When I regain wakefulness, I’m floating in what looks and feels like some sort of cool, tingly purple gel. I can see wires or cables of some sort stuck in my arm, in my chest, and my head, keeping me from moving around much. The gel must be oxygenated, because I’m breathing it. My eyes are open and my face feels exposed, but the apparent density of the gel and translucence of the tank I’m in keeps me from seeing too clearly outside of it.
I can vaguely make out what seem to be…people?..moving around. Then it hits me.
A sudden flash of insight. And I don’t like it one bit. Literally – “in sight,” I can see patterns of what seem to be numbers and letters flashing clearly onto my field of vision, with weird little diagrams. And I hear a voice coming from everywhere, quiet, whispering, telling me to keep quiet and make no sudden motions or “we’ll both” be killed. Invented gods of humanity, I’ve gone mad. I’m hallucinating, I tell myself.
I nearly cry out for my parents. Where are they? I look at my arms. Not the arms of a twelve year old. I must be mad, or dreaming because my eyes are telling me I’m older.
The voice in my head chides me, telling me that I’ve almost given “us” away, and says it’s doing all it can to suppress the bodily signs of panic that try to manifest themselves. It tells me to relax, and I don’t know how, but I do.
It tells me that it shouldn’t be active, that there was a mistake in its installation. It tells me that it’s a machine from long ago, a very special one, that my captors put into my brain, a machine that will give great power.
If only I let it teach me how…
“We’ll be together for a long, long time….” it tells me. “We’ll be such good friends…I just know we will…” it seems to both mock and threaten as it cajoles me into silence. I can’t move now, I’m locked in, feeling my body go limp as it floats in the tank I’m suspended in.
I want to scream, but I can’t, my thoughts and my body at odds with each other, with this THING controlling me. No, not controlling my thoughts, just suppressing my voluntary motor functions, and the physiological signs of wakefulness. It tells me I’m in something like a hypnagogic state. What’s that, I wonder, but I hear nothing further from it as all goes quiet and the cables, tubes and leads retract, and the tank begins to pump out the oxygenated purple gel.
How do I know this? I ask myself as if dreaming, and feel as though floating even as there are hands putting me on a hard surface. I reflexively cough out gel as my lungs readjust to breathing air. I hear words, words in a language I’ve never learned from around me, coming from the people nearby.
At first I don’t recognize it, then it becomes clear, and suddenly I understand, though I still cannot move…
“…almost didn’t make it through the implant procedure. Are you sure he’s useful material?” “I’m positive. Look at the brainscan readings! He’s got the perfect architecture for interfacing in both temporal lobes and in the prefrontal cortex. He’s got the characteristic neural and glial clusters in all areas of the brain used to process sensory data. With that to keep him from being overwhelmed by the input from the ‘shard, he’ll be fine.” “I wish you would go over those early scans made during the KD pulse. I’m a bit worried that something may have happened to the ‘shard as it was interfacing with his brain…”
A pinching feeling in my arm, then all goes dark, and silent. I dream this time, and in my dream, I hear the whispering voice…
“Good! You went sleepy-bye. While we’re here, do you want to play a game? I’ll give you hints, you ask the right questions, and I’ll answer them in pictures! I can’t guarantee that you’ll like the answers, though…”
“Then,” the voice whispers, “we can bust out of this mess and get you and me somewhere safe…”
To be continued…