DL Mullan (aka Undawnted)’s ‘Mangled’ in WordCrafter Press’ Midnight Roost Anthology

I asked fellow Midnight Roost anthology contributors to share some things about themselves prior to publication and those generous enough to do so will be appearing here for the next week or so.

Each entry gives a taste of their contribution, a little about them, how to contact them, how their story came about, and definitely a link to Midnight Roost (which you should purchase because it would make each and every one of us happy.
you do want to make us happy, don’t you?
i mean, considering what we wrote, you want us to know you’re a good person, right?).

Let’s start with a Hallowe’en-themed introduction to the anthology as a whole:

DL’s contribution is Mangled. Here’s the opening:

Over the sound of my heartbeat in my ears, I heard indistinct clatter in the background. At first, the sounds seemed muffled and distant. With each syllable, my surroundings resounded with a concussive force against my eardrums.
Even though the pressure stung, the picture in my mind’s eye became cohesive. I heard people walking and talking down tiled halls. Words like doctor, nurse, surgery, and triage floated through the air.
From my gurney, I perceived the frantic pace of the hospital. Wind rushed by me as bodies breezed in and out of the room. The air streamed past me felt as cool as the night time temperature.
It was night. I remembered something, but I could not bring forth other memories. Incoherence threw challenges at my cognition. Images splashed in my mind’s eye, but the slideshow was out of context and chronology. My twentieth birthday party appeared. Then a picture of my graduation from boot camp took its place. Darkness of a moonless night, where millions of stars shown in their galaxies above, filled me with apprehension. The wave of the United States flag displayed the red, white, and blue in the wind.
Next, I heard an explosion. I saw an array of colored lights as my synapses overloaded and the world around me turned black.

How the story came about:
Being Mangled is Just the Beginning

  • severely injured or damaged by cutting, tearing, or crushing
  • spoiled or made incoherent
    Merriam Webster

What if you could live forever? Television shows and movies have regaled us with bionic people, heroic mutants, and even moral immortals, but what if these innocuous forms of entertainment were the pretext for a darker agenda?
Mangled delves into the topics of human engineering through medical science and technology, and then says the quiet parts aloud. Gone are the days of looking at this phenomenon with rose-colored glasses. Transhumanism is not about piercings or tattoos; it is a brand of pseudo-scientific philosophy that places the human race in danger with its unethical behavior.
Problems arise as humans rely on technology more than their own innate abilities to discern their reality for themselves. People, including children, are plugged in, tuned out, and immersed by curated information, influence operations, and other psychological manipulations. If people had good boundaries and respected themselves, technology would be an asset, instead of being a crutch.
Mangled factors in these variables into a narrative based on a true story, historical fact, and an author’s intuitive imagination. As a writer and researcher, I have combined threads of information into a coherent supposition of cascading effects. This short story sheds light in the dark places that no one talks about for fear of reprisal. As I have learned from numerous whistleblower interviews, sometimes it is better, and safer, to tell the truth in fiction. I let my characters do the heavy lifting while opening gateways into critical thought. We need these skills more than ever. Over a decade ago, reports of placing chips inside the brains of soldiers surfaced. Then confirmation that in order to work in certain ranks of the Pentagon that a soldier must have a chip implanted in their heads. That is a national security threat, but no one blinks an eye. As links between technology and animal brains have already been studied, clinical trials for humans are already being conducted. Not far into the future will humanity have to grapple with reality written in Mangled. In addition, it is true that a government contractor was given a black tag and placed in a hallway to die after an incident in a foreign land. The podcaster survived, unlike her fictitious counterpart, Sarah Mitchell, to tell the tale. That is where the similarities end.
My short story follows the fictional account of Sarah Mitchell, a specialist in the United States armed forces. She is wounded by a roadside bomb, taken to a foreign hospital, and left to die at the end of a hallway. Although her injuries were fatal, she lives through the night against all expectations to the contrary.
Without her consent or knowledge, she is hooked into a virtual reality that is conjured by an artificial intelligence. She is lost and unprepared. Her tour of duty has not only been extended for an eternity, but she also has no autonomy. In this brave new world, Sarah must navigate her way to freedom. How she reclaims her independence and makes an ally, which guides her into untangling herself from this web, helps readers understand the lengths someone will go for their liberty.
Do not take the author’s word for it, read Mangled for yourself. Just like Specialist Sarah Mitchell discovers: living forever has its consequences. Chose which eternity that you would like to spend wisely.
Before someone else decides for you.

About DL Mullan (aka Undawnted):
A writer at heart, Undawnted’s own creative spark, DL Mullan, began writing short stories and poetry before adolescence. Ms. Mullan showcases her literary talents by publishing her creative writing. She has short stories and poems published in digital and print collections, from academia to commercial anthologies. In addition, she writes novels, designs apparel, and creates digital art. Ms. Mullan produces her own book cover designs for herself and others. She is an award-winning digital artist and poet. Currently, she is embarking on becoming an established prose writer. Join her newsletter and other creative endeavors by becoming a Fearless Phile.

See all Midnight Roost stories here.

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