A teaser from 'A Habit of Providence'. the current novel-in-edit.
The Anodyne Virtuality
Aswang the errant fighting drone had made a preliminary reconnaissance pass at the Pacific Pride gas station in Mount Angel, capturing enough data to assemble a VR scene in Anodyne Workbench, through which one could meander if implanted with a neural interface.
The drone had a sense of smell, recording the aromas of diesel fuel and Double Bubble in a vicinity where the pickup truck’s rear bumper faded from sharp to fuzzy, a result of spotty image coverage. Pam was disappointed. “The convenience store is in focus from where I’m standing, but the truck drops into low-res at knee-height in back. I can’t read the license plate.”
“How are you coping with the experience?” Elbert walked the perimeter, running Aswang’s image log backwards and forwards. “Any dizziness?”
“Not yet.” She examined a navigation circlet, a fixture that appeared on her left wrist in an Anodyne transition corridor. I’m in the Matrix. My natural body’s lying in the bed, comatose. “If I have a stroke, will your monster housekeeper revive me?”
“The chances of that happening are slim to none.” He resumed studying the man. “So, this is Amil Leyta in the current incarnation.”
“Germanic farmer stock. Reminds me of you.” Pam gazed into eyes blue as sapphire, the subject’s figure freeze-framed in place, one hand on a dispensing nozzle, the other raised in a gesture of alarm, or perhaps surprise. “What’s this about, God’s involvement in our lives?”
“I wish Uli Vagara had the foresight to leave a journal.” Elbert looked in the truck bed for clues. “Aswang knew me, knows him.”
“Uli and Amil were in the same clan.”
“He knew the drone by name. If he didn’t know he’s Amil Leyta, he does now. Tribes move together from one life to the next. How does that explain Aswang’s behavior?”
Pam contemplated N-Space, a region left over from the Big Bang. All of spacetime was still networked to a single vector, a place where souls could dip their toes into every possibility, every certainty, and plan accordingly. A Buddhist would have no problem with the concept. Jump Girl USA was on the fence. “A faithful Gollum, drawn across space and time to the side of a powerful shaman.”
“Aswang doesn’t have a soul. It can’t follow its tribe through N-Space.”
“Yeah, but now you’re talking about magic.” Elbert came around to her side of the truck. “Interesting times.”
“Weird times.” She fiddled with the ‘home’ button on her nav circlet. “The Anodyne Virtuality is great. I’m totally impressed. Can we go?”
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