Dream Meat

The first time Dream Meat hit the market he didn’t believe in it – he thought it was a gimmick, a con, an outright lie.

They started bringing round mobile machines that they would hook up to sleeper’s heads, and the huge imaginary feasts they would create in their sleeping minds would manifest right before their eyes. It was a mixture of dream image sequencing and sub-atomic particle build, pulling data from the sensory equipment of the dreamer. He was sold. Gerhard bought the machine.

He wasn’t sure he had eaten anything but Dream Meat for the last few weeks now. He had been reading a recently conducted study that expressed doubts about the long term effects of the meat on people’s health. There was no definitive evidence that any damage may result from consumption, but the article was keen to point out that they just didn’t know enough about the actual substance to make any definite conclusions.

It tasted great. It was cheap – his budget for food had dropped through the floor, and it gave him more money to spend on other things. He thought he looked svelte, and that his skin had a new healthy sheen. It may have been true, or all in his head – he had stopped going out and hadn’t got any real feedback from anyone.

Insomnia was not a problem he had suffered from before, but now he found he couldn’t sleep for days at a time. He would get hungry because he couldn’t manufacture the Dream Meat. Then he would glut upon it. Feast and famine did not do well for him – the only reason his mood swings escaped notice was because he was so isolated.

Narcolepsy came next, and that brought with it the problem of overabundance of meat, of which he could not adequately dispose. He was stuffed most of the time. Was it having a narcotic effect? Something like tryptophan in turkey? He didn’t know, but he didn’t feel quite normal.

Reports started to come in of people being found strangely mutated, their bodies bursting their bounds and spreading throughout the rooms of the houses they lived in; the matter still seemed to be somehow alive, and still sentient, but it was not exactly human anymore. It changed colour as people entered the room, strange mirroring shapes formed in it, as if it were trying to communicate with it’s audience on a subconscious level.

They never found Gerhard – whatever it was that they took the flamethrowers too in that room was not Gerhard. That’s what they said. But then only a mother might recognise her child’s distinctive screaming, and she was too busy to visit.

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Wakebox

Jazzed in the wakebox. A night of piped dreams and rapid learning protocols spinning in through fractal patterns, while the body gets worked over by nano-mechanics and all those little issues get gone over and worked out. He woke up and felt like a new person.

The evening before he had been on a wreck and forget mission – another sad break-up. He didn’t emote-wipes, and he had a bad experience on beat-off-the-heart, so the good old tradition of liver and kidney damaging intoxication was the option he chose. It was expensive, especially in this prohibition speakeasy joint era, and the relief was temporary at best, but in the moment? It worked.

But he also knew he had to be up and ready for it this morning, so, being of a pragmatic nature he had budgeted for a rapid repair cycle in the wakebox.

He felt a little strange as he stepped out onto the street, his feet were heavy and he felt a little light-headed. His vision started to swim and when he touched his hand to his forehead he was burning up. His on-board bio confirmed it – a translation-viral leaping from informational to meat construct. It had him pinned and he was transmitting his location somewhere.

Dark in the wakebox. Was that a dream? No – this wasn’t the luxury facility he slept in last night … this was something else.

‘Hello?’

No answer. A dart jabbed him in the thigh – cool liquid seeped up his left side in a way that suggested bio-nano-goop to him; a fucking infiltrate. Designed to do what? Reprogram? Why him? He was a nothing – a non-important bookstore clerk.

The fractals cycled up, a vocal element was introduced, and the sickly feverish feeling spread and undulated through him in rolling waves. And then it ended.

Wet and cold atop the wakebox. His own wakebox at home. How had he been transported and what was the purpose of the kidnap?

POTUS liked to shop for books. He was working that day. Standing behind the counter, slacking off, reading Catcher In The Rye, a classic.

Suited

Photomelt skin kicks in and she’s gone. Across the rooftops, invisible, no blur. But someone is following her. Her co-pilot peeking through eyes in the back of her head runs a full spectrum analysis, and this bastard somehow has a hack for penetrating the suit’s defensive scramble protocol. Considering where the suit came from and how goddamn rare it is – this is not good; really, it only means one thing … the people they stole it from are onto them.

