For the first time in my life, my body is finally free to do with as I see fit.
My physical, etheric and astral beings are unchained, and even my ego holds no more sway.
The invisible, etched marks that follow my meridians, chakras, and secret circuit paths are marionette strings with which I can control everything in minute detail.
What would take a yogi lifetimes of practice is now second nature – if I will it, I can become it, to the full extent of my being.
I can sleep or stay up for weeks, with no ill effect.
A drop of water can make me feel as full as a banquet.
I can move faster than any olympic athelete, or play dead indefinitely.
I can grow into a new hair color, or change my melanin mix – not instantaneously, but over time.
I can ride my neurotransmitters like bicycles, and re-write my DNA (apparently not the best idea, but I still can).
I could live for thousands of years, and not grow a day older.
I could even, as is the temptation for all of the newly etched, have orgasms at will. Not that I’ve had time to try that yet, but Susanna warned me that more than a few days of constant bliss will definitely make you sick.
Not that I ever have to feel sick again, or even be sick. I’ve already willed away a few suspicious skin lesions, and corrected my vision by adjusting synapses.
In short, my body is hacked, jailbroken, fully authorized for use.
Of course, the danger is thinking that the ability to do means you should. Most of the time, you shouldn’t.
After I woke up yesterday morning, the process complete, I was sore, bruised, and ravenously hungry. Took a shower to wipe away the sweat, etching fluid and patches of dried blood. Staggered towards the kitchen, and Susanna stopped me before I could inspect the empty refrigerator.
“Open up port 54 – I need to teach you something.”
Just like in the largest firewall imaginable, I now have scores of millions of ports into the bodyweb, and the Structure at large, through which data and energy comes and goes. By default they’re highly protected, but if you don’t pay attention, you could be rooted and completely taken over by someone, or something. Not that the collective OS isn’t robust and time tested, but there’s always a slight danger.
“Logging now. OK. Do you feel this?” Butterflies filled my stomach suddenly.
“Uggh, yeah. Do you mind?” I was this close to throwing up.
“That’s the low end of the scale. Follow my lead.”
And then I could feel a handle on my gut, a thermostat that I could tweak at will.
“Good, good…. let me take control of your eyes for a second.”
Where the bare kitchen once was, now I had my toaster back. The coffee machine, the cereal boxes, the plates drying in the rack.
“This is your mental map of your kitchen, stored in thousands of little memory slices. You can inspect any memory, from any part of your life, at will. You can also immediately enter REM sleep, or create visions out of whole cloth.”
I thought about an apple, and it was there – cold and smooth and firm. I could see it, feel it, but it wasn’t.
“Over time, you’ll learn to manipulate the spectrum, to see beyond normal light. But the first, most important thing is to learn how not to see at all.” With that, I was immediately blind.
“I’m really not liking this lesson.”
“It’s OK. The world is still there. You don’t have to see it to be with it. Let me turn up your hearing a bit.”
A bit! I could hear the S-Bahn trains traveling underground from blocks away.
“Your body is the finest antenna possible, if only you know how to use it. I want you to feel me thinking.”
I didn’t understand, but I did. Not only did her aura interpenetrate mine locally, but I could reach back through the bodyweb into her mind. It was like pointing a camera at a TV displaying the image from that camera – I could feel her looking at me connecting to her contemplating me…
“Don’t get mirror stuck…. here.” Suddenly my vision came back, but instead of the kitchen I could see, simply put, everything.
“One of the first things we fixed from Sasha’s original OS was the gain. Before, you could only resolve whatever you or the bodyweb members could. Like an array of telescopes, our perception was magnified, but only so much.” It was like I was seeing through every eye on the planet at once, overlapped yet distinct.
“We spent 15 variants doing nothing but perfecting the tech, and now we indirectly use the White as a lens. Everything, everywhere, at all times.” Back to the kitchen.
“My brain aches.”
“Seriously – staring at everything for even a few moments, without the right filters, will destroy you. Don’t worry – you don’t have permissions to do that on your own, at least not yet.”
“Anyway, food! Please.”
“Yeah. Get dressed, and we’ll go out for breakfast. Real food, and not just phantoms – you’ll need a fuckton of calories from now on.”
“But you threw out all of my clothes – even the dress I came back to the flat in.”
“In the red bag is your data suit, and a surprise.”
It was still in the middle of the living room – I went over to it, and zipped it open. Inside, machine wrapped in plastic, were the same kind of A-shirt and panties that she constantly wore.
“Back in the day, the essential circuit cloth was from ankle to wrist to neck, like a cotton-mesh scuba suit. Now, we only need to cover you from Muladhara to Anahata.”
As I put the underwear on, my being snapped to attention.
“The OS is built into you, but you still need applications. Many are in the cloud, but some you have to wear.”
My senses started to fill with structured data, like I was booting up for the first time.
“Over the next few weeks, I’ll help you order a few outfits – we have a secret supply chain throughout Southeast Asia, from the data thread and circuit fabs, to our haute couture designers. Until then, I have a few things for you to pick from. Plus, this….”
She walked over to the bag, and zipped open an outer compartment. Pulled out a puffy, plastic shipping envelope, and gave it to me.
As soon as I touched it, I already knew what was inside – I could sense it. Phone’s hooded jacket with the Intruder Alert! patch.
Tore it open and hugged it to my chest, sniffing the collar. He was still there.
“Go ahead, put it on.”
My right arm went through a sleeve, and I could suddenly think in Japanese.
My left arm went through, and I knew the names and faces of every resident of Tokyo.
I put on the hood, and I could see myself at the concert, staring at Satomi from Die Database.
She was etched, from forehead to knee.
“What am I seeing?”
“We still don’t know. She has Collective tech, but it’s completely inactive. She doesn’t even seem to know it’s there.”
Under the hood, she was starting to play the bass line to Massive Cloud Burst Theme. I was so close that I could feel the monitors vibrate.
“We didn’t know it was there – she’s not one of us.”
I was staring at her dancing fingers. She didn’t notice me one bit.
“We just wanted Phone to get close enough to physically breach her data aura, and he did. Then he went offline.”
I could see Yuma in her white kimono, waving the solar scepter to the beat.
Masae was on cloud nine, hitting the snares like invading cockroaches.
And Satomi, sweet Satomi, in her frilly, violet Shigai dress… the more I looked at her, the more I wanted to kill her.
Susanna slipped the hood off my head, and sighed.
“Phone’s jacket was corrupted, made sick by what we think was a self-organizing aerosol. It literally re-wrote the circuits and memory in a matter of minutes.”
I took it off, and I still wanted to kill her, to throw her into the sun.
“Once you’re trained, we’re going to find out who did this to him. To us.”
The jacket was on the floor. Why did I still want to destroy her?
“And as for Satomi….” She pulled out a Die Database T-Shirt, and gave it to me. “We need you to rejoin the Fan Cloud.”
I’m listening to Knee right now, streamed into my ears from who knows where, as I dictate (cogitate?) this blog post.
It’s been a whole day, and I’m still under that hood, ready to take a swing.
I’m suddenly desperate to kill my idols – what have I gotten myself into?