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The year is 2039. Throughout history, the worst of the worst have always peddled their wares in alleys. This is year is no different.

The greasy man stood back, near the dumpster, trying not to be obvious to the police drones that hovered up and down the street. His hair hung in tangles around his shoulders. His clothes were reasonably clean, but somewhat worn. For what he did for a living, one would have expected him to dress better, to look like he was well off, but that would have been a mistake. His appearance was deliberate. To avoid to many prying eyes, he knew that he had to look like the other dregs on the street. He stood out here because he had regular customers that lived in the area. Still, he refused to meet just anyone off the street, and preferred to meet by appointment. Who he was here to meet now had been recommended by a mutual friend.

She was a little thing with hair dyed black, wearing black eye-shadow and lipstick. A white tee shirt baring the legend “Holo/Rage” could be seen peeking from underneath a black leather or vinyl jacket. She wore a black and purple checker mini-skirt over black leggings and she wore knee high boots. She looked uncomfortable in this environment and she didn't look like she belonged. That would make the sale much easier. She didn't quite know what she was looking for but she said that she wanted something that would just help her forget for awhile. The greasy man wondered if she had ever smoked, sniffed, or injected anything in her life. She didn't look like it. She didn't act like she was hooked. This is the sort of thing that aggravated him. There was every chance the kid might not even buy and then his time would be wasted. People who aren't addicted are so hard to sell to. It meant having to give out free samples. He was willing to do that, but he wanted a good sale now. Of course, he had something that might interest her. It was kind of an unknown element. In fact, he had only just learned about it himself. He had tried it twice...and what an experience. He usually didn't sample his own product, preferring to keep clear headed, just in case the police caught him. But then again, this wasn't exactly a drug, and its sales potential was beyond any drug he had ever sold.

“Look, kid, what did you even come here for?”

She shuffled uncomfortably, looking like she wanted nothing better than to peel her skin off. She definitely didn't like being here. “I don't know, I'm sorry. My friend said you could help, but...I don't know if I should even do this now.”

“Okay, look. Look! Maybe the usual stuff isn't what you need. There's this new stuff; I've only tried it a couple times myself, but believe me, this will change your life.” He pulled out an ampule of a clear liquid. The end was a needle. It was a single use syringe. “Have you ever heard of NanoSynth?”

She shook her head as if trying to get something nasty out of her memory. “How...how does it feel?”

“It's not how it feels. It's what it lets you do. It's exactly what it sounds like. In this little tube are nanites. What these little things do is they follow your blood stream to your brain and they form connections. You can interface with any machine. You ever wanted to really be the superhero? Have you ever wanted to be your favorite character in whatever game? This shit? This lets you do it. It's not just imaginary. Just hook up your nerve interfaces and you're really there.”

She looked at the ampule with a different expression in her eyes. The uncertainty that had been there with every drug was now gone. This had piqued her interest. She shook it off. This was a hard sell. “Isn't that like VR or HoloSoft?”

“What? No! Nothing like it! Virtual reality? You're still just interacting with a computer program. And HoloSoft? Those aren't holograms! That shit's Pepper's Ghost. You see, holograms; you can actually reach out to them. You may not be able to touch them, but you can disrupt them and put your hand through them. HoloSoft; you reach out and no matter where you put your hand, the image just gets farther way. With this, you can put any scenario in your head and your mind cannot tell the difference between it and reality! Can VR do that?”

Her eyes were alight again, but then the light faded once more. “How long does it last?”

He could get her! He just had to work her a little harder, and she was his. “The connections NanoSynth forms in the brain are permanent. The more you take, the more it can give you what you want.”

The eyes lit back up and this time, she couldn't keep her excitement at bay. “They're permanent? But computers break down over time. Why would this be different?”

“Well, yeah, sure you have to maintain it. You can tell when the connections start to break down. Just take another hit to get them back up to normal.”

She took a solid, appraising look. “How much is it?”

“A hundred a piece. There's five to a pack. Take them once a week and you'll have a full network installed.”

Her eyes told the story. Sticker shock. “500? That's way too much!”

“What do you think it's worth? You want to get laid by one of those hot action heroes you see in the movies? Explore space? You want to visit with Elves? Trust me. Five minutes in cyberspace with this and you'll never give a second thought to how much you spent for it.”

She looked at the ampule hard. He had her. It didn't even matter if she had the money or not. She'd find a way.

“If you don't have that much, we can work something out.”

“I have it. I just don't carry that much on me. Jeez, a thousand k...” She was still reeling from the sticker shock. “What about just one?”

“No. I was told you have to get all five or there could be problems. Last thing I need is a problem.”

“I don't know...”

“It's not some plug and play device you get off the internet. This makes you the device. You'll never find it for a price like this again.”

“I was just looking for something to help me relax...”

