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General

- 1 - 

It was hour 288 inside the WIRE and Ricker was low. He blinked-in-match with the consentium, finishing off yet another thought-job, the 18th that hour. The small Blinks were the faster of the jobs Ricker could manage on the schedule he had set for himself, fast and sure, they just didn’t pay well. He was a Speed-Freak, a Blinker, one of the last of the Fast-Boys that worked the way he worked. He powered through using older, less-burdened-with-innovation tech, his console keeping up with the latest XIEOS models despite its many flaws. Blink to work, work only within the code, the code always paid out. 


Ricker was low. Ricker needed rest. 


The JILTA-K, the console that this old speed called his ‘worker’ had one major unavoidable deal breaking problem, one that tape or a backlink couldn’t fix. His console couldn’t stop the INFOCOMS. He hated INFOCOMS, they were the interrupters of the flow and momentum of his work. The newer one’s for all their sleek and spunk at least knew how to block an INFOCOM, the older console’s couldn’t. Their invasion into his Blink-work was inevitable and he just had to bare it. He saw one as it centered, another one from Aniden Prosthetics, It flashed its flash, made its announcement to interrupt and then took up all of the headset’s vision. 


“At Aniden, we care. We want you to be your best, you deserve it, you can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.” 


INFOCOMS were never subtle about what they wanted, inside the WIRE they were worse than when on the Broadcasts, Ricker could never recall why. For him, it was always the Auto-Mates on display that he hated, this one was a male with a clean cut suit and soft features, he always thought they were repulsive. Is this how the users liked it? “Sticks, no dicks and smooth?” INFOCOM’s were made to market any old BS to those that surfed, but did no one care about that? They must work since they’re god damn everywhere now.  


INFOCOMS were also Stims, they had to be. All that positivity, it would amp you, push you into a purchase, that was its purpose. You’d never notice how your hand hovered over the ACCEPT or in Ricker’s case, how you’d be close to a Blink. Ricker never blinked, never for an Auto-Mate. He held out like always and pushed his eyes into the regular strain that came with the being a Fast-Boy, the irony not lost on him. The INFOCOM blurted out its talk for lack of a better word and Ricker held out. 45 secs to skip, 25 to skip, 15 to skip. Not the longest he’d gone but maybe it was just the brightness of his JILTA or maybe it was because of hour 288, but did the INFOCOMS seem longer now? 


He didn’t have time to rumi. 


Why? 


Because It happened, as the Auto-Mate straightened that crystal-tipped tie and exposed his pearls, closing off their god-damn speech, it went black, it all went to black. 


- 2 - 


The power grid that connected to the Kansubo tower had up and gone, leaving those in the WIRE with two choices, use their Back-Gen or get over it. Ricker had no Back-Gen and couldn’t just get over it, he had a contract with Zalenz that was due in the next few hours. He still had 53 outstanding and Zalenz wasn’t one for being given short. This was bad. 


“Do it, be it, do it, be it. At Aniden, we care. We want you to be your best, you deserve it, you can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it. At Aniden, we care. We want you to be your best, you deserve it, you can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.”


Was the INFOCOM looping? The link had clacked with the power, the words should’ve clacked out too, right? Was the power still on? Could it be restored if he could still the Auto-Mate? 


Ricker was low and the power was out. 


He didn’t know when it would be back, the power, but he knew what would happen if he kept Zalenz waiting, there were stories about the things he did to lates and to those who couldn’t deliver. There had to be a way back in, back inside the WIRE, there must be at least 1.  


“You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.”


Blink-work wouldn’t fix it, the headset was black, no feed, no sensors, no bright-talk, to work he’d have to stand, he’d have to take it off, find a solution in the physical. 


“Damn it”


Ricker was low and the power was out and he hadn’t moved in a month. 


- 3 -


Fast-boys never stopped, they couldn’t and didn’t have to. Blink-Work was cheap and with debts that chased and the older consoles harder to maintain, once you were in Blink-Work you never left. Ricker was a one of the Fast-boys with a still working Memel-Stomach, illegal now sure, but not when he’d bought it. The damn thing still kicked around the same old garbage, nothing new had been added for at least the last 9 weeks, it had looped the same old paste from top to bottom. It wasn’t pleasant, but for Ricker and the other boys, it meant you’d never have to move. 


That was now the problem, another one to add to the pile. When you don’t move and the Memel feeds you, your cable chair becomes you world and where it started and you stopped becomes a harder thing to answer. Ricker had to make a choice now, the clock, had the power still worked would be ticking for him. Sit and wait for however long it’d be for restoration or get up off that ass and go to one of those Corner-Rooms, bringing along a hand controller or two, do the rest of the work from there. 


Fleshers would be there, they’d stare, but work needed doing. 


Ricker was low, time was short, he needed to move.  


- 4 -


“You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.”


