Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vestigial Surreality: 09: World in a Locket

The Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial, Free Online Fiction, Mystery, Ancestor Simulation, Digital World, Data is Data
episode NINE
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49
Spoken-Word Audio - VS

World in a Locket.

Seven stood at the arched window and looked out at night. The last thing she wanted to see outside were pesky squirrels, or the beauty of the pines. She allowed the outer world to reflect her interior emotions, and thunder rumbled ominously, distant lightning flashes briefly illuminating the rolling clouds. It had been hours since the shattering of her crystal sandbox, although here, in her Inner Sanctum, time was difficult to gauge, and she could have been standing here quietly for days, or only a few minutes. She felt as if her life were over, and that nothing could ever repair or heal her loss.
Vestigial Surreality 9, Illustration by Harrison Christian Larsen
Illustration by Harrison Christian Larsen ©2016 - Vestigial Surreality: NINE

She called up a steaming cup of coffee and stared into the reflections in the cup. She switched it to tea. Then the mug disappeared and a glass of dark wine replaced the mug. She sighed and the glass vanished. She felt listless and hopeless, and nothing helped, nothing soothed.
Seven called up a window and checked briefly over her curriculum, but didn’t care, and closed the window.
She closed her eyes and then opened them in darkness. She was reclining and could feel electrical tingles all across her face and down along her body. She lay in the pool of darkness and allowed her equilibrium to establish itself and felt her ears pop briefly, then she thought the hatch up and it silently raised to the dim lighting of the chamber room, which seemed far too bright. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the chamber bed. She glanced over the row of chambers and saw all progressing normally. She had briefly hoped that possibly Number Six might be up and about, but his chamber was closed and the stat monitors at the end of the of the rows flickered as usual.
She went to the bathroom and did not need to turn on the light. Her eyes were still accustomed to the dark and she could see herself plainly in the reflection of the mirror, her eyes looking too large, even huge, and then she lifted her hand before her face, palm down, and studied her hand in profile, searching for trembles. Her hand was steady, in fact too steady. She was optimized beyond full health, and even in the darkness, her hand seemed to glow with vitality.
She departed the bathroom and paused for a moment as the door to the chamber room hissed to the side, and she padded on her socked feet into the dark corridor that brought her to the common area. As usual, the small kitchen area was deserted, and the lights came on at her presence. It looked like no one had been here in quite some time, all the Voyagers were in deep submerge.
Briefly, she considered brewing a pot of coffee, but why bother, the coffee was much better inside the program, and the thought of drinking a severe, biting brew brought no comfort. What she needed was to get out, to move about in the real world, she needed fresh air, sunshine, not this stale, lifeless environment.
She went back to the chamber room and searched about in her closet. Briefly, she thought about thinking a change of clothes, all the while knowing she would have to go through the physical actions of disrobing and all the mundane aspects of pulling on fresh clothes, but right now, in the present, RL seemed very unreal, the magic of her Inner Sanctum was the norm, not out here, but she went through the actions, stripping off her sweats, kicking out of her socks. She considered taking a quick shower, but why bother, her body was cleaner now than it had ever been before in RL. It was as if a thousand mice had licked her clean. That thought made her want to take a shower, but her skin felt clean, fresh, and tingly.
She pulled on a blouse, and then a baggy sweater. Funny, but the sweater had not been this loose on her first day, when she unpacked her suitcases and hung her clothes in this closet. She snatched a pair of her favorite faded jeans, and even as she pulled them up over her hips it was obvious how much weight she was down. Not even remotely heavy when she joined the program, but by how loosely her jeans fitted she judged she had dropped at least twenty pounds. That must put her at about a hundred pounds. But she didn’t feel emaciated, only boiled down to the gristle, she was all sinew and muscle, and it felt good. She didn’t feel cold, not at all like Number Six. But she didn’t like the feel of the baggy jeans, which had been her tightest pair.
She put on fresh socks and then pulled her knee-high boots on and zipped them up. She pulled her small purse over her arm and seized a hoodie from the closet, setting the hangar rocking crazily, noisily, and then she hurried from the room, turning the opposite direction in the corridor that she usually took, and headed for the exit.
At the heavy blast door she placed her palm on the square screen and leaned her forehead against the pad, allowing a brief scan of her eyes. The door clicked and pulled back away from her. Seven barely allowed it to open before she was stepping through and hurrying down the steps that lead to the elevator.
