Pre-21st Century Charlotte
1 --- Nikko --- So I attempted to read my assigned reading for my uni class, while Jerid blasted tunes into my poor ear drums on his computer monitor.
I wanted this to stop. So I got off his bed -- I always visited on any lonely night -- shaking in an irritable movement. And in doing so I carried the pillow from the bed, and was just about to make a move as if I were going to throw the pillow at him. But it was then I found. ... That he was being entertained by something else at the computer. That he was in his own little world. Someplace far away, that would be impossible for me to pop him out of. So I went back to the bed, resisting the dance to the music as I went.
“If you could turn the music off,” I said. Then hopped back onto the bed. It was jiggly, like a water bed. “for just one minute.”
“Of course I will Nik-Nak,” Jerid said. I could tell he was barely paying attention to whatever it was I was saying. “I just need to finish these tunes.” He turned the volume, ... way down. I relaxed until ... “Then maybe, I can study with you. Maybe?” Then shot it way up. I jumped and rolled over.
Irritated, I got off of the bed. Then tried to turn off the computer. He was like a frig-gin jack rabbit man. “Hey Nikko, relax.” He was to preoccupied at staring at his computer monitor, than staring at poor me. “Our friend Avon, is going to be here soon. Then I will show him some science.” He made sure to say that, in a very deep voice. ... Oh yea. He then let go of me slowly, keeping a watchful eye on me, to make sure she didn’t pull a fast one.
After we stared at each other for just about a min, I decided to stick my tongue out at him. It was like sibling rivalry, but with two love birds. With a stone tossed at them. And so my concentration for that evening, was shot through the roof. “Fine, but I won’t help you with your grades.” I said, referencing what he said earlier like a smart ass.
“Fine by me.” I thought he normally, loved to study with me. ... Fuck him.
You know who bursted through the dorm door, causing me to jump ... -- and fell on my face.Ow-ie! And then I could feel the footsteps of his synthetic sports boots walk by me into the dimly lit dorm room. I looked up his his short buzzed blond hair. His hair had a slightly green tint because of the blue of the screen. It was then I heard his voice. “So how’s it going Jay-Rod? Find anything new?” That voice irritated me every time, he sounded like such a winer sometimes you know?
“I found this cool toolkit online,” I heard Jerid say. Oh that bastard somehow sounded more excited now. I could see his smile like a madman, at the flicker of the hologram monitor which shined a stung my poor eyes. “it’s this strange government tech.” He felt like doing this happy dance, but I guess he decided against it. After all he didn’t want to indicate he was more thrilled being around whiney voiced Avon boy. Fuck him. Fuck it all.
I carefully got up, and scrubbed off my purple sports coat. Not so stylish, but it suits me just fine. So get over it. Anyway, so I was saying. I heard Avon say, before he turned around to face the door behind me, “Your not doing anything, to get us watched are you?”
“No of course not,” I heard Jerid say. Then his eye spasm-ed on the computer screen. “Well, at least not on purpose. I got the chemical composition in the fridge. That part of it is taken care of.”
So I saw Avon walk over the fridge, and he opened it up. The glow from inside the mini-fridge gave the dorm, a few milliseconds of normal light in the room. That crucial moment that stang my eyes even more than that god damn fall man. I just barely saw him try to pick up the bottle, discretely. But as always Jerid motioned his open hand downward.
“Avon, lower that thing. You were the one asking,” Jerid said. Then stopped his hand suddenly in mid air. “if I was trying to do anything to get us watched.”
“But Jerid, I’m bored.” ---
2 --- Jerid --- I was not sure whether janitor was going to visit our dorm, after all technically it was suppose to be a mens only dorm. I guess in a way you could say I felt sorry for Nikko -- she didn't really have a dorm, or even really a house to go to. So you know what, I bit -- don't regret it a single bit. I did however wonder if the janitor was going to find the drug cocktail. Believe me, I know Nikko. She is not the type to take drugs, just willy nilly. I need to do something to clear her name if she went, or take the time with her. But anyway I didn’t want to think about that at the moment. I had a hard time not snickering, because the room smelled of old tennis sneakers. I never was good at promises. But I do need to get some detergent.
“This is fun, way better than that stinky old dorm room.” I heard Avon say. I was on the other end of the isle, and Avon was browsing to check out some of the stuff on the shelf. Then walked he over to me. “Any luck finding anything?”