“Hey, look. I can give you anything you want. I just thought maybe since you've never done anything hard, you might be interested in this. I'm telling you, this thing could put me out of business if more of it ever got out.”

“How do I know it's for real?”

“Come on, kid. This is my office. Look around you. Do you think anyone would trust me if I sold bullshit?”

She looked at the ampule again. It was so simple, so unassuming. It could have been anything, really. Lena had never taken more than a couple of hits off of a joint with her friend. It was true, she was nervous about trying something harder, but this NanoSynth; it sounded like nonsense. “I've never heard of anything like this. It's sounds like something out of a movie. I mean, it doesn't sound like something you'd buy in a back alley.”

“Okay, you need some proof? I can understand that.” It was a hard decision. Free samples to get customers hooked was nothing new, but he knew so little about this stuff, and his source had warned him very explicitly about separating the packets. “I'll give you this one, but if you want the rest, 500. I promise you'll be back for them.”

Lena waited until she was back home with it. In her room, she looked at the tiny capsule, wondering if she should take the risk. Who know what this guy had handed her? She looked around her room. It was a world apart from the alley she had just left. Fine furniture was on every wall. The most expensive laptop money could buy was on her desk. Nobody would have expected she had a father that came home drunk every night, or that her mother blamed her own children for all of her failings in life. Still, had things gone so far that it was worth poisoning herself? Was it worth possibly killing herself? She was just about to throw the ampule away when she heard the door slam, and the voices started to filter up through the vents.

“Well aren't you home at a fine hour!”

“Cait, don't start with me!”

“Well then maybe you can have a word with your good for nothing daughter. She's just waltzing in any time she feels like, too!”

Without a second thought, Lena held up the needle point of the ampule and jammed it into her carotid. For a moment, there was nothing, and then suddenly, it felt like daggers were jammed into her eyes. She doubled over in pain as it felt like tiny needles were tearing through her skull. There was a high pitch whine in her ears and her vision flashed a thousand shades of neon. After several minutes the pain subsided, with the exception of a burning itch behind her ear. She thanked her lucky stars she was still alive. Unable to resist the itch, she reached back to scratch and found some kind of object embedded there. She grabbed a makeup mirror and went into the bathroom. Using the two mirrors to try and see behind her ear, she saw what looked like a tiny printed circuit board tattooed onto her skin, right behind her right ear. She didn't quite believe what she was seeing. It looked like a nerve connection for the touch and sense features of her virtual reality simulator.

Her parents were still too busy arguing to worry about what she was doing. Hurrying back to her bedroom, she turned on her laptop and activated the wireless touch interface. When she hooked it behind her ear, she almost expected the computer to prompt her to put on her goggles, but no such thing happened. Instead, her world dissolved around her and she found herself falling into nothingness. After a brief time, she gently landed on a surface as alien as any she could imagine. She was surrounded by blackness, broken by the blue glow of the floor she found herself standing upon. There in front of her was a tiny touch screen. Reaching out, she pressed against it to find that it pressed back. The dealer had been telling the truth! She was really in a computer world. She wondered how far the fantasy could go.

Lena just wishes she could escape the world, and she's desperate to make it happen. Poor decisions and a certain disregard for safety leads her to a back alley, and the discovery of something that was never meant for the public. It's a serum that alters the brain to allow direct access to the internet. Nobody's heard of it. Nobody believes in it. But Lena's not the only one taking it. In her new virtual world, she witnesses a death and assumes it's merely someone's virtual fantasy, but when she sees the victim on the news, she realizes that her new vice is much more than a fantasy, and there are people who will go to any lengths to find out what she knows, what she's seen, and to make sure nobody else finds out. Unfortunately, if she wants to survive, she'll need to learn how to tell the real world from the virtual one.

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  • pianotm
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  • 04/11/2016 09:07 AM
  • 06/20/2016 05:14 AM
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Pages: 1
Interesting. That was a good read. Now you've got me hooked. I need more nanomachines, son! Hehe.

Kind of makes me think of Serial Experiments Lain (uploading one's conscious to the web) and Persona 4 (people who die in the other world end up dead in reality. The news of course broadcasting this info).
The TM is for Totally Magical.
I guess it goes to show that there are no original ideas. I've never seen Serial Experiments Lain nor have I ever played any of the Persona games, but I was thinking of using a SMT style of combat.
There may be no such thing as an "original" idea but that doesn't really matter. It's how you flesh it out in your own inventive way that counts. All those popular, successful TV/anime/manga/game series certainly have overlapping concepts but people like them anyway since not all of them are done the same way.
As a fan of cyberpunk and sci-fi in general I'm genuinely interested to see where this is going. Good luck.
The TM is for Totally Magical.
Good luck.

Thank you!
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
Hey, man! Haven't seen your new project. This sounds awesome, always a fan of your work. Subscribed!

Also, I love your layout
The TM is for Totally Magical.
Thanks, IF!
Pages: 1