That God-Damn INFOCOM kept looping in the centre of Ricker’s mind, to itself probably; he couldn’t buy the BS that it was selling, no power remember? ‘The Cable Chair,' for that’s what Ricker referred to his world as, was small and blocky. It was made of cheap imitation black leather that stuck to the skin on the hot days, so most days. He didn’t know if he would have the strength in either arm to lift it and remove the JILTA from his head, but he’d have to try, the Corner-Rooms weren’t open 24, so like everything else now, Ricker had to just do it. Be it, do it, be it, just do it! 


He tried the left arm, it was closer to the console, maybe he’d be able to cling to a grip and use it as a pull. Ricker Blinked, nothing happened, oh right, physical. Ricker sent what he thought was the signal from his brain to the left arm, telling it to move, it didn’t. The arm was still, he was still, the clocks he imagined weren’t. 


Zalenz was not going to wait either, 53 was still doable, he could make that up with a larger Blink piece maybe, take longer. Harder to catch out the hands of the spunkers that had the better models, but it was still doable, he’d need a motivator. Fear was a good motivator, what Zalenz would do to him should have been enough, but Zalenz would need to find him first, without power Ricker was a ghost, hard to find those these days. 


“You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.” 


That God-Damn INFOCOM, why won’t it stop? No… wait!


For all the shit is spouted, Ricker was beginning to move. Anger was a good motivator, that much was clear to him. “You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.” Those market words, those selling speeches that are taught in the private spaces on the upper levels on New Heights, their interruptions might make you want to dig a sharpened edge into their ports but the words did stick. 


“You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.” 


Ricker can you do it? You’re low, time’s short and the power’s out. Can you do it? 


“You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.”


Echoes playing over echoes, feedback infinitum, his left arm nudged. After the left came the right, the movements slow, painful, exhausting, but they came. Ricker felt his hands grip the sides of JILTA’S heated plastic headset, he removed it carefully, real light after months in the WIRE. Pain, it was always going to be pain. 


- 5 -


“Do it, be it, do it, be it.” This is it, the kick Ricker needed, his instrumental drive, his call, his force. He thrust his arms high and the headset came off. He needed more strength from his wasted form if he wanted to pick himself up. Those words “Do it….do it…do it…” they kept ringing in Ricker’s ear, recontextualising each time.  


It’s still BS Auto-Mate speak, but it’s doing something


His legs are the next to move, his bare feet, sore and coated press the cold tiled surface of his 1-fit-all apartment. A mixture of pain and pleasure. Next are the cables, the last problem before freedom. He stretches, the cables resist, the headset, the console, the Memel all plugged in, all fighting to stay connected to Ricker and the WIRE.


Ricker grips the edges of the chair and pushes himself up and forward. His arms shaking, his back screaming, the cables taut, pulling him back, keeping him locked into the chair.


“do it” the Auto-Mate repeated again, as if on cue. 


"You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.

You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.

You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it.

You can do it, do it, be it, do it, be it"

He could if he just kept pushing. His thoughts raced with thoughts of Blink-work, thoughts of Zalenz, thoughts of Corner-Rooms and closing times. 

He 

         kept    

pushing 

  

He only needed to push a little harder. 


“You can do it you can do it, you can do it, you can do it"

"do it, 

be it, 

do it, 

be it.”


Ricker flew off the chair, momentarily disconnected from the flooring. This was new. How hard had he been pushing? 


He might be low and stressed, the power might still be off and his time clocking down moment by moment, but who cares, Ricker was off the chair. He reconnected to the floor upright, standing triumphant. The poor bastard completely forgetting that what he had just done had completely drained him. 


He was up for maybe 20 seconds, he glancing at the apartment door 20 - 25 steps away. 


He took one step forward and fell straight onto the tiles. 


- 6 -


Tiled flooring + soft tired bones = not a great mix. What did he honestly expect, he was a Fast-boy, he was a Flesh, he wasn’t meant to be standing. The echoes stopped, no more motivation, no more Auto-Mates and no more INFOCOMS. 


Ricker couldn’t move, the fall had done something, too late now though. Looking back, if the power had stayed, if the world that was his chair had secured his wasted form then he wouldn’t have to move and he wouldn’t have fallen, he wouldn’t have very clearly knocked about that soft Blinky brain on the cold hardened tiles as he fell. 


He wouldn’t be dying. 


But he did and this was it, the fall, the physical had done him in, all those warnings about using the WIRE time responsibly, all those hours spent in the Fast and Intense world of code and complex’s, none of that had the guts to take him out. It was the floor, the physical, the Flesh, that’s what did it. 


What hurt the most for Ricker, what really stung, was the sound the chair was making.

The power had returned, his chair rebooting.  


Ouch! 


Even though the echoes had faded, the words one last time rang through his fractured mind 


“…you deserve it” 


He laughed, cried and blinked.


His eyes didn’t reopen. 

December 12, 2019 12:34

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