November 2, 2028
At Aristotle’s insistence, they piled into the car entirely too early for Bridge’s liking. He was used to working on very little sleep from his days as a crèche-bound hacker, but a cross-country trip was going to severely test his stamina. Stonewall’s gangster friends came through perfectly though. The car was a cherry, a 2027 Toyodyne in impeccable shape, with a satnav system hacked to prevent trackback, long-distance wireless Net connects for constant contact with Angie when necessary as well as news feeds to monitor the situation in Boulder. They headed out of Los Angeles and caught the I-15 east of Rancho Cucamonga, hoping to reach Boulder sometime around midnight, with stops for food and bio breaks.
Stonewall and Aristotle insisted on Bridge being a passenger. While they half-joked that he was a terrible driver, Bridge believed they were reluctant to put their lives in his hands in case the wave of hallucinatory seizures from the previous evening returned. He didn’t mind, however, as long car rides made him sleepy anyway. The ride began in silence, but by the time they’d begun the ascent into the San Bernadino Mountains separating the LA area from the desolate scrublands of the High Desert, Aristotle and Stonewall were chatting away in the front. As Bridge listened, the discussion swerved into academic talk of Hegel and Nietzche, causing Bridge’s attention to wander. The droning buzz of the engine combined with his fatigue was enough to put him down for the count.
His sleep was fitful. A mind-itching buzz filled his dream ears, like static from a television constantly looping around him. He stood before his goal, an immense coal-black dome of translucent energy stretching miles into the sky and as far as the eye could see in all directions. Behind him stood only empty desert. He reached out a timid hand to touch the surface, and immediately withdrew the hand as a shock of static discharge arced from the dome to his fingers. He could feel the tingling in his toes, his genitals, his ears, even to the tips of his hair, which was standing on end. The surface began to glow, almost to breathe with flows of energy. Glowing softly at first, then stronger, patterns formed on the surface, in the surface, swimming deep like fish in shallow water. The patterns formed letters, though not exactly letters, but definitely writing of some kind, almost a kanji-like series of symbols and pictograms. The orange symbols formed lines of undecipherable text, then paragraphs of glowing orange hieroglyphs, and it began to scroll up the dome like text on a computer screen.
The static in his head had grown the sounds forming into words, into a jumbled mess of syllables that did not fit into any pattern his brain could discern. It was as if someone was whispering from inside his skull, vibrating his teeth with a growing urgency to be heard. Finally, a phrase made some form of sense, understood without hearing, and he followed its suggestion to look up.
Figures had emerged from the dome, three vaguely humanoid shapes emerging out of the now liquid surface above. Like coal-black naked angels approaching from on high, they peered down at Bridge with emotionless gazes, hands spread out openly at their hands as if letting the light of heaven flow from their bodies. Their lips were moving and every twitch of muscle was accompanied by a short, sharp discharge of blue and orange lightning. All three spoke as one with the voice of thousands.
"They need you. You must save them from themselves."
Bridge woke up with a start, the interface jack in his neck buzzing an itchy dance of pain.
Go to Chapter 5.5
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
November 2, 2028