath. “Yes,” she replied, “I’m ready.”

Next Chapter: No Beer for Stormtroopers