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| There Ain't No Justice |
| #23 |
- A Mind's Eye View of Paradise -
Chetter was surrounded. He could see evil eyes peering around the
rocks at him, feel the chill sensation of being watched from behind. He
held his crossbow at ready, his trigger finger tensed in anticipation of
the battle to come. He'd be damned if he'd go down without a fight.
A crude trumpet sounded, and they all charged at once. As he fired an
arrow into an attacker's eye, Chetter detatchedly identified them as
kobolds. Before he could reload his weapon they were nearly upon him. He
drew his sword and hacked away, but there were too many of them. The chief
kobold watched with a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes as the human was
hacked to pieces. The reward would be worth the loss of a few warriors.
The words "Game Over" flashed before Chetter's eyes. He thought to
himself, "Damn...and I was doing so well that time." He found himself in a
circular room with powder-blue walls. Four tall doors were set into the
wall, one in each cardinal direction. They were marked "Edit Character",
"Begin Campaign", "Combat Room", and "Exit". Chetter decided on the exit
He floated out of the pink glowing cube that was Dungeonworld. Various
smooth and faceted shapes of various colors and textures hung at crazy
angles over the black and white tile floor. Balls of light flitted between
them, occasionally stopping and congregating in small groups. He decided to
head for the Underground Bar and Grill, an obsidian shark's tooth just over
the horizon to the east. He launched himself toward it in a simple
ballistic parabola and prepared to enjoy the view.
Within moments Chetter arrived. He thought-projected his personal
password at it, then phased directly inside. Donning his favorite body, a
six-foot-tall blue-eyed blond with short straight hair and large muscles,
he stepped up to the bar. A stool grew out of the floor for him, and he sat
on it. The room was filled with smoke and loud industrial music, and happy
people of various shapes, sizes, and colors. He spotted a Wookie, a
Klingon, someone who looked exactly like Zaphod Beeblebrox, several humans
of unusual coloration, and a kzin standing in a circle talking.
The bartender was a tall gangly green alien, all skin and bones. He
had beady black eyes set under a prominent brow, a broad flat nose, and a
thin lipless mouth. His excellence at his work was partially accounted for
by his four six-fingered arms, each with two opposable thumbs, one on each
edge. The fact that he had fed a bar computer's database into his brain
also made a bit of difference. Noticing Chetter, he walked over and asked
what he'd like to order. Chetter decided on the usual, a Pan-Galactic
Gargle Blaster with a twist of lemon.
Just then, a tall dark man jumped off the balcony. A woman screamed.
The bartender yelled, "Don't anybody panic! He does that every week."
Chet was sipping his PGG, beginning to enjoy himself, when a large
black man walked up to him. Recognizing the personal signature, he greeted
his friend Alin with a handshake.
"Ah. A handshake. I haven't had one of those in a long time. They're
kind of out of style this century."
"Well I like them, and I'll be damned if any social trend will stop me
from using them. Say, did you adsorb this month's Tomorrow Tech Journal?"
"No, can't say that I have. What was the cover story this issue?"
Chetter's eyes literally glowed with excitement. "Pseudoreality they
call it. It's a brand new technology. They are attempting to use computers
and other devices to create imaginary worlds and make them seem real. It
would be like being really 'in' a book or a fancy arcade game. You could
sense the personal signatures and everything, once they get this technology
to its full potential. Maybe new senses could even be created, unlike
anything we can possibly imagine!"
Alin was not nearly so impressed. "Yeah, I heard of it."
"There was a kind of interesting sidebar on people's reactions to
pseudoreality. There's some kind of new religion or philosophy or something
starting because of it. They claim that the REAL world, the one we live in,
is actually some kind of pseudoreality somewhere else."
"What nonsense. I always ignore those crazy cults myself. Always
coming up with some new far-out idea, just to attract more acolytes."
"Yeah. Well, I've got to split. I need to get some dreaming in by next
cycle, or I won't be able to sunction on my work-shift."
"See ya Chet. Nice talking to you."
Chetter withdrew, laughing to himself that anyone would think that the
world was in a COMPUTER.
In another universe, on an obscure, seemingly lifeless hulk of a
planet, a trillion trillion tiny beams of light flickered in unison with
the laughter as Chetter drifted off to sleep.
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