ALL IN THE MIND

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I think therefore I am someone else.....

Submitted: October 07, 2017

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Submitted: October 07, 2017

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“Not because they have too much Mind but too little...” the female talking head, projected holographically into the room, started to say before she was cut off by the host. Her lower jaw dropped and her eyes narrowed at the man in the shiny suit who had dared interrupt her.

“That is nonsense and you know it!” the host ranted.  “Abuse of Mind is rampant across all levels of society. It is creating a whole generation living their lives in other people’s heads. The Government is wholly culpable - making Mind a legal narcotic to replace tobacco and alcohol was totally wrong. I know their tax take from booze and cigarettes had fallen as their popularity has waned but Mind is not a ‘better’ narcotic. We had ‘The War on Drugs’? What’s next? Prescription issued ecstasy? Crack coupons? Food stamps for heroin? The opiate of the people used to be religion, then television, now it seems to be Mind...”
 
“Turn that crap off, Kasra. It’s so annoying.” Erixa said impatiently.

Kasra reached for the master function box that controlled all the devices in the small, open-planned apartment. She knew Erixa’s apartment already had a voice controlled system installed so she felt a slight feeling of inferiority as she pressed the button to turn off the holo-projection system.
 
“That’s better” Erixa said, “now, how do we do this?”

Kasra opened her shopping bag and pulled out two rectangular boxes with ‘Mind’ in large letters across their fronts. Each pure white box had a delicate picture of a pink brain connected to many smaller, purple brains. Kasra opened her box and pulled out a white microphone-scanner the size of an apple, a stamp-size packet and a leaflet. The small packet contained a single, vibrant pink, bullet shaped tablet, imprinted with the word ‘Mind’. She unfolded the leaflet.

“Ummm, we first have to identify ourselves using the scanner on the table, this logs us into the system and then we just let the nano-bot tablet dissolve on our tongues. It seems straight-forward enough. Do you want to go first?” Kasra asked, deferring to her friend.

“No, you’re my guest, you should go first.” Erixa said, with a nervous timbre to her voice Kasra hadn’t heard before.
 
“Ok, here I go”, Kasra reached out to the fingerprint scanner embedded on the table in front of the sofa where they were sitting. She placed her finger delicately on the glowing blue orb. The display turned orange as it read her fingerprint and flashed green to show the print had been accepted. Earlier that day, during their lunch break, both women had registered their profiles on the official YourMind exonet site.
 
Erixa copied her friend. “That wasn’t too painful, was it?” she said and let out a relived giggle. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes bright and sparkly.

That may have been the result of the wine we have drunk already, Kasra thought looking at the bottle on the floor beside the table. I probably look the same way to her, I hope I bought enough she worried to herself, looking at the clock on the sparsely decorated walls. There’s only two bottles left and it’s still early. That host didn’t know what he was talking about; as long as women get together there’ll always be a need for wine.

“Now for the tablets” a more confident Erixa said. She popped them out of the pack one at a time and held them in the palm of her hand. Kasra took one and looked at Erixa expectantly.

“Remember: let it dissolve on the tongue” Kasra reminded. She stuck her tongue out and placed the tablet on there, immediately it started fizzing so she pulled her tongue back in and closed her mouth to make sure the tablet didn’t fall off.
 
“Wait for me!” Erixa cried and copied Kasra. “How long does it take?” she asked once the tablet had gone.

Kasra looked at the instructions and read “it says here the nano-bots take 10 minutes to reach the brain and so the effects can take up to thirty minutes to begin. So, I guess it will just happen. Do you want some more wine while we wait?”
 
“That’d be great. I’m so nervous but excited, how about you?”

