Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 4

Excerpt the fourth. Tell me what you think, good or bad.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My apartment was on the fifth floor of a building a few blocks away from the docks. “New Eden Suites” was written in bright green neon letters over the double doors that led into the lobby. It wasn’t always called that, not when I first moved in more than ten years earlier. But once the government fell and the group of rebels took over everything and declared that we all now lived in New Eden, the owners of my building got caught up in the excitement and renamed the place. I didn’t care, though. My stuff was here and the rent didn’t change.

There is an older gentleman who can’t sleep. At least he told me that’s why I always saw him when I came in at night. A nice guy. Never said more than a few words to me.

“Good morning, Mr. Rexall,” he said every night I came in late.

“Please,” I’d say to him, “call me Weber.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Rexall.”

That was it. Our entire exchange every night. Always the same. He always made me smile and he was there when I got home carrying my haul from Raul’s. I smiled as I climbed the stairs to my place.

In the past I would have plugged in as soon as I was inside my apartment. There was a wire straight from the wall, added as a convenience years before I moved in. Easy data access for anyone with a terminal. I’d had it converted to my own personal hot jack. Plug in. Heat up. Pass out.

It started as tingle near the port where the wire connected to the arm. Like something crawling under your skin. It quickly turned to a burn that rushed across the entire body, and for a few minutes it was uncomfortable. You felt like you wanted to pull off your skin. But if you could wait, if you could push through the hurt, your body would settle into the rush of data that was assaulting every last nerve, and your body calmed. You couldn’t hear anything. You couldn’t think anything. You just were. And for your time on the wire you didn’t have to deal with life now, or remember life in the past. All of those things you’d seen or done were gone. They weren’t affecting you anymore. That was the appeal. That’s why so many soldiers were the first to abuse the technology.

The wire that everyone referred to is the one from your port to your brain. Not the one from the source to your port, although that’s what most people thought. It’s an understandable confusion.

It was a procedure developed by a team of Dutch doctors and scientists. How it worked I couldn’t tell you, but it’s made up of three parts.

There is the port. It’s typically inserted into the arm, but really it could go anywhere. The older a person was the more discrete their port. The younger, the more visible. Many kids were opting for a port in the neck. The theory was that the shorter the distance from the port to the brain, the more intense the sensation. How much more intense the sensation needed to be, I wasn’t sure.

The second element was the wire itself. It’s a fine piece of microfilament that ran from the port to the third element, the net.

A net, also made of microfilament, was woven into the different parts of the head. The digital came into the port, ran along the wire, and was dumped into the brain.
The original applications were military. Soldiers were given their mission details with the port. They’d plug in at night and wake the next morning with their orders and all pertinent background information.

The original ports came with a governor that limited the flow of data to the brain. Those were cracked soon after ports were approved for commercial use.

Mine was a military unit, first generation. Got it cracked in a small computer shop two blocks from base as soon as I was discharged. Done by a hack in a back room. Me laying on a table and him plugging a beaten up laptop into my port.

He punched some keys and I laid there and felt the flush of digital for the first time. It started with a tingle that ran up my arm and into my shoulder. It crossed over to my neck and then into my head. It became an intense heat that left me dizzy and light headed.

From my head, it ran down my chest, past my waist, and into my toes. For the first time I felt my head tip back and my mouth drop open. I could no longer think. Nothing was in my head. All the things I had seen and done had been replaced by the heat of the data.

After thirty minutes and twenty bucks I was on the wire.

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