“No, we need to buy it online.” I said.
“What are we buying again?”
“You’ll see when I receive it.”
So we arrived back at the dorm room, and then formed a plan of action.
“So when are we going to get what your looking for?” Avon said.
“Probably in about a week.” I said.
So we waited for about a week, to get their our code box. Then when we received it, it came in a brown box, ... packaged discretely. So we tore apart the brown box, and looked inside to make sure we got our item. “Hey Avon, you want to help me build this?”
“Ah, do I have to?” Avon said.
“Fine whatever, I will do it.”
“Chill brother, I will help you out.” ---
3 --- Nikko --- The Finger Flick --- So I was watching two mates -- actually technically it was only Jerid was was my mate -- but whatever. They put together the contraption, and then they took a short break to admire their work. And the device was like a lumbering shadow, the chair with the gas mask looked ominously to us. I thought it reminded me of my glaring mother -- though not directly -- though she did act like an electric chair sometimes. Then another one of Jerid’s friends opened the door.
I sure hope that’s not Horace, I thought.
“Hey It’s me, can I check out what you guys are up to?” the voice that sounded like him said. He waited outside the door, then the door slowly opened after Jerid unlocked it. And he was illuminated by the glow of the hallway L.E.D light rows. “I overheard your conversation, and became interested. ... Hey Nikko, how’s it going?”
“I was not going to involve you in this,” I heard Jerid say to him, while he was still outside of the door. But Horace was pushy, and let himself inside. “you alway’s mess shit up. ... What’s the password?”
“Shit sickle.” Horace said.
“Correct!” Jerid said.
“Come on Jerid, just let him in.”
“So what are you guys up to?” I heard Horace say.
“Me and Avon, just got down building.” I heard Avon say.
“Wait a minute Jay-Rod, you never told me what I helped in.” I heard Avon say.
“Why did not you ask before?” I heard Jerid say.
“On with it!” Horace said.
“Anyway, I was looking to confirm this rumor I heard about online. There was once this guy, that leaked this alter-net.” I heard Jerid say. He then slowly walked over to the chair, hovering his hands over his new baby meditation chair. “Supposedly, you could connect directly to your dreams.”
“Do you ever know what happened to the guy?” I heard Avon say.
“Well I’m not one for telling ghost stories.” I heard Jerid say.
“Oh come in, on with it or I want to go in now.” I heard Horace say.
“Well they say that his spirit haunts, the matrix.” Jerid said. He was trying to restrain laughter. “Just kidding about the last part but--”
“Move it! Move it! I’m going in.” Horace said abruptly. Then I saw Jerid tossed to the water bed. And thought even if there was not really his spirit there, it’s just like Horace to be reckless. But man seeing Jerid get owned was satisfying. It was within this innocent act of adventurism, that was found out rather accidently, that something did haunt the dream world. But it was not the spirit of the hacker. It was the spirit, of something else. It was something that was not quite human.
I Horace sit in the meditation chair, and then placed the gas mask over his face. His consciousness fizzled out like a frayed electrical wire.
Or at least that’s was his buzz indicated.
“What did you do to Horace!” I said to Jerid.
“Yea, what we do man. What kind of monster we create?” I heard Avon say.
“Relax, he’s just sleeping. ... Sort of.” ---
4 --- Jerid --- It was the next week, that we gathered the additional supplies we needed to come in after our friend.
For many days I wondered if people would think our friend had dropped out. And perhaps hoped it would be believable enough, as me and the other two hardly saw him studying in any of the classes that we shared together. He was not mean, I hoped he didn’t think this was some vengeful prank. He was just in his own world, thats all. But then Nikko probably wonders about me. But he -- on the other hand -- was another sort of day dreamer, one that would not awaken unless someone pulled him.
I pushed the memory out of my head.
“Avon, can you help me with this again?” I said.
“Sure, but we might need Nikko’s help too.” Avon said.
“Can’t you see I’m trying to focus on grades?” Nikko said.
“What kind of friend are you Nikko? Don’t you care about Horace?” Jerid said. Then I face palmed. “Choose your grades, or you friends. I’m sleeping in.”
They put the kits together, for all three chairs. ---
5 --- Horace --- “If you could have anything you wanted Horace,” the voice said to me. It was slightly more audible whisper than the waves within the darkness. But it was barely perceptible beyond a whisper. It pulsated the meshwork of the night. “what would you want?”
