One night in January we heard from the television that there had been another attack on London. The only thing that the attackers had in common was that they had all been fitted with implants of the kind that Mona and myself now wore. They had all been tuned to OHD, a fundamentalist religious organisation now outlawed in the Eurasian Union.
“OHD?” I asked Mona.
“Organisation for Human Diversity,” she told me. “They’re basically the opposite of what the name says. They don’t want anyone to be augmented at all. They think it will turn us all crazy – ignoring the fact that they’re the crazy ones. Kind of funny, no? Computers have been around for about a hundred years without anyone losing their minds.”
“I suppose no one’s been plugged into the machine directly until now.”
“Well, they’re still luddites.”
“Those computers were non-invasive. There was always going to be a line – ”
“You’re beginning to sound like one of them. Are you sure you feel alright?”
“I’m pointing out there’s a difference. Manny at the phone company is a very strange man… I’m not sure if I trust him.”
“But you’re not having second thoughts about the process?”
“Just a few. It made those people go crazy. What if GloboDyne is testing us in some way? Some functionality they haven’t told us about yet.”
The phone company’s name was GloboDyne. I haven’t used their name in this story up until now as they probably don’t exist in your universe. It was common to see the advertising billboards for their cybernetic implants in our own version of London: “Another world is possible” was the line they used to sell their brave new future vision.
“The attackers were crazy because they didn’t want this. They knew that by getting the surgery and then going out and stabbing people they could make people blame the technology. It’s people who are to blame, J_____. It’s always people.”
“Yes, maybe. But – ”
“If you don’t want your cybernetic implant anymore just say.”
“OK. I -”
“God, I can’t believe you’re so fucking selfish J______. You’re not going to help me get my bonus for recruiting you? Just get out. If that’s how you feel, just go.”
“Is that the only thing I’m good for to you? Well fine. I don’t want to be here if you feel that way.”
I got my coat and went to the door of her apartment. It was one of those high-rise blocks, the brick and concrete boxes where you can’t have pets and children are illegal.
“Being married to technology has turned you into a cold hearted bitch,” I said, and slammed the door behind me.
These flats had been built to house the athletes during the last London Olympics. The exit was fourteen floors below me. The lift was coming up too slowly, so I kicked the fire extinguisher and set off down the stairwell. None of the many single people or couples in the serviced concrete boxes below even heard me go.
* * * * *
I headed back to the Spike where Manny had his laboratory and went into the lab using the access card he’d left me. “Come back any time,” he had told me. This seemed like as good a time as any.
The place was deserted, but the machines still hummed with a soft sub-sonic energy that made the whole building feel like you were inside some kind of living creature. Trying to remember the combination of buttons and switches I had seen Manny throw, I powered up the experimental matter transporter gate that I had seen him demonstrate before.
GloboDyne had wanted to employ me as one of their experiments. Now I had nothing else to live for, I had decided to use myself as a test subject of a different kind in the service of one of Manny’s insane inventions.
The portal glowed with an evil blue light. As I stepped through I saw the ad slogan of the phone company in the poster on the wall: “Another world is possible,” it told me. I stepped through and was atomised into a million-billion pieces…
And woke up in your world.
How I came to adapt to a new world and survive here, that is another story. Sometimes I wonder about what happened to Mona and the world I left behind. And some day, when we can build the technology to do it, perhaps I will go back there…