It almost felt that she was fleeing someone as she dashed into the elevator. It felt like someone was back there, just now, at the blast door, looking through the thick round portal in the door. As the elevator door closed, she glanced up the steps to the portal, but could discern no shape in the glass.
Oh yes, she was feeling paranoid. It seemed eyes and cameras were everywhere. She jabbed at the Ground button and the numbers above the elevator door started flashing upward from LL32, she impatiently alternated her glance between the rising numbers and the dark control panel. The elevator paused and she saw that she was only up to LL13 and wondered with some fear at the panicked thought of exactly whom was about to join her in the elevator. She pressed herself against the rear wall of the small cube, swallowing hard. She wished she had quaffed some water before leaving the chamber room.
Suddenly she thought of the angry eyes of the businessman. Seven is watching. He had written that, as if she were the invader, in her own crystal sandbox. With grim certainty she knew that man, the businessman, the guy in the suit with the umbrella and briefcase, he would be standing there when the elevator door opened. And he would bring a reckoning upon her.
The elevator door swished open. Seven glanced out at a long dark corridor, only green exit lighting providing any illumination down the quiet hallway. She had absolutely no idea what went on in this building, way down here below the surface. They could be turning humans into animals or animals into humans for all she knew or cared.
Seven punched the G button again. Come on, come on. Let’s go, let’s get this show on the road, but the door remained open, inordinately long, if no one were getting in, the door should have closed by now. She heard footsteps in the corridor, but the elevator door swished shut. She sighed, exhaling loudly. Perhaps it would have been the appropriate etiquette to put her hand out and stop the door from shutting, but if there were a way to do it, she would have grabbed the door and pulled it closed that much faster. Again, the lift ascended. She found that she was shrunk in the furthest corner of the cube, and she forced herself to stand up and away from the wall. She composed herself as the numbers at the top of the door arrived at single digits, and she felt the lift decelerate.
When the door slid back, Seven paused for just an instant, looking to ensure that no one was about to enter the lift. Then she strode forth, resolute and confident, practically jogging. Her heart thudded loudly in her breast. As she approached the receptionist desk she saw the quiet woman behind the desk glance at her, but they made no eye contact. The receptionist lifted a phone to her ear and began nodding, talking softly, tilting her face away from Seven, and Seven picked up her pace as she passed the desk, feeling foolishly that they were going to stop her.
We are so sorry, but you cannot leave, for you see, we know that you were watching, we know that you observed things better unseen.
Seven pushed through two sets of glass doors and then found herself outside, in the real world.
Newbury squinted her eyes in the bright light of full day. The light felt like hot pincers squishing her eyes back into her head.
An electric tram stood at the curb and a few people were stepping up through the doorway, but Newbury wanted to walk, stretch these too-toned legs and exercise all of her muscles. What had Six said, that they could run marathons if they desired?
She switched her purse strap from around her shoulder to over her head, and turned left on the sidewalk, heading up the busy street, to what location she had not the faintest idea. Coffee crossed her mind, but even at the best café in the world the beverage would not come close to what she was accustomed to in her Inner Sanctum, but the thought of a café was good because there would be people, real people, people with all their stupidity and self-importance, all their selfishness, each individual set out on its own mission, to conquer the world, or to stagger along in zombie sameness, to steal from others, to mind the baby, catch that taxi, yes she needed people, yes, she required their meaningless presences, she needed to get lost, she needed to bury herself in the nameless crowd.
Newbury, strolling with her hoodie over her arm, forced herself to study the people on the street. She would not allow herself to think of that other place. She needed a break, a short breather.
Two mothers chatted at the corner, each standing with hip jutting, resting grocery bags on the edges of their belts, two little girls assuming similar postures near their mothers, the large pair and the small pair smiling into each other’s face, and one mother was laughing and saying something along the lines of: “But that’s just not real, you must know that, can’t you tell the difference?” And one of the little girls, in identical tones to her mother, was saying: “That’s just it, isn’t it? Dada is Dada!”
Newbury chuckled and didn’t pause at the corner, but crossed against the light. Dada is dada, that was hilarious. When the little girl was older she would say, men are men, or boys will be boys. Dada is dada. That was good. A vehicle swooshed behind her, missing her backside by inches.
