Lovers in a Dangerous Time

She sleeps while he works.

He’s got his mind on her—one with her, joined at the nexus where two minds meet. He can visualize the highway between them: the In-SeyeT detailing a webbed pairing of LED veins connected by a single tightrope wire, like two ballroom dancers leaning as far from one another as possible without breaking the link—hands held tight, their fingers incestuously interwoven where what’s wanted meets what’s not.

The Twenty-Second Century man opens her from the brain all the way down to the space between her legs, sitting in the comfort of his apartment half a city away. He pulls apart grey matter with a pinch of two virtual fingers, peeling back the grape skin of layered memories one at a time, carefully, delicately.

“Carro, I told you not to touch that.”

“Carro, honey, can you run to the store for me?”

“Your teacher wants to see us. Do you know what this is about?”

“We’re so proud of you.”

“Carro, baby, you know I love you.”

“Where were you last night?”

“Why won’t you talk to me?”

“What have I done to deserve this?”

“Answer me, damn it!”

A snapshot matrix of history, thousands of points on a linear trajectory sliding down the highway as he travels deeper and deeper into the grey.

Who she was.

Who she is.

Who she told him she always wanted to be.

With an open palm grasp, he pulls aside a mass of layered memories all at once, reaching down through the web framework of her Accent-Life AI, breaking the accumulated knowledge into pieces and moving it all into separate quadrants: what was understood and what wasn’t; what was known and what had been hidden away.

It is the latter that is of the most interest to him: the literal interpretation of vague half-truths and details that had been barely alluded to in their time together. He had known only suggestive material at best; with these facts, however, the In-SeyeT highway provided the means and information needed to weaponize his next move.

Settling back on the couch in his apartment half a city away, the Twenty-Second Century cast-off brings both tracking hands up into the eyes of the virtual interface. He works his fingers into the framework of her Accent-Life AI and its subordinate clauses. The remote dirty hack allows him full visualization through the In-SeyeT integration of their minds, but only for as long as she remains sleeping. If she were to wake at any point during the incursion, she’d instantly trigger to the unfamiliar treading through her files and reflex-sever the connection.  A hard cut of the In-SeyeT highway could leave them both as horror-show veggies. It would need to be a soft slice if they were to survive, like a hot blade through melted butter.

He moves fast, rearranging the layered skin of her memories until revealing a clean shot at the core. He magic wand-waves one hand over the other and pulls a squirming, wriggling live-wire worm from the closed fist, inserting it at the base of her Accent-Life AI’s strata—a restorative prompt that would wipe his presence from her memories. The worm suctions to the associative memory layers of the Accent-Life AI and begins to feed, devouring so much data in such a short time that he fears the worm might break through the strata without his permission, making short work of the grey matter’s organic structure.

The live-wire worm continues to grow with every file it feeds upon. It is terrorizing the AI’s strata, bleeding the lines between the artifice and the organic.

She’ll prioritize, he tells himself. The mind—the true mind—will acclimatize to the attack, saving itself from further damage and excising the Accent-Life AI in the process. Her connective tissue, that which links her to the rest of her world and those in it, could be replaced—with him implanted as an unknown, as planned.

The worm doubles in size again, growing larger with each second, every byte enforcing its virility. He watches from the safety of his apartment half a city away, helpless to stop the very worm he has unleashed as it crashes her AI’s strata, the artifice collapsing in on itself as she continues to sleep the sleep of the dead. Realizing that the live-wire worm has gone beyond his control, he tries to trip her security measures, to wake her, warning her of the worm’s unexpected strength. But it is already too late—the strata is gone, and the In-SeyeT visualization is crumbling into a waterfall of diminishing ones and zeros.

The live-wire worm’s survival mechanism is almost too fast–the neural interloper severs the In-SeyeT highway’s connection just as the segmented arbiter of destruction visualizes his web interface from the dead end of the link.

Broke the trance: the Twenty-Second Century rapist pulls his mind out of its inverted visualization, trapping the ravenous digital annelid on a broken highway from nowhere, to nowhere. He peels the nodes from either side of his sweaty temple. His hands are still wired in—tendons of light tracing the outline of every joint in each finger as he disengages all connectivity.

She still sleeps in her loft half a city away, unaware that her connectivity has been compromised—dismantled by a worm of discontentment and obsession. Whether or not the damage has bled into the organic isn’t known. He’s afraid to find out, wondering how much of her would be left to piece back together when all is said and done. Mostly he wonders whether or not it worked—if she would even remember him if she passed him on the street.

But she’s been imprinted in his mind—everything she ever was, would be, or wanted to be. What she hid and what she didn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

The Twenty-Second Century lover knows no boundaries, because there are none that can’t be crossed.

He’s got his mind on her.

She’s the woman of his dreams.


>>First Published: 69 Flavors of Paranoia, August 2010

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