To all those dreamers who dare to write science fiction, fantasy, and horror and thumb their noses at the arty-farty literati. We can all have fun being serious.
All the Darkness in Space:
Flames burned purple at the dawn of death. The skies droned with the color of moron flesh. Silent explosions flared upon the distant horizon beyond the lake. Gesele stood among the pines along the shore watching the dawn mists rise and float above still waters. She squatted, enjoyed the crunch of pine needles and pebbles under foot, ran her hand through the water feeling the almost creamy smoothness of calm water then jerked it away. The lake was ice cold. She watched droplets of water drip from her fingers. The skies grew lighter and lighter with a video dullness. A breeze began to stir through the trees and rippled the waters. Grey boulders jutted out of the metallic pond. A sun bleached log lay across the sand, its top half still in the water. Stark, skeletal branches cut through shadows of the dawn. The sun rose churning fire.
A whirlwind of sunlight crashed through the conifers, drove out all shadow and seared the forest floor. Gesele backed away, shielding her eyes with her hands, stumbling, tripping, falling down. She cursed the sun, her breasts heaving beneath her tight suit of flexible, breathable armor. The breeze whipped into a wind and gusted across the now choppy lake. The early morning fog blew alive and writhed with energy. The sun sucked mist into its maw. Straw-like reeds bent across the water toward the rising heat. It was her first morning in what used to be the old American state of Maine. Despite the terror of war she loved the Maine outdoors. Gesele relished the early-morning knife whip of sun-warmed wind.
Fighter planes pulsed overhead, screaming silently into the radio static. Gesele cussed again and ran deep into the woods, pushing through pines and firs to hide among giant red spruce. The earth was so soft yet cobbled with rock. More explosions. The sky flared with radiation. Gesele wiped sweat from her brow and stood there, ribs swelling and falling with each breath, her taut muscles flexing, curled fingers flicked open sharp as talons.
Goddammit where the Hell is Korbin?
She reached up behind her left ear and pushed. A microbutton, resting just under the skin, indented and clicked. She grumbled at the obsolescence of her augmentation for the newer ones didn’t need tiny buttons. All you need to do with the new ones was think the command. Her neurocomputer implant flashed behind her eyes as she mainlined into enhanced reality.
Gesele scanned the forests. Every object shimmered with auras of electromagnetic radiation yet registered with amplified digital clarity. She focused her electronically amped vision and expanded her own aura. Pseudo-psychic sparks erupted as tongues of bioplasmic energy rubbered out through the woods, searching. More planes zoomed across the face of the rising sun, blasting the rebel forces dug into the mountainside.
ZEEEMmnn . . . a sensation of iced razorblades slit her consciousness. She cried out, surprised by the intensity. There. A kaleidoscope of glitter pinwheeled her into a vortex, and she went with it. As the wind coursed over the lake she flowed through the morning quicksilver and then she was there. Gesele reached up behind her ear and dropped out into the real world.
Ahh, the real world, she thought as she took off her cap and ran a hand through black, spiky locks. One had to be careful not to wander too long among the planes of enhanced reality. It was the outer space of the mind fused with electronic synth tissue. It was nowhere yet everywhere far beyond the borders of the ancient Internet and things virtual. There were people who never came back, leaving their bodies catatonic while they wandered lost in an illusion. But the illusion could be so sensuous, the sheer erotic power of it, the showering sparks, the multilayered colors of a billion auras, the wild, still unexplained mystery of computer-enhanced extrasensory perception.
There were even some, it was whispered, who deliberately sought to lose themselves. Many among the super wealthy had the resources to keep their bodies plugged in and fed, some longer than others. Some claimed the world of illusion was just as real, if not more so, than the mundane. It was beyond dreams and out of the mind. They were out there searching for the perfect astral orgasm, the melding with nirvana, to electronically escape from the mundane world into the seduction of the unknown. Cyberghosts, they called themselves, and in some weird way their sacred scripture were yellowed paper copies of Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing the Body Electric.” Most failed to break out, many went insane, but a fabled few never returned. Where they went no one knows.
Ahh, it was so beautiful here amid the pine and maple trees clustered around old ice age boulders and primeval lakes of cold, cold water. Combat ships howled across pale blue skies and worn-down mountains as a cool morning breeze caressed her unwashed face. She could settle down and live here…almost…maybe…just maybe…
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