And the guy isn’t hiding, either his pursuit, or his ability to pursue in ways no non-enhancile could manage. If you are that confident about no interference from local authorities then you already have them in your pocket.

‘Can we shake this fucker, Spey?’

‘How fast can you run, D?’

‘So, no tech back-up.’

‘It’s the muscle’s night off too.’

‘Jesus, how did they get on us so quick?’

‘We always worried that activation would compromise the integrity of any hacks we carried out. These guys are serious firepower types. Hold on though, I’m gonna memeblast the area and see if we can’t slow his roll.’

‘KK.’

The memeblast hit her too – rapid fire cycling and loud and blaring and urgent sounding. Usual inflammatory bullshit to stir up the neanderthals – guys who spent their whole lives elbow deep in violence had a different attitude when it came to violence against kids.

She pulled away from him as the first wave of have-a-go vigilantes hoved into view and got between him and her. D glanced back and she saw that these poor putzes weren’t even speed-bumps on the road.

‘Pull me up a map on the left-eye visual, Spey.’

‘K.’

‘Now plot me the shortest route to the Lead Lion.’

‘How about the Faraday Cage?’

‘Even better.’

‘Good, here you go.’

Punched up and running. She tapped the suits visual baffle unit and hoped that it might work to confuse him. She had to hope that given the prototype nature of the suit that its tech was even a smidgen more advanced than this bastard’s. Her rear-views confirmed he had actually stumbled and fallen, great she started to weave through the crowd towards the Faraday Cage – it wasn’t one of her regular haunts so the combination of a sealed system that killed all transmissions dead, there was also no data-trail he could follow to this particular establishment.

He stopped, he stood still, issued a command into the sub-vocal mike. He had a four dimensional model of the whole city (a visual of the three spatials and a timeline dotted with easiest access places that might make her “vanish”. These kids were lucky, but Wagner had been doing this for a long time, and he had a support network that made Homeland Security look like paupers. The Faraday Cage – surely they wouldn’t be that obvious? His tech team ratcheted through every single camera feed in the immediate area and picked up the tell-tale emissions they had programmed the suit with.

No need to blunder in – just make a cool entrance. If they were this obvious it wouldn’t matter that they couldn’t use the tech in the club. Even his enhancements would be dialled down to imperceptible levels by the dampening field in there.

D was chatting up one of the bouncers, an ex-paramilitary guy turned survivalist who hated corporations and government lackeys. She painted for him a great picture of the creep following after her, and he seemed to appreciate the challenge of taking the bastard out. They had some interesting toys in this place – The Pinch was a targetted EMP which had been further customised into an anti-personnel weapon. The idea of someone coming into his territory irked him – they were going to fry him.

She just knew walking in here wouldn’t be the end of it; suspected the guys tech was far off her limited radar. But in here the playing field was now levelled quite a bit. She pointed him out to the bouncer, and the guy, who was sanctioned to use the Pinch whenever he thought it necessary moved in with a rapidity and skill D had not been expecting. She watched the pinched man’s epileptic dance only briefly, and then she was out and on her way.

‘I have a ride for you two blocks over and moving towards your position – red taxi who’s on the network.’

‘Good, thanks Spey.’

She was sprinting, she saw the car, it’s door opened and she was inside.

‘Are we cloaked?’

‘We are so far off the grid in this thing you’d think we were in another country.’

‘Good. Spey, run the visuals in the Faraday and see if our pursuer is up and running.’

‘It looks like he’s in the back alley sparking.’

‘Jesus.’

‘One hell of a test-run, eh, D?’

‘Yeah, there’s some kinks to work out for sure.’

‘Yeah, the whole thing needs to be worked over until it’s locked down tight.’

‘I know you can do it.’

‘For sure – being chased by guys like that gives you some pretty strong motivation.’

D smiled, what a night.