Images & Words: Void the Light

Images & Words: Void the Light – Part 3


Image
Garden by Jung Park

Words
Neal Ulen

When : Where
269 DE (2579 CE) : Infinispace / Pinnacle City


Void the Light info:

This is part of a first draft novella entitled “Void the Light” that takes place in my Infinispace Universe.

The novella is set about 15 years before the events of “Infinispace: Deception” and is approximately 30,000 words in length. It will be posted in serialized format.

If you’d like to start at the beginning, click this link.

Preceded by Void the Light – Part 2.
A faint rustling sound whispered far above my head and a warmth touched my face. A breeze. It smelled sweet and cool and moist … the only words I could put to it, as I’d never experienced it before.

I slowly opened my eyes and quickly lost my breath.

A lush sea of life surrounded me. The stone bench I was sitting on was surrounded by so many shades of green that my eyes ached to see them. Trees swayed overhead casting swirling shadows in the manicured grass. Flowering shrubs lined a crushed stone path winding through the … park? Only a handful of revered and ancient trees existed in the entire Tangle. Tiny islands of life in a sea of despair. We enshrined those precious few trees and the were doted over by ancient crones who were self-appointed caretakers. What surrounded me was nothing short of opulent and indulgent ecology.

Towering over the expanse of the park were monolithic blocks jutting directly out of the turf, forest, and even the water of large ponds I saw in the distance. Windows and observation decks adorned all the structures, and inside I could see people milling about. These structures were as large as any I’d ever seen in the Tangle, but I saw no sign of the Techspire reaching for the sky though any of the surrounding flora.

Clearly I was no longer in the Tangle.

The sun continued to shine through the trees and warm my face. I reached up to assess the ruin caused when I’d collapsed to the rough stone of the Exchange.

Nothing. No blood. No disfigurement. No soreness.

“It’s a miracle is it not? Well, at least from your perspective?”

The voice came from an elderly man who suddenly appeared, shuffling down the path toward me, his grey locks and loose fitting clothing fluttering in the breeze. Clasped under his right arm he carried a small notebook that appeared to have sheaves of paper haphazardly jutting from it. His demeanor was not threatening. If anything his presence made me feel strangely at ease in the foreign surroundings I found myself.

“My face? Yes, how is my face not damaged?” I inquired.

“No, no, not your face,” he replied as he approached closer. “This.” He waved his free hand at the surrounding park and structures.

I looked around in amazement again. “What part of the Tangle am I in? Where am I?”

He only smiled as he stopped next to the bench. We stared at each other awkwardly for a handful of seconds until he pointed at the space next to me. “May I?”

The pleasantry and strangeness of the entire situation had made me feel out of sorts. I stared at his face intensely for a few more seconds. This wizened gentleman felt so familiar, yet so alien to me. He stared back, then raised his eyebrows.

Towering over the expanse of the park were monolithic blocks jutting directly out of the turf, forest, and even the water of large ponds I saw in the distance. Windows and observation decks adorned all the structures, and inside I could see people milling about. These structures were as large as any I’d ever seen in the Tangle, but I saw no sign of the Techspire reaching for the sky though any of the surrounding flora.

“Uhh, of course … please, sit.” Not knowing what else to do I held my hand out toward the bench in a gesture of invitation. “Have we met before?”

“Oh, fortunately for you I have no record of our meeting previously,” he said with a sigh as he sat next to me. “We try to make these meetings as cordial and comfortable for Citizens as possible.”

“Meeting? Listen, where the hell am I?”

“So you’d like to skip the pleasantries and get right down to the matter at hand.” It was not a question. “Fair enough. Citizen Martos, you have been summoned to the Continuum to discuss your recent transgressions against the edicts of the Triocracy. Specifically against the Terran Techspire.”

Integrators! Taria! Continuum?

Before the thoughts had even played out in my whirling mind I found myself up and stumbling away from the man, headlong through the trees and undergrowth. Flight had clearly won out over fight. Branches slapped at my face and brush cut my hands. Thick grass and vines became tangle around my ankles and I fell into the rich smelling loam. Despair began to set in as the realization hit me.

Taria!

They knew about us. My biggest fear had come true, yet it was a risk we knew we were taking and one we seemed to have soundly avoided for years. What had happened? How could the Spire have found out? Only a handful of people knew of Taria and myself. I trusted every one of those people implicitly.

I regained my feet and continued my flight through verdant park. My breathing became ragged and eventually my stamina began to wane. I slowed my pace as I approached a clearing with a small stream burbling through it, filling the air with more inputs to tantalize my senses.

Benize. Of course!

He had to have something to do with it. He had contacts in the black markets and presumably the Spire itself. It’s likely he had sold us out for a mountain of ration points or a better cube assignment … or a bio.node. I would wring his fat neck if I ever set eyes on him again.

I stopped at the edge of the clearing and saw a figure in the distance. It turned to me and waved for me to approach.

“Help!” I yelled as I ran through the long green grass. “I need directions!”

The figure only waved me on, and as I drew close his face and form became clearer to me, as did the bench he stood next to.

“Welcome back Martos. Please, have a seat and rest. I can see you are not accustomed to this.” A pitcher of crystal clear water and an empty glass were sitting on the bench.

“How … ?” Was all I could manage to blurt.

“How did you come to be here, and where is ‘here’? How did you end up back here? Or how did we find out about your transgressions against the edicts? Where shall we start?” He smiled.

Every time he spoke his smile became more lifeless to me, more feigned and artificial. I could only nod in reply as I sat and poured some ice cold water. It was the purest water I had ever tasted in my life. I somehow knew that I was trapped in whatever place I suddenly found myself.

“All the hows are rather easy to explain, but I will start with the first. As I said previously before you rudely ran into the park like an irrational animal, you are in Pinnacle City, atop the Spire. Oh, not the real Pinnacle City.” He shook his head after seeing my reaction. “Merely a facsimile in the Continuum … a part of it we control, separate from the mundanity of what you Citizens like to call Infinispace. This will likely be the only time you will see any part of Pinnacle City, so enjoy the experience while you can, despite the circumstances. There’s no escape from this space you find yourself, unless I allow it. The space I created for our meeting has no beginning or end, yet its size is finite.”

I stared at him blankly, setting the glass down slowly. He continued.

“I see that I am still not making sense. Very well. If you run that way,” he pointed in from of him, “In a very short amount of time you will approach again from that direction.” He pointed behind him. “This is a finite infinite space. You are a rat in a cage shaped like a virtual wheel and your mind may not leave it until I unlock the door.”

My previous assertion was right. I was trapped. Integrators are a tool of the Techspire to communicate with transgressors without the need to soil their precious shoes in the filth of the Tangle. Even now my unconscious body lay in a drying pool of blood in the Exchange while Citizens returned and walked pass it in horror, the Integrator still melded with my head. Would any brave soul stop to help me? Try to remove the Integrator from my body? Doubtful. Citizens know better than to interfere with official Spire affairs in the Tangle … rare though they may be.

“I think I understand.” I said sullenly. “I’m trapped in your little virtual playground via one of your Integrators so I’m forced to converse with you, and so you don’t have to trouble yourself with mingling with the likes of myself face to face.”

Again, the old man flashed his false smile and tilted his head. “Just so.”

I hated him even more.
Continued in Void the Light – Part 4.


Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).


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