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The future is not ‘told’ with a tarot deck or ‘read’ in tea leaves. The future is ripped out of you kicking and screaming. It was that time again, I always knew when it was coming; it had been several weeks since they last ground the prescience out of me. It was time to play oracle. A normal person might vomit with fear, but the various drug cocktails they injected me with made it difficult. Marched from my cell down to ‘the lab,’ I knew the drill.
First the eye caps, saline drops followed by special contact lenses. The center of each lens contained a thick fiber optic cable which made it impossible to close my eyes. Not that it would matter, the surface of the contacts fed direct visual input into my eyes, an optical data fire hose. The first few sessions I remember trying to blink away the “dirt in your eye” feeling until a orderly casually mentioned that I was risking a, “65% chance of corneal abrasion which when combined with the high volume of optical activity has a 52% chance of leading to blindness.”
Next the ear plugs, they had drilled into my skull and implanted hearing aid like devices into the cochlear areas of my ear, combined with a form of bone conduction head phones, had me wired for sound. The tiny hole they had punched behind and above my ear still itched. I was ‘discouraged’ from playing with it, “23% chance” that if it became infected I would go deaf. It looked like any normal headphone jack except it was made of gold and the flesh was pink and swollen around the wound. It felt slightly cold, and the ‘click’ of the jack seating itself into my head made my toes curl. When I clenched my jaw I could feel the muscles moving over the new metal “additions” to my skull.
Lastly, my least favorite part, the needles… Gun metal colored, thin and strong, they were inserted into ports drilled into my skull and the base of my spine. These were for the pain. Connected directly to nerve centers these little beauties could, with the flick of a switch, drown me in pure scientifically adjustable pain. Pain fed directly into my nervous system. It was far more efficient this way; pain by nerve induction leaves no messy wounds. I held perfectly still as they were slowly inserted, “85% chance of complete paralysis should cranial probe alpha fail during insertion.” I was just a collection of statistics to them.
There was something else back there. Something that had needed a bone saw and three weeks of restraints and antibiotics. My best guess was that it was some sort of computer to help the entire process work. They never talked about it, and I never asked.
Once completely hooked up I was lowered into the vat, saline solution neutral buoyancy, helped take out the static from my other senses, things like touch, taste, and smell would only get in the way of what was to come. As they lowered me in I saw my arm, the scar Rain had helped me create. It seemed so long ago. At least she was still alive. They would cart her past my cell once in a while to “keep me motivated.”
“Hello Q, you don’t mind if I call you Q, do you? I feel we have become somewhat familiar with each other.”
Grey suit. Never got a name never got an explanation. Fastidious little man never seen in anything less than the finest grey suites. I have never really hated anyone until I met him.
“Call me whatever you want, lets just get this over with.” There was no reason I had to enjoy the part I played in their game.
“Ho ho, you are feisty today! Let’s hope that means the new amphetamine analogs we have been giving you are keeping your mood up. Nasty business you tried last month, wouldn’t want to see that again.”
My eyes were drawn to the relatively fresh and jagged wound across my left wrist. They had made the mistake of giving me the same food tray for every meal, a couple strokes on the concrete floor each time had slowly honed the edge into a relatively sharp makeshift knife. Escape doesn’t always mean tying your bed sheets together.
Telling the future for these people was now my full time job. It was a relatively straight forward setup, they hooked me up to the remains of the information super highway, which for the last 5 months Ophelia had been doing her best to destroy, and pumped as much information as my poor drug addled brain could accept then blasted me with intense bone cracking pain till I spat out tomorrows news. It didn’t take them long after I first got here to beat the method out of me, information plus pain equals forecast.
These people had done their homework; they knew everything about me, from my shoe size to how I wiped my ass. They knew they needed Rain for leverage, Marla and Jake had been collateral. They had not been too sure about how the “magic” worked, so they took everything and everyone. Our bikes, our bags and anything else we had bumped into in the last year or so. They even had all the garbage from my old place in Boston.
“Ok Q, here we go.”
It always started with a buzzing deep in my skull, the ear implants warming up and running through the diagnostics. Next the multi-color test pattern on the contacts. If I strained very hard I could see my brain readouts scrolling across a bank of monitors across the room. Technicians monitored them and watched the optical centers of my brain pick up the test patterns. Once the readouts were optimal, the deluge.
Imagine sitting inside a sphere made of a million television screens. Each one set to change station every half seconds with the volume turned all the way up. Imagine your eyes were held open with wires, and you couldn’t cover your ears. Now imagine the whole thing is shrinking toward you, the sound increasing as it comes closer and closer. Your eyes forced to encompass the full magnitude and horror of the data stream of a world being ravaged by an unstoppable killing machine. You might scream, but it would be drowned out by the audio, the damn thing keeps shrinking and intensifying until it is crammed directly into your brain via your optic and auditory nerves…I will forgive you if you can’t picture it. I wasn’t really ready for it the first time either.
The only redeeming part of the whole experience is that right about now…when the buzzing in my head is at full blast, and they kick in the pain probes…