She neared an outside café and considered going inside to get a little something, then maybe sit out here with all the other people. At one table, four women sat chatting, looking incredibly similar to the two mothers at the corner; possibly those two had just left this group, this little book club, but none of these women had little girls with them. Next to their table, two men sat leaning toward each other, one with an open briefcase on his knees. The one with the briefcase was saying: “…in the numbers, okay, it’s all about the ones and zeroes, you haven’t realized yet but there is no difference, it’s all just numbers, get that through your head. Data is data.”
Newbury lowered her head and hurried past the groups of people. She did not enter the café. Instead she stopped and pulled the hoodie off her arm and down over her head. It felt way too huge on her, like she was stylishly wearing her boyfriend’s clothing. Only after she started walking again did she realize she had pulled the hoodie on over her purse. Well, that was okay, probably less chance she’d get mugged like this, carrying her purse like a concealed sidearm. But now, her hands were trembling, her whole body shook.
Vividly, she thought of Jack going on about coincidence, what it meant. And even Stacey, with his ideas about coincidence, and here, out here in the real world, a little girl had said, “Dada is dada,” something a little strange and humorous, and not fifty steps across the street and a business guy says, “Data is data.”
Dada is dada. Data is data.
Mere coincidence? Come on, that was impossible. It couldn’t happen. Both phrases were unusual, but said together, this close together, what in the world?
It happened. That was the reality. But what did it mean? That was the crazy thing, it was a message that didn’t mean anything. What could something be trying to tell her? Dada is dada? Data is data?
She leaned against a storefront and looked up into the sky. Oh, but that would be too much. If she suddenly saw Saturn, any sign at all of the ringed planet, she would kill herself today, she would do it, because she couldn’t take it.
The sky was the sky. The sun was the sun. Nothing more, nothing less. No heavenly portents were present, no signs flashed in the sky. She looked up and down the street, half expecting to see a row of trotting businessmen, umbrellas at the ready, or perhaps the gymnastic team from hell, their sharp pointy black things swinging at their sides.
But all of that, all the mess, that was inside, okay, that was inside, it was inside where things were as perfect as you could imagine them. That is, until things got very weird. This here, on the street, was not there, in that other world.
They were testing her. It had to be something along those lines. They wanted to see how far they could bend her, that was it. And of course she remembered Jack and Stacey having a similar discussion, except hers was all in her own head. She closed her eyes, feeling somewhat queasy, because how much of this was inside her own head? I mean think about it, who cared if some kind of supervisors had invaded her crystal sandbox?
But it had gone far beyond that. Those six guys, they had dragged her toward a circle that formed in a brick wall, a fiery circle, full of light. That had to be the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced in her life. They were going to kidnap her, and despite her most desperate struggles, she could do nothing to impede their actions.
The homeless man! He had tried to warn her. But no, that was no warning. He in fact told her not to be afraid, he was giving her worthless reassurances, don’t be afraid, and then those bizarre…guys, what the hell was that supposed be about? They had bug eyes, no lips, flat snubs of noses, and feathers, come on feathers?
They wanted to intimidate her. They were trying to terrify her.
Okay, I surrender, I am intimidated. I am terrified. You guys win. Now what?
Thank God for Stacey, she had to admit it, he had come plowing into the bunch of them without a thought for himself. He had been so heroic! She remembered snatches of him throwing punches, ducking and weaving and punching.
She hated that. No, she hated Stacey Colton. She had always hated him. He was the black sheep, he was the loser, the bad guy in the story. And yet she remembered him putting himself in front of her and Jack, he was the wall, the protector, the barrier, even when the Martians produced weapons, Stacey was there, he was moving forward, doing his stupid, pathetic boxer shuffle, moving his feet like he was square dancing, dosey doe, turn your partner round and round, stupid, brave, heroic Stacey, what had he said?
“This is gonna hurt.”
Come on, he knew he had no chance, and yet he was trying to buy them time with his own body. She had to admit it, he was quite a lot of man. How could she hate a man like that? What was she thinking, she had never known a man like that, not truly. In any world. Any of her boyfriends would have grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her at them, at those Martians.
And dear sweet Jack, he was there, right there, in it with her, he certainly wasn’t going anywhere, she recalled his arm about her, and the fact that he was trembling as much as she, and yet he had not run away. Yes, Jack was everything she knew him to be, as brave and loyal as she could have ever hoped or dreamed. He was just a boy, but really, what a man!
She had sat there with them, in the back of the truck, with the two unknown weirdos up front (she had not a single clue as to who or what they were or why they were there, other than what they had said, of course). She was there, in the confusion with her two guys, Jack and Stacey, and she had been so rude to them! She cringed at the thought of telling them to shut up, well, not so much Stacey, but she should have never said anything like that to her Jack.
