Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Goat Rope

“Marcus, can you hear me?”


A faint, soft voice echoed in his mind, reverberating on the edge of his consciousness. Marcus could feel the voice more than he was hearing it. Slowly, his awareness crept into something resembling normality.

He opened his eyes and looked around and became aware that he was sitting in a padded chair in a sterile room. There was only one door to the white room and no windows. The chair was the only thing there. So, he rose from the chair and rolled his fingers looking at them and feeling them and studied the way they moved.

“Marcus” came the female voice into his mind again.

“Yes...” he spoke aloud.

“Good, you’re awake.”

He recognized the voice then. It was the female technician that he had met during the Uni-Net implant procedure. Things were coming back.

“You are probably a little disoriented right now, and that’s ok.” she said.

“Where am I, exactly.” he asked.

“Your body is here , back here at the compound but your mind is in the loading room. Think of it as the launch pad into the Uni-Net. “ she explained.

“Right.” Marcus said as he took a step away from the padded chair then, “What happens next?” he asked.

“When you walk through that door, you’ll find yourself at a hallway that will lead to what’s called the ‘Atrium’. From there, you should be able to find your way to the Nines.”

“Ok.” he said as he put his hand on the door knob.

“One more thing Marcus, before you walk out that door. Once you go through that door we won’t be able to communicate like this. Someone will have to go in and leave a message for you. And remember, time doesn’t exactly work the same way it does here.” she explained.

“I got it.” Marcus grumbled.

“You are a man of few words, aren’t you?” she asked with a bit of laughter in her voice.

“And you talk too much Emme.” he said as he opened the door.

* * *

The Atrium was busy with people by the thousands. It was an impossibly large structure that was supported by huge white pylon beams that crossed over one another at strange angles. The pylons held up what appeared to be a clear, thick fabric that offered a serene view of a cloudy blue sky, like a giant see through tent. The Atrium was the center point of three long, wide corridors, that led off into the distance. Perpendicular to those corridors were three long ramps that led to lower levels.

Everywhere Marcus looked there were people interacting with one another much like in real life. There were store fronts and businesses, markets and libraries, and everything in between. Tables and chairs filled with people were tucked into corners of pathways and patches of green trees, shrubs, and flowers that filled the air with an artificial smell. Marcus absorbed the scenery in an instant and continued along his way.

In a crowd, he stood out, mostly because of his stature. Here, he looked much like himself. He wore a subdued sage green jacket and black shirt, grey utility pants, and  black boots. There was no such thing as blending in here though. Diversity was abound; Loud colors, monochromatic attire, long robes, half naked women, half naked men, and those who’s skin was every color imaginable.

He made his way along the paths, weaving in and out of the people. He worked his way toward the center of the Atrium and pulled out a small piece of paper from his pocket and consulted the makeshift map he had made himself. He looked to his left, toward one of the lower ramps, and found the illuminated sign post he was looking for. Down he went to that lower level.

Much like the level above, this layer was populated with similar surroundings, but as he made his way through the maze the crowd thinned. He eventually came to the a dead end. There was a double door that looked old and unkept. Hand painted on the wall next to the door read:

The Nines

As he approached the door, he tucked the paper he was carrying back into his jacket breast pocket. His hand purposely glided against his jacket as he reached for the door handle and he was reassured by the hardness and shape of his weapon underneath the fabric.

His eyes adjusted instantly for the change in lighting, another odd side effect of the Uni-Net experience. Perception of the world around you was no longer limited by his biological functions. In this realm, he had no irises that needed time to dilate, only artificially stimulated sensory input fed directly into his mind.

The club looked and felt much like any other he had been in. There rows of booths along one wall, and several Tide game tables where men and women both exclaimed over their winnings and losses. Droning music went on from somewhere indistinguishable, to which Marcus noticed a group of people on the dance floor were enjoying, if you could call it that. Some were holding on to one another,  losing themselves in the music, their own carnal desires, and the obvious affects of some kind of intoxicant.

He moved through the dark room casually and sat himself upon an empty stool along the long curvy bar. He looked awkward, uncomfortable in his own massive frame, an act that often served him well. One of the bar maids approached him and asked if he’d like a drink. Her wild, blue and white hair rose up to defy gravity, waving slightly, as if she were suspended in water. Marcus continued with his act.

“I’ll just have a water please.” he said, taking some of the grit out of his voice.

“Sure thing sweetie.” she obliged.

When he received his glass, he held it with both hands and waited. It wasn’t long before someone else came up to him from behind the bar. He was a tall, skinny dark man. He had a crooked smile full of white teeth. His dark hair was braided into long strands that hung on his shoulders.

“You must be Wraith.” said the bartender using Marcus’s team name.

Marcus looked up at the man.

“How did you know?” he asked.

“Well, you see, in here” the bartender said while pointing around, “no one orders water.”

Marcus smiled and downed the rest of his glass. He handed to the skinny man and said “Then let me get a glass of what a regular would have.”

“Will do, sir. The name’s Lancer, by the way.” he said as he handed another glass full of a sparkling blue substance.

“So, I’ve been told you have information for me.”

The black man behind the bar threw a cloth over his shoulder and wiped his hands together.

“Right to business! I like that Wraith, I do. Yes, yes I do have information.”

Marcus let the pause between them extend to an uncomfortable level.

“Well, let’s hear it.” he finally broke.

“Nothing is free my dear man.” Lancer said with a wink.

The muscles in Marcus’s jaw flexed as he worked his teeth back and forth, an involuntary gesture that often helped to control his anger. He was fighting against the realization that his dear uncle and commander had sent him in here knowing full well what was going to happen next.

“So, what do you want for this information?” Marcus asked.

Lancer’s lips split across his dark face to reveal those grinning teeth once more.

“I need you to do me a favor Wraith, a big favor.”


  1. Ooo, I like the Atrium idea. Nice transition into the Uni-Net. I can't wait to see what you have planned. You have a much broader vision of the Ninerverse than I do, and will add so much to it.

    I'm very happy that you are contributing to the shared universe.

  2. Very nice. I can't wait for the next bit.

  3. Thanks Tummy. I just started asking myself questions about the Uni-Net and how it would be. If the Nines was a bar, where is that bar and how do people actually get there? From there it just kinda rolls on.

    Archnemesis, I hope I continue to please!