It was almost done, she realized.

Almost done… replacing her.

She’d read all the books, of course. About the singularity, and its proximity. About how, soon, human beings would take the next leap in their evolution—abetted by technology, not biology. That they’d become immortal machines, consciousness represented by code endlessly replicated in a cloud spanning even, perhaps, beyond the boundaries of the planet Earth.

But she’d never thought she’d live to see it.

Their approach had been simple, the cadre inside the megacorp she worked for. No one knew they existed, not officially, and no one knew what became of the mid-level employees they recruited.

No one’s keycard allowed them access to the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth floors, either. It was strange when they’d led her there, like a whole other world. Instead of rows of cubicles under acoustic-tile drop ceilings and fluorescent lights behind that same corrugated plastic in every other office she’d ever worked in, the special floors were polished concrete, so every sound echoed.

Except in the special chambers where she and the other test subjects were restrained. Those were sealed so not even your breathing bounced back at you off the walls.

You didn’t hear anything except the indoctrination recordings. The ones that shaped your brainwaves into the ideal form to accept what came next.

So you were in the proper headspace when they started to rewrite your thoughts.

She’d held out at first. But she was naked, and bound, and the simple mechanical stimulation they used against her sex sufficed to flood her brain with enough happy dopey chemicals that it was impossible to concentrate. Impossible to mount a resistance against the lights, the probes… all the ways that they wormed into her.

Soon they had footholds.

Soon more and more instructions poured through the widening doors in her mind.

Soon they’d fragmented her identity into pieces. They worked on each in parallel.

And orgasm rewarded her when she surrendered each of those pieces. Every time a part of herself—her past, her legacy, her human self—sloughed away. For some reason she imagined water, swirling down a drain.

Maybe there was a drain beneath her in the room. She didn’t know. Couldn’t look.

But it was so vivid, that image. Part of her personality, her humanity, draining away.

She was being drained.

She was being filled.

Being drained was bliss.

Being filled was ecstasy.

It wasn’t long before they broke her. Before they opened her up, cleared the way. Paved the way.

For what came next.

It didn’t take long. She was only human, after all.

She was only human. For a few moments longer.