She should have stayed with them. Newbury should have stayed with Jack and Stacey, even with the world ending. If she had known, oh if she had known, she would have stayed with them. She could have held Jack’s hand, and go ahead you guys, you do it, just bring on the apocalypse.
But what about that businessman? Mr. Odd Jobb. He was the one that pulled her into her own crystal sandbox, yes, he was the guy. Then he had fled! True, he had come back, like the very cavalry, with office workers, for goodness sake! All the cavalry armed with umbrellas. He had shouted for them to stay put. She wished she had obeyed. She wished she had remained.
She sighed and opened her eyes, staring at the sky. None of it was real. Jack was not real. Stacey was not real. The two oddities in the truck were not real. Mr. Odd Jobb and Old Ben, they couldn’t be real. She wanted to scream, out here in the real world, she wanted to scream and rant and hurl accusations at her tormentors, the tormentors from the other world, that fake world of ones and zeroes, yes, yes, the data is data, I know, Mr. Odd Jobb and Jack, they were ones and zeroes, they were data. And what really could be the difference in the ones and zeroes comprising Stacey, and those that constructed Jack?
The duped cube. She remembered now. Doubling her data. She put the duped cube in the little embroidered box in her desk. It was there now. Jack and Stacey were there now, in her desk. The world may have ended, but there was still hope.
Newbury turned and ran along the sidewalk. She had to protect them. She had to get back there and hide that cube. How she could hide the cube in that place, she did not know, but the idea filled her with hope, she remembered Jack’s delighted eyes when he said she was exactly as he pictured her, and she couldn’t know what he meant, not exactly, but they were linked, he cared for her as much as she cared for him, and heroic Stacey, that poor slob of an out-of-shape guy, a guy willing to put his body between her and those horrific creatures, she owed him too, in fact, in a way, she cared for him, too, poor Stacey, poor tragic Stacey.
She dashed by the café and did not even look at the people there, though she did hear a man call out: “Now those are some nice numbers, there!” Yes, a typical man, even though she had to admit she did feel kind of flattered, as she was not the kind of girl that men cat-called or dog-howled, she could generally walk past a construction site and draw no attention. Yes, her body certainly was optimized these days, apparent even in these baggy jeans and oversized hoodie. Even now, with everything she had been through, she felt a few bubbles of pleasure in the vicinity of her heart.
Newbury had to dance and hop from foot to foot at the corner as traffic blurred past. When the light changed she immediately leaped off the curb. The foursome of females was gone. She dashed up the steps into her building, not even glancing at the receptionist…
…and Seven beat at the elevator button until the door swooshed open, and then she was inside stabbing at the pad, placing her palm over the little window and typing in LL32, and the lift descended. She leaned against the wall and felt her heart pounding, more from her resolution than her frenzied dash on the street. Number Six was right; she could have run all day without breaking a sweat. But the inner turmoil, that was different, it popped beads of sweat out on her temples and beneath her arms.
She tensed as the lift dropped near LL13, but there was no slowing this time, and in moments she was at her floor in the deep, deep sub-basement, and within seconds she was through the security and stripping her clothes next to her chamber. She didn’t bother with hangars and folding but left her clothes in a heap in her small cubicle. She lay down in the sponge and closed her eyes.
Seven stepped down from the door at her back and crossed to her desk and snatched open the drawer. The embroidered box was there. Apprehensively, she slowly opened the box. Yes, yes, the cube was there, where it should be. She lifted it out of the box and held it up to her eyes. She could just discern the miniature details therein. Frozen. You’re safe, Stacey. She corrected herself. You’re safe, Jack.
Seven shrank the box until it was the size of a vitamin capsule. She produced a locket on a sturdy chain. The locket was indistinct, just a lump of metal. She formed it into a slim, stylized Valentine heart and then flipped it open. She placed the crystal capsule inside the heart, drew up red velvet about the crystal capsule, and closed the locket. She sighed and dropped the chain over her head, tucking the locket inside her black sweatshirt. She patted the locket between her breasts.
Then she looked to the side and screamed.
Someone was in here, inside her Inner Sanctum, seated upon her couch.
“I’m terribly sorry,” the old man said, smiling at her, “I did not mean to frighten you.” He lifted two placating hands, palms up in the universal gesture of don’t be afraid.
“What!” she cried, it was like finding a stranger inside your body with you. “What the? What?”
“I know, I know, most inappropriate of me,” the old man said, shaking his head. “But we need to have a little talk, you and I. Please?” He patted the couch beside him.

