Kevin Paulsen was a famous hacker in the 80’s best known for a stunt he pulled where he controlled the phone system of an LA radio talk show so he could win a Porsche. I wasn’t hacking phones to win a fast car, but I was hacking my own brain, at least enough to run my heart and lungs…a boy can dream.
I had been poking around in my own brain for weeks. Only twice has Jason had to fry off some more hair. Fucking around with the inner workings of your own brain doesn’t come with a manual. For a couple hours last week I couldn’t smell anything, and lately when I rub my big toe it makes the back of my neck Tingle…all in all not bad for a beginner.
The problem so far has been that apparently your brain doesn’t work the way a computer does. The programs seem to have been written using trial and error. Bits and pieces of my brain copied into the memory on the chips in my head and combined in random ways until something works. There was a lot of junk in there. The only way I was even able to read them was because some sort of deeper level program could decode it all into words and feelings.
“This is never going to work… you are going to be electrocuting me forever!” The frustration was getting to me.
“You should get out of here man, you been back for three weeks now and have barely left this room, go find Rain or Marla they are out in town working.” Jason was justifiably sick of having me sigh and curse in his computer lab.
He was right though, I needed a break. I checked the laptop one last time to make sure my brain was running smoothly, grabbed my bag, and was out the door and onto my bike. Since we had gotten back Rain, Marla, and I had made ourselves useful by starting our own bike messenger service. Running around town doing local deliveries, packages, letters that sort of thing.
Most of the residents of Watkins Glen had given up on the US Dollar after the stock market crash and instead moved to a local currency called the Watt. The Watt was like the old gold standard, each Watt worth something real that you could trade in. In this case it was worth kilowatt hours from the towns wind turbines. At any time you could take all your Watts down to the local credit union and trade them in for electricity from the turbines.
Since the wind didn’t always blow, and there wasn’t enough electricity to provide pre-crash levels to everyone, the market was lively. You could buy just about anything that the town produced with Watt’s, and seeing as how even Jason’s generosity had limits we had to earn our keep.
Such was born the Watkins Glen Bicycle Messenger Guild, Rain and Marla had even gotten a lady in town to create us some little badges for our bags, in exchange for a month of free deliveries. The badges had three lighting bolts over a stylized hurricane. Rain said it symbolized the three of us escaping Ophelia, saying “if we can outrun that bitch we can outrun anything.”
They were probably out on the town doing deliveries, that or making out some place. This thought made me smile. The three of us had grown even closer over the last couple weeks. It was like we were all dating each other. Rain being the glue that held us together. I loved Rain, Marla loved Rain, and Rain Love us both. It could have been really weird, but it wasn’t.
The people in town were nice, but they just couldn’t relate to what we had been through. We spent every night together curled up in a pile in Jason’s garage. He had been nice enough to put us up and found us an old mattress. Sleeping together made the sex easier, but it also meant someone was there to hold you when the nightmares returned.
I rode down to our little corner shop to see if the girls were around. Originally an old newspaper stand, it wasn’t much, but it was free and centrally located. We took over when the previous owners industry became impossible. It’s hard to distribute any nationwide printed publications when shipping costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars per truck.
No one was around, but there were a couple of packages sitting in the drop off bin. This gave me a chance to try something I had been working on this morning. I took the package in my hand and blinked twice with my left eye. This turned on what I had started calling my Second Sight.
I held the packages in my hand, and thought about how much they weighed. This was a little tricky because I had to think about the weight in a very specific way. Not like weight of the world, but good old fashion pounds. Human beings are notoriously bad at telling how heavy things are by hefting them, but I had written a program that would interpret the strain on my arm muscles and show me how much something weighed.
Checking the boxes on our scale I got pretty close, a couple ounces off. Of course if I started hitting the gym I would have to recalibrate the whole thing, but there wasn’t much danger of that. I tossed the smaller ones in my bag, and blinked twice with my left eye again, followed by a special pattern of looking to the four corners of my vision. This turned off the test programs and turned on my normal Second Sight.
The weeks of work hadn’t been completely wasted, and I have to admit riding around town on my bike with a heads up overlay of a Google map in my vision was almost cool enough to make it worth all the surgeries it took to get that way. It was like a cross between Terminator vision, and having a web browser overlaid on your eyes.
That isn’t to say it was always normal. There was a whole class of “programs” I had found deep in my head there were just too strange to mess with. I was afraid that if I fucked with them my kidneys or something wouldn’t work anymore. These programs occasionally would assert themselves in my vision with phantom overlays, only sometimes would it get bad enough that I would have to have Jason blast me.
It was impossible to concentrate when these little bastards would be telling me how tall something was, or worse making random characters in parts of my vision, but today they were behaving. I rode around town following the map when needed, and turning it off when I knew where I was. Or at least I thought they were behaving.
I was just about back to our shop when my entire vision blinked bright orange. I nearly lost control of my bike skidding to a stop just in time. The orange faded but was soon replaced by what could only be described as a visual hallucination. A tie-dye array of colors and feelings. I sat, and watched…
The girls returned to find me crying in front of the shop, my head in my hands.
“What’s wrong Q?” Rain sat down next to me.
I looked up at her, my eyes red and swollen.
“Rain, it’s going to get worse its going to get much worse.”