“I want ...” I said. Then tried to remember. It was always Horace that would try to wake me up from my dream. I never really liked being woken up you know? ---
6 --- Jerid --- We all placed the gas masks over our faces, and then I knew for sure my own vision faded to black --- and then we were falling into a wormhole, changing in switching colors -- it was translucent, floating through space. Then we warped into the meshwork, and the vision of it changed between the desires of the dreamer.
There was a flower Garden.
There was a diner.
There was a singing choir. ---
7 --- Nikko --- So I was walked through a church, and looked at the choir. They were singing hymns from my church. And then I finally remembered what it was. I just barely missed the opportunity to be in the band. It was thar god damned doctor’s visit, I had lost my voice. I could not longer sing. It was tossed away, like sand on the sea. There was a white cloud, covered in divine radiance. I saw it float down from the window of the room that was a manifestation. And illusion from the dream.
It seemed to have sense my mood.
But there was something, that made me ill about it, and it arrived through the window, of stained glass.
“If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?” I heard the voice say. It sounded like my mother. Voice was of no particular shape or form, and was becoming louder from the whisper. It like that of an angel, a non nightmare. Heaven, shining lights. “I can give you the chance to sing again, to have a voice of your own.”
And then I stared at the choir, longingly. There is this feeling of jealousy when you see someone who could sing better than you. I heard them sing the song of peace. A piano melody, but it felt like the tunes of darkness. But there was another voice in my, I finally found -- it wanted to be something better. But it died down like a funeral procession, the sound of trumpet’s blowing, Soldiers marching.
“I still barely have that voice,” I said longingly. Then stared into the stained window-glass. “I lost much of it after the illness.”
“I can undo this illness.” ---
8 --- Avon --- White I saw over the clear blue sky was like a form of heaven, that was not really there. She, or rather it, came down from the sky. And then the it rained softly in the garden, of which I wept.
“If you could have anything you wanted, what would you want it to be?” the voice said, softened into the voice of my mother in whispering softness. It like that of an angel, that was not really there.
I removed my hands, they fell. from his face. My tears tingling as they were wiped from the rain.
It was in this very long dream, that I visited my mother in the flower Garden were I once grew up. I was helping her carry the dirt to plant the varying species she needed to grow. I helped her dig the dirt, and split the labor of water to help the seeds.
“Mother, is this how you want it?” I was a kid at the time, you see.
“Yes, this is perfect.”
“Is that what you want?” the voice said. It was closer to the auditory level from the choir‘s church. A worship hall that I saw in the distant grassland. Like an eternity that would never end. And I heard Nikko’s voice singing in the distance. It wiped my tears away. “I can give you this, if you become a part of me. And help me improve.” ---
9 --- Jerid --- I sitting in a diner with my old flame. The date had that odd silence you would get, when you knew she was about to drop the bomb. A distant sound of music, playing. But it was not Nikko’s singing. It was the sound that was inside Jerid’s head. The sound was not quite silence. “Look, can we get back together again?” he said.
“I really don’t know what I saw in you.” the woman said. She said it quietly. like that of a whisper. But the answer did not feel genuine. It felt like a reenactment, organized by a two star play write. “But I will be happy to take your flowers.”
But she disappeared into smoke, and then the white light that I saw at the moment warped in through the window of the diner. “I can give you another chance, if you give in and become a part of my consciousness.”
“No, I won’t do it. I can move on. I have Nikko.” I said. And then I saw the white cloud for what it was. It was a very dark cloud, covered in powdered sugar. A toxic form of window-spray, covering the darkness. “I won’t let you have that power over me.”
And then, the dream-space became the meshwork.
“Come on guys, don’t be fooled.” I said to my friends. I had no idea where they were, but needed to find them. Right now. I need to find Horace, before the consciousness, overcame him. If there was anything in him, that was still left. But that fire, that thing called hope. Was uncovered, like the darkness.
“Something is trying to trick us.” I said.
“Jerid, I want to stay in the Garden.” Avon said.
Nikko continued singing, the song of the Choir.
I then decided, that I would go it on my own. For a moment I wondered where Horace was. But I was to preoccupied of not letting myself be overcome, by his own core desires. There was something driving but. But I did not know what. All I knew, was I wanted to rip a whole in this beings cosmic butt.
