Monday, February 28, 2011
The transport hyper-magnetized and accelerated over the grid. Ferric pylons blurred past the windows. Line crisscrossed 100,000 meters below.
The flight lieutenants on grid transports were trainees. They liked to throttle it maximum on approach. Killing these passengers wouldn’t be much of a loss anyway. Better to weed out the weak pilots on these sorts of missions.
Edric noticed the passenger across the aisle was sweating heavily. His eyes ticked in hyper-diagonals as he looked far below. The grid did that to the brain. Edric saved himself the ocular scrambles and kept his attention boxed inside the transport.
“Looks different in person, doesn’t it?” Edric said. “The grid, I mean.”
The man swallowed and hyper-nodded. Drops of sweat hit his tunic and darkened in.
“Looks kind of tiny from way up here, doesn’t it? But it’s not like that down there. Trust me. Not small at all.”
The truth was, nothing prepared you for the grid. Miles and miles of silicon meta-metals, trans-circuitry, and hyperized hyper-voltage. Each grid block could hold a city, and only very fine coordination could jump you from one to another. Only half of the passengers figured out how do it. The rest would watch at least one appendage go sizzilite.
“You’ve never been to the grid,” Edric said, a little bit joking, a little bit patronizing. “Of course, no one comes off the grid, do they? At least not the way they go in.”
The grid wasn’t the hyper-posh colony promised to these passengers. No one even had to tell them. All you had to do was look at it. The eerie blue and weird pulsations. Maybe it was the ghosts of the billions who died there. The visceral dread sucked at your innards even this far away.
But the grid was good. Over-population was a vicious disease, and the grid produced unmatched power bands and tons of trace elementals. Funny how the human flesh collected all sorts of interesting and exotic things. Plus it burned into ionized steam rather well. Sizzilite, hyper-plus.
“I, however, know the grid intimately,” Edric said, “I’ve been there scores of times.”
The man’s eyes stretched even wider.
“Prodder-First Class,” Edric said, introducing himself. “Pleasure to meet you.”
The man didn’t take the offered hand.
Truth was that not every single passenger went straight sizzilite and fed the grid. A few fought the grid insanity and learned that the resonance was lowest in the middle. They curled up there nice and small to fight the cold. It was the Prodders who came in hover pods and moved them along. With a bit of encouragement, even the stubborn ones went sizzilite.
Edric leaned over. “You know, just a little friendly advice. Just get it over with fast. Go for the the gridlines. Sizzilite isn’t so bad. One good jump and get the whole body in. Don’t play on the grid. I’ve seen the ones who try to stay.”
Edric slapped him on the shoulder.
“Anyway, it would be a shame to meet again. Especially for you.”
Edric checked the window. The grid loomed large. A steady stream of transports lined to the edge of sight.
“Ten minutes to landing,” Edric said.
He could already see grid effect in the man’s face.
Gnashed teeth. Hyper-blinking.
When the doors popped, the man would fly out and hit the nearest gridline. Good for him.
Of course, once in a while the grid didn’t unwire someone. Almost like the resonance in the person and the grid beat the same time and frequencies. Once in a while the grid felt pretty good. To one passenger in 100 million. They recruited them. Who better to work the grid? Who better to survive it?
The best of the best even managed to make it to the top. Mercy killers, really. Not murderers.
So what if the grid felt good?
Edric, Prodder-First Class.
(Photo taken in the bathroom of Mythos restaurant in Universal Resort, Islands of Adventure. Yes, that's right next to the Harry Potter section! What can I say. I was using the most of my, um, time.)