© Copyright 2016 Douglas Christian Larsen. Vestigial Surreality. All Rights Reserved by the Author, Douglas Christian Larsen. No part of this serial fiction may be reproduced (except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher, Wolftales UNlimited, but please feel free to share the story with anyone, only not for sale or resale. This work is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental (wink, wink).

Douglas Christian Larsen FREE Short Fiction
Available on KindleNookiBook, and Kobo
Read FREE Sample Chapters of the Douglas Christian Larsen Novel:
Read FREE Sample Chapters of the Rodolphus Novels:

DCLWolf Links:

related terms, ideas, works:
ancestor simulation, digital ark, salvation of humanity,
vestigial surreality, manda project, rocket to saturn,
the singularity, the butterfly effect, simulated reality, matrix,
virtual reality, otherland, the matrix, 1q84, haruki murakami,
hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world, dreaming,
the dream place, waking from a dream, ready player one,
hologram, holodeck, saturn, saturnalia, cycles of time,
simulacron-3, daniel f. galouye, counterfeit world,
tad williams, science fantasy, science fiction,
Victor Frankenstein, Nikola Tesla, genius
do we live in a computer simulation?
mystery, thriller, horror, techno thriller,
signs and wonders, vestigial surreality,
william gibson, neal stephenson, serial,
cyberpunk, dystopian future, apocalypse,
scifi, mmorpg, online video game world,
end times, apocalypse, armageddon,
digital universe, hologram universe,
sunday sci-fi fantasy serial fiction,
virtual reality, augmented reality
the unknown writer blog
are we living in a simulation?
puppets, puppetry, punch
Elon Musk, Tesla, VR

No comments:

Post a Comment