World’s apart

Little orange flares lit the sky. Imminent danger. A shiver broke across his spine, turning into a physical vibration across his body. His teeth began chattering in a little buzz. It wasn’t just the fear. The damn cold too. It was close to freezing and a wind had picked up.

Far, he could see the coming ship, up there in the dark night sky. It’s lights blinked in their sentient, organic waves signalling hope.

Yet, hope he didn’t have. That was a slippery slope. He willed for more of it.

His feet buzzed urgently, indicating approaching enemy — those of the orange flares. A weird robotic bark rose above the howl of the wind.

It was getting colder. The ship was now resolving itself in the night sky — that was the good news.

His wrist implant buzzed, indicating imminent danger. “Proceed quickly towards the river. Highest probability of survival”, said a voice in his ear.

Probability. Every moment of his life has been about how probable it was that it’d continue. At this point, it was frankly nonsense. Hadn’t he survived every such moment till date?. What did it mean to him if this time it was a weak 30% even if he went to the river?

The river had cyber eels. He would be knowingly going into the danger. But his Hub would have known that. It had calculated the odds.

The ship was now close. Maybe, he could escape this time. The synthetic water would even keep him breathing for a cool 30 minutes. But he had a few minutes at most — before the eels picked up the thermal dissonance and crowded to him.

Behind him, the sound of an oncoming sound barrier startled him. He’d never get used to that deep machine bass that pricked at the base of his spine.

He ran towards the river. The ground beneath him began to shake with the sound of the approaching ship. The only ship that could penetrate the Earth defence shield and enter at will. A ship that didn’t exist, as far as the borgs were concerned. It was will. And desire. A bending of mind that they never seemed to get.

The water splashed against his boots noiselessly. He dipped in and waited. The ship was now right above him. He could see it. He closed his eyes and focussed.

A little army came from the land. Rovers, drones and tentacled machine spiders. They saw in the water and scurried towards, their insectile machine buzz penetrating his ears. He was feeling dizzy. He had to focus.

“Beam me up, Scotty”

The phrase from centuries old myth percolated in his mind. He had to do it.

A beam flickered from the ship. It was too weak. He focused harder despite the rising drone of machine muffling. A darkness was spreading in his brain — one that would soon devour it completely.

He sent a final burst of imagination, powerful enough to make the beam glow intensely. The drone fired at him, a lethal energy beam that hit at the farthest atom of his hairless skin.

But nothing more. He was in the ship and sailing away. The machines stood around the empty lake, confused.

Matter and energy still ruled them. It would take them a while to figure that there was something beyond. A world of will and hope. Imaginations and illusions to hide in.

Soon, they’d figure that too. But until then, humanity would slip and slide between the worlds that existed in the mere folds of the succulent grey goo in their heads.