Genre Science Fiction. Page - 1
THE ONLY WAY OUT IS AWAKE.
Omni Systems, the world’s largest tech company, has discovered a way to combine lucid dreaming with the experience of RPG and virtual communities. They select five young adults from across the globe to take part in the trial run of the revolutionary technology, SKYE.
A backpacker, a pro gamer, a veterinary student, a fitness motivator, and a brittle bone disease survivor; these five individuals must learn to harness their imaginations and innate mana, which take the guise of guardian spirits called Anima. The Imagineers, as they’re fondly dubbed by the press, will journey through the highly unpredictable environment of their collective dream to meet a mystical character known as Atom the God of Creation.
ou're saying, Jason?" asked his father sharply as he brought the little oil lamp from the sitting room into the kitchen. Mrs. Wilkins followed. This was a detestable job, the sorting of the donation debris, and was best gotten through with, at once. Jason, shading the candle light from his eyes, with one slender hand, looked at his father belligerently.
"I was saying," he said, "that it was too bad you don't have to wear some of the old rags sometimes, then you'd know how mother and I feel about donation parties."
There was absolute silence for a moment in the little kitchen. A late October cricket chirped somewhere.
Then, "O Jason!" gasped his mother.
The boy was only twelve, but he had been bred in a difficult school and was old for his years. He looked again at the heaps of cast-off clothing on the floor and his gorge rose within him.
"I tell you," he cried, before his father could speak, "that I'll never wear another donation party pair of pants. No, nor a shirt-tail shi
d, offering his earphones to Dr. Shalt, who grabbed for them hurriedly. The scientist raised the cups to his ear and waited. The room fell into deeper silence.
"Yes, yes, it's the voice! Turn up the resonator to full volume! We've got it! The voice is completing the circuit!" Dr. Shalt said tensely.
The technician turned another dial as far as it would go. The sound of the static rose to a roar. Then abruptly the static broke, died out and a strange new sound came in. It was Spud! Spud's voice creeping back from a trip to Mars, thirty-five million miles away!
"Hello.... This is the voice of Spud O'Malley. I speak to you from Harlow Field in the United States of America. My voice is being sent to you by a newly invented Amplification Unit developed by Dr. Paul Shalt at this experimental base. This is the first time such an operation has ever been tried. We extend our heartiest greetings, our deepest felicitations ..."
It went on, the high, squeaking voice, friendly, humorou
to do, but it took more guts that he had to jump off a bridge, so he went on the Road instead.
After he got over his shakes--and he sure had 'em bad--he decided that, if he never took another drink, it'd be the best thing for him. So he didn't. He had a kind of dignity, though, and he could really talk, so he and I teamed up during the wheat harvest in South Dakota. We made all the stops and, when we hit the peaches in California we picked up Sacks and Dirty Pete.
Sacks got his monicker because he never wore shoes. He claimed that gunny-sacks, wrapped around his feet and shins, gave as much protection and more freedom, and they were more comfortable, besides costing nix. Since we mostly bought our shoes at the dumps, at four bits a pair, you might say he was stretching a point, but that's one of the laws of the Road. You don't step on the othe
I said, "Fine, go ahead. About your resignations--"
Mel said something indistinguishable--I'd caught him on a bite of steak.
Hazel, belligerent, demanded: "Are you asking us to resign?"
Apparently I wasn't. So they stuck, and another crisis was met. Unfortunately, by then, I'd forgotten the shock and warning I got from the cat.
* * * * *
Things moved swiftly, more easily. The GG took over, becoming, in effect, my staff. They'd become more: five different extensions of me, each capable of acting correctly. As a team, they meshed beautifully.
Too beautifully, at one point. Dex and Hazel were seeing eye-to-eye, even in the dark, and I worried about the effect on the others. I might as well have worried about the effect of a light bulb on the sun. They married or some such, refused time off, and the GG functioned, if anything, better. It was almost indecent the way the five got along together.
A new problem arose: temperature. We weren't repr
Number Four changed by the addition of an extra latrine for the second floor. Females on the first, juvenile delinquents on the second.
Bennington had learned to move like a ghost, move quietly or die, on the almost forgotten battlefields of a police action in Korea. He had had a post-graduate course in the South-East Asian jungles. On the Chilean desert he had added to his skills.
He moved now as he had then.
But there was little reason for caution. The guards were too busy collecting their fees, the juvenile delinquents were too busy acting as ushers, with even the sex deviates from Number Three busy.
The customers, of course, were far too interested in what they were buying.
And there was nothing to be done tonight. Bennington snarled to himself, as he carefully made his way back to the house.
But tomorrow morning....
* * * * *
A good breakfast inside of him, the early morning sun brightening the scene before him, not even combined could t