Breathe slowly, breathe low.

Anaesthesia in darkness – I can’t feel anything –



I’ve been anaesthetised to keep me quiet and still. I can’t feel, but I can still see.

Kaire felt her body starting to neutralise the anaesthetic and stopped it; she couldn’t afford to be distracted by pain. She started counting to ten, ready to open her eyes – not the eyes in her head, but the vision built by her connection to the Librais. Hooking a living mind to a machine’s interior was all about analogy, the Greater Powers had said, about transmuting the senses from one thing to another. Usually she had no time for such ideas: her business was always with the here and now, not supposition, but she had to admit that sometimes it had its uses.

She looked up.

She was standing in the middle of a long corridor, which apparently stretched to infinity in either direction and was as high as a cathedral vault. The walls and floor were pure white and all motive, creeping with lines of text and random data back and forth. Along its length, Kaire could see that the walls were pierced with what looked like archways, adding to the cathedral illusion. When she looked at each one, she got not only the visual image but an idea of what lay beyond it, mostly a random burst of information.

/well here you are
/little nuisance
/how do you like it so far

Kaire folded her arms. She could feel the pressure of this place, of the Librais itself trying to push her out of a physical projection and bury her consciousness in its own, but ignored it. “Like it or not, I’m not going to be in here long enough for it to bother me.”

/i’ve heard bravado before
/it never seems to last

In front of her, a cloud of code emerged midair, in the shape of a human’s face, horribly contorted by screaming.

/most people give it up sooner or later
/but it’s not bravado for you
/you genuinely believe it
/don’t you
/that’s interesting
/what are you

“Someone who is more than a nuisance,” Kaire replied. Slowly…slowly. You’re already pretty integrated with this thing. Keep yourself separate.

/why so coy
/from what i can see your mind is blood and steel
/like mine

“You have your secrets – I have mine.”

/suit yourself
/you’ll have plenty of time to change your mind
/we’re going to be together a while



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