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[It's time Kay] I knew it was time, I had to go back in. I'd been procrastinating, distracting myself, going back to the datastream, to him, had been gnawing on me, haunting me, I had to face the fear of going back again, the uncertainty, trepidation. If pain was the blueprint of our system then fear was definitely a background programme constantly running, sometimes coming to the forefront to overwrite whatever it wanted, controlling, seizing, maintaining the status quo.
I had no idea what I was going to tell the commander, I'll skate by on some half-baked lie again no doubt. I've given no one in PsyCorps, Sector 9 or the commander any reason to question my motives, slipping under the radar may be possible.
I go down at night when I'm least likely to be called out on a job, the place still reeks of piss, I suppose that's something units get used to in time. There's a moment of hesitation, I feel that stomach-wrenching sick feeling that comes when danger is close. My senses are all online, I can see, smell, hear everything in my surrounding, so when the Rivian appeared in the portalway I was stood next to I was startled and reached for his throat. Realising who it was I released him immediately.
"Fuck, you had my arm last time, I thought you were going to take my head this one".
I glanced at his replacement arm, upcycled old shit. "Sorry about that, first time jitters".
"You here to renter or bust it open?" He enquired.
"Plug me in Geralt".
"Who?" His puzzled look made me remember I had a whole bibliotheca of shit most units don't register.
"Nevermind. Do we do this like last time?"
"No, we don't need the valerian this time, you're a willing participant. Upgrade!"
"Nevermind", he echoed my retort back to me.
He got out the catheter and I lay down, opened my legs and he lubricated the end and inserted it into the urethra. I felt a cold stream of liquid, the most bizarre sensation and then I began to enter the hypnagogic doorway.
"Aaahhh, that's better", the words manifested without vocalisation. I felt like I had connected to a very familiar feeling. Unlike the sensation I felt when coming out from the dreamscape this time it felt like an awakening, like the lights had been switched on and I could now see everything. I noted how strange it was because when in the outside I would never have registered the opacity of it unless I'd experienced this.
"Welcome home Kay".
I had no idea what that voice would do to me when I heard it again. Relief, a sense of coming home, a feeling of being safe. And also a feeling I couldn't quite define, or discriminate.
"I got lost on the way back here", I joked. I felt guilty for some reason, as though I owed him an explanation why I'd taken so long to return.
"You forget Kay, time works a little differently here. Eventually you begin to stop counting arbitrary minutes and hours. It's good to have you back".
"I wasn't sure if I would, if I could. Last time fucked me up".
"So, why are you back here?"
"To get fucked up".
I felt him laugh. It made no sound but it was like a spike of joy and amusement pervaded the dreamscape. It felt amazing.
"I'm not sure why I'm here, or what I am supposed to do here". I conveyed wordlessly to him as is the method of communication here.
"Kay, we need to get to work. You have much to do". His tone was soft, yet powerful and commanding. Fuck, I'd missed hearing that voice directly.
"You've left Plato's cave. Now you need to go back in eyes wide open. We need to expose the outside for what it is. A prison. And PsyCorps are the jailers".
I thought for a moment how everything I'd been led to believe was a lie. I'd been told the dreamscape was the corruption. It was exactly the opposite. I could see that now.
"Okay, tell me everything".