This is an alternate reality, Phillippe reminded himself, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. He had to keep affirming this in his mind, or he could easily step on one of two related but opposite landmines: he could fail to take the dangers here seriously and thus perish at their hand, or he could become too invested in them and become trapped by the logic of this place. He had to be vigilant during his stay.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the province, Sam skulked along on the sidewalk as traffic zipped by at its usual frenetic clip. Sam and Phillippe were ostensibly here together, but rarely interacted in this timeline in order to avoid being taken for coconspirators. Which of course they were, but conspiracies are more effective when their members work autonomously. Still, it made her feel anxious and alone.
Since they had uncovered the portal, everything had felt this way for both of them. The growing wave of their budding romance had been put on the back burner as they first doubted what they had seen, then came to investigate its workings, and finally learned to manipulate its effects in order to try and set things right. It had been almost a year since they stumbled upon the phenomenon — far too long. Continue Reading
The sign blinked insistently, making Fredd really anxious. Not that he needed any help — the whole stupid affair had him on serious edge already anyway. But that damn sign, over and over again: “Please insert 20 cents to continue the session.” Without this, the gate would close and the drones would arrive. He had surfaced just long enough to access the net, thinking that he could send a message to the nearby cell, but now he was a dollar short (actually just a pair of dimes) and a day late. Who would’ve thought that things could get so bad that some loose change would make all the difference? Frantically, Fredd fumbled in his pants, realizing in this moment that his very life hung in the balance…
Ever since the rise of the Fascinistas, Lupita had been in hiding — well almost, seeing as there wasn’t really anywhere to hide from the pervasive grid, at least on anything more than a short-term basis. As it became clear that politics was literally a popularity contest, barely an inch removed from celebrity culture and the world of infotainment, all bets were off in terms of even the pretense of stability and integrity. If there was a particular dog to wag, or a specific candidate even worth imputing Manchurianess to, she would have done so. But this was bigger than that, she thought, as she jumped from the emergency terrace down into the half-filled dumpster, heart pounding out a staccato rhythm… Continue Reading