Monday, January 26, 2009

Wake-up time

The suckerpads must have retracted, because he was awake, snagged in the barrier that separated induced dream from reality. He pulled the helmet off and glanced instinctively at his watch. He had one hour to make it to work.

He shaved, cutting himself. The restorative lotion stung, turning his face into a constellation of pain.

He dressed and walked into the hallway, greeted by psychoactive mists and chirping electronics. Children had tethered utility drones to lengths of thread, leaving them to spin themselves into exhaustion. They appealed to him with silver eyes, appendages flashing in in apprehension, appraising him. Their buzzing formed an odd music: the synaptic hiss that heralds sleep. The walls offered confused visions of cracked cement, fiberglass, holographic graffiti laser-etched into a background of fading brick.

In the lobby, he donned the virtuality gear and burned time wrestling naked Amazons. Their skin had the sheen of obsidian basted with Vaseline; his reconstructed hands slipped from his lithe quarry as he ducked and stabbed and punched with delirious abandon. The Amazons retaliated with flying elbows and jabs from archaic spears that went largely unfelt; he had set the rig to minimum pain settings.

He nursed stigmatic aches as he relinquished the greasy rubber mitts and peeled the oculars from his head. He wiped ghost images from his eyes and shouldered his way through the front door. Morning traffic roared, threatening. A hearse passed, trailed by old-fashioned automated cars with porous tires and tapered stun-guns mounted on their roofs. Brown slush vomited from their dual exhaust pipes.

He began walking, quickly losing himself in unfamiliar streets. He watched a bus pass, oval windows cataract-blank. He found a gutted telephone booth and dialed up the girl's address on his watch, surprised how close he was, how far he had come simply by wandering, committing himself to the anarchy of the pavement.

Glancing periodically at his watch, he approached a stall of public bicycles: skeletal machines of lurid yellow chitin. The bike trembled as he down, odorless sap bleeding from rivets in its spindly frame. Eubert unwound a set of earbuds from the handlebars and listened to Swarmer muzak as he pedaled. The sound turned looming buildings into a psychotronic dream, offices and apartments rising and cascading like the waves and toughs on an EEG reading.

His tires hissed through shallow slush-piles where machines had died and melted under their own obsolete weight. Dirigibles scraped the overcast into a frost-colored pane.

He double-checked his watch, pedaled faster.


Paul Kimball said...

I like what you've been posting lately - keep it coming!!


Mac said...

Thanks, Paul. The fragments "starring" Eubert are actually about ten years old. I liked them enough to let them linger on disk, although the never achieved enough cohesion to plausibly pass for a story. I had a good time with the (possibly gratuitous) visuals.

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