This is the prompt that I’m working on at the moment. It’s currently a WIP, but it’s getting there.
“Let’s wait three months and go to Octoberfest.”- The Professor, Futurama.
That’s a nice segueway right there.
A. The Professor is the protagonist of the story. He offers the narrative that moves things along.
A1. The crew is all dead. They died during the various adventures and he was unable to bring them back correctly.
The first few times he’d operated them like meat suits. There had been free-will algorithms running to keep things interesting, but it was basically like they were still normal. The personalities were intact. (Storyline A)
Then there had been more accidents. More terrible events that he probably could have stopped if he’d had time to think things through. But their adventures were always so fast moving. There was never a single moment to stop and take a breath. (Storyline B)
* * *
Storyline A —
A: In a future where human brains–the wetware part of the equation–are so closely tied to the hardware–the Great Machine State–that it’s near to impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. There comes a moment in time where there is no discernible difference between the organic brain and the vat-grown cyber-organic implants.
Legally and actually, a Consciousness is to receive the same treatment whether they are Bodied or Bodiless. There have been numerous instances of Damage reports filed against corporations and individuals that insist on flouting the law. They are fined, and their name goes on a list. Most don’t care to be caught again, and try to avoid it.
There is a list of Mentally Damaging Individuals. It’s a collection of all the reports filed across the two States of people that habitually abuse their employees or the people around them. The mods clip out the useless reports, keeping the serial offenders on their main page. It’s not an officially sanctioned site, but the government allows it.
INFO: The two States — Bodied and Bodiless. The Earth has been Unified for 15 years. There were some people that had known no different life.
* * *
Storyline B –
B: To eat a burrito and relax.
That was the only thing he wanted to do.
But life gets hard sometimes. One minute you’re going to school and getting an education, the next you’re standing in a convenience store about to be shot, your burrito still revolving around inside the microwave.
He stood with his arms loose at his sides, his hands palm-out and obviously not reaching. (B1)
B1: And damn did he want to reach for his gun. He could feel the weight of it right there, easily within his reach.
But there were civilians around. He didn’t trust himself not to get someone dead.
He was no hero.
He’d signed up for the Army straight out of high school, and it had been a last chance option for a registered fuck up. He’d been the kid that always got things wrong, and that included hanging out with the wrong influencers–the twins hadn’t gone to juvie, their daddy was much too rich for that.
No, he’d been the poverty kid, the one with no other choices: 2 months in juvie followed by two years in the Army, or 2 months in juvie followed by 25 years in the Richard Deacon Private Funded Correctional Facility of Fort Ima (or as others called it, Hell on Earth).
He’d done the Army thing and found that he liked the lifestyle. There was something about a more regimented schedule that agreed with him–his parents had been too slack with him. They would give him money and tell him to entertain himself while they lived their own lives. It took military training to have him waking up everyday with the confidence of knowing exactly where he was going and how he was going to get there.
And after the Army, he’d been recruited by the Project. (B2) He’d learned so many different things and fought in so many different scenarios. (B3)
His life had ballooned out into something larger than any dreams he’d once had.
He’d somehow lucked out into the perfect life for him. He had no idea how it’d happened, but he’d somehow lucked into the perfect life for him. It was as though every person and place had been crafted together just for him. (B4)
B2: He wasn’t supposed to know, but it was some kind of gateway to other worlds. They were still speculating on whether it only visited alternate Earths, or if those were actually other planets out in the universe. Which raised some serious concerns about parallel evolution.
Because either every race out there developed human characteristics naturally, or someone had been doing some tinkering.
B3: Dream manipulation. Dream thieves.
People that could reach right into your brain and pluck out the first thought you’d ever had. It was an exciting and terrifying new technology. It was also highly illegal to anyone that hadn’t earned their certification in safe Dreaming.
Bands of so-called Rogues dig into peoples’ heads and steal the secrets they find inside. The criminals make life hard for legal Dreamers.
B4: The last thing Tyler had ever wanted to do was rob a convenience store. But it was the only way to get Alphard to wake up from his Occluded state.
Tyler had been sent into the Dream world to try and talk Alphard into hitting his Eject Button.
If things worked out, Alphard would hit his Button, his Consciousness would return to his Body, and he would wake up. But if things went bad, the doctors were talking about doing a hard reboot, hoping that the momentary Body death would jerk Alphard’s Consciousness back where it belonged.
Tyler had seen what happened to some people after they’d been rebooted. Even the ones that suffered the least trauma still seemed different, changed.
Dying did something to a person. And coming back only solidified the changes and made them real.
Tyler didn’t want Alphard to go through a reboot. Not if he was available to fix things.
Which was why he was standing in a convenience store in an eerily cheery small town with a gun in his hand. He needed to add some conflict to Alphard’s Dream. It was the easiest way to kickstart Alphard’s mind before the approach and the reveal.
Tyler didn’t want to see the guy’s brain implode. Not only would it be terrible to Alphard’s mental state, but being caught in a collapsing Dream was a terrifying thing.
The oldtimers tried to say that Dreams were not real and couldn’t hurt people, but Tyler had to disagree. Even if there were no physical wounds, a person’s Consciousness could be damaged. He’d seen the tattered holes punched through his own soul; the spots where his armor hadn’t held.
Early Dream tech had let people make mistakes and experiment. Modern Dream tech could nearly take someone’s head off with its power and intensity.
Tyler had his settings turned down by default. But young kids–and Alphard–tended to crank the synch settings to max so they could fully experience the false reality of the Dreaming. In most scenarios, the person has a hard time telling Dream from reality and ends up either cutting off Dreamtime and going to rehab, or fully integrating into the Dual State.
And then there was Alphard’s situation. His stupidly deadly situation that could have so easily been avoided with the use of some common sense.
When this was all over (B5), Tyler would be having a serious talk to Alphard. He had already started semi-planning out the things he would say.
He refused to think that he might fail to get Alphard home. He had to believe that everything would work out.
“All right, this is a stick up!” he called out loudly.
He would be the best antagonist Alphard had ever known. And he would get his sorta-friend to wake up.
B5: When this is all over, if this is all over, I’m going to be a better person. The sort of person that other people look up to and admire.
I’d bought my Dream Box secondhand, and I can tell why the original owner had sold it. There were some definite slippages happening with the synch guides.
I wasn’t too worried (they’re just Dreams. There’s nothing there that can hurt me), but it’s weird to have the sensitivity jump from medium-soft to extra-hard, full-contact levels.
It’s lucky that I don’t enjoy horror mods or activity mods. Having full sensory input while undergoing a murder scene would be horrible. I don’t even like watching that kind of thing as a specter. Being actually hurt, even with the safety features to keep the pain from getting too real, was not something I was into.
In fact, I’d been prescribed Dreamtime to help with my social anxiety.
I’m supposed to interact with the Simulicra of a socializing mod. They’re to teach me how to be a normal person, and I’m supposed to show improvement at my next mental health review.
If things go well, I’ll be getting out. Back on the street where I belong, with real people and real situations, and food that doesn’t come out of a tube.
When this is all over, I am going to buy a real meal in a real restaurant. I am going to enjoy every single bite and reaffirm that the flavors I crave aren’t just from my imagination.
I am ready to really live my life.