“I’m nervous too. I’ve never done anything like this before.” Kasra said as she walked across the room to the kitchenette. It didn’t take long. Erixa’s apartment was expensive but so small; the bathroom was the only area not visible from the sofa. Erixa’s hastily made bed was under the projection screen; the kitchenette equipped with only a sink, rehydrating oven and fridge, with the bathroom door behind the sofa. She got a bottle of wine from the fridge unit and popped off the flip-top bottle closure. Returning to the sofa she plonked herself down and poured drinks for the pair.
“What do you think it’ll be like?” she asked.

“From what I’ve heard it is supposed to be the best thing ever. Some say it’s so addictive you can’t escape. You actually feel what the person experienced.” Erixa said, between glugs of wine.

“I hope it works; it sure cost us enough” indicating the Mind packet on the table.

Almost a whole week’s credits; it better be worth it. I won’t be eating much this week. At least that’ll help lose a couple of pounds, Kasra thought looking enviously across at Erixa. She made a mental note of her friend’s slim, dancer’s build. How does she stay so slim? We go to the same low-gravity aerobics classes, and share the same instachef, hydrowave recipes.

“Supposedly, it only costs a few micro-credits to make a single tablet of Mind, the rest is tax put on by the government. I heard that in some countries, where it is still illegal, you can pick it up at a little above cost. You take your chances with the contents though, anything could be in those tablets. At least we know this is government approved quality” Erixa said, reassuringly.

Abruptly an image appeared in front of Kasra, similar to Erixa’s holographic projection system but right before her eyes and with far more detail. There was a rotary dial of faces hovering in front of her. She reached out to touch it and the faces span round quicker than her eyes could keep up. She pulled her arm back and they began to slow.
 
“It’s working, Erixa, I can see a load of faces in front of me” she said louder than she expected, the excitement making her voice higher pitched than normal.
 
“Really? I have nothing yet… ooooohhhh, now I can see. That is too cool.” Erixa said with a smile. “Who are all these faces? Oh, I just saw your face, let me go back. That’s a great picture of you, very enticing.”

“Thanks. Hey! Don’t go peeking inside my mind, you nosy cow” Kasra said laughing. “These are other Mind users who are logged in at the moment. There’s your face now… wow that’ll attract the guys! Who shall we choose?”

Erixa held out her open hand to one of the faces and the brain nestled in her palm. Instantly she could see what that person was seeing, listen to what they were hearing, feel what they were touching and experience their feelings. Erixa knew what it was like to live someone else’s life.

“I like this one, the one who looks like she’s been skydiving. Can you see it?”

“I see her! Ok, according to the instructions an open palm gives us a preview and we have to clench our fist to fully select that mind. Then the same with each memory.”

“Ok, ready… select.”

Kasra saw the dial of faces zoom into the face she chose and another rotary dial of images, all displaying the same person, came up. Each image seemed to represent a particular experience in that mind’s life. There were images showing an inter-planetary cruise ship, a sky dive, a hoverbike race, a walk along a deserted beach, some Mars ruins, swimming with dolphins and many more. So many that the dial completed seven rotations before the preview images were repeated.
 
“Wow, she’s been busy” Erixa said, “let’s choose the sky diving one.”
 
They both counted down from three and clenched their fists at the same memory at the same time.

******************

I can’t understand a word Johann is saying, it’s just a murmur in my ear, the noise of the engine and the wind coming through the open door of the airplane is making conversation impossible. The ground looks so far away. Parcels of green and brown broken up by the occasional small village. Realising I cannot hear him Johann taps me on my shoulder and I turn my head to see. He holds up two fingers to signify two minutes until we jump. I nod to show my understanding. I look out the window and think back to last night, when I met Johann. It was while I was out with some friends in some new trendy nightspot in the city. He looked cute and muscularly when he came over and asked me to dance. Later he said he was doing this and asked if I wanted to join him. ‘hell yeah,’ I replied, and later, with our bodies still joined and covered in sweat, he repeated the question.