I ran, until I could run no further.
Jerid --- I heard the voice say, “I ... am the voice ... I am the consciousness. I will punish you. ... You should not have come here.”
“Please, I was barely a shell when I first came to campus.” I said it. Whatever -- it -- was,
It warped closer to me, and attempted to absorb my consciousness. But instead, I attempted to give the entity a swift kick to the nuts.
But it -- which had then taken the form of Horace -- warped behind him, and elbowed me in the back. ---
I woke up, on the floor. “Nikko! Avon! ... Horace!”
And then I heard knocking.
“Jerid, can you answer a few questions?” the voice on the other end of the door said. And I smelled the stench of cigar smoke, setting my lungs on fire. I was a tired wooden doll, barely surviving ... a brain-cataclysm. ---
10 --- Nikko --- There was something in my, that still felt wrong singing. It didn’t not feel natural form me. Song of the music, began to play slower, and became another sort of funeral procession. A funeral of my own personal free will. It felt that lover’s sing, that feeling only lover’s have -- that call’s when one of their friends in his danger. Something like another chance at paradise.
So I stopped singing suddenly, and walked out of the Church.
And then ran through the indigo meshwork, browsing through the network of my desperate attempt to dream true dreams. Of another life. I swimming, through the ocean-sea of the dream-simulation. I had halted her my own person dream briefly to reflect. The simulation from the drugs used from the meditation chair.
It was the devil’s chair.
And then that white cloud warped in front of me.
It felt like an amalgamation of death. The imposter of dreams, the manifestation of war itself. Of nightmares, and bad breath. The breath of the choir boys, the singing angels from the otherworld. The realm of dreams, was its own sort of after life. An afterlife of eternal purgatory. Of heaven fading into darkness ...
But my own light broke through it.
Darkness, fading into the light.
“Horace, what has happened to you?” I said to Horace.
“I am not Horace. I ... am ... god itself.” the voice said. The voice that was a paradox of a silent screech. A screech, because it cut through her hyper sensory perception. Silent because know one could actually hear’s in dreams.
She felt at that moment, that Horace was gone.
“Do you know how it feels,” the husk of Horace said. Briefly Nikko wondered if Horace was coming back. One memory at a time, like scattered bits of data. “to be able to do anything in dreams.”
Aire’s data-interrupts Horace.
Nikko ran, until Horace faded into the darkness. ---
Then I warped into the garden, where Avon was. “Nikko, don’t look back. Don’t worry about me, check on Jerid. I will hold off Horace.”
“That’s not Horace.”
I saw Avon take his shovel, and warped into the meshwork.
Into the darkness of the indigo ocean-sea ... ---
I wondered for a moment, what if one died in the dream.
Then warped, and floated into Jerid’s dream-world. But there was nothing, because he was not asleep. But I sensed -- somehow -- that feeling of pain, from her connection to him. The perception was pins and needles into my throat.
I felt what he felt, and what he felt was confinement.
It was like a prison. But I did not recognize the location. A interrogation room perhaps, I did not know. But it was like snow, made out of acid rain. It charred the meshwork as much as did my dream-skin -- I began to dissolve.
And with my right hand, the hand used to do to my homework -- the hand that was going to be used to, toss the pillow at Jerid. ---
11 --- Jerid -- I saw the image of Nikko’s tender touch in Jerid’s eyes.
“When I logged into the blue membrane, I at first felt numb. And then I was pulsating. I don’t remember anything else.” Jerid said. I was staring, into the glare of the dream-scanner. And then I saw in greater detail, Nikko reaching out her right hand to me. My hand was touching onto hers. But I saw her became like a lake. A puddle of her original self. “Wait a minute, I know where my friends are now. Nikko had told me.”
“Your friends? Can you lead us to them?” the interrogator said.
“Yes, but don’t hurt them. Please. Hurt me instead.” I said.
“We have no plans of hurting anybody.” ---
12 --- Nikko -- So I was on the emergency room table. And felt a presence in the room, but could not identify it. I briefly wondered, if Horace was in another emergency room table for recuperative therapy somewhere. Because I did not feel his presence. I hoped if he was somewhere, that he was back to normal. Then I felt the voice, coming closer. Similar to that of Horace, but not quite.
It was barely perceptible, beyond a whisper.
A silence, that was not quite silence.