Christian Redon’s goggles are securely in place, his chips within reach – barbecue, the emergency flavor – and his gloves on tight.
There’s work to be done.
He pulls up the map, a perfect replica of a city block. October 23rd, 2017. Data was mined from every electronic device in the area, and each person pinged is represented as a character in this game. At any moment, the player can zoom out to city view and zoom in on any other character. It’s a complete free for all.
Except it isn’t. Yet.
He swipes at a random ping, a red dot near the experiential district. He could use a drink.
The map swoops away, and there’s the sudden rush of falling. Through clouds, past trees, power lines, down to the street. Straight into the body of-
He’s standing in someone’s kitchen. Yellow farmhouse walls fade into mid-century modern browns and blues.
“Fucking hipsters!” he snarls. “Every single time? Really?”
He zooms out again. The map runs smoothly. The graphics are amazing.
“Why won’t you let me switch characters?” he asks his creation. “Just let me be someone else, already.”
He flings a swipe toward another ping, this one on the opposite side of the map.
Again with the falling. Looking good. Headed for the mind of a bald man wearing garters and little else-
Yellow walls. Browns and blues.
“Gah!” He yanks off the headset and throws it down. It lands on a stack of electronics, the force of the impact causing a loud POP.
“Shit!” He bellows and snatches up the goggles again. “Please tell me I didn’t just fuck myself. Please please please…”
With headset in place, he finds himself back in that same kitchen.
He sighs. “I almost wish I had.”
He zooms out again, taking a deep breath in. The map is the same, but he notices something odd. The date at the bottom of the screen has changed. It now reads ‘November 19, 2017.
“What the hell?” he asked his machine. “What did I just do?”
He zooms in. The map stays in place. With a growl he makes the gesture again, and this time, the game cooperates.
Falling. Good. The mist of clouds, passing tall buildings, trees, power lines, into an alley behind an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
Only, there’s no one there to zoom into.
“Hey!” Christian barks, startled. His view crashes through the pavement, and he’s now tunneling through earth.
The dark earth begins to fade, but he still feels the sensation of falling, through a black void his consciousness tumbles.
A sudden burst of light, blinding in its brilliance. Streaks of color at his periphery. He’s still falling.
The impact with the ground shakes him, throws the breath out of him. He has the sensation of pressure at his back, and he feels like he’s lying down.
“Jesus,” he groans, reaching for the goggles. He’s had enough of this shit for today.
He isn’t wearing a headset.