Thinking about how his body looked is sending pleasure spikes through me, basically sitting in his lap I begin to grind my ass against him and feel him getting hard. This tandem jumping harness is very interesting; we are very close together. He interrupts my fun to signal it is time to jump. He pulls himself up, with me strapped to his body and we shuffle to the open door. Our legs overhanging the doorframe, the force of the wind pushing me deeper into Johann. He pushes my head back so I’m looking up and he tumbles out with me on top of him. We start the freefall and Johann initiates a couple of somersaults. The world spins around so rapidly this is like the greatest rollercoaster feeling I have ever had. My stomach flips and turns inside out, blood rushes to my head and then just as fast rushes away. Johann guides my arms so they are outstretched and I can feel the air cushioning my descent. With my arms away from my body Johann takes the opportunity to reach around and grope my tits. Typical man. The next moment I feel a massive jolt as the parachute is released and our descent is halted and we lose our speed. I give a whoop of delight and reach behind to give his ass a squeeze. I can hear him now as we glide to earth slowly circling the landing area. He is telling me what he is going to do to me later. Fucking hell, this skydiving lark is a rush.

******************

Kasra and Erixa jerked up from their slumped positions on the sofa. Kasra’s leg kicks out and knocks a glass of wine over on the table.

“Shit!” she says, reaching to pick up the glass, “that was so intense.”

Erixa has a look on her face like she is trying to find the right words. She gives up and exclaims “Fucking hell Kas! Just, fuck, fuckety, fucking hell” and laughs gleefully.

“Yeah, fucking hell is right. That was incredible.”

The women sit in silence for bit and Kasra thought about the experience. She could still feel the air around her, her skin tingling and an unfamiliar aching sensation below.

“What a dirty bitch she was. Getting with Johann that first night.” Erixa said laughing.

“Yeah, chance would be a fine thing” Kasra said wistfully, making Erixa laugh harder.

“My God, how long has it been for you?”

“Do you remember Lucas?”

“Lucas? Really? You must be closed up down there. That was what? Three? Four years ago?”

“Two. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not as gorgeous as you. We don’t all get guys throwing themselves at us.”

Erixa blushed and made a gagging sound. “They’re not exactly Johann material though, are they? Shall we have another drink and go again?”

“Great idea, I’ll clean this up first” indicating the spilled wine. “Shall we stay with her or try someone else?”

“She’s interesting… and horny. I like her” said Erixa. She poured more wine into the glasses.

“The dolphin one could be good. I’ve always wondered what it would be like touching one. Swimming with them. I may never get the chance now they are so rare. Did you know there are none in the oceans anymore: too polluted. The only ones left are in theme parks and private collections. Such a shame, I think they are such beautiful creatures” Kasra said as she raised the glass to her lips.

“Hopefully she doesn’t try to fuck it!”

Kasra spat the wine out of her mouth, coughing and laughing at the same time. Tears ran down her cheeks as she picked up a cushion and playfully swung it at Erixa. “Oh my god, what are you like?”
 
Erixa was gasping for air, from laughing so hard at her own joke.

“I think… I’m going… to piss myself!” She said, pushing herself up and stumbling to the bathroom.

******************

The water was a translucent turquoise, with plant fragments floating on the surface. There was an unexpected, overwhelming aroma of fish in the air. I lowered myself down from the edge of the observation pool and flinched at the sudden shock of the cold water hitting my thighs. For some reason I thought the water would be warm, like the ‘Lazy River’ earlier. I saw Markus checking out my butt as I entered the water and glanced across to see Julio, the hunky Mexican instructor, all muscles, glistening skin and short shorts, doing the same. I remember him asking if I needed help getting into the neoprene wetsuit with a glint in his eye and a seductive smile. Then Markus stepping in with his stomach sucked in and chest puffed out, saying ‘It’s ok, I’ve got this.’ God, possessive men are such a downer, I don’t have any time for that behaviour. I made sure I was extra flirty with Julio during the instruction briefing. Markus’ face was a picture of jealousy. Shooting both Julio and me dark looks. I don’t think he’ll last long after this holiday.

The water is now up to my chest and I push my way over to Markus and the rest of the group. I feel a sense of anticipation building as I wait. Julio calls over to the other instructor to open the gate and two dolphins enter the pool; their sleek bodies effortlessly gliding through the water, grey torpedoes streaking towards their targets. A shout from Julio and the dolphins leap into the air over us, water sprinkling down on us as they soar. They resumed their swimming, circling us, swimming closer and closer. Julio told us to reach out our hands, as we did the dolphins swam so close I could feel their silky-smooth bodies as they passed. Their skin was firmer than I imagined, pure muscle, with a slight rubberised texture that makes me think back to the black, neoprene catsuit hanging in my wardrobe. I know someone who is not going to see me in that. I smile over to Markus, who smiles back, with what looks like genuine joy on his face at the feel of the dolphin.

After a few more dolphin swim-bys, Julio instructs us to separate and spread out. He whistles and the dolphins swim up to two of the group for a close encounter. He calls out to me, ‘Sexzy laydee, move over a little more, away from the little man’ and gives me a sexy wink. Markus’ face colours and an ugly sneer crosses his face. I see him muttering under his face and through the clear water can see his fists clench. What does he think I’m going to do? Jump out of the pool into Julio’s bulging arms and start fucking him by the poolside? My thoughts are interrupted as one of the dolphins swims up to me, rubbing itself against me. I am surprised by its strength as it pushes against me, making me slightly stumble backwards. I stand there for a while with the dolphin in my arms, looking into its eye. It’s disconcerting, not only being able to see just the one eye but that black eye look back at me with a startling intelligence that other animals don’t possess. It makes me catch my breath a little. Julio shouts, ‘Give him a kiss, sexzy laydee!’ and the dolphin shifts its position so its mouth is near mine. I see a hundred sharp, triangular teeth alongside a massive tongue. I hold it close and kiss it above the mouth. Or is that the snout? The dolphin makes an excited whistle sound and splashes me. I laugh as it swims over to Markus. ‘Your turn, little man.’ Julio calls. Markus’ expression is one of wonder, his eyes are wide and there is a huge smile on his face. He obviously didn’t hear Julio’s taunt. When his time was up he let go of the dolphin with an obvious reluctance. The dolphins performed a few more tricks: walking on their tails, tandem jumping and barrel rolls, each one receiving generous rounds of applause from the group and a fish treat from Julio. Our session then ended and we left the pool. As we removed the wetsuits, Markus was beaming, ‘that was incredible, Taiana,’ he said, ‘I am so glad we did this. Do you want me to buy the video or just the pictures?’

‘Sorry?’ I reply, distracted, already thinking whether the hotel opposite ours had a room I could book for the remaining ten days of my holiday. And picturing myself coming back here and taking Julio to a secluded area to become more acquainted. Holiday romances are so much better than real ones as they have a finite ending. I just hope he doesn’t stink of fish.

******************

“Poor Markus” Erixa exclaimed when they had regained their bearings in the real world.

“Poor Markus? It’s Taiana I feel sorry for. Lucas was like that, very controlling. If you remember, he wouldn’t let me see you for ages, he said you were a bad influence. I’m still sorry I listened to him, you know. He made me so unhappy and I missed you like crazy. I’m so glad you forced me to see what he was like.”

A tear slide down Kasra’s cheek as she recalled the shame she felt at how she had treated her oldest and closest friend.

Erixa reached over and gave Kasra a reassuring hug. “Don’t be silly, no man can keep us apart for long” she kissed her forehead. “I love you, you know. Dumbass.”

“Hey!” Kasra exclaimed. “I’m just sorry I hurt you like that. I love you too.”

“No hay problema mi amor (no problem my love)” Erixa said in Spanish. “I-a sound-a just-a like-a Julio” she laughed. “More wine, sexzeee laydeeeee?”

Kasra laughed and felt relieved she hadn’t lost Erixa. “Sí señorita. Do you want to continue with Taiana or try someone else?”
 
“Well, she certainly has an interesting way of thinking. And her experiences are definitely not boring. Shall we try a couple more? How long does this Mind last for anyway?”

“The instructions say it lasts until we go to sleep, then we automatically log out of the system. I’d like to try someone else but I’m happy to stick with her for a while. We don’t know she’ll be logged in for.”

“What so your memories aren’t just stored online all the time?”

“No, you can only access other people’s Mind when they are logged in too. So we don’t know how much time we have with Taiana.”

“That’s a good point. Ok, my choice as you chose the dolphin one. Hmmmm, that looks like a Mexican beach, let’s see if she hooked up with Julio.”

They tried a few more of Taiana’s experiences: kayaking the Rio Futaleufu in Chile, getting drunk at Oktoberfest in Marsnich, shooting an old fashioned automatic plasma rifle in a Las Vegas gun range and dancing in the Carnaval parade in Rio de Janiero. Each one was as vivid as if they had been there themselves. Kasra re-lived the panic as the kayak capsized and felt the rifle kicking back painfully into her shoulder. Erixa felt the sting of beer-filled vomit leave her throat at only 40% the gravity of Earth and the joy and excitement as she span and jigged half-naked alongside a feather covered yellow float in Bragentina.

“I can’t believe how exciting her life is” Kasra said. “It puts ours to shame.”

“I’d love to hang out with her, she is so much fun. You know, we could probably find out who she is. I bet she’d love us” Erixa said.

Kasra’s eyes narrowed and she felt her chest tighten. “Is there one of her working? We could track her down that way.”
 
Why would she have her work as one of her experiences? A perfect job, as well as a perfect life. That’s not fair Kasra thought as she flicked through the experiences.

“There’s one of her on a red carpet, maybe she’s an actress or something?” she said.
 
“Oooh, an actress” Erixa enthused. “When I become her friend I can go with her to all those after-show parties. Maybe I’ll get with mega-rich film producers and take a cruise to the Saturn rings while my husband makes the next cerebral blockbuster. You can come too.”

But it feels as though I’ve just got you back. I don’t want to lose you to actresses and actors, directors and producers. Compete with them for your attention.

“Yeah, that’ll be awesome, Erixa. I’m sure she’ll love you.”

Of course she will. You’re amazing. The best friend I’ve ever had.

“Let’s see what we can find out then.” Erixa said holding out her wrist ready to choose the next experience.

“Ready? 3… 2… 1… Go.” Kasra said.

Erixa slumped back into the sofa. Her arm dropped to her side, the hand twitching, her face slackened and greyed, apart from her cheeks which were flushed. Her eyes became glazed and unfocused, her pupils shrank to pinholes and her breathing slowed.

Kasra saw all this and lowered her own arm, her fist remained unclenched. This time Kasra hadn’t disappeared into Mind as it was becoming too much to take. Kasra wasn’t the fat friend, was she? Kasra wasn’t losing Erixa, was she?

Kasra’s brain reeled, drunk on someone else’s life, Mind and alcohol. She stood and walked over to the kitchenette and rifled through one of the drawers. She pulled out a large chef’s knife and walked back to the sofa. She pushed the table to one side with her knee and looked down at Erixa, tears falling. The damn Mind overlay of faces obscuring parts of Erixa’s face.

I’m so sorry but I won’t share you. I could never want for a better friend than you and wish I could have been a better friend for you. I love you Erixa.

With that, Kasra plunged the knife deep into Erixa’s chest. Once. Twice. And more. Erixa didn’t cry out or scream, stuck in Taiana’s mind. The eyes and faces of the crowds behind the safety barriers on three sides praised her, paparazzi screaming her name, asking her to pose in a thousand separate ways. The cameras with their strobe like flashes slowly darkened as a deep, red, velvet carpet stretched out in front of her.

 


© Copyright 2018 Thom Goddard. All rights reserved.

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