Mind Games pt 4 'What happened to the lights...'Mind Games pt 4 "What happened to the lights?"
Blackness... one of my childhood memories, assuming I'd had a real childhood, was of standing underground in a 'show cave' somewhere with a tour group when the guide turned off all the cave lighting. It was dark enough to make a black cat in a coal hole at midnight look luminous, but not totally black like this. I was suspended in a featureless void so dark that the absence of light seemed to press in around me as if there weren't even any space for it to be dark in. There was nothing but black, not even that dim haze of visual noise that you can see with your eyes closed. I had no eyes to open or close, no ears to hear, not even a skin to feel with.... nothing.
In one of the science fiction stories they'd let me read in The Village, 'The Quaker Cannon', the hero was fighting in a long running war between the Free West and the Utilitarian East. The 'Utes', as they were called, occasionally captured people
Mind Games pt 3 Welcome to the machineMind Games pt 3 Welcome to the machine
We walked together across the soft, powdery yellow earth, Morphingus, Quaternity and I; who ever or whatever I was, until we reached a small metal door set into a much larger pair of doors that took up most of the front elevation of this rust coloured building. Morphingus opened it and showed me in. Trank was sitting at a console full of screens showing incomprehensible, colour coded graphics which pulsed with electronic life. One of the screens appeared to show a view of the console itself and Trank from somewhere near the door. I walked towards it and it bloomed in my vision until I was looking into it and staring down an infinite corridor of screens, each showing a small picture of itself. There was even a 'video tape delay' effect, like that used in the early Dr WHO titles. The corridor bent and twisted as I moved my head. It made me feel dizzy.
"Ah, that's our sampling of the direct feed
Mind Games Number TWO 'OUCH!'"!The Mind Games 2 Ouch!
I could sense the damage almost at once and the pain followed a split second later. It was much more intense than I expected but duller, as if I'd hit myself with a tack hammer. I withdrew the pencil and glimpsed some bluish grey strands of something before my 'skin' closed up around the wound, leaving a puncture that leaked a slightly viscous translucent pink fluid. I was shocked and horrified, as well as bewildered. Without thinking I jabbed the pencil into the hand that Morphingus was even then bringing up in front of his face. He pivoted on his right foot and struck me with a low left jab that caught me just under the sternum.
Vagal inhibition kicked in at once and I bent forward and leaned on the desk, unable to draw breath. My left hand hurt like hell. I looked upwards at Morphingus as he retreated behind the computer desk and addressed the webcam above the flat screen.
The Mind GamesI was having a nightmare. I remember going to bed in London after resigning my position as a cog in the Wheel but can't even remember waking up again before finding myself here, in this picturesque little Italianate square with its well trimmed box parterres and a tinkling fountain, surrounded by quaint little shops with candy striped awnings. On the skyline there was a more imposing building capped by a verdigris coloured copper dome like a renaissance observatory.
"Where am I?"
"In The Village", said a voice I'd never heard before, speaking through the tannoys of some distributed public address system which made the voice seem to echo as if it came from everywhere and nowhere.
"Who are you?"
"The new Number two."
"Who is Number One?"
"YOU are #4,367,824,000,006... we'll call you 006, for short!"
"I am not a number. I'm a human being with free will..." After a brief interlude of sarcastically derisive laughter from the speakers I got in another question."Whose side are you on?"