From "Atrophy" by Maximillian Todd:
Dreaming, Bob experienced what may have been his first nightmare. He and Geena were traveling in the Shift, taking the electronic approximation of an exotic vacation. And the simulations were as real as anyone could tell, or so the advertisements
From "Atrophy" by Maximillian Todd:
Dreaming, Bob experienced what may have been his first nightmare. He and Geena were traveling in the Shift, taking the electronic approximation of an exotic vacation. And the simulations were as real as anyone could tell, or so the advertisements proclaimed. Talking with Geena with his eyes closed, Bob lay on the warm beach sand, listening to the surf and other beachgoers more than his wife. Then, she brought his attention back, "Bob, are you listening?"
"Oh, yes, I--" and he opened his eyes and saw who was beside him on the beach towel. The British secret agent was close enough to touch Bob's nose to his, and he took the big cigar out of his mouth, exhaling the thick smoke.
"Trees?" the agent said. "Do you know how difficult it is to get them to come out right? The pixels keep resolving. Into little squares."
Bob automatically replied, "Yes, but it cannot be that difficult, can it?"
The man smiled, pointed down the shoreline where several black men were painting. Looking closely, Bob saw that they were using actual paint brushes, composing the skyline and clouds as if they were laying oil on a canvas. But they were not painting pictures, they were painting the landscape of his dream, of his imagination. They dipped into cans of small, flat squares, applying them to a wall that Bob could not see, like gamesters completing a puzzle.
"See? Those Browns know how; why bother to try?" the man pointed out.
One of the Browns skipped over to them and bared his teeth in a grin. "Would you like me to provide some shade for you?" he asked, and dipped into his can. Whipping his brush back and forth over Bob's head, a grey mass formed. And then started raining on him.
"Oh," the Brown said. "It comes with the territory. But maybe you would like something to eat?"
And then Bob realized that he had met this man before. It was Lorenzo.
"Or maybe I will just reorganize myself for you," Lorenzo suggested. "Killing is such an intangible act."
And then Bob woke up, breathing heavily. Looking over, he saw that he had not awaken Geena. He sighed after a moment, and walked over to the lavatory. Closing a light-dimmer so that he would not disturb his wife, he activated a light fixture. Rubbing his eyes, he tried to focus on himself in a mirror. Looking into them, he found them flat and lacking in detail. Upon closer examination, he thought he saw little boxes in his irises, like miniature dots on a television screen.
Shaking his head, Bob let out a quick breath. I'm really getting wrapped up in this, he thought. Visiness has got me very confused. And so he went back to bed, and slept late.
The sun was already above the window of his bedroom, and Geena was not in bed. Bob assumed that she was at her workstation. He stretched, yawned. A bird flew by the window, and caught his eye. Moving his glance toward the window, he saw not the natural blur of his room, but lines and perfect squares. Trying a quick turn of his head, he got the same effect. And then he knew what was going on.
"I know what you are doing," Bob told the air.
The air spoke from all around. "I see. Then, let us start with the first lesson."
And Bob's world shrunk into a little hole and faded away, and he was left once again in random memory.
At Arms Length 5:200:00/5:20
Delayed Reaction 4:500:00/4:50
Separated But I 6:580:00/6:58
Divine Null 6:450:00/6:45
Sordid History 6:160:00/6:16
Charred Wood 6:490:00/6:49
I Come Back